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Different answers Tue, Jun 08, 2021
I asked some coworkers a couple questions today; here are the responses: 

1.  "Let me look into that and get you an answer in a couple days."  This says the person doesn't know, will work on finding out, and will provide an answer.  The person received a request and has taken it upon themselves to do their job. 

2.  "I think that presentation from a meeting last month mentioned it."  This is a guess.  This person doesn't know, and they don't know that they don't know.  They didn't give me the file they were talking about, or even send me a link to it.  This person thinks they answered a question but in fact have done absolutely nothing. 

If you're gonna answer a question, at least answer the damn question.  Don't say something and act like your job is done.

Do not engage Mon, Jun 07, 2021
My new favorite thing to do (or not do) is to not engage with people when they bring up something political.  I guess I sort of got to the point where I realized everyone is probably a little wrong about everything, and no amount of information, discussion, persuasion, or argument will change anything.  So instead of stating a counterfactual when somebody brings up an obvious non-fact, I just don't say anything.  I let the fart hang in the air, as it were. #psychology

Inexperience vs. wisdom Wed, May 19, 2021
I remember being in college and being told that sometimes companies appreciate new hires who lack experience, because sometimes "the way things have been done" isn't always great, and new blood brings new ideas and new approaches to solving problems.  This was especially comforting to a young person who was about to enter the workforce with little to no experience. 

Now that I'm on the other side of the equation, I sort of feel exactly the opposite.  Sure, new people bring new approaches and new skillsets.  And maybe that makes me feel threatened in some way because I'm older.  But I've really developed an appreciation, especially in recent years, for knowing and learning "the way things have been done" because that's literally the foundation of the entire profession.  Just because things used to be done a certain way doesn't mean they need to be done that way in the future.  But at least knowing how they were done can inform you either that they can be done that way or that they should be done that way.  The most valuable resource for large organizations with years of experience is wisdom.  A new person can come in and have all sorts of crazy, exciting ideas, and that's great.  But wisdom says, "Yeah we tried that years ago; here's why it didn't work." #business

Silence in meetings Thu, Apr 29, 2021
One of the consequences of pandemic-induced remote work has been the removal of visual body language from group phone calls.  When there are 10-15 people on a call, it's hard for the leader to keep track of individual people, so there's a lot of communications checks like "Is my mic working?", "Does that make sense?", etc.  One of the weirder examples from my experience was when this one coworker would say something like "I'll move onto the next section unless there are any objections" and after hearing nothing for a few seconds, would say "I'll take your silence as consent."  Thankfully we've moved on in recent weeks to the much less rape-y, "I'll take your silence as concurrence." #business

Torque Wed, Apr 28, 2021
Torque is probably my favorite physics concept because it's so simple and appears in all kinds of places.  Torque is a measure of force times distance.  You can generate more torque by applying the same force at a greater distance from a rotation point.  It's the reason why wrenches tighten things better than screw drivers.  It's the reason why those little Allen keys are double-sided -- one side is for quickly screwing something in; the other side is for tightening.  It's the reason you do bicep curls by holding a dumbbell in your hand and not on your forearm.  It's the reason why, when my ax gets stuck in a piece of wood, I grip it as far away from the ax head as possible to get it unstuck.  It's the reason why branch-cutting shears have really long handles.  It's the reason why lug nut wrenches are sometimes double-sided (double the torque) or have really long handles. 

When in doubt, use a longer lever. #science

Back to work Fri, Apr 02, 2021
I have a sneaking suspicion all these work-from-home promises we've heard over the past year will suddenly vanish once the world opens back up.  At first it was a bunch of technology companies that went fully remote for the foreseeable future.  But even regular corporate-type jobs were on board with supporting remote work.  I've heard lots of ideas about how future work will go:  Maybe fully remote, maybe every other day, maybe alternating weeks.  As a remote-capable worker, it's been refreshing to hear people realize how much work can be done without being in an office.  And despite the drawbacks (of which there are quite a few), I was a fan of teleworking before we were forced to do it. 

But I just have an inkling that once enough people have been vaccinated and the infection rates have gone down, there will be a sort of boiling-over anger from bosses and managers who've been holding back their opinions of the drawbacks of telework, and there will be a rapid push to re-normalize working at work.  And the collective PTSD of the teleworkforce will be like gasoline on a fire.  Once back at the office, working from home will feel like going back to quarantine times, which obviously no one wants.  So I think within the next year or less, we'll be fully back to the way we were, for better or worse. #business

Tiers of music fandom Thu, Apr 01, 2021
There are 6 tiers of music fandom: 

1.  Never heard of them.
2.  Never heard of them.  Oh wait, they sing that?  I like that song.
3.  I like 2 or 3 songs by them.
4.  I love that one album.
5.  I like several of their albums, but none of the old/new stuff.
6.  I can recognize every single song from every one of their albums by only hearing the first three notes.

Work but not work Thu, Apr 01, 2021
It's surprising how much of my "job" isn't really my "job".  Like my job consists mostly of writing code, analyzing data, drawing conclusions, and documenting results.  But other things I do during working hours are things like: 

- Wait for computer to boot
- Wait for mandatory software updates to finish
- Wait while virus scan bogs down 70% of my computing resources
- Spend 45 minutes burning a CD with 30,000 files containing software I need to do my job
- Try to find a way around network firewall to access information needed to do my job
- Take mandatory training
- Walk to other buildings, wait to be let in
- Wait for the network and/or electricity to come back on

There are "job" tasks and there are "meta job" tasks.  Work about work, but not actually work. #business

Possible design Thu, Mar 25, 2021
Several years ago, one of my coworkers discovered some software that let you design a graphical user interface fairly easily.  He was used to writing code with simple command line interfaces that were unattractive but functional.  So he kind of went to town designing menus and buttons and whatnot.  The weirdest, and worst, design decision he made was to include a popup dialog box when you tried to exit the program.  The dialog box simply asked, "Are you sure?"  I remember asking him why he included that, and it generally had something to do with seeing a similar function in another piece of software. 

I often find myself confused or bewildered by some sort of designed object, and I have to remember that there's a good chance a feature or function was designed by someone, possibly an intelligent technical person with no design experience, with little to no input from an end-user, simply because it was possible.

Data and minutes Wed, Mar 24, 2021
I used to work with this guy who was an electrical engineer.  He was the office GPS expert.  He knew about satellites, data transfer, ephemeris -- all the stuff an expert is supposed to know.  It was 2007, and another coworker got the brand new iPhone.  I was asking the iPhone guy how he liked it, etc., and the GPS guy said, "How does the data connection work?  Does it use minutes?"  This was in the time when you paid for a certain amount of cellular minutes each month.  Separate data connections had been around for at least a little while, and I really felt like, of all people, this GPS guy should've known better.  "Does it use minutes?"  Like, that's not even how any of it works.  It's literally two separate radios. 

I still know the GPS guy and I still think he's smart.  But damn, people have some weird blind spots.

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