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 It also was a bit of a wake up call when questions that I used to think were good barometers proved to be outdated.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.

4 Responses to “Working for the Man”

  1. Lex Says:

    Any timeframe for when you may update for iOS 5 with iCloud support and iPad interface? Much appreciated

  2. Caleb Says:

    I don’t have a firm timeline yet. I am working on it, but this release will require a lot more testing before it’s ready since so many things will be changing dramatically. I think pessimistically look for it before the end of the year, but hopefully it will be ready in a few weeks, and hopefully Apple review will only take a few days to a week after that.

  3. Lex Says:

    Sounds like a plan to me! I currently use the Favorites feature in a very simple way — I simply delete all entries that I have looked up in the past that I don’t think I need to remember, and review the rest on a regular basis.

    Will this be lost in 3.0? I don’t want to lose the data I have accumulated. Should I back it up in some way?

  4. Caleb Says:

    The updated app will migrate the data from the old database to the new datastore. This is an area that will receive heavy testing.