Paul Geromini

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Wednesday 15 March 2017

Four Years Later

It generally takes three times for the normal mind to understand something. The first sign I got was seeing my senior coworker having part of his cube in boxes, the second sign was having another coworker come by and shake my hand saying, "it had been great to work together", and the third sign was my new, one on one meeting at 10:15. This is what it is liked to be laid off (although I prefer the more humorous "budget actioned"). That was March 7, 2016 for me. It was the end of a (just about) four year period of employment, my first post-school job. I want to take the time, now a week or so later, to describe what I actually did for four years. I want to give the highlights, the lowlights, what I thought we did wrong and what I thought we did right. I will preface this all by saying I harbor no ill will towards anyone I worked with or Oracle itself. Oracle always treated me fairly, I am just sad it never worked out for them.

May 28 2013 My first day of work. The week immediately after Anime Boston. It was going to be the 27th, but that was a holiday (Memorial Day). I was horribly late, the latest I ever was in my four years there. I left early, but spent ages in bumper to bumper traffic. I called in to let them know I was going to be late, but I was still majorly embarrassed. After getting in late I was rapidly given a bunch of documents and a cube. As I was getting setup in my cube, I remember opening the bottom drawer of my filing cabinet and finding three liquor bottles in it. It was nice liquor too. I told my coworker and he secreted it away never to be seen again. The rest of the day I sat in a HR conference call. I would be the last legacy TEKELEC hire before the company was completely Oraclized.

July 2013 My first real assignment. Before then I had been familiarizing myself with the code, trying things out, going to meetings to learn our process. Now I had my first real piece of work to do: S9. You can read more about S9 here. I was responsible for everything: GUI and backend. I would work on this for the next few months. It would never ship as the customer who wanted it never actually wanted it. Company wise, everyone was stoked that Oracle was going to keep our office in Marlborough and not have us commute to Burlington.

November 2013 I am a bit hazy about this point, but at some point I finished S9 and moved to building the "Subscriber Activity Log". A feature that allowed a customer to track a subscriber as the subscriber's calls flowed through the system. You can read about this in the 11.5 release notes as it actually shipped.

December 2013 My first company Christmas party. We go and watch: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug at the IMAX in Jordan's furniture. It was good, but my boss was mad it ended on a cliffhanger, so we went back next year to see the final film. I remember spending a long time in traffic trying to leave that area.

January 2014 Again, I am bit unsure when this happened, but at some point I finished up "Subscriber Activity Log" and was moved to a new project: MPG. The Mobile Policy Gateway (MPG) was a project to develop a device that would deploy policies to a customers phone. One of the big use cases was a provider could offload certain customers onto wifi if the load in an area was too great. I would work on this for nine months, but it would never ship and it would ultimately be cancelled. Company wise, things are going great. We are making good money and selling a lot of product.

September 2014 NGCMP, our replacement for our current configuration management platform (CMP) begins. I am project lead and I start investigating new technologies. My first challenge is to pick between OJET and LUX, two competing JS GUI libraries. I end up picking OJET, which you can use today if you want. Weekly Wednesday calls with the offsite groups (Bangalore and Nanjing) start. I went to JavaOne at the end of the month and got this great photo:

I wrote more about that trip here.

November 2014 My first raise and bonus! I live the good life. The NGCMP is starting to grow as other people finish up the projects they are working on and get assigned to it. NGCMP starts driving major reforms around how we do work. Code reviews are formalized, code quality tools like SonarQube start to come into play, and we get serious about unit and robot testing.

December 2014 Second company holiday party! We see the last Hobbit film in IMAX. It is ok, but not worth sticking through the traffic in that area.

February 2015 I miss most of the super bowl (I hear about the Patriots winning during the flight) as I travel to India to meet the team in Bangalore. I stay for a few days. I wrote about this trip back then.

March 2015-May 2016 Nothing of real note happens during this period. I do get a raise, and we continued to make a lot of progress on NGCMP. Customer demos are being planned at this point. NGCMP itself is in an ok place. It has a lot of functionality, but a number of bugs. I produce the greatest Star Trek TNG parody video during this time. It was a demo highlight.

June 2016 Things are not going well for our business unit. We have our first layoff. Management talks about pivoting to a cloud based deployment. NGCMP gets "paused". We no longer want to build a product that does exactly what our legacy product did, we want to build something for a cloud based customer. TREC is born and we pivot to new use cases.

October 14 2016 I close on my first house as more people get laid off the same day. This would start a gradual local attrition of talent.

March 7 2016 Judgement day. I along with 90% of the office get budget actioned. Layoffs are around 200 for my business unit. The Bangalore team gets assigned to different projects and the Nanjing team gets reassigned back to the legacy CMP product. TREC presumably dies as there is no one assigned to work on it. The show ends.

That is the whole story. I really think things started to go wrong when Oracle panicked and moved us to the "cloud". It never made sense how we were going to make money in that area and we certainly could not produce a viable product for another year at least. In the end, I think Oracle could not take the losses it was taking so it bailed. Ultimately it was a pretty good ride. I had a lot of fun, made money, and learned a lot. It is just a shame it never worked out.

Saturday 17 May 2014

Confessions of a Hopeless Egoist

You may have noticed the name of this blog, and perhaps even the domain it is registered under. Why did I use my own name? I could have named this blog something more informative, perhaps Grammar Challenged Musings or Poorly Conceived Ideas. At least then you might have had a better idea what the content I would be writing about would be. But no, I used my own name. Is this perhaps merely a dearth of creativity on my end? Did I just run out of ideas? Not at all. I am just hopeless infatuated with myself. So much so that I have to name my blog after me. To do anything else would not be in my nature, despite the pretense I had of using another name*. The phrase for this is not good, or if you are less charitable, not healthy.

It is not just the use of my name for this blog, here is a quick listing of some other failures associated with my rampant egoism:

  1. Failure to listen to others.
  2. Preoccupation with my station.
  3. Obsession with status (salary, possessions, intelligence, etc).

I should really read my own blog posts, that would help. So what am I doing to resolve this.

1. Actually listen to people instead of daydreaming while you wait your turn to talk. People other than myself have interesting things to say oddly enough and perhaps I can even learn from them.

2. Never talk about money. The chance to brag and boast is just too great. I am not even that wealthy, but I just cannot help myself so the best bet is to eliminate temptation.

3. Never miss a chance to self-deprecate. I like to think this is a daily chance for me to remind myself of how badly my skill is at some tasks.

4. Speak honestly and openly. If I can just say the truth I can tamper down some of my outrageous beliefs. This blog is that in practice.

5. Internalize and use often the phrases "I do not know" and "that is my fault". The mere act of saying you do not know something or that something you did was your fault helps, for me at least, accept it.

So with the confession done hopefully I learned something.

* For historical reference here are some blog names I was considering:
  1. Eye On the Clock
  2. Both Eyes on the Clock
  3. The Unobserved Garden
  4. Things Unobserved
  5. Undiscovered Countries

Reading these again, some of them are pretty awful.