eating mousepads for dinner w the boys

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Hey everyone :). I’m currently on the train back to San Francisco from Palo Alto and am listening to some JUMEX. Some lady is getting kicked off the train right now because she didn’t have a ticket and is telling the train employee to “die in hell”. It’s a good vibe rn. 

I really want to bring this email back toward the original reasons I created it: to update my friends/family on my life, to highlight what I did + learned, and to talk about new ideas I have floating in my head :).

Getting a Job

I’ve actually been interviewing around the Bay Area w/ different companies for the last week, mostly autonomous vehicle startups that I really respect.

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Why? Do I plan on getting a job? Mmmm. Not really. I’d say there is a 2.5% chance I’d accept a job if I got an offer at a startup I really liked. So why am I interviewing? Curiosity. I’ve barely ever interviewed for a job before. What’s it like in 2019 to interview for a tech job? Am I able to score a top tech job if I wanted? How do different companies run the interview process? 

I interviewed for 4 companies I really respected located in Palo Alto, Mountain View, Sunnyvale, and SF. I learned a lot, actually:

  • The interview process is still focused heavily around coding on a whiteboard. I had to do stuff like code up a lock-free concurrent linked list, topological sort (failed this one), and create an API that could keep track of payments (like a PayPal clone).

  • The process is still so crude and “feel” driven vs data-driven. None of these companies used any tools around the actual interview process itself other than Google Docs for notes. I feel like so much stuff could exist to make it more data-driven.

  • I didn’t apply for any of these positions. I either DM’d the founders directly on Twitter or got connected w/ the founders through a friend. This generally felt like it helped and founders were always hyped to chat w/ me. It was also way faster than just applying. I would go from DM -> call with the founder -> onsite in literally 1 day.

  • I can get any job in tech that I want if I do LeetCode for 2 months. 

So, yah.

I think the biggest thing interviewing for all these companies taught me is that the only person I really want to be working for right now is myself and the only vision I want to be working toward is my own.

It also taught me that tech interviews are still broken.

Books

I read Edward Snowden’s book “Permanent Record”. Honestly, it wasn’t that great. It was a rather boring and poorly written memoir. But, in key moments Snowden really elegantly lays out all his opinions on privacy and why we should care about it. If you still use Facebook in 2019 and say stuff like “Oh I don’t care if they have my data hahahahaha oh well hahaha”, read this book. Snowden will make you feel like a liability to society + a threat to democracy. That was indeed his goal after all!! And I agree with him. Trusting entities like governments and for-profit companies with detailed meta data of billions of people is a mistake that we will regret. 

I also started reading “Shoe Dog” which is a memoir by the founder of Nike, Phil Knight. I started reading it this morning and am almost 50% done with it. It’s a really fucking good book. The book starts out with him when he was 24 years old, confused as hell about what do with his life. But, a lot of motivation to do something. I’ll talk more about it next week when I’m done with it. But if you’re confused about life, give this book a read :). It’s also just a really good, motivational story as well!

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3D Printing

I’ve been researching 3D printing a bunch and got to use my friend Furqan’s 3D printer the other day. We printed out a keycap for my mechanical keyboard and it didn’t end up so hot still gotta figure some stuff out LOL. It’s really cool though! While I don’t have any wild ideas for 3D printing right now it’s just a nugget of knowledge that I think will be useful in the future.

The ability to just “print” a physical object is insane.

AirPods Pro

A lot of my friends are very familiar with my hatred for the original AirPods. They looking fucking dumb and are stupid expensive. But more importantly, I also generally dislike them from a philosophical point of view. AirPods and wireless earbuds in general are pushing for this “always in” world where you simply always have your headphones on.

This idea scares me. I really value listening to + observing the world around me. I generally don’t like cutting myself off from the real world. That’s exactly what products like the AirPods let you do. Easily and conveniently cut yourself off from the world all the time. When someone sees you with headphones on they are likely not even going to attempt to interact with you. When I went to Whole Foods in SF I was horrified to see customer after customer walking around with AirPods or noise-canceling Bose QC35 headphones and wordlessly checking out at self-checkout. Everyone was lost in their own world. They looked like a bunch of robots.

So what did I do after that? I bought a pair of AirPods Pro. If you can’t beat em, join em and try to make things better.

I know that this “always in” world is coming. Wireless headphones don’t really interest me because of their ability to easily let you listen to music or take a call. They interest me because of access to a virtual personal assistant.

For example, Siri. The idea that I can just “Hey Siri” while wearing AirPods and have access to Siri 24/7 is extremely powerful. This is 10X more powerful as of a few months ago with the release of custom iOS Siri Shortcuts. Now, I often just say “Hey Siri, make a FarzaLog” and this will hit an iOS Shortcut I made called “FarzaLog”. Then Siri will ask me “What’s your log?” and I’ll reply. This log is then sent to my journal and I’m done. All without touching my phone.

So, I have the habit right now of keeping my AirPods “always in” while walking around outside but I’m not listening to anything. I’m wearing them just in-case I want to tell Siri something. Not going to lie, it sorta feels like a superpower. I’m hyped to keep messing with it :).

Little ML Class

I’m running a little experiment. I have 40ish people in a Discord server all hyped about learning ML. This is Week 1 where I asked them to come up with a project idea that’d interest them. From there, I’d work w/ them to nail the project and help them understand how to start. The point here is to help people learn ML by building projects they're interested in! I am just a guide.

I also split them all into groups based on their interests. So people who love League of Legends are in one group, people who love sports are in another group, etc. Everyone will be working on solo projects, but I think having some people to talk to and ask questions (apart from me) is important. I don’t want people to feel lonely and I want to put them in contact with people in the Discord server they are sorta similar to :). Just putting a bunch of people in a Discord server and expecting them to talk to each other is dumb.

I’ve been getting a stupid # of DMs tho.

It’s going well. People are interacting way more than I expected and coming up with some dope ideas.

I also had a lot of people attempt to quit before it even started. Here are my replies: