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July 1, 2016

Life continues to go on (, , , , , )

by fluffy at 12:28 AM

A summary for people who don't follow me on Twitter or Tumblr and have missed out on all of my GLORIOUS TALKING ABOUT MY LIFE:

  • Got rid of the Beetle, bought a new(!) Mazda3. It's a lot of fun.
  • Am getting better about driving on freeways again (it helps that the Mazda3 is so much fun to drive and has a bunch of safety features that make me feel way more comfortable with driving on the freeway)
  • Work is going great, except my wrists suck pretty bad and I haven't been able to draw or work on music very much
  • But work is trying to help me out and I'm taking two weeks off soon and if that's not enough I'll look into medical leave
  • For the first of those weeks I'll be in NYC for Song Fight Live, come see me at the Sidewalk Cafe NY on Sunday July 17! (probably, there's a small chance I might end up at the other show on the 16th instead but that seems unlikely, but the lineup as shown on the Sidewalk site is complete fiction right now)
  • Oh and accompanying me will be Spud (on bass) and Paul (on drums), and Paul is probably my oldest friend at this point (we go back to when we were like 12!) and we haven't performed together since a single what-were-we-thinking show back in (I want to say) 200...2? so that's pretty cool
  • One of my cats keeps on shitting on the carpet and I'm pretty sure it's Werner
  • Oh uh I finally came out to friends and family and coworkers and transitioned legally and changed my name and gender markers, I guess that's kind of big news?

February 21, 2016

Nominal (, , )

by fluffy at 3:45 AM

Wow, it's been a while since I've posted here. Tumblr still doesn't have any reasonable way of doing friends-only entries and I don't want to post this on there/Twitter/etc.

So lately I've been really wanting to actually be out of the closet for coworkers, family, etc. and it felt like the thing getting in the way for that is my name. "Well I haven't decided on a name yet but please use these pronouns because [reasons]."

So, I've been cogitating and ruminating on names a lot lately, and I think I'm about ready to settle on Jayden (or some other spelling of it). It was a known name in 1978, although it didn't become gender-neutral until sometime in the late 80s/early 90s, but that's okay. I'm also thinking I'll change my last name, probably to Noel (my paternal grandmother Helen's maiden name).

(yes my paternal grandmother's name was Helen Noel, no not that one)

I don't give a crap about a middle name but if I have to pick one I'd probably go with Cohen (my maternal grandmother's maiden name) or Quentin or something.

Anyway that's what's up with me. Oh and my wrists fucking suck again. Fucking fuck. I'm probably going to quit the software industry and do my own thing for a while (music, art, and personal software projects). Gotta hold out until September if I'm going to maximize my bonus payouts though.

March 31, 2015

We're (still) hiring! ()

by fluffy at 10:33 AM

HBO Code Labs still has a buttload of open positions, and now we have specific listings:

All positions are available in Seattle and NYC unless otherwise specified.

If interested, email me your resume (fluffy[at]this domain) and I'll forward it on to the appropriate person.

February 20, 2015

We're hiring in Seattle, NYC and Los Angeles (, )

by fluffy at 9:26 AM

HBO is hiring software engineers, and we have plenty of open positions in Seattle, NYC and Los Angeles. If you're interested, send me your resume.

December 8, 2014

A meeting of dread (, )

by fluffy at 7:24 PM

Today we got an urgent meeting invite to an all-hands for tomorrow morning, which is Vitally Important, and tellingly, two HR representatives will be there.

November 19, 2014

Closed loop (, )

by fluffy at 9:02 PM

So, the main thing I was working on at Sony was Trilithium, an application runtime that provided high-level media frameworky stuff for various hardware platforms.

The main thing I'm working on at HBO is an application runtime that provides high-level media frameworky stuff for various hardware platforms. HBO decided to start building it because they had such a terrible time using Trilithium.

September 15, 2014

First day at HBO ()

by fluffy at 5:08 PM

Today was my first day at HBO's Seattle office. It definitely seems like it'll be a great place to work.

I can't really say what I'll be working on, though; I can neither confirm nor deny where there will be a Fraggle Rock MMO.

July 16, 2014

Formal offer from HBO (, )

by fluffy at 4:21 PM

After some miscommunications of the "tiny division operating independently of large media conglomerate" sense I finally got my formal offer from HBO today, and it's pretty lucrative.

The main thing I want to mention is that it comes with 4 weeks of vacation a year, which is just insane and I have no idea what to do with that much vacation time, except maybe "not be burned out." What a concept.

March 17, 2014

Why incorrect-password account locking is a bad idea ()

by fluffy at 8:30 PM

Once upon a time, most employees had a single dumb terminal which logged into a central mainframe over a simple serial connection. Someone decided that, as a form of account security, it would be a good idea to stop hack attempts by freezing the account of someone who has failed to log in a certain number of times in a row, in order to prevent brute-force password-guessing attacks. It was a bad idea then, and it is an even worse idea now.

Most employees now have more than one device connected to their work account. Each one of those devices may have more than one connection to the work account, too, especially with applications like Thunderbird which aggressively try to reconnect if a failure occurs. And, in fact, Thunderbird might try connecting repeatedly for multiple reasons, such as to check IMAP, SMTP, and calendaring.

So let's say for the sake of argument that an employee has gone home at the end of the day, and tries to log in to work email from home. This employee brainfarts, and uses the wrong password (because after all, everything needs its own password, each with its own set of impossible-to-remember rules that end up decreasing entropy, and it has to be changed every 90 days because otherwise the bits might go stale). So then the account gets locked. Oops. Well, you can just reset the password, right?

Not so fast, says reality! So the employee resets the password from whatever mechanism exists to do that. Meanwhile, the employee's other computers each running their own Thunderbird instances and who knows what else are trying to aggressively log in again too, either because the account was locked or because the password changed on them. So every time the password gets changed, the account gets locked again.

Okay, so now the employee needs to come back into the office instead of working from home to take a scheduled furniture delivery. The employee logs into the various computers to kill the errant Thunderbird processes and.... can't, because the screen can't be unlocked, because the account has been locked out.

At least this completely hypothetical employee isn't on-call right now.

February 7, 2013

In which compilers are smarter than me (, )

by fluffy at 2:54 PM

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.)

October 24, 2012

Sprung memories (, , , )

by fluffy at 9:37 PM

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.

August 28, 2012

Updates (, , , )

by fluffy at 12:48 AM

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 19, 2012

A motivated seller (, , )

by fluffy at 3:03 PM

So, this temporary housing is driving me nuts.

Meanwhile, I am putting in an offer on a condo that I really like. (It's a registered historical landmark!)

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

Made it to Seattle (, , )

by fluffy at 7:04 PM

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

Werner is an Excellent Cat (, , )

by fluffy at 9:15 PM

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

Closure in triplicate (, )

by fluffy at 8:45 PM

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 18, 2012

You can go home again (, , )

by fluffy at 11:40 PM

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!

December 31, 2011

Year in review (, , , , , , )

by fluffy at 2:30 PM

The year began just hours after my grandmother died.

July 8, 2011

Real life and identity (, , )

by fluffy at 6:10 PM

it is a lot easier t o keep inmiscible identities separate on the Internet if you keep thm completely separate from real life as well. I am apparently bad at both, judging by how many of my former coworkers have recently added "fluffy critter" to their circles on Google+. I mean, it was okay when it was the people who I'd let know about it to begin with (and I mean if ucblockhead hadn't known me online I'd have never had the job to begin with), but I'm not quite sure how I feel about apparently everyone else in the office knowing now too. Sigh.

Oh well. I've long felt that it's not so bad having people who actually know me actually know ME - it's the other direction I've always felt important to avoid (people trying to link my online self to my offline self in a way that makes it easy for people to know my real name which is not actually my real self). I hate people judging me by my resume and my picture and my legal name as if those are any more valid than the self I have discovered within.

I guess either direction is potentially problematic because I hate the idea that people would judge me unfairly based on stereotypes from one set of interest, and I'm still paranoid with the whole "You'll never get a job if people know about you!" thing that people have been parroting for years, despite clear evidence to the contrary.

Basically I'm complicated.

June 13, 2011

Exorcising demons (, , )

by fluffy at 1:26 PM

For the last several days I've been back in NYC for the first time in six years, for Song Fight Live. The show went pretty well; there were some logistical problems and some equipment issues and of course things didn't go as amazingly as most people ever expect them to, but there isn't really anything new there. It was fun and a good time, when maintaining an appropriate perspective on what it was we were actually doing (PROTIP: we are not actually rock stars).

The main thing I was worried about is that much of our time would be spent treading old ground that represents about a year's worth of really bad memories for me, and I did everything I could to ignore the fact that I was physically in a place where mentally I was very bad off. Trying to ignore the familiar sight of the L train and Union Square and the like, in particular, made me feel twinges of ickiness (even obsessively pre-planning transit before flying here made me feel twinges of deep pit-of-the-stomach sickness), and I very purposefully let Mike (a fellow songfighter from Seattle with whom I was sharing a room and most of my time) lead the way everywhere, and basically played willfully ignorant about how to get around.

Last night, though, I ended up getting, shall we say, sufficiently intoxicated, and ended up getting separated from Mike, having gone with a different group that was going to do some further bar-hopping, but certain members of that group had much better judgement than myself and said I should probably head back to the hotel rather than drink more. (I fortunately had enough sense to realize that I was probably on the verge of feeling like I was going to die if I didn't get some water and lie down very soon. Even if it meant less time hanging out with certain friends who will remain nameless.)

So, of course, the way back to the hotel was very familiar: the L to Union Square, then the 6 up to my hotel in Midtown. It had aspects of trips I'd done many times before, and normally the majority of that would have been in order to go to work (L to 5th Ave, F/V to 25th St - or just walk, if no train was there). I also used to take a bit of extra time to myself to just walk to Union Square after work to clear my head further, so that particular station is also quite familiar to me.

But it might have just been the alcohol but I just plain didn't care. The whole journey was simple and easy and came completely naturally, and it was actually comforting in a way to be alone in the middle of a crowd of strangers. I got to thinking about my relationship with NYC and so on. I came to the realization that I'd gone to NYC to begin with because I needed to launch my career and I was just so desperate that I was willing to take anything, and the reason I put up with the hell I was in was simply because I had no self-worth to speak of. But now I know better, and while I still wouldn't want to live in NYC, I no longer hate it, because it's where I finally started to learn to appreciate myself.

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