sharkfinning - verb, gerund - Learning something from scratch in an entirely hands-on way, which is to say, "Swimming with the sharks." When you don't know what you're doing or how to do it, but you have a job to do.
Long time readers are probably wondering where I've been lately. The answer is kind of long and is worth a post all on its own. The short version of the story is, work's been eating me alive lately. This is our busiest time of year and it's been all hands on deck for a couple of weeks now. In point of fact, last week was our quarterly all-hands meeting, where everybody on my team was flown into town for a solid week of meetings. All day, every day. Most of my visible activity lately took the form of parts of my exocortex running on automatic with some hit-and-run posting while waiting for the coffee maker at work to top me up in between meetings.
This also means that I haven't had a whole lot of patience for interacting with people. Not in the sense that people can feel frustrated with other people or their actions, but in the sense that interacting with people in a meaningful way - having a real conversation - takes more compute cycles than I have available right now. After fourteen hours in a conference room with 40 other people, not only am I out of social, but I'm mentally exhausted.
onboarding suppository - noun complex - The massive volume of data that a new hire has to assimilate and comprehend before they can understand what they're supposed to be working on to any meaningful extent.
A couple of weeks back, as part of our continuing education program at my dayjob I ran a hands-on class on locksport, the quasi-science (perhaps art) of picking locks for fun and... well... fun. I'm a security wonk so most of the talks I run have some security content in them, but I wanted to do something that was fairly suitable for everyone (coders and not). So, I got the go-ahead to expense a few more locks and some intro picksets to give away from The Lockpick Shop (no consideration for mentioning or using them, they had what I needed at a good price) and hauled most of my collection of locks and tools to work over the course of a couple of days.
I used the Creative Commons licensed lockpicking village slides from the TOOOL website for my talk after editing them a bit to condense them for time and spent a couple of evenings practicing both my slides and craft to gear myself up for the class.
What follows are some pictures and ruminations I have on the topic of locksport that come from years of playing around with locks (after spending about as long trying and failing to get any locks open) and doing formal and informal sessions on the topic. Please bear in mind, I'm far from a master of this particular art. I've competed only once (and pulled a Charlie Brown by picking the lock backwards, thus jamming it at the worst possible time) and, while I recognize that there are some very talented people out there who are into locksport for the sheer artistry of it, I'm not one of them. I'm a pragmatic lockpicker: I'm on assignment, I need into something, I'm going to pick the lock and get in. I'm not a spring steel artist.
Okay. Enough chitchat, here's what I actually wanted to write.
I guess I should wish everybody out there a happy Thanksgiving that celebrates it.
I haven't been around much lately, certainly not as much as I would like to be. Things have been difficult lately, to say the least.
Around this time of year things go completely berserk at my dayjob. For a while I was pulling 14 hour days, capped off with feverishly working three days straight on one of the biggest projects of my career, which not only wound up going off without more than the expected number of hitches but has garnered quite a few kudos from the community. I'm rather proud of how it turned out. Unfortunately, it also took its toll, namely, on my health. During the final leg of the project I noticed that I was starting to get sick, and by that Tuesday my cow-orkers were telling me to go home and sleep because I looked like death warmed over. Unsurprisingly, I've been battling a nasty cold that's kicked the legs out from under me. I still haven't kicked out of big-project mode yet, because the last few times I've started to feel better I've run myself aground again without realizing I was doing so. This is not good. It also seems that I brought this particular nasty home, and now my family is in various stages of fighting it off.