It's been over two weeks since my last update. Ouch. I've been just so busy with everything. Between juggling the full time job, working on my own stuff, exploring LA and taking care of myself, there is so little time and energy left. That's the excuse I have for the delay of this update. Once again, there is a lot that I could talk about, so I'll do my best to keep it all brief and concise.
The reason I am here is because of this job, so I thought I would start with it. I have very mixed feelings about it, to be honest. In week two, I got assigned to work on a UI component (I'll try to avoid talking about details because technically speaking, I shouldn't talk about them), and at first, it was great. I feel very confident when it comes to UI programming on iOS, plus I was given certain freedom about how it should look/work. Or so I thought. I came up with a solution that seemed to me like the best one, and I spent basically the whole second week working on it. Only to find out that it actually won't be acceptable to have it that way, so on the third week, I had to start over and do it exactly their way. I still believe my solution was better (and at the risk of sounding too cocky, I do have a track record of very satisfied users of my apps), but I wasn't hired to make UI/product decision, and I just had to accept that. Actually, lets make this into lists, so I don't end up with a wall of text.
The positive things
- Being around nice people, all the time. I keep praising this because this is the thing that I miss the most when working on my own.
- Realizing even further that employment is not for me. From the inability to have any say in the direction of the product, to having to put up with questionable code decisions, to having daily meetings which are essentially a waste of time for everybody involved. I am even more sure than ever about the professional direction I want to take in nearest months/years.
- Learning new things from team mates. When it comes to iOS specifically, I am one of the most experienced developers on the team. But there are still a lot of things that I can learn from them. The most important example of this is Git. We are using Gitflow with rebasing, and thanks to one-on-one help with it that I was getting, I am finally becoming comfortable with using Git. I definitely plan to integrate it into my own development process.
The negative things
- The fatigue and detachment. I am very sensitive to the relationship that I have with the work I do. When I feel excited about it, when I simply see the meaning in it, I am more than happy to go to great length to make the best job I possibly can. On the other hand, when I don't see the meaning, I tend to do not as good a job. In this particular project, I am still conflicted. I don't agree with most of the design decisions they made, but I still plan to do the best job I can within the constraints I was given. And the 'fatigue' part of this point - I can feel that people who are longer in this kind of environment - they start to gradually loose their ideals, their aspirations. They kind of accept things the way they are, and they stop trying to find ways to escape it. I know I have to be always on the lookout for that. That's why I am glad this is only for three months, and that I still have some spare time to push my own projects forward.
- So little time. We come to the office at 8AM, and most of the days leave between 5PM and 6PM. But we also had to come on Saturday last week, and last Friday I had to finish something for the week's build so I ended up leaving just after 7PM. It is really time consuming.
If you remember, I said in the previous blog post about my first week here that I had sore throat. Well, it didn't just go away. The second week, I was very tired from all the things that were going on, and sometime during the middle of the weak, it got worse. And apart from the sore throat, I started feeling sick. I mean, I was sick. Officially. So the second weekend (or, rather what was left of it, because as I said, we worked that week on Saturday), I spent at the hotel room, lying in bed and sleeping. I also took Monday off, and also slept for the majority of the day. That, combined with a lot of medicine and vitamins I took, fortunately really helped me. I went to work on Tuesday and I felt like it was gone. I was so glad! After 2+ weeks, I finally didn't feel sick.
Last week, when I finally got rid of the illness, it just so happened that another people from Slovakia arrived (from the same company as Martin and I), which is great because they've been here before and we've been able to do a couple of 'visits' together.
- The Griffith Observatory. Last week on Wednesday after work, we went to the Griffith Observatory. Unfortunately, it was already after sunset when we got there, but even the night view of the city was spectacular. I just felt so grateful that I am here (in Los Angeles). On my own, and for so long. I mean, I still feel that way! We also visited the planetarium there, and saw a star through their big and old telescope.
- California Science Center and Hollywood Walk of Fame. Last Saturday, we went to visit the California Science Center. This was the first time I and Martin drove to the center of the city. The traffic here is insane, and also the number of lanes (even 6 in one direction on Freeways) is just something I haven't experienced anywhere else. There were some dramatic moments during the way, but fortunately we did it without any accident. Regarding the Science Center - we've seen the Endeavor space shuttle, plus a lot of interesting science related exhibitions. We also went to the IMAX there. Regarding the Walk of Fame - yeah, stars with celebrity names on the sidewalk. It was good. But too crowded, at least for me. I also got to see the Capitol Records Tower - it's the label that signed Katy Perry! At the end of the trip, we went to the viewing site of the Hollywood sign and took a couple of pictures.
* Cycling in Will Rogers park near Santa Monica. On Sunday, I had to do a lot of 'housekeeping' (so to speak). But in the afternoon, I took my bike into the car and drove to Santa Monica. I found that there is a trail in the Will Rogers park so I wanted to try it out. And I must say, the cycling experience there was very good! The hills were steep and most of it was single track. There were great views of the LA Downtown, the sun was shining and the air had this sea moisture in it. It was almost perfect.
General life experience here
It's definitely something new for me, because I've never been so long away from home and from my country. My mood about this changes in sort of slow waves. There are days where I think I couldn't care less about Czech Republic, and there are days when I kind of think the stay here was shorter (I still have one month left). But generally, I am very excited and thankful that I got the chance to be here. The weather is perfect, the job is good, people I work with are very nice and friendly. I am just so grateful for all of that.
Eating and laundry
Regarding the more practical things - I started cooking just a few days ago. Before, I was always missing something. When I first came to the hotel, there weren't any kitchen utensils. There is no kettle, so I have to boil the water on stove. I bought some pasta last week, and some tomato sauce. Then I realized that I have no salt. So once I bought that during my grocery shopping last Sunday, I was finally able to cook that pasta and eat it with a tomato sauce that I bought before. It was quite good. I actually had it for the second time today. I also had bread with canned fillets several times. For launch, we always eat at the canteen in the company. On most days, the meals there are really good.
Regarding laundry - I've done it twice so far. The first time, I also used the drying machine. But it seemed to me that some of the T-shirts really shrank up, so the second time I didn't use it. Now I will have to iron them manually. I keep the room somewhat clean, I believe. There certainly isn't anybody to complain about it, so that's nice.
For breakfast, I always get the muffins and a half cup of coffee (both included in the hotel stay). I also eat oatmeal and I prepare a snack for the day using my wholewheat bread. We (I and Martin) leave at 7:45AM for work, so we are in the office a little after 8:00AM.
The daily routine is good, I am satisfied with it. It's certainly something I would like to "bring back" with me when I get back. In the weeks before I went here, I had no routine at all. It was a mess. Now that I was forced into it, it proved to be effective (just as I thought it will be).
Some random ideas and moments
To finish this post, I would like to mention some things I've been thinking about and some memorable moments.
- First fuel re-fill. (I have no idea how to say this correctly, but hopefuly you know what I mean). Both I and Martin were a bit worried about it, because I've never took gas before, plus there are some differences in how they do it in US. We've read the manual for our car and consulted our coworkers from Slovakia, and thanks to that, it went really smoothly. We were both relieved.
- I can be on my own. I know, it's still too soon to tell. But I have no problem being here on my own. I spend so much of the day around people that I basically haven't had a chance to feel lonely. In a way, I feel more connected now than often times back at my home country. It's also very liberating, to be in charge of what you do, when you do it and how to do it. This experience is certainly helping me a lot with the eventual "falling of the nest".
- Never ending struggle with App Engine. (This point is a bit technical, you'd been warned). Ever since the first day of October, I've been working on updating my web app that is running on App Engine and serves as the backend for my Routie app. Because they've removed an API that I was relying on, I had to move to something else. This resulted in so much problems and troubles like you wouldn't believe. I've been in touch with their support person on a daily basis since then. Every step of the way, there was an error that needed to be fixed. Even the basic stuff (just following their guides) just didn't work. Today, I worked on it some more and am now really close to finally resolving it. But as I was trying to test out the new code, I stumbled onto yet another problem. I mean, I am probably spoiled from the Apple environment, where, for the most part, everything just works. In the Java world, it seems that nothing works. Literally every step of the way was a huge pain and required tons of researching and problem solving.
- My new app! Little here and there, I try to squeeze in some time where I work on my upcoming new app. I've recently passed the milestone of 300 subscribes that opted in to be notified when it launches, so that's very gratifying. I've also got some fresh and exciting ideas about particular things in the UI that I just can't wait to implement. It's a pity that the day has only 24 hours!
- New ideas and perspective. Living here so far proved to be very good from the 'ideas' perspective. I am often pondering about life, thinking about what I do and don't want to do. Thinking about events and people around me, and how it all fits together. Trying to make sense of things, and trying to learn from other people's mistakes. This post is way too long already for me to go into any details about this. Perhaps in another post!
Thanks for making it all the way to the end! I'll try to write a new post sooner than in two weeks. Cheers.