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What Jamie Wong did at Khan Academy (jamie-wong.com)
108 points by cbhl 1738 days ago | hide | past | web | 35 comments | favorite

Worth repeating: every intern ever anywhere should blog a summarizing post like this at the end of their internship.

Not only does it have obvious and enormous personal benefits for Jamie, but it's galvanizing for the team to look back and read through just how much has been accomplished in a few months (I'm proudly on Jamie's team, am speaking firsthand).

Most interns cannot disclose implementation specifics and code like this. A lot of us work on larger business-facing projects. This type of blog post is pretty specific to the style of development he's doing (a bunch of small open-source web widgets and scripts).

Especially when it happens so that you are working in Space or Defense industry...

I look forward to the opportunity to do this throughout my next internship in January.

Unfortunately, if I wrote such a post for the internship I just finished, I'd have to omit parts of it. Even though the company I worked for published a "Diary of a Summer Intern" series throughout the summer. :(

My eyes trick me into reading that as:

What Jamie did Wrong at Khan Academy

Same. The human mind at play.

Going through the blog post I finally understand why I kept seeing Jamie's blog on the front page of here and my Twitter feed continuously for the last few months, it's really impressive how much work you can get done when you're working on things that interest you. Seems like it was a enriching and useful internship, good job to Jamie and everyone at KA.

Am I the only one surprised by the fact that KA is hosted on Google App Engine?

I think the Kahn academy has got good licensing terms, and dont generate lots of rows of data, or dont need to process lots of data. As a fairly static web app host GAE can't be beaten. If you do more with it I think you will face the same problems we had... http://www.moneytoolkit.com/2012/08/the-problem-with-google-...

At Khan Academy, we actually have terabytes of data; some of our tables have close to a billion rows.

Our backend does much more than just serve static files -- you'd think that we don't have to do much but we keep track of video and exercise progress, summarize progress by user and by coach, provide video recommendations, host a Q&A system with notification support, award badges in real-time while avoiding costly datastore queries, handle mailing lists and email subscriptions, and have support for having a public profile to show off your progress, among other things.

We handle hundreds of requests per second and it's really nice to not have to think about scaling very much -- with any other solution, we'd be doing a lot more system administration.

Wow, my bad! Thanks for pointing that out. If you scale my numbers up that would be costing you $60,000 per month. If you are doing recommendations you are probably processing significant amounts of data as well. I guess theres no way we could know the commercial arrangements, but It surely cant be the same as your average small time developer.

We also use Hive on Amazon Elastic MapReduce to do some of our analytics.

Is KA billed standard public rates for GAE usage, or is this donated by Google?

Why do you find this surprising?

It's definitely had its ups and downs, but it managed to stay pretty stable when our traffic about doubled when CS launched.

I have to admit that I didn't think about this much myself -- most of the videos are on YouTube, and I hadn't thought about how the rest of the site was run. For all I knew, it was RoR or static webpages or something.

although I have not used app engine much, it seems like you would have a lot less flexibility if you use it rather than EC2/Rackspace.

Also, Im not sure I believe statements like "its nice not to have to worry about scaling", although if it is working for KA at hundreds of requests per second, maybe it is an accurate statement

App Engine handles many hundreds of requests per second for us, and as Jamie mentioned, big spikes like the CS launch are no sweat.

Jamie Wong is amazing.

+1 -- he was my role model for the longest time.

Was? :)

He told me to aim higher. I'm not sure what I should be shooting for yet, though.

I really wanted to read this blog but in IE7, the navigation section overlaps the content :(.

Oh crud, sorry about that.

You can read it here (without images, sadly): http://feeds.feedburner.com/JamieWong

Or if you add that feed to Google Reader or some other RSS reader, you should be able to see it too.

Will look into fixing this.

np thx. this is just because i m at work and snooping around :). At home, I proudly use Chrome and Firefox


It is embarassing that I have to use IE7 but this is at work :(. Large companies can be so behind in technology (another proof)

I think officially, 4% of users still use IE 7. [Edit: Source: http://theie7countdown.com/] Back in the day, IE was the most popular browser on the Internet, and I'm sure there are a lot of corporate applications written specifically for its quirks that simply don't work in newer browsers. Heck, the University of Waterloo's Learning Management System (based on the open-source Angel LMS) was broken in Chrome for the longest time -- the solution was to migrate to a different (closed-source) product altogether.

The Instapaper text bookmarklet might come in handy in situations like this: http://www.instapaper.com/extras (scroll down)

Can't you turn CSS styles off in IE7?

You're an inspiration. Nice job and very impressive.

Like this if you are in Jamie Wong's SE 2014 class.

This is awesome! Not part of the SE class, but current UW eng student nonetheless.

Hey look, we're all here!

The cool ones, at least.

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