Friday, January 13, 2006

Six months and counting

I've just passed my 6 month mark at my new job, and it is has been an interesting ride. At the beginning, I missed my old slacker job tremendously. I missed all the people, the boss who knew me well, the nearby shopping at lunch, the 2 days a week working at home. The first week at my new job, I didn't have a computer for the first three days (imagine that!). Then when I finally got one, I found out that they blocked all internet email sites including all of my emails: hotmail, gmail, yahoo, charter (like I need that many email accounts!!). I loaded AIM onto the computer and surreptitiously used it. Unfortunately, I had to reboot the computer in front of the IT guy and my buddy window popped up. He said "We don't do that here, let's take care of this right now" and uninstalled it immediately. Not the nicest or brightest guy. Around the same time, my cable modem at home crapped out and I was completely cut off from all of my internet communications. I was literally crying about it!!

But on the technical side of things during the first week, I found a major design flaw in the instrument and sent the hardware and software guys scrambling. I knew that I had made a substantial contribution and earned some respect. The people reporting to me seemed nice enough, and of course I had support from Tom who brought me into the company.

I ended up getting around my email and IM woes by using Outlook Express to access hotmail (that is the only HTML based email that they support, because it is all Microsoft), and MSN Messenger for IM. Since Windows Messenger is already installed with XP and it is quiet on startup, I haven't been caught yet. But just last month, my Outlook Express access to hotmail has mostly shut down, giving me that dreaded "Restricted Site" message. Now I'm in the process of switching everything over to gmail since they have email forwarding and I will simply clog up the company's email if they so insist.

Speaking of restricted sites, here are some more silly ones that I have run into: lottery results (delaying anyone from quitting their job for a day), JibJab (nothing funny allowed) and MySpace (please don't have a personality!). The internet access is slow as a dog. I once had to go home to download a 200MB file instead of waiting 8 hours to do it at work. Tom had told me they had VPN, so I thought great, they are somewhat enlightened and I can work home if I need to. But not all VPN's are created equal. This one goes through AT&T, and then to Cleveland, and finally to NH. Visual Studio takes about 20 seconds to load at work (because of the VSS checks), and about 20 minutes at home. Totally unacceptable!!

More IT complaints.. It took me 3 months to get my MSDN subscription approved, purchased and received. Later, it took me 3 months to get a build computer justified and built. Granted, this is the first time this company has dealt with real a software engineer. But let's snap to please!! Executable files are simply stripped from incoming attachments, even if renamed or including in zip files (they actually leave the other files in the zip file and remove the executables, unbeknownst to me, leaving me extremely confused once). They block the USendIt site, although luckily a direct link to an attachment got through. Once I had to send a file out through my hotmail because I was so frustrated. Basically, no way for a decent SW engineer to work.

It took me a good 4-5 months getting used to working 5 days a week. Dova also had a bit of a hard time being in a new daycare full time. Although my commute went from 65 min to 17, I was still scrambling to get done all the thing I did on my work-at-home days like grocery shopping and laundry. But now, I'm finally in a good groove. During lunch I go to the gym 2-3 times a week, and shop in tax-free NH on the other days.

Finally in October, another massive layoff at my old company basically left no one in my old group. So even though I was angry about being laid off the year before, there was no way I would've survived this layoff. So that chapter can finally come to a close, no more yearning for what isn't there any more.

So I will continue marching on with this new company and we'll see how it goes. When I'm not dealing with the people in my group (more on another post), and simply programming, it is great. Exactly the kind of code and project that I like to work on. C# is fantastic and I get to make great looking UI for an instrument that I completely understand (mass specs are still totally over my head). Boss is nice as can be and leaves me alone. Just those pesky new managerial duties and incompetent IT...

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