Friday, June 29, 2007

a day without google? how about a morning without facebook?

I can't login this morning because my account "temporarily unavailable due to site maintenance." Grrr... So how else am I supposed to keep in touch with large groups of people? E-mail??? You've got to be kidding me. So much for the lazy status update. I now have to do a blog entry... a lame one at that. I can see Scott and Patrick throwing their arms up in the air about how they are even bothering to read this crappy post. I'm sorry. Blame Mr. Zuckerburg.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

plans for the week

Tonight - sailing, then call up Maia after 9pm PST to wish her a happy birthday
Friday - After work MBA party downtown
Saturday - Shop at Pike's Place, International Beer festival, Space Needle, Outdoor movie, and then maybe go out *somewhere*
Sunday - Dim Sum at the Noble Court in Bellevue, apparently the Richmond of Seattle (which I don't believe), perhaps catch up on some work?
Monday - Lunch with Bahna (yes! Bahna!), write out my midpoint review, perhaps catch up on some work?
Tuesday - Meetings... lots of them. We'll see how many get cancelled.
Wednesday - July 4th party in Fremont perhaps?
Thursday - Work on the car

Sunday, June 24, 2007

update - in pictures

Sailing on Elliot Bay on Thursday
Sailing on Elliot Bay on Thursday

Ape Cave (Mount Saint Helens National Monument)

Dim Sum at Wong King in Portland with some Nike interns (and an Intel and Microsoft)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

another mishmash of updates

You all are wondering how the visit to Bill Gates' house went. It was a good time, and I have nothing to show for it. How come? To respect his privacy and safety, none of use were allowed to bring in any electronic devices. That means no cameras, no cell phones, no camcorders, etc. Wallets, watches and ID badges are OK. But let me tell you - he has a nice place. It reminds me a bit of home, but a lot bigger and on a beautiful lake.

So did I meet him? Let me tell you how the evening unfolded. I mingled for a while before I went to the buffet to help myself to some dinner. After getting my food, I needed to find a place to sit. Unfortunately, all the tables were already full (because there were probably over 200 of us). I looked around and eventually found some steps where some people were sitting. The steps too were full, but there was some room on the other side of the velvet rope. I went and sat back there, rationalizing that that would be fine since although it was going against the rule of staying in front of the rope, it did go with the intent of the rope which was to keep me out of the house. Me and a few other interns were actually discussing this when I noticed someone coming down the steps. As I looked over, the person just snaked his way through the crowd on the steps, not saying anything. This person was Bill Gates.

From my perch, I got to see the crowd's reaction. The interns immediately took notice and flocked towards Bill. The odd thing is that as they got to within 10 feet of him, they stopped, forming a bubble around him. For a few moments it was pretty awkward. A crowd had gathered, but no one was talking to him. They were just staring at him. Finally, a few brave souls decided to break the silence. I thought about getting up and joining in, but I reasoned that it would be better for me to stay put since I had a full plate of food plus a glass of wine. I eventually found my way into the crowd and get close enough to hear what he was saying, but no, we didn't actually "meet."

Moving on, this has been a productive week. After the day-long meeting, I actually got a lot of stuff done this week. Because I worked on Sunday (crappy weather that day), I'm considering taking tomorrow off to go hike near Mt. Rainier. Then I'll head over to Portland to hang out with Lifshitz and give her a hard time about anything and everything that she does or doesn't do. Why? Because that's what we do. (-;

Oh. And tonight I'm going sailing with some people from Microsoft. It'll be a great time. It was fun last time even though it was cold and rainy. This afternoon is warm and sunny. Should be great. Catch y'all later.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

a big day tomorrow?

Agenda for tomorrow:

Full day "offsite" meeting. I've got 30 minutes to talk about what Yahoo and Google are doing in my area of focus. This will be the first time I'll be going up to prove that I can actually do real work. We'll see what happens. (-;

Afterwards, party at Bill Gates' house. No joke. We're heading over to this place for a party with him and a bunch of other executives. My guess is that I won't be getting much face time if any at all. There'll be several hundred people there so it isn't exactly what I would call an intimate event. And no, I won't have any photos. We are not allowed to bring in electronic devices of any kind. No cameras, no phones, none of that. Just my ID card, wallet, and keys. Fun? Maybe. But at the very least it should be an experience.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

car update!

I got off work today at 3 so that I could do some work on my car and also help Ross with his (and so he could help me with mine).

Radiator which was leaking all over no longer leaks... well, no longer leaks as much. I still need to replace my upper radiator hose, or at least reclamp the thing. I'm also having similar issues with the ATF leaking. That's a bit of a bigger issue and a bit more annoying too. But hey. Probably $400 in labor saved today. Or about $600 before tax.

Also, at some point I need to document the whole fiasco of getting new phones from AT&T. I'm already their customer. Somehow I'm pretty sure that it would have been MUCH easier to switch to a new company instead of sticking with the one that's served me for the last three and a half years. Thanks, guys. I'm now armed with a legitimate reason to hate you. Can't we just turn back the clock to the good ol' days when I didn't need to deal with you on a regular basis?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

thoughts on microsoft

So far it's been great, and I'm not saying that just because I think people working here might also be reading this blog. (-;

Good people, relatively free reign over my project, and lots of freedom over how I want to work, dress, live, etc. I love it.

That being said, there's a lot of work, but it's fun work. I've been spending a lot of time going crazy with Web browsing getting myself up to speed on what the competition is doing in all the related spaces, and that's a lot of stuff. Thankfully, I'm already addicted to facebook, flickr, and various mapping things, but there's just a ton of stuff out there that I haven't toyed with yet. For example, mobile services. I just got a new phone today with an unlimited data plan, so that's something that I can take a peek at. So as I said, it's work, but it's fun.

Also, some other random notes for a bit of flavor. The cafeteria here is great. Choice of sushi, Indian, Italian, Mexican, burgers, sandwiches, salads, stir fry, etc. I've noticed that I'm mostly gravitating towards two places. The Indian for sure, and then the place upstairs. I think tomorrow I'll change it up and get a sandwich of some sort. Those tater tots have been teasing me...

The other thing is that the facilities here are beautiful, but also goofy. The campus here is really nice. Great landscaping, nice rhododendrons and even a waterfall by the outside eating area. On the other hand, the hallways here are death traps. They're not very wide, there are tons of blind corners, and there's carpeting so you can't hear if anyone is coming. End result is a lot of people almost running into each other. Typically a little annoying, but potentially catastrophic. I'm fearful every morning as I exit the kitchen area with my (complimentary) cup of hot tea of coffee. The other thing is that the toilets don't flush very well. I'll let you use your imagination about how I've determined that.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

i like food

So a typical Sunday for me here in Seattle.

9am - Wake up (thanks, Alissa!)
11am - Play basketball with the interns
2pm - Go to the market and buy some mix of fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, dairy, and bread. Then go home and eat half of it and save the remainder for the rest of the week.

So I love the market. Aside from the throngs of tourists who want to take photos of everything, it rocks. Huge head of good quality romaine lettuce for 99 cents. Fresh french bread for under $3 a loaf. Huge quality apples for 99 cents/pound. And always an awesome selection of fancy fruit like cherries, strawberries, and even lychee. The meat there is pretty good too. Got a special of Angus NY Strip steak for $8.99 a pound. Plus I got some sausage there. The first time I've ever had sausage that isn't bursting with oil and fat. Good stuff. And of course, the fish there is excellent, although a bit on the pricey side.

Now that I'm finishing up with my late lunch, I'm going to see if I can do some random shopping downtown at a drugstore, and maybe Old Navy. Hopefully they'll have some good long sleeve tees.

After that, game 2 of the NBA finals. Go Cavs!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

live from seattle

The long awaited rambling update... I promise that it will be disjoint and random. If the paragraph bores you, skip it and move on to the next one.

So right now I'm at work. I arrived in Seattle on Sunday, May 27 and I spent a few days hanging out in Seattle before starting work on Wednesday.

Working in my office is kind of like working in the Hall of Mirrors at SOM. I share the office with someone, which is fine with me, considering that at Progressive I didn't have much personal space to myself, though I do admit that I enjoyed hanging out with Steve and Colleen for many hours each day. The reason my office reminds me of the Hall of Mirrors is that usually it's relatively quiet, but there is a fair amount of traffic. Then about once or twice a day there's a loud gathering somewhere near here that's loud as hell. But it's OK. I'm used to working in the Hall of Mirrors. Only issue is that I am still in the habit of leaving my iPod in the car. I need to change my ways... especially with the amount of research that I'm doing.

So what am I doing? I'm trying to come up with a vision for a product. Right now it's a lot of competitive analysis - going and looking at different competitors' offerings and capabilities. I'll also be looking into trends both from a user standpoint as well as from a technology standpoint. It's very much like the sort of thing I did when I was doing research for my Comp Strat paper, so I feel like I'm pretty prepared for it. The only "issue" is that there is so much material internally to review that it's a bit overwhelming. I think I'm getting a pretty good handle on it though. I'm going to spend the next day digesting what's here, creating my own stuff, and then I'll reach out to a few more people to get some more brain dumps from people involved in two other affiliated projects. Good times.

So my apartment. Yes, I promised I would jump around a bit. My apartment is sweet. I'm sharing a 2BR with another intern in downtown Seattle. Heavily subsidized by Microsoft. We get a fantastic view of Elliot Bay and downtown Seattle. On a clear day I can see Mt. Rainier from my bedroom. Awesome. I'll put up some photos shortly so you can see for yourself. Better yet, drop by for a visit. We have a couch and plenty of floorspace. The other great thing about the apartment is that it's close to a bunch of stuff. I'm within a 5 minute walk of the Pike Place Market, which is a great place to pick up groceries (and flowers). I can get everything from produce, meats, milk, cheese, fresh bread, to asian and latino groceries. There are also a ton of little eateries around the market, from oysters to russian to chinese to greek to turkish. Good stuff!

The only two drawbacks to where I live: it's far from good greenspace and the commute kind of sucks. It takes 8 minutes to get to the highway in the morning. It can take over an hour to get home in the evening if there is a Mariners home game. I'll need to figure something out. Maybe I'll take the bus those days.

Oh yes. We get free bus passes for working here. I like.

You know another thing I like? The cafeteria here. Today I had Indian food and sushi. Granted, it's not the best quality I've ever had, but it's passable. Plus it offers variety. The only problem is that it seems like I want the Indian food every day. I have this bad feeling that I'm going to overdo it like we did Aladdin at SOM. Wish me luck. I intentionally got something else yesterday just for a break. The good thing is that they mix up what dishes they have each day. So is it really repeating?

So social stuff. It's been cool hanging out with the mix of people that I know here. High school people, b-school people, and Microsoft people. Give me a few weeks and I'll mix in some other peeps that I know here (from CMU and other).

My car. Ross and I have formed an alliance. An alliance to work on our cars. We both own 4th generation Honda Accords. He has the local knowledge. I have the tools and experience doing random stuff with my car. It will be fun. We will save enormous amounts of money. I'll probably save $300+ doing the radiator by myself. $100+ for the oxygen sensor. Driveshaft I may wait till I'm back in Cleveland. Ross will likely save a ton on his car as well. I like.

So what did I miss.... Photos! I just got internet access yesterday at home. I'll try to start uploading some stuff in the next few days. Not just so that you all can see pics from the cross country trip, but also so I can take more photos. I think I almost managed to completely fill 12GB worth of memory cards.

Oh yeah... I got invited to a party at Bill Gates' place. I hear he has a nice house.

So so far:
7 sunny days
2 rainy days
Had Japanese, Russian, Mediterranean, Mexican food.