Wooo Tim! TOPP sent him to a testing conference where he presented "Tim-bits" after each group discussion, summarizing it from the viewpoint of a relative newcomer to the field. "For a newbie out of college, this was some pressure," said Tim... but it looks like he did an amazing job. My favorite note is this one: "Tools don’t solve problems, they help people solve problems. Like a hammer helps in building a roof, our tools help in doing performance testing. No one tool will do our work for us." (Goranka Bjedov, Google)

Now, Andy. Every time I visit Olin and stay at Andy P's, we end up talking until at least 4am. This time it was about education (which isn't unusual) and self-directed learning (also not unusual) and ended up with Things Happening (...also not unusual). The most "exciting" parts went something like this.

"I want to start a virtual school."
"I'll enroll as a student. Here are some courses of study I'd like to do. Are you joining me?"
"Yes! How about an MBA?"

Several hours of research later, we now have an "MBA Learning Plan" (we're aware it's going to change as we start going through it). The "MBA" part is a mild misnomer since it consists of the things we'd want to learn at a "traditional" MBA program, doesn't have the things we don't think are important (this is different from the things we're gritting our teeth about learning but are doing anyway - for instance, we're not psyched about covering accounting, but we will) and includes a couple topics outside the usual scope of MBA programs. For me, about half the things in the (year-long, currently) study plan were things I was already doing and looking into, but wanted to be forced to reflect on, so it's deepening my current activities rather than adding onto them.

For reference, here are the two things I'd want to get out of an MBA (Andy made me write them down):

The first objective would be to learn how to run an open-source company (and what that means) with a focus on project/company lifecycles and how people fit into/react within various roles in an organization, both formally and emergently defined.

The second objective would be to understand my own career and personal growth as something separate from the organizations I'm affiliated with, because I believe I'm at my best (both for myself and the organizations I work with/for) when I'm working within and across multiple groups at once (be that a part-time job while doing graduate studies, working full-time and volunteering heavily at a separate organization, or whatever).

The second conversation went something like this:

"I'd like to start a business someday."
"Ok, let's do that before we go to sleep (it was ~5:20am, and we slept before 6)."

So... yeah. Our target date is public launch before Olin's graduation (next Sunday). Stay tuned. We also need to find a place to keep track of our "MBA" studies. Wikiversity again, perhaps?

Working backwards chronologically: the garden on top of the parking lot by my office is a wonderful place to have lunch, and Henry Hardy is my hero. I think I would benefit from throwing myself "backward in time" and learning how to write really tight assembly and C, playing with very old computers or things that roughly approximate them. It might get me past my "but I'm expected to know this and now I feel stupid" hangup-block that (I believe) stops me from making rapid progress in computing/programming and electrical engineering type things. Of course, it's also important to not get so hung-up on not learning "fast enough" that I... don't learn at all. (Once I start thinking metacognitively, stopping that infinite reflection recursion is like not thinking of a purple elephant sometimes.)

Wednesday night was also delightful. It was Kristen Dorsey's birthday (hello, old one!) and a whole lot of us went down to John Harvard's to consume copious amounts of cholesterol-laden food, then to Kristen's house to hang out and catch up and generally have fun times. It turned out that our entire suite (the suIEEEte suite) was present, the first time we'd been all together since graduation, and everybody is doing great. Kristen and I argued about who'd earned the least money this year (she's volunteering at starvation wages for FIRST before heading to grad school at CMU in the fall, I'm on my year off and pulling down occasional internship stipends while paying travel expenses).

I wanted to head back to the office and work, so they dropped me off at the train station by dangerously overloading Jeff's car. I ended up clutching the shotgun seat's headrest and sitting mostly on the rear passenger-side seat's door handle, wedged between that and Gallimore's knee. It's nice to be around people I trust and know well enough to physically touch past the functional hand-lending and the social handshake or hug - backrubs, piggyback-rides, hair-rumples, and so on. It's one of those "don't realize how much you missed it" things; I realized this two hours into the get-together when I thought "wait, wait... I'm leaning against somebody (VanWyk) and feel perfectly comfortable and didn't even notice it!" I'm usually very shy about and aware of physical contact with other people, so being able to let my guard down was great.