Too Close to Home

A co-worker in my team was handed a layoff notice this past week.Considering the layoffs I have seen there over the years, this is one is as close as it's come home in several years. There were plenty of signs this was going to happen if you add them up, but then again hindsight is always 20-20.

Things have been unsettling at my day job for the past several months. While logically, I understand what is going on. I can accept the "worst case scenario," emotionally it's difficult to accept what is going on and the uncertainty has been driving me nuts. Having a team member laid off made things that much worse.

This past week, however, I have been given some hope. I expressed some of my concerns to my management. They basically told me that I had nothing to worry about and that there would be plenty for me to do. Some of it may even be along the lines of what I am looking to do. My wife's observation: your job is changing to what you want right before your eyes. Will it? Time will tell.

But even if it doesn't and the worst case scenario happens, I will come out ahead.

PhoneBoy the Product Manager?

Having just spent the past two days in a class about the basics ofProduct Management, I know the answer to this question: yes, but not inthe next few years.

Is it what I expected? Somewhat, having spentyears dealing with them. There is more to the job than I knew, ofcourse, but none of it seems like it would be impossible for me to do.Do I have more respect for their job? Most definitely. Is it somethingI want to do? It's something I want to keep in my mind as a possibiltygoing forward.

The main reason I took this class is to learn theformal product lifecycle so I can learn when and where I need to getinvolved as a support person. This will hopefully increase the qualityof the products that are produced. For one thing, we can ensure thatsupport requirements are included in the product specifications fromthe get-go. Hopefully we can also catch "features" or "product designs"that are known to be problematic to support.

I won't be able toapply all this knowledge right away, of course, as I don't see any newproducts in the immediate future. In a few months, maybe. Even so,since I am dealing with Product Managers regularly, some of theknowledge will come in handy. I now know some questions to ask thatnever occured to me before.

A Three Hour Delay

Obviously I am bored at the airport. But at least I'm connected because I'm blogging. :)

It turns out my 8:05pm flight is leaving just after 11pm Central Time. If I am lucky, between the flight to Seattle and the drive home, I will get home at about 3am. I can't say I'll be terribly functional tomorrow, but I've done worse.

On The Way Home

I'm now sitting on the train to O'Hare watching the world go by. I am watching the bars on my cell phone come and go. They definitely go when I descend into the subway, which happens on the Blue Line train. Above ground, I am looking at a chilly but sunny Friday afternoon.

Not sure why the subway in Chicago feels different from the Tube in London. Of course, I haven't written the tube since 2000, which was the last time I was in the UK. I actually enjoy riding the train. It's one thing I like about a big city, being able to utilize a mass transit system that works. It satisfies my environmentalist ideals somewhat. Unfortunately mass transit only works in large cities due to the economics of the situation.

Off To Chicago

Later this week, I am flying to Chicago to take a class on Product Management. Now I've spent the past several years of my support career dealing with Product Management, so I have a vague idea of what they do. I've also thought it might be an interesting way to gain some lateral (and maybe upward) mobility as well a bit later on. I've also been given a vague sort of direction from my management at my day job that it might be a good idea to learn some stuff about ProductLifecycle Management. What better way to learn about that than to learn the life of the person who manages that: a Product Manager.

I will be down in Chicago's Central Business District. If anyone can suggest any decent places to eat or things I should see for the couple of days I am there, I'm all ears.

When will the snow end, and the art of STFU

They say tomorrow, but it certainly dumped a good amount today. Where we live, at least 6 inches. More in some other places in Seattle. Lots of schools and such announced closures last night due to the impending storm. Snow was supposed to turn into rain by now, but hasn’t yet. The latest reports suggest this will occur at around midnight, making for some nasty road conditions later on. I think we’ll stay home until the roads clear out. :)

I keep reading/hearing about people getting fired by their employer over what they say in their blogs. Now I don’t pretend to know all the circumstances behind this, I think it points to a problem that many people have: they don’t know the art of STFU. For those who haven’t seen the acronym before, it means shut the fsck up, except you replace the ‘s’ with a ‘u’ in the word before ‘u’.

One thing that I’ve always made it a point to do online is never to directly discuss or make direct reference to my employer. Not because I’m ashamed of where I work (quite the contrary), but because I do not want to give anyone the idea that I, in any way shape or form, am representing or speaking for my employer. The work I do on phoneboy.com does relate to the work I do for my employer, and in fact I’ve used some of my work from phoneboy.com in my work. The bottom line is: I am only paid to speak for my employer in a very well-defined set of circumstances and situations. Outside of those circumstances and situations, I don’t do it. Period. I might talk about work online (heck, I’ve talked about FireWall-1 a lot), but only in the most general terms, and I never discuss confidential information about my employer.

For the couple of weeks or so that my site was down, you could see SQL errors when you tried to access a page. Guess where those errors were showing up: on Google. Not only did I see them on Google, so did everyone else (my visitors reported the error sighting on Google). The Broadvox Direct page I did was discovered by Broadvox Direct’s Market Research people, and I started the page less than a week ago! Google indexes my site at least once a day.

The fact is: the Internet is getting much smaller. If you put something on a web page, chances are someone will find it. Maybe the right someone, maybe the wrong someone. If you wouldn’t want someone to find out you said something, then practice the art of STFU: DON’T PUT IT ON THE INTERNET.

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