March 1st, 2004


What have I gotten myself into?

Cripes, this place has a dress code. Yah, I know, every place has a dress code, but this one is a little tighter than normal. Shirts must be tucked in, no denim of any color, no multi-pocket pants. None of my clothes will work for this.
Also, there are no fat people in the entire building. I am an anomaly. There aren't even pudgy people here. The director is ex-military, and is a stickler for neatness-- no loose papers on desks will be tolerated, everything must be neat and tidy at all times.
They are very security-conscious, to the level of paranoia. All computers must be locked when you are not physically at the machine, and any laptops must be placed in a locked drawer. If you are away for more than ten minues, your machine must be physiclly turned off. And need I mention the limitations on internet access? Nothing non-work related is tolerated. They tell you at the orientation that you have unrestricted access, but they evidently changed that policy recently: now you must have a specific need to access any websites other than the internal intranet, and e-mail is monitored (sniffed). You are not allowed administrator access to your local machine. You cannot install any software, including the software that is required to do your work. All such requests must go through IT and be approved by the local administrator (two different processes).
They also have what they call flex-time. Their definition of flex time:
You can come to work at 7:30, 8:00, or 8:30. You may leave at 4:30, 5:00, or 5:30. You must specify. Also, you are required to take lunch from 12:00-1:00. Not 12:05-1:05.

I'm in developer hell.

I don't even have a cube. They are at a premium for space, so I am stuck in an old conference room with a table and three computers, and I share the table with two test engineers. There is no room for anything; in order to put the requirements doc on the table I have to move the mouse. I have been told that this will change in a couple of weeks. And remember the work-at-home possibility? Well, there are conditions. Essentially I have to prove myself by undercutting the allocated time for tasks consistently by about 20%. While I don't know exactly what kind of scheduling will be happening, I have yet to see software development scheduling that is reasonable from any company.
And yes, the schedule is set by management, not developers.

In my previous rants, I may have mentioned that one of the things that I particularly dislike about the way the software industry is headed is the commoditization of engineering. This is a textbook example. The requirements are written by marketing, not even an analyst. The programmers then have to formally interpret the marketing requirements into a formal SRD (SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS DOCUMENT), which is then used as the basis of several plans.
Some of the development is in Germany. Some of the development is in Belarus. For instance, my project lead is in Germany. Most of the overseas developers don't speak english, so the documents are translated, but the translators aren't necessarily technically proficient.
Yes, I said my project lead is in Germany. Er ist im office until about 10:00 A.M. our time.
And the product delivery date is in January. Theoretically my contract ends at the end of August, but with a delivery of January, there's a lot of air there.

Good things: I will be learning CAN bus and VxWorks, two technologies that are very marketable back home. And I'll be learning some of GPS and other sattelite navigation systems.

Have I mentioned I hate sleeping in hotel beds? It always takes time to get used to the new mattress & pillows, and with the sinus infection, sleeping is spotty at best.
And hotel showers invariably have a water saving feature which makes them more of what I call dampeners. Not a proper shower at all.

I am calm. Like the willow, I bend but do not break.

crypto fun

Finished reading Digital Fortress by Dan Brown. There was much absorbing of time, and it was good. And he left a little dig in the back of the book: