A few weeks ago I resigned from EMC. My last day is 10 May. Similar to my last weeks at Intel, the “lame duck” period working for a soon-to-be-ex-employer usually contains the most fascinating and instructing weeks on the job. My days have been filled with friends calling to wish me luck, pick my brain, and find out for themselves as much as me what might be next.
Most are surprised that I am not going to another job yet. Invariably a pregnant pause follows me telling them I am going on sabbatical. I think they are usually wondering:
Well, no to the first two. To number three you’ll have to follow my actions for the coming year and reach your own conclusion! As others ask and challenge me about my future, we have had some friendly conversations of incredible insight. They have helped me form a clearer picture about what I need in my next job.
The past few weeks have seen a lot of disagreement over the South China Sea by the countries that border it. This waterway connects China to europe, Africa, middle east. And it has been identified as a potential rich source of oil, natural gas, rare earth minerals. The Paracel and Spratly islands, sprinkled throughout the sea, command the region. Sometimes multiple countries claim ownership of the islands. The water that surrounds them is hotly contested.
A big part of how companies hire is based on easily measured skills, both hard and soft. We look for people that understand the technology, have demonstrated competence in execution, can communicate and lead, etc. And clearly these aspects are important to job success. But a previous personal blog entry got me thinking about activities indirectly related to success but possibly just as important.
That previous article focused on a team’s communication practices as a sign of health. But that is clearly not just dependent on policy and environment. Individuals’ capabilities are important. Not all people communicate as easily or effectively. There are degrees of directness in language, an ability to turn thought into words, the skill of reading a listener and modifying the message. All of these add up to communication intelligence that predicts part of a person’s contribution to a team.
My friend Karen works in the food industry. She is often sharing articles and videos she finds that speak to our common interest in food. Last week she sent me a 90-minute Youtube video called, Sugar: The Bitter Truth. Its a very long video with a 20 minute dive into biological chemistry that was tough the follow. But when making more easily understood observations the presenter enlightened me.
Here are some of his observations:
My new responsibilities at EMC make me a part of a large transformational project. I have never before had the privilege of building or changing culture. But my managers have brought me into such a project. And we are doing it at very large scale. Thousands and thousands of people.
The first outward signs of the scope of this project came from a blog post by my second-level manager. If you are not in the industry the import of Chad’s post may be difficult to decipher. But those of us in technical sales recognize the ambitious nature of this change. Chad is not just trying to change reporting lines. He’s trying to change culture.
I have been griping about my BlackBerry for years now. How did it come to this? How did the little magical device with the unidimenstional scrolling wheel capture my heart and show me the wonders of constant communication? How did the company that makes the BlackBerry so totally fuck up their ownership of the market? I am not going to spend much time thinking about it.
But now that I have a new phone, I will take a moment to give a spin-free assessment of the relative merits of my previous and current phone. The previous phone, Research in Motion’s BlackBerry “Tour” 9700 was in my possession for about two years. Its successor, Samsung’s “Note” GT-N7000 has been in my sweaty hands for about a week. Let’s compare the two.
It has been 16 months since I moved to Singapore. One of the unexpected benefits of this move is the loss of a car. It is a joy to live in a town where I can walk to grocery stores, malls, restaurants, and public transportation that will take me nearly everywhere else.
Half a year ago I realized that not having a car was a big part of my happiness here. And that made me think about the US infrastructure that has made people addicted to cars in all but a handful of cities. My Mom in Gallatin, not far from Nashville, TN, recently asked me where I would recommend she live if she wanted to abandon driving.
To be more specific, what cities in the United States meet the following conditions:
The only city Mom and I think might meet these conditions is San Diego. Maybe Portland, but I am not sure.
Can you help us find this ideal home for a new stage of my parents’ life?
On 7 September I tweeted about a need for a password management tool. Craig Waters responded by re-tweet (RT) with text that included the word iPhone. That keyword was picked up by a spammer, iphone_hills, whose RT included my Twitter name. The image used by iphone_hills used caught my attention and reminded me of a cool new feature Google recently released: image search.
I regularly present to audiences using PowerPoint. I frequently interleave canned demonstrations (videos) throughout my presentations. I like to keep directories for each session with the PowerPoint documents and videos I showed that day’s audience. But I dislike the idea of spreading copies of the same file around my hard drive when I use the same content many times.
OSX supports aliases, which are small files that link to the original documents. But there are a lot of quirky things about aliases. For instance, my Mac has no ability to replace the alias with the original file. Alias copies always produce another alias. This means when someone requests all my content on a USB, it is not possible to group select and copy. For each file I have to “show original file” and then copy that file. This is a real pain if there are many files.
After I requested help on a Mac forum someone referred me to AliasHerder. This simple tool will convert aliases to the original file. So, I can now copy an entire directory of links to a USB and quickly replace the aliases with the originals. This is done with three simple steps:
The internet is a wonderful place that people in need of miniature tools to ease their troubles can find help within hours. I happily donated this afternoon $4USD to AliasHerder’s author.
I have owned a KitchenAid mixer for years. A couple years ago I upgraded my first one to the Professional 600 series for its improved power for kneading doughs. While I only occasionally make bread with the mixer, I frequently use it to make fresh pasta. Fresh pasta is a staple meal for small groups of guests that love to drink wine and chat around the kitchen.
When I moved to Singapore I purchased a converter to allow my 110v appliances to work on my home’s 220v power. I remember palming this eight ounce hunk of plastic in the hardware store and wondering if it was what I needed. My fading memories from college electronics surfaced notions that thick iron bars and scores of copper wire turns were needed for voltage conversion at even moderate amperage. Transformers should be heavy, right?
But, shit!, surely this $40 converter would blow a fuse before doing something catastrophic to my mixer, right? Two hours later I knew this to be untrue. When I connected the 575w mixer through my piece-of-shit converter and flipped the switch, I soon heard something like a 22 caliber pistol going off in my kitchen. From that moment on neither the mixer nor the POS converter worked. I eventually purchased a S$150, 5kg converter that has succeeded for other appliances with the POS version failed. But the mixer was dead.