My Blog

Welcome to, the home page of Gregory Neil Hill. Please, call me Greg. There isn't a lot to this page, just a blog, a resume, and a portfolio. I may add more sections in the future as whim strikes me. Feel free to browse around, and contact me with any requests/complaints/admiration you desire.

If you want to say hello, Email Me Here

I'm obviously too cool for the internet

Submitted 6/18/2012 6:33 PM

I guess I haven't posted since Naomi was born, and there's far too much that has happened in the meantime to adequately summarize it all. So, I'll just hit a few of the highlights.

Naomi's almost 3 now and is a great kid. She has annoying 3 year old moments, but for the most part, she behaves pretty well. And she's cute, and smart, and funny. She's super easy to put to bed and sleeps for like 12 hours. It's great! She's generally not super girly, even though she looks like a doll. She loves dinosaurs, and cars, and she always wants to play Star Wars RPG (the paper and dice kind) with me. But she does love My Little Pony, and I swear I'm not a Bronie, but I do watch it with her sometimes. And I don't even hate it!

That house I posted about a few posts down. We sold it a year ago and moved to Phoenix. I should say, we put it up for sale a year ago (not quite) and it sold 6 months ago. We didn't have 3 offers at the same time like the previous owner :( I think all-in-all, we lost somewhere around $70,000 on it (since we'd put a lot of money into it), but we were able to sell it when nothing else was selling. We made out pretty well on the UT house before that, so it's all balanced out in the end, I guess. But that definitely hurt.

As for why we moved, my employer moved me out to help provide technical direction for the Scottsdale office. I'm not sure how much of that I'm doing, but I'm sure enjoying the blistering heat! It's only 110 F today, though, so it's a nice day out. (yes, I'm being sarcastic)

When we moved, Rachel was pregnant with our 2nd daughter, Fayette. She's not nearly as good a sleeper as Naomi was and has pretty much convinced us to not have a 3rd. But we love her! She's crawling already (much earlier than Naomi did), and should probably be walking before she turns 1 at this rate. The story of the actual moving experience is one for the books, and hopefully I'll actually write it down on the blog soon. Suffice it to say, we're giving the cats away before moving across the country again (if we ever move across the country again).

That's the big stuff. If I ever become less lazy, I'll add some pictures.

I'm a daddy

Submitted 7/26/2009 11:46 AM

Wow, what a day.  I'll post more later when I have some time to collect my thoughts.  Naomi Avalai Hill was born 7/25 at around 4pm.  7lb 10oz, 20in long.  She's so cute, and very fiesty (well, until she fell asleep she was). 

Rachel is preggers

Submitted 12/2/2008 2:10 PM

So, Thanksgiving was good.  Garth came to visit and our friend from church Jamicka came over with her kids.  Lots of food; our fridge is still full.  What's that?  Oh... the title of the post... yeah, Rachel is pregnant.  We just found out.  My doctor switched my medication back in October or so, mostly because it's just easier on my system.  But, as an aside, when I asked for her to sign off on the adoption paperwork that I wasn't physically unable to raise children, she mentioned that the medication I was on lowered sperm count (the paper said "very rarely", but she didn't buy that).  I guess she was probably right, because it was only a few weeks later that my boys could swim.  It's pretty exciting, and a bit nervewracking.  I suppose this means the adoption is postponed indefinitely, although it was kind of seeming that way anyway, because they seem to be fairly incompetent, or at least overworked and uninformed (they contradicted themselves so many times about what we needed to do or not do, that we just decided to put it on hold until after the move).  I guess it did better prepare me mentally for being a dad, as did being in nursery at church, so for that I'm grateful.  I'm also grateful that it happened before we got much farther along in the process. 

Everything else is going well.  We moved in the weekend before Thanksgiving.  Things are still pretty chaotic, but coming together slowly.  We're having a family room and a big office added in the basement, so that's gonna be a pretty big thing.  We've got the basic layout planned, and I think he's gonna start work soon.  I'm gonna try to help out with things that I can do (some basic wiring, stuff like that). 

That's about all I can think of.  Big things happening around here, I guess.  Merry Christmas!!

We won a house

Submitted 10/29/2008 12:46 PM

Ok, so the housing market is in collapse, right?  So, there shouldn't ever be a bidding war, right?  Apparently we were mistaken.   The house was priced well, even for the market, but not mindblowingly awesome buy-or-die price.  That notwithstanding, the house we made an offer on got 2 other offers.  What the heck?  Our offer prevailed and was declared victor a few minutes ago, so we will now likely be our Branch President's neighbor (seriously, he's 2 houses down across the street).  Oh, our house in Utah sold.  I guess I should mention that.  We closed at the end of September.  Feels longer ago than that, really.  Rachel has lots of pics of the house on her blog So feel free to go look at them.  There are a few minor issues not noticeable in the pictures, but they shouldn't be too costly to fix.  And we need to finish the basement, but we've left enough set aside for that.  The best news is Rachel said I could upgrade my computer if we got that house.  Score!!!  


In other news, I like my job, despite the limited time off.  I expect to be here a while, so get used to the idea.  Rachel likes it here, too.  We both got called into the nursery, which is both the easiest and hardest calling in the church it seems.  I'll let you decide what that means.   That's about all I can think of.

Greg of Witt, he's so punny

Submitted 6/23/2008 3:51 PM

We moved to DeWitt, Michigan.  Of course, 'de' means 'of' in Spanish, so I'm Greg of Witt.  Oh the hilarity!  We've settled in pretty well.  I should've posted more during the process, but I didn't because I'm lazy.  I'll try to get some pics of the house up.  Rachel did most of the organizing/cleaning, and it looks great.  The cats, despite being insane during the drive, settled in very quickly.  They love having so much wandering space.  Work is going well; I've ramped up more quickly than usual and am fairly comfortable working in most of the code.  Some of it needs to be rewritten, but that's to be expected.  And we're planning on doing it, unlike some other jobs I've had that wouldn't let you touch old code.  I'm currently working on creating a new user roles/permissions interface so we can more easily control who can access what and add/remove users as they come and go.  It's a fun project in many ways, but kind of tedious in others.  It's hard to predict how the permissions need to be layed out, and the more detailed you make them, the harder it becomes to maintain.  I'm attempting to combine a more old-fashioned user/group based permissions scenario with a more modern role-based permission system.  That way, we'll have the flexibility to revoke or grant a specific privilege to a specific user, but also allow for sensible defaults based on their roles.  Plus, we want to restrict some actions to members of a group.  Like, a Support Team Lead can add Support Reps to their own group, but they can't add developers or add to other groups.  Or, they can assign roles to members of their own group, but not to themself or people outside their group.  Stuff like that.  I'm not entirely convinced the direction I'm going with it is optimal, but I'll sort it out over the next little bit.  In my own projects, everything is level-based.  A user belongs to a level, and that level can or can't do specific things.  It works well for a small scale, but it doesn't grow well or allow for complex permissions scenarios as well as a roles-based system.  Of course, with how module my code is, I could probably easily swap out the permissions system with minimal work, should I ever see the need.  Speaking of my own projects, I've gotten back to actually working on my new codebase.  It's come along well.  I've sorted out many of the major sections.  I just recently sorted out how I want scripts to work and how web-based applications and scripts will share code.  It's pretty slick, IMO.  Maybe I should do a write-up on it sometime, but not today.  There's only a few major bits left to work out for the overall codebase, and quite a bit left to do to convert existing sites to use it.  So far, my site, Rachel's site, and mom's genealogy site are all up and running on my development box with the new code.  I've not thoroughly tested all of them, but so far they've worked quite well.  I've actually managed to remove quite a few files from each one because the changes they implemented were auto-detected in the new code.   I've got the Star Wars site and Librarius Metallicus left to convert (Librarius is by far the most complex site of my side projects, so it'll take a while), and then I'll be able to upgrade them all.  Hopefully I'll finish those up in a timely manner.

Anyone want to buy my house?

Submitted 4/8/2008 1:06 PM

So, we're moving to Lansing.  We've got the house on the market.  We've had 2 showings so far (well, the 2nd one may or may not have actually come) and another scheduled for this evening.  We're hopeful that we'll have an offer before we have to leave, but you never can tell. Rachel and I took pictures of the house 'cause our experience tells us that Realtors aren't photographers for a reason.  Here's our listing:

Wish us luck.

We've scheduled a trip to Lansing to look at houses and leave a car out there so we don't have to pay $1500 to attach it to the moving truck (talk about overcharging).  So that'll be fun and we'll have a better idea about whether we should rent for a while before buying or not.  Of course, if the house doesn't sell fast enough, that will be a necessity.

While researching about tax-related issues with house sales, I found out that in 1997 they added a new law that basically waives capital gains taxes on home sales so long as you lived in the house for 2 of the previous 5 years and you didn't make more than $250k in profit ($500k if married and filing jointly).   That means we don't have to pay any taxes on what we make from this sale.  We'll likely put most of it into the next house, but it's nice to know that we can keep some to do other things with without paying more tax on it. 

I'm still at work, but I'm nearly done.  I imagine I'll be on call here pretty soon, but I'm waiting to hear back on one final thing I need to get finished.  I hope I get some time off to help Rachel get the house ready for the move and spend some time on my side projects.

That's about it.

Interviewing sucks, and why I took the job I did

Submitted 3/26/2008 12:25 PM

I'm not sure how interviewing goes for non-programmers, but programming interviews suck.  Big time.  Amazon did 2 hour-long phone interviews.  Imagine having to read code aloud over the phone and make it sound good.  Not to mention being put on the spot to solve something in minutes that you'd normally spend hours thinking about a good, robust solution to.  Most programming interviews consist of them asking you questions that someone in CS grad school could answer because they've read all about it, but they couldn't actually program because they have no real experience.  I'm the exact opposite.   I could program a good solution to these issues, but I can't really explain it well in words.  They also tend to be problems that you would never encounter in real-world programming.   Also, you get a lot of people who think they are doing you a favor by just speaking to you.  You know what?  I'm doing you a favor by considering working for you, okay?  Ask anyone I've worked for, and they'll all say that I did a great job.  So, your interview might be nice for finding someone who can interview well, but in my experience, it's not even a decent indicator of how they'll do on the actual job.

I've accepted an offer from Liquid Web, a web-hosting company in Lansing, MI.  I took it mostly because they didn't give me the elitist BS during the interview process and they acted like they actually wanted me to come work for them, not like they were going to have to condescend to talk to me.  Really nice guys, them.  There are a lot of other factors that went into the decision, but ultimately that's what won me over.  So, we're getting the house ready to sell, and figuring out what stuff to keep or to sell or give away.  It's the first time I've moved more than 30 minutes from the previous location, so it'll be a new experience.   We're hoping to get out there to look at houses before everything is resolved here, but we haven't figured out the best way to do that.  Any trip would be a major expense, when we'll likely need all that money for the actual move.  So, we have to figure it out.  Maybe we'll drive out, fly back, and drive out again with the other car.  That involves figuring out where to store the car we leave there, though.

Work is wrapping up.  I've only got a few more tasks to finish, and barring anything unforeseen, I should be able to just be on-call for a while before my end date.  Here's to hoping. 

Rachel is hard at work getting the house ready to sell.  She's also got a wedding next weekend, so she's a bit overwhelmed at the moment.  She'll do fine, she always does. 

I'm out of things to talk about, I think.

Et tu, United Online?

Submitted 2/16/2008 9:19 PM

So, I've got some news.  United Online has decided that the Utah office isn't worth keeping around.  They've shut it down.  But wait, they didn't really, but they're going to do so in a long, drawn-out process over the next 6-10 months.  How could it possibly take so long you ask?  I really couldn't tell you.  They need a few months for us to train their engineers on the code, and our systems guys to train their systems guys on the systems, and our billing... well, you get the idea.  They immediately let 10 or so people go on Tuesday.  Garth was among them, but don't feel too bad, he gets paid until March 3rd, then severance and unused vacation are paid out on top of that.  They've kept me around until May 2nd, or at most May 2nd.  I may be done earlier than that, but I still get paid until then either way.  So, all that exciting news about how my project was finally coming together, yeah, ignore that.  It's basically canned at this point.  Their plan is to just take over and only do major bug fixes.  So, my job is to help finish up migrating the users to the new email system, get a couple things that are basically done completed, and document a bunch of code for the new guys.  It's really boring, to say the least.  Oh, and the new guys really don't want to be taking over 10 years of Perl code without any new people, on top of whatever other code they already maintain.  Good times.

So, if you hear about any good Perl jobs, let me know.

Yay, less than 6 months later

Submitted 2/1/2008 3:08 PM

They let us out of work early today, but I had arranged for someone to meet me here to buy some of the DVDs I'm selling off, so I have some time to kill.  So, the transmission in my car started slipping.  I was excited when I found out that Acura had done a recall on that one and thought it would be covered.  I finally got ahold of them when the Acura dealership couldn't find our VIN in their database, and they said they already "fixed" the problem.  By "fixed", they mean they applied the government mandated solution to the problem and basically washed their hands of any further responsbility.  Mark Acura and Honda as car brands I will never purchase again.  We had purchased a warranty with the car, which, btw, don't ever do.  They cover virtually nothing, if you dig into the fine print, and deny pretty much all claims.  It's a scam.  So, we're screwed, basically.  We might see if we have any legal recourse, but frankly I don't have the energy to deal with all that crap.

In better news, work is going well.  I'm still working on the same project, but it's finally starting to come together.  It's a fun project, and I think it'll make a big difference for our company, but sometimes you just can't know.  My new hips are treating me well, too.  Rachel and I finished the ward list.  We were assigned to photograph the whole ward and compile it.  It's done, apart from 3 families that keep giving us excuses, who we just gave up on.  So, that's good.  Oh, yeah, Rachel and I teach primary now.  It's weird that they entrust such malleable minds to me, but luckily Rachel is there to keep me from warping their minds :D 

Rachel has a few jobs lined up with her business and she's looking into ways to sell her prints online, so that's cool.  She took a semester off because they weren't offering any courses she needed.  But, she also found out that she only has 2 more semesters instead of 3.  So, that's great.  And, she might get some scholarships, too.  Double great.  She has a blog up:

I can't think of much else.  The holidays were fun.  Heather and her family came to visit.  Rachel's surgery went well.  I can't believe how insanely retarded California is.  You pay more to park at the doctor's office than you do for the visit itself.  Gimme a break.  Even the hospital charged us for parking, even though we were staying there.  And they'd charge us twice each day 'cause we'd have to leave for doctor's appointments and come back in the evening (i.e. we paid the full amount for the previous evening because it cuts off at midnight, then again for the morning before we left).  We managed to get a little bit of it validated, even though we later found out that they weren't supposed to.   Next time we'll just use taxis, I guess.

I'm still alive

Submitted 10/29/2007 8:29 PM

For those wondering, yes, I am in fact still alive.  I had my 2nd hip surgery at the end of September, and it went well.  The recovery was even more smooth than the previous one.  I've been back at work for 2 weeks on Halloween.  Since I haven't written in so long, there's a bit to catch up on, so here goes.

We got a couple kittens.  Our neighbor's cat had kittens again, and this time we asked to have some before they got hit by cars, or whatever happened to that one last year.  I'll attach some pics.  Rachel's mom said of the boy "Is it possible that there's anything cuter than this kitten?"  We concluded that, no, it is not possible.  I'll let you decide which kitten she meant, although it's hard to tell behavioral cuteness in pictures.

We found out that Rachel has back problems, so that sucks.  She's been going to physical therapy, which helps, but not enough.  We're hoping they figure out a permanent solution soon.  Yeah, neither of us can pick stuff up off the floor; what a couple we are.  Her camera also died, was fixed, died again, was fixed again, and died again.  We figured it was time to give up, so we got her a nicer one.  It's pretty dang sweet, I might add.  Her business has been a little slow, but she's gotten a few jobs here and there.  She has one this Saturday, in fact.  She's still in school and it's going well, although with her back, we're not sure whether next semester will work out.

I turned 30 since I last wrote.  We saw The Simpsons Movie and had ice cream cake.  Good times.  We've just returned from our 3rd Halloween-related shindig, so we've gotten lots of mileage from the costumes Rachel picked up for us.  We contemplated finding a costume that went with my walker, but concluded that, no, that wouldn't work.  So, I am V, as in V for Vendetta, and Rachel is Rainbow Brite.  I never knew Rainbow Brite was so cute, but I now know.

Oh, and I've had a request to add an RSS feed to this here blog, so I'll try to do that soon.  Then you can know that I did my semiannual update without having to hit refresh a million times.  If you don't know how to use RSS feeds, then don't fret, you can still hit refresh a million times to see the new entry 6 months from now.