Bad and Good at the Same Time

•March 19, 2009 • Leave a Comment

This last month has been a bit of a roller coaster. What with weird weather and all, as well as my job search. It started with a really great thing, I was assigned by Tek Systems to work on a move for a company. The company was relocating their warehouse from one side of Charlotte to the other, and they needed help with moving all their office, shipping, and receiving computers. Two solid days of work, and they fed us. All the people helping with the move, employees and contractors like me, were fed. And not just fed, we eat like kings. They did cheese burgers, hot dogs, and all the snacks you wanted for the first night, Toasted Sub Sandwiches for lunch the next day, and BBQ for dinner to close it all out. And they had an unlimited supply of sodas thought out the project, and the staff we worked with were very cool and great to work with. It was, the best assignment I’ve had so far with Tek Systems.

Then I found out that I have no more projects to work on for my old company, Laser App. While this is a devastating blow to my already small income, I don’t harbor any ill will. I knew that the moment they offered me the chance to work on stuff, while no longer an employee, it was out of the kindness of the owner’s hart. The hours started to shrink, and have finally been reduced to nothing. I’m sure that every one and then they will ask me to test something, or help out with the Knowledge Base, but I have officially end the work I agreed to do before leaving California. I still thank God every day for the chance to work for Laser App, and for how much that company has taken care of me these last 2 years.

Then I interview for a couple of jobs in Charlotte, and one came back as an absolute “No”. However, there is a software company that has not gotten back to me yet, who I think I would be a very good fit for. They are closing their interview this week and I should know soon weather or not they want me.

Finally, there is today. I got a phone call earlier this week from Tek Systems, wanting to know if I was interested in a week’s worth of work. I said, “Any work is good work,” and they set me up for a meeting today. I have been part of a Tek Systems install team assigned to a computer move for Lowes for that last couple of months. They like the work that I’ve been doing, and have heard good things about me. Apparently they are down a person on their dedicated deployment team, and were looking for a temp to fill the spot. I met with three people form that team today, and it seemed like they were positive. I don’t know any specifics about the job yet, but I’m excited. Any chance to work with Lowes, who is right in my back yard, is a good opportunity. I think the team members I met with were really glad to here that I live less then 10 minuets away, as most of their team lives much further than that. I should know soon weather or not they are going to take me, or ask Tek Systems for someone else.

So all in all, lots of good, a very big bad, and I’m still hanging in there.

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Lowes is a No Go

•March 5, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Well, after waiting on pins and needles, I have been turned down for the Tech Support Position at Lowes. At lest it was a nice rejection. I has placed a call to the manager who the position would be working for, asking if a decision had been made, and received an automated e-mail with the bad news. She called me the next day and said that the person who was picked over me, not only had just completed their 4 year CS degree, but was also an 8 year employee with Lowes. She encouraged me to apply again the next time something came up because the team really liked the way I interviewed.

One of the reasons I wanted to work for Lowes is because of the way they take care of their employees. Well…I did not get the job for that very reason.

In other news, I interviewed for another Tech Support position with a software company this week, and should know by next week if they want me for the job.

The View from my front porch this morning

•March 2, 2009 • Leave a Comment

After a somewhat bitter diatribe about how people in North Carolina freak out at the drop of the hat, here is something a little more lighthearted. I woke up this morning and was greeted with this view from my front porch. I thought it was pretty.

Tree Dusted in Snow

Moving Realization Number 2: Be afraid, be very afraid

•March 2, 2009 • 1 Comment

As I write this article, I look out of my office window and up and down the my quite street, which is covered in a about four inches of snow in various states of morning melt. I have come to the realization that people in North Carolina do not deal with change well at all. By change I mean, in climate weather, gas prices, and a variety of things that, as a Californian, I took for granted as always being in flux.

I grew up at the base of the San Andres fault line (yes, that’s the one from the first Super Man movie). I watched Gas Prices fluctuate by at least a dollar from summer to winter. I remember the Rodney King Riots. I remember the mountains that I lived next to (all of my life) burning completely; and more than once. I remember 6 feet of snow falling in Wrightwood, and even now on Easter a couple of years. I remember El Nino and the rain that would not stop. I remember floods. I remember heat waves. I lived in the Santa Anna Wind Coridor. We had t-shirts at my school that had the four season on them with cool pictures: Earthquakes, Fires, Floods, Riots, Welcome to California.

And midst these disasters, I watched as I and those around me, bore it with a sense of resignation. We has seen it all before, and we would see it again (OK, maybe not the riots). But If an earthquake nocked down the freeways, we found surface streets to get around. If a fire burned down homes, we rebuilt them. If flood takes out a house in Malibu, we all pointed and laughed at the stupid people how lived there knowing that it would slide off the cliff into the ocean (who incidentally tried to build about house on the same land). Fires would ravage our forests and national parks, but they grew back. That is what I grew up with.

So it started to rain a few days ago. I went on a night job and the guys were talking about how it was going to snow and that we had all better be ready. I asked how much snow was expected, and they informed me that a devastating 4 to 6 inches of snow was going to paralyze the state. Road would be closed, banks would not open, and schools would tell students to stay home for their own safety. And I asked a very stupid question, “Why?”

When I was a kid, 6 inches of snow meant that the buses that ran to Wrightwood would put on their chains and get the kids to school anyway. Fathers would wake up early, shovel snow out of their drive way, and tear down the burm that the snow plow created that blocked the end other drive way, and still drive though the now and off the hill to work. Kids would hang out at the local grocery store, and charge weekend skiers $10 bucks to put chains on their cars so we could buy candy. And yes, I walked to school when I was in elementary school, in the snow, both ways (but not up hill).

I was doing laundry on Saturday, the night it really started to rain, and the news had the following line ups, with the following lead ins, and I promise I am not making this up or embellishing at all.

“In just a few minuets we are going over to weather to find out just how bad that winter storm is going to hit us, but first we take you live to Concord to hear how the Volunteer Fire department is bracing for this potentially deadly storm.”
Cut to man in fireman’s uniform: “Well, uh, we don’t really know what is going to happen so we are planning for the worst.”
Reporter: “Do you think it will be dangerous?”
Fireman: “Well last year we had a 10 incidents statewide where the snow kept medical teams from being able to reach people in need of assistance. So the state paid to outfit all our Ambulance resonance vehicles with a chain system that lets them handle snow just fine.”
Cut back to anchor: “And now weather”
Weather Man: Thanks, well we should see temperatures drop from the 65 the are currently at and snow start about 6 hours from now at midnight. Expect to see a much as 6 inches of snow thought the state. So if you have not done so, go to the store and stock up on your essentials, and please make sure your emergency kits are packed.”

Now…6 inches of snow is a good helping of snow for people who don’t see it often. However, this happens here every year. White stuff falls form the sky, and the local authorities blow and salt the roads to make them safe. I was asked to go to the store that night to get my mother in law some coffee, and I was shocked. I was there at 10:30pm, and they close at 11pm. The store was packed. Certain items were missing from the shelves, water, peanut butter, milk, toilet paper. However, other items were left untouched. Canned veggies, meats, cheese, and other things that would be the first thing for me to grab in a crisis. The produce isle was left untouched. And, they were out of coffee. So these people may not be prepared for a good winter storm, but at least they will be awake though it all.

I drove to the Bank this morning around 10:30. Banks open at 9 here, and it is Monday the 2nd, so I have to make sure I will have enough funds to pay the Rent. The door was locked. Not only was the door locked, there was a guys standing outside with a ladder talking on the phone to dispatch saying that the no one was in the branch and was did they want him to do. They bank was closed. On a Monday morning, the first work day of the month, the bank was closed. Did I have to drive through snow covered streets to get there, no they were nice and clear. Was I standing in the bitter cold looking perplexed at the locked door, no it was 45 outside (warm for snow). Was I the only car in the parking lot, no there were 15 other people who were also waiting to conduct business at the bank. As I walk away, frustrated, I’m approached by a nice lady dress in a fur parka and a fur hat, like she was in soviet Russia in a bad movie from the 80’s. She said she was a bank employee and that they should be open as soon as the manager could get in. She was taking deposits form customers who just wanted to do straight deposits with checks. I checked her employee tag (which took a minuet for her open her coat and show me) and I left her with a deposit slip. As I drove away, I took note of the condition of the parking lot. Slushie, but still very safe to drive.

So, to bring this Rant to a close, I just don’t get it. I hear stories that a storm “threatened” to hit some of the oil drills off the coast of texas a few months ago, and the there was a gas shortage people the people here really though their would be no gas after the store hit. People had to wait in line for more than an hour, and were only allowed to buy five gallons of gas at a time. For a guy that grew up with earthquakes, these east coast southerners seem to be really twitchy. I’m beginning to understand how our nation can be so easily swayed by politicians who use fear tactics, because if this is way people here react to a mild snow storm, I can only imagine what they were like on 9/11.

Quick and dirty MySQL install for Fedora Linux Users

•February 24, 2009 • Leave a Comment

OK, so I had more than a few issues getting MySQL up and running, mostly because I did not know what I was doing. I found a great article that got me up and running in under 5 minuets with everything I need to have my first MySQL server to learn more about it. Special thanks to Obsec for posting this for bone heads like me.

http://fedorasolved.org/Members/opsec/installing-configuring-mysql-server

Nailed the interview!

•February 23, 2009 • 2 Comments

Every now and again I look back at something and reflect, “Hey, I did a really good job with that.” Today was one of those times. I had a job interview with Lowes at their Customer Support Center. I applied for a Tech Support position for their software team. Lets just say, things got off to a rough start.

On Friday I was told by HR that they would e-mail me information on the interview for Monday morning. By Sunday night this had not happened. So, I did what any computer savvy person would do and turned to the blessed internet. There I found that the only published address for Lowes Corporate HQ was in Moorseville. I live in Moorseville, and that is the NEW HQ location. However I knew a head of time that I would be interviewing at the old location in Wilksboro. After much searching I found 2 location in Wilksboro about 5 miles from each other, and was faced with a decision: Which did I go to.

Well, I called and left a message with the manager I would be interviewing with, knowing that they would not get it until I was well on the road, and let them know I had received no notification and would be heading to the further of the two locations. My plan was to get there 30min early in case I had to go to the other location. Sure enough, I rolled into the parking lot of the wrong location, and my cell phone rang. I got directions to the right place, and was there in no time at all.

The HR person who greeted me after I checked in, did not know to expect me. I gave him the name of the person I was interview with, and found that while the IT department was ready to interview me the HR department was not. I polity told the nice HR person that I had cleared my entire day for Lowes, and was willing to take as long as needed to be flexible for them. Not more than 2 minuets latter I was sitting in a room with the HR person, and they introduced me to 2 Managers of the IT department. The three of them asked me a slue of questions, all very general and not about anything IT really at all. They all left the room smiling and seemed very nice. The HR person then informs me that I had completed the first phase of the interview process, and that I had 2 more groups of people who would like to see me today. So I did what any desperate for work person would do and said, “You have me all day if you need me”.

The next group were managers who, if I get the job, would be my direct supervisors, all 5 of them. They asked me a lot of questions. I was grilled on my knowledge of Unix, SQL, and other stuff as well. I was asked many different ways how I dealt with problem callers. I was asked how I managed stress. And the answers came very naturally and effortlessly. I had the laughing at witty comments, shaking heads in agreement on what I believe about IT customer service, and commiserated with them about product upgrades and roll outs. It was a great interview!

The next people were the hardware support team. The three of them kind of looked at my resume, and asked me a questions like they didn’t really know why they were interviewing me. And the questions they asked were about how I got into computers, what was the first system I’d ever used Unix on, and things like that. I impressed them by telling them I run Fedora Linux on an old G4 Mac at home, with a web server and a MySQL server, but that was it.

Then things got weird. As the last group left, the conference room phone rang and one of them answered it. The HR guy was on the other end and asked to talk to me. He apologized for not being there in person, but the HR director called a meeting at the Moorseville office so he was calling me from there. He had e-mailed an application to me, even though I had already filled on out on line, and asked me to give it to one of the managers to scan and send to him when I left. So I waited, alone, in a conference room deep in the heart of the Lowes IT Support Center, and a person knocks on the door with an application.

It was on of the people from my second round of interviews. They were actually the area manager, while the other people in the room were team leads. She said that, while she can not promise anything, the team really liked me and that I had interviewed very well. I thanked her and explained that I had been nervous, since I didn’t even know where I was supposed to be that morning. She was a little shocked about the ball being dropped on that one, and said she was impressed that I held my cool. She said that, in the event I should not be picked up for the job, that she really thinks I should apply again for the next open position because I would be a good candidate, again stressing that she could not promise anything would come of any situation.

So I walk away from this with a sense of, “well done” and a bit of hope. I feel at peace with the fact that I did my best, I was honest. I have a 50/50 chance of getting in, and they liked me to boot. I feel really good right now.

Landed an Interview with Lowe’s!!!!

•February 19, 2009 • Leave a Comment

I got another call this morning from Lowe’s HR department. They said that after their initial phone interview with me earlier this week, they would like me to come in for a real interview. So Monday morning, 8:30am EST, I will be trying to land a job that has the potential to be perfect for me and allow me to stay for a long time.

So any prayers, good thoughts, sacrifices, petitions, candles, well wishes, (what can I say, my friends are from a broad range of back grounds) would be extremely appreciated.