Twelfth week: wrapping up

published on January 1, 2012

Wrapping up

My last week at Facebook … it seemed so long until I could finally return to my beloved Anneleen. Simultaneously, time seems to have flown by. And by now, I had grown accustomed to living in the United States.

Anyway, on the first day of this week, I had lunch with Steve Souders at Google. It was an interesting peek at Google’s way of dealing with performance, how it differs from Facebook in general and … how the food differs. We had lunch in Google’s largest cafeteria — it had a very diverse offering!

Google building 43

They also had an awesome T-rex replica in front of building 43. The flamingos that are swarming all over it are not real, for what it’s worth.

T-rex and flamingos at Google!

After my visit to Google, I biked back home, to the bus stop and went to Facebook. Having arrived there, I wanted to Get Shit Done. The gloves went off.
Instead of gently pinging people to ask them for help, I now simply went directly to them, explaining the urgency. (My internship would end that week, but in effect, it would end on Thursday, because on the last day, the Snowville event for employees would take place.) To my amazement, this really worked. I got done in a few hours what would otherwise have involved days of slow back-and-forth e-mailing & IRC‘ing. In a matter of a few hours, my code was merged into the Facebook non-www code repository, amongst others.

My project was codenamed “Project Awesome Llama” and even though it is about finding association rules, I decided to name it PatternMiner. It made most sense to me and my colleagues.

So over the course of the next few days, I took all of the last steps necessary to run PatternMiner jobs using Facebook’s tools (which support automatic failover, for example) to deploy my code to one of Facebook’s clusters.

There are currently five pattern mining jobs that are mining data streams. The biggest job analyzes 17 million samples per day, but splits each sample into 5 separate ones so that’s about 85 million per day — that’s almost 1,000 per second. Per sample, 10—11 attributes are analyzed, so that’s about 900 million attributes analyzed per day. And that’s just one of the five jobs.

On my way back from getting my last paycheck, I noticed this “HACK” sign that was built in the front yard of Facebook’s 1601 building as a goodbye token.

Thursday was the moment of truth: the final presentation. It went well, but it was far, far, far from as fluent as I wanted. I’ve done much better in the past. Granted, the circumstances didn’t make it easy to prepare well for this presentation. Better next time.
Because the presentation went so poorly (I spent too much time on the wrong stuff), attendees inevitably started yawning. Which made me feel very bad. Which caused me to be convinced that I wouldn’t receive an offer.

After the presentation, I had a talk with my manager. He said the presentation was fine. And … that I would get an offer! WOOHOO!

So with great relief and very happy, I left Facebook that Thursday night. In the evening, I finished off documenting some stuff and started cleaning up my laptop and my dev server, because I’d have to hand it in the next day — after Snowville.

Last day

That very last day at Facebook, December 16, there was another employee event: Snowville. Facebook basically rented the entire San Mateo Event Center and filled it with winter-related fun stuff.

I managed to get a photo of Mark Zuckerberg and me (in my Hasselt University t-shirt!), along with Nikola, Helen and Abel (all from the University of Waterloo)! :)

Photo with Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook Snowville

Besides a death ride, sledding slope and a reindeer ride, there were also several Facebook-branded beer pong tables!

Facebook-branded beer pong at Snowville

After Snowville, we took a shuttle back to the new Menlo Park offices where everybody would move into next Monday. A room was reserved for the interns, and we were surprised to find nobody else there. Everybody worked on fixing some last issues and whatnot; I contributed the changes I made to my master thesis’ code during my internship back upstream — less than an hour before I had to hand in my Facebook laptop! 80 files changed, 9452 insertions(+), 950 deletions(-), the commit said.

The Wall at the new MPK office

The postal cards I sent out

Having dropped of my iPhone and laptop, I left the MPK1 office — after writing my name on The Wall — only to return yet another thing: my rental bike.
A very relaxing weekend awaited. I felt liberated. I was ecstatic about the prospect of returning back home, to my girlfriend. I visited the second half of the Computer History Museum on Saturday. Packed on Sunday. Wrote 40 postal cards in the night of Sunday to Monday. Sent them on Monday morning. And then … then I happily went to SFO, waiting for the flight back home.

Never have I been so happy to see my girlfriend!

The End. I hope you enjoyed it!

  1. Menlo Park. ↩︎


Edwin 's picture

Really enjoyed reading your posts for this peek behind the facebook scenes! Congratulations on your offer, they really made you work for it, didn’t they?

Also, Mark walking around barefooted these days? Awesome :)

Dieter_be's picture

Congrats! and thanks for all the blogposts, it was very interesting to follow your experiences.

Mieke Thienpont's picture
Mieke Thienpont

Thx for the postcard! It has become one of my prized possessions. Good luck in finding what to do next ;-)

heylookalive's picture

Awesome series, really interesting insight! Thanks for taking the time to put this all up :)

Wim Leers's picture
Wim Leers

Glad you liked it! :)

dragonvale hack tool's picture

If you don’t want to do that its to the left when you first enter sunset. Thrall has a slightly above average stat gain of 5. Enter the outgoing mail server and if necessary, select Outgoing server requires authentication.

Dvir's picture

Thanks for the series of blog posts about your internship! Mine is scheduled for next summer, and reading about your experience there makes me even more excited. (If that’s even possible!)

Thanks for sharing!

Wim Leers's picture
Wim Leers

Awesome! :)

And you’re very welcome! Do you already know what team in Facebook you’d like to work on?

Dvir's picture

Umm, there are so many teams that interest me! I would say groups, internal tools and events are the first to come to mind. I guess I won’t be able to pick the team I will be interning at, but that’s fine - I hope I’ll contribute enough to those that interest me more at a hackathon, if I get the chance.

It seems like you enjoyed your time there. I hope there will be an engineering office in Belgium at some point so you won’t have any excuses ;)

On a side note - was there a reason you chose to find an apartment yourself instead of joining the intern housing?

Wim Leers's picture
Wim Leers

If you run into Okay Zed, Benjamin Billings, John Allen, Carlos Bueno or any of the Site Speed/Site Reliability teams, say hi from me :)

And actually, you will be able to pick the team you will be interning at! It’s completely up to you! :)

I chose to find an apartment, because my girlfriend would be flying over and in the “default” apartments, you share your bedroom with 1 other intern. It’s much more expensive (my apartment ran $1800 versus $1000 for the “default” apartment), but it’s nicer and you can rent your own (much better) bike. OTOH, it’s also more lonely. For me personally, it was great. It probably depends on your personality whether it’s something for you or not :)

(If you want to talk in more detail, feel free to reach out via