Wednesday, February 19, 2003

So IT demanded to downgrade my laptop because their boss (who's also the HR director and CFO) wanted it. Not that I really *need* a company laptop... I just had one because we had a bunch of old spares that nobody was using until now.

I was a tad puzzled... I told them that the laptop I had was a crappy Pentium 166, missing a few keys. No, no, they insisted; you have a PII 266 or 300, Toshiba only made that model with PIIs and PIIIs; but you can pick another laptop from our crappy spares pile. I double checked; yeah, sticker says it's a Pentium, and Windows insists the same. But I handed it over anyway.

I leafed through the pile of unwanted laptops. Found an IBM Thinkpad 600. Larger screen. Larger keyboard, no missing keys. No sticker, but I booted it up and... it's a PII 233. With more memory.

I'd ask for another downgrade, but I don't want to push my luck. :-)
Grah... grumble... mrah... lack of select() and poll() in Java... gack... threads... ugh...

Monday, February 10, 2003

Started Japanese class today. I should have been dead tired, having gotten five hours of sleep, getting to work at 8:30 am, followed by class from 6:30-9:00 pm.

But it was exciting! So many words coming back to me, just because I'm hearing the language again. Weird. Neural circuits that lay dormant for years are announcing their return.

And it's a non-credit class, so all the people attending are there because they want to be there. Fun.

Thursday, February 6, 2003

God save the Queen!

Today marks the 51st anniversary of HM Queen Elizabeth II's accession to the throne.

God save our gracious Queen,
Long live our noble Queen,
God save the Queen!
Send her victorious,
Happy and glorious,
Long to reign over us;
God save the Queen!

Wednesday, February 5, 2003

We use Bugzilla at work to track various issues. IT started using it first, though now the product teams have started migrating their bug databases to it.

I could always tell when someone was about to be fired, though, because there would be a bug in there about revoking so-and-so's access, etc. I couldn't actually see the bug since those are restricted to the IT people only, but since that was the only use for restricted bugs, it was a fairly reliable indicator.

Well, until this morning. I noticed that bug 800 (we add about 10-20 bugs per work day) was restricted. Hm... interesting. I wondered who was going to be next. But then Matt, the NeoCircuit manager, told me that they've started restricting some of their bugs, mainly so that the field support people don't go into a whining tirade about how we're all a bunch of idiots for having such a bug in the first place and that we're not fixing it the way they think we should fix it blah blah blah. And, yep, turned out that 800 was the first such bug.

Fortunately, he added me to the Circuit group so I can see those bugs now and my previous firing indicator still works. Heh heh heh...
Grr. I'm tired of these projects. I want to be able to go away for a couple weeks, refresh myself, and *then* tackle them. Sadly, not an option.

Most of my peers are now managers; the guys who were managers before are now directors. I've adamantly refused to go that route, which may eventually burn me, but it's so far working out fine. Being in a non-product group, I'm regarded as some kind of technical consultant. Right now, I have managed to come up with a piece that's in high demand, though I'm struggling to get the design finalised. Once the product groups ship it, you see, I'm going to have to live with these decisions I make now.

I have a meeting tomorrow where I have to defend a lot of my design decisions in front of a few people who would like nothing more than to see my work axed. Bring your marshmallows and hot dogs; the flame fest begins at 2 pm EST.

Hm. I should probably get started on the powerpointing since it's already past midnight and all... Instead, I think I might play another game of Link Letters. :-)

Saturday, February 1, 2003

Still trying to collect my thoughts post-Columbia.

If you're an engineer and this doesn't make you do some soul searching... well, you probably shouldn't be an engineer.

My condolences to all involved -- not only the astronauts and their families, but also the mission controllers, engineers, technicians, builders, planners, and others involved with the mission.

Right now, if I were working at NASA or a contractor, I'd be petrified. What if it were caused by something I had done? If I had spent a tad more effort on my designs -- exceeded the specifications by a tad more -- would those astronauts still be alive?

A 100% safe system is an engineer's dream. It's also unattainable. And that frustrates us to no end. But the struggle must go on.