New Job Begins

by Terry 4/26/2010 4:23:00 PM

No much to say except I am happy to have job. I am essentially working on the same products, doing the same thing for most of the same people. My paycheck now comes from Computer Sciences Corporation, but I am acting in the same role I did with Boeing. What has most immediately changed is my daily work computer and equipment. The technological transition is not so fun, but it is tolerable.

This post is largely to prove I can still post with all the other changes in plan.

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Positively losing my job

by Terry 3/3/2010 3:53:00 PM

Today I updated my resume and posted it online. This was prompted by the layoff notice I received recently from Boeing, my current employer. Oddly, I am not unhappy about this. As a software developer working in an aerospace company, I do not have the opportunity to grow as I might in a company with a greater emphasis on Information Technology. I see the upcoming change as a positive and professionally healthy change.

I saw the change coming, sort of. The stress of job hunting is not one most people relish. I know I don’t. I was a little resistant to job-hunting before I was certain of my status.  When I received my notice I was not surprise, although I was a bit disappointed at first. Who wouldn’t be after 12 years with a company? Thankfully, the disappointment passed very quickly. So, for the last week, I have been in job-hunting mode. I am not unhappy or bitter, just determined and hopeful. I look forward to the chance to expand my skills and abilities.

I have already been diligently applying for jobs. I suppose I am lucky in some sense. While my likelihood of remaining with Boeing in another position is slim, I am still employed for the next several weeks. This relieves some of the pressure and allows me to be deliberate in my actions. I feel for people who are cut loose with no warning or severance.

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computing | Policy

Keeping it in the Cloud, a Cloudy issue

by Terry 10/15/2009 8:49:00 AM

With the recent T-Mobile and Microsoft Sidekick data loss incident, it is clear Cloud Computing is often mischaracterized as a safe means of data access, storage and application access. Take this quote from this report on the Sidekick issue.

“The Sidekick service, run by Microsoft unit Danger, is supposed to be more secure in storing data because it is kept in the "cloud," which involves storing information on the Internet and not one physically vulnerable location, making the temporary loss of data striking.”

What strikes me is the misconception in the statement. The data loss is striking because it is believed that cloud computing is secure and safe. Sadly, just because data is available on the internet does not make the data safe or secure. Just because an application is on the internet does not guarantee its availability, longevity or protability.

Take for example a service like Shutterfly, or Costco’s online print services. Karen, my wife, has made some fantastic albums using these services. The costs are reasonable, the quality is great. I have no complaint with the outcome (with one exception with Shutterfly sending invitations which had no printed text, but this ultimately had a good outcome).

Once I upload data, pictures and text, to a cloud application, there is no magical invincibility cloak surrounding my data. The service can be hacked, suffer from espionage, have a server fail, go out of business, and so on. Additionally, while the raw data may be mine, the formatted data that the service uses to provide its output is owned by the service itself. I may have my own personal copies of the picture and text, even the printed album in my hands, but the data to generate the album, calendar or greeting card I purchase is not transferable to another service. I cannot, in most cases, get the output of the first service in a generic, openly transferable bit of data to use in another service. In this sense, I do not own all the data that I may have purchased.

This is a common open source argument with proprietary data formats. If I do not have a copy of Wiget’s WordSmithe 1.0, I may not be able to read a document written with that tool. Cloud computing does not make this any less true and carries the additional risk of possessing the raw data to boot.

I will keep my data on my own storage and backup systems. I will even continue to use services like Shutterfly. I will always do so with a bit of caution in mind, asking myself, “if this service is gone in a year, how will I reproduce my work”?

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Up to my Eyeballs in Work

by Terry 6/15/2009 3:33:00 PM

I had not posted in awhile. A friend and former co-worker just returned from a lengthy trip. Now he has the onerous task of looking for work soon. This prompted a reply, which I thought I would add here, in edited form, as a general commentary.

I have been up to my eyeballs in new work and a bit of old. The new HP tools I have been working with come with a steep learning curve. It is not that the tools are hard to use; there are just so many new things to sort out and document. It never is simply plugging in the new software; it is actually making it work within the company and figuring out the exceptions from the expected. The products I continue to support keep chugging along, with some periodic updates. I am thankful I have work.

I have not heard much about the job market lately in software development; perhaps that is good news by itself. In general, news bulletins on layoffs have been absent as of late, so while jobs may not be in great abundance, the market may not be as flooded with job hunters. Think of it this way, anyone who has not yet found work may not be skilled or qualified enough. Any job openings that are available are looking for talent, and that talent has been skimmed off the top already

I think this will mean putting a name in the hat with dozens of other people for any given job. The greatest challenge for those who are most qualified will be getting a potential employer to see who is actually qualified and worth hiring. It is not like the dot-com days when anyone who could type could get a software job.

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Taking Class in HP’s Operations Orchestrator

by Terry 5/19/2009 9:41:00 AM

This week I am back in all-day classes learning the fundamentals of Hewlett-Packard’s Operations Orchestrator software package. This product is likely going to be the center post of my work for the next year or so. If I understand my future work orders (I say that knowing that no plan ever survives implementation), I will be working on many of the business standards documents, working samples and technical consultant on using the product in the company. Today I start the steep initial learning curve.

Some people think this would be like re-training for a new job, after losing a job. As an operations-oriented software architect and developer (meaning I design, write and implement software for daily operations in my company, not write general applications like a work processor), my job has always been about learning new skills. I would be unemployed if I did not deal with change, usually large, fundamental business change. In my initial interviews with my employer, twelve years ago, I stated that if I do my job right my result will be to work myself out of my job. This philosophy has never changed in twelve years and I am fairly certain that has kept me employed, working on new and increasingly complex projects and through five lay-off cycles since.

After the initial learning curve, I will take the best of everything I have learned before and what I am learning to make the best product for my employer. If I do this well, I will have passed on my work and reach a point where I will have little more to contribute for my time. By that time, I hope to be where I am right now – learning the fundamentals for my next assignment.

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HP Server Automation (SA) 7.5 Class

by Terry 5/12/2009 10:34:00 AM

I am in classes this week, learning the basics of HP Server Automation (SA) 7.5. Last year I took the SA 6.5 classes as part of the process to determine if the products can be implemented by my employer. This time I get to learn the product that is being implemented.

One big change, and I know I cannot detail this in any meaningful way, is the ability in SA 7.5 to handle a server in multiple groups. This was a limitation in earlier versions. For a large company with many smaller companies absorbed into the fold and multiple governmental regulators this allows a server to have overlapping management. It sounds hideous, and it is, but it is a necessary evil in some cases.

One downside of SA 7.5, and earlier versions, is during SA Core upgrades, the core and all instances of a multi-master mesh core (think distributed management servers) all cores are unavailable. In a large company, this can be a five day process. The managed servers themselves continue to work, but all central management is offline. I can think up horror scenarios with this where a customer is unable to restore/rebuild a failed production device when the SA cores are offline. Apparently this will be addressed in future releases.

Anyway, this is a bit of a ramble. I am in class, locked in a room and in learning mode. Learning is the perpetual state of a software developer.

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Playing Server Administrator

by Terry 4/20/2009 11:29:00 AM

I am participating in a series of meetings this week to prepare for the installation of a host of HP products within my company. I am basically a software developer with a penchant for Windows Server. For now I get to play the role of Server Administrator for part of the initial implementation of the development environment for the HP tools. This is because my company believed, originally, the implementation would be entirely on Linux based servers. It turns out that HP’s Operation Orchestrator (OO) needs to be installed in part on Window based server in order to fully support Windows workflow feature and *nix features. The *nix OO installation only supports *nix features. Go figure.

It turns out, I am the ‘most available’ to fill the role and it gives me good exposure to the product, Operations Orchestrator in this case, as we introduce it to the company. I am already slated to work on the development of integration interfaces for OO to connect it within the company. My role as server administrator allows me to get an early introduction to the tools and environment.

(Note: I am work under general non-disclosure agreements, with some allowance to discuss what I work on or with. I occasionally have specific assignments which I cannot discuss in any way. It is my personal policy to not explicitly mention who my employer is. I refer to my employer as simply my company or employer.)

My company has had various rounds of layoffs over the last year. I feel fortunate to be part of a committed project, to which I am just transitioning as opposed to transitioning to unemployment like many of my counterparts. It is a learning experience – in the life-skills sense. Being a software developer, in a way, my specialty is learning and transition. I have made a good living implementing change in significant ways. This assignment is no exception and it serves as a grounding life lesson. Change is the only constant, live with it, learn from it and grow with it. It is very Zen.

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Testing Windows Live Writer

by terry 3/31/2009 4:00:20 PM

I thought I would test Windows Live Writer as a journal editing tool.

I have Vista x64 running as a virtual machine. I use the platform for testing new software and such. I figured it was time to make some effort again to see what I have been otherwise ignoring.

If you see this post, than Windows Live Writer was able to publish to my BlogEngine.net site with almost no issue whatsoever.

I can say there are a few things I don’t like about Windows Live Writer, but there are a lot that I do. I will have to install Word on my VM test box and see if the Windows Live Office updates are worth anything. Word as my journal editor would be a significant difference.

One thing Live Writer does do nicely is edit posts. I added this last paragraph after publishing. hmm…

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Lab Progress, of a Sort

by Terry 1/9/2009 4:29:00 PM

I have not been working in the lab much for the last two months. Nevertheless, I keep acquiring items. In addition to the lifetime supply of Anthracite Coal I recently received, I picked up a storage cabinet for the lab.

I happened to be browsing a store over the holidays with Karen. The store sells rubber stamps, but the owner is retiring and selling the display fixtures. For a nominal cost I purchased a sturdy wooden display case. The case is 36 in. wide and 84 in. tall. It has a deep base, shallow top and a dozen variously spaced shelves perfect for displaying small rubber stamps, or for me, lots of small bottles of chemicals. I now have room for a lot of stock. The base of the display case is deep enough for bulky items.

After carting the case home, I cleaned my garage and made space for it at the end of my work bench, bolting it to the garage wall for good measure. The only thing I can add to this case is some doors to the top half. I am thinking of a couple hinged Plexiglas panels with a simple lock. This will protect the contents and any idle hands from harm. Someday I may actually get back to working labs.

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Working Late

by Terry 10/30/2008 9:18:00 PM

I am working late this evening. Thursday is my martial arts Leadership class too. When I got home tonight I had just enough time to change and eat before the call from the office came in. There is a large scale system update going on at work. I am partially responsible for the servers that are the authoritative source for all the updates. This is not a big issue, but I need update the authoritative servers also, which means a little juggling and a few extra backups so there is no down time in the system.

My actual time at work is about ten minutes with a 30 minutes break in the middle of that while I wait for other systems to go through there update. When all is done, unless there is a catastrophe, I verify everything works again and go to bed. I expect things will go smoothly, but I am online to handle any catastrophe, should one happen.

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About Terry Losansky

Terry Dee Losansky

I am a software architect, actively practice and teach martial arts and live in Snoqualmie, Washington. I have an amazing daughter who is the jewel of my life.

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