A quick anecdote about life at Palm…

Since it’s the four year anniversary of the Palm Pre being released, a quick anecdote about life at Palm (while I’m eating lunch and trying to figure out a weird CSS thing….)

It’s September, 2009. The Pre had been out for a few months. We hadn’t yet hired an app review team, so somehow, I ended up in charge of pushing apps out to the catalog. Today was a big day, because Ruby was going to have a talk with the analysts and we were going to announce some milestone as to the number of apps that were now in the catalog (100? 1000? 399, discounted from 500? I have no freaking idea at this point). My job was to make sure those apps were in the catalog when he made the announcement, but not shove them out early and blow the surprise.

How hard could THAT be?

I push the first app. The process typically took about 2 minutes. Ten minutes later, it was still pushing. Twenty minutes later it was still pushing. I started getting phone calls about why the apps weren’t there…

I pulled the cord on the air raid siren with Engineering, and basically let them know if this wasn’t fixed two hours ago, Ruby would be killing all of us. Turns out they’d made an enhancement to the process overnight (yes, let’s make code changes to production systems the night before a major announcement. What COULD go wrong?). The push process used rsync in the background, and in an “oops, silly me” moment, they forgot the rsync flag telling it to only push changed content. So every push was repushing every bit in the repository — 35 minutes instead of 2. per push. with 25 pushes to go. And Ruby about to go on stage.

So I got to have the talk with PR, and let them know it wasn’t going to happen. They invented a new story for Ruby to talk about, who went out and pretended he wasn’t pissed off and ready to kill everyone, and the analyst talk went off well. (I think maybe he did the “we just approved out whatever-special-number-this-is app, and they’ll all be in the catalog later this afternoon…”)

Fortunately for me, I wasn’t party to some of the — discussions — that went on about that little technical faux paus, since I was the messenger. The good news, I guess, was that it was one of those rather nasty moments of pain that nobody sees on the outside.

But that’s not the entire story. During that entire sequence I’d been also exchanging emails with my doctor. That morning I’d gone in for the tests, and they were coming back and confirming that I was diabetic. Yup. While all hell was breaking loose and I was trying to hold the fort I was being diagnosed with diabetes — by email — and my doctor and I were arranging my prescriptions and setting up the first round of followup tests, meetings and all of the stuff that goes with that piece of news.

I’d love to say this kind of — creative chaos — was rare in the Palm buildings, but in fact, this was more the normal state than the crisis state, especially early on. It’s one of the base realities when you’ve got a really large, very complex system that is pushed into production because you have to, not because it’s ready. You either get good at tap dancing and finding workarounds, or you die. As it turns out, Palm and webOS did both… What was great was that we had a group of folks that all piled onto problems like this and figured it out. What wasn’t so great was we had so much practice at it…

And once things settled down, I wandered off to the pharmacy, grabbed my drugs and my tester, went home and collapsed. (for the record, at that time, my glucose was well above 400, my triglycerides had gone past 500. But I can honestly say that on the day I was diagnosed, the diagnosis was not the worst thing that happened to me….

I guess that’s something…

Posted in About Chuq

2013 Playoffs, Conference Finals

The Sharks fought the kings to game 7 and fell one goal, one shot, a couple of inches short. Some years it hurts, some years you feel they went as far as they can; this year, I think they went further than I expected and proved to themselves they could.

Still, their season is over, and it’s not for four teams. Still work to do.

In the 2nd round, I picked the Pens, Bruins, Chicago and Sharks. 3-1, which puts me at 8-4 for the playoffs. Maybe I should have been betting this year.

I’m tempted to say “now it gets really interesting”, but in reality, it’s been a great playoffs. If the people who like to argue that the standard NHL season is too long want evidence, this year is it. Change the regular season from a marathon to a sprint and leave some fuel in the tank for the playoffs, and look what happens.

And so to the conference finals. To nobody’s surprise, it’s the Penguins and Bruins. As it turns out, the Bruins got through the Rangers easier than I expected. Also, Torotorella is out of a job in New York. These two data points are not unrelated.

I have to say I still like the Penguins out of the east. I don’t think Boston will make it easy, but I’m not convinced they can beat the Pens. I like boht teams, though. I’ll call this Pittsburgh in 6.

And in the West, also to very little surprise, it’s Chicago vs. LA. It seems rare that the final teams in reality match up with the guesses, but this year, these four would have been on lots of lists. To me, this series comes down to Crawford vs. Quick. Quick is, it seems, playing even better this playoff than he did last year, when he ‘only’ won the Conn-Smythe and the Cup. Can Crawford out-battle him and hold back the Kings?

Sorry, Hawks fans. I think the Kings are on a roll. I think the Hawks are playing well, but so were the Sharks. I’m not sure what will stop the Kings on a march to repeat, but I don’t think the Kings will. It’ll be a good series, but the Kings are headed back to the finals in 5.

Still a fair amount of really good hockey to be played. I’m looking forward to it.


Posted in Sports - Hockey

The End of the Sharks season, 2013

And like that, the season’s over for the sharks.

Game 7 against the Kings, last year’s Cup Champion and a team that looks to have rounded into champion form again.

You can’t really fault much with the Sharks. The series was really that close. Was Quick a better goalie? Not really — and Quick is playing better than last year, when he won the Cup and the Conn-Smythe. Were the Kings a better team? Not really. Did Sutter out-coach McClellan? Not really. Did the Kings skaters out-play the Sharks skaters? Not really. Was it the loss of Raffi Torres? Not really; the Kings lost Stoll for the series and had to adjust for that as well. Everything pretty much balanced out.

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a series this closely balanced, where as far as I can tell, the difference between the two teams was home-ice advantage. Not how the coaches used it, but the simple, minor things of last change and in the face-off circle. It ultimately came down to being just one goal better after seven games, and one truly astounding, key save by Quick on a shot Pavelski couldn’t raise two inches higher.

It was that close.

And it was glorious.

I’m sure the usual talking and typing pundits will find the usual blather to complain about, and don’t get me wrong, the Sharks are far from a perfect team. But in this series, unlike many playoffs in the past, the Sharks didn’t under-perform or shoot themselves in the foot. They played their hearts out, and played well. And went up against another team doing the same, playing as well, with the minor advantage of playing game 7 at home. That advantage was what decided the series.

Never let people tell you things like home ice advantage doesn’t matter.

Congrats to Dean Lombardi and Darryl Sutter and the Kings organization. Right now they look tough to beat.

Congrats to Doug Wilson and Todd McLellan and the Sharks organization. Honestly, they played better than I expected, but watching them play, it’s also clear I under-rated them.

Now, all LA has to do is beat either Chicago or Detroit, and then beat either Pittsburgh or Boston.

Should be simple, right?


What we do know is that this team — good as it was — wasn’t good enough. So we’ll have to make changes and try again next year. But given I thought this might be the year we were shown that the window had closed and it was time to retool? Well, maybe not this year… This team needs to be tinkered with, not rebuilt.

But that’s a discussion for a few weeks from now, when hockey is done for the summer. For now? I’m going to just sit back and watch some really killer hockey, no matter which teams are still playing.

Well done, Sharks. You may not have succeeded at the ultimate goal, but you met the challenge with honor and I, for one, will happily declare this season a success without regrets. It’s no shame to play your best and be beaten by a better team. that’s merely motivation to keep improving.



Posted in Sports - Hockey