Tuesday, September 13, 2005

New house equals new job?

Coincidental but the last time we moved, my contract wasn't renewed and I had to look for a new job. Well, we're moving again (more on that later) and again my employer informs me that they're not renewing my contract after 2yrs. So here we go again, I'm looking for a job again.

Daphne and I are moving into a house. The townhouse was nice but with the kid, we decided it was time to get back into a house. I don't look forward to mowing the lawn or shovelling the snow but the thought of having a garage and a bigger place is enough to convince me. We closed the deal on the house just 2wks ago and renovations started last Tuesday. Huge renovation happening. Daphne is going nuts on this one, she's a bit stressed with all the planning and organizing but I'm sure it'll look great when it's done. Hardwood floors, new carpeting for the upstairs, tiles, entirely new kitchen, added skylight and every bathroom is being done...cabinets, fixtures/faucets, everything!

One last thing to mention. Sold my car *sniff*. Really didn't want to sell it as it's a really fun car but I have other plans for a car so I figured I might as well sell it before the summer was over. The gas prices are really taking a beating on Daphne so she's giving me the FX35 and we bought her a '01 Golf 1.8T. Really nice car actually, I looked very hard to find a 1.8T in 4dr, automatic and this one has low mileage with lots of options. I'm gonna chip that puppy to 200hp. Don't tell her though *wink*

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Who's more important, the analysts or your clients?

Another entry in my journal of "Things to remember if I ever run a company"

This article talks about Bea Systems broadening their business plan in reaction to Wall street skeptics who feel their core business of application server is suffering from slow-growth.

As I read this article it I couldn't help but think that Bea is doing this in reaction to analysts expectations for them to grow as a company, grow beyond what their core business is. I asked myself, are they doing this for the right reasons or are they doing this to impress analysts in hopes of rescuing their battered stock ?

Why can't a company simply focus on it's strengths and do an excellent job serving it's clientele? Bea got to where they are today due to their strong application server product and consulting services which complemented each other. If I make $100MM every year and can comfortably pay my employees, myself and dividends to my stockholders, why is there this pressure to do more? Whatever happened to the mantra, "If it ain't broke..." or "don't mess with success"? When you change your formula for success, it's easy to lose sight of what got you where you are today.

I'm not an avid Bea follower but I can guess that their business (as is any commercial app server vendor) is suffering because of the open source appserver landscape. Why can't they simply improve their product and focus on consulting services? I'm sure most companies with rather deal with a company of Bea's stature than one like JBoss. They need to take advantage of that and lower the price of their product and focus on support/consulting/training services.

Regardless, the intent of this blog entry wasn't to focus on Bea. Am I totally offbase in thinking that even if your company is a publically traded one; if you take care of your clients and provide outstanding service/product, the business will be successful and the stock price will reflect that. In short, please your clients. Doing so will result in enough revenues that should let you pay dividends to please your stockholders.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Poor working conditions

Poor Greg is feeling the effect that overtime has on an employee over the long run.

This is the perfect example of why I chose to make my living as a contractor as opposed to being a fulltime employee.

Nowadays, it's too common to see management abuse their slaves^H^H^H^H^H^Hemployees by expecting absurd overtime in order to meet unrealistic deadlines or to make up for obvious resource shortages. It's acceptable in unforeseen circumstances (server crashes and you need to work the weekend to restore it and figure out what went wrong). But more than often (as evident in Greg's workplace), the management knows the problem upfront and simply ignores to resolve it properly.

Ever sit in the meeting on Friday afternoon where a deadline was missed and they need to decide on a course of action? This is the meeting where the management is looking for volunteers to come in on the weekend to get the job done. I used to despise these meetings. Now as a contractor, I have no problem with getting paid to come in.

Wanna know what's a big crock of steaming dung? The entire fallacy of an "end of year bonus". Hello?!?! Can we wake up here? That bonus is the carrot and you're the ass^H^H^Hdonkey chasing it up the mountain. I've seen people get rewarded hansomely with large performance bonuses, I've even collected a few myself. But the entire bonus system is abused and simply too subjective for my tastes. You could bust your hump working overtime all year long and at the end of the year, the amount of your bonus is at the disgression of your manager. Scumbag employers will entice their staff with promises of a bonus only to disappoint at year end with the "We're very pleased with your performance this year but we can't pay you much of a bonus because the company didn't do well financially" excuse. Quit the job before year end? Buh-bye bonus. New manager? Buh-bye brownie points for all that ass-kissing you did to the former manager.

No thanks. I'll work my contract and get paid by the hour, thank you. No big suprise envelope at the end of the year to take home to the wife, but I know exactly what I get.

It's funny but I've always had this urge to own my own company. To manage it the way I've always felt I wanted be managed; in a fair, respectable manner. I'm not going to turn this into a bile log but I am going to document my dissatisfaction with employers/managers/working conditions from my own experiences. Kind of a like a journal. Then one day...one day I'll have my own company and it'll be interesting to come back and read this stuff. Hopefully I won't have to eat my words. If I do, and you're a future employee of mine who's googled my past and you find this, feel free to throw it in my face. I promise you I'll do good on my word.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Inspector Gadget

It's about time I faced this problem and admit that I have an addiction. I'm afraid to say it but I have an addiction to electronic toys/gadgets/devices. My wife hasn't figured this out yet so let's pray for my sake that she doesn't read this.

Just last week I upgraded my cell phone to PalmOne's Treo 650. My ambition is to get WIFI working on this so I can install some VOIP soft-client and see if there's a viable method of using it as both a cell and VOIP device. So far no luck, the only WIFI hack (Shadowmite@treocentral) for this thing involves hi-jacking the network stack (so you can't use the GRPS data connection unless you hard reset the device). Either Palm One releases WIFI drivers or someone will hack it eventually, I'm willing to wait.

So how did I realize I had this addiction? When I took inventory of my current bag of goodies, it dawned on me that I might have a problem.

Let's see what I have:
-Treo 650
-Apple 15" Aluminum Powerbook
-XBox modded and running WIFI via a modded Linksys WRT54G router (this is great as I record TV programs with my PC's ATI All in Wonder card and then watch them upstairs using XBox Media Center)
-2 Linksys WRT54G router's bridged using Sveasoft firmware
-PS2 also modded
-20GB Apple iPod
-Canon Digital Rebel 300D + wasia firmware hack

One common theme amongst all these devices is the ability to hack/mod them. I'm not into the actual act of hacking them myself but I love the thrill of installing these hacks getting something extra for nothing.

Once someone figures out WIFI for the Treo 650, I'll dust off my Linux server again and continue playing with Asterisk to get a really cool VOIP setup going in my home.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Stateful vs Stateless SessionBeans in Clustered Env

We had a heated debate about some implementation decisions for this new project here at work. The final application will be clustered, so with that you essentially have no choice but to go stateless in all your session beans, or else you're locked into one node in the cluster (and that's not good).

**NEWS FLASH** it's been decided that we'll be using Tangosol's Coherence as a distributed caching solution (previous blog mentioned the competing bids of Coherence vs Gigaspaces).

Well, SLSB's are fine and dandy in theory but there *are* going to be places where you need state. A couple of people gasped when it was suggested that we needed state in a few places and from there the discussion went back to the topic of "but in the holy grail of clustered environments, we CANNOT have state".

So, by the end of the meeting it dawned on me (and everyone seemed to agree), that we could just use SLSB everywhere and the places you need a SFSB, implement it with a SLSB+Coherence. Now obviously there will be quirks that need to be dealt with but from a theoretical point of view, it seems perfect. The hybrid solution to stateless and stateful session beans.

If others have done similar things, please comment so we can avoid any common mistakes.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

An update on my life is available, click here to download...

Work pressures have left me with little time to blog as much as I'd like so here's a summary of what's happened recently.

My birthday just passed, as did my son's first year birthday. Can't believe how fast this year has gone. Just yesterday we were in the hospital with my wife giving birth to our first child. Happy Birthday Ethan! I want to thank my wife Daphne, and congratulate her for the awesome job she's done to keep the family and household in shape, it's been a huge adjustment for everyone.

We went on vacation at the end of Nov. Taking our son to Hong Kong to see the extended family for the first time. My mother-in-law was gracious enough to take care of Ethan for a week while my wife and I took a side trip to Tokyo, Japan. Read as much as you want about their high population density but you'll still be astounded when you actually experience it up close. It was amazing that you could take a 30 minute trip on their subway in any direction, walk up to street level and the number of people on the street was the same. It was packed everywhere you went. Another thing that impressed me was the quality of food. We didn't do any research on good places to eat, choosing to take it in stride and just explore the streets. Would you believe that in 5 days we only had one subpar meal and it was expected as it was fast food at a tourist attraction. There was so much to eat, we were eating like 5-6 small meals every day. That doesn't sound as bad as it seems when you consider we were walking constantly, doing shopping and sightseeing. All in all, an excellent trip and I'm definitely looking forward to going to some other cities such as Hokkaido in the future. Next time, I'd like to do less shopping and more sightseeing.

Work has taken over a better part of my life for the past half year. I'm working on a high profile project that will generate millions of dollars in revenue for the company. For obvious reasons, I'm not going into any details...besides there isn't much of interest in terms of technology for this project. The daily pressures are really building and each time we get close to the deadline it's pushed back. Those type of delays really drain a person emotionally, almost like a marathon runner reaching the 25mile marker only to realize that they moved the finish line and it's a double marathon now. I spoke to the team lead yesterday and told him that I'm drained and if they don't give me some time to work at a more leisurely pace and do some interesting research after this system goes live, I'm gonna have a breakdown or I'll just go elsewhere. You can't push a person at max capacity for such an extended period of time, any company that does so doesn't care for the welfare of their employees and isn't a company that deserves my employment.

The project I'm going onto next has been having internal feuds between choosing an distributed caching solution. Right now, there are two parties battling it out over Tangosol and Gigaspaces. I haven't been active in this debate but it does interest me as I tried to champion the possible use of JavaSpaces here. If anyone has any comments on Tangosol or Gigaspaces, please share.