August 23, 2007

Masters: Done. What's next?

Warning, long, navel gazey post follows, future posts will be shorter:

3 years ago, I started at Google and at the time I felt as if I were the least educated person ever hired in the history of the firm. I knew that my history and leet interviewing skills got me through the door, but being surrounded by the vast scholarly brainy insanity that is Google I felt that maybe it was time to take the last class that I needed in my CS bachelors.

George Mason was cool enough to let me take my last AI class remotely, and I got an A. It was a largely project oriented class, so it worked well for me as a remote student. For the mid-term and the final Dr. Kaznachey emailed me the test as he passed them out in person and I had to have them done by end of class. They were proctored by a fellow at work who made sure that I only referred to my notes and the book. Since the tests were open book/note it didn't make much of a difference that I was doing them on the computer and not with a pencil.

Of course, giving the, ahem, quality, of my handwritten script, this was a very good thing for me to be able to do. I sometimes think that I should grab one of my 6 year old daughters writing notebooks and practice my upper and lower case writings.

Anyhow, I got an A and I that year I even took part in the National Novel Writing Month, in which I wrote a 50,335 word novel, finishing just shy of 11pm on the final night, having written the last 11k words or so. The ending is a little weak, but overall it was a fun book to write. Go read it if you like.

It is worth pointing out that I was also commuting on a weekendly basis back and forth to Placerville, where my (incredibly supporting) wife with our daughter was finishing out her pre-school. It was hard being away from them, but it left a lot of time at night at Google (with her bounteous kitchens and such) to do these things I have detailed.

At this point, as you might imagine, I was pretty surprised with myself. All this while I was starting my first 6 months at google, in which we launched, put a solid open source compliance regime and I began speaking for the company worldwide. If I could do these things, should I , as a colleague at work suggested, go further still with my education and go for a Masters?

Enter CMU's West coast campus. CMU, a Pittsburg based school, has opened a few satellite campuses in both Qatar and in the valley. I drove to Moffett field and was directed to the solitary campus building by the security guards. The upshot was I applied, was accepted and over the last two years, finished my masters. All of this occurred, mind you, during a very busy time at work and at home. Eagle eyed readers will remember that we had a new baby, a son, join our family about 8 months ago.

Having graduated last Saturday, I didn't realize how freeing and focusing having more than 5 hours of sleep a night could be. It's frightening. It's like the time I learned that the '92 Honda I got from my sister Trish had been firing on 3 cylinders and that's why the trip across country was so weird. I remember times writing papers for the degree where I was literally typing in my sleep (I tended to lean back while typing so I'd end up sleeping while sitting up). It was often hilarious, honestly, what I'd end up writing, but mostly it came out like kkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk if you get my drift. I once filled dozens of pages with spaces before I awoke.

So, you ask, what's next? Well, Google is really ramping up developer relations and open source with the arrival of my new boss (he hates it when I call him that) Vic Gundotra (whom I will call 'vicg' in future posts) and as such, I'll be very busy making that happen.

"But what about your scholarly pursuits?", you ask? Well, since I have some Cambridge based employees, I let a pal of mine at the MIT Sloan school know I'd be visiting a fair amount, so he named me a visiting scholar starting the end of August. I hope to run a few seminars for the Sloanies (Sloanites? Sloanscovites? Help me out here...) around open source and the like. I also have a few other ideas on how I can inflict my ideas upon Sloan.

After that? Honestly, I love working at Google and pursuing a PhD or a JD would be something that I'd have to quit work to do well and I'm not looking to stop working for Google anytime soon. Also, a part of me is pretty done with that kind of scholarship. That could be the burn-out talking, mind you, so let's just back burner that for a while.

Before you ask, my Masters program, which was in Software Engineering had a fair amount (too much really) of MBA-like stuff in it due mostly to the influence of the Tepper school on CMU West, so I'm not going to go for one of those any time soon. I will frankly scream if I see the words "PEST" or "SWOT" any time soon so don't test me.

One of the great things about being a visiting scholar at MIT is that you can sit in on any class you like at MIT or Harvard. Don't know what that means for me, but I do know a few classes that might have a doofus sitting the back taking it all in.

The reality of my work and life is that I'll be spending a fair amount of time on planes and as such I'll be blogging more and writing more. As you've likely observed in the above paragraphs, I'm a bit rusty on the whole sentence construction thing, not to mention the whole lets string together a narrative thing much less plotting or storytelling. I've also got a kickin' install of Ubuntu running in a VM on this insanely cool laptop of mine (the Thinkpad x61s) so I'm going to try to revive some of my web programming skills, for cripe's sake.

It is worth pointing out that almost anything is better than "NBC in FLIGHT" which is playing on the domestic flights overhead screens at this moment. This, my dear readers, begs the question: How is it even possible that Saturday Night Live is still being produced? I mean, really...what are they waiting for? The next Tim Meadows?


Andrew said...

Congratulations on your degree!

If you're around Harvard, try sitting in on a class by John Stilgoe... he's a trip.

Baris said...

What a feat! How you manage to juggle so many plates is just baffling, yet truly inspirational. Congrats to you sir. See you around!

Andrew said...