Looking for a Tier 1 ISP Mentor for career advice.

David Radcliffe david at davidradcliffe.org
Fri Dec 2 15:20:19 UTC 2011

On Friday, December 02, 2011 07:25:41 AM Thorsten Dahm wrote:
> Am 12/1/11 9:35 PM, schrieb David Radcliffe:
> > Since I like to work and code (I spend 10 hours a day on the computer at
> > the office, think about work related stuff in the shower, and often
> > write Perl code at home to deal with various household tasks) I work
> > quite well at home. There are more distractions at the office and my
> > productivity is greater in my home computer room during those times I
> > have to put in some extra for the office.
> The downside of this is that you are not around in the office in case
> someone wants to talk to you. I often end up with guys from our
> operations team or other teams stopping at my desk and ask questions. Or
> guys who want to have a quick chat about a problem and want to ask for
> an advice or idea. Or people who want to learn Perl and have a question
> that you can answer in 30 seconds.
> Yes, I know, they can call you, or send an Email, but nothing beats the
> good old "Let's go for a coffee, I'd like to ask you a question".
> cheers,
> Thorsten

Actually, that is the upside.  Everywhere I have worked there are the people 
who will come to you before they even try to think of an answer.  Your work 
gets interrupted because they did not have to send an email and wanted an 
excuse to socialize.

It's much better to have a record (email) of most conversations especially 
when there are technical points which may be helpful to refer to in the 

F2F is fine when you are working on pushing your point as it is easier to 
create "presence" but 99% of all meetings and impromptu discussions in the 
office waste more time than provide any real benefit.

I know plenty of people (my wife included) who disagree and feel there is 
great benefit in F2F but I contended they are just more comfortable with the 
old fashioned way they have always done things.

There are people even today who will print and bring me an email to discuss 
the reported problem rather than forward information electronically.  That is 
just because it is difficult for people to break their comfort molds to see a 
more productive method.

I do not say it is easy.  I understand people think the way they do things, 
the things which make them comfortable, seem best but in this case F2F is not 
best for everyone.

If someone says to me "Let's go for a coffee, I'd like to ask you a question" 
what I hear is "Gee, you are not busy.  Why are you getting a paycheck?  Let's 
go talk shop and other non-work related stuff.  I have a legitimate question 
and I want to socialize."

I have a better idea, send email.  If the question is too deep we can "meet" 
on the phone.  I have a TeamSpeak server.  Want to get together?  Let's grab a 
beer after work or we can chat on TS while wandering through Left4Dead.

F2F is for semi-work related activities.  If you need to paint a picture we 
can bounce a diagram back and forth (please use open standards -- .odg, .dia, 
etc. -- and not proprietary -- .vsd) or we can draw simple stuff in Coccinella 
or OpenMeeting (I have servers set up).  We can use email.  We can use chat (I 
have Coccinella and a local server for our in-house and use Pidgin for AIM, 
Yahoo, MSN for my outside contacts).  I have Logitech 9000 cameras so if you 
really, really want to see me I will configure my VoIP (Asterisk server at 
home) so we can look at each other.

The whole "I have to be in your space in an office for work to be effective" is 
so nineteenth century.


"You talked to Ted the other day about the NetFlow based bandwidth billing 
project.  What were the details and decisions?  Can you remember the important 

"No.  But the discussion was electronic so I will pass you the email 
chain/chat log/etc."

My dream is roll out of bed, make coffee, walk upstairs into my computer room 
and begin work.  Deal with conversations via email/work the online job queue.  
Maybe attend a quarterly face-time meeting with the company.  Maybe the people 
are nice.  That would be cool.  Maybe a monthly meeting at the home office in 
Atlanta on the 3rd Friday because the company provides tickets to Jazz at the 
High Museum.  I can dream...

David Radcliffe
Network Engineer/Linux Specialist
david at davidradcliffe.org

Nothing ever gets solved better with panic.
If you do not know the answer, it is probably "42."

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