steak and a movie

I think I should share with all of my faithful readers the joy that is Friday in our little corner of Santa Clara, aka the Best Apartment in the World (TM).

Every week, one or both of us stop at Whole Foods for some joyous yuppie shopping at Whole Foods in Cupertino. Now that I’m working at Apple, I can just swing by on my way home (now you all know the real reason I took the job). It usually involves at least some crusty sourdough bread, some fresh veggies and cheese, and some good fish or beef or lamb. We’ve also taken to rounding things out with some over-priced Japanese beer.

We bring home our booty, maybe go exercise for a bit, then break out the food and make dinner together. It’s so simple… we just steam the veggies, broil the meat, and slice the bread. Then we collapse together on the couch for some movie or a rerun of the west wing. It’s just one of the very best things in life.

I write you now after the exercise, before the eating and couch-potating. Life is good. It’s even better because I got my first paycheck today and very soon won’t been in debt to Les any more. Also, on my way home from getting the steaks I just couldn’t resist dropping by Gamestop to pick up SSX3 (for the blissfully uninitiated, it’s the third iteration of a highly-addictive snow-boarding game that I have an extensive… um… “history” with).

So, roughly 2.2 months into this mostly-unplanned adventure, things seem to have pretty much worked out.

week one

So, the rest of the week went by pretty quickly. Most of my time was soaked up with trying to learn all of the acronyms associated with my projects, and then maybe a few details about them. What was left over was spent choosing a medical plan and setting up my 401(k). On Thursday, apple released iTunes for Windows, and I went down to a little theater on campus to watch a live stream of the presentation with a bunch of other Apple employees. Now, I’ve seen other Steve Jobs presentations before, but it was a unique experience to see it with a bunch of people intensely interested, hanging on every word he was saying. They cared not only because it was their company, but because he might actually say something that would change the projects they had to work on for the next six months (like “we’re going to ship Panther by the end of the year,” which he said this summer).

I’m still totally drowning in new information, and I think I will be for a couple of more weeks or so. But the environment is great, with mostly great people. Apple moment of the week: seeing another employee in his late fifties wearing a grateful dead t-shirt and cutoffs, riding a home-made motorized skateboard across the campus.

And now that it’s the weekend, it’s time for a little Super Mario Sunshine.

day one

Today was my first day at work. It was awesome. I’m going to give the generic rundown here. For the juicy bits, like what computer they gave me, you’ll have to contact me through some other channel.

I pulled in to the Infinite Loop campus at 8am. The training actually didn’t start until 8:30, but I’d lost the little sheet that said when we were supposed to show up, so I hedged. Things in the morning were pretty standard. They introduced all of the various programs and safety policies and talked a bit about benefits. Then they rotated in some speakers to talk about computer accounts and physical security. Pretty ho-hum morning, but necessary.

I then had a free lunch (free means Bryan buys the large sushi combo and yuppie juice) with my new manager. We talked a bit about the group and my possible projects. It was fun. Then I went in to get my badge, which was an experience in itself. The ID room had a professional photographer with indirect lighting (you know, like those little umbrella thingys). Then they took several pictures (turn this way. good. now the other way. Rest your elbow on your knee. Great! Now square your shoulders to the camera…) and let me pick my favorite one. The badge itself has a little red apple logo on it (the color of the apple is randomly assigned based on your employee number), my first name, and the picture.

Then I got set up in my office with a fancy new mac. I met the usually first day horde of people, some whom I’ll be working with and others who are just nearby my office. I say “office,” but what might be a slightly more accurate description might be “vastly overgrown cube.” It has no door, but it is huge, bigger than many small offices i’ve seen, with fancy ergonomic tables and such. The walls are wine and grey colored (as opposed to the white of offices) and every vertical surface is either whiteboard or a place to pin up papers. It has incandescent track lighting and a view out a window. It was apologetically explained that I would have had an office, but there is simply no space left in the building. I stifled a protestation that I actually would prefer the cube to the office.

The rest of the day was whiled away wading through administrative minutiae, but I did have one good meeting with my team (3 people as yet). Then I went home.

Wow. I’ll get into a bit more of the culture and such in forthcoming updates. For now, I’m a tad pooped.

a long summer’s journey into work

I’m starting work on Monday. It’s a bit strange to imagine. I’ll go in, I’ll get my badge, get my office (I already have one decoration lined up: a miniature Texas flag), start meeting people. Eventually, after a period of cluelessness, I’ll start doing useful work.

I realized that this has been the longest period in my life without work or school since I started kindergarten. I haven’t done anything useful since I graduated in May. I have become so bored and frustrated that starting work seems like the best kind of vacation imaginable.

In other news, Zelda: the Wind Waker is definitely one of the top 5 best video games I’ve ever played. And I’ve played a *lot*. So, if you’re ever looking for a good way to kill a week while you’re, I don’t know, waiting for your job to start, I’d highly recommend this RPG full of bright colors and catchy sythesized music.

I’ll be back soon with a full report on work day 1.

a trip to half moon bay and more

We’ve been taking pictures of this and that for a while here, with nothing really adding up to anything worth a whole album on gallery. Today, though, we took a great little trip to Half Moon bay, a burg out west on the coast. We hit the beach on a cool, cloudy afternoon to watch seagulls and waves, throw frisbees, fly kites, and mutilate washed up plant-life. The pictures from this trip are bundled with some flotsam and jetsam from our lives these last few weeks and stuck up on gallery for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy.

engineering at a fruit company

It’s such a relief to finally make this post. After a little over a month of interviews, more interviews, and plenty of waiting, I’ve accepted a job offer at Apple in Cupertino.

The official title of the position is “system validation engineer.” I know, it sounds laughably mundane. But trust me, it rocks. The job listing on Apple’s website actually calls the position “HW/SW engineer,” which I think is a little more appropriate. I didn’t even know what the name of the position would be until I saw the offer letter. Basically, I’ll be working with a team of people to put together all the new Apple hardware. Take, for example, the new G5. The processor came from IBM, but all the rest of the nuts and bolts on the motherboard were made by Apple in-house. Once the components were done, someone had to take all the pieces and assemble them, and get them to boot. Same for the Powerbooks, iPods, or whatever.

Also, new hardware is often designed to be multi-purpose. For example, the same network chip might go first into a desktop machine and later into a laptop. Different parts of the hardware might be exercised by the two roles. It will be my job to make sure there are no new problems when trying to integrate the hardware further down the road.

I’ve met a couple of people that I’ll be working with, and they seem amazing. One is a fellow UT grad. All of them (besides me) have many years of experience. It’s a bit daunting to start out at my first job in a senior group, but it’s also exciting to be handed serious responsibility right out of the gate.

Okay, looking over that description, I realize that the job still seems pretty mundane. But at least *I* am excited about it. And even better, I’m working at a company I admire. I really couldn’t have hoped for an outcome like this when I made the decision to move down here.

It will be weird putting my brain back in gear after such a long vacation. Our apartment has probably seen its cleanest days, and will now begin a long decline into neglect. We probably won’t cook so much. But more importantly, I won’t feel useless all the time.

Yay job.