We had our traditional annual Dallas trip this past weekend. Usually we go OU weekend, but there were too many conflicts this year, so we ended up doing it a week earlier. I flew into Dallas directly from SF to join up with the gang, made Oriana pick me up, then we watched UT get slaughtered and hung out at the State Fair.
A whiles back when Jonney, Mark and I competed in a team Magic tournament in Portland, some of the bounty we got was a bunch of planeswalkers toys. We've now got them stationed above their appropriate poster!
Anyways, I've made the whole blog much more simple and switched from WordPress to just using GitHub Pages.
Maybe this means I'll blog more again, but don't count on it.
This month, I started at Stripe! I'm currently in the middle of a three week stint in San Francisco. The scent of piss is not uncommon here, but the city is very nostalgic for me, so I guess that at least evens things out, haha. I'm enjoying my time here, but I miss my Mozilla. On the plus side, I'm really excited to work with my new teammates and Stripe has great food (breakfast, lunch, and dinner!).
Last weekend, I strolled on over to Chinatown and found that unsurprisingly Golden Gate Bakery was on vacation. My hit rate is probably around 50/50 now, or perhaps a little worse. I debated bringing my camera on this trip, and ended up doing so, but I have yet to take it out of my bag. I'm going to San Diego at the end of the month with my new Stripe team, so perhaps I'll put it to some use there.
Before starting at Stripe, I had roughly a month off. I did a lot of bumming around, playing some Minecraft, and went to Los Angeles and New Orleans. LA featured the debut of this video:
and resulted in this one:
I've got a bunch of random clips of Sam from NOLA where we tried really hard to make him out to be a racist, but I'm not sure what I have gels well, so it may not end up anywhere. I did, however, rummage through a lot of old media and came out with this:
Mark and I have purchased a sweet house and we moved in last weekend. We've still got a number of things on order that have yet to arrive, but it's pretty great. It has two master bedrooms, so it was convenient to co-purchase. Here's a video of when I took Mozilla to the house shortly after closing:
Ok, blog, here's my middle school story that I was recently reminded of when someone asked me what I would do if I could turn back time.
First, you'll have to understand that I was quite a dweeby little asian boy. Surprising, I know. I was smaller than my peers, had rather dorky large glasses, and definitely had your stereotypical nerdy asian boy thing going on. In physical activities, I did alright when I was up against my own weight (running, pull ups, etc.) but not so hot when pitted against others (tackling).
So one day in my PE class, we're playing flag football. Sometimes, devious kids would try to tie their belt around their waist so that it would be hard to pull off. I wouldn't do that, but since I was so small, the belts were usually too large for me and one end would hang down really low, so I'd take the end and tuck it into the belt around my waist so it wouldn't swing wildly as I ran.
My PE coach was all-time quarterback and for some reason on the last play of the game, he throws the ball to me. I somehow catch the ball! Amazing! I start running towards the end zone and weave my way around multiple defenders who were probably in a state of shock that I even caught the ball. I was fairly zippy once I get going so I actually make it to the end zone. Touchdown! I was so proud of myself! That was rather short-lived, however, as some kid quickly runs over to me and yanks pretty hard on one of my flags. I expected it to just fall off, but he apparently yanked quickly enough where the end that I had tucked in created a knot so the belt "tied itself" and he basically lifted me up a short distance by my belt. Oh no! Everyone thinks I cheated now! Shame!
So that's how I failed to secure glory for the nerds and instead was awarded shame upon my family for cheating at flag football. If I could turn back time, I would figure out a different way to tuck in that belt. I'm pretty sure I would have been king middle school once news of my victorious run made its way through the grapevine, but alas...
So I was talking about this with a friend and decided I'd dust off ol' blog to potentially hit a broader audience.
Is there anyone out there that also sees the Disney logo and doesn't immediately recognize the first letter as a D?
So when I see the Disney logo, I have to very consciously shift my focus to see the letter D. I have a hypothesis that maybe this is because I knew of and recognized the Disney logo before I knew how to read and the whole thing turned into a symbol for me during a time when I primarily identified the logo/word by the bottom left part of the D (the part that kind of loops, which is not a very typical D). Honestly, I don't think it was until late elementary school or middle school that I even realized it was supposed to be a D and not just some made up symbol.
To better visualize what I'm talking about, this is kind of what I initially see:
So... anyone else out there have this too? =)
I also have a story about my nerdy self in middle school to blog about, but I'll save that for another time.
On Bryan Cantrill
This guy kind of reminds me of a more enthusiastic Ryan if he were to give a passionate/rant talk on something. =)
On Formal Reviews
I really enjoyed the part on formal annual reviews. The ones I've experienced have been at a more frequent cadence, but I have never once found them to be valuable relative to just telling me "good job, continue to get stuff done." I don't mean this as a knock on any of my past managers at Bazaarvoice nor that I view myself as flawless, but these types of formal reviews always seemed like a way to herd the B+C players at the cost of being an annoyance to the A-players ("superlative engineers"). Please never make me fill out a form asking for a "weakness I will work on in the following quarter."
IMO, excellent engineers will naturally learn and improve themselves. Particularly in the context of being able to do their job even better. Making one write their own arbitrary weakness to focus on for some set time period just to tick a checkbox will be met with resistance or simply not taken seriously. I have never once felt like this part of my performance reviews at BV was ever directly tied to my actual performance nor that anyone actually believed I should focus on this versus just shipping a great product. It always felt artificial and a formality that was immediately forgotten.
Like mentioned in the talk, I agree that feedback is valuable and encouraging improvement is also positive. The formal methods I've had experience with have not been very valuable though.
Note: I'm speaking critical of Bazaarvoice on this topic as it is the predominant part of my professional career. There are still a ton of great people there, and learned a lot from my 6.5 years tenure that I am incredibly grateful for. Despite the great experiences I've had there, no company is perfect, and this is an area that resonated with me after hearing this talk.
On Management Staying Technical
An aspect I admire most of Mass Relevance's engineering organization is that it's very flat and everyone all the way up to CTO still actually get their hands dirty with code. I have all kinds of respect for our leaders here as I'm sure it is quite difficult to juggle everything they're responsible for PLUS find the time to add new features, fix bugs, and contribute code. This talk really made me realize that because our leadership does this, it gives me a lot more confidence in their ability to make decisions and know that they're empathetic to the challenges we tackle. There's a lot more sense of working with my boss cooperatively, rather than for my boss and taking orders.
Catching Fire - pretty good. I enjoyed the second book the most, so I was happy they were pretty true to it.
Hobbit 2 - apparent money grab and not a whole lot happens since there's no Helm's Deep equivalent, but I'll forgive all parties involved if the third one makes the build up worth it.
American Hustle - enjoyable. Great performances by a great cast. Heist was a bit underwhelming, but maybe I shouldn't have expected better.
Frozen - I liked a lot and it made me all mushy inside. One glaring flaw is the absence of a "Do You Want to Build a Snowman?" Elsa reprise at an incredibly obvious point in the movie (you'll know if you saw it). That said, had they pulled that off, I would have likely been a sniffling mess walking out of the theater, so there's that. =) I'm disappointed they missed such a perfect opportunity to reprise the most powerful song in the movie (IMO), but despite that, it's still a pretty high caliber Disney. Recommended!