Warning, geekery ahead, and not the fun “hey, press this button and blow up your computer” kinda way that I often think about, but just some nuts & bolts thoughts about New Jobs, and Units of Work, and Things. Rambliness.
So, we’re into week four of the New Job (or is it week five?) and after a few weeks of moving heavy cardboard boxes around, and shoving network racks around, we’re now into the cabling portion of our broadcast, in preparation for a whole schwack of people moving from Broadway and Maple to Pender and Bute.
I’ve been seeing a lot of ghosts over the last two weeks, ’cause a lot of the gear we’ve got for the new office came from Nexon, where I worked for six months with some of the greatest crazies in the games business.
I wrote about the closing of Nexon Vancouver before, so I won’t go into that, but I’m not sure I can fully capture how mind-boggling weird it is to see things like the Nexon server racks show up, with their tags still on them that Briggs applied, or the spring-loaded racking bolts that I know either myself, Joe or Briggs put in only a few months ago.
That was pretty weird, but I didn’t know the chairs were coming. The weird custom-green stackable meeting room chairs, or the adjustable chairs with the squishy armwrests, or the rolling whiteboards, or the cool pull-this-and-flip-the-table-up tables. I know all that stuff was going to auction, but I didn’t think it would end up where *I* am. I think some of the stuff went to Joe at his Uther job, so that’s gotta be surreal for him, too.
Okay, all that aside, I’ve spent the last month with the construction crews (the mom of the crew boss makes a butter chicken that is to die for, although we do refer to it as being “cursed” because the day we were brought some just for the three IT guys, the giant purple network switch decided to freak out), the painting crews (seems like they all bring iPods and various speaker systems to hook up to them) and the electricians (who are obviously brilliant beyond the basic “don’t get your arm blown off by crossing these two wires” needs of the job).
The electricians always have 99.3 TheFOX radio blaring, but I don’t think they actually listen to it. It reminds me of working for the glass/window place in North Van ‘lo these many years ago, where 99.3 was always on, but everyone I talked to about music had tastes that ranged far beyond CFOX’ top 40 classic rock of the 60-through-90s.
The crew boss for the electricians? Big bear of a guy who listens to epic techno on his laptop whenever nobody else is hanging near where he’s working.
All really nice people. Funny. Bright. Building things. Creating, even in these “difficult economic times.” I don’t know why I thought they would be more surly. Maybe the crew(s) at Blackbox all these years ago were seemingly grumpier ’cause EA was giving them a hard time about money and speed? I guess Blackbox is shutting down pretty soon. Wish I could be there to watch it go dark. Wonder who’s going to take it over? Microsoft? The execs could all have their old offices back again, and I bet the feng-shui wouldn’t even have to be redone.
So yeah, everything’s coming together. Carpets are in. Rooms are painted. It’s starting to look more like an office, and less like a paintball arena. The Very Large Number of rendering slaves are in the racks, imaged, and (mostly) renamed and ready to go. Every one of those pizza-box-style systems has a custom-cut cable to avoid having a networking cabling nightmare (go Google “cabling nightmare” if you don’t instantly know what I’m talking about).
Today though? Today kicked my butt. I didn’t get a case of the Mondays, I got a truckload of the Mondays. With coupons. Got my butt kicked by making custom cables using Category 6e spool, which have a little pastic “spine” in them to help keep the four pairs of wires from getting tangled (and thereby reducing cross-talk on the cables) and they’re a little more stiff than normal “household” cables, and that’s all fine and good but oh my GOD do they hurt your hands to crimp into the plastic clips. I think I’m fighting a little bit of a cold, too, or something, ’cause I got to the site at 8:45am and by Noon I’d put 12 cable ends on.
ENDS. That’s SIX FREAKIN’ CABLES @ 30mins each.
I was a mess. Wasn’t measuring properly, kept having to re-crimp stuff because ONE of of the eight possible wires inside the clip wouldn’t pass a simple continuity test, and it takes a bit to figure out which end of the cable is at fault (there’s no way for us to test one clip until the other one’s been crimped on, and there’s no way to re-crimp or un-crimp, so it means cutting the clip off and starting over again, AFTER figuring out which end is the likely culprit).
When my manager appeared next to my elbow and said “You look haggard. Go for a break for a bit” I damn near hugged him. It was 3pm, and I’d just realized that the “smart shortcut” I’d tried to take had just cost me about 20 feet of cable, and meant I’d be able to make ONE patch cable instead of two, and that I’d be having to crimp the cable at a height of six feet, in low light in the server room. There’s no technological shortcut for doing this, and I’m a big fan of techie shortcuts.
I gotta tell you, I really miss the BIX punchdown walls at EA and Nexon. No crimping involved at all (well, no crimping by IT folks). Costs more, yes, probably quite a bit more, BUT if you have the room in your network closets/rooms (we don’t), and can possibly pull it off from your budget, DO IT. Save your technicians from muscle fatigue and having them wonder if that sudden sharp pain in their right bicep is a cramp of some sort, or if they’re going to die of a heart attack because the tester shows that pins 3 & 4 are mashed (both light up at the same time instead of individually) and pin 6 doesn’t light up at all.
Why, yes, I am whining, thank you for noticing.
Thought about calling Arwen for some words of encouragement (that was literally what I was going to call her and ask for), but knew she would be picking up Ripley at school, and would be juggling stuff at home shortly. Decided I needed some food. Badly. Had some lunch, drank one of those gigantic 99cent cans of iced tea, and felt my soul slide back behind my eyes a little again. Another ten minutes of watching people shop and eavesdropping on someone’s iPhone-conducted business at the new Urban Fare and I was ready to go again.
Finished the next 90 minutes of work without incident. Bit of a blur, really. Don’t think I broke anything, but it wasn’t exactly a case of “any well-executed technology tends to look like magic” either.
I rode home (the blocks are short, but uphill, and there’s some sorta “red wave” with the lights going on), had some yummy dinner, and then slept for about an hour. Arwen put the kids to bed. Don’t think I really said more than five words to either one of them before I crashed out. Woke up, wandered around the house for a bit. Asked the manager if he needed me to come back in tonight to get some more stuff done (the list of what was needed to be done today was long, and I got exactly NONE of it done), but since he said no, here I am.
Left my stuff at the office, so I can’t fill out the evaluation thing for the Mole Hill board I’m supposed to have done for tomorrow at 6:30, so that’s my lunch hour gone, and I don’t even wanna get into the drama around housing here at the Hill again.
But that’s tomorrow.
Tomorrow is another day.