Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Ever felt like you needed a drink?

Well, I didn't. That is, until a couple of weeks ago when I finished what may have been considered a brief hazing period if we were pledging to join a fraternity. It was two straight weeks of coding day and night (evening), weekday and weekend, workday and holiday. It was a meaningful, courteous, well-supported haze. Then, we had a party. Then, we had a holiday. Finally, we started working for real, and this really should pre-date my post entitled C++.

The point of this isn't about working, but really drinking and how little of it I do and how the only time I felt like it I was too tired and by myself (adding a last minute feature to our project). Well, this last Saturday, I felt like it was alright to want to have a legal recreational drink in a social environment to celebrate the one year anniversary of the time my friend brought a civil sampling of beers for my 21st birthday. In the end, we didn't end up at a bar and I hadn't brought it up. Maybe it was the organizer of the gathering's aversion to drinking, or maybe it was my own newness to the practice.

That isn't to say it didn't go well. We set out to visit the Cathedrals of Consumer Electronics along Fifth Avenue in NYC but were side-tracked by the promise of free ice skating then by the marble enclosed Dining Concourse of Grand Central Terminal. We skipped the Nintendo Store (as one of us had recently visited it just several hours prior) to try the Sony and Nokia stores. When we made it to the Sony store, the employees were cleaning up behind locked glass through which we beheld several PS3s that were free and open to the air (and presumably not overheated). We kept our spirits high as we pressed on and made it to the Nokia store just as it was closing. One employee stayed behind while we were dazzled by the array of well-crafted phones and asked whether we needed help before we realized how late it was.

It would never be too late for the Apple store, which we saved for last. It was a beacon in the night for weary pilgrims who relied upon its ever present glow.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Google to let employees capitalize on option 'forwarddating'

That's not exactly what's going on, but Google is working with Morgan Stanley to create a market where financial institutions can buy vested options directly from employees via a web-based auction system. The benefit for employees is that they can get more money than they would from exercising the stock on the market as prices will factor in potential growth in the future. Why would banks pay for a premium instead of just buying the stock on the open market?

For one thing, instead of paying say $500 for each share, a bank could just pay $25 on the hopes that in a year, the price will exceed $525. By investing in the options instead of the stock, you increase the potential return because you can buy many more $25 options than $500 stocks. Google explains the bigger picture better in their page "The Market for TSOs" and talks about letting employees capitalize on the time value of their options. Hence, forwarddating as opposed to backdating : ).

The other interesting thing readers of this blog may appreciate is that while Goldman did Google's [last] stock offerings (and I speculated that they handled the YouTube aquisition), Morgan Stanley was picked to handle a technical solution for both their innovative online dutch auction IPO as well as this TSO auction system. [Incidentally, I missed the news that Morgan and CSFB underwrote Google's first secondary offering of (Pi-3)E8 shares.]

SOURCE: Official Google Blog

UPDATED: 12/14/2006 8:06pm EST

Sunday, December 10, 2006


After reading these interviews with Bjarne Stroustrup (I can now spell the name of the inventor of C++), I remembered that I should post about my new job. I'll be starting tomorrow with a team that develops middleware... in C++. This is a fairly large departure from my comfort zone. To be honest, I would not have imagined using C++ prior to the starting our training program, but my fears are being displaced by the anticipation of earning (albeit slowly) the credibility associated with mastering C++. This isn't to say that Java programmers don't deserve respect or that there aren't really bad C++ programmers. It's just that much harder to be good at C++. Whether you have to be is a different story.

A bit on my new job. In that first interview, Stroustrup talks about how most users want stuff fast and cheap--and if they get buggy software, then so be it. Our environment often supports a nicer sounding version of that attitude, but my team gets to do it to a lesser extent because people depend on the quality of what we make. Anyway, I'd like to be more candid about work like coffee cup Mike (I interned at IBM, btw) but it's too early. Plus, I'm not sure how to be both self-deprecating and uplifting at the same time.

SOURCE: Technology Review [via Slashdot]

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Pirates of Silicon Valley (the must see classic)

I finally got to watch Pirates of Silicon Valley last week. This and an interview with Guy Kawasaki have vastly improved my opinion of Steve Wozniak. A proper one, unlike the one with Steve Colbert, that interview is both inspiring and humbling by virtue of Wozniak's genius and humanity. Back to the movie, though, you really don't have perspective unless you know the environment under which Wozniak/Jobs and then Gates/Allen won over the industry.

First of all, the Apple I and the II to a lesser extent, were truly revolutionary. Windows is a really direct rip-off from the Macintosh, but the inspiration for that really came from developers at Xerox. Interestingly, the scene where they spill all the beans to Apple engineers shows the Xerox developers really reluctant to share their management-stifled innovations. That leads us to the infamous quote by Bill Gates that Mike shared via a comment:
Get real, would ya? You and I are both like guys who had this rich neighbor - Xerox - who left the door open all the time. And you go sneakin' in to steal a TV set. Only when you get there, you realize that I got there first. I got the loot, Steve! And you're yellin'? 'That's not fair. I wanted to try to steal it first.' You're too late."
The movie starts with Jobs announcing a new partnership with Microsoft after which it goes back to the beginning of why Bill Gates drops out of college and the founding of Apple. It delves deeply into Jobs' personal life (with many scenes of him very much a cult leader) and leads all the way back to the opening scene. Anyhow, the movie is dramatized to the extent that dialogue was imagined and gaps were filled, but as far as I know, those impersonated in the movie don't object to its content.

SOURCES: TUAW [via DIGG] for the Kawasaki interview, DIGG for the Colbert interview