A Blog by Scott Isaacs

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My Ideal Job

Eighteen months ago, I sat down and wrote out a description in bullet points of what my ideal job would be like.  I described my position, the company, and my co-workers.  My previous job had many of those qualities.  It was a good job at a good company, but it wasn’t everything I wanted.  I wanted to change things, but they weren’t mine to change.

I’ve been at SafeNet for about 7 weeks now.  I realize that’s not that long, but so far it seems like every single bullet point on my description of an ideal job has been satisfied.  Here’s my list from June 2010.

My Position

  • I want to be irreplaceable (see what I mean by “irreplaceable” here).
  • I want to focus on building relationships, both co-workers and customers.
  • I want to be able to mentor someone.
  • I want to be able to learn and be mentored.
  • I want to be challenged without being overworked.
  • I want to be expected to do things I don’t know how to do.
  • I want to design and deliver important solutions.

My Company

  • Must be a place that outsiders get excited about when they see how we do things. 
  • Must be known for its technology as well as for its business — for execution as well as ideas.
  • Must be full of irreplaceable people.
  • Must be full of passionate people.

My Teammates

  • Must care.
  • Must have an opinion more often than they don’t.
  • Must share their opinions.
  • Must debate.
  • Must be irreplaceable.
  • Must be passionate.
  • Must treat their work as a craft or art.
  • Must give “something” (intangible) more than their work..
  • Must have insight and understanding.
  • Must be able to troubleshoot.
  • Must act like they work for themselves.
  • Must be empowered.
  • Must be respected internally and externally.
  • Must be compensated enough to not worry about compensation.
I didn’t realize until tonight when I came across that 18 month old list just how ideal this job is for me.
Do you have a description of your ideal job?  If your ideal job is more like my ideal job than it is your real job, we should talk.


Visual Studio Command Prompt Here

I’m rebuilding my computer after a hard drive failure, and I keep running into issues where things I’ve taken for granted are missing – things such as the "VS Command Prompt Here" Windows Explorer context menu items.

Years ago, Scott Hanselman posted INF files to add VS 2005 to the context menu. Using that as inspiration, I’ve created a version of the file for VS 2008 and another for VS 2010. For what it’s worth, I tweaked his VS 2005 file because my copy of VS is installed in "Program Files (x86)" and on older versions of Windows, such as when he posted, it wasn’t.

So enough with the intro; here are the download links:

Right-click to save your file of choice, then right-click on the saved file and choose Install.

Disclaimer-ish stuff: These modify your registry. You should open the files in Notepad first to understand what is happening. Use at your own risk. I’m sure you’re not reading this part anyway.

Good luck.

Meeting Cost Calculator

Main Screen - After RunHave you ever been in one of those meetings where it seems that everyone in the company is there, even though they don’t need to be?  I think everyone has and it is especially frustrating when you are one of the ones that doesn’t really need to be there.

Well, based on a web site I saw a few weeks ago (the link escapes me at the moment), I wrote a little Windows Mobile app that will calculate just how much any given meeting is costing you and your clients.

It’s a pretty simple application.  You press Start, the dollars add up.  You press Stop, and they stop adding up.  You can specify the number of attendees at any given meeting.  You can also specify the default estimated billing rate and estimated cost to your company (for example, estimated average wage + benefits).

You can toggle back and forth between the client cost and the cost to your own company by either clicking on the appropriate region (current is highlighted) or by using the context menu on the Total Cost.  You can also reset the calculator from the context menu of the Total Cost.

Here are a few more screenshots.

Main Screen - After Reset Configuration Screen  Main Screen - Context Menu

You can download this directly to your Windows Mobile phone by going to one of the following links:

I am running WM6 with a touch screen, but it should work on WM5 and later.  I have only tested this on my phone, so your mileage may vary.  Download and run at your own risk.  Feel free to report any issues, comments or suggestions via the contact form below.

Update 1: This program requires the Microsoft .NET Compact Framework version 3.5.

Update 2: I’ve uploaded a new version with the following changes:

  • FIXED: Bug in highlighting currently selected cost
  • FIXED: Bug that always shows total for default number of attendees instead of currently selected number of attendees
  • CHANGED: Continues to run even if device is put into suspended mode
  • CHANGED: Configuration screen allows for higher ($500/hour) and more precise ($5 increments) for cost fields

June? Seriously? (And Tech-Ed)

June is just a week away.  That’s insane.  It’s cliché to say it, but time goes so fast.  My son is already four months old, and my daughter is getting hilariouser by the moment.  (I know some of you may not consider hilariouser a word, but as I mentioned before, I make up words and add them to my dictionary to get rid of the red squiggles.)

So anyway, I went to Tech-Ed a couple weeks ago and it was great.  I had a lot of fun, met a lot of people, caught up with a lot of people I hadn’t seen in a while, and actually learned a few things in the process.  Maybe someday I’ll put all my new-found knowledge to practical use and make something, ummm, practical.

I went with a co-worker, Brennan, and he got the chance to interview a few people.  He’s posted his videos here.

I also took my new video camera, but pretty much the only footage I got was of Jeffrey Palermo doing a head stand on the dance floor to “Whoomp There It Is”.  I will leave you with that:

PS – Notice that I’m recycling post titles?  It must be getting bad.

Diabetes Research Fundraiser

At work, we are having a fundraiser for Diabetes Research Institute.  To try to get more sponsors, one of my coworkers decided to turn himself into Mr. T, step by step.  He’s skinny.  He’s white.  But so far he’s raised $1400.

Read his story after you take a peek at this video of him getting the haircut.  Share this link with your family and friends: MrTDiabetesChallenge.com.

Better Keep Things Clean Now

As of sometime yesterday afternoon, my boss’ boss has subscribed to my blog.  I guess it’s time clean things up around here.  🙂

Curly Brace Placement

I’ve been writing code with curly braces for a dozen years or so, starting with C++ in college, then JavaScript for many, many years, and for the last few years, C#.  In all that time, I have been a fan of putting the opening curly brace on the same line as the declaration or control statement.  For example:

private void DoSomething() {    // ...    if (somecondition) {        myval = true;    }    // ...}

At work, though, I have been working on someone else’s code, and I always try as much as possible change my coding style to match the existing code.  In this case, that means opening curly braces get their own line, like so:

private void DoSomething() {    // ...    if (somecondition)     {        myval = true;    }    // ...}

I find that I’m actually starting to prefer the "new line" option.  But I don’t want to prefer it!  I guess maybe I’m stubborn.

I agree that it is easier to visually match opening and closing braces this way, but VS2008 does that for me anyway with clever highlighting.  Also, I don’t like how much extra room is taken in my editor window.  I like whitespace, but this seems to put it in the wrong place for me.

Sigh.  What’s a poor developer to do?

What’s your preference and why?

Which Is Better?

I can’t decide if I get more pleasure from solving a big problem, or from the process of breaking it into a series of smaller problems and solving each of them.  Does anyone else ever think of stuff like this?  Or is it just me?

Working From Home

As part of my new job, I will be working from home one day per week.  Now that I’ve been there for a couple weeks, my first work from home day will be tomorrow.

Over the next several weeks, I’ll be trying to make improvements to my home office, including deciding which room to use.  We built a den/office in the house, but I’m thinking it might not be ideal.  It’s in the main area of the house, and the doors have windows, making it very easy for Charlize to see Daddy and want to come visit.  So the current thought is to setup a small work area in the spare bedroom, which is in the back part of the house.  It has a heavy, solid core door, which is typically closed throughout the day anyway.  So Charlie will probably never know that I am even in there.  For tomorrow, though, I’ll probably be in "my chair" in the living room.  Charlie and Mommy will be over at Grandma’s house for most of the day.

In the past I’ve worked from home a day or two here and there, but never on a scheduled, regular basis.  If any of you work from home, I welcome your suggestions.

Work Soundtrack

This happens to me on a regular basis — probably every other month or so.  I get tired of the music I have on my iPod.  So I’m looking for suggestions.  What music helps you get your job done?  Sometimes I need something nice and mellow to get myself into the right frame of mind, and sometimes I need something I can turn the volume up to drown out the background noise.  Sometimes vocals are good, sometimes they are distracting.  Unfortunately, streaming sites don’t work from the office, so things like Pandora are out.  Looking forward to your suggestions.

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