New beginnings

After what I can only describe as the worst two months (professionally-speaking) of my life, I am ready to start afresh this Monday, October 20. I can’t wait to get started!

Last July, when I joined this company I just left, I had no idea what to expect and what was in store for me. After I started, I realized the culture was too diametrically opposite to what I was used to, and what I was expecting. And mind you, it was not the “company” that was the issue for me, it was the “people” I worked with: they were stuck in the past and were absolutely not interested in moving to 2014. For an extremely transformational initiative like a new business intelligence platform, that kind of culture would absolutely not cut it.

However, what happened in August and September of this year puts that disappointment way lower on my displeasure list. A new executive comes in, has a major political agenda, finds a few “insiders” to make them her advisors on all matters, and starts making terrible decisions. Some of these decisions were reversals of crucial initiatives which were more than halfway done, and some of them were firing consultants who were the only ones with the skills to get their respective jobs done. As a result, the entire program moved out by at least 2 months. I didn’t like some of these moves, but my thought process was simple: if I can improve my own skills and execute to a goal, I will still be ok.

Alas, she had me on her agenda as well. As in, she wanted me out. She did not want to fire me but she made it extremely difficult for me to survive in that environment. The word that comes to mind: victimization. She removed the people who reported to me so I lost my management role. She passed judgment on my 9 months of work saying it was “nonsense”, without letting me defend it. She made the assumption that I did not want to be a part of “her team” and as a result, started pointing fingers at everything I had done and everything I was doing. Like for example, monitoring when I left the office and having me switch timesheet hours for every hour that she deemed inaccurate. EVERY HOUR. Even though we are not paid by the hour.

Ultimately, I went on a sick leave followed by vacation and then ultimately quit because by then I had a few offers in my hand and felt reasonably confident I won’t have to go back to that godforsaken place. The past two weeks have been great because I have actually had time to flush out all that negativity and get ready for a new beginning. Fortunately or not, the wife is in between projects so she was also around so we were able to spend some quality time together without the distraction of the kids around us.

I have seen extremely political work places and I have seen work places with negativity especially if the company is not doing well, but this lady has been the absolute worst person I have had the chance to work with/for and would highly recommend staying away from her and her employer as far as you can.

Cheers!

Completed my fantasy football draft last night

We moved our long-time league to NFL.com and it was a much better experience compared to Yahoo Fantasy Football. I had pick #8, which is a weird place to be because in the first round you miss out on the top 5 and then you end up waiting a long time between picks, making it harder to plan your roster properly. Anyway, I think it turned out reasonably well, considering the unusual path the draft took.

What do I mean by that? The first pick was Peyton Manning! Also, in the first round, THREE quarterbacks were picked. So clearly, not a traditional RB/RB/WR/QB style of a draft. Having said that, here’s my team:

  1. Eddie Lacy
  2. AJ Green
  3. Randall Cobb
  4. Julius Thomas (I was running out of true difference makers, and running backs around here were mostly meh)
  5. Joique Bell (This was a reach in some ways, but I am hoping the Lions do at least a 50-50 split)
  6. Nick Foles (Not a bad choice for a 6th round QB pick)
  7. Eric Decker (Hope Geno is a good QB this year)
  8. Fred Jackson (Carried me many a week last year, giving some love back :-))
  9. Carson Palmer (Cards are going to throw a lot, not a bad choice for QB2, even though this was probably my highest reach)
  10. Danny Woodhead
  11. Justin Hunter
  12. Pats D/ST
  13. James Starks (Glad to secure the handcuff this late in the draft)
  14. Jordan Matthews

So overall, just a little worried about RB2, but otherwise, reasonably satisfied with the roster. The key, as always, is the waiver wire pickups. There will be injuries and breakouts and busts, and it is how vigilant one is during the season that will determine the results.

Can’t wait for the season to start!

Trying a new laptop

Finally bought a Surface Pro 3, and bought it from the Microsoft Store because it has a generous 30-day return policy. I got the 256GB/Core i7 model mostly to see if there are any downsides to going with the top-of-the-line model.

Our current laptop is getting a bit old and given that our use of the “home laptop” is mostly casual with AutoCAD being the key program that needs to run properly, I thought I’d give the new form factor a whirl before thinking about a proper Ultrabook-style laptop, or maybe even a MacBook Air. The latter is not a religious issue for me, it is just that AutoCAD does have not a subscription for their Mac version, and worse, the Mac version of the AutoCAD LT product is behind the Windows version in terms of raw features supported.

I will write up my thoughts on the device in detail soon!

Twitter history

I have been playing with Excel’s Power View, Power Query (my favorite) and Power Pivot (older but still fantastic) and a few weeks ago someone tweeted something about their twitter archive. That gave me an idea to see if there is any pattern in my tweeting.

So I went to twitter web settings and requested a fresh archive. As a side, how awesome is it that twitter lets you request an archive and that it is ready in minutes. This is a company that could not go back more than a few days in history not so long ago!

Anyway, I brought in all the data from the csv file and put a couple of simple charts together. I’d have loved to share this as an embedded Excel file but because it has all the data, the file is ~19MB and Excel Online can only handle file size of 5MB and below :-(

Anyway, it is interesting to see that my peak twitter was 2012, and for some reason, April of 2012. And as for the clients, MetroTwit, which is still one of the best twitter experiences I have had, very surprisingly dropped to negligible levels after 2012.

Anyway … as usual, there is more insight to gain from the data. I just found these to be the quick and easy ones to look at.

TheRomit tweets by month

Tweets by month

 

 

TheRomit tweets by client

Tweets by client

Strange problem with Outlook.com address book used on iPhone

I have long had my main address book in the cloud on what is now called Outlook.com’s People app. It not only is my central store of all contact information, it is also smart because it is connected to twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Google. As a result, my “master” contact card for any person is smart enough to show me not only what I have for them in my address book but also information that they have chosen to make available to me via any and all of those networks.

So, the central store and federation is a big deal. Coupled with those things, I am able to pull in this address book via Exchange Active Sync (read: 2-way, instantaneous push and sync) on all my devices: Windows Phone, Windows 8, iPhone, iPad, Android.

Needless to say, this has become indispensable for me. I love that I am able to forget about syncing and keeping a master record, and more importantly, not worry about losing that data if I lose or reset a device.

However, the downside is that when something weird happens, it instantly becomes a major cause for worry for me. Like a few weeks ago, my niece’s contact information disappeared from my iPhone. The way I realized it was through WhatsApp; her message showed up without a name and instead, just a nick and a phone number. I looked up my Contacts on the iPhone and couldn’t find her. I panicked. I had no idea what happened. Was I hacked? Was there something I did? What could delete this account? What else was deleted? All these thoughts started circling in my head. The problem of complete automation, I guess.

The good news was that the contact existed on People app on the web, and it also existed on my Windows devices. The phone number though, was missing. Bizarre. I added the number because I wanted to first get back on track and then troubleshoot. For whatever reason, I could not force a sync back to the iPhone. It is supposed to be instantaneous, but it simply did not bring that contact over to the phone! I contacted Microsoft support on twitter and posted on their forums.

Anyway, since it was so random, Microsoft support suggested I just remove and re-add the account on iPhone and see if that resolved the issue and it did. Problem solved, kinda-sorta. It was “solved” for the support team. Not for me. However, I had no idea what may be going on, and no time to investigate. So I ended the chapter there, with slight dissatisfaction of knowing I had not really solved the problem, only worked around it.

Today, I noticed that another family member’s phone number is missing from my phone’s contacts. Again, it showed up because in WhatsApp, her message showed just the nick and the number. I checked the phone, and the contact does not exist, and in this case, the contact as well as the phone number exists on the web as well as Windows devices.

Something really strange is going on with the way contacts are syncing from Outlook.com to iPhone via the “Outlook” account type (not “Exchange”). I am not sure if it is something Outlook.com needs to address or Apple, but I know that I am just not comfortable with the setup I have at the moment.

Time to create some backup plans. :-(

Gallery

Some more pictures from recent vacation

I posted a few pictures of beer from a recent trip and here are some more pictures, this time of flowers at Keukenoff Gardens.

As you know, these are all mostly from a Lumia 920, and some from an iPhone 5s.

Some samples embedded below:

 

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Shots of beer from recent vacation

I tweeted this out a few days ago, but I thought I’d put it here as well. Some shots of beer I took on a recent trip to Brussels, Bruges, Amsterdam and Copenhagen. (All pics are Lumia 920 or iPhone 5s, as you may have read in my earlier post about this vacation.)