2015 in review
by Randy Gingeleski
7 minutes to read
My posting frequency here has slowed considerably, and some of my readers may be wondering what I've been up to.
In regard to this site - professional obligations ramped up. I am presently working in the defense industry, where end of fiscal year is an especially busy time because of how project funding works. Career and real business come before this website (hobby).
In regard to me - I’ll provide an overview of the year. A little unusual as I tend to not write strictly about myself here.
Like to start posts with a picture. Here’s my chin
2015 was my best year yet, life/I improved on all fronts. Career, social, financial, travel, gym, learning, etc etc. The foundations for 2016 to be even better are already in place.
Get better every year and every year gets better.
Most of January I was in Syracuse - snowmobiling, lifting weights, programming the backend of now-defunct Ging Casino, and spending time with my grandmother (who would pass away early February, RIP).
Pointing at me, turning 93 - 1/1/2015
At the end of the month I flew back to New York for my last semester at St. John’s.
February - May
Last semester of undergraduate. Like the end of high school, I enjoyed the hell out of it and still finished strong academically.
Evan Saez and I finally had a class together. The professor unexpectedly retired afterward.
Best show of the semester was probably Chainsmokers, Bebe Rexha, and Grandtheft at Terminal 5.
Advice - don’t take college too seriously. Go to a recognizable school, go for STEM, keep your GPA > 3.0, and focus on your core classes. Don’t obsess over all your grades because that’s unnecessary stress + energy expenditure.
I did job research at the beginning of the semester and decided I wanted to work at Lockheed Martin. For the Syracuse area, nothing comes close for software. I would 100% be living elsewhere if I didn’t land my current job.
Also: within LM, Syracuse has the strongest software reputation in our business unit (MST).
Around April they flew me up from New York to interview. I got an interview because of (a) strong technical web presence and (b) not screwing up the initial phone screen. Prepare before your phone screens.
Related post: Developing a Technical Web Presence
I don’t get people who just go into interviews cold. Do your homework on the company, find out as much as you can about phone screens and interviews beforehand with sites like Glassdoor. For performance enhancement, I’d recommend at least caffeine (but not before the phone screen). Push the odds in your favor.
Note: will write about less vanilla performance enhancement for the workplace when I am in a position to do so.
In the interview, I had to rely mostly on talking about my software engineering class. However, what definitely pushed me in the clear was technical learning I’d done on my own. I could speak strongly about version control, databases, and several programming languages. Stuff that wasn’t covered so heavily in school.
Related post: How to Supplement the St. John’s CS Program
Anyway, accepted the job offer with Lockheed then had to do a ton of paperwork for the DoD.
May ended up being a mixed month. I got the news that I couldn’t start with LM for about 5 months, due to the Office of Personnel Management hack. That incident considerably slowed down hiring for the entire defense industry. My own records and fingerprints were compromised.
But on the positive side I graduated…
… and traveled Italy for 2 weeks. I hadn’t been to Italy since 2011 - it was great to be back, see more of the country than last time, and brush up on my Italian. Ho studiato per cinque anne in scuola media.
Being serenaded in Venice
June - August
After returning from Europe I spent most of the summer in Syracuse. Tanning, playing loud EDM from my car like a douchebag, being at the mall too much, but also working on open-source projects.
A resurgence of new DGM content would start coming about. That higher publishing frequency has been sustained to the present.
In July I went back to New York to work with Evan and his team at LIFARS for a while. It was my first time formally working infosec, but managed to uncover major session issues while testing a hybrid mobile app.
Also went to Coney Island for the first time - basically East Syracuse Walmart with amusement rides
Following that I interviewed with NYCM Insurance for software development. About a day later I wrote my post ‘Stagnant = Obsolete’, thinking I was about to embark on some wondrous journey with them.
8⁄2? - was in Chicago for Lollapalooza
8⁄16 - turned 21
8⁄17 - started at NYCM and spent a month being bored to tears. In The Four-Hour Workweek, Tim Ferriss says something to the effect of “the opposite of happiness is not sadness, but boredom.” He was right.
During that month at the insurance company, I updated most of their Java ServerPages (there are a lot) to HTML5. However nobody knew this at the time and never received actual instructions.
Paraphrasing boss’ boss - “the way things work around here, if you look busy, everyone will assume you’re busy and leave you alone.” Great policy!
Related post: The Truth About (Most of) Corporate IT
Also wrote a blackjack game in PowerShell, obfuscating the code as I went along. 🙂
About halfway into September I decided to quit. It was going to be super awkward, because everyone thought I was going to stay there forever like them. My plan - to announce my resignation over email, 10 minutes after I walked out that day. I had arranged to leave an hour early so everyone would see it.
The issue - there wasn’t a way to schedule an email to go out with their version of IBM Lotus Notes. Not even writing LotusScript. So I wrote a PowerShell script - with WASP - to effectively resign for me. It was the closest thing to real software engineering I did there.
Note for other upstate NY software guys: you won’t starve on what NYCM pays but it’s not competitive. In my first 3 months at Lockheed (with OT) I made 8x what I did in 1 month at NYCM.
That night I flew to New York to start a redesign of the LIFARS site. By the end of the month it was up, unlike anything I’d ever developed for IgetCOMPED / EventWizler.
Related post: Are you a wantrepreneur?
October - December
Opening of October was a little weird. I took a trip to San Juan, where I managed to finish a pen test for LIFARS in between drinking, gambling, and Road to Ultra. Halfway through the trip, my dad flew down and we got lost in the rainforest with the world’s dinkiest rental car.
Balcony of my rental - El San Juan Casino to the left 😉
After getting back I started at LM as a software engineer, focusing on unmanned and autonomous systems. I’m surrounded by brilliant people who work really hard.
As a kid I was into robots. Here I’ve written about Skynet. Now I get to develop what used to be science-fiction.
Related post: How I Published Two Books at Age 14
I worked overtime from week one up until Christmas Eve, hence the sharp decline in posting. Somehow also found travel time for Toronto and New York.
OT is done for the near future, but a new side project will be eating up my free time. Do not expect much activity on this site for a while.
General notes / conclusion
Apply to self-development: what can be conceived can be created.
Improve everything. Maintain if you hit a ceiling. Optimize as much as possible.
And then every year will be better than the last.
For more timely updates on what I’m up to, have been active on Instagram.