Profile

Cover photo
Sparr Risher
Attended University of Tennessee
Lives in Somerville, MA, USA
1,331 followers|527,770 views
AboutPostsPhotosYouTubeReviews

Stream

Sparr Risher

Shared publicly  - 
 
Today I had a job interview with Palantir in Washington, DC. One of their recruiters contacted me about a month ago about some open positions. I went through a phone screen and talked to an interview coordinator. The company arranged to fly me to DC for an interview. Fast forward to today, with my interview scheduled for 3PM. At 1:09PM the coordinator emailed me to bump the time up to 2:15. Luckily she caught me just before I got in the shower, so I was able to expedite things and get through shower / prep / transit / lunch just quickly enough to make it on time for the interview. I was a bit annoyed at the short notice and thought it could even possibly be a test (since the position I was interviewing for might involve on-call duties, emergency schedule changes, etc).

Walking into their lobby I was greeted by a security person at the reception desk and asked to sign in at a nearby kiosk. As I began, my interviewer walked by and said hello. I put in my information (name, email, person I was there to see, etc) and was then presented with their "NDA". I put that label in quotes because the document was only mostly an NDA. It included many clauses entirely unrelated to non-disclosure. Oddly enough, it did not include a clause saying that the contents of the NDA were themselves not to be disclosed, which is a clause I have needed to amend in the past in other NDAs. The most novel section involved me agreeing not to recruit their employees or contractors for a year, which I found interesting and was willing to sign. The next most novel, and most bothersome, was the following:

"You will not use the Company's name or trademarks without Company's prior written consent."

This threw me for a loop. There was no context or additional language to limit the scope of this clause. It would be perfectly reasonable for me to agree not to claim that I represent Palantir, or to make untrue statements about Palantir, or to infringe on Palantir's trademarks, copyrights, or trade secrets, and this sentence definitely covers some of those things. However, it also covers such things as the wording of the previous sentence, my review of the Palantir interview process on glassdoor.com, or even simply posting to social media "I interviewed at Palantir today".

I spent a few minutes re-reading the document, just to be sure I hadn't missed some clarifying language. I hailed the nearby security person and told him that I had a problem with the language. While doing so, the kiosk reset due to inactivity (less than 3 minutes!) and I had to re-enter all of my info to see the NDA again. He asked another person, whose shirt/nametag did not identify his position as readily, to address my concern. I explained the problem, and he said I should discuss it with my interviewer, who was nearby. A nearby receptionist also chimed in, saying that "everyone" signs it, and "obviously" "everyone" posts to social media about the company regardless. By the time my interviewer walked over I had been timed out again, so instead of entering my info a third time my interviewer entered his own info. He selected "Guest" instead of "Interview" as the visit reason and didn't get an NDA prompt, so he did it again as an interviewee and got to the NDA to read it. We had a short discussion about my objection. He recognized that posting to GlassDoor would be a legitimate use. He disappeared into the office to seek further guidance on the matter.

At this point, I had spent about 15 of the 45 minutes that they had bumped my interview time up by. I spent the next 15 minutes pacing the lobby, reading news articles on the walls about the company, and declining offers of bottled water. My interviewer came back out with someone dressed much less casually than everyone else, in a sport coat that made him look as out of place as I did (in my slacks and tie). I didn't catch his name, but he offered me his phone where he was speaking with Laura, one of the company's lawyers. I discussed my objections with her for a few minutes. She was adamant that the clause was only there to "protect" the company, and that that clause was the only/best way for them to protect themselves from various problems. I told her that I had read of such clauses coming back to bite non-malicious interviewees in the past for their honest statements about a company's interviewing or hiring process, and she said her company would never do such a thing. We were not able to reconcile the problem, but she said she would investigate making a second agreement that would override the NDA on this point (recall that the NDA specifically allows for "written consent" to be made by Palantir for the use of their name). I thanked her, hung up, and gave the phone back to the fellow in the sport coat. He and my interviewer then disappeared back into the office.

Finally, at precisely the time my interview was originally scheduled to begin, my interviewer walked out and told me that our disagreement was irreconcilable. I apologized for his time that had been wasted, without being specific as to who had wasted it, thanked him for the opportunity, suggested that Palantir give their NDA to prospective candidates before flying them in in the future, and left. The security desk person gave me a friendly goodbye on my way out.
3
Brian Olson's profile photoPhillip Hallam-Baker's profile photoSparr Risher's profile photo
6 comments
 
+Brian Olson Yes, crossing a clause out has worked many times in the past for me.
Add a comment...

Sparr Risher

Shared publicly  - 
 
Allowing my thoughts to wander to how I want to spend the fall and maybe the winter, I've got some ideas that involve going nomad for a while...

2 months, attend Burning Man:

Aug 15, leave Chicago
Aug 16-29, cross the great plains, probably stop in Denver along the way
Aug 30 - Sep 6, Burning Man
Sep 7-20, California (mostly San Francisco)
Sep 20-31, cross the southwest and south, probably stop in Austin
Oct 1-5, Alchemy (large regional burn near Atlanta)
Oct 6-15, Atlanta to Nashville to ?? to NYC to Boston

2 months, no Burning Man:

Aug 30, leave Chicago
Sep, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Florida(?)
Oct 1-5, Alchemy (large regional burn near Atlanta)
Oct 6-30, Georgia, South Carolia, North Carolia, Virgina, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, ... Boston

6 months, week long stops in cities, multi day camping in some parks:

Aug 15, leave Chicago
Aug 16-29, cross the great plains, probably stop in Denver along the way
Aug 30 - Sep 6, Burning Man
Sep 7-31, Cascadia
Oct, California
Nov, southwest
Dec, southeast
Jan, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio
Feb, Pennsylvania, New York, ... Boston

Anyone have any input that might totally derail any of these ideas?
1
Seph Aliquo's profile photoSparr Risher's profile photoIan Port's profile photo
5 comments
 
Well, still consider it at some point. It is a worthwhile experience that I think everyone should do.
Add a comment...

Sparr Risher

Shared publicly  - 
 
While I wasn't paying attention (the last ten years or so), some clever folks in the FOSS world have gotten mouse interaction to work at every step in the chain between the terminal application in my GUI and a console application running in screen/tmux, on a remote server I'm connected to via ssh/mosh.

This is wonderful. Long ago I mostly stopped using a lot of tools remotely because of how useful a mouse is for some types of interaction. I need to revisit that decision in light of this discovery.
2
Add a comment...

Sparr Risher

Shared publicly  - 
 
Half hour at the Shibaricon meet and greet and it's hitting home how few people I'm going to know at a $300 convention :/
1
Marlin May's profile photo
 
Oh I'm sure you'll manage. 😄
Add a comment...

Sparr Risher

Shared publicly  - 
 
Derailed freight train ahead of my Amtrak train has us sitting still for what might be a 3+ hour delay in Dwight, IL. They could not have picked a smaller town to strand us in.
1
Add a comment...

Sparr Risher

Shared publicly  - 
 
Geekway to the West con report

After discovering the very thriving tabletop gaming community in Chicago I looked around and discovered that there are at least a few good medium size gaming conventions in the midwest that I had not previously heard of (aside from Origins and GenCon, which are rather large). The top one on my radar was Geekway to the West, where maybe 2500 gamers congregate in St Louis each spring. A number of folks from irc://freenode/#boardgames recommended it, and I read good things about it, so I decided it was worth a couple of days off work to check out.

I took Amtrak from Chicago to St Louis, which worked out pretty well. It's about a 5.5 hour ride for $34 each way, which compares pretty favorably to $100 for a plane ticket for a much less comfortable 90 minute flight plus an arbitrary number of hours of airport hoop-jumping. I'm actually on the train home as I write this.

The first major hiccup came after I reached St Louis and took their Metro train and bus out to the convention hotel on Thursday afternoon. I had made plans elsewhere in the city for Thursday night and my last decade of big city living left me making the spoiled assumption that I would be able to arrange transportation in the few hours before those other plans. That was a mistake. At the convention hotel I found myself with no reasonable way to attend a late night event ~25 miles away. The closest zipcar and relayrides were 5-10 miles away, with light to no taxi infrastructure to get me to them. Calling a taxi to take me into the city would cost $50+ each way. All of the non-airport car rental offices within reasonable distance of the hotel closed at such ridiculous times as 5-6PM on a week day. Their airport counterparts remained open, but had nothing for less than $100 per day. In hindsight, I should have rented a car downtown, rather than taking the train and bus to the hotel. If I visit St Louis again, I'll keep that in mind.

Having my Thursday night plans ruined, I ended up working a volunteer shift and then being a hermit for the night. I decided that I'd rather start fresh on Friday morning. That turned out to be a great idea, despite the loss of some hours of evening/night gaming.

Between Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, I probably spent about 40 hours gaming, which I call a successful gaming weekend regardless of what else went on.

Regarding the gaming, Geekway has an amazing game library, where I spent my volunteer time. I donated a couple of games, the convention owns a few hundred, and a couple of board members also loan their own few hundred each as well. It was the best stocked game library I've seen at a con, and I'm including Origins' tabletop room and board room in that. Some resident techies have developed a library system to make checking games out and in as easy as barcode scanning the game and the person's badge, which allowed us to operate at a staggering pace, sometimes handling a dozen games in/out in a minute. This library, combined with many gamers' personal piles, kept a couple of 500-1000 seat rooms near capacity for most of the day, with just a few dead hours in the morning each day.

Separately, there is also another game collection entitled "Play and Win", filled with games donated by publishers and vendors and designers. Players record each time they play a game, and are entered in a drawing to win a copy of the game at the end of the event. That arrangement led to a lot more focus on repeat plays for some great games, which was a neat alternative to events where tournaments provide the only consistent recurring play opportunities. I played about a dozen such games, and ended up winning copies of two of them (Heroes Wanted and Scoville).

The event officially facilitates a number of ways for gamers to trade/buy/sell the games they want to get or get rid of. This year their "trade table" had about 500 games on it, with each person getting to choose whatever game they wanted after their own game was chosen by someone else. 60% of the entries did not get traded due to time constraints, but it was a neat event overall. They hosted a flea market for gamers to trade and sell with each other, which I did not get to attend due to a schedule conflict (read: I slept through it). Also, hosted by myself, they had a math trade arranged ahead of time for the first time this year. 41 of our 47 participants had at least one trade and 168 of the 477 games listed were traded. It was one of the most successful math trades I've participated in, by most metrics. If I attend again, I'll definitely run another one.

On the mediocre side, I found Geekway attendees a lot less likely to use "Players Wanted" signs at their tables. There may have been the normal number of people willing to play with strangers, as I encountered many groups who were willing or even wanted to, but many of them didn't know about the signs or didn't have them handy to use. As someone attending alone and relying on finding strangers to game with, this was annoying, especially during events (like the trade table and the closing ceremonies prize drawings) where I was forced to stay in one room for hours at a time, when I'd have been able to find a game to play much more easily in another room.

Aside from my transportation problem, nothing really bad happened. The worst things were just 'meh'. If I wasn't likely to move a thousand miles further away between now and next spring I'd say that I was relatively certain to attend again. As things stand, that's up in the air.
1
Add a comment...

Sparr Risher

Shared publicly  - 
 
I forgot what it's like to be stranded in a city without good transit/vehicle options. I'm at a hotel in St Louis and want to get to the other side of the city. The correct solution would have been to rent a car downtown instead of taking a train to the hotel. Now my choices are to spend $100+ on cab rides or $100+ on a one night car rental. No zipcar, no relayrides, no uber, no lyft, no sidecar, no late night buses or trains. I do not miss this.
1
Sparr Risher's profile photoJames Scheffler's profile photo
3 comments
 
Yeah, I don't think it's citywide; I think it's the universtiy partnership.
Add a comment...
In his circles
784 people
Have him in circles
1,331 people
David Shaw's profile photo
anselmo alonso's profile photo
Katherine Robillard's profile photo
Holland Wood's profile photo
Aurelio Ramos's profile photo
Gina Juhan's profile photo
Tao O Blacksun (Temple of the black sun)'s profile photo
David London's profile photo
Brigitte Malek's profile photo

Sparr Risher

Shared publicly  - 
 
Doing codegolf and other competitive programming in a dozen languages leaves me out of practice with any single language when it comes time to do coding for interviews. Anyone have a good refresher regimen for your language of choice that would get me back on track in terms of syntax and style quickly?
1
Add a comment...

Sparr Risher

Shared publicly  - 
 
The ruby+rails software ecosystem is ridiculous from a sysadmin perspective.

You launch your app in some parallel ruby processes, which your web service talks to. The ruby processes are known to consume more memory over time. The solution to this is not to make ruby or the rails framework behave correctly with regard to memory. The solution is to invent a whole new class of 'watchdog' programs whose job it is to monitor the resource usage of the ruby processes and kill the misbheaving ones while launching new ones.

No, this isn't just one developer's bad idea. The whole community of hundreds of thousands of coders and thousands of websites have embraced this concept. There are even multiple different competing software "solutions" to this problem (eye, god, bluepill, etc).

W T F?
2
Brian Olson's profile photo
 
Yes, Ruby is a mediocre language with a terrible ecosystem. I see their values focusing on getting something up fast, and that has built every step.
Pick a different language and community and ecosystem for better values and implementation. "Go" seems to be working okay so far. "Rust" might have a chance but is a little esoteric. Python is pretty pragmatic but is best at smaller scales.
Add a comment...

Sparr Risher

Shared publicly  - 
 
Shibaricon 2015

This weekend I'm at Shibaricon for the first time. I'm living in Chicago right now, so this may be my only chance to attend without paying for travel. I'm writing this on Sunday evening, while things are fresh on my mind. The event goes until Monday afternoon, so there's still one more night of play and a half day of classes ahead of me, but I don't expect those to significantly change what I'm going to write here.

The good:

I'm surrounded by people who enjoy rope, play with rope, present with rope, and teach rope skills.

There are some top notch educators here, teaching topics ranging from basics to advanced original work in classes I might have to travel thousands of miles to take individually otherwise.

There are many vendors here, about half rope and half other-kinky-things, with a great selection and reasonable to moderate prices.

The night time play space is remarkably spacious, including smaller side rooms for quiet play, and the highest suspension point to attendee ratio I've seen at any event, including other rope-specific events.

These things combine to make an event that is exactly what it says on the tin. Shibaricon probably is "The world's premier international pansexual annual rope bondage educational conference".

The event staff and volunteers are friendly and accommodating and mostly seem to have their shit together to at least an average degree.

Additionally, I've met a dozen or so new people, from Chicago and Boston and further afield, which could lead to conversation or event recommendations or re-meeting at future events.

The bad:

Registration opened ~12 hours late.

The printed program book arrived a day(?) late, and not in enough quantity even then.

The hotel contract doesn't allow us to plug things in in the convention space (no violet wand, no vacuum, no hitachi wand, etc). etc.

There is no space or programming scheduled outside of the classes, during the classes. There's one performance each night, and a couple of specific events like a DVD screening, but there's nowhere for attendees to spend any productive time if they aren't in a class during the day. I somewhat expected this event to have a skill share space (the "ropen space" at some events), maybe a library and/or video room, maybe an art gallery, or maybe something new to me. What I didn't expect was to leave a class and have only napping or shopping to decide between.

The hotel is shared with half a dozen other events this weekend. A darts tournament, a national sorority gathering, a youth retreat, a professional conference, and some others that I haven't caught on to yet. The atmosphere of a kink convention hotel is so very different when we have 90%+ of the building to ourselves; scantily clad people don't have to worry about being harassed in the elevators, etc.

Some of the class rooms were reset by hotel staff or event volunteers to the wrong configuration between classes, so I've spent more than a few minutes this weekend stacking chairs to make room on the floor, or unstacking chairs to have a place to sit.

While none of these things ruined the event, they do stack up. I've been to other events with problems and oversights like this and managed to ignore them, but I gave them some slack because they cost tens of dollars and were young events. Shibaricon is $300 ($175-330, depending on pre-registration, I think) and I think this is year 12. These problems could have been solved by now if they were prioritized.

Also, and this isn't really a mistake, just a feature of the kind of convention it is and the kind of hotel it's in... Everyone fends for themselves for food. A classy hotel means no free breakfast, and a non-fandom/community convention means no consuite. This might sound petty, but it's not just about the cost of food. It's also about an opportunity to mingle with people at the same event, a place to decompress other than our own hotel rooms or the bar, etc.

The ugly:

This section is mostly specific to me and doesn't reflect badly on the event as a whole, but should serve as a warning to anyone in my position who considers attending in the future.

Shibaricon is not an event for people flying solo. Especially cis male tops, who made up a plurality of the singletons that I saw this weekend, but it wasn't great even for the folks in more in-demand demographics, either.

Strangers and acquaintances on the internet assured me that there would be numerous people here with whom to pair up to practice and learn. They were wrong. At more "fun" kink events I've been to, as many as half of the attendees were unpaired a majority of the time. Bound in Boston is my closest model for an event like Shibaricon, and I think it was closer to a quarter there, in an average class. In classes of 30-60 people, so far the most hands I've seen go up at a Shibaricon class when the presenter asked "who needs a partner?" has been three. Some presenters don't even ask, and if you aren't camping the door then by the time you spot another singleton leaving the room it's too late to politely chase them down and ask if they want to come back in with you. There have been 11 class slots so far. I pre-planned to partner with a friend of a friend for one of them, found a partner in class for three (two switches, one bottom), and struck out on the rest. Two of those were classes where I could do most/all of the work solo, which was moderately fulfilling, but that still leaves way too much time wasted at an event where I can count my time spent in dollars per hour.

Additionally, there seemed to be little to no attention paid to solo-friendliness in the class scheduling. There are whole timeslots, with 7-8 classes, where every class requires not only a partner, but a close intimate partner. This morning one of the slots was "Establishing and Maintaining Dominance ...", "Creative Bondage for Torture ... Below the Belt", "... Tying up boy parts", the second half of a two-slot class, "Making Suspension Sexy", "Sadistic Connective Bondage", and a very woo class that I thought might be informative solo but the presenter explicitly said would only be good with a partner, 5+ minutes into the class.

Very slightly mitigating all of this, there was a "Speed Dating" event on Friday evening, which could have had about 60 attendees if there was more time, and gave me a few minutes to chat with 15 bottoms. I got a few "maybes" and a couple of enthusiastic "yes" to various mutual play interests, but in the end little came of it (mostly because I couldn't commit to vacuum cube play time or rope play time because I didn't know if I'd manage to get the cube working without mains power or not). A more sociable person in my position probably came out of that event with a class partner and a few play dates.

It took me a while to realize this, but this problem has compounded to make my weekend much less enjoyable in another way. Finding it very awkward to walk up to people and ask to play or pair up for practice at kink events, I often lean on demonstrating my capabilities. Based on my experiences at other events in the past, I strongly suspect that having a partner for some classes, even just early ones, would have had a chain reaction effect in terms of starting conversations, which would lead to opportunities to practice and play. Like figuring out how not to move to a new city, this has given me some personal insight on how not to attend a kink education event in the future. Except by way of social misinformation, Shibaricon didn't do anything wrong here, but this has been a huge factor in my not enjoying most of the event.
1
Sparr Risher's profile photoPeter Charnley's profile photo
3 comments
 
I appreciate that sentiment. If I get ambitious I'll definitely inquire.
Add a comment...

Sparr Risher

Shared publicly  - 
1
Add a comment...

Sparr Risher

Shared publicly  - 
 
Almost won a free ticket to Burning Man last night. I got voluntold to draw a name from the hat, and I drew my own. I knew it the moment it was in my fingers, because I had folded it in an odds-improving way. Rather than risk being accused of impropriety, I told them what had happened and I drew another name. Damn my luck.
2
Justin Majors's profile photo
 
My mom used to do sweepstakes entry stuff via mail and had a folding technique and sometimes altered the texture of the envelopes.
Add a comment...
People
In his circles
784 people
Have him in circles
1,331 people
David Shaw's profile photo
anselmo alonso's profile photo
Katherine Robillard's profile photo
Holland Wood's profile photo
Aurelio Ramos's profile photo
Gina Juhan's profile photo
Tao O Blacksun (Temple of the black sun)'s profile photo
David London's profile photo
Brigitte Malek's profile photo
Work
Occupation
Scientist, Hacker, Programmer
Employment
  • Tinkerer, 2010 - 2011
  • DriveThruRPG
    Scientist, Hacker, Programmer, 2009 - 2010
  • Intelliteach
    Support Analyst, 2008 - 2009
  • Scholastic Press
Places
Map of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has lived
Currently
Somerville, MA, USA
Previously
Atlanta, GA, USA - Nashville, TN, USA - Clarksville, TN, USA - Biloxi, MS, USA - Thornville, OH, USA - Archibold, OH, USA - Pensacola, FL, USA - San Antonio, TX, USA - Mobile, AL, USA - Roswell, GA, USA - Knoxville, TN, USA - Chattanooga, TN, USA - Columbus, MS, USA
Contact Information
Home
Phone
6154958127
Email
Address
59 Waterhouse St #1, Somerville MA 02144
Story
Tagline
Maker geek with too many hobbies.
Education
  • University of Tennessee
    Computer Science, 1999 - 2000
  • Austin Peay State University
    Computer Science, 2003 - 2004
Basic Information
Gender
Male
Relationship
In an open relationship
Other names
Clarence William Risher IV
Pawn shop. Not a thrift store.
Public - 6 months ago
reviewed 6 months ago
5 reviews
Map
Map
Map