Extreme Blue Internship, just thinking out loud, New Year Resolutions, Uncategorized 1 comment on Good bye old friend

Good bye old friend

My best friend Matt D. and I have a tradition to which we’ve held since the summer of 2006. Whenever we go out to eat, to complain, to laugh, to cry, we always end up at Outback Steakhouse. There was one down the road from where we stayed during our IBM internship, and from there a tradition was born.

Since that summer the standard plate has been:

  • Outback Special ( size dependant on hunger )
  • Side of mashed potatoes
  • Bloomin’ Onion ( of which 90% is always finished )
  • Salad ( dressing is consumer dependant )
  • Coke to drink ( they never had sweet tea )

We went, and ordered the exact same thing, for the whole of the Summer of 2006. I came back out a few times for interviews or just to visit Matt, and we always went. I moved out to the Bay Area, and at our footsteps were all of the shops and restaurants of downtown Palo Alto and Mountain View, but we never broke. You can take a hick out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of a hick ( or so the saying goes ).

Alas, all good things must come to an end. And so it is for the Outback tradition. Tonight was the end of something truly special to us both. Yeah, it was just a restaurant, and not a great one at that, but we really grew up together in those oversized booths eating greasy fried onion strips, and mixing our mashed potatoes with steak. We escaped into our own world. Jobs, dreams, and heartbreaks were all up for discussion between courses. We genuinely fulfilled the Jimmy V legacy of laughing, crying, and spending time together thinking about how we were going to save the world.

So, what changed? It wasn’t the steak or the Bloomin’ Onion that’s for sure. It was us. In front of us is a brave new world filled with adventures and turns we’ve never imagined. And as we embark into this brave new world we bid our past good bye with the anticipation of building new, better and a bit healthier traditions. But at the same time we do so with a small tear in our eye.

I’m really optimistic about the future, having now looked back on where we came from. To this day, I’ve kept an e-mail I got from Matt in the Fall of 2006 after our paper was presented to a packed audience by our mentor, and friend, Eishay Smith. It’s a one liner:

Subject: Us
Body: Yeah, we kick ass!

And watch out because we’re going to do it again

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Why don’t they just seed the clouds?


Finally, the argument over whether the Chinese seed their rain clouds or not comes to a close. The answer must be no, or they wouldn’t spend $25 Billion or more on such a project. I wonder if de-salination will work. The Middle East is trying it if I’m not mistaken, and now China is as well. Water shortages worldwide are going to affect the next generation in ways we haven’t even started to imagine. Also, is the water that they are diverting destined for India? Are we going to see a water war between these two Asian giants? Questions abound.

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Week 12 – San Jose – The End

So things have come to an end for my stay in California. This was the summer of my life. You can’t dream dreams better than this experience. I can truly say that this was the best decision I could have made. I’m glad that in August I can be proud of the blind leap of faith that I took in March.

Why was this summer a success? First, and foremost, I had a great project and a great team. We had one of the strongest, if not the strongest, MBAs in Ivan who had a tremendous technical background to couple with his business knowledge. In fact, Ivan should get a lot of credit for our success as he helped us solve one of our mission critical problems with Axis early in the summer. Extreme Blue will forever be re-defined by the graphics work of Kelvin Jiang. If you need to understand basic, yet stunning, graphical design, then look no further than the work of Kelvin. He was awarded with special commendation at the end of the week, and he truely deserved it. And last, but definitely not least, we had Matt. Matt pushed us through to the end, and continuously forced us to be excellent through his pessimissim/realism. We were excellent because we had an excellent team. It reminds of a great line from, “Remember the Titans” where one of the players said, “I’m not perfect, [you’re] not perfect, but this team is perfect.” That’s exactly how I felt at the end of last week.

Why else was this summer so successful? I learned a lot. I learned that to reach the top, you have to demand that people keep pushing you. When you get there, don’t forget to turn around and help them up. I learned that alcohol may not be the best beverage when mixed with computer scientists. I learned that distance can create a relationship before it ever has the chance to destroy that relationship. When you learn, you grow. I’ve grown up a lot this summer.

There still has to be more reasons. Well, that’s true. We got to go to LinuxWorld this week, and that was spectacular. We got loads of free stuff. We demonstrated our product. And we created buzz about Eclipse OHF. I’m also on the verge of becoming an Eclipse Committer. Then, I can truly say that I’ve used my talents to create something better for the world. It’s a good beginning to my eventual goal to take over this silly planet.

The icing on the cake was the friendships that I created; friendships that I know will last beyond this summer. My room mate Meshkat is one of the smartest people I know. He’s quietly a genius. We watched the World Cup together and played poker together. We went dancing, yachting, and dining. He always smiled, and made the people around him laugh. He’s a great guy. I’ve already lauded over how great my team mates were, so they don’t get anymore face time. The staff of EB helped change our world. I think I’ve now opened doors that I didn’t know existed. My mentor helped me realize that I need to become my dream so that I can make it come true. And California helped me chill out and enjoy the little things.

Good-bye IBM. Good-bye San Jose. I’m leaving you now, but you’ll always hold a special place in my heart.

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Weeks 9 – 11 – San Jose/NY – Expo Time

We spent an intense amount of time getting ready for the expo where we were to present for IBM executives as well as the other interns in the Extreme Blue program. Important pieces to the expo: (1) presentation, (2) poster, and (3) demo. I think we prioritized things in the wrong order, but we just did what we were told. We had one of the top presentations in Almaden, and we definitely had one of the top 3 presentations at Expo, but I’m jumping ahead. First, let’s start with the trip to NYC.

I played my last indoor game with RSI Random the Friday before we red-eyed to NYC. We won 5-4 and we didn’t take the lead in the game until 12 seconds before the game ended. It was a thrill ride. We were down 4 – 1 with 4 minutes to go. I was dead. A new player named Hugo took over the game and tied it 4 – 4 with a really pretty goal. Then, our goalie passed the ball up the field, it bounced off the top of the wall, stayed in bounds, and Hugo took it one on one to score the game winner. I arrived at the airport smelly, and full of adrenaline.

The flight was pretty quick, and JetBlue provides DirectTV on their flights which was great. Check out Project Runway on Bravo, great show. We arrived at JFK and found our way to the Intercontinental on E. 48th and Lexington. It was a great hotel, great location, in a great city! We walked through Central Park while we were waiting for our rooms to open up and saw 5th Avenue. After taking a quick nap, we headed down to the south of Manhattan. We saw the Financial District, Statue of Liberty, the Wall Street bull. Check out the pictures here.

We stopped by, “The Producers” on Sunday and laughed our behinds off. It’s really a great musical. I definitely thought it was money well spent! Next came the Expo!

We arrived at Expo only to find ourselves in a back room, with a small podium (other groups had tables), and depressed about the situation. We left on top of the world knowing that we had made a name for ourselves. The rest, is IBM confidential.

Another great trip was our sailing trip around San Francisco Bay. It was great to see the bay with friends on the water. A relaxing weekend, and then LinuxWorld. Week 12, here I come.

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Weeks 5 – 8 – The World – Catching up

Wow, it’s been the craziest four weeks of my life. I guess things were once pretty slow because I was able to update every week. Even if I was a little late, there was a weekly update. Now, there’s only chaos. So, let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start (Sound of Music).

After my weekend on the Arkansas River, I had a short week in preparation for my trip to the motherland. It was my first time visiting Turkey since December 2002. A very long time indeed. Being a dual citizen means that I have certain obligations to adhere to in Turkey including military service. To get out of that was quite the process, but all is well now, and I can come and go freely. We visited family friends, my dad’s reunion classes from both high school and college, and family as well. I ate kokorec – don’t ask – as well as lahmahcun, pide, kofte, and drank loads of ayran. It was really great. We got to head down to Antalya and hung out at a holiday resort playing soccer, volleyball, and just having fun. It was a great time. It turns out that of my dad’s group of 6, only 4 are still alive. Could you imagine coming to your 30th high school reunion and having 2 of your 5 best friends already be dead? The Turkish Government has some very dark moments in its history, but the personal connection between what was and what could have been always finds a way to hit people harder. My cousin who is now 11 years old has a brand spankin’ new cell phone. It’s cooler than mine, and more expensive as well. I think there’s something wrong with that equation. Or maybe, I’m just jealous. Watching the World Cup in a country that loves soccer was a great experience. Halls were filled with people watching the games and screaming at every goal or missed opportunity. It keeps alive my streak of being in Turkey for every World Cup that Turkey has not been apart of in my lifetime. Bizarre, I know.

When I came back, I had a quick turnaround and then flew out to the wonderful land of San Diego. I woke up at 4:30am to make the light rail, and then bus connection, to the airport. We boarded our 6:55am flight, lifted off, and then turned around and landed the flight. I was then stuck at the airport until 2pm. Yes, I spent my day in the airport. It wasn’t until 3:45 that I arrived in San Diego, but it turns out the city was worth the wait. I met Mark Newmark, of former Russian residency fame, in the town he calls home. We toured the dock area, ate, and then explored San Diego. Eventually we found our way to his parents house where we had a wonderful dinner. The conversation was the best part. After dinner, we headed to the beaches of La Jolla where a colony of seals has taken over a local beach. It was quite great to see those animals so up close. Of course, it being past their bedtime, we didn’t try to interact with them, but seeing something from that close that should be forbidden is quite great. The next day was spent at the San Diego Zoo, but not before a wonderful breakfast that was the size of a full day’s set of meals. It was absolutely delicious, but too much.

The zoo is quite fantastic. It really is a full day’s worth of stuff to do, but we jumped on a bus and did a quick tour and then followed that by seeing some things that weren’t on the tour. We got to see the famous Pandas and they had quite a line there in front of them. I really had a great time in San Diego, and Mark was even nice enough to let me watch the World Cup final. It’s great to see old friends and realize that simple things like friendship never change.

The following week was a long one at work. Lots to do, and no time to do it. It ended with Giana coming into town on Friday. It was her birthday the week before, so we decided to celebrate in San Francisco. Saturday we walked around downtown all day. It was a lot of fun. We saw Fisherman’s Wharf and walked through Chinatown and North Beach. North Beach, an Italian neighborhood, was celebrating the World Cup championship with t-shirts everywhere proclaiming that the Italians were world champions. We took a boat tour of the bay, and that was wonderful. We didn’t get out to Alcatraz, but that’s okay. From a distance it looked scary enough. That evening we went to a great restaurant named Saha in the Hotel Carlton. It was Yemeni food. I really enjoyed the salad which was a wonderful blend of diced tomatoes, parsely, olives, and onions, and it was just delicious. Afterwards we hit the Velvet Lounge which turned out to be pretty dumpy. We went there to support our friend Vishal, who ended up not showing up. Sunday we toured the Golden Gate Bridge area and saw the Coit Tower. It was a good trip.

This past week was even more killer than the week before. I put in 51 hours of work, and it was just a tough week. A lot of meetings and prep work, but also a lot of coding, which meant long nights. I also had a project due for class this week, and that made things even more difficult. I survived, but it wasn’t easy. On Friday night, we went to a Moroccan restaurant. It was fascinatingly boring, but fun. It was good that we went as a group, but it ended being phenomenally expensive for no good reason. Saturday we went paintballing. I won the first game for my team by taking out three people, and I won the last game by taking out three people. In between, I accumulated at least 9 welts that I can count, and only God knows how close I got to losing the ability to have children. I don’t suggest it for the weak at heart, but it was loads of fun. Afterwards we went to Sushi Boat which is a great restaurant where they have boats of Sushi float by you and you pick what you would like to eat. It was quite delicious. The day ended with a viewing of “The Devil Wears Prada”, which turns out not to be a chick flick, but a pretty good movie. Until next week… adieu

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Week 4 – San Jose – Arkansas River

The week started with our first indoor victory of the season. RSI Random took a close game 6-5 with a goal scored in the last minute by Captain Joe and assisted by myself. It was really an exciting game. I had an absolutely gorgeous goal that I will now share with you. We had a free kick from about 10 yards out on the yellow line. Nikki, our right winger extraordinaire, chipped the ball through the box and right onto the instep of my left foot which knocked in the ball backpost. It was just pretty.

The remainder of the week was dominated by my need to finish my midterm before I left for the Arkansas River in Colorado. I wrote a pretty darn good set of essays in my own personal opinion. I’m really enjoying this philosophy class as it’s very real world and still down to the basics. The basics are key because you can’t build arguments without understanding your foundation. I would definitely suggest this class to anyone who asked.

Friday, I left work early to head to our second game of the week. We had a great first half of smart to lucky soccer. We were down 3-2 at half, but it was the kind of game that anyone could win. The second half started with an ugly goal by the other team from behind the yellow line which counts as 2 points. With the score 5-2, they didn’t look back as they won the game 9-2. It’s my first game without any points, but I did have an own goal. Bad game on my part, and bad game as a team. The other team was definitely a good unit, and we tried to beat them with one or two players. Eventually, we started playing too much defense. Very scared. It wasn’t our best game, and now we go 2 weeks without soccer. Not a good situation.

The one positive of the weekend was going to Colorado. I headed out to meet my buddies Sam and Byron, and I met Neil, Joseph, Darryl, and Thomas along the way. We started at Fisherman’s Wharf and headed down the Arkansas River. It was amazing. I was scared for my life. I wasn’t very comfortable until we hit the jumping rock and I chilled out. The pictures can be found here. We got through Widowmaker on our first day and then camped out. We had shish kabobs for dinner, and slept under the stars. I’ve never seen that many stars in my life. I was absolutely amazing.

The next day we started off and hit three intense rapids right away. The first crazy one… I don’t remember the name. The second one was Sidell’s Suckhole, so named for a poor kayaker who didn’t make it through. It’s a IV-V, and was hitting hard that day. We hit the hole straight on, went vertical, spun around, hit the second wave backwards, went vertical, Byron almost flew out, and then landed. It was AWESOME! We then hit the Twin Falls. A seven foot fall followed by a five foot fall. It was pretty awesome itself. The rest of the day was really non-chalant. But I really enjoyed the weekend. It was absolutely a blast. Big props to my main man Sam with Byron as the sidekick main man.

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Week 3 – San Jose – Yosemite Trip

This was a good week for us at work. We’ve built a prototype which is going to get showed off at the IHE Workshop in Chicago. I guess that means we’re officially a big deal. Our mentor is really excited with the work we’ve done. I think we’ve taken something that could have been good, and set it up to be great. That’s really an exciting feeling. Up next is documentation and architecture. A lot of that is done, but I think it’s going to take us cleaning everything out and starting over to show step-by-step how to setup the various environments. Getting Tomcat, OSGi, Axis, working and talking isn’t exactly easy. Up next is entering the open-source community in such a way that they’re excited about what we’re getting started for them.

Monday night, I had my first soccer game. I’m on a team called RSI Random at the Off the Wall Soccer Center in Santa Clara. It’s 3 light rail and 6 CalTrain stops away from me. Then, it’s a 2.5 mile walk from there. It’s quite a trek, but could you imagine a summer without soccer? It’s just not an option. I have 2 teammates who live near me, and hopefully, I’ll be able to bum rides off of them in exchange for some gas money. It was quite the experience. I’ve never thought of the Soccer Dome in Raleigh to be cutting edge or brand new, but it definitely feels that way compared to this place. The one cool thing was the surface. They’re using the carpet filled with carbon approach that creates a very realistic surface without the knee pains associated with concrete, or the rug burns associated with carpeting. Quite cool, but I might need to find a pair of cleats. On to the game results. We tied 8-8 and I had one goal. I was able to play through the first half, but I died about 5 minutes into the second half, and played goalie the remainder of the time. It was killer. I let in 4 goals, but it could have been a lot worse. I’m a little lucky. That was a good time.

Next came the trip to Yosemite National Park. It was absolutely amazing.

I have plenty of pictures up on my online gallery of images. Here’s the story on Saturday. We arrive in Yosemite Valley at 10am. This happens to be relatively late as far as arrival time goes apparently. We start climbing, and it’s up. With very little relief, we start our journey. The view, amazing. Imagining how crazy it must have been to build the steps that we were climbing, amazing. Looking down the cliff, not amazing. I was very scared. We get to the 4 mile point, and stop to have lunch. About this time it’s 12ish, maybe 1ish. I didn’t have much water, but I didn’t think I needed much. I did have a lot of camera gear. Which happened to be a mistake. I kept going after lunch until the 2 mile marker. I was 2 miles away from Half Dome. I just couldn’t make it. I just wasn’t good enough. Well, more accurately, my legs weren’t enough, my water wasn’t enough, and my load was too much. So I snapped a shot at that point, and turned around.

I thought my adventure was done. I was wrong. We started back to Glacier Point which is where our new car was to be found. It was a 5 mile hike straight up. The elevation at the top was near 7000 feet. I couldn’t breathe. It was the longest day of my life. The memories were great. But 18 miles of walking is killer. Especially when it’s switchback after switchback, rock after boulder, and only hill ahead. Fortunately, I survived, and saw Half Dome in the evening sun. That was a beautiful image. I was too tired to take the shot. It was great.

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Week 2 – San Jose – Let the Fun Begin

There’s something about working on a project that might get out there and change the world that makes the week fly right by. I couldn’t believe how quickly this second week passed. We had a protoype due on Friday, and it wasn’t easy, but the job got done. My only complaint right now is that we’re constantly going into meetings and talks that have very limited point. The staff is great, but the program seems to be holding us back a little bit. We’re the only group that really has started putting something together. Everyone else is in a design phase. I have to agree with my mentor and say that designs made without a hands-on approach to the technology will be quickly modified.

My adventures this week took me all over the Bay area. Wednesday I tried to go play soccer at a local park. By local, I mean 25 stops by light rail and then 3 miles up the road. This area is very spread out. I really hate that. That’s the downfall of Raleigh, and it’s quickly become the downfall of this area. There is public transportation, which we don’t have in Raleigh, but it just isn’t quick. I guess that’s the fallacy of it all. The people who ride the light rail are a story of their own. It’s truely the most eclectic group of people. I met a guy who carries his dog in a baby carriage. The breed was Papillon which is French for Butterfly. It looked like a Collie to me, but I don’t know any better. Then this group of San Jose youth got on the light rail, and started talking about how one of them just got a deal with the DA on some petty crimes that he committed. A couple in ethnic African garb joined us for the last few stops. It was quite the adventure. I didn’t make it in time to play soccer, but the day was well worth the journey. Thursday night saw us walk to a local sports bar that’s about 1.5 miles up the road. Our waitress Barbie hosted us at the Britannia Arms Sports Bar which has existed since at least 1987. The crowd was really good, and we watched the NBA Championships. It was a good night.

The Weekend
Friday was the beginning of the World Cup. On the West Coast the games are at 5:55am, 8:55am, and 11:55am. That’s too early/during the work day. Hence, the gameplan was to not know the scores, and to only discover them after watching the TIVOed versions of the game. As soon as I get to work, I get a broadcast across Sametime that Germany has scored. Before the day ended, I knew all the scores, and all the information about the games. I was so mad. We watched the games after work, and then headed up to San Francisco. Meshkat, my roommate, found an Arab restaurant/club where they had 2 DJs, belly dancers, and lots of fun to be had. It was a great night. The music was awesome. The dancing was exotic. The belly dancer wasn’t bad. Meshkat is a lot of fun to go out with as well. Saturday was a lazy day. I watched a lot of sport. The Argentina/Ivory Coast game, the horse race, the Hurricanes game, it was great. We went to a hookah bar later that night. The music was great, and the guys smoked the same hookah for 2 hours. I’ve never seen a hookah last that long. It was a lot of fun. Sunday turned into a day of recovery. A definite necessity I must say.

Off to bed.

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Week 1 – San Jose – New town, New start

One week has passed since I’ve come to California. The first week was really one long adjustment period. It’s a week worth of learning a new town, getting used to a new time zone, and, ultimately, trying to impress the boss. My manager’s, what IBM calls my mentor, name is Eishay Smith. He’s a really smart guy who has essentially created the project we’re doing in the field. Our challenge now is to get the basics of the technology working and in place after which we’ll change the world. It’s the beginning of something that’s going to be great.

In town we’ve gone out once. We went to a bar called Tres Gringoes, which happened to be a terrible idea. It was 95% guy with a small percentage of attractive girls amongst the 5% that were there. My roommate did however find himself a local. I don’t think it really worked out, but he tried. Saturday night I went to go see the Break Up which wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good. It exists somewhere in the contiuum between the two. Total craziness.

Also, how about them Hurricanes? Down 3-0, they come back to win the game 5-4. I just hope people don’t try to marginalize the win based on the goalie situation. 4 goals were scored on their starting goalkeeper. Also, my boss at the Cary News, Grant Halverson, got the front image on ESPN.com, which totally rocks socks.

Anyway, so far so good. Off to bed.