Matt Hackmann


The thoughts and goings-on of some programmer dude.

The Corona Report - Day 3

Day 3 and I'm not entirely certain what's to be said, at least as far as our exciting pandemic is concerned. The entire state is now in the same kind of lock down that we in the Bay Area have been experiencing, but that really means very little for us.

I've often avoided working from home with the excuse that I'm in a better headspace in the office. This is partially true and partially a ruse to "work from home"... and have extended drinking lunches with friends. Except, the headspace thing may not even be true. In having had to work from home the last few days and taking the time to have a proper computer setup with lots of monitors, and overly expensive clacky keyboard, and all the ammenities, I've come to a realization. I can't work from a laptop. It's one screen. One tiny screen. Who even does that... for reals?

Tomorrow I'm planning an adventure back into the real world to grab machine screws so I can wall mount my TV in the living room. I'm a little excited, because that'll free up space on top of the TV stand to:

  1. Put my turntable, which has been largely inaccessible for the last few years. I look forward to cooking the sweet sounds of scratchy vinyl.
  2. My Switch can also go on top of the TV stand which means easier access for docking/undocking.

Speaking of the Switch, the years and years of being without a new Animal Crossing game is finally coming to an end. As I understand, it's currently live for the states but I'm here typing this post instead of playing because my girlfriend pressured me to (hi, Kayla. I love you. I see you reading this as I type it). I also love Animal Crossing and I think during this time of weirdness, it'll provide a nice comfort. Also, who doesn't want to do crappy labor for Tom Nook to pay off exorbitant real estate debt in glorious HD?

With that, I think I'll gonna finagle my Switch out of it's tight space and zone out on that for a bit.

The Corona Report - Day 2

It rained a little bit today. Not enough to be calming, but too much to not be annoying and literally rain on Kayla and I's "walk home from work", an idea we're gonnna try out to separate the line between the working day and home time. I was a bit sad about that, really...

Another thing I'm sad/worried about and alluded to in the last post is the stock market. I guess it's more the ecomonics of everything: supply chains, companies we rely on having enough cash to keep not only their services afloat, but also their employees. I'm not terribly worried about my own job, but there's a lot of blue collar folks that are going to be hard hit. Some companies are being cool, paying some amount of wages while folks are unable to work. But, that can't last forever. Unemployment is going to be through the roof and social services are ill equipped (where they exist) to handle something of that magnitude. It really sounds like Depression 2.0, and if I hadn't mentioned it before, that's what worries me the most. I have every hope and some amount of confidence that we as a people will learn some important lessons, make some important changes, and in ten years will be better off as a whole.

But, it's gonna be a few years of suck until we get there.

In other news, Nikka makes a whiskey that's aged on coffee beans or something. Has a mildly peaty aftertaste. I'm enjoying that right now as I curse at the band-aid on my finger I'm trying to type through. Stupid me sliced through some nail and finger as I was trying to look cool in front of my girlfriend. I feel as if my knifesmanship is the only reason she continues to date me and now I've gone and ruined everything. At least I can still flippy dippy sauteeing food in a pan. Oh, I guess also my rippin' pecs.

Speaking of which, figuring out how to keep on the exercise train while not at the office where I usually do exercise requires a little more diligence. Some folks at the work started a new daily challenge that I'm going to be involved in, and I guess technically my Disney half-marathon isn't officially cancelled yet. Ultimately, I have to hold myself to getting some activity in. I know it'll be a good way to keep my spirits up; it got me out of depression once, maybe it'll keep me from going there again.

And if that doesn't work, there's always the Auralnauts Star Wars parodies!

The Corona Report - Day 1

Oh hey, look at that. The world is flying apart at the seams!

So yeah, coronavirus and/or COVID-19 and/or SARS-CoV-2 is a thing that is currently happening. For my child who may read this later while writing a report on the Great Pandemic of 2020, this is an upper respiratory virus that originated in Wuhan, China potentially from some highly unsanitary meat market. Lots of theories flying around about that and the secretive state that is the PRC, but we won't speculate on that here. Time will or won't tell what comes of that later.

Nah, this is just me jotting down my thoughts on a daily basis as to what I'm doing and how what may be one of the most unprecedented calamities to befall mankind (outside of war) is affecting me. Or not, because sometimes I'd rather just ignore the world.

At this point in time, the Bay Area is nearing 24 hours of "shelter in place". In a lot of ways, it's akin to when you know a giant winter storm is going to roll through and you don't expect to get to the store for several days. We expect to not really be able to go out and do anything, and indeed, measures have been put into place to encourage staying at home, or at least make it highly inconvenient to leave. Restaurants are take-out/deliver only, schools are closed, work offices are "closed", grocery stores are operating on non-standard hours. The difference between this and a snow storm is that a snow storm is an actual physical thing keeping you away from doing stuff. You can see it, you can't really get around it. Where we are now is a little more bizarre in that the virus can't be seen, you don't know who has it, and you don't even know if it will really affect one's self. It's such a curious thing to have this feeling that the world is stopped, but then go outside and the air be crisp, the sky blue, and the sun shining as if it was a happy day on the cusp of spring.

This all hit me as Kayla and I were taking a walk around the neighborhood today, escaping temporarily from our work-from-home office. The only thing that makes this extraordinary is largely a state of mind. And also, perhaps a little like a storm but in other ways not, we don't really know when this will all let up. Is there a day that the powers that be will declare everything is safe now to go back out? Will it be a rush on every restaurant and bar? Will it be a trickle of folks taking trepodatious steps back out into the world that will slowly ramp back up into whatever normal we had before?

I don't know. And I don't believe anybody really knows. This has literally never happened before and, whatever may have been close, wasn't done in a world where people can continue to almost lead normal lives at home via the Internet. In a lot of ways, this whole situation keeps reminding me of the depression (especially with the way the markets are, but more on that later). There was a day where everything changed and it had large effects for a damn long time. But, when did those people find out that everything was fucked up? We can know it now nearly instantly, but back then did people know when something was up when stores started drying up simply because trucks stopped coming in? Did they know why? How did that all propogate? Radio? Probably...

Whatever, I'm just rambling at this point. Maybe I'll ramble more tomorrow.

Maybe I can buy toilet paper tomorrow...

I'm not optimisic.

With Retrospective Regularity

In what's become the only reliable thing on this blog (outside of my making statements like this), I wrote a letter to myself last year, as I do. Here's most of that letter, with some rather... personal thoughts redacted.

Dear FutureMe,

Well, hey there. That was one hell of a message you wrote two years ago. This one might be a little different. More uplifting? Sure. Let's go.

Work seems to be the thing I talk about first, so let's start there. In 2018 you finally left LinkedIn forever (probably) and SurveyMonkey, while seemingly a step down in engineering prestige, has a lot of great potential for personal growth. I expect by the time you're reading this, you'll have joined the Wrench or possible web platform teams. But, no reason to think you'll have left. Hopefully that stock will have gone somewhere...

Love life! Dating PERSON A right now, and have been in continuous contact with her for a bit over a month now. This is the first time I think I can see an actual relationship forming in the future, though I have a couple hangups (redact from the blog if you want):

1) The adopted teenager thing raises an eyebrow. I respect the shit out of her for doing that, but not sure how I am with it. Somewhat conversely, if she's against having her own kids, that'd be a relationship ending event.


If I had to make a prediction for one year from now... well, there's no reason to believe that anything will be called off at this point. Unless the speed at which this relationship is going becomes an issue. /shrug

In terms of personal achievements for 2019, I'd really love to get my pilots license. We'll see how that goes. Definitely want to put more time into the YouTube channel and I want to have the NES boombox finished and hopefully garnering some views from HaD and maybe even Kotaku and other outlets. That'll be the thing I need to get some viewership, I think. Hopefully the thought of not disappointing a bunch of subscribers will drive me to do more.

Okay, that's that. Nothing more to talk about... I am curious about where one other thing will be in a year's time. My money is on "nooooope".

I was a chatty one that year. Per usual, I spent most of it talking about my love life, because compared to all the other normal Hakk shit I do, that's always been the nut I couldn't crack and the only thing people seem to want to know about when meeting up after a time (looking at you, Hackmann Family Reunion 2019). Okay, let's knock out the bullet points.


More or less accurate. Still at SurveyMonkey, still really enjoying it. I've not actually bounced to the UI patterns infrastructure team (aka Wrench), or any inftrastructure team. Still on growth and feel like this might be the most comfortable yet fulfilling job I've had. It's firmly within my wheelhouse of knowledge in terms of technicals, I get to flex a little on design and product, yet there's still opportunity to grow. I like it. I like it a lot.


I'm not entirely sure where to start here, really. I think when I'd written this, I'd seen PERSON A... twice? Which is an awful not many dates to be saying "oh, hey. we'll totes be together a year from now". My guess is that I was high on the idea that I'd hit that elusive second date and was still talking to said date. But, yeah, those hangups... The one not redacted I stand by, though I don't like the way I worded it. The one redacted... honestly, embarrassed that I wrote it at all. I suppose the short story shorter is, PERSON A broke things off with me about a month after this letter. Then PERSON B came and went. PERSON C, however...

Towards the end of summer when I realized things with PERSON B weren't actually going to pan out but it wasn't officially dead yet, I was about ready to swear off the dating apps again for a while. I'd still sift through my twice daily email of OkCupid "matches", maybe handing a like out here, reading a profile there, and on rare occasion, making contact (nobody ever messaged me first, unless it was a bot). It was all crickets, mostly, and I was tired of being disheartened by it. I don't recall if it was one of these email suggestions or random perusal, but I read the profile of somebody who seemed interesting and theoretically had personality overlap with me. I fired off some stupid quippy message about a picture on her profile and moved on; this was usually where communications stopped. Surprisingly, she took the bait and responded, the beginning of a little back and forth. Given that I was starting a two week vacation to the midwest, I expected the lead to fizzle out before I could get back for an actual date. But, we texted the entire time, eventually met up, went to Disneyland on a random whim, and - fast forward some months later - now live together in a new house (and have been to Disneyland three more times). There's a hell of a lot of things glossed over in that sentence, but suffice to say... I feel like the search is over. It's a little mind boggling how aligned we are on so many things and how fast we clicked; it's the kind of stuff one might scoff at in some romcom. Despite the speed by which they went by, the last few months have felt like years and I'm excited for our future together.


Nope! I was hot on that for a couple months, started reading the Pilot's Handbook, and it fizzled out. Not sure I really care anymore at this point, at least not for a PPL and small prop craft. What I really want to do is get IFR certified and takeoff/land small jets that otherwise fly themselves. It's a weird desire.


Surprised I hadn't pivoted at the point of writing this letter, but I did make and release another Hakk's lab video last April. However, it was about burning an NES SimCity repro cartridge and not the NES (or SNES, as I probably meant it) boombox. But, I did get my wish and got featured on Hackaday and a nice 100% bump in subscribes (up to a whole 250 as of this writing). That boombox thing has made significant progress and will definitely be the next video I publish... once I finish unpacking this house and get to a point where I can make things again. Pretty excited for that.


Second time running I've left a cryptic note like this. I'm not 100% sure of what it's about, but if it is what I think it is, I was and continue to be wrong on that front. It trods on.

So, that's my reflection of both 2018's thoughts and 2019's actual happenings in a very short nutshell. It started off pretty mundane (with the exception of starting a whole bunch of exercise and losing a quarter of my person in weight, which was not talked about) and ended more spectacularly than I could have imagined. If 2019 was one for the books, 2020 is going to be one for the Library of Congress' Film Archives!

Another Letter From the Past

Not sure how I missed it last year (or two years ago, I suppose), but my annual message to myself was delivered this morning. I've been looking forward to this one particularly because I was in a sad state this time last year. And it sure does show.

Dear FutureMe,

Haven't sent one of these in a while... well, I think I have, but I'm not convinced I've just not received them. Regardless...

2016 and 2017 certainly weren't the bounce back years I was hoping they'd be after the shit-show that was Voyager. HUE was good for a while, but knowing that winning just wasn't in the cards for that team (because needing to support every team in the company is hard), I'm about to bounce back to a product team. I'm apprehensive, as I usually am, but feel that's where my strengths lie. I'm also very mildly optimistic that it'll make the path to Staff level promotion easier. Not calling a prediction either way on that, but I anticipate that LinkedIn will still very much be in the cards by the end of 2018.

Of course, the biggest thing mentioned in these letters is my love life... well, lack thereof. At this point in time, [REDACTED] is the current "offering" in a year that's seen many "offerings" with little return. I like hanging out with her, for sure, but feel like I'm failing at the "long distance" thing. To be quite honest, I'm really really skeptical that anything would work out long term. Short term? Sure, can see that happening so long as I keep up my side of the bargain. But the doubts are great and I'd honestly be surprised if she's still in the cards come this time next year. Hopefully if that doesn't pan out, somebody else will have.

Other things on my mind right now are that YouTube channel. I don't really believe in it's possibility of wild success, but hopefully will have given it legitimate effort instead of heading myself off at the invisible pass. Electronics work has been the only thing to give me any kind of thrill in quite some time and combining that with some reasonable production value editing would be worth the effort.

I guess the last major thing on my mind is how that counseling is going. To date, it's given me some things to think about, but I don't know that I've really felt any change positive or negative that's worthy of note. These things take time, for sure, so maybe there will have been movement there in the span of a year.

Also, here's a coded message: penny for your thoughts? Wonder how that's going to go...

Okay, future self. You look back on this and contemplate. In the mean time, I suppose I'll be making the journey to where you are.

Oh man. Lots to unpack here.

First up, that bit about work. Looking back, it's interesting to see that I'm still mentioning Voyager at all. When I wrote this letter, that project was over two years past and I'd been working in a post Voyager world longer than I had pre-Voyager. It's definitely a good scapegoat for things I didn't like at LinkedIn because so many things changed. But, whatever. More interesting is the note of me jumping away from infrastructure work back on a product team, Learning Enterprise specifically. That indeed did happen and it was... okay. The team that I worked with was absolutely fantastic and I hadn't had that much fun since my days on Profile. The work, however, was stressful as hell. Indeed, I was back to making websites, but the deadlines were absurd causing the final product to be something I couldn't be proud of, mostly due to feature cuts along the way to meet the deadline. Between that and a couple of long time friends making their leave, I too exited and made my way to SurveyMonkey where I'd been referred by another good friend. The difference between the two copmanies is insanely profound, with SurveyMonkey being (at least so far) much more chill be comparison. It's not perfect, but the reduced stress (and commute) is a wonderful, wonderful thing.

Now we move into the part that I was most interested to read about and... man. It delivers. 2017 was an absolute abysmal year for my dating life. For a solid eight months, I never made it to a second date with anybody. Of the nine or ten women I chatted up for dates, I ended it with one and a half (the latter was a mutual ghosting). Of the others, only a couple flat out said "no" and the remainder just ghosted me. The whole thing was emotionally draining and quite demoralizing, so I finally just quit trying at some point. Probably right around the time I checked myself into therapy. On the last evening of my Japan trip, I was in a bar in Asakusa when a message came in on OkCupid. She too was a Japanophile of some note and, under the influence of a few gin and tonics, I began drafting a response for me to review when I'd sobered up... except I accidentally sent it. That lead to a few dates with "REDACTED" and we were actually hitting it off okay... except something felt off. I couldn't put my finger on it, and you can see that manifest in my letter above, mostly in the form of me showing no confidence in myself. We kept in contact for a month or so after this letter was written, but never saw each other again. After some sussing things out with my therapist, I came to a couple of realizations:

  • I had a couple of legit hangups with her character, but because everything else seemed okay, I was denying myself that thought and internalizing the stress from it
  • I didn't actually want to be dating at the time. In that session, I was nattering on a list of excuses when my therapist interrupted with "maybe you just don't want to date right now" to which my brain stopped dead in its tracks. I'd literally never considered that before.

I mulled on that a bit and decided that my therapist was right and I ended future dates. My biggest regret (and now running joke) is that I'd left my prized purple sunglasses in "REDACTED"'s car on our last date and I was forever separated from them. There's a happy ending there, though, as one of my brother's surprised me with a new pair. Sunglasses aside, I've only very recently thrown myself back into the dating pool. I've thrown a lot of my previous mental rules away and am just trying to go with the flow. I often have to verbally remind myself not to worry about and to stop treating the whole dating process like a game, where I need to say/do the right things to get to the next level. Good relationships sure aren't built off that...

YouTube! That paragraph is mostly accurate, though I did manage to pump out one episode of Hakk's Lab that I'm pretty happy with. I've got a few projects lined up now that I should be able to shop around for views without biting off more than I can chew... probably...

Regarding the "coded message", I'm not entirely certain what this is referencing, but I have a hunch. And if it's that hunch, then things are going even more spectacularly ridiculous than I could ever have imagined. If it's not that, then I've no clue what the hell I'm talking about.

Sweet, that's gone on for a long time. I guess I'll go write myself a letter for next year. With this being the first year approaching the end of the tunnel (or exiting it, even), 2019 could be very interesting indeed.