Friday, March 27, 2009

If I Was This Popular In High School, I would Have Had More Dates!

I have this joke that my wife can’t stand. My birthday is in June and I like to say that my birthday was strategically placed for me to receive gifts every six months. Her birthday is in February. So I can see how she might not find the joke to be very funny. In three more months I’ll still think it is hilarious though. But I do admit that the joke lost a little bit of the luster when I hit 40.

I’ve been talking a lot about age and time offline recently. I’ve had to explain to people why a new Windows is coming. I’ve had to explain the reasoning behind some office procedures that pre date my starting point by five years to people who have only been working with the team for a short time. And I often find myself being the defender of the faith to a office religion I never really adhered to begin with. Yet here now I’ve traveled the path from fighting “De’Man” and all he stood for to the point where I’m working along side “De’Man” because it is comfortable and familiar. So goes the “Circle of Life” i guess.

The problem is, as I wrote back in 2007, the Mentors that I grew up with in the Industry are moving on to other things. Back when I first wrote about the subject I was focusing on friends and Reps who existed in the national arena. Now the losses are more closer to home because some of my most cherished co-workers are retiring out of the business as well. And I don’t know how to transition from being the Grasshopper to the Master who holds out the outstretched hand with the shiny pebble in the center of the palm.

Oh it isn’t because I don’t know the wise and witty sayings that come with the mantle of responsibility. I’ve heard myself use phrases from my parents and previous teachers that I loathed come freely out of my own mouth quite easily. I also don’t have the fear of failure or anything like that either. Possibly because I have always had the brash overconfidence thing going for me, probably to my detriment, for years. And ye ol’noggin keeps the idea train on the tracks with tons of crazy new projects. So that isn’t the trouble either.

The condition that sets me apart from my older piers is time and the complexity of today’s market.

A few years ago there was a person who made us go through a series of meetings where it was thought that my team would get some support for our schedules if we explored the concept of time management. It is usually around this point in staff meetings of this ilk that I think back to the first 10 minutes of “Robocop” and how a big oddly shaped robot, The Enforcement Droid 209 or ED209 for short, walked in and shot a guy for provoking him. But I digress.. So off we went to figure out how much time it took to do everything down to the making of the coffee each morning. And I was *encouraged* to read a bunch of management philosophies on prioritizing, segmenting and grouping tasks. Which ranged from the “What the?” to the “You got to be kidding me” on the spectrum of how these concepts could apply to my job in the Assistive Technology Industry.

My fave was the “inbox Zero” fantasy. The idea goes that you should do everything in your Inbox. No matter what the task or time. You should have nothing in your Inbox at the end of the day. And! You couldn’t cheat by moving all your messages to a folder or delete all your correspondence in case you were wondering. I realize that the new thing is to text and I’m an old fogie for the reliance on email but.. C’mon!. I see almost 300 email a week. Of course this was a management book and the idea was to delegate the majority of the work on to others. Which would be great if there were lots of people around who know what I know. However, it is getting harder to find people who know version 3 of a product let alone go back to DOS or the Vic 20.

Being good in the AT Industry takes a lot of experience. And you are only as good as the first version of the product you touched. Or at least that is what I used to say. Now flexibility is the key because next year we have Windows XP, Vista and 7 to support. Then Office 2003, 2007 and whatever the name of Office 14 ends up being when shipped. Plus Firefox, IE7 and IE8. Oh and how about all the social networking options.. And! Security software, broadband connections and the As through Ns of the wireless world. Is it any wonder why so many of my friends have left?

In the three times I have stopped to write this post since November we went from not having much in the way of x64 support to it now being a common feature for just about everyone in the biz. Features like that are coming fast with development teams working year round. Not to mention the patch schedules are even faster than the product releases used to be even two years ago. I’m absolutely lucky that I have a job that allows me to keep up with it all for the most part. Still, due to the many options for today’s access, I’ve had to make out my own niche among the types of technology on the market today. Cell phones, for instance, became something I just follow other blogs and podcasts for research rather than relying upon hands on impressions. Choosing Windows Mobile may also be my undoing but using it helps me know some Blindness Note Takers better. So I chalk it up to multi tasking. Take that!, management book “Who moved my cheese?”.

The thing is that my mental hard drive is getting full and my RAM is all used up more days than not. Yet the sheer number of people who need assistance is growing due to the aging population. Which means that the requests keep coming but the resources to handle it all are decreasing not just for me but everywhere I look.

Time.. it all takes time that I used to have before I ended up playing the violin while my friends boarded the lifeboats off the Titanic as we sped towards this giant ice cube. And while I want to resent them for leaving me with the others on the boat.. I just can’t do it because I’m thinking that part of me is saying “take me with you”. Until recently that is…

One morning it hit me. I could walk home and buy any book and read it like a sighted person. I could buy anything and have it delivered to the wrong place just like a sighted person. I have access to technology that can read street signs. I have talking GPS. I have the ability to walk up to almost any computer, Mac or Windows, and make it talk. I have … options where so many of my friends did not. I then chided myself for even thinking that there was such a concept as “too much access”. Everyone is experiencing their own form of information overload and why should our Industry be any different? Then I waved at the retreating lifeboats, picked up a shot glass, and went below decks to help those left to bail out the rushing water.

Sure my phone rings constantly. My schedule is booked for the next two months. I started the Twitter feed because I was feeling guilty for not posting enough here at TRS. But what lovely problems to have these days. While others are fearing the economy, I’m wondering if I can ever take time off to have a vacation. Not bad for a guy who was President of his Science Fiction Club, two years running, back in high school. Ah, but if I was this popular back in high school I would have had so many more dates.

1 comment:

Alena said...

That is some great insight. Just out of curiosity, where do you work?