Wednesday, September 26, 2012

That Tingly Sensation..

I'm pretty open about my nerdiness, hell, I take pride in it. I'll admit that being a systems analyst/product manager isn't the sexiest job out there (damn nuclear submarine captains ruining it for the rest of us), but on the eve of launching a product I feel like a rock star about to go on stage. Some of my fans will love what I'll launch, some will hate it and there's always the chance that I'll fall off the stage and make a complete fool out of myself.

Over the last ten years or so that I found myself in a place to launch something, I think I've had my fair share of those epic wins/fails. In my sophomore year in college, a friend recruited me to build a Stock Market Simulation system for a new conference that the Student Union was launching at school. So, take my basic programming skills, an open-source chatting program that I retrofitted to 'act' as a functional stock market terminal, a 100 or so eager conference participants and a bucketload of good luck and you have yourself one of those epic-win launches. My epic fail? That same conference the following year, I got greedy, had grand plans for many more features, didn't spend enough time with my team testing the system, the result? We were down for the first four hours of the first day of the conference: ah yes, the granddaddio of epic fails.

Today as I slaved at the office working on a major product feature that I am launching tomorrow, it struck me how this feeling never gets old or dull. It's definitely more intimidating that the number of my 'fans' this time around is an order (or two?) of magnitude(s) larger.

Oh boy, wouldn't that be a picturesque fail?
*clears throat*


Friday, September 14, 2012

The Moving Diaries

In the last six years I've lived in three different countries, as fun as that was/is, that entailed packing and unpacking my life exactly five times in those six years, that part was always a tad less fun.

My first time was exhilarating, confusing and over way too fast. Yeap, still talking about the move. I was fortunate enough to live in the same place all my life up to that point, so it was exciting to go thru the packing exercise: boxes, labels, excel sheets (nerd alert), etc. But it was also confusing because I had no clue what I should take with me and what should I leave behind? Seeing that I was heading to the Godforsaken Frozen Wastelands, I actually ended-up packing way too much irrelevant things. For starters I assumed my clothes are relevant in the Wastelands => false assumption, nothing you own in Egypt can protect your giblets from -20C. I also went overboard with comforters, blankets and covers, my assumption there was I'll be sleeping outdoors most nights, also false. Turns out cold countries have pretty sweet heating systems, so, that's that. Over too fast? Well, I ended-up shipping very few things, so instead of going out by sea, it went on a plane, so within few days of landing I had my stuff.

My second time was way cooler. I was in the zone, I've done that before, I knew what I'm doing. I have two words for you: two bags. I just quit my job and joined the ranks of the bums as a grad student.  It helped that I was moving into a fully-furnished dorm room, but I optimized the hell out of that move, hell I didn't even take a laptop or a phone, I got those when I arrived. Needless to say when you go with the 'bare necessities' move mentality you hit a few snags, the one I remember from that move was an interesting curveball: my credit card got blocked before I bought my phone/laptop, so yeah, it's the 21st century, my card is blocked and I need to call the bank back in Egypt, when was the last time you used a payphone for an international call and had to feed it ya-much coins? That was 2009 for me.

My most recent move was the most interesting, I have to say. Due to a minor snafu I packed my stuff almost three months before I moved, and then due to another snafu, my boxes weren't shipped until a month or so after I moved, and due to another snafu--if you can't see the trend at this point, I sure hope your day job doesn't require you to do, well, any kind of thinking really--my container was "bumped" (that's shipping lingo that I picked up being involved in the global hunt for my container) somewhere in Europe, stupid Dutchies, and so it missed it's cross-Atlantic connection. The multiple snafus meant I eventually got my stuff ~8 months after I parted with them and around ~4 months after I moved. It was interesting because who doesn't enjoy living 8 months out of a suitcase, right? In a strange way, it was. Whenever I realized I didn't have something on me, I either decided to wait for it and adapted to it not being there or ordered it off Amazon. When my things finally arrived (today!), it was interesting to realize that the things I missed most were my books, thinking chair and collection of mementos, everything else is optional.

Interestingly when I was unpacking my kitchenware, I realized that my mom packed for me 4 different bottle openers; I'm guessing that's her subtle way of telling me I have a drinking problem.

For my next move I'd like to do it blindfolded, upside-down in a glass container full of water, Houdini-stlyle.