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First, a little bit of background… I’m a very recent graduate from Edinburgh University (A fairly prestigious university if you read world league tables, a mediocre one if you read national league tables) and like all recent university graduates I had no idea what I was going to do next – I knew what I wasn’t going to do; working for a bank, or Microsoft/Oracle/IBM sounded tedious as hell, even working for Google or Facebook never really appealed to me, I would probably have started a company…

But then I heard about a thing…

A new thing called SVIP (http://www.siliconvalleyinternship.com), I applied, I got accepted and now I live in San Francisco. Anybody who is studying Computer Science (and/or related subjects) should definitely check it out. It is the best program for entrepreneurial software engineers. In total, 15 people were selected to move to Silicon Valley – 15 of the best computer science graduates in the UK. Now, Imagine what they would be like.

I’m sure you have vivid images slightly reminiscent of something you might see on The Big Bang Theory or The IT Crowd, in all honesty when I was looking ahead to meeting the 14 other SVIPers for the first time I had similar expectations – introverted, nerdy, monotonous, asexual… the list could go on. During my time at university I met a lot of people like this, I befriended a few of them, we’re no longer in touch.

The 15 SVIPers, Mike (the guy who started it all) and some girls (who aren't computer scientists)

The 15 SVIPers, Mike (the guy who started it all) and some girls (who aren’t technically computer scientists but really are at heart)

Then I met these guys, and I was surprised, because nobody completely fits the stereotype. Sure, as we’ve lived together over the past three weeks this has been played more than a few times and we have had discussions that began

What’s your favourite algorithm?

But, in general, just normal guys, doing stuff that normal guys do, we’ve attended bars and nightclubs, eaten out, played sports, had a BBQ which had a respectable male-to-female ratio, a few of us have even had sex. And now, 5 seconds into retrospect, I see that as a completely unfair statement, because these guys aren’t really normal, they’re all way above that. We’re part of the wave that is rapidly changing the world’s view on what we do – our careers and our passion. Computer Scientists, Mathematicians and Physicists  are becoming the new Doctors and Lawyers, Videos games are becoming the new football.

Why?… Because (and it gives me great pleasure to say this) sociologically maybe we’re not all that conservative, and more and more we’re becoming less conservative. Change is awesome and sociologically we’re starting to embrace that – viva la revolution.

My name’s Chris and I’m a computer scientist, and that’s really fucking cool.

I’ve been here for a week now, SVIP (IPA: /zvIp/) is rocking hard and I’m still having an awesome time!

During my time here I’ve managed to notice some incredibly mundane stuff. Naturally, I decided to write that stuff down. Lists are still cool right?

I don't have a suitable picture for this post so here's Alcatraz

I don’t have a suitable picture for this post so here’s Alcatraz

  1. Nobody really seems to care if  you call it Frisco - Or San Fran for that matter.
  2. Jaywalking is a myth - I always found the idea of a “you can’t cross the street now” law ridiculous, as far as I know North Korea doesn’t have one and apparently the US (or SF at least) doesn’t really have one either.
  3. Street crossings sound like machine guns – Blind people need to cross roads, it would be ideal if they could do it without getting squashed – solution, make a noise when it’s time to cross. A beeping noise maybe or Beethoven’s 7th. No, the sound of an automatic machine gun. I wonder how people know in the Tenderloin?
  4. ATM’s are insanely good! – Though this should probably read “ATM’s in the UK are shit”. Transfer money between accounts, sure. Email myself a receipt, no problem. Buy stamps, lol who sends paper mail. You can even deposit money.
  5. 4G Signals… Underground! - Full LTE signals whilst on a train 50 meters below sea level, it’s the future baby!
  6. Red cups are real - Those bright red cups that you always see people drink out of in American movies. That’s actually a thing.

I’ve also finished my first week working for LoopUp. It’s been fun, a bit slow at times but every new start is. I don’t feel we’ve been stuck in the deep end the same way some of the other SVIP guys have, whether that’s a good thing or not, I’m not sure.

Friday at LoopUp seems to be Rock Band night, so that’s fun.

Rock On!

Rock On!

In case you hadn’t heard (and you probably have if you’re one of the 6 people that are ever likely to read this blog) I moved to San Francisco. To summarize my experience so far:


But you probably knew that already; if you like hipsters, technology, food, tall pointy buildings or bright red bridges then you’d probably quite like it here too.

SF Downtown

Like New York but shorter and pointier

The main reason that I’m here though is to experience the crazy tech bubble encircling Silicon Valley. Over the past decade, Silicon Valley has continued to grow rapidly… I came here with a great deal of cynicism about the technology industry in Silicon Valley and I still maintain a lot of it, though I have been pleasantly surprised that I was wrong about a few things.

The largest of these being how dominant technology really is here, sure, it’s the norm to see guys with Mozilla t-shirts on the BART and as soon as we got off the plane, those of us who didn’t have to be anally probed at security were immediately greeted with adverts for Oracle who’s target demographic was almost certainly CTOs of tech companies but in general there’s much more going on than just tech.

I still feel like Silicon Valley has to die and I feel like it may happen sooner or later – much like London during the industrial revolution the valley is becoming more and more overrun by financial institutions at an alarmingly quick rate. Maybe, SV can be the exception, as far as I know it’s the only industry in history that’s almost shook this absurd idea that a company needs to make money to be profitable and it seems that there are at least a few people more concerned with making great things than buckets of money. I’ve read a few times that many people consider SV to be a meritocracy, this is almost certainly not the case.

I still maintain that the only reason to get into the financial industry is that you’re either bored and have too much money or you have no discernible talent. These guys run Silicon Valley and it’s continually reiterated that it’s pretty much impossible to make it big here without their support. There is more investment capital in this area than anywhere else in the world, attracting the absolute best technology minds in the world, setting them on to the path of genuine greatness and then changing the road signs on the path to point into an endlessly deep crater of doom.

I’ve only been here for 3 days and I already love this place, my experience here so far has made me wish more strongly than ever before that I’m horribly, horribly wrong.

I’ll leave you with a photo of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Golden Gate Fog

What the Golden Gate bridge actually looks like.