O Sweet Mr Math

wherein is detailed Matt's experiences as he tries to figure out what to do with his life. Right now, that means lots of thinking about math.

Saturday, January 11, 2003

12:29 AM

Back to my job: it's annual performance review time at my company, just in time for me to be leaving. Allow me to recap the results of my performance reviews for the last two years. Two years ago, I was promoted and given a new manager. Unfortunately, my new manager didn't know me and worked in a different office than I did, and I have no idea of what he said in his performance review for me. I do know that the net result was that despite my promotion, the raise I got was a few percent. It felt like a cost-of-living increase. Needless to say, I was disappointed.

Last year, I was hoping for a raise that would make up for the previous year. In the intervening year, I changed managers again and was now reporting to someone who was at least in the same building, even if I found him impossible to please. The net result of my performance review: reasonably good job, but the company is facing tough times, so no one is getting any raises this year. You can imagine how I felt.

This year, the company introduced 360 Degree Feedback, which means that not only does your manager tell you what he or she thinks, but so do your coworkers. We were supposed to fill out the feedback in late December, but by then I knew I was leaving, so I blew it off. Hopefully that doesn't make me a bad person. My manager received the results on what everyone else said about me, and so she gave it to me even though I already told her I was quitting. The results? Everyone said that I'm not a team player. Well, no kidding. I was much more of a team player two years ago, before everyone I considered to be my team was laid off or quit, and when I still thought there was the opportunity for growth and advancement at the company.

I suppose you might think I'm bitter on the basis of some of my comments, but that's really the point, isn't it? I am bitter, and so I'm moving on to brighter things. Up to this point, though, I've been overly focused on the past and insufficiently focused on the future, which I think it's fair to say is one of my problems in general. I'll see what I can do to work on that going forward.


Friday, January 10, 2003

11:56 PM

Comments! I ran into some trouble, I think over cookie issues in Safari, but it could have been general beta bugginess. But I was eventually able to set things up in OmniWeb, which is fine by me. So thanks to Enetation, you can all tell me what you think. (Assuming there's actually anyone out there.)

While I was trying to figure out my comments problems, I cleaned up the HTML in my blog template a bit. This site is now almost valid HTML 4.01. There are a few tags I still need to clean up, and the Blogspot ad banner at the top of the page is invalid, but I can't actually do anything about that aside from paying for a Blogspot account.

Speaking of Blogspot, I'm painfully aware of the fact that I am now dependent on Blogger for my weblog, Blogspot for my hosting, and Enetation for my comments. If anything happens to any of those companies, this blog will be in a bad way, and that's something fundamentally out of my control. I'm archiving all of my blog entries locally, but I don't have any plans to archive my comments, and rebuilding my blog at another site would be a painful process, if it became necessary. I suppose the smart thing to do is pay a webhosting company for my own domain and move to server-side blog and comment software that's actually under my control, but apparently my desire to do this cheap is overriding my desire to do this smart.


8:14 PM

Today, at work, around noon, I attempted to send a report to various other people within the company through the company's email system. I got an error message reporting that I was not authorized for that action. I called the company helpdesk and found that my account had been deactivated because I was leaving the company and my manager would have to call to have it restored. A few hours later, I got my email access back, but it did tend to cramp my productivity for a while. (Not a big deal. I spent my time web surfing and reading up on RSS. Sometime after I add all the other things I want to add to this blog, I'll look into adding an RSS feed, but it's fair to say that at the moment, I don't get it.) It seems that when HR (or Employee Services, as they now want to be known) is told that an employee is leaving the company, they fire off a message to IT to have the employee's account deactivated, and IT promptly turns it off, regardless of whether the employee is still at the company at that point. When I mentioned my problems to other people at my job, they said that, yes, they knew of several other employees who had their computer access turned off after they gave notice but before they left the company.

Okay, so you don't really want to leave old accounts sitting around because they can be hacked and unhappy former employees could potentially use them to do bad things, but I quit. If I was going to do anything bad (and I wasn't, other than be generally unproductive), I would have done it before giving notice. And in the meantime, I expected to put in two weeks worth of work. Apparently, though, the company isn't interested in the work quitting employees might be able to do, because it routinely prevents them from doing it. Once again I find myself questioning my company's intelligence. But again, it's no longer my problem.


Thursday, January 09, 2003

10:24 PM

Well, my company isn't quite as clueless as I thought. Evidently they are planning on replacing me, rather than just shifting all of my work onto the remaining employees, who are all overworked as it is. On the other hand, they didn't ask for my input on the job description, and I'm not convinced they actually know what my skills are. Hopefully it will all work out for them. If not, hey, not my problem.

Today I was trying to decide if my tiredness was due to lack of sleep or just being tired of the job. Both are strong contenders. I haven't come to a definite conclusion.


Wednesday, January 08, 2003

7:21 PM

I have a serious case of senioritis. Prior to deciding to quit, I repeatedly told myself I didn't care while I was at work. What I was actually doing was justifying not getting my work done, but continually telling myself I didn't care was making me very unhappy. Now I truly don't care, and it's a completely different feeling. I'm looking at task requests and deciding on which ones I think I can put off long enough to end up not doing them at all.

This is partially my company's doing. Thursday morning, my manager had lots of work she expected me to be doing this week. Thursday afternoon, I told her I was quitting, and I expected that seeing as no one else can do any of the work I do, my focus would rapidly become trying to instruct other people to do my work after I'm gone. Instead, it's a week later and I'm still just being asked to do the same work as before. It's like they don't realize the knowledge hole they're facing. This sort of mismanagement is part of my incentive to leave in the first place.

If they were asking me to document what I do or teach others, I'm not sure if I would be working harder than I am now, but I would care more. But as it stands, my attitude becomes "this is not my problem." And that basic apathy spills over into the work that I am being asked to do as well. Probably just as well for all concerned that I'm leaving.


Tuesday, January 07, 2003

11:14 PM

Yesterday I was ranting about web browsers. So, today, a new web browser came out, and it is everything I could hope for. This post is being posted from Safari. Life is good.


Monday, January 06, 2003

11:36 PM

Got home an hour late from work today, because of train problems. It's one thing to be late because I'm stupid, but it's far more annoying to be late because of the train. On the other hand, I beat myself up about it less. The bad news is that I didn't have much opportunity to work on stuff tonight. I was going to look at adding comments to the blog, but it didn't happen. Maybe Wednesday. I at least did some research on my options while at work today.

Took a look at both Opera and Netscape on my desktop. Sure enough, Opera no longer feels cramped, and I think I'd be able to post blog entries from either browser without difficulty, but my desktop has a 1280x1024 resolution, and I find it more natural to work on the blog on my laptop.

I'm thinking about posting reviews to the blog. Whatever I want to review, but especially music, which is actually tied into my big business ideas. Unfortunately, the review I want to write right now isn't one that I'd want to make my first, so it will have to wait.


Sunday, January 05, 2003

11:00 PM

Good news. I was able to post through Opera. But I still had to fight with it over cookies. I want to like Opera. I really do. It just rubs me the wrong way. It has a few drawing glitches, which I'm not happy about, but can live with, but it also has user interface issues. Somehow, using it always feels harder than it should be. Maybe that's because I don't use it often enough, but maybe it's a sign of problems. Along those lines, it uses an incredible amount of space for its toolbars, which is partially due to the banner ads it runs. (I'm too cheap to pay for software I don't actually like.) Other browsers seem to do a much better job of displaying everything I need in less space. My laptop has an 800 by 600 screen, so it may do better on my desktop, but I use my laptop preferentially for all kinds of tasks, and again, I don't have this problem with other browsers.

The one thing it has going for it over Netscape is that it uses the OS user interface instead of inventing its own. I'm a strong believer in consistency in user interface, and using the standard user interface definitely helps in that regard. Netscape's text boxes behave subtly differently than standard text boxes, and I suffered a significant amount of frustration before I learned how to deal with it.

My favorite browser continues to be OmniWeb. Sadly, it has inadequate JavaScript and CSS support. Omni says they'll have that fixed when OmniWeb 5 comes out, some time this year. Here's hoping it's sooner rather than later.


10:38 PM

I had disconnected my desktop machine a few months ago to work on a project. As things worked out, I failed to do what I set out to do, but have left the system as it was since then. Today I finally got around to plugging everything back together. I then spent all my time downloading and updating my software. Nothing crucial, but I like to stay on top of things.

The downside to not having completed my earlier project is that at some point I'll want to try again. Hopefully I won't leave myself in limbo quite so long next time.

I figured out why I was having trouble with Opera. I had set it to reject all cookies, and consequently I couldn't get past the login screen in Blogger. Surprise, surprise. So now I've tried to make Opera ask me about cookies, and I can login to Blogger. I'll be trying to make this post through Opera. With luck, I won't have to resort to Internet Explorer. Opera has some drawing problems with the update page, but I think not as bad as Netscape. We'll see how it goes.

I've made some small changes to my blog template. A larger overhaul will be coming later, but this is a start.




What does "rolls a hoover" mean, anyway?

"Roll a hoover" was coined by Christopher Locke, aka RageBoy (not worksafe). He enumerated some Hooverian Principles, but that might not be too helpful. My interpretation is that rolling a hoover means doing something that you know is stupid without any clear sense of what the outcome will be, just to see what will happen. In my case, I quit my job in an uncertain economy to try to start a business. I'm still not sure how that will work out.

Why is the HTML for this page not valid?

BlogSpot adds the advertisement that appears at the top of this page. That advertisement is not valid HTML and is outside of my control. I believe that aside from that ad, this page is valid HTML.