Hard Work (or, Becoming a Californian)

So the past few weeks have been pretty busy. The past few months have been pretty busy. I'd apologize for not posting in awhile, but I figure most people will have simply assumed I already gave up on the blog. Fear not! I have returned!

The theme for the past few weeks has been to cram as much exciting stuff into a short period of time as possible, so I'll see if I can continue that with this post.

WWDC

Last week, I had the absolute joy of attending my fifth Worldwide Developers Conference as an Apple Engineer, and my first as a Speaker. If you're a registered Apple developer (which is free), you can watch me give one hell of a demo (at about 11:25) in our team's session, entitled "Continuous Integration in Xcode 6." It's a real humdinger.

A photo of the Two Matts from our session.

The photo above of me with "the other Matt" is particularly awesome — because it's the 25th anniversary of WWDC, one of my coworkers decided to take pictures of the conference on a 25-year-old camera.

In all seriousness, WWDC is just about my favorite time of the year — better than Christmas, better than my birthday, better than Talk Like a Pirate Day, and even better than July 11th, International Free Slurpee Day. I've loved it ever since Apple stuff first caught my eye, probably back around 2004 or so. No matter how accurate the rumors have gotten over the years, I can't think of a year when Apple hasn't had something to show that caught me totally off-guard (even as an employee), and there's just something incredibly exciting about that.

This year more than ever before, though, there was something else special about WWDC: pride. In the past, I've been lucky enough to be tangentially involved with some of the projects that made for great footnotes on the conference announcements; in January, however, I started a new position in Development Technologies, the department responsible for building Xcode, and, as such, a key player in the preparation for WWDC. Over the course of the past several months, I've therefore gotten to work not only on the (fantastic) new version of Xcode Server, but also on exciting new Xcode features like Playgrounds and support for Swift.

I wake up smiling just about every day because I get to go to work with some of the most talented, intelligent, and thoughtful people I've had the pleasure of meeting. Every day, tens of thousands of us go to work and work our butts off because at the end of the day, we really, truly, and deeply care about the product that comes out the other end. We care about our users, we care about what our work will make them feel, and we won't sleep until we've done everything in our power to enable our users to go and do amazing things with what we've created.

I love WWDC, because all year long, we work tirelessly, completely in secret, on things that we can't even tell our closest friends and family about; but at WWDC, we finally get to show the world, and even better, have face-to-face conversations about it with real users. Every engineer has a "pet bug" that drives them up the wall, and there's no bigger smile to be seen than when you tell them that it's just been fixed.

WWDC is when the hard work all pays off.

And on the subject of hard work…

Graduation

Just one week before 6,000 engineers descended on the city of San Francisco, I was back home in Rhode Island for the weekend fulfilling another milestone: I (finally) graduated from Brown University, a mere two years past the originally scheduled date.

Why two years late? Well, here's a story that a lot of you probably haven't heard.

My freshman year at Brown, I, for all intents and purposes, failed out. Out of the 8 classes I took across two semesters, I passed a grand total of 3. Which is not particularly many.

There are a lot of things that contributed to my ultimate academic decline, many of them personal, but the overriding factor was that Brown was my first academic experience where I actually had to work. Really hard. Through the grace of good genetics, I'm a relatively intelligent dude, and that made education all the way through high school relatively straightforward for me; but as I quickly discovered, being smart is something just about everyone at a good university is capable of doing, and it was no longer sufficient for doing well. Having never really developed the kind of skills I needed to be a proper student, things kind of took a nose dive.

After failing out, I was told I needed to take a minimum of one year off, and after that time I would have the option of applying for readmission (and not to get all political, but funny enough that's the same punishment given to the guy who sexually assaulted Lena Sclove). During that time, which was probably among the saddest times of my life, I took a few courses at Rhode Island College (which I must say were fabulous, and I truly mean that) in an attempt to stay in the classroom. I also worked with a couple of start-ups to pass the time.

Soon after, though, I was lucky enough to land my first internship with Apple. More than anything, I think my job at Apple is responsible for kicking me into shape, at least in terms of giving me the skills I needed to work properly hard. I reapplied and was readmitted at the end of that summer, and upon returning in the Spring, I worked my ass off for six straight semesters (knowing that one failed class would mean not graduating).

I'm proud of what I achieved at Brown University, and I wouldn't trade the experience for the world. I love and miss that place quite dearly. But I'm a Californian now.

Californian

In fact, it's official: after much deliberation (and scheduling), I took (and passed) my test for my California driver's license today! Which means in 2–4 weeks, I will have irrefutable proof in the form of a small, laminated card that I am a resident of the Great State of California.

I have mixed feelings about that.

At least I was fortunate enough to have been raised in a part of the country that does things properly!

A PSA about PSI

And finally, because I feel like I would be remiss if I had a blog post that didn't mention my beloved car, now might be a good time to make a mini-PSA.

Inflating Klaus's tires with a gizmo!

Temperature changes mean pressure fluctuations in tires, and I'm probably not the only one whose TPMS light has come on recently. So, yesterday, I checked my tire pressure and found that they were underinflated by nearly 10 PSI (and that's a lot)!

Tire pressure impacts handling, tire wear, fuel economy, and can even make tires more susceptible to bursting. It only takes a few minutes and 75¢ or so to check and inflate your tires at your local gas station (and if you ask nicely, they'll often turn the pump on for free), so do it first thing in the morning (while your tires are still cold) before heading out on that summer roadtrip!

Seriously, guys, I pumped my tires up and now I feel like I'm driving on a cloud. It's worth it.

Conclusion

WWDC, work hard, get a degree, free Slurpees on 7/11, check your tire pressure. Got it? Good. Until next time!