Archive for the ‘Work’ Category

So, yeah.

So, um, hi. :)

They say that the surest way to know that a blog is dying is that it starts apologizing for the length of time that goes between posts. So I’m not going to do that. Instead, I’m going to move right on and try to actually post, y’know, content.

Over the last year(!) since my last post, I’ve had a lot of things happen. The biggest of these is probably that a couple months ago, I lost my job, which has been a somewhat cathartic experience for me, and maybe a little bit eye-opening as well. It’s worth noting that I’ve done a TON of photography over the last year, some of it for fun and some for business. Yeah, that’s right, I said business. As in, I think I’m going to try and make a photography business take off the ground.

I’ve had a REALLY big jump in the quality of my photos over the last year and I’m going to take some time over the next few weeks to upload a bit of it (including some in this post), but it’s worth noting that I’ve purchased a new domain name and it’s going to be the primary focus for a photography portfolio. I want to separate out my personal/family photos from my professional stuff, so I’m thinking that what I’m going to do is either create a second Flickr username for my professional photos, or keep it only on my professional site (which will more than likely contain a photoblog, while this site will be more writing-, family- and life-oriented) and pull the professional stuff out of my existing Flickr pool.

But none of that’s happening just yet. Keep an eye out for the announcement of my photo studio website, but in the meantime, here’s a good cross-section of some of the photos I’ve taken over the last year. I’ll include links to the album pages if you want to look at the other photos from the sets.

Points of Light from Memorial Day Barbecue
Wedding Flowers from Seth and Christine’s Big Day
Slip 'n Slide from July 4th at Rob & Ryan’s
Dancin' Baby Cutting A Rug from Sailfest 2009
Fashion Shoot for Takeout/ATICC from Takeout/ATICC Fashion Shoot
from Brokedown Serenade, 8/29/09
Free Energy @ I AM Festival, New London from I AM Festival 2009
Amy Swinging

He really does know everything.

We have a saying at my place of employ: Work smarter, not harder.

Now, I tend to assume that this is really corporate-speak to mean something along the lines of “We’d be able to save money on employees if we can make the employees we already have do more work in the same amount of time.”

But I kind of take it to heart. I’ve already mentioned on this blog how much I enjoy creating methods to make it so I don’t have to do repetitive tasks, but tonight I encountered something that made me really question how much those other people really enjoy the idea of reinventing the wheel:

Let’s say that you have a computer. If you’re reading this, you either do have one or you employ somebody to print out your favorite websites for you to read with the morning paper. Since nobody in his or her right mind would pay somebody to print out this blog, I’m going to go with the former. Anyway. You’ve got a computer. And let’s just say, you want to run a program and it doesn’t load. Instead, you get an error message. Doesn’t really matter what it says, because when I ask you what the error said, you’re not going to remember it anyway. But we’ll come back to that.

When I encounter this type of situation, there’s a very specific set of things I do to try and fix the problem. It goes like this:

  • Make note of the exact text of the error.
  • Go to Google.
  • Type in the exact text of the error.
  • Read the links that follow to see if anybody else has had the same error, and what they did to fix it.
  • Do what those other people did, which will almost always fix the error.

Now, that makes sense, right? I mean, it’s Google. As my friend Jonny says, “Google is the best sysadmin in the world. That Google dude knows everything.” It is incredibly rare that I get a computer problem that nobody in the world has EVER had before, and since it’s, well, Google, all those issues are generally available with a few simple keystrokes.

Thus, it’s very, very easy for me to do my job. I simply check to see if anybody else has done it before me, and I copy them. Now, utilizing these very same secret methods, you too can become a systems admin.

And now we’re back to the part that I said we were going to get back to: If you ever call me with computer problems, you can be sure that the one question I will absolutely, definitely ask you will be if there were any error messages, and what they said. It is in your best interest to be able to answer these questions. :)

But back to tonight. Without going into details, let’s just say that I encountered an issue with a computer that had been confusing people for days. During that time, the only time I actually got to look at the computer was while it was running a scan or something, so I didn’t have an actual chance to sit down and try to fix it myself until tonight. And when I did, what was the first thing I did? Looked for the error messages. (You starting to notice a recurring pattern? Good, I thought so.) Once I saw the error message, it took me all of five minutes to go to Google, find a solution, and implement it.


I don’t think I’m anything too special when it comes to what I do. Hell, I already said that you could do my job if you wanted to, just by using my tried and true methods. So what does it say that for almost a week, an entire team of people couldn’t fix an issue that was solved by fifteen seconds’ worth of googling? I mean, seriously, folks, it was the first link that was in the search results.

Like I said, for me, a lot of these issues are fixed in this manner. In reality, it’s a very simple thing.

I don’t really know if what I do is working smarter, but one thing it’s definitely not is working harder.


Five months is an awfully long time for me to go without any kind of update at all. There are a couple reasons for it, not the least of which is that I keep planning on updating the design of the page before I update next—not that the two are mutually exclusive. The other has simply been life interfering.

Since the biggest update has to do with what’s written directly below this one, I should get it out of the way first: My grandmother passed away on Tuesday morning. It was quite a shock to all of us, because she had been doing very well, only to aspirate on her breakfast Monday morning and go into cardiac arrest. The broken leg was healing so well that they had put a regular walking cast on it and expected that she was going to make a full recovery. She was in good spirits and was responding well in all areas. And then it all came crashing down. After a day on the ventilator, we made the decision that it was for the best if we take her off, and once we did, that was it. It’s for the best, really. It’s certainly a better situation than the alternative, with a decline from the Alzheimer’s reducing her to a person that couldn’t even recognize her own family. She went out with at least some of herself intact, which is good.

The rest of what I could say isn’t really much in comparison. Work is going great, life is pretty good (apart from the elephant in the room) and I happen to be going on vacation next week to see a friend get married in Key West. That’s going to be great: a friend and I are renting a convertible and driving down the Florida coast from Miami. I bought a brand new camera for the occasion and I plan to get a ton of good shots.

So yeah, that’s about it.

Maybe they aren’t all that bad.

After all the hassle I posted about earlier, about my landlords holding my security deposit because I didn’t give them 45 days’ notice, I checked my mail yesterday only to find that they had sent it to me anyway. This just about made my month.

In other news, my company has decided that it wants to change from a 5×24 setup (Monday–Friday, coverage from Monday at 12:00 am to Friday at midnight) to 7×24 coverage, and as such is asking us if we’ll be willing to work a different shift. There’s still a contingent of people who will be working on the regular Monday–Friday, 8–5 shift, but the company offered us each more money if we’d be willing to do an off shift, so I decided to start working Sunday through Thursday instead, which I think is going to be extremely weird, at least for the first long while. I’m sure I’ll get used to it—hell, if my brother can work 7pm–7am for five years, I can work a regular shift with one day transposed. It’s gonna throw off my weekends, but at least I still have my Fridays available, and if I want to tough it out, I could go out on Saturday night, too.

I do have to say that I like the rigid Monday–Friday schedule, but the deal from my company was just too sweet to pass up.

Life Update

Whew, now that I got that big entry all handled and done with (I’ve been picking at it a little bit over the last couple months and finally just decided to scrap it, start over and write it all in one sitting), here is a little update for my life:

I suppose there isn’t a whole lot to update on, except for this: I’m moving! After almost two years at my current job, I finally found an apartment close to work that isn’t the size of a matchbox and doesn’t cost me an arm and a leg, and I decided to take the plunge. My parents were kind enough to lend me the money to make the deposits, and I’ll be moving at the end of this month. It drops my commute from almost an hour to a whopping eight minutes. I don’t know what I’m going to do with all the extra time I’ll have available to me. Maybe I could actually start working out in the mornings again… but I have the nagging feeling that maybe I’ll just end up sleeping another hour instead. I’m hoping that as I start to get used to the extra time, I won’t need so much of the extra sleep and I can adjust enough to start the workout regimen again. God knows I need it.

Speaking of workouts: My company is instituting this health initiatives thing. They announced it at our latest quarterly dinner, and I thought that it was quite ironic for me that they decided to announce that they were going to pay us as much as a thousand bucks to quit smoking or lose weight. This being ironic, of course, because I was celebrating my sixth-month anniversary of being off cigarettes only a couple weeks prior to this event. And I had just lost ten pounds. Cosmically funny. But hey, my CEO was kind enough that once he found out that I had quit smoking this year, he said that the company would gladly pay me for that.

I gave my father his birthday present on Monday. It was an 11×14 blowup of this photo, and he loved it. It makes me want to photograph more stuff. I really wish I had a digital SLR. The primary thing preventing me from taking photos of everything everywhere is that I know I have to take the film to a processing location and get it developed, which takes time and money, and then if I want a professional job done, I have to take it somewhere where I’m going to pay even more money to get it processed well and blown up. But perhaps I can get enough photos taken of interesting subjects that I can use them to decorate my new apartment. Or sell, for that matter. If you’re interested in buying any of my prints, I’ll gladly sell them. :)

On the subject of photography: I’m thinking of creating a moblog for my site. It wouldn’t be on the main page, but would probably be a subcategory of the regular blog. Do you think that’s too pretentious? I figure that now that I have a camera on my phone, I’d like to try and post some creative content with it.

Premature Celebration: Part II

You remember my last post? You know, that post where I said I got a promotion? Well, it’s still happening, except the part where I get the promotion.

I was supposed to start my new job on Monday—last Monday, that is. But when I got into work to gather my stuff to bring onto the campus with me, I was informed that there was “some problem” with the purchase order for the new job, and thus I wasn’t going to be starting just yet.

This was the point at which I should have known that it wasn’t going to happen at all. But I digress.

So it was decreed that I would stick around where I was for the next few days, until they straightened out what absolutely must have been some kind of clerical error. No big deal, I’ll just start a few days later and the job will extend a few days later.

(Is this starting to sound a little familiar, anybody?)

I heard nothing further on the matter until Friday, when my boss came over to my team lead (I happened to be sitting there talking with him at the time) and asked him if he would be willing to train me as the backup team lead, for when he wasn’t there. (Said team lead had been away at a conference for two days and my boss was covering for him, which he hates to do, which is why he asked that I be trained to do it.) Never mind the fact that I’ve expressed absolutely no desire to be any kind of lead role or management position, or that as of this point in time, we were still expecting that I wasn’t going to be available for the next eighteen weeks or so.

But when this latter point was brought up to my boss, we were informed that “oh yeah… that’s probably not going to happen.” As in, at all. If it does, he said, it probably won’t be for weeks.

So to recap: This is twice, now, that my company has told me I’ll be starting a new and exciting position, only to tell me later on that it just wasn’t meant to be.

Well, I’ll be damned… Something good happened.

I haven’t updated lately, even though I’ve had stuff to report, mainly because I haven’t had the time and/or the energy to write up a post. Even now, I would really rather be headed to bed, but I want to get this all put down on paper (as it were) just so I can focus on other things.

First, I’ve lost some weight. I’m down just under ten pounds at this point, to just over 260. I was down under what I weighed before I quit smoking (more on that below) for the first time since quitting. Unfortunately, over the last weekend I gained some weight due to extremely unhealthy behavior (more on that below, as well).

It feels really nice to be losing weight—mainly, I think, because it’s the result of increased discipline. I’ve been working very hard lately on my finances and my eating habits (and I think that the discipline for both comes from much the same place), and it’s been rather amazing at how much better I feel, not only in the psychological sense that I’m doing something good for myself, but in a very tangible sense as well. Working on keeping my finances in order means that I’m far less likely to eat out, which means that I have to cook for myself and plan my meals—more discipline, which has a direct impact on my health as well as my wallet.

As for the smoking: I just hit the five-month mark of not having had a cigarette. Not much to say at this point that I haven’t said in one of my prior updates regarding the smoking. I do, however, feel that it’s important to keep celebrating the fact that I’ve been successful with this. But I think that after the six-month mark (which, coincidentally, will be at some point very near my birthday next month), I won’t bother posting any celebrations until I hit the one-year mark.

And as for last weekend: We shut down an entire datacenter last weekend. The power consumption of our New London datacenter was growing so much that we didn’t have any more capacity, and as a result they had to add UPSes (Uninterruptable Power Supplies). However, in order to do that, we had to shut the entire datacenter down. Given that there were over a thousand servers alone (not counting network devices, network storage devices, SAN devices), this was no small feat. Given that there was only a 36-hour window during which they could work while the power was out, too, meant that we had to work fast in order to get it done. We shut down all of the servers in a matter of about 10 hours on Friday night, and powered them all back on from Sunday afternoon through early Monday morning. We had a small contingent of servers that had to be powered back on by 6pm Sunday for the start of the business day in Nagoya, Japan, and another set of servers that had to be powered back on by 3am on Monday for the start of the business day in Sandwich, England. Needless to say, I was pretty exhausted come Monday (although I got lucky as I have awesome coworkers who knew that I had a long drive and were fine with letting me go home a couple hours early, both nights). I was also eating crap the whole weekend as a result.

And now for the really good news: I got a promotion! Well, sort of. It’s an 18-week “project” with my company to fill in on the Level 3 support position, to backfill for our normal guy who is doing another position. It means that I get to do more in-depth, engineering-level stuff, which is exactly the kind of thing that I want to do. You know, solving the big problems type stuff. No pay raise, but obviously it gives me more ammunition for the not-too-distant future (especially should they decide to keep me on in the position or move me into other similar positions instead of putting me back where I am currently).

I think there was some other stuff, too, but I really can’t remember what it was, so I’ll finish for now.

Not really sure how to feel about this one.

Well, I had my review today. The company gave me a pretty big raise—pretty big as far as they see it, at any rate. I feel kind of torn about it. On the one hand, I’m certainly glad to get more money (who isn’t, right?), but on the other hand, I feel like with the amount of work I’ve been doing for them I deserve more than what they offered. But at the same time, I know that it was probably the biggest raise, percentage-wise, of anybody in my department, and for that I’m grateful.

I guess what’s left now is to see what I can do with it. I’m not really certain of whether or not I can use it to move closer to work as I’d hoped.

My brother asked me if I wanted to move in with him a few days ago. Since he and his girlfriend broke up, he’s had to cover the mortgage all by himself, and it’s not really feasible. I’m seriously considering it, because it would mean saving quite a bit of money that I could put towards my debts and important things like keeping my car safe to drive. But it’s really no closer to work than I am now (it’s about the same distance, only it’s north instead of west), and in a lot of ways it’s a bad move, like the fact that it’s out in the middle of nowhere, the house has no air conditioning and the wiring isn’t really safe enough to handle it plus the load of our computers, and the bedroom is quite a bit smaller than the one I have now. And it’s living with my brother. Not that we don’t get along or anything; in fact, we get along oh-so-much better than we did when we lived with our parents. It’s just that I don’t really know if I can get adjusted to that kind of thing again.

Maybe it’d be worth it as a shorter-term thing. Maybe I should just look seriously for apartments closer to work and leave it at that. I dunno.

Because I believe in superstition.

So tomorrow I have my annual review at work. Even though my rational mind knows that they’ve already gone through the whole approval process for my raise and that the review is just a formality that in truth isn’t necessarily tied to my raise anyway, and no amount of mental prodding at the space/time continuum is going to alter it… Cross your fingers or pray to Vishnu or whatever it is you do, so that my company decides to give me, y’know, a million-dollar raise or something. Okay?

That’s all I ask.

“I’m not even supposed to BE here today!”

Ahhhh, Dante Hicks, you certainly hit the nail on the head. I’m not even supposed to be here today. I’m supposed to be relaxing and maybe cleaning my atrociously dirty apartment right now. Perhaps catching up on some of my TV shows I didn’t get to watch this week. But though I am indeed at home, I am not relaxing, nor am I watching television or even cleaning. No, I’m on this computer, working. And not just any work.

I’m doing exactly the same thing that I was doing last night until ten o’clock.

The tape restore of the server that I rebuilt last night was successful, but only partially so. Apparently, the data that was restored was correct and had no errors, but it was a backup of already-corrupted data. So we essentially restored bad data back to the server. So now, I get to rebuild the server again, and we can put a previous backup on it instead.

I’m over the moon. This is my over-the-moon face.

On a more funny-yet-disturbing note: The over-the-moon comment is a line from The West Wing, spoken by Toby Ziegler (check the link). In doing my web search on the URL for the link, I found out that there’s a (pretty horribly designed) MySpace page for Toby Ziegler. I really don’t know whether to laugh or cry at that. There are other characters, too, if you look at the comments…

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