Prioritization.

At my job there are many ticketing systems to prioritize incoming work. For some of them, I have been hearing “this is going away soon” since I got there. I have been a part of a couple of attempts to consolidate systems, which were discarded over cost, schedule or someone deciding to go a different direction. So here is another shot at it.

I need a jar on my desk labeled “Fucks to give”.

Inside the jar will be tokens of some kind – slips of paper, marbles, poker chips – whatever. Each of these will represent a portion of my attention span that I can dedicate to some task. In other words, a fuck I have available to give.

When someone comes to me with something they need, they must first check the jar to see if its empty. If it is empty, check back later, because I am out of fucks to give right now. If there are tokens, it means I currently have the bandwidth to give a fuck about you. Take a token and tell me what you need. The person would hang on to this token until I have fulfilled the request. When everything has been tested/verified/validated, they give the token back. If there is some issue that cannot be resolved they hold on to the token until it is – because I have to give a fuck until it is.

If I resolved your issue and you released your token, you need another one if you expect me to give a fuck about you again. If you have another issue, you need another token. Two issues means I am giving more fucks about you than someone else.

So let’s say I start the average day with ten fucks to give. Two developers contact me with issues – two fucks given so far.

Then an urgent request – developer wants it done right away. Well that means I am being asked to give more fucks about you than everyone else already in the queue. That’s gonna be three fucks to get bumped to the front. So after two regular requests and one urgent one, I have given five fucks so far today.

One of the original two wants to know why his request is taking so long? Sorry, dude – got a priority request. Should have let me know I needed to give more of a fuck about you.

My boss would have to use it as well. You have a special project for me to work on? Fine – how many fucks do I need to give about it? Five? Now I am out of fucks to give for the rest of the day. If these requests go over into the next day, then I start that day without any fucks to give too.

As a company wide system, you could track who is holding up resources. Like, you could see a little virtual jar next to someone’s name in a chat client. You’d be able to see who is holding everyone’s tokens and how long they’ve had them.Then you could clearly see who gives a fuck about who. And when you’re bouncing around from person to person trying to get help on something, you can verify at a glance that it is futile, because there is nobody in the company that has even a single fuck to give about you.

Paeprs, pls.

This is Papers, Please. I have sunk a decent amount of time into this game.

This game is really amazingly good. I attribute this in part to the very satisfying sound effects associated with the actions you perform. Your every action has this sort of heavy finality to it. You stamp of judgement comes down hard with the weight of your authority. You communicate with travelers by growling instructions into a loudspeaker. Even when you are flipping through you handbook or passing someone a fingerprint sheet, the turn of each page sounds very deliberate and methodical. As though your intent were to proceed at as frustrating a pace as possible – making sure the applicants are aware, that you are aware that you are doing it.

The there’s the “Detain” buzzer, which is somewhat less aurally commanding. Just a very calm, quick buzz that says “Guards, please escort this sketchy motherfucker to one of the back rooms to discuss the discrepancies in his paperwork.”

I read a couple of articles1 that talked about how impressed they were by the moral dimension of the game – whether you will choose to show compassion to people who don’t have their papers in order, accept bribes, help assassins, etc.

I have no such moral quandaries. I play this game for cathartic reasons. This game is very like my job. Users want something, don’t have their requirements in order to get it, act surprised to hear what the requirements are, ask when that was implemented. I don’t get to detain shit at work, so this is my little treat at the end of the day.

I am the perfect government drone because I hate everyone that approaches my checkpoint. I find their pleas for mercy and understanding intensely irritating. Also grounds for suspicion.

Oh, you need to get into country to reunite with your husband? Because honestly that sounds a lot like something someone planning to blow up a building would say.

Oh, you need access to an operation that is only performed in this country? Because that sounds like an excellent cover for someone looking to assassinate whoever our glorious leader is.

I assume everyone is lying, so I am never swayed from procedure2.

My family is so cold.


1http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2013/08/23/papers_please_serious_video_game_raises_tricky_moral_questions.html
http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2013/11/10/244413539/papers-please-puts-your-loyalty-sympathy-to-the-test
2Except Jorji, who I know is clearly lying. Two body searches in, and I start thinking “Gettin real tired of looking at your balls, Jorji.” It’s less aggravation to assume that he needs whatever bulk pills packs he currently has taped to his thighs for a legitimate medical reason.

What do I even do for a living?

I’m not sure how many of my friends and family know what my job is. I tend to just say ‘Database Admin’ and call it close enough. My actual title is ‘ETL Administrator‘, but when I say this, most people don’t seem to know what it is. Naturally, they are compelled to ask, which means I am compelled to answer. And when I begin to give some details about my work, social convention keeps them smiling and rooted in place while I talk. But I see the desperate urging in their eyes.

nointerest

I explained my work to my mom once. I went into some detail about the intricacies and oddities of the systems we use, but at a relatively high level as she is not terribly familiar with computers. She was quiet for a minute, so I asked if everything I told her made sense.

She nodded and said, “So . . . you do filing?”

That is not really an incorrect interpretation of my job. It’s just that her interpretation and mine were not one hundred percent in agreement.

selfimage

Actually, I think that managing the workings of a complex network of servers and databases is basically like managing people. Except that all the people you are managing are autistic. They are brilliant at performing the task for which they are tuned, but they require very specific conditions and strict adherence to routine to perform properly. If even one element in their environment is slightly modified, everyone loses their shit and starts banging their heads on the wall until you fix it.

 

 

Status Update

So, I had a job interview recently at this place: Netsmart. It is possible that I applied at this place just because I feel the name settles in nicely with the likes of TruSecure and Cybertrust, which are company names already on my resume. If I get hired there, it will be like I have collected a set of something, like a trilogy. Or an evolved pokemon.

In related news, I am no longer working at Cisco. I was unhired due to the recent workforce restructuring. Not to worry though, the job offers are already rolling in.

I freaked out for about five minutes when I got an email from my boss saying she happened to be in town and wanted to take the opportunity for a face to face meeting – historically this is the sort of thing which precedes a firin’.

I didn’t really feel much loss connected with leaving the job itself, and I have to wonder if that has to do with the way I worked. I did not go to an office very often, as Cisco is good enough to allow employees the option to work from home. Pretty much all interaction with my co-workers was via email and chat. So not a whole lot has been different, except I have 10-12 hours a day free that I did not before. I have become quite skilled at Starcraft. And by skilled, I mean competent. I’m not ready for the Korean league or anything.

Also, a fat severance package has a somewhat calming effect on the nerves.

I saw a couple of articles like this one encouraging former employees not to sign the general release required for the severance package:

” . . . the severance amount may not be sufficiently paying you for what you are releasing. Consider the resources, the lack of work life balance, the time you have dedicated to Cisco. Is the severance fair?”

Maybe I should have sued?


What would I even do for a year in Canada?

No, probably not.

While there was often a lack of work/life balance, I imagine there was at least a chance that I could have alleviated that had I bothered looking for another job. I doubt being too lazy to explore career alternatives is reasonable grounds for a lawsuit.

Anyway, job searching is on hold for the week for jury duty, since a job interview is not a valid reason to miss a day. That seems reasonable if you have already been selected for a case, but thus far I have just been taking up space in the jury pool. So, instead of going to a job interview this morning, I watched half of a shitty movie that kinda looked like a remake of The Great Outdoors. It had Adam Sandler and the fat guy from King of Queens in it.

My old phone contract went away with my old job. This required a new number and fresh 2 year commitment to Verizon. It also provided me with an opportunity to snag a new phone. However, any phone that looks even a little bit like it might have a touch screen requires a data plan at this point – except this one:

Everyone seems to hate this phone – and as it was originally marketed, that’s totally understandable. It’s a phone with no apps or other significant smartphone features, but they tried to attach the same data plan required for say, a Droid. It was billed as a smartphone for teens, and so was not supposed to need all the apps. It was instead meant to integrate with social sites, such that you would more often be checking your friends’ Facebook status and uploading pictures with this phone, rather than texting or calling people.

I would not have paid $150 plus data plan for this phone. It did seem to be a pretty excellent deal at $0 and no data plan, so I think they have found the sweet spot, pricewise. And the phone itself has a decent amount of hardware features, it’s just that they are not used for anything in particular. It has wi-fi, which was the biggest reason for getting it. It also has a GPS chip (used for geotagging in one iteration of the OS). Here are the full specs, if anyone is interested: KIN Hardware Specs.

So, it’s like they’re basically expecting you to install a new OS on it, right?

She Keeps All The Monsters Away

I am afraid of spiders.

I don’t care if they are the tiny brown variety that desperately tries to skitter away as soon as it sees me or the vile creatures the Discovery Channel hosts an “Xtreme Predators” special on every other week. If any member of your kin can cause this, I’ll have no part of you.

I’m not entirely certain what it is about them that troubles me so. Most can’t hurt me and, on an entirely intellectual level, I am aware of the benefit that they as a species provide to mankind. I think the problem lies primarily with the legs – they are entirely too many. They make me think of self propelled polydactylized little hands. That will grab you. And bite. I will admit that this particular aspect of my phobia may arise from a less than rational area of my psyche.

So yesterday, as I was sitting at my desk, one of the little abominations descends from the ceiling. It brushes my forehead and settles somewhere in my personal space. As I have quite a large amount of hair, I immediately begin to panic – naturally assuming it’s goal was to get tangled up in a bleached blonde mop. I managed to keep myself under a small bit of control and just rolled my chair across to the woman in the cube next to me. I explained the situation and asked her to check my hair for spiders.

She noticed that I was shaking and just generally terrified and said, “Oh, you poor thing.” She proceeded to march over to my cube, wave her arms over my desk and announce – in her thick Romanian accent – that all spiders had to go away from my desk. She then turned to me, brushed her hands together and proudly proclaimed “There, no more spiders here.”

I just stood next to my desk for a few seconds after she sat down – not quite sure what to do after having essentially been reduced to a 5 year old.

It does actually make me feel a little better to know that I have a hex from the old world guarding my work space though.

I Love My Job

Last week I was in Palm Springs – as a requirement for my job. We stayed at a sweet resort, and I was unburdened by sobriety most nights – which I’m pretty sure was also a work requirement. There may also have been meetings of some sort during the day. I intended to write a bit while I was actually there, but decided that posting while intoxicated could be detrimental to the integrity of my site. Plus I was ass tired by the end of each day, so it wasn’t too high on my priority list.

Anyway, much cool stuff to do in PS – highlights include endless meat at a brazillian steak house and getting lost on the side of a mountain in the middle of the night. Some pictures are up here – mostly just at the Brazillian place and hanging out in a hotel room after. More on the way – mostly landscapes and such.