The Caffeinated Penguin

musings of a crackpot hacker

All the recent updates

| October 7, 2015

So, I published a glut of stuff yesterday. Basically, we were all super busy leading up to this week because we had 2 weeks of engineering meetings to get the other divisions up to speed with what’s going on to ensure stable support of existing products. As of this week pretty much all knowledge has been transferred and we’re just wrapping up loose ends, so I have some time to blog in between people popping in to ask about loose ends and my having interviews with folks.

I’d say to expect to see more, at least until I start my new job, then it will go back to a more normal pace.

Well, that was interesting

| September 9, 2015

My employer liquidated my division today. We’re all done 30 Oct. If anyone needs a low stack Linux developer, shoot me an email. Resume is here. I loved building custom Linux distros for small(ish) devices.

On Amazon

| August 20, 2015

So, there’s been a lot of discussion about this New York Times article about Amazon. Before I give my take, I should mention that there are some replies:

  • from a guy who works there.
  • allegedly from Bezos.
  • a follow up NYT article. The interesting thing here is that I was aware of the stuff in the first article at least 10 years ago. I worked with a fellow Amazonian, and we were talking about uptimes and nighttime deployments, etc., and she said (roughly, it’s like 10 years ago): When I was at Amazon, we’d decide to not go live until, say, next Monday, and then you’d get a call that night at 11PM because the boss is calling everyone in because Bezos said he wanted to move the deployment up to 3AM tomorrow morning. My reply was pretty forthright – if it’s not an emergency, then I better not be getting calls. This is doubly true that there had been a decision to NOT ship and the CEO was there, and then changed his mind. In that case, I would have gone in and then handed in my notice the next day (or, now that I have kids and can be less loose cannon about this, I would have found something else and then left).

In the end, I ended up leaving that job, partially for that reason. I had to do several things that I considered to be unethical after being ordered to do so directly by the CEO (most notably, we sold insurance, and we changed references from TravelGuard to AIG when AIG bought TravelGuard. This was fine. However, then AIG got into trouble during the financial crisis, so we changed it back because we didn’t want to scare people. I was vehemently opposed to this because we can’t be perceived as a comparative insurance agency if we’re hiding the company which owns or underwrites the plans. I was told that he was the boss and I should just do it.) I left soon after. In hindsight, I should have just flat out refused and gotten fired.

Incidentally, the rest of the dev team left within two years, due to a variety of issues, most notably related to growing pains, which is hard for any shop. I mean, when you start out as one person in his basement, and grow to 50 people, and try to establish greater engineering rigor (code reviews, formal QA, real UI design, etc.) but are unwilling to accept that such things take longer, it’s basically an impasse and frustrates everyone. When you pretty consistently overrule your entire development team because you taught yourself to code and wrote the first version of the site.. well, that just makes your team leave because PHP sucks and we would have been better off refactoring the existing Perl code into something maintainable and paying down our technical debt.

One guy, the most brilliant of the group, got so fed up that he went and became a postman for a couple of years, before later returning to the industry. His issue is that he needs to work at a real engineering shop with good process, review, etc.

Snow day

| March 7, 2011

There’s half an inch of ice, topped by about four inches of snow, and coming down at a rate of an inch or two an hour. Nothing is moving, and I figured it best to stay home. Hopefully, this will be the last of it. Two days of melt and rain turn into over a foot of snow.

I’m watching Defiance, and painting minis.

This weekend was relaxing. We bottled the last of the beer – a chocolate porter, played with dog, did some electrical work (split some of the basement lights on to another switch, so they don’t all need to be on at once, and then added a couple of pot lights to another area of the basement) which I’ve been wanting to get to for awhile. The lights are now laid out correctly for the new gaming table and beer draught system (not that we have these yet, but they will come). I am also going to add another light in my office, and a couple more in the back room, so as to have more light by which to work (in both places).

Work stuff

| March 29, 2010

So, work decided to radically change the terms under which everyone is employed. Between that and our new and improved corporate strategy, they’re basically facing an exodus of engineers/support/etc. folks.

So, if you know of anything for which I’d be qualified, let me know.

The sad thing is, this is probably the best job I’ve had since when I was doing firmware at Atlantek.

Full of win

| December 23, 2008

Programmer's Bill of Rights

I heartily approve.


| May 24, 2007

So, um, I just got off the phone with a nice lady from Google… She was trying to fill a position and was basically trying to headhunt me into it. Since she sought me out, I figured that I would at least speak with her.

The real problem is “location”. None of the places they have is a place I want to be, and at that the discussion basically ended…

However, it was interesting.

Job postings

| April 30, 2007

There are some openings at my work:

Web QA Engineer

Web Developer

My work is hiring

| January 23, 2007

Solaris / Linux sysadmin

Entry-level work

| September 28, 2006

The pay is entry-level, but the experience you'll get will be good, and there are good benefits on top of it.

Job Posting