This is Part 2 of the 17 year history of Frank’s World.
Yesterday, I wrote about the origins of Frank’s World: about the journey from the Bronx to Europe.
Today, the story continues and it’s not all rainbows and kittens (or even schnauzers).
Surviving a Tragedy: 2001 through 2002
After living overseas, I moved back to New York in late August 2001 and into an apartment in Lower Manhattan on September 1st, 2001.
Ten days later, the entire world changed.
Fortunately, I was not where I was supposed to be and I used the site to update folks on both sides of the Atlantic that I was ok.
This was before Facebook/Twitter.
Above: I picture I took of the North Tower of the WTC just before the South Tower collapsed.
Later, I posted pictures from the day and my thoughts and feelings to the site.
Again, this is before Facebook, Flickr, or Tumblr.
Reboot: 2003 through 2004
In late 2003, I decided to reboot my career.
The company I worked for laid off thousands of employees in the economic aftermath of 9/11. I survived the first few cuts, but my day did come.
While in Germany, I spent a great deal of time becoming an excellent ATG Dynamo expert. Imagine my surprise when I came back to the US to see that Websphere was the dominate Java application server.
Work in the post dot-com bust age was hard to come by. Work in the financial sector doubly so. ATG Dynamo jobs were triply harder to come by.
After trying to stay in the Java world, I decided to take a deeper look at .NET. I had looked at some of the earlier releases. It was clear Java was having fragmentation issues. (And you thought that was a new thing) Finally, I had enough.
I looked around at other platforms and saw Microsoft had something really big on their hands with .NET 1.1.
To many of my former Java colleagues, I may have well joined the Sith.
Above: How Java developers saw me after I started experimenting with .NET
As with anything, the best way to learn .NET was to go whole hog: I got rid of all the Perl/CGI/Java/XSSI code on Frank’s World and moved everything over to ASP.NET. I also had some fun with using web services to control my VOIP phone account from a Windows Mobile device. I really liked the power and simplicity of the .NET platform and I took to it like a fish to water.
Up until this point, good solid, deep technical information on .NET was hard to come by.
At work, the two self-proclaimed “.NET experts” were more interested in protecting their gigs than sharing knowledge.
To learn more, I started attending a local .NET User Group in North Jersey and I discovered the awesomeness of the developer community. I learned so much at those meetings and was really inspired by folks like Miguel Castro and Don XML.
Shortly afterwards, I came across an open RFP for a steganographic detection system. I didn’t win the bid, but, in prepping for the RFP, I got a deeper understanding for the framework than I ordinarily would have. Steganography also played a role in how I met my wife. More on that later.
In 2004, I decided that I need to reboot more than just my career: I left the New York Metro area for calmer pastures when I moved to Richmond in October 2004. My father had just had open heart surgery, with the third anniversary of 9/11 looming, the Universe presented me with a choice.
Two job offers stood before me: one right next to Ground Zero and the other in Richmond, VA.
I decided that I had enough exposure to things that reminded me of 9/11, let alone walk right through it every day. I took the chance, changed my surroundings and changed my life.
I’m glad I did.
Tablets and Community: 2004 through 2006
That job in Richmond turned out to be life-changing, in more ways than one.
Personally, it was nice to just live life and not think about the horrors of 9/11 on a daily basis. Without the New York skyline and it’s obviously missing pieces in my face all the time, it was a lot easier to do.
Professionally, I got to work on a Tablet PC based electronic medical records system.
Above: The “dream machine” of 2004.
All the stuff that we’re all excited about now was around in 2004. Some things like battery life were not quite ready for prime time, but the core handwriting recognition engine was already in place and already was a lot better than the competition before there was competition.
But it was in Richmond that I discovered the developer community in a big way. After my great experiences in New Jersey with N3UG, I wanted to participate. The Richmond.NET User Group president at the time saw my blog post lamenting the lack of meetings and, asked if I was willing to speak.
I said yes and have been speaking at developer community events ever since.
Husband, Father, Author: 2006 – 2010
In 2006, I met my wife and I knew I was going to marry her was she already knew all about steganography.
Also in 2006, I left Richmond for Northern Virginia. Shortly after that, my father passed away. A lot happened that year.
2007 was a much better year: we got engaged and I got an article published on Tablet PC development. I even spoke at three major professional conferences on the same topic.
The changes kept coming: In 2008, we got married, bought and renovated an older home. You may have noticed blog posts drop off slightly during that time. If you’ve ever wondered why, there’s your answer.
In the middle of all this, I had the opportunity to learn WPF as part of a really cool project I can’t talk about. Suffice to say that my Tablet PC SDK skills and foreign language skills were two unique traits that made me the ideal candidate. The work I did on this project was some of the most rewarding and challenging work I’ve ever had the privilege of doing.
Although I had a magazine article published, I really wanted to write a book and in 2009 I got my chance.
Two weeks later, we found our son was on his way. 2009 was a busy, busy year.
More than a few people forwarded the post, writing excitedly about a “release date” (aka due date) of December 2009. I’m sure someone somewhere freaked out about NDA related issues until they read the post a little more closely.
Blue Badge: 2011 through Today
Since joining Microsoft, I’ve had the chance to meet a wide degree of people who are doing amazing things with our technologies in the Public Sector. From soldiers serving our country to foreign dignitaries, I’ve had the chance to talk tech with and get feedback from an amazing array of people.
First and foremost, I think it’s time to take the HTML and CSS skills I’ve built up building Windows 8 apps and it put it to use here.
Maybe, like Windows, Frank’s World also needs to be re-imagined for a new era.
Don’t worry, I like the developer blog format and won’t go the fake news route, except maybe for April Fools’ Day.