Month: January 2007

Layoff update

There’s not much to tell, but in case you’re curious (and I know at least some of you are) here’s an update:

The basic story is that I won’t know anything about whether or not I’m staying with Boston until February 15th, when I’ll either sit in my cube fidgeting all day, or sit in my cube fidgeting until they take my badge, tell me to pack up and escort me out. So.

People were allowed to volunteer to be let go, but I decided against doing so. While it would be disappointing to miss out on the substantial severance payout, I wouldn’t mind staying with the company. Of course, I’m still fairly certain that my name will be on the list of those leaving, and since volunteering would reduce my severance somewhat, my decision was largely made for me.

So, there’s not much news. I have one phone screening coming up this week, but other than that I’ve not yet started looking for a new position. I expect that I’ll be starting to do so next week. It’s a process I hate, but I’m in a much better position overall than I was last time I actually needed to find a job, so I expect it to go fairly well.

Details aside, my only real feelings about the looming specter of layoffs is that I want it to be over. As I’ve decided to forgo volunteering, there’s no other action I can take, but that fact doesn’t stop me (or anyone else) from listening for any bit of news or speculation, and then churning it around to add my own speculation to the mix. I’m trying to avoid it, but it’s a pretty constant hallway conversation. Even though I’m not particularly worried about what will happen, I find the constant presence of the topic to be pretty stressful and a real waste of mental energy.

Regardless of what happens, I expect that you’ll find me much happier on February 16th than I am today.


Over the last couple of days, I decided to refocus my attention on things that I actually liked.

Revolutionary idea, no?

I realized that I was spending too much time reading on topics that merely got me worked up, things that I felt negatively about, rather than things I was actually interested in. I’m specifically talking about politics, but I’d also been reading about economics as well, albeit from a political slant. I thought of reading about politics and economics as somehow noble, a sign that I took my obligations as a citizen seriously, but while those topics may sound more high-minded than watching pro wrestling or the Jerry Springer show, my involvement was the moral equivalent. I just sat on the sidelines, yelling and waving my fists in the air, feeling self-righteous whenever the bad guys won or were brought out to meet the audience. Unless I was planning on making politics or economics my vocation, or at least an avocation, there was really no point.

So, Reason H&R: Zap! George Will: Blam! Molly Ivins: Kablooie! Marginal Revolution: Axed! And all the rest of you, good riddance!

And hello to ScienceDaily! Welcome,! Pull up a seat, Ars Technica! Sit and put your feet up, J2EE Patterns! And all the rest of you geeky, techie feeds, stop in and say Hello! Sorry I’ve been away for so long!

Oh, and a big thank you to MrMeph for the long geeky conversations of late, which reminded me that I really like that stuff.

Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffin’ glue.

Well, for those of you who don’t read the paper, I received a bit of potentially bad news today. Looks like Boston Scientific (which now owns what used to be Guidant and is my employer), has decided to lay off between 500 and 600 people from the St. Paul division, mostly in R&D. More than likely, that’ll include me.

I suppose there’s an outside chance that I’ll not be among those let go, but considering that my department is flush with people who have good working knowledge of existing product lines as well as more software experience than I have, and I’m still fairy new to the company with no real knowledge of anything outside research, I think it’s a foregone conclusion that my name will be on the list.

If that happens, it will be a little stressful, but it looks like the severance will be pretty generous so I won’t be in a panic for a short while at least. I’m also feeling fairly confident about my prospects as well, so this might be a good opportunity to move on, which sounds strange seeing as how I’ve only been in this position for 15 months, but there it is.

I’ll have more to say on this subject in a week or so . . .

Browsin’ blues

The browsers are buggin’ me. I know I’ve complained about Firefox before, and there’s also been a bit of a complaint about it over at The Feesl’s, but I have to bring it up again.

I switched to Opera a couple of months ago after getting fed up with how bloated and slow Firefox had become. I was also impressed by the fact that Opera9 passes the Acid2 test, something that Firefox still doesn’t get right (it’s far better than IE but still, with all the Firefox high-and-mighty standards-compliant self-fellating that goes on you’d think they’d actually, y’know, be compliant).

Anyway, Opera’s great. It’s fast, lightweight, and has some decent features of it’s own. I slightly prefer some of the behaviors I had with Firefox (through extensions) that I can’t get Opera to do, like automatically opening new tabs from the address bar, but it’s not a big enough deal to drive me back to Firefox.

Google, on the other hand, might be.

I’m specifically talking about Gmail and Google Reader, two JavaScript-heavy applications that don’t appear to be well supported for Opera. I honestly don’t know if it’s a problem with Opera’s JavaScript engine or with Google’s code being optimized for IE and FF and taking their JavaScript bugs into account, but the problem is there. With either of the Google apps, Opera slows down and sometimes stops responding to clicks anywhere on the page (although it’s written well enough that it’s never crashed or completely locked up on me).

Frankly, I suspect that the problem is with Google, mostly because everything else about Opera screams quality coding, from its speed and low resource usage, to its stability and thoughtful UI design.

Right now, I’m feeling towards Google and Firefox what I used to feel towards IE and IE-only websites. I want to use Opera, because it’s clearly the best one out there right now. However, I’m stuck because Google also has the best apps (Gmail in particular) and that’s the one I’m less willing to give up. For the time being, I’m giving Firefox another shot, but I’m still going to log into Gmail and Google Reader with Opera on a daily basis, just to do my part in keeping the Opera usage stats up so that Google will hopefully fix whatever’s wrong.