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scrottie (4167)

scrottie
  scott@slowass.net
http://slowass.net/

My email address is scott@slowass.net. Spam me harder! *moan*

Journal of scrottie (4167)

Tuesday October 20, 2009
03:13 AM

Sorts of telecommute... my routine then and now

[ #39774 ]

For NG, I was a consultant in spirit even though I was W2, not 1099. On a typical day, I'd crawl out of bed somewhere between 10 and noon. I tried not to sleep past noon as I wanted to get to any important email in a reasonably timely fashion. Also Yahoo! Small Business email just loves to silently drop email. I can't tell you how much confusion and frustration all of us endured using this piece of shit that the company was actually paying money for. Yahoo! is a spectre of a previous Internet century and needs to die. For a while, I had everyone using codenames for things we were working on. "P" was the poker game (quotes included). "B" was the baccarat game, and the various slots games had two letter abbreviations. The theory was that emails were scoring so high on the spam test that they didn't even make it into the spam folder. This hypothesis proved incorrect as Yahoo! Small Business Email continued silently vanishing emails mailed between users in the same corporate domain.

Anyway... some evenings I'd work late into the night. Other evenings, after doing some email and hunting a few bugs, I'd go drink or engage in some other social activity. Sometimes these would be in clusters; I'd do no actual work for a week, only baby sit getting a release packaged or debugged; I'd do nothing but bake goodies for an upcoming bike tour, bike tour, then recover. Other times, I wouldn't leave the house for a week, working 14 hour days.

When I got something done, I'd send an email saying as much. Very seldom would I be asked for a status report. Once I got grumpy because I was woken up to a page asking for a report in the morning after I'd been asleep mere hours and after I'd sent one before going to bed, hours before. Of course, it turned out that Yahoo! Small Business Email ate it.

I tried to push for chat just because that would allow you get instant confirmation that an important factiod had been delivered, but one coworker was on wonky hours as I was but different and the other had to run around to the physical locations of vendors, investors, and so on and really didn't have time to monitor chat.

The non-disclosure agreement was a verbal one. In Vegas, threats really aren't made. Rather than making pretenses that you'll be sued if you screw your employer over, instead employers actually ask around the grapevine about people. You don't get many chances. Of course, if you commit a felony, you'll either go to jail or else go on the lamb. All of this self importance of long contracts signed in triplicate and multiple agreements covering various aspects of work is just missing. Business is done on a handshake. The legal department can't keep people from being dumb asses.

Code is not over engineered. Almost everything you see in Vegas is either z80 assembly written for the bare metal or else Macromedia Flash. No one talks about design patterns, best practices, architecture, API design, or any of that. They do try very hard to write, as the famous quote says, "obviously no bugs rather than no obvious bugs". KISS is the guiding principle.

We'd all go out for beer after work, during office visits. Some times almost every night.

The code repo sat on a colocated Linux machine and a qualified sysadmin did what was needed for him to feel comfortable for us to be able to push and pull from it. There was a tacit understanding that we couldn't allow our laptops to get pwned or stolen with sensitive data on them.

Conference calls were done on an as-needed basis between those concerned when email wasn't cutting it.

I was at liberty to underbill rather than make a quota; this allowed me to research technologies or just read code without concern of logging unproductive hours. I never felt like I couldn't sit down with a book and read all about how to do something.

I wanted to write in praise of my experience working for Vegas, not to diss on Web companies, but I have to complete the contrast. I'll do it as quickly as possible. I've done a number of these now -- I'm not pointing my finger at any one company.

Regular hours; mornings; team dynamics; "good fit"; commitment to 40 hours; VPNs; scrum; speaker phone in to meetings; ...

Sorry, I'm rehashing a common topic I've written about before. JaWS was similar to the Vegas gig; I've been in that basic situation twice now.

-scott

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