Category Archives: Work

I’ll Keep My Head, Thankyou

Note: This entry has been restored from old archives.

Well, here’s one for the record: My first ever call from a headhunter.

Mobile vibrates, unknown number (I assume they don’t mask their number in case someone has second thoughts), I pick up, “Hello, Yvan speaking.”, “Hello Yvan! I’m a headhunter!”. I guess there’s no point being indirect. “Interesting communications start-up.”

I wonder where these guys get contact details from. The work mobile number they called isn’t listed, not against my name anyway. I guess these details just make their way around somehow… but into the hands of a headhunter?

Anyway, life’s too complicated at the moment to be considering such things. Plus there are things I need to finish.

Head staying on my shoulders. On with the show!

Commuting is Poo

Note: This entry has been restored from old archives.

Because I car-pool with two colleagues I tend to not leave town until 08:15 or even as late as 08:30. Then we trek on congested roads for around 45 minutes to get to work, in the worst cases more than an hour. Yesterday it took 30 minutes just to get from a roundabout on the outskirts of town to the office, this takes 5 minutes in good traffic but rarely takes less than 20 at around 09:00. Frankly, it is poo.

Today two of us left town at 07:00, not a problem for me on any day since I usually wake up at around 06:00 (05:00 today since it was a gym morning). So before leaving for work today at 07:00 I had time to pop out to the gym with Kit (the gym is part of the apartment complex, so very close), make porridge for us both, shower, have a cup of tea, pack lunch and gym kit for the day and browse over the nights emails from the US and AU, even replying to a couple. We left town at 07:00 and got to the office at 07:30! The office is nice and quiet and already I’ve got more done in the first hour of the day than I’d normally get done in the first two hours.

Unfortunately I think we probably can’t convince the third member of the car-pooling trio. Not car-pooling would be a bit of a drag, it’s nice not having to drive every day. Also nice saving around 25 quid in fuel costs a week (may as well catch the expensive train if not driving). 25 quid is a bottle of reasonable whisky and I’d rather be drinking it than feeding it to the car, not that I could drink a bottle of whisky per week!

So what to do? Must think on it over the weekend.

Another drag is that although I’d be getting to the office at 07:30 I think I’d still be leaving at 18:30. Which isn’t all that bad, back to typical Sydney hours really 🙂 just starting and leaving earlier!

Another thought for the day: Windows Vista reminds me of KDE. I don’t like KDE. I’m GUI-retarded so that’s not saying much, I don’t like Gnome either and I use ion2 by preference. Funny though, since I recall that when KDE first came out it was always being accused of being too much like Windows.

Office Space

Note: This entry has been restored from old archives.

I get upset every time bastards like Mr JoelOnSoftware write about their office setups.

  • Crap Chair – check
  • Single CRT Monitor – check
  • Open Noisy Office – CHECK
  • Wear headphones to combat distractions – CHECK
  • Realise that all this is very badcheck

(Note: I don’t actually work in an office of my current employer; our office back in Sydney would score better than my current location if compared against the points in Joel’s article – but not a great deal better, but we fit into the ‘it’s hard to do these thing if you’re a VC company‘ category so it can be a bit hard, here there is no good excuse for it being so terrible.)

Team[less] Work

Note: This entry has been restored from old archives.

There is no i in team, but there is an i in exterminate… exterminate, Exterminate, EX-TER-MIN-ATE!

Sorry, a spot of randomness there; I don’t think the James simulation unit is quite up to scratch. One of the hardest things about being exiled to the UK is suddenly being very isolated. The last big move was to Sydney, but that was into Uni which is an entirely different situation. Over here it just Kathlene and myself – and almost everyone else has comes under the loving wing of the term “business relationship”. We have one friend here outside of work links, and that is a blessing; fact is that meeting people who don’t annoy me is very hard.

All in all it’s not too bad, I am a fairly reclusive person by nature although I do enjoy occasional “events” and I really miss having friends over for a good feeding.

You should never underestimate the important of working with friends; which is what I have done ever since first year Uni up until this whole UK lark. I get along well with many of the people I work with at the moment; but it is different. One can work with excellent people, people with whom you get along very well and maybe even have an occasional drink – but it is a whole different world to working with people you’d call “friends” before calling “colleagues”.

Above all, the hardest thing is not working with a team. Working on projects as a sole developer is difficult because there is nobody else following the thread and thus nobody to discuss developments with and no peer driven motivation and interest. It really is terribly difficult! I report to a VP in another country and most of my internal company interaction is with a “sales guy”! I’m just thankful that both have an engineering background; the guy I report to still writes code for internal projects. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that management/sales is bad – just that as a developer I find having non-developers as primary contacts strange and not having other developers to work with is rather isolated. Piled on top of that is the general sense of externality when dealing with core development teams, the feeling that you’re now an outsider in the eyes of (what was formerly) your own group.

In many ways some level of logical separation is necessary, for example from a legal standpoint there sometimes have to be boundaries – such as “Chinese Wall” situations. I really believe that this must be kept to a minimum, after all (in this instance) some of us who’ve been exported have been involved since the early days before the first customer, before we went up in the world (literally;), before sliced bread back when the world was still flat and beaver was the other white meat. They really didn’t perform secret lobotomies on us, I swear.

Hmmm. It might sound like it but I am not saying that things are bad, there is room for improvement and no doubt this comes with time and practise, in fact things are generally good. With a peppering of the occasional hiccups that make life interesting. Working solo is something I’ve done a lot of and can do well; it may not be my favourite situation and it has its uninspiring moments but it is hardly hell-on-Earth.

There is no i in electroencephalographs, but there is an i in counterrevolutionaries!

Battery Workers

Note: This entry has been restored from old archives.

Reading a story from BBC:

How much higher density? Maybe a third less space, but it also quotes an unnamed firm in the Thames Valley where 1,200 staff have about half the previous average floor space allowed per person.

Suddenly it seemed that using the metaphor of ‘battery hens’ was right on the dollar… I was churning that over trying to work out just how big someone’s office would have had to have been to now be fitting 1,200 people into just half of it? Did they take half the CEO’s office and put a call centre into it?

After re-reading a couple of times I worked out that they actually mean… heh, must be the heat.

Working Hours

Note: This entry has been restored from old archives.

For my previous 6 month stint in the UK it was about 15 minutes from door to desk, now it is about 35 to 45 minutes, longer if there is a traffic issue of course. It’s an extra hour of my day and non-working hours are precious things. I think that now with an aim to “settle” in the UK and with Kathlene here I’ll try to bring my working day closer to its supposed 9-to-5 nature. Hur Hur, sure thing. Might make that 8-4 actually, since then I can skip the damn traffic. Leaving at 16:00 would be difficult, it’d feel wrong. At the moment I’m doing about 8-to-6 or 8-to-7 – though I try to make up for that by taking a good one hour break in the middle of the day (like now).

What are normal IT working hours? There’s a strong (but hopefully exaggerated) indication from various sources that a typical IT worker does 12 hour days and that’s what is expected of them. Maybe this is a thing in the US? The land where being an employee is no better than being of the downtrodden masses in a fascist dictatorship. Here in the UK it seems more common for employees to stick closer to their 9-5 day, except for a few notable examples (the more certifiable “geeks” in the office, including myself) most people are gone not long after 17:00. Back in Sydney half the office is still around at 18:00 and a good many still there are 19:00, admittedly some of them don’t get to the office until 10:00 in the morning.

It’s like an IT-worker “macho” factor, “I stay in the office longer than you and thus am a more valuable asset to the company”. Complete bullshit, most of the best developers in the company are ones who stick to a well-bounded working day. But is the individual mindset remediable? Some of us who work over-long hours and then go home and spend a couple more hours dealing with work communications and other related material have trouble stopping. If I go an evening without having my work mail open for reading/replying I feel guilty about it. But it’s not like I feel hard-done-by, I also don’t feel that it is something that is expected of me – it’s just something I do. Is it an addiction?

What is the cure?

Commuting is cutting into my usual lunch-making time, I’ll have to try and reorganise to handle it (the good old “wake up an hour earlier, thus go to bed an hour earlier” that never happens). I’ve had lunch from the caf across the road on too many occasions over the last two weeks; it’s a great place for food if you happen like mayonnaise sandwiches. I only get food from there when the hunger becomes too annoying to ignore.

Everything is report writing at the moment, aside from a brief stint of benchmarking I’ve been working on writing reports since I got back. It is interminably dull. Should be done with that this week and then I have something interesting to look at, that will be a relief.