Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Noogler, Day 6: Relief From Classes

Yay, I get a day without any classes! Actually, I get a whole WEEK without any classes. That's because they have the same classes at the same times each week. This week, though, we get Independence Day off, so instead of trying to find times juggle all the teachers into, they just postponed them until next week.

This is good. I still have lots of learning to do. My co-workers aren't pressuring me at all on time; indeed, they're encouraging me to take my time as I scale the learning curve, and are clearly quite patient for me to take as much time as I need. Nevertheless, I still have lots that I want to learn, and I still haven't figured out the source control system, let alone any of the technical details of the environment I'll be maintaining. I've got a long list of things that I want to learn, and would like to see it shrink a bit more. So how did I start my week? By showing up late!

Well, not exactly. They don't have a particular time they expect me to arrive. I just had a couple of errands to run before I came into work today. Mind you, it turns out that there was a team meeting a little bit before I arrived, but I wasn't really expected to be there. Later, I asked Karl— one of my office-mates— and Sara— his girlfriend (apparently they do exist) what meetings I should attend. The consensus we came to was more or less to not think about that until my boss said something like, "Maybe you should show up at such-and-such meeting."

One thing that did come up during this conversation was in how I'm learning. I've attended dozens of hours of orientation, and I've also sat in listening a little bit as some of my co-workers talked to each other about work stuff (although they do seem to stray from discussing work issues pretty readily). The little bit of sitting around listening has felt more educational than the hours of orientation and training. If I think about what I've learned each way, I can see it's not quite accurate, but it feels that way.

After I talked to Karl and Sara about meetings, I went off to the tech guys to ask them about my laptop. As you may recall, when we last left our hero, he had a laptop with the corporate WiFi finally working, but no VPN.

So I sat around for a while as he worked on my laptop, and decided I'd best go do my job instead. Back in the office, I pulled out my to-do list and my iPod. At this point, I realized a few things. First, my backpack weighed a ton. (I've carried heavy backpacks since high school. Indeed, in high school, I didn't even use my locker. There might be a causative relationship between my heavy backpack and my tight upper trapezius.) Second, I have a new, better backpack from Google! This is a Kensington backpack with a lumbar support, widescreen laptop pouch, headphone hole, etc.

Naturally, if one backpack is good, then two is better, so I divided my stuff into the two backpacks. Really, I figured that I'd still need to keep my personal laptop with me— at least until the techs get the company laptop working— and there's just not room for two laptops in one backpack. So I put my personal stuff in my Juniper backpack, and my company stuff in the Google backpack.

Finally, I took out some CDs that I'd gotten from Fry's last weekend and started loading them onto my iPod. Earbuds on, I went to work, meaning to tackle some of the technical study I wanted to do. About the time I got started, my co-workers were inviting me to lunch. I declined, having had a late breakfast, and took in an extra couple of hours of working down my to-do list.

For lunch, I decided to try the health food place, called the No Name Cafe. There's something they call the "Google 15", which is the 15 pounds that people gain when they first start working at Google. Seeing as how I'd gone to all that trouble to lose weight, I didn't see any sense in gaining it back, so I thought I should start looking at what the healthier options were.

No Name is the first place on Google campus I ate, and I was impressed with their selection. They have meals for vegetarians and carnivores alike (myself being firmly in the latter category), and their food is no less expertly planned and prepared than elsewhere in Google— as if you'd expect different! A fairly simple chicken and rice dish with a non-alcoholic Chardonnay, and for desert a grilled peach with vanilla bean topping, and I was ready to head back to work.

After lunch, I found an email asking me to pick up my laptop from the tech. At some point, they had decided that it wasn't worth the downtime to keep troubleshooting the problem, and instead wiped the drive clean and put a fresh install on it. (Of course, they confirmed that I didn't have any critical data on the drive first!) That had been done while I was working and eating, so they were ready for me to come in to supply the necessary passwords to set up the WiFi and VPN.

I happily came in to do so, and now the VPN would work fine, but the WiFi wouldn't. I sat down on a couch there in the Tech Stop and read web comics and chatted while he worked on this newest problem. After a little while of this, I commented, "Tech Stop: the best way to avoid work."

One of the techs turned to me and exclaimed, "Thank you! Now somebody's verbalized what I had suspected all along!"

Well, they did get the WiFi working, and the VPN. Both at the same time. Happily, I took my laptop and went back to my desk to configure it to my own bizarre tastes.

The first step of this was to do an OS update. (The tech had— at my suggestion— skipped the update in the interests of time, since I was waiting there and it would have taken an hour to download all the pending patches over the WiFi we had been connected to at the time.) I started the update and went back to learning about Google's version control system.

At some point in this process, I heard a sound coming from the laptop's hard drive. Anybody who's done computer repair knows this sound: the Click Of Death. Once the hard drive starts clicking in a particular, very distinct manner, then it's on its last legs. The last time I had a hard drive like that, I didn't bother waiting for it to completely fail before ordering a new one. I knew it was inevitable. (There's certain tricks you can play with a freezer to prolong the life slightly, but that's just borrowing some time.) But by then, it was too late for me to bring it back to the tech. I'll deal with that tomorrow.

Soon, the day came to an end, since I had improv class. And so too does this post.

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