Am I ready for this?

Monday is the beginning of a transition for me at work. I’ve mentioned previously the group I work in which is called SAS-DEV. That particular group is made up of myself, three colleagues and our manager (who is also the manager of the larger SAS group). Monday, a fifth team member joins us and I start the process in becoming the SAS-DEV manager. I’m not sure how long it will take but the “official” (e.g., HR) designation won’t change until I am doing at least 51% of the work of a manager.

The whole thing is going to be a bit odd for me. I’m generally o.k. with the manager thing as I used to have two direct reports when I was at RedZone. The strange part, initially, is the fact that I’m going to be the manager for what up until now have been my peers. Ultimately, I feel this will work out for the best as I already know them, they know me, and we get along quite well both personally and professionally. If there was one time in my life where I can start this next step and not stress about it, it’s here with these folks. Yes, I know that each of them generally follow my blog but I am honestly not trying to suck up.

The other part that has me wondering is how things will look when everything is said and done. I don’t believe there is enough “managing” to be done to fill a whole workweek so it’ll probably be a half manager, half sys admin kinda thing. One of my friends referred to it as being a Sergeant which sounds about right. I’ve never stressed about my career and we’ll all feel our way through things as the weeks and months come.

To give you and idea of the support, Kristin was kind enough to put the following comic up in the window of my new office:

From Johnnie Moore’s Weblog

It hasn’t been the first ribbing since all this came up and I’m sure it won’t be the last. That’s just how we roll.

Well, it is!

Kristin and I were heating up our respective lunches and we were talking about bologna like is often the case when chatting with people at work. I mentioned that while growing up, my sister and I used to microwave bologna to make jerky and how they curl up into a bowl while doing it.

Kinda like a meat version of shrinky dinks!

Kristin almost laughed up her spleen.

An update on my eyes

Safety goggles are for loosersIt’s been three days since my exc-eye-ting morning getting metal removed from my eyes. My right eye is now only solid pink instead of beet red and my left eye is just a little bloodshot. Both feel o.k. especially if I keep drops in them.

Kristin was kind enough to forward a shirt she found on CafePress shown on the right. B said she is very likely to get it for me as a late birthday present or early father’s day present. If she does, I shall wear it with pride!

One eye, two eyes, red eye, redder eye

I’m sitting on the couch at the moment wearing my sunglasses in a room with the blinds closed and writing this blog post while I normally would be wrapping up at work to head home. Why? Is it because I am just too cool for the room and couldn’t be bothered with work or the many paparazzi that often linger by my house? Not a chance. No, no. The simple truth is that I am recovering from one of those many unexpected events that occur in life. Let me explain.

PS3 Development systemOne of (many) projects I’m dealing with at work is racking up some PS3 development systems (one pictured at right) and while they are often used in our offices, these are the first that my group have ever had to set up in our datacenters. Unfortunately, the rails for the units were unlike any that I had seen before and came with zero instructions. When examining how I was going to get them to work last Friday, I concluded that the slots in the provided rail brackets were too thin for the M5 cage nuts and screws provided. I figured that since there are several ways for server racks to work, the hardware included presumed one type and we used a different one. "No problem," I thought. My manager suggested using a drill or dremel to compensate. I was frustrated that I would have to do such a thing, but fortunately I had the necessary equipment at home so I took the brackets home with me.

On Sunday between church and our last home fellowship meeting for the season, I pulled out my dremel (knock-off, actually) and started working through the bits to find what would work. I discovered that the grinding wheel worked pretty well and so I took care of the lot of them (there were eight).

The next morning when I went to use my modified hardware, I figured out that it wasn’t actually necessary. Eh, oh well. It did take an hour for the two servers (by comparison, I can rack one of our Dells in about 5 minutes) but I finally got them working. Satisfied, I went on with my day which by my luck was filled with vendor meetings.

Around lunchtime, my eyes started bothering me. Not burning, just like there was sand or similar irritation and I couldn’t stop blinking. I was able to get through the day and during the somewhat uncomfortable drive home (blinking, tearing, and aching) I discussed the situation and possibilities with B. She pulled out her trusty nursing books and we went over the options. Pink eye? Ugh, I shook hands with a lot of people (including my manager as a joke). I felt horrible with the possibility of starting a mini outbreak of conjunctivitis. I remembered the metalwork I was doing just a day before, but wasn’t sure as I had no complaints for almost 24 hours. She scheduled a examination by an ophthalmologist to determine what was going on.

That was this morning at 8:30. I had taken my lunch, this laptop, and my other work items with the presumption I was going to be heading in afterwards. The nice gentleman checked my eyesight (still good), and examined my eyes. He discovered two metal fragments (one in each eye). He got the one in my left and half of the one in my right which was more deeply embedded. He called a nearby vision center and was able to get an immediate examination with a corneal surgeon to get the remaining piece and to excise the tissue around the injury as rust was already present. About an hour later of significant examination and (ironically, a smaller dremel like device), he had removed the remaining fragment and the surrounding tissue. He gave me some anti-bacterial drops to use for the next few days and sent me home. As it was already about 11:15 and work is an hour away, there was no chance I could head in. The drive home was a treat with the nice, bright sunshine.

Red eyeI worked briefly via VPN but was quickly sanctioned by both my wives (my real one and my office-mate) so went low(er) tech and listened to podcasts with my eyes closed. As the afternoon wore on, my eyes got more sore to the point now (at 7:30) I’m thankful the sun as set and am trying to avoid anything bright which would cause my iris to constrict which is still quite unpleasant. The picture at left is the best that could be taken with little ambient light. It’s enough to get an idea how much I discourage the experience for others. I’m hopeful a full night sleep will help considerably and I can get back to work tomorrow which is K‘s birthday.

Now, my lovely wife(wives) criticize me for not using proper eye protection, and while that is true, I have realized, or at least justified, that it could have been from my hair or clothes which would have happened either way. If I really want to point fingers, I should have spent more time examining the rail system to determine that modification wouldn’t be necessary. As anyone who knows me well knows, I tend to take things as they come. I don’t blame anyone (certainly not my employer as I wasn’t doing this under their direction) and the Lord was kind enough to (so far) get me through this. I’m pretty sure it will just improve as the days/weeks go on.

Operators are standing by

 I’ve heard about GrandCentral a few times, but never had the chance to take a look. I’m impressed. The service which was acquired last summer by Google, has a very interesting concept of a single phone number for life.

How it works is this, you pick a phone number in any area code you wish (not necessarily where you live or work), and then register your other phones (e.g., home, mobile, and work). When somebody calls your new number, all of your registered numbers ring simultaneously. You can limit which phones ring based on the designation of the caller (family, friend, work or unknown). You can even register a SIP phone like Gizmo Project or an Asterix service. Now, you can hand out a single number for all folks and not worry about giving a more private number and they can still get a hold of you. If you don’t answer, GrandCentral will take a voicemail and can email and/or SMS you with the notification and link to get the message. You can also customize the greeting for each caller which certainly make it more personable.

A cool feature is you can switch between any of your registered phones by pressing ‘*’ just like if you switched extensions in your home.

Lastly, and perhaps the geekiest feature, is the WebCall button you’ll find on the home page of my blog. You click the "Call Me" graphic, enter your name, and the number you can be reached at and click "Call Me." What happens next, is your call-back number will ring and when you answer, my extensions will ring and connect us when I pick up.

I hope I’ve given a reasonable description of the service. For me, I plan on using it specifically for work for a single contact number when our network operations center needs to get a hold of me and for those occasions I need to give a number to somebody but don’t want to worry about staying at a number or leaving the line open.

If you’re game, give me a call at 760-444-0399. I’m planning on using it from now on.

Ahhh, vacation begins

My work traditionally gives us the week between Christmas and New Years off and this year is no different. Not only do I get 11 days off (12/22-1/1) but the real advantage is the fact the entire office (with the exception of one of the game studios who is behind on their schedule of a springtime game) is also off which means I don’t have to worry about work piling up.

Aside from getting together with friends and family for Christmas, one thing that we are all planning is a Harry Potter marathon on Thursday as we just got the Harry Potter 1-5 box set for Blu-Ray. That should be fun.

Joke of the day

A good friend at work shared a very funny joke with me this morning:

It was autumn, and the Indians on the reservation asked their new chief if it was going to be a cold winter. Raised in the ways of the modern world, the chief had never been taught the old secrets and had no way of knowing whether the winter would be cold or mild. To be on the safe side, he advised the tribe to collect wood and be prepared for a cold winter. A few days later, as a practical afterthought, he called the National Weather Service and asked whether they were forecasting a cold winter. The meteorologist replied that, indeed, he thought the winter would be quite cold. The chief advised the tribe to stock even more wood.
A coupe of weeks later, the chief checked in again with the Weather Service. “Does it still look like a cold winter? asked the chief.
“It sure does,” replied the meteorologist. “It looks like a very cold winter.” The chief advised the tribe to gather up every scrap of wood they could find.
A couple of weeks later, the chief called the Weather Service again and asked how the winter was looking at that point. The meteorologist said, “We’re now forecasting that it will be the one of the coldest winters on record!”
“Really?” said the chief. “How can you be so sure?”
The meteorologist replied, “The Indians are collecting wood like crazy!”

A lot of geek in a small package

Through the generous donation of time from my dear friend, Kristin, I was able to purchase an iPhone this past Saturday morning. I have to say that I’m quite pleased. Sure, I could have stuck with my current phone, but the fact is that the commercials are accurate. The device works as they say it does. I truly have a full web browser, functional email, impressive iPod, and a functional PIM all about the size of a deck of cards. I am still getting accustomed to how everything works and there are some minor nitpicks, but I think I will be quite pleased for the foreseable future.

Confused about Kristin’s involvement? Well, since the iPhone was released just over a week ago, supplies have been somewhat limited. Apple was kind enough to identify every night which of their retail stores will have some in the morning. Since the only reasonably close Apple stores are in San Diego (UTC and Fashion Valley), Kristin offered to get there early in case supplies are limited as she lives much closer. I argued with her that such an offer was unnecessary but since she insisted that she would enjoy the time away from the house to read, it would have been rude of me to decline.

All-in-all, I have a cool gadget and an even cooler friend.

No, I haven’t gotten one, yet.

Since I’ve been essentially “off-net” for the last 10 days, I haven’t been following all of the iPhone hype leading up to it’s launch two days ago. I’ve been trying to get caught-up on feeds and, so far, I haven’t seen anything that I would classify as a “fatal flaw” with it which was my main reason for not buying one from the start. Well, that and the fact I was going to be in Canada at the time.

The one thing that I think is unfortunate, is that it doesn’t support video out from the headphone jack like the current generation of iPod with Video. My biggest concern now, which I haven’t yet determined, is whether it works with my iPod integration in my car. I wouldn’t have thought it would be a problem as they kept saying “it’s an iPod”, but it’s being reported that not all iPod accessories work properly with the iPhone.

Fortunately, my friend was going to purchase one at launch and if he has (I haven’t talked to him yet), it will take only 30 seconds to find out. Perhaps, the next you hear from me, it’ll be about my new toy.