9 years at Amazon, huh?

I forgot to mention one thing on my last post: today I celebrated 9 years at Amazon… Who would have thought I would still be around? But I’m having fun (most of the days). Still learning. I’ve had some quite successful projects, and some that didn’t last for as long as I was expecting. I can’t talk about my current project, but I can talk about some highlights about previous projects: 

  • Adding semantics to how products are defined at Amazon, supporting easier category expansion.
  • Auto-classification of products
  • Richer rules for cleaning up structured attributes in data, including handling crazy (and I really mean crazy) apparel sizing
  • Embedded and sandboxed HTML5 application environment

There were lots of other things that I’ve worked on. But these were probably the ones that had the biggest longer term business impact (even though the HTML5 app project was canceled not long after I left it – but it planted a seed onto different systems that hopefully will continue making Kindle products more innovative). 

Who knows, one of these days I might talk about what I’m working on right now. If everything works as planned, it will certainly feature on my list of accomplishments above. There is just so much left to do… 

Project flashbacks

Lately I’ve been working on a quite big project trying to get things to move and allowing 5 people to be synchronized on what they are doing. And this has brought me memories of old times, old projects, where synchronization meant deprecation and substitution. Expanding meant more work.

This was my life during my graduation project (also known as senior design project in some universities, but for my university back in Brazil it was a 3 semester project – so we started not really being seniors). I had a very good team of friends – smart and hard working. However, things didn’t work as planned. The team got divided because of some silly professional conflict (maybe it wasn’t that silly for the people that were involved in it) and everything went downhill from there.

Anyway, the highlight of the project wasn’t it, though. It was the day that one of my project mates was complaining that he had to simplify his voice recognition software so much that the errors were starting to be larger than the signal. The simplification was done because he couldn’t fit all the coefficient precision that he wanted in our great 4K smartcard. When I decided to look a little more into it, I found out that he was trying to store the numbers as strings in the smart card and had to keep truncating the string to make it fit!

And this was my first proof why I despised XML and, in certain ways, Java. Now it’s all around me… I even catch myself spending time reviewing design proposals and suggesting people to move away from some binary solutions into XML. Round and round the world goes and back we are to old projects.

At least one good thing: I finally was able to post something. I’ve had this blogger window open for more than a week now!