Sunday, April 23, 2006

Big announcement time...

As of May 22nd, 2006, I will be working as an Engineering Director for Google. Woo hoo!

For various reasons, I've been feeling somewhat restless in my current job. My lovely wife finally convinced me to get off my butt and start looking about for something new to keep me entertained. "Hey, how about Google? I hear they're hiring in Kirkland..."

I've been playing with LinkedIn for awhile now -- mostly just as a way to keep in touch with old co-workers. Here, finally, was a chance to use it for its intended purpose. Hmmm, Jeaneane worked with me back at Action Engine and Jeaneane knows Pete who is an ED at Google. Bingo! (BTW, thanks again Jeaneane for the introduction! I owe you one.)

I swung by the Google offices on the way home from work one day and chatted with Pete about the company, the environment, the people, and a host of other things. He showed me around and outlined some of the company's philosophies and such. I was hooked.

The interview process involved six different people over two days and I got a chance to talk with them about management problems, design problems and coding problems. Everybody was great and I had a blast.

After the local interview, my application had to go down to Mountainview for a final approval and blessing by Larry Page. I was told to expect an answer the following Friday.

Tick, tick, tick...

Fortunately, the Google hiring department apparently believes in an under-promise, over-deliver philosophy and I was notified on Wednesday that everything had been approved we were ready to rock-n-roll.

Now, with full awareness that my position may change once I get inside and see all the dirty laundry, I have to say I have never been quite so excited to start a new job as with this one. From everything I've seen so far, Google just gets it. Hire the best you can find, give them a great environment and all the resources they need, and cut them loose to be creative and build great things.

Mama, I'm home.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Snuffle up and deal....

I had a rather nasty cold the other week and spent Thursday and Friday home in bed. While I love sleeping in, I hate being in bed all day with nothing to do. TV gets old pretty quickly; the cold medicine means I can't hold focus long enough to read; bleah...

So at some point in the day, in my drug addled haze I decided it might be a good idea to try and play a little online poker. Fortunately, I had the presense of mind to realize that Nyquil and gambling don't make for a very good combination so I entered a freeroll tournament. Nothing risked but some time (which I had in great supply) and it would keep me entertained for awhile.

This particular tournament was a WSOP freeroll qualifier. 3500 entrants and the end result is that the top 50 finishers get the opportunity to play in yet another tournament later where the winners THERE get entry into the 2006 WSOP in Las Vegas.

As is pretty typical for this sort of tourney, the play was crazy-wild. With no money at stake, people are swinging for the fences from Hand One. I'm not sure if being sick kept my hubris in check or if I'm finally actually beginnng to see the light, but I kept to a pretty consistently tight aggressive game until, all-of-a-sudden, it dawned on me that there are only about 200 players left and I had a pretty healthy stack of chip in front of me. Hmmm, 3500 is a lottery long-shot but 200? That's something I can do. Sure enough, at the end of about seven hours of play, I finished in the top 50! The last few hands were a bit silly as there's no difference between 50th and 1st so, when player 51 drops off, it's all in baby!

Ok that was fun. Now what?

I turns out the the follow-on tournament was to be held that Saturday at 1:30 pm. I log on at the appointed time and find the right tournament. Great -- 3574 entrants -- yet another lottery. I'm thinking though that these people have all invested seven hours of time to get here and have beat their own set of 3450 players -- the play has got to be better, no?

Not really.

Again, the theme seemed to be crazy players swinging for the fences. Fortunately, I was on the back side of my cold by this time so I was able to concentrate and play my game my way. Unfortunately "my way" typically includes a few really blindingly stupid hands but, fortunately, today the stupid hands seemed to match up with the lucky ones and I managed to keep myself alive. Once again, I watched the field drop away and it started to become conceivable that I might actually place in this crazy event! Go figure.

Now, the pay-out on this event consisted of paid entry into various WSOP events and looked like this:
  • 1st place - $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. + hotel / airfare / spending money
  • 2nd through 10th - $10,000 NL Hold'em Main Event
  • 11th through 20th - any $2,000 WSOP event
The HORSE event is new to the WSOP this year. It seems that the poker pros have been getting a little annoyed that all the online posers (like me) have effectively turned the WSOP Main Event into a lottery. Sorry about that guys. Anyway, for those who have never heard of HORSE, it's a game that consists of rotating rounds of Hold'em, Omaha, Razz, Stud, and Eight or better. Combine this requirement to be good at this range of games with a crazy-high entry fee and you should pretty effectively screen out the kids.

Back to the game at hand...

To make a long (another seven hours) story slightly shorter, I managed to hold my chip position in the top five or so until we got down to that last 10 players. At that point we all started looking around at each other with the same thought. "Let's see... my odds of actually winning the WSOP Main Event at this point are 1 in 100,000. My odds of winning the HORSE event? Zero. Time to bail." So I finished sixth and I'm off to Vegas in July! It turns out that, in addition to the $10,000 entry fee, PartyPoker will pay for a room at the MGM Grand if you're willing "to exclusively wear branded apparel while playing". For a free room, I can be a clothes whore.

A special thanks to Dan Harrington and his great set of books, "Harrington on Hold'em: Expert Strategy for No-Limit Tournaments" Volume I: Strategic Play, and Volume II: The Endgame. Highly recommended reading for anyone who is not planning on playing against me this summer at the WSOP. If you are going to be there, please don't read these or any other books. Just remember, you are invincible and yes, you will hit that inside straight on the river... trust me.

Addendum: I just looked at the PartyPoker freeroll page and it looks like they're no longer offering the entry into the HORSE event as the first prize. Now finishers 1 through 14 go the the Main Event and 15 through 24 get the $2,000 entry prize.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Nobody knows I'm Elvis

M:Metrics, the company I work for, just got a nice little writeup by Russell Buckley on MobHappy.

M:Metrics - The Elvis Analysts

I had to laugh because it reminded me of a Comdex long ago where my company at the time, Connectsoft, hosted an Elvis Extravaganza which included having the Flying Elvi land in the hotel parking lot, Mini Elvis on stage, and a theme of "Nobody Knows I'm Elvis" (which I never really understood, but we gave out a ton of t-shirts with the slogan. Go figure.)

That which is old is new again...

I woke up a little early this morning and grabbed the Seattle Times off the front porch. We're still getting a daily paper -- there's something very comforting about early morning, a cup of coffee and real paper to leaf through.

Susan Gilmore of the Times wrote a little piece about the upcoming selection of the Washington State quarter. While my coin collecting has always been limited to the peanut butter jar of daily spare pocket change, I've enjoyed seeing the rollout of the various state quarters over the past few years and was interested in seeing what Washington might come up with.

In the article, Susan also included a link where you could go vote on your favorite -- Democracy in action, baby!

Unfortunately, apparently nobody told the people running the site that this article was going to show up today and it immediately fell over under the pressure. Slashdotted by a physical newspaper.

And no, I don't really have a favorite among the three options. Each has their problems:
  • state outline with collection of "Washington stuff" -- boo-oo-o-r-ing! Very generic.
  • Mt. Rainier with jumping salmon -- nice composition but also very expected.
  • NW American art orca -- I really wanted to like this one. My dad's been carving NW coast art for many years now and our house is filled with his work. Possibly because of this, I have some fairly strong opinions on what I like in the genre and this dancing whale is a little too Barney-esque for me.
So it's a toss-up between #2 and #3. Hopefully I'll make a decision before the state IT staff can convince their poor little servers to wake back up.