2015 Yearly Post

So much has happened since I last posted. On a personal level, watching the kids grow up has been more rewarding than I ever imagined. So much so that we’re expecting our third in April. We’re keeping the gender a surprise. Not my idea, but you pick and choose your battles, right?

We’ve also had to deal with tragedy, as Ashley’s father lost a year long battle with ALS. It was tough to go through that, but I hope that will all the additional recognition and donations received through campaigns like the Ice Bucket Challenge, researchers can one day find a cure. Ashley also unexpectedly lost her grandmother.

I’ve had the chance to work on quite a few projects at work over the past year. One of my first assignments was to update documentation on a widely used Blackbaud product called Blackbaud Internet Solutions (BBIS). This is an older Blackbaud CMS that directly integrates with Blackbaud CMS. It shares a lot of the same functionality with Blackbaud NetCommunity (BBNC), which integrates instead with Raiser’s Edge.

There was a decent amount of documentation around a few older integration points in the CMS, but some of the new REST endpoints and JavaScript SDK. As a proof-of-concept, for Blackbaud at least, we used the static site generator Jekyll to produce

Aside from using a new technology to produce the site, it was also relatively unique for Blackbaud by having the entire source code in GitHub, and be setup to accept contributions from external developers. It was so invigorating to set the model for future projects of this nature at Blackbaud.

As a result, we’ve created Blackbaud Stache - a documentation tool to automatically create responsive websites using Blackbaud’s SKY UX from a plethora of sources. Content like HTML, Markdown, .NET code comments, JS code comments, and API endpoints are all supported.

As one of the first consumer of, the then private, SKY UX, I was very fortunate to be asked to join the SKY UX team. Joining the team has been very challenging and rewarding. I’m looking forward to 2016!

Goodbye Blackbaud, Hello Blackbaud

On May 1, I celebrated my one year anniversary at Blackbaud. I imagine this comes with age, but the year has flown by. I’ve really come to enjoy what I do at work. Despite thoroughly enjoying the work and challenges, I fairly quickly saw many opportunities within the company where I might be able to give back more.

It’s with great pride and excitement that I announce I’ll be taking a new role as Senior Software Engineer with the documentation team. There are lots of details to work out. This new position will allow me to directly interact with our product teams and the external developer community (think GitHub) to showcase the potential for extensibility in our products.

This will be an amazing opportunity for me. I won’t start until around July 1, but I anticipate this new opportunity will allow many new topics to post about. Happy Memorial Day - Many thanks to the men and women that have made it possible.

WooCommerce iATS Payment Gateway

In my current role at Blackbaud, I’ve been fortunate enough to create some fun and challenging customizations. As Wordpress has became a staple offering for the Interactive Services team, we found the need to create a WooCommerce plugin, adding iATS as a Payment Gateway.

Our client, ADRA Canada was already an iATS customer, and didn’t want to have to switch merchants or use a second one just for their ecommerce store. A quick search revealed an active developer community, including payment gateways for WooCommerce, but sadly, not one for use with iATS.

The last piece to confirm was that iATS provided an API to interactive with. Another quick search shows they provide a Web Service for developers service. A few weeks scoping and several email exchanges later with the iATS staff and our client, we had our scope!

iATS Payment Gateway

While I’m not able to provide all the technical details of the project, the iATS Web Service and WooCommerce API were both very well documented and easy to work with. The end product is a fully functioning eCommerce store with support for the iATS payment gateway! If you find yourself in a similar situation, don’t hesitate to contact me.

Hello world, Jekyll and Hyde

For reasons I can’t exactly explain, I’ve felt the need to write again. Perhaps it’s a renewed interest in the developer community. Regardless the reason, I haven’t consistently blogged in over 10 years. Typically I’d focused on personal ramblings, but honeslty I feel the need to make this more technical in nature.


Sticking with the technical theme, I setup several new technologies to write this blog. Instead of a one-click Wordpress install, I chose to use Jekyll in conjunction with Github Pages. As Jekyll is a static site generator, performance and security are huge benefits, especially when compared to Wordpress. I’m obviously some capabilities which Wordpress or a comparable CMS provides, but for my infrequent blog site, it seemed perfect.

Setup was mostly painless. The only point of confusion was whether to use Bundler or not. The help article describes using it, whereas the Jekyll page didn’t seem very concerned with it. Most likely my confusion comes from a lack of understanding its capabilities, but currently I am not using it.


Not particularly caring about the aesthetics of this site, Hyde seemed like the perfect fit.

Small Setting Triples Throughput

After jumping through many hoops with Comcast, I recently upgraded to the Extreme 50 package, claiming to offer 50 Mbps download speeds. First step was to purchase a new modem supporting DOCSIS 3.0. I got a great deal on the Motorola SB6120 from BestBuy thanks to some price matching. Looks like Amazon would’ve been the best bet otherwise.  Step two was to take back my Cisco Small Business RVS4000 from a friend.  I get everything back home, hooked up and immediately start testing at and

The best I can get is around 20 Mbps out of Atlanta.  Definitely not the 50 I was hoping and paying for.  Several days go by of me chalking it up to Comcast’s over-hype of their ability.  A friend/coworker (Shameless plug for his website – BuildEgg) suggests the router is probably the bottleneck.  My friend’s solution to his underpowered networking hardware was to build his own router using pfSense.  Trying to explore cheaper options first I do a quick Google search and find a suggestion to disable the IPS.

Disabling the IPS and a quick reboot immediately yield results around 60 Mbps.  Woohoo.

Speed Test - 60 Mbps

Speed Test Results

Simply disabling the IPS feature nearly tripled my throughput.  I honestly have no idea if there are any other ramifications for doing this, but at this point I don’t care.  I’m also only getting around 4 Mbps upload speeds versus the advertised 10, but I’ll save that one for another day.  In any case I felt I can’t be the only other poor sap who’s getting horrible speeds, just because of their poorly performing router.

Consolidating SimplyEarl & BobbyEarl

In early 2007, when Ashley and I decided to get married, I created  The idea was to continue to my personal blogging and social network tracking as I’d previously done on, but to add Ashley as a contributor.  In the 3 year span simplyearl was running, she hasn’t contributed once.  I can see her now giving me that poop eating grin.  At this point I would probably have better luck having Reeves contribute to the blog than Ashley.

Reeves using the keyboard

Reeves Using The Keyboard

That being the case I have decided to combine both sites and my brand if you will back into  I’m also hoping that this also inspires me to write more.  I’m still working on exactly how I want to combine them and which section to place emphasis.  So for now, simplyearl will redirect all traffic to bobbyearl.  I also am not interested in moving my custom WordPress theme so please pardon the free theme.

Reeves, I am your father.

First off let me apologize for the geeky title.  Also, let me clarify that geekiness by saying I know that Darth never actually said the phrase “Luke, I am your father” contiguously.  Now that that’s out of the way, let me get to the point of this entry: I am a father!  Reeves Alan Earl was born on February 8, 2009 at 8:52 AM.  He weighed exactly 9 pounds and was 21 inches in length.

Reeves Loves Sleeping

 The photo above almost looks staged.  It has been such a great experience becoming a parent.  It is unlike anything I’ve done before.  Labor was intense.  It’s definitely a bond between Ashley and I that I feel makes us so much closer.  She was amazing.  I can honestly say I don’t think I could’ve done what she did.

I actually started writing this post a week ago, but just now got around to publishing it.  In that short little time Reeves already looks so much bigger.  Not that I have very much experience with newborns, but he acts and looks like a baby that’s more than 2 weeks old.

Hopefully, since I have someone to write about other than myself, I will be inspired to write more frequently.  For more photos of Reeves and the family, be sure to check us out on Flickr and Facebook.

Threatened To Write

I’m not even sure I feel like writing posts anymore. I frequently update my status via Twitter and Facebook. I really don’t have a good reason why I don’t write posts anymore. It’s certainly not for a lack of interesting things going on in my life.  I think the best reason I can come up with is the time it takes to sit down and write a post, versus one-liners.

Ashley and I decided to make the plunge and become home-owners.  It was a rather hectic time, and we just couldn’t seem to get the many aspects of our lives to line up.  We were living in a 3rd floor loft when we found out she was pregnant.  As per the landlord’s suggestion, we decided to break the lease without penalty and look for somewhere else to live.  It seemed a good a time as any to buy a home.  After looking and finally finding what we felt was the perfect house, the negotiations on price fell through.  After already having committed to being out of the loft by a certain time, we were forced to move into an apartment.

We decided to build in the same neighborhood as our perfect house.  It worked out much better.  We’re getting more house with exactly what we want it, for less money.  In the interim we moved into a one bedroom apartment on Daniel Island.  There was a little mix-up with the elevator not working for our move-in, but other than that the apartment hasn’t been bad.  I’m just anxious to have a real house to take care of, so I find every little problem with the place now.  Our only real problem is not enough space.  Ashley, Reeves, Tucker and I are quickly running out of room.  Our closing date is in the middle of March, which is another story in itself.  That day cannot get here soon enough.

I’m back at VarnerMiller as their Systems Engineer.  I do miss the folks over at the college of knowledge, but I enjoy my work now many times over.  It’s more challenging and I have the ability to be more creative.  I couldn’t ask for more in a job.

Ashley’s due date is January 29.  Technically the date is February 11, but we like the original date they gave us better.  Also I’m not a fan of the month of February for two reasons.  First, it’s spelled weird.  FebRuary is just weird.  Second, the number of days in the month of FebRuary changes, which is simply annoying.  Last I knew, we’ve decided on Reeves Alan Earl as a name.  Most people either love it or hate it, which I’m okay with.  We’re ecstatic to have our first child.  I know it’s going to be rough, no doubt about that, but I’m still very humbled by the entire experience.  Just yesterday, I commented about how strange it was that I am no longer creeped-out at the OB/GYN.  It’s so obvious to see the guys in there for the first time.

I’ve commented on most of the major things in my life, that I can remember.  To be honest, I was pressured to write from Ashley.  While I won’t discuss specifics, I did not take her threats lightly.  :-)

Just A Few Updates

I’ve found that as I get better updating my status on Facebook and Twitter (mainly thanks to my new iPhone 3G – that’s another story), I’ve gotten worse at writing blog entries. I can’t promise that I’ll get better either.  I thought I would just jump in and update about our lives.

I’ll write about the most important first.  Ashley and I are having a baby.  She’s due January 29 so we still have a ways to go.   Her little belly is starting to poke out just a tiny bit.  I have to say she is so beautiful with it.  In about 6 weeks we’ll be able to tell the sex.  My old coworker and her husband, who are also having a child, have decided to wait to find out the sex.  Ashley and I aren’t that strong-willed and are dying to know.  So much so, she wanted me to buy some 3D imaging scan that would tell us the sex at 16 weeks.  For now I’ve held off, but we shall see.

Baby Earl

As I’ve previously discussed, we’re now living in the top floor of an old house.  After mentioning the baby to our landlord, he graciously offered for us to leave our lease early with no penalty to the security deposit.  I didn’t even ask, matter-of-fact I made a point to say we would honor the lease.  Because of his generous offer, we have started to look at purchasing a home.  We haven’t sat with a lender yet, but have briefly spoken with our amazing real estate agent/college friend.  We’re both very anxious to own our first home and feel now couldn’t be a better time to buy.

The third and final big change I’d like to talk about is my job.  I am no longer employed with the College of Charleston.  While only there for a little under two years, I really did enjoy my job and coworkers.  I’m going to miss it.  I’ve decided to go back to my previous employer as a systems engineer.  I am really going to enjoy the challenging work.

As I finally finish up this post, I’m anxious to write about new things.

New Place, New Things

Ashley and I finally found a new place to move.  We’ll be living on the third floor of and 1890’s Queen Anne style house.  It kind of have a lofty feeling, which I was looking for, but is large enough for the two of us with 1100 square feet.  The living room and kitchen are one room with a large bench seat window.  The bedroom is huge and has three skylights.  To the right is the walk-in closet with full-size brand new front load washer and dryer, also with a large window.  To the left is the bathroom with double sinks, a stand-up shower and a large claw foot tub, also with a large window.

Our New House

To say we’re excited about it is an understatement.  When we went and looked at it I was almost giddy.  The homeowner lives on the first floor and seems like a cool guy.  We move in May 1st.  Not looking forward to the actual move again.  Just have to keep my eye on the prize and I think it will be ok.

It’s also going to be a different experience finally being able to live with just Ashley.  I’m going to miss my roommates.  I’ve had roommates since the day I started college.  In fact I’ve lived with Chip for about 5 years now and Clay 4.  I think it’s finally time to bite the bullet and live with just my wife though.  :-)

On to new things…

Ashley and I played our first kickball game last night.  In typical fashion I got really excited and then I don’t really feel like doing it at the very last minute.  I pushed through anyway, thank goodness.  We lead the entire game but they caught up during the last inning.  Tough loss but I still had a great time.  Our team seems to get along well so I don’t expect any problems there.

I’m planning on documenting the move and will get some pictures up of our new place once we get settled.  Just as an FYI, if you’re ever feeling just a little too peppy try listening Elliot Smith.  His music will definitely bring you down a peg or two.  Matter-of-fact, his music made him so miserable he took his own life, which is sad because I like his stuff.