W7 - Advice for IC lifers


It's Week 7. I feel deflated. What I find puzzling is lacking motivation even while working on things I find interesting. Perhaps it's a combination of pushing myself a bit harder at the end of the previous week, and how the absence of a work/home divide adds up. I made a conscious effort to sleep and eat better towards the end of the week, and (temporarily) limiting screen time to help me feel more centered.

Timing-wise, it's annoying this coincided with Week 1 for the new Fall 2 batch. I had been looking forward to meeting new people, hear what they plan to work on, and bask in the collective excitement. It's really cool seeing all the new events pop up.


I continued to spend time on clox. My plan was to quickly complete the VM implementation of end-to-end, and then go through multiple passes/iterations on the aspects I'd like to focus on. As the implementation got more complex, however, I found myself getting tripped up by the speedy approach. When I implemented local variables, for example, my previously working implementation of global variables no longer worked.

This forced me to go back and invest a little bit more time on guardrails. Debugging with print statements shifted to breakpoints. One-off tests became permanent. The debug flag setting now exposes helpful information, and extended to multiple debug levels. Comments are more verbose, type annotations more widely available.

It's the story of all codebases - the trade-off between speed and best practice, and the introduction of tools to help manage growing complexity. What I didn't realize is the shift kicking in less than a week. In any case, there's enough here for a presentation.

On writing

When I was blogging daily, I would include a motivational post, a career-related post, a general interest post, as well as music and video content over a one week period. I'll try to keep this recurring for the weekly blog posts.

What I couldn't quite fit in thread were obituaries, collected from The Economist. I've not come most of those featured before, but reading their stories help illuminate the challenges of their time. I pause to wonder how our lives (and times) would unfold, and despite our best laid plans, how much serendipity plays a role.

If I could have fit them in, I would start with the story of Naty Revuelta.

Content: My time at Lehman

A thread in Week 6 is professional services, or finance more specifically. My experience mirrors the account by Nick Chirls; while in the trenches it's hard to escape "the lies that people tell themselves so that they can buy larger homes". Extending on the theme of perspective, or the lack of it, is this excerpt.


The people around me measured themselves by one metric: The amount of money he or she made for the firm. Their bonus determined the respect they received. And yet, every last person felt poor.

Content: Advice for IC lifers

Last week we discussed engineering management, this week is advice from Matt Klein for IC lifers.

One last thing: don't let anyone tell you that the tech/engineering is the easy part. It's not. It's hard. Soft skills are also hard. It's ALL hard, and both are required to succeed.

Content: Russians

It's hard to choose a favorite Sting track. I'll go with Russians; it's haunting and follows nicely content below, on the fall of the Soviet Union.

Content: DTAC

Thais make the best ads. It works too - my first Thai SIM card was from DTAC.

Content: Magic Mountain

At the time I was working in finance, my end goal was to end up as a macro trader. In my idealized view, this involves reading The Economist and then taking a position on how the grand sweeps of history would unfold. I can only guess what the reality is like. As accounts go I enjoy reading the New Yorker on Daniel Arbess, who took the view that "the devolution of Communism would be the single biggest driver of opportunity in our time".


The article more broadly provides an insight of what Davos is like, for better or for worse.