Monday, January 29, 2007

A Year in Portland (Part 1)

I’ve now been in the Portland area for more than a year, so it’s a good time to look back and reflect on my (still) new surroundings.

The Job

I’ve been at Intel for a year now. It’s a very different kind of place. Of course, it’s huge. Intel has almost 1000 times the number of people at my last job! Even at the campus I work at (Jones Farm), there are probably 4,000 people. Intel employs something like 16,000 people here in Washington County at a number of different campuses.

So of course it’s very corporate. Intel has a definite corporate culture that they spend a lot of time training you on. Classes like “Effective meetings” and “Constructive Confrontation”. Actually for the most part they are pretty helpful. Everyone has a badge that you have to wear all the time, and that gets you into the building. Most people at Intel work in cubes – it’s one huge cube farm. I’m one of the lucky ones in that I work in a hard-walled lab (badge gets me in there, too), so I have a bit more space and privacy. For the first 4 or 5 months, though, I was in a cube until they finished remodeling our lab. I miss having windows, though, and the great view I had at my old job.

Despite the fact that it’s a big place, it’s really a very relaxed environment. As a salaried employee, I don’t have anyone tracking me nor do I fill out a timecard. The question is mostly, am I getting my work done and can people reach me if they need to? I really appreciate having a flexible schedule, it makes life a lot simpler.

We have a gym at work, with showers and everything. It’s great, because when I skate in the morning I can just come straight to work and take a shower there. There’s a Pilates class 3x/week that I try to attend – it’s free, even! – and it’s a lot of fun and good for my core strength. Besides the gym we have a very nice cafeteria, microwaves, refrigerators… there’s no real reason to have to leave the building once you get here.

I feel like I work a lot harder at this job than I had to at my last one, and there’s a lot of stress. The stress I feel here, though, is mostly “oh my God I have so much to do!” which is probably better than the stress I had at my old job (“oh my God there’s no way we can do all that, and the customer is really mad, and my boss is a jerk!”). I did get a nice bump in pay to come here, though, so it feels worth it. My boss and my co-workers are great, and that helps a lot too. Besides our base pay we get bonuses in January and July (or August).

One of the other advantages of working for a big company is discounts! We get discounts for all kinds of stuff – for example, my Sprint plan is discounted, discounts at my car dealer, at fast food restaurants – it’s great. We also get an employee discount of about 50% on processors, so I’ve taken advantage of that already.

Intel is a very matrixed organization, and everyone works very independently, so I work on a project team (I was assigned to two teams at once for most of last year). The rest of my team is at our facility in Dupont, WA (between Olympia and Tacoma), so I have to travel there periodically (3 times this month, but that’s more than usual) for meetings or other activities. Fortunately Intel has an air shuttle to/from there, so I can get there in about 1.5 hours (it’s about a 2.5 hour drive if I have to drive), which makes for a long day but I can do it pretty readily.

So what do I do? My group puts together Software Development Platforms (SDPs) – basically, desktop/mobile/server systems that offer pre-released hardware (processors, chipsets, etc.) that we make available for people inside Intel as well as some of our partners. My job as an Interoperability Engineer is to test the SDPs from a user perspective – can they use it to develop and test their software? Are there problems? If so, can they be worked around (and how)? Since we are usually the first group putting all these pieces together there’s always something. It’s a lot of fun, though, I’m always getting new hardware to play with and I really love that. Of course there’s paperwork to do L but that’s the way it goes.

On the other hand, Intel is definitely a manufacturing company. Having been strictly a software person for so long, it’s been a definite adjustment. There’s just a very different outlook and approach to things.

I do kind of miss managing people – that was my favorite part of my old job. However, from watching my boss, I don’t think I’d want to be a manager at Intel – it looks like it would not be that much fun. I’m glad to just be an “Individual Contributor.”

(Part 1 of several. Crossposted to MySpace too)

Thursday, January 25, 2007

And a Belated Happy Birthday to blogger buddy Brenda Elfgirl! HBBD Bren, hope it was good!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Snow Day

The Portland area was hit hard by a snowstorm this morning; I estimate about 4 inches fell here at my place. So ... working from home today. Marie and I took a walk about lunchtime and took some pictures:

This is the parking lot at our condo. Here's a semi that slid across Walker Road near our house:

And.. here's one of Marie and I:

Monday, January 08, 2007

So... sorry for the lack of substantive posting. December was a blur -- work was absolutely crazy, Marie got her bottom wisdom teeth (then had a dry socket and was in agony for quite some time), trip to Arizona and Vegas was good. Marie and I sang for 8 p.m. Mass, then I got to sing with the Schola for 10 p.m. "midnight" Mass at SSPP. It was really joyous to be home and with the SSPP-ers. Had a great visit with the family, got to see some of my skating buddies, caught up with some others. Unfortunately I did not get to see many I would have liked... ah well.

Yesterday evening the St. Cecilia choir did an Epiphany concert, performing Michael W. Smith's "Agnus Dei" as well as some other pieces. It was a pretty nice concert and surprisingly well attended. This is the first time we've done an Epiphany concert, apparently, but hopefully it will become a tradition. It's great to close the Christmas season in this way.
This is encouraging -- scientists have found promising stem cells in amniotic fluid. Hopefully this can derail the embryonic stem cell death march.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Happy Belated Birthday to Jane! She's just a lass of 22, and already she can't stand most liturgical music :-). Hope it was good!