Above and Beyond the Affirm Job Puzzle

March 8th 2013

The latest startup from internet luminary Max Levchin recently launched, and they have a very entertaining programming puzzle up on their jobs page.

You should read the page for some background, but in summary the problem is to find the distances between any two cells in a hexagonal grid numbered in the following manner:

The hexagonal grid

Continue »

The Riders and Hunters of Men

February 17th 2013

Posit that humans are just the reproductive organs of ideas, and our minds little more than churning pools of interchanging notions. In short, standard meme theory. We might be hosts whose carefully formulated egos are nothing more than the emergent terrain of an ancient memetic battleground - one imagines long wars between the myriad incarnations of fear and laziness for control of our weary brains. The memes with the most dominant survival characteristics must have long since evolved - likely candidates being caution, hope, and solidarity. In this paradigm, the most prolific ideas are the hardiest survivors of thousands of years of crossbreeding, their properties now the building blocks of more complicated and fragile abstractions like justice, ambition, and melancholy. The simplest ideas might occupy the lowest and most important rungs of an intellectual ecosystem, akin to our humble meat-space phytoplankton.

Continue »

The API for Google's most valuable resource sucks

August 15th 2012

Disclosure: I recently worked for Google for about a year. It was alright.

Recently, Vic Gundotra of Google+ fame made a bold statement. He proclaimed that the lack of write API access to Google+ is born not out of lack of foresight, planning, or even bandwidth, but out of trepidation, caution, and the desire to do right by developers.

Continue »

Love in the Time of MapReduce

April 2nd 2012

This piece was written for an internal Google fiction contest, for the 100th edition of the engineering newsletter. The call to arms arrived in my inbox like so:

For this special Eng Newsletter issue, we're running a "google eng-y" short fiction contest. You can write about anything, but the story must begin with these two words: "The MapReduce".

Continue »