I have a deep respect for Amazon as a company. They have been consistently kicking ass for over a decade. They had a long-term vision and stuck to it while everyone else was out chasing the next buzzwordy fad. It worked. Moreover, they are not a one-trick-pony like Google so far (to be fair, the No Evil company's pony is more like a galloping flame-breathing dinosaur but still).
Las Vegas is not known as a beacon of honesty and trust in the world, let’s put it that way. I went there last weekend to attend a rock climbing festival, and I stayed at one of the well-known casino/hotel combos. I checked in to my room and I found this little card on the night stand:
I just saw this poston Hacker News, and I thought I’d write my answer here. Disclaimer: I don’t know if I am (or ever was) a hardcore back-end developer. I did make money for a long time doing web-scale development work for a bunch of companies.
- A CGI program written in C running under Apache that would process queries and call system(“/bin/grep”) over a file containing ftp links to mp3 files.
- An ftp spider called by a cron job that would go through a list of known sites, list the mp3 files there and guess if the site had “unlimited access” or if it required an upload/download/ratio.
Recently I switched from my old Macbook (first unibody version, late 2008) to the new Macbook Air. The main difference in terms of specs as far as I’m concerned is the disk, as the cpu and memory are virtually the same. The old Macbook had a 5400 rpm Fujitsu drive, the Macbook Air has an Apple TS256C SSD.
Technology ecosystems – most business markets, actually — have network effects. And that means that the only rank to have, as an ecosystem, is first place. Best in the world.
- San Francisco Bay Area – startups
- Hollywood – film
- New York – finance
- Detroit – car industry (disregard the current state of affairs)
- Cleveland – well…
[the crowd 'boos']
Derek Smalls: But nobody rocks like…
[looks on the back of his guitar where he has placed a reminder of the name of the town they're playing in]
Derek Smalls: Springfield!
If you are on Twitter, there is a chance you follow the Dalai Lama or have seen one of his cogitations retweeted by his ever-growing following. If you're like me you may think he actually runs a factory of fortune cookies, or that he wrote an advanced phrase regurgitation algorithm.
Generalizations almost always have exceptions. In this case, the exception is perhaps the majority of instances. If you are going to make the claim that the best option for an engineer is to join a startup, you’d better have compelling arguments.
- Startups change all the time. You will work on dead ends, and it will be frustrating.
- You may have to take off you engineer hat. Sometimes the company needs customer support. Or extra marketing, or sysadmin/operations. Or sales. Sometimes you have to first sell things you don’t have, and then build a crappy, I-hope-nobody-sees-this-code prototype.
- Your skills may become irrelevant if the company pivots. Say you are an expert in information retrieval and the company morphs from a technology vendor to a user destination site. You will be asked to make the website prettier, to optimize load speeds or to write blog posts.
- You will have stability. If you are hired by Oracle or Google to improve the garbage collection algorithms of the JVM or optimize where to display certain types of ads, chances are you’ll be able to work on this specific problem for long enough to accomplish something.
- You will work reasonable hours that will allow you try being a “well-rounded person.”
- You won’t have a lot of impact on whether the company lives or dies. Whether this is good or bad depends on your personality.
At the Southwest SFO check-in counter a few minutes ago. The desk guy tells me that my bouldering pads are oversized: each one is 67 linear inches (width, length and height added together) and the maximum allowed is 62. He'll have to charge me $50 per item. I smile, beg for mercy, he won't budge. Ok, you got me.
This weekend I flew from San Diego to San Francisco on Southwest Airlines. Thanks to an early check-in I was able to grab a window seat on the left side of the plane, facing the ocean when flying north. My flight took shortly after sunset, and as the plane climbed the sun rose again. I saw a second sunset and felt like the Little Prince from Saint-Exupéry’s book. This is the second sunset, over the Channel Islands.
Just finished reading The Upside of Irrationality by Dan Ariely (highly recommended, just like Predictably Irrational). One take-away from this book: if you thought making decisions while under the influence of strong emotions was a bad idea, now there is hard data to back that up. It's worse than you thought, because those decisions affect your future decision-making patterns.