Tag Archive for 'work'

New York Times Anthrax Scare

Who?

Equip­ment and offi­cials from some gov­ern­ment agency that I’ve never heard of, in the lobby of the New York Times Build­ing in midtown.

The lobby of The New York Times Build­ing, where I work, was closed this past Wednes­day, after an employee on the 13th floor opened an enve­lope that con­tained a pow­dery sub­stance. (The 13th floor is where the edi­to­r­ial board and some colum­nists have offices.)

It turned out to be a hoax, but for sev­eral hours the build­ing was in near lock-down mode. Unfor­tu­nately, I decided to dis­re­gard warn­ings and went out to meet Lisa for lunch. When I returned, I was locked out for almost an hour, as the police had roped off the building’s entrances. Peer­ing through the win­dows on the 8th Avenue side of the build­ing, I saw a huge cur­tain stretched across one of the ele­va­tor banks. Some fire­men went in with a stretcher, and the broad­cast news media started con­verg­ing on the street. (Apolo­gies to the very friendly NY1 cam­er­a­woman, for refus­ing to talk to her on camera.)

All I could do was to take some pho­tos, and wait to be let in. After about an hour, I received word from a col­league inside that they were let­ting employ­ees back in through the freight ele­va­tors in the load­ing dock down 40th st. That was about all the fun I could han­dle for one day… back to work.

More Pho­tos below the jump.

Con­tinue read­ing ‘New York Times Anthrax Scare’

Farewell Sean & Louise

IMG_2875.JPG

Cup­cakes! – Photo by Vil­lafranca.

This week, the nytimes.com Design group says farewell to two really tal­ented col­leagues – Sean Vil­lafranca and Louise Ma. Sean is leav­ing to become Design Direc­tor at time.com, and Louise is going to free­lance, full-time.

I’m still new around these parts, but Sean and Louise made me feel at home. We’re going to miss you guys! (But, we are hir­ing…)

Con­tinue read­ing ‘Farewell Sean & Louise’

Village Academies/Esquire Event

We attended a fundraiser for Lisa’s work last night, hon­or­ing Bill Cosby and oth­ers. It was held in Esquire’s swank Esquire North pent­house on Cen­tral Park North, and the mag­a­zine is also fea­tur­ing Vil­lage Acad­e­mies founder Deb­o­rah Kenny in this month’s issue:

In six years, Kenny’s vision has grown into a trio of char­ter schools under the rubric of Vil­lage Acad­e­mies, located in New York precincts where a mus­cu­lar poverty has thrived for gen­er­a­tions. The num­bers alone tell a com­pelling story. Locally, pass­ing rates for seventh-grade math hover around 30 per­cent. At HVA, the rate is a stun­ning 96 percent.

Cast mem­bers from Gos­sip Girl showed up, and Tyler Hilton played a few songs, (who played Elvis in Walk the Line Johnny Cash movie).

midtown office + loved ones

At least the ladies look good – Matt and I have taken bet­ter pictures.

More pho­tos below the fold.

Con­tinue read­ing ‘Vil­lage Academies/Esquire Event’

Outlook 2007 & Gcal

I’m one of those stiffs who loves his Power­book, but is forced by neces­sity (and Cor­po­rate IT) to work in Win­dows XP and Out­look all day. Meet­ing requests come in and tasks are assigned, all using Out­look. How­ever, because I rely so much on Gmail in my per­sonal life, I store per­sonal events online with Google Cal­en­dar.

Every­thing works seam­lessly on my mac, as Apple’s iCal soft­ware allows sub­scrip­tions. But there is no way to get Out­look 2003 to sync or share data in the iCal­en­dar for­mat… in fact, I think that Out­look stores its infor­ma­tion in some Microsoft pro­pri­etary for­mat, by default. I think you can import/export ICS files, but there is no sub­scrip­tion or pub­lish method.

Gcal Subscribe

Gcal allows sub­scrip­tions to iCal­en­dar feeds

I shouldn’t for­get to men­tion the excel­lent open source project Remote­Cal­en­dars, which allows you to sub­scribe to iCal­en­dar feeds, with a bit of tweak­ing. But, this wasn’t quite what I craved – I wanted to not only sub­scribe to my Gcal cal­en­dar, but also allow Gcal to pick up my work appoint­ments. That way, I can get reminders of early meet­ings, etc., when I’m away from my work desk.

Out­look 2007 beta 2

Enter the new Office beta. Not only is this ver­sion the Bravest Soft­ware Upgrade Ever, it also added a lot of great func­tion­al­ity to Outlook.

Out of the box, you can sub­scribe to iCal­en­dar feeds, such as those pro­vided by Gcal, 30Boxes, or other online apps. More impres­sively, you can pub­lish your cal­en­dar to either your own Web­DAV server, or to Office Online directly. Then, you can sub­scribe to the pub­lished iCal­en­dar feed in any online cal­en­dars that sup­port the stan­dard. Out­look will peri­od­i­cally update the pub­lished file as you make adjust­ments or addi­tions to your calendar.

Publish to Internet

Out­look 2007’s Pub­lish to Inter­net feature

So, now I have access to both my per­sonal and work cal­en­dars at all times, no mat­ter where I am. (Hell, if I wanted to pay Cin­gu­lar for band­width, I could use Gcal­Sync to push every­thing to my RAZR.)

The only real caveat is that you have to pub­lish your Out­look cal­en­dar with “Unre­stricted Access”—because Microsoft uses their LiveID tech­nol­ogy to grant access on a per-user basis, and Gcal (or any other ser­vice) won’t be able to authen­ti­cate unless it’s pub­lic. I’m not sure how secure this is yet, but for the moment I’m too in love with this setup to let that bother me.

Another minor caveat – you’ll have to unin­stall Acro­bat 6, as it causes Out­look to crash a lot.

Other than that, it’s a pretty sta­ble beta.

Digg This

Productivity

I may diss Microsoft Win­dows as a home Mac user, but I’ve always thought that it is a more pro­duc­tive OS. Work­ing in a cor­po­rate envi­ron­ment on a Mac is still such a headache, prob­a­bly because cor­po­rate IT is so built around MS tech­nolo­gies. What­ever the rea­son, I get things done on my work PC.

Dual-Display

It’s no secret that design­ers love screen real estate — but, every­one can ben­e­fit from more desk­top space. There was an arti­cle in the NY Times just last week.

The com­pany I work for is noto­ri­ously fru­gal, shall we say… so, a while back, I decided to break down and buy a dual-display graph­ics card, out of my own pocket. I even dragged in my old 19″ Trini­tron mon­i­tor, which was col­lect­ing dust in the closet. For only $35, I bought an ATI Radeon 7000 32MB card, think­ing that it would be suf­fi­cient as a sec­ondary card.

Of course, as soon as I popped this into the vacant AGP slot in the Dell GX260, the computer’s on-board AGP chip was dis­abled. Luck­ily, the card has two dis­play out­puts, and it even man­aged to put out a res­o­lu­tion of 1600 × 1200 for my main dis­play, and 1280 × 1024 for the sec­ondary mon­i­tor, (an aging 17″ Trini­tron that I “found” in an empty cubi­cle) — but only at 65 hz, and 16-bit color. I remem­ber think­ing that this would fry my eyes, but didn’t give it another thought.

Fast-forward 5 months — my eyes are fried by the end of the day. So, I broke down yet again, and bought a $60 PCI card, a generic GeForce MX 4000 128MB card. Now every­thing is crisp at 75 Hz (the max these Trini­trons can do at high res­o­lu­tions), and 32-bit. Hope­fully I’ll notice a difference.

Remote Desk­top

VPN access is retard­edly slow, (I real­ize I’m being redun­dant). So, rather than try­ing to work on net­work shares from home, I instead con­nect via Remote Desk­top to my work­sta­tion. This allows me to have access to every­thing I’d have sit­ting at my desk, from home. This is espe­cially handy when mov­ing around large files on the net­work, or using Tra­dos TM tools that require a don­gle.

There is even a great Mac Remote Desk­top Client, so there is no need for me to fire up that 4-year old Dell lap­top.

One annoy­ing thing about Remote Desk­top, espe­cially if you have mul­ti­ple dis­plays, is that when you return to your desk in the morn­ing and log in, your icons are usu­ally scat­tered across the main-display’s desk­top. Thanks to Icon Restore, two clicks, and you’re back, good as new. I’d love to see NVIDIA build this into their Desk­top Man­ager, the way ATI did with Hydrav­i­sion.

Latitude

Well, I feel a bit guilty about this, but they gave me a lap­top at work this week… a Dell Lat­i­tude C640, 1GB RAM, 40MB GB HD, etc. Why do I feel guilty? Well, my friend used it until she quit last week… so, it feels like some­one else’s PC.

Now, I can VPN in, and work at home! Hooray!

“sac­ri­lege” on Flickr.

Trados 6.5 dongle

dongleFor 2 years, work­ing in Local­iza­tion, I had to scram­ble around for a Tra­dos don­gle when­ever I had to do some analy­sis or Trans­la­tion Mem­ory main­te­nance. Though I work for a major local­iza­tion ven­dor, with global offices and almost 2000 employ­ees, we still had to share don­gles… expen­sive lit­tle buggers.

Today, how­ever, I finally received my own. I was so accus­tomed to the old Parallel-port ver­sion, that I was excited to get my hands on the smaller USB one.

Only prob­lem is, now I can’t use the excuse “I don’t have a don­gle“, when my boss asks why I’m not working.

October Scare — 2000 Redux

What hap­pens when you’re a new publicly-traded com­pany, and you announce that you’re not going to meet the quar­terly projections?

Stock free-fall.

  • Bad news? Lay-offs and ter­mi­na­tion. 10 peo­ple at our site, about 10%.
  • Good news? They fired some really use­less peo­ple. Also, the only team men­tioned in the meet­ing as doing well, was my team and my project.

Whew.

Still, it is scary– like it’s the year 2000 all over again. Strangely, I wore my defunct dot com fleece jacket to work today. What a bad omen.

Smart-Target

I peed into a plas­tic cup this morn­ing for the first time since my job appli­ca­tion to Wil­son Farms con­ve­nience store, when I was six­teen years-old.

Why, you ask?

Well, some friends and I are going to spend the week­end dri­ving a Smart­Car around Boston, dressed in Tar­get logos from head-to-toe. We’re sup­posed to make our­selves seen to all of the return­ing col­lege kids, remind­ing them that there is a cheap place to dress up that gray-brick dorm room. I’m 26 years-old, so this is a bit embarassing.

But, It’s only 2 days, I’ll be a cou­ple hun­dred dol­lars richer, and I get to tear around town in a car that is roughly 1/6 the size of your aver­age SUV. Should be safe…

Last year, they gave my friends Tar­get Ves­pas—but, there was an acci­dent or two… appar­ently it’s safer to shill on 4-wheels.

Backup

My boss is Out of Office again this week, so sud­denly Project Man­agers are turn­ing to me in meet­ings, and ask­ing the tough questions.

It’s been inter­est­ing… and grat­i­fy­ing, to know that I can man­age to sound artic­u­late and knowl­edge­able, when called upon.

Old Times…

Pres­ley and I were invited out last night with my old boss, who is vis­it­ing Boston on hol­i­day from his teach­ing gig in Japan. It was the usual shitty ser­vice at the Enor­mous Room, and then across the street for a lit­tle rock n’ roll Upstairs, cour­tesy A.M. Stereo and The Glow. A.M. Stereo was fun, Indie post-punk — each mem­ber singing in turn, (except the drum­mer, who looked like some­thing out of Spinal Tap). The Glow was a tighter, keyboard-driven, cross-over ska out­fit, which I really enjoyed — their gui­tarist reminded me of Isaac Brock of Mod­est Mouse… decide for yourself.

It was good to see Bob — I prob­a­bly know him the least out of every­one last night, hav­ing just been hired a cou­ple of months before he left. But, his sto­ries of teach­ing Eng­lish to Japan­ese kids in a small, remote vil­lage, were funny… I can’t imag­ine com­mu­ni­cat­ing, alone, in such a for­eign envi­ron­ment. He’s a long way from Tokyo.

But, it was also good to be out with work mates — we work so hard on a daily basis, and we each have our own lives, so it’s rare that we go out for a few drinks. But, hav­ing been out with Bob last night, I have the feel­ing it was a lot more com­mon before he left…

Doppelganger

Appar­ently, I have an evil twin in my office build­ing… peo­ple keep telling me that they say “hello” to me, and I act as if I don’t know who the hell they are. Dop­pel­ganger!

Sales Adjustments in IT

WorldmachineRan­domly brows­ing the web today, I found that the web shop I worked for in down­town Boston dur­ing the wan­ing days of the inter­net boom, World­ma­chine, appears to be back in business.

It was just about two years ago that they called all of us into the con­fer­ence room to announce lay­offs and that they were shut­ting the com­pany down. The obvi­ous rea­son given at the time, was lack of new sales.

This I still find inter­est­ing, because the excuse all sales pro­fes­sion­als seem to offer in this dread­ful econ­omy is that the sales cycle is much longer—sometimes 18 months or more. At my new com­pany, a com­pany which focuses on local­iza­tion and test­ing, my co-workers and I were treated to a sales pre­sen­ta­tion recently, in which the same kinds of excuses were offered.

Unlike Worldmachine’s woe­fully under­staffed Sales dept., how­ever, this team seems to be adjust­ing to the “new” New Econ­omy. They’ve accepted that the IT mar­ket is a shirk­ing pie, and that price com­pe­ti­tion is get­ting too cut­throat. Instead, they are look­ing to new ver­ti­cals for growth.

In Boston, the Bio-tech boom is pro­vid­ing a new mar­ket in the life sci­ences. As drug man­u­fac­tur­ers look to mar­ket their prod­ucts over­seas, part­ner­ing with a top local­iza­tion firm is going to be crit­i­cal. The planet’s pop­u­la­tion is only going to get older.

An inter­est­ing the­ory our Sales team is going to try, is to group their teams by ver­ti­cal, rather than by loca­tion. Though it may have made sense a few years ago to send your Tokyo team to Hong Kong clients, and your Cal­i­for­nia team to clients in Los Ange­les, the real­ity of a long sales cycle and a need to patiently edu­cate clients is forc­ing a recon­sid­er­a­tion. Sales needs to edu­cate them­selves first—and to do that, they need more involve­ment from pro­duc­tion and oper­a­tions peo­ple. Peo­ple like me.

The good news is, we are prof­itable, and I’m con­fi­dent that the com­pany I’m part of now is on sound foot­ing. I wasn’t at all con­fi­dent of that in Sep­tem­ber 2001.

W32.Welchia.Worm

It’s worm week here at my work­place. The lastest lit­tle virus is the W32.Welchia.Worm, which has attacked our inter­nal servers here, and spread like wild fire.

The funny thing about this virus, is that it’s pur­pose seems to be to clean up last weeks’ mess, the MS Blast worm. The Welchia goes into a sys­tem, deletes the MSBlast virus, and tries to down­load a patch from Win­dows Update. How friendly!

At least it’s a fri­day — maybe we can all get out of here.

Delivery Nights

We have to deliver stuff to that cer­tain $oft­ware com­pany at 7am, and, here we are, still at work, at mid­night — try­ing our damnedest. This cer­tain $oft­ware com­pany is a stick­ler about scheduling.

So, on this 18+ hour work day, I had BBQ for din­ner, a few cof­fees, a diet coke, and 2 beers (gotta love it when the senior man­ager invites you to make use of his mini-fridge). And it’s 93 degrees in this fuck­ing place.

I feel like There’s More to Life Than This.

Looking at the Work Week Through the Eyes of a Gigolo

When I leave work tonight, I will sub­mit a timesheet that, on sum, will be greater than 90 hours for this week. 90 hours. My co-worker Akiko will exceed 100 hours.

I know we get paid by the hour, but doesn’t that strike you as a high-tech sweat­shop?

Job Update

Just a lit­tle update on my cur­rent employ­ment — I’m being taken off “con­tract” sta­tus, and made a tem­po­rary employee, which is ter­rific news. That means I don’t need to sub­mit for a P.O. every week, which takes around a decade to process.

I need cashola. Unem­ploy­ment ran out in Sep­tem­ber, don’t even ask me how I live. And the sad thing is, since I’ve got this gig, I’ve been spend­ing like a mad­man. Good thing, that.

UPDATE: Miria, another con­trac­tor that I shared my cube with, quit today. I don’t think she liked sit­ting in front of a com­puter for 9 hours, doing tedious, repet­i­tive work. God Speed… I wish I could afford to have standards!

Shoddy Flash

So, my new job involves local­iz­ing and updat­ing Flash demos of prod­ucts by a pop­u­lar soft­ware cor­po­ra­tion. The orig­i­nal eng­lish files were pro­duced by said cor­po­ra­tion, and I’m sur­prised at how truly spotty they are.

We were given a spec­i­fi­ca­tion doc­u­ment to use as a ref­er­ence, yet the orig­i­nal files rarely match their own spec. So I find myself rebuild­ing the movies, tweak­ing and writ­ing action-script, and debug­ging… more than just swap­ping out a lit­tle Eng­lish for Spanish.

It’s hard to imag­ine how these things get past their qual­ity assur­ance peo­ple– the eng­lish movies are being used with the gen­eral pub­lic, as we speak. It makes me think that it’s, a) not so hard get­ting a job at huge soft­ware corps, & b) they don’t require you to do good work…

Although, I could be talk­ing about the work of one per­son. I guess that shouldn’t count for too much.

Damn the Flavia Machine

I’m absolutely addicted to the Flavia machine here. $0.50 a cup, but a cup is like 6 oz. It’s Yum.

UPDATE: Note to self: Cafe­te­ria closes at 1:30. You will not eat a late lunch, unless Dorito’s and Ramen out of a machine count.

A New Era

Today marks a change– I’m finally work­ing again, albeit as a con­trac­tor, for a local­iza­tion com­pany west of Boston. Which means sev­eral things:

  1. It actu­ally mat­ters when I get up in the morning
  2. I have some­where to be
  3. I am in charge of some other people
  4. The words “Flash” and “Spe­cial­ist” are part of my job title
  5. I have a cafe­te­ria that sells all kinds of hot and cold meals, very cheaply
  6. I like every­one I meet here
  7. My dead­lines are intense, and there are whis­pers of required weekends
  8. I don’t care about that, because I’m paid hourly.

That is all. Oh, and I feel just awful com­mut­ing 20 miles every day. I am not doing my part for the envi­ron­ment, and I am dis­ap­pointed in myself.

Fire up the Flash Skills

Good news, mes cama­rades! Just when I thought my job search had hit another record low, a woman from a mul­ti­me­dia local­iza­tion com­pany con­tacted me to do some Flash work.

They take Eng­lish mul­ti­me­dia and web­sites, and trans­late them for inter­na­tional audi­ences. Then they hire peo­ple to swap out the eng­lish for the Japan­ese, Span­ish, etc. It sounds like grunt work, but I’m just happy to say that I have another inter­view for next week.

Monday Afternoon

My lat­est install­ment in my forth­com­ing book, How to Make the Most of Unem­ploy­ment: or Fail­ing That, At Least Get By, focuses on Mon­day after­noons and what to do about them.

For instance, when a mon­day after­noon falls on, or near the first of the month, take a few min­utes to slip into your neigh­bor­hood bank branch (mine is a Fleet) and cash some child­hood sav­ings bonds. Not only will this activ­ity inject you with some much needed cash, to say, pay your land­lord, but more impor­tantly it will enter­tain you to wit­ness the hoops the Teller must jump through just to cash the damn things. The process is ardu­ous. The minor annoy­ance of hav­ing to sign your name and address to each one is eas­ily off­set by the amus­ingly end­less key­strokes, stamp­ing, and shuf­fling required on the part of the Teller. (Note to edi­tor, cut those adverbs out of that sentence)

So, after enjoy­ing the show, for the bet­ter part of thirty min­utes, you’re handed a lit­tle slip of paper “for tax pur­poses”. This is bonus enter­tain­ment, for you know damn well that not pos­sess­ing an income negates the require­ment that you file a 1099. Ha!

Now that you’ve left the bank, and you’re prob­a­bly dread­ing the walk back home, where you spend 22+ hours a day, I’d sug­gest you stop into the liquor store for a 12-pack of What­ever Is On Sale, and a bag of cheap rolling tobacco. Noth­ing livens up a Mon­day after­noon like a few beers and a hand-rolled fun stick. You may even ash your cig in the garbage can, because hell, you’ll be there to take care of it, should the thing ignite.

Presto! It’s already 3:30. You’re almost home free. Now, just rinse, repeat, and you’ll be ready for when the wife/husband/employed room­mate gets home.

A Kick in the stomach

Yes, so the other shoe dropped today, as I found out that I fin­ished in sec­ond place for the BHCC job.

I kind of knew last week, when I called a woman there who was, up until then, giv­ing me ter­rific sig­nals. She acted very stand-offish, but polite on the phone, and I should have guessed what mes­sage was being con­veyed. The VP for Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, the big man, said that they went with some­one who had more expe­ri­ence, (yet the per­son in the posi­tion now has no expe­ri­ence, design or tech­ni­cal, in mak­ing websites).

I really want to wring some necks, but obvi­ously I am fail­ing to con­vince peo­ple that I can do the job. Either that, or there is a glut of tal­ent in Boston, and too few oppor­tu­ni­ties. I’ll go with option 2.

Jobs, Followup…

Well, after much call­ing and email­ing, I’ve finally heard that MIT hired an inter­nal can­di­date for the posi­tion I was in the run­ning for. I made it so far, out of a pool of over 100… seems like I was owed a phone call, but appar­ently not. So, my ener­gies shift to focus on the BHCC job. Options are run­ning out!

Jobs, etc.

I am start­ing to think I should cre­ate a ‘jobs’ cat­e­gory in move­able type… but i’ve got a lot of news lately in that regard.

I had 2 final-round inter­views today, at MIT and BHCC. In the very unlikely event that I man­age to be offered both jobs, it would be a dif­fi­cult choice… I like both sets of peo­ple very much.

I can walk to MIT, but BHCC is a great oppor­tu­nity as well. I don’t want to get ahead of myself, though. Wish a brotha luck.