This is Jacob Cohen's Typepad Profile.
Join Typepad and start following Jacob Cohen's activity
Join Now!
Already a member? Sign In
Jacob Cohen
Interests: golf, games, puzzles, computers
Recent Activity
Ever since the New York Times published an editorial article last year about what working for Amazon was like, I've had people asking me about it whenever they hear that I work for Amazon. My response is generally the same, that I have personally never seen the sort of toxic management styles and hostile work environments described in the article, and generally have a lot of confidence from having participated in the hiring bar raiser program as well as annual review meetings, that that sort of behavior is seldom rewarded or even tolerated. There are going to be crappy teams... Continue reading
Posted Aug 23, 2016 at Rafblog - Jake Cohen's Blog
I've been in the habit over the last few years of using e-mail to keep track of tasks at work. It's basically the simplest of bug tracking tools (apart from a text file) and supports most of the operations you would find in an actual bug tracking tool. For example, The subject line of the e-mail is implicitly the bug identifier. Any e-mail client that groups messages by conversations will automatically keep things organized for you. Adding correspondence is as simple as replying. You can add attachments as well. But it has some advantages as well, Available anywhere you have... Continue reading
Posted May 19, 2016 at Rafblog - Jake Cohen's Blog
One of the nice things about working at Amazon is how often we get to tackle difficult problems purely for the sake of making things simpler or easier for customers. I was reading Raymond Chen's blog post about why you can't pin batch files or shortcuts to specific documents on the Taskbar today. This is a well-written article that explains how the Taskbar does things, and thus why this specific use case isn't possible. But this is an example of using a specific technical solution to drive the customer experience, rather than using a desired customer experience to drive the... Continue reading
Posted Apr 26, 2016 at Rafblog - Jake Cohen's Blog
GWT does some really neat things. But it also does some really frustrating things. Such as hiding compilation errors behind inscrutable messages about failing to instantiate a class via deferred binding. For example, if you create a UiBinder class that uses another class that uses another class and so on, and down the line somewhere you've used a Java feature that GWT does not support, such as the implicit <> generics notation for instantiation of a generic typed variable, it will fail at the top level UiBinder class without telling you what failed. Furthermore, if you try to use such... Continue reading
Posted Mar 26, 2016 at Rafblog - Jake Cohen's Blog
Google has been getting better and better at understanding the intent of what is typed by the user. Going far beyond simple web searches, they started figuring out what the information desired was and bringing that directly into the search results. For example, searching for "current james bond movie" returns you the title of the current James Bond movie (Spectre, as of this writing) rather than simply giving you results that matched that query. But they have had this for years, and recently have begun expanding their semantic searches to include things beyond simply fetching information, and this has become... Continue reading
Posted Mar 25, 2016 at Rafblog - Jake Cohen's Blog
Inbox zero! Ahhhhhhhh Continue reading
Posted Mar 4, 2016 at Rafblog - Jake Cohen's Blog
After several years of managing teams at Amazon, I have decided to switch roles again. I have moved back into an individual contributor role as a Sr. Software Dev Engineer. I did this for a few reasons, but mainly it boils down to aligning better with the things I am best at, and with the things I want to get better at. I want to become a Principal engineer eventually. I've always missed the code. I kept my development environment up to date, and participated in department hack days. I also would write bug fixes or the odd small feature,... Continue reading
Posted Feb 9, 2016 at Rafblog - Jake Cohen's Blog
About two months ago, I made the switch at work from a Windows laptop, which I had used for 10 years at Amazon, to a Mac laptop. The primary reason for this was the availability of first-class Unix-environment tools for working with and building my team's software product. Now that I have gotten used to the new environment and worked out all the kinks of the transition, I have some observations on the relative pros and cons for my own use cases of Mac vs Windows. The pros: Battery life - the Macbook will let me do work for at... Continue reading
Posted Nov 26, 2014 at Rafblog - Jake Cohen's Blog
There are many articles describing how to make a password more secure. They usually suggest using letters, symbols, and so on, to increase the complexity of the password, such as is the case with this article by Apartment Therapy. There is also an argument that simply increasing the length is the best way to achieve password security, such as described in the vaunted 936th xkcd comic. However, these techniques only increase the security of the password from an outsider's perspective by making it harder to guess. What about the security of the password when stored on the remote site? The... Continue reading
Posted Jan 30, 2012 at Rafblog - Jake Cohen's Blog
(warning: contains spoilers) Rating: 3 out of 5 stars. Pro: extremely creepy, doesn't rely on cheap scares. Con: paced quite slowly, characters don't evoke much empathy. It was a bit hard to get into this movie for the first six minutes, due to the gargantuan credits that kept appearing over the film. There is a lot of heavy foreshadowing that goes on in the opening dialogue, and there is a lot of dialogue. The first fifteen minutes of the film, in fact, seems to be little but introductory dialogue with a trio of characters that does not appear in the... Continue reading
Posted Nov 15, 2010 at Rafblog - Jake Cohen's Blog
(warning: contains spoilers) Rating: 1.5 out of 5 stars. Pro: mildly innovative new ways for people to die. Con: inplausible plot elements and character behavior. This movie seems like another Saw (2004) copycat. There is a evil madman with a distorted deep voice taunting his victims and giving them situations where they can presumably escape death by doing something horrifying to themselves. One of the first victims even has to retrieve a key from inside himself as indicated on an X-ray, which is a situation seemingly lifted verbatim from Saw II (2005). However, I think the movie's real shortcoming is... Continue reading
Posted Nov 15, 2010 at Rafblog - Jake Cohen's Blog
Welcome, new or prospective followers. First, the brief autobiography: 31 years old. Married, with one son and a baby girl on the way. Software manager at I've lived in the Pacific Northwest for 7 years, San Diego for 8 years before that, and I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. My tweets are usually random jokes I think of when on the bus to or from work, or walking to lunch. They are usually pretty tongue-in-cheek, and often are puns. Some random facts about me: I play bass guitar, and in college I was the bass player... Continue reading
Posted Sep 23, 2010 at Rafblog - Jake Cohen's Blog
Every time Facebook launches a new feature (such as Places, or Questions), they seem to add a few new categories for e-mail notification. The problem with this is that these new notifications are always enabled by default, forcing me to go back to their settings page and uncheck a bunch of checkboxes again. So, while I haven't been able to solve the problem of being opted in whenever they launch something new, I wrote a little bookmarklet to uncheck every checkbox on a web page. This is useful when dealing with the notifications settings page on Facebook which is starting... Continue reading
Posted Aug 24, 2010 at Rafblog - Jake Cohen's Blog
Many resumes for technical positions tend to read like a list of all the tools a person knows how to use. I've already compared programmers to chefs. To illustrate what is so meaningless about this emphasis on tools, let's pretend that instead of a programming job, you're applying for a job building stuff in a workshop, and your resume looks like this: 2004 - 2006 Gilbert's Gadgets - Townville City, WA Sr. Gadget Builder Responsibilties included using hammers, wrenches, screwdrivers and pliers in a fast-paced environment. Used a hammer to drive several different types of nails. Participated in the use... Continue reading
Posted Jul 29, 2010 at Rafblog - Jake Cohen's Blog
This is a response to Steve Jobs' recent open letter to Adobe posted on the Apple web site. In this letter, Mr. Jobs explains his (and Apple's) official position on why Flash is not, and will not be, available for the iPod, iPhone, and iPad. I think he raises some valid points about the shortcomings of running Flash on mobile devices, such as lack of a "hover" interaction. However, many of his arguments against the use of Flash do not sound to me like valid justifications for preventing use of the platform entirely. For example, take the following paragraph. Adobe... Continue reading
Posted Apr 29, 2010 at Rafblog - Jake Cohen's Blog
Jacob Cohen is now following The Typepad Team
Mar 15, 2010
I searched high and low for evidence that someone else out there had run into this particular problem, but I was unable to find anything. So I am writing this in the hopes that the next person who faces this particular problem will have an easier time. I had just used Picasa to import about two thousand photos from memory cards onto my new Windows 7 computer. I then noticed that these files were stored in C:\Users\Jake\Pictures, not the "My Pictures" folder like I expected (On my system I set up "My Pictures" to be on a larger drive since... Continue reading
Posted Feb 16, 2010 at Rafblog - Jake Cohen's Blog
I have been trying out Ableton Live for the past few weeks, and last night decided to buy it. (I should write a separate article on the virtues of full-featured but time-limited demos). The product registration process for Ableton Live is very easy to use, and I think more commercial software vendors should adopt this process. After making the purchase, you simply start up Live again, and instead of clicking the button to get a trial usage authorization for the demo, there's a link to the Ableton web page to authorize the product. Since I was still in the same... Continue reading
Posted Feb 4, 2010 at Rafblog - Jake Cohen's Blog
I actually noticed that a while back, when I was going through this list again to see if any of them existed yet. I got a kick out of it. I'm glad you enjoyed using Nopaste while it was up. :)
Toggle Commented Jan 14, 2010 on Unlikely Phrases at Rafblog - Jake Cohen's Blog
Well, it's been two weeks since Facebook launched their new "Live Feed" feature. Their explanation of this new feature is to allow top news stories to stay in the "News Feed" based on some criteria of interest that Facebook establishes based on your interaction with the site, while fresh stories scroll by on the "Live Feed". This seems like a plausible explanation, but it leaves me with some doubts. For one thing, Facebook will revert to showing the News Feed by default eventually, no matter how many times you click on Live Feed. I suggest there may be an alternate... Continue reading
Posted Nov 5, 2009 at Rafblog - Jake Cohen's Blog
Apparently I coined this, I'm not seeing any results on Google for it. Nor "cthulflu", but there are results for "cthulhu flu". I don't want to be Hastur in making this judgment, though. Continue reading
Posted Nov 4, 2009 at Rafblog - Jake Cohen's Blog
A Spoonerism, named after Rev. Spooner, is a phrase in which syllables of certain words have been swapped, often so that they form new words. A popularly used example is "Mardon me, padam, but this pie is occupewed, may I sew you to another sheet?" Here are some new ones I've come up with I thought of*: A Chinese man known for irony once commissioned a wooden sculpture of himself, which he titled "Chung in Teak" Looking to start her day off with a kick, the martial arts instructor would often order a Tai Chi Latte. * but it turns... Continue reading
Posted Sep 22, 2009 at Rafblog - Jake Cohen's Blog
Ever wonder how characters from video games and other 3d animations are made to move around, and how their movements are getting more and more realistic with each new generation of movies and games? One of the key components to making this happen is something called rigging, also known as skeletal animation. This is where a technical artist sets up a 3d model of a character or other object so that it can move and be moved. The animator makes the model jump and dance and swordfight and run, but this is possible because of the setup done by the... Continue reading
Posted Sep 8, 2009 at Rafblog - Jake Cohen's Blog
Ever wanted to get better at speaking and writing in another language? You're not alone. A former coworker of mine, Natalie Gordon, left Amazon to go travel, and in the course of her travels in Spanish-speaking Latin America and South America, recognized the potential to create an online tool for people who speak English and want to learn Spanish, and people who speak Spanish and want to learn English. She created a web site called Lenguajero (, and it connects Spanish and English speaking visitors with each other so they can improve their language skills. It provides themes for discussion,... Continue reading
Posted Sep 5, 2009 at Rafblog - Jake Cohen's Blog
Some time ago, XKCD compiled a list of phrases that yielded no search results in Google. Shortly thereafter, all of those phrases could be found in Google search, and almost all of them were talking about the list from XKCD. This seemed an interesting concept. I'd like to contribute my own to the mix. Here are some phrases that seem like they could plausibly have Google search results, but don't: "woolen life raft" "extinct animal conspiracy" "relocate a volcano" "furby embargo" "wicker airbag" "tap danced to court" "newfangled rib cage" And here are some phrases that seem like they should... Continue reading
Posted Aug 19, 2009 at Rafblog - Jake Cohen's Blog