Skip to main content

The Best Things about 2010

Last year I posted the Best Things About 2009, so I feel compelled to do the same this year. In what is sure to become an annual tradition, I present to you the Best Things About 2010 -- Volatile and Decentralized edition.

Best portrayed cameo appearance in a major Hollywood motion picture:


Brian Palermo's dramatic and riveting 45-second performance as myself in The Social Network. The rest of the movie is just okay, but the scene where I am teaching virtual memory to Mark Zuckerberg is one of the most compelling moments in modern cinema, right up there with Daniel Day-Lewis in the final scene of There Will Be Blood.

Best phone call:

It was early June and I was sitting by the pool in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands, drinking a rum punch, when my cell phone rang. "Hi Matt, it's Greg." Morrisett, that is, at the time the CS department chair at Harvard. "Oh, hi Greg," I said, nonchalantly, as though I was used to getting phone calls from him while being thousands of miles away. "I have good news," he said, and told me that my tenure case had just been approved by the President. I believe my exact response was, "no shit!" (in the surprised and delighted sense, not the sarcastic sense). In that moment I felt that seven years of hard work had finally paid off.

Best album:




$O$ by Die Antwoord. Every now and then an album comes along that I get utterly addicted to, and listen on repeat for days on end until I'm sick of it... and then I listen some more. Die Antwoord's unbelievable mashup of white-boy rap, totally sappy techno, and over-the-top lyrics in English, Afrikaans, and Xhosa is one such album. This is not at all the kind of music I usually listen to, but something about the trashy hooks and ridiculous vocals is just too catchy. The best song is "Evil Boy," which has a brilliant video (warning: definitely NSFW). Also check out the faux documentary video "Zef Side." Runners up: Transference by Spoon; Root for Ruin by Les Savy Fav.

Best reason to memorize Goodnight Moon and "Elmo's Song:"


Being daddy to an eighteen-month-old. Fatherhood continues to wear well on me. As my little boy, Sidney, gets older, he only manages to be more amazing and more entertaining. These days he's running, talking, singing, parroting back pretty much anything he hears (gotta watch what I say around him), coloring with crayons, counting, naming everything in sight. It's also exhausting taking care of him at times, but totally worth it in every way.

Comments

  1. I'm trying to turn this into an 'academia vs industry' discussion, but it's not working out :(

    I have a question about the 2009 post:

    Sidney is now almost six months old and is the cutest little fella I've ever seen -- I just can't wait to be able to take him to the zoo and teach him C++.

    What is it about the zoo that makes it conducive to learning C++? Is it that by looking at monkeys, the baby is assured of us humans' superiority, gains confidence and thus programs better? Or by looking at dolphins, which although have been acknowledged to be fairly intelligent, the lack of fingers makes them unlikely to use a keyboard and hence the baby feels safe that his code will never be hacked by dolphins?

    If so, I'll say that we should expose all our young to the toughest opponents as early as possible! We must seek the best botnet hacker, and sit the baby beside him/her. Then watch and do nothing as the hacker laughs at our young's feeble attempts to write perfect code! Yeah!

    Ahem...

    ReplyDelete
  2. ah.. I see the headless turkey is at it again ... somebody shoot it dead already!

    ReplyDelete
  3. wow. Die Antwoord must be an acquired taste...

    ReplyDelete
  4. I enjoyed reading your Blog. I understand you are working at Google. There appears to be a terrible problem with Spam at sci.med.dental-google groups. I don't know if google can do anything about this.

    ReplyDelete
  5. @Anonymous-Jan10: are you seriously asking Matt to do something about spam in a usenet group about dentistry? This is the funniest thing I've read in awhile!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Good night Moon, Corduroy, and Elmo: classic stuff. Enjoy!

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Why I'm leaving Harvard

The word is out that I have decided to resign my tenured faculty job at Harvard to remain at Google. Obviously this will be a big change in my career, and one that I have spent a tremendous amount of time mulling over the last few months.

Rather than let rumors spread about the reasons for my move, I think I should be pretty direct in explaining my thinking here.

I should say first of all that I'm not leaving because of any problems with Harvard. On the contrary, I love Harvard, and will miss it a lot. The computer science faculty are absolutely top-notch, and the students are the best a professor could ever hope to work with. It is a fantastic environment, very supportive, and full of great people. They were crazy enough to give me tenure, and I feel no small pang of guilt for leaving now. I joined Harvard because it offered the opportunity to make a big impact on a great department at an important school, and I have no regrets about my decision to go there eight years ago. But m…

Rewriting a large production system in Go

My team at Google is wrapping up an effort to rewrite a large production system (almost) entirely in Go. I say "almost" because one component of the system -- a library for transcoding between image formats -- works perfectly well in C++, so we decided to leave it as-is. But the rest of the system is 100% Go, not just wrappers to existing modules in C++ or another language. It's been a fun experience and I thought I'd share some lessons learned.

Why rewrite?

The first question we must answer is why we considered a rewrite in the first place. When we started this project, we adopted an existing C++ based system, which had been developed over the course of a couple of years by two of our sister teams at Google. It's a good system and does its job remarkably well. However, it has been used in several different projects with vastly different goals, leading to a nontrivial accretion of cruft. Over time, it became apparent that for us to continue to innovate rapidly wo…

Running a software team at Google

I'm often asked what my job is like at Google since I left academia. I guess going from tenured professor to software engineer sounds like a big step down. Job titles aside, I'm much happier and more productive in my new role than I was in the 8 years at Harvard, though there are actually a lot of similarities between being a professor and running a software team.

I lead a team at Google's Seattle office which is responsible for a range of projects in the mobile web performance area (for more background on my team's work see my earlier blog post on the topic). One of our projects is the recently-announced data compression proxy support in Chrome Mobile. We also work on the PageSpeed suite of technologies, specifically focusing on mobile web optimization, as well as a bunch of other cool stuff that I can't talk about just yet.

My official job title is just "software engineer," which is the most common (and coveted) role at Google. (I say "coveted&quo…