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Say Hello to Analog

18 December 2009 » In Analog, Me, PHP, Work » 8 Comments

Wow.

That pretty much sums up my feelings about the response to the announcement of Analog, a web design and development co-operative that I started with a few of my friends. I am stunned and humbled by the many kind words of congratulations, praise, and encouragement that we received about our launch via Twitter, Facebook, and personal communication. Thank you. Many have been wondering what I’ve been up to since leaving Digg in early September, and organizing and setting up Analog has been a big part of it.

The first time I discussed the idea for such a company was when Chris Shiflett and I went to Iceland in June. During that time of renewal, reset, and inspiration, we talked about our desire to work on interesting projects with a great team of peers. People like Jon and Jon, who Chris had worked with on a few occasions. From the start, we wanted to be a bona fide co-operative: an organization owned and operated by a group of individuals for their mutual benefit and adhering to the principles of equality and equitability.

Co-operatives, especially tech ones, aren’t very common — though they are much more prevalent across the pond in the UK — so it took us a while to work out the legal and tax issues of having an equitable company comprised of people from multiple countries. This time was also spent refining our brand identity and brand promise, both of which we believe strongly in. We also needed a short statement to explain who we are and what we do, and in the end it became this (the last part of which harkens back to our original motivation):

Analog is a company of friends who make web sites. It’s a co-operative where imagination, design, and engineering thrive; good people doing good work.

The part about “making web sites” may sound simplistic, but we believe in taking back simple, honest phrases like web site and web developer. They are precise and descriptive despite having been shunned or dismissed by people in favor of things like web application, front-end/back-end engineer, and other seemingly sexier nomenclature meant to sound more important. It’s time to call things what they are. Say it with me, “I am proud to be a web developer.”

Analog origins

Of course, the most difficult thing to decide on was the name. We had a lot more latitude within the .coop top-level domain (TLD), but even then, we must have gone through a hundred or more names looking for one that would somehow reflect our philosophy while being memorable. The flash of inspiration struck while imbibing the potent Bee Sting cider at the inimitable Duke of York in Bristol. The name had an instant appeal, and I imagine we all thought, “Yes, Analog is it.” Jon Tan even left a mark on the table, since he couldn’t wait to see what Analog would look like in type.

Analog appealed to us because of its association with handmade things, craftsmanship, and a “warmer” feeling in general. Somehow it felt good to think that we were going to do digital things the analog way, where a personal touch of each of us would be evident in our work and communication.

The team at Analog is one of the best that I’ve had the honor to be a part of. Alan Colville is an accomplished UX designer and customer experience and usability researcher. He has helped a number of clients in the past, including Vodafone, Virgin Media, BlackBerry, and Visa. Chris Shiflett has extensive background in web development, specializing in web security, and has worked on projects for Ning, National Geographic, Digg, and many other clients during his time as principal of Brain Bulb and OmniTI. Jon Gibbins is an ace developer and web accessibility expert who most recently lent his skills to OmniTI as well. And Jon Tan is simply the best designer and typography maven that I have a pleasure to know, with an extensive body of published work. Between us, we have many years of experience and a bountiful font of creative knowledge.

The type of work that we want to do is twofold. Firstly, we want to take on client projects that are built on an inventive concept, where we have as much creative freedom as possible. By this I mean that, as a group, we want to be part of the initial discussions and brainstorming, so that we can inject our own ideas into the process. We want the projects to utilize both our design and development expertise, involving aspects of the programmable web in a way that supports and enriches the original concept. Secondly, we want to incubate some of the ideas we’ve been knocking around into products that can be spun-off later, if necessary. We’re especially interested in possibilities presented by geo-location, geo-tagging, and other geo-things. We also want to share what we learn and produce as a team. The first thing we’re releasing is the JS grid overlay used on the Analog site; look for it shortly.

We’re on Twitter as @analogcoop. Get in touch if you have a cool project in mind and want to work with us to make it a reality, or use our nifty contact form at analog.coop.

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Goodbye, Digg

10 August 2009 » In Me, PHP, Work » 26 Comments

I will be leaving Digg at the end of this month.

Reset point

The launching point for this decision was my visit in June to Iceland, where I had many opportunities in sublime surrounds to reflect on my life and aspirations. Standing on top of the world  at Sjónarsker, I realized that though my career has spanned some great companies, the next step in my professional life would have to involve building something of my own. Later on, watching a never-ending sunset from the hill at Stykkishólmur, I understood that this something has to happen sooner than later, and serendipitously, an opportunity to do just that has arisen recently. My friend Chris Shiflett, who visited Iceland with me, has similar aspirations and likes to say “good work, good people”, and that is definitely what I intend to do.

Thank you, Joe Stump, for recruiting me. My 8 months at Digg flew by quickly, but the friendships I made there will last for a lifetime, I hope. I have been privileged to work with and next to some of  the best and brightest people that I have met in my life. There is a great road ahead for Diggers as the company advances to stay on the cutting edge of the social news industry. I am sad to be leaving when some very cool developments are afoot, but excited for my own road ahead. By the way, Wine Wednesdays were the best.

I am planning to do a bit of traveling at the end of August and then start September afresh. There is plenty to be done to bring these ideas to life and I cannot wait to share the news when the time is right. Oh, and I’m still going to be involved in PHP, perhaps even more than usual.

Reset. Restart. Renew.

And, seriously, visit Iceland if you have a chance. It is another world.

New memcached extension

29 January 2009 » In PHP, Work » 51 Comments

The first project that I’ve been working on since joining Digg has seen the light of day. It’s a new PHP extension for interfacing with memcache servers and it is based on the libmemcached library, which is becoming the standard client library for this task. It’s used by Python, Ruby, Perl, and now – PHP. The extension is available from PECL [1]. There is another memcache PECL extension, but this one offloads the intricacies of communicating with memcache onto libmemcached and instead concentrates on exposing a sensible API and some cool features like asynchronous requests and read-through caching callbacks.

I’m excited about this release and looking forward to putting out more stuff soon.

Now, to write the documentation..

1. http://pecl.php.net/package/memcached

Punny at Work

09 January 2009 » In Funny, Work » 2 Comments

At Digg pretty much the whole company hangs out on an internal IRC channel. Funny stuff comes up all the time. Here’s the latest sampling:

<ieure> [link to a story]
<andrei> ieure: couldn’t they keep an eye on him?
<ieure> Didn’t see that coming.
<ieure> Blindsided, as it were.
<ieure> Okay, these puns are getting way too cornea.
<sfrench> no way, eye am perfectly fine with it
<andrei> i ris my case.

I’ve been Dugg

04 December 2008 » In Me, PHP, Work » 51 Comments

All things come to an end, and so does my free, unemployed, wake-up-at-11-if-you-wish bum time. I’m happy to say that come Monday morning I’ll be starting at Digg as their Open Source Fellow. This is an exciting opportunity which will let me dedicate more time to PHP and other open source software, not to mention helping shore up my dwindling savings account.

Digg has a heavy investment in the open source stack and a bunch of really smart people working on it. I’m looking forward to joining the team and sinking my teeth into some very interesting problems. Plus, a major portion of my time will be spent working on PHP itself – yes, that does mean PHP 6 will be a reality that much sooner.

And now I should go take a bike ride and enjoy my remaining leisure time…

UPDATE: This post now really has been Dugg. Oh, the irony of recursion..

Farewell, Outspark

01 November 2008 » In Me, Work » 2 Comments

All good things come to an end, and thus, November 5 will be my last day at Outspark. It’s been a wild, yet fulfilling ride over the last 17 months. When I was leaving Yahoo, I wanted a challenge and to be closer to the front lines of the business, and my wish definitely came true. Yes, there have been emergencies, frustrations, downtime, and a few crazily surreal moments in the true start-up fashion. But I’m very proud of what I helped build – a virtual playground for online gamers, a destination, a community, and the company that is the leader in its field. I met a lot of great people there and made good friends and I will definitely stay in touch with all of them. Outspark has a bright and interesting future.

As for me personally, it was simply time to move on. I wanted to take some time off to chill, travel, invest some effort into personal development, and reassess my future plans. My last day almost coincides with my birthday, and it feels like a good date to start this new chapter in my life.

P.S. As you noticed, the look and structure of this site has changed. If you can’t find some page you were looking for, please let me know.

Goodbye Yahoo!, Hello Outspark

13 May 2007 » In Work » 8 Comments

This past Friday was my last day at Yahoo!.

I went digging through the archives for a post from the previous time I switched jobs, and the only one I could find was written after I already started at Yahoo!. Nothing from before even hinting that I was job hunting. Perhaps secrecy is a necessary part of this process. At least this time I did drop some clues that I was leaving soon.

In any case, my time at Yahoo! has ended, and suffice it to say that it was a great time. I’ve made a lot of friends, did good work, grown professionally and as a person, and was able to contribute to reaching out to millions of people who use the Yahoo! services. So where am I going next?

I have joined a small start-up in San Francisco called Outspark. Outspark publishes casual online MMORPG games based on a common technology platform. The first game will be hitting closed beta soon, so you should go sign up for it.

Why did I decide to make the switch? Life at Yahoo! was definitely good, but without going into too much detail, I simply wanted to find new, interesting, and challenging work in a somewhat different domain from what I’ve been doing, and I wanted to live in San Francisco. Besides, I know a few people in the company already, some of which are my good friends, so it’s bound to be a great environment.

My joining Outspark does not mean that I will stop work on PHP 6 or related projects. It does mean, however, that I will not necessarily be paid to spend substantial amount of time on it. But then again, I wasn’t being paid to work on it before joining at Yahoo!.

I’ll be moving to San Francisco sometime in July, fully planning to enjoy the entirety of that fantastic city.

And so, it begins.

A Swede by Any Other Name

02 May 2007 » In Funny, Work » 4 Comments

The new guy in our group at work has been here less than a couple of months. Today he came up to my manager and the following conversation ensued:

New guy: Did L*** quit?? [L*** is a another co-worker]
Manager: No, why?
New guy: His cube is empty.
Manager: Oh, he works remotely from Colorado most of the time.
New guy: Huh.. The map on the sheet posted outside the aisle says someone else is in his cube… Crazy Swede?

Damn, I’m going to miss this place..

Two openings at Yahoo!

11 April 2007 » In Work » 4 Comments

Yahoo! Engineering has two immediate openings in its Sunnyvale, CA office.

First opening:

Senior Front-End Developer: Next Generation Traffic-Management Platform

Yahoo! Engineering is seeking a Senior Frontend Developer to join the High Availability / Business Continuity Planning team. In this position, you will be responsible for designing, developing, releasing, and maintaining a new traffic management portal that seamlessly integrates with our next generation, high availability traffic-management technologies. Your application will be used by all Yahoo! operations and engineering to directly monitor, control, and view the traffic flow of Yahoo!’s diverse user base and the utilization of our worldwide operational footprint. The Senior Frontend Developer will be highly self-motivated, innovative, and well versed in new technologies. This position requires a detail-oriented, product-focused professional experienced with building high performance realtime systems in a high-paced, high-volume environment.

Minimum Job Qualifications

Minimum 5-10 years of industry experience producing production-ready, robust, scalable web applications in a Unix environment
BA/BS, preferably in Computer Science or related technical discipline
Expert level HTML, CSS, Javascript
Expert level PHP
Advanced experience with AJAX concepts (XmlHTTPRequest, iframes, JSON, etc)
Advanced experience with Apache web servers
Strong MySQL and/or Oracle skills
In-depth understanding of usability concepts
Proven UI design experience
Solid understanding of performance optimization techniques, object-oriented programming, and standard protocols (HTTP, etc)
Experience in high-volume, critical production service environment
Excellent written and spoken communication skills

Preferable Job Qualifications

Demonstrated history of success on large scale, high availability web projects
Strong C/C++, Perl experience
Strong shell scripting skills

Second opening:

Senior Software Developer: Next Generation Traffic-Management Platform

Yahoo! Engineering is seeking a Senior Software Developer to join the High Availability Engineering team. In this position, you will be responsible for developing next generation, high availability traffic-handling platforms for use by the global Yahoo! product line. As the Senior Software Developer, you will use your experience in all stages of the software life cycle to build robust, scalable systems to improve the customer experience for Yahoo!’s diverse user base. This position requires a detail-oriented, product-focused professional experienced with building high performance realtime systems in a high-paced, high-volume environment.

Minimum Job Qualifications

– Minimum 7-10 years of industry experience programming in a Unix environment
– BA/BS in Computer Science or a related technical discipline from an accredited institution
– Experience in high-volume, critical production service environment
– Expert level C/C++
– Strong skills and experience with network programming and protocols (TCP/IP and UDP)
– Advanced MySQL and/or Oracle experience
– Advanced knowledge and experience with Apache, PHP, and Perl
– Thorough understanding of DNS
– Experience developing and deploying DNS-related technologies
– Experience with BGP
– Senior level Unix systems experience

If any of this sound like your cup of tea and if you want to live in sunny California and work in one of the best companies in the tech arena, send your resume to andrei [at] gravitonic [dot] com and I’ll send it directly to the hiring manager with my recommendation.

Recruit This!

09 October 2006 » In Rants, Work » 2 Comments

By virtue of living in Silicon Valley and working at Yahoo!, I frequently get phone calls or emails from recruiters. Their general expertise and cluefulness range is pretty wide: some are knowledgeable and do their research on my background before contacting me, while others expect that Hey, I have a C#/.NET as well as Java positions in New York City, please get back to me as soon as possible will garner some sort of response. And of course there’s the middle ground. But by and large, the scale is definitely skewed towards the not so good side. I received another “hot” email today:

Hi Andrei,

I am a recruiter in software industry and I work with few exciting
start-ups and other big companies in silicon Valley. I got your resume from internet and would like to discuss about some opportunities in Silicon Valley. Please let me know what would be the best time and phone number to reach you.

Where to start… First of all, I understand that English might not be this gentleman’s second language. Still, when you contact people on behalf of your clients, you do want to project a professional attitude, and that involves correct grammar and spelling. But even disregarding that, the email is very, very vague. So I applied my patented DeRecruitoMizer™ algorithm to it:

Original: Hi, Andrei
Decoded: My mail merge software tries to be personable. Nifty!

Original: I work with few exciting start-ups
Decoded: I don’t really care that omitting an article conveys a completely ridiculous impression upon the person I am contacting.

Original: I got your resume from internet
Decoded: I, for one, welcome our Google overlords whose mind-bending search technology put your resume in the top 20 results when I typed in “C#”, even though it is mentioned only once in the text under “secondary experience”.

Original: let me know what would be the best time and phone number to reach you
Decoded: Come on, call me. I know you are desperate for a sucky job in New York City, since you have your resume on the intraweb. You are desperate, aren’t you? Aren’t you? Why won’t you talk to me? Whyyyyyy? <sobbing>

I think that, given the top tech news of the day (hint: the combined service name might be GooTube), I think my response was quite appropriate:

Hi,

Can you still get me into YouTube?

-Andrei

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