A bit over a month ago I wrote that, after six months of effort and three weeks of idly waiting for others to complete work, maybe things would finally start moving on my data integration project.
And I haven’t posted since (other than the Rick O’Shay post later that same day). As it turned out, things did finally take off, and the month got very busy. Things got even busier when they dumped an urgent “can you help with this” project in my lap.
I’ve also spent the month struggling with whether I wanted to continue blogging, and if so, whether to change my approach.
Today I thought I’d post an article about all that (and the Minnesota Twins).
Let me start with the work situation. Things finally began to fall into place with the data integration, although it was really only in the last weeks of March that there was enough to really dig in. But as the month began, management suddenly decided to get urgent about the project and decided they wanted it completed by March end.
So they threw a Six Sigma Black Belt at me.
Those of you who work in the corporate world will likely know what that is.
For those of you who’ve never heard of such a thing, you can start by reading the linked Wiki article.
The short version is that, back in ’85 Motorola developed a system to aid manufacturing. Six sigma refers to manufacturing defects, and mainly is designed for processes with lots (like millions) of repeated operations (such as making a given part). It’s a system that uses statistics to discover whether your process is consistent or variable, and then intended to help you get the process to a consistent point of minimal defects (achieving “six sigma” means no more than 3-4 defects per million units).
The key is that Six Sigma is designed for repeating processes with high unit volume. Not at all the sort of work we do in IT where each project involves new ground to plow. But being that most managers are a waste of skin, Six Sigma became The Thing in a lot of companies. My company spent a lot of money putting every employee through Six Sigma training.
Of course, most of us haven’t used it since.
A Six Sigma Black Belt is someone trained to use advanced 6S techniques to manage and improve a project. I have no doubt that in manufacturing they are highly effective. In the IT world, Six Sigma Black Belt seems to be another term for Useless Twat.
The one they threw at me certainly is. Mostly we just endured him and then ignored his schedules and timelines. Another employee and I worked together to really move the project forward. There is still a lot of work to do (I knew the March end deadline was ridiculous, but sometimes you just have to let them figure stuff out when it actually slaps them in the face), but it was nice to be moving forward again.
I was also approached early in March about whether I could advise or help with a data extraction project. Many years ago one of our vendors offered a cloud-based database solution that, due to low cost, The Company jumped into big time.
This massive IT upgrade project that’s going on needs that data back, and the user-level methods provided by the vendor didn’t meet the need. So what to do?
Ask the expert. Me.
Turns out I had written a Java-based library of code implementing tools for doing exactly what they wanted. There was a simple tool that was easy to configure and use. That tool extracted the remote data into TAB files (which other systems can easily process as input).
They thought this was a wonderful thing, oh my yes, but how do we get the data into our databases? Well, you use the TAB files. But wouldn’t it be nice if somehow we didn’t have to do that. Can you help some more?
Well, as it turns out, yes, there is another set of tools I developed speculating they might be useful someday. They’re in prototype form, never really used or heavily tested, and much more complex to set up, but it would meet your need.
I’ve spent an hour training you how to use the simple system (thanks for wasting my time). Would you like me to train you on the other one?
Except that one apparently was too complex, so another hour training session wasted (I have to prepare for these training sessions, too, you know, so you’re wasting more than just one hour of my time).
What I expected to happen from the moment they first engaged me—what always happens when they realize a trained, experienced IT person is necessary and not one of their poorly trained wage slaves—is that it ends up back in my lap. Every. Stinking. Time.
And not only do they end up wanting me to do the work, but there’s a deadline. Can you get it done by end of March? (What, you mean in one week?!?)
They asked my manager if they could pull me of the main project for this, and he said yes.
So, major task switch, and off I go.
And I hit a home run for them. Again. All the data and on time. (Given the short notice they recognized the difficulty and were willing to settle for one of the four databases they wanted extracted. I gave them all four. I’m that good.)
This past week, now that they could look at the data, they threw a bunch of change requests at me. And I implemented them all and re-extracted the data last Friday all while ramping back into my other project.
I’ll say it again. I. Am. That. Good.
[In point of fact, I took Monday and Tuesday off (baseball season started!), so I did all this in three days.]
Wednesday I announced my intention to retire, effective this June, due in large part to my perception of the difference between my estimation of my value and management’s. It was also due to this absurd “open office” nonsense, which may work for certain kinds of wage slave, but doesn’t work at all for someone who needs focus and concentration in their work.
As I’ve mentioned before, it’s also a hell of an insult to someone with 50 years of technology experience, 40 years of software experience, 33 years of company experience, 9 years of corporate IT experience and 7 years experience in the CRM domain. And I’m sitting next to some schulb with a year’s experience in one area.
Fuck that! I am outta here.
Management’s response, in light of all those years of experience, and in light of the obvious need for my knowledge on the main integration project, and in light of how I just aced a data situation no one else in the company could have?
Essentially, “Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.” (The actual phrasing was, “I respect your decision.” Yeah, well fuck you, too.)
And in the three days (I announced Wednesday morning) that has been the sum total of management’s response.
I work for idiots!
For eight more weeks, anyway.
And I’ll tell you this. The combination of a month’s worth of really good, productive work, combined with knowing it’ll all be over soon, has me in a pretty good (if somewhat destructive and rowdy) mood!
So that’s work. Word count has gotten fairly high, so I’ll try to be brief with other news.
The Minnesota Twins are off to a good start this season (which after 2011 and 2012 is pretty sweet). There’s nothing to say they can keep it up, but there’s nothing to say they can’t, either. Twins fans know better than to hope—let alone than to expect—but it’s been a nice six games so far.
We beat the Tigers in our opening series (lost only the first game), and then we went to Baltimore and beat the Orioles (lost only the first game). Some pretty decent baseball. So far the boys of summer are holding it together!
Which brings me to this blog itself.
I’ve been struggling with how much WordPress, and the interweb in general, is like the real world. By which I mean it’s filled with people who don’t have much science education or interest in it. (Actually, I could almost leave off the word “science” there.) I recently gave you some quotes by Carl Sagan—that first one is a key issue with me about people today.
I’ve been complaining about the education system in this country for over 40 years. Now I live in a world in which children brought up in that defective education system are running things and making decisions. And to be very blunt, far too many of them are both stupid and ignorant. A deadly combination.
Many managers in my company would be hard-pressed to write a literate email. I’ve come to realize that many of them don’t even have the reading comprehension to absorb some of the memos I write. Micro-blogging (such as Facebore) and nano-blogging (such as TWIT’r) seem to be destroying people’s ability to think long thoughts and process information deeply. Our attention spans seem at an all-time low.
We’ve raised a nation of shallow, ephemeral, illiterate, innumerate (the mathematical equivalent of illiterate) pin heads with almost no critical thinking skills. They won’t readily commit to paper, since that might reveal their poor thinking skills, so corporate life tends to consist of endless meetings where people talk about doing things, but rarely actually do them.
For all our electronic collaboration tools, these useless wastes of skin need to call a one-hour meeting just to pose a question. Which of course results in more meetings for the answers. And more meetings for more questions, and so on.
The internet, back in the day, used to be my refuge from the under-educated and overly-shallow, but sadly that is true no longer.
And the honest truth is that I have a problem. I’m a bigot when it comes to those under-educated and those who’ve apparently never really learned to use that large organ between their ears.
I fully recognize that I’m being the asshole here. But you know what? It’s my blog and I’ll asshole if I want to.
Starting now, you’re going to see a more bitter, more angry, more insulting, Wyrd Smythe here. More on this story as it develops.
You may want to look away.