Epic Change

… and a new blog platform as well.

Or more precisely, the new blog platform is necessitated by the change. That change is:

A new job.

That’s right, and not only a new job, a new company. I have decided to hang up my Microsoft FTE spurs and take up with a new (to me) company and go back out in the field as a consultant to help companies recover from ransomware attacks.

It will be a challenging new job, but I’m much more hopeful about my future opportunities with this new company. Plus, the “stress” of the new job can in no way compete with the demoralization I’ve been subjected to in the last couple of years at Microsoft. It once was a great company to work for, and likely still is in other organizations, but the one I was most lately in had become toxic and hostile.

I start the new job in a couple of days. Which, of course, leads me to my next topic: platform!

Because as a MS employee I had a full MSDN subscription, I also had a free Azure subscription and I used it to host this blog and to test out other technologies as well. Now that I am leaving, I have migrated off Azure and moved the blog to WordPress.com to be hosted. This should provide me with an even more stable, updated environment, but it comes with the loss of my favorite theme. You will notice the stark appearance of this one.

It will take time for me to find the right template and graphics to make the site “mine” again.

And with this new job, perhaps I will begin to write more again. Perhaps I will have some more mental bandwidth again.

Perhaps, even, some happy thoughts and pictures.

The Job

For the last 21 years give or take a few months, I’ve been a “field” consultant. That means that in all that time, I’ve done IT consulting for customers, traveling the world or locally to their offices to help them implement solutions that work for them, the first 10 as IBM, the last 11 at Microsoft. It also means that in all that time, I’ve never had a dedicated full-time permanent position to make IT work for one specific company. And it also means that I’ve never had a real office.

Until now.

Now, I’ve taken a new position at Microsoft at headquarters in Redmond in the IT department helping to make their networks more secure. This means that travel is all but gone – no more business trips, no more leaving on someone else terms. It also means a relocation to the Redmond area. I have already started the position last month and we are in the process of working out the details for selling the Virginia house and moving all of our stuff out West.

Now, I’ll get to experience the rainy Pacific Northwest in all of its glory.

HVAC Issues

Over the last couple of days, we’ve noticed that our heating and air-conditioning system was not functioning correctly. On the one hot day, we couldn’t get it to cool [luckily, it wasn’t that hot – only high 70s] and the rest of the days, it seemed like it just wouldn’t get warm.

After playing with it a little bit and smelling some strange electronic burning smell, we discovered that while the main furnace/AC was functioning, the fan system was not blowing. It was getting hot inside the furnace, but nowhere else. We had someone look at it today.

Sure enough, it was a bad circuit board – the one that switched the fan to “on” was broken. The technician bypassed the board for today and ordered the part. It should be in next week.

For now, we have heat – which is great since it got below 60 in the house this morning. I think we might be up to 68 or so by now. All this means that I had to work at the house today [since Laura had been called on to work an emergency shift due to someone’s illness I think and wasn’t able to be home] and sit freezing in the basement most of the morning. Hence my ability to take 5 and blog…

Maybe I’ll even get some of my work administration done. Status reports, research, etc. Stuff that normally doesn’t get done in a timely fashion when I have to sit with the customer all day.

Back To Bills

Getting back from Vegas means going through stacks of mail and entering many transactions into Quicken.

I think I’m finally done. It’s taken all evening to work on and now I don’t have a pile of debit card receipts in my pocket.

Returning from travel also means returning to work, and work I did today. Especially since I had so many unread emails to deal with.

Returning to work means EXPENSE REPORTS! Yay. Fun. So, I’m now done with that, too. I learned early on in my 100% travel days at IBM to not dally with the reports – it only hurt me in the end. I now stay clear. Zero balance on the Amex once the reports are approved.

So now I’m done. And I’m tired.

Life In A Posh Hotel

Normally, most of my business travel is, well, business travel. This time, though, as part of the convention I’m attending, I opted to stay in the convention hotel – which is a Casino/Resort. I have to say that it’s a couple of steps up from my regular hotel fare. The room is larger, more fancy, and the clock radio is a Bose wave-thingy which is a CD player with an MP3 input jack. Sweet!

Some of the decor is over the top, but I expect that as it’s Vegas and it’s a “resort” [which I think in Vegas just means fancy casino].

So Laura is exploring right now and I’m in a hands-on lab getting some good “experience” with Microsoft’s upcoming ILM “2” product. Fun! [… if you’re into that kind of thing like I am…]

We took some pictures yesterday of our room and we’ll certainly be taking more as we visit some more places.

And now, back to my geek time.

Viva Las Vegas?

As Winter can’t quite make up its mind about when to die this year, Laura and I will be heading out west to Las Vegas, or more precisely Henderson, NV.

I’m going there for a Directory and Identity conference, hoping to learn new things and Laura’s going… well, just to hang out with me! Isn’t that cool?

When I’m not in my conference, we’ll be heading out to the desert for some photo ops and possibly some night light shots of the strip, so it’s doubling as a photography trip.  We might even go back to Red Rock Canyon. And I think I’ve been persuaded to do some indoor skydiving.

This year, unlike last, we’ll be staying in the hotel which is hosting the conference. Last time, I tried to “maximize” our Hilton points, but the hassle just wasn’t worth it, and this hotel looks to be VERY posh.

Work Upon Work

It’s Saturday and our class is over for the day, but I’m still at the office. Why, you ask? Well, it’s like this: I’d like to do some work on our photo backlog [which is still very large, especially since we got our scans back from ScanCafe] and post some pictures to the site. However, doing that from the hotel room is very slow since their link is weak.

it’s much faster here at the office, so here is where I sit and upload pictures.

Of course, I don’t want to leave the building while they’re grading my exam. I’m pretty sure I passed, but I don’t want to leave in case I hear the good news!

So, I upload pictures and bite my nails while I wait…

A Glutton For Punishment

I’m back out in Redmond today [actually, I flew out late Thursday night] so that I could re-take the certification test for the first half of the Directory Ranger program [which, I believe is going to be called “Microsoft Certified Master: Windows Server 2008 Advanced Infrastructure” or some such onerous title]. I think I passed it this time. Last time, I missed a certain topic because I was sick for the first half of the first week.

But, I didn’t just fly out for the test. I came EARLY for the test. I came out because I’m going to sit in the same room with mostly the same people and go through the second half of the program, which I’m told will be the Directory-specific portion of the program. I’m really looking forward to that.

So now I’m tired: tired of being in this room for 12 hours; tired of smelling whatever that smell is; and tired of looking at this screen. I’m just tired, too. I’m going now. I’ll be going back to the hotel and then to get some food.

And sleep… Especially sleep.

I miss Laura, too. 😦

On The Road – Again!

In the morning, Laura and I will be journeying to Florida where I will work and she will play. She’ll work a little on some photos for a customer, but mainly she’ll get to relax in the warm weather. I’ll get to work – did I mention that? After having just gotten back from Seattle for 3 weeks, I wasn’t about to leave her here by herself – I kinda like hangin’ out with her, you know?

This is actually going to be my first customer business trip with Microsoft. All of my previous travel has been for training only. I think that’s a pretty good record – almost 3 years without a customer trip. At IBM, it was reversed – I went years without working in Houston.

While I’m there, I’ll be able to visit my friend Jeremy and hang with him for a bit.

Maybe, with this trip, I’ll get up to Silver on Continental. I lost my status on March 1st – I am now a ‘nobody’… 😦 Oh, the misery – it was either Platinum or Family. Yeah: tough choice.

Close Call

I flew back from the Seattle area yesterday and arrived home late last night. After working 14 hours a day in the same room with the same 14 guys for 14 days [there’s got to be some numerological significance there], I’m VERY glad to be home. I’m especially glad that I don’t have to stay in Woodinville anymore. It was quite a long drive to the office and the corporate apartment was not pleasant.

Imagine my surprise, however, when I flip on the news this afternoon and find out that Woodinville was victim to eco-terrorists! I just have to say that I’m glad I’m not there anymore! Of course, by no stretch of the imagination would the apartments I’d been staying in be considered “luxury” homes…