Beer Stats

craftbeerDad, Luke and I all use the Untappd app pretty regularly. Think of it like Facebook for beer. You “checkin” when you have a beer and you give it a rating. You can see what your friends are drinking, get recommendations, etc. I love it because it’s an easy way to keep track of all the different beers that I’ve tried and how much I like each one. It’s a great encouragement to keep trying new things.

I recently tied into their API and wrote a quick app that lets me download the data locally for analysis. There are lots of questions that I want to answer, but here are a couple fun charts to get started.

The first is a chart showing how many checkins we’ve each had by IBUs (International Bitterness Unit). It doesn’t show how much we LIKE them, but it does show which ones we generally try.I’d love to expand this to show how this has changed over time.


Here is one showing the cumulative number of checkins we’ve had over time. This chart is a little sloppy because each user series should have it’s own color, but there are only three of us so it’s not too hard to follow. If you look at the end of the chart, Luke is the top line, I’m the middle and Dad is the bottom. You might think that after a while, you run out of new beers, but if that’s true, we haven’t hit that point yet. We’re all on a pretty steady upward trajectory.

I took a look at which beers have the highest combined score from the three of us. The beers with wider distribution are more likely to win because to get to the top it helps if we’ve all tried it. Since I’m out on the west cost and they are in the midwest, most of the time our beers don’t overlap unless they are bigger breweries. Here are the top six in order.

Deschutes Brewery Red Chair NWPA
Bell’s Brewery Two Hearted Ale
New Belgium Fat Tire
Great Lakes Elliot Ness
Great Lakes Burning River Pale Ale
Deschutes Brewery Mirror Pond Pale Ale

Looking at the bottom of that list is a little silly because there are only 40 beers that all three of us have tried. I expanded it out to beers that at least two of us have had. There are 129 in that list and here are the bottom three. I bet you won’t be surprised.

Coors Light
Miller High Life
Bud Light

I’m looking forward to playing around a lot more with this data. If you want access too, just let me know.


Coding At Home

sourcecodeshirtWhen people ask me how to get a job where I work, I tell them to be curious and experiment at home. I’ve learned so many valuable things from tinkering with code at home and it has made a big, positive impact in my career.

In the past it has been a lot of website stuff, but since my move to WordPress, that has pretty much disappeared. Lately it has been stuff that a computer science geek would call “ETL” (Extract Transform Load) programs. I enjoy taking my data out of one system and storing it in a common place that I control. For example, my Ecobee thermostat logs a ton of data every day but it lives in the EcoBee server. I use their programming interface to download the data and store it in my own database. I do the same thing with my irrigation controller, fantasy football and a few other gadgets and services. There’s not a lot you can do with the initial data right at the beginning, but as time goes on, you build up a pretty large data set and you can start to see some interesting trends. As I move into more of a data science position it’s great to have a big dataset of data that’s interesting to me personally.

Learning is a lot more fun when you’re doing it to achieve a goal that interests you. So why not find interesting things to learn that can benefit you in your job?

Drawer Slides

drawerslidesIn some past woodworking projects, I avoided using real drawer slides because they add so much cost to the project. Amazon to the rescue! There’s a line of slides from Gliderite Hardware that is very affordable. Depending on the size of your drawer and the quantity that you order, you can get a pair of drawer slides for $3-7. They are full extension slides which mean that you can pull the drawer all the way out of the cabinet and you can also upgrade to soft close drawers to make sure tiny fingers don’t get pinched.

Cord Cutting

streamingtvA couple of you have written me recently to say that you have already dropped cable TV or that you’re thinking about it. It’s something I think about regularly. For now I’m satisfied with our current plan. We have a very simple TV package (no ESPN) with a very nice Internet package (120/10Mbps.) If we dropped the TV part, we’d pay almost the same amount since we’d have un-bundled Internet. I know it’s a scam to keep their TV subscription numbers high but I’ll take it. But if you’ve decided that dropping TV might save you some money, here are some things to help you plan the transition:

  1. Educate yourself! There’s a great (short) guide to cord cutting from Tom Merritt available on Amazon. If you’re a Prime subscriber, it’s currently free. Otherwise it’s a whopping $0.99. In fact, that’s probably all you need. Go read that book and ignore the rest of this post.
  2. If you like podcasts, check out Tom Merritt and Brian Brushwood host a weekly show about how to watch the TV you want, whenever you want, on whatever device you want. This is great no matter how you consume your content.
  3. How do you like to watch TV? Do you have to keep up with the latest episodes as soon as they come out? If so, make a list of all the shows that fall into this bucket and start adding up $2/episode which is about what it will cost to buy them. I’ve found that my viewing habits have changed dramatically and I’m not keeping up with current TV very much. I greatly prefer to wait until the season (or even the series) is over, wait for it to show up on Netflix or Amazon and then watch it all at once. Shows are a lot more enjoyable for me this way.
  4. Do you need any live events? Sports is probably the most common example. If yes, then you’ll need to figure out how to watch them. Maybe it means getting a basic cable package for the months when your sport is on. Or maybe your sport offers a package to stream games online. DirectTV has an online-only package like this for the NFL.
  5. If you still want to have the experience of fliipping on random live TV, two great options are SlingTV and Playstation Vue. Think of these services as old school cable except it’s delivered over the Internet. The caveats are that you’ll need to make sure they work with your devices and sometimes DVR-style features are limited to certain shows/channels. I expect to see a LOT more players in this market space in the next year or two.
  6. Pure streaming is a great solution, but if you’re willing to mess with some hardware and if you can get a good broadcast TV signal at your house, then you can pick up an antenna and some kind of little DVR box like a Tivo Roamio. Check out for help picking an antenna and pointing it in the right direction.

If all that looks like too much work, here is my short recommendation:

  • If you already have Amazon Prime, start with their video service. You might also want to add Netflix. Want ESPN? Get SlingTV. And if there are specific TV shows that still aren’t covered, then you’ll either need to buy the seasons individually or maybe Hulu will meet your needs. Remember that cutting the cord isn’t necessarily cheaper. The nice thing is that you can have more control over your spending. For example, you can turn these services on and off every month depending on what you’re watching.
  • On the device front, I recommend a Roku. They have multiple versions for under $100 and they support almost every video service on the planet (Playstation Vue is the only notable exception I’m aware of.) If you already have an Xbox One or a Playstation 4, those make pretty good streaming devices but they don’t support as many apps as Roku. The Amazon Fire TV is also a great device.

Cutting your cable cord gets easier every month so even if you investigate this now and decide it’s not for you, check back again periodically to see how the world has changed.

Caspar Babypants Framed Photo

Last fall we all went to see Caspar Babypants at the Neptune Theater in Seattle. Elijah has been to a lot of kiddie concerts but this was his first “real” concert where there was a ticket purchase and a theater, etc.

At the concert, we bought some artwork and had it signed by Chris Ballew (Caspar Babypants.) The artwork was done by his wife, Kate Endle.

It was pretty cool to get an autograph but I stupidly got it on the plastic covering for the photo. It’s kind of hard to display that. So the next time Tyla and Elijah went to see Caspar, they took Elijah’s concert ticket from the Neptune and asked him to sign that.

This simple project took me FOREVER but I finally got it framed and hung on the wall. I want to have a smaller frame for the ticket hanging separately from the artwork, but given how long this simple task took, I figured I should just get part way there.

Thanks to Chris and Kate for making great music and artwork!