Hi there! You've reached the homepage of Ben Lavender! Ben is a computery person who partakes in many kinds of nerd tomfoolery, but mostly programming! You've found his home on the web, with the caveat that a lot his day-to-day stuff ends up on social networks, so this site makes him seem pretty stodgy.
Enjoy your stay.


Why do I want to hire Ben?

Ben's a strong generalist, with focus these days in Ruby and Coffeescript. He's pretty happy coding anywhere in the stack on something he likes, but is a little more productive on the backend.
Future goals include getting into robotics and hardware. He thinks there's going to be a 2000-style bubble in hardware in his lifetime. He'd like to get paid to write Go, too.

How do I know he's any good?!

You see the DINOSAURS?
You see the Github link?
You see the about page, where he says he likes VIM?
Okay, not everyone's a nerd, so here you go. But if you think that you might have a culture clash with someone who makes dinosaur websites and doesn't own a pair of dress shoes, I wouldn't worry about it.

If you think that you have something Ben might like to work with you on, his address at gmail is blavender. Drop him a line.



  • Ben's good at this!

The List

  • PHP
  • Drupal
  • SQL, My and postgre
  • Customer Support
  • Linux configuration
  • The kind of bloated enterprise software nobody should ever buy
  • Test automation
  • HAML
  • Tons of other crap made obsolete by Heroku
  • Tons of other crap made obsolete by the cloud
  • Tons of other crap made obsolete by Puppet and Chef
  • Tons of other crap made obsolete by Google
  • Tons of other crap made obsolete by Father Time
  • Tons of other crap that will never* be obsolete.
*Not actually never

Work History

  • Developer

    August 2012 - Present

    Development on GitHub.com and internal tools for deployment, CI, and monitoring.
    • Rescued three all-but-abandoned projects, bringing them to modern standards.
    • Created a method for configuring application environment variables for every app in the company from chat.
    • Improved and maintained the company's continuous deployment automation infrastructure, a system layered over jenkins.
    • As part of a team, implemented a production-quality real time messaging system.
    • Implemented platform features related to commit statuses and rate limiting.
    • As part of a team, revitalized monitoring by extracting and refactoring a deployable nagios configuration to live as a stand-alone software project, based heavily on graphite metrics.
  • Chief Nerd

    Late 2011 - Mid 2012
    Liveset (defunct)

    Chief nerd at Liveset.com
    • Moved an existing site, complete with CMS, to Heroku
    • Turn a legacy site with existing CSS and Javascript into something fun to work with based on CoffeeScript, Haml, Backbone.js, and more.
    • Implemented a number of trackable features, including reworked chat, geo-located advertisements for upcoming shows, CD sales, and more.
    • Integrated an automated audio processing backend with video processing and CDN distribution systems.
    • Built a custom audio player specific to site needs of simplicity and theme.
  • CEO

    Late 2010 - Late 2011

    CEO of Dydra.com, a cloud-based graph database, built on the RDF standard, founded by a 4-man team.
    • Built operational infrastructure on AWS using Puppet.
    • Raised pre-seed funding and built financial projections, competitive analyses, investor information packets, and more while trying to raise a seed round (ultimately unsuccessful, but whatever, I learned something).
    • Assisted with development of a sizable frontend application in Rails.
  • Freelancing

    Aug 2009 - Late 2010

    Various small contract positions while the seeds of Dydra form. Most contracts are 3-5 weeks and paid work is not full time, other time going into preliminary work on Dydra.
    • With a co-founder of Dydra, conquered the RDF library space in Ruby. See my gems.
    • Set up an initial management system and performed initial Linux kernel tweaking for a system of 12 very high capacity edge nodes delivered to a top 40 supercomputer.
    • Designed and implemented an auto-scaling system for the front end of the website for Rock-am-Ring, Germany's biggest music festival. Peak traffic during the festival is several thousand times off-peak traffic, and the system successfully handled it.
  • Senior Operations Engineer

    Aug 2007 - Aug 2009

    Head system administrator for a 60-server farm running a large number of complex and non-standard Drupal sites in Stuttgart, Germany. In parallel, acted as buildmaster interfacing a 15-man development team to a QA team. Also acted as after-hours support to interface with German-speaking ISP personnel for the NOC housing the farm.
    • Designed and implemented an improved copy of a systems platform for a set of web sites to meet high availability requirements. Maintained support for this stack while designing other systems.
    • Re-engineered the main software platform running more than 40 production web sites. The new design included several features not available in the original design, including hardware redundancy, high-availability failover, and robust disaster recovery features. Developed and successfully implemented a transition plan to accompany this design, allowing for per-site outages of less than 15 minutes for a long-term transition that included driving a truck full of servers around Stuttgart.
    • Took responsibility for the routers and firewalls supporting the software system, allowing for a much faster turnaround time from recognizing a needed change to implementation, increasing the development team's ability to experiment with new technologies.
    • Designed and implemented a system to copy existing Drupal web sites, a problem not then (nor now) well solved in the Drupal community. This system allowed, for the first time, developers to test changes on copies of live sites without affecting production environments, allowing for much quicker development of complicated components.
  • Web Developer

    2004-Aug 2007
    Freelance Web Development

    Freelance web development work, from minor maintenance to from-scratch projects executed to completion. Did everything: initial user interviews, to speccing out requirements, negotiating rates and prices, development, design, and deployment. All projects were internal, and direct access is unfortunately not available.
    Completed projects
    • A certification and maintenance management system for a marine services company, tracking the certification and maintenance status of hundreds of vessels saving thousands of dollars beginning immediately after deployment.
    • A call-log reports system for a VoIP company, allowing users to create reports based on phone usage in aggregate or by individual users.
    • An IP address and router documentation/administration system, allowing an ISP to easily track and manage Internet connections to their customers and automatically generate router configurations.
  • (multiple positions via promotions) Monitoring Technician, Network Engineer, System Administrator, Tools Developer

    Infinity Data Systems, bought by UniversalCom, bought by Nuvox (since sold, but I'm not paying attention anymore)

    Promoted from entry-level monitoring technician to internal web application developer over 6 years.
    • Was primarily responsible for the design, implementation, and maintenance of a DNS system to replace an aging system. Included 11 name servers, including both client caching and authoritative, with more than 100 organizations as customers. Included view configuration.
    • Administrated a collection of Linux machines which provided a variety of services, such as email, web, DHCP and DNS.
    • Maintained several internal web-based software tools for the tracking of IP addresses, customer equipment, etc.
    • Created new web tools to maintain services, such as log searching across a cluster of mail servers and an easy front end to create and maintain DNS entries for service technicians.
You want more?! What else could you...oh, right. Education. This matters little for a good programmer, but here you go.


University of New Orleans, 2005
BS in Computer Science, minor in European Studies
  • 2 Years in Austria on a study abroad scholarship
  • More little scholarships along the way
  • Graduated in Austria remotely (thx Katrina!)
  • Learned me a Prolog
  • Made lego robots run into walls intelligently