Blame it all on my roots

This little march down memory lane has been refreshing. I have remembered a few things I had forgotten.

  1. I like using song lyrics as section headers – this started with my grad school papers eons ago.
  2. I have been in iterative design and development for a long, long time – kind of nice to find more legacy artifacts.
  3. Pictures, pictures, pictures! Oh my goodness these are spread throughout my hard drive.
  4. A lot of things changed during my tenure at my latest gig. It is more than a little unsettling to put it all together.
  5. I think in dates. Give me a date and possibly an experience or question and I can tell you everything I was doing that day. This is scary!

 

Cleaning the hard drive

A couple of months ago I noticed that the performance on my personal laptop was not awesome. Deep in my soul resides a latent hardware geek who is always interested in getting the best performance possible out of the systems at hand.
I checked all of the basic things to see if there was some random service that was consuming all of the systems resources.
Overall, my system is rather healthy. My cpu is barely being used 25% of the time.
My memory is below 30% used.
My bottleneck is the hard-drive.
I need to upgrade to solid state drives, but that is a wee bit cost prohibitive, so I am tuning. Joy of joys!

Updating is hard to do

As more and more of our lives become digital, separating our personal lives from our work lives gets more and more complicated.
For years, I have had multiple subscriptions to various ‘cloud-based applications’. As a consultant, I have a fiduciary responsibility to keep the accounts separate. Fine, I will do that, but the cloud-administration and login tools need to meet me halfway.
The quickest, easiest way to manage the various accounts is via hardware and login-tokens, which is essentially how I administered my stuff for the last 6 years. What I didn’t do was keep the software up-to-date on my personal system. This is killing me!
Adobe is a beast! As most of the time when I needed that software was for work, I only kept it fully updated on my work machine. Fine, that worked. For the rare occasion I needed the suite for personal use, I would just login with my personal account. No harm. No foul. Adobe was getting paid licensing fees for both accounts, I just wasn’t taking the time to update my personal copies.
I am paying for that shortcut, now! It has taken me forever to update my applications!

Checklists, checklists, everywhere checklists

It has recently come to my attention I communicate via checklists.
I do not think I am alone in this behavior.
What are meeting minutes anyway, besides a list of things folks have agreed upon needs to be done and how we have agreed to execute? The perfect foundation for communicating via checklists!

For the checklisting aficionado, I recommend Wunderlist.
I don’t know if it is the best, nor the greatest, but it works and that is all that matters for me. It has some nifty features, that have greatly simplified my life. Maybe I should blog on my thoughts, at some point.
For those folks who prefer a more visual representation of what we are doing, I like Trello.
Personally, I connected those two with my system of record communications tool and BAM life was easier.

What a long strange trip it’s been…

One the biggest challenges I have with my resume is traversing up and down the communications stack. When I started, there wasn’t an internet. People were struggling with the closed systems that represented the communications channels in those days.Email? There wasn’t any.
Okay, maybe a little. I was at the university and we were using VAX systems. I remember notes were handwritten – er taken in shorthand, transcribed into an email and forwarded to the appropriate ‘routing list’. We managed these ‘routing lists’ in steno pads in the administration office. We were bleeding edge.
The commands we had to execute to get that email from my desk to the Dean’s office was ridiculous. Today, I send emails that are shorter in length than the mere command was to make the connection in those days.
We had to use these communication tools to stay in contact with the other campuses, but it was truly a challenge.
There was no constant link. To connect, you had to know the commands to open the socket, make the connection, upload the changes and download any updates. Yes, it was as manual as that sounds. I have a notebook, somewhere, that deciphers what each of those connection sounds meant. Man do I not miss that world.
I remember being thrilled when I had mastered the whole mail thing. I really believe it was this ability to digest the technical information, translate it into human-being language, and execute is how I got the job managing the pc labs at the university until I finished my master’s degree. This was unheard of since I was a business major and there was an erroneous expectation that only engineering students could understand the magic that happens beneath the surface.
But I got it. It makes sense to me. I used to spend my Friday nights, manning the lab and teaching the computer scientists how to email their ‘whatever file’ to wherever. Typically, I could barely understand what their files said, but I could sure help them get it shipped to wherever. It always amused me that they could do their work, but had no idea how to use the vax utilities.
Just about the time I had it down to an art and was providing coaching sessions Friday nights and weekends, it was time to move to IMAP (Unix). Half of the recruiters I have spoken to in the past two weeks weren’t even alive when this was happening in my life. May the complexity remain buried for them.

 

Bring on the IoT

As I have been walking backward through my life experiences to create the resume that will open the doors for discussions about the next life challenge to undertake, it is hard to summarize everything I have done and keep from getting distracted.

One of the primary roles I have had consistently for years has been ‘intake’. I love this part of the job. This is the opportunity to review the forward-looking proposals and evaluate how we could deliver it, or not.
It isn’t an ‘all-knowing’ skill, but more of a leveraging skill. The key to success is being able to identify the brainiacs around me and working with them to business-ize the proposals. I am really good at this. The issue is communicating the value to prospective new teams.

I did find something buried in the links of interest I have collected over the years. This one makes me smile. I love that the auto industry doesn’t want to give up the ‘connected device’ challenges automatically to apple or google. Wonder if any of these consortia members have any openings and are near me? It would be fun to influence the future, again.

 

Telecommunications dots

One of the processes I am most proud of defining, developing and delivering during my tenure was the onboarding process. Kudos to my leadership for tossing it my way and allowing me to do it on my own.
Every onboarding activity I did was personalized. Yes, the basics where ‘check-the-box’ simple, but everyone who joined our ranks was an individual and they deserved individual attention.

There are a lot of things that have to be remembered whenever you start something new. Finally, I standardized on converting my checklist to individual notebooks created as the hiring processes proceeded.

This became the new hire’s ‘touch stone’ to be used as a start. This became a shared activity between the new hire and the various team members. Folks who were more adventurous enjoyed doing these activities like a scavenger hunt. Others who were more linear requested more ‘checklists’. That was a lot less fun.

Standardizing the work station provided for each resource went a long ways toward simplifying the time to productivity for each resource we brought in.
Writing the requirements for the ‘work station’ provided really helped set the baseline for the expectations the new hire would be able to perform on the first day.
It is much more difficult to produce a baseline for industry knowledge. Every industry has its own set of facts and history that new hires should be exposed. Pique their curiosity.
We were in the telecommunications industry. We were doing ‘mobile first’ design and delivery, so it really doesn’t hurt understand a little bit about the history of telecommunications. I like to focus on telecommunications in the United States.

I am old. I remember when Ma bell was the only game in town. I remember when it was illegal to own a telephone. My mother was a telephone operator in the 40’s and 50’s. Heck she was downsized by ‘mama bell’ because she chose to follow her husband when they shipped him to Colorado after they shot him with an atomic bomb. But that is a story for another day.