For the last couple of months, I’ve been working on a new side project that my wife, brother and sister and I came up with, called I haven’t posted about as of yet, because honestly I suspect it might be a good enough idea to really become something good, and I want to protect us from competitors! For example, there are a couple of shareware programs out there already that do what we’re planning, and they’ve created some limited buzz, but so far no one has thought to put the idea online in a nice web site. I won’t go into detail just yet, but it’s hard to maintain a blog without mentioning the thing that’s my primary occupation outside work!

The burden has been on me to get the site off the ground, but once it’s to a certain point the rest of the family will be able to help out more. I’ve been struggling to get enough mental traction, but now I think I’m getting somewhere. As always, it was a combination of gathering the right set of tools, and being organized enough to start drawing some specifications. There was a longish period of experimentation with a particular application of Web Services as well.

Here are the tools I’m using:

  • My PowerBook is the primary development machine, because it has the Unix environment that imitates our web host, and I can develop around the house. All the items below are installed both on my ‘Book and on our server.
  • Apache (comes with Mac OS X)
  • PHP (comes with Mac OS X)
  • MySQL
  • Smarty. This is the most interesting part. It will let me separate the display of the data on the site from the PHP code that fetches it from Web Services or the local database.
  • TextWrangler. (This is only on my Mac.) This is the free version of BBEdit. It can parse PHP to give me a function popup, and has a great drawer feature where the files I’m working with are listed without window clutter.
Machine Learning Engineer

I am a software engineer and mathematician. I work on NLP algorithms for Apple News, and research homotopy type theory in CMU’s philosophy department.