by Caleb Jaffa

Working for the Man

It’s past time for an update. Before things got completely hectic I wanted to post here, but at the same time wanted to wait until things started and settled a little.

I didn’t expect a fast response to my job inquiries since they were made in the middle of the Swedish summer. When winter is as long and dark as it is in Sweden, you really need that long summer vacation to recharge for the coming year. Still even during summer companies are hungry to fill positions. I quickly had two interviews lined up for the next Monday in Stockholm. I had some other potentials, but I decided to take these two most promising leads first and then, as needed, follow up on other opportunities.

My first interview went as well as an interview can go, exciting opportunity that matched my skills, experience and interests and a good feeling about work conditions and expectations. It also ended in a verbal offer being extended which is always nice to leave with.

The second interview was rocky. The position wasn’t really what I ideally wanted to do, but the opportunity was too intriguing to not at least take a closer look. There wasn’t anything surprising about the interview, but I was maybe a little rusty and it was my first textbook programmer position interview. While I’m still completely aware of Big O, it’s been so long since I’ve had to explain or define it that I stumbled, and I was afraid that the question wasn’t so simple so I spent a bit of time nervously parsing the questions. Perhaps the most annoying part was that the position described to me seemed to only require the small bits of computer science of using the right tool for the job, array vs. hash, etc. It also was a bit of a wake up call when questions that I used to think were good barometers proved to be outdated. I don’t really read any programming blogs anymore. I still have 100+ blogs I’m subscribed to, but posts are infrequent, if at all. In the age of Twitter and link aggregation sites like Hacker News or Reddit /r/programming it’s easier to let good things bubble up rather than necessarily worrying about my news reader.

Both companies have a good business model that I feel adds value. Indeed it was really interesting in the case of the second company. However after the interview I just wasn’t sure that I was a good fit, the CTO was interested in the esoteric parts of computer science, which also created this dissonance in that I felt the company’s business model and value didn’t rely much on technology to solve the problem, once it was scaled properly the real value was analytics and statistics. That made it even more interesting to me since I feel pure computer science doesn’t mean much, you need to apply it somehow to really make the magic happen.

It is a big change to re-enter the world of the employed. Especially since this is the first Swedish company I am working for, and being based in Stockholm I’m now weekly commuting until my wife and I figure out longer-term plans, besides Stockholm’s housing market is not easily entered overnight. Indeed I spent my first month of work sleeping at a hotel and with family in the area. Now I have a room in a friend’s house that can serve as long as I need it.

My consulting has essentially been shut down. I have some existing clients I want to take care, but I’m shying away from bigger projects for my own benefit, that of my employer’s and the client’s. Lexikon is still a side project for me, and things will probably only get better as I’m now out interacting in Swedish more, I’m working full-time on iOS stuff, and work and home are segregated cleanly. I don’t want to make too many promises, but Lexikon 3.0 will be a universal app, and contain lots of goodies for those who upgrade to iOS 5.

Job Hunt

I am job hunting. I moved to Sweden over four years ago and have been freelancing since then. There are advantages to freelancing, but I’ve been feeling that re-entering the corporate world is the best move for my career right now. Working with other talented individuals that I can learn from, and teach, in the pursuit of creating something better than we could alone.

Due to the unfortunate recent passing of a friend that I often collaborated with, right now has become the perfect time to make the switch while I have a clean break. Lexikon development will continue as it’s a good side project that I find useful in my continued pursuit of learning the Swedish language. In fact it may become a bigger priority as getting out of the house more might help motivate my studies.

I’m giving the Stack Overflow Career’s website a trial with this and my profile can be found at: I am currently in Falun and looking at perhaps not relocating right away, but willing to be in Stockholm often (multiple days a week). I’m willing to relocate to for the right opportunity though.

Lexikon 2.5.6 and 3.0

There is a very rare bug that sometimes corrupts the cache of words that Lexikon uses. This makes saving new words not function. I’m still not exactly sure how the database is corrupted as everything happens on the main thread of the program, but for less than 1 out of every 1000 users it does. Thanks to the help of the latest victim and some luck with Google I think I have a method to handle a corrupted database, extract the data without crashing the program and create a new database that will save new words. I’m doing some final testing on this and will submit the update early this week to Apple.

I have also been working on my plans for a 3.0 version of Lexikon. I had hoped to get to this sooner, but Lexikon is more of a hobby project than a work project. It isn’t a financial failure, but it’s not exactly a success considering how much time I put into it, and the number of people who are interested in the app.

After Apple’s unveiling of iOS 5 at WWDC 2011 last Monday, I have decided that Lexikon 3.0 will require iOS 5. That means it won’t come out at least until iOS 5 is released. It will be a free update for previous users. It will be a universal app and use iCloud to sync the word cache between multiple devices. I am also going to be adding favorite words and a history list of the last looked up words. My aim is that between those two tools it may help you focus on words that you might be trying to learn now.

I’m also open to other suggestions, so please get in contact via email or on this site with your suggestions. I can’t promise that I’ll have the time or that I’ll feel that the idea ultimately fits in with the goal of Lexikon, but I would like to at least explore if you have a good idea that might make Lexikon better.

Lexikon 2.5.5 Submitted

Lexikon 2.5.5 has been submitted for review. It uses the Folkets Lexikon for English since Lexin no longer has English support. The entries aren’t as good, but there are 50% more words. Also this version has some big improvements with the web service consumption I’d been working on for awhile, from now on any changes to the web services can be adapted to right away and without an update being reviewed by Apple. Version 3.0 is unfortunately still a ways out, with iPad interface, syncing of words between devices and other features. You can check back here or follow lexikonapp on Twitter for updates.

Update: Lexikon 2.5.5 was approved and is available via the App Store.