IT Pilgrimage

A Journey From IT to Freedom

Posts Tagged ‘Life in IT’

Should I Stay or Should I Go

Posted by IT Pilgrim on December 10, 2008

Decisions … decisions ….When is it all too much? When does sticking it out become nothing more than wasting your life away?

As a serial job hopper, I generally go somewhere, work my hardest until I get bored an leave. Before I leave, I generally manage to shake things up, make a sizable dent in workloads and force the other workers to match my own crazy techno music pace, or die trying. There have been casualties along the way I am sad to say, but I am amused to say that a lot of places are required to use two or sometimes three people fill my shoes. I know how big my shoes can be to fill (and maybe my hat as well) but I always have left my mark.

Well, not here. When I got re-assigned away from Big Black Box Computer Company, well, it all went downhill in a massive mudslide.

So when is it all too much. This year I went from the 25% travel I signed up for, to 100% travel in one fell swoop. So my thought is, when is “sticking it out” actually worthwhile. I know the standard reasons, to establish stability, to make significant contributions, to work your way up the food chain. I don’t see that as a possibility here, though I have to concede that I may just be tired and feeling whiny.  At this point, I don’t even meet my own criteria for staying, as follows:

Am I happy?

Do I feel challenged?

Am I at least friendly with my co-workers?

Do I have a good boss who will help me grow?

Do I have room to grow within my role and the company?

Do I have interesting and creative work?

How easy/hard is it to get up to go to work versus to get up to go to the gym or anyplace else?

Am I living each day in a worthwhile pursuit?

Can I see the results of my work?

Am I making enough money to pay for necessities?

So, you take this list, and weigh they number of questions you answered yes to and the number of questions you answered no to. Add those up. That is the most logical way I know. However, that being said, I also know that I am not really a logical person, and those who say it is just that I am a woman, can stow it. You have to understand who you are, so if logic is enough for you, great, if not, you then have to weigh out how important each one is to you. I usually give them a percentage and add them all up on an excel spreadsheet.  I may not be logic driven, but i’m still a nerd at heart.

If you get some extra time, try it out. Does your current job measure up?

Photos by billaday and  by wsdot via Flickr Creative Commons.  

Posted in Career, Life in IT | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

The Devil’s in the Details (Stranded in Backup Hell)

Posted by IT Pilgrim on October 16, 2008

They say the Devil’s in the details, and I say, ain’t that the truth. Most people are really bad at details, but what always surprises me the most is how in-curious people can be.  How do you work next to someone for day, months, year, and never find out what they do on a day to day basis? As I coast into yet another client site, contracted out to save yet another company, I have to wonder, doesn’t anyone ever write anything down?

I will admit, there is a possibility that the person or people who left, as they always do, took everything with them, and destroyed all evidence that work was ever accomplished. It is also possible that no work was ever accomplished. In general, however, I find that not to be the case, I find that no one ever documents anything, and that workers show such a puzzling lac of curiosity that some of them do not even know the name of the person who has sat next to them, sometimes for years. How sad and disconnected is that?

So, if you do nothing else today, do yourself and future co-workers a REALLY big favor, and write down how you did at least one thing today.

And just for the record. I HATE Arcserve!

Photo by manu contreras via Flickr

Posted in Life in IT | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Goodbye Big Black Box

Posted by IT Pilgrim on August 27, 2008

This is my official goodbye to the Big Black Box Computer Company, where I was contracted to until October. However, it all ended last Tuesday, abruptly. They gave me some crap about wanting someone with different skills, but I am not that stupid, I know the real reason. The real reason is one the employees, the Team Lead no less was repeatedly trying to physically intimidate me. At over 6 inches taller than me, and a big guy, he tried to use his size to push me around. I told him Exactly what I thought about such behavior, and contractor or no, under no circumstances was I going to tolerate it. So here’s my five quick tips on assertiveness, something I use all the time.
From Wikipedia:

Assertive people have the following characteristics:

* They feel free to express their feelings, thoughts, and desires.
* They know their rights.
* They have control over their anger. It does not mean that they repress this feeling. It means that they control it for a moment and then talk about it later in a logical way.
* They have a good understanding of feelings of the person with whom they are communicating.

For Assertiveness in the Office:

  • Use “I” sentences. Using “we” or “us” makes a much softer point, save it for when you are actually trying to be nicey-nice.
  • Stand-up straight and tall, no slouching or rounded shoulders. That conveys vulnerability.
  • Be crystal clear in what you say and what you want. Always try to stay on message and leave no wiggle room.
  • Say No occasionally. Rather than be the world’s dumping ground, say no to some requests, but try to pick something fairly reasonable if possible. Remember, clarity.
  • Use your voice. Speak up, especially you ladies and you very soft spoken gentlemen. There is a time to be quiet, but its not all the time. Make youself heard. Use those lower tones to convey seriousness.

I could probably go on and on for hours about it, and about how important it is to be assertive. Sometimes, its better to err on the side of aggression than to err on the side of doormat. The funny thing is, I did not learn assertiveness in school, or even in a seminar. Assertiveness is a skill you learn when trying to command a thousand pound horse at 40 feet away. So next time you are not sure, just think, would your attitude stop that horse before it ran you over?

Last, but not least. To Big Black Box Computer Company. I will miss your empty parking lot, empty, because no one ever shows up for work. I will miss your white male dominated buildings where the desks are great, if you are 6 feet tall. OK, I won’t miss you persay, but I will miss your great toys that almost no other company can ever afford, and the 3rd largest SAN in the United States.

Photos by by jepoirrier via Flickr and by -= ierkof =- via Flickr

Posted in Life in IT, Office Skills | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

The Day The Data Died

Posted by IT Pilgrim on August 14, 2008

It was a hot and humid day outside, the sun was shining a blistering 103 degrees Fahrenheit. There was not a cloud in the bright blue sky. It had every appearance of shaping itself into a beautiful day. Inside, it was cool and dry, there was a slight breeze amid the hum of thousands of small fans and a super-powered air conditioner. The hum had a nice lulling effect on all who entered, the soft whir acting like a white noise filter, blocking out all sounds from outside. Suddenly, there was a shriek of pure horror as magnetic tape came spewing out of the strange mechanical device know as a tape library. Silence filled the datacenter as servers all over the room held their collective breath. What could cause such terror?

Momentarily overcome, the poor half-frozen technician had to take a breath before she could look again to confirm the happenings. Surely it had to have been a trick of the light, or the glasses that kept fogging up in the 60 degree air. Alas, to her disappointment, the little piece of hanging magnetic tape, the very lifeblood of cartridges everywhere, was still hanging out of the small slot. She paused, in a moment of silence to mourn the poor departed 30+ days of data and hit the power switch. No time for mourning she thought, you have to think of the surviving data.

The following photo was taken at the scene. Names and faces were blurred to protect the innocent. Warning, the following image could be disturbing to some audiences. Tape Library Technicians Beware!

Posted in Life in IT, Technology | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

The Bane of every Insomniac’s Existence: Too Much Information

Posted by IT Pilgrim on August 5, 2008

As any good insomniac knows, and there are a lot of us in IT, too much information is the absolute bane of your existence. This is seriously the tragic flaw that will kill your questing hero in the long run, the inability to sleep. Over the years, I have read lots of strategies for dealing with insomnia, and for the most usual kind, where your thoughts keep you awake, there is only one good solution. Mind Control. No, really, seriously, the answer is in mind control.At some point in life, most people will realize that your thoughts are seriously influenced by what you exposed to. That means, what you read, watch on tv, listen to on the radio, or even hear when the people in the next cubicle row talk too loud (everyone talks too loud in cubicle land). Either way, what you put in has a bearing on what comes out. So this is where too much information comes in, and I am not talking about the kind where someone tells you a story and there were some details they seriously could have left out.

No, I am talking about too much stuff in general. I have found that quite a few insomniacs like myself, have similar behavior patterns, in that we sometimes mourn that there is not enough hours in the day to stuff all the information we want into our brains. We read 3 or more books at once, read 40 or 50 blogs, while listening to the radio and typing up e-mails and keeping an eye on that troublesome server. This is crazy my friends, we have multi-tasked ourselves into a brain stir fry. I do, however, have some ideas why we do it.

  • Distraction: We have filled our brain with so much stuff that we cant even sort or catalog it anymore, its just floating around and pops up at weird moments. We have so much going on in our heads at any given times that we go to these extremes to drown out the static.
  • Lack of Focus: I know, this is self-perpetuating. Lack of focus and multi-tasking only leads to more lack of focus. We do 4,5 or more things at once because we’re too frazzled to decide on one thing to concentrate on.
  • Adrenaline: We are adrenaline junkies. You practically live off the adrenaline you get when you have far too many things to do, far too few resources and no time to do them in. Mix that with a little lack of training and you get an adrenaline train to nowhere. Caution, Mountain Dew application will be needed when this runs out unexpectedly.
  • Inability to say no: Sometimes, some of us just can’t say no. Need another project I have no time to do? Sure, just drop it on my desk.

OK, so now that we’ve established a few reasons for why we try to do everything at once, and often manage to do nothing as a result, what does this have to do with insomnia? Well, I’ll try to get to the point here…too much information messes with thought control. You see, the absolute secret to kicking insomnia, baring some medical reason, is thought control. You have to learn to control what thoughts are going on in your mind, and keep yourself from becoming engaged in your own thoughts.

For example, think of one thing, something boring, but something you know enough about to think about for a while, and do it, every single night. Whatever it is, it should not be complex or logical, creative is better, logical will keep your brain going forever. The big thing is, whenever your mind drifts, you have to force it back to that one thing, no matter how many times it takes. So here’s where too much information comes in, the more you read and stuff into your brain, the harder it is to force control of it. Its kind of like a blender, the more you stuff in it, the harder the blender has to work to chop it all up.

So for just a week, try reducing your daily information overload. Don’t listen to the news, you don’t really want to know anyway. Stick to your older cd’s that you already have memorized, and clear your desk. Just sweep everything into a drawer, if its really important, someone will complain about it later. Don’t listen to those neighbors, just do something to reduce your information overload. Then, when its bedtime, just think about your Wow character, but fight off last week’s raid failures, or something else inane and don’t stop until you fall asleep. Try it, and let me know how it goes.

    Photos via Flickr by: e³°°° and *Tom*

Posted in Life in IT | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »