First, the site has a new look. I switched to WordPress as a 1-click install from Dreamhost. I tried it for Neha’s site, littlemissdentist.com, and I rather enjoyed the interface. Since my upgrade to the latest Joomla had broken my previous setup I thought now was a good time to transition. Once again I am going to try to make this actually something I keep up. I am hoping to also include projects that I want to work on. So what am I working on?
A few months ago I left Looxcie for a position at Fitbit. And I am loving the heck out of it. Why am I loving it? Well, to start the office is in downtown SF. My apartment is half a block from the Muni N-line stop. So my commute is now walk half a block hop on the train and hop off at the Embarcadero stop. From there I walk a block and a half and I am at work. It is definitely an improvement compared to a 50 mile drive each way down to Sunnyvale and back. I try to bring something to read and listen to music on the ride. I do miss the convenient time to call home, but I am going to have to make a better schedule to make that happen.
How about the work environment? When I went to interview one of the first thing I noticed was the distinct lack of cubes. All the desks were out in the open. This definitely made me a bit nervous. I liked having a little place that was my area. Now I think that I really like the layout. Yes, it does seem to reduce privacy a touch, but it also seems to open up communication between everyone. I see this really show up in a couple of ways. One is the interaction as engineers, if I have a question about something in the code I just look up and ask one of my coworkers. The R&D group sits behind me and the EEs sit in the row in front of me. For firmware, this is great. Questions about the hardware are answered quickly and R&D can explain their algorithms. The second part of the open office is communication as friends. I talk with some of the other firmware guys about video games on a regular basis. Or the other day someone posted a link to the recent world record skydive. We all talked about it while getting other stuff done. I think the interaction outside of engineering problems really help the group cohesion.
And the actual work. Well, let’s say I thought I had an understanding of low-power and minimal hardware. Fitbit is a whole other world. Working to keep a task from running too often to eek out that extra half-day of power or making sure that every little IO pin is accounted for and turned off when not needed, is a new and exciting challenge. And I definitely felt thrown into the deep end when I signed on. Sure, I had a week to get my feet wet in some of the manufacturing test firmware. But right after that I was digging into UI and Bluetooth side of things. And then I had to start putting out the official firmware releases for internal testing and even for some of the actual final devices. That is an incredible and terrifying feeling. Here is the result of all that work:
That’s a Fitbit Zip on a shelf at the local Target. That is awesome! Seeing my work out there in the real world that anyone could pick up at the local store. Consumer electronics is my world and where I hope to be for a long time to come.