||[Jan. 8th, 2013|06:50 am]
Career discernment correspondence has been my focus in the past 12 hours or so when i was awake.
The first bit of correspondence was with a friend who had questions after reading some journaling from last week:
> 2- what is "agile practices"?
Big buzz word in the software development industry: it describes a process of progressing from requirements to specification to implementation to deployment that is iterative and has a short planning horizon as opposed to "waterfall" where all the the requirements are worked out in advance, then a complete specification, and then a long timeframe of implementation. There are systems where the waterfall process is necessary -- chip design, building houses -- but software (and other creative processes i think) lend themselves to iterative processes, and even manufacturing has identified ways in which they can use some of the principles.
> 3- would you explain Evernote to me sometime?
It's pretty easy to explain. Think of all the things you might save on your computer as files or in note taking software or email. Evernote allows you to save those things in a "more organized" way: the titles for the files can be English sentences as opposed to the less flexible file names of an operating system, and the titles don't need to be unique (i save my digital doodles: they don't need a title beyond "visual care"). There are "tags" and folders, and the text searching goes across all the text: even text in photographs. Even handwriting, they claim, but the handwriting is pretty iffy. (Or maybe it's my handwriting that is iffy.)
Not only does this data continue living on your computer, but it is also backed up to Evernote's servers. And from that back up copy, it can be duplicated on another computer, accessed via the web, and accessed from phones and tablets.
If you want, you can make use of other services: so one company will transcribe any audio recording you save to evernote. Another company will take notes in a special folder, look for products, and search to find the best deals on the products.
> about "how good is my current job"
> 1- the architect job title--how prevalent is that?
#3 in Money magazine's top 100 jobs:
3. Software Architect What they do all day? Great software architects are designers and diplomats. They create innovative and valuable programs, but they also translate highly technical plans into a vision the C-suite can understand. They are a crucial link between a company's tech unit and management. http://money.cnn.com/pf/best-jobs/2012/snapshots/3.html
Quality of life ratings:
Personal satisfaction B / Low stress C / Benefit to society C */ Flexibility A
* probably depends on what the software does, and there's lots of software with little benefit to society
> 2-how prevalent is the UX manager/developer type position? are other titles used for similar work?
43. User Experience Designer
What they do all day? Businesses can lose gobs of money if they make products that people find tricky to use. That's where user experience designers come in, helping companies understand what customers find desirable and designing the product in easy-to-use ways. --J.A.
Quality of life ratings:
Personal satisfaction B/ Low stress B/ Benefit to society C/ Flexibility B
> 3- and how do you find out about other "software development" job titles to consider?
The Money Magazine article was intriguing for me to go through since many of the jobs were software related.
> 4- "a leadership job in the bay area with no financial management background but an interest in team management" what would that look like? leadership--what do you picture? and what kind of financial management background do you think you might need? why? is it something you want to be doing or not?
In a leadership role i would expect i would have a role in helping create the direction and purpose and process of an organization. [Common acquaintance]'s role as editor of [Quaker thing] is a leadership role, for example. I would expect many leadership jobs to have some responsibility to making financially based decisions and being called to ensure that resources are managed in the most efficient way. I don't have a clear experience to call on for that so if it was important, i'd need to do something like join the finance committee. 8)
> about : if the current job is good enough for now...
> 1-how do you decide?
Cost-benefit: if other opportunities are likely to have their own distressing issues (highly political corporate cultures, stress around quarterly sales numbers, forced march projects) it could put my frustration with current leadership issues in a different light. If other opportunities have a cost before i can take them on, i may need to spread that cost out over my available time & energy budget.
> 2-how are you risk-averse? would you rather postpone riskiness (plan more?) or plunge in (try things out)?
I am likely to be pretty risk averse at this time.
> 3-eek--you aren't really going to move away are you? sigh.
Always possible, but not particularly attractive.
> 4-what does the retirement loan thing have to do with all this? will you have paid it off or have a balloon payment or what? are you stuck because of money issues? does that need addressing directly, sapart from career moves?
It is a time event: the loan has to be repaid in total if i leave my employer, and i'm not likely to get as good a deal on interest with other loans. (It was for Christine's surgery.) We can certainly move the loan somewhere else, but the cost of leaving is cheaper after. So, leaving for a significantly lower salary will be easier after the loan is paid off.
> 5- what is your body telling you about whether the job is good enough for now? what is Christine telling you? what non-career prices are you paying for staying in the job? what career prices are you paying?
It's hard for me to know about the physical cost of stress: i certainly get stressed, but it's possible that i would find many for profit sector jobs even more stressful. So, this is part of the exploration with the career coach: what other jobs are out there...
> 6- I hear you vent so often about what you dislike, could you remind me why you actually like the job at all?
The people are quite good except for my boss, the director of the product division in the portfolio i work on, and the vice president. Most people have a good understanding of how to work well together and the importance of things i value (communication, consulting with others when making decisions, transparency). Many people are very engaged with their work. The general area of work (with libraries) is one in which i can take great pride. The company frequently makes "Best place to work" lists.
The leadership isn't a forever thing: it may change dramatically with in a year. Much of the most painful dysfunction has improved dramatically over the past year.
We might get more staff, which may make it easier to get the backlog of work that needs to be done completed.
Another friend asked about my interests and i decided to share one of the hobby project ideas i have with him:
Based on your (and other's) advice about picking a project, if i stay in software, the hobby project i'm thinking of starting is developing a personal data mine: something that could be put up on in the Amazon elastic cloud. Initial features would be that it could fetch various data sources and correlate by time. My first use case assumes taking power usage data from the new smart meters and various other resources (bank statements, the usual online twitter/blog/photo tracking sources, calendar feeds, weather), and correlating so if one notices a strange change in power usage -- a day or two with a peak -- one can use all the other data to figure out what was different.
Bank statements could have spending patterns reviewed.
If the server offered a VPN/browser proxy (a service that seems like it could be useful for folks who surf in cafes and other public hotspots) it's conceivable one's surfing behavior could be correlated too.
I'd love to find some already packaged time series analysis tools so anomalies can be automatically high-lit and cyclical behavior and trends identified. I know the power analysis tool Mountain View provided had that level of analysis. I spent a little time looking at the python data analysis package orange: it seems to have no time series support and there's some posting back and forth about how it's a weakness in the tool and if experts wanted to help they could. Microsoft's sql server has a packaged time sequence analysis tool: surely there are others already out there.
Anyhow: i'm imagining doing a bunch of UML design diagrams (a bit of learning to be done there if i make it to class diagrams) and reviews of existing data analysis packages in python. Then i can start networking to find folks who know python and would want to play with this, with the hope someone would want to "acquire" me (and some subset of the project). I probably ought to focus on one of the MOOCs for statistics since my stats background is quite rudimentary.