I guess it's a while since I've posted about job stuff but I figure that for the three of you who still read these things it might be worth talking about.
April 23, 2013
March 27, 2013
I'm not really liking the problem area that I'm working in after all. It seems like all the interesting problems are either solved or unsolvable, and it's all about support engineering and doing little tweaks that require a lot of fiddliness and process to validate. Plus, I feel out of my depth and incompetent when it comes to actually retaining and recalling the information needed to do that support engineering.
In my spare time I've been working on comics and music and that just seems so much more fulfilling, and then this Onion article hit way too close to home.
Right now I just feel like I need to hang on until August because then I can put in for a transfer to another department, and I'm kind of hoping to get in with one of our game studios. Hopefully they'll see the value to a graphics/audio programmer and sound designer, and I have so many ideas for collaborative music games that would be fun to create and play...
Plus, it'd all be working back in the client space, where I clearly belong.
I do know someone on the social games team who I could probably chat with, although he doesn't seem all that excited about what he's been working on, and my understanding is that by "social" they mean "Facebook." Which isn't bad as a social platform goes, but it's also not the sort of thing I want to work in the ecosystem of. (But I'd be fine with Facebook being just one supported identity platform; what I have in mind would work well with any timeline-based sharing platform.)
February 7, 2013
So I spent all day doing some fiddly optimizations on my network datagram protocol to try to optimize the alignment-matching characteristics of data transfers (similar to the ones I did in Sprung). At best I managed to beat out default mismatched alignment for the fairly old version of glibc that we're still running in production. However, my team lead suggested I build it on Ubuntu with a modern glibc and see just how pointless that work was. I did. Now I'm sad.
This is what happens when all my optimization tricks are based on late-90s x86 and early-00s ARM, because that's the world in which I've spent most of my time-critical optimization work. So, not only are CPUs so fast that you "don't have to" think about this stuff anymore, but the underlying system libraries and processor μops have already fixed these problems anyway, especially for streaming reads.
(To be fair, these tricks are still very much valid in the mobile/embedded space. But that's not a space I'm working in anymore.)
November 7, 2012
I think I've finally traced back to where my anxiety issues started: when Steve (ucblockhead) became my manager. The first panic attacks I remember having were because of early arguments we'd had about process and design, and the first of many times that he decided I was being obstructionist and taking things wildly out of context while cherry-picking things he disagreed with (while lambasting me for not doing things the same way he would have, without saying what way he wanted them done).
I ended up quitting Sony because of that (although I went out of my way to format it as being me pursuing other opportunities at a startup), and rejoined Sony because the startup didn't work out, Nick (the boss) wanted me back, and I was still optimistic about the stuff Sony was doing and felt like I wasn't done. Then Chris died, and things went to shit around me, and Steve had communicated two things to me:
- Maybe I should come into work to work through my problems
- He wouldn't be telling people about what happened for everyone's privacy
As a result none of my coworkers (or even Nick!) knew I'd suffered a loss and so when I came back I had a complete lack of condolences (which, as it turns out, are very helpful) and even further down the road this topic would come up in conversation with coworkers (or Nick!) and they'd be completely floored with what happened and wondered why they never knew about it.
And then my IBS and major anxiety problems happened and I ended up missing a few weeks of work, and I came back and dove in head-first trying to make everything work and going above and beyond to salvage a project which was at risk (while feeling a subtle amount of blame for having missed so much work due to illness), and Steve never once acknowledged those positives, and instead harangued me for everything he perceived as a negative. And then that project fizzled out and I was put onto what was essentially a thankless QA task, and I did everything I could to make it work, but every minor failure (mostly issues collaborating with the other groups I was working for but who didn't want to help) became another point of where Steve would lambaste me for things going wrong.
Then Amazon extended me a "please come back!" offer, and I left on what I thought were amicable terms, despite Steve and Devshi (Steve's manager) purposefully poisoning the well for me by talking on my behalf about why I was leaving (saying things which weren't technically untrue but were both unimportant to my decision and put me in a very bad light).
Meanwhile, Steve had been talking on his blog (on a small community blog site) about how tired he was of certain things at Sony, and these were things he'd been very openly tired about in our 1:1 meetings at Sony, and so on, and the other day he mentioned the release of one particular clusterfuck of a project, and I replied saying something about how the framerate was incredibly inconsistent and the navigation was a mess but knowing what led to things being that way, I wasn't surprised. And in his post he'd also mentioned that he no longer had any subordinates aside from an outsourced development group in Argentina, and I snarkily said I was sorry for contributing to his labor shortage, but I wasn't. And then he ripped into me with the same completely-unfair out-of-the-blue bullshit that he always used against me whenever I was having trouble with him at work, and added some very unkind remarks about my career path and the things I should be doing better (which included basically sitting down, shutting up, and doing what I'm told, which are also things he dwelled on when I was trying to make things better at Sony). Then he also went out of his way to berate me for belittling the project he "had fought for over the past two years" (really? coulda fooled me) and just generally made me feel like shit for what I thought was an objective, if unkind, statement of fact.
And then I had a major panic attack, and I decided to quit the community blog site because frankly he was the only reason I ever did anything there anyway, and I'm still struggling to find any sort of personal comfort right now.
Steve was a decent friend but a terrible manager, and he has clearly decided that he'd rather be a terrible manager than any sort of friend at all.
October 24, 2012
The Sprung soundtrack just came up on iTunes shuffle for me, and it's been about 8 years and for some reason I feel like talking about some of the fun technical stuff. It wasn't a great game and it wasn't an amazing use of the DS technology, but there was some pretty cool internal stuff about it, even if it wasn't really visible in the end product.
I figure that since it was released over 8 years ago now and apparently Ubisoft doesn't even have the source anymore there's no harm in talking about things. (No, Nintendo, I'm not sharing any secrets specifically about the DS, and I never did to begin with, despite what your clueless lawyers told Ubisoft's clueless lawyers.)
I feel like I've written about this before but if so I feel like writing about it again, so bear with me.
September 25, 2012
I seem to have already fallen back into my bad productivity-impairing habits at work. To that end I am posting this as a reminder to myself to not do the following:
- Connect to MUCKs (well, the one MUCK I care about anymore)
- Check RSS feeds (or anything else on my daily linkroll for that matter)
- Check my personal email beyond what's necessary for my ongoing real estate transactions
- Connect to AIM
- Peruse any of my various forums
Hopefully without these things getting in the way I can actually get these one-to-two day tasks done in one to two days instead of spending close to a week on them (ugh).
Maybe I'll revisit this when I get back in the rhythm of getting stuff done, especially after I get more familiar with Go, which I'm finding to be a very interesting language but also has a major impedance mismatch with my thought processes after the last 15 years of C-family coding.
August 28, 2012
I guess it's been a while since I've posted, so here it is in brief:
- Job is going pretty good so far. The way computers are set up now is very different than five years ago, so I was able to actually figure out a decent work setup that works well. Also, my coworkers are pretty excellent, and in particular I'm getting along well with one of the engineers who is an old friendly curmudgeon from Syria. I'm also getting a handle on the codebase quicker than I expected, and this team is way more laid-back than anyone else I've worked with.
- My offer on the Firehouse 25 condo still stands, and I just accepted an offer on my condo in SF (whee). The offer I accepted wasn't as high as I was hoping for but it was still above my asking price and makes the timing work out really nicely (and my realtor pointed out that because of labor day and Burning Man I'm unlikely to get more offers in the next couple weeks anyway, and then that means it'll be sitting on the market for a while and that has a way of tainting things). I'm still making a decent profit on it anyway.
- I got sick of not having any guitars with me and I figure I need a better 6-string acoustic, and Guitar Center is just up the street from where I'm staying, so I figured...
- Werner is still going nuts, but hopefully he won't have to put up with this crappy apartment much longer.
- The ISP situation in Seattle proper is pretty dismal. Looks like the only real choice right now is Comcast. Maybe Paul Allen will stop working on his urban-renewal vanity projects and start trying to establish a FTTH provider to improve the city that's already here. But I'm not holding my breath.
- My wrists still suck, my butt still sucks, and I still have anxiety issues, but somehow life goes on.
August 22, 2012
August 19, 2012
So, this temporary housing is driving me nuts.
Unfortunately, my place back in SF won't be on the market until Thursday (thanks, realtor who told me things would move a lot faster than they actually are), and after that it'll take who knows how long for offers to come in, and after that it'll take who knows how long for it to close. Kerri (my realtor in Seattle) is telling me that it'll be at least a month after any offers come in before they can close, and those would come after the open house on the 26th, so that means I'm stuck here until at least September 26 (because I can't close on a property in Seattle until my property in San Francisco also closes). Or maybe it can be moved up with a bridge loan. I'm not sure if I can afford to pay essentially three mortgages (SF mortgage, Seattle mortgage, bridge loan) at once though. I'll ask the loan broker here what works, I suppose.
Anyway I'm pretty frustrated with my realtor back in San Francisco; he told me things would move at a certain rate, but then didn't keep me appraised of things that would potentially delay it until it was too late for me to do anything about it (for example, he decided more painting was necessary than we'd agreed to and that pushed things back a few days, and then the stager wanted to be paid up-front, which she didn't tell me even when I'd met her when I was moving out; I could have sent her a check as soon as she sent me the quote instead of having to do a wire transfer a few days after she said that she hadn't started yet because she hadn't been paid, and of course the stager made it really difficult for me to get her wire transfer details too because she is a total corn flake). Then when I moved like crazy to get things moving as fast as I could, he still dragged his feet at getting it going. I'm pretty disappointed in him.
At least I finally start work tomorrow so I'll have something to do other than being driven crazy by this terrible temporary housing or wishing I had the energy to work on the music app I want to work on. (Of course the basic idea behind the music app is well-explored, but it's the big-picture stuff that I really want to do! But I can't do the big-picture stuff without the basic part of it. And nobody seems to just have a componentized thing for the basic part. Not that the basic part would be that hard to implement, but I'm lazy.)
August 10, 2012
Werner behaved the whole way; at one point he did come in the front and tried to get in my lap but a stern "no" convinced him to just sit next to me. Driving in downtown Seattle is trickier than I remember it being, but I pretty much avoided it the whole time I lived here anyway so whatever.
The soulless corporate housing is, unsurprisingly, soulless and corporate. Just another incentive to buy a new place sooner rather than later. Sure don't want to spend the full two months here. Werner's running around the place trying to find out if there's more than there first appears to be. (There isn't. This apartment is actually smaller than the hotel room I stayed in last night.)
Doing a load of laundry, probably going to take a shower. Would be nice to meet up with local friends for dinner but that seems unlikely at this point, so maybe I'll just reacquaint myself with Belltown.
August 9, 2012
Today the movers came to take away all my stuff. Werner was a bit freaked out by all the activity but I ended up putting him out on the balcony and he was really well-behaved. Then the movers finished around 1:30, and Werner was freaked out by everything being empty, but I was able to get him into his carrier and that into the car. I just left the carrier open the whole time, and he was ridiculously well-behaved! He meowed a bit at the beginning but then he had a grand old time looking out the windows and then eventually just napped a bunch, and he always stayed out of the way. At a few rest stops I actually woke him up to make sure he was okay and not, like, dying of heat stroke or something, and he was totally fine.
At one stop he was clearly annoyed with driving and kept on getting in my lap and wouldn't let me start the car, but I snuggled with him for a few minutes and that seemed to satisfy him.
Anyway, now I'm in Ashland, OR, at the La Quinta (which I planned on because they're specifically pet-friendly). I ended up in the "Shakespeare Suite," which was their only single-bed room left for tonight. Maybe I should have made a reservation, but I can't complain, as this room is ridiculously nice, at least by La Quinta standards, and with a reservation I'd have ended up in a normal room instead. I think it's intended to be a honeymoon suite. I'm not sure why anyone would have their honeymoon in Ashland, OR, but whatever. Werner's just hanging out and being awesome, and I'm trying to catch up on all the Internet I missed today. The hotel has free wi-fi but it's pretty crappy so I'm just tethering my phone anyway.
And now, I'm going to make use of this jacuzzi, because I mean, it's paid for so might as well, right?
July 31, 2012
Today was my last day at Sony (again). It was a little bittersweet to say goodbye to the people I've worked with for as many as five years, but I'm happy to be moving along.
Then I had my last appointment with my doctor, who was glad to hear about my health problems basically disappearing two weeks ago when I put in my two weeks' notice.
Then I had my last appointment with my therapist. I got a little misty-eyed when instead of scheduling the next appointment I thanked him for helping me through so many tough times over the last few years.
Also, I already have people lining up to look at my condo even though it isn't technically on the market yet. Clearly this is a good situation to be in. Maybe it'll be sold before the movers are even done packing up. Wouldn't that be something?
Anyway. Tomorrow I go out museuming, and Thursday is the car maintenance extravaganza. Other than that my schedule is pretty much free until Wednesday. In case anyone wants to do things. (Any day I'm not doing things I'll hopefully be working on comics or music stuff.)
July 27, 2012
Right now the movers are scheduled to pack my stuff on August 8 and load it onto the truck August 9. As such, if all goes well I will be leaving San Francisco on August 9 and arriving in Seattle on August 11.
My current time commitments are as follows:
July 28: some "me time" July 29: my brother's birthday party July 30: work July 31: work in AM, various appointments in PM August 1 (Wednesday): Exploratorium with friends (tentative) August 2 (Thursday): Car maintenance extravaganza (oil change, find out why the tire pressure light won't go out, etc.) August 3 (Friday): Open August 4 (Saturday): Open August 5 (Sunday): Open
- August 6 (Monday): Musee Mechanique during the day; showing condo to a potential buyer in the evening
- August 7 (Tuesday): Open
- August 8 (Wednesday): move starts; dinner with former Amazon coworkers
If you want to be part of the day
s that aren't spoken for, now would be a good time to speak up! Here are some of the things I want to be doing with my remaining downtime in San Francisco: Finally go to the Exploratorium
- Finally go to the Musee Mechanique
- Maybe head out to Ocean Beach?
- Work on comics
- Work on a web-based music collaboration idea that's been rattling around in my head for a while
Of course some of those I can do when I get to Seattle, too, so they're not particularly urgent, although I suspect a lot of my time in Seattle will be spent taking care of real estate and car stuff and whatever.
(Oh, and at some point — ideally before I drive 800 miles through desolate rural areas with 110-degree weather and steep, winding mountain passes — my car needs an oil change. It's amazing how quickly the miles add up when other people rent your car for tourism all the time!)
July 20, 2012
So I talked with the relocation company today, and got my questions about how their pet relocation works answered. Unfortunately, they don't take care of the logistical issues inherent with moving a cat by plane without having a car to transport stuff around in for you, and the pet-moving allowance wouldn't cover hiring a third-party pet moving company, so it looks like instead of taking advantage of the car-moving service I will instead be driving up with Werner (with a litter box, water dish, and food dish in back), and taking advantage of the pet-friendly hotels on the way.
The advantage to this is that it'll also make it easier for me to deal with my wine and liquor collection (sorry, Mike and Milo), as well as the musical instruments I don't have hard cases for. The disadvantage to this is driving for 12 hours with a meowing, clingy cat through hot Californian desert and winding, windy Oregon freeways and going up steep hills in an underpowered car. This will be the second time I've done a long trip in this car (the first one was when I first bought it) and I know it'll be okay, because it'll be the opposite trip from the one that felt so bad five years ago.
I really should make sure all this stuff will fit in back though. (If only I had my car right now!)
Anyway, right now the big variable is when the movers can come to get my stuff, including what time of day they'll be finished (i.e. whether it'll take two or three days for me to drive to Seattle). Once I get the movers scheduled I can schedule everything else too, and then I'll know how much time I'll have in Seattle to take care of other stuff. Of course, there's the other variable about how long it'll take for my SF condo to sell and thus make it possible for me to buy another property in Seattle. But my Realtor™ doesn't think it'll take that long, with how the housing market is in SF right now. Apparently the other Realtor™s at his agency are very interested in my property and are looking forward to it being listed. That's a good sign! If I can avoid doing a contingent purchase that'll only make things go more smoothly on the Seattle end (and make it easier for me to get financing for the converted factory loft I really want).
July 18, 2012
I guess because I like keeping records of major life events, I'd might as well post something here about how
- I had been missing Seattle dearly ever since I left five years ago
- I went back to Seattle last week for Song Fight Live, as planned since March or something
- A couple weeks before that trip I happened to be contacted by a recruiter there for a very interesting job doing research in the field of high-performance distributed computing (among other things)
- The interview went well
- The offer came quickly
- heck yeah I'm moving back to Seattle
I put in my two weeks' notice yesterday, and as soon as I'd talked with my managers I felt like the vise grip that had been wrapped around my chest for the last two years had finally released, and I could breathe again. I'm also feeling a clarity and an almost overwhelming lack of anxiety that feels so foreign, and so good, right now. Even thinking about all the things that need to happen (sell my condo, buy another one up there, how should I get Werner moved, etc.) isn't making me even the least bit anxious.
I'm moving back to Seattle!
July 11, 2012
Amazon interview II went pretty well. I'm not nearly as confident in this one as I was the last time, but I was also being interviewed for a much higher position than last time so the bar was a lot higher as well.
Many of the questions were regarding complicated high-level server architectures which isn't really something I've done a lot of in the past but they kept on insisting that they were just trying to get a handle on my thought process and that they weren't expecting an amazing perfect architecture out of the gate, so that's reassuring. But I certainly didn't feel very confident this time around.
I got a lot more information about the two jobs I'm being considered for and just as I expected, one of them sounded a lot more interesting to me than the other, for a number of reasons (I mean both are interesting projects but one of them fits my particular head space better, and it's probably telling that the sorts of engineers on the other one sound like they're generall more senior and mature and prefer to research and prototype and develop stuff rather than to have Nerf fights while they slam out code in a shared workspace). So I hope that if I only get an offer for one of them, it's for that one.
Anyway, ater that I wandered around the South Lake Union area, then found myself in Queen Anne, and while a lot has changed, a lot is still the same. Just for the hell of it I went to Dick's and had a cheeseburger and a root beer float, even though I wasn't hungry. It was way better than I remembered it being. (Still not a place I'd want to go to weekly, but still, it's nice to have something be better than I remember for once.)
Even with how alien a lot of everything is now, Seattle still feels like home, and I can definitely see myself living here again.
I did have a few moments of anxiety during the interview but the pangs subsided pretty quickly. Also, yesterday I ended up being stuck downtown without a working phone (due to my own lack of preparedness regarding phone charger) and I would have normally been completely freaking out but somehow I never had even a slight worry (except I was worried about an anxiety attack which never came). I think this place just feels safe in a way I've never felt in San Francisco.
Even if I don't get a job at Amazon I'm thinking of giving my two weeks' notice at Sony as soon as I get back.
July 6, 2012
Today I got my current albatross of a boondoggle of a project to a good stopping point, as in I've completed everything on it that I'd committed to. The rest of it is up to Steve and Andy, assuming they can get it done in the next week (Steve's doing his best to debug a pretty aggravating issue from a perspective other than where I've been attacking it from, and Andy is basically putting tab A in slot B and hopefully not fucking things up too badly, but this is Andy we're talking about so I'm not optimistic).
June 27, 2012
I had a phone interview with Amazon from 2:00 to 2:40. It was supposed to take until 3:30 but they were expecting the technical questions to be a lot more grueling than they actually were. Basically there were a few design questions (which involved things I'd actually solved and my solutions impressed them since they were much more elegant than what they'd considered!), a bit of background discussion (I mostly talked about Kindle and Topaz, and they weren't at all interested in my stuff at Sony), a few online whiteboard coding questions (which I knocked out of the park), and then me asking them about things there, and all of their answers sat well with me. It also turns out that one of them works below Peter Commons, who was a semi-colleague of mine before (this came up because of my question about which form(s) of agile do they subscribe to and how religious are they, and one said "I work under Peter Commons who is very religious about it but the rest of us take more of a do-what-works mentality" and I said "Ah, yeah, I've worked with Peter Commons, and I know precisely how religious he is about agile - but he's consistent and that's worth a lot too.")
Anyway, I will be incredibly shocked and disappointed if I don't get an in-person interview from this.
Meanwhile, I'm still looking at Seattle real estate, and doing more detailed math on my savings and such. Assuming I am able to sell my place for what I think it's worth, I wouldn't be QUITE able to buy the condos I like outright, but I'd be able to put a HUGE amount down, and with a 5/1 ARM I could probably get it paid off in just a few years. I think I will be touring places when I'm in Seattle for Song Fight!. Right now I have a few places I definitely have my eye on, and one's in an even nicer part of Ballard than I was in before, and then there's one near Green Lake (very nice) and one just a block away from Gas Works Park.
With just my savings right now I don't think I could swing a 20% down payment, unfortunately, so that rules out the idea of renting out my place in San Francisco, not that I wanted to anyway since there's too much volatility and I honestly don't think my unit would be a very good rental for a number of reasons. Hopefully I can sell my place quick so I don't have to do a contingent purchase (because that's always a huge pain in the ass).
June 25, 2012
The interview at Yorba went well. They're in much better financial shape than they were two years ago and are working on some pretty interesting things, including a thing to make it easier for software projects to get funded (Kickstarter works okay for some things but it falls short in a big way for most F/OSS stuff and even non-game commercial software). There was also a lot of mutual interest between us. They're also aware of the fact that I'm interviewing at other places and aren't doing a hard-bargain thing or anything, and so they're still on my list of possibilities.
Still, my top choice would involve anything that gets me back in Seattle, although I might be chasing rainbows too much to appreciate all the excellent stuff I have around me. At this point my list of preferences regarding places I'm actually considering working is something like:
- Valve (who still haven't gotten back to me)
- Amazon (only because they're in Seattle - if they were in San Francisco I wouldn't be nearly so eager)
- Yorba (because they're doing stuff I appreciate and at least the commute is nice and they're in a nice part of the Mission)
- TinyCo (in reality this is the best shot I have for working on my music thing but I'm not interested in the rest of them, so)
(not shown: all the other places trying to recruit me but which I have absolutely no interest in)
June 22, 2012
First, at Sony, there's a whole bunch of open positions, including various software engineering positions (client, server, hardware platform, and web), but also things like marketing, content development, and even English-Japanese translation, at various places in California (San Francisco, San Jose, Foster City, San Diego, and Los Angeles).
Next, a friend of mine at a local cloud computing startup is looking for engineers able to work in San Francisco (or are willing to relocate here), ideally ones experienced in Java and Hadoop but really just being able to learn technology as necessary.
If any of these appeal to you, email me at fluffy[at]beesbuzz[dot]biz and I'll get you in touch with the right people.