Monday, May 29, 2006

Sorry about the unexpected sabbatical. . .

It’s been a busy week.

Despite all the activity, the phone calls, opportunities, dreaming, scheming and in general feeling sort of “popular” contracting wise… The current company extended my contract through the end of the year this week. As I mentioned, all other things being equal, or maybe even not so equal, I’d rather just keep doing what I’m doing here, and be home every night, than head off 700 or more miles to a gig in another city.

So, the drama is over, we’re back on an even keel (or as even as it ever gets when you work under contract), and I feel like we can move forward with the rest of our lives once again. Not that life actually ‘stops’, but as the end of the contract draws near, there’s certainly a lot more scrutiny of the finances, worst case scenario planning etc, that doesn’t seem to happen when we’re on the front end.

We’re always working to get a 90-120 day reserve of ‘cash’, money we can access readily should I be without a contract for any period of time, but over the past couple of years, that reserve has been tapped for medical bills, prescriptions, doctors visits and a couple of large and very unexpected car repairs. So while we’ve got about 30 days of funds in our emergency account, I’m very sure this upcoming surgery will deplete that once again.

That’s probably my biggest worry, that we’ll hit the end of a contract without the reserves to weather a 3 month down cycle. For now anyway, that worry is history, at least for another six months!

I’ve also been pretty busy around the house.

You may recall in my last post that I’d intended to clean the gutters. As I prepared to do that, I found that my pressure washer would not fire up. I initially suspected that it wasn’t getting any fuel, but soon ruled that out as the problem. After a bit more tinkering on my part I decided to have a professional look at it. I’m very glad I did! I loaded it into the truck and dropped it off at Graham Tractor. For about $50 I got back a pressure washer that runs better than it ever did new!

About an hour after I dropped it off though we got this (a wind gust actually blew the spreader into the patio from the yard!):

I’m glad I wasn’t standing on a ladder when this freak storm rolled on through!!

When I started cleaning the gutters (shortly after I retrieved my pressure washer) I noticed there was some rot on a couple of the fascia boards, and that at least two sections of gutter were in pretty bad shape. I thought about replacing them, but I really had ‘heavy equipment’ plans for the holiday weekend. So, I thought, I’d just let them wait another few weeks.

However, then my first set of plans fell through (the equipment I’d been planning on renting was already promised) and the next two plans on the list involved having some additional materials hauled in, which I couldn’t get scheduled right before a holiday weekend...

I ended up replacing those fascia boards, as well as hanging some new guttering to replace the damaged sections. Amazing to me though was the fact that the downspouts were a special order thing.

What sort of sense does it make, here in North Carolina, home to monsoon type rains on a regular basis on summer afternoons, and a place that’s regularly visited by hurricanes, to only stock the small size downspout materials in brown? They only stock small downspout materials in brown, both sizes in white… who knew?

So those are ordered and should be here by the middle of next week.

I also tackled, and finished, resetting some brick in the first of three sections of a walkway behind the kitchen, this weekend. It was, however, quite a bit more work than I anticipated!

Here are a couple of before shots of the problem:

Obviously, if you notice the missing brick, the walkway was never finished when the previous owners had put it in, either due to the missing brick, poor drainage, loose materials, whatever, the walkway had also developed a nasty pitch and collected water every time it rained… not good

Just pulling up and cleaning off all of the old brick took me nearly a day. Well, a day and a half in actual time, as another Carolina summer shower shut me down on Friday afternoon, mud is not the ideal material for setting stone.

Thankfully things dried up quite a bit overnight.

On Saturday morning I set about re-grading the section by hand... well, that also took longer than I’d thought it would. In all I used 9 bags of sand, 7 bags of ‘redi-mix’ concrete and 2 bags of mortar mix, just to get the grade close to where I thought it needed to be.

I’m not entirely happy with the end result, but, it does shed water both away from the house and the wall and, maybe equally as important, away from the other section of patio as well.

I found myself having to think about level, and pitch in four directions, and the fact that I didn’t want anything exactly ‘level’, but with a slight 1/8th bubble pitch away from the house and the wall, as well as about a 3/16th bubble pitch away from the other patio.

I also wanted to retain the ‘old’ look to the walk, slightly crooked lines and some bricks a little lower and higher than others. (Hell the perfectly level and aligned thing is way too easy!)

Well, I’m nearly there… once the mortar mix dries and sets (by tomorrow morning) I can run the pressure washer over it all one last time, sweep in some final sand to fill any remaining gaps and water it all in once again.

Then, for the next two or three weekends I can continue on down the sidewalk and out into the future patio/garden area outside the kitchen window.

There’s something about working with brick, stone, mortar and the hand tools that go with that, that’s very ‘elemental’… it’s good, honest, heavy, hard work. You’ll break a sweat, especially in the sun, and pretty much keep sweating all day. There’s not much need to ‘run to the gym’ when you’ve moved around several tons of stone all day!

I wrote most of this up last night, and this morning things were still a bit too damp to work on today, so, as I usually do on this day, I've spent it remembering comrades from day gone by, and thinking about the sacrifices that have been made, so that I, would have the privilege, and freedom, to live life the way I see fit.

300,000 killed or missing in WWII, 54,000 in Korea, 58,000 in Vietnam… At least double, possibly triple those numbers in wounded… all in the belief that our way of life is, and was, worth preserving, at all costs.

On this day, I take the time to silently give thanks, to those who’ve paid the price for what I get to enjoy. Please set aside any political differences on this day, remember those brave men, and women, boys and girls really, who have made the life you live possible.

We may, or may not agree, with the actions and decisions of our political leaders, but these folks in uniform, and believe me, once you’ve worn it you never really fully take it off, deserve at least this one day, without rhetoric, of thanks.

I, for one, salute you all.

Technorati Tags: - - -
-IceRocket Tags: - - -

Sunday, May 21, 2006

And Suddenly, I’m Popular…

I know I mentioned in the last post that I had intentions of doing some much needed brick work this weekend, that plan did not come to fruition.

It seems my resume has been popping up lately on the radar screens of several recruiting firms.

Friday night, and Saturday morning I received no less than 15 emails from recruiters for one sort of FoxPro gig or another. Now, let me say first off, I’m very glad when any recruiter contacts me, without me first contacting them. However, this is a fairly strange time for me professionally, and responding to all of these took a little more than a ‘thanks’ email.

First, there’s that possible gig in Orlando, which would definitely be my first choice if I get the offer. But for a week now the folks at that agency have been making themselves ‘scarce’ so I have no idea where that stands at the moment.

Second, there’s the current gig, slated to run through the end of June, but, even that isn’t certain. Nor is the earlier ‘offer’ of employment if I’d take on an analyst role and document a second tire support position. There’s been no further mention of the actual job offer, nor, any mention of extending the current contract. So with less than six weeks remaining on this contract, I find myself somewhere between feeling the need to put on a full court press for a new gig, and adopting a ‘wait and see’ attitude.

Perhaps if Maryan wasn’t facing another major surgery, or we had 6 months of cash ‘reserve’ stockpiled I wouldn’t be as torn as I am. I normally like to have a little downtime, to decompress from one gig before jumping full on into another. That’s not the case right now though. Between paying off the medical bills, having a higher than anticipated tax bill and several large and unanticipated ‘repair’ expenses over the past year, we’re just not where I’d like to be.

So I spent most of yesterday updating my resume on the various contract sites and crafting responses to the inquiries I had. Have you ever tried to tell someone you’re interested in their opportunity, yet have to place a ‘but’ in there, without it having to sound like a ‘but’? I’ve done it before, yet every time I have the need to do so, I find myself really stretching to put a positive ‘spin’ on my availability.

I’ve also scheduled a meeting with my project manager(s) next week to see if I can get a more definitive answer than “we plan on keeping you around”.

I do love contracting, and I especially love this gig I’ve been on, but, the hard cold truth is, it’s my living and I need to be working to keep the bills paid and the fridge full!

So, as always when I get to this point I find myself wondering about the sanity of ‘contract’ work… suddenly all of those folks with ‘regular’ jobs seem to have it so much easier. Then I remind myself that the only difference between them, and me, is that I’m going through this, because I know. I know the contract term, I know when I’ll be out of a job and can make plans to find something else before that day arrives. It doesn’t make it less stressful though. I should be used to it by now, I’ve spent most of my life going from one project to another, either with my own clients, or for those a recruiter set me up with.

I’m not though, and I think, that regardless of the number of times I do it, I’ll still stress over the available opportunities, lament that I don’t have the particular ‘skill set’ that is the one ‘de jour’… and feel like all of the good gigs for my skill set have ‘dried up’.

Have you ever noticed that when you’re not looking, there seem to be hundreds of jobs for what ever it is you do… then, when you are looking, they appear few and far between? I have… every single time I start looking!!

I almost wish I had the resources to take 4-6 months and just concentrate solely on some projects I have in my head, but, that’s not going to be the next six months, that’s for sure! We’re just not in a financial position to let me do that right now.

Not that the process is ‘all bad’… there’s a certain sense of excitement each time I review a new project, an anticipation of digging into something new, learning about a new business, their processes, rules and industry. How what they do is unique from others in a similar field, or is one that’s totally unique regardless of the industry. I know the fun I’ll have digging in, getting up to speed and discovering new and better ways to do what’s been done, finding and fixing bugs that have plagued a system for years, or any of a hundred other things I could be asked to do.

In the end, one thing is sure. I’ll find something to do to pay the bills. If I’m lucky, it will also feed my need to find happiness in what I’m doing. If it doesn’t, the one good thing about a contract is, I know when it will be over!!

Me, I’m off to mow the yard, run the ‘weed-eater’ and other manly ‘more-power’ pursuits!!

I hope you all have a great day!

Technorati Tags: - - -
-IceRocket Tags: - - -

Friday, May 19, 2006

The Strangeness Continues. . .

Work this week has reminded me why I never wanted to move into a ‘Business Analyst’ role.

You see, I think that one of the best ways to analyze a process is to actually experience the process. So for the past several weeks I’ve been signing up for the various applications and roles I’m reviewing.

To say it’s been frustrating, would be understating the situation. Now I realize, not every user who signs up for one of these accounts are attempting to become an ‘Administrator’ for the application, but let me tell you, it’s been an exercise in futility. I’ve talked with, met with, and explained the situation to no less than nine separate individuals, not including the management folks I’ve also talked with.

I spent the better part of the past day and a half focusing solely on straightening out my access permissions for the area I’ve been charged with administering until I can get the process documented. At the end of the day today, I was referred back to the person who explained he couldn’t do what I needed done in the first place.

I’ve now kicked it all up a level to my manager and his manager. Everyone agrees it’s a concern that needs to be addressed, but, as yet, there’s no resolution in sight.

I’ll find the resolution though and get it done. That is after all what I do, get things done. For those of you outside the IS/IT realm, you should know, this is an all too common event.

Dozens of folks arw involved in most projects, the existing users have become ‘used to’ the way things are, or have been told ‘that is how it is done’ and have never pushed for an actual process to resolve their needs as long as they have 'some way' to get their job done.

All of this results in a geometric increase in the calls to the Customer Service Center, and in my case those calls being kicked up to level 2 (me) and landing square in my lap.

So what do I intend to accomplish? It’s simple really. Outline a plan to simplify the sign up process, make all data that’s actually required to grant access to an application a required field on the signup form(s), and once all the required data is in place, allow the ‘system’ to actually grant the user access. Remove the ‘approval process’ from the hands of the folks in CSC or tier 2 support and let the rules engine of the system handle it.

Now all I have to do is document it, submit the plan, and then get it approved. Of course all of that is predicated on me actually signing up successfully, eventually!

On a personal side I mentioned that last week I received two strange phone calls, both from individuals who’d ‘dropped of the radar’ in my life, through their own choice.

My stepson actually made a number of calls all in an attempt to arrange a visit on Mothers Day. In the end I told him he needed to call on Sunday morning to determine first, if Maryan was feeling well enough to have company, and second, to nail down a time as he was unsure as to when he could actually get here. He ended that call with “I’ll call between 8 and 9am on Sunday”.

Well Sunday morning came and went, as did Sunday afternoon, and evening. No phone call….

We went to bed around 11:00pm Sunday night, at some point after that, he evidently showed up and left some flowers and a card on the front porch… I have no idea what goes through his mind, but, if he’s trying to repair a relationship that he abandoned a year and a half ago… it’s a very strange start indeed. Does anyone have a clue what could be going on in this young man's head?

The other call last week was from an old friend, and co-worker. We’d not spoken in some time… His call this week came while I was in meetings and I didn’t get his message asking if I wanted to get together on Tuesday, until late Tuesday night.

I returned his call on Wednesday though, and told him I was sorry I missed the call, but he was free to stop by the house after work if he’d like. He did. I think he got here around 5:15, maybe 5:30… we sat and talked, had a few beers and in general just got “caught up”, until around 9:30 that evening. Fairly late for both of us on a ‘school night’.

It was a good evening, we cleared the air on a number of issues, and, as he was leaving, I was thinking that we'd ended up talking like we used to, almost as though there had never been a gap. Good stuff this.

Then, last night I got a gift, from Liz and her husband Steve. It’s an older pic of the ‘Blue Max” funny car, from before I hooked up with them at Indy, when CAM2 was one of their sponsors and not Amalie… Very sweet stuff… and something I believe I’ll put in the frame with the Indy pic!

So, while I’m glad this week is in the books… and the weather this weekend should let me start in on some of the stone work I want (need) to do…. I find myself wondering about the ‘flow’ of things. How one thing gets better, another seems headed down a slippery slope… yet another seems headed into the fog… and then there’s that pleasant unexpected surprise..

I guess I’ll just keep putting one foot in front of the other and taking everything one day at a time and see what happens!!

I hope you all had a great week… any interesting weekend plans?

Mine include tearing up some brick pavers, adding some drainage and then resetting them, as well as giving the bike a serious wash and wax, and a minor tuneup.

Technorati Tags: - - -
-IceRocket Tags: - - -

Monday, May 15, 2006

A Belated Mother’s Day post. . .

Yes I knew Sunday was Mother’s Day, and yes I called my Mom and we had a grand chat until one of the other siblings was ringing in via ‘Call Waiting’… so, as is usual, our call ended with “Oh, Billy I have another call”… some quick “I love you’s” and a promise to call again soon.

For what it’s worth, I try to call once a week, but I usually actually call about 3 times a month.

Mom’s are pretty special and mine is no exception. She’s as full of commentary and her wry sense of ‘right’ in the world as ever, but, in the past year or so it seems she’s found herself finding out that some of the things she always took for granted, may not always be 100% true.

That gives me hope, as odd as it sounds, that we continue to learn, if we stay open to it, as long as we live.

There are seven of us kids in all, and I’m sure we call, or send cards with varying frequency… I’d guess the younger ones, in the midst of raising their own families are often hard pressed to find time, at a reasonable hour, to make the call. I know we all rally to her aid though, when ever there’s reason to, (like during her heart surgery last December) although, with only a couple of exceptions, in the 50+ years I’ve known the woman she’s been amazingly self reliant.

I wonder though, about the younger folks these days, if they hold their folks in the same regard my siblings and I held (or hold) ours?

I don’t think so. While the way we are was the ‘rule’ (I think) for folks of my generation, it seems to me, the current generation did not pick up that trait. Maybe we didn’t teach it to them? Maybe it’s a cultural thing? That there’s been a shift there somehow?

All of the young folks I know, with rare exception, once they’re out from the nest, rarely look back. They call when it’s convenient, find excuses to not attend family functions, and, when they do attend, are often the first to leave. My personal favorite excuse… “I had an emergency and didn’t have my cell phone, or I would have called” These same kids, are never, and I mean never, without their phone.

I see the hurt that causes to the parents, even when their lips are saying “He/She is just so busy” their eyes tell the true story. The true story is, parents, miss their children.

Maybe I was blessed in growing up in a small town, with a fairly close knit extended family, and that my parents had a lot of contact with their folks, so I just assumed it was the normal thing. Maybe it was just the normal thing in the small town I grew up in… maybe; our family was an exception, rather than the rule? I guess I’ll never really know that answer.

What I do see today though is a distancing of children from their parents that I didn’t see with my hometown friends, or my siblings.

If what I think I’m seeing is true… well, I feel sorry for these kids. Sorry they’re missing out on the great learning experience I had. I’ve said before that once I got into my mid-20’s my relationship with my Mom and Dad got really, really good. We could talk about anything; they gave advice, insight really, and stopped giving ‘orders’… They became more of a mentor in those years… I’ve wondered hundreds of times where my life would have gone without his, and my Mom’s advice.

My parents made a lot of mistakes, most of them with me, and my sister Kathy. We were the eldest boy and girl, they were learning on us. Maybe I understand that because I saw how much better they got with my younger siblings. I know I didn’t understand much prior to age 19, especially about being an adult, let alone a parent, and all the pressures and responsibilities that went with it.

I really didn’t like my parents as I was growing up, they seemed intent on “ruining my life” as I saw it, and, could not understand for the life of me, why they just couldn’t see things my way. I know I enlisted to get away from their oppression, in retrospect had I known what I know now… they had nothing on the drill instructors… no that was oppression!

Somehow, at some point, I got over feeling that way and started seeing all the good they had actually done me.

Today, when some 20 something who’s been ‘on their own’ for several years starts telling me how ‘rough they had it’ growing up, and how their parents ruined their life… I often stop them and ask... “so who’s been making the decisions in your life for say, the past five years?” They invariably answer that “they have”... to which I always respond with… “then if you’re unhappy, right now, you have no one to blame… but yourself.”

So thanks Mom, for passing on your amazing self reliance… for instilling in me a sense that I’m responsible for my life, and my actions… no one else, me. In short, for giving me the building blocks for life. Sure, you made mistakes, but somehow, along the way… “you did real good”.

I love you!

Technorati Tags: - - -
-IceRocket Tags: - - -

Sunday, May 14, 2006

An Update on the DotNetNuke Experiment. . .

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I’d started experimenting with the ASP.Net Framework called DotNetNuke. I’ve been having fun experimenting with the various settings and core modules, and so far, it appears to be living up to all the good press I’ve read.

I think the most amazing thing to me, is that despite its sophistication and advanced design, it’s incredibly easy to administer. How do I know that? Simple really, my wife, while a solid computer ‘user’ is by no means a programmer or system administrator type.

I set up the portal for her pet forum, made some very fundamental administrative settings and set her up to be the Admin of her portal. Yes I added in the various modules I purchased or downloaded, but she’s done all the configuration and content work that makes the site look, and feel, the way it does.

No manual really, she just followed the menus, would ask me a question or two, but all in all, she’s handled everything. I’ve also set up my family page, and have succeeded in getting three of my siblings to drop in and register. Today I added a photo gallery, complete with sub galleries for each member, in about 30 minutes!

I can’t remember if I’ve told you which additional modules I’ve purchased, so here they are:

Active Forums from ActiveModules. This is a very nicely done forum that will be familiar to anyone who’s used a PHP based Forum recently.

I also purchased a one year subscription at Ventrian Systems. This is Scott McCulloch’s site. Scott sells all 9 of his modules, 2 skins and a couple of components for a one time $35/year charge.

Extremely reasonable ‘eh?... and I was able to integrate his private messaging system with the forum module in about 30 minutes. In that time I received no less than 2 emails from Scott, and, he went by the site to check that I had the settings right. That kind of service is pretty rare these days, especially in the computer biz.

It doesn’t hurt that Scott is also on the DNN core development team, so he really knows his way around the framework as well.

I plan on buying a couple of ‘skin packs’ to allow me to improve the look and feel of my professional sites, and a utility to allow me to back up the entire installation so I can move it to a new provider when I’m ready.

I’m also hopeful, that when I finally get started on this ‘idea’ project we can model it after the ‘module’ approach for DNN and utilize the framework as the core of the system. That way, when we do go commercial with the product, we can let the open source community continue to improve the framework, and we can focus on the actual application functionality.

If you’re toying with the idea of building your own website, want something very stable, easy to administer and don’t want to write any code… I suggest you take a look at this product!!

One other thing... it's a year ago today that I started 'counting' visitors... as of this morning there have been a little over 11,000 visits and slightly more that 22,000 page views. I remain surprized, and honored, that so many folks stop in... but the truth is if I only got 10 visits a day, and everyone of them were from you folks who take the time to leave me a comment... I'd be equally surprized, and honored! I'm happy to have the traffic, I'm thankful to those of you who take a moment out of your day to let me know what you're thinking!!

I’m going back to my yard work! I hope you’re all having a great weekend!!

Technorati Tags: - - -
-IceRocket Tags: - - -

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Strange week. . .

I know I’ve been unusually quiet this week. It was partially due to the work load on the job, but also due to some fairly strange activities this week as well.

The experience I posted about last ended up very oddly. I’d emailed the person who’d originally contacted me to let him know I’d been very surprised, and disappointed when I’d talked to the account manager. He actually called me on Monday to let me know it hadn’t been his account manager as she’d ended up going home sick the day of the call.

Interesting because it had been at the exact time we’d scheduled for the call, but, I have to admit I didn’t verify who I was talking to, I simply assumed I knew who it was. In the end, they agreed to present my ‘package’ to the client, so I guess we’ll see what shakes out.

The next thing that happened, was that someone I haven’t talked to in over a year, called me, ostensibly “by mistake” and we ended up talking for 30 minutes or so, and it’s possible he’s finally decided it wasn’t me who was hacking his system at work. I’ve missed talking with this fellow; we were good friends for many years. When he accused me of hacking into his system, I was hurt, and yet flattered, at the same time.

Hurt, that he’d think I was stupid enough to even attempt such a thing. (I can’t imagine a better way to commit professional suicide) Yet flattered that he would think I had the professional chops to slip past the firewalls, gain control of the servers and cause him the problems he was having, all without leaving a trail of ‘breadcrumbs’ behind. (for the record, I don’t have those types of skills).

At any rate, it was good to hear from him, and know that he’s well. I guess we’ll see what happens next.

Then yesterday, my stepson called me.

This might not seem like much of a deal, but, it’s been about a year and a half since I’ve gotten anything except a stray email from him. Long story short, he made me a promise, broke it, and I called him on it. He vanished the next day and has been rarely heard from since.

It seems he and his sister (who hasn’t called since New Years) have decided they want to show up and take their Mom out to lunch on Sunday… Our conversation essentially revolved around the concept that he’d do himself, and his sister, a favor by asking their Mom if she wanted to do that before they just showed up. I know their absence has hurt me, but, I also know it’s been much harder on their Mom.

The last strange thing that’s happened this week is that I was asked to put a new application in place for the Customer Service Center at work. This, less than a week after I was told that FoxPro applications could not be used for internal, or external applications by one of new folks I report to. Not only was I asked to do that, but when I emailed my old project manager that I’d have it ready to go for a Monday install, she announced it to the company… It will be interesting on Monday to see how that all plays out.

The last item on my weirdness-meter this week is a project I’ve been tossing around in my head for a bit now. I ran it by 4 or 5 folks I thought might be interested in working on it with me as I think it has a fairly good chance of being a viable commercial product if we do it right.

One guy, “across the pond” is on board, the others, even the two fellows locally I’ve mentioned it to (and was sure would want in), have basically said “nice idea”, but don’t seem at all interested in working on it. Regardless, I know I’ll press forward, but I felt it would be a much better product if I could have gotten a team of 4 or more to collectively lay it out, break it up, and then dig in and build it.

I know the approach is unique, the need is there and it’s a very “do-able” project, even for a small team… maybe I just haven’t found the right team players yet.

On the other hand… we got a bunch of needed rain this week… and we’re supposed to get a bit more overnight tonight, with the sky’s clearing just in time to mow the lawn on Saturday!!

So what kind of week have you had??

Technorati Tags: - - -
-IceRocket Tags: - - -

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

I Must Be Crazy. . .

At least that’s what a ‘headhunter’ all but told me today.

Those of you who’ve ever done any contracting know, the process of getting ‘in front of’ the client is generally a series of calls, each one exacting just a little more information, and verifying that what’s on your resume, is what you’re still claiming.

I had the third in a series of calls from the same agency today. Yesterday I talked with someone who gathered a little “is this guy for real” information and requested some references.

That initial recap all went well, then there was the talk about the scope of the project, who the actual client was, and my availability.

In that conversation, I explained I’m currently on a contract until at least June 1st, and most likely until the 1st of July. In that same conversation, he indicated that my time frame shouldn’t be a problem. We also talked money, I explained what I felt the project was worth in terms of an hourly rate, and again he said that shouldn’t be a problem.

So, today there’s the call from the “Account Manager”, once again we talk about the project, my qualifications, my willingness to pursue the opportunity and so on. I should have known when she tried to ‘low ball’ me with both a lower hourly rate, and then a “daily rate” that things weren’t quite right… but then she asks “So when could you start?”

I again explain that I’m currently on a contract that’s likely to run until July 1st.

Her response was “Why can’t you just give a two week notice?”

I attempted to explain to her that I’m of the belief, that in this business (well in life actually) all you really have is your word. I went on to say that when I’d agreed to work through June, I’d made a promise, and I was not going to break that promise. I asked how her client would react if I agreed to a contract period with them, and then in the middle of the project just up and walked because I’d gotten a ‘better offer’?

Her response was “The client won’t wait”.

To which I said: “Then we’re done here, there’s not much left to discuss.” Once again she expresses some incredulity at the fact that I wouldn’t just “jump” at the opportunity (it did pay very well).

I ended the conversation by extending my sincere hope that she finds another person, with the skill set she needs, who’s just sitting around waiting for something to do.

So, I’m driving home tonight and thinking… I must be freakin’ crazy.

I get this gig, dropped in my lap, that pays nearly double what I’m getting now, and despite the unrest on the job, I’m standing on my principles… I don’t know what’s wrong with me.

This was a shot at a large gig, at a major US bank (one of the top 3), converting some old FoxPro 2.6 applications to Visual FoxPro 9, and possibly some VFP web development and I shoot myself in the foot, over a few weeks on an existing contract. What is it, in me, which caused me to do that? I honestly don’t know.

I’ve been thinking about it for several more hours tonight and even knowing what I now know… I’d have done, and said, the same things.

I still speak with the folks that put me into the Sabre/USAir gig back in ’98, in fact one of the guys has moved at least twice and still either calls or drops me an email to let me know where he is. I doubt he’d be doing that, if I’d walked off that gig when I had an opportunity come up.

I know, there’s a lot of ways to play the game. For me though, while I do consider myself a “coder of fortune”, I also think you have to have your own, internal, guidance system. Mine tells me, that when I give my word, I have to do everything within my power to honor that commitment. It’s caused me more than a little angst over the years, and I’ve passed on several opportunities like (well maybe not quite as good, but similar to) this one over the years.

In the final analysis though, we all have to live with ourselves. At least I do. At times like this, I sometimes do feel like there’s something wrong with me, that I should just jump on the “me” bandwagon and follow the money… after a while though, like now, I realize once again, that it’s not the money that’s important. It’s how I feel at the end of the day.

Most days, and especially on this gig, at the end of the day, I feel good. About the work that I’ve done and the difference that work is making. I can’t say the money wouldn’t have been nice, because it would have been; it just wasn’t enough to make me go against one of my core beliefs.

So… I might be crazy, but I like the lunatic I am!!

Technorati Tags: - - -
-IceRocket Tags: - - -

Monday, May 01, 2006

A Blatant Plug. . .

For my wife’s new place. It’s one of the site’s we built using the DotNetNuke framework I mentioned a week ago. I think the most amazing thing to me, is that with the exception of some ‘techie’ type configuration settings, she was able to put the whole site together and organize things herself.

If you’re a pet lover, and enjoy talking with like minded folks, you’ll probably enjoy her place. You’ll have to register to gain entry to the forums, but, it’s free and the sign up information is stored in a remote database on a secure server.

The big project at work last week went extremely well!!

There were some tense moments, some hardware issues with the mid-tier and ‘big iron’ guys, and we sort of over taxed the MTS queues at times, but other than that, all 2.1 Million change messages were processed and delivered without any major incident.

All in all, one of the best large scale projects I’ve ever been on. I’d like to claim responsibility for how well it all went, but the plain truth is, it was a team effort, and everyone showed up, game ready and did what they needed to do.

The one young woman, who constructed the majority of the plan, deserves a big bonus in my mind. She covered ever single possible (foreseeable) event, planned for it, wrote it up and had an action plan for it. Amazingly, every one she saw, that actually happened, was resolved exactly according to plan. It was a pleasure to be a part of!

So today, amidst the worry over the email that would inform me they were terminating my contract, there was a steady stream of folks sticking their head in my cube congratulating as part of the weekend’s success. A sort of strange roller-coaster ride emotionally.

Eventually, shortly after noon, my manager told me my position was safe, for now. That my contributions had not gone un-noticed and the company intended to ‘make a place for my unique skill set’.

I’m still worried, any major reorganization always has fallout, I know I’m appreciated but business, as they say, is business.

For those of you who’ve had interest in the POL. I finally have it bundled into a single DLL, and I’m looking for one or two FoxPro testers, as well as one or two Visual Studio testers. I’ve built a small (very small) testing project in VB.Net and its working fine in my lab here.

I’d like a FoxPro programmer who does not use .Net, and a DotNet programmer who does not use FoxPro, to test this so I can be sure I’m free of dependencies. If you’re interested, drop me an email, when we’re finished with the beta I’ll make sure you get a copy of the final version for helping out!

Well, that’s about it for today. It was a long weekend, and I need some rest!!

Technorati Tags: - - -
-IceRocket Tags: - - -