November 29, 2005

Google and Scientology

Posted in: Google, Travel

I think I'll nominate my Google interview for a 24h adventure status. It's got the ingredients: travel, pressure (waking up <10am, come on!), and something a little random...

The interviews went from 11:15 to 16:00, and there was no lunch break. That's right, no Google Lunch. Renowned throughout the Bay as the premier place to snag a free gourmet platter, it appears this junket doesn't apply to candidates being hammeredinterviewed in Dublin. Oh well, it was a nice chicken sandwich anyway.

There were five interviews, mostly back to back. Identical formats, 'simple' questions ("how do you unmount a hung NFS partition without a reboot") followed by longer on-the-whiteboard questions. 5 x 50mins or so. The five were prefaced by a disclaimer that "even if you think you do badly you probably did OK; this is Google and these are hard questions overall" or words to that effect.

It was definitely tiring; the fourth one actually got into some gnarly stuff that was working me quite hard. In the fifth I suffered that effect where you can hold three buckets of info in your head but actually need to be able to hold four so one keeps falling out either end. It was all good and the guy was sympathetic. Everyone seem stoked to be working there and it was refreshing to see a job where they want both sysadmin and programming skills. So far, my skills in both have been a hindrance or confusion getting work: recruiters and employers can't decide which I am, and whether, if I'm both, how I can be any good at two things. (Answer: don't own a TV)

So, we'll see... couple of weeks for a result from the search engine now.

Entering the Church

I have a few hours to kill before my late flight out (Google kindly accommodated my request to poke about Dublin a bit). So what better way to spend 20mins than in the company of Scientologists? "Lured" by a free stress test I went up and tried it out. I was honest about my aspirations, blockages, relationships, and so on. The conclusion: the needle was hardly twitching so I'm just not that stressed and there weren't really any products to sell me. That was it. Apparently I'm basically sorted as far as my Dianetics consultant was concerned. If I wanted to learn some more, here's a leaflet. Ah well, curiosity satisfied!

Right then, dinner time. At least this one's on Google's tab...

Posted by Paul Makepeace at 17:56 | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 17, 2005

Roboexotica 2005

Posted in: Travel, What am I up to

Off to Roboexotica in Vienna tomorrow via Bratislava. The flight to there from London came in at the wallet-feathering sum of just £36. Ah, the joy of subsidized travel. Carbon Dioxide Karma takes another hit...

Trivia: Vienna and Bratislava are apparently the two closest capitals. (I wonder if any US state capitals are closer?)

Even more irrelvant trivia: the train to the plane leaves at 04:30. Can I stay up all night after the Squarepusher and Luke Vibert gig tonight at Koko...

Posted by Paul Makepeace at 17:47 | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 12, 2005

24h Brighton mini-adventure

Posted in: Travel

Inspired by a recent conversation I've been thinking about 24h mini adventures. While not exactly competing with the panache and excitement of a James Bond caper Friday's 24h adventure to Brighton contained the key ingredients of a decent adventure:

1. do, or be, something new - I rode my scooter to Brighton & back
2. learn something - attended the d.Construct Web 2.0 conference and feel pretty up-to-date on what's new with Ajax, RSS, Flash, and hairy EU DRM proposed legislation
3. meet cool people - reconnected with a guy, Aral Balkan, I met three years ago, more folks from the Beeb (one of the places I'm contracting), Paul Silver a colleague of a client and friend David Rosam, and one of Brighton's quirkiest and most charming characters who shall remain anonymous...
4. experience fear and deal with it - well, my heart wasn't exactly in my throat but there was some risk involved in riding a 125cc automatic transmission scooter 55 miles. Turned out fine, if somewhat cold
5. had fun - yep!

What adventures have you been up to?

Posted by Paul Makepeace at 18:17 | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 25, 2005

Back from Sweden

Posted in: Travel

Fantastic time in Stockholm. The conference was a great success, I learnt plenty of bits & bobs that'll improve my work. Nothing drastic but a collection of little tweaks. I'll write the conference up from a techie perspective elsewhere (actually I did already and lost an hour's work doing so in a website bug, argh).

Saturday night's party was the social highlight of the trip - Helén, my fabulous host, took me and another Swedish guy to a fetish party. They initially wouldn't let me in owing to my excessively "clubby" pants. Rather than just boot me onto the street one of the guys in the club went off and brought back some PVC he had lying around and made me a sarong out of that and some duct tape. Astonishing. And cool.

Unfortunately I had to work quite a bit so didn't get out in Stockholm that much. Probably as well as with all the walking about my feet were absolutely killing me. Last day I scooted to the Vasamuseet, a museum that's entirely about a 1628 warship that was dredged up between 1957 and 1961. The scale of the operation both in terms of getting the thing out of the sea and then restoring and rebuilding is awesome in every sense. 14,000 loose pieces catalogued and refitted, the entire ship sprayed in preservative continously for days. Well, well worth seeing. Had a hard time leaving resulting in an efficient 15min gap before my plane left...

Posted by Paul Makepeace at 18:27 | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 20, 2005

Arrived in Sweden

Posted in: Travel

So, all safe and sound. After a night of two hours sleep, continued coding in a furious blaze up until the last minute, to the point even I started to consider I might not get the plane. Pulled off a vaguely shippable blob of software at about 10:45. My plane, a good hour away by public transport, was leaving at 14:05, so at 10:50 I figured it probably was a reasonable time to actually get dressed, and throw some clothes in a suitcase... As it happens the wind must've been following the Tube as I got there with about 40mins to spare. As Nik said, that's 40mins wasted...

Sweden's chilly but not snowy, and so far I've only taken a coach ride to central station and then spent a fruitless hour trying to get access to my machine to code a bit more before friends show up.

Posted by Paul Makepeace at 19:49 | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 1, 2005

Bali bombings

Posted in: Travel

Heard while at a local café. Fuckers. Just as this poor 65% tourist-driven little island has got itself back together (still down pre-2002 bombing though) this happens. It couldn't've happened to nicer people. London bombings I didn't really pay any attention - it would require a massive sustained onslaught to really affect the UK's capital. But a no-industry plot of 3.5m folks are going to suffer, again.

Gah. (I'm in Candidasa, nowhere near the action, unless you count snorkelling around a shipwreck and sipping cocktails as "action".)

Posted by Paul Makepeace at 15:40 | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 29, 2005

Bali bali

Posted in: Travel

On a modem up the side of a mountain so this'll be brief... Business school was intense, not at all what I'd expected: partly a deliberate course design decision (the notes handed out bore no resemblance to what was taught at all) and partly my expectations of something more linear. In essence the course was about team dynamics, and working under pressure (9am to 11pm posted times, often later in practice, for example) in a changing environment. Glad I did it but can't exactly say I enjoyed it. More on this when I'm back...

Hotel was amazing. 5-star. I'm going to have to let the photos do most of the talking, when I can upload them. Since then white water rafting with a fun 2m drop. Reptile and monkey parks today. Have had iguanas, tortoise, mosquitoes, and several monkeys physically on me; half of those intentionally. Right now in Lake View Hotel overlooking Mt Batur, a spectacular semi-active volcano with a lake at its base. 7:30am cycling trip around the lake & volcano finishing with hot springs. After that, Candidasa for snorkelling and then some island huts on Lembongan Island.

Phew! Hope everyone's well!

Posted by Paul Makepeace at 14:03 | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 21, 2005

...via Singaport airport

Posted in: Pix, Travel

12½hr flight passed painlessly after the previous night's 2hr sleep. OK, not totally painless - this crappy film I actually stopped watching after an hour, something I can't recall ever having done.

Changi airport is definitely the flashest airport I've ever seen, and at S$9/hr internet not a bad deal (£3).

Airport Jazz Bar
Jazz bar

Flash Airport Display
Promo eye candy

There's even a gym here. The airport lounge features a 2mx3m projector screen, the seats all having their own personal speakers. Too bad all that technology was wasted on American mid-league basketball... blank South-asian faces looking nowhere in particular.

Posted by Paul Makepeace at 09:27 | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 20, 2004

Off to Vienna

Posted in: Travel, What am I up to

Plane leaves in a couple of hours. Going to see roboexotica and Karen. Back 28th!

Posted by Paul Makepeace at 10:39 | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 18, 2004

Thursday Booze & Comedy

Posted in: Travel

Transposing a couple of digits for the time of a flight itinerary could spell disaster. For me I read 08:50 as 08:05 which, combined with for once arriving at the airport the requested 2hrs before, had me in LHR a full 2h45 before my flight - the earliest I've ever been for an aeroplane in my life. (My usual technique is using Xtreme Charm on the gate attendants to re-open the plane...)

I'm most impressed with British Airways' dedication to inebriating their passengers. Caught up by the neighboring couple's great suggestion of a gin & tonic I order one too. The steward, a large redfaced Englishman called Gary, suggests "here, take two, it'll save me coming back later." We all consider that a great suggestion too. Not content with issuing a third of a liter of gin he immediately asks, "Would you be needing wine with your meal?" The equivalent of a bottle of wine appears for the three of us, with only small packets of airy snacks to bravely and futilely attempt to soak it all up.

Flight, not surprisingly passed quickly. Lovely. I realize this is so last century but I still marvel at the technological innovations that led up to the possibility of being projected across the Atlantic at 550mph in a large aluminium tube listening to easy music all the while being deliciously sozzled in gin.

Very pleasant afternoon chat with Joe, we met up with Stefan, Marshall, and Sandira at the Comedy Cellar in Greenwich Village and caught no less than three hours of really high quality comedy, with only a two-drink minimum cover ($8). Amazing.

So this woman lived to 115. I mean 95 is seriously old, right? But 115. Jeez, that's like the Grim Reaper lost the paperwork.
Posted by Paul Makepeace at 20:19 | Comments (0) | TrackBack