Friday, October 30, 2009

giving an online talk about interviewing

My friend Lily is Director of Marketing at eduFire, an online video-learning web site.

Next Tuesday at 2pm PST, I'm giving an eduFire talk How to Rock Your Next Engineering Interview. Sign up, or pass onto any friends who may be interviewing for a job!

Here is the syllabus:

* Interview format
* The mindset
* Discussing past experience
* Coding questions
* Brainstorming questions
* Brainteasers
* Asking the interviewer about the company
* Following up
* Dress code, preparations

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

my brother is visiting

Yesterday morning, I got an email out of the blue from Southwest Airlines. It was an itinerary for my brother Tom to come to San Francisco for the weekend. I haven't seen him since two months ago, when he moved to Irvine to work for Blizzard.

niniane: YAY!!!!!!
niniane: OH MY GOD I AM SO EXCITED!!!!!!!!!!!
Tom: haha yes, i'm visiting this weekend =)
niniane: oh, i was excited because Amazon EC2 dropped their prices.
niniane: Are you coming to visit?
Tom: haha what is ec2?
niniane: just kidding, i am excited!

Moments later, we were discussing our plans for the weekend.

niniane: i am at a wedding on saturday from 4pm to 9pm+
Tom: oh okay then i will hang out with someone else during that time
Tom: is it a halloween wedding?
niniane: sadly no
niniane: it is a travesty to hold a wedding on halloween but not have it be a costume wedding
niniane: wtf!
Tom: yes 'wtf' is right
Tom: when they ask if anyone has any objections .. you know what to do
niniane: lol lol lol

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Barnes & Noble announced the Nook eBook reader.

I am curious about the touchscreen. I bought a Kindle last month, and still sometimes find myself jabbing its screen instead of pushing the buttons on the side.

Being able to lend a virtual book to your friend for 14 days is pretty cool. I would lend and borrow books more frequently, if there wasn't the concern about forgetting to return them. One of my friends actually keeps a library system for her books, with a card she sticks into the book cover.

The B&N advertising claims "over a million titles" whereas Amazon says 350,000. I wonder how B&N can have more titles. Perhaps through the Google Books project?

I've really enjoyed having a Kindle. I carry it in my purse. It is convenient to have a dozen books on hand to read, depending on my mood.

Another unforeseen benefit has been the ability to highlight sections and add notes, and have those saved into a single file.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Eating Contest 2

From the second eating contest, Taco Bell challenge:

I beat my previous time of 2 minutes 32 seconds. This time I ate two soft tacos in 2 minutes 8 seconds.

Saturday, October 17, 2009


Yesterday I had dinner with C3 (my college friend), and two of his friends from high school.

Today, over IM:

C3: It turns out that before yesterday, Bob had thought you were two separate people, 'eggplant' [my college username for the computer cluster] and a guy named 'Gideon' who I initially met in high school. This is what happens when I don't enunciate 'Niniane' precisely enough.

I am trying to imagine the conversation wherein Bob discovers that this guy Gideon is actually me.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Ithaca, NY

Last week I visited my friends Melba and Hod at Cornell University. Ithaca is so beautiful!

People told me how pretty the gorges are, but I thought they were in state parks, cordoned off from the rest of the town. Instead, we walked over a number of gorges from Melba & Hod's house to Cornell campus.

The architecture of the campus is pretty too.

This is on the Cornell campus!

A requirement for graduation is to pass a swim test. My young friend Josh said this is to safeguard students who like to gorge-dive. But later I learned that MIT also has the swim requirement, and they have no gorges.

Treman State Park. This reminds me of "Lord of the Rings" when Frodo hides from the Nazgul.

Apparently one of the drawbacks of Ithaca is that the winter lasts for a long time. Otherwise it would be too perfect.

Melba and her large poodle.

We walked the dogs every day. It was my first time walking a dog. At first, it was hard to know how much leeway to give on the leash. I didn't want to yank the dog around, but I also needed to keep it out of traffic. After I figured out the right balance, I found dog-walking to be surprisingly fulfilling.

Me with Melba's little dog. It was very quiet, and also liked having its belly rubbed. It was warm, and liked to cuddle, and didn't wiggle around very much. If I were designing a dog, I would create the same features.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

rainy humor

It's raining heavily outside right now.

Omar reported that the Google shuttle from San Francisco hit massive flooding. After taking a long time to travel a few blocks, he got off the shuttle and is working from San Francisco. On twitter:

Over IM:

Lily: omar said, "misha looked outside and didn't want to go but then remembered he had lunch with niniane so decided to go. big mistake."
Lily: "he's at 1:45 in and still not in mv"
niniane: poor misha
niniane: we could've rescheduled!
niniane: hahaha imagine if i txt him in an hour, "hey misha, it's so rainy outside, let's reschedule." he'd freak!
Lily: omg!!!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

caltech logic

Walking along the Palo Alto farmer's market with C3, my friend from Caltech.

Me: "Guess who was on the same flight as me two weeks ago? I'll give you ten yes-or-no questions."

C3: "Is it someone I know from Caltech?"

Me: "Yes."

C3: "Is it someone in your graduating class?"

Me: "Yes."

C3: "Ah, now I must be able to guess it, because there are fewer than 257 people in your graduating class."



C3: "This is going to yield less than one bit of information, but ... is it a guy?"

Me: "No."

C3: "Oh! That was more than 1 bit of information."


(He didn't guess it in the end.)

Thursday, October 08, 2009

cute sarcastic-looking owl

Today I saw this livejournal entry (courtesy of Sean Hewitt) of a woman who found an owl by the side of the road. The owl was injured, so she took it in her car to an animal rescue organization.

The owl, looking un-amused.

After putting the owl into a cardboard box, so that it wouldn't flap around.

I'm sure that if the owl could talk, it would make the best deadpan jokes! It would be cracking us all up with its dry wit.

Saturday, October 03, 2009


A few weeks ago, the New Yorker ran a riveting article about a Texas man executed under the death penalty: Trial By Fire. He was accused of burning down his house with his three young daughters inside.

He insisted that he was innocent. As the years went on, many of the prosecution's witnesses were discredited for being sensationalist, and working from urban myths instead of scientific fact. A leading arson expert wrote a scathing report a few months before the scheduled execution, insisting that there was no evidence for arson.

Regardless, the state of Texas refused to re-examined his case. He was killed by lethal injection.

Now, several years later, there is some investigation into whether he was wrongfully executed. Yesterday was a scheduled commission meeting, to hear evidence from arson experts. The evidence points toward an accidental fire.

Two days before the commission hearing, the Texas governor replaced three members of the commission and postponed the hearing indefinitely. He is up for re-election. It would look bad for him if the commission concludes that he refused the appeal of an innocent man on death row.

I don't understand why this isn't given more media coverage. An innocent man may have been executed. The governor seems to be using a shady maneuver to deny the hearing. Why is this getting a tiny blip of coverage compared to the Letterman scandal? It is literally a matter of life and death.