Saturday, April 10, 2004

Returning To Active Duty

I signed the paperwork for starting work Monday. Due to meetings, they want me to start at Noon.

The irony is that I can car pool with Theo, provided she drops me off on the way there and back. With her working 12 hour days on frequent occasion, I'm thinking either A) I will be doing a lot of overtime or B) the Earth Return Vehicle project will get some dedicated time each evening.

The Spaceship
My next step is a weight, balance, and power consumption spreadsheet. Every component, down to the microwave oven, will be integrated in a series of horizontal slices through the vehicle drawn in Visio, and integrated into a spreadsheet showing their location as X, Y, and Z moment arms. All will be averaged to show the center of gravity of the vehicle, and the total mass. In parallel will be power consumption peak, average, and so on. Any warnings or limitations can be worked out from there (such as "crew members should not use the microwave and waste disposal system at the same time").

The job is with a company that contracts to Microsoft that contracts to an insurance firm. I'll refrain from mentioning the end points, but Microsoft is kind of key to the whole thing. When Theo and I were first in Mensa, we had friends who were die-hard, make-an-excuse-for-any-crime Democrats - you know, Carville without the accent. Chicago Democratic Machine purebreds. For any atrocity committed by a democratic politician, they had an excuse for it - it was seriously awe-inspiring to watch. They missed their calling as criminal lawyers. Anyway, conversation was usually about 10-15 minutes of verbal sparing over Clinton's and Gingrich's latest gaffes followed by a collective attack on a mutual enemy - Microsoft. Due to some ethical gaffes of their own, we've long since lost touch with these guys.

Once it came up that I would be working there, Theo jokingly has asked me little probing questions about selling my soul, and so on. I responded that some years ago when I did work for a company that handled telemarketing lists, my soul was probably already gone. Granted, one of the functions of this company was implementing Do Not Call lists long before they were legally fashionable. They were a mix of both the best and worst people I've ever worked with. After a few years, you even miss the bad ones.

"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor working for telemarketers nor working for Microsoft, nor anything else in all creation, can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. But I'm not so sure about the telemarketers part." - Romans 8:38-39, New Internet Version

I found a Theo's old Microsoft coffee cup in the cupboard earlier this morning as I made coffee, Theo's breakfast, and Yakko the cat's insulin shot. I believe she got it during her certification training some years ago. I was wearing my glasses to let my eyes recover from having the leave-in-a-month contacts in a bit too long. I decided to have some fun. I was still unkempt from having just woken up, so this worked quite well.

After pouring coffee for myself in this MS Coffee(TM) cup, I went to Theo and stated "ya know, just because I'm going to be working for Microsoft, you act like I'm slowly going to turn into Bill Gates or something."

She laughed. "You WILL take a shower today", she demanded sweetly.

Back in the Eighties, I actually went to a seminar where Bill Gates spoke. This was just at the tipping point where he was telling IBM what to do, rather than the other way around. For the PC Revolution, this was a great victory. It was the very fulfillment of Steve Jobs dream, albeit done by someone else. Who would have realized then that eventually Lotus and IBM OS/2 Warp would be the underdogs used by independent-minded people, and that Microsoft would be considered the empire?

One also wonders, would it have been that much different if Steve Jobs would have won? Considering the way he ran his company, would a Jobs-driven IT infrastructure have been that much less cruel? Granted, software would be less buggy, hardware standards tighter, and so on. The overall code base would have ran better and faster, but there would have been far less of it.

The quality pyramid takes center stage, after all. Just the jokes would have been different.

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