Wednesday Aug 06, 2008

Open Work, Keeping Fit, and Lawn Care

I've been participating in Sun's Open Work program now for about 4 years.  I used to live in Colorado and worked at Sun's Broomfield campus, but I wanted to be closer to my extended family as I started my own family.  And, Sun's work-from-home program allowed me to do just that.

Two kids later, I am still enjoying the benefits of working from home and it has really worked well for me.  There are a number of advantages about working from home, but one downside is the tendency to keep working through the day without ever leaving the house...or your chair.  This is bad for both your mental and physical health.

Another problem I have is that my lawn is getting out of control.  The weeds outnumber the blades of grass and it's starting to become kind of embarrassing. 

So, to combat these multiple problems, I'm going to start a new lawn care fitness routine.  Every day, I'm going to try to take 30 minutes out of my day to go outside and do yard work.  I'll get some exercise, get some fresh air, clear my head, and start making my yard look better. 

I'll let give an update in the next few weeks to see how things are going.


Thursday Apr 17, 2008

15 Years at Sun

Well, this Monday, April 14, 2008, was my 15th year anniversary at Sun.  For starters, I can't believe I've been working that long. And, I can't believe I've been fortunate enough to work for a technology company for that long...especially a great company like Sun.

Throughout my 15 years, I've seen a lot of changes happen at Sun.  I've been at Sun during the good times and the not so good times. I started my career working on the Solaris 2.4 installation documentation, I was fortunate enough to write a retail book for Sun, I was one of the initial architects of the Sun System Handbook (which is still my proudest accomplishment at Sun), and now I am helping to drive the OpenSolaris storage community

I started working for Sun in Colorado Springs, moved to Broomfield, CO when Sun built a new campus in 1997, and now I currently work from Woodbury, Minnesota, due to Sun's flexible work-from-home program.  The ability to work from home in Minnesota gives me the opportunity to be closer to my extended family and to spend more time with my two little girls. 

While at Sun, I've worked with a lot of great people and have forged life-long friendships.  Sun has been a big part of my life and I hope I can continue to make Sun a success for many more years.

Here are a few pictures of the Sun campus ground-breaking ceremony in Broomfield, Colorado, in 1997.  I couldn't find a current picture of the campus...if someone has one, please leave a comment. 

Many of these people are still at Sun today!

Here I am more than 10 years ago...I haven't aged a bit!  ;)

Not a bad view!

Wednesday Apr 25, 2007

Temple of the Sun is Cool

I'm a big fan of games of any type and my day job consists of helping get information out to users. So, what could be better than a web-based game that helps users learn in a fun way?  That's exactly what the new Temple of the Sun game does.

This game does a great job of promoting the use of the Solaris Express Developer Edition and specifically the Sun Studio software developer tools. It uses an Indiana Jones theme (o.k., it is Indiana Jones) and it's a old-school, 2-D game that puts your C/C++ coding skills to the test.

If you are computer nerd, then this is for you. And, you'll end up playing for at least 5-10 minutes.

I hope to see more of this type of multimedia from Sun, and it would be even better if I could work on one of these projects.  It would be fun to be part of the test team.  :) 

Friday Feb 23, 2007

Getting the Word Out

If you've had a chance to hear Jonathan Schwartz talk lately or if you've read his blog, his main message is that Sun is doing a lot of great things, but people and companies still don't know about it. Whether it's our new line of x86 machines or free Solaris, many people still think Sun is a company that sells only SPARC-based hardware with an expensive, "proprietary," UNIX-based Solaris operating system. 

Well, I don't work in Sun's marketing department, but I think all of us at Sun can help. So, for the past few weeks, I've been sending my brother-in-law emails about Sun products and how they can help him at his company. My brother-in-law is a system administrator at a company that makes plastic parts for car manufacturers. He mostly administers Windows machines, but he does have a few Linux boxes that run specific applications.

As I said, I've sent him pointers to try out Solaris for free, to check out OpenOffice to negate the cost of Microsoft Office, and to look at the new x86 hardware Sun has to offer (which will run Windows!). So far, I don't think he's switched anything over to Sun yet, but he does ask me questions when we get together and I do have him thinking about it. And, more importantly, he now knows more about what Sun has to offer.
 
If we can all find one person in our life to "educate" about Sun's great products and services, it will make a difference...for both Sun and our new customer!

Tuesday Jan 02, 2007

Hacking into an Alien Database...No Problem!

I'm a big movie fan and I've always been amused at how user interfaces and computer technologies are used in movies. Jackob Nielsen has done a great job distilling all of the UI "bloopers" in his article, Usability in the Movies--Top 10 Bloopers.

My favorite is #10, since I've worked at Sun for over 13 years. and, I have a real problem with #8.  I mean, I understand Jackob's point, but it's James Bond...he can do anything.  ;)
 

Wednesday Nov 01, 2006

Rage Against the Text Area

Sometimes in technology, you take a couple steps back in the pursuit of progress. A good example of this is many of the crude editors that are provided by wikis and blogs, if an editor is even provided at all. I found myself editing raw html content lately in a text area and that didn't give me a warm fuzzy.

Luckily, a new Firefox extension, called Xihna Here! enables WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) HTML editing in any Firefox text area. Once you install the extension, all you need to do is right-click on any text area, select Xihna Here! from the context menu, and the Xihna Here! editor displays in all its WYSIWYG glory. You instantly have a full-blown editor to get your work done fast and furious.

So, what are you waiting for?  Download Xihna Here! and don't be afraid of the text area void ever again.

Friday Oct 20, 2006

Teaching an Old Dog Old Tricks

o.k., so I don't consider myself old, but I'm kind of long in the tooth in the technical writing field. I've been tech writing now for about 15 years now...I shudder even as I write this.

Why am I telling you this? Well, my manager sent out a very interesting article called, "Corporate Blogging and the Technical Writer" (PDF), which talks about how blogging may change the future of technical writers. It's actually a pretty good article about blogging in general, so you don't need to care about technical writing to learn something.

I found one part very interesting:

"If technical writers blog, they will have to break free of the technical documentation mindset. Breaking out of the voiceless, impersonal prose that makes up the pure information of instructions requires a transition akin to letting your hair down, putting on jeans, and speaking up in meetings without hesitation."

This made me laugh. I remember back when I was fresh out of college and working at Cray Research. I had just graduated with a double major in Computer Science and English (there were no technical writing degrees at the time), so my writing was more on the creative side. My first project was a "change packet"...a set of page updates sent out to the field that replaced pages in a document housed in a binder. Ugh. Maybe I am old.

Anyway, I poured my heart and soul into this change packet and when I got it back from editing, my work was bathed in a sea of red ink. That first experience began the process of beating the "creative, personal prose" out of me and it continued from there.

So, I for one am looking forward to being able to "let my hair down" a little bit more in the future as I write in the new participation age. Technical writers still bring important value to information, such as organization, consistency, and customer focus. But, it would be nice to take some of the stuffiness out of what I typically do as a technical writer and get back to my "authentic voice."

Friday Oct 13, 2006

What's Wrong With Real Reality?

So, on Monday I found out that Sun had officially entered the world of Second Life. Second Life is a virtual world similar to ours where you can create your own avatar, meet people, own virtual land, and actually set up virtual shops. As far as I can tell, it's basically Sim City meets an MMOG.

Sun's chief researcher, John Gage, and Chief Gaming Officer, Chris Melissinos, held a virtual press conference in the Second Life universe this week to announce "Project Darkstar," which is designed to help developers of online games with server-side technology.

Maybe it's just me, but this whole Second Life thing kind of creeps me out. I have no problems with virtual reality, but I do have problems with a virtual reality that mimics our own reality. I mean, don't we have enough issues and personal "avatars" in our own real reality that we have to deal with? It's like Second Life is a complete reversal of The Matrix plot. Instead of people trying to get out of the Matrix, they are actually willingly going into it. Maybe I'm just a old fuddy-duddy (in technology years) for not embracing it.

But, that said, I do have to hand it to Sun for trying out Second Life as a new way to get the word out about all of our great products and initiatives.

And, BTW, check out the last part of this article. It's nice to know that Second Life isn't perfect. ;)

Monday Oct 09, 2006

Equal Participation?

We keep hearing about the Participation Age. In fact, Sun as a company is a big part of this new world.

But, is there really equal participation throughout the internet? Jakob Nielsen tackles this issue in his latest article, "Participation Inequality - Encouraging More Users to Contribute."

This is a very interesting article and really highlights how the current internet participation is dominated by the few. This article reminded me how the loudest person in a room full of people can dominate the conversation. And, I also think there is a difference between participating with the entire world and participating within a group of people you know. I believe the latter is much easier for people to do. I know it is for me.

Anyway, I'm sure I'll be referring back to this article as I work on projects within Sun to promote participation and collaboration. I hope you find it interesting as well.

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pkasper

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