New Product Launched, But Life Is Still Crazy

I’ve already mentioned that for the past several weeks, the workload was ginormous. All the efforts were geared towards launching a new product and then making sure everything works as expected.
Launching a new product was a big deal, and in the pre-pandemic times, we would have a big celebration.

Since we are effectively remote these days, with only a very sporadic appearance f people in the office, our leadership team came up with a very special way of celebrating our success. Each of us received a FedEx delivery of a limited edition champaign bottle, and on Friday after work, we had an online event. Our CEO talked about our plans for the rest of the year and the next year, and then people with different business functions talked about their challenges during these weeks.

And after that, we had a remote toast:

Continue reading “New Product Launched, But Life Is Still Crazy”

Work And More Work

On Wednesday morning, we submitted one more book chapter. Now we are half-through by the page count, and almost half-through by chapters. If not for the work crisis, which is going on for almost three weeks now, this chapter could be enjoyable. I mean, it was, but not without drama :).

I am very tired, I do not have time for any human activities, but I know that I am doing the right things. Unfortunately, I can’t share publicly most of the work things, but I am confident that I am doing everything the right way/ I just need a second life 🙂

A Short Description Of The Past Several Days

Working around the clock on a critical project at work (launching tomorrow 6-30 AM). Around the clock – literally. At the same time – trying not to miss a next chapter deadline with our book (had to ask for three days extension). The past nine days were the planning miracles because I managed to get it all done and have this Art Institute outing.

Today was all work, with no lunch break and no coffee breaks (all in front of the computer). Then, I went to my neighbor who lost her daughter, and when I came back, I saw more messages on the work slack. Which I am going to ignore for now because I need to do a couple of personal things, and I also need to prepare some teaching materials for tomorrow. OK, I didn’t ignore them :). But I told them, that I can’t allow this thing to go to production:).

And now I am going to spend the next forty minutes doing stuff fo myself, and another forty minutes to prepare teaching materials.

We Did It!

On Sunday, we finally submitted Chapter 5, and I feel so good about it, I can’t even describe it! In the past ten days, I was so focused on that chapter that I could hardly think about something else.
I mean, I did many other things; I saw two movies, and I was at the Art Institute, and I went to the shelter, and yes, I worked. You can say that I did a variety of things, but to be honest, I felt guilty doing “anything else.”

I could not understand why this chapter takes so much time and effort until Saturday when I looked at the page count and realized that this chapter was almost as long as the previous four! No wonder!
I felt better right away :).

I have to admit that I didn’t challenge our delivery schedule because we do not have that much wiggling room until the end of the year anyway. I thought that a day here and a day there does not make a difference. And I hardly looked at the estimated chapters sizes.

The most time-consuming part was that I had to rework all of the examples, and several times through this process, I would find problems with our generated data. Then, I had to stop building examples and ask Boris to generate new data, and then I had to reload several tables and start over. And Anna had to do all her edits after we are done, and we were not done until the last moment. I am so thankful to Boris and Anna for their heroic efforts in the past several days!

We did it! And we did it well!

And we have eleven more chapters to go :).

It Does Not Feel Like a Weekend

I made a usual mistake of the long weekend – it felt like I can do everything when I have an additional day off. The most pressing thing was the next chapter of the book. The chapter which is due next is huge and very technical. You might think that “technical” is good because it is fewer words to write and more code to explain. But the problem is that with this book, I can’t use any of my previous examples! Everything has to be rewritten in our new training database. 

That means that each paragraph requires stopping, creating a new index, running an example, saving the code of the index, code of the example, execution plan, formatting everything nicely, and writing a new explanation because the tables are different. Each and the single paragraph.

I sort of forbade myself to write anything except of this chapter for the past three days. I was thinking about taking Friday off (it was the last summer Friday, so I could take just one vacation day and have the whole Friday off). But I thought that then chances are, I will have to do work over the weekend, and then what’s the point of taking a day off? 

Indeed, this half-Friday was very intense, I didn’t have a moment to waste, but now I can’t imagine how I will finish everything tomorrow. 

I have a couple of things I have to do tomorrow except of writing, so it won’t be like writing for 16 hours, and I think I will be able to finish. But I was hoping that there will be at least something else during this long weekend.

Well, nobody asked me to get involved. Or maybe somebody asked, but nobody forced me to agree!

The Clock Is Ticking

On Monday, the clock started ticking – we are official “in” for our book. I feel very nervous. We drafted quite a bit before the official start, but now it seems like we won’t have that extra time for the subsequent chapters. Also, since we started to draft something more than a month earlier, I expect that we would have more written. 

The huge part is a training database which is still not finished. First, I assumed that Boris would do it since we are using a public database that he helped create several years ago as our starting point. It turned out that he is not as familiar with the generation scripts as I thought he would. I started to dig into the generation myself. Then at some point, when I found several chunks of raw data missing, Boris told me that I could hand it out to him; he will finish. And now it is stalled. 

Now I have this weird feeling that I  can’t do, I am not allowed to do anything entertaining, while I do not have at least one chapter drafted, preferably two. And I might end up living with that feeling about each next chapter until we will be done at the end of the year.

Nope, I do not need anybody feeling sorry for me; after all, I wanted it, and I got it all started. Just bear in mind that I might be in that anxious mood more often than usual. 

Today Was a Good Day :)

There are two possible reasons why I am not blogging on any given day. One – I am upset/depressed/sick/unhappy. Another – I am very busy. 

Yesterday and today – it’s the second one. I am mad at some people (and at some circumstances), and I am all fired up to fix the problems other people created. 

Last week, after the surgery, I could barely see the screen, and did very little, both for my work and for our book. And today, since my gas bubble diminished significantly, I feel that my mind is sharp again. It’s funny because my visual impairment should not affect my thinking abilities, but that’s how I feel. 

I just finished a three-days worth chunk of work in three hours. I wanted to do this work at the time when nobody would interrupt me. And now I feel great and not tired a bit. 

I am mad at the people whose irresponsible behavior led to such a drastic increase in the number of cases in the country. I am less upset than I thought I would be, even though the EU banned US travelers precisely because of them. Yesterday, I felt helpless, and I thought that everything in the world is against me. I do not feel like this anymore 🙂

1995: Gigs and Odd Jobs

Since I was fired from Urbansoft, looking for some side jobs, which would put bread on the table, became a part of my life. Most of the time, these jobs were very loosely related to my skills. However, by 1990’s standards, I had decent written English, which was a way to make money.

After the HighDoc project, there was one more, which I consider an epic fail on my part.

Boris was a part of the group, which was contracted by Nortel to write a reporting system – I want to say, for their first cellular data, but I need to double-check with Boris. (Correction: Nortel thing was later, what we did in 1994 was a project for GTE Labs, and it happened because of Boris’ connections to Micheal Brodie – more shame on me! ) He incorporated me to write a user manual for that system. As usual, the pay was verbally negotiated. And I failed it unimaginably.
Although I was full-time employed by the University, the attendance was optional, and there was no real research work. I would come to the office twice a week and spend time meeting with people and talking about random stuff. On the days at home, I often started my day going to the city center and checking “what’s new” in the stores. I was still not accustomed to the fact that there were consumer goods available, and I could buy things that I liked. Shopping for produce was another adventure, with multiple food stands on every corner, different prices and different quality.

There were always emails to answer and some cooking to be done at home, and then there was time to go and pick up the kids from the daycare. When I would sit to write my technical documentation, I didn’t progress much and was still thinking that I have enough time to finish. After some time, I realized that there is no way I could finish on time. Boris was sending me the parts of the reporting system, which were already done, and I had almost no documentation. I told him that I failed just four days before the stuff was due. He managed to write up something and had us covered, but that’s the shame I had to carry for many years.

I do not remember how we got involved with Bank Saint Petersburg, there were some connections involved, but I do not recall the details. Somebody somehow talked them into trying to use Oracle. It was Oracle 6, and the installation process was a journey with an unpredictable outcome. The group consisted of Boris, Yuri, and myself. I have a vague recollection that there was somebody else, maybe a person from the bank. We were supposed to install and teach others to use Oracle, and that was the first experience for all of us. I do not know how we managed to present it as if we were competent, but the task was completed, and we got some insane money. I used my portion to take the kids to Poland in summer (I will tell this story later).

The Bank gig happened in spring 1995, when I was finalizing my Ph.D. Thesis, which will be a topic of some future post.

My historical posts are being published in random order. Please refer to the page Hettie’s timeline to find where exactly each post belongs, and what was before and after.

Taking Time off Work to do Work

Boris and I are trying to do several research projects together, and doing this is the best thing to preserve our togetherness when we are physically apart for an extended time. As much as I wanted to do all these things (one was his idea, and two others are mine), I was finding it challenging to squizz this extra work in. I do not know who is bored during quarantine, or who does not know what to do with their time, but it’s not me :). Each weekend I was thinking – I need an extra day! And then I thought – but I have some! Indeed, I checked my PTO balance and found that I have more than five weeks off this year. Yes, I hope to be able to use them to help Anna later in the year, but for the time being, traveling is not an option anyway.

I took Friday off to do some of that work. Granted, there was also some “waste of time” built-in, but I also did substantial writing, and we spent about two hours discussing one of these projects on FaceTime.

I do not know why I didn’t think about taking time off before, but I am glad I did :). Most likely, I will do it again in a week, I feel like it’s a great way to stay sane. Or, and I did turn my slack and work email off for that day!