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As you may have noticed, I've posted a new version of my web site. This new version is re-written from the ground up, using some great new tech. The photo experience has been re-imagined, but other areas of the site retain a similar though improved user experience. The entire site is now much more mobile-friendly, and more responsive as well.

As for the new tech that's driving everything, the site is now a single-page application. The client-side is wirtten entirely in React. On the server, the application is hosted from an ASP.NET Core process running in IIS, which handles server-side rendering of the React components via something called the JavaScriptViewEngine. This view engine is used instead of the standard Razor view engine, and essentially hands off the rendering of a top-level React component to Node.js. Everything is tied together by Redux, which handles all of the client-side state. It gets its initial state from the server-side render depending on which "page" was initially requested, and retrieves additional data as needed from the server's Web API.

Building the new site was a great deal of fun; combining React with ASP.NET Core proved to be an interesting challenge, but I think the combination is elegant. The server is responsible for providing data, the initial state, and the initial render to the UI, but the UI drives everything else. Developing the new site has kept me up late many nights over the last few months, but I've learned a fair amount in the process. Still, it is nice to finally get it out the door!

Posted by nick.steinbaugh at 2:06 AM
Filed under: Web Site

We decided to make the trip up to Wyoming for the recent total eclipse, along with a fair chunk of the state of Colorado. It’s possible that Wyoming’s population doubled for the weekend.

Nhu, Felix and I, along with my brother Taylor, all made the trip up. We went up late morning on Friday the 18th, so traffic heading up was not bad. We stayed in Gillette, which was north of the path of totality, so we had a reasonable room rate. For the long stretch of road between Douglas and Gillette, there was virtually nothing. I decided to stay up there so we could spend a day at Devils Tower, which we did the following day, but not after traveling out to see Mount Rushmore. We also attempted to visit Jewel Cave, but by the time we arrived at 11:00, all of the tours for the day had sold out. After we visited Mount Rushmore, we went to Rapid City for dinner, and headed to Devils Tower to catch sunset.

I decided that I wanted to drive back to Devils Tower the next morning to catch sunrise, which meant waking up at 4:15 in the morning. Taylor and I both went, while Nhu and Felix slept in at the hotel. On the drive there, I nearly hit two deer, and had to swerve to miss them. This despite my taking extra care because I knew there would be deer out at dawn. Sunrise at Devils Tower turned out to be a bust, due to excessive clouds at the horizon. So, Taylor and I decided to hike the three-mile trail around the tower, where I missed stepping on a baby rattlesnake by roughly an inch. It made no noise and I had not seen it; Taylor noticed it move only after I had walked by. The near miss was quite unnerving!

After finishing the trail, we went back to the hotel room and relaxed for the rest of the day, having found nothing better to do in the area. We did have a fantastic dinner at a local restaurant though; after some nice fried green tomatoes, Taylor and I both had very tasty buffalo ribeyes, while Nhu had some very smoky ribs. Felix had some of everything, and he loved the place too.

The next day was the day of the eclipse. We all woke up early, had breakfast and drove back down to Douglas at 5:30 AM. After a quick stop at Safeway, we found a nice relatively secluded spot to view the eclipse on a dirt county road called Bedtick Road. After we selected our spot and had been there a while, a lady and her children drove up on a big wheel golf cart to greet us and some others up the hill. Not long after they left, the partial eclipse began, and we started watching through our (real, not fake, purchased from Amazon) ISO-certified glasses. The sky began to get darker, but it felt more like looking through a polarizer than actual darkness.

Then totality hit. The experience was surreal; it looked like a 360-degree sunset, though the sky was black rather than dark blue. We had to take the glasses off to see the sun’s corona during totality; nothing was visible through the glasses at that point. Taylor also noticed that it had gotten noticeably colder, and the cows were mooing up a storm. I captured as much of the experience as I could, but sadly it all lasted for just over two minutes.

Once totality was over, we jumped into the car, got onto I-25, and headed home. Unfortunately, there were 500,000 others doing the same thing. Traffic was snarled for many, many miles, and it ended up taking us over 7 hours to get home. It had taken us under three hours to drive the 215 miles up. If I had it to do again, I would definitely have taken one of the one-hour-plus detours to come home! But taken as a whole, I would unreservedly say that the experience was worth the trouble, and I’m looking forward to seeing the next North American total eclipse in 2024!

Posted by nick.steinbaugh at 10:44 PM

I have not written anything for quite some time now. First we were busy settling into the new house. Then early last year, I got promoted to a team lead position at Healthgrades.

At first, I was very optimistic. They had restructured the entire company into a new model, geared toward enabling teams to work more autonomously. And I had been given a really great team, and a great product team to work with. We built up the team, and we functioned very well together. However, it wasn't long until the well-entrenched Healthgrades culture intervened. More and more was asked of the team leads and senior engineers, to the point of many getting burned out. By summer, I had enough, and I started looking for a new job.

In September, I left Healthgrades and started a new job at LGS Innovations. Their web operation is not nearly as large as Healthgrades, but so far I am really enjoying it. Web development is a very recent focus for the company, so it's a skillset they are trying to build. I feel like I have a lot to offer the team, and I've been able to make some great contributions already.

If that wasn't enough, last February my dad dropped the bombshell that he was leaving my mom. My brother and I have been dealing with that ever since, and it has consumed all of my available free time, and then some. They quickly got to a point where they wouldn't speak to each other except through lawyers or my brother or me. I helped broker a settlement, which they agreed to at the 11th hour in October, just before their scheduled trial.

Since then, until just last weekend, my brother and I helped my mom get ready to move. The house is going to be sold, and she agreed to be out of the house by January 15th. So we helped her clean out all of her stuff. And there was a LOT. Things turned a bit frantic toward the end, but we did get her out of the house. Last weekend, she moved in with me temporarily, until my dad can get the house ready to sell. So, I now have both my mother and mother-in-law living with me. The next few months should prove interesting!

Posted by nick.steinbaugh at 8:05 PM
Filed under: Home, Family