The Great Dismal

I’ve been pretty quiet over the past few weeks, partly due to a protracted flu (which has escalated to an earache and a couple of nosebleeds, although fortunately nothing like what happened a few years back) and partly due to the current political and business climate, which is disheartening to say the least. So much so that my customary dislike for politics has had to take a step back regarding what is currently happening in the US and the likely consequences (even if attenuated by distance and economic buffering).

Although it might be argued that we’re on the brink of one of those dystopian futures books like The Handmaid’s Tale and 1984 cast upon our collective subconscious, I side with those who point to masterful (if transparent) disinformation of the style that swept up Germany in the late 30s, and fear the echoes of general incompetence and purposeful malice that new apparatchiks leak in their interactions with established institutions (witness the controversy surrounding the Department of Energy, for instance).

Closer to home, I have been under a considerable amount of stress regarding my own situation (both current and future). Real-life stuff (like playing with the kids over Christmas break) has been a great way to let off steam, but my current line of work has all but buried my motivation to sit in front of a computer at home, so I’ve been skimming academic papers in search of the next big thing I want to do and systematically knocking off stuff from my reading list.

Right now, and besides other factors I cannot (as yet) mention, I blame my overall dissatisfaction squarely on lack of structure and utterly random assignments (also known as “playing calendar battleships”). Hopping about from customer to customer like the rabbit in Alice in Wonderland is frustrating, and all the more so when I’m being asked to put out fires instead of prioritizing closure on existing engagements, which when coupled with an impedance mismatch between the engineering approach to fixing problems (i.e., carefully husbanding and delivering a solution) and the sales mindset has a dramatic effect on derived satisfaction.

In retrospect, rather than (post-)sales, I should have aimed for a business development or partnership management position – which is what I’ve been trying to do despite having been “promoted” again to resident firefighter, a position I successfully held (and thoroughly despised) for many years at Vodafone and that now seems to have come back to haunt me – everyone seems to have my phone number these days, and as flattering as that might be, it’s not half as rewarding.

Frustration waxes and wanes, but the underlying sensation that I am not learning anything new (only re-hashed pitches delivered by folk with limited vision, actually less experience and definitely no strategic forethought) is becoming bothersome, and I have my mind set on doing something about it. Soon.

To end on a high note (or at least on a tech note) my usual approach of relentless compartmentalization is paying off handsomely. The first thing I did when I got sick was set up a Windows VM I could run whatever I wanted in, and (most importantly) from whatever device I was using, so that I could stop using my work laptop (which I find hobbling and distracting). The end result is accessible via Remote Desktop, looks stunning on a 4K display and is powered by the i7 box I built last month, so it is unapologetically fast and quite pleasing.

As luck would have it, one of the devices I use that from is a brand new 2016 MacBook Pro (the controversial 13” Touch Bar model). My opinion1 of it is hardly relevant (even for me) at this point considering everything else that is currently on my mind, so you’ll have to excuse me if I defer that to a later date.

I’ve also taken to using Amethyst a fair bit, which is worth mentioning because most of the time I spend on computers (and off work) these days is hurried and full of little hassles, so I’m quite happy with the way it removes the need to move and place windows manually most of the time.

  1. One thing I can assure you of, though, is that Apple is wrong about how people want to use touchscreens (even Dan Moren is now politely hinting that) and that the Touch Bar, despite a major achievement, is not really that useful – or finished. ↩︎