Chuq Von Rospach is a Silicon Valley veteran doing Technical Community Management and amateur photographer with a strong interest in birds, wildlife and landscapes. My goal is to explore the Western states and working to tell you the stories of the special places I've found. You can find out more on the About Page.
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Monthly Archives: September 2005
Funny, but that sounds a lot like what you might expect to hear from the head coach of an NFL team justifying the release of a popular veteran player. Lou was over a barrel and he knew it. Guess Caps GM George McPhee was simply making the best offer. That Lamoriello waited this long to deal Friesen was probably because he wanted to hold out for the best deal possible.
And that pretty much sums up Jeff Friesen. Drafted 11th overall to some controversy over placing. Friesen became a fan favorite in San Jose for his work ethic and intensity, and his almost too-honest public comments about himself; nobody was a bigger critic of Friesen than he was.
Unfortunately? I think he was drafted too high — his career in the NHL is fine by any standard, except for someone drafted in the top third of the first round. So in San Jose, there was a feeling he never quite lived up to his potential (I think he did; I think he never lived up to his draft position). With his salary to some degree driven by being a high first rounder, he’s one of those players that (a) ultimately seem to be available, (b) end up being traded to a team that sees his upside, and (c) once he gets to his new team, they found out that Jeff Friesen is — Jeff Friesen. Which is pretty good, but Friesen makes people believe he’s capable of more; after all, there aren’t many people in the league that outwork him.
And so Friesen seems to be one of those players that moves around — good enough that people want to trade for him, not good enough that they end up feeling the need to keep him. His value as a trade asset is higher than his value on the roster; especially now, where some teams have more salary flexibility than others.
That may well turn into how Friesen is remembered around the league. A good player by any definition — but left iwth a general feeling that he should have been even better.
One can only wonder what his career might have been if he’d been drafted in the bottom third of the first round (a more appropriate place for him, IMHO) — and the changed expectations that would have brought. (for another example of this problem, take a look at Radek Bonk).
Yesterday was the first day since I got back from vacation that I took a full day off — basically told work to stick it and signed off. Laurie and I took advantage of it and we went for a little drive. A drive down highway 1 through Big Sur to San Simeon, and then back home via 101.
A nice, but rather gray day (but not like the weather san jose had — we were surprised by the rain and lightning on our return), so we didn’t do any photography, but the drive was gorgeous, and technical enough to keep Laurie (and the BMW) happy. the Highway 1 trip has been on the docket for years — I’m a firm believer that everyone who lives in california needs to do it once, so they don’t feel the need to do it twice…. It’s pretty, it’s technical, but once you get past that, it’s mostly driving. Not that I’m complaining. Now’s a good time, too, because of the relative lack of RV’s that can make the road a living (and 20MPH) hell.
It’s been a long, occasionally nasty run. We had a short-notice need to scale capacity (again) — the project is just gotten amazingly popular, so we keep having to make it handle more things and more people. So far, we’ve avoided the choke-on-success problem, which is a much more fun problem to have than, say, the one Steve Ballmer has right now.
But it creates challenges — and not ones you can necessarily schedule.
For the last year, my project’s been basically four people: myself, my programmer, Michelle, who’s acted as program and project manager (and first line help desk, and QA, and doc writer, and trainer, and… cat herder and chuqui-tamer and…. pretty much everything else), and Deborah, who’s been our admin handling email and making sure stuff that needs done gets done.
Deborah got pregnant (for which we are all thrilled) — but she’s now headed out to maternity leave. Her backfill starts soon, but isn’t here yet.
Michelle moved back to be with her family a few months back, and has been running things remotely for us since. We knew it was only a matter of time before she found something local she wanted to do, and I’m thrilled to note she’s moved on and started a great job (for her) at Razorfish. Unfortunately, that leaves a bit of a hole in the organization to fill. We’ve brought in Colleen, who worked with us in the early days of the project, to help out (and even better, she doesn’t need to be trained in chuqui-herding, she’s a natural), but still, I’m taking on some stuff MIchelle did, as is the entire team.
This, of course, all happened while we had a peak volume period — in about a week, we needed to manage a transaction volume that was about 1.2X what our record volume for a month had been. The sound you hear in the background is Scotty yelling “cap’n! the warp drives can’t handle it!”. But somehow, we did. And there was much rejoicing, except among the Klingons.
And to add to the fun, we’re expanding. My job is being split into more or less three pieces — and so we’ve brought on Dean (the new liason to the data center for managing hardware, installs, upgrades, etc, and acting as a toolsmith for the team in build and test automation, and other ‘stuff’), and Alan (my new development lead, who’s going to take over the development….). Which leaves me, um, the easy stuff. Figuring out how to continue to scale the beast (we expect to grow at least another 2.5x next year, front-loaded — and our growth assumptions have always been woefully conservative), and dealing with issues like Disaster Recovery, Fault Tolerance, High Availability, Redundancy, Global Access, and acting as both lead architect (I get to do the 30,000 foot version, Alan to worry about the details) and deal with the business owners and our various client groups. So we’ve been bringing everyone up to speed, or trying to. Oh, while I’ve had a writer living in my cube with me the last few weeks bringing the project docs up to speed (which, in reality, means writing them from scratch, and asking lots of questions, which is why he’s living in my cube with me…).
All while managing the day to day operations (and glitches). And, did I mention I was trying to get in a database upgrade? That went in over the weekend — we moved from a single Xserve and MySQL 4.0 to two boxes in a replicated environment using MySQL 4.1. That seems like a simple upgrade (and in theory, it is), but our data set is now around 100 gigs of data — and simply coordinating the logistics and moving that much data around turned Saturday into a 14 hour day. The good news, though, is that it was a complete success (and ended 4 hours before year end freeze in the data center stops everything in its tracks for two weeks…). It ended a multi-week string of days like that, with weekends running 8-10 hours, weekdays more like 14, iwth a few stretching closer to 18.
Ya know? I’m not 20 any more. I admit — I hit the wall (and crawled over, and faceplanted on the other side), and somehow kept going (mostly). Ultimately, I found myself so chronically tired that I started getting insomnia, started binge-eating carbs (up four pounds, after 18 months of maintaining weight despite everything). I’ve pushed myself hard, but never — this hard. And it shows, and I feel it. On the other hand, tonight’s the first night I haven’t felt like a zombie for a while, and up to complex tasks like, oh, paying bills and doing more than sitting and staring at stuff. I’ve almost reset the sleep cycle, and that’s really the key thing to getting things back to normal.
Was it worth it? Hell, I don’t know. Right now, I don’t think so — but I also know if we hit another crunch time, I’ll dig in and fight to get it done. But the hope is (and I expect it’s correct this year) that the added folks will make that less necessary, both short-term (once everyone’s up to speed), and down the road. My stated goal is, well, to get my weekends back, without anyone else having to sacrifice theirs. We’ll see.
Once Alan and I get the development moving again, we’ll be adding 2-3 contract programmers, plus we’re working to not only replace MIchelle, but add in a second project admin. And probably a QA person (and test developer, since we need to automate our testing a lot more). And, well, we’ll see. (and I’ve got 30 more Xserves in the budget for next year — so far).
But I never want to be that tired again, ever. For now. I guess.
The stadium was partially sunlit and filling up and people were
drinking beer and happy and George was singing “I”m just 23, I don’t mind
dyin’”, and George is himself a baseball aficionado and one-time semipro player,
and I was thinking of the wonderful sun- and dust-drenched opening
“Church of Baseball” scene from
Bull Durham, and the last
big chords faded just as we got to our seats, and well anyhow, Carl owes
George an apology.
Tim Bray goes to a minor league game, and wonderfully captures why minor league baseball is so damn much fun. I’ve always wanted to get to Nat Bailey stadium, never have.
He makes one minor mistake — the Northwest League is short season Rookie, not A-ball. A-ball is the next level up (California league and Midwest league, high-A and low-A respectively. No, it doesn’t make any more sense than USDA beef ratings, sometimes you just have to let art flow over you). Below SS-R is full-season Rookie, in the Pioneer League, and below that are the camp leagues in Arizona and Florida.
SS-R teams are primarily staffed by kids drafted out of college, so they’re older, but just learning how to play the pro game. They tend to be good prospects but rough. It also needs to be remembered that of the 20-some players on a team at that level, 2-3 will see the major leagues, and the rest are, basically being paid to play catch with the real prospects (and may, or may not, be given a chance to prove they’re also prospects — but if you aren’t annointed, you have to force them to pay attention).
I love the Northwest league — it’s in many ways my ideal for the essence of baseball — it’s very much community baseball, small, intimate, the players are skilled (not necessarily true over in the Pioneer league, which is the “if we can fix this flaw, we might have something” league), and the players haven’t grown the thick skin or the attitude that happens when they hit the majors (to some degree, out of necessity). My favorite parks up there are Everett and Eugene, although I always loved the funkiness of the no-longer-in-the-league Medford (the strangest park was the no-longer-in-the-league Bend, which was little more than an American Legion field with delusions of grandeur, and who’s outfield faced the back of a K-mart).
In my years wandering the minors, I’ve made it to about 22 parks so far (Laurie’s a few parks ahead of me…) — from Tucson to Edmonton.
It’s a little late now, since the San Jose Giants are in the playoffs (game 2 today at 5, san jose muni), but maybe next year, we should schedule a night at the park for local geeks and bloggers — and Tim, if you’re ever down in San Jose, tickets are on me…