i hate crutches

I hate them. When my six week tenure with them is over, I will crush them, mangle them, smelt them down and reforge them into a mythical sword that I will use to slaughter their maker and his family. I will then fling their bodies and the sword into the sun.

Anyway… the day after the accident I went to a specialist to get a cast. The doctor told me that the ankle dislocation was very rare since I had to tear (but not separate) all three ligaments in my ankle to get the foot to do that. But as bad as that sounds, it could have been a lot worse. There were a couple of chipped bones, but the chips were minor and all the bones ended up in the right place. I’m stuck in the cast for 6 weeks, then I’ll probably have a couple of months of physical therapy to regain the motion in my ankle, but I’ll probably avoid any arthritis or lasting effects. Yay. Also no surgery. And yeah, I’m really fucking tired of crutching around everywhere and I’m only 1/3 done with it. I have bruises on the palms of my hands and pain in my elbows and shoulders, but at least I’m still getting plenty of cardiovascular exercise (I’d say crutching at a walking pace is at least as taxing as jogging at a good clip).

So, Friday was my last day at Apple. Oddly I left handing off the same project that I handed off the last time I left. I think maybe it would have gotten picked up if the whole crazy Intel thing hadn’t happened. Anyway, the money was good but I’m glad to have my freetime back to enjoy Berkeley and start studying more for my prelim.

But that also won’t happen this week, since I’m in LA at SIGGRAPH. It’s overhyped but fun anyway. I had a talk at a little sub-conference called SCA (Symposium on Computer Animation), which has kept me extra-busy over the last few weeks. SIGGRAPH itself is basically continuous schmoozing punctuated by people presenting academic papers where you repeatedly hurl your brain at slides stuffed with double integrals and, invariable, bunnies.

I’m heading home Thursday, where I will sit (for those of you who don’t know, when you sit you’re not on crutches).

hi ho hi ho

Back at work! Back at Apple! What a strange trip. I’m actually sharing Doug’s office for the summer; it seemed like a better choice than sharing a cube with other interns (ick). The first few days were filled with awkward moments where I met people who all remembered me quitting and we probably very confused by me showing up again. In all, though, I suppose that’s better than building up a group of work friends and resources from scratch.

Sharing an office with Doug has been great so far… he was nice enough to clear out a whole corner for me, and Rick hooked me up with a computer and after battling the account gods, I’m pretty much back to the state I was in after working about 2 months from the first time I started. We even bought a cheap stereo for the office and can now rock out to something more substantial than the tinny built-in speakers in Doug’s G5.

The first week was almost entirely absorbed by the process of differentiating my ass and a hole in the ground, as is expected. In all, I think the summer will be a blast. I regret somewhat not just taking the summer off to study for prelims and lounge, but I know I would probably just get bored and frustrated doing that, and this way I make some money while I’m at it.

On an unrelated note, I moved all my IRA money over from Fidelity to Etrade, mostly to take advantage of the very low expense ratios and low minimum investment in their index funds. This in itself is not interesting, but what was interesting was when I logged in at the beginning of last week to discover that someone had thoughtfully deposited $28,000 in cash into my account. I resist the “withdraw by check” button on the webpage and discovered that someone had just written the wrong account number in somewhere. Sigh. Just reinforces this feeling I have that money is a farce.

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.

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.