Humor

You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling

The subtitle of this article was going to be "What to do when your job doesn't offer fulfillment or a value to society", but I quickly realised that I didn't actually know the answer. I do have a few ideas but I'll leave it open ended and others can add to the list later.

"Muntz" your code

A long time ago, when I was a much younger engineer, I read an article in "Electronic Design" magazine by Bob Pease of National Semiconductor titled "What's All This Muntzing Stuff, Anyhow?". In this article, he describes how Earl "Mad-man" Muntz, would clip parts out of his engineer's circuits to see if the parts were absolutely necessary. As a consequence, his television sets cost dramatically less than his competitors. This article is definitely worth a read (as are Bob's other articles).

Programming Is Like Sex

because...

  • One mistake and you have to support it for the rest of your life. (Michael Sinz)
  • Once you get started, you'll only stop because you're exhausted.
  • It often takes another experienced person to really appreciate what you're doing.
  • Conversely, there's some odd people who pride themselves on their lack of experience.
  • You can do it for money or for fun.
  • If you spend more time doing it than watching TV, people think you're some kind of freak.
  • It's not really an appropriate topic for dinner conversation.
  • There's not enough taught about it in public school.
  • It doesn't make any sense at all if you try to explain it in strictly clinical terms.
  • Some people are just naturally good.
  • But some people will never realize how bad they are, and you're wasting your time trying to tell them.
  • There are a few weirdos with bizarre practices nobody really is
    comfortable with.

Show Me the Money

... so went the famous line from the movie "Jerry McGuire".  And while it may be appropriate for a sports agent, it really doesn't sound as good when I hear the salepeople in our company say it (fortunately, never directly to the customer).  As a large company (C-COR has over a thousand employees), we are multi-faceted ... we have a hardware division, a software division and several mechanisms for making money via services.  In all these cases, what the sales group really means is "give me some money", with the often unspoken corollary of "and I'll give you something of equal value".  The rest of this article focuses on software businesses and what happens when a customer offers money for something you don't have.

notes from startup school

Startup school was in session at Stanford University a little over a week ago, on Saturday, April 29th. I commuted six hours to check out the event. If you're at all interested in starting your own company or participating in a startup, you will really benefit from this sort of venue.

Ketchup on Rusty

Spring has hit Seattle like a damp blanket. It's better than the 30-days-of-rain from January though, and people are finally getting the moss scraped off their backs. The days are actually light for over 12 hours now, the grass is growing (I've mowed thrice!), and all manner of creatures great and small are crawling and flying.

At the onset of every winter, I say to myself, "This winter I am going to use my gloomy days off and dark week nights to ________," and by this time every year I have done none of it and wonder where the winter went.

One winter a few years ago, I was going to get abs that I could see. That didn't, and still hasn't, happened, although I am in fair shape. Every winter for the past 10 years I've determined that I was going to pass the Microsoft certification exams. I don't even remember why I wanted to do it in the first place, but I've intended to do it for so long now that it is something that just has to get done (I hope that will put it to rest even though MS changes the certification levels every three years).

Don't Worry, it's Just Computer-Generated...

This has been happening a lot lately, but the canonical example ocurred today with my <sarcasm>wonderful</sarcasm> DSL provider, SBC. Some scary and/or irritating bit of correspondence arrives in the post, declaiming that I'm about to lose my health insurance, or my house, or my savings, or my left leg. Today, with SBC, it was along the lines of "your contract expires at the end of this month; if you renew for another year, we'll only jack up your rates 20%. If you fail to renew, we'll jack them up 150%."

How nice of them. You'd think that maybe, just maybe, they'd think to reward loyal customers by, oh, say... lowering their rates? Or at the very least, not sticking them with an increase?

Dinner Tagging

I returned from vacation this past weekend. It was great, very relaxing and overall a good time. Monday morning I faced the reality of the dayjob. Have you ever returned from a nice vacation just to find that certain areas in the office have quite changed for the worse? An increased political charge? Work you had counted on being finished was not touched? Maybe the timeline for your Big Project was silently cut in half?