Title: G.I. Joe 2: Retaliation
Release Date: 6/29/2012
Summary: Pretty much just G.I. Joe 1
Title: The Expendables 2
Release Date: 8/17/2012
Summary: Norris and Van Damme
Release Date: 05/18/2012
Summary: Transformers in the water
Title: The Grey
Release Date: 1/27/2012
Summary: Liam Neeson fights wolves with broken glass knuckles
Title: Premium Rush
Release Date: 8/24/2012
Summary: Transporter with bikes instead of cars and the dude from Inception instead of Jason Statham
I spent a few hours today watching the MLG championship in a sports bar that was crowded out by Starcraft fans. It was an interesting experience that I don’t plan on repeating.
There are some things to be said for watching video games in sports bars. We get to strike back against the arrogant, loud imbeciles who watch traditional sports. We get the emotional reinforcement of being in a large mob. We get to make our niche interest public, proving that we are in fact not creepy shut-ins. But at the end of the day, Starcraft is not meant to be watched in sports bars.
Sports that are traditionally shown in sports bars are (relatively) slow. There are timeouts, fouls, period endings and numerous other clock stopping actions that break up the play. This time is filled in with idiot sportscasters, sweeping shots of the crowd, cheerleaders and halftime shows. All things that you can tune out and use as time to talk to the friends and other people who came with you to the venue.
This is not the same for SC2, especially at the professional level. From the beginning of the game to the victory banner, every action has significance. You can’t get away with just watching bits and pieces. The commentators often speak so fast that they are yelling, catching themselves in mid-sentence because the state of the game changes so quickly. For 10 to 45 minutes there is no conversation, no social activity. This makes for a very awkward bar.
Watching a 36 inch tv tacked high up on the wall is hard, even when the stream is good. Just being able to see units moving around isn’t important. Being able to gauge the distance, health, and position of the units is important, and that level of detail is lost on standard wall mounted televisions.
The Starcraft audience isn’t a “put your team colors on and yell” kind of audience. For the most part, the people in the bar seemed uncomfortable and you could tell that they felt out of place. Sitting alone or in groups not making conversation. It doesn’t create a fun environment or energy.
I am going to stick to watching pro video games in a basement with a monitor, some mountain dew, and my friends. The way it was meant to be.
Interviewing is perhaps the only redeeming factor of the job search (other than free food). Interviews are interesting. They combine the emotionally high but temporally low investment of dating with the intellectual and academic stress of engineering.
Some characteristics of interview questions:
- Simple enough to be explainable in just a few minutes
- Complex enough to weed out the majority of applicants
- Solvable in about 45 minutes
- In possession of a number of obvious and non-obvious traps
- Hold no personal or professional investment from the solver
With interviews (and I am talking about full out, 3 hour long, “please clear your afternoon” tech interviews, not phone screens) you are solving many interesting, non-trivial engineering problems in rapid succession.
Here is what your day looks like in normal employment:
- Catch up on company email
- Work on what you left last night
- Have a stand where you talked about the bugs you have been fixing
- Find a bug ticket
- Make sense of the what the ticket writer was trying to convey, often meeting with them so they can show you
- Locate the problem code in your application
- Fix it, usually some trivial solution
- If you are lucky, every few weeks you can sit in on a group meeting about how to architect a new feature
But here is what your day is like while interviewing:
- Design a database architecture for a simple web application
- Modify that architecture because your application just got linked to by HN, Reddit, Digg, and Slashdot
- Design a cryptographic scheme
- Figure out how to find a specifically characterized integer in an incredibly long array in O(logn) time, implement it
- Figure out a way to shave 8 bits off of your KV-store keys, resulting in a $1MM dollar savings per year
- Lunch (convince the non-tech employees that you have a sense of humor)
- Design a system for keeping a multi-TB sized dataset up to date with a never ending stream of updates
- Implement a way of traversing a network to find specific information
- Write a parser for a small internal DSL
- Drinks (answer tech questions while inebriated, convince the non-tech employees you have a sense of humor)
Shit, I am never going to be able to bring myself to start working again.
How to take a software interview call:
- Lay around browsing facebook/quora in a half-conscious unemployed stupor
- Forget you have a call
- Get jolted up by your phone ringing
- Pace around your apartment nervously while listening to the manager pitch their company
- Interject with the occasional joke. If they don’t have a sense of humor, immediately discount the company
- Wonder whether or not this is purely a culture fit call or if they will ask you any tech questions
- Assume it is just a culture fit call
- Become nervous when they ask “if they can ask you some technical questions”
- Listen to the question
- Formulate a clear, accurate answer
- Schedule a technical full length interview
- Say goodbye politely
- Throw self onto bed with laptop, find quora tab
- Wait 2 hours, repeat