Entries by Brandon Wittwer

Corporate faux-pas

There are lots of “faux-pas” that exist in the corporate world, and I’ve managed to discover a couple more that drive me up a wall.

1) the Long Hallway

You have just entered a hallway and eyeballed your destination some 20 yards away.  Between you and your destination is another walker going about their day.  It is now absolutely neccesary to decide on one of 3 options to successfully get to your destination without feeling like you’ve been rude to the passer-by.

  1. “The Long Stare” – Whatever you do, never make eye contact with your hallway counterpart, never allow your gaze to drift from the door frame or hallway that is your destination.  This communicates to the on-comer that you are ready to walk past them without interaction and can retain the dignity in not having to do the next option
  2. “The Timed Floor Stare” – You notice the distance of (lets call him “Fred”).  Fred is beyond a normal conversational distance and therefore would be awkward to engage in pleasantries at such a distance.  Immediately drop your eyes to the floor tiles approximately 4 feet in front of your gate.  You must do this to avoid a creepy feeling “Stare down” thing that happens while you wait to be within close proximity to Fred. You must now calculate, with your eyes on the floor, the walking time necessary to be within conversational range.  At which point seize the opportunity to lift your head, and make a noise similar to “hey”,”howdy”,”morning”, or “How ya doin”.  (An alternative to a noise is a subtle motion, like a finger wave at about belly level, a small nod of the head, or one of those things you do with your mouth and eye to say “Hey, here’s lookin at you kid”.
  3. “Lets Get It Over With” –  To pull this off, is to be master of your domain (the hallway for the next 15 seconds).  It is a direct contradiction to The Long Stare and The Timed Floor Stare.  Performing it can backfire, but can also cause great joy in both hallway walkers.  Nobody wants to deal with making the decision between 1 or 2… so make it for them with this option.  To begin, present yourself as a king (or queen) of your kingdom… Chest held high, gate of a trotting Clydesdale, just as happy as can be.  This is key to being able to perform the next task.  Make believe you’ve known “Fred” for 10 years.  Make believe “Fred” and you havent seen eachother in a few weeks.  From any distance, lock eyes with “Fred” and reach out with your voice and body language to say “HEY DUDE, HOW YOU BEEN”.  Strike up a conversation at what would otherwise be an uncomfortable distance for a passing “hey” (as referenced in option 2).  Once the ice is broken you can manage carry on a pleasantries conversation for a few moments or  drop the conversation and be satisfied with your interaction (thus not prompting Option 1 or 2 to come up in the following moments.

2) good Morning, good morning, good morning, …

This one irks me less than the Long Hallway, and maybe it’s just me coming from a small office of only 15 people.  So every morning, how many times do I hear “Good Morning” ?  I’m going to start counting this week, I’m betting is 30 times a day.  Its not that the person annoys me, they’re just trying to be polite.  But doesn’t everyone feel the way I do?  By 7:45AM that phrase is like fingernails on a chalkboard…   Okay, so maybe more like a squeeky belt on a ford Pinto, but you get my drift.   I’ve tried to start a revolution in my company to change the phrase to any of the following… Hoping it becomes infectious.

  1. “Hi Hiddely Ho”
  2. “Happy Monday”
  3. “Hey Hey Hey!”
  4. “Happy Hump Day”
  5. “Happy Friday Eve” (on applicable Thursdays)
  6. “Happy Friday” (or weekend’s eve, if the person is clever)
  7. “ANYTHING BUT GOOD MORNING”

That is all, oh, and…  Good Yesterday Dayiversary!

In Their Employ

So maybe I played with the idea of being a freelancer. Maybe I thought being at home would be an inspiration to live the “be your own boss” mantra. I even thought I’d start my own photography business. Well… that didn’t happen. One gloomy morning, May 18th, 2009 actually… so it wasn’t exactly gloomy, I came to work and heard these words; “Your last day will be this Friday.”

Okay so maybe I’m paraphrasing, but the gist is, IT had been downsized to 0. I burnt up my week and change of vacation and was on my way to unemployment heaven. When all of a sudden SMACK… Unemployment sucks! When did this happen… oh yeah.. Unemployment sucks because you have bills to pay, and kids to feed, and ….CRAP a job to look for.

“They” say, when looking for a job, treat it like a job. Spend 8 hours a day on it. Dress for success, take two 10 minute breaks and a half hour for lunch. Okay so the rules aren’t that strict…. But you really should take time each day. So I start freaking out the monday before my dinner bell rings and update my resume hit the job boards and to my dismay what do I find….. COLDFUSION DOESNT EXIST ON THE MINDS OF EMPLOYERS ANY MORE.

How can this be, I think. CF is a great rapid development language. It’s powerful, capable, scalable, and… not hireable…. Yes to all of the above.

So out go the pouring of job applications to jobs I’m really not qualified for. In the first few weeks, maybe not so many, since I had vaca to burn, then sign up for unemployment. But then the fear hits and I’m cranking out 20 a week. I have no clue about embedded development, but I applied for it. I’ve got 0 experience in .net, but BOY did I apply for it.

56 weeks of that. Some weeks less nervous, some weeks sweating bullets. Most weeks scraping the hull of my titanic stack of bills on the frozen iceberg of my bank accounts, while the winds of credit card expenditures push me over the 3rd bulkhead…

So yeah, you could say I was having a hard time.   By the time Fall rolled in I was pretty depressed.  Sent a few applications a week and filed my weekly “you can’t get a job in this economy” pity check.  But light on the horizon, a light I wouldnt see until 7 months later….  I applied to Do It Best Corp.

Once my unemployment ran out the first time around December I started realizing I might have to take whatever I can get.  So my employment search widened to manual labor, unskilled trades, etc…   Then in March I took a few interviews… decent interviews… with decent companies, but none panned out…. why?  its my fault.  here’s why…

I started at TQS in 04.  Coldfusion was my language.  I was single languaged… yup.  And thats about as wise as driving a unicycle without a spare.  Sure it’ll get you where you want to go, as long as it doesn’t go flat, then you’re hittin the pavement buddy.  I had the opportunity to start at TQS and learn .Net, there was even a little code there that could’ve gotten me going. But not me… I’m a CF guru and I’m not about to make a bad first impression.  So CF in, .Net out. 

BAD DECISION.

So here it is March now, and I’m down, I mean gaining 20 pounds, sitting on the couch 12 hours a day down.  Then that light shows up that I mentioned, in the form of a phone call from the HR department of Do It Best.  I took a phone interview for a resume submission that was 7 months old.  The fact that I was even called is suprising considering how long it had been.  Whats more suprising is… its a .Net position!  But this company understands my dilemma.  The interview was great and led to an in person interview 3 weeks later.  3 weeks after that another interview that ended in a VERY solid notion that I got the job.  Then another 2 weeks for the “is this guy an axe murderer” HR personality testing.  Then a phone call…

“When can you start?”

I love that question…. it’s like… oh, let me see whats on my schedule.  I’m available next tuesday… But i’m booked all week till then…. WAAAHH?  I’m available 56 weeks ago!!!

Long story long, I am now in their employ; learning, growing, contributing.  And I’ll be here till I’m gray… if I have my way.  I love this company. 

Just wish they were a bit quicker on the uptake… :)

Lorem Ipslip-up

Well you don’t see this every day.  As I checked the weather I noticed this tiny line in a banner ad.  It looked familiar.  So I investigated a bit further.  It was a flash ad, so a quick zoom confirmed my suspicions.  I won’t do any free advertising for the owner of the ad, but I’m sure, as a Hotel, that the message they were trying to get across was not a recital of the famous “Lorem Ipsum” typesetters filler text.

Lorem Ipsum woopsie doo

Lorem Ipsum woopsie doo

 

This is one of those things you just don’t do.  I mean the list that includes brushing your teeth with a wire brush, fixing dinner with a crescent wrench and wearing your tighty whitey’s on the outside of your corduroy man-prees. 

A few things to think about when developing banner ads.

  • The client is paying your salary, so you should maybe make sure that you’re putting their best first impression out there, else your salary might… suffer.
  • If you are working on a large number of projects, make sure you keep track of each piece of work carefully to make sure you don’t overwrite a finished ad with a blank or another client’s ad.
  • Oh, and I think the biggest faux pas would be uploading the ad you threw together at 4:47pm on a friday and let it run on a site that gets 21 Million hits per month  without at least checking to make sure it’s not just a line of Lorem Ipsum.  Because its pretty safe to say your client doesn’t want to talk, in latin no less, about “denouncing pleasure and praising pain”.

 

I think the picture gets the point across pretty well, but really… I can’t just post a picture and have that be all.  So there.

Welcome to the black box

I’m sure you’ve referred to or heard about “the black box”.  The phrase saves people who use it from sounding silly when talking about things they don’t understand. 

And over here we have the IT department.  I like to call it the “Black Box”.  We like what they do over here.

sounds better than:

And over here we have the IT department.  They do configuration files on the disaster covering system, install uploads onto our email and document server, and create HTML and Photoshops.

I hope to think that’s an exaggeration, but you get the picture. 

The black box is not for the faint of knowledge, it is not for the weak of vocabulary, it’s not going to take your kids to the zoo or do your taxes (because that’s a whole other black box).  Here you will find the ramblings of the man inside the black box.  Some may be incoherent spattering of illegible babble.  Others may (hopefully) be deep insightful glimpses into the depths of black box wisdom and fortune.  If you find yourself here, find yourself lucky to be amongst the greatest of my minds expulsions.  Enjoy your stay, and please don’t sit on the wet paint.  The construction of the black box is a perpetual thing.  (Just think about it, people have been referring to the black box since … forever.  We don’t have WWII flamethrowers in here any more… we renovated that area 3 weeks ago!!)