Reflection of Fall ’13


It’s been awhile since I have been home for the holidays for more than a week. To be exact, I’m be home for 2.5 weeks. I had plans to go on a trip to Japan and South Korea, but my friend bailed on me due to lack of funds. We then planned to do a Montreal trip, but that doesn’t seem like it’s going to happen either since my mom lined me up for a bunch of appointments. My eyesight has been particularly unstable in these past few weeks (sometimes I feel like I can’t ever get Lasik because I work in front of a laptop 24/7).

I’ve spent most of my break so far catching up with high school friends (our annual Secret Santa), watching movies and dramas, and cleaning/organizing my belongings at home. You really end up with a ton of clutter after living on and off every 4 months. You can’t bring everything with you when you move far away, and you always end up bringing more when you come back. I also started doing this thing where I keep all my receipts or significant cool pamphlets I get every term in separate folders. These folders were getting really unorganized in the past couple terms due to lack of time (because when I do have the time, I’d rather be doing other things).

More specifically, I’ve accumulated a huge wardrobe. I’m not even high on the shopaholic standards. I just buy clothing when I feel like I need it, based on my current wardrobe. The problem with this is that I only have a partial wardrobe at all times (when I’m living off campus or renting a place for co-op). This makes it difficult for me to remember whether I already had a ton of white tops, for example. Now it isn’t as bad for school terms, but it really sucks for co-op terms in the States. I am way, way more limited in the partial wardrobe I can bring. I’m still trying to figure out how I’m going to fit all the clothing I want to bring for next term.

Speaking of next term – I’ll be in SF again, work term #5 at Rdio. I had a tough time deciding where to go because (if you didn’t read my last blog post) I really wanted to return to FB (or specifically Instagram). I originally decided that I would be happier to return for the Fall (of 2014) instead of the Winter as there will be potentially more returning interns (or new grads) that I already know. I also didn’t really want to be in the Peninsula again for Winter as I prefer SF, and I didn’t want to do a long commute either (FB gives housing to interns or a stipend if you want to live in SF). I almost slightly regret choosing Rdio even now, simply because I really miss my coworkers back at IG. They were extremely hard-working, fun people to be with 8 hours a day. I wasn’t able to properly appreciate and thank them due to a family member passing away around the end of my internship. Thinking back, I really appreciated the experience and the opportunity to meet awesomely talented people. Continue reading

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Instagram Video V2 & Some Thoughts


It’s been another very exciting past couple weeks. We launched Instagram 4.1 last week – adding video support for Android 4.0 and video import from library. Huge wins. Video import was my main intern project, and I’m so happy that I was able to launch such a high-impact feature. Everyone please go and check it out if you have a chance.

I’ve worked at Instagram for about 15 weeks now, in the Facebook bubble. I realize that I’ve become attached to my team, attached to the product I work on. I don’t post the same kinds of photos I used to, after being influenced by amazing photographers (check out Suggested Users in Explore).

I began to seriously care about what users think of us (Those 1-star ratings hurt, just to let you know). It’s unfortunate that we can never have 100% test coverage due to the wide variety of Android devices. I’ve been in such a work-hard mode in the past few weeks that I forgot what I was doing – launching such an important and desired feature for millions of users out there. It’s a weird state to be in –  I became  critical of my code and it was hectic handling all of the bugs being reported. I spent a lot of time working on the feature (ensuring it worked on all devices, on various types of videos, etc.) that I forgot how awesome and high impact it actually was. Dilemma of a mobile developer perhaps?

A few people have asked me what it’s like working at Instagram but being under Facebook. Most of the public thinks that Facebook is making all of our decisions and will eventually make the app worse. No, it’s not like that at all. Facebook acquired Instagram, but the Instagram product still stands as its own. Our team is still present. We receive many resources and contacts through Facebook, which helps us reach a larger audience more efficiently, and scale more efficiently.

We are still fairly small, making me feel like I work at a startup, but we have the Facebook perks since we are on campus. It’s the best of both worlds. Facebook culture is slightly different from Instagram culture, and we also have our own values. One value in particular is that our community is our greatest asset. I’ve never been so exposed to how great our community is, and I have never realized how many amazing moments are shared from all across the world. People out there take some amazing photos.

Facebook is of course a little different. There are tons and tons of features in one large app, as we all know. There’s definitely a lot going on (feature-wise), although the fact that we all use Facebook to communicate at work, we are able to constantly debug each others’ code by testing great ideas.  Socially, everyone gets informed about product updates and what’s happening on campus through FB groups. I have stopped going on Reddit because all of my entertainment can be gained from various social groups. It’s extremely transparent here, and people love to have fun – a “just do it” type of culture.

Is this a recruiting blog post? No. Sorry if I’m making it sound that way. There are other interns who don’t feel the same way as me since they didn’t get placed on a suitable team. It happens. Life is full of bumpy roads and not everything can line up the way you want it to. I promise you this happens at other companies too, you just need to be verbal about it (esp if you work full time) so you don’t get stuck with something you don’t enjoy.

Anyways. I love this job and I don’t even know what I’ll do when I have to leave. Working on exciting projects with such an amazing team is something that you don’t always get to experience. It’s very surreal. Sometimes you really have to sit down and reflect before the moment fades away.

South Bay Lovin’


I have not blogged in a long time so I’m going to try to write before I become busy again. I have been extremely occupied in the past couple weeks, especially with work. I even forgot about doing my PD assignments for the past 2 weeks (don’t follow my example, please..) For those who do not know, Video for Instagram launched last Thursday on both iOS and Android. I helped with the Android launch, and despite all of the challenges and required extra hours, it was totally worth it. I have never worked with such a dynamic, open team, and I don’t really know what I’m going to do when I have to go back to school for the Fall. Check out the new feature if you haven’t already.

So how’s life for me? I am loving South Bay life. I barely went down here the last time I was in the Bay Area. It is definitely a place I’d like to live sometime in the future. Simply put, it’s nice. Really, really nice. I’ve been here about 7 weeks and it has yet to rain. Nada. This is so different from life in SF, the city that never stops being foggy, rainy, and hovering at 15-20 degrees celsius (59-68F). I still go up to the city once a week. This weekend, I added 50 bucks to my Clipper Card for the 4th time since I’ve been here. I actually checked out Haight & Ashbury for the first time today – it’s a great shopping district! Too bad there were 5 guys in our group or else we would have been there for hours.

Being a Facebook intern also has its perks – there are always amazing intern events. Last week, they took us to Yosemite. There wasn’t a lot of time to do big hikes, so a few friends and I just did some bare foot rock climbing at the Lower Falls. It was truly amazing being so close to the waterfall, and I have never realized how durable the human foot was until that day. I’ve become sheltered by shoes and socks for a long time, it seems. A few pics:

Lower Falls

Yosemite

Not all the interns have arrived yet. I think there are 700+ total summer interns. It is crazy. Not all of them are even here yet – I think the last batch arrive next week (July 1st). The official Bay Area interns group itself is about 3.5k people. Yes, movies like The Internship were made to entertain people like us.

It’s also very interesting being able to hang out with more Americans and understanding their differences from us Canadians. A few things:

  • Canadians say “washroom” while Americans say “restroom” or “the men’s room” or whatever.
  • Canadians say “marks” vs Americans say “grades” (? unconfirmed)
  • Americans don’t say “Let’s dip” in lieu of “Let’s go” (? unconfirmed)

Anyways, the only complaints I have so far about where I live is that the closest chain movie theatre is in Redwood City – which is in Zone 2 on the Caltrain Map. Menlo Park (MPK) to Sunnyvale is in Zone 3. There are a couple theaters in MPK and Palo Alto, but they play old school films. Another really cool thing I’ve noticed is that there are a lot of Spanish speakers in South Bay. I should start learning some Spanish.

Alright, that’s all for now. I’m hoping to do more blogging in the next few weeks now that I’m a little more free. More to come, thanks for reading!

If we get Instagram on WP, I will be a happy camper


As of November 2013, the official Instagram Beta on Windows Phone was launched.


aka. My thoughts on Windows Phone 8.  Above is a screenshot of my home screen tiles on a Samsung Focus running a 7.8 custom rom.  This month of October has been filled with big mobile announcements, from 1 platform to the next. The wait is over now that everything has been announced, so should WP8 be your choice? I did a mini review for WP7 a few months back in conjunction with Jellybean. Now that WP8 is coming soon, we have a lot more to look forward to. I did get a chance to play around with the homescreen update from a custom ROM I installed this weekend as I am showing off above. The 1×1 sized icons are good, although a little too tiny.. the medium sized 2×2 default tiles also got a size up since they got rid of the wasted space on the right side of the home screen, also something that looked awkwardly large to me. I really like that I’m able to see more on one screen now, though, it’s a huge improvement. I’m not a fan of the 4×2 so I don’t have any of that size on my homescreen. I’ve only had the ROM for a few days, but I do plan to organize my tiles a little more now that I have the customization. So today’s big keynote. The single thing that really stood out to me was the improved Skype experience – being able to keep it running in the background. Skype has given people a mediocre experience on EVERY platform. Ive done Skype chat and calling on a variety platforms (iOS, Android, WP, OSX, Win7), and they never did a good job of minimizing bugs and user experience. The new experience for Skype really intrigues me. They claim you will be able to have Skype running in the background without decreasing battery life, and having it pick up calls and messages. Considering the fact that no one uses MSN anymore (or AIM for those who are American), Skype has become our main medium for keeping track of messages and video calling. Plus, you can sync it with Facebook chat and video calling (not on any mobile versions yet, but I’m sure it’s coming). The new lock screen is also something to look forward to, and something that devs can certainly take advantage of. Continue reading