Archive for the 'CCIT' Category


Saturday, May 10th, 2008

talking to the chuburys the other day, it occurred to me that my career will be turning ten years old in a few short months. I’m not sure how I feel about that. On one hand, I feel a retrospective is in order. On the other, I feel like I’m too young to be thinking about a retro anything. I wish I had something more substantive to say about this mile marker.

I guess what I can say is that this past decade I’ve been incredibly lucky to have worked with some really wonderful people with whom I’ve formed enduring friendships, and for that I am very grateful.

So, thanks y’all!

Here’s to another ten. Cheers.

Moving Along

Tuesday, November 28th, 2006

From: CUIT Computer Support Center
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Please be advised that your CUIT computer account, XXXXX, will expire early on the first Tuesday after 2006-11-29.

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Happy Last Day In the Office, JLG!

Friday, March 17th, 2006

JLG Mooooo JLG
Congrats, Sir! Don’t be a stranger! and don’t play with your udders in public.

Taking Things in a New Direction (Part VII)

Friday, March 17th, 2006

Disclaimer: this is the story as I remember it. very likely to be incomplete and/or incorrect, but a story nonetheless. Leave comments for corrections. oh, and tell me when i should stop.

And now we get to the part where many of you young readers know the rest of the story, and I get in trouble for not telling it incorrectly.

The summer of 2001 would see me leaving CCIT once again. This time, the occasion was a six week jaunt through scandinavia and eastern europe with my good friend Mr. Benjamin Levy. It was a great trip marked by beautiful women, hikes along glaciers and fjords, near death experiences, and what is, so far, the best story of my life. I still roll over laughing everytime i think about it. Anyway, it was a nice way to cap off a semester of listlessness.

After galavanting across the land of blonde hair and blue eyes, i returned to CCIT. We were operating out of the tin box and luckily my vacation coincided with the move, so i got to miss that part. The tin box was fun, though–I can say that simply because this was the last stop before our subterranean life began. The group was split up over two of the rooms. the big kids (john, helen, and jeff) and the film kids were in one bullpen and the interns were in another bullpen across the hallway. Apparently, there was a lot of fun to be had.

Tin Box 1 Tin Box 2 Tin Box 3

Notice the asian sweat shop theme.

Anyway, the split between big kids and little kids meant i had a decision to make. where do i sit? which side of the hallway do i fall on? either way, i didn’t have a workstation or desk and so i experimented a bit. spent a couple days with the interns, spent a couple days with the grown ups, and after a while i gravitated toward the grown ups. yeah, call me a pre-madonna if you want, but that’s where i felt comfortable.

Jukebox v.0.5 was born that summer. It consisted of lilgeck and some harmon kardon speakers. I served as the only dj and every now and then, AcIS would reassign me an IP address and the music would go into infinite repeat over a 1 second sound byte . . . but, it was better than nothing. The soundtrack to that summer consisted of a lot of Dave Matthews, Bruce Springsteen, and Pink Floyd.
Anyway, the interns were cooking up a new engineering website and putting out fires on the other sites.  The engineering website signified the fourth website for which we were responsible.  I was tasked with Calendar v.2.0 which was basically taking all that was v.1.0 and making it actually work.

Also, during this summer, I laid the seeds for Hawaiian Shirt Friday.  I don’t know why i decided to this, and, in fact, I’d never seen Office Space prior to suggesting it.  But I think I felt the hallway was just too great of a divide separating us and I was seeking a unifiying agent.  I started out modest.  I mean it was only Hawaiian Shirt Friday and not Hawaiian Shirt Krispy Kreme Friday . . . at least not yet.  It was the initial failure of former that predicated the latter incarnation. Eventually, though, I made it happen as evidenced below:

Hawaiian Shirt Friday III  Hawaiian Shirt Friday II  Hawaiian Shirt Friday I

But this would be much later.

note to yahoo: this is coming your way as soon as i get my hawaiian shirt back.
So, the summer of 2001 was good . . . unfortunately, it would last long . . .


Tuesday, March 7th, 2006

It looks like my pleading has yielded a new author. Thanks jlee!

Return to Sender (Part VI)

Friday, March 3rd, 2006

Disclaimer: this is the story as I remember it. very likely to be incomplete and/or incorrect, but a story nonetheless. Leave comments for corrections. oh, and tell me when i should stop.

Six months at Intel passed without a hitch and I returned to a life that had moved on. My classmates had all kicked off their senior year in style and were preparing for job interviews and life in the great beyond.  CCIT had grown even more and i was no longer an integral part of the operation. And, after six months away, the girlfriend realized what an ass i was and ended the relationship.

The breakup with the girl was the real kicker at the time. In hindsight, it was probably one of the better things that’s happened to me. Lots of self reflection and eighteen nights of drunkeness later (I was gunning for nineteen or twenty three. I wanted to stop on a prime number for some reason, but, well, i got sick on the eighteenth day), I think I came out of it with a better understanding of who i was and who i wanted to be. Also, had it not been for that breakup i probably wouldn’t have had a chance to get to know the WangWongWoo triumvirate which would have been truly catastrophic.

As for CCIT, i stayed out of the way for most of the semester. Compared to the thirty plus hour weeks i used to put in, i was pretty much a ghost, or at least i felt like one. I would drop in on occasion here and there to fix bugs or hang out, but i wasn’t contributing the way i once did. Everything felt wierd at that time. I didn’t have a workstation or even a desk at which to sit. I ended up plucking away on lilgeck, my first laptop that i bought with the intel money. Workwise, it was just a mediocre time for me. I spent most of that semester smelling roses and enjoying the city with friends. I remember a lot of drinking all night . . . it probably had something to do with becoming president of my fraternity.
But CCIT didn’t really need me then.  Oddly, they had grown a film department (comprised of one Johnathan “Hollywood” Hludzinski and Leah Gelpe) charged with producing promotional films for the college, and had spawned many a website for the college and student affairs.

So, things were good for all by the end of the semester.  I had my time away from all things professional engineering and CCIT was doing incredibly well. But, there was more to be had.  I mean, the University has sixteen schools, and we were only playing with two of them.  Soon, the engineering school would be taken over, and in order to accomplish that, we needed more intern power.  Enter two of my favorite interns: Jenny Lee and Andy Shin.

Fork (Part V)

Saturday, February 25th, 2006

Disclaimer: this is the story as I remember it. very likely to be incomplete and/or incorrect, but a story nonetheless. Leave comments for corrections. oh, and tell me when i should stop.

So, the summer was once again fast upon us. I don’t know if John knew what he wanted to do with me at that point since I wouldn’t be around for the summer. Eventually, i found myself working on Calendar. v.0.1 this time. It was done in madsearch and looked nothing like a calendar (oddly, during the previous year in the now defunct Software Engineering class, i actually built a calendaring web app in php using mysql). It was around then that Sue had promised me an honorary degree if i could get it done. ah, what could have been . . .

otherwise there were changes afoot. CCIT was growing fast and we were about to welcome our first official intern corps: kevin eng, tony chow, rob kao, johnny li, and lenny volchock. Unfortunately, i wouldn’t meet most of the new interns until i returned for spring semester.

I don’t really know how to relay this next part of the story. My time at Intel was incredibly insightful. I learned a lot about working outside of ccit and for corporate america. Perhaps the one huge take away i got from those six months was confidence. It’s one thing to be plucking away in a fish bowl that services thousands of people. It’s an entirely new ball game to be making products that will live for 5 years and be used by millions of people. To make products that people rely on to run their businesses, teach their children, play video games, calculate their taxes, etc. And, feeling like i could compete with the CMU guys, the U of I guys . . . it was just really good for me.

but for all the industry experience and there was something missing, and, if i had to put a name on it, i’d say it was irreverence. at intel, there was no singing and dancing. there was no jukebox blasting all day long. I had the intel culture police in my cube on a daily basis. “Stop standing on your chair.” “You can’t hang christmas lights in your cube.” “Where’s your badge? You can walk around here without a badge.” Actually, that last one there probably did it in for the future of me and intel. I went downstairs with a couple of co-workers to get a cup of coffee and these security guys stop us and ask me where’s my badge. I tell them i left it at my desk and then one of the security dudes turns to my co-worker and asks him, “What’s this guy’s name?” Mother fucker didn’t have the decency to ask me what my name was. Just assumed i was going to lie to him.
Anyway, during those six months, i was also moonlighting for CCIT. I developed the study abroad database (the second longest living app in CCIT history!) with my night hours. the interesting thing about that was the fact that my account was terminated right after i left. And I was kinda taken aback by that. two years of devotion to the JLG and in the first day of a temproary hiatus, my account got nixed. Where was the L-O-V-E? whatever. At the end of those six months, I got the STAB database up and a pre-silicon unit test validator done. yay.


Thursday, February 23rd, 2006

so, i’ve been writing a lot lately. what can i say? it gets lonely at 5am waiting for results from torino.

anyway, i’m at a quasi stopping point, and, since i’m a bit fatigued, i’ll put up another poll up to see who wants to hear me mis-tell this part of the story. to be honest, i think there are others  who know it better than i better than i do. we’re talking the summer of 2000, here, and i  really wasn’t around for it.

regardless, i guess the options are a) stop b) talk about my days at intel c) hit the fast forward button.

alternatively, there’s option d in which those who were there during the summer and fall of 2000 take up the charge and write about it themselves because I’m sure everyone is tired of my poor grammar and writing style (and possibly of this story as well).

The Beginning (A.K.A. Part IV)

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006

Disclaimer: this is the story as I remember it. very likely to be incomplete and/or incorrect, but a story nonetheless. Leave comments for corrections. oh, and tell me when i should stop.
We now arrive at the spring semester of 2000. Perhaps of most import to me was spring break of that year when i received a phone call from the kids at intel. It was an interesting period. I was looking for a summer job in the industry of my choice. I had applied for multiple internships at motorola, amd, intel, texas instruments, sun, sgi, etc. And the remarkable thing about intel, was a) they actually contacted me, and b) their first attempt was at my dorm number. except, i was on spring break and in california at the time. luckily, a man by the name of paul bulemi was kind enough to try me at my sacramento number.

The interview process for the intel job was nothing more than a phone interview, and either their standards were low or i did well, because by the end of it, i had a job offer for the summer. I tend to think the former was the case as it was made known to me that they were in a bind to find someone to fill the co-op (a position i would put them in again later). The only drawback was the length of the co-op, six months. It would mean missing a semester of school and graduating as a half-ling in february of 2002. It took a little deliberation, but in the end, i decided to go. I mean, the facts were that i was going to a non-reputable engineering school, surrounded by i-banking wannabes, and this was an opportunity for me to get some industry experience, spend time with the family and, more importantly, my nanny who was in declining health.

Slightly before spring break, there was a significant turn of events. John and Helen ditched me. Well, i guess i should be more discriminant and say that John ditched me. According to Helen, John just walked in one day and said “pack your bags, we’re moving.” Actually, ditched might not be the right word . . . well, actually it is. You all should give him grief for that. Thanks. Apparently, it didn’t take long for Sue to realize the potiential of one John Luke Grogan, and, in a large coup for The College at large, she annointed John as the new head of Columbia College Information Technology. There was, however, a need to leave a token of appreciation. Namely, me.

And thus, it happened one day. I walked into CCS and everything was gone. It was explained to me that John and Helen had left to start something at the College and it was the hope that I would continue on with CCS and help keep things in running order. At first, i was alright with it, but after a month, things had gotten pretty unbearable, and so i walked into eleanor’s office and told her i was leaving. Said something to the effect of being able to help more people if i went to go work for john. I have to say, she had a really sullen look on her face as i told her, but, hey, without john, there was no dynamism, no soul. no vision. I had to get out.

Interestingly, right after i told eleanor i was leaving, i walked over to 201 Hamilton (this was before the beginning of our subterannian life, and at the time, the college administration was housed where the current ugrad admissions office is located) to let john know i had flown the coupe and wanted to work for him. I was expecting a positive reaction, but, alas, expectation is merely the precursor to disappointment. Actually, i wish i had captured that moment on film. It was a look of fear on the man’s face. Something akin to, “uh-oh, big doo doo coming my way” type of expression. Apparently, the negoatiations of John’s release hinged in part on not taking me with him . . . oh, well.

And so, life began for me at CCIT. Since I had joined a couple months late, things had already been moving at a steady clip. The office space was being shared by two or three groups: CC-ops, CCIT, and the Dean’s Office. It was an interesting blend. CCIT itself took up two offices and a bullpen for all the interns. Helen had one office on the south side of hamilton and john shared an office on the north side with our newly hired Associate Director of Infrastructure, Jeff Woodbury.

I have to say, my first encounter with Jeff didn’t get things off on a good foot. I really didn’t know who he was or where he came from, and it would be quite a while before i was let in on “the big secret”. Anyway, our first encounter went something like “Who put this crappy music on?” and Jeff acknowledging it was him. Things would only go up from there.
The new office space was nice. It was closer to the girlfriend’s place which was nice and it was on main campus. The offices and bullpen, were probably the largest in CCIT history and will most probably never be equaled. Helen’s office was especially plush with the southern exposure and plenty of sunlight . . . when there was and sun to have appreciable light. A major upgrade from the corner cubby hole at ccs. I’d say the only draw back was the bullpen being filled with Windows boxes running Linux on VMWare . . . slow. very slow. Fortunately, i wouldn’t be spending much time in that environment.
Anyway, things were buzzing in the new office. Websites had to be made, hardware was being purchased, and interns needed to be aquired. In the meantime, i believe there were only two holdovers from the previous regime: Tony Chow and Lenny Volcheck. The rest, i’d heard, were victims of the reorganization.

The Summer of ’99 (A.K.A. Part III)

Tuesday, February 21st, 2006

Disclaimer: this is the story as I remember it. very likely to be incomplete and/or incorrect, but a story nonetheless. Leave comments for corrections. oh, and tell me when i should stop.

And so the summer of ’99 was upon us, and it was great. It was my first summer in NYC. I was living at the fraternity house for free, and living it up at $12/hour.

The lack of anyone in the Director’s office meant we could blast the music. Up until this point, things were on a muted level. whenever there was music playing, it was kept at a pretty low decibel level and often times john would drown it out with his singing. but now . .. now, it was a full on party with either kanga or roo acting as the jukebox (v.0.1 if you will) since leslie and helen were the only ones in windows at any one time, and, back then, the ole linux boxen couldn’t play mp3s. I believe that year the songs on the hit list included anything erasure, rubber duckie and c is for cookie. funny how some things never change. I’m sure somewhere around the office there’s a copy of the soundtrack as rob was kind enough to burn a copy for everyone.

To be honest, i really don’t remember what i worked on that summer. I’m sure it was important at the time and somehow contributed to the university at large as well as my development as a programmer, but it’s all forgotten now. What i do remember is the experience. getting into the office at 9am on a regular basis (probably having something to do with having a girlfriend at the time who had to wake up at 7am), the morning coffee train, and lunch from hamilton deli or the guy on the corner of amsterdam and 116th. back then the dude hadn’t yet upgraded to the deluxe cart he now inhabits, and would sweat it out all day standing on that corner.
The morning coffee train to IAB was a favorite of mine. It was the first order of business for the day. It was like a team huddle. A little sync action to get us ready to work. Every morning we’d wait for all parties to show up and then we’d march out to the coffee stand, then known as Cafe Cappuccino and not the blue java or whatever is it today. actually, i don’t think i’ve been back to the coffe stand in IAB since those days. Anyway, John and I would get coffee, Helen used to get espresso, and rob and leslie were all over the nantucket nectars.

Breakfast was also a morning tradition, usually a call made to hamilton deli for a sausage, egg and cheese sandwich. yum. And, of course, after the morning festivites, the work began. We’d spend the most of the day singing and coding. every now and then john would get up and do his cabbage patch dance or you’d here a “who’s your daddy?!?” comment from one of us. it was a pretty good gig.
Anyhow, at the end of summer, we gave birth to this. At the time, that rotating image was the bomb. i mean, the dynamic aspect was just soooo cutting edge. The navigation and organization of the site was all Helen, and she went through a whole boat load of lame meetings (the first of many) to get people to provide content and agree on what was to be. But, she was driven, persistent and determined to make something good, which, i soon came to learn were defining traits of Helen’s.

So, the summer ended, the site was launched, and the new academic year had begun. There weren’t very many things notable about that fall semester . . . we got a new director at ccs, elanor sanchez, and we also got owl, our first nt domain server which prompted us to get off of AIS’ services and run for the hills of more network storage and a novel netware-less environment.