Good Work

Oct. 21st, 2005 10:13 am
litch: (crazed grin)
So I periodically mention how I really like what I do.

One of my favorite things to do in the world is solve puzzles. I have loved figuring things out for as long as I can remember. One of my favorite series as a child was Encyclopedia Brown" (though Tom Swift Jr quickly supplanted it), I very much grooved on the idea of the boy genius solving the problems. Everytime I solve a problem I get a small rush of pleasure (and a matched sense of dejection when I can't), especially if I can do it cleverly, efficiently and quickly. Fortunantly there is always going to be a market for smart guys that like to solve problems.

But less obvious in my personality is the fact that I really do dig helping people. It really pleases me to make an emotional connection with someone and be able to come to their rescue. There are lots of jobs solving problems but I don't think I would be nearly as happy in a dark programmer's cube solving software problems and not having much in the way of human interaction (though I'd certainly get paid more and be respected more by the people I work for). There seems to be some deep psychological conflict in how that ties in with the pleasure I take in baiting people, insulting them, and getting in online arguments and pissing them off. I suspect the common paradigm is that either way I am in a position of power and control in the situation.

I like what I do, and I am really good at it. My customers like me, I got these two feedbacks in the just the last week:
"Very knowledgeable. Easy to work with. Patient. Great Experience. The true way Customer support should be."
"The Rep showed outstanding knowledge of the product and gave me the exact answers I was looking for. He was the epitome of customer service."

I like my local folk, they are all pleasent to deal with and everyone respects my ability. But I have a problem with a number of people in the California office, particularly the most senior techs in my deptartment. They got a poor impression of me fairly early on that's colored my interactions ever since. Adding injury to insult, since all engineering and management is there in the west, the other teams in the company mostly dealt with the senior techs & their colored impressions of me got propagated. I believe it all started becase I'd ask about problems with the product and they'd react like mentioning it somehow became a personal attack (one problem with going to work for a small startup that survived the .bust). Because I am good at this I noticed a lot of problems fairly early on and I'd ask my teammates about it to try and understand if I was missing something or if we needed to do it that way for some inobvious reason. This became (to them) me constantly whining about the product. They then started ignoring me (as in writing a rule in outlook to shunt my messages to a folder they didn't read) and told me if I thought it was a problem submit a bug report. Then I got chewed out for submitting bug reports for known issues and things that were working as poorly designed. Eventually they removed my ability to escalate to engineering or file bugs, I have to escalate to someone else ofter someone much less technically competent than me.

This really pissed me off and made me feel unwelcome (as they intended) but like I said, I like what I do, I'm good at it, and I like the people here. So I hung around and stuck it out and took real pleasure in being repeatedly proved right on things which had been dismissed at first. I was particular adept at driving the most senior tech, the one with whom I have the biggest personality conflict, insane over minutae. He's a very arrogant sort (bad enough to piss of a lot of coworkers and customers) and didn't like having his assertions questioned, which is like hamachi for me. You should have seen the row he raised when in one message I refered to something he said as something he "opined". I pretty much blame him for creating the nasty environment I've had to deal with while working here.

So guess how I felt when my boss pulled me aside a couple days ago and said they didn't want to make a big deal of it but the senior tech was unhappy and had decided to pursue oppurtunities elsewhere.


Sep. 12th, 2005 11:14 am
litch: (Default)
new word for ya "spim" n. Unwanted Instant Messanger messages (IM-spam).

We're selling that now as well as regular spam filtering.

Doesn't hardly but me, but I don't do much IM stuff. It never was a really satisfying way for me to communicate.


Aug. 24th, 2005 10:06 am
litch: (Default)
today we are going to spend the afternoon at volente beach (a beach/waterpark on the lake) and work is going to buy us lunch and entry fee and give us the afternoon off

which is nice, except that it is supposed to hit a 101 out today

which is what happens when your company is headquartered in on the san francisco penninsula and they plan when company outings will be

on the other hand I noticed they just hired a new guy in marketing, ching chiang


Aug. 17th, 2005 12:04 pm
litch: (Default)
[ profile] fautian_wish was whining about her meetings running long

I've actually gone to a lot of good meetings, but they're outnumbered by the not so good meetings pretty significantly. Usually what happens is the meetings start to get out of control, people clamp down and you get a few good ones, then things spiral out again.

The one that worked best actually had a very formalized process (I'm told it's the model the toastmasters use) where you have a couple of roles and some understood structures:

One person defines the agenda. They take input from all concerned parties about what needs to be talked about and then sends out that agenda to everyone who will attend the meeting so they know what will be going on, when and where the meeting will be and can be prepared.

One person keeps notes and then disseminates the notes after the meeting along with a list of action items and who is expected to be resposible for bringing the results to the next meeting.

One person acts as a timekeeper, every one who has a presentation is expected to stick to a set interval (or let the agenda person know they'll need more time ahead of the meeting) and a similar interval for questions and the timekeeper signals them when they hit the point.

one person acts as the facilitator, makes sure that everyone who has something to say gets a chance (which is important in meetings with milquetoast women) but they also signal people when they start to repeat themselves or when the discussion starts to wander off topic.

The first couple of meetings with this sort of structure feel a bit odd but it makes the time spent in meetings so much more productive that everyone falls into the pattern easily.
litch: (Default)
So one of the analysts Redwood City has taken offense to something I wrote last week to the point he has filed a complaint with my manager about unprofessional behavior, where's what I wrote:
So a week or two ago I sent something out about /postini/current/bin/logfetch not finding something that could be found with the one that was in /home/[author]/logfetch/lf.

Mr. borin opined that it was because I was using the -i switch. I have never had it explained so I could understand how -i could cause us to get incomplete information, duplication from an entry being split across buckets is clear but unless both buckets were missing it shouldn't be incomplete (and if both buckets were missing the -i switch won't matter). However the lf script was removed to address the conflicting returns.

He's furious about this, the thing that seems to have particulary irritated him is the use of the word "opined".

My working theory is he didn't know what it meant and assumed it was derogatory. We have a conference scheduled for later this morning to discuss it.
litch: (quixote)
So Microsoft accounced yesterday that they were buying Frontbridge. As the article notes, they are a major competitor of the company I work for. The top three in sthis sphere are probably Postini, Frontbridge, and Message Labs. Nothing like sitting in the cross hairs of the behemoth of the north.

We knew about this for about a week internally. M$ has been planning an expansion into this market for a while and were in discussion with our management but they didn't offer anything like what they think we could have got by going public.

Adding an extra level of piquant, a couple months back IBM announced they are making a strategic alliance with Message Labs
litch: (Default)

Started getting grump again this morning after I got in to work. Which is wierd because as I was driving in I saw a woman with a 3-4 month old blond lab in the back of a pickup and was delighted to see the dog stick its nose out past the side into the wind the back off and bark at it then stick it's nose back out again. I let myself revel in the delight of seeing that while driving down a nice road on my way into a job that I like that pretty much pays my bills.

Then I got in and started doing things and people started coming up and asking me things and I got glowerous. There are lots of reasons for this to irk me. Formost, I hate when people ask me questions I don't know the answer too, the only thing worse than that are when they ask me a question and I think I know the answer and I turn out to be wrong. Then there is the sense I have that while the local folk like and appreciate me the people back in Redwood City don't or at least consider me more trouble than useful, a marginal employee. My manager knows I rock, but when he gets hit by a bus I'm screwed.

Adding to that, my manager is in a conference room doing phone interviews and is not to be disturbed so everyone is coming to me for administrative as well as technical questions. We really don't have much in the way of a functional QA department, so the normal escalation path for a software company (support->QA->Engineering) means that support has to go to engineering for questions and they get snippy as hell about anything that gets escalated that hasn't been completely vetted to make sure it is a software bug and not a case of working as poorly designed.

Engineering is always interested in writing new code for the upcoming release, they hate to be bothered with fixing problems in existing code, that's much harder and inordinatly more complicated. And of course since QA is not quite there things make it into production that shouldn't and so we wind up with a fair amount of gunk to kick back to them.
litch: (Default)
I just talked to a guy with a cool name, "Bruce Strange". One of the cheap amusements of my chosen professions is encountering cool, unusual or otherwise interesting names.

Two and a half hours ago when i started this message I was irritable, no reason I could figure out, just easily irked. Now I am just pissed, everybody seems to be out to annoy the fuck out of me.

I was feeling irritable last night when I went to group therapy, and talked about it. One of the tropes I have learned there is that when I am angry at everything in the universe it's probably that I am angry at myself and I was trying to figure out why I am angry at myself and what the sadness or fear that underlies the anger.

The only thing I can come up with that I might be angry at myself about is my failure to do all my chores, like changing the a/c filter every month or getting my truck fixed/inspected/registered. The fear beneath that is that I can't competently run my life, do all the chores I need to do to get through my life without something I could prevent exploding in my face.

The stupid thing is that I am actually pretty good about doing that sort of stuff, better than most people at least. I just have this terror I am going to forget to do something I know I need to do and it is going to burn me and it will be all my fault. And it's a rediculous terror, I know shit happens and I am capable of taking care of it and getting out the other side with minimal scarification but the idea of failing some simple chore and having that lead directly to something worse happening just fills me with dread.
litch: (Default)
I've been angry today. Finding my coworkers irksome, customers inane, friends dull, and the universe as a whole unsatisfactory. It says something that my first thought upon realizing that is to wonder what I am scared of or sad about.

The thing that comes to mind is that I am sad about my divorce. It's been just over a year since Nancy moved out. I look back on my journal entries from last june and I am startled how little is in there, almost nothing of consequence. I can't remember my feelings from back then very clearly, there was so much anxiety and pain in the flashes I do allow myself to recall I wonder if that might not be a boon. My boss was just laughing about a time I got inapproriately upset about building management warning us they'd tow us if we parked in the wrong spot and I remember that that was from this time. I made a series of career limiting emotional displays that first summer at postini. It's placed a hard ceiling on my career here, it is clear though unsaid that I will not be considered for a management track.

My life is so much calmer now than it was then. There was always the effort of creeping around the edges of the eterna-fight just waiting to goose me into idiocy. I am happier but I worry about what kind of future is front of me, I feel like damaged goods, like everyone who knows me knows exactly how close they are willing to let themself get to me and ain't nobody dumb enough to allow themselves to get into any sort of real emotional intimacy with the trainwreck in the franz-joseph (that's what my face hairis called).

I'm also scared I'll never get to the level of financial comfort I want. I was so excited about having free cash but it didn't work out that way. Then I had 400$ in car repair I wasn't expecting and another 400$ for the vet last week. A few hundred here and a few hundred there starts to add up to serious money in very short order. This difficulty is scary because I base a lot of my self-worth on my ability to take care of myself financially. It's not about how much I make so much but "can I make enough, doing what I want and how I want (to a reasonable degree of aproximation) to live the way I want", I am working too hard and living too close for my comfort.
litch: (Default)
I have discovered a new... kink? is not right, this is way too specific.

We hired a new analyst to do support in the london office, and they've been doing training in Redwood City and now Austin. When I first heard Vivian from london I guessed it would be a guy, but she's actually a petite asian chick. She's got this really delightful voice, pitched suprisingly low with this eloquent upper middle class accent. She's sitting in the cube next to me (Joe's, the lucky fucking bastard is spending 3 weeks in london doing support there while Viv comes up to speed and then he's going to take 2 more weeks vacation over there after that.) and I happened to overhear here say the word, "entrepreneur" and it sent shivers through my soul. It was the most fantastically delicious vibration of the lips, mouth, and tongue I have ever experienced.

bye joe

May. 25th, 2005 10:16 pm
litch: (Default)

This guy from work got fired last friday, for failing to adhere to an improvement plan. I'm sorry to see him go, he was a nice guy, he and his girlfriend were part of the group from work I went to see star wars with on opening night. He's decidedly technically competent but his work skills (getting to work on time, document everything, etc) just didn't cut it. I look at that with a great deal of trepidation, that's how I tend to fuck up at work. I'm not having a problem, but I like what I am doing and the people I work with and my life is pretty good right now. I feel like I could fall down that oiled cascade of broken glass anytime, it's just one loss of balance away.

This was from a work lunch, the girl he's talking to is Carrie, she's our HR person here in Austin. They both used to work at High-End systems at the same time and had a number of common friends.


litch: (Default)

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