It's been a couple weeks of new experiences for me, which is unusual.
I slept at the office for the first time. Not, as it might have been in years past, because of a pressing deadline or emergency issue. No, I slept at the office because my apartment was filled with deadly gas (another first).
I was awoken at 1AM by my carbon monoxide alarm. (...well, okay, roused, not awoken. I was brushing up on the scientific rebuttals to the moon landing hoaxers, because some people are idiots and I attract those people.)
Step one? Hit the thing until it stops screaming. I've had innumerable false alarms from smoke detectors in the past, so I figured I'd silence the thing and see if it stays silenced.
Okay, then...that left me with two possibilities. One: I'm feeling tired and fuzzy because it's ONE IN THE FREAKING MORNING, and my headache is the same nagging headache I've had all day. Two: I'm feeling tired and headachey because I'm being slowly killed by an invisible odorless gas.
I popped the detector off the wall and checked its instructions. "If you're feeling sick," it said, "call the fire department and leave immediately. If you're not feeling sick, open some windows and go back to sleep. Sucker."
Well, as noted above, I wasn't equipped to choose between those. So, I threw together an overnight bag and headed to the nearest available crash space: teh GOOG. This turned out not to be a brilliant idea, as our facility is basically 24-hour and it was not quiet. But at least we have showers.
Saw Al Gore speak yesterday. Wouldn't have considered going, were it not for Wil Shipley's very positive review of the talk. I had the same initial reaction as Wil: "Oh, goodie, I can go listen to the man too boring to be elected president."
He was positively riveting. His presentation was alternately hilarious and terrifying. I was floored. (Not to mention that he had the single best slide-to-speech synchronization that I've seen outside my own presentations. Just when I thought I was the only one who cared about the details.)
As a self-styled hanger-on of the scientific community, I've been aware for some time that the "controversy" over global warming is manufactured by the "liberal" media and the politicians — the scientific consensus that we're really screwing up has always been pretty solid. Gore made this point, and others, in a very clear, very punchy fashion. Go Al. (Psssst. Hey, if you try running for president again, but with the personality? Yeah, might work out.)
Got Windows XP up and running on my MacBook Pro. The Joy of Tech guys said it best. It works great, and is very speedy, but I'm really not sure what to do with it. The OS doesn't even come with Flash, much less any productivity software or development tools, or Java.
I see why Windows users play Solitaire: unless you want to dork around in RegEdit or Hyperterminal, it's about all the damn system comes with.
But, I had to see it work. And it does.
I admit, at the end of last week, I was honestly considering quitting my job. (Not that I had any idea what I'd do then, having moved to a new state and all.) I won't go into detail — the information leak ninjas don't appreciate that — but suffice it to say that the issues I had with Choice, in terms of poor testing and development rigor and lack of coherent design, are magnified where I am now. There's a sense that rapid system expansion and solid design are mutually incompatible, which I've proven false any number of times — it implies that design is a slow process separate from coding. Strangely, these same folks are proponents of XP (eXtreme Programming), which basically agrees with me on this.
Fortunately, as I was reminded this week, that's a feature of my current location in the company, and a temporary thing at that. So, no need to do anything rash. My current program for fixing these issues is as follows:
1. Stand my ground. I really do know a lot of the stuff I espouse, quite well. I've been backing down in arguments because I'm new at the company, and because I have a lexicographical impedance mismatch with the CS folks. There will be no further backing down. (Except, of course, if I'm beaten or refuted. There are a large number of people here that are smarter and/or more experienced than I, and when they say I'm wrong, they're probably correct.)
2. Keep my manager abreast of these issues, so that it won't come as a shock when I move to step 3.
3. Finish the project and, if change isn't in the wind, move somewhere else in the company.
So, I'm going to give this a shot and see how things go. Everyone on my team is brilliant and capable, but we're having some paradigmatic clashes. Stay tuned.