Do We Have The Right To Choose Our Neighbors?

December 14th 2016

I wrote an opinion piece for the SF Chronicle. They ran it with some great edits for length, so I figured I’d put my original, longer, and worse version here for posterity’s sake.

San Francisco is one of the most progressive cities in the nation, especially when it comes to national immigration. We believe so much in the natural right of people to join us here in America that we fought to keep our status as sanctuary city even in the face of being federally defunded for it. We pride ourselves in our rejection of plans to tighten immigration controls and deport undocumented immigrants. Yet take that same kind of conversation to the local level and all bets are off. City meetings have become heated, divisive, and prone to rhetoric where we openly discuss exactly which kinds of people we want to keep out of our city.

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Starting a Business Without Quitting Your Day Job

January 8th 2016

In November of last year, I was invited to give a fairly informal talk on the topic of my choice at Dropbox. I decided to go with the mildly controversial topic of advocating Dropbox employees to consider making side businesses. They were gracious enough to furnish me with a recording of the talk, which you may also enjoy below. It’s got a few nuggets about how I think about running a small business and some mistakes you probably want to avoid making.

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Creating Google Hangouts With Apps via URL

January 13th 2015

If you’ve tried to make a Google Hangouts app, you probably already know that it sucks pretty badly. Famously terrible documentation, crazy bloated JavaScript, and mandated UX requirements. You also might know that you can craft a URL to open a new hangout without any of the bloat like so:

https://plus.google.com/hangouts/_

But what if you want to make a hangout with your app and set its app_type to ROOM_APP so that your app is loaded for everyone by default?

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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

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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.

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