Thursday, July 30, 2015

Contrasting Old and New

What’s the best thing about living on the mainland after seven years of living on Hawaii? Flights aren’t working out in my favor as far as schedule and cost, nor is it cheap to send furniture from my parents’. In Hawaii? Suck it up, the only way you are getting off this island is to fly or get really good at sailing. Also freight is going to cost you 1400 bucks to ship an end table… okay maybe not that much. Mainland? Okay, we will drive 3200 miles round trip for about 500 bucks, be able to take all the luggage we want, and then turn around and bring home the furniture. The bad news? We are looking at doing that in December and January. Oh seasons.

Whatever plans we have though, I think both of can be pretty flexible and be able to go before any large storms are going to occur. Then we won’t need to be as regimented to catch flights. And if we really need to we can go south. Add a few hours or more, but still make it in our own time. Also, if the weather is bad on the days we have plane tickets, the changing of plans or waiting would be frustrating to say the least.

What car are we going to drive there and pick up furniture with? Ah, but we have a direct line on a Subaru Forester, buying it Saturday. It might be the car’s first real trip period, but we are really excited to get it.

Furniture, but not really -
Due to office remodeling I also got cabinets with a countertop,  going to install that in the garage for a workbench. Might be modifications throughout the years to make it more useful, but I think it will be quite a bit easier than trying to build my own with basically no tools currently.

Short observations on work
One of the best things about working for a startup is the fact that there is huge right of way for creativity, in order for an idea to be really crazy it has to be at least one more level of crazy than normal. To put it into perspective, we have 30+ interns working for us this summer, about half the company. That is nuts in my mind, but the amount of work they are doing is actually amazing, in fact swamping our normal processes. But speaking of processes, still a large amount of room for growth or massive change.

Compared to the Joint Astronomy Centre the Center for Open Science is a massively younger, more flexible place. This is both a blessing, but it also means that we aren’t playing with 120 ton telescopes that can look at a gas cloud being eating by a black hole in the middle of our galaxy, trade-offs.

Probably my biggest issue is that there is so much going on that it is hard to keep track of who is working on similar or potentially conflicting things. I have to say that one of my merges of code essentially wiped out an entire commit by an intern, not because they did anything wrong, but because I started using schema validation rather than writing out a dataset line by line. Also there have been a couple cases where interns figure out that an issue already has a PR that just isn’t merged yet, after they code a solution. Even with all of that and the semi-chaotic nature of interactions I have to say I enjoy it nine out ten or fifteen days which is a bit better than some spans of time at the JAC.

And I have certainly learned a huge amount. That is not all that different from the JAC, but the pace is much faster, and the tools are so much newer in general at COS that sometimes you have to fix them and send in a PR to a stand alone tool. But that leads to other things: Open source! Oh man, so glad to still be working for science and for the greater good. I am not sure if I could work for a “business” company, even if I’ve dreamed of starting my own sometimes.

Anyway, on to solving the world’s problems by facilitating a better website for scientists to do better, more transparent work.

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