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Ask HN: What happened to Steve Yegge after 'quitting'
72 points by topherjaynes on July 25, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 22 comments
The recent "I'm coding 180 websites' post inspired me to get a group of friends to commit to set aside some time for study hall to work on things once a week--hopefully more often. I used Steve's OsConn talk (google Steve Yegge Quits)to help show the value of study hall hours. Curious to know if anyone has heard an update on his goal of study hall hours everyday for an hour to learn math. Surprised there isn't a follow up talk, post or rant to that talk. Or have you had any success setting aside set time to work on side projects or just to learn something?



He didn't quit. See his post:

http://steve-yegge.blogspot.com/2011/07/hacker-news-fires-st...

"Hacker News Fires Steve Yegge" which is about how everyone misinterpreted what he said.


yea that's why I threw the '' around quit. I don't think there was a misinterpretation at all. He did quit. He just wasn't specific to say that he was only quitting the so called cat projects and I'm just interested in how that's going. Did the study hall pay off and such.


>"Or have you had any success setting aside set time to work on side projects or just to learn something?"

Yes.

Several months ago I decided to get serious about re-aligning my career and the pursuit of a degree.

Creating a structured plan with a schedule and specific goals has been the most important part. Setting aside time is part of that.

I think treating my development more formally has been a huge help.


I recently enrolled in a local Uni as a freshman. You are right about treating development more formally, you just have to switch 'development' brain off. I was curious what kind of structured plan you have, is it just you daily schedule or something more long term?


>"I recently enrolled in a local Uni as a freshman."

Same here.

>"I was curious what kind of structured plan you have, is it just you daily schedule or something more long term?"

It's mostly longer term on a scale of months to one year or several in the case of the degree.

For example, one goal is working through the entirety of Introduction to Algorithms [0]. I've set out dates by section for reading, completing problem sets and reviews. I've written these dates out along with my reasons for pursuing the goal and how I believe I will benefit from achieving it.

That might sound simple, but taking the time think these things through, and articulate them into something concrete was certainly useful to me.

This isn't the kind of thing I'd have done historically, but I've been trying to stay very open-minded to anything that might help me reach the goals I've set. I follow the same process for any significant new goal.

I make a point to take (hand written) notes on everything I work on. At least once a week, I whiteboard what I've been reading or working on. There are going to gaps or things I completely blank on which become items for further review in the coming week.

I have yet to settle with a calendar or to-do app which I really like, for the moment, all these dates and tasks are either in a notebook I use daily or on my whiteboard for emphasis.

As much as possible, I try to create "artifacts" from the way I'm spending time. This can be notes, a quick summary of what I got from reading a chapter or article or an attempt at implementing something I read about.

I have a solid routine for my days made pretty necessary between my job and small child, but each day isn't entirely planned. I keep a shortlist of things that I work on in the same set of windows (early morning, commute, at work in the gaps, before bed) each day. I've cut out most anything that isn't family, work or study.

One thing I aim to stay strictly consistent about is waking (5:00). This gives me a little "extra" time before I wake my child up.

0: http://www.amazon.com/dp/0262033844/


>> I make a point to take (hand written) notes on everything I work on.

I was not doing this intially thinking I dont have write down stuff if I understand it, Only to be completely lost and having to read and understand it all over again. Now I write everything down too.

I wish you all the best.


[video] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vKmQW_Nkfk8 (13:50 is the Study Hall)


The next blog post he posted a few months later was all about how he spent the last few months playing this video game. Well, not entirely, there was a dig at google+ in there as well. But I'm guessing the study hall didn't happen...

Too bad too, because I also felt very inspired by his "I quit" speech and was looking forward to a follow up.


He did a talk about Project Grok, a piece of internal Google infrastructure he created, back in April at an Emacs conference: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uRO3dNJx5Dw


So he actually quit his job at Google in that speech, and not just some cat-picture project?


He didn't quit his job. He even wrote a follow up about how HN had misinterpreted what he said.

http://steve-yegge.blogspot.com/2011/07/hacker-news-fires-st...

Separately, he also wrote a post that was critical of Google+ (he accidentally published publically what was supposed to be an internal post). He wrote a follow-up to that too saying nothing bad happened to him at Google.


As soon as his leaked piece on Google+ appeared, it was pretty much to be expected that he will be terminated (use whatever softer sounding euphemism you like). You can't just throw feces at your coworkers in public view and expect to be kept in the company.


That may have been some people's expectation, but as his public G+ page says[0], he still works at Google. Sergey called his piece a 'night-time aid'[1]. Also Steve's take on it [2].

That said, the OP was talking about his OSCON talk (check out from ~minute 13 onward): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vKmQW_Nkfk8

[0]: https://plus.google.com/110981030061712822816/posts

[1]: http://www.nbcsandiego.com/blogs/press-here/Sergey-Brin-Stev...

[2]: https://plus.google.com/110981030061712822816/posts/AaygmbzV...


Steve Yegge is 100% talk and no action. He wants to go cure cancer? Well then dive right in and join the fight! I'm sure he has Google lucky megabucks so what he does with his remaining time on Earth is entirely up to his whims.

Those whims seem to be telling him to stay in his Google glass menagerie and enjoy what his keepers feed him and taking time to play and extensively critique _Borderlands_. And that's a fine and understandable hacker hedonist strategy, but please, STFU about "curing cancer" etc. (unless he's going to get in the ring(tm), which I seriously doubt he ever will).

But to be fair, I've seen this happen to a few of my friends who hit it big, and I think it explains why there are so few Elon Musks and James Camerons among us. Once Maslov's hierarchy has been topped off, it's like the insatiable drive to achieve that made that possible just evaporates.


This kind of comment is unnecessarily mean. It's an attack on Yegge, who does not deserve the kind of vitriol you're directing. Please don't do this on HN. It's poison for the community.


Having just watched the video (YouTube: vKmQW_Nkfk8) I feel nothing you say takes anything away from what he said. Most of us, including Steve, get caught up in short term goals and many of us indulge in some sort of entertaining distraction from thinking about hard problems. That's why we're not the next Elon Musk or Steve Jobs. Even if I take your word for it, that you know Steve Yegge and have many friends who hit it big, how do their failings (which are also most of ours) detract from the ideal?


I'm not attacking his words, he's an eloquent guy.

But I'm personally not into motivational speeches, I'm a hard-core believer in follow-through and results (and little else). And while that has problems of its own, they're not the same ones as all talk and no action.


He actually has been working on a big data analysis problem for the last four years, which is presumably why he was asked to speak, so your characterization of him as all talk and no action is incorrect

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KTJs-0EInW8


I think its quite the opposite: he is humble to realize that he alone can do very little.

Steve writes so that others can be influenced in the direction he believes is the right one. See, for example, his stuff on why marketing is important for engineers.


> I've seen this happen to a few of my friends who hit it big [...] it's like the insatiable drive to achieve that made that possible just evaporates.

This hits many people after just talking about their goals. They get the same good feelings of achievement that lead to de-motivation to follow through with it.


He wouldn't even have to do it alone, there's tons of startups and events in the valley, particularly around Stanford, working on big significant medical problems. Coders are in short supply as well. If he wanted to code on a real life medical issue I could match him up with several doctors within a week.

But hey, it probably felt good for him to talk about what other people should do even if he doesn't do it himself.


>>Once Maslov's hierarchy has been topped off, it's like the insatiable drive to achieve that made that possible just evaporates.

Great quote, I just tweeted it. I wish it weren't true, but it is.

Steve Jobs is another one who clearly didn't have that very common gene. After getting fired from Apple he could have just done drugs and had sex for the rest of his life. But he kept on building. And building. And building.




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