What a world…

This is the latest incarnation of the online presence of this Erik Hess. While there are many people around the world named Erik Hess, I’m probably the only Erik Hess that grew up in Florida, currently lives in Minneapolis, loves driving around Iceland, was a photographer for years, is currently coding for a living, and really loves Thai food, collard greens, and sweet tea.

A few weird facts about this particular Erik Hess

  • Figuring out how things work is one of my favorite things. I like making them better even more.
  • My favorite thing ever is creating anything that helps people or enriches their lives. Art, code, organizations, articles, whatever. As long as it helps someone or brings them some joy it was worth it.
  • This life has been a very “non-traditional” one and I’ve found myself in some pretty interesting (and pretty hilarious) situations. Life is weird, you guys.
  • I’ve been in a committed relationship with a partner since late 2010 and, while we’re neither cohabitators nor interested in marraige, we’re family. She’s amazing, brilliant, and my best friend. We’ve been through a lot together and are kinda stuck with each other now. Which is great. <3
  • Growing up in Central Florida gave me a deep appreciation for a few things: Good collard greens, NASA, and death metal.
  • Living in Minnesota for over a decade has given me a deep appreciation for another set of things: Seasons, bike lanes, and hot dish.
  • Biking, walking, and using mass transit for commuting were alien to me when I was growing up in Florida but here in the Twin Cities I far prefer all three of those when possible. I’m a city kid, I guess.
  • I was a bit of an early adopter of social media. I was very active on Instagram, Flickr, Twitter, Facebook and other platforms for quite awhile. Now that righteous outrage and endless fury are the norm though I’m not really too into it.
  • Technical topics in politics like net neutrality, the right to repair, digital privacy, Creative Commons and copyright reform, the open source movement, addressing the massive overkill on penalties for violations of laws like the CFAA, and other related topics are really important to me.
  • Back in the 90’s I was a bit of a BBS nerd and I really loved Wired Magazine until the boom hit its stride, everyone involved with it seemed to get rich, and suddenly it was about stock picks, $20,000 watches, and how to spend money.
  • Back in the 80’s I was a Nintendo kid and absolutely loved baseball, at least until the strike. Meh.

A few “what I do with my free time” things:

In no particular order:

  • Recreational drugs have never been my thing, which is kinda weird for my generation. I don’t really gamble either. So I’m pretty boring. Which is fine with me. My only real vice is enjoying a meal with a friend or three at a good restaurant, like Brasa or Sen Yai Sen Lek. Probably cheaper than the other stuff anyway. :)
  • I like to build and work on improving open source apps, particularly troubleshooting/analysis tools and 3rd-party Eve Online applications. I also enjoy diving into hardware hacking projects like finding JTAG/SPI pins on embedded microcontrollers and dumping/analyzing/modifying their firmware learn new things and augment capabilities. Bunnie Huang has been a hero of mine since I first read his book “Hacking the X-Box” in the early 2000’s.
  • Science, particularly rocketry, nuclear physics, high energy physics, cosmology, and planetary science have been a lightning rod for my curiosity since I was a kid. My original plan as I was going into college was to become a physicist, hopefully an experimental physicst working on high-energy physics projects like particle accelerators and the detectors that shed light on the nature of the fabric of our reality. Even though I took a divergent path I love to keep up with what’s going on.
  • Gaming isn’t a big part of my life these days but I find enjoyment in the 15-year-old world of Eve Online and the community of friends I’ve found there. Despite being an unforgiving world with a lot of toxic behavior the good people I’ve met in New Eden’s “countercultures” keep it interesting. The massive complexity of its manufacturing, trade, and diplomacy systems and layers of meta gaming are just icing on proverbial space cake. When I’m roaming around I’m usually enjoying some location-based gaming like Pokemon Go or, more recently, Ingress. I’ve also been known to occasionally do some pen-and-paper and board gaming too.
  • Music is a strong passion of mine. I’m open minded, always looking for new things, and pretty anti-dogmatic about it. Most genres I’ve explored have artists, albums, and songs that resonate well with me and I’m always looking for more music to check out. Check out my Spotify profile and playlists if you’re into that kind of thing too. My interest in photography actually grew out of my love of music. I didn’t have much of an ear for making it so I was awlways in awe watching others make it happen in real-time. Documenting music culture and performaces became my life for awhile.
  • Good storytelling really hits me right in the feels. A pretty sizable list of books, films, and TV series are usually in rotation in my world. Recently I’ve really enjoyed the Ancilary Justice books by Ann Leckie and shows like Billons and Halt and Catch Fire to name a few. I also read through the first 5 Dune books, which I really don’t recommend doing - the fourth and fifth books are really that bad and I should’ve listened to common wisdom for once.
  • Traveling is something I thoroughly enjoy too. I’m looking foward to more trips to Iceland and Yellowstone, two of my favorite places so far. A big goal for the near future is to visit places I haven’t been yet, like Tokyo, Paris, Shenzhen, London, Singapore and pretty much anywhere else on the planet I can get to in time to explore it.

Things I’ve Done for a Living

My best moments at work have usually involved working with great people which I’ve been very lucky with throuhgout my carrer(s). As long as I’m part of a good community of colleagues I’m happy. :)

In reverse-semi-chronological order…

  • “Benevolent Slack Emoji Czar”
  • Software Reliability Engineering, Monitoring & Incident Response (InfluxDB, Grafana, AppDynamics)
  • Software Engineering, Backend & Bug Analysis (Java, SQL, Eclipse, IntelliJ)
  • Software Engineering, Tools & Scripts (Bash, Python, more regex than is probably healthy)
  • Software Support, Technical Escalation (Cloud apps, Endpoint Client apps, Eclipse for code analysis)
  • Software Support, Front Line (Cloud apps, Endpoint Client apps, Zendesk, lots of TextExpander snips)
  • Freelance Music Writer (Reviews, Interviews)
  • Freelance Commercial Photography (Events, Portraits, Product Shots)
  • Freelance Photo/Video Assistant (Lighting, Tethering Tech, Schlepping Gear, Etc)
  • Freelnace Photojournalism (Arts and Entertainment, Sports, Neighborhood News)
  • Big-box Corporate HQ: Consumer Computer Repair Support, Training, Business Development
  • Big-box Retail: In-store & In-home Consumer Computer Repair/Consulting
  • Big-box Retail: Consumer Electronics (Sales, Inventory, Overnight Merchandising Resets, Demo/Display Assembly & Troubleshooting, Shift Scheduling)
  • Systems Administration, Linux (Lots of Ubuntu with some ancient Red Hat in there)
  • Systems Administration, Web (Apache, Nginx) & Domain (BIND mostly)
  • Small Business Retail: Record Store, Video Game Store (Sales, Inventory)
  • Freelance Consumer and Small/Medium Business Computer and Network Consulting

Things I’m Actively Learning

Figuring out new things gives me peace and happiness. Here are some things I’m actively working on learning or improving as of mid-2018:

  • Object Oriented Design Patterns
  • Firmware Binary Decompilation & Analysis
  • Building Small Electronics Projects

Farewell Traveler

What a crazy About page, huh? I’d make it a bit less verbose but, alas, I’ve got a things to learn and an actual site to build. Go figure. :)

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