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: August 2006
Three weeks to go. I can hear the clock ticking now. short-timer disease kicks in (like, playing Civ IV parts of the weekend….).
We’re starting to wind down the training; hopefully have it done by wednesday. I’ve got a few more coding pieces to do as well, but only one of them of any complexity. It’s all over but the, well, the end.
On the work front, we had one of those “uhoh” moments. In one of the training sessions, I was explaining the MySQl replication setup and how it’s maintained and monitored, and of course, one of the slaves had crapped out replication with an error. So I did an on-the-fly debug/diagnose/correct/verify session, and in about 15 minutes, we’d found the table that was out of sync, figured out how it got there, fixed it, got the replication fixed, and taken care of the underlying problem (when we did the first failover to a new master a whiel back, one subsystem didn’t get reconfigured; it updated the OLD master. it only updated a single table, though, so it wasn’t until that subsystem got updated properly when we failed over to the new Tiger database that the replication got hit with a table sync problem. oops).
and when I was done, doing that — from memory — one of the follks I work with asked the question “so, when you’re gone, who does that?” — and I had to say, honestly “I don’t know….”.
That made me sit back and realize that I’ve been lecturing for over 40 hours now; by the time I’m done this week it’ll be over 50. At any time, there are 4-8 people in the room listening to me lecture, plus it’s being videotaped and audio recorded (“chuqui unplugged”) for offline use. And part of me is looking at just how many resources are going into taking up the load caused by me leaving the project, and sometimes I wonder “wouldn’t it have been a hell of a lot easier and cheaper to just have listened to me and done something about my complaints when I was still willing to stick around?”
But that’s also a false statement — I’d decided to leave the project sooner or later. I’d originally thought november or december, they were asking for March. All they really did was convince me to move up the date a few months. In retrospect, I’m happy it worked out this way. And I think I’ll leave it at that for now.
but I’ll defer talking about this in detail until later. Now’s not the time.
Checked the scale this morning, first time in a week. I’m down 4 pounds from having given notice. Six more pounds and I’ll be back at where I was before this final round of stress began.
I must say I’m getting used to the lack of stress; this weekend when I wasn’t playing Civ, I actually got around to a couple of projects in the house taht have been sitting for months because I’ve been such a zombie on the weekends. With even a bit of luck, I’ll have the living room and dining room remodels ready for painting by christmas, after having not touched them since about February.
We’ve pretty much finalized the trip. North to port angeles, across the coho and on to salt spring island. then we’ll work back south hitting victoria and seattle, a drive-by of Powells on the way to the coast, then it looks like Astoria, cannon beach, Newport and Gold Beach, then maybe a day in Fort Bragg. we’ll get home a day or two before opening night for the Sharks — yes, it’s hockey season. and I have a blog to get running… (ahh! someone hide the Civ IV DVD. for a bit….)
The job front continues to bubble. nothing really to comment on — a couple of situations look really promising, and if the both turn into offers, it’d be a tough choice. I continue submitting resumes and talking to folks, and I’ll be doing some informal talks this week with people, and perhaps a phone interview on another position.
My mom is still firmly convinced someone at Apple is going to come to their senses and convince me to not leave, or something like that. Steve seems to be busy with other things, though. Besides, I still feel it’s time to rejoin the real world, and see how the universe does things.
So it’s onward, into the future, whatever that turns out to be. Amazing thing is, it turns out that leaving Apple after almost 18 years and moving on without a new job in hand is — well — a lot less stressful than my current job was. So I wish the person, whoever it is, who has to fix that replication problem when I’m not there all the luck in the world… I’m just glad the answer is no longer “me”. ohwell.
So it’s down to the last four weeks. On the Apple side of the world, we keep trying to turn over responsibilities and do training and making sure stuff is cleaned up and a new coat of paint the like.
The current plan is to spend the week lecturing more, and trying to get some admin scripts written, and whatever else we have time for; Friday will be my last day actively touching the system (in theory) or handling questions or requests. Then next week is an “on call” vacation, where I drop out of sight and we see what breaks (my hope: to get the path to the hot tub landscaped); then I come back one more week to manage that special project the wanted me around for and to go over what the week MIA brought up, and work to get it resolved.
And then I’m gone. And whatever that means. Currently, Laurie and I are planning a “get away from here” trip, and we’re both seriously looking forward to it. One where I don’t check email first thing in the morning and last thing at night, and the cell phone stays in the hotel room. I admit I’m looking forward to some serious quiet.
While I don’t regret the decision to extend out — it was good for the project and good for my finances — I’m starting to feel some serous short-timer disease. I can see the end, I wish it’d hurry. We keep plugging away, closing action items or handing them off. My only real regret is that it prevented me from getting to Vancouver for that Haida art display before it closed; but it was worth it. I think.
Looking for what’s next continues; I spent five hours Friday interviewing with one group; I came away feeling good both about the situation and about how I presented myself; we’ll see how they think. That makes two companies where there seem to be solid possibilities that have gone beyond “let’s talk and see if this makes sense” — both really good technical situations for me, both very different environments that’ll make for an interesting challenge in deciding should it come to that (one company is large, one is really a startup; one is joining a team, the other being the team, but with a chance of building one over time). A couple of other situations. A couple of other situations are at the “talk at lunch/talk on the phone” stage, and we’ll see how it develops. One is — really intriguing but complicated.
The one thing I’ve committed to myself is to not hurry into a new situations; I’m not going to remotely worry about “finding a job” until January or later; on the other hand, if I think the situation is right (job, package, commute, stress levels, people) I’d love to settle this sooner than later.
If there’s one thing extending at Apple has hurt, it’s building a portfolio (and working on sharpening skills); It hasn’t hurt (much), but I think it’d be very useful to have non-trivial sample code pieces for people to evaluate, and — look at www.plaidworks.com — and tell me that’s a worthy site to show folks as an example of web programming and web design (hint: not remotely). Artists and designers and photographers have done portfolios for years; I think programmers, especially where there are user-facing aspects to the code, should have one, too. This is one way being involved with open source projects can serve multiple masters, too — return to the community AND create samples for people to look at.
Right now, I think it’s 60-40 that the search will be settled before the trip. that puts me much further along the path than I expected to be, even without the extension at Apple. Given what I’ve seen others go through in job searches, I’ll count my blessings and be happy.
(update: imagine my amusement when is at down and looked at a calendar and realized it’s not three weeks, it’s four. TWO weeks to Labor Day, the labor day week off, then the week back for the special project and final cleanup… Well, having two weeks to clean up my todo list actually makes me a lot more comfortable, but on the other hand…. sigh… and have I mentioned that monday morning’s suck, especially when you wake up early with pounding sinuses?)
Here’s one piece of advice for people going to a job interview: show up early. Not just the “15 minutes early so I’m not late if I hit traffic” early, but give yourself extra time beyond that.
then, depending on how attack trained the receptionist is, sit in the lobby (or just outside the lobby) and watch. You can figure out a lot about a company that way really fast. (I’ve found “I’m here for xxxx, but I’m way early and I don’t want to disturb him yet, so do you mind if I sit here and work for a bit?” works most of the time…)
Watch the people coming and going. You’ll quickly get a feel for dress code, for how diverse (or non-diverse) the place is. The lobby is most of the time a microcosm of the building — if people are wandering around and looking happy, and the lobby is clean and in good shape and well lit, chances are this is a happy building. If you’re in a cave, and people are scurrying back and forth in a hurry and not stopping to talk to anyone, or if people look unhappy or stressed; that’s a bit hint.
If the building has a receptionist (or guard), do people say hi? do they stop and talk? or is that person part of the furniture?
You can, giving yourself 15 minutes or so, get a good handle on what life is like inside the building; not how they want it framed, but how it really is. I find it a huge help in figuring out whether this is a place I want to be — or not.
Also, either before or after, don’t be afraid to tool around the parking lot looking for just the right spot (unless they have you stuck in a visitor only lot); this one is less obvious, but one of the things I look for are too many cars needing a good wash and wax — is it because the company keeps folks so busy they can’t? And scout the neighborhoood; is your car going to be safe during the day? Will you be safe leaving at 2AM? Are their support services nearby that you want, whether it’s the Starbucks or a cleaners or whatever? If the area doesn’t have a strip mall or three, why not? Is that saying something about the area?
Finally, know what your commute time is; not what Google Maps is; not what it takes to get there at 2PM on a thursday. try a real commute at 8AM on a tuesday, so you can rationally judge what it’ll REALLY take to get there. And don’t assume the time home is the same as the time there….
The more information you have on a potential job, the smarter decision you can make on whether to take it.
Sorry for the relative quiet. The good news is, I survived the product launch of the Mac Pro that happened at WWDC. The bad news is, it took a bunch of really long days because we were crunching to be ready right down to the hairy nubs. It’s that perfect spot, where you can’t quite decide if you love the adrenalin more than you hate the stress. (hint: I’ve finally voted on hating the stress).
I was pretty much a zombie by thursday, but I took most of the weekend off and life looks a lot better. Even better, my new mini arrived, so I spent part of the weekend rewiring the office to replace the G5 tower with the new box (Intel, of course).
(what, you think I’d suddenly run off and start buying Dell?)
The Job search continues. Four more weeks at Mama Apple (although I hope to ake one of them as vacation); Laurie and I are now planning on heading out of town once that’s over for a couple of weeks or so; it’ll be nice to not have to heavily structure a trip around “be back by” dates, or even whether here’s wi-fi in the hotel. We’re going to do something we’ve wanted to do for a while, which is head off onto the islands (probably salt spring) for a few days to explore. the current plan is to spend time in Victoria and Seattle, and skip Vancouver (sigh. by extending my time to mid-september, I’m going to miss out on Raven Travelling; I did get the book, however, and it’s quite good — if you’re going to be in vancouver, see the exhibition!), and head home via the coast spending some time in cannon beach; I might put a night in in Astoria, since it’s a town I want to explore a bit. we’ll see.
Depending on how work (or non-work) goes, I’m going to try to get a week in at Yellowstone before it snows to get some serious photography in. and I’d love to get back to yosemite for the fall colors. we’ll see.
A couple of company’s I’ve talked to have really intrigued me; my intent wasn’t to take something unless it seemed perfect until January, but I’m finding I”m tempted by a couple of options that are in the mix.
this search has had me thinking — I took my first job at age 12, delivering newspapers. Since that time, the longest I’ve been unemployed is six weeks. Even in high school, I did something; many times, I had a couple of gigs, plus school, plus athletics, plus other school stuff (school newspaper, speech, theater, whatever). Great training for my current life…
Best line in any of the interviews in the last week: “you’ve been at Apple for 18 years? That’s like 4 lifetimes in silicon valley time”.
And I don’t regret any of it — but some days, I sure feel like I’m that old..
oh, boy, 1AM. off to sleep… hopefully, this week is a week to catch up on blogging, since I sure didn’t last week… Lots to talk about, and maybe even stuff worth the electrons to publish with…