The Shining Path of Least Resistance

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Archive for the ‘sausage’ Category

What Would You Say You Do Here?

Posted by mattray on May 25, 2008

I get asked that question fairly frequently, not by people who know Open Source software, but by people outside my realm of employment. “Community Manager for an Open Source systems management company” has gotten more than a few quizzical looks as they slowly back away. I tell people I encourage people to use our software, even if they don’t pay for it, which just creates more questions.

I’ve been at my new job for nearly 2 months and I’m just starting to feel like I’m getting my head around everything. As the Community Manager, my job is a weird hybrid between customer support, development and guerilla marketing. On any given day I can plan on working on something like reviewing documentation and assisting a community member with their ZenPack (a Zenoss extension); and end the day with a blog post, a dozen emails and several discussions about supporting another Open Source project. Some days I miss diving into a code-cocoon where the whole day disappears into a blur of writing software.

Keeping up with everything can be hard, I’ve recently started using the Getting Things Done methodology (a blog post about that soon) and I’ve found it really helps. The hardest thing is that I rarely feel I can focus on something for several days, I have too many spinning plates and have a hard time tuning everything else out. Hopefully with better prioritization and GTD I can fix that. I could also spend as much or as little time on any subject I come across. I could spend all day on IRC helping users, read documentation until I figure everything out, or learn Python as well as I’d like. But there is almost always something of higher priority bumping my schedule, so I’m keeping much busier than any of my last few jobs kept me.

This isn’t to complain though, I actually enjoy my job quite a bit. There’s constant variety so I’m never bored and I enjoy engaging most of the people I come across. Zenoss has a very passionate user-base, which is one of the things I’d noticed when I was evaluating the company. This makes my job a little easier, it feels good to work on a project that you feel proud about, as opposed to some random software that someone, somewhere is using (quite possibly not by choice). I really wanted to work for an Open Source company, or at least be in a position where I could contribute substantially to one, so I guess I’m doing pretty good.

So there you have it, hopefully the Bobs are satisfied.

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Posted in career, community, sausage, zenoss | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

My Job Went To India

Posted by mattray on March 31, 2008

Today was the last day of my job with a large, public software company. My job went to India.

The product I was working on had matured to the point where development was being offshored within the company and my job became expendable. From a business standpoint, I guess it makes sense, but I was a little bitter at first. It was my understanding that everything was going great, at least as far as we were supposed to know, and no one in management had ever let on that things weren’t going well until the hammer came down and the transfers and layoffs started. The worst part was that I had turned down a job offer a week before the first round of layoffs began (I said I didn’t see it coming, I didn’t say I wasn’t looking).

It wasn’t the first (or second, or…) time the company had offshored a product, and I work in an industry that it is the norm to have layoffs when times are good and bad. We were in a “culture of layoffs”, and despite management’s protests to the difference, we knew inside that someday it would be our turn.

My plan had been to complete my masters and then look for a new opportunity. My side business had mostly stalled out and I figured when I finished my thesis I would be ready for a new challenge. Unfortunately it got a jump on me before I was quite ready. I was offered positions within the company, but this event made it apparent that it has happened before and it will happen again, so off to greener pastures.  We were given plenty of time to get our affairs in order, and I had plenty of time to determine what was best for me.

I was already a fan of the Pragmatic Programmers publishing series, and I’d had my eye on My Job Went to India (And All I Got Was This Lousy Book) by Chad Fowler, so I bought the book the same day I found out what was going on. Luckily for me, the transition was easy and I had plenty of time to read the book.

The Book

My Job Went To India

All in all the book is a great introduction to career-planning for developers. I wish someone had given it to me when I was getting started (wouldn’t have changed much, but I might have appreciated it) because it points out a lot of things I’d been doing instinctively, rather than by plan. Tips like:

  • Master the domain you’re working in, don’t just skate by on programming alone.
  • Never tie yourself to a single platform or vendor.
  • Keep thinking about where your current job is going to get you, and work towards it.
  • Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, side projects make you more flexible.

There are 52 essays covering skill development, getting ahead in your career, marketing yourself and how to keep your non-coding skills growing. The book is essentially a politics and career companion to The Pragmatic Programmer, only with a titillating cover and title. It’s a quick read and I highly recommend it, especially to new developers.

Posted in book reports, career, sausage | Tagged: , | 3 Comments »

Welcome to LeastResistance.net

Posted by mattray on March 17, 2008

Greetings.

My name is Matt (AKA mray) and this is my little corner of the Internet where I’ll be writing my hopefully pithy observations on the sausage-making that is software, as well as whatever else strikes my fancy.

The title for this blog is essentially the easy way to do things. When you look at your options and you see one straightforward way, and the difficult alternatives. When the easy way shines brightly, most people will follow that. Hopefully this is also the right way to do things.

Posted in leastresistance, sausage | Leave a Comment »