Wednesday, September 14, 2011

the state of things

We were gone over the weekend, but the Elephants upstairs have been, if not quiet, subwoofer-free in the evenings. We'll see if that continues through the weekend. Their landlord sent us the text of his email to them saying he wasn't renewing their lease and asking them to move out before it expires. It seems there have been various other complaints from other complex residents about them, including some concerns about a rotating cast of people living there. The landlord asked the Elephants about this, but somewhat incredibly, the leaseholders don't return his emails or phone calls. There's circumstantial evidence that they're fresh Stanford graduates, possibly MBAs (always a bad sign), and this may be their first experience living around non-students. Hopefully they learn from the experience, or just rent a house.

I'm still looking at the rental and housing markets occasionally, just for fun, and it's still insane. Houses are still too expensive, rentals are impossible to find. By the time house prices come down, getting a loan will likely be a dodgy thing, requiring a full 20% down payment on what will likely still be a $400,000 house. We may be here a little while, which is all right because wow, this is a nice place. Granite countertops, wood floors, spare bedroom, two bathrooms. And mostly unpacked, even.

I bought a new case for my home server. I'd intended to get a small one, but then I saw this guy's writeup of it, and it sounded so amazing that I went out and bought one. And it's amazing.
mobo side closeup

It has a pair of 200mm fans--that's 20cm, or 8". The big fans have white LEDs that make for a soothing glow in a dark room, as well as being really quiet and cooling the case really well. The sides have latches: no need to unscrew anything. The hard drives and optical drive slide in, with no screws. The only time I picked up a screwdriver was attached the motherboard to the case.
other side closeup

All the cables run along the back side of the motherboard, getting them completely out of the way of both the fans and any work you want to do in there. There are USB ports in front of the case, and all the fans plug into a built-in fan controller.

The whole thing is a bit of an extravagance, but I figure I'll keep it for many years, and it's such a pleasure to have well-designed things in the house.

I've been working a lot. We're doing this 6-week push to increase our code quality and testing, and it's really an epic project, but also puts me a bit adrift, just when I'd started digging into the Transcoding System re-architecture which is the thing I really care about. I have a nominal project, but I've quickly found more interesting things to do.

I've realized that my bosses' expectations of what I should do are in fact very vague and noncommittal, and what's best for everyone is my new realization that no one has much stake in my doing anything in particular, and I'm perfectly capable of picking important things to work on and just going and doing whatever I feel like. I'm the only one of my kind in the company, so there's no model to follow, not even another person to compare me to. Also, it's been impossible to hire anyone else like me, so I'm not going to get fired. I'm feeling less stressed overall, though still I'm always casting about to get my hooks in something cool, like a torpedo looking for a target.

[EDIT: In addition to few people being able to do my job, nobody else wants it.]

Today I discovered that with all my years of designing complex interacting backend services, what really impresses people is a webpage they can look at to see what's going on. Awesome. I hate webpages.

Apparently Anna and I are getting married in 7 weeks! We've decided to start writing the ceremony. She's been a complete bad-ass about organizing the whole thing. It feels like there's a lot to do, which there sort of is, but it's all manageable. Should be a good time. And then we go to Portland and fall asleep for a week.

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