Archive for the 'personal' Category

I Was a Child Star

Brian finally got around to posting his old film projects on YouTube. This is the both beginning and end of my glamorous (if not exactly lucrative) acting career:

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You Don’t Know What It’s Like to be Me

So you want to know what it’s like to be Distracto?

As I was preparing for work this morning, I entered the bathroom to get my deodorant. As I started to reach into the medicine cabinet, a thought struck me. I don’t remember what it was.

Halfway through flossing my teeth, I said to myself, “Hey. I don’t floss my teeth in the morning!” I finished flossing, brushed my teeth for good measure, then put some deodorant on. I had to repeat, “Get deodorant. Get deodorant,” to myself until I finished in order to avoid the very real danger of stuffing Q-tips into my ears, forgetting about them, and coming to work looking like an antenna. A smelly antenna that doesn’t wear deodorant.

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me instanceof Googler

(I was going to title this “me == Googler”, but I figured that kind of code would never fly at Google.)

Yup, this is the exciting news I hinted at last time! As of September 17, I am joining the ranks of software engineers at Google. To say I’m excited would be an understatement. I can’t wait to work with some of the most talented programmers in the world, at a company for which, let’s face it, some people would saw off a leg if it would help get their (remaining) foot in the door.

The interview process was as difficult as is rumored, although perhaps not as lengthy: I had one phone and four in-person interviews. The interview questions mostly boiled down to things like choosing efficient data structures and algorithms to solve a particular problem (then describing how they work, then writing the code on the whiteboard, etc.). There were no “brain teaser” questions, and very little drilling of specific knowledge about Java (for example). I’m sure a good deal of that was thanks to my particular interviewers, who did a pretty good job overall conducting the interviews.

I had a job offer within a couple weeks after the in-person interviews. I get the feeling, based on comparing my experience to those that I’ve read or heard about, that Google has been working hard to streamline and standardize their hiring processes, which is nice.

I’ll try to write a little more about my Google recruiting and interviewing experience, which was quite positive, after I’ve started and have had the chance to understand Google’s position and/or policies on employees blogging.

However, before that happens, there are still a slew of difficult and/or tedious things that Kristen and I have to get done, almost all centered around moving, for the second time in three years, to the San Francisco Bay area. We’re currently on a flight back from SFO, where we managed to find an apartment that both accepts our two Siberian Huskies, and provides a reasonable environment for the dogs.

We still have to arrange details with movers, decide what goes and what stays (we’re keeping our house in New York), and prepare for a drive across the country with two dogs, one of whom gets carsick on a two-hour ride. I have to figure out how to sell a 125 gallon reef aquarium that weighs over a thousand pounds, try to get grass planted in our recently renovated back yard, and fix a million little things around the house, all before we go.

We’re also entering the final weeks at our current jobs, mine with a company that I’ve had a great relationship with for eight years, and Kristen at a relatively new job that she loves and hates to leave. You don’t have to tell me how amazing my wife is; I already know.

I’ll keep the blog updated as we progress, and maybe get the chance to provide some insight into what it’s like working at the number one company in the US to work for. I’ve already had the chance to sample a couple of the famous free lunches, but there are bound to be a few other things to talk about ;) .

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Up and Running with WordPress

Welcome to the all new Distracto, now running WordPress! My old Movable Type installation had been broken for a while, and I’ve been really growing to like WordPress recently. I’d also been meaning to switch Distracto’s web host for a while, so I took the opportunity to get it all done at once. Phew!

I managed to get all of the old entries imported into WordPress, and made sure all the old permalinks still work, so there shouldn’t be any noticeable differences, other than the slightly modified design.

Having a working blog platform again will mean some (slightly) more regular updates. In fact, there might be some exciting news in the next week or two. Stay tuned. ;)

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Back in SF

Kristen and I arrived back in San Francisco last night after nearly three weeks in Binghamton spent buying and working on our new house. The whole house has a new coat of paint, and is getting new laminate floors and carpet installed throughout.

I have all of our “before” photos (we took a bunch) on my Flickr album with lots of comments, so feel free to check it out. We’ll be back there again (for good) around the end of April (we’ll be driving a truck cross-country), so I’ll be sure to get some “after” pics up then.

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Still Alive?

Yup, I’m still alive. I just realized that it has been over six months since I’ve last written an update here. It’s amazing how fast that happens. I must have seen something shiny. But hey, I’m not the only one.

Exciting news of interest to friends and family is that Kristen and I have found a house, and are in the process of buying — we close in March. It’s back in Endwell, NY, Kristen’s home town (and within driving distance of my parents), so we’re looking forward to being back home. I’ll be keeping my job at Nimblefish, though, working from a home office, with some occasional cross-country travel thrown in.

From the realtor’s site, here’s the original listing with photos, and here’s a video tour.

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Back

Well, we’ve actually been back for a while now, and finally into the swing of things. We had a terrific time, and spent most of it relaxing down at the pool by the beach:

Kristen's Feet

Frank's Feet

Lots more photos are posted to my Flickr album.

The hotel was amazing, and gave us lots of opportunities to spot celebrities. At one point or another, we shared the pool/beach with:

  • Damon Lindelof, co-creator of the TV series Lost, which Kristen and I were both hooked on this season. He was there for his wedding, and got married on the beach.
  • Matthew Fox of Lost, apparently also there for the wedding.
  • Jerry O’Connell, who I remember best from Sliders (yes, I’m a geek), but who everyone else remembers from Jerry Maguire.
  • Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, vacationing there with Jerry O’Connell.
  • Charlie O’Connell, brother of Jerry, and recent star of “The Bachelor” was there with whoever “won” him. I don’t know who it was, I didn’t watch it.
  • Jerry Seinfeld was on vacation with his wife. No introduction necessary. Yeah!
  • And a few people we couldn’t identify, but had random people approaching them for autographs. So they must have been somebody more important than you and me.

But the real highlight of the trip was just spending time relaxing with my wife, and celebrating our first year of marriage. Here’s to many more (and easier!) ones to come!

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Vacation!

Kristen and I are busy getting ready for our vacation, and we’re extremely excited about it! One year after we got married, we’ll be spending our anniversary in Hawaii, on the island of Kauai, where we took our honeymoon. We have no plans for while we’re there, we’re just going to relax and drink a lot of fruity drinks. How could you not? Just look at this place!

Princeville Resort

Is that not beautiful? It’s going to be a life of luxury. This year has gone by so fast, but so much of our lives has changed in that short time. It’s been the most joyful adventure of my life so far, and I can’t wait to see what years to come hold for us!

I’m not sure about the Internet situation at the hotel, so you probably won’t hear much from me for the next week and a half. I’ll be checking in when I can, and there will be lots of new photos up on Flickr when we get back. See you on the other side!

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How to be a real San Francisco hipster

On oxygenStep 1. Go to the Oxygen Bar for dinner.

Step 2: Eat lots of sushi.

Step 3: Drink sake. Cold. Apparently hot sake is the Japanese equivalent of putting an ice cube in your wine.

Step 4: Pay actual money for, well, air.

Step 5: Imagine that looking like a 75-year-old life-long smoker is somehow cool.

Step 6: In order to not look like a fool for doing step 4, pretend that the oxygen made you either energized, calm, enlightened, or high.

Man, am I cool or what?

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Software design lessons from real life

Since moving to the bay area and starting work in San Francisco, I’ve been doing much more city walking than I ever used to. On my way from the BART station to work, I have to cross two streets. As a computer programmer (and as Distracto!), I’ve been thinking about which is the most efficient way to get there. Allow me to demonstrate with this map (xx is a crosswalk):

---------+--+----------------
         |  |    Market St.
---------+--+----------------
         |  |
[BART]   xxxx - A
         |  |
         |  |
         | -+---- New Montgomery St.
         |  |
         |  |
     B - xxxx   D
         |  |  /
-------x-+--+-x--------------
       x |  | x  Mission St.
-------x-+--+-x--------------
      /  |  |
     C   xxxx - E
         |  |
         |  |
         |  |
         |  |  [Work]
         |  |

Now, I could cross at A, and if the walk sign is on, it might seem like a good idea. But the time taken at A might cause me to miss D, forcing me to wait another full cycle. And for my particular case, it’s a much longer wait to cross Mission than New Montgomery.

It’s possible that if I had not crossed at A, I might have caught the tail end of the light at C, and then could immediately cross at E. And if I missed C, I could still cross at B and I’m no worse off than I was before. So now I never cross at A. I’m convinced it saves me a ton of time.

And the software design lesson? Don’t optimize prematurely. Wait until you know what your biggest bottleneck is, and work around that first. Okay, maybe it’s a strech, but these are the things that I think about on my way to work.

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