May 13, 2016

Also Because “Bounty Hunter” is a Rad Job Title

The last two days have involved driving to work rather than taking the train, hence a lack of writing. I did put up a post over on bluesoul.me that might give a little clue as to what I’ve been up to.

I’ve been involved with fighting ransomware before, if only from the position of raising awareness. At the same time, I’ve been really unsure as to what I want to pursue as my next “deep” hobby. This week, it clicked. I’m going to be a malware researcher.

There are a number of things about this decision that really appeal to me. I have that innate desire to help people, and this is an opportunity to leverage skills that not a lot of people have to do so, potentially to save people from losing what might amount to their life story in digital form. From about the age of 13 on, I’ve had a fascination with hacking, and I can actually take the gloves off as a white-hat, working with teams to dissect viruses and help neutralize the source. There’s a fair amount of press (I’ll stop short of calling it fame) that can come with being a security expert. I’m not planning on leaving my job any time soon, mind you, I just like being renowned for something. It gives me an opportunity to learn an entirely separate field of computing than I’ve ever been exposed to. I’ve got about a 900-page book called Practical Malware Analysis that is pretty much all new content for me. That’s exciting for me. I also have the ability to do something that’s rare in the malware analysis scene right now, which is to quickly translate the research findings into something usable for sysadmins. I did this yesterday and it went over very well.… (More) “Also Because “Bounty Hunter” is a Rad Job Title”

May 9, 2016

The Department of Clever Ship Names

I finally got over the hump of one of my harder games, beating FTL Advanced Edition, and did so with only four points in weapons. It took 33 hours on Steam and probably another 10 from the “extended demo” prior. It took probably 40 attempts. Maybe I’m just not very good, and surely if I’d broke down and read a guide on the game and some weapon comparisons, I’d have had a better record up to this point than 1-40something.

Diana and I got some tennis in over the weekend, which did more to make it feel like a weekend than beating FTL did. I’ve got some soreness in my index finger, hopefully from too tight a grip rather than old bad habits involving running the index finger down one face of the handle.

The slowdown in writing isn’t really one, it’s just a question of who is seeing it. I’m about 2500 words into a guide on my new GTD implementation, and it’s been quite helpful to write it out, too. It gives you an opportunity to stop and ask yourself why you did something a particular way.

I really don’t have much this morning, pretty tired even with coffee. It’s just as well Mondays aren’t too demanding.… (More) “The Department of Clever Ship Names”

May 4, 2016

The Richard Simmons of Productivity

I ended up not being able to get a seat on the train with a table at all yesterday morning, hence no writing. Then on the way back, I had the table and was putting my own spin on a GTD system. ZenDone isn’t going to work out. They gave me a beta pass for their new site and app. It’s an improvement but it’s not going to work. I indicated that the next step was going to a paper-based system, but I lied. There’s one more option, which is Trello.

This will be my 4th attempt at building a GTD system, and each one has been more successful than the last. The big thing this iteration gives me is the ability to task my employees straight from my system, and we are in constant sync on where each of their tasks are. This was the biggest thing I was missing before.

The full article will be a separate blog post. I’m not 100% finished with the plan, I’m about 85% done, the rest is brainstorming if I’ve left out any tags or contexts. The post will go up after I’ve had a few weeks with the system and made any necessary changes. But I’m really excited for it.

Isn’t that a weird grown-up thing? Being really excited about a project management system? Maybe, maybe not. At the risk of badly paraphrasing David Allen, the work has changed. Fifty years ago, most work had a clearly defined beginning and end. Now a lot of what I do, it’s not obvious when I’ve actually started working on something, and it’s even less clear when I can wash my hands of it. Having a trusted system to track the work is, I think, mandatory to be the most efficient, and all … (More) “The Richard Simmons of Productivity”

May 2, 2016

Assprints In The Sand

I think we’re all creatures of habit, when you get down to it. I was bummed this morning because someone was in my usual morning seat. And I get that this isn’t school, there are no assigned seats…but if that’s not my seat, whose assprint is that?

We’re off to a much better start to the week, despite being on the wrong end of this train car. I feel altogether healthy, and ready to get to work. I’m ready to start working with ZenDone and see if it’s the answer or not. I’m cautiously optimistic about it.

Speaking of feeling altogether healthy, I wonder if I can convince myself to do this all the time, like a reverse hypochondria. Might save more sick leave that way.

I’m sad to report the loss of 0.201 bitcoin, which probably happened in 2013. I didn’t care when they were $17/BTC. Now that they’re at about $450/BTC it’s an irritation. That’s 90 bucks, man. If I’d bothered to keep mining I’d probably have a couple thousand dollars from it. I did cash out some Dogecoin, about six bucks worth. I’m on to a new cryptocurrency, Ethereum. I’m gonna stay with it this time. Every time I’ve gotten into mining, I’ve backed a good horse. The currency appreciated in value. And if I had bothered to stay with it, I’d have more money than I have now for roughly the same amount of work.

My presentation on the new file server infrastructure is finished up and approved by the sysadmin that’s actually going to be in charge of building the thing. I think we’ve got a good handle on how it’s going to go. It’s gotta go to the other managers now. This is their first time seeing me present an idea of my own … (More) “Assprints In The Sand”

April 29, 2016

Mariano Rivera or Aunt Jemima

I feel pretty good going into the weekend, physically and mentally. Physically I feel just about normal again. Mentally I got to talk with my guys and my boss about some stuff that had been on my mind. The business of needing to delegate more. It went over alright, probably mostly because I didn’t actually have a ton of stuff to hand over. If this had happened a month ago it might not have gone over as well.

All things considered the week is ending better than expected. I think I’ll feel like a new person going into next week.

I do like that work doesn’t generally feel like work. There’s not that resentment of spending time on stuff you don’t care about. Being happy in your work is underappreciated. It’s not a given that work has to suck, not even close.

I’m starting to accept that OneNote isn’t a 100% match for a GTD book. I found out about ZenDone fairly late in the day, but I’m going to play with it next week. It’s purpose-built to be a GTD tool, and integrates with Evernote, which isn’t bad. If it doesn’t work, I might just do the unthinkable: An analog system. That will be quite a readjustment, so I hope it doesn’t come to that. I can’t seeing it being better for me than some digital system. But, I’m also the one struggling here, so what do I know? I just find it hard to believe I’m better suited to analog than digital. It works for Stephen Covey, but he’s old enough to be my grandfather. He wasn’t surrounded by modern technology when he pioneered his productivity methods, same for David Allen. Companies like Moleskine love pointing out that plenty of 20- and 30-somethings are discovering the advantages … (More) “Mariano Rivera or Aunt Jemima”

April 29, 2016

1, 2, 3, Cancun

Happy Read-Only Friday. It hasn’t been a tremendously successful week. Best I can do at this point is try to close it out strong. I’m jumping between writing this and sending out some emails, delegating some things that have sat for a while.

I’m sincerely hoping skipping coffee was strictly necessary. It’s a big difference.

I’ve been torture-testing myself in Rocket League, playing a lot of 3v1 and 4v1. I win all the games at 2v1, about half the games at 3v1, and none of the games at 4v1. It’s a pretty good test, really. Playing those unfair modes means you have to really play perfect, keeping the ball in front of you at all times. If you don’t, you won’t be in position to do anything about the counterattack. It also makes for good keeper training, just staying in goal and letting 4 players fire at you. If you don’t mind losing 15-0, you can get a lot out of your five minutes.

The Boston Celtics were knocked out last night in a rather lackluster display. I’m not sure whether that was more on the Hawks playing exceptionally well or the Celtics just not making their shots. The Hawks did rack up a shitload of blocks. Dennis Schroder is better than I gave him credit for, he made four or five really nice plays around the basket. Tonight there are three Game 6 games happening. The Blazers and the Hornets both have a chance to win their series at home. Honestly, it’s going to mean a hell of a lot more to the Blazers if they advance than the Clippers. So much of the media wrote the Blazers off at the start of the year. That wasn’t an outlandish thing to do, either. They lost 4 of their 5 … (More) “1, 2, 3, Cancun”

April 27, 2016

Prorated

Partial credit is being issued today. I spent most of the day feeling ill and the resulting work and effort kind of reflected that. I should be better about that, but I’m a simple creature sometimes. Just like I don’t regret staying home yesterday, I don’t regret going in today. I was far more capable, but it just didn’t amount to much. I could’ve accomplished an equivalent amount in probably two hours any other day.

One of the odd things I’m wrestling with is a note that came out in my first evaluation. I need to delegate more, more managing of the work and employees and less technical involvement. That’s a totally reasonable request, but it’s a tough transition. In the last gig, I was doing most of the technical work at this tier, most of the time. At the same time, I resented not getting some assistance, though honestly most of the time there wasn’t anyone else available that was capable of doing the work. Now I’ve got guys that can do the work, but I don’t want to bother them with it. I’d rather keep them fresh and relaxed for those times where I need 100% out of them. I’m fine with taking on the intervening stuff myself. But that’s counter to the direction I’m being asked to go.

It’s part of that professional transition that I summarized as “making it.” Now that I’ve got a pretty good idea of how everything here works, I need to step back and let the sysadmins work. My focus needs to be in keeping track of all the work they’ve been tasked with, triaging the severity thereof, and letting them know what should get worked on at what time, and that’s the primary responsibility. The secondary responsibility is being the “Tier … (More) “Prorated”

April 27, 2016

Regularly Scheduled Interruptions

It hasn’t been a great week. I ended up running late on Monday, missing not only the regular train but the late train. I was having a lot of abdominal pain Monday night and yesterday morning so I called in sick yesterday. It got a bit better throughout the day but worsened at night. So I woke up this morning feeling ill again, and missed the train. I’m on the late train. Saying I still don’t feel great is quite an understatement, but I’ve gotta go. I really need a few months of good health here, it’s a real pain to be right on the cusp of no sick leave all the time.

Since I was home yesterday, and I just got my 27″ monitor in the day prior, I spent most of the day gaming on it, running through a bunch of games. I ended up spending quite a bit of time on Rocket League and the new Hoops mode. It’s always fun to get in on the ground floor of a competitive game, when everyone’s on about the same footing as far as experience. The 2v2 setup is ideal for such a small court, and it leads to some very intense matches. Two of the first three games went to overtime, the first one being sent to OT with a bank from three-quarters court with no time left on the clock.

I also decided to try some ranked 1v1 play. When you’re playing an evenly matched opponent, 1v1 is a blast. For reference, I’ve been playing Rocket League a bit longer than most. I picked up the predecessor game, Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle Cars on release day in 2008, and I’ve got about a thousand hours logged on it. Rocket League plays pretty much identically in every manner. … (More) “Regularly Scheduled Interruptions”

April 22, 2016

Ready Up

I really couldn’t ask for a better Friday. No alerts in the morning, couple emails to plan stuff for next week, got my evaluation from the boss, got my one-on-one meetings with my direct reports done, and nothing broke or caught fire in that timespan. It left me from 1:00 to 5:00 to plan and do a thorough weekly review.

It’s a really good feeling knowing that you have tracked everything going on at work, and know exactly where everything is at. That you don’t have to think about those things just for the sake of remembering them. You can actually relax.

So, the evaluation. I indicated it would have a lot of influence on how I felt going into the weekend and in general. I’ll just read off the relevant line out of the eight paragraph evaluation:

Daniel is a very skilled technical supervisor. The right person for the job.

The right person for the job. Validation. It’s a wonderful world.

I was initially joking about bringing decaf coffee with me on the train on the way back instead of gross lightly coffee-flavored cold water. I had a decaf pod in a variety pack. Guess what I’ve got today? It would be better if it wasn’t quite so warm out. But it was still a good idea, I stand by it.

All the Nutanix migrations so far have either been flawless or invaluable learning experiences on non-production boxes. My systems guy has done about a dozen machines, and we have about two dozen to go. If we can get about another dozen done in four days next week there’s a half-day off on Friday there for the taking. There actually is a train that leaves at about the right time, 1:07. I think we want this.

I ordered some … (More) “Ready Up”

April 22, 2016

I perform better while drinking out of a coconut.

Closing out the week is less arduous than it felt last time around. I feel more fresh than last week, despite (or, because of?) more booze being drank this week than last. I did get a full 8 hours of sleep last night, and I’ve gotta say, I’m at a point in my life where I really appreciate sleep. It’s the best.

Today I get my first evaluation from my boss. The timing is pretty good, Nutanix is ready for production as of yesterday and that’s one of my deliverables for the year. There is one more interim evaluation some time in July or August and then the final evaluation in November. I feel like this could put me in a great mood for the weekend, if nothing else. I want to be told I’m on the right track so far. I think that might just happen.

I finished reading Time Management for System Administrators yesterday on the train, hence the no new articles. All in all, I’m not terribly impressed. I thought it was going to be a GTD clone, but it doesn’t do any of the things GTD does as effectively. It boils down to “capture everything, and make a new schedule every day with all the stuff you have to do, then prioritize each item and estimate how long it will take.” The problem with the second half of that is that it doesn’t solve the problem the book set out to do. Limoncelli mentions “The list of doom,” which is a book where you write your tasks in and cross them out when they’re done, and eventually you end up with open issues scattered throughout the book. So instead, you’re to build the list up every day, rewriting the same junk every morning until it’s completed. … (More) “I perform better while drinking out of a coconut.”