austin entrepreneur

Written Elsewhere: One Year With Ruby and Sometimes Still a Newbie

Posted in Uncategorized by efalcao on May 7, 2008

I just wrote another blog post for the FiveRuns blog. I made a total newbie mistake the other day but I think when you read the comments it boils down to a .NET to Ruby transition issue. Enjoy.

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Portfolio: UberHour Online

Posted in Uncategorized by efalcao on April 3, 2008

UberHour is a little project started by Howard Rauscher. Along the way I joined him in helping to develop the idea. Recently we put up UberHour Online, which is a really neat online implementation of  very popular power hour game. It uses the recently released YouTube API with the website and backend riding on rails. Check it out!

Written Elsewhere: How to be a Smart Early Adopter

Posted in Uncategorized by efalcao on February 27, 2008

I wrote a blog post for the FiveRuns corporate blog. Here’s the link: http://blog.fiveruns.com/2008/2/26/how-to-be-a-smart-early-adopter.

Austin on Rails and FiveRuns Featured in the Statesman

Posted in Uncategorized by efalcao on January 31, 2008

Last time I went to Austin on Rails (April ’06), it was about 20 people with only about 3 or 4 in the room getting paid to do rails development full time. At January’s meeting, there were 50+ people with more seeking rails developers than those seeking employment.

It’s an exciting time to be a rails developer in Austin, the city has a very vibrant rails community.

Anyhow, the Statesman was there and FiveRuns is mentioned a few times in the article. Check it out.

Life Changes

Posted in Uncategorized by efalcao on January 11, 2008

After it became clear that Evenlevel was down in the dumps, it became time to regroup. I think that my wife and I genuinely mourned that fact that so much time and sacrifice had been poured into Evenlevel and it ended up not working out. One day I woke up and had to figure out what to do next. Do I keep consulting and work on a startup on the side? Do I get a boring job and work on a startup on the side? Or do I go back to a startup and beef up on my skills and contribute?

EJ also had to hit the job market post-Evenlevel. He found a great job at a startup very quickly and had multiple offers thanks to the story of Evenlevel as an interview tool. This steered me towards option #3: Contribute at least a few years to a startup, regroup and build my skills.

I had several interviews and had three offers on the table within a few weeks. I felt very fortunate to have three very different offers on the table:

  1. A 9-month consulting gig that paid very well. This afforded me more time to figure out what my next step would be and the work was going to be fairly easy. They used ASP.NET.
  2. A full-time position at a startup where I would be a more senior developer. They were doing ASP.NET and were looking to focus in areas in which I have a lot of experience (on-page search engine optimization, client side performance optimization, etc). They used ASP.NET.
  3. A full-time position at a startup where I would be the lowly developer on the team. They built their product on rails.

I think that given these three choices, there really wasn’t a choice at all. I chose a developer position at option #3. The company is called Fiveruns and the product is enterprise server management for rails. This has been my golden opportunity to do rails development full time, to really master an emerging framework and language, and to belong to an elite team of individuals.

I couldn’t be happier. There is something special about being surrounded by elite developers. I think it’s so important at this point in my career to not be on top. I could have been on top at option #2, but the amount of learning that I could accomplish in a day would be low. I would simply be taking plays out of a playbook. At my current employer, my skills are going to keep growing at a strong pace for a long time.

In terms of development philosophy, Fiveruns is also a very important fit. I have been doing .NET development as my paying job for many years now, but I have always been using open-source software for my personal projects. This is my chance to emphasize my passion for FOSS and to really hone my skills. I have also been given the opportunity to work full time with a MacBook Pro, a real treat 😉

In my heart of hearts I’ll always been an entrepreneur, and I’ll almost certainly start a new company years down the road. But for the time being, and for the foreseeable future, I’m ecstatic to hone my skills and be a part of a great team whose products I really believe in. I’ve always read that venture capital is an investment in people and I am really seeing that in the team at Fiveruns.

Given my post rate, I’ll see you in March 😉

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I Officially Stink at Blogging

Posted in Uncategorized by efalcao on November 28, 2007

Well, it’s been over a month. Horrible, just horrible! I think my lack of posting has been a combination of a few things:

  1. I’m trying to figure out my next move. Do I keep freelancing? Do I get a “real” job? If I get a real job do I want something challenging or do I want something that maximizes paying the bills and allows me to challenge myself with projects and other ventures?
  2. What blogger doesn’t slow down during the holidays?
  3. Been working on projects.
  4. I’m boring (this is a serious, long term issue that any reader of this blog will have to endure)

All I can do is better my efforts.

Finally, if you followed my October 26th stock advice and sold short one share of GOOG and bought one share of CFC then I apologize and I’m sure you won’t be so foolish as to follow my stock picking advice in the future.

Tech Stocks – The New Safe Bet

Posted in Uncategorized by efalcao on October 26, 2007

I’m enjoying how high tech stocks are having such a good run. Solid earnings and profits from the sector.

Homebuilders? yeah right! Banks? don’t think so!

Of course I’m a contrarian. Sell GOOG! Buy CFC!

Hoping that the Key to Success is to Not Die

Posted in Uncategorized by efalcao on October 22, 2007

Yesterday the Evenlevel founders got together and scoped out the relaunch of Evenlevel. I enjoyed calling it the Evenlevel 2.0 Project Launch Meeting.

It’s been a hard few weeks having our hard work go down the drain. Everyday that passes, new life is coming back to our business and we’ve worked out a new business model.

Paul Graham indicated that startups tend to either succeed or die. He then proposes that in order to find success, one should simply not die. We’re going to be taking that to heart at Evenlevel: choosing to persist rather then fold.

We left our meeting extremely optimistic. In a sense we are starting over, but more importantly we have all the knowledge that came with the first version of Evenlevel. The best part of all: 80%+ of the original Evenlevel code will be reused.

Unit Testing!

Posted in Uncategorized by efalcao on October 19, 2007

I think I’ve officially become a fan of unit testing. Last night I was writing some code while trying out the upcoming rails 2.0 and decided to write some unit tests. I have been writing rails code as a hobby and then with Evenlevel for at least a year now and have always avoided the automated testing. No More!

Why I Avoided It:

In the beginning, because I was too busy the learning the rails core. Lately, because I felt like it was a waste of time.

Why I Was Wrong:

You’re gonna have to test anyway. I used to spent time in the rails console testing out my models. How stupid. I wrote 12 tests last night. It took less time than manually testing and now I have a small but sure-to-grow suite of tests to perform sanity checks in the future.

 What’s Next:

Gotta learn functional and integration testing now.

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What I Learned

Posted in Uncategorized by efalcao on October 16, 2007

I starting thinking about an Evenlevel post-mortem blog post. Each day that goes by it looks like we’re going to be able to relaunch with a different twist on things, so technically a post-mortem is not appropriate. Lets just call this “what I’ve learned…so far”

If you want to learn at the fastest pace in your life, start a company. I was one of the earliest employees at my previous job, and I learned so much; but I’m thinking that nothing holds a candle to starting a company yourself.

Ruby on Rails is developer bliss.

If you want to have fun coding, enjoy elegance and simplicity, there is no better framework.

Rails can also help you deliver a web application in less time

I can accomplish things in a minute with Rails that used to take me a whole day. It’s amazing how simple it is to build your data model and scope out all your controllers. The most time consuming part for me is still front-end (html + css) coding (actually, not so much the code, just settling on something that looks decent and is usable).

Outsource your IT infrastructure

Evenlevel is hosted on theplanet. This is fine, but for the next iteration we’re going with Joyent Accelerators. I spent too much time worrying about DNS servers, backups, etc. No More. Not only that, but Joyent costs less. I realize we weren’t going out and buying servers and colocating, but that was something we were going to eventually have to contend with. I really appreciate how you can scale with Joyent easily from day 1 (Just add more accelerators and BIG-IP load balancing).

Bootstrapping is really really hard

Save money or raise seed capital then quit your job. It is way too hard to burn the midnight oil or be a weekend warrior: Everyone suffers.

Tweaking performance pays off

Within a day of setting up nginx with gzip compression and page caching, Google starting crawling 10 times more of our pages. Two days after that, our search traffic quintupled. Not only did we reduce our bandwidth utilization and give our users a more enjoyable experience, but Google started loving us within a day.

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