Tom Fallows

Tom Fallows

A weeklong electronic journal.
Aug. 31 1999 8:30 PM

Tom Fallows

VIEW ALL ENTRIES

8:20 a.m.: Wake up to Elvis Costello's "Allison" broadcasting from my CD alarm clock. I get up late because ... well, because I like to get up late. Finished off a tub of vanilla yogurt, and then got my younger brother, Tad, into the car and we packed off to work around 9. Tried listening to NPR, but I really don't like the local talk show that comes on after Morning Edition, so we switched to a CD.

Advertisement

10 a.m.: Get to Mountain View and find that Nirav, our one-man charisma machine, is out on a "press tour." Missing Nirav's morning salutations ("T-Spoon! What's happening?"), I plod through the weekend's e-mail. New policy: Dogs may be allowed in office. Aside from junk mail offering to let me Accept Credit Cards Now! there's nothing much of interest except two new product reviews on the epinions.com beta site by Bill Gurley, our venture capitalist from Benchmark. The reviews are OK, but I find that they've already been rated "Very Useful!" by Naval, our CEO. Figuring that I, too, can be a Gurley lackey, I cast my own votes as "Very Useful!" and start cargo-culting for my own infusion of venture capital. Still waiting ...

12:30 p.m.: Weekly all-hands meeting. Three new hires this week means that we're out of chairs, so some folks stood. Got the rundown on Product Launch (only about 75 more launch-critical bugs to go!), Business Development, Engineering (knee-deep in bug-crushing mode), Marketing (press tour began today), and Human Resources (we need more people!), but the real issue is an update on the new offices--many of us are pushing to move "South of Market" in downtown San Francisco, but it seems to be a losing battle. Several of the engineers, the most powerful folks around, want to stay in the Valley, so it looks like Redwood City is about as far north as we'll get. The other real issue is whether the company will continue to buy dinner every night after launch. Someone has started to notice that $600 a night adds up. I hear a story that Netscape ended its dinner privileges after people began ordering wine with their dinner. No real resolution on the matter.

34000_34021_aleks_with_gates

2 to 4 p.m.: Time evaporates. Reassure sales partner that, yes, we do still exist despite radio silence over the past week. Talk to a manufacturer to explain why I can't endorse his products on our site. The man does not seem to understand conflict of interest. Sit down with Aleks Totic, engineer, to explain how we need to present the cell phone section differently--I want users to be able to see a coverage map of their local area when considering service plans. Aleks seems more interested in showing me the official corporate Microsoft calendar that just arrived. Aleks was the 11th employee at Netscape, and he wrote the first versions of the browser for Macintosh. He gets a real kick out of the calendar's page for November: "That Wonderful Guy Named WILLIAM." When I get him back on track for the coverage maps, he solves the problem in about two minutes.

34000_34022_lou_with_servers

4:15 p.m.: Power outage. A bank of computers goes down when a fuse blows, but somehow mine is spared. I count and see that we've got 15 computers and monitors and four servers on the outlet that just quit. These blown fuses used to happen every afternoon, but now we've balanced the load by stringing extension cords across the office from the kitchen area. I tripped on the cords last week, but that's been the only mishap. I wonder if the new hires have pushed us over the edge again. While we're waiting for the servers to reboot, I watch a game of pingpong. The pingpong table is placed right next to all our staging servers, which makes me sort of nervous. The company is in those boxes. Lou Montulli, the guy who created cookies, LYNX, and the blink tag, is surprisingly poor at the game--it's surprising only because he's a master at almost everything else.

4:30 p.m.: Servers back up, only to be brought down by me. I tried to insert a simple line of code, and I managed to send the servers into some infinite spiral of death. I promise not to touch that file again. I make a joke about the days of middle-school programming: "10: Print 'Hello.' 20: Goto 10." Nobody laughs.

4:45 p.m.: Scooped! Go to Slate to check out my Diary and see that my dad has stolen my thunder with his headline article on beer. Are you kidding me?

6 p.m.: Daily game of basketball on the hoop out back. The 9-foot rim is a real confidence boost until my spirits are dashed by Sarah Leary, a new project manager, who is much better than me. Team up with college rowing teammate Jonathan to win the final game.

10 p.m.: Twenty-five people still at work. Heading to pick up Tad, who bailed several hours ago to visit a friend, and then home.