Monthly Archives: August 2017

A visit to the Googleplex

After doing a thing with Google for the summer with a team of college, 150 or so of us were given an all-paid-for trip to the Google main headquarters in Mountain View, CA, for having completed the primary goals of the coding project.

It is certain that there are a very few number of individuals that get this opportunity. If you were just a kid, you’d be jumping up and down, but we are mature individuals (and broke college students) and know better than to get our hopes too high.

Because we were not informed at all that we were forbidden from disclosing any part of the trip, I can make full disclosure – well, at least the most interesting parts.

We – a group of three – were driven by a rather unprofessional Uber driver, who talked to us about his skepticism of the prevalence of all of these big tech companies all clustered in the one Silicon Valley, in a somewhat slurred speech (as if he just finished smoking weed on the way to pick us up from the airport). I mentioned to him rather cautiously that I had read that people working here were having a hard time even paying their house mortgages – he affirmed it completely, noting that even a small studio starts at $100k easily, and that there is no way to sustain oneself without sharing a room. I told him rather plainly that we were going to Google, perhaps a little too cheerfully. Promptly, he scoffed a little, warning us “not to get sucked into the black hole that is Google… [because] Google is not just a culture; it is your life.” I took his advice, as that of a local resident, with a significant amount of value.

On the afternoon of arrival, we are bused to the main headquarters of Google. (The driver is extremely aggressive to maintain a lead with the other buses ahead.) This visit is only possible, evidently, because it is a Sunday, and the campus is devoid of people. We take a very limited tour of the campus, and most of the time spent is actually on a small little park where all of the Android mascots have been placed. I conclude that there are probably not many interesting things around the campus, as it is very large (~20,000) campus where a vast multitude of regular office buildings have been helplessly consumed by this beast. I get to see the Google main main building, as in the one whose big logo is on Getty Images and gets used every time the press talks about some Google corporate action.

It’s no question why filmmakers decided to establish their businesses in Hollywood: perhaps it appeared to someone how picturesque California was, with its hundred-year-old tall mature pine trees, and decided to film here. It then appeared to me that filmmaking started with nature, not action movies.

During this afternoon visit, we are not really taken inside very much – in fact, we only go indoors to this one presentation lounge for a few minutes, and then sent back outside. There is probably too much at risk if they allow us anywhere beyond presentation rooms – after all, these are facilities for use by employees. There is a pronounced security presence, but it is not as prevalent as I thought it would be (no backpacks checked, no active checking of individuals, just standing around the perimeter ensuring that nobody strays away or someone sneaks in). There’s a great deal of games, and we get to meet some of the team that worked on the summer program activities. I suppose this meeting is more about socialization, which I am actually terrible at. I do my regular antisocial routine, where I walk around looking at people and waiting for someone to interact with me. If I’m asked to take a picture with someone involving some kind of Google-related prop, I just apologize to them, saying that I’m not a slave to social media.

The next day, we spend it all in a presentation room and courtyard area, in some other part of the Googleplex probably a mile or so away from the main headquarters. Clearly, it is because it is a Monday, and there is nowhere else we can go as a large group, since all spaces are being occupied by employees. We spend the day with more games and talks about diversity in the field, core Google products, 20% time, the 10x principle (which I still don’t really understand very well), a Q&A session with a panel of former members of the summer program (“does it matter what programming language you use for your code interview?” no, of course not, why would it? you should care more about the job rather than the interview) and a barbecue.

All in all, it was not very interesting. I thought we would pull out the laptops for something, but this never happened. Just one day full of talks about things, and a lot of food. Not like I haven’t endured “death by recruitment” before. (Company that starts with an “A” and ends with “T&T”, except their presentations were even more boring.)

I came here thinking to myself that there would be recruiters watching my every action, but there weren’t. The project advisers, of course, were present to talk and eat with us and things like that, but there was no one to immediately approach us for a job interview or anything like that, because that was not the purpose of the trip. They just wanted to show us the campus, and they spared no expense to provide us with this opportunity. It only proves that they can shell out any sort of money, including $100,000 for a day’s worth of flights from all across the US, and still yield a return on their investment.

One of the last things I heard before I left was that Google was receiving around 300 new employees (Nooglers) daily, yet the turnover was quite high, because it was growing at an exponential rate, and it was being limited solely by real estate (it chews up entire businesses to subsist!). Google is already around 80,000 strong (actual figures from a real employee) and will continue its growth in the coming future. And immediately, I thought of the Roman Empire. This growth is unsustainable; it will inevitably split up and break from the power struggle; people think it will last forever, but it will not. There will be more intelligent, less centralized ways in the future to find information, because Google currently¬†owns a crucial part of the gateway to information: the search engine, your email, half the world’s videos – and what next?

Perhaps I would pursue Google for an internship, but certainly not for a full-time job. Working for Google will hinder me from accomplishing my life’s work due to non-compete and special clauses in their mischievous contracts. Moreover, if Larry Page and Sergey were able to do make a succeeding business, knowing absolutely nothing about what they were doing exactly, what stops me from pursuing that same spirit and passion of working in a garage as my office? Heck, it’s hardly even an entrepreneurial spirit – I’m not campaigning daily to get money that isn’t mine – it’s just plain old curiosity and the wish to bring that idea further.

They all started off as kids who didn’t know what they were getting into, and no one understood them, and they didn’t understand much about business and public relations. The naivete simply brought them forward as a stroke of luck. Is that it, really? A stroke of luck?

No. I’m not lured by all of these “perks,” the materialistic values that are merely used as tools to entice people into joining this empire. Look, they have already been causing localized inflation; why would I want to bring that same inflation over to wherever I live?

Just another reminder of the lost, contrived, and discordant world we live in.

A new chapter

It is August 11, 2017. Two weeks before my first year of college. Time has passed, and everything will change now.

The days of being a slave to school are over. I do not want to live that life anymore. I have probably decreased my longevity by 10 years from the pressure of the past four. I want to actually develop a social life – meet people, learn how to do things – not just sit in my dorm, on my computer coding at every opportune moment I have. (Yes, I do want to bring my desktop, but for different reasons: I need a computer beefy enough to compile big libraries, and a laptop won’t cut it. I could try building a mini PC, but I doubt it will last me very long.)

I was awoken by my cat at 7 am, and then at 8 am. I looked outside: 7 am, and the sun had not even risen yet. Summer is over. The days of long sunlight, the days of adventuring in Japan, the days of fireworks at my uncle’s house, the days of total freedom and not knowing what to do with it, are all over once again.

This time, however, it is different. I will not be returning to high school anymore; I am finally moving up and forward, the progress I have been waiting months to achieve. It seems childish now to have a teacher paid to supervise you doing classwork, but I realize that many people remain trapped in their delusions of American sloth and thus fail to attempt to do their best. Then, in community college, there is no one around to tell them of the brutal mistake they have committed.


I have also found a friend who is interested in making an RC plane for FPV. Like me, he is avidly ambitious. However, due to the increase in popularity of “drones,” there are more prominent resources now on how to do FPV legally.

What has also arisen is the need (or lack thereof) for an AMA membership – I have read that the AMA these days are nothing more than lobbyists who use the $85-a-year membership required to be in any AMA-sanctioned flying club for just that, lobbying and advocacy of model aircraft in Congress. I don’t trust their insurance, because insurance companies these days are money-grabbers who will take every pain to keep their money, knowing that you put in so much more money for insurance per month than you could possibly lose from damages in a year. The AMA also fails to explain that, per 14 CFR 101.41(b) (“the aircraft is operated in accordance with a community-based set of safety guidelines and within the programming of a nationwide community-based organization”) does not mean you must be a member of the AMA to follow their rules.

Moreover, you need a Part 107 license for sUAS to fly beyond visual line-of-sight (required for FPV), and a technician’s ham radio license to operate the high-power transmitters needed for the video link, even if you are using ISM bands (2.4 GHz, 5.8 GHz, etc.). Thankfully, the technician’s license is actually the easiest to obtain and doesn’t require learning Morse code. In essence, it allows one to operate radio equipment that is not certified by the FCC, and in special bands provided that one’s callsign is given and you notify the FCC what band you are going to operate in, for what reason, and for what period of time the use will take place.

After about 30 minutes more of reading, however, it seems that if you follow Section 336, which includes the clause stated above, instead of being bound under FAA law, you are bound under any community’s guidelines you choose (but you can’t mix and match – you have to choose one), without necessarily needing to subscribe to their membership. However, this means that their guidelines suddenly can become interpreted as law under the scrutiny of a judge. However, if you do Section 336, it seems you can bypass strict sUAS rules in favor of “community guidelines” that might be more lenient than what the FAA states. Either way, it is no doubt why commercial enterprises have gotten impetuous with the FAA: even for commercial quadcopter flights for freight, the FAA maintains its decades-old stance of not wanting to put any trust at all on electronics, especially as a primary means of controlling an aircraft. Military? Go right ahead, control your plane from half the globe away, guns hot. Civilians? You must fly within no more than 400 feet above the ground, and the aircraft must be spottable with nothing but your eyeballs.

But what is the point of comprehending the convoluted manner in which the FAA defines and interprets its own rules? If an accident happens, you get fined, go to court with the FAA, and your case just sits in a corner for ten years. So just go to some open field and fly – oh wait, you can’t do that because you don’t have an open field! – so you have to go to a club with a little tiny fly box, again sanctioned and forced membership by the AMA.

Maybe the AMA is the right way to go about this. But how do I know the club members aren’t some old-timeys who just take their big gas plane and fly it around for a while because they have nothing else to do, and then tell me that the best way to fly a plane is to not fly it at all and watch someone else fly it instead? That would be a tremendous waste of money on my part. On top of that, I need money for a bicycle, so that I’m fairly mobile when I’m in college.

I don’t know. There’s going to be a lot of pressure on me from all sides when I go to college.

Japan: the hyperfunctional society: part 1

This is intended to be a complete account of my events in an eight-day trip to Japan, which had been planned for about two years by my native-speaking Japanese teacher, was organized by an educational travel agency, and included 26 other Japanese students with varying levels of knowledge.

Names have been truncated or removed for the sake of privacy.

After many intermittent lapses in editing, I decided to just split it into two as it was getting increasingly difficult to get myself to finish the narrative, but at the same time did not want to hold back the finished parts. I am not intending to publish this for money or anything like that; please excuse my limited vocabulary and prose during some dull parts. (more…)

Game development, and other depressing thoughts

I’m heating up from the lack of a working air conditioner in the rooms. There are two other working air conditioning units in this very large house, but what’s the point if they are in totally different areas. At least the temperatures are somewhat tolerable to an extent. Now the cat is complaining and suffering from the garage, yearning to come back inside, but no one else gives a crap until I let her back in and everyone else starts complaining about my decision to try treating a cat humanely, instead of indiscriminately putting a cat in the garage for twelve hours and then just forgetting about the cat. After all, cats can just groom themselves. You just put in water and food and they take care of themselves like plants. After I leave for college, my parents don’t give a crap about what happens with the cat. They are totally fine with leaving her alone all day, every day, except for maybe two to four hours a day. That is cruel and neglectful treatment of a cat, and I have suggested numerous times for them to find a family that could make better use of the cat. But they say no, she is already very old, she doesn’t want a lot of fun, she will sleep all day either way, and there’s really “no one” we can give the cat to. I look forward to getting away from home for once. Home is boring.

But today, I look at this question from Stack Exchange’s Game Development site (regarding licensing for someone’s Pokemon fan game), and I wonder what the point of toiling to make games is. I wonder what the point of the game dev site is, even. No one’s game will ever be good. No good, successful game developer ever used GameDev for anything useful, because they were so skilled at making games that all of the knowledge they needed was already bottled in their brains. No, of course not, your triple-A Japanese game developers don’t know English, why would they read GameDev? That’s right, because they are too busy being professionals and making video games professionally. Around half of all of the posts in GameDev have the tone of, “if you think your game will succeed, it won’t, and it will never be good or see the light of day, or even make a profit.” That’s right. Stop wasting your life making useless, dumb games, because your mind isn’t good enough to bring your “game ideas” to fruition. Your ideas suck, and if they just so happen to be good, will never be accepted by the rest of society unless you have the money to implement it.

Go back to consuming, plebeian.

That’s right, you don’t know how to make anything! You’re not creative. Every idea you have is based off the work someone else did. The real geniuses here are the likes of Hideo Kojima, who made such wonderful masterpieces that you will never equal or exceed in quality. In fact, you’re never going to become an aspiring game developer. Ever. And if you think you are, then you should stop being delusional and start looking for a job in web development. It’s a quick buck, can’t argue with that. Maybe IT if you don’t like that. Technical school for two years, and you’re set.

I took another dumb online depression test. I scored what is basically a high likelihood of severe depression. I hate being manipulated and used by my family, I hate being put aside in family matters as some clueless kid who is too clueless to at least be acquainted with family matters, I hate being scolded and looked in the face by my parents when I do something wrong, instead of being told how to make it right, and I hate sitting on my computer listening to my brother complain about how I “don’t want to play anything with him that isn’t on the computer.” I just cannot tolerate this suffering anymore.

I am so close to being able to receive legitimate medical assistance about how to unwind and untangle myself from the set of problems that gimped me from reaching self-fulfillment. My parents don’t believe it’s anything medical, no not any sort of chemical imbalance or conditioned tendencies. They think that it’s just me, that the problems are all coming from me, that none of them actually exist and I just make them up and I really just need a “spiritual director.” As I said before, spiritual directors are best for counseling, while psychologists are for actual medical diagnosis and treatment. I need a psychologist, not a spiritual director. My 80,000-word-long writings should be fair evidence that there are more problems at hand beside mere dissatisfaction and intermittent unhappiness. I have been conditioned by school so much that I am more proud of my work than myself.

The second hackathon

Actually, there is no second hackathon, because my friend forgot it was today, so I have no team to go with, and thus pointless to go to a hackathon with no team. Last time, I solo queued (i.e. went without a team) and the resulting team was absolutely terrible and useless. None of them had any idea of what I was doing. They probably just had some little Python experience and wanted to make a little tiny “choose-your-own-adventure” (okay, why do they call it a choose-your-own-adventure if the adventure has already been hardcoded into the program?! There are only a few paths to “victory” in such a game, and they all require choosing a predetermined adventure) and nothing more. Just like any amateur coder with nothing but 6 months of programming experience, they are unwilling to adopt anything but the most basic procedural design, even if that means a huge string of if-else statements.

Essentially, I don’t want to go to a hackathon that the organizers spent time, effort, and good money for to make it free, because I have an ego problem because I think that I am a better and cleaner programmer than anyone else I have physically met, and as such will never get along with anyone I meet in the hackathon, ever.

I wish I could collect useful input from other potential programmers, but how am I supposed to do that when they just look at me blankly and expect me to do everything else? There is no thinking involved on their part. If they could only just bother to look at my code and find mistakes I didn’t catch, instead of idly moping around merely bolstering the I-am-the-code-master self-impression, they could actually be helpful people and “fun” to collaborate with.

Computer science isn’t just about algorithms. It’s about good design, too. Stop throwing pointers and casting void pointers all over the place and adding yet more code to “the blob” of your own creation.

Maybe I’m just too competitive for my own good or for the good of others.

My ideas aren’t accepted by people as old as me, because they appear too ambitious or don’t know how to help me in my quest to bring such an idea to fruition.

My ideas aren’t accepted by people older than me, because they have all the time in the world on the Internet to observe that they are inherently flawed in some fundamental way, or that I’m too young or that I have no experience on the subject and don’t know what I’m messing with and that I need to order books X, Y, and Z from Amazon and read them to the letter and take notes on the material and quiz myself on it or whatever.

My ideas aren’t accepted by my parents, because they have absolutely no idea who can guide me to fulfilling them.

My ideas aren’t accepted by my friends, because they are not trustworthy, not there when I need them, or because they, too, have no idea how to help me fulfill my ideas.

Hence why the status quo is, and always will be, to sit in front of the computer, waiting and rotting for something to happen, because it never will.

None of that motivational stuff applies to 17-year old kids who just graduated from high school and are moving in to college, and it’s already August. They say “just do it.” Really? I don’t have ultimate control over how I live my life. I can’t suddenly designate my garage as a tool shed. I don’t have strong, reliable arms for construction of physical parts. I only have the power to do things through a desktop computer, because a computer takes commands and doesn’t laugh at me if I say something wrong, or interrogate my logic if I fail to express my rationale or reasoning correctly. It just lets me do whatever the heck I want.

Real life? No. You have physical limits. You can get cut, scratched, and injured permanently if you do something wrong. Your reputation and relationships with others are always at stake. You don’t have all of the money in the world to do something. Learning how something works involves taking it apart, sometimes irreversibly, with no guarantee that you will be able to put it back together.

In real life, things hurt. It hurts when your friends neglect you and abandon you, it hurts when you bite on a bone that snuck into the meat that was already difficult to chew with your misaligned teeth, it hurts when your foot gets infected by a complication of athlete’s foot. Everything hurts. Jesus was hurt until his death.

How exactly am I supposed to I enjoy a life where everything hurts me, and I unintentionally hurt everyone around me?

Computing

I want to stop my madness.

For God’s sake, I have such a tremendous conscience that reminds me daily of why I even make so many favors, why I help my friend make a TF2 trading bot that he’s going to sell for money, why I moderate a community about roleplaying on a tiny little window with characters resembling those from a video game you play on a console that has a tiny screen you carry around in your pocket, why I want to make an arcade combat flight simulator, why I even want to program in the first place.

I want to stop, and here’s why:

http://i.imgur.com/F7llyEG.png

ManicTime tells me that I spent twelve good, solid hours on the computer on Saturday, July 29, 2017. Two thousand and seventeen, yes, the year I ate my heart out for not doing my college applications well; yes, the year I learned some good, decent calculus; the year I visited Japan, yes, a foreign country, for the first time in my life (which I still have flashbacks of). And at the end of the day, I hunch back down on the three-monitor workstation to get some “work” done.

And my mother is absolutely intolerant of this now. I knew she was going to launch an attack one day: today was the day she did it. My brother was likewise on the computer as well – and this is why I often strive to not do the exact same thing as my brother – so my mother puts one and one together and scolds us both harshly. She told us about how we are helping no one, how we are destroying ourselves, how spending too long on the blasted computer will make us lose purpose of our life and connection with our families and everything that matters, and what will happen when there is no more computer. She said this was a “meditation,” but it was obviously a confrontation spearheaded by a rhetorical question. It is too painful to narrate the subsequent events. As the man I was called to be, my hormones make me tough, but for some reason tears sought a way out as I left the house.

I never wanted to be on the computer forever. But neither of my parents understand. My father is no engineering professor, unlike one of my friends. Who could possibly teach me about invention and mechanics? Yet my father bickers and scoffs on the phone about how you can learn engineering and invention from books. I don’t want books. You can’t get cuts and scratches with books. You can’t feel the materials you are working with and get a grip of the tools you must use and learn their correct applications. I always wanted to invent as a secondary hobby, something I can fall back to and complement with programming. If I had hooked onto the ability of invention when I was eleven or twelve, when it appealed to me so much, rest assured my life would be better today, and I would not have had any problems at all entering the highest institutions of the United States. It sounds egotistical, but I seek to assert, if hyperbolically, that invention was a passion never pursued, because there was no one to teach me. The topic comes so close to me that I weep again. The call drops, I take this moment to blow my nose out at the ground, and then I resume the call.

Yet here my father is telling me unhelpful advice about understanding things by “looking at them.” I can look at a car and not know anything about how it works. The car is the final product. But I seek to know how it reached that result, the process behind that result. Later, my father tells me to take things apart. Well, I’m not going to take apart my car, am I? But he still fails to understand, because his mentality is completely that of a consumer. He doesn’t give a crap about making things. He has his iPhone and his iPad and he’s happy.

On the other hand, I am easily able to penetrate sense into my mother, and obtain rational, functional results beside simply “pray and let things happen.” She understands, but she genuinely cannot and does not know how to help.

Then, there is the Japan account. I would love to write nostalgia about it, but I feel obligated to finish the main narrative before I get to the more introspective portion of it, the postface. But it is so sad, because the memories fade the moment I recall them. I have enough pictures to fill in most blanks, but when there are no pictures, it takes mental effort to scrape up events that occurred within the lapses of memory. I am so close to finishing, but the flashbacks of things like Sensei running back to help Ya.-san and Ma.-chan who had tripped on each other on the asphalt pulls me back instead of pushing me forward on the narrative.

This week, I have one resume, two coding assignments, one written summary, and a two-day-long hackathon to do. I’d love if the CodeU people had not decided to throw so many things at us on the same week, but c’est la vie.

I wonder what the best way to get into something new would be. When I go to college, I do not want to be a recluse on the computer when I do not have anything to do. That is not the life I wish to live anymore. I lived it back then because I had little choice: the homework load was unpredictable, my dad would pick me up hours late, and I was already very introverted. If I had a choice, I’d choose cycling, but a good bicycle is very unaffordable right now, and I am unsure of my investment.

I don’t know. In three or maybe four weeks, the life I had for nine years will be over.