2014 Retrospective

I didn’t publish as many thoughts in 2014 as I would have liked to, but that was in large part necessitated by the events that unfolded throughout the year. Around the middle of 2013, I had begun working on a prototype of a system that would make it easy to build large scale distributed applications in a wide variety of programming languages, by people who didn’t much care for how difficult it is build applications that span thousands of machines and hundreds of data centers. You see, most programs we write a sequential because individual computers are largely sequential. As you add more and more computers, the problem is your programs become parallel, not because of any magic but because you just are simply running sequential code on more than one computer. Designing software for a reality where hundreds of machines all work together to perform a single task isn’t all that hard, it just needs you to think about exactly what data you need when you need it where you need it. And since thinking is seemingly hard, most people just give up right away and go back to what they were doing before.

By late 2013, I had a bunch of working prototypes, and formed a new LLC with a business partner, and had begun consulting for a M2M initiative that is a reference implementation of a ETSI spec. By April 2014, I had successfully demonstrated using the prototype to take an application written to run only on a single machine, and made it run on a half dozed scatters between two data centers. After that, I entered into a blackout period about which I can not say much, but on October 1st 2014 we announced wot.io Inc. With a healthy 8 figures in funding and an incredible executive team, we went from just me to now around 35 full time people. I have engineering teams on three continents, and offices in two cities (New York & as of last month Buffalo). It has been a pretty amazing year of building a product, working with organizations like Kinoma and DeviceHive, and playing with so many fun toys.

In 2014, I managed to get my home lab to the point to where I can finally debug most electronics problems. I now have a collection of 20+ dev boards, a Raspberry Pi cluster, a 4k monitor, oscilloscope, soldering station, hot air rework station, magnifier lights, tools, tools, tools, and even a poor man’s logic analyzer and protocol probe. My home lab setup has 4 wifi access points, and a dozen IoT devices in various configurations. The explosion of devices and modules in the $3-$15 range and the ease of buying remnants from China, has finally made it practical to start doing SMD prototyping at home. Part of me, however, has also manage to rediscover the joys of dead bug and thru hole soldering. The two workbenches and cabinet I installed are going to need some additions in 2015 to make room for the ever growing pile of components.

Having spent a good deal of the year working on ARM devices, having my product win a best in show award was particularly wonderful. It was also fun to visit the Bay Area with old and new friends alike. 15 years ago, I lived in Santa Clara when I got my first “real job” in tech, and ARM Techcon felt like coming back around full circle. I have also had the good fortune of getting to work with a couple great UK companies this year, and hope to get to spend some time next year tromping about England and Scotland. We may also have an opportunity to open a UK office in 2015!

Looking back on the year, it was in may ways the fulfillment of an idea I posted in my blog around 2001. It only took me 14 years of repeating myself over and over again until the time became right for the idea. Hopefully, it won’t take another 15 years for the ideas I’m working on now to catch fire! :) Overall, 2014 has been one of the best years I’ve had in a long time. I will remember it fondly.