Unexpected areas of expertise, and what to do with them

Before my work life ramps up again on Monday, I'm working to take stock of my areas of semi-expertise and where I want each of these to go:
  • Admissions and financial aid in higher education
    • I studied this in college, and want to use the knowledge to help spread knowledge and information about college access, especially across socio-economic lines. Some of the best schools in the country are much less expensive than popular belief suggests.
    • Less importantly, I will fight a losing battle against college rankings, which are gross simplifications that cause students to make poor college choices.
  • Credit cards and EFT processes
    • My primary area of expertise at Epic, with rising importance as money transfers via apps like Venmo and Square Cash or services like Apple Pay become more prevalent.
    • I have no idea how this might be useful in the future, except in knowing something about network security as it relates to PCI certification for merchants.
  • New Media
    • I've followed the rise of online "streaming" closely (most relevant for video and computer games at the moment), as well as the ensuring convergence of TV and the internet. Also familiar with monetizing these efforts.
    • I think this area will be most useful for community building - if we can create venues where contributing ideas and feedback becomes a joyful action for people, then new media can become an avenue for creating all sorts of projects beyond Wikipedia.
  • Lighting and sound design/event support
    • I developed this in college as the tech manager for one of the student centers. Never used it in Madison (I had a few opportunities to run sound at local venues, but it never worked out). I don't really expect this to be useful except in setting up a home system or jumping in if technology breaks during an event I'm involved in.

Skills I want to gain:
  • Gardening - I want to be able to grow and eat my own food, so that I understand more about food production
  • Carpentry - Probably via volunteering for Habitat, I want to learn more and get more practice around home care and projects.

A successful Git branching model � nvie.com

A successful Git branching model � nvie.com: In this post I present the development model that I’ve introduced for all of my projects (both at work and private) about a year ago, and which has turned out to be very successful. I’ve been meaning to write about it for a while now, but I’ve never really found the time to do so thoroughly, until now. I won’t talk about any of the projects’ details, merely about the branching strategy and release management.


Earlier tonight, I published the first two revisions of http://wslack.github.io/, my new homepage. It's a little strange to be operating in the open, with every bug I introduce and fix visible to all, but it's also freeing. The world of software I'm coming from couldn't operate with those rules.

Epic uses a variety of homegrown systems to run and manage internal processes that aren't known on the public internet - the names for them are common internally, but I'm not pulling anything up in a quick Google search. It's understandable, since the core codebase that the tools support is full of trade secrets. Why? Well, this codebase and the underlying ideas and organization forms used are the result of decades of revisions and input from hundreds of customers. The world of healthcare IT is lucrative, but also rather small, and Epic has a giant target on it's back due to past and present success. Even Epic training materials are sometimes sought through illicit means.

There just aren't many companies that have fully integrated systems crossing all areas of healthcare - the vast majority of companies have grown through acquisition, often meaning that internal systems must interface to each other instead of maintaining a single master data source.

From experience, these interfaces can be very painful, and I was never frustrated that Epic maintained these secrets through policy and practice.

But in reading Greg Boone's piece, "The Supreme Joy of Writing in the Open," I already know that my future work will be much more invigorating, as everything we do can be taken and forked by anyone. That's a wonderful feeling, and I can only hope that I can be a part of efforts worth stealing.