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Joel Kitching Engineer and creative mind

Amazon intern day 13: the full-day grind

May 12 2011

Today was my big day-long tutorial about Amazon and Prime-land! I attempted to go in to work well-rested and well-fed, although I ended up being a bit worried since I couldn’t quite remember if we were supposed to start at 9 AM or 10 AM. I was in fact late, so luckily it was 10 AM.

“Pull” learning

It was a little more broken up than I had expected, which was nice. The first portion was supposed to be down on the fifth floor next to some weird Simpsons display, but then we ended up moving back up to the ninth floor for various reasons. It was fairly nice, since Mark seemed to listen to me yesterday when I told him that I would prefer a “pull” sort of learning, and so a lot of it was me asking things and repeating things.

A Google employee infiltrates

We broke for lunch, during which Chris and I went down to a talk being put on by a Google employee. This was a very high-up person in charge of testing Chrome and Maps, and he was explaining how most of the typical roles of testers aren’t actually useful. One of his best lines was, “you can’t put a lipstick on a pig.” (In other words, it’s fairly useless to build an insecure product, patch up some problems afterwards, and then ship it off.)

He argued more for testers that were fully integrated into the programming process, and for building useful testing frameworks where bugs can be reported in a single click. He showed us a fairly impressive system for reporting bugs in Chrome, where you can simply click on an element of a webpage, and it will automatically send it off to the bug repository, and then highlight it for future viewers of the same page. Cool!

More more more information

After lunch, we headed up to the top floor of our building, where we ended up with a nice sunny room for part two. More useful information. Chris ordered a pizza, which was delicious—basil and goat cheese and garlic, among other things. James even came in and stole some.

Another half-hour break while Mark went to a meeting (which I basically spent sitting quietly and absorbing information), we headed into the last meeting room. I somehow kept absorbing information, and overall the whole day ended up being very useful.

Olympic Sculpture Park

I came home, sat around, and it was a gorgeous evening, so I decided to try my bike out for a spin. (I’d brought it down from Vancouver.) I headed towards Queen Anne, and ended up going right down to the water instead, where I found a strange sculpture park [Yelp] that led to the waterfront. In fact, it was so strange that, upon biking to the other side of the park (over top of a highway), I heard a voice from nowhere asking me to “please walk my bike while in the park.” That’s some 1984 stuff right there.

I biked all the way along the shoreline for a while, taking some shots as the sun went down. It gave me hope that there are nice waterfront park areas in Seattle (although this one is very difficult to get to, with only two entrances extremely far apart, since there is a highway and a set of railways to cross).

I returned home, and through some posts on Facebook discovered that my high school friend Kevin had been on the same cruise up to Alaska as my friends. He in fact checked into a Starbucks mere blocks from where I live!

No big deal, just a “drop-in replacement for the Windows UI”

Later on, I went to meet someone a Vancouver friend knew living in the area. We had arranged to go meet at this really neat restaurant in Capitol Hill. It’s somewhat difficult to get to from my house, but it was a very neat walk through that area of town. I felt way safer than I did downtown—there were actually people milling about in the evening, and I walked by some clubs and bars.

The restaurant itself was one of those trendy semi-bar places that stays open late (2 AM) and then apparently opens early and has breakfast as well. It had all of these concert posters up on the walls, and other neat decorations, and yet it still seemed to retain a very sophisticated air. The food looked delicious, but I only ended up drinking a beer.

Anthony, the friend of a friend, was apparently an assistant to someone founding a start-up developing a “drop-in replacement for the Windows UI.” He barely knew any details about it, but apparently it had a lot of “celebrities” backing it and he knew it would succeed. Hmm, good luck. Suffice to say, conversation didn’t flow terribly well, and we didn’t end up hanging out again.

I decided to walk home after that, I had just missed the bus, and it took me exactly 30 minutes. I cross-cut through downtown, but still managed to avoid the sketchy areas. Got home, collapsed, and went to sleep.