Monday, May 29, 2006

island time

I was tired last week. Jet lag, leftover tasks that needed doing from before going to DNUG, catching up with stuff at home, overall pretty overwhelming. We had ferry tickets to take us to the island leaving Saturday morning, returning Monday morning. And a bunch of kids who didn't want to go.

So I gave in. I stayed home while Steve headed down to do some prep work on the house for summer. I made sure the nearly graduated senior didn't throw a party and that things were calm on the home front. And I slept decadently late on Sunday morning.

And woke up with energy.

I made sure all the kids were under control of the oldest one here (who is more than 21, so I'm not being terribly irresponsible!) And I left my laptop behind, put the puppy on the leash, and left for the island. The drive that seemed so daunting before sleep passed quickly, the tall New England pines slowly replaced by the scrub pines and sandy soil of the cape. Parked the car, hopped the bus to the ferry, and watched the water bring me home.

I remember endless summers stretching in front of me - and it felt like I should just stay forever. But reality calls me back, and I returned to America on the 10:45 this morning. But the island worked her magic, even in way too short a trip. My heart is lighter as I return, and it beats with an island rythmn now.

Monday, May 22, 2006

A sampling....

of Iceland pictures using Ned's new picture tool!

Tabblo: Clear and cool

See my Tabblo>

Saturday, May 20, 2006

the long way home

It's 10:15pm here in Reykjavik, and it's still light out. I'm taking the long way home from Karlsruhe, Germany, and it is just beautiful here. Clear, crisp, sunny, and a starkly beautiful landscape. Just what my soul needed after the past few weeks/months of intense work (my day job on Workplace Designer has also been pretty hectic!).

There will be more to say about the Domino Designer in Eclipse project, but Chris has done a great job filling in some details! We'll keep you posted, and be asking for feedback as we progress.

I did the Golden Circle tour today - walked between the American and Eurasian continental plates, saw the Gullfoss waterfall and the Geysir and Strokkur geysers (though only Strokkur was feeling like spouting), lots of geothermal energy, volcanos and craters, a glacier, and even a bit of snow fell. A magical day!

It will be good to go back home tomorrow, though. Have to wonder why the kids were cleaning the house....

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

my working heart's desire

Ever since I moved to Workplace Designer from Domino Designer a little over two years ago, I've had a dream.... I had unfinished business in Domino Designer - there were things I wanted to do that could not easily be done within the existing code base in the amount of time allocated to a release. Specifically, to improve the script editing experience within Domino Designer.

Seeing what the Eclipse editors could do for the same experience in Workplace Designer out of the gate, it was clear to me what needed doing. I've been championing a cause inside IBM for a while, gaining support for it, and yesterday, I was thrilled to show a prototype of Domino Designer embedded in Eclipse.

The prototype was fun to build, and my team pitched in to help with some last minute requests - and if I read the audience response correctly, this truly is the right thing to do. It's the beginning of the road, but I am so happy that we are doing the right thing for our Domino developers.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Michaelangelos or Monkeys

I worked at Wang for 13 years, from boom through bust. Quarter after quarter of 34% growth felt like it would go on forever, but of course it didn't. Wang was good to and for me - I morphed from technical writer to engineer, fresh out of school student with no idea what a job was to a valued employee. But living through the fall was sad. I left of my own accord in 1992, just months before the bankruptcy.

As Wang was thrashing, they signed up hook, line, and sinker for the "Quality Leadership Process" program (QLP). Every employee in the company had to take an initial short introductory course, and were supposed to follow up with a multi-month course that took something like 20% of your time for that period. Employees in the intensive course were supposed to complete some sort of project that would make a positive impact on the bottom line.... One of the more famous ones was putting up signs encouraging people to take the stairs instead of the elevator if they were only going up one or two floors in the Tower...

I escaped the long course with a well timed maternity leave, and deciding to leave the company before I could get snared into such a time sink. I often wondered what would have happened had I taken the course and suggested that one of the better ways of making a positive impact on the company would be to stop wasting employees' time in that program....

So one of my scars from Wang is that I shiver at the word "process."

I understand that it must be hard to manage engineers - but I struggle with applying process to art. If there are too many rules, the creative process gets thwarted. The key is to give engineers enough creative freedom in a problem to enjoy solving it, without so much freedom that there is chaos in a project. And that's a tough balance to find. Programs like QLP have a formulaic approach to how to do software/business. But when things get formulaic, they lose their art.

I'm told that when Dave Cutler interviewed people at DEC long ago, one of his trademark interview questions was whether software was a science or art. Had I ever interviewed with him, I would have said quite firmly that software was art.