Dog Days of Summer

I work in tech, not high tech, just tech. A small software company to be exact. The smallness of the company allows me to do an amazing thing: I have every Friday off this summer so I can hang out with my kids.

It could have been great.

Instead, I decided to chart a new course in my life. One that requires studying for a test in July and taking a course over at the community college. One that requires finger prints and applications to multiple agencies. A process that won’t come to a close until May 2010 – when they announce the cohorts for that year.

Last night Peter told me that no matter what I cannot quit. He said it’s the same thing he tells the kids when they’re hiking: the most important thing is to keep on going. I’ll keep on keeping on. But good grief – my lazy summer has suddenly become very busy.

Disruptive Thinker Transport

On my way to work Monday I passed a bus going the opposite way that required I turn around and follow it. It was gray and looked like a police transport. The lettering on the side said, “Disruptive Thinker Transport.” Now, there are a lot of places where the thought police may get you, but Boulder isn’t one of them.

Turns out the Disruptive Thinker Transport is the company bus for Crispin Porter + Bogusky ad agency. It’ll take you to lunch, to Target, to coffee and home again. Riders can get its schedule online.

While trying to figure out what this was, I found sites people bitching about the work environment at CPB. Uhm, hello, it’s an ADVERTISING AGENCY. What did you expect when you signed up? Also, when the public facing website says

Before now, looking like a real live CP+B employee meant jumping through a bunch of hoops. Sleep deprivation. Poor hygiene. The systematic alienation of every single person who loves you.

You should know they’re going to work you to death. They told you up-front, even if it is tongue-in-cheek.

For the whole story read the Daily Camera.

Almost Famous

The company Peter works for took their product loud live on July 1. That night he gave a presentation to the Boulder Denver New Tech Meetup about it. Looking through the pictures, we’ve concluded that his nervous social tic is smiling like the Cheshire Cat.

Better than openly, proudly picking his belly-button like his off-spring is apt to do.

What’s Behind Door #3?

Recently I was informed that I’m doing much better in crowds than I used to. How’d this come up? We were riding the mall shuttle and I didn’t hyper-ventilate I suppose. As for this “bubble” that my dear beloved claims I have, I call it personal space. Everyone needs some. I don’t need people I don’t know standing right next to me. Ever. Getting in my grill, if you like.

Which in my stream-of-consciousness brain leads to the topic of public bathroom manners.

Imagine three stalls. The row begins just past the sinks. The last stall is bounded by a wall. If you’re the only person in there, which stall do you choose? The first because statistics say it’s most likely to be the cleanest? The end because its coincidentally the handicapped stall and you like the extra space? Or the middle stall? The bathroom only services two corporate suites on the floor. Which do you choose?

If the restroom is empty, don’t choose the middle one. Why? Well, now when I wander in there I am forced to do my business RIGHT NEXT TO YOU. If you had chosen one of the ends, we’d still be separated by an empty stall. We would have a buffer zone. A DMZ. Not that either of us should be making any noises. At all. It is, after all, a shared space. And! girls don’t poop. So, there’s no need to make noise. Ever.

Also, a public restroom is not a place to carry on a conversation. For one, you never know whose toes those are sticking out from under the door. (Not that you would look, right?) If you and I head into a public multi-stall restroom together I will talk to you right up to the point my hand touches the stall door. I will stop mid-sentence if necessary. After that? My invisible shield goes up and I can no longer hear you. You can choose to talk. I will not answer. I am busy. And if I finish the task at hand before you, I will not answer you if you are still sitting on the can. Period. We can regroup at the sinks.

Hmm, in black and white like this is sort of sounds like I have an issue.

Nah.

Do you talk to people in the bathroom?

WFH

One of my favorite things about being in a job where only a computer and Internet are required is working from home. I’m as productive at home as in the office. Plus there’s the added benefit of getting a load of laundry done. And not spending an hour in the car. At home, I tend to work through lunch (I know, big no-no you should still stick to your schedule) and start working as soon as I get up (jammies and not showered, yum!).

Telecommuting can be tough. There’s the call of the dirty dishes, the one little chore that won’t take but a minute, the grocery shopping that could be done quickly mid-day. But that’s not what working from home is about. It’s about, wait for it, working. Just remotely. I said I throw in a load of laundry and I do without shame. But it’s not like I’m out beating my clothes against a rock. The machine does the real work.

What works for me, and I think makes it easier for my manager, is I have a list of things I’m working on. We’re both clear what’s on that list. She’s just as involved in my day when I’m at home as if I were in the office. Fortunately, we’re a geographically disparate organization so we’re all familiar with email, IM and the old-school telephone.

About that list: it’s not a task list with punishment and retribution attached if I don’t complete it, merely my current to-do list. I need it for my own sanity. I need to know what I committed to and if I’m actually making progress. Also, there’s great satisfaction in crossing things off a list.

Also? My kids still go to school when I telecommute. I would not be productive with them here.

I’m not sure I’m one for a full-on telecommuting gig. I fear the line between work and home would blur too much. I wouldn’t be able to shut work off and engage in my home life. But a weekly work-from-home day is a nice distraction. Although I sort of miss the A/C in the office, I don’t keep our house nearly as cold as the office.

Moonlighting

Yesterday I was invited to write the first post for our company’s technical team blog. I’m thrilled. I’ve only been with the company for less five months. I think the CTO thought that since I suggested it (championed it, to use some lingo from my grad school days) that it’s the least he could do.

No matter how I landed the gig, it’s a great opportunity to flex my technical writing skills. Because I? I write real good.

The Feeling is Mutual

At work we use Sharepoint and it behaves best in IE. Whatever, I deal. But today when pulling something out of Sharepoint I got the message. Loud and clear. This was the randomly generated path created when I opened the zip file.

sharepoint.PNG

The one where I detail that SharePoint is NOT my BFF

I started a new job on Monday. For those keeping score at home, that would be 4 corporate jobs in 16 months. And, I stayed home with kids for 6 of those months. Anyhoo … we use Sharepoint, which is according to Microsoft is used

to facilitate collaboration, provide content management features, implement business processes, and supply access to information that is essential to organizational goals and processes.

You can quickly create SharePoint sites that support specific content publishing, content management, records management, or business intelligence needs. You can also conduct effective searches for people, documents, and data, participate in forms-driven business processes, and access and analyze large amounts of business data.

Today I wanted to use its wiki functionality. And I was sad. So sad. It doesn’t behave like a wiki at all. I asked the Googles if maybe I didn’t know the tips and tricks and was told by Lawrence Lui from Microsoft on his SharePoint powered blog

the wiki functionality in WSS 3.0 was not designed to compete directly with best-of-breed wiki products like SocialText, but rather, it’s the integration of a plethora of collaboration and community features that make WSS 3.0 and MOSS 2007 best of breed as a whole.

The key competitive advantage of SharePoint has always been and will continue to be in the foreseeable future the breadth of integrated collaborative and community-based applications that are provided out of the box or can easily be developed with SharePoint rich platform services. I believe that the built-in wiki functionality is sufficient for a very large percentage of our customer base, and many customers have indeed standardized on the SharePoint wiki as part of their overall standardization on SharePoint as the enterprise collaborative application platform.

Microsoft purposely, knowingly created and released a product that does not do what the marketing collateral claims. It does not support collaboration. It’s little more than a very pretty file storage system. And when you do make wiki pages, it’s not pretty. All the pages you create show up in the document list. Even child pages. Doesn’t make it very clear which document is the one you care about and which are merely supporting pages. Also, it cannot make a TOC list or support headings. Wikis are meant to be easy to use. It’s extremely limited functionality is not sufficient for creating robust documentation. If I can have a blog I should be able to write wiki pages without wanting to shove hot pokers in my eyes. Don’t get me started on trying to add a png to a page. I considered loading the diagram into flickr and linking it back; it actually crossed my mind as a reasonable alternative to the hoops I’ll need to jump through.

Chili Cook-Off

Hey! I’m in a chili cook-off, because there are t-shirts! There are two categories: “regular” (red with or without beans) and “other.” Other can be chicken or green or anything not red. I was thinking pork green chili with pork ribs instead of cubes. How could ribs not push me into the winner’s circle? But then I remembered that I haven’t made green chili in years. No matter, that didn’t keep me from talking smack. Anyway, I have a crockpot. And the competition is noon on Friday. So, help a sister out and tell me your favorite recipes. I’m open to anything that’s tasty and crockpotable. I’ll remember to thank you in my winner’s speech.

Secrets

It’s bound to come out. An other has threatened to out me. So, I want you to hear it from me first. I returned to the salt mines. Six months ago I honestly thought I would be a SAHM. It didn’t work for our family. I returned to the paid work-force. No mommy-wars here.

And it’s been freakin fantastic!

Except for the part where Audrey starts whimpering blocks away from daycare. But then Elliot says, “Audrey I have to tell you something. Stop crying, I need to tell you something. Are you listening? We go to school every day except Saturdays, birthdays and Saturdays.”

They’re both doing great at school. Leaving them is a little rough; picking them up is great. The teachers love both kids, but what’s not to love? And the most obvious change? They’re nice to each other again! I guess absence does make the heart grow fonder.

Yesterday I was collecting Elliot’s school papers and saw a painting of our family. I told Elliot it was beautiful! I think he was proud that I knew what it was. He asked me, “You really love it?” It was so sweet. Then he started down the road of it not being that great and Audrey doesn’t really have a face and that he didn’t do that good of a job. It made me sad. I convinced him that the picture was wonderful and to prove it I would take it to work.

Oh yeah. That place where I spend my day is pretty great too. But it’s definitely cutting into my blog reading. My reader is very, very full.

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