Matt RaibleMatt Raible is a Web Architecture Consultant specializing in open source frameworks.

The JHipster Mini-Book The JHipster Mini-Book is a guide to getting started with hip technologies today: AngularJS, Bootstrap, and Spring Boot. All of these frameworks are wrapped up in an easy-to-use project called JHipster.

This book shows you how to build an app with JHipster, and guides you through the plethora of tools, techniques and options you can use. Furthermore, it explains the UI and API building blocks so you understand the underpinnings of your great application.

For book updates, follow @jhipster-book on Twitter.

10+ YEARS


Over 10 years ago, I wrote my first blog post. Since then, I've authored books, had kids, traveled the world, found Trish and blogged about it all.

Around The World Honeymoon: 2nd Stop, Italy

In August, Trish and I journeyed on a 'round the world honeymoon, starting in Ireland and taking a train to Italy. The train ride from Paris to Turin, Italy was amazing. After a few hours, we passed through the Alps, where scenery was steep and plentiful. We drank wine and gazed out the window as we flew through the countryside. We arrived in Turin just before dark and our first official honeymoon tiff began.

Upon exiting the train station, I realized I didn't have any cash, having spent it in transit on vino. Phil had mentioned the hotel was "a short walk" from the station, so I figured we could walk a few blocks and stumble upon it. This only worked for a few blocks before Trish asked me if I had the address. I admitted that I did not, though it was on TripIt and I'd left the printout on the printer at home. Of course, with no phones or internet, TripIt did us no good. We stopped in at a bar to get the address from someone with a cell phone, then proceeded to walk for several blocks in the wrong direction. Then things got a lot better. We found an ATM, caught a cab and landed at our hotel (the NH Santo Stefano) 10 minutes later.

The next day, Tuesday August 6, we slept too late to feast on the hotel's breakfast. Just before noon, we strolled through the heat to Piazza San Carlo. A shaded cafe presented itself as appetizing and we sat down for a bite to eat.

San Carlo Royal Square Turin Italy

Trish at Piazza San Carlo First meal in Italy!

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Posted in General at Oct 24 2013, 02:33:36 PM MDT 3 Comments

Around The World Honeymoon: 1st Stop, Ireland

When I asked Trish where she wanted to go for our honeymoon, she suggested "Ireland, Italy, Thailand or Fiji". They all sounded like wonderful places, so we decided to visit them all! To book the trip, we contacted the Travel Guru, Phil Overton. Phil does all the travel arrangements for No Fluff Just Stuff, so I'd worked with him a bit in the past. Phil agreed to help us out and I sent him an email with countries and dates to get the ball rolling. We asked him to book us a flight out of Denver on July 31, returning on August 23rd, just in time for Jack's birthday party.

The week before we were scheduled to depart, I received our travel book (with itineraries and tickets), and confirmed everything looked good. At that point, all we knew was the dates were correct and we had hotels booked. That weekend, Trish and I got married. On Monday morning, July 30th, we drove back from Montana, arriving in Denver late that night. The next morning we had our first fight as a married couple.

Me: "You can't bring your phone."
Trish: "I'm bringing my phone! What if there's an emergency?"
Me: "There's not going to be an emergency! Besides, everyone knows our hotel information."
Trish: "I'M BRINGING IT!"
Me: "NO!! If you bring it, I can't tell the story about traveling the world without phones!"

-- Deadlock stare for 15 seconds without blinking --

Trish: "Fine!"

Rather than having checked luggage, we took carry-on bags only. No phones, no computers, and backpacks that only fit a few days worth of clothes. We dressed up in hopes of getting better seats on our flight to Ireland. It worked for getting drinks bought for us in Denver and Boston (our layover), but the guy sitting between us refused to swap seats.

Yep, these are our bags for our around the world trip.

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Posted in General at Oct 17 2013, 02:35:32 PM MDT 3 Comments

Matrimony in Montana

On July 27, 2013, in the late afternoon, Trish McGinity and I were married at the Holland Lake Lodge, in the town I grew up in. The Lodge was a favorite childhood place and getting married there, to the awesomest woman ever, was a glorious experience. There were several planned activities (e.g. horseback riding, rafting, golfing) the week before our wedding day, and many of our friends and family joined the fun. While we couldn't capture every smile, giggle, or loving moment, this is an endeavor to document our matrimony month, our wedding week, and the day we sealed the deal.

We started our month in Montana on Sunday, June 30th. We're officially calling it Raible Road Trip #18. We packed up our pets, raft and golf clubs and left Denver around happy hour.

Heading to Big Sky Country!

To read more about our rafting adventures, our wedding week festivities and our delightful wedding day, please click the link below. You can also skip directly to the wedding week or wedding day.

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Posted in General at Sep 02 2013, 01:01:53 PM MDT 1 Comment

The Trifecta 2013!

The last time I pulled off a Trifecta (3 ski resorts in 3 days), it was in 2010. I hadn't met Trish yet and DU Hockey had started their we're terrible in the playoffs streak. Last weekend, I decided to go for it again, this time with fiancé and kids in tow. We originally intended to ski Friday afternoon, but Abbie had an important "Mayor Election" at school and we were unable to leave early. By the time we arrived in Winter Park, the lifts were closed.

When we drove to Steamboat on Saturday, we only intended to ski 2 days. We dressed up in our outfits and got ready for the warm, mashed-potato conditions on Steamboat's closing weekend.

We love closing weekend at Steamboat!

The conditions weren't great, so we only skied for a couple hours. Then we hung out with Trish's friends (Jenn and Todd) for the rest of the afternoon, swimming and frolicking with our kids like good parents do. On Sunday, we woke up and checked the ski report. While Steamboat did get 8" of fresh powder, Copper had 13 inches! So we packed up the car, puppies, and kids and drove 2 hours to Copper. When we arrived, we weren't disappointed. The kids were loving it and the conditions were great.

13" Powder Day at Copper!

When we stopped for lunch, I was a bit disappointed that our ski weekend was about to end. Then I checked the Winter Park forecast, was pleasantly surprised, and asked "Hey, kids - should we complete the Trifecta and skip school tomorrow?" Of course, they said "YES" and our plans were set. We did a couple more runs, listened to some good live music at the base, then headed to our mountain views in Winter Park.

Sunday night is when the fun started. I didn't call the kids in sick for school, nor did I call in sick for my current client. I simply told them both we had a unique opportunity to complete a Trifecta and the snow was too good to leave.

Monday morning we woke up to 7" of fresh powder and by the time we got to Mary Jane, it was knee-deep. The runs were unbelievable. I skied several bump runs on Mary Jane without ever hitting bottom. It snowed hard all day long and by 2pm, they'd closed Berthoud Pass. This meant we had to stay another night. Some friends were stranded, so we offered them to stay with us and we enjoyed a nice evening reminiscing about all the fluffy snow and face shots. The first photo below is the snow accumulation on Monday morning; the second is from Monday at Happy Hour.

Happy Powder Monday! The whole family took the day off to ski and it's DUMPING in Winter Park. Yeeee hawww!! Best. Monday. Ever. Snowed in with Berthoud Pass closed. This snow is just from today!

Skiing a Trifecta with my family seems like a perfect way to end the ski season. However, it's been snowing all week and I've had several powder runs since Monday. It's snowed 37 inches in the past 7 days and there's more snow in the forecast this weekend. Winter Park's Springtopia starts tomorrow. Live music, fresh powder, the Nuggets in the playoffs and a place at the base with good friends.

The fun ain't over yet! :)

Posted in General at Apr 19 2013, 10:25:09 AM MDT 1 Comment

Paris and Iceland, A Photographer's Paradise

In February 2012, Trish and I traveled to Stockholm on Icelandair. We were immediately impressed with the airline's excellent service. Trish was also a bit miffed that we had a layover in Iceland without an opportunity to get out and see the sites. You see, Iceland is a Photographer's Paradise, and she's the best photographer I know.

This year, when planning our trip to Devoxx France, I set out to correct this missed opportunity. Since Icelandair now flies direct from Denver, and offers free stopovers, our planning was easy.

The conference was in Paris; one of the most magnificent cities to photograph. Trish has some great photos from 2011. She'll be showing many of these photos at an upcoming exhibit at Paris on the Platte in Denver. However, she wanted more.

We arrived in Paris for Devoxx France on Tuesday, March 26th. The first day's excursion started with visiting the Latin Quarter, the Panthéon and Notre Dame.

Panthéon in the evening Panthéon with Bus

Notre Dame Paris along the Seine River France

We had a nice dinner that evening while watching the Fútbol match between France and Spain. On Wednesday, we hung around the hotel in the morning, then took the metro to La Basilique du Sacré Coeur de Montmartre and Moulin Rouge.

La Basilique du Sacré Coeur de Montmartre

From there, we journeyed to the Eiffel Tower for a hike. We climbed the stairs to the second floor and enjoyed the spectacular view.

View of Paris from Tour Eiffel

Wednesday evening, we attended the Devoxx Speakers Dinner. We had a great time chatting and drinking wine with Martin Odersky, Guillaume Bort, the many Nicolas', James Ward and Josh Long.

Nicolas' Martin and Nicolas

Guillaume Bort and Martin Odersky Shenanigans :)

On Thursday, I delivered my talk on Comparing JVM Web Frameworks in the early afternoon and did Play vs. Grails Smackdown with James Ward in the evening. I published an article about these talks the next day.

James Ward and I at Devoxx France

While I was talking about frameworks, Trish was galavanting around Paris taking some amazing photos.

Our Lady Liberty and Eiffel Tower Boats Seine River Eiffel Tower Récipon Quadrigas France Statue Of LaFayette Cours La Reine Paris Frances Pont Alexandre III Bridge Paris

Thursday night, we had a wonderfully authentic French dinner with many of the folks from the conference. Around midnight, Trish captured the beauty of Les Invalides.

Les Invalides by Night

On Friday, we slept in a bit and then headed to the airport for our flight to Iceland. A few hours later, we were snuggled into the cozy bar at Hotel Reykjavik Centrum. A few hours after that and we were bouncing up and down on a Super Jeep tour to see the Northern Lights. Our driver kept telling us "if you believe, it will happen". And boy oh boy, did it ever. The green and purple lights dancing in the sky overhead were mind-blowing!

Northern Lights 12 Northern Lights 13

Northern Lights 19 Northern Lights 20

Saturday came quickly after a late night, and we opted for a scenic tour of the area by helicopter.

Bird's eye view of the Reykjavik Iceland Opera House overlooking the bay and Mountains Glymur Falls

Matt and me and our Pilot Eggert with our Bell

Saturday evening, we journeyed through the ages with a tour and tasting at the Icelandic brewery Ölgerðin. The Grillmarkadurinn restaurant afterward was delicious.

Easter Sunday was our last day in Iceland and we enjoyed most of it at the Blue Lagoon. Despite the plethora of tourists, the hot springs, saunas and cold beer were a lovely way to prepare for the long road home.

Blue Lagoon Rocks! Great Road in Iceland

Visiting Iceland and photographing the Aurora Borealis was an awesome experience. Speaking at Devoxx France, photographing Paris and having lots of good times with new (and old) friends was equally delightful. For more pictures of our travels, see my Paris and Iceland Album or Trish's Devoxx France, Iceland or Northern Lights albums.

Posted in General at Apr 12 2013, 10:31:24 AM MDT 3 Comments

Devoxx France: A Great Conference in a Magnificent City

Red Eiffel flowers This week, my lovely fiancé and I traveled to the City of Light. Our journey was designed around some speaking engagements at Devoxx France. Devoxx is one of my favorite conference franchises and Devoxx France has been special to me ever since the Devoxx (Belgium) I spoke at in 2011.

2011 was the year I spoke about my experience with Play, Scala, CoffeeScript and Jade. I wrote the presentation on my flight over, composed the demo video the night before and made it all happen in the nick of time. Of course, this was after 120 hours of research and preparation, so the presentation composition process had all the data I needed. You can imagine my sense of relief after pulling off that talk and getting an enthusiastic applause from the audience for my efforts.

One of the first audience questions I received was from Nicolas Martignole, asking if I'd speak at Devoxx France the following year. I whole-heartedly agreed to do it and was excited for the opportunity. It was with great disappointment that I later found out I couldn't attend Devoxx France in 2012. My client didn't like me taking so much time off and I agreed to scale my two week vacation back to 1 week. This year, I was determined to go, so I submitted some of my favorite talks: Comparing JVM Web Frameworks and The Play vs. Grails Smackdown with James Ward. I was extremely pleased when they both got accepted.

Side Story: I met Martin Odersky shortly when he sat down next to me for the Java Posse presentation in Belgium in 2011. After shaking his hand and introducing myself, I had to politely ask him to leave because it was Trish's seat. Talk about awkward; but Martin was very gracious and promptly found a new seat close by.

The Paradox of Choice Comparing JVM Web Frameworks
Both talks required a bit of updating. For Comparing JVM Web Frameworks, I started reading The Paradox of Choice and found many parallels to the agony that developers experience with choosing a web framework. I described how I didn't think good framework decisions were based on the many, many features that frameworks have, but often on pre-defined constraints. There's those lucky developers that get to choose a Full Stack Framework because they're doing greenfield development. Then there's those that want a better Pure Web Framework that replaces something (e.g. Struts) that's not satisfying their needs. And lastly, there's those that've found it possible to leverage a SOFEA and use a JavaScript MVC framework with an API Framework on the backend. I don't think it makes sense to compare all web frameworks and I tried to use these pre-defined constraints (language, platform and application type) argument to separate into categories and help make choosing easier.

I took out the parts of the presentation that've pissed people off in the past - particular the JSF bashing by James Gosling, the Rails gushing from Craig McClanahan and the Pros and Cons sections of each framework. I added the history of web frameworks and research from InfoQ and devrates.com.

History of Web Frameworks 2013

The best part of the JVM Web Frameworks talk was the audience's reaction and enthusiasm. Devoxx always seems to attract passionate developers and Devoxx France was no different. Developers packing the room, clapping after your intro, laughing at your jokes, signifying that they agree with you about JSF. As a speaker, it's an unbelievable experience.

You can view my Comparing JVM Web Frameworks presentation below or on Slideshare.net.

Play Frameworks vs. Grails Smackdown
To prepare for James Ward and my Play vs. Grails Smackdown, we had a number of goals. First of all, we wanted to update our apps to use the latest versions of each framework. I documented what it took for Grails, James just checked in his code to GitHub. It was interesting to see that Grails 2.0.3 -> 2.2.1 caused a number of issues with testing, while Play 2.0.3 -> Play 2.1.0 required API changes, but nothing for tests. Secondly, we updated all the stats for our pretty graphs and ran load tests again.

This is where the fun started. On Tuesday evening, I decided to challenge the notion that Play was twice as fast as Grails. James had proven this with Apache Bench tests. With Play 2.0 and Grails 2.0 (last summer), we clocked Play at 251/requests per second and 198 for Grails. After upgrading each app to the latest releases, we found the numbers to be 233/second for Play and 118 for Grails.

However, Apache Bench only tests until the first byte is received. Since I've done a lot of browser optimizations recently, I fired up whichloadsfaster.com, captured a screenshot and added it to our presentation. The next day, James added a CDN and a bunch of caching to his app and re-ran his AB tests.

Now he was smoking Grails, so I added a CDN and caching as well. However, the best I could do was just over 1000/requests per second, while he was around 2200/second. When he ran live tests during our talk, Play was around 2800/sec and Grails was around 900.

It was great to see how much better performance we could get with caching and a CDN. The best part is this should be available to most applications, not just these frameworks. By adding a CDN (we used Amazon CloudFront) and caching, we were both able to 10x the performance of our apps. You can find our presentation here or view it below.

Summary
This was a very enjoyable conference to attend as a speaker. First of all, it was in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, but it's also a very special place for Trish and I. We got engaged just outside of Paris in Versailles after the last Devoxx conference I spoke at. Trish has some amazing photos from that trip. Secondly, the Devoxx conference attracts a special kind of developer - one that is passionate about and eager for knowledge. Lastly, speaking with my good friend James, in an exotic city about something we love - that was special. Asking for beers and having them brought to us at the start of our Smackdown. That was magical (thanks Nicolas!).

To all the Devoxx organizers and crew - well done on a great show!

Posted in Java at Mar 29 2013, 01:14:30 PM MDT 3 Comments

Magnificent Mexico

On October 30th, 2012, shortly after I'd woke up, I received an email from my old friend Jess (of Jess and Lili's Legendary Wedding). Its subject: "Wanna go to Mexico?"

We are taking a trip to Mexico Feb 16-24 with some friends from here and have one spot that just came open in the house we are all renting together. It's a sweet spot, 1 hour north of Puerto Vallarta. It has seven bedrooms each with own bathroom, a cook, private beach and nice pool, link below. Works out to about $1100 per week per couple.
...
http://www.laspalapas.tv/home.html

As you can imagine, I was immediately enticed by the opportunity. I checked my schedule, verified they had high-speed internet and responded We're IN! a couple hours later.

A couple weeks ago, we embarked on this journey and had a great time. The house was awesome, the company was fantastic and the views were spectacular. Not only that, but the town we stayed in (Chacala) was very authentic. No resorts, hardly any paved roads and nary a tourist in sight.

The Pool My Love and I Julie at Sunset

Chacala Sunset

We didn't take our kids, but a few families did, resulting in 19 people total. Everyone got along swimmingly, the home-cooked meals were wonderful and the weather was beautiful.

What a great posse! The Chacala gang! YAY Chacalas!

Sweet nap spots in the hammocks Heaven!

!Salud!

Volleyball on our beach For the most part, we didn't do much throughout the week. I had to work, so I spent my days on the computer with an occasional break to play a game of volleyball. I experienced the same issue I did in Maui and Kauai last year, where my MacBook Pro couldn't find my hard drive. Yeah, it's a first-world problem: my laptop tries to stop me from working when I'm on a beach. ;) Luckily, I had a backup (external) hard drive that I could plugin and work from.

We did a whale watching and snorkeling trip on a Catamaran one afternoon. We didn't get any good whale pictures, but we had many sightings.

Kai surfing!
Love this pic of Leif kayaking with Alaia!

I only ventured into Chacala once, but found it to have a lovely beach, good music, and tasty restaurants.

Mariachi Josh with a tasty Sangria

Thanks to Jess and everyone else for inviting us to this magnificent place in Mexico. We had a great time, made a lot of new friends and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

Me and My Love

For more photos, see my Mexico 2013 Album or Trish's Mexico Trip 2013!

Posted in General at Mar 05 2013, 10:53:53 AM MST Add a Comment

November Travels to Kauai and Wenatchee

For the last two Novembers, we've celebrated Abbie's birthday, watched the Broncos beat the Chiefs and then headed to Antwerp, Belgium for Devoxx.

2010 was awesome. 2011 was even better.

This year, we chose to celebrate my parent's 40th wedding anniversary instead. It wasn't a hard choice, since they chose Hawaii as their destination of choice. After visiting last year and this summer, we're pretty much in when anyone suggests Hawaii. We got our flights for $10, rented an awesome beach-front house and had a great time with my parents and sisters.

Below was the view from our backyard.

Rainbow in our backyard!

The purpose of this post is to 1) show off some of Trish's spectacular photos and 2) tell you a bit about what we enjoyed.

First of all, the location was fantastic. If you get a chance to stay at Nani Nani Hale, I highly recommend it. We could walk to the beach in seconds and spent a few hours each day on the lanai, enjoying each other's company, playing games, napping and reading. The sunsets were spectacular.

Surfer Sunset

We felt like we never had to leave and really enjoyed the relaxing atmosphere.

Our Lanai Hanalei Pier Happy Family Surf House St Regis Pool

When we did leave, we played golf, went stand up padding or surfing.

Matt Golfing in Kauai Makai Golf Signature Hole Spectacular Green Trish's chip from the sand Happy Ladies Me and Pops

We did a lot of surfing; almost every day.

Goin' for it! Kalin's got it! by

It was awesome seeing my parents so happy after all these years.

Barbara and Joseph Raible, 40 years strong

And it was great spending so much time with my family and their long-time friends Mike and Mai from Montana.

40th Anniversary Crew

Thanksgiving in Wenatchee
We flew back from Hawaii on Monday, November 19th. A red eye brought us to Denver, where we picked up Abbie and Jack and headed to Washington on Wednesday.

My sister and her wife recently moved from Chelan to Wenatchee and Thanksgiving at their house was the name of the game. My parents were already there, since they started their journey to Hawaii from Seattle. We rented another nice VRBO and enjoyed ourselves while cooking, watching football, playing games, hot-tubbing and watching movies.

I love Trish's panorama of Wenatchee in the early morn.

Sunrise in Wenatchee

The kids had fun...

Abbie Jack

As for the adults? I'll let the photo speak for itself. :)

Crazy Happy Family

For more pictures, see Trish's Kauai 2012 and Wenatchee 2012 albums.

Posted in General at Dec 05 2012, 08:59:00 PM MST Add a Comment

Cruising around the Western Caribbean

I've heard great things about Disney Cruise Lines from friends, especially as a fun adventure for kids. That's why I was super pumped to talk my family into going on a Western Caribbean Cruise for Spring Break. As you might've read in my last post, we spent a week in Crested Butte before embarking on our cruise.

ShotSki Research at The Secret Stash While in Crested Butte, I enjoyed the Java Posse Roundup, but unfortunately had to do client work most of the week. However, that didn't stop James Ward, Trish and me from building a Shot-Ski and doing a 5-minute lightning talk on it. We had a great time doing research, getting locals to help us out and beta testing it with JPR attendees. I'll write a blog post on what we learned in the near future. In the meantime, you can check out Trish's Making a Shot-Ski photos.

We left Crested Butte on Thursday (March 29th) and drove back to Denver to meetup with my parents (who drove down from Montana). Friday morning we hopped on a plane and flew to Orlando, Florida and took a bus to Port Canaveral. Abbie and Jack were at their Grandma's in West Palm Beach, so Trish's parents picked them up on their drive up from Naples. We all met with near perfect timing and boarded the Disney Magic around 4 o'clock Friday afternoon.

Raible's and McGinity's welcome to our Disney Cruise!

The Joes Maureen and Abbie Leaving Port Canaveral First Dinner!

My Dad's Stateroom We were immediately impressed with our rooms (we had 3 staterooms next to each other on the 5th floor forward) and their nice portal windows. We saw dolphins jumping in Port Canaveral as we departed and witnessed a horn battle between our ship and the Disney Fantasy. The Disney Fantasy was embarking on its maiden voyage and we saw it many times throughout the trip. That evening, we ventured to the first dinner seating (at 17:45). We were pleased to find out we'd have the same servers all week, at different restaurants throughout the ship.

Key West
Saturday morning, we arrived in Key West and had from 12am-9pm to explore. We took a tour in Key West and learned a lot about the history and architecture of the town. Last time we visited Key West, I was super impressed with Mel Fisher Maritime Museum. It was fun to show it to everyone and we savored some tasty beverages at Margaritaville afterward.

Abbie on stage in Margaritaville Key West Florida Jimmy Buffet mural at Margaritaville Key West Florida

We returned to the ship for dinner that evening and enjoyed the service of Omar (our main server) and Marijah (his assistant) once again. A couple hours laster, the boys (minus Jack) returned to shore to do some bonding. We wandered about, set a match to some cigars and made it back on the ship before it departed. We spent the remainder of the evening in the ship's Sports Bar watching March Madness and talking about Trish and my upcoming wedding.

Bonding in Key West Key West Memories Bonding Night with the Queen

Sunday was a day at sea and we made the most of it. Lots of swimming, relaxing, playing with kids and enjoying each other's company. The ship had two different places that you could drop your kids off and Abbie (9) had a lot of fun attending their activities. Jack wasn't that into it and spent most of his day visiting the soft-serve ice cream machine. That evening, Trish and I journeyed to a romantic dinner at the ship's 18-and-older restaurant and celebrated our 1-year "moved in together" anniversary.

Grand Cayman
Monday, we arrived at Grand Cayman early in the morning and were ashore by 8am. We had a snorkeling expedition planned so promptly gathered and headed out to sea on a snorkeling boat. The weather was beautiful, the water was warm and snorkeling around a shipwreck was a very memorable experience.

Abbie and Jack arrive in Grand Cayman Islands Baba is excited to go snorkeling!

Barb and Joe going shipwreck snorkeling in Grand Cayman Abbie is a little nervous about the shipwreck

We visited the Hard Rock cafe to get my Dad a t-shirt, purchased some Tobago Rum Cakes and finished with a tour of the new Cayman Islands National Museum. We were back on the ship by 4 so our parents could have their own romantic dinner that evening.

Raible and McGinity dinner

Cozumel
Tuesday morning, we woke up in Cozumel. Trish and my parents headed to shore for some exploring while I slept in with the kids and ate at the "something for everyone" breakfast buffet. In the afternoon, we all headed to shore for a submarine ride. The submarine adventure was very cool, going down 120 ft. and even taking us to the edge of a cliff on the ocean floor. We got to see several schools of fish, loads of coral reef and even a sea turtle swimming along the bottom.

Cute Kids Submariners

Disney Double Date! Mimi and Baba Monkeys

The highlight of Cozumel was Manuel. After the submarine ride, we took a taxi to a restaurant with a great view and had a couple margaritas and some excellent steak tacos. While we were finishing up, a man walked up to us and asked if we wanted him to play us a song on his guitar. We said yes and gave him our small change ($1.75) for his serenade.

Shortly after, we got up to leave the restaurant and walk back to the ship. That's when Trish came up with a brilliant idea and asked Manuel if he'd be willing to walk with us around town and play music the whole time. She offered him $20 and he quickly agreed.

What followed was lots of laughs, smiling and dancing through the streets of Cozumel. Not only from us, but also from many of the locals. Manuel was an excellent mariachi musician and provided an exciting sense of celebration around us for the next 20 minutes.

Trish paid Manuel $20 to walk with us and play... Trish paid Manuel $20 to walk with us and play...

Our posse with our Guitarrón Amigo in the Plaza Cozumel Mexico

Wednesday was another day at sea as we traveled from Cozumel to Disney's private island in the Bahamas: Castaway Cay. We got a kick out of the ship's activities, from Beer Tasting to watching the John Carter movie in 3D. I snapped some sweet photos that night as we were watching the sun set over the horizon.

A thing of beauty

Long Lasting Love

Castaway Cay
At first, I thought Castaway Cay was going to be like Disney World, just on an island. I was expecting all kinds of rides and an amusement park. I was surprised to find it was nothing like that, but more of a private beach with all kinds of bars, games, water sports and even a water slide. The kids had a blast building sand castles, learning how to play checkers and exploring the island. I had a massage to the sound of ocean waves in the afternoon and we hopped back on the ship around 5 that afternoon.

That night, we had to pack up our luggage by 10 and put it out so it could be checked into our flight the next day. Disney did an awesome job of handling our luggage both to and from the cruise. All we had to do was attach bag tags in Denver and our bags arrived at our room shortly after boarding. On the way home, we gave them our bags on Thursday night and didn't see them until arriving in Denver.

Our crew on the Disney Magic!

The last morning on the Disney Magic was a bit early. We had to be at breakfast at 6:45, were off the ship by 8 and at the Orlando airport by 9. Our flight was at 7 that night, so we suddenly found ourselves with 9 hours of free time and nothing to do.

LEGOLAND
Last year around this time, Jack was struggling in school and getting in trouble almost every-other-day. In an attempt to promote good behavior, I told him I'd take him to LEGOLAND if he had 10 days in a row of good behavior. This didn't seem to help and we ended the school year with no trip planned. However, when this school year started, he had excellent behavior (which has continued all year) and quickly remembered my promise.

As we were sitting in Orlando's airport, I remembered this promise and 30 minutes later we had a car rented and were driving to see some legos. We spent a joyous day there, riding the few rides they had and marveling over all the things you could build with legos. It was a fun way to end our wonderful vacation.

This cruise was a first for myself, my kids and my parents. We were extremely impressed with Disney's Customer Service and have never felt more pampered in our lives. All the crew we interacted with knew our names by the second days and were some of the most kid-friendly people I've ever met. The food was excellent, the weather was beautiful and the activities were plentiful. It wasn't until the last night that we realized there were 15 bars on the ship, and by that time it was too late for a pub crawl. Oh well, there's always next time. ;-)

For more pictures from our Disney Magic voyage, see our photos on Flickr.

Posted in General at Apr 15 2012, 06:05:57 PM MDT Add a Comment

Our Engaging Trip to Paris and Antwerp

If you're a technologist, you should attend the Devoxx conference at least once in your life. It's one of the finest conferences on the planet. If you're a fan of Belgian beer, you owe it to yourself to visit Belgium to savor a taste. If you're a romantic, Paris is a recommended destination. Since I'm a technologist, love Belgian beer and consider myself a romantic, I went for the trifecta a couple weeks ago on what's becoming an annual trek to Devoxx. When Trish and I traveled to Devoxx last year, we flew to Amsterdam and took the train to Antwerp. This year, we decided to fly to Paris and take the train.

Much like last year, we witnessed another Broncos over Chiefs victory the Sunday before we left. That night, I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning finishing my Devoxx presentation. We left Denver around noon and met up with James Ward at the Red Carpet Club in Chicago. While sipping cocktails and catching up, I wrote a blog post about how PhoneGap rescued me a couple days earlier.

We slept soundly on the flight over, thanks to little sleep the night before. After arriving in Paris, we took the train to the the Notre Dame de Paris and had some breakfast nearby.

Notre Dame Cathedral Paris

We were planning on exploring throughout the day, but quickly realized that hauling our bags around was no fun and headed to Gare du Nord to catch a Thalys train to Brussels. We gasped at the cost of two first-class tickets, but soon forgot when we settled into our seats with free wi-fi, Belgian beers and power. After talking a local train to Antwerp, we finished our 21-hour journey by checking into the Hilton Antwerp in the city center. We were warmly welcomed with excellent Belgian beers on ice in our room and celebrated with a delicious meal at De Godevaart.

On Wednesday, I headed to Devoxx and attended a couple of great talks: Play 2.0, A web framework for a new era and PhoneGap for Hybrid App Development. As you can imagine, both talks were extremely interesting for me since I'd been using Play for several months and was recently saved by PhoneGap. Play 2.0 Beta was announced just before the Play talk and my blog post about the Play 2.0 session was picked up by Hacker News and the hits rolled in.

That afternoon, I headed back to my hotel with James Ward and met up with Trish for a couple beers. We spent a few hours in our hotel lobby updating presentations, editing videos, editing photos and getting ready for our talks on Thursday. That evening, we enjoyed a scrumptious dinner in the dungeon-like Pelgrom and conversations with Kevin Nilson, Sadek Drobi, Guillaume Bort and David Geary. I was pleased to find out from Sadek and Guillaume that Play 2.0 will include many fast website best practices, including concatenation, minification and gzipping of static assets. We retired early to get a good night's sleep before my talk on Thursday.

Kwak Kwak Kwak! Candle at Pelgrom

Matt Raible and Crew at Devoxx dinner Matt Raible at Pelgrom

On Thursday, both Trish and I journeyed to Devoxx to watch James Ward talk about how to deploy Java, Play Framework, and Scala apps on Heroku. My talk was an hour later and I gulped as I stood up front and watched the (very large) auditorium fill up with Devoxxians. Since I'd never rehearsed my talk or timed it, I was a bit nervous. Luckily, it ended up being one of my best-timed performances and there was even time for Q and A at the end. You can imagine the smile on my face as AC/DC's Thunderstruck blasted through the speakers during my video demo. After my talk finished, it was great to see all the positive feedback on Twitter and enjoy an "Atlas Beer" while watching Java Posse Live.

James Ward speaking on Heroku at Devoxx Matt Raible speaking at Devoxx Belgium 2011

Audience at Matt Raible's Presentation Devoxx Belgium

That evening, we had dinner with the Java Posse crew and James Ward before heading to the Devoxx Party @ Noxx.

Devoxx Party @ Noxx

Yes, we had an awesome time at Devoxx. I was pleased with the positive response from my talk and learned a bunch from the few talks I attended. Thanks to Stephan for inviting me and organizing one of the best conferences I've ever attended. For our last night in Antwerp, we dined at Huis De Colvenier and especially enjoyed our aperitif in the 19th-century wine cellar.

Huis De Colvenier Huis De Colvenier Huis De Colvenier Huis De Colvenier

Riverside in Antwerp Antwerp Town Square

Mmmm, Belgium Beer... We love Belgian Beer

Paris and Beyond
This brings us to my favorite part of this story. I was pretty stressed leading up to our departure to Devoxx because I had so many deadlines. I had a deadline with my current client to finish up some features before I left, I had to finish my Devoxx presentation (and app developed for the talk) and I had a secret deadline to finish my proposal to Trish. That's right, I was planning on proposing marriage to my dream girl. I mean, we were going to the diamond capital of the world (Antwerp) and one of Earth's most romantic cities (Paris). It seemed like the perfect opportunity to ask her to marry me. We did some ring shopping before we left Denver, but she didn't realize I had purchased one before we left.

We're both big music fans, so I decided months earlier that I would propose with lines from songs we both liked. Of course, I waited until the last minute to compose my prose, but I did finish it before we left for Europe. However, with all the Devoxx shenanigans, I didn't have time to memorize my proposal. Instead, I recorded it using the "Voice Memos" on my iPhone. I did this in the wee hours of the morning on Friday, while I was watching the Broncos game on the internet.

Saturday afternoon, we traveled to Paris via Thalys and checked into our hotel around sunset. When we stepped outside an hour later, I remember saying to Trish, "the Eiffel Tower looks pretty small, I thought it'd be bigger". After walking for a bit, it turned from small to big to huge. My plan that night was to propose on the tower. As Trish snapped pictures along our walk, I was taking out the piece of paper I had the proposal printed on and trying to memorize it. As you can imagine, I had to to this stealthily and by the time we reached the Eiffel Tower, I had enough memorized to propose. We arrived around midnight and were disappointed to find it was closed. This terminated my proposal plans for that night, but we still enjoyed the sparkling tower lights and took several pictures.

The Eiffel Tower The Eiffel Tower

The next day, Sunday, we traveled to the Château de Versailles. This was a recommendation from my good friend Eric, who had recently traveled to Paris with his wife, Heather. In fact, I owe a lot to Eric. He recommended we extend our trip to Paris (he'd traveled there disgruntled about not doing a beach vacation, then fell in love with the city) and suggested a number of great locations to visit. He also recommended proposing in the Gardens of Versailles, a very romantic location according to him. I had this in the back of my mind as we did an audio tour through the Palace of Versailles. As we ventured out into the Orangerie, I started hatching a plan to get Trish down to the gardens and try to rent bikes. We both love biking and the outdoors, so I figured it'd be a nice way to spend our memorable moment. As we strolled closer and I didn't see bikes to rent, I spotted the Grand Canal and noticed they had row boats.

The Versailles Orangerie Château de Versailles Gardens of Versailles Trees in the Versailles Gardens

Bassin d’Apollon – the Apollo Fountain

When we first arrived at the boat dock, there was a long line, but it magically disappeared moments later. We stepped into the boat, rowed to the center of the canal and paused for a bit to take in the beautiful day and the setting sun. Trish asked me to row to a better spot so she could photograph the sunset, but instead I said "here, listen to this" and handed her my headphones. I pressed play and watched her face light up as she heard my voice in her ears. 90 seconds later, I asked "Trish McGinity, will you marry me?" She responded with, "Of course!" :)

Happy Versailles Sunset

The rest of our trip in Paris was quite romantic and fun. We decided to wait until we got back to The States before telling anyone we were engaged. This meant we had three days of just us, Paris and some of the most beautiful art in the world. We explored the Louvre for 5-hours on Monday, marveling at the low-rider on display near the entrance and all the famous paintings.

Trish and the Louvre At The Louvre Lowrider in the Louvre Liberty Leading the People

Louvre

We imbibed in $40 martinis at The Hemingway Bar and scarfed down some delicious pizza at Gambino's. We had breakfast at Angelina's, toured La Sainte-Chapelle, hiked up Arc de Triomphe and wandered through the shopping districts Champs-Élysées and Faubourg St-Honoré. Yes, we fell in love with Paris and can't wait to return for Devoxx France in April.

Arc de Triumph

We departed Paris on the Wednesday morning before Thanksgiving and arrived in Boston that evening. We spent the next three days with Trish's family and our good friends, Chris, Julie, Lili and Wes. We did a 5K Turkey Trot on Thursday morning, followed by football watching and eating succulent turkey while basking in everyone's joy for us. We smiled, giggled, laughed, guffawed, smiled some more and had an all-around great time the rest of the weekend.

We returned home on Sunday evening, departing Boston's Logan airport only minutes after the Broncos kicked a field goal in overtime to beat the Chargers. Our flight was delayed just long enough (3 hours) that we got to watch almost the whole game. It was the perfect ending to a phenomenal trip.

To see more pictures from this adventure, see Trish's fantastic photos and mine on Flickr.

Posted in General at Dec 04 2011, 04:02:34 PM MST 12 Comments