Author Archives: xangis

Having a Career Again

For the last five years, since moving to Portland, I’ve been obsessed with building a viable startup. During that time, I was either working on my own startup as a founder (or cofounder), or working a regular job just long enough to get the money to try again with another startup. None of those four […]

Old Basternae Blog Posts Imported

I ran a blog for about seven years at It was almost entirely about Basternae MUD and the evolution of the ModernMUD codebase, but also included a lot of general programming-related entries. I’ve imported all of the previous posts from that blog for the sake of preserving history, though many of them will no […]

Quora Answer: How would you find the websites to build a search index from scratch?

I originally wrote this as an answer to a question on Quora. It depends on the scale. If you just want to experiment with web crawling and build a basic search index, it’s common to start with the Alexa top million websites, which can be downloaded in a CSV file via S3 at: The top […]

Interesting But Not A Business: The Story of the WbSrch Search Engine

I write this after having just shut down my almost-startup, the WbSrch search engine. I started working on WbSrch for “fun” in the fall of 2013. AltaVista, my favorite search engine from “back in the day” had shut down that summer. Nostalgia combined with annoyance at how bad/annoying/intrusive/evil Google had become convinced me to try […]

Quora Answer: My son got an offer from a 1-year-old startup by some very senior folks from Google. The pay is good and product idea is good, but it’s a startup. He asked for our advice on this. What are some suggestions from people from relevant fields?

I originally wrote this as an answer to a question on Quora. I joined a startup founded by ex-Google people in 2010 as the third engineer. I worked there for 2 years, had a great time, learned a ton, got my first patent out of the process, and the experience is one of the best […]

Quora Answer: Are analog synthesizers overrated?

I originally wrote this as an answer to a question on Quora. To put it simply, yes. Analog synthesizers are absolutely overrated. I’m referring specifically to subtractive synthesizers. The differences in sound quality really ARE quite minor, so don’t feel bad if you can’t much tell them apart. That’s not to say they’re not useful. […]

Quora Answer: I know almost nothing about the stock market but have strong programming skills. Will I be able to make profitable trading software?

I originally wrote this as an answer to a question on Quora. The world is littered with the empty wallets of engineers that approached the stock market as a math, algorithmic, or engineering problem. The largest investment banks all have algorithmic trading programs, and they often lose large chunks of money. And sometimes they make […]

Quora Answer: What are some ways that programming was better in the past?

I originally wrote this as an answer to a question on Quora. In the “bad old days” the actual programming work wasn’t much different, just worse. Monitors were smaller and lower-resolution, chairs more uncomfortable, you had to spend a lot more time waiting for the computer to finish what it was doing, hardware was much […]

Quora Answer: Which career is more fun, networking or programming?

I originally wrote this as an answer to a question on Quora. Full question: “Say networking is a blanket, for IT, systems administration, and network security. We’ll say programming is basically web app development. Can anyone with experience in either of these fields give some pros and cons about what they do and do not […]