Farewell, Pixel

After much deliberation, we gave up our older cat, Pixel, today.
Pixel

We’re not sure what happened to him in the last few years, but he got increasingly agitated and territorial. When he would see another cat outside, he would freak out and yowl loudly, scaring everyone else in the house. We would constantly find places in the house where he sprayed to mark his turf.

We brought him to the vet several times, trying pheremones, drugs and even aluminum foil to get him to stop marking. Nothing worked. We spent thousands of dollars on checkups and tests to make sure there was nothing else wrong with him. He’s ruined furniture. When we left California, our former landlord had to take more money off our deposit to clean the rugs a second time because the new tenants complained of the smell.

With a new house and toddler (soon) running around, we couldn’t let this go on. We considered giving him up in California, but our hope was that a change of scenery would also change his attitude. For a few weeks, it seemed to. Then we found a spot where he peed. Then another. Since then, both cats have been confined to the basement, where everything we care about is in plastic boxes. Hopefully there aren’t any more spots upstairs we haven’t discovered yet. It’s terrorizing when you don’t know when you’ll find the next marking.

Anne did a lot of work to find a shelter that wasn’t full and wouldn’t euthanize him. I hope someone will take him, though it can be hard to place a 10-year old cat. We couldn’t convince any of our friends or family to take him and we didn’t think letting him outside would help.

He was a smart cat, able to fetch his favorite toys when he wanted. He would come when called. He didn’t shed a lot and he didn’t claw the furniture. He knew how to communicate with us when he needed food, water or attention. He would wait at the end of our bed as I got in at night so he could lie on my chest for a while. If I didn’t give him enough attention, he’d paw at my face.

Pixel

It was sad to have to give him up, but it didn’t seem like there was any other choice. He’s not happy in the basement even though we visit him a couple times a day. He cries at the top of the stairs. It’s also not fair to the other cat to be locked in the basement, but it would be worse to keep them without companionship.

I had a hard time cornering him this morning; I think he knew something was up. The surrendering process at the Animal Rescue League in Dedham was painless and we visited the cages where he’d be kept. There were a couple of 13 year-old cats there, so he wouldn’t be the oldest, and his cage was in the top center, so he had a good spot. We donated $100 and his carrier to the shelter, mostly to assuage our own guilt.

I hope someone takes him home, hopefully adults in an upper-floor apartment where he won’t be able to see other cats close by.

It was a good run, Pixel. We hope you find a home where you can be happy again.

Which MacBook to buy?

My Mom has been needing a new computer for a few months now. She wanted a Mac, so I told her to hang on since the rumors were that the MacBooks were going to be refreshed in October.

On Tuesday, Apple introduced redesigned MacBooks and MacBook Pros. They have a fancy new trackpad and are made using a new manufacturing process which I frankly don’t care about. I’m not sure why anyone would.

Anyway, once they came out, it was time to make a decision. Go for an older model at a discount or get the new one?

So I put together a spreadsheet that compares the features of each.

Based on the price, she’s getting the older MacBook (Black). Between Amazon’s discount, rebates and cash back from my Amazon Visa, it’s a pretty good deal, even better than an educational discount.

I wish I had data on the new machines’ performance with their new video cards, but the 2.4 Ghz machine should do her well for some time. Hopefully Barefeats will get their hands on them soon.

Update: Early benchmarks show nearly no difference in processor performance over the old models. Of course the processors haven’t changed, just the memory and bus speed, so this is expected. The graphics are where we’ll see the most difference and even more when OS X 10.6 comes out and offloads more work to the graphics processor. My mom’s not a big gamer though so I think her web pages and email will load just fine. 🙂

Update 2: MacWorld has published their Speedmark test results. The new graphic cards help for sure, putting the 2.0 Ghz new MacBook at the same level as the older 2.4 Ghz MacBook. Note that the tests are heavy on GPU processing though, testing Quake and Photoshop and MP3 encoding. My Mom doesn’t do any of these intensively. I’d like to see a benchmark that tests the speed of web page rendering and sending email!

The Mattress Industry is One Big Scam

The last time I bought a mattress for myself was about 11 years ago. I bought a fairly new full-sized one off a coworker. Four moves and a decade later, we’ve decided it’s time to replace it with an adult (and sometimes an extra toddler)-sized bed.

Shopping Blind

When we started looking, I was shocked at the prices. $3000 for a mattress? What the heck are these things made of? Knowing very little, we went shopping for a mattress and other things on a Saturday morning. The first place, we stopped, Sleepy’s, seemed nice enough. We laid on a few and honed in on the one that we both felt most comfortable in. Meanwhile, Audrey discovered the fun of letting herself fall backwards onto mattresses and did it all over the store. She was giggling and the whole store couldn’t help but look and smile at her. Unfortunately, we soon stopped smiling.

When we found something we liked, the seemingly helpful salesman started to get more aggressive. He asked how much we were looking at paying and I made up a number on the spot, something way below the listed price on the bed. The said he would “talk with his manager” and see if he could get us that price. Then he started asking us if we could commit and have it delivered tomorrow. Anne had walked outside to give Audrey a break by that point, so I said I had to go out and talk with her about it. We talked about it for a bit, then decided we didn’t like the high-pressure sales pitch, so we got ready to leave.

I had the car started up when the salesman came out and approached the car window. He then said that he had “talked to his manager” and he could give us the price we wanted AND a free “platinum package”. I said we would talk about it and let him know. We again decided this was sketchy, but to make good on my promise, I went in and gave him my phone number and left.

Later that day we went to Jordan’s Furniture, generally known to be a reputable place with reasonable places. The salespeople there were nice and NOT high-pressure. Prices were generally lower, but strangely, we couldn’t find the mattress we found at Sleepy’s. They had Sertas, but not the one we liked.

Being indecisive, we left with a couple new names of ones we liked. Later, we went to Mattress Discounters. The woman there was not pushy and told us about the BBB complaints that Sleepy’s (a 700-store chain) had gotten. We decided to think some more and head home.

At home, I did some research online and I found something strange – I couldn’t find much of anything on the mattresses we saw that we liked. I found some mattresses, many of the same brand, but not the same models.

One Big Scam

I later came to find out that this was completely intentional. The mattress industry is one big scam. There is no way to make an objective decision on a mattress using actual facts.

Here’s a few things that the mattress industry does to get you:

1. They mark up their prices 100% to 200%!! No wonder the first guy was able to get his “manager” to give me such a steep discount. They were probably still going to make hundreds of dollars of profits on it.

2. They give the same mattresses different names in different stores or they set up exclusivity agreements by mattress line in certain stores. This makes it impossible to comparison shop because…

3. They make it really had to get actual facts about the mattresses. Stuff like coil counts, materials, overall construction are shrouded in secrecy. But that doesn’t really matter because…

4. There’s no objective measure of mattress quality. Consumer Reports won’t rate them because they can’t get the data and there’s no testing that actually says higher coil counts are better or the number of wires in the coils makes a difference in any way. You’re left to deciding how much you believe the marketing. Is a pillow top made of alpaca hair any better than one made of cotton? Your guess is as good as mine.

5. There’s very little online reviews of mattresses, probably because the model names are so fractured. The ones I did find looked more like content-free sites designed to attract referral credits.

Cracking the Code

With some more research, I found out that it was somewhat possible to compare mattresses models from different places. It turns out that they really only make one hardness variation in each line. So you can assume that a Plush Firm mattress in the “Classic” line, is the same as another Plush Firm in the Classic line, even if they have different names.

US-mattress.com was very helpful in figuring this out. We were able to understand which mattresses we saw and how they related to each other. For example, the mattress we liked at Jordan’s was a product line better than the one we saw at Mattress Discounters, even though they came out to the same price! Clearly Jordan’s had the better deal, but US-Mattress had an even better deal.

So I did something I never thought I could do, buy a mattress over the internet. I’m pretty sure it’s the same one we saw in the store and the free delivery and frame were a good deal. I’m sure that even if I’m getting it at half the price I saw it listed at elsewhere, they’re still making a decent profit on it.

Anne and I agree that buying a mattress is worse than buying a car. While both have sketchy salespeople, when you buy a car, you can compare them on MPG, size, features, etc. Multiple dealers have the same models so you can compare prices and make an informed decision based on their invoice prices. There’s none of that when buying a mattress.

Our mattress should arrive in a few weeks. Hopefully we’ll just find it comfortable enough to have to avoid going through buying a mattress again for at least another 11 years.

UPDATE: The mattress arrived quickly and in good condition. We’ve been sleeping on it for several nights and while it feels comfy, I’ve had some upper back soreness which seems to be related to the new mattress. I’m going to keep trying it for a few more weeks and see if my body adjusts as the US-mattress.com website suggests. Hopefully it will go away. Otherwise, we’ll have to find another one and do a $100 exchange I guess.

Dashing here and there

Soon after my move back to the East coast, I realized there was going to be one big change in my daily life – I had a commute to work. For the last 9 years, I lived less than 2 miles from work and my one-way commute averaged about 7 minutes. Traffic wasn’t a factor then, but it is was now. For the first month, I commuted from New Hampshire and it was always at least a hour to the office in Cambridge.

Dash Express

While I have a Garmin GPS, it’s more for hiking than for driving, so I started looking at GPS receivers more appropriate for the car. The one that immediately appealed to me was the Dash Express, a GPS infused with
wireless connectivity to the Internet. This opens up a whole lot of interesting things you could do with it. For one, you can get real-time traffic. You can send addresses to the GPS from your computer without connecting the GPS up with a cable. It appealed enough to my geek lust that I had to get one. I ordered it from Amazon and it arrived in a few days.

(Sidenote: It was $310 when I bought it, but the price dropped twice on Amazon to $289. I emailed Amazon and they refunded me the difference. I love Amazon.)

I set it up, turned it on and connected it to the Wifi network. It managed to get a GPS signal inside, which was a good sign. It soon called home and realized there were updates to the software available, so it downloaded them and installed them. Strangely, it did this 3 times, each requiring a lengthy reboot process.

The internet connectivity requires a monthly subscription and there’s mention of a free trial, but I wasn’t sure how it worked. While I had to register the device, I didn’t have to provide a credit card or anything. It turns out that the 3 month free trial starts automatically when you register it. That’s nice, it just wasn’t obvious that I had the internet service even though it appeared to be working.

The real-time traffic is pretty cool. Solid lines show recent road speeds from other Dash units, while dashed lines are based on data from traditional traffic services and historical data. Sometimes I saw solid lines and didn’t believe that someone else with a Dash had really just been through the area, but I guess it was true.

When you want to route to a place, it looks at the distance and traffic and provides you at least 2 different routes if there are multiple reasonable ways to get there. In some cases it presented routes which were not reasonable, but they’re pretty obvious and hopefully they will fix these. The downside of this is that it takes a while from when you request a route to when you an actually select one and go. It’s a 3-step process instead of the 1-step process on most other GPS units that don’t give you such choices.

The mini-applications you can install are pretty cool and are really what makes this GPS a lot different from others. One application allows you to browse all the local radio stations and see what’s currently playing on them. Others are just shortcuts to local searches.

The unit is rather big compared to other GPS units these days. That doesn’t really matter when it’s mounted on the dash, but it is annoying when you have to carry it around. GPSes are very common targets of thieves, and I don’t want to leave a $300 device in plain sight, so I take it in with me when I get to work. Unfortunately, its size means you can’t just slip it into your pocket or purse. It does come with a little carrying case which I found unnecessarily tight and difficult to shove the Dash into.

The Send2Car feature is really nice. If you’re going somewhere new, you just use the form on Dash website to send it to your Dash GPS and it picks it up next time you turn it on, assuming you can connect to a Wifi network or GPRS signal. It’s somewhat unfortunate that they chose GPRS as their wireless technology since at least where I live, CDMA (Verizon and Sprint) have much better coverage. That said, it generally hasn’t been a problem for me.

While I appreciate the device overall, there are definitely some other problems I haven’t already mentioned:

  • I find the search interface confusing. Clicking a bar on the top of the search allows you to browse categories, but also acts as a filter for what you’re searching. I just didn’t get it.
  • The database of locations built into the unit is not great. I couldn’t find a lot of stuff when I couldn’t connect to the internet. I suppose that’s offset by the gigantic, continuously updated of locations retrieved from Yahoo Local when connected to the internet.
  • One day I thought I saw something fall out of the back of my Dash. A few days later I definitely saw something fall out. Fumbling around the floor of my car, I found two screws for securing the mount plate to the cradle. The remaining two screws were loose. It only took a screwdriver to get them back in, but it was strange that they fell out by themselves and I suspect it will happen again.
  • The Twitter application is cool to let people know where you are, but it shouldn’t be something you have to do manually. It should continuously update automatically. If that worked, it would eliminate a whole class of calls from my wife asking when I’ll be home. 🙂
  • To switch between 2D and 3D views, you click the compass icon. While that’s convenient, it’s not very intuitive.
  • One day all my apps disappeared. I set up another one and suddenly they all came back. Weird.
  • I installed the weather alerts application and it annoyed me all the time with fake “Send2Car addresses” that were really severe weather alerts.
  • Every application is a “search”. For example, when you want to send your location to Twitter, it asks you if you want to send your current location or a location somewhere else. Huh? It always gets a list of results back from the search, which is completely unnecessary when you’re just sending data.

There’s a few more things I’d really like to see in future devices:

  • Bluetooth handsfree. It seems that most other units at this price have this now and I’d rather not need yet another device.
  • Given a route, tell me how long it will take to get there based on the time I leave. This would be killer. I can leave for work at 8 or 9, but which one will mean I spend less time waiting in traffic? Google Maps allows you to see historical traffic, but not travel time for a route with that traffic data.
  • You should be able to have more than 1 page of favorites. Right now you’re limited to 8 total.

What’s really interesting about the Dash is that it seems to be the first of new generation of general computing devices for the car. It’s not just a GPS, it’s a weather information service, a web browser and “who knows what else” in the future. The only problem with this is that it’s not really part of the car. It doesn’t integrate with the radio, the air conditioning or the car’s internal computer. It’s yet another device to maintain and worse, something I have to carry around for fear of it getting stolen.

Cars are getting their own built-in systems for GPS these days, but they tend to be sub-par. What I really want is a platform for cars where you can customize the software to your needs – dare I say – Windows for your car. It should provide the hardware interfaces into the car (with safety controls of course) and storage and internet access. Let me install whatever I want for the rest of the software. I want to have something that I know and has all my data in any car I drive, not whatever is (or is not) built-in to the car I happen to be using.

The Dash Express is a cool device and I have high hopes that will get ever better over time as more people get them, contribute to the traffic data, and the Dash software is updated to fix many of the flaws that exist today. Please buy one, especially if you live in Boston and do a lot of driving! 🙂

We are homeowners!

House

Yesterday was the day we signed our lives away. We sat in our real estate lawyer’s conference room for 30 minutes and signed our names a bunch of times. The lawyer would push a piece of paper in front of us and tell us what it was about. After I signed several, I asked if any of them were optional and the answer was “No”, so I just kept signing them. There was even one I had to sign that said that if I forgot to sign any documents I would come back and sign them. That one definitely wasn’t optional.

It would have taken longer if we needed to sign duplicate copies for ourselves. They said they would just scan them and email them to us. That’s really cool. I was amazed through the whole home-buying process how much stuff could be done via email. Even if I had to sign a document, I would print it out, sign it, then scan and email it back. I hate fax machines. I was also able to get 2 months of all my financial records and W-2s all online, which is a good thing because our physical copies are all in a box somewhere being driven across the country.

It all ended up being all anti-climactic. We signed the last non-descript contract and we were done. Anne said the closing was “easier than buying stuff from LL Bean’s website”, which is pretty darn scary. I’ll have to watch our credit card statements to make sure she doesn’t casually buy any real estate while I’m not looking.

Total time from arrival in Boston to taking ownership of a house: 34 days.

We went back to the house afterward and I did a victory lap through all the rooms. That takes a while with 11 rooms and 3 floors!

The only thing we had to do to the house yesterday was install a mailbox so we could start changing over our addresses. Anne chased down the mailman and he told us where to put the mailbox we had purchased a few days ago. It was a hot day and the tools I had borrowed from my Dad were barely adequate to cut, drive and screw the mailbox parts into place. The whole process made us easy targets for our aggressively friendly neighbors.

People would stop by on their walks and say hello and tell us what a great neighborhood it was and ask us why our license plates are from California. They all asked if we had a dog. We didn’t but they said a kid was OK. Uh, thanks! Anne felt like we were in the Stepford Wives. They all did seem very nice though, it was just weird coming from a place where we lived for six years and probably only had that many conversations with any neighbors during that time.

After that, there was nothing really to do in the house, as much as we wanted to get a head start. The movers were coming on Monday, so for now we just have a big, completely empty house.

We’re looking forward to finally getting in the house, getting all our stuff back and back to a normal, although drastically different, life.

One Month Later…

It’s been a month since we moved back to Boston and a lot has happened.

The Job

People often ask me how I like my new job and I never know how to answer those kinds of questions. I gues it’s been good so far. It’s been harder than I thought to get up to speed a new set of systems and get to know all the people even though I knew some of them already.

I like the people I’m working with though and this job is far less hectic than the one I left. I have the time to dig deeper into things and I’ve had the opportunity to learn a lot about different technologies. That was a big draw of this job. I’m still finding my place and my role and I wish that would happen faster, but I’m sure it will come. I really need to make a trip to Dallas and Sunnyvale to talk with some people, but I haven’t been able to do that in the last few weeks because…

We bought a house

We landed in Boston on a Saturday and met with a realtor referred to us by a friend the next morning. We saw about 16 houses that day in Lexington, Newton and Winchester. Anne went out and looked at more houses that week while I went to work.

By mid-week we had decided to live somewhere in Lexington. The other towns have equivalently excellent schools, but the public facilities in Lexington are better and it has a great little downtown area. By Friday, we had seen everything in Lexington on the market that met our criteria and we narrowed it down to two that we were seriously considering.

One was quite nice and had some great touches inside, but it had a tiny backyard with another house looking right over into it. The other was brand new and the backyard abutted a conservation area, but it was significantly more expensive.

On Saturday afternoon, we decided to put in an offer for the second house. I spent the afternoon printing, signing and scanning in documents, submitting the offer by 8 pm. It expired at 10 pm that night and there was an open house the next day. At 9 pm, the realtor called and said our first offer (below listed price!) was accepted. It was just over 6 days from when we landed in Boston. Who knew one could spend that kind of money that quickly?

We’re quite excited about it and we’ve been back several times to show our families. The builder has a few more little things to finish before we close on Friday. It’s hard to believe that we’ll finally own a house. We kind of skipped over the “starter house” and went right for the family house. We need to go on a serious furniture shopping spree for to not make it look ridiculous. Our stuff was supposed to be loaded from storage in California on July 3rd and should arrive at the end of this week.

When I tell people I’m buying a house in Lexington – they always react with the same word – “nice.” I’m pretty sure that’s just the standard way of saying “yikes, that’s expensive!” here.

We’re really looking forward to moving into the house. For one, it will dramatically cut down my commute. For the first 3 weeks, I commuted from Anne’s uncle’s house in Brookline, NH. While right on the Massachusetts border, it’s about a 75 minute commute each way to Cambridge on a good day and 90+ minutes on a bad day.

We planned to rotate amongst our families from the start and last week we moved our stuff to my parents’ house in Manchester, NH which is little further away, but a straight shot on the interstate, making it just over an hour commute. It’s tolerable knowing that it’s only temporary and I’ve been working from home one day a week as well. Since many of the people that I work with are in other offices anyway, it doesn’t matter so much where I’m working from ask long as I have a phone and internet access.

Being back

Moving back has certainly had its strange moments, but overall it’s been wonderful. Our cars, both purchased on the west cast, sitting in the driveway still with their California places on seem out of place. My parents’ lake cottage now has DSL and a wireless router.

We’ve had much time to spend with our families. Even if we weren’t living with them, they are at most an hour or 2 hour drive away, short enough for a weekend or afternoon visit. I’m thrilled to leave behind the stress of figuring out how much room we have for things to stuff our suitcases to fly back. It seems we did so just in time as flights and baggage have started to get expensive. Now the limit is only how much stuff we can put in a car. We’re going to end up with a lot more stuff now.

Places in New England that we’ve only seen during extended vacations during our 10 years on the west coast are now so casually seen, it’s scary. I feel very relaxed here. There’s nothing better than sitting on the porch by the lake and listening to a Red Sox game.

Things are about to get crazy again as we move into our new house, but for now I’m enjoying it and glad to be finally back.

Skydiving

Last night I had a dream about skydiving. I was on the plane, looking out the open door and suddenly realizing what I was about to do. It was a long way down and I wasn’t sure I wanted to suffer the gut-wrenching drop, even if I knew it would be a thrill in retrospect.

It seems that jumping off a plane is not unlike what I’m in the process of doing.

Let’s recap the last 96 hours:

I dropped off 2 yawling cats at SFO at 7:30 am. My Dad picked them up in Manchester at 1 am.
We watched as movers spend 2 frantic days packing our house into 125 boxes, all going directly into storage.
We put both our cars on moving trucks, headed east.
I left my job of the last 6 years, running the world’s largest news site.
I packed up my cube at work into 8 boxes.
I gave away a ton of books and other stuff, including a “midnight meat run”. On Thursday night we realized we had to clear out our freezer, so I ended up bringing 3 dozen hot dogs, some pork chops, and a big bag of meatballs to work at midnight, stuffing them into the freezer for anyone who wanted them.
I attended a party at work in my honor, where I was presented with a new ping pong paddle, 72 3-star balls, and brand new ping pong table, to be delivered to my new office in Cambridge.
I spent my Friday night in a dark, empty house, armed with a UV light and a spray bottle, cleaning the carpets of any cat pee, puke and blood.
I turned in my keys for our rented house.
We loaded everything we needed for at least the next few months into 6 large bags and a couple of carryons. We weighed each one, most coming in at about 49 pounds, just below the limit.
We filled a minivan cab with our 300+ pounds of stuff.
We boarded a one-way flight from Oakland to Boston
We said goodbye, for now, to a lot of good friends.

That’s some serious change, but there’s more to come in the next 96:

We’ll rent a car and check into a hotel outside Boston for 2 days.
We’ll meet with a realtor and start looking at neighborhoods and houses to live, somewhere around Newton/Brookline/Lexington/Belmont/Winchester.
I’ll start my new job at Yahoo in Cambridge.
We’ll move, temporarily, into Anne’s uncle’s house in Brookline, NH
I’ll see what I think of a 75 minute one-way commute to Cambridge

Yeah, this must be exactly what it feels like to jump out of plane, not knowing where you’ll land and what shape you’ll be in once you get there. Now we just need to figure out which of the 125 boxes contains our parachute.

Audrey’s Tricks

We’ve been teaching Audrey some “tricks”. Most of them she picked up after only a few days of practice. Given a simple prompt, she’ll react with a gesture or a sound. It’s very cute.

Yes, that’s Signal in the background yelling at us because he’s not getting any attention. That’s because he doesn’t do any tricks.

Hi

Clapping

Oh no!

Pffffttt

Gimme 5

Got any more suggestions of things I should teach her?

My first SearchMonkey application

My first SearchMonkey application has been approved and is ready for anyone to use!

PHP Function Reference

When searching for for PHP functions, it will immediately show you the syntax so you don’t need to click through to the the actual page.

A few thoughts on SearchMonkey:

  • It’s a very cool concept and I hope it takes off
  • I wish it actually replaced the contents of the search result abstract with my app, like it shows in the demos instead of showing something additional I have to click.
  • Building them requires quite a bit of technical background. You need to understand RDF, XSLT and some PHP and understand how they all work together.
  • Adding an application requires too many non-obvious steps.
  • The tool itself shows some nice previews, but it’s clunky and requires a lot of clicks. I wish there was something I could use to edit and test outside the developer tool for faster iteration.
  • The preview pane is really nice, but too slow to update
  • You can’t specify URL patterns that don’t end in slashes.
  • It seems to hide long lines for some reason, but they show properly in a tooltip.

The team has been very repsonsive though and is making changes quickly, so I’m sure they’ll fix these nits and a lot more soon.

Go SearchMonkey!

Big News: We’re Moving Back to Boston

After almost exactly 10 years touring the West coast (Seattle, LA, San Francisco Bay Area), Anne and I (and Audrey too!) are moving back East, to Boston. It’s something that we’ve wanted to do for a long time, but things have been good at Yahoo, and it didn’t seem like I could leave that.

The good news is that I don’t really have to leave it. I’m going to continue working for Yahoo as an Architect for our Video Platform. I’ll be based in the Cambridge office along with the team from Maven Networks, acquired by Yahoo! in February. Maven’s offices are literally across the street from where I worked at Firefly in 1997-1998. We have many fond memories of our time there.

While I will be leaving Yahoo! News and the engineering team I largely built, I’ll be taking on new and interesting responsibilities. For one, I’ll be helping the Cambridge team integrate with the rest of Yahoo. Hopefully my experience as the acquiree as part of LAUNCH back in 2001 will be helpful there. We also did a lot of audio and video streaming there of course, so that knowledge will also come in handy. I still have nightmares about debugging LAUNCHcast using Flash 4.0 and the RealPlayer Netscape plugin running in Netscape 4.73 on a Mac. Thankfully the technology has come a long way since then.

Over the years, I’ve gotten to know a lot of people at Yahoo and how things work, so that should be another skill I can put to use there. I’m sure I’ll be bouncing back and forth to Sunnyvale and Dallas frequently as I work with the various Yahoo offices that comprise our Video team.

Six years is a long time to stay in any job and I’ve learned a hell of a lot. As my team and responsibilities grew bigger, I got further and further away from the technology that brought me into this industry in the first place. While I quelled that with coding projects on the side at work and at home, I’m looking forward to immersing myself in technology problems again as part of my day-to-day job.

The whole opportunity has been in the works for months now and I’m happy to finally share it with everyone. It’s been very difficult to have to hide the most significant thing going on in my life from family, friends and coworkers for many weeks. We didn’t even tell our families until I had accepted the position as to not upset them if it fell through. They’re thrilled to soon be within an hour or two of their granddaughter.

After I talked to many of the Video team members here in Sunnyvale, I made plans to visit the Cambridge office in late April. I left on a Sunday afternoon, spent the day in the office, then took a late flight back on Monday. What I failed to realize was that was also Patriots’ day in Massachusetts which means it was the day of the Boston Marathon. That would have been fine except for my return flight which was full of sweaty, smelly marathon runners including the woman who sat next to me and who ran it finish to start AND back again a few hours before.

We don’t know where we will live yet, but we hope to buy a house somewhere within reasonable commuting distance to Cambridge. We’ll be crashing with family and friends until we find a place. The plan is to leave here around the 7th of June, just 2 1/2 short weeks away.

When Anne and I first moved out to the West coast, we thought we would stay a few years, but never anticipated 10. We even joked that we’d return when the Big Dig was done, which is a nice way of not making any commitment at all. Well the joke’s on us now. The Big Dig actually finished and we’re Boston bound. It will be good to get back to a place where they have actual seasons of the year (even the cold ones) and where the Red Sox play every night on basic cable.

For my friends on the West coast – thanks, but you won’t be able to miss me too much as I’ll be back often. For my friends and family on the East coast, I look forward to seeing you again and more often.

Boy we have a lot of junk to pack up.