New Job FAQ

Thanks to a long time reader, and friend from NY, I realised I forgot to address a couple common questions regarding this new job. You’d think I’d catch on quicker, but apparently I’m not that sharp:
– We won’t be moving to the States — not this time, anyway. The company currently has restrictions on relocation, which is fine with us, because we’re not ready for another international adventure just yet. I’ll continue to work from my home office most of the time, and travel to HQ and partner locations as appropriate.
– I’ll be reporting to, and working with a team in Washington State (west coast — not D.C!) I have no obligation to go into the office in Canada, but I already have some colleagues there who go to our church, so I’ll be looking forward to opportunities to get to know the more local professional community.
– Travel is supposed to be 3-4 days a month. Everyone I’ve talked to snorts and says “well, double that!” It doesn’t really matter to me. I’ll make my schedule, and I like to travel. I’ll still have the benefit of being home most of the time with my family, but Nic doesn’t really mind that I’ll be out of the house a bit more. Its tight quarters with all 4 of us here all the time, and the kids are old enough now that they have some more autonomy.
– No, I won’t be getting rid of my Macs or my AppleTV or our iPhones. I will carry a different phone for work, and it won’t be a change to use Windows on my laptop during the business day. I’m a fan of good technology, regardless of who makes it. The products I’ll be responsible for are good ones, and ones that I’ll have no trouble being proud of. And my Macs will continue to be good machines for creative expression, and family media management.
– I’m not going to be a programmer. This is a big change for me, and a big deal, but its difficult to articulate. This is a new career path, and its scary and exciting, and no, you can’t blame me if your Windows computer gets a virus! I’ll be working with partners using Server and Platform class products.
– No, I didn’t meet Bill G– or Steve B. I doubt I ever will.
– No, we won’t be hosting a Windows 7 Launch Party. But you should definitely get it.
This might also be a good time to point out that opinions expressed on this blog, the archives, and any comments or pages on this site are not necessarily the opinions of any employer, past or present. They are my own, or those of our readers, and should not reflect on any organization outside of our household.

Another Big Change

Recruit BadgeIt’s finally done. This morning I resigned my current job, of nearly 4 years, and have accepted an offer from probably the best known software company in the world. I won’t write out the name, because I don’t want to attract search engine attention, but the embedded image should give it away.
This has been a long process, fraught with difficult decisions and no small number of challenging conversations (not to mention no less than 6 interviews in one day!) but I’m glad of the outcome, and excited for this new adventure.
I journalled much of my thoughts along the way, and those posts are currently saved as drafts in my WordPress database. I may publish them, shortly, once they’ve been sanitized and polished for public consumption. Needless to say, I will miss the job I have now: I’ve worked with two great teams, under two very different managers — but both have been men of integrity and have earnestly encouraged and enabled me.
Nonetheless, its become apparent that I need to push myself and my career growth in new directions, and when this opportunity presented itself, I had to follow it up! This is not a developer role, but one called technical evangelism. Its completely new to me, but a lot of people have expressed confidence in my ability to do the job. I hope they’re right, and I’ve gotta say, I’m pretty pumped!
The next month or two or four will be very different for my family, as there will be more travel (mostly for me) and a lot of adjusting to all the changes. We may have to back out of some of our usual activities for awhile until we iron out the new routine, but we’ve been through bigger changes than this, so we’re not worried.
We’re off to New York this week/weekend, and I’ll be back in Washington State, just outside Seattle, fairly shortly afterward! This time I’ll get to post pictures!

Random Philosophizing on Star Trek

When Star Trek: The Next Generation (STNG) first came out, it was shiny, high tech, and a million times more polished than the original series — which although still classic, was looking awful dated. STNG just felt more futuristic, and glossy.
STNGNow, of course, it looks almost as silly as the original. The special effects and props look obviously fake, and the crude CG in the credits could be more convincingly animated by any 10th grader today, with a decent computer. But despite its age, and the campiness that time has foisted upon it, something still happens to me when the model Enterprise creeps across the star-lit screen. When Patrick Stewart’s noble, classically trained voice narrates the Captain’s Log setting up the episode’s cold open, and then the theme music soars in triumphantly, it still inspires — over two decades since the show first came out — a sense of wonder, at the scope of what we don’t know.
Star Trek captures adventure and a spirit of hope that I think influences the politics and ideals of most sci-fi fans — maybe more than we recognize. Its a collective dream about a time, some day in the distant future, when petty quarrels about health care are long since solved, and wars over resources or ideals are a distant embarrassing memory, because people have long since learned how to solve these things without violence. When each individual’s contribution to society is toward pursuing an exciting and challenging unknown together.
Its unfortunate that we don’t live in the world that Gene Roddenberry imagined — one which likely looks a lot more like the one God intended for his kids, than what we’ve muddled ourselves into. Its unfortunate that our technological research leads us to more efficient killing machines, instead of toward the vast galaxy that God made for us to explore and learn. Its unfortunate that such sci-fi is the realm of geeks and nerds, and maybe a few ridiculous idealists, who understand that the future should hold excitement and adventure, not fear and uncertainty. Its unfortunate that so many people are so terrified of cultures different from their own, that they could never function in the kind of cross-cultural environment that the creators of Star Trek so carefully illustrated.
And, with TV shows starting back-up again this fall, its unfortunate that there’s no one out there doing anything remotely like Star Trek, and Star Trek: The Next Generation. When I recently settled into my couch to re-watch a campy episode of the final season of STNG, I couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like if people could just stop arguing selfishly — if we were driven not by greed, but a pure sense of wonder at the majesty of God’s handy work — and set our minds on truly appreciating the scope of the universe God made for us, and the companions he created to explore it with us…

Getting a Security System

GE AllegroIts not really something we’ve thought a lot about, but we fell for one of those deals where we get the system for free, as long as we’re willing to put stickers on our window and if any neighbours ask, tell them about how great the service is. Of course, there’s a monthly cost, but its not that much, and we’re getting over $1000 in equipment for free.
The more I think about it, the more I’m really pleased with the idea. Our neighbourhood is pretty safe, but its also a little remote. With things changing in our life, the idea of knowing that the place can be secured with, or without us, being home, there’s a certain sense of confidence that comes with having this set up.
If I’m away, Nic can secure the house with the touch of a button, and we can both feel safer.
If we’re in the backyard (or in the hot tub) while the kids are sleeping, we can secure only the front doors, and never worry about someone getting in without us knowing.
As I said, its never been on our radar, and we don’t usually jump at sales offers that come to our front door, but with things changing in the next couple weeks, the timing seemed almost… divine.

Hurry up and wait

This week has been crazy. We’ve had full evenings every day of the week. This afternoon, I put Abi down for her nap with a bottle, and we had our Abi/Daddy time on the rocking chair, and it occurred to me that I couldn’t remember the last time we’d done that. For the past little while its either been a babysitter doing it, or poor Abi getting dumped in bed way past her bed time, having chugged her bottle in the car on the way home.
In other news, did you know that Abraham waited 24 years for God’s promise to him? He was 75 when God told him that his descendants would start a nation — at the time, he had no children at all. He was 99 when God fulfilled that promise and his wife got pregnant.
Of course, he obviously had some doubts along the way, and Ishmael was born, but still: 24 years of faith in God’s promise. I can barely muster the patience to wait 2-4 weeks for Him to reveal His plan for my life…

Introverts: a minority in the regular population but a majority in the gifted population

I found a wonderful, wondrous article about being an Introvert. You should all read it — especially those of you who are extroverts — so you can better understand the introverts in your life! There are so many choice lines in it, that I can hardly pick just one to include as an excerpt…
Do you know someone who needs hours alone every day? Who loves quiet conversations about feelings or ideas, and can give a dynamite presentation to a big audience, but seems awkward in groups and maladroit at small talk? Who has to be dragged to parties and then needs the rest of the day to recuperate? Who growls or scowls or grunts or winces when accosted with pleasantries by people who are just trying to be nice? …If you answered yes to these questions, chances are that you have an introvert on your hands.
Many actors, I’ve read, are introverts, and many introverts, when socializing, feel like actors.
Extroverts are easy for introverts to understand, because extroverts spend so much of their time working out who they are in voluble, and frequently inescapable, interaction with other people. They are as inscrutable as puppy dogs. But the street does not run both ways. Extroverts have little or no grasp of introversion. They assume that company, especially their own, is always welcome.
[Introverts] tend to think before talking, whereas extroverts tend to think by talking, which is why their meetings never last less than six hours.
Read the rest

Geek Out

This weekend I:
– Played through Spiderman on my Dreamcast, in honor of the 10th anniversary of the launch of the best game console ever made
– Played a PS1 game on my Dreamcast, just because I can
– Played a PS2 game on my PS3, because its a really good game
– Watched a VCD from Asia on my LaserDisc player
– Played the audio tracks from a Star Wars SegaCD game on a CD player, and longed to own a Sega Genesis with the CD add-on again
– Listened to some tunes on MiniDisc
– Watched Madagascar on Blu-Ray with Nic and Ben
One day, I’m going to look back on how much technology has changed in my life time, and be awful proud of the accomplishments of my generation.
One day, Ben is going to look at his dad’s collection of obscure old technology and laugh at what life must have been like when we lived in such primitive times!

A New Car?

Vue This is our tank. Also known as “Old Faithful” and “Old Squeaky” depending on its mood. We bought it at the end of 2005 for one reason, and one reason only: to move us to New York. It served that purpose well, ran pretty steady for our stay there, and then moved our family, and a huge load of our stuff back.
Our Saturn VUE is going on 9 years old this year, and at just shy of 200,000km. Its spent more time on I-90 than any vehicle ever should, and despite our abuse, its rarely given us any trouble (there was that time where an animal crawled up the exhaust pipe and caused a fair bit of damage, but that wasn’t the car’s fault.)
We call it the tank because, even though we’ve never driven a tank, we imagine it would be similar to driving this SUV. It has virtually no comfort features. Anything you want it to do, you do manually — including changing gears, rolling down windows, adjusting mirrors… it has power steering, but the thing is so heavy that you don’t really notice.
Alas, aside from its constant squeaking (one, from a known problem with the suspension they used, and two because the steering wheel just squeaks all the time) and the occasional issue with the gas gauge or turn signals malfunctioning randomly, it shows no signs of kicking the bucket. For all we can tell, it’ll do another 200,000km with barely more than regular oil changes. Which is too bad, because we really want a new car.
We figure if we’re aggressive, we can finish paying it off in 8 months — a little shy of the original 5 year loan. What we’re not sure of, is if we can live with the tank that much longer. For one, the manual transmission is wreaking havoc on my back. I love driving standard, but it turns out that pumping the clutch puts my pelvis out of alignment and is causing all sorts of problems. We solve that by me never driving anywhere I don’t have to, and Nic doing most of the driving when we’re together.
That doesn’t solve the problem of us only really having one vehicle between the four of us. We actually have another, but its usually assigned to a very different purpose, and aside from the financial side of the equation, doesn’t really figure into our decision. The reality is that we can afford another car, if we need one. But is it a question of ego: not wanting to drive a squeaking 9 year old tank any more? Or is it a valid question of need: does our growing ministry and other responsibilities dictate the need for another set of wheels? What’s the most right thing to do with our money — not just for us, but for those God wants us to share it with?

A Bigger Picture

September 11, 2001: A small group of radicals executes a strike on American soil. The terrorists hijack three planes and succeed in flying two of them into the World Trade Center. Hundreds of innocent civilians loose their lives in the destruction. Hundreds more loose moms, dads, brothers and sisters in a tragic, and unprovoked attack.
September 11, 1973: A U.S. orchestrated and financed coup d’état overthrows democratically elected President, Salvador Allende, to install military dictator, Augusto Pinochet. Pinochet rules Chile from 1973 to 1990, during which time he is responsible for the disappearance of over 3,000 Chileans, murders, concentration camps, and the torture of over 30,000 people.
Its 9/11 today. Its a good time to remember the victims — all of them. There are more innocent lives lost, throughout the world, every day.
Thanks to our American friend, Karl, for the history lesson.