11 January 2009

It's been a busy week

Coming back from two weeks of vacation, even with a mandatory shutdown between Christmas and New Year's Day, tasks piled up and the week was hectic. The new QA manager is floundering (she already has all her staff alienated), outsourcing our current system software to the China team continues (yes, this doesn't bode well), and the firefighting and political infighting continue. On the positive side, life outside of work is good and my autodidacticism continues as I work through ATL, WTL, and yes, even MFC (the Visual Studio 2008 vintage).

My new Studio 17 notebook was sent back to Dell because IT ordered it with a Blu-ray drive (raising the price $150) and integrated video (saving $150), yielding a lackluster 3.1 on the Windows Experience Index:

There are some things about this machine I do not like, primarily the touchpad and keyboard:
  • the keyboard includes a numeric keypad, something I never use
  • the and keys and the and keys are all side by side instead of stacked as they should be
  • the touchpad is from Alps and it doesn't work as smoothly as a Synaptics touchpad.
  • the Menu key is missing from the keyboard, and it's something I use occasionally
  • the Windows key sticks when you do E to bring up Explorer, for example: the moment you type an L, you lock the machine. This doesn't happen with an external keyboard, and I'm holding out hope Dell will fix it in an update: I can live with it for now (and complain on the Dell support boards).

However, the display is big and beautiful, the system is fast (even with a 5400 RPM drive, which I'll shortly replace with a 7200 RPM drive), and there's room for a second internal hard drive (that's where the original 5400 RPM drive will go, probably to hold extra or backup VMs, other backups, and maybe a test partition for Windows 7 builds).

Since I got this thing to run Windows 7, do WPF development, and drive an external 1920x1200 monitor (and I'll be stuck with it for some time), I had IT exchange it for one with a regular DVD burner and dedicated graphics ($150). If they had bought me a refurbished MacBook Pro as I originally requested, it would have cost about the same and been faster (albeit with a smaller main screen). This all would have been simpler (and faster) if I had been given a budget and allowed to create the order myself.

In other news, my former employer in Tampa is doing gangbusters: two acquisitions in 30 days in a bad recession. I regret burning that bridge: whatever problems there were in product management pale in comparison to the insanity at my current job, but my scorpion nature wasn't quite kept in check when I was there. That, and I should never have taken the QA manager position. C'est la vie...

But hey, at least I have a job, for now. In 9 days, the country is officially under new management, and I am hopeful President Obama will make the right decisions and form the right alliances and help set this nation on a course to realizing our potential. If nothing else, he can't possibly do worse than the idiots we've had running things for the last 8 years (last 28 years, actually).

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