Charlie Peters

It’s been two months since I lost my friend and colleague.  It was just as we began to enter the busiest time of the year for the company where we both work, so busy in fact, I never really had (and very much didn’t want) the opportunity to process what was taking place. And as the days went on, I often found myself getting up from my desk, I wanted to go talk to Charlie about one thing or another.  Charlie and I had a connection…  he hired me 20 plus years ago and along the way had been everything from a boss, to a mentor, to a friend.  We were wired a lot alike, both of us having spent our entire lives with technical things, he was the only guy I’ve ever been able to talk to without having to think about, or translate what I was saying on the fly – something I miss more than any words could ever express.  He’d immediately get it and would often “one up me” in the conversation.  He loved to just make stuff work and it’s what attracted me to this company so many years ago.  Charlie was never full of it, as down to earth as they come and as easy to talk with as anyone could ever imagine.  He was a gift, and my life has been forever bettered because of him and forever altered at the loss of his presence… Miss you Charlie… We all do…

Words

Words

My pal smays.com turned me onto the idea of summarizing your plan for the year in three words.  The idea is for these words to govern your efforts and act as a guide throughout the year. So, every November/December my mind starts to chew various thoughts into something that can be digested.  My words for 2010 were; people, priorities and performance.  This year they are; service, understanding and freedom.

It’ll be interesting to see how these hold up over the course of 2011.  It’s all about change in my work life as we’ve taken an axe to the IT infrastructure we’ve built over the last 15 years or so.  We’re questioning everything, in effort to better serve our customers, understand their needs and set them free from the typical IT standardization crap that is generally a battle about control.

The only constant is change

The only constant is change

My pal smays.com made a suggestion to me today, to write about a technological revolution that’s taking place where I work.  I’ve always been reluctant to write about technology and what I do, basically because I live, eat and sleep this stuff daily and I thought writing about it would be too much.  But, perhaps writing about it isn’t such a bad idea, I mean, I haven’t written much here in a long time anyway.

So, this blog will take another shift for awhile and we’ll just see how it goes. I’ll continue to post softball and baseball stuff, but with my metamorphosis from coach to dad as of late, I definitely need a new focus here.

Passionless in IT

Can “IT crawl out from under the ambition-crushing, innovation-sucking, soul-destroying minutiae of just keeping the digital lights on.”

An interesting line from a recent article in Computerworld.  Seems the passion within IT of truly engaged professionals has fallen from a high in 2007 of 12% to only 4% in 2009.

Without a doubt it’s been a difficult couple of years – the pressure to keep doing more with less and less takes a toll.  I personally can’t remember a conversion in the last few years that didn’t primarily revolve around cutting cost.  And we’ve amassed quite the pile of half completed/tabled projects over the years.

I’d also add that technology these days is a bit disjointed – HA!  Few things seem to work out of the proverbial box and interacting with manufactures support; well most would rather have a root canal.  Technology has always been a bit like putting a puzzle together without a picture, but these days not only is there no picture, it seems someone tossed in a bunch of extra pieces (from another puzzle) just to make it more fun.

ComputerWorld’s article does a good job of describing the situation. However, the question remains, what can be done about it?

Interacting with IT

Jennifer sent me this list a few weeks ago; it’s one of those internet lists that get circulated via email.  I haven’t personally experienced all of these, but over the last 15 years, I’ve experienced my share of them… they’re a lot funnier reading than experiencing for sure.

Years ago an office manager who got sick of Windows 95 decided to upgrade every computer in his office to Windows 98, needless to say the first we heard of it was the following morning when everybody began calling the helpdesk since nothing worked anymore.  It was like pulling teeth getting them to admit what had happened.  A quick trip home to pack, an airline ticket and several days later we manged to get the office operational again.  Proof positive that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

Instructions from the I.T. Department

  1. When you call us to have your computer moved, be sure to leave it buried under half a ton of postcards, baby pictures, stuffed animals, dried flowers, bowling trophies and children’s art.
  2. Don’t ever write anything down, especially the error message that was on your screen.
  3. If we ask what the last thing you did was, always respond with, “I didn’t do anything.”
  4. When we say we’ll be right over, immediately find a reason to leave so you won’t have to answer silly questions from us, like “what’s your screen saver password?”
  5. When describing your problem, just tell us what you were ultimately trying to do. For example, just say, “I can’t get my email”. We don’t need to know that the computer won’t even turn on.
  6. Feel free to ignore any email sent from us, especially those marked with high importance. You don’t really need to know about the latest virus that wiped out your neighbors hard drive.
  7. Always send important and urgent emails in all uppercase.
  8. When the copier, or anything else remotely electronic, doesn’t work, call us. Heck, if we can fix computers, we must know all about copiers too.
  9. If the document you sent to the printer didn’t print, send it at least 20 more times. One of them is bound to work.
  10. Don’t ever learn the proper name for anything technical. We know exactly what you mean by “my thingy blew up”.
  11. Don’t waste your time using the built in help files. We already had to learn the hard way, why should you?
  12. If any of the computer cables are in your way or keep moving, be sure to route them across the top of your portable heater or set something big and heavy on them to hold them in place.
  13. Never bother reading any message that pops up on your screen. Just click the X to close it or the first button your mouse gets to.
  14. Don’t ever try rebooting the computer yourself. Call us immediately. Only experienced, highly-trained professionals should attempt that.
  15. Feel perfectly free to say things like “I don’t know anything about this computer crap”. We love hearing our area of professional expertise referred to as crap.
  16. When you receive a huge movie file that’s really funny, be sure to forward it to all your friends. We have plenty of disk space and bandwidth.
  17. Don’t bother bringing a radio to work, just listen to music over the internet. Like I said, we have plenty of bandwidth.
  18. Don’t even think of breaking large print jobs down into smaller chunks. Somebody else might squeeze their one-page document into the queue.
  19. When an I.T. person is carrying heavy equipment, worth thousands of dollars, that’s the best time to ask why your screen saver quit working.
  20. Don’t bother to tell us when you move computer equipment around on your own. We certainly don’t need to keep track of those things.
  21. Your computer case makes a great flat surface for sitting drinks or potted plants on.
  22. Do whatever you can to cover up those ugly open air slots in the computer and monitor.

Not enough to do?

The company I work for recently made a major announcement about changes within the Senior Executive circles.  And it did so in a not so traditional fashion, making the announcement on the company blog by the outgoing CEO himself.  No filters, no committees, no PR team, none of that.

I had planned to update the blogging software that day, but obviously opted to postpone until the news spread and folks had a chance to read for themselves, but I digress…  What surprised me a few days later is when I heard through the grapevine that some folks felt slighted, they didn’t have the inside track on the news and that it hadn’t filter down the traditional corporate ladder, C-level, to VPs, to Managers, etc.

Now this is probably going to get me in hot water, but I always think of these type of complaints being the result of folks not having enough to do.  I mean, come one… seriously?  Whether at work, home or with personal issues, I always try to ask myself if what I’m worrying about is really worth my time, does it or will it move the needle?  Perhaps I’m wired differently, I don’t know, but I know that on my very long list of to-do’s, who knew what when doesn’t help me get anything accomplished and it certainly doesn’t help our company or us personally accomplish anything.

I kinda like the way it was announced… it affects most of us equally why not announce to everyone in this fashion?  I’m sure given enough time one could rationalize a good argument, but if you examine it closely, it’s probably more about control and class, than anything else.  But then again I have a blog…

Back from VMworld 2008

Spent last week in Las Vegas at VMworld along with 14,000+ other IT professionals.  Pretty amazing what 14,000 nerds can do to cell networks, wireless and internet access –you can pretty much forget about it.  It was my first VMworld and my first conference in years.

I won’t go into the details of the conference — most of you couldn’t care less, but I really enjoyed the interaction with other like minded people.  Most of the time, people I interact with outside of work have no feakin’ idea what I do or anything about the topics that interest me.  IT management, computer security, networking, etc., these discussions don’t excite anyone but those making their living in these area.  So, I soaked it up and I already miss it to a degree, but it’s good to be back home with the family and thinking a bit about baseball again.

A wonderful evening at Chase Field

I spent a few days in Phoenix last week on business, part of which was a meeting with the Diamondbacks and attending an evening ball game. I can think of no better way to spend an evening –Chase Field was awesome. A clear evening about 70 degrees with a slight breeze and front row seats behind the home base dugout (thanks guys!), plus a home team victory to boot.

Yeah, it’s a hard life…

Picture was captured with my cell phone… I can’t believe I didn’t bring my camera!

Save Windows XP!

Yep! That about sums it up… Infoworld is throwing its weight behind an effort to stop Microsoft from abandoning Windows XP for that piece of crap they’re trying to ram down our throats; Vista. I guess that makes my position on Vista pretty clear. From a corporate view, XP does what we need, it works fine, it’s stable, our applications and processes work with it. Vista is broken — period. It’s not particularly stable, it doesn’t work with many of our applications, users are lost in the reshuffled UI. Please, just give me one reason beside feeding the giant software monster more money for more crap my company doesn’t need.

Please help Save XP! (via Joel –thanks)

Purdue University

I spent a good part of this past fall traveling all over the midwest for work, (one of the many reasons I’ve been missing in action lately). Anyway, I was able to visit several universities, talk with lots of great people and even managed to sneak off with the camera a few times. Here’s a great shot that really shows off the fall colors while at Purdue University in Indiana, (shot from the pressbox at Ross-Ade Stadium).