Pump Up The Blog
Sunday, May 25, 2003
You know, I have about 30 DVDs, and I rarely go through them and sit down to watch one. I guess with a few exceptions, most don't have replayability for me...

Most of them I'll want to see again maybe every two years or so, even (sometimes especially) the movies I really, really love. Tonight I pulled off the shelf one of my top ten, that gets more interesting each time I watch it.

Pump Up the Volume should be watched by everyone who's ever kept a weblog, or wondered why we do. It predates the web by a good long way, but the message is powerful, and more than anything else I've read or seen, gives a convincing why to self-publishing on the web. I won't try to explain here.

If you haven't seen it, go rent it. If you have seen it, but it was a while ago, watch it again. You might get as much of a retrospective kick out of it as I did when I watched Tron after 10 years and the onset of an internet revolution, only to find it more relevant (and relevatory) than ever.

Does anyone else have a movie that they watched a decade later and got something completely different out of it? Is this the place where you can finally admit how much more sense The Big Chill makes now that you're older?

eBay Bingeing
Sunday, May 25, 2003
Rachel's selling her talking bobblehead. I'm selling my Desktop Powermac G4. I bought a copy of one of my favorite books, and I'm trying to get a (presumably pirate) Buffy OMWF DVD.

I used to think that the Apple Music Store was addictive, but eBay is crack. Damn you, federal tax refund! I find myself in front of the computer thinking "what would I want to buy if I could ever find it? Oh! there it is!"

Loud Talker Sighting
Saturday, May 24, 2003
So last Tuesday Rachel and I went shopping for some stuff at the Murray St. Giant Eagle (fyi for the non-yinzers, pretty much all supermarkets around here are Giant Eagles). Walking down the sidewalk back toward the car, we heard this guy yelling, I mean really yelling, about two blocks away.

At first, I thought it was a fight in the making. I was reminded of one of the people I was most happy to leave behind in Berkeley, this guy who just roars incredibly loudly on Telegraph, encouraging others to try to roar as loudly as he does, at least three times a week for 7 years. Anyhow, as this guy got louder, I spotted him: a guy yelling in to his cellphone. I was just wating for him to break critical mass and fling the phone into a nearby building when, less than half a block away from us now, he yelled "OKAY! BYE!" and pressed the end-call button.

The wierd thing was that he wasn't mad at all. His phone conversation ended without a torrent of emotion, but still with a great deal of volume. It's hard to explain: He wasn't yelling in to the phone as though he was trying to make himself be heard through a faint connection, and he wasn't yelling (as it turned out once we could hear the context) in fury, but he was just yelling his words.

Rachel and I both looked at each other and talked the rest of the way to the car about how weird that was.

Today, walking down Walnut Avenue, Rachel and I heard someone yelling and, sure enough, here he comes down the street again, cellphone in hand on ear. In his wake he left a path of people turning to each other (even to nearby strangers) and whispering "what is that guy doing?" A few minutes later he'd turned around and passed by us on the sidewalk, still at full volume.

This time we were ready.

Keep in mind when watching this that the microphone in my camera is intended for close up use, and that to be heard when he's 20 feet away, and facing the opposite direction, he's actually a lot louder than implied in this clip.

Shopping in a nearby store, we heard him pace back and forth several more times over the next 20 minutes. Spectators speculated that he wasn't actually talking into the phone at all, and that his mock-tirade about multimillion dollar business deals was just a show. Me, I've seen a lot of crazy people who spout endless solliloquies off the cuff, and this guy seemed more natural than any of them, like he wasn't making anything up.

Still, just because there's actually someone on the other end of the phone doesn't make you any less of a freak. Thank god the guy sitting three rows behind us in X2 last night, whose phone went off five times during the movie wasn't such a loud talker, though even so, grrr.

The idea of picking up a cellphone jammer the next time I'm in Japan sounds more and more tempting...

Oh yeah, and I love my digital camera. Unexpected movies are the best.

The Open Road
Friday, May 23, 2003
So as most of you probably gathered by the oh-so-subtle hints, I've been offered a position at Google as a UI designer, and I happily accepted on the spot. While I would otherwise be in Seattle right now, interviewing at Amazon, I'm now snug in Pittsburgh, planning out the last 10 weeks of school, and the three weeks between the end of classes and my August 25th start date.

Talking to my dad on the phone, I realized the truth of the matter when I told him matter-of-factly "I couldn't think of a job I'd rather have right now." Seriously. Anywhere. Too cool.

This will be the fifth time I've moved from the academic world to the 'real world' but this time it feels very different. When I took leaves of absence from Berkeley, I always knew that I'd go back 'some day' and finish my bachelors degree, and I did. When I started at Yahoo I (and they) knew that I had deferred my CMU admission by a year, and would likely be leaving to pursue my masters degree when that year came to pass.

This is different, though. For a lifetime I've known what the next change was, and when. I've been aware of the limited time of the status quo, like I've been driving through a winding pass, where each change in direction was mirrored by a change in circumstance. School, work, school, work.

Today, though, I can see the last turn up ahead, and I know that around that bend lies a straight ribbon of highway, as far as the eye can see. I've never gone to work somewhere without knowing that it was a short-term (less than 3 years) gig. The idea of starting someplace with the anticipation (in both forms) of staying there for the long haul is novel to me, as it is to so many people who started their careers in the tech industry, where 2 years makes you 'old guard'.

The parallel of the open road metaphor and my long drive back in August hasn't been lost on me. I know there's a word for when you map a metaphor to a real-life experience to strengthen it, but I can't remember what it is. Druids call that kind of thing 'imitative magic', but I just think of it as the journey home, for good.

Day of Changes
Wednesday, May 21, 2003
Wow. The last episode of Buffy... And that wasn't even the biggest change in my life yesterday.
Wireless Joy
Tuesday, May 20, 2003
The fire alarm in my office's building on campus went off 10 minutes ago. One of the joys of campus-wide wirelessis that I could just pick up my laptop and move to another building and continue working.

I hope the place doesn't burn down. That's where I keep all my stuff! (Okay, a little of it anyhow.)

In the News: Buffy's Last Stand
Tuesday, May 20, 2003
Boy for a series that never received widespread acclaim there sure are a lot of Buffy farewell stories in the press today.

I know where I'll be at 8pm Eastern (5 Pacific. Nyah, nyah!). Sniff.

Song of the Moment: Angel
Monday, May 19, 2003
Angel - Sarah McLachlan

Spend all your time waiting
for that second chance
for a break that would make it okay
there's always one reason
to feel not good enough
and it's hard at the end of the day

I need some distraction
oh beautiful release
memory seeps from my veins
let me be empty
and weightless and maybe
I'll find some peace tonight

In the arms of an angel
fly away from here
from this dark cold hotel room
and the endlessness that you fear

You are pulled from the wreckage
of your silent reverie
you're in the arms of the angel
may you find some comfort there

So tired of the straight line
and everywhere you turn
there's vultures and thieves at your back
and the storm keeps on twisting
you keep on building the lie
that you make up for all that you lack

It don't make no difference
escaping one last time
it's easier to believe
in this sweet madness
oh this glorious sadness
that brings me to my knees

In the arms of an angel...

You're in the arms of the angel
may you find some comfort here

CMU Graduation Gallery
Sunday, May 18, 2003
Uncaptioned as of yet, I wanted to post my gallery of pics from today's graduation. So much fun!

Click to visit the gallery
Click to see the rest

Graduation Day
Saturday, May 17, 2003
Tomorrow I'm going through graduation ceremonies, celebrating the completion of my masters degree in Human-Computer Interaction. Nevermind that I and all my year-mates (augh, vocabulary sublimated from Valdemar books) don't actually finish our work at CMU until August; there's only one ceremony a year, for the whole school, so it's now or nunca.

This is kind of a trend. All my scholastic life I've looked forward to 'graduation'. It has such a cathartic ring to it. Yet I'm not sure that I've ever experienced 'graduation' in the true sense.

My first graduation, from elementary school, was called a 'matriculation', a big word I wasn't willing to internalize when I had already pegged the ceremony as being a 'graduation'. In Junior High School, graduating from Portola Magnet, we also were 'matriculating', but at least we got honest-to-god diplomas certifying our achievement, and we got them on stage, in front of our families.

High school, the most well recognized of all levels of 'graduation' was, I believe, actually referred to as a 'graduation', [oops. As I recall this morning, it was called a 'culmination'. No graduation there either!] but the actual ceremony of the principal calling each (of 655) graduate's name, shaking their hand, and handing them a scroll tied with a ribbon was slightly dampened by the growing pile of gumballs and other paraphernalia at Principal King's feet, as some of the less mature students wished to leave their final (only too literal) mark on the school (or the hand of the head of that institution) which they were departing. The other downer was that the scroll we received wasn't, in fact, our diploma, but instructions informing us that we needed to return our caps and gowns to the basketball gym, in exchange for our diplomas-held-hostage.

Berkeley graduations were fun. Here we had elevated from the terms 'matriculation' and 'graduation'. This was 'Commencement': the simultaneous completion and onset of our lives, representing initiation in the truest senses. Mind you, mine was premature. I still had one language requirement to fulfill, a requirement which not only did not need to be filled in Berkeley's hallowed halls, but one which we were encouraged to complete at community college, to free up space and professors for pursuits more novel and advanced than rote memorization. But I digress.

Like High School, each participant in the Berkeley ceremonies receives a small, tightly tied scroll. This time the scroll attests that the bearer participated in the commencement ceremonies for the department in question. It doesn't say they earned a degree, but it does affirm that they sat in a chair, and had their name read aloud.

The funny part is that they'll let anyone with a cap and gown in to the various Berkeley commencements. Indeed, several students were supposed to repeat, considering that there are roughly 20 ceremonies for different departments, in addition to special ceremonies for students of color, re-entry students, and other groups unaffiliated by field of study. I have friends who participated in as many as 10 ceremonies, writing their name down on 10 cards, sitting in 10 seas of graduates, and having their names read by 9 unphased professors or directors (okay, 0, but the 10th should have been unphased, considering that one of the ceremonies was the one they were expected to attend), before offering their hands to be shook on stage, and proceeding down to the inevitable champagne and strawberry reception following the ceremony.

Still, it feels really good, and it's easy to suspend my disbelief into convincing myself that this is what it's all about, on loan for one more semester; Christmas early.

In about 10 hours I'm going through my final Commencement ceremony. This time I get to wear the plaid and gold hood of a master, and I have family from nearly 3,000 miles away to cheer me on. This time really does feel like a commencement, a tipping point, a point of inflection on the integral of my life. While actual completion is still 12 weeks away, I'm rapidly narrowing in on what my future holds beyond August, and should have it resolved by the end of the week. It's as though the train tracks that I've been laying just in front of the engine of my life are finally connecting with the main line, and I can continue on without counting on just-in-time education, planning, employment, or anything else.

I'm clearly rambling, but what I'm trying to say is that it's funny (that I'm graduating prematurely once more), and that it's good (that life's map is being drawn well, and by my own hand).

I should go, because in five hours I have to pick my mom up from the airport, where she's flying in on the redeye from Los Angeles, and then drive back to campus to start the festivities. I'll make sure plenty of pictures are taken, including some by me.

On a tangental note, I've interviewed with twenty-eight people in the last three weeks, and the single most common question asked of me was "why did you go back to school and get your Masters?" I came back for answers, for training, and an internal affirmation that the skills I learned in the real world aren't a facade of confidence, trendy design ideas, and design-by-ego. While here I've built a foundation of UI and HCI understanding that I can build on for the rest of my life. I have a much clearer idea of my own abilities, and of the things I want to do with them.

Anyhow, I should sleep and quit it with the St. Crispin's Day deal. Tomorrow I get to graduate, rain or shine, and it's going to feel very, very good.


Hi, I'm Kevin Fox.
I've been blogging at since 1998.
I can be reached at .

I also have a resume.


I'm co-founder in
a fantastic startup fulfilling the promise of the Internet of Things.

The Imp is a computer and wi-fi connection smaller and cheaper than a memory card.

Find out more.

We're also hiring.


I post most frequently on Twitter as @kfury and on Google Plus.


I've led design at Mozilla Labs, designed Gmail 1.0, Google Reader 2.0, FriendFeed, and a few special projects at Facebook.

©2012 Kevin Fox