• Tag Archives Hipmunk
  • Locker Room Talk

    No, not that kind. I was just observing the shower room at the glitzy-as-hell Airbnb building.

    I’m still working for Hipmunk, but we moved into a nook in the Airbnb building, 888 Brannan a couple of months ago. It’s got a lovely courtyard, and the space that Airbnb inhabits is probably also quite gorgeous.

    I suspect that giant fluffy white piece of art is 'The Cloud'.
    I suspect that giant fluffy white piece of art is ‘The Cloud’.


    The office that we share with Tripit is unglamorous, and the HVAC is ridiculously noisy during the day, and hilariously so after 6: there’s a spot where it literally sounds like someone is vacuuming the floor, with a very loud vacuum. And the floor is very uneven, in places enough that I have tripped on it.

    But it’s certainly better than our old spot, where the floor and ceiling were flat concrete and everything echoed. A little carpeting goes a very long way.

    This is the new office (Tripit and Hipmunk, in the Airbnb building.)

    But the really weird thing is the shower room. (Well, rooms: I assume the women’s is probably the same as the men’s.) These are things that the designers of this building thought were a good idea:

    • Creating a dedicated shower/locker room, with three showers, plenty for a building this size.
    • Leaving room for only a total of 26 lockers, probably a factor of five fewer than necessary for a building this size. This forces building management to disallow anyone leaving anything in lockers overnight, which in turn means that nobody uses the lockers for anything, more or less. I note that part of the broad, sweeping entryway that has literally no purpose except to be broad and sweeping could have been shaved down by about 4 feet and it would have given plenty of room for plenty of lockers in both restrooms.
    • Having there be no place to hang towels except inside lockers, where they do not dry.
    • Deciding that a shower room should be ventilated, and conscientiously put an exhaust fan in the ceiling. Quite a powerful one, actually
    • Deciding that a shower room should not leak humid air into the bathroom that it opens onto, and thus putting a door that seals fairly tightly when closed.
    • Neglecting to include an input air vent that is even close to big enough to keep up with the vent fan.
    • Having a floor which has been carefully leveled in the shower room. You don’t have level floors in rooms where you expect water, you have slopes so the water runs off. But in this case it doesn’t matter, because of another thing they also thought was a good idea:
    • Having no drain in the shower room floor. Really? Also,
    • Having little changing nooks outside each shower. Great! With no shelf, seat, or anything else to put your clothes to change into. Not great! And with a shower curtain on the outside of the nook, but no shower curtain between the nook and the shower, just a tiny little 1/2″ tall lip on the bottom of the shower. So half of the water from the shower sprays out into the nook and onto the floor.

    The upshot of all of this is that the floor of the shower room always has a lake on it, and often the room is about half lake. And there’s nowhere to leave your work shoes or even your shampoo overnight. And the entire room whistles. All. the. time.

    This is what happens when a company wants to look like they’re Apple, but does not have any of Apple’s attention to detail: you have a really nice-looking product that is excruciating to actually use.

  • Personal News: New Job!

    So, for those of you wondering where I’ve disappeared to, whether I’ve been neglecting you on Facebook, on this blog, in person, or via some other means of interpersonal neglect — at which I naturally excel in any case — here’s the answer: I’ve been interviewing for, getting ready for, starting, and running around frantically trying to understand, a new job.

    The company is called Hipmunk, and we (I have to get used to calling Hipmunk ‘we’ now!) run a travel meta-search site: a site for searching for plane tickets and hotel rooms across many providers and web sites.. If you haven’t heard of us, perhaps you’ve heard of our largest competitor, which is named something very similar to ‘canoe.com’. (Hey, I’m not going to send any business their way!) If you’re planning on traveling anytime soon, go and check us out… you can often find quite inexpensive plane tickets and hotel rooms that way. And they have an adorable mascot, which anyone who knows me would know is a major draw for someone like me.

    The new job brings new challenges: Hipmunk runs almost entirely on python on the back end, a language I’ve never played with before. Their data storage is in PostgreSQL, which I haven’t played with in five years, and which I never got terribly expert on. And they interface with a whole bunch of different companies, in a whole bunch of ways, each one completely different from every other, and we somehow have to extract the same information from each one . It’s a lot to learn, and trying to hit the ground running is turning out to take a whole lot of work. I’m kind of exhausted when I get home in the evenings, and not inclined to do anything terribly strenuous. Like type a sentence. Or pick up the phone. Sorry about that.

    Fortunately, what the new job doesn’t bring is a longer commute. In fact, Hipmunk is around two and a half blocks away from Cloudmark. So I expect to be having frequent lunches with ex-coworkers.

    I promise to be more attentive to the rest of my life as things settle down. And things will settle down at least somewhat in the next few weeks, as I get to know enough of the language and infrastructure that figuring out the rest doesn’t seem like quite such a daunting task.

    They’d better settle down. Or I will explode.

    Finally, the image above is a picture of the Bay Bridge, western span, taken from the Embarcadero one morning on my way to work. The clouds sure do act funny here in San Francisco.