What is the "the nuts" at your job?
At mine, it's understanding PLC logic or code as it were. What is that one essential ingredient at your job?
My feeling is that Shark's is stroking little-lost accountants in order to generate some bread. Hey, any time you can answer the phone as Taco Bell and have your boss laugh about it, there must be some customer stroking going on. Some people are really good at that, tech skills aside.
September 9th, 2006 9:35pm
What are you talking about.
Answer the question then. I was referring to an old post a couple months ago.
Okay, Shark, WTF *do* you do at work?
September 9th, 2006 11:01pm
I make CFO types happy.
I talk to them about how to use our software, train.
They usually want something customized, so I do that, too.
But mostly I install, train, and listen to their problems.
The worst part of my job is dealing with self-styled sys admins. These are usually contractor types who try to CYA by blaming our software for their server's demise.
I am often amazed at how clueless some of these sys admins are. Which is just as well. We charge, and I get to do the work, of repairing fubared databases, troubleshooting Windows issues, explaining to them why DCOM isn't working properly.
My favorite are Linux geeks who absolutely hate Windows. They assume they know more than I do about the technology we are working with. Or the guys who try to do the customizations on their own, and can't, so they call me to help code stuff.
My job is mostly pre-sales since the salespeople sell a trial. Typically, the customers keep the software if I do my job well.
"These are usually contractor types who try to CYA by blaming our software for their server's demise"
That's classic :)
September 9th, 2006 11:15pm
So yes, I stroke people. All day.
I ask because I wonder where you get the mental stamina after a hard day of work (or even during work - we have a no blog policy at work) to thing about robots, math degrees and what have you.
For me, lunch time is busiest, I never really get a break the whole time I'm at work, have to keep track and call back on multiple items, help with other stuff going on, learn, help, sometimes ship, and complete stuff. It's not unusual for people to work after work, but some of this stuff like math I would think requires a fresh mind.
You seem so underutilized at work, or just amazing to me, you even have the stamina to speed read on the subway. Are you like the energizer rabbit all the time. I don't get you, but I would appreciate it if you gave some kind of answer so I could better understand.
September 9th, 2006 11:18pm
Oh, thanks for the long reply. Now I understand what you do, was more complex than I realized. I think after reading to many "off-topic" posts from a person I begin to wonder.
Didn't mean to come on so strong, my curiosity was getting the better of me. :-)
September 9th, 2006 11:21pm
"We charge, and I get to do the work, of repairing fubared databases,"
You're good at that sort of thing, and the rest.
At my job, it's a lot of modifying bits of our software because they are adding things to their plant, or changing it around. The customers actually have the PLC code to their plant, but they are rarely good enough to tweak it, and some of the options have to be compiled into it - which can only be done by us at our office. Pretty ingenious by the one programmer who basically wrote all of it.
We may sell it on monthly license basis in the near future, if we ever come out with the .net version of this stuff. I don't know how they would prevent people from disarming a monthly SW license feature though. Do you have any ideas how to stop that? You just hope people don't reverse-engineer .net code, I guess.
September 9th, 2006 11:29pm
"The worst part of my job is dealing with self-styled sys admins. These are usually contractor types who try to CYA by blaming our software for their server's demise."
Yeah, I think SAs have to justify their existence. We just have programmers, and whoever can be a fill in SA. We solve any SA problems pronto, it doesn't justify a full-time job role.
September 9th, 2006 11:34pm
"I ask because I wonder where you get the mental stamina after a hard day of work (or even during work - we have a no blog policy at work) to thing about robots, math degrees and what have you."
I have an SO who doesn't work, but goes to school. She does a lot of the things I don't have the mental capacity for, such as the finances, the shopping, the laundry. That is an enormous help to me, because otherwise, I would be mentally exhausted.
In my job, I have to "compartmentalize". I must not take on the other person's energy, I must make them feel comfortable, like I really care. I have to subjugate my ego a lot, and make sure everyone at least feels good about the relationship. Yes, this takes a lot out of me. I really don't know how I do it. I sleep a lot on the weekends. Maybe that helps. And workouts.
"You seem so underutilized at work,"
I am. That is my goal, so that I have mental abilities left over for myself after work. I probably have more mental stamina than most though. I can focus for hours at a time. I get depressed when I lose this ability, however. I rely on it a lot.
"We may sell it on monthly license basis in the near future, if we ever come out with the .net version of this stuff. I don't know how they would prevent people from disarming a monthly SW license feature though. Do you have any ideas how to stop that? You just hope people don't reverse-engineer .net code, I guess."
I wouldn't worry about it. There are some people so smart that if they want to, they could take it apart, period, no matter what you do. Do due diligence, take away the obvious ways they could open up the software, and that's it. By the way, even if people reverse-engineer your product, you should always be improving it so they are willing to pay the fees to keep it legal.
"At my job, it's a lot of modifying bits of our software because they are adding things to their plant, or changing it around. The customers actually have the PLC code to their plant, but they are rarely good enough to tweak it, and some of the options have to be compiled into it - which can only be done by us at our office. Pretty ingenious by the one programmer who basically wrote all of it."
It seems like you enjoy your job a lot. A great learning opportunity. I have a client that sells this kind of software (embedded stuff that drives machinery), and his enthusiasm is contagious. We talk sometimes about his code and what-not. I have great respect for people who write software "has to work right or else." That's a kind of pressure I don't think I'm equipped to handle.
I'm responsible for the integrity*, maintenance and operational readiness of a ship - replacement value ~$80M. I commit, on average, about $1M/year.
* as in keep the fucking water out :)
September 9th, 2006 11:48pm
Wow, insightful. One of the things I really, really like about you Sharkfish is that you always rise up to the challenge. When people are writing dopey posts, you can respond in kind, but when they aren't neither do you.
The thing I see about this co.'s history, looking at pictures on the wall from the 1960's, the control buttons were the same then, it's just on the computer now. So back then, the owner (who I see from time to time) would wire up mechanical relays, and his son did it with him. Now his son's son is coming back to the helm soon.
My point is, it was all done once mechanically, you couldn't copy that sort of labor, physical customization. But nowadays you can just throw away a lot of your game by putting it all into one program on a PC. The older guys here know how to wire up and build a physical console, but only a few of us know how to program it. Kinda scary in a way. Although those guys could probably learn the PLC stuff, but there is really only one master programmer who wrote all the stuff on the PC (DOS) side of how it works, but one of my bosses also knows that code.
So, I guess what I am saying is yes, there is such a thing as the master programmer, something it sounds like you want to be. :-)
September 9th, 2006 11:57pm
You mean an actual boat? You do boating software? Tell me more. Sounds interesting. Navigational systems? What?
See the sig link. I don't often link to it ... bit of a shit house that I don't have time to clean up.
September 10th, 2006 12:12am
"I ask because I wonder where you get the mental stamina after a hard day of work (or even during work - we have a no blog policy at work) to thing about robots, math degrees and what have you. "
My mind has a mind of its own. I am only half-kidding. I have to meditate to get away from its demands.
It plays its own soundtrack. (I have no control most of the time, unless I concentrate, on the songs that play in my head, which are constant).
It demands stimulation at all times. If I'm not reading, I have a plot playing in my head about something. I'm so distracted most of the time that any one who is around me for any length of time notices that I'm not paying attention to them.
I had a set of girlfriends once who used to make fun of that aspect of my personality. They would talk to me about something, and I would pretend to respond in kind. I'd say something like "Oh, really?"
So when they wanted to tease me, they'd stop in the middle of a conversation and imitate my voice "Oh, really? How was it?" then look off in the distance like an autistic idiot.
I guess you had to be there.
I have the ability to focus, but no attention span. If that's not a contradiction...
You know what, Shark? I'd like to build a computer, just for the thrill of it.
Even now, when someone says that, for a brief moment I actually think of not just slapping together a MB, RAM, Video Card, and case, but actually building a computer.
September 10th, 2006 12:41am
I'm the same exact way, Shark.
Sometimes when I am listening to talk radio, I'm not following a lot of the arguments thrown around. Well if this, then that, and the caller will say yeah you're right but only if... and I have no clue because it's just too fast for me to keep up.
I've done that before though, say 'yeah' 'right' a lot of times and think what is this person talking about. Lately, I have enough skill at my job to know what they are talking about, unless it's out of my field of knowledge.
September 10th, 2006 12:47am
"Even now, when someone says that, for a brief moment I actually think of not just slapping together a MB, RAM, Video Card, and case, but actually building a computer."
That would be cool.
Jan Gray is my favorite on the subject, the little I know of it
I am assuming when you say "building a computer", that you mean CPU, architecture, and everything.
That would be incredibly good fun.
I would love to build a sub-$200 laptop, from scratch.
do you know circuitcellar.com sharky?
there was a set of articles in there a few years back about some dude that was building a custom procesor in an FPGA. looked cool. went into instruction set design, the lot.
you *could* do it in gates and wirewrap of course, if you wanted ... you *are* a masochist, aren't you ... ?
September 10th, 2006 1:58am
I went quiet because I got this idea, a product, that could start a real co., brand even. It's HW, but not FPGA.
The FPGA idea would be cool. I was thinking Z-80 when I said that, but FPGA is even cooler. One FPGA and a RAM chip and some address bus buffer chips for incoming and outgoing bus signals at the edge of the board.
September 10th, 2006 2:21am
you gottit! brush up your vhdl ...
September 10th, 2006 2:26am
No, I was thinking even 'lower'. ;-)
That's it right there, as far as our 'robot' is concerned, all we need is an FPGA. There's no need to build an all-purpose CPU. When I said 'computer', maybe I meant something more like 'state-machine' because I was thinking 'embedded' application (everything all rolled into one), but not 'general-purpose' computer.
Although general-purpose would be a great learning project too.
September 10th, 2006 2:42am
I was thinking about gates. All you need is 'AND' and 'NOT'.
What's funny is I was just thinking of making a tiny state machine (a small truth table) using nothing but transistors. hehe. You can use one two leads for inputs and the other output (MOSFETS are used for transistors used for logic operations).
That would be even more fun, building an AND gate in transistors. ;-)
September 10th, 2006 3:01am