Journal: Wednesday, October 28, 2020

In Personal

Back in July, the product that my team and I have been working on for almost two years finally went Generally Available. We finally celebrated today!

While I think we could’ve gone GA maybe 3-6 months earlier, I also think the extra time was worth it. While updates to the feature might not have been immediately visible, a lot of bugs, mostly related to data processing, were ironed out during the winter and spring. More recently, model architectural overhauls that significantly improved both model quality and training time were made.

So today, as is tradition, my team had put aside some time for a get-together. Past GA celebrations (that I’ve been to) include wine tasting and bottling on Treasure Island and ziplining in Santa Cruz (for Case Classification), and a ropes course, also in Santa Cruz (for Einstein Article Recommendation).

But what to do virtually?

Though apparently the setup was supposed to be a surprise, we finally did a virtual escape room (this idea was suggested in the past, when we could all meet in person — but never gained traction).

Here I’ll let some screenshots do the talking:

For the most part, the experience was more engaging and fun than I expected (though, to be honest, my expectations for doing an escape while at home were low). Using Zoom’s breakout rooms for small-group collaboration actually seemed natural, and transitions between these breakout rooms to the main room were well-managed.

Incidentally, my team (featuring Joe as our representative, Nico as our geographic expert on San Diego, and a few others I can’t remember anymore) scored the most points! Favorite part? One puzzle that where we had to decipher a funky-looking symbol that clearly read “Sunset”, but apparently had two words.

Given the fact that we were looking for a geographic place in San Diego, Nico immediately thought of “Sunset Cliffs”, which was correct, though we had no idea how we’d get “Cliffs” from the symbol. After seeing this, our host appeared in our breakout room to shake his head and ask us to actually try figuring why “Cliffs” was in there (later on, he sent Nico to the other breakout rooms to help coworkers).

In the end, we got the treasure in time, saved our agents, and prevented a “hacker” from “sending memes to all our customers.”

Hopefully we’ll get to do something like this again soon. I wonder when our next in-person event might be.


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