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2017 New Year’s Resolutions

  • Commute at least half the time via bike
  • Journal or blog at least once per week
  • Travel to 12 countries

Faceversary

Today marks one full year that I’ve been working at Facebook. It has been the most consuming, thrilling, and educational work experience I could imagine.

Looking back at what I’ve already done — from hacking on MySQL to presenting at a conference to a packed house; from taking ownership of core modules to helping decide the direction of Facebook’s infrastructure; from pushing code to 300 then 400 and now over 500 million active users to debugging site issues at an unprecedented scale… every experience has helped me grow as a person and an engineer.

Facebook surrounded me with some of the brightest people in the world to work on some of the most interesting technical challenges anywhere, while providing the support to make it possible and the autonomy to make it my own. I could not have asked for a better job.

Here’s looking forward to what I’ll be able to accomplish in my next year.

Scheming

This month should be a good and busy one. I have been scheming over the last few days, and this is what I have come up with so far for the rest of the year:

  • Post pictures from Peru on this blog (these photos are already posted on Facebook)
  • Post pictures from Australia and New Zealand here and on Facebook (I’m way behind on this front).
  • Bring the Checksum Arcanius Photo Gallery up-to-date.
  • Swap my Apple Macbook Pro for a Lenovo Thinkpad T400 with Windows 7 at work. My plan is for this to also become my main laptop; my current laptop, Graphitica, a Dell D630, will go to my wonderful mom. I will miss the touchpad on the Mac, but I think that pretty much everything else will get better for me with this swap.
  • Help the new housemate, Jasmine, move in. This will probably involve finding a truck that I can borrow for a weekend.
  • Drive the Saturn back to Washington for Thanksgiving; leave it there, and fly back to SFO (this will lower the car pressure on the house, which after Jasmine moves in, will be at 5. Returning my car to Washington will lower that to 4.) As long as I can occasionally borrow a housemate’s car, I will be fine with respect to transportation.
  • Have a few good contributions to Drizzle’s development

That is all for now. More schemes may come.

Bootcamp

On Friday, I graduated Facebook bootcamp, a six-week onboarding program that is designed to get new engineers at Facebook up to speed quickly. Overall, I think bootcamp is a good program — it certainly beat the socks off of my onboarding experience at Amazon. Facebook moves even faster than Amazon, yet the onboarding sessions were up-to-date because they were owned and presented by engineers, not relegated to some out-of-date wiki (although, overall, Amazon’s wiki is considerably better than Facebook’s).

At any rate, the best parts of bootcamp for me were two excellent onboarding sessions: one on JavaScript a few weeks ago, and one onร‚ย  Git last week. The engineers presenting had good presentations, but more importantly, they took time to answer my questions very thoroughly. It is very exciting to be working with people who have such deep knowledge and are so readily available.

One of the tasks during bootcamp is to figure out what team to join out of the teams that are hiring. I found I enjoyed most of the tasks I worked on, so I had trouble narrowing it down initially. In the end, it really came down to working on Scribe, an open-source distributed logging system that Facebook created, or working with the Databases team on what essentially amounts to MySQL hacking. As hard as the choice was to make, it was a good choice to have because I’m certain either team would have been an interesting place to work. However, in the end I had to make a choice, and today I started with the Databases team.

For now, my task is to get up to speed on Drizzle, a stripped-down branch of MySQL. I certainly have my work cut out for me, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

First Week at Facebook

Friday marked the end of my first work week at Facebook, my new employer. As far as first weeks go, it started off with a bang when I got a new Macbook Pro and an iPhone 3Gs on the first day. I’ve grown to like the iPhone pretty well (the Twitter and Facebook apps, particularly), but I still am having my struggles with the Macbook.

I love the touchpad and the transparent terminals, and the back lit keyboard is sexy and functional, but there are also a lot of keys I miss, especially when I’m away from the extended keyboard at my main desk — home, end, page up and down, and delete (forward) being the leading examples. The function key on the laptop is also misplaced (I prefer control on the outside, as is the case on every reasonable keyboard known to man). The menu-bar-atop-primary-display decision is, quite frankly, terrible. There are also lots of other little annoyances: half of what “should be” control-key is command-key (ie, copy and paste), while the other half is still control-key (ie, changing tabs in Firefox, everything in the terminal).

The end all is that I am seriously considering swapping the Macbook for a Thinkpad. I haven’t made that decision yet, but it may happen next week. Or I may decide to tough it out, since I’ve already learned how to deal with most of the quirks.

Apart from the Macbook blues, the first week went fairly well. The first day was the normal mostly-government-mandated HR stuff, and then on day two I got to check out all of Facebook’s codebase and set up a sandbox. With some onboarding sessions, good documentation, and some help from a knowledgeable returning intern, I was actually able to be a little productive in my first week, a vastly different experience than I had at Amazon last summer.

Also, the food has been uniformly quite good to excellent, so living cheaply (except for the exorbitant rent at my too-nice Palo Alto pad), will be possible. At least, I won’t be spending too much money on groceries or restaurants.

Last but not least, there was the news that had to make this the best week to start at Facebook ever:

  1. Facebook hit 300 million active users, another unprecedented milestone in social networking
  2. Facebook became, for the first time, cash flow positive, a year ahead of their own projections

So overall, a good week to start, I would have to say.

Facebook Tomorrow

Woo, what a summer it has been! The vacation portion finally ends tomorrow, when I have my first day or work since finishing up grading CSE 451 finals three months ago.

As always with a new job, I am a little nervous, but mostly excited for what is in store. From all accounts, Facebook will be a great place to work and cut my teeth as a degree-bearing professional engineer. The fun begins tomorrow at 9:15am.

I have been planning on biking into work, but if the current rain keeps up, I may boot that idea in favor of showing up to work dry, at least for the first day.

Week in Review

I just ended a busy week. Highlights were pulling an all nighter Wednesday to Thursday grading Operating Systems projects, then running two OS sections on one hour of sleep right after that. Friday was more grading, this time of OS midterms, with the other TA and the teacher. After that, Theo and I went shooting. Wednesday my intramural Ultimate frisbee team lost for the first time this season — also our first playoff game, so we’re out that quickly, after going 4 for 4 in the regular season. It was my last shot at an intramural championship, so I was pretty bummed. This was the best team I had ever been on. Also this week, I ended up “finding” a place to live in Palo Alto. Actually, my friend Scott did all the finding, just keeping me informed via phone. The place is really nice, with a pool and sauna.ร‚ย  It is close enough to Facebook to bike. The downside is that it is expensive, but it’ll be alright for the first 9 months while I get settled in.

Also, I want the Rockets and Magic to win their game sevens in the NBA playoffs. It doesn’t really matter too much though, because Denver and Cleveland will meet in the finals.