June 24, 2008

OtterBox Blackberry Case Quick Review

A few weeks ago I wrote up my BlackBerry Curve Impressions and heard from Chad Atchison from OtterBox. I'd never heard of them before but he said:

I work for a company called OtterBox and we make cases for several smart phones, including the Curve - I actually have one sitting on my desk right now. Anyway, if you're worried about dropping it, etc., I could probably convince our PR girl to send you a free sample.

So I had a quick look at their site and decided to go for it.

BlackBerry Curve Defender Case

About a week later, a BlackBerry Curve Defender Case arrived and it'd been dutifully protecting my BlackBerry ever since then. The thing has been through moving stuff in a storage unit, daily use at home, a week in the Nevada desert, flying in light airplanes, hiking in Yosemite, and random stuff in between.

I'm very impressed with this rugged little case. It strikes a great balance between protection and usability. The plastic keyboard cover does a good job of keeping stuff out of it while still making it easy to type on (well, as "easy" as a blackberry sized keyboard can be). Clearly this is a well thought out and tested design. If you're looking for a case to protect your BlackBerry or other smart phone from the elements, check out OtterBox. I think it'd be worth the money if you want to keep the phone in good shape for a long time.

Posted by jzawodn at 11:32 AM

June 20, 2008

Building a Cheap Ass Linux PC

ubuntu One of the down sides to leaving Yahoo! is that the notebook computer I've been using for last few years will no longer be mine in a few days. I'm one of those people who used their company issued computer for lots of non-company stuff too.

When I start at Craigslist, I'll be getting a new laptop running Linux. But that's several weeks away and doesn't run some of the funky Windows apps I need or want access to. So I'm going to try keeping work separate from non-work this time around.

What to do?

I have a Thinkpad T43p at home that's been used mainly as a backup sever and lightweight web browser for a while now. It has a 2GHz CPU, 2GB RAM, 80GB disk, and a kick ass screen and keyboard. But it's running Ubuntu.

So I'm planning to use the recovery CDs to make it back into a Windows box (maybe dropping in a bigger disk along the way) and using it as my personal Windows machine. But that means I need a system to take over doing backups and that other stuff that the Thinkpad used to do.

My solution is to pull a few cheap parts off Newegg.com and build a low-end (but still probably overkill) machine that'll run Linux and do what I want. Here's what I ended up with.

IN WIN IW-BT610T.300BL Black Steel MicroATX Desktop Computer Case 300W Power Supply$50.99
Intel BOXD201GLY2A Intel Celeron 220 SiS 662 Micro ATX Motherboard/CPU Combo$64.99
Crucial 1GB 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 533 (PC2 4200) System Memory$21.99
Sony NEC Optiarc Black 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-ROM SATA DVD-ROM Drive Model DDU1671S$18.99

I already own a SATA hard disk I can drop in. Same goes for the keyboard and mouse. Plus installing Ubuntu costs me nothing other than my time.

At a total cost of $156.96 plus shipping, it's not bad for under $200. It'll do the backup and other "home server" jobs just fine and serve as a web browsing station now and then if need be. I almost opted for the Intel BOXD945GCLF Atom processor Intel 945GC Mini ITX Motherboard/CPU Combo for even lower power consumption, but wanted to stick with a Micro ATX board for now.

I'm really impressed by what you can get for a cheap these days! The CPU is even 64 bit--not that it matters in this case.


Semi-related: This old laptop: Revitalizing an aging notebook on the cheap.

Posted by jzawodn at 01:07 PM

June 19, 2008

I'm Joining Craigslist in July

I wasn't really looking for a new job a few months ago when I received an email from Eric Scheide (see Team Bios), the CTO at craigslist. He mentioned that they were looking for someone with MySQL experience and asked if I knew anyone. This sort of thing happens all the time.


But this time it was different. Over the course of about three seconds, something clicked in my little brain and I realized that craigslist is a pretty unique combination of things: a small company with a solid financial base, a great service that I use myself, a focused groups of people who really care about doing things well, and an open-source friendly environment.

I replied that I might be interested myself and things kind of took on a life of their own from there. In the weeks that followed, I got the chance to meet much of the team (including CEO Jim Buckmaster and Craig himself). Each time I came away liking more and more about the team. I've also been impressed at how well the company takes care of its people and how thoughtful they are about making important decisions.

So after taking a few weeks off for some planned travel and unplanned relaxation, I'll start assimilating myself into the craigslist engineering culture and lending a hand wherever I can. Yes, some of that will entail going back to my MySQL roots.

The site is growing like a weed (still!), the people are great, and the focus is on providing a great service that anyone can use. At the same time, there are a lot of technical challenges (they get a ton of page views) and great opportunities to grow the site and give back to both the open source community and all the communities around the world that craigslist serves--a list that's growing all the time.

Not that I really care much what other people think, but the reactions I've had so far when telling people have been universally positive. Very positive. That tells me I'm on the right track.

The only real downside is that crigslist is in San Francisco and I'm in San Jose. So if you have thoughts on getting to the vicinity of 9th and Judah using public transit, let me know. I won't be commuting up every day, but I suspect I'll be trying a few options before settling on what works best.

Previously: Leaving Yahoo!, and The Aftermath.


Posted by jzawodn at 07:24 AM

June 17, 2008

Back up in your ass with the resurrection!

It's hard to explain the appeal of Office Space if you don't already get it. Therefore its even harder to explain how funny the first set of comments in response to this link on reddit.com is to me.

Back up in your ass with the resurrection!

[Hint: the full sized image is easier to read.]

Seriously, I'm already a fan of both Office Space and Reddit. But now I love each one just a little bit more.

Feel free to insert your favorite Office Space quote in the comments below--unless you're a no talent ass clown like me, that is.

Damn it feels good to be a gangster.

In related news, Get Firefox 3 Today. I did. You should too.

Posted by jzawodn at 03:39 PM

June 13, 2008

The Aftermath


Y Combinator Dinner Aftermath That's all I can say. After yesterday's announcement, I'm rather overwhelmed with all the congratulatory notes, comments, LinkedIn invites, and pitches to work at promising startups. It almost makes me wonder if I shouldn't have decided to leave Yahoo before deciding where to go next.

Nah. I needed "something next" to get myself in that mindset in the first place, I think.

If you emailed me personally and haven't seen a response yet, don't worry. I have a bunch of replies to send off, lunches to schedule, and so on.

Meanwhile, I'm off today (Friday) and Monday and then back at work for another week and a half or so. If you have unfinished business with me, please get in touch before my work email address no longer belongs to me.

Here's an interesting bit of trivia: back when I was first at Yahoo, it was pretty easy to nab yourself an alternate email address. So I picked up z@yahoo-inc.com just because. It turned out to be far easier to spell to folks on the phone and got a fair amount of use. But it also got some decidedly weird spam and email for people who treated it as a disposable address when signing up for various services.

I wonder if there'd be interest in a Xooglers type blog written by ex-Yahoo folks...

Anyway, have a good weekend. We're off to hang out with family for a few days and enjoy the California weather.

Posted by jzawodn at 06:56 AM

June 12, 2008

Leaving Yahoo!

My Yahoo! Badge It seems that word has started to leak out, so I might as well remove any speculation or ambiguity. In the next few weeks, I'll walk the halls at Yahoo! as an employee one last time and turn in my purple badge. After 8.5 years of service and a better experience than I could have possibly imaged back in 1999, the time for me to move on has arrived.

It's always hard to make a decision like this. It took several months to finally decide. I've really enjoyed my time at Yahoo and have a lot of people to thank--people who took a risk on me, believed in me, encouraged me, and even defended me over the years. There are literally too many to name, but some of them are: David Filo, Jerry Yang, Jeff Weiner, Phu Hoang, Ash Patel, Jeffrey Friedl, Mike Bennett, Anil Pal, Bradley Horowitz, Allen Wang, Chad Dickerson, Matt McAlister, and Chris Yeh.

If any of you read this, I've learned a lot from all of you. Really.

I've enjoyed working with some amazingly talented coworkers (far too many to name) and have had the opportunity to help some acquired companies navigate the inner workings of Yahoo as they scale up their services. That includes people in engineering, marketing, public relations, product management, design, legal, and more. You guys rock.

I can definitely say that I've had the chance to contribute to the success of Yahoo as much as I could muster. Whether it was staying up all night working on the 9/11 memorial size, launching the Yahoo! Search blog, starting the Yahoo! Developer Network, debugging MySQL problems, pushing RSS and syndication, introducing startups to Yahoo, arguing for openness, or making sure that news releases appeared on Yahoo! Finance quickly.

I won't at all be surprised if some people think this is related to Microsoft or Carl Ichan and the uncertainty surrounding Yahoo's future. The reality is that there's nothing pushing me out the door at Yahoo. The reason I'm leaving is that something very compelling has come along to lure me away. Despite what the current press sentiment might be, Jerry and David have built a remarkable company.

Ever since I graduated from college in 1997, I've wanted to work for a smaller company. But my first job out of school was a ~40,000 person Oil Company and my second was Yahoo! Back then Yahoo was in the 2,000 people ballpark but it eventually grew to seven times that size, give or take a bit. I've experienced the ups and downs--the layoffs and the big victories. I'd do it all over again if given the chance.

It's been quite a ride, and I'm really going to miss Yahoo. I'll miss the parking debates and all the "random" stuff we're so fond of ranting about. Watching from the outside is going to be a very different experience. But the opportunity to work in a much smaller company recently presented itself and it was simply too interesting to pass up. I'll say more about that in the coming weeks.

To all the Yahoos I've worked with over the years, thanks and please stay in touch. My email address will always be Jeremy@Zawodny.com and I'm on LinkedIn here: http://www.linkedin.com/in/jzawodn. And, well, you've found my blog already. :-)

As for the future of Yahoo, everyone working at Yahoo today knows in their gut what Yahoo should be and needs to be. My advice is to work on making that happen. Don't let anyone else (inside or outside the company) try to tell you what Yahoo is. Trust your gut. And, if you have the chance, re-read the farewell note that Ian Rogers sent out when he left a few months back. It's good stuff.

And, by all means, don't take the stuff you read in the press at face value. You're all smarter than that.

Now where's that Yahoo Alumni club I've heard so much about?

BTW, JR is leaving as well.


Posted by jzawodn at 06:30 AM

June 10, 2008

The 2008 Air Sailing Cross Country Camp

Last week, as with the previous several years, I spent some time away from work to attend the Air Sailing Cross Country Camp (see events) in Nevada. That's a week long educational camp for glider pilots who are looking to expand their soaring horizons beyond the reach of their local airport.

I attended four years ago as a participant and have been going back every year since then as a "lead pilot" or mentor to the participants. The weather conditions are different every year and we have a different crowd of people attending, but we always have educational classes in the morning and some fun flying in the afternoon.

This year, however, was a bit different, since Kathleen (my wife) was one of the participants. And as luck would have it, I got to be her lead pilot. We were fortunate to fly on three different occasions in the BASA DG-1000 (N451CH).

I happened to have my camera handy for two of those three flights and have the pictures on my Flickr photostream in two different sets. The first was on Tuesday when we had the chance to do some ridge soaring: DG-1000 Ridge Flying at Air Sailing. Here are a few shots.

DG-1000 on the Ridge DG-1000 on the Ridge DG-1000 on the Ridge

The second set is from Friday when we flew from Air Sailing to the Truckee Tahoe airport so that we wouldn't have to disassemble the glider and trailer it there: DG-1000 from ASI to TRK. Here are a few shots.

DG-1000 N451CH from ASI to TRK DG-1000 N451CH from ASI to TRK DG-1000 N451CH from ASI to TRK

I also have GPS traces from each flight and some great 3-D animated playbacks that give you a sense of our flight paths. I'm working to convert those into movies I can stick online here too.

See Also:

Posted by jzawodn at 09:46 PM