February 03, 2009
Last week I went to Waterloo to interview co-op students for Google.
It was a weird feeling, going into the sex building and having them
actually treat me like a person, showing me to the interview room
and offering free coffee, etc.
Anyway, I was reflecting on some of my interviews in that building and
I remembered that I actually interviewed with Morgan Stanley once. The
interview went well, and I was chatting with the interviewer, asking
about the work she and her group did. She started telling me about
how she was in the mortgage trading group and that they were creating
I got an offer from them that term, in addition to Google and Amazon.
I really had no idea or reason to think that what they were doing
would ultimately lead to a global financial meltdown, but in addition
to a better dress code, it sure makes me glad I chose Google. What's
weird is that I only remembered that interview last week, when I was
back in the sex building. Incidentally, I don't think Morgan Stanley
was hiring this term.
To my non-Waterloo readers. The "sex" building at Waterloo is the
CECS building, which is basically the "career services" building.
But everybody calls it the sex building, because that's more fun
and it's not our fault they chose a stupid acronym.
February 07, 2009
I was in Seattle last week for CalConnect. I hadn't been there since a
long time ago, when I was a kid, so I didn't really remember much. And
I was only sorta in Seattle. Mostly I was in Kirkland and Redmond
ish areas. Before I go on, though, first things first:
Stumptown Coffee Roasters. Order: 1 skinny cap.
Foam: reasonable. Latte art: an apple, with stem etched
Espresso: waaay too bitter.
I was told that I couldn't go to Seattle without visiting Stumptown,
which is supposed to be legendary. I was sorely disappointed. The
espresso was waaay too bitter and the foam wasn't great. The funny
thing is, I know Stumptown's coffee is good because my favourite
local joint, Variety, uses
their beans. Maybe the barista was just having an off day when I
visited or something?
The main impression Seattle left me with was "a slightly colder Bay
Area like place". Lots of suburbs, lots of freeways, lots of software
Then there's Microsoft. They hosted CalConnect, and as hosts were very
accomodating. I felt a little out of place there, it was a bit eerie.
As companies with large campuses, both Google and Microsoft have the
problem of people needing to get to meetings in remote buildings. Their
solutions are pretty different, though. MS has a fleet of Priuses
(Prii?) labelled "Shuttle Connect" that ferry folks from building to
building. Google just bought a ton of basic bicycles that folks hop on
and ride to their destination. I think I prefer the bicycles. Better
environmentally, and you don't need to wait for the shuttle car
to arrive. Though I guess it rains more in Seattle?
February 08, 2009
Man, spammers suck. My web site
had succumbed to spambots a while ago because it's an open wiki and
didn't need a captcha or anything to post changes. For years, it
survived without captchas or anything special but the spambots are
more sophisticated now and submitting and HTML form from a script
really isn't that hard...
It had been depressing me for a while that I was basically hosting
a link farm to viagra vendors and other unsavory sites. But
I was lazy and hadn't done anything about it. This weekend I
decided enough is enough! Turns out the latest release of Tavi doesn't have captcha support, but
whatever's checked in to their CVS head does, so I didn't even need
to switch wiki systems. The main reason I was putting it off for so
long was that I assumed I would have to switch to another wiki, like GracefulTavi
or MediaWiki, which would have
different syntax. And then I'd have to go write a script to convert
all my existing stuff to the new syntax, which sounded annoying.
Anyway, Tavi itself seems to be kinda dead (their website isn't really
functional and they haven't had any serious commits in years) but I'm glad
they added captcha support before they died. Their captchas are kinda
ghetto ascii-art things that are probably not too hard to crack, but I'm
hoping it's not worth the effort for spammers. If or when they do crack
it, I guess I can code up my own support for reCAPTCHA or something else
less ghetto, or finally make the move to a non-dead wiki.
And remember kids, always have a backup! The only reason I was able to
restore stuff to a reasonable state was because I had a backup of my
entire database in a good state handy.
February 09, 2009
Here's a facebook headhunter email:
I'm working with facebook engineering looking for someone to help us
tackle some fairly unique problems. I came across an older profile
for you and am hoping to touch base. What does your schedule look
like to chat?
I like how they skip the normal "company <foo> is located in
<bar> and is super awesome — you should join our team!"
garbage. However, I'm still kinda creeped out. I'm not clear on
whether they're using my facebook profile to contact me or not. He says
an "older profile". Was he trolling their backups or something? The
email address he used is one I rarely use, and facebook is one of the
few sites where I used it (to prove I was a Waterloo alum, I think).
February 20, 2009
Rant: Myths Propagated as Absolute Truths
A number of times recently I have been in elevators with people who
claim that since year X, where 1980 < X < 2000, the "door close
button doesn't work any more". Meaning, I guess, that all elevators
built since then have a door close button that is "only for show",
or just a placebo for the impatient.
Often, this claim is stated with absolute certainty, like it's a
cold, hard fact. To me, it's quite clearly completely false. The door
close button in the elevator in my apartment building works fine,
as do the ones at work. There may be some slight confusion some of
the time because often, door close buttons do not do anything when
the elevator is on the ground floor, allowing more people to get in
before the doors close and preventing one impatient jerk from closing
the doors on a bunch of people in the lobby. However, on other floors
it will function normally.
Now, can we please, please put this one to rest? The next time
somebody tells me that door close buttons never work I think my head
might explode. Either that, or I'll just snarkily ask whether they
meant all elevators, or all elevators except the one they're
currently in, where it will undoubtedly work fine.