proud to be a facebooker

January 30, 2009

Here is a great article about how dissent in Egypt is using facebook to organize. The most interesting thing to me is that facebook is working better than the internet by itself was. It too easy for the government to go to the site and shut it down. They can’t shut down or block facebook, because too many people use it for the mundane. That allows it to be used for other things like free speech. I’m quite excited to be working here. Pray that we can help make the world a better place.


Facebook and SF Update

January 28, 2009

In VA, I lived in a nice townhouse with three other people. I was happy to save money by living in the smallest room. It was 9′ x 9′. When I moved out to SF, I decided to go to the other end of the spectrum. Thus, I have an enormous one bedroom loft in Mission Bay (SOMA). I hope friends come to visit :). Facebook is going well. There are an extraordinary number of interesting problems. Considering we have ~1 million active users/developer, I suppose that’s to be expected. This is definitely a place where one’s work is highly leveraged. (We are always looking for more engineers, so if I know you and you might be interested, drop me a line.)

Facebook is setup so that during your first 6 (for me 8 due to vacation) weeks, you are given diverse, but somewhat trivial, bugs in what they call bootcamp. The advantages are several fold. As a new developer (hereafter called n00b), it always takes time to get up to speed with a code base. Thus something that would take a more experienced employee 2 hours to fix, might take a n00b 8 or even 16. But, by working on a diverse set of problems, the n00b gets familiar with a broad spectrum of the code base. As the n00b solves the bugs, he or she gets to know various people around the company. Also, full time employees just don’t have time for all these minor tasks. Finally, since the problems to solve are usually minor, they typically don’t overwhelm the n00b.

The teams I am interested in are, in order, Internal Tools, Infrastructure, and Site Integrity. When I was at my last company, I started reading about bug tracking software as well as version control. For some reason, I”m just really interested in how software companies manage their process. I guess it takes my interest in software and combines it with my interest in people. When the bootcamp manager heard that I was actually interested in an email thread we were having about our bug tracking, he instantly thought Internal Tools would be a good fit, and I agree. Hopefully, I’ll talk about the interesting problems the other two teams face at a later time.

For a while, I didn’t have furniture, just a nice apartment. However, I lucked into some free, gently used couches and decided to get a nice bed and mattress from ikea. I own one cooking utensil, but facebook provides all my meals during the week. The food there is quite good, significantly more flavorful and healthy than what I would prepare for myself. I’m very close to the train so my commute in the evening is often an hour, but I spend almost all of it with access to the internet, so I can’t complain.

Schneier Interview

January 24, 2009

Or course I like it when Reason interviews security expert Schneier. Most of it is just good summaries of what’s on his blog, but I liked this answer to the last question:

Security is designed to protect us from the dishonest minority. It’s important to remember that. I remember being told as a child: “Never talk to strangers.” That’s actually stupid advice. If a child is lost or scared or alone, the smartest thing he can do is find a kindly looking stranger to talk to. The real advice is: “Don’t answer strangers who talk to you first.” The difference is important. In the first case, the child selects the stranger—and the odds of him selecting a bad person are pretty negligible. In the second case, the stranger selects the child; that’s more dangerous. I don’t think that’s either optimism to rightly point out that most people are honest, or pessimism to figure out how to best secure ourselves from the dishonest minority; it’s analytical realism.

Parents, stop trying so hard

January 24, 2009

Ironically, then, a bird’s-eye view of parenting research suggests that it would be good for the world if parents stopped trying so hard. Parents would be better off, because they would be doing less of something that — through excessive familiarity — has lost its charm. Children wouldn’t be worse off, because parental “investment” has little payoff anyway. In fact, if we take children at their word, they’d be better off. Kids know better than anyone that if mom and dad aren’t happy, nobody’s happy.

That’s Joshua Gans quoting Bryan Caplan. I look forward to reading both Parentonomics and Selfish Reasons to Have Kids

Wikipedia’s Inclusionists and Deletionists

January 24, 2009

Stack overflow linked to an interesting post by Nicholas Carr about two camps of Wikipedia contributors.

Inclusionists believe that there should be no constraints on the breadth of the encyclopedia – that Wikipedia should include any entry that any contributor wants to submit. An article on a small-town elementary school is no less worthy for inclusion than an article on Stanford University.

Deletionists believe in weeding out entries that they view as trivial or otherwise inappropriate for a serious encyclopedia.

He posed it as a chioce. We can discover what an unbounded wikipedia can turn into, or we can discover how high quality a volunteer encyclopedia can become. But we can’t do both. He says maybe it’ll fork, but I doubt it, because then you have to duplicate effort for the overlap. Hopefully danvk will slap us with some knowledge.

What could we do intead of what our politicians are recommending?

January 24, 2009

I haven’t really been following anything closely since I started my move. Dealing with a new place and new job doesn’t leave much time for blog reading. But this strikes a chord. Politicians want to be like our parents, and promise us that they’ll make everything better. Sometimes it just takes time to heal, (kind of mixing my analogies) and panicking just makes everything worse.

Marginal Revolution: What instead? 2

4) Don’t Panic. This is the policy that has cured most recessions. The do anything and do it now mindset feeds panic. I do think this recession will be longer than average and quite deep, it is a concern that it is worldwide. But recessions are normal and we have unemployment insurance and other assistance programs to help people through tough times. The economy will recover and its very possible to make things worse by trying to make things better.

Lack of RSS on Barney’s Blog = Lame

January 21, 2009

Having a character have a blog is a good idea. Dwight and Meredith‘s are awesome. I’d love to read one from Barney from How I Met your Mother, but in this day and age, it’s ridiculous not to have an RSS feed. What are they thinking?