no one rides for free.

Last Thursday night we at work had to move our machines in the colo. "Colo" is short for "colocation facility", a relatively secure building with few windows, hundreds of locked cages and cabinets, and redundant power and fast Internet connections. Most companies run their websites and other important network services from a colo, because the colo essentially buys the reliable network access and electricity in bulk, so they can offer it to customers more cheaply and with less hassle than we small-time customers could manage ourselves. We'd scheduled the move proper to start at 11:30pm, and we arrived at the colo a bit before eleven, to get everything set up.

I got home around 5am, and in the intervening 6 hours I got a lot of information about my boss, and our relationship.

First, we get along fine overall, and we respect each other. I think he wishes I'd work harder, and I wonder why he works so hard, but in general we're okay.

Mainly I had a revelation, about his...let's call it tenacity, or breaking point. Essentially, he and I will eventually arrive at the same unpleasant conclusion, but I will give up and reach the conclusion in maybe a tenth of the time he does. For example, at one point he wanted me to try and get web services running in our applications, sort of out of curiosity, since I'd clearly laid out that we didn't need it; he acknowledged that, but said we'll probably want it eventually (I disagree, but we have enough real things to disagree about without adding hypotheticals). So I spent two or three weeks in a fruitless and wide-ranging quest to configure something we didn't need. I talked to tech support. I set up test cases. I tried to isolate problems. I was all set to give up after a few days. But no. I kept going. And what the hell. It was boring, but I get paid the same either way.

It also takes him a long time, and a lot of suffering, to actually say out loud that he thinks someone is incompetent. It's not an academic question, since we encounter people from all over my company and parent company asking basic questions about their own field of employ (remember, there are no stupid questions, only stupid people), or failing to ask those basic questions, leaving us to deal with the disasters when they try to do their jobs and fail. I've identified that willingness to suffer without speaking your mind in many of the higher-level staff; I mean, obviously you don't advance in an organization by blatantly telling people they're being dumb, but there are plenty of more diplomatic ways to actually solve the problem ("Okay, this database needs primary keys, and here's why..." rather than "How in the hell did you get a job as a database expert when you don't know the shit from page 3 of the manual?"), and I don't usually see anyone trying those. I think part of advancing in this sort of organization involves putting on a face of concern, helping everyone feel as though their problem constitutes a crisis on your part, and you're going to drop everything to solve their problem, even if that means helping them figure out how to do their jobs.

Of course I'm being elitist and condescending: I'm ranting about other people being stupid. (I have my moments, but I'm good about not taking up other people's time with my being an idiot, at least at work.)

Returning to Thursday, we spent 1.5-2 hours trying to reconfigure our new cabinet the way the boss wanted. On the other hand: he gave me Friday off, and given that the systems administration is part of my responsibilities, and I've been there nearly 2 years and that was my first colo visit, and he goes to the colo every couple of months, it worked out okay.

Currently investigating jobs at a company in Cupertino, which would be a serious change of pace, if nothing else.