Tuesday, May 17, 2011

grr rip snarl

I have an ambivalent relationship with my job. On the one hand:
  • it's a lot of stuff I'm not interested in.
  • I don't get to code very much.
On the other:
  • I do get to code sometimes.
  • I'm learning some stuff I do want to learn.
  • it's a really, really nice place to be, full of smart people and comfy office.
Today wasn't very ambivalent at all, since I spent the day trying to get a handful of Mac Minis configured in response to a crisis. That process turned out to be both undocumented and manual, so it took about 5 hours. Then a couple hours after that, the QA guy said he needed them back.

That's pretty much everything I hate about systems administration, right there: an unending stream of detail-oriented tedium, under pressure.

I'm not really sure what to do about it. In theory, if I just start directing my energies towards coding some project or other, then I'll get more time coding. In reality, the days are broken up with meetings and sysadmin tasks, so blocks of time for coding are rare; and the things I'd be coding are not simple things. (My team lead often says, "It's not that it's really hard, we just haven't done it," which actually means it is, at the very least, not particularly easy. We call this a Simple Matter of Programming.) I also spend time doing research and experimentation to inform the advice I give to my client team, which can involve code, but not in a "Look, I produced something" kind of way.

Besides shifting the focus of my position as it is, there's also asking to be moved into a Software Engineer role at the company, which might or might not fly; we're suffering heavily from our emphasis on Rock-Star Programmers rather than Mature Programmers, but that doesn't mean we're changing the emphasis. And if that doesn't work, I suppose I'd bail out. That's unlikely before my 1-year anniversary, partly because that's when my options vest, and partly because my 2009-2010 resume is a little weird-looking and I want to have a full year down on my resume again.

It was interesting to watch myself today, with waves of anger and frustration, tied to all sorts of wanting to feel competent or useful or even craving the simple pleasure of having my efforts make a discernible change in the world. That's all a sort of addiction to my own self-existence: "See, I'm real! I can do these things, I perform an action and I control something in the environment!". I, I, I, me, me, me.

Tomorrow's another day. At least I didn't have to go back to the office to give the machines back.


  1. That's the problem with jobs. We always want them to be more than just a means to get money. My brother's working this summer as a salesman for a knife company (a very good one), but lately he's been frustrated with recruiting customers and other rough parts of the job. I'm fine with mine, more or less, but I can't wait to be in a full time teaching position instead of subbing.

  2. Ah yes, I still have my set of demo knives from the 3 days I tried selling for Cutco. My older brother did it, too, though far better than I did (which is to say, at all).

    I bring my history to it, too, having been pretty arbitrarily laid off a few times. And the thing is, with my skillset and experience, I generally don't *have* to stay in a job that's not working for me: I have many other options. So I'm mostly left deciding whether it's a situation that I can work out, or if I should leave.