Three years at Wolfram

It’s unbelievable that it’s already more than three years since I’ve joined Wolfram. I’ve been working on the Wolfram Cloud, an effort to bring the power of Mathematica and the Wolfram Language into the web. I mainly worked on the in-browser notebook interface—a huge, but exciting challenge. I created a browser-based code editor, dealt a lot with typesetting, and designed and implemented an extensive model of “boxes” in JavaScript.

Perhaps I wouldn’t have thought so four years ago, but JavaScript is actually a really fun language to work with, and it’s an exciting time to do web development. The JS ecosystem has been growing dramatically over the last years, and the language itself is maturing, too.

I introduced nice tools like React and Webpack into the project, and I migrated everything (from—can you believe it?—CVS) to Git.

A really nice aspect of working at Wolfram is the great flexibility it offers, especially geographically: After two years in Champaign (which gets quite small after a while), I started to work remotely and moved to Chicago where I spent a little more than a year. It’s really a fantastic city (modulo winters)!

But the U.S. was never meant to be the “final destination”, so now I’m on my way back to home to good ol’ Austria, just with a little detour: For a few months, I’m exploring more of the Americas. After one month on the U.S. West Coast and one month in Central America, I just arrived in Buenos Aires. Check out dedicated to that long trip back home.

L.A. and San Diego

Fourth of September was Labor Day, so we (Pablo, Katja, Rossana, me) decided to use the long weekend and go to Los Angeles and San Diego. No trains in the U.S., so we took a flight to Long Beach and rented a car there. Spent some time at Venice Beach, where a lot of funny people do all sorts of funny things. Cruised around in Beverly Hills to finally reach our domicile for the night, the Budget Inn—it’s name says pretty much all about how it looked from outside. The room was okay though.

We didn’t stay long there, anyway. L.A. nightlife, here we come! I still don’t know whether the cab driver brought us to the club we actually wanted to go to, but it seemed he knew a lot about party, so we trusted him. The music there was better than I had expected. At one point, they forced people off the stage and did some photo and video shooting. No idea what exactly was going on or whom the fuzz was all about, but it must’ve been some sort of celebrity.

Oh, did I say “nightlife”? In fact, all bars, clubs, etc have to close at 2:00, so there’s no risk of having fun the whole night. Supermarkets and copy shops are still open at that time though.

After a yummy and way too big breakfast on Sunday, we made a short stop in Hollywood and continued driving to San Diego. This might seem surprising, but the Bristol was a little nicer than the Budget Inn.

Is it a sign of getting older when shopping Banana Republic (what a great name!) while others go to Forever 21? I hope not. At least I found a nice shirt there.

We went to Balboa Park and Coronado Island. Had the first few minutes of rain since I don’t know when. Nevertheless, had a great, relaxed time.

On Tuesday, we slowly made our way back to Los Angeles Airport, stopping at a few beaches to enjoy the sun. Eventually we returned the car and flew back. Nice trip.

To the North

After renting an awesome car—a black Hyundai Santa Fe—that would be big enough to let us sleep in it, Johanna and I continued our trip to the north. Again, we spent one night at one of Rick’s friends. This time it was Betsy in Chico, where we had actually already been two years ago. Still remember the huge steaks we got from the huge grill back then.

After that, we spent one night in Lassen Volcanic National Park. After a winter with over seven meters of snow at some places, they still have quite a lot of snow in the middle of summer! We hiked up above 3000 meters towards Lassen Peak, and we saw Bumpass Hell, a stinking but beautiful collection of mud pots and volcanic hot pools.

We continued our trip to the nice campground in McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park and finally reached Lava Beds National Monument. Ages ago, huge streams of lava had created tube caves, when their top cooled and crusted while the inner part kept flowing.

Our companions on the road, among others: Johnny Cash (US), Pink Floyd, Muse (UK), Kruder & Dorfmeister (AT). And the Lowrider, of course.

Endless roads through forests. Desert. Lakes. Campfires. Togetherness. Happiness! :)