Caffeine Peter Colijn

February 03, 2009 (link)

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 mortgage-based securities.

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.

Post script

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 (link)


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 companies, etc.

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 (link)


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 (link)


Here's a facebook headhunter email:

Hi Peter,

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 (link)

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.

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