My New Office

by Aaron 16. August 2011 04:49

I didn't announce it, but I recently left AWH to join the Great Migrations team as a new partner! It's a really exciting opportunity for me, and it should prove interesting.

Because we're a small product team, we all work from our homes. That's great, except for a few things:

  1. When I worked from home while at AWH, I sat at the kitchen table and worked from my laptop. This was because of the next few reasons.
  2. My office is a wreck. Some of Sarah's stuff is in here, there's clutter everywhere.
  3. My desk is the same roll-away desk I got as a junior in college (over a decade ago).
  4. My monitor is an old 17" (19"?) CRT.
  5. It's dark, I'm hungry, and there's nobody to laugh at my various witty remarks.

The good news is that most of that is easily remedied!

A little over a week ago, Sarah and I borrowed my mother-in-law's van and went to IKEA with a couple of friends. While there, we got some furniture for my son's new bedroom, and we picked up a desk for me.

Once we got home, I started clearing out the office. I moved everything out that I needed to, filling another room and blocking the front door. Sarah took some of her stuff upstairs, and I assembled the desk.

The desk that I got is the Galant series corner desk with an extension on each end. I experienced this particular desk while I was at AWH, and for IKEA, it's pretty sturdy. There's a good brace underneath the table top that holds any weight pretty well, and the legs are pretty solid. Assembly wasn't too bad. I had it together in an hour or so.

In addition to the desk, I ordered a couple of monitors from Newegg.com. They had the Hannspree 23" LCDs on sale for $140/each with free shipping. I ordered three: two for me; one for Sarah.

After getting everything set up, I continued to clean the office and organize it. Here's a picture of the office:

The new office

Here's a picture of my officemate:

My officemate (it's a spider!)

Here in the home office, I have a strict "I'm going to kill my officemates eventually" policy. Your days are numbered my friend...

I need to hang some office policies around the room too. I was thinking about printing and posting the office sexual harassment policy, which is pretty strict:

Sexual Harassment Policy:
Strictly NO sexual harassment!

Not sure where to put it though...

Anyway, that takes care of the first few things on the list, but what about #5? I end up talking to myself by the end of the day. It's going to require some effort on my part and on the part of my friends. I need to get out and meet up with people for lunch, code and coffee, drinks, whatever. I need to get out.

So, if you haven't seen me for a while, let me know and we can get together! I'll be happy to get out of the office and see some friendly faces.

Tags: , , ,

Verizon Wireless Customer Service - Follow-up

by Aaron 26. March 2011 02:15

Several weeks ago, I posted my experience with Verizon Wireless.  They told me that I would hear something regarding my missing credit.  As I expected, and you probably did too, I didn't hear anything.  I gave them a call to ask what was going on.

The guy this time seemed to be a little more in touch with how things work at his company.  He pointed out that I made the request and change after the end of the billing cycle.  He then told me how what the previous reps told me was wrong and that they can't go back and change things after the billing cycle has closed.

I'm usually pretty patient, but based on his tone, I suspected they weren't going to do anything.  That irritated me a lot.  I changed my tone of voice, but the guy assured me that they were going to do something for me because they had promised they would.

They credited my bill with half of what I was expecting.  He asked if that was okay, I conceded because I felt like it was a reasonable compromise.  It wasn't their fault that we went over our minutes so badly, and the reality is that they didn't have to do a damn thing!

I'm not as happy as I could be, but I'm pleased that they didn't totally blow me off after all of this.  Will I continue to use Verizon Wireless?  Of course.  Will I tell everybody that their customer service is outstanding?  Hell no.  I'm happy that they did something for me, but I'm disappointed that not all of their staff is trained enough to know about this kind of thing which I suspect happens more often than not.

Tags: , , , ,

Verizon Wireless Customer Service

by Aaron 5. March 2011 03:27

Last month we got a bill from Verizon Wireless for $487.  That was over $300 more than normal!  To say the least, I was panicked thinking that there was some kind of a mistake.  I found the mistake was letting my wife have a cell phone.

The only thing I knew I could do was kiss Verizon's ass.  I called them and asked if they could increase my plan to the next level, making it retroactive to offset the overage charges.  Thankfully they said yes.

We went through the process without issue.  I asked the rep on the phone several times before hanging up that my bill would be credited.  She said it would.  She went so far as to tell me that I could just pay the $190 that was now due instead of the statement balance.

I decided to go ahead and pay the full amount knowing that I would have no bill the next month, then a reduced bill the following month.  I also fully expected to have a late fee and collections issue if I didn't pay the full amount regardless of what she told me.  To my surprise, I got a bill a couple of days ago for $200!  WTF???

I called up customer service again.  The rep was friendly, as was I, and she tried to explain to me that they refunded the rate last month and added on the current rate.  After a little back and forth, she finally understood and saw my situation: I didn't get the $297 overage credit that I should have.

Fortunately for me that the previous rep had fully noted the account with all of the appropriate info, but there appeared to be some mistake made where I didn't get the refund.  Unfortunately it had to go to accounting, and it's Saturday so they're not in today, and blah blah blah.

She was very reassuring that I should get the credit on my account, and I'll get a note on My Verizon after everything has been worked out.

I'd say that if I have to call again, it'll be the last chance they've got to retain me as a customer.  Instead, I'll be honest: I'll continue to be a customer, but I'm going to bitch and moan about how they screwed me over and tell people about how awful their service is.

As it stands right now though, I've been happy with the service reps I've talked to thus far, and I expect that to continue.  I think they're going to make this right, and I'll continue to be happy with a few exceptions here and there.

Tags: , , , ,

Progress Toward My Goals

by Aaron 21. February 2011 03:19

Today is President's Day, and my son's daycare is closed.  I just put him down for a much needed nap.  At this point, I have a lot of choices for things I can do: work, read, watch TV, write a blog post, etc.  I'm choosing to write a blog post.

My topic is how I'm doing with my goals so far.  Some I'm doing well, but others I'm starting to fall behind and miss my milestones.

Workout More

I completed my initial 6-week goal.  It was tough!  I was good for the first four weeks.  Week five, I lost motivation, but I still managed to force myself to do it.  Week six was BUSY, but I still managed to squeeze in the time.  My new goal is repeatedly complete four consecutive weeks.  How will I know if I've completed my four weeks?  I get a haircut.

Last week was week seven, and I was a little under the weather, so I took the week off.  This is week eight, and I'm running out of excuses.  Today is only Monday though, so I think I can get the exercise in this week.

Read 3 Professional Books

I completed one book a week or two ago.  It was Working Effectively with Legacy Code by Michael Feathers (blog | twitter).  I'll write a review for it in my next post.  In short though: fantastic!  I've made significant changes to how I do my work just from reading that book alone.

Currently, I'm deep into my second book The Art of Unit Testing by Roy Osherove (blog | twitter).  I'll write a review about it once I've completed it too.  This is also my first experience with a text book on my Nook.  I'll also discuss that in the review, or maybe as a separate post so I can talk about reading a text book on the Nook a little more in depth.

Summary

I could go into each of the others, but most of them I'm not making much if any progress.  I'm definitely getting better at TDD and writing more and mo' better unit tests.  I'm not making progress on video games or my Microsoft certification (which isn't called MCSD anymore).

I am also drinking less though, and being less of an asshole more patient.  Some days are harder on my patience than others.  I have very little tolerance for repeating myself, but maybe I have to repeat myself because I'm not communicating clearly.  Maybe that's something else I can work on: better communication.

Keep watching though.  I'll keep at it.

Tags: , , ,

Codestock 2010 Made Me a Liar!

by Aaron 30. June 2010 10:06

Or maybe it made me more of a liar.  I'd tell you which, but could you really trust that I was telling you the truth?

You're here though because of the interesting title, and now you want to know how Codestock 2010 made me a liar.  I rode down to Knoxville with Rick Kierner.  I turned to Rick, and I said, "I'm not going to write a blog post about Codestock.  Why would I do something like that when there are so many other people writing about the conference.  There's no need for ANOTHER person to add to that."

"Then Aaron, why are you writing a blog post about Codestock???"  Because this was the best conference experience that I've had since I started regularly attending conferences three years ago.  In fact, the first conference experience to start it off was Codestock 2008.

There are a couple of things that made this the best experience for me.  One of them is me.  I'm not being arrogant, self-centered, egotistical, or whatever term you may think of.  This conference, I went out of my way to make sure that I introduced myself to people.  So instead of being some creepy, awkward guys hanging out nearby, contributing to your conversations once in a while, I made sure that you had a name to put to that creepy, awkward face hanging out nearby...

Seriously, I'm a shy person.  I like to meet people, but I usually let people approach me.  Jeremiah Peschka wrote a blog post about doing just that.  It felt good, and nobody rejected me.  That's the real fear right?  Rejection?  Even the people that really are full of themselves will talk to you.  You may just get tired of hearing about them and how great they are is all.  But again, they're not rejecting you, and you've just potentially made a friend.

The other thing that made this experience great is the people.  That was the real theme for the conference this year: community.  I spent time with people that I have met briefly in the past at previous events, and spent time with people that I met for the first time at this one.  I feel like I really got to know people this year, and that they got to know me too.  It was great!

I'll be honest about my attending sessions.  I went to sessions in most time slots on the first day, but only half of one on the second.  The sessions aren't what bring me to conferences though.  Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy most of them and get good information from some of them.  For example, Dane Morgridge's session on Entity Framework 4 was totally worthwhile.  This goes back to loving the conference for the people, but later he went out of his way to let me know that he was prepping a blog post on how to use the Entity Framework Repository & Unit of Work T4 Template that he created and put on CodePlex.  It's possible that he just remembered my face because I was in the front row, but I hope he told me about it because I was genuinely interested in the subject and asked questions during his talk.

Some may ask why I don't just go to the area that the conference is being held instead of paying the money for the conference itself.  The answer is, while I feel that most of the time sessions are too low-level for me to really gain anything from them, I do still get a sense of what the community is interested in and the direction the technology I work with is heading.  Plus, they typically provide lunch, there are prize giveaways, and the people are inside the building where I wouldn't be able to get to talk otherwise.

Speaking of giveaways, this was one of my lucky days.  I'm used to winning nothing, or even a book.  Which I love getting the books.  I do actually read them.  This year though, I won the Telerik Ultimate Collection.  Will I use any of that stuff, or will it just sit around collecting dust?  Hells yeah I'm going to use it! That's right: I just used "hells yeah" in a blog post sentence.  I'm going to write blog posts as I evaluate some of the products in it, like JustCode, which I will start using instead of CodeRush Express.

To wrap this up, I loved Codestock this year.  I'm going to make an effort to continue going every year, while it's around.  I'm also going to continue "coming out of my shell" and spending time with new and old acquaintances at conferences (not just Codestock).  I loved the experience so much that I had to write a blog post about it, making me a liar.

But please don't hate me because I'm now a liar (or more of one).  Hate me because when I buy anything at PetSmart, when the pay terminal asks me if I would like to donate money to help homeless animals, I select "no thanks."

Tags: , , , ,