Tag Archive for 'work'

New York Times Anthrax Scare


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


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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…


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.


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.