Monthly recap (April 2018)

 

Bread pudding and vanilla ice cream

 

Major updates:

  • Weekend trip to Monterey
  • Having fun at work 🙂
  • Kite flying with Tara

Minor updates:

  • Couple of birthday parties for Tara
  • Met some old friends after many years!
  • Annoying but necessary bone-graft/implant

Watched/read:

  • Building without nails (documentary on old architecture)
  • Lost in Space (the new Netflix series)
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Monthly recap (March 2018)

 

Random light pole against the sun.
Just another lamp pole

 

Major updates:

  • None really (!)
  • Caught up with a few movies that were on the “to-watch” list, just “the usual” stuff

Minor updates:

  • Mostly busy with work
  • Got myself a new fountain pen
  • Discovered Yogaglo
  • Fun trip to Dolores Park one sunny weekend

Watched/read:

  • Guardians of the Galaxy (the old one)
  • In this corner of the world
  • The shape of water
  • Bridge of Spies
  • Lady Byrd
  • Birdman

On personal technology

I’ve slowly standardized on a few apps I use all the time; I was talking to someone about this and realized it might be generally useful to someone else (if nothing else, to save a few years of looking around).

I still check out new apps from time to time, but I almost never feel like anything else offers something that I’m missing.

Going back five to ten years, there were always things I wanted to do and tried various tools over time to fill that need, but couldn’t find anything that really stuck, so I’m quite happy that I found tools that have become invaluable over the last two years.

Journaling: Day One

I journal all the time, every day, and can’t imagine ever going back. The way I use this is a bit like “a Facebook account for myself” (yes, I’m not active on Facebook). It’s on my laptop, and on my phone, so there’s never an excuse for not doing it.

It’s a simple concept, but a really good idea. I often find myself wondering, when I write my “end of day entry” what exactly I did that day, so just forcing myself to recollect gives me a better sense of how I spent my time.

What really made a bigger difference was adding a weekly, monthly and even quarterly journalling period, but that can wait for later; just writing something down at all makes a huge difference!

Dumping ground: DevonThink (Pro)

This is something that you need but just don’t know you need 🙂

Finding stuff is hard. In the beginning I tried saving stuff in email, sending myself an attachment. Then I tried putting everything in Drive, or Dropbox. Then I tried making a nice file “hierarchy” to organize stuff.

This isn’t special stuff I’m talking about, just average everyday stuff. Letters, records, passwords, screenshots, scans, notes, that sort of stuff.

You can survive without a tool for this, but being able to instantly look up what you need, and instantly capture new stuff for later, is a whole another experience.

(In case you’re curious, I did use Evernote for this in the past, but I’ll have to talk separately about why it wasn’t good enough for me. Yes, I even tried the paid subscription.)

Task manager: OmniFocus

I have trouble remembering stuff. I know I’m not alone in this, but I have a worse time of it than most.

I started with plain old Reminders, ended up at Wunderlist (which was almost good enough). In the middle I even tried Trello (and Asana) but that was just not my use case at all.

Again, nothing special, just normal stuff: working on taxes, getting a picture framed, getting a car wash. Some things you need to do are routine things and things, others are “mini-projects”, some things can be done this week, some have to be postponed, some can be done at home, some need a shopping trip … and you don’t want to see one big bag of everything either, you want to see little bits of the whole picture at at time — Omnifocus helps me do all of this.

Finally, yes, I know Things exists, it’s cool, but I’ve seen screenshots of the OmniFocus version coming out later this year and it looks quite promising. Still, if you use nothing right now, just pick any one of the two.

Other stuff

I wanted to stick to a “top three list” here, but there are other apps I use too. There are also past alternatives that, for one reason or another, didn’t quite work out, and it might be worth mentioning them all later.

But just as a “basic starter kit”, these three are invaluable. I spent years figuring out the right mix for me, and my life would be miserable without these tools to rely on.

… and the pursuit of Googleyness

The “I left Google” genre is quite over-populated so I won’t add much to it. Suffice it to say that I met a whole bunch of smart, talented, interesting, eccentric, helpful and just all-around wonderful people, there, learned more than I thought I would, and generally had a very good time!

I had spent about seven years there, was coming in on an eighth, and didn’t want to spend my whole life there. Leaving was certainly nerve-racking, made possible only by continuous self-prods of “if not now, when?” It was really a sort of gradual process, where I began by looking at other teams internally, then switched my default response to recruiters from “no” to “maybe”, then to “yes”, and so on.

The idea of going for an interview at all, after seven years (yes, really!) was somewhat daunting, and I now feel silly about it, in the sense that I should have done it sooner. But after the first, the second became easier, and after the third, it was more of a joyride than something to unnecessarily worry about.

I had this feeling of wanting to “be able to work in a different environment”, and felt drawn to the idea of working at a smaller place. One of the places I interviewed at fit this bill and was really an incredible sweet spot in terms of location, work, size, people, everything, I had made a new years’ resolution of starting and finishing this process and then moving on quickly, and I get a good feeling about Pure Storage 😀

A month in, I’m still soaking in a lot of very different stuff, technically, but I’m extremely happy with my decision and feel quite grateful to have found a fun group of people to work with, from whom I have a LOT to learn!

There are a great many things I will miss about my time at Google, but I think I will take with me a certain “sense of mission”. I have been very fortunate to have been acquainted with or worked alongside, some real wizards, to whom I owe a sort of love of learning, and a deeper appreciation of the science and art of computing than I ever thought possible.

I now recognize that while I felt quite confident ten years ago that “I knew everything”, I now feel I know very little indeed, and everything recedes forever into the distance, as some kind of idea to be ever-more-closely approximated.

Still, it doesn’t mean I have to stretch myself very thin. I’ve also learned that there are some areas I like better than others, and can happily spend years and decades learning more and more there. I don’t think I know nearly as much as I can in Operating Systems, Databases, Compilers, Language design, Filesystems (and much more!), and I’ve always been a polyglot and loved “all kinds of systems”, so I don’t think I’ll ever run out of ideas to think about, or projects to tinker with.

Anyway, here’s hoping I have a great year ahead! 🙂

Monthly recap (February 2018)

Sunset at La Jolla

Major updates:

  • Started at a new place, Pure Storage … having a blast!
  • Visited my brother in San Diego (and saw the two-month baby!)

Minor updates:

  • Tara getting a bit better at swimming, less scared, having more fun
  • Got me a new Faber Castell pen
  • Trying out YogaGlo (impressive close to a real studio experience)

Watched/read:

  • Birdman (yes I know, four years too late, but … still awesome)

Monthly recap (January 2018)

Children's Fairyland, in Oakland
Children’s Fairyland, in Oakland

Major updates

  • I guess the biggest highlight of this month was that it turned out to be my last month at Google after nearly eight years (!) there (might write more on that separately).

Minor updates

  • Came back with a bad (week-long!) cold after vacation (but so did pretty much everyone else, from what I can tell!)
  • Tara got a ukulele and a harmonica, and likes to play them
  • I managed quite well with her for a few days when Shivi had to travel
  • Finally got a mysterious roof leak fixed after many months(!)

Watched/Read

  • Watched Dunkirk (thumbs up), The Mummy (thumbs down)
  • Re-watched an old episode of Yes Minister and The IT Crowd
  • Trying to focus my reading for this year, got a bunch of new books I’d like to go through, we’ll see how that goes.

Annual recap: 2017

(forgot to do this a couple of weeks ago! life was busy … anyway, a summary of highlights from 2017)

Me:

  • Went back to work after my injury in 2016
  • Finished the 1000 piece puzzle I got in December 2016
  • Baby steps towards a regular weekly workout schedule

Family:

  • Bought our first new car: Subaru Outback
  • Nice Kitchen automation going: Rotimatic, Nespresso, Instant Pot(s!)
  • Unusual amount of travel: Tokyo, Hawaii, San Diego, New York

Tara:

  • Started swimming classes
  • Moved from small to big car seat
  • Moved from high chair to booster seat
  • Potty trained (lol)
  • Graduated from a crib to a bed (!)

Tentative New Years’ Resolutions (☺️):

  • Become a morning person
  • Proper regular workout
  • Get back to running (try a 10K, or even a half-marathon again!)