Saturday, July 25, 2015

Even if you love your career frustration can set in...

There comes a point in every career that you start to have bad days and start to think things, like why do I do this? What is my goal? Do I even want to do this anymore? Does what I do matter to anyone?
If you job is high stress this can come on quicker than in other fields. When it comes to the IT Field you can face high stress almost every day. I started feeling like this about a month ago. The calls would come into the help desk and while trying to deal with those I was doing other projects that required a lot of attention to detail that I could not provide because I was on the phone helping users and doing other things at the same time. I used to wake up and look forward to going to work and facing new challenges. Now I wake up and I have to talk myself into it. I knew there were a ton of projects that I needed to work on but I just did not have the drive. I felt like why bother, there will just be another one right after it and no one cares. Going back to a retail store to stock shelves all day seemed like a better alternative than this. Basically I forgot some of the most important things about myself.
I lost sight of why I got into this field. What I loved about it. What used to drive me to try to be better every day. I wasn't sure how to get it back. Even my co workers could see I was stressed out. I would normally just answer a question and talk a little about something related. Now they would get a one word answer and I was short and barked at them gruffly. I knew it wasn't right to do and they were all working as hard as me, but I felt like I was drowning.
But then one day something good happened. I had several calls in a row and everyone thanked me for my help and told me how wonderful I was to work with. How I always can get them out of a jam and that I was truly a valuable person to have at the desk. Then as I was going through helping people by email requests, they were each coming back saying the same thing. One person said, "I know you guys don't get the respect you deserve sometimes, but this office really appreciates all that your team does for us. That email got flagged and marked in a category called "keep going you're on the right path".... I then had a moment to myself, it was quiet on the desk and my projects were waiting on updates from others that would not come for at least a few hours, so I started cleaning out my desk drawers. They get to become a disaster If I don't try to keep up with them. As I was going through the one drawer a small card fell out, It was a thank you card I got one of the first years I started working there. The person had written up a small note thanking me for the amount of time I took to make sure her offices were up and running and how she was so thankful for the amount of time and effort I put into the task. She said I went above and beyond what was needed and she was thrilled. I had forgotten I had that card. So I put it on my desk near where all my papers sit that I have to work on every day so I could always see it.
I went home that night and made sure I replayed all the good comments and remarks I heard and read throughout the day in my head. I asked the important questions that needed to have answers to make it all clear, "Why do I do this work?" "What gave me my passion for this role so long ago?" I remembered how back when I first got into the computer field, I was not sure what I wanted to do, I didn't know where to start. There were a few people in my neighborhood I talked to all the time, I told them I was looking into getting into computer work. they all asked me for some small help on the computer. Basic stuff, how to get AOL to dial up right, (I know, no body remembers that stuff!) How to make Windows 98 run a little quicker. All small things I knew how to do. And each person was so happy I could help them in some small way. They all said I had great patience to work with them and I would go far in the field. I realized then that was what I wanted to do. I wanted to be in a support role to help people with the computer. People need someone who can give them help stay focused and not get upset when its hard to explain to them how to do something. I remember how I would work hard on learning how to talk to people and explain technical things in a way they would understand. I felt better that night.
I woke up the next day and went back to work with a new recharged feeling. It was a hectic day, the desk was really busy. There were several issues going on that needed to be fixed with a few steps each time. I worked with every person until they were working and happy, I stayed calm, focused and did not feel stressed. I was enjoying the challenge. The day went by really quick. It was a great day. I made sure to remember how I felt that night and thought about more ways I could improve. I started reading about some new technology we were going to be using. I made sure to know how to work with it and thought about what issues I could face with this new stuff. I was back. It was great again.
So how do you get back to a place where you love what you do? I don't have all the answers but reminding your self of why you went into that field can help. Also get feed back from others. Find out what drives your peers in the field and why they started in the field as well. Ask co workers to evaluate you and tell you what they feel you need work on. When you have a bad day, before you leave, make sure to shake it off and leave it at work. Go home and doing something you love to do that has nothing to do with your work. Once you feel better try to think about the day and how things went. See if you can find ways to improve things. If you do that after working on a hobby or something you love to do, your mind set will be better and you can look back at the day with a fresh outlook and it may help you make the next day better. If you can do these things to help you feel better about your path again, you will start to have better days. It will bring you back to enjoying what you do again.

Friday, July 3, 2015

A look at what being in IT is like

A lot of times I get asked what is it like to be an IT person? I can sum it up in one word... EXHAUSTING
There is always something new to learn. When I started the company I am at currently, in my first week I had to learn 7 different applications. AT warp speed... a call would come in, this application is not working right.... Ok, what is the application, how do I use it so I know how to tell the end user how to use it or what they are doing wrong. Then I have to learn this other application that helps me do MY job. It was a crazy time.
We as IT people don't get the luxury of taking a weekend to sit down with the manual and read about a new program and figure out how to make it do what we want. we usually learn it during a call with an end user, they need it to run right now and its not a common application like your standard say... photo editor program. When this happens you have to rely on you knowledge of how other applications work and how they are laid out. You have to remember the common things that all applications have that you have seen before, like an options menu, or that the Print command is always in the file menu.
Then on top of learning the 12 new versions of the software that you support that just got released yesterday, you have to be able to rapidly figure out what issue is happening as the next call comes in and be able to use your tools and skills to figure out why a network connection went down. Now there is no internet... and people cant get to their files.... this is a situation that can get even the calmest of managers seeing red and taking swigs of Maalox. If it were still 1999 the internet being down would not be a big deal, the users would have their applications in front of them on their local computer and they could get other things done and calmly wait for the internet to come back up to check their emails. Not so much anymore... Business happens at the speed of the internet and the internet has everything connected. If the internet connection goes down business stops. Money stops flowing. You get that call, you have to get the internet back up if you can or be able to work with the local provider to get the issue fixed. Now you have to be able to quickly troubleshoot from simple to more complex and make sure if its just one user or all the users. Again you have to use all the experience of doing this before to try to determine this quickly so that you can get to a resolution fast and move on to the next call. Now you find out it is the provider and that its out of your hands. Now you have to make sure to convey to the internet provider that the connection needs to be restored and that it needs to happen quickly, and then you have to tell the manager the news and convey that it will be ok and this happens from time to time and it will all get resolved quickly. That brings up another skill you need, the ability to put this into words that anyone can under stand. You cannot tell the finance manager that the T1 circuit is in fail over mode and there is a fiber splice. He will not know what that means and not know what the situation is. You have to be able to tell him that there is a connection issue but it will be resolved but there is physical damage that will have to be repaired by the provider and a crew will be out working on it. You have to be able to explain technical things to a non technical person. That can be hard to master. You are around other It people all day you throw the terms back and fourth constantly all day, "fiber splice," "CAT 5 Cable" Defragment the drive. Then you talk to a non It person and forget your not in the same field. You have to change your explanation on the fly as to what is going on. I see IT people all the time who are good but have trouble putting it into words that someone else can understand.
Its also good to actually learn some of the business aspects of the company you work for. It makes it easier to understand why things are done the way they are in the office. If you learn how the A/P department process payments to go out, you learn more and you may even find ways for them to do it differently that is better than whats done today. Learning some non IT skills is also good. Management love having an IT person that is well rounded. They will feel more confident in your ability and know you have a desire to know your company and learn new things. It can lead to better opportunities and even a little more pay. Which is always a plus.
So the next time you see your IT person and they have their head down and they are staring at their screen, they are not reading some non work thing just goofing off like you think, they are learning the new financial application which is rolling out next week and trying to figure out how to get the California office back online all while trying to explain to the CFO why the cloud costs so much if there is no physical server here in the office!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Time to lace up and roll!

With Summer upon us I decided I had enough time off and it was time to go in search of a summer league to bowl to get back into the swing of things. I have been staying active bowling once a week for fun during sunday mornings but i wanted to get back into the competitive side of the game. I missed being there in the 10 frame knowing your team is down 50 pins and if you can just roll 3 strikes in the tenth you can cut 30 pins off that lead to help your team get back into the game! After some searching at my local bowling centers nearby I settled on a trios league that was affordable and competitive with a good prize fund and started at 8:30 on a tuesday. It was a big league they had 34 teams.

Now came the hard part. Trying to figure out which of my set of 12 bowling balls would be ideal to bring. I have a 4 ball bag that I carry so I take with me 1 spare ball which is a plastic ball that can also double as a "the lane guy forgot how to oil so there is no oil on the lanes good luck with that ball!" Then I have 3 more balls I can take with me. I usually like to keep a solid ball and then a pearl ball then I will have one more which may be an aggressive ball in case the lanes are heavy with oil, or maybe a weaker ball that is in between the other 2 that come along. I plan to use different ones every week.
This week I am bringing a 20 year old ball with me to use. It is a hammer 3d Offset blazing Violet. IT was one of the most popular balls Hammer ever put out and those that own them do not get rid of them. I tested it last week on a typical house shot and I was able to just play right up the five board and the ball would just arc to the pocket really smooth and hit high flush to strike. If I went up the 10 board I would leave a weak ten so I knew the angle was not enough from that line to carry.
I threw a 250 with the ball and it had the best look on the fresh oil.

My other 2 choices for balls for this week that will come along is a Storm Dimension

This ball is a great ball as well. It is very even rolling and doesn't over react. But it will cut through heavy oil and did well for me bowling on the badger pattern. This ball I used last week and it was used all 3 games. I only needed small adjustments throughout the night to stay with my line. It is a standard drilling on the ball and requires hand position change if you want to add or take away hook from the ball.

My 3rd ball that will accompany me is my newest ball the Radical Yeti. This is my pearl ball as the other 2 are solid coverstocks.

This ball the drill pattern is different and is my new favorite layout. It has the pin right over the 2 fingers in the center and really makes the ball versatile to adjust to different lane conditions. IT also does a nice even roll on the lane and is not over aggressive. This ball is great to use as the night wears on and the pattern is getting a little beat up on the lane. People move left and I can stay on my same line and throw this ball and keep finding the pocket. I need to have the thumb redrilled again as I lost weight and the hole is too big. For now I use tape to compensate and still have a clean release when throwing the ball.

It is always good to have options on the lane and even though this might seem like over kill for a house shot, It works for me and I am always able to find something that works to score well with.

I will be bowling tuesday night so I will try to use the hammer all night and see if it does well for me. If it does I have 2 other hammers I'm going to have drilled up. One is a pearl 3d offset the sister to my ball Im using. And the other one is the pink super hook 3d offset. That ball should be a more aggressive ball of the 3 and will do well for heavier oil.

Does anyone here bowl? Do you still enjoy it? I have been bowling for 20 plus years and I love it.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Music information. How the search has changed!

The other night I wanted to find out information about my favorite band. So I googled them and came up with posts from Wikipedia and other links.
In a few minutes I found out the latest release from the band and the latest news and tour dates. It got me thinking, how did we get this information before the internet?
Think about it. Back them when you wanted information about your favorite artist what did you do?

You bought a rolling stone or another type of music magazine to find out what was happening! I remember many times running to my local store to get the latest magazine and it was sold out! then what? You had to wait till they came back in stock to find out or call your friends to find out what changed. Maybe you could even watch MTV or VH1 but they may not have had information on rock bands or maybe they were playing the stupid reality stuff they did not and you could not stomach watching it to find out the news!

Now you go to the internet to find out information and the information is at your fingertips! We really take this kind of access for granted. I know I do. "Gah its not working!!! WTF??"
"its going through the air and coming back give it a second!!!"

Do you find information about music in a different way? Do you find any information in a different way than the internet? Write in and let me know.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Did the age of digital music make you lazy?

There is no denying it. We are fully in the age of digital music. There is not much left of going to the music store to get that latest album from your favorite bands. I saw that FYE still has a store in the local mall by me and it was surprising. I thought there were no more stores left. But now we are in a new age. Do you want to hear that new song by your favorite artist? Ok Jump on the web type it in and there it is even with the video! You didn't have to wait for MTV to play it on their request show... You didn't have to sit through a commercial... well wait that one I take back. If your on youtube you probably did have to wait through 10 seconds of a car commercial. But a little button came up saying skip! So 10 seconds later there is the new video from that artist and you can watch it again and again if you want. No waiting for it to play again on the tv, no wondering why they don't play that video anymore, just click and there it is.
Do you like a band that is underground and not many people have heard of them? No problem. Search them in Google, there is their website and they have some clips on sound cloud. Go ahead listen till your overloaded on the songs! Do you like to stream a pod cast of your favorite EDM artist? Go ahead its all there on itunes. Play the new one, go back and play your favorite one. Choose to down load it and you can bring it up on any device you want to listen to again!
This digital age of music has given us the listeners lots of choice and ways to get our music we love. But it has also made us lazy. Lets compare how it used to work to how it is now.
Then you would hear of your favorite band coming out with a new album in a week. You would be like I got to get to the store to get that album I cant forget, you would make a note put it somewhere make sure you could get to the store that day and get the cd or the cassette.... (yep I went there!) You were not satisfied until you had that album in your player and you were jamming out with it! And if the store was out of stock on the album well damn, you went back every day until they got more in and you got that album. Or you went to another store in another town just to get that album!
Now: you might hear about it on the web or you might not hear that the album has come out. If you don't go out and actively look for it you might not know it has come out. Or if its not listed in Itunes top 100 songs you might never know. I know it happens to me all the time, I have a list of music I want to get and then I try to find out if a band has new music out, but I cant find it right away so I say "Ill look later", then I forget, then weeks go by before I give it another thought! But do I go crazy because I have not heard new stuff by that band? No because I got so much other music playing either from Sound Cloud or a podcast on Itunes or even on Digitally Imported.
I have not even bought any music on Itunes in months. And there are several albums I want to get. But so much else is going on that I am just not as concerned about it. Before the internet and music on demand, if I didn't have new music I got bored of my cd collection. I wanted something different to hear, something I had not listened to before. Now, there is an endless supply of music. I have not gotten bored since I cant remember when.
This can hurt artists in the long run. They don't make a ton of money on the music they put out now, but if there are more people that have the mindset I have and get distracted that artist wont get the sales they could get because everyone went to listen to something else. Or they just pick a song from that album and watch it on you tube which makes the artist no money.
I kind of miss the days of going to the store and getting cd's for music. I would love to do that again, but the stores do not keep the same kind of stock they used to, and there is no selection any more. There are 2 shelves of top 40 and one of random stuff which may have 3 metal albums, 2 jazz albums and 1 christmas disc on it.... Not for me. But if I make the effort and go to different sites to buy music and see what is out there, Im sure I can find all the selection I want, and I can just buy the albums and download them. And I even get to sample them before so I don't waste money on a album that I don't like.
I think Im going to attempt to make more of an effort to buy some music on line from my artists I like. I want them to continue to play music in the future and I want to keep hearing what new stuff they come up with. There is so much talent out there from these artists they amaze me with the songs they come up with!
Do you feel the same way? Do you buy music still and do you go often to get music and actually purchase it from a store or online?

Friday, October 10, 2014

Make sure to take the time to Unplug!

As a tech guy who is always connected 24/7, I do find that if I do not make sure to stop and unplug for a while, I get burned out quick!
I try to take at least one day where I limit my using computers and tablets and keep myself busy with other stuff. It is a good thing to do to keep your mind fresh and keep yourself from becoming tired and drained with all the technology at our disposal.
I also found that if you stop working on your tablet or your phone an hour before you go to bed you will get a better sleep at night. My up band has proved this by showing that I am getting better deep sleep when I stay away from the devices before I go to bed. If you use them at night my deep sleep is less and I feel less rested. The lights from the tablets emit a type of light that makes it hard for your brain to release melatonin which helps you get to sleep. So limiting your time on devices before you go to sleep can help you sleep better at night and make you feel more rested.
I do the same when I go on vacation. I take only my phone, the toys stay home and I am unplugged completely. I tell work, I am not available at all, someone else will have to worry about what is happening at the office. Its the only way to get a truly good recharge while resting on vacation.
What do you do to unwind from technology and take a break?

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Tales from the Gutter: Why all the hate on Gmail?

Tales from the Gutter: Why all the hate on Gmail?: For the last 2 weeks I have been reading a lot of hate on Google's Gmail platform. I am wondering why there is such a backlash against ...