Posts tagged interview
It’s been quite awhile since my last general update, so I figured I’d give a quick update.
The interview process is still underway. I’m not entirely sure what the status is, but it looks like I might be scheduling a visit for Diane and I over there to check out the office and have a chance to meet people and show off what I can do. It’s a little nerve wracking not knowing whether I’ve got a job or not, but it should be cool to meet some of the people face to face.
Outside of that, the poker group is gearing up its significant resources prepping for the upcoming AAAI poker bot competition. We’ve got a couple new tricks up our sleeves which hopefully will be enough to secure some more first place finishes. We’re also hoping to put together another man-machine challenge. There’s some tentative support here, so it might actually happen, but I don’t really know the details. As soon as I can share details about that, I will. I’m really hoping it happens. In my ideal world, I’d get a nice job offer from FT so I could breathe easy about that. Then the man-machine match would go ahead and we’d play some high profile players in Vegas during the WSOP. Then I’d get a bit of holiday time to honeymoon with Diane before moving to Ireland to start work at FT. It seems plausible to me!
Speaking of honeymooning and wedding stuff, the wedding is getting close to two months away. That’s a bit scary … the time has never gone slow that’s for sure. There’s probably a bazillion little things we should be organizing for the wedding, but it feels like we’ve got most of the important details done. Probably the biggest remaining thing is to arrange a list of volunteers for various tasks at the wedding. We’ll probably be compiling a list of things that need doing and call for volunteers over at minoragenda.com.
I’ve been pretty busy working, so I haven’t had much time to put into poker. My 200NL experiment went pretty well, although I’m pretty sure I was running hot. I’d like to get a chance to play some more soon, but my evenings seem to be full of too many things. In other poker related news, I’ve been playing in the World Rec.Gambling Poker Tournament (WRGPT). This is a large play-by-email poker tournament that predates online poker. This is the first year I’ve competed in the tournament since I only learned of it last year but I missed the registration that time. I’m doing not too shabby in this tournament, although I’ve gone pretty card dead over the past couple rotations. Then this hand happened. Woohoo flush! I now sit in ~60th or so place of ~180-ish remaining players. I still have a shot!
So that’s a pretty decent update of what I’ve been up to. Lots of stuff going on, not a lot of time to update the blog. Hopefully I can get more regular updates in the next little while.
Well it didn’t go too bad. I think. It’s hard to say.
I … was a little nervous. This was the first real set of interviews I’ve had since I interviewed for a internship between my third and fourth years. I had a couple interviews then – one on the phone with IBM that went disastrously, and one with the math department that went far better, but they didn’t give me the job. To be fair, the IBM interview was after a week of final exams where I had 4 exams, one on each day at 9am.
So yesterday morning I waited for my 9am phone call. Well, even that was complicated. They were calling 4pm their time 9am our time, but with the daylight savings time changed this past weekend I figured they might’ve not remembered we switched time. So I did the “math” … and got it wrong. So I was ready for an 8am phone call that didn’t come. Then half past nine I finally looked it up on the internet and found that it was wrong and that 4pm Dublin time was 10am our time. Well, that was a good start to my interview.
I don’t want to go into tremendous detail about the interview here. I kind of feel like I’m not well-suited to interviews. I have this tendency to guard everything I say with conditionals, even if I’m relatively certain of the answer.
The interview consisted of talking with a total of 5 people. I first was asked questions from one pair of developers, one of whom did his masters on Poker in our research group. Then I talked with another pair for awhile, followed by the head of the IT division. The last part of the interview was the most pleasant, partially because he wasn’t grilling me but partially because it was kind of cool to talk about shared interest in the computing area.
I have mixed feelings about how the interview went. I kind of feel like I didn’t do well, but at the same time I think I didn’t give any wrong answers and not too many blank answers. I stumbled through some questions, and I probably didn’t sound very confident on the other end, but we’ll have to see what they say in the next couple days. Hopefully at the least I’ve managed to earn another interview, if not an offer.
In the meantime, I’ve got a bunch of cool things to work on for work so I have some interesting stuff to occupy my time with in the meantime.
Well today I was a nervous wreck. For quite some time I’ve been considering applying for a job with pocket kings — the company that writes and manages the software and details behind full tilt poker. A couple of former UofA grads have got prominent positions there and they’ve been making the case that I should go join them.
It took me awhile to come around to their case. It’s an awfully large amount of upheaval to move to a country so far away from home. I sort of feel though that it’s coming to a time in my life where I need to get up and experience the world a little more than I have been. I’ve finally started to admit that I’m too much of a homebody, and I need to get out of my comfort zone a bit.
Ireland has a lot of appeal. It’s situated in a spot where Diane and I could take frequent traveling trips to see Europe. Dublin is a youthful city with a huge amount of IT people flocking to it. The opportunity to head to out and see the world while having an exciting job seems to good to pass up. The downside is I’d have to leave a significant number of family and friends behind, and that might be harder than I am willing to admit just yet.
So, after thinking about this for quite some time, I’ve started phase one of applying. I had my first phone interview today with one of their lead server guys. It went … decently well I think. The topics ranged widely, and I learned a fair amount about the company that I hadn’t managed to glean from my other contacts there. I was asked quite a few questions about several things that he thought was of interest on my resume. I gave the best answers I could — I don’t believe I perform all that well under intense scrutiny like that, but I didn’t do badly. The only question I botched was when he asked me to come up with an example of deadlock. It wasn’t until I had hung up the phone and muttered to myself about it for a moment or two before I came up with the answer. It’s so simple too! For those who aren’t into systems stuff, deadlock is when two processes or threads try and access sections of code that you deem need to be run or used by only one process at a time. So an easy way to create a deadlock situation is to have a process that grabs the lock for resource A and then the lock for resource B, and another process that attempts to acquire locks in the reverse direction. That way, it can happen that the first process acquires the lock for resource A, but blocks because the other process has acquired the lock for resource B which is blocked because the first process already has that lock. Thus … deadlock! *sigh*.
Other than that, the interview went alright. I answered his questions to the best of my ability and only stumbled a few times. It’s interesting trying to pull pieces of my memory out from the last few years of work that I’ve done. As the interview progressed, I began to pull more and more pieces of details that I hadn’t thought about in awhile. My maxflow algorithm implementation, my adding additional functionality to openssh, my building a user registration system for westgrid, and the details of the Trellis file system that I hadn’t thought about in ages.
So I gather I’ll be getting another phone interview sometime in the near future where I get to be “grilled” to find out how knowledgeable I am. I’m super nervous about that one. Anyone have any good interview questions that I can ponder as practice?
Phil Laak’s girlfriend is Jennifer Tilly. She’s an actress and a pretty decent poker player in her own right. Here’s a photo of her during interviews before the third match which had Phil Laak on stage and Ali Eslami closeted in a hotel room.
Again, this is one of the few shots that I got. I’m currently working on a photo gallery of the shots that Mike, Nolan, Josh, and I took at the match and that should be available on the man-machine website.
f you’ve been paying attention to the media attention the man-machine match received over the past couple of weeks, you may have seen this photo. This was one of the few photos from the event itself that I took myself. During the event, I was in charge up posting live updates to the webpage. As such, I didn’t really have time to take photos too. So it was only in breaks of the action that I could take photos.
This shot was setup for an interview Phil was doing in front of a camera lens. I just happened to run along with my camera and grab a couple shots of Phil. This is the best one, and you may have seen it on a couple of news articles. Don’t worry, they had our permission to use the photo.
More photos to come in the next few days! Stay tuned!
Alright, so I’ve got to get myself caught up here. The second match day was nuts, and a ton of stuff happened so let me see what I can remember. I got up fairly early excited about the match. We did so well on day one, that we kind of expected to win! Alas, that was not to be.
I got in early enough to start setting up. Are room was moved to another one so that the one we were in first could be used for the keynote talks (which I haven’t been able to attend). So we needed to make sure the new room suited our purposes. The hotel did an excellent job of setting it up though so there wasn’t a huge amount of stuff to do. The first match got under way and Phil played a pretty decent game, but I don’t think he played perfectly. Unfortunately for us, Ali did better than Polaris did and the humans took down the 3rd match. (for exact details check out the match blog I slaved over). After the loss we of course wanted to know what happened. It turns out that the bot we fielded had a bug in it that killed its learning abilities and so it got stuck playing a less effective bot. Ouch, that hurt.
The final match was looming, and we had to decide what bot to put in the seat. It took a long time to debate what to play, but we decided to try and play a safe bot — the equilibrium bot that broke even in match 1. Unfortunately for us, Ali was just too brilliant and new how to take the bot down in the last match. We were disappointed, but we’re looking for a rematch and are hungry for revenge. Both Ali and Phil heaped praise on the bot though saying that it was the most intense match of their lives and that they had to play the best poker they had ever played just to do what they did. Here’s a youtube video I posted (thanks to Nolan for thinking quick and grabbing the camcorder for this section):
Awesome. Phil and Ali were so great. I can’t wait to meet up with them again at the rematch! After the match, after the media finished their interviews and we packed up stuff in the room, and after we got autographs from the players (and signed programs for the players as well), the people who were too tired went to bed and everyone else went in seek of food, drink, and fun. All the people who decided to stay out ended up at an awesome restaurant called Bin 941. The food there was absolutely incredible. I spent a lot of time chatting with Ali and his girlfriend Ana. They’re both so smart and really easy to get along with. I hope I was able to interest them even a tiny portion of how much they interested me. I loved getting the inside perspective on what it’s like to be a professional high stakes poker player. I’m not seriously thinking about pursuing that, but it’s nice to have a chance to hear about it from an insider.
Anyways, I stumbled back to our apartment condo half drunk and extremely happy with how the day had gone even though we lost the match. It was an extremely enjoyable experience and I would love to do it again. Even though I was exhausted. I got back and stumbled into bed around 3:45am … only to have to get up in the morning to attend a round table poker meeting with other researchers who wrote poker bots for the AAAI bot competition. But that was another day.
Recently I watched the new Michael Moore documentary … twice. Once by myself, and then once with Diane a few days later. It is an extremely powerful and moving film, and one that I’m very glad I saw. Say what you will about Michael Moore … but I don’t think you can say he makes bad movies. They are interesting, and entertaining, and this one might be the best one I’ve seen yet. (I’ve seen two others: Fahrenheit 9/11 and Bowling for Columbine).
My complaints about the movie are few, but here’s a couple. The first is that the weakest part of the movie is the first segment with the couple that is forced to move in with their children. First of all, it seems really weird for the family to go through this tough time in their lives right in front of the camera. Maybe it’s just me, but I’d hate to have that sort of thing recorded by a family camcorder let alone a major movie producer. What made me feel more uncomfortable yet was the way the people were reacting to their parents moving in with them. Where’s the love? The parents are going through likely the most difficult time of their lives and it didn’t seem like their kids were very supportive.
The other complaint I had was that Michael Moore seemed to paint the rosiest picture of the Canadian health care system. On the one hand, I can see why — the American public should be made aware that the Canadian system does work to a certain extent. But it sure isn’t perfect. Of course, I totally prefer what we’ve got to what they’ve got…
Other than that, the movie was really strong. One point in particular struck home with me when Moore was interviewing former British MP Tony Benn. Tony made a point about how an educated, confident and healthy nation is harder to govern. But it also gives the power to the people because a nation that is educated, confident and healthy is capable of standing up to the government. In the states, it seems that everything is headed in the other direction: education is dropping, health is dropping, and the public is being scared by the threat of … well everything. If the US is going to change dramatically, people are going to have to gain these three things to stand up against the government and its wrongdoing and see if things can get changed for the better. God I hope so … but I’m not holding my breath.
So I am now in the final stages now of finishing my masters degree in computer science. Today I passed my thesis defense — which is a pretty nerve wracking event, even though I knew there wasn’t a lot of reason to worry about it. It is like an interview with multiple interviewers trying to think of hard questions to stump you with.
I was actually pleasantly surprised by how simple it was. The questions that were asked certainly made me think, and there were times I overthought the questions asked. But all in all, it went fairly smooth. So now that I’m done that major hurdle, all that’s left is make the final revisions and get the thesis printed and bound and the final paperwork done. Is this ever exciting!
So yay for being done. Someday I will have a party to celebrate. It probably won’t be until February though – this weekend is too soon to plan a party, and next weekend is the department ski trip!