Perpendiculous

2011.01.06

MMX (and not the ISA)

Filed under: Meta,Personal — cwright @ 11:10 pm

MMX was an instruction set added by Intel to its processor lineup in the mid 1990’s.  It was marketed as a parallelization technology (it wasn’t) that would accelerate your games (it didn’t).  Offering an integer-only instruction set to a world that had largely moved on to floating point wasn’t particularly interesting or useful (though it did have a few fun applications), but that didn’t stop me from writing about it a long long time ago here.  I won’t be elaborating further on that.  Instead, I’d much rather go over the other MMX, also known as 2010.

2010 shaped up to be the most tumultuous years of my life. Quite unexpectedly too.  A few things were in-flight from 2009 that we were expecting to watch unfold, but we had no way to predict just how volatile it would ultimately be.

First, there was the relocation.  That ball was set in motion back in 2009, but we weren’t entirely sure how it would play out (at one point, there were 3 destinations on the table, including Munich, Boston, and Cupertino;  the last ultimately won out after several bizarre twists and turns).  There are only a couple times in my life where I’ve actually relocated.  In fact, pretty much just two:  going out west, and getting married.  In both of those cases, while the venue was different, as were the people, I had a pretty good idea of what was going on.  This time, not so much.  Moving with a family (of 2, thankfully) was a much larger logistical nightmare than I had anticipated, and thankfully I was able to defer that to Alisa, who graciously liquidated 90% of our belongings, and coordinated shipping of the rest.  Further chronicles of this operation can be had elsewhere in previous posts.

Second was a new car.  Never in my life would I have predicted that.  Not because it was impossible, but because it’s financially untenable.  Never the less, it worked out rather well, and long-term we haven’t suffered severe financial hits.  It’ll always be a loss, but such things are — cars fundamentally aren’t investments (unless you keep them 50 years).  The total maintenance costs have been excitingly negligible ($57 for the entire year, for an overpriced oil change that looks to be due about every 9 months at our driving rate), which offsets the monthly payments (which aren’t so negligible).

Shortly after the car came news that Alisa was expecting.  And shortly after that, she started dying from hyperemesis.  A trip to LA and a week-long hospital stay got her all patched up, and we hit  our insurance deductible in about 6 hours.  We’ll be making payments on that for months to come.

A free ticket to a WWDC I wouldn’t participate in was a bit unexpected;  I was glad to attend, but felt a bit useless being a desktop developer amid an army of iOS folks.  It will be interesting to watch the balance of powers shift (as they already have) over the next few years as things continue moving.  I had a hand in making a pretty cool wall though, which was an interesting experience to say the least.

Afterward, things calmed down for a bit.  Then they didn’t.

I had performed at least as well as expected, and I got moved to full time before my contract was up.  That provided all kinds of perks (insurance!) and bonuses (stock!), but also meant more responsibility (accountability!).  Handling prototypes was interesting at first, but the novelty has worn off.  I remember carefully unboxing my MacBook back in 2007, keeping all the pieces nice and dainty.  I’ve now unboxed untold number of systems, and find the packaging to be wearying.  “You mean I have to slide open another full-sized keyboard box again?” *sigh*.  Yes, everyone, I have truly become George Jetson.

Shortly after that there was a reorganization internally.  I’m still not sure what I can say about it, but it suffices me to say that things change in a quite unexpected manner (only one guy changed buildings though, and no one was fired, so perhaps it wasn’t that radical;  it sure felt like it at the time though).

A few more weeks of silence, and then somebody has the gall to show something to Steve Jobs.  I don’t know who it was, but I know what they showed.  Luckily, Steve liked it.  Unluckily, that meant our little team had to build it.  For a demo.  Aired live.  Nationally.  In 4 weeks.  We scrambled, scratched our heads, argued, pointed fingers, argued some more, called an intern back in for a week, and got carte blanche to tell other teams they weren’t working on Steve’s demo and thus re-prioritize their work for them.  To be fair, several other teams did a huge amount of work too, and in the end it went quite well.

The remainder was a blur.  Holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years littered holiday time off in between periods of work.  Somewhere in there there was a holiday party at the Half Moon Bay Ritz Carlton;  Alisa and I had a lot of fun, and look forward to more cool parties like that (hopefully with better appetizers though).  Then back to work one last time before the last week before everything shut down.  18 hours into vacation, Alisa went into labor, and 18 hours after that Penelope was born on December 25th.  Alisa’s parents were on hand to cook up a storm and otherwise hold down the fort as we ferried to and from the hospital for a few days until they were able to come home in good spirits.  Those quickly faded, and Penny’s insatiable appetite prevented us from getting more than a couple hours of sleep at a time for the first several nights.

After all was said and done, by the time December 31st rolled around I was tired.  I rang in the new year in an unconscious heap upon my bed, only to be woken shortly thereafter by the dinner bell that tolls not for me.

MMXI is set to look even crazier…

1 Comment »

  1. MMX was great, and MMXI will be even better! Thanks for sharing!

    Comment by Reed — 2011.01.25 @ 12:12 pm

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