New beginning

For the past six months or so, I’ve been doing product management on two “products”, and building + managing a new team of analysts tasked with product security for a cloud based marketing software platform. I don’t feel like I was particularly effective at any of those tasks because I was stretched far too thin to be able to spend adequate amount of time on any of my tasks.

But I never complained (at least not too loud), and always tried my best to juggle the insane load and not let things fall apart too much. I figured (correctly, as it turns out) that it would be temporary and things would work out for the better.

As it turns out, this week I found myself presented with a choice: I could continue in product management, and likely have the team of analysts taken away from me, or I could make another career change and move to our engineering organization as a senior manager and continue to run – and expand – my team.

It was a difficult choice, as I enjoyed product management and finally felt like I understood it and was getting better at it. But at the same time I was just getting started with my team and didn’t feel it was wise to abandon my new guys so quickly after recruiting them – and I hadn’t yet left my mark and completed what I set out to do.

But ultimately, I had to decide what it was I really wanted to do – and that required thinking about what I ENJOY doing. I realized that when I find a new vulnerability in a system and exploit it successfully I feel a sense of satisfaction, and joy. I get excited. I’m happy. And that’s part of what my team does. Building my team would enable me to do what I enjoy, and to help others do what they enjoy – and even better, do it to help protect customers and make our products better.

After realizing that, it wasn’t even a question of which I would choose.

And so now, I’m starting anew. I can’t can’t wait to get started and make a difference.

Avoiding the quick and dirty hack

priorityIt’s quick and dirty, kind of a hack, and won’t scale… but we need this ASAP so lets do it.   We can always clean it up later when we have more time”

The assumption is that things will slow down, more time will suddenly become available, and the real  solutions that were deferred will become possible to achieve.  The reality is that things are unlikely to slow down and the next time you will be revisiting the problem is when your ‘quick and dirty’ solution failed to scale and turned into the latest in a long series of fires to put out.

It’s incredibly easy to fall into this trap.  With a long list of items that need attention and development – seemingly all of them critical – it can be incredibly tempting to try to solve some of the immediate needs as quickly as possible.   Often, “as quickly as possible” involves what are sometimes referred to as “dirty hacks” – and are widely recognized as sub-optimal solutions to the ultimate problem.  The rationale is that solving the immediate problem eases the pressure and allows us time to work on the other high priority issues – thus allowing us to get more done.  The problem is that it’s a false accomplishment – you haven’t really achieved more, or reduced the amount of work you have to do.   In reality, you’ve achieved less and increased the work you’ve got to accomplish.

Allow me to explain.
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Brian McGreer liked this post

The choice is yours

After a particularly frustrating day in the office yesterday,  found myself becoming easily annoyed by the time I got home.  It didn’t take much for me to become annoyed.  From annoyed it was a blazingly fast journey to angry, and just a hop – skip – and jump from angry to seething.

But why?

At the time, I would blame it on my circumstances.   Everything was going wrong!  Nothing seemed to go my way!  The world is conspiring against me, and idiots are everywhere!  Why am I the only intelligent person on this rock?!

Clearly this was just the anger talking, but it’s easy to listen to that and agree – it’s the WORLD’s fault I’m this angry and pissed off.   It’s the WORLD’s fault that I’m not happy.  It’s so very simple and easy to place the blame anywhere else, to so clearly be the victim.

Except I’m not a victim,  at least not of anyone or anything other than myself.   You see,  I had a choice.    I could choose to become angry, or I could choose to shrug off the admittedly minor offenses that compounded to take me from calm to breathing-fire mad.  I could choose to remain angry, or let it go. I could choose to stew in unhappy annoyance or I could choose to enjoy my evening and have fun. Which course my night would take… would be of my own choosing.

As it turns out in this case, I chose the latter.  It wasn’t immediate, but it was conscious.   After realizing I was letting myself claim victim status and succumbing to anger, I took a few minutes to sit quietly outside on my deck and relax and let it go.  I made the choice to not be a slave to anger and annoyance and instead enjoy myself and be happy.

The best part?  It worked.

So, the next time you have a day where everything seems to be going wrong and the world is conspiring against you… take a few moments to sit quietly and relax.  Be positive, be happy, and good things will follow.  It’s not easy,  and it doesn’t come naturally.   It is a worthy exercise.   Being upbeat, happy and positive is far more likely to lead to an improvement in the outcome of your day.   It’ll also make people want to be around you, which will likely help reinforce a happy upbeat mood.
Just remember the next time you have a bad day – you can get angry or you can remain positive.  The choice is yours.

So are the consequences.



4th of July Recap


The inaugural fire in the new fire pit – great success!

Our plans for the 4th were surprisingly low key this year,   after our initial plans fell through.   We decided that with the cool, clear, evening it would be a great opportunity to have the inaugural fire in the new fire pit and light of a few fireworks we had bought.  This, of course, after enjoying some cocktails and a decidedly “American” dinner of cheeseburgers on the grill.

The fire was great,  though most of the fireworks were…. less than we had hoped for.  Thankfully – about halfway through the pack of fireworks our new neighbors down at the other end of the cul-de-sac came and told us they were about to fire off about $1500 in fireworks (the big stuff) and we were invited to come down to watch.

We quickly grabbed some chairs and beverages and headed down to join a whole bunch of neighbors who came out to watch the show.

And what a show it was!     Leaning back in my chair quite comfortably as round after round of fireworks went streaking into the sky,  loudly bursting above us in all their colorful glory,  it was impossible not to smile and giggle and clap and be filled with a sense of belonging and happiness.   And community.

The old rusty metal fire pit served one final purpose:  a place to set off our puny fireworks.

The old rusty metal fire pit served one final purpose: a place to set off our puny fireworks.

I may not always get along with my neighbors… but it is nice that every once in a while we can come together as a community and enjoy something so simple as the birthday of our nation.   It’s nice that we can put aside differences and celebrate our freedom.  And play with explosives.

Those same neighbors invited us to a house party they’re having later this month.   Not sure if we’ll go – but it was nice that they invited us.

Next year we’re going to see if they want to work together and have a block party for the 4th – with grilled food,  swimming in various pools (possibly), music and – of course – a repeat of that fantastic fireworks show.    It was pretty spectacular.



Elizabeth Hess liked this post

Elite: Dangerous

Elite-DangerousEvery once in a while I come across a game that I just can’t help but get excited about.   It’s a rarity these days, mainly because I haven’t been paying close attention to many games outside the flight sim world. In fact, the last time I really got excited about a non-flight sim game was Star Wars: The Old Republic, because who doesn’t want to go around the galaxy fighting with lightsabers?

A few days ago I had someone mention offhand that they were spending a lot of time playing the beta of Elite: Dangerous, which I had never heard of.  Upon looking it up I was blown away by the ambitious nature of the project, and how completely and utterly cool it is.

First – let me start by mentioning that this is the latest in a series of games that started many, many years ago (I think someone said something like 20 years).  I’m a bit surprised that I never knew about these games as they sound cool, and evidently had quite a following.   The fact remains, however, that I have no knowledge of those games,  so this is my first introduction to the Elite universe.

The game itself has you as the commander of your own spaceship, dropped into a massive universe with a goal of making money and working your way up the ranks to ultimately be considered one of the elite.  The universe is open-ended, giving you the freedom to pursue whatever course of action you want.   You can be a trader,  transporting goods from one part of the galaxy to another – fighting off greedy and vicious pirates out to steal your cargo – or you could turn pirate yourself and attempt to steal from others.  Perhaps you’d rather be an assassin or bounty hunter, taking on contracts to make ends meet.  Your options are many,  and there is no set way to play the game.

07_HydroponicThe thing that blew me away was the massive scale of what is being built.   The game allegedly will boast over 100 billion star systems that you could potentially visit,  each of which could have upwards of 100 objects orbiting the stars such as planets, space stations, etc.  Through the use of procedural creation they’ve been able to create a massive galaxy (that’s roughly the size of our own, mind you) that you’re able to explore however you want.   That’s pretty damn cool.

Cooler still – what you do in the game will have an impact on the larger galaxy.   Since it has multiplayer capabilities (persistent, but not massively multiplayer),  human players will have the ability of impacting events in the game through their actions.    Supporting a given faction in a dispute may result in the downfall of the opposite faction – causing a rise in prices of certain commodities you need.   Or supporting an uprising against a government in a particular system that results in the downfall of that government may result in increased pirate activity,  impacting vital trade routes.  There are a ton of possibilities.

I’ve had the opportunity to play the beta and am not disappointed.  It’s loads of fun, and it’s not even complete yet.