Bamidele O. Shangobunmi

JANG Speaks!: January 2007

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Ballin'... Paintballin', that is

Today I lost my paintball virginity to a field in Antioch literally right next to where I started RC racing some years back. I've seen pictures of folks with nasty-looking welts all over their bodies, and I earned my fair share of the same, but in all honesty the sting really isn't that bad so long as you're not just wearing a t-shirt or something. The worst part was getting hit square in the temple by a kid with really bad aim while I was standing eliminated on the sidelines. Was the whole experience fun? Hell yes! Will I do it again? Hell yes!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Today I...

...put curly pink hair and a monkey on our Director's head. No, really. Shocking as it may sound, it was fully in good taste and professionally appropriate. Now if that doesn't leave you wondering...

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Not too shabby

Good week so far! Where should I start? I guess I'll take it chronologically.

Monday in the cafeteria I ran into a familiar face, a former co-worker from my last company! Talk about a small world. We're working in different product verticals, but my department and his work very closely, so I'm sure I'll be seeing more of him around over time.

Tuesday at 10:45am I uploaded the first final version of the user experience spec for my first full project. I say "first final" because I am living in the real world and everybody knows that little issues can and will keep coming up long after design is "final." Nonetheless, this was a major milestone and I'm very happy with how it has all come together. In the afternoon, revelling in my newfound (yet oh-so-temporary) downtime I took a look back at emails and documents to recall the project timeline:
  • 11/27/07 -- I was hired.
  • 11/28/07 -- Project kickoff at 3pm.
  • 11/29/07 -- Three hours of brainstorming meetings. By midday I had stopped working on mockup skeletons (made in PowerPoint and Paint on the kiosk) and started using my brand new laptop.
  • 12/1/07 -- First draft mockups of the four core new pages were up for review. Functionality and overall design of these pages would stand the test of time.
  • 12/7/07 -- The full breadth of the key page flow the project encompassed was shared with the team in a slide deck. Mockups by this time were fairly high-fidelity. I began woring on the second of two key flows that had been planned for the project. The first draft (a real skeleton) of the MRD was distributed. The first page flow was also officially split into two by this time.
  • 12/8/07 -- Mockups of the screens of the third flow were presented in a PowerPoint.
  • 12/13/07 -- A first draft set of clickable HTML prototypes were delivered. Normally prototypes are done by web developers, but we didn't have any webdev support as yet, so I downloaded a trial version of Dreamweaver and did them myself in "Can't Believe It's Not Butter" fidelity. Three click paths were supported in the initial prototype set, including some dynamic functionality.
  • 12/14/07 -- First review with the PM director and the VP of UED (UI/UR/visual/content). The VP was very late, so the review was very brief.
  • 12/18/07 -- Full formal executive review attended by the VP, three directors, the PMM, TPM, visual designer, myself, and a couple other folks who joined late and whose roles I did not learn.
  • 12/18/07 through 12/20/07 -- Usability tests were conducted using polished prototypes. It was pretty smooth sailing. All tested users were able to complete their requested tasks without help. Nearly all of the feedback we received pointed to needs for refinements in text, not design, which was great because our content specialist had not yet developed formal proposals for text entries in our pages.
  • 1/2/2007 -- First draft functional spec review.
  • 1/16/2007 -- First formal UED spec delivery. The document was at this point supposed to cover the first two core page flows, but in reality it covered all 11 (including 3 that had been flagged as either out of scope or blocked for technical or legal reasons).
  • 1/23/2007 -- Second UED spec delivery, officially covering all flows (with the reject bin taking one more victim).
  • 1/24/2007 -- Development began.
  • 1/25/2007 -- It hasn't happened yet as of this writing, but on this day, my Outlook Deleted Items folder will surpass 1,000 items. Mind you, all important emails relating to the above project are kept in a separate folder and not deleted.
The morning of 1/24 began with the kickoff meeting for my new major project. This one is being led on the PM side by the only current coworker who actually knows about this blog. I'd better key away quietly -- he/she could be reading it as I type!

Oh, one other thing. I listened to the earnings report with my team today. It sounded good.

Amazing, exclusive new scientific breakthrough

A crack team of researchers at the University of Florida have discovered that microwaving a wet sponge can sterilize it, killing bactera and parasites and neutralizing viruses. Results of their amazing discovery were published in the Journal of Environmental Health.

Sponges, with their huge surface area, high aeration rate, persistent dampness, and food particle-collecting pockets, are veritable petri dishes that grow all manner of harmful and benign microbes alike, an spread them wherever you wipe & scrub. The UofF team's research could utterly revolutionize household sanitary practices. I only wish this groundbreaking work had been done earlier.

Oh, wait, I've been microwave-sterilizing kitchen sponges from time to time for six years now. Damn. I should have written a paper about it. I could have been on CNN.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Ultimate RC updated at last

I've you've been to URC before, look again. Yep, that's right, a redesign that I embarked upon over a year ago but kept getting side-tracked from (hostile [ex]-girlfriend, work stress, job loss, job search, new job, father's suicide), is finally live. There's a bunch of work to do yet, but the huge psychological barrier has been crossed, and it should be much smoother sailing, at least for awhile.

Excitement Intensifies, World Peace De-Prioritized

I snapped on Friday. A project on which I have a very small dependency has been dragging on, and on, and on. I've heard reports of everyone from my direct peers to a sister department's director being pulled into the quagmire. There have been inter- and intra-team disagreements, and even an incident of outright hostility. All of this around what was supposed to be a small project to introduce incremental improvements to one of the most-used pages in our application.

The previous Friday I had been promised that a final design would be ready for me to look at (with which to integrate one piece of my own project) by the end of the day. End of day Friday turned into Monday. Monday slipped gradually to Thursday evening, when I was shown a near-final design like nothing I had seen up to then. By the morning of Friday the 19th, that design was finalized and approved, but now I had some serious concerns about the very part of it that I had to work around. By the time I met with my counterparts on the other side of the building, more hell had evidently broken loose and the design direction had been changed yet again. With two interview sessions, a team lunch, and a large all-hands meeting to attend, it was around 4pm before I was able to really settle down at my desk, and that's when I learned that things were still up in the air with the hot-potato project, and changing regularly

And so, I snapped. I literally could not take it anymore. Everyone on the project is extremely talented. Heck, I had met with each of them individually and fully agreed with their concerns, and they were all trying to do the right thing for the company and for our users. So, why was this project so politically charged and wrought with heated debate? It was time for this madness to end. Luckily at 4:45pm on Friday all of the key players were still in the office, and after doing some crash-prep with each of them separately to make sure I would be sensitive to their individual concerns, I managed to get them all together. So help me, this was going to be the final confrontation.

By this time, I have to admit, I was feeling quite uncomfortable. None of the folks on this project report to me (I'm not even a manager to begin with). Most of them are my seniors, by a long shot. This wasn't my project in any way, shape, or form. I've been with the company for what, eight weeks, and here I was completely overstepping my bounds, essentially imposing myself as acting project lead, entirely out of the blue. Not good.

But by golly, whatever I did, worked.

The dust settled quickly (people had to leave to do things like pick up kids from daycare or meet with spouses), and I settled into the cube of one of my sempai, taking turns at the mouse & keyboard as we worked Photoshop magic to slay this screen-sized beast once & for all. A little after 8pm, we were done. I'm looking at the end result as I type this. A thing of beauty, it is, not primarily for its design, but for the fact that it represents a cornerstone of PayPalian world peace.

It's just a shame that achieving world peace was officially pushed down a notch in priority at the all-hands meeting earlier in the day, beaten out by a drive to further increase customer conversion rates or something of that sort. I kid you not. It was in the PowerPoint. Bummer, huh?

Friday, January 19, 2007

Fire! Fire! Evacuate!

My commute Thursday morning took about 1 1/2 hours thanks to a crash on the opposite side of interstate 880, which led to rubbernecking, which led to 3 accidents on my side. Shortly after after I finally got to the office, what happened? *BRRRZZZT* *flash flash flash* *BRRRZZZT* *flash flash flash*

Yep, fire alarm, full building evacuation. After we all chilled at our respective 'assembly areas' very briefly, we began to really question whether it was a planned drill. After all, we had just gone through one of those a month before, with plenty of advance warning. Just as we started heading back towards the building, we heard sirens. Then came more sirens. Then more. It wasn't long before there were eight fire department vehicles surrounding the building.

It turns out it was just a very small, quickly contained electrical fire, but I have to say, I was pretty impressed by the response.

Blast from the past

After 12 years, I finally have screenshots of one of the more obscure & interesting projects I've worked on, "The Options Evaluator." I'm too lazy to write up a bunch more about the background of the project, so I'm just going to copy & paste the description from the screenshots page:

This project for a family member was a program from to run technical analysis on stock and stock index options. Begun in C (compiled in Borland Turbo C 1.5) and later converted to C++ (compiled with Turbo C++ 3.0), OptEval ran in DOS at 640x480 resolution with 16 colors. Lacking the funding to procure a rich GUI library, I was left to build everything from scratch, including mouse event handling at the assembler level, window management, and 3D effects.

Elements such as menus, toolbars, and dialog boxes were drawn with rectangles, lines, and pixels via the very basic Borland Graphics Interface (BGI) toolbox. Certain raster-based details such as mouse cursors and the animated scroll bar buttons were drawn on graph paper and then translated into character arrays representing hex codes for the color of each pixel.

The Options Evaluator

Monday, January 15, 2007

Hey Bamidele, what did you do this weekend?

A buddy made the mistake of asking that question this afternoon, and since the response was long, I thought I'd capture it into a post:

  • Got another ~200 photos uploaded & organized on Flickr
  • Completed the URC Q4 '06 MVP awards selection
  • Completed full year URC '06 MVP awards selection
  • Made URC '06 User Hall of Fame selections
  • Made a URC Network year in review post
  • Transitioned four older moderators, sent an invitation to a new one
  • Finished the HTML for a new URC homepage.
  • Cleaned up more stuff around the house
  • Paid some bills
  • Delivered my dad's 2 computers to a buyer
  • Did laundry
  • Ironed
  • The "I am RADAR" image, plus a 100x100 avatar version
  • Saw the 4 hours of "24" premieres on Fox
  • Worked out
  • Called Mom
  • Uploaded my oldest Ralliart driving video to YouTube after splitting it into part 1 & part 2 so it would fit

Sunday, January 14, 2007


My latest masterpiece:

You've GOT to be kidding me

This was posted earlier by a URC member named "decline1:"

Car nuts, look closely and tell me if there's anything really wrong with this picture. I'll give you some hints:

  • It's not that the bumper is missing
  • It's not that there's an intercooler on a Neon
  • It's not that there's a hood intake scoop on a car with its air inlet down by the ground

Saturday, January 13, 2007


Blessed be Fridays, especially those that signal the beginnings of long weekends. Cursed be Fridays where work doesn't end until around 8pm, where you're one of the last people on your entire floor to leave (save the cleaning crew) after keeping a new father working late from home to meet deadlines instead of spending time with his recently expanded family.

Blessed be coworkers for sometimes saying the most amazing things you've ever heard, such as:

"Oh poo, they can't Fu. Is that true?"


Friday, January 12, 2007

Movng to Flickr

At last, I'll be saying "goodbye" to my Coppermine-powered gallery on, because it's "hello" time for Flickr. I have all 583 of my previously-published photos up on the account now, and over the next week I'll be putting up a ton of ones that I've never shared because it was too inconvenient. In all, I have around 12,000 photos, probably 1/2 to 2/3rds of them retakes since I rarely ever take just one shot of a subject.

Let's see, now I have a MySpace profile, two blogs, the Flickr account, and an iPod Shuffle (although admittedly that was a gift from my company). Geeze, what's next, a TiVo?

Moving right along

Things were moderately hectic & fast-paced again today, but aside from a candidate interview that took a significantly larger-than-expected chunk of my day, things were again quite productive. We're tracking well towards the end of my involvement in this first project and actually chopping off scope creep and late feature definitions without lengthy deliberation. I received the greatest email from a product/program manager ever:


Love it.

Towards the end of the day I was actually invited to the kickoff meeting for my next big project. I've learned so much in these brief weeks that I can't imagine this next project going anything like the first. First off, I pray, I won't have a death in the immediate family right at the beginning of it. Secondly, far fewer process-related issues are going to take me by surprise. I hope to take this one by the balls early on and try to steer us away from making mistakes that I'm now familiar with. It's also a completely different project team, so I'm sure there will be new challenges due to that (not a bad thing).

I've started to get a sense of the extreme importance of the personal progress reports we have to do for HR every so often -- I guess what you're able to convey in those determines whether you stay in one place for your entire tenure or soar to great heights of management and salary. With this in mind, I've begun keeping a log of things I've done that I believe to be above & beyond the call of duty. It's just a little Word doc, for my own reference, so that when the review process catches up with me and I'm on to my nth project, I'll have something to jog my memory about what's been going on and what I've accomplished. It's all in shorthand, but already almost a full page.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Ok, honeymoon's over

Just when I was starting to get comfortable with the pace of things, the pace doubles again. From the moment I walked in the office this morning until around 7:30pm when I left, I was running -- physically and/or mentally. I was booked solid in meetings or activities from 10am to 4pm and was handling emails, document reviews, and specification edits from my laptop whenever I had a moment to multitask.

I ran into one of my managers and a director in the restroom in the evening. Here's basically how the back & forth went, my words in blue:

"You're still here?"
"Slackin or bustin butt?"
"Is there light at the end of the tunnel?"
"It flickers."
"Fun project at least?"
"Mmm, maybe the next one will be."

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Did you say "snow?"

Deadlines approach increasingly rapidly and emails are coming through my inbox almost as fast as I can digest or respond to them, but I'm in good spirits. I'm sure that'll soon change, though. By the end of tomorrow I'll have a seat reserved on an upcoming flight to Omaha, Nebraska, where this weekend the temperature range is expected to be 8 to 26 degrees.


It's a business trip to get some of the newer folks acquainted with our customer support colleagues during their regular work hours. The rest of the time, I suppose we'll be learning the meaning of the term "freezing your a** off." Yay.

I can't believe I'm watching this crap!

This is ridiculous. While going through email & paying some bills online, I'm watching Wicked Wicked Games on "My Network TV." Once it's over, I'm going to leave the station on and watch Watch Over Me. What's worse is that I've been doing the same most evenings this season. Last season, I was following Desire. What. The. Hell?

I 'm the guy who's been all into shows like:
  • Stargate SG-1
  • Battlestar Galactica
  • Andromeda
  • Robot Chicken
  • MXC on Spike
  • FIA World Rally Championship
  • Formula One
  • I Pity the Fool

Wicked Wicked Games does not belong on that list. Watch Over Me does not belong on that list. Desire does not belong on that list! Granted, if somebody tries to dock me a couple of Man Points, I'm fully ready to defend myself by dropping names like Michelle Belegrin (oooh) and Catalina Rodriguez (mmmmm), but the prosecution has the two-word combo that can all too easily bring on a bona fide Man Court K.O. Those two words are "soap opera." GAH, it makes me sick even to type it! It's true though, these shows are... yeah those things.

Should I be worried?

Ooh, speaking of Catalina Rodriguez, gotta go, commercial's over...

Monday, January 8, 2007

Steak: 0 Me: 1 stuffed mofo

Me the point where a certain thing which the meat the part was eaten is largest. (English-Japanese-English-Japanese-English translation provided by Babelfish.)

(Biggest piece o'meat I've ever eaten -- 16oz.)

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Just a lil' update

December 19, 2006

Today I only got to attend one of three usability sessions. It went great; my first project has passed trial by executives and is passing trial by users, so I couldn't be happier. In the afternoon I crashed a meeting about my hiring manager's main project (he's out of the country, so I weaseled my way in as a replacement). I had a flashback to when I was shadowing my manager in a meeting about this very project on my first or second day of employment. There were half-dozen or so designers & product managers clamoring over mockups sprawled over the conference room table, defending their turf and explaining the method behind the madness of a rather difficult predicament they had been funneled into. At one point I interjected to propose what seemed to me to be a very simple, direct solution to all of their problems. My suggestion was appreciated, but quickly whisked under the rug as being simple-minded and completely unrealistic given the advanced stage of the project. Fair enough.

Back at today's meeting, that simple-minded, crack-headed concept I had was somehow still alive and looked at as the "If only we could start over, we'd do it that way... but maybe it's the only way we can pull this whole thing off at all" option. Sigh. I think there's another meeting for this project on Friday, but I have a sneaking suspicion there'll be another called on an emergency basis before then.

Talk about a "running start..."

"This is getting out of hand! Now, there are two, of them..."
-Nute Gunray, Star Wars: The Phantom Menace

I've started up a separate blog specifically to cover my adventures at PayPal. Enjoy.


You know, when you think about it, when you reeeeeally think about it, emotions are completely and utterly unnecessary. We surely don't need them to survive, and in fact, they can get us in a whole heap o' trouble at times.

That said, though, MAN would life be pointless without them. Don'tcha think?

Taking the Plunge

When this whole "blog" phenomenon first started years ago, I thought, "Oh great, another Internet fad for a bunch of startups to get all wrapped around, waste a bunch of VC, and go under." I gave it about 6 months to live.

So here I am now, eating my words for dinner as I write up my very first blog posting. I've been putting up various random musings in the off-topic areas of my biggest forum site and writing a little here or there on my old homepage, but the more time goes by, the more I've found myself wanting a fast, easy way to write anything about any topic, share it with others, categorize it, and archive it for permanent reference.

Now that I've gotten past my mental block about blogs, watch posting here develop into a full-on addiction. Just you watch.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Time be flyin'

Dang, I can't believe almost the whole week has gone by already. A new girl started on my team on Tuesday, so all of our hires are filled for awhile. My project has continued to grow & morph in real time, but I'm managing to maintain equillibrium between my to-do's and those of others on the project. Stress has thus been pleasingly low this week. Acting on a tip, I spoke with my hiring/interim manager's manager today about the "ace card/special sauce" topic and it sounds like there's already a related effort about to kick off that I may be able to get involved with at the ground floor and to which I could really bring a lot of experience.

That same manager stopped by my cube later in the day with our director and evidently they really like the company logo I made out of Lego blocks real quick last night; word spread and the VP stopped by later in the evening to have a look-see. I also got a couple (artificial, but gotta-touch-it-to-see realistic) plants this week, and brought in this bright blue little office chair I recently inherited, to offer as my official cubicle guest seat. With a blue theme developing quickly, a coworker suggested that I seek a blue replacement for my green-topped ottoman/drawer thing, and I was able to make a successful trade with the new designer.

So, whaddya know, I'm actually starting to get comfortable at this place. Maybe.