Shitcanned

August 30, 2004

So I was terminated from Friendster today. The reason given was blogging.

The levels of irony on this are pretty deep. For one thing, I wrote a fairly well-known paper last year about the need for semi-permeable blogging. For another thing, by all accounts the particular posts that led to my termination were this one and this one (although feel free to check my archives for any other incriminating information). I try really hard not to blog about anything that is not a matter of public record… but I guess that’s not protection any more. You get Slashdotted, make Udell’s column, lose your job. And finally, it’s especially ironic because Friendster, of course, is a company that is all about getting people to reveal information about themselves…

Let me note that I loved working for my VP of engineering, Jeff Winner, and I loved my team with all my heart. I worked really hard for that company, and I don’t think I have anything to be ashamed of.

Songs without choruses

August 29, 2004

OK, let’s play: great songs without choruses (this is in opposition to songs that are all chorus). I’ll start us off:

  • Elastica, “All-nighter”
  • Elvis Costello, “New Lace Sleeves”
  • Elvis Costello, “Shipbuilding”
  • Ice-T, “Straight Up Nigga”
  • Iggy Pop, “China Girl”
  • New Order, “Blue Monday”
  • Public Enemy, “Burn Hollywood Burn”

Trackback or comment with your additions!

Eng BBQ

August 29, 2004

I’ve been going through kind of a low point at work, feeling a little bit underappreciated and paranoid. On Thursday night I was super irked because I had to do emergency fixes at the last minute until 1AM through no fault of my own; then on Friday I had to come in at 6AM to push. I can report that it is cold and dark at 6AM, and even McDonald’s is not open.

But then the whole day turned out beautiful. First, not one but three different people brought donuts because we were working so early. I grabbed my sleeping bag for a nap under my desk and felt much less swimmy. Then we pushed our feature, which was kind of trivial but people were having a lot of fun with it. Finally in the afternoon we headed over to a semi-spontaneous engineering BBQ at our VP’s house overlooking the Bay. Our host mixed up a cauldron of frozen Pantydroppers (pink lemonade and vodka and dry ice); I hauled over a huge bowl of homemade galbi and some beer; release daddy grilled up a big bag of sausages; QA contributed handmade tamales and chips and salsa; one of our webdevs threw in some meat on a stick and another made not one but two batches of her famous ice cream (double-chocolate and raspberry, yum) plus some mini-cheesecakes. We fed the scraps to the dogs that were running around, and basically just enjoyed the afternoon together.

I was standing there thinking: you know, most eng teams I know couldn’t cooperatively make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich without getting tangled up in stupid arguments (“I like chunky”, “I insist on creamy”, “Wheat!”, “White!”, “Strawberry jam is the Right Thing”, “Grape jelly is Worse but Better”). My team can push a time-sensitive feature out the door without a hitch and then throw a potluck party for 25 people without batting an eyelash. All of a sudden I let go of my petty resentments and just felt lucky to be part of a real team qua team. It’s really just as great as everyone says — and much more rare.

Hip-hop etiquette maven

August 29, 2004

You know what the world needs? A Miss Manners for the hip-hop generation. Someone who can answer all our burning questions, such as: “What is the polite response to the query, ‘Where all my bitches at?'” Or “Is it a faux pas to brush the dirt off my shoulder indoors?” Or “If invited to an outdoor event such as a low-rider parade, should I decant my gin and juice into a ‘pimp cup’, or is a brown paper bag more OG? I reside on the West Coast, if that makes a difference.” Is there already someone doing this?

Reading music

August 29, 2004

Tim and I recently bought a piano, and I was pleased to find that I can still read music. I sat right down and played (slowly and haltingly and entirely without art) through a Bach prelude that I last saw about 20 years ago.

Not playing for a long time makes me realize that reading music is an entirely unconscious process, and in fact it gets slower if I try to think about it. I see the little mark on the page, and my finger goes to a key. If I try to think what key it is, I mess up. When you play a lot, you get to a point where you never have to think — you own that key, no doubt enters your mind about where it is in relation to the center-line of your body. After you stop playing every day, a kind of distressing uncertainty comes over you: your finger thinks the key is there, but it’s no longer sure. Remember that classically trained pianists do not really look at the keyboard when they’re playing — it’s all done by feel, mostly while reading music or looking in an unfocused way at the hands, but in theory they’re supposed to be able to play blindfolded.

I’m not sure how much I’ll actually be able to play the piano — it’s an awfully big time commitment if you want to not suck — but I’m glad to have the option again. Even just being able to play a couple of Bach pieces well would be good enough for this stage of life.

PHP manual collation

August 28, 2004

Not to sound in the slightest bit ungrateful, because it’s a resource I use daily… but has the PHP documentation team utterly lost the ability to alphabetize in English? Take this baffling sequence: SOAP, SQLite, Shockwave Flash, SNMP, Socket — does that follow any pattern at all? Or how about this one: regular expressions (Perl-compatible), qtdom, regular expressions (POSIX Extended). Or printer functions coming after program execution functions. If it’s some kind of freaky i18n thing, I’d be interested to know.

New Timboy blog

August 26, 2004

Tim has a new blog which is just as witty and informative as the old blog. He dares to ask the questions that we’ve all secretly wondered about, like: Does size matter (for search engines)? and, Is working out REALLY that much better for you than hard drugs? and, Which is worse, porn or nothing? Of course, by the keywords in this very writeup I am probably guaranteeing him a very bad Pagerank through no fault of his own… 🙂