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.


Experience Microsoft 2012

So I just spend about 4 days in Seattle/Bellevue for an event called Experience Microsoft. The program is for undergrads who (from my understanding) have applied for an internship, scholarship, or the Explore program and did not get accepted. Explore Microsoft is a summer internship program for first and second years. Read more about it here:

I got into the program because I applied for their Academic Scholarship, and I actually won : ) It was thanks to StudentAwards , as I wouldn’t have known about it without their scholarship database.

There is actually no information online about the Experience Microsoft program, so I guess it’s pretty secret. Not anymore though (haha). A few of my coworkers at Lookout worked at Msoft previously, and told me a little about Msoft before I went off. I decided I would go in with a clean slate, though (without external opinions).

Msoft flew me in on Wed night and I attended this 2-day event at the main office with ~75 other students across North America. I was actually surprised by the large amount of Canadians! There were at least 10 or 20 of us; lots of freshmen and sophomores, and a very equal ratio of guys to girls.

We stayed at The Westin, which was probably the nicest hotel I’ve ever stayed at. So the awesome thing was that msoft reimburses all our meals while we’re there.

Day 1 (Thurs) consisted of presos, good food, networking, activities, and tours.

We had a workshop on windows phone development, which was pretty fun. It’s actually so similar to Android development, but the tools and interface are much nicer. Visual Studio is pretty awesome, and is so much more friendly than Eclipse :P Learned some C# syntax, and like everyone has told me, it is similar to Java. The mapping from xaml layout objects to methods is very VB-like (VB6 was the first language I used, brings back memories!).

The presos were interactive and gave a great overview about how the work is at msoft. Something that really stood out to me was The Garage – a place to do personal projects. It gave off the start up / open source feel, in this huge corporation setting.

There were a ton of raffles going on throughout the day, and I was especially jealous of those who won windows phones! Continue reading