March 29th, 2019 By Scott Savage Categories: Google
Dropping off my Google badge
Dropping off my Google badge

Dear team and friends,

When I was about 11, I created a Lego greenhouse that grew a real plant. That’s when I first believed that I could create technology that makes a difference in the real world. I came to Google as a level 3 just over 9 years ago to work with the best people in the world to achieve that mission. Being part of programs like YouTube Symphony only confirmed this truth. Four promotions later I hit an EQ brick wall, leading to 2 years of hard self reflection both inside (thanks Take the Lead) and outside Google (thanks INSEAD).

At the end of this period I wrote a thesis with a paediatric surgeon in Singapore. She turned up late to our first group meeting… typical university group work right? Except she was late due to performing a liver transplant on a newborn. I reflected that the ads I delivered today didn’t give me that same feeling, she reflected that she only had one pair of hands and YouTube educates the world on health every second.

In the couple of years since this experience I’ve felt a need to more deliberately structure teams to solve real world problems. Full time this was helping my awesome Publisher team find a way to fund journalism again, but at night I was kept awake by failed health startups and raising our 3rd child. My list of requirements for a healthtech role that would be good enough to leave Google for was extensive, but after a lot of sleepless nights and consultation with family and mentors, I think I’ve found one.

There are a huge number of people to thank for this journey – Neeraj, Estee, Alan, Abhay and Scott for being amazing mentors and advocates. My teams and peers across Brand, CSE and Publishers who have pushed me to be a better person and manager, but more importantly shared so many personally meaningful TGIFs, off-sites, coffees and lunches. I’m sorry for pushing so hard on PDPs and career development, but if it helped spark even one new insight into what motivates you then I leave content.

Please stay in touch, it’s a small world even outside the Google bubble.

Scott

February 28th, 2019 By Scott Savage Categories: Porsche

There are 3 main bushings that need to be replaced in this project:

1. The shift coupler bushing

Worn coupler bushing
Original plastic bushings are almost totally disintegrated

As you can see, my current shift coupler bushing was almost totally disintegrated. The brass replacement kit from Pelican is the ideal replacement and comes with some very comprehensive instructions. The brass replacements look great once installed. It’s takes a lot of adjustment to get the shifter right when you put it back in, because the brass has different dimensions to the bushings you marked the position for.

2. Cup bushing at the bottom of the shifter

Side by side view of old and new cup bushings

Under the shifting stick for both manual and sportomatic transmissions you will find a cup bushing. It’s hard to tell if it’s worn, the stick will have a small dead spot where it feels loose. It’s fairly straightforward to pry the old one off, then lubricate and install the new.

3. Shifter tunnel bushing

Replaced shifter tunnel bushing
Replaced shifter tunnel bushing

The shift rod tunnel bushing requires removing the ball cup at the end of the shifting rod via a cone shaped allen key screw. The metal mount itself would have been unscrewed in order to remove the shifter itself. Slide off and remove the entire mount. It requires quite a bit of leverage to extract the worn bearing given it has a flange, but the new one pushes in fairly easily.

July 3rd, 2018 By Scott Savage Categories: Porsche, Uncategorized

Owning a classic car is a great experience, particularly when there’s a huge community to help you solve problems and find parts. Sometimes however there’s a part that just isn’t made anymore, and one of those is the Porsche 911 Sportomatic Brake Pad (Part#: 905-423-511-00). Not even Pelican Parts can help me, and on forums second hand ones are selling for anywhere from US$90-175. That’s a lot of money for what should be a <$20 piece of rubber.

My work happened to purchase a Form2 3D printer, which has the option of printing in a flexible resin. So I made a 3D model of the brake pedal using my very well worn one as a template and extrapolating what it would have looked like pre-wear, and printed it!

 

Here’s a side by side comparison of the two pads, once I had trimmed off the support lattice. You can see very clearly how badly worn my old pad was:

 

I was very happy with the look and feel. The edges were a little more square than the original no doubt was, and perhaps it wasn’t quite as flexible – but the grip level was great and it was more than flexible enough. After some minor trimming with a Stanley knife of the back edge, it fitted perfectly!

In total I calculate it cost around $12 of resin (~50mL), so it’s a significant saving. Now I just need to see how it wears over time.

 

June 19th, 2018 By Scott Savage Categories: Porsche

This year I had the privilege of attending Luftgekuhlt 5 in Los Angeles. The timing worked out well, as it was on the weekend before I was meant to be in the US for a business trip. Perfect Californian sunshine and a brand new lumber yard welcomed everyone to this sold out event, with classic air-cooled Porsche’s lined up between rows of freshly cut timber. The lumber yard in itself made my Bunnings trips pale in comparison, and the sheer number (100+) and variety of cars was almost overwhelming. Walking away at the end, I left exhausted and with a renewed obsession with air-cooled green Porsches. It’s amazing how energised this very niche community is.


Green Porsche 911E   Black Porsche 1972 RSR

Timber alley Porsche lineup

February 15th, 2018 By Scott Savage Categories: Google, Internet

Wordpress + Google Compute Engine

I’ve hosted my WordPress blog on Dreamhost for some years now, as part of a broader hosting package. The decreasing costs of the Cloud have meant that many of the services I used to host have now moved off Dreamhost, and in addition the performance of Dreamhost is quite poor from countries like Australia. Google Cloud now offers a quick deploy WordPress feature and a free tier of Google Compute Engine (IAAS), so I decided to go through the steps of migrating:

  1. Install the Updraft plugin and run the Backup to your Google Drive or other account. Note that the paid version makes this process easier, but is not required.
  2. Signup for a Google Cloud Platform account (if you don’t already have one)
  3. Deploy a new WordPress Single Instance using Cloud Launcher
  4. Ensure you record all the username/password details displayed, including your WordPress admin details
  5. Set your VM to f1-micro (1 vCPU, 0.6 GB memory) to ensure you’re on the free tier (unless you get more traffic than I do)
  6. Log in to your new WordPress instance and use Updraft import to migrate your blog content into the new instance
  7. Create a new External IP address in the Cloud console, making sure you attach it to your recently created VM using the dropdown
  8. Change site url in phpmyadmin
  9. Update your A record in your DNS settings (Dreamhost example) with your domain registrar to point to the new external IP you created in step 7
  10. Test your new site!
August 11th, 2017 By Scott Savage Categories: Personal

Empathy is finding echoes of another person in yourselfIn a small room off the Google Sydney reception in 2015 I was called a jerk by a co-worker in New York. This isn’t a particularly strong word or anywhere near the worst abuse I had ever heard, but I was stunned given the context of a 1:1 in a very politically correct company. More than that, I was stunned because I was right in my opinion on the discussion subject and he was right in his opinion of me.

The possibility of two things being simultaneously true and contradicting wasn’t beyond me, but I fundamentally didn’t have the skills to break down why or how the relationship had reached this point. Out of a feeling of confusion and basic self-awareness of an issue, I setup a subsequent VC with the peer’s manager. His words still stick with me – “Don’t you think we know that you’re right? In a year’s time we won’t remember the results of the project, but we will remember how we felt working with you”. This was the gap, this was my empathy wakeup call.

It took me almost two years, an MBA and two children before I felt confident that I had developed even an average grasp on empathy. Looking back now, it’s fascinating to me to understand with hindsight why it took so long. My starting point wasn’t poor self-awareness, I’ve always had a decent hold on that. The starting roadblock was that somewhere deep in my past I had developed a belief that emotion had no place in a professional environment. Look at the data, find the objectively correct answer, launch and iterate. Change is hard, but in an environment of constant change you need to put the emotion aside and trust the data will reward you with a better opportunity.

The truth is that emotions are always present, whether you want them there or not. The question is how well do you not only control them, but use them as a force for good. This lead to a deep internal questioning process under the guise of authenticity. Neil Bearden gave me the simplest description of authenticity I’ve ever heard: “Smokers fundamentally want to smoke, they have an underlying and genuine addiction. They do however have first order control over that addiction, based on cancer education for example. Authenticity means you only expose genuine, underlying beliefs or needs – it doesn’t mean you don’t control when and how they are exposed in a sophisticated way.” I could safely explore who I was and what I genuinely wanted, while trusting that this wasn’t laying your soul bare on the table as a whole (although maybe in parts) and more importantly that it was a real tool that I could use both personally and professionally to add a new dimension to my relationships. This was something I wanted.

The final piece was getting the confidence to use my empathy in a real way. It was about a year of trial and error before I developed any confidence that I wasn’t a) full of shit or b) a bad person who was putting that on display. There was a distinct point at a company offsite that I was so internally conflicted about my ability that I literally wrote my fear on a piece of paper and threw it into the fire. It was time to commit to embracing empathy and there was no going back.

Frankly I still don’t use empathy as often as I should or would like to. I at least know that I enjoy the feeling of connecting with others, that it improves my life and theirs, and that there is plenty more opportunity to use it. That’s enough for me to feel confident, now it’s just a case of practicing and finding the next fault to develop.

February 1st, 2017 By Scott Savage Categories: Health, Personal, software

GutTracker LogoAsianGut was always about learning more about the gut by applying the key method Google has honed in me – collecting and pivoting as much data as quickly as possible. While Asian and American Gut are deep on the science side with 16S DNA testing and profiling, I had a personal experience that wasn’t so deep. A quick business trip through off my bowels and left me feeling frankly like crap for months. This more immediate problem sparked a thought that perhaps the data I should be starting to collect isn’t necessarily so sophisticated.

So after about a month’s worth of pretending to be a Product Manager again, and then another month remembering Java from several years ago, I’ve launched the GutTracker Android App. To begin with, it simply allows you to track your bowel movements on a daily basis. The interesting part will be when I start collecting data around happiness, probiotic consumption and perhaps even diet. Of course I would love it to also link to your American/Asian Gut results at some stage too. It is really exciting to be using Big Data to dive into the correlation and causation of what’s going into your gut. I sincerely hope that this app is useful both for chronic and wellness purposes and can build to produce some insights that make people feel better over time.

October 4th, 2016 By Scott Savage Categories: Singapore

If you are Australian citizens who just had a baby in Singapore, these steps are for you. The goal is to get your baby an Australian passport and then add them onto your Singaporean employment pass as a dependent, and to do it within the 6 week (42 day) deadline! The Singaporean Government has some steps here, but these are more detailed and Australian specific.

  1. Baby is born!
  2. The hospital will give you a “Notification of Live Birth and Advisory Note
  3. Make an appointment then take the following documents to a Birth Certificate Registration venue, usually in your hospital lobby. You will pay a small fee (~$18) and get a Birth Certificate on the spot:
    1. Notification of Live Birth and Advisory Note (see step 2)
    2. Parent’s passports and IC Cards
    3. Original marriage certificate of parents (plan for this one in advance!)
  4. Apply for Australian Citizenship by Descent online through the new Australian Department of Immigration website here. You will need to scan a number of documents, including:
    1. Identity documents – usually parent’s passport
    2. Identity declaration form 1195 – signed by a relevant unrelated person
      1. This form also requires a signed/witnessed passport photo of the baby, which you also need to scan separately
  5. Apply for an Australian Passport online through the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs website. You will need a similar set of documents to step 4, with a couple of tricks:
    1. You need the CBD-* number from step 4
    2. You will potentially need a different person to sign the passport photo (so good to have 4 passport photos printed)
  6. Then you will scan the following and send to your employer, who will submit to MOM online on your behalf:
    1. ICA letter (from step 2)
    2. Birth Certificate (from step 3)
    3. Australian Passport for your newborn (from step 5) – or at least notification letter if you haven’t received the passport yet
  7. Finally your employer will schedule a 15 minute appointment for you to visit the ICA Employment Pass Services Centre (EPSC) in Riverwalk. Here your newborn will again have their photo taken for their new dependent pass card and their visa will effectively be finalised, with their new DP card delivered in 4 business days to your office. You will need to bring:
    1. Australian Passport for your newborn (from step 5) – or at least notification letter if you haven’t received the passport yet
    2. Australian In-Principle Approval (IPA) letter (from step 6)
    3. Original and completed Declaration Letter (from step 6) – printed and physically signed by the pass holder parent and the employer (HR representative)

It’s quite a few steps to complete within 42 days, in particular pieces like getting a passport photo of an infant who cannot lift their head up. There are a few photo places like Kodak Express in Tanglin Mall and Kim Tian Colour Centre near Chinatown that you can email a digital photo to, and they will tidy up the background (the wrinkled white sheet you lay them on for the photo) and print the right size for you to collect (get 4 copies minimum).

If you can’t meet the 42 day deadline, you can apply for a Special Pass extension, but you need to prove that you have applied for a passport which is already step 5 of 7.

Good luck!

June 2nd, 2016 By Scott Savage Categories: Health

3 rice logoAsianGut officially launched today, with a great press release from the University of San Diego!

AsianGut actually started as my MBA major project, partnering up with a surgeon from KK Hospital in Singapore. We wanted to find a way to bring eastern and western approaches to gut health together, leveraging the best of both worlds.

We soon realised that American Gut was at the forefront of western efforts to use DNA sequencing of the gut microbiome to understand exactly what was going on inside us. I loved the citizen science nature of the project, which makes the anonymised data open access so any researcher around the world can work on it for the common good. Open access is a principle I hold very closely.

The launch of AsianGut represents me starting a non-profit distributor of American Gut kits into Singapore initially, and eventually Asia as a whole. There are many logistic, storage and other challenges to overcome, but I’m confident I can scale it up quickly. I’m doing it because I find it an exciting space, and one which can scale to have a really significant impact on humanity. Professionally there’s also a selfish benefit to me, I get the experience of becoming a non-profit director of a health-tech startup.

Now that the project has begun, the focus is on marketing and scaling the volume of samples so we can build the best profile of the multitude of Asian gut microbiomes. This will ensure future researchers can develop treatments and diet plans especially for us. I honestly have no idea what comes once we reach scale and establish strong perspectives on what good gut health even looks like. All I can hope is that we helped, and that we find a further direction that accelerates progress even more. So please sign up for a test today!!

January 19th, 2016 By Scott Savage Categories: Hardware, software, youtube

I recently bought  Xiaomi Redmi Note 2 and Note 3 phones off Lazada in Singapore. Both times the standard ROM was installed, but some modifications had been made. The phones were rooted and some apps had been installed (Kingroot, Google Play Services etc.). The most annoying part however was that if Chrome hadn’t been used for ~10mins and you opened it, then it would open a popup with a full screen advertisement. I started researching how to remove this annoying Adware.

I found one really good article which detailed the debugging process. There are a few pre-steps however:

  1. Root the phone
  2. Install ADB tools on your computer
  3. Plug in the phone via a USB cable

As per the article above, you can then use the ADB logcat to debug what’s going on. Do the following steps from a terminal prompt on your computer:

  1. adb logcat > log.txt
  2. Open Chrome on your Android phone, wait for the ads to load. Take note of the Ad URL that loads (there might be a couple, so try and get the first one)
  3. Ctrl+C to kill logcat
  4. Open the log.txt file in a text editor and search of the URL you noted in step #2

My Ad spam URL was “ymtracking.com” and so I searched for that in log.txt. It came up with this line:

I/ActivityManager(  808): START u0 {act=android.intent.action.VIEW dat=http://global.ymtracking.com/trace?offer_id=111090&aff_id=27742 flg=0x10000000 cmp=com.android.chrome/com.google.android.apps.chrome.Main} from uid 10035 on display 0

This line tells me that a process running under UID 10035 is calling the ad URL. Time to hunt and kill that UID!

  1. adb -d shell
  2. su

Then you need to view the file /data/system/packages.xml. The Xiaomi phones don’t seem to have vi as a text editor installed, so move it to /sdcard/ to download it to your computer, or open it on the phone itself in the browser. Look for the package line that matches the UID you find earlier (10035):

<package name=”<<PACKAGE NAME>>” codePath=”<<DIR>>”  sharedUserId=”10035″>

Now you know the package name and the location. Normally you could enter the following command from the ADB shell as su “pm disable <<PACKAGE NAME>>”, but when I tried that it was not allowed (read only). Trying to reinstall the package didn’t work either. I found I had to actually use the code path and delete the .apk file itself:

  1. cd /system/priv-app/Youtube (what you had as <<DIR>> above)
  2. mount -o remount,rw -t yaffs2 /dev/block/mtdblock3 /system
  3. rm -rf Youtube.apk

That was it! Reboot the phone and the ads are gone. You can then use the Play Store to install YouTube as normal, from the official source.