Down a Slippery Slope

I recently moved to a project where I am doing analysis full time. No software development. No coding. Oh the horror. But hey, it pays the bills.

There are some good things about the job. I get a captive audience when I speak on a system that I know well. People are very interested when you know what you are talking about.

Here is the downer. The customer wants project management now, not analysis. Doh! If I stay, I will be figuring out releases. Not that I cannot perform such tasks, but do I want to?

This might be my opportunity. Run for the hills and get back to my true love - software development.

Going for Analysis

I am now off the project I have been on for the last 15 years. Got moved over to a new one. The new project plans to replace parts of the old project I worked on. Guess I am a good guy to talk to if you need to know what the system does.

The downside to my new task is that I do zero development. No programming is involved. My products are Excel spreadsheets, live demos of the application, and system requirement captured in Microsoft Word. Not too exciting for someone like me who likes to code a lot.

I do see some of the value in what I am doing. They people trying to design the new replacement system do not know a lot about the old system. That could make it quite difficult to do their jobs.

Luckily this analysis position is not the end game for me. I plan to eventually move onto a C++ Windows application position. However that job requires some security clearances that I have applied for but not been granted yet. I am biding my time, remaining billable (and receiving a paycheck).

The Trick User Interface

I use a computer provided by my customer to do all my work on the project. Guess this is due to security. The configuration of this computer is on lock down. Only approved software can be installed. Originally system administrators handled all software installs. Now that responsibility seems to be delegated to users themselves.

Our project has some software requirements tracking software from IBM Rational called ReqPro. I don't have the software. We have a separate requirements/analysis team on our project. They all have this software. Some other security team did an audit and found people like myself without direct access to the requirements. Not good. Now my mission is to install ReqPro on my machine.

So what do I do? My manager said call the customer help desk and have them open up a ticket for the install. I tried that twice. They refused. LOL. I ended up submitting a ticket online for the install. Then I got word that my access to the software was approved, and I was supposed to download and install the thing.

I accessed our Symmantec Software Portal, which knows what software I am authorized to grab. I selected the Rational Utility Selector. This brought up  a window in my browser to schedule an install. The only problem was that I could not see any OK button to confirm my request. The window was a weird one in my browser. It would not leave the client area of the browser window. I could not scroll in the window. What gives?

I tried to change my screen resolution in the hope that I could see the whole window. Nope. Screen resolution maxed out. Then I figured I might be able to change the Zoom ratio in my browser. That did the trick. Are these guys trying to prevent me from installing the software? So I get an install scheduled. After a few minutes, a program starts up. I choose to install my software. Then I get an error message stating that my machine is not authorized to get this software.

Oh boy. I can't take this much fun.

Crazy Busy

The other day, I got a message from my team lead. When he is out, I usually take over. Been busy with my current task. Now I got lots of tasks. A manger had asked for an investigation on a trouble ticket. Now that investigation was due.

I reached out to a senior developer on the team. Turns out he got loaned out to another project. And he was working on high priority problems there. Another junior developer was still on vacation. We have another developer on the team, but she is too new to figure out trouble tickets fast.

So I had to put my work on hold and do the research. Then there were some deliveries with incorrect documentation. I had to attend to those too. I tried to go out to lunch. But my cell phone kept ringing. When it rains, it pours.

Eventually the junior guy came off vacation. And the senior developer was back from rotation on the other project. And my team lead returned. Whew. It is good to have a team.

Getting LinkkedIn

I read somewhere that if you want to get a job in software development, and you are "old", then you had better have a LinkedIn profile. Now I have received invites to join LinkedIn from colleagues. But I never joined. Now that I am looking for my next gig, I thought I better get with the program.

Did all the normal stuff. Put in details from my job and prior job. Added my college education. But that "0 connections" in the bottom right hand corner was bugging me. It was time to make some connections on LinkedIn. I figure I should just connect up with people I know.

I started with another guy from my last job who said he had to create a LinkedIn account during his job hunt. Then I started asking people whether they had LinkedIn accounts. Most of my colleagues are older. They are not connected with social media. But some had account. They usually added me as a connection.

It was going too slow. Then I figure I could just search for people on LinkedIn, and make connection requests from there. That is also hit or miss. I think some people put email addresses they don't check very often. So it might take a while for them to get back to me.

I have been checking out people I know on LinkedIn. Not people I want to make a connection with. Just people I want to check up on. I noticed that when people have over 500 connections on LinkedIn, their profile just shows 500+ in the lower right hand corner.

I also started looking for trends on how many connections people have. Those managers who are a few levels above me all seem to have around 500 connections, or 500+. It figures as much. People who have risen up that high must have a lot of contacts. However I noticed another curious trend. Those people at the very top, such as CEOs, seem to not have as many connections.

The real question is how many connections do I need to be able to impress potential employers? I want to signal the correct information to them. 500+ connections might mean I spend too much time on LinkedIn. Too few might signal I am not well connected. So what am I shooting for? Maybe 100 connections? Or perhaps a little more? We shall see.

Bad Report Card

I have been looking around for my next gig. Because I have fun writing PL/SQL code, I am looking to find an Oracle database development position. There are a number of Oracle skills that I have under my belt. However I noticed a lot of topics that I am not strong in, or maybe have not have even heard of.

Here are the Oracle topics I have seen needed for jobs that I have researched:
Now I have heard about or played with SQL*Loader and APEX. But I am not an expert nor proficient in them. That's why I brushed up on the overview of each of these Oracle technologies. Today I met up with a past coworker of mine. He has been looking for an Oracle development job for a long time with no luck. The thing that disturbed me was that he knew almost all of these technologies. If he knows all these and still can't find a job, I might be in trouble.

But when things get tough, I get going. Time to double down on my studying. Maybe sit for a few Oracle certification exams. Install the Oracle database on a couple of my computers. And get cooking!

Check It Out

We use IBM Rational Clearcase for source code control on our project. We do not do anything fancy in Clearcase. However we got it set up to only allow one person to reserve a copy of a file at a time. Other people can make checkouts. But only the first one gets the reservation.

I started working on two efforts we are making in a maintenance round. The first one got handed off to another developer to code. I took the next one. As soon as I figured out what files I was going to change, I checked the files out.

The other developer completed coding. She had a bunch of Clearcase problems. I had not heard back from her about my checkouts preventing her work. I got a bit worried. Eventually she came forward and asked for help. She got the warning message that I had the files reserved. She just did not understand it.

I was able to undo my checkouts to let her put her code in first. Now I will need to merge my changes with hers. That's okay. At least I know we are both working off the same branch. Check your files out early. Check them out often. Use this as communication with other developers as to what you are changings.