Adventures in geekdom

10 Jul 2020


Wow… So it’s… Uh… Been a LONG TIME! For a long time I’ve felt like I don’t have anything worth posting here but recently I’ve had a few ideas for some blog posts and I feel like I’m finally in a place where I have the motivation to actually write them. A lot of it came from depression and how that wrecks people, but now I’m taking steps to make that better (more on that to come).

Since there’s too much to say to catch up to now from 6 years ago I’m just going to pretend this post is the first post on the blog and that all the old ones don’t exist. There is some fun stuff in those, though… I want to continue at least one of the projects I talked about in the past at some point.

ANYWAY, as of June 15 of this year I’m now working at Atlassian on Bitbucket. My team is amazing and I’m really enjoying it and the company as a whole so far. Atlassian has (obviously) an internal Confluence instance that people use as a central repository for information, but also as a place to put personal pages as well as share blog posts with the company. When new people start it’s suggested they write an intro blog post to their own blog to introduce themselves to the company. I ended up writing a whole bunch for mine and thought it might be interesting to post it here since it’s a pretty good (and LONG) intro to me! I’ve tweaked it slightly to avoid any private company stuff but since it’s a post about me… There really isn’t much.

Hi Everyone! I’m a bit late writing this because I actually started at Atlassian on June 15th but I wanted to make sure I did this within my first 30 days (coming up quick), so I’m doing it now! I like to talk so this will probably be a little long but I hope it’ll be interesting!

Who Am I?

Well, that’s a bit complicated. For a long time, I’ve been one person, and starting this year I’m a new person! In the future, I may regret being this open in my first blog post here but I’m just so excited to be at Atlassian where I can really express and be me for the first time, plus . After decades of suppressing myself, I finally came out as a trans woman earlier this year and thanks to the people around me (and the new people around me!) it’s been an amazing experience so far. I’m still very early in my journey (and COVID hasn’t helped with not being able to go out… anyone have tips on fashion/makeup/anything? Hit me up on Twitter!) but I don’t think I could be at a better place for my transition. My team at Atlassian has been incredibly accepting and even in these early weeks, I can tell I’m going to like it here!

Since I’m not comfortable putting pictures of myself out there right now you can just imagine I look like Rayla (above right) from the Netflix show The Dragon Prince. If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s pretty good!

Who Am I, Really?

Since I don’t want to be defined by being trans I suppose I need to get to the really interesting stuff…


What? Oh.
Pronouns she/her/hers
Role Backend Software Engineer
Team Bitbucket Cloud
Office Home
Hometown Germantown, WI
Favorite Emoji Anything with the blob
Favorite Tech Stuff Go
Favorite Video Games (of all time) Counter-Strike
World of Warcraft
Favorite Sports Teams Green Bay Packers
Wisconsin Badgers
Milwaukee Brewers
Milwaukee Bucks
Favorite Bands Reel Big Fish
Less Than Jake
Suburban Legends
Dope (which one of these things is not like the other?)
Favorite Movies Gremlins
Gremlins 2
Aliens (all of them, I guess)
Favorite Cuisines Mexican

I LOVE Technology! 🖥️

I grew up in a house where everyone in my family is a geek and it rubbed off on me. My mom was a Data Architect at a large insurance company her whole career and my dad has always been into electronics. When we’d travel both my dad and I had our “electronics bags” with all the tech toys in them. Both my dad and I have our amateur radio (ham radio) licenses as well. Let’s just say I’m a GEEK (caps required for emphasis)!

I was privileged enough to have an old TI-99/4A in the house growing up where I was able to play around with BASIC programs written in BYTE magazine (not that I knew what programming was at the time) and get into Parsec. Later in life, my mom worked hard to get us a Gateway 2000 486 DX 33MHz (with a TURBO button)! This was my first “real” experience with a computer. This is the computer I was able to learn how to write BASIC on with MS BASIC 7.1 (I think it was 14 3.5” floppies?), the computer I started playing around with MS Visual C++ 1.6 (I was so lost). It’s also the computer I learned I was obsessed with computers on. Sometimes to the detriment of my school work, so my parents would try to lock me out of the computer until I got that done. I learned so much about computer hardware and software trying to work around those various forms of locks, so thanks, Mom and Dad! 😉

In high school, I became interested in TI calculators (I had an 83, 83+, 89, and have since bought more for who knows what reason). It was then that I started to get into the real guts of computers with assembly programming (z80 for some of them, 68k for others). I joined a group called TCPA, helped out with MirageOS (TI-83+ users may be familiar with that), and did my first substantial programming on TI-News with PHP and MySQL. Oh, I even have the distinction of writing the first port of the well-known TI calculator application Wacky Fun Random Numbar Generator v1.00000069 [more info] (now ported to pretty much every system ever known, including the Wii). It was thanks to these projects that I realized I wanted to work with computers for my future.

I realize I said this was going to be a long post in the intro but maybe this part is getting a little TOO long… Let’s skip ahead past the few years I spent doing PHP work, ASP classic (VBScript) work, as well as .Net web forms and MVC (C#) work to the present day. Fret not, this will probably be the longest part of this post!

These days I still enjoy playing around with technology, whether it’s trying out new server software that seems interesting (Kubernetes being a big recent one) or learning new programming languages (this is a big interest of mine). I have SO MANY projects that I start and never finish, usually because I use them to learn something and then move on to the next thing once I’m satisfied. I’m pretty proud of the home lab I built that I like to use for trying out new things. Sometimes I like to joke that my home infrastructure is better than a lot of small businesses. 😀

Go and Rust are currently my favorite languages to work with and I’m thankful I’ve been able to work with Go full-time for the last 5 years or so (and more coming, hopefully)! Here I mentioned making a page on my personal Confluence space about Go and “Things I’ve Learned About Go”, sadly it’s internal only. For Rust, a few years ago I created a presentation called “Why I Like Rust” to explain the real reasons behind my “Let’s write everything in Rust!” joking.

Both of these languages have been a real change for me because they were the only languages since I learned C# where I really felt like I enjoyed and had fun working with them. Go was a breath of fresh air because it made powerful concepts like concurrency and native binaries easier to reach. No longer did you need to understand C or C++ and processes/threads/foot guns, you could use a language that was designed from the beginning to be simple with a relatively small number of keywords and came with a tool to format your code consistently, allowing your team to focus on results instead of the color of a shed (purple 💜, btw).

Rust hooked me from a few different angles. I felt truly “safe” working with it because there are so many compile-time checks to make sure you’re not doing something wrong that you can be more confident in your code when it compiles. Explicit lifetimes and object ownership are not something developers take into consideration all the time, but your code won’t even compile if you don’t take those into consideration with Rust. These guardrails can be frustrating and difficult to move past initially, however, I feel that once you’re over that hump it makes you a better developer overall (it did for me) because you’re now trained to keep those in mind. It’s like a warm, fuzzy hug 🧸 from the compiler keeping you safe.

Not only do I love to learn about tech but I also love to help others learn it as well. In the past, I’ve done a few presentations at conferences, including scaling SIP, an intro to Cassandra, and as a panelist on a panel about Docker and containers. It’s a great feeling when someone comes back to you later and tells you that what you’d talked about in the past saved them a bunch of time or made their outcome better. So if any of what I mentioned above sounds interesting and you want to talk about it, let’s do it!

Finally, I’m a big proponent of open-source software. I have a number of projects I’ve released over the last 20+ years (you can find them on github.com/aphistic… sorry 😬) and I believe that since we (not only Atlassian but every other place I’ve been) benefit so much from open-source software that we should be contributing back. So you may find me around Atlassian (virtually) doing my best to move code upstream!

Video Games Are Fun!

Playing video games has also been a large part of my life. I used to play more than I do now but I likely wouldn’t be where I am now without them. The biggest video game influences in my life have been Counter-Strike, World of Warcraft, and Minecraft.

Counter-Strike was important to me because it was the first game I played competitively and with a team. I’ve always been a pretty competitive person and competitive, cooperative nature of Counter-Strike just built up some awesome camaraderie between our team. I sadly lost contact with all my old teammates over time but I still have some videos of the fun times we had (and the memories if I want to get sappy).

World of Warcraft was my next big game. I was originally drawn in by the art direction of the game, especially the Undercity where I initially started out the game. Some of my real-life friends and I started playing together and formed a guild. I remember how we all worked together farming wolves in the Wetlands to get 10 gold to create our guild tabard, which was a LOT of money at that time. I played a Troll Holy Priest named “Reija” and a Night Elf Resto Druid named “Msdrood”, who looked shockingly like Rayla, even down to the face markings (see the images below and at the top)! I think that’s probably why I’ve gravitated to her recently, I feel like I relate to her. Eventually, we all reached the max level and started doing the raids. That’s where the real fun began! Raiding brought back the competitive and cooperative parts of Counter-Strike that I enjoyed but at a whole new level.

In WoW the original raids were for 40 people, so there was A LOT of coordination that needed to happen. I learned a lot about leadership by co-running raids and acting as an officer in a guild of 250+ people, especially at the high level we raided at. Our guild was the top guild (or at least the top 3 when we had some off days) on our server of an estimated 300 thousand players (at the time) and we were pretty proud of that! As the game got older more and more people started to move on to other things, so it became harder to field a group large enough to raid (even as raid sizes went down from 40 to 25 players). Near the end of my “career”, I joined one of the top guilds in the US and we had a few US-first raid boss kills but that was around the time a lot of people were falling off WoW (Firelands for those familiar with WoW), so our raid also stopped a few months after I joined.

It was a great experience, though, and I don’t regret any of the time spent! I still keep in touch with a lot of my old guildmates and we play other multiplayer games that don’t take quite as much time out of our lives. Some still play WoW and try to entice me to go back at times but somehow I’ve managed to stick to my “no more raiding” rule. Since that was really what kept me going with WoW I only really go back for the beginning of expansions to level up and see the new zones now. If you’re interested, I recorded some of our first raid boss kills and I have them up on youtube now. Check them out below!

With the high level my guild raided at and being the first person on my server to hit level 70 it was a little fun to be “famous”. (I’m Uninspired here)

A statue Blizzard sent me for people who were subscribed for the full 10 years of WoW.
A number of “first kill” videos I made for my old WoW guild “Righteous Dawn”

Righteous Dawn video playlist

Minecraft I don’t really have as much to say about. I love the exploring part of it and hiding massive underground bases in places you wouldn’t expect. I also enjoy playing it modded so I can build a bunch of automation to basically play the game for me. So… I guess I play the game so I don’t have to play the game? Either way, I’m glad Hatsune Miku created it.

Traveling Is Fun! ✈️

Growing up I was again fortunate enough that my family was able to take two weeks every summer between school years and travel somewhere. Typically we would road trip or fly and then road trip around the US and parts of Canada. During these trips, we made it to all of the contiguous United States, even if we had to cheat sometimes by going two hours out of our way just so we could set foot, do some push-ups and then leave (looking at you, Oklahoma).

My first big trip outside the US (sorry Canada, you’re too close to me in WI to count) was down to the Cancun area in Mexico for my brother’s wedding. We spent a week at an all-inclusive resort and it was the first time I saw the clear, blue water I’d only seen in photos before. I was amazed at just how clear and vibrant the water was! Since then I’ve been able to do a Caribbean cruise (be sure to see Stingray City if you visit Grand Cayman), a Norwegian cruise, and visit Costa Rica (beautiful)! I had planned a 3 week trip around Japan with my cousin for June 2020 but we had to cancel it due to COVID. It’s still on the top of my list! Hopefully, I’ll also be able to make it to Sydney sometime to see that new Atlassian office when it’s open!

The Grand Finale!

Phew… If you made it this far, thanks! That means I made it kinda interesting at least. 🙂 I don’t think there’s really going to be a grand finale here, I said everything already!

I’m glad to be an Atlassian and I’m excited about my future here. Now maybe I should get back to work so I actually have one…