Putting out Fires

This week at work has been pretty crazy. On Monday I coded up a tiny change to a tiny little thing that over 4 million people use. This change made the tiny little thing a little more dynamic, which required a little more processing power on our end. Multiply that by four million and you get this:

The kicker is that this tiny little change was only showing up for half the users (an A/B Test, in industry parlance). 

Monday very quickly became time to scramle. I had to quickly revert the change and figure out a way to make the same change but oodles faster. Staying at work until 10:30pm paid off this Monday because the rest of that graph includes the same change for all users. Note how on the second time I didn't double our bandwith intake.


Getting out of the Moral Matrix

I posted a TED talk a while back without much explanation about what it was, other than it was talking about "... the real difference between Liberals and Conservatives." and nobody watched it as far as I can tell. A headline like that coupled with what people probably expect of my political views easily led to the impression that the talk is just one-sided rhetoric. That was my fault -- I packaged it misguidingly.

As we are now just a few weeks away from a critically important election with political tempers at a fever pitch, I implore you to take some time and watch this talk. It is not politically charged, but instead gives a powerful case for how liberal and conservative forces act in unison to progress societies. Watch it and respect the basis of the political views from the other side of the tracks.

edit: it appears a few people had watched it the first time. 

Say "I do" With Grandma on Your Finger

Little did I know when I went in to work this morning that I would stumble upon a website that does something both macabre and fascinating: Life Gems

What is a LifeGem®?
The LifeGem® is a certified, high-quality diamond created from the
carbon of your loved one as a memorial to their unique life, or as a symbol of your personal and precious bond with another.

You read that correctly: Cremate a dead loved one and they'll compress the carbon into a diamond. Frankly, I think they're underreaching. Off the cuff I can imagine a powerful market for these death diamonds in one key area: prestige auctions. 

Imagine the market for diamonds made from historical figures. Who wants to bid on an original Monét when you can bid on the actual Monét (in diamond form)? As long as you have a clever grave-robbing team you can make millions as you tick off lists of historical figures.

Update: thanks to some detective work by Erin, I've been told that LifeGem is in fact already creating diamons from historical figures.

A Happy Dose of Perspective

Visiting with Gabriel
Originally uploaded by ehurson
In a previous post I talked about my penchant for always pushing forward to the next Big Thing. While I enjoy the excitement of always working towards something, a little perspective popped in on the radio this evening. I don't remember the exact words, but the singer was crooning about "breaking out of this small town", and it lead me to a happy thought.

I'm a software developer at one of the top startups in silicon valley. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. I live in a lovely apartment with a lovely woman. I live in the same town as my brother. I get to play squash a couple times a week. I love what I do for work. I get along great with my coworkers. I can bike to work. I eat well. I broke out of my proverbial small town.

This is not a comparsion between my life and anyone else's or judgements on people who made different choices from me. I just need to remember every now and then that I'm doing well.

Rose-Colored Snow Goggles

Erin and I went up to San Anselmo in Marin county last weekend to see a production of Moonlight and Magnolias, which was a wonderful evening. What struck me, however, is how rosy my rear-view mirror has become. The playhouse was an old-tymey barn, it was a little chilly, and I noticed another audience member sipping hot cocoa. Whenever it gets a little chilly I think fondly of New Hampshire in the winter, despite my disinterest whenever I spend more than a handful of days there.

If I sit back and think about whether I'd be happy living there, the answer is no. There's just not enough varied things going on for my tastes. But it's wonderful to know that there is somewhere out there that feels like home, even if I get restless within a week.

Free Energy Drinks at Work

Most of the time having snacks and drinks around is a good idea to get that little bit of blood sugar at low times when you haven't eaten in a while. Certainly one must exercise restraint when they are provided by your company for free. Most of the time I have no issue refraining from living off of candy during the work day. But every other week or so I have to re-learn the lesson with energy drinks and their caffeine level:

Much like alcohol, if you don't regularly metabolize caffeine it can leave you seriuosly batty. I currently feel like a mixture of the following two cats. 

I am looking forward to coming down.