Thursday, November 10, 2005

How's That for Timing?

It's interesting that I took my resume down last weekend. Not as much because I've still gotten a couple of contacts through the boards I hide it from, but because when I got into the office on Monday I found out that my company's been sold! How do you like them apples?

Top level management's been saying for a while that such a thing could happen, but I'm a little surprised that it happened so quickly. The deal's for about a billion dollars, so it's not really all that much, I suppose. Amusingly, there was actually an email from John in my box asking whether it was us before I even knew about it. I did, in fact, learn from a co-worker before I read it, but as soon as she said something, I realized what the subject of his email meant: is this you guys?

Yes, it is... second time in just under 3 years. Last time there was probably more uncertainty, at least in my mind. Also more worry. I'm really not worried at all. Our business is profitable, and the company that's bought us seems to have some decent track record of managing companies, so there's no reason to think they'd make major changes, at least up to my boss' or his boss' level. Since we'll be private now, we drop a significant amount of expense related to SOX compliance, so our profitability actually goes up. Further, we have work coming out our ears.

Besides, if they drop our business, all the customers get copies of the source code and the non-compete, which may or may not be enforceable against me, becomes irrelevant. I could make a lot more money contracting for M or J, or both, than I do now.

At any rate, it appears that the top level management (CEO, Chairman, and board) will probably all be out. A number of people have said that is a good thing. Much of the legal, accounting, and other general & administrative staff in Atlanta will apparently be serving those same functions in the new company. There are a number of ways in which I am not sure that's a good thing, but I suppose at least I can expect the benefits package not to get any worse. It's not bad now, but it would really be nice if the vision coverage were better and the employee contributions weren't so high.

One thing I heard that's really nice is that they're forward vesting options. I'm a little surprised by this, because I wouldn't expect upper management (those who negotiated the deal) to a) have un-vested options or b) care about any peons who do. Never the less, it is nice that they did that, for the few people it will actually benefit. They're also looking into whether they can execute the ESPP buy early for those of us, including me, who are in that program. That is definitely nice for me. That looks as if it's worth a couple of thousand dollars to me, before taxes, if they can (and do). The VP of personnel told me they're looking into whether the plan allows it. I'll be keeping my fingers crossed.

In the meantime, busy busy. I've been pushing off M because we don't have much budget left on the existing service orders. Also because it's triffling stuff that I think customer support should be handling; truthfully, Tom is trying valiantly, but it's complicated crap. For instance, he seems to have discovered that an email that's not going to one person, or maybe is going to him when it shouldn't (that's how much attention I've been paying), isn't (or maybe is) because of he has the Out of Office tag set to no (rather than just not set). Out of Office is completely irrelevant to M and the guy had no business touching it! But that's a pretty typical defect in our software - just plain stupid.

Not to change lanes too abruptly, but tomorrow is our 5th anniversary. Well, technically, it's now today, since it's after midnight on the 11th. Happy Veteran's Day, if you're in the US. Or Armistice Day if you're not. Rachel is going away with my parents to Monterey, where they'll stay in a hotel near the Aquarium. I tried to suggest that they stay in a place with suites, but they preferred to be walking distance to the Aquarium. I'm sure they'll have a wonderful time.

We, meanwhile, will be having dinner back at the Lark Creek, and then going to Inverness for the weekend. It's going to be wonderful, and the weather's supposed to be gorgeous. Among many other things, I'm really looking forward to getting some time to play with our new cameras.

The Pentax Optio 555, which is a fairly nice camera (reasonably small, 5x optical zoom, and 5 megapixels), just really wasn't working for either of us. For Dawn, it's too big, too slow, and too fragile (the lens cover doesn't work very well, and actually doesn't open all the way, so blocks a small portion of one corner of the picture), with too small an LCD screen that's too scratched up by a piece of plastic on the neck strap. For me, it's too small, too bad at macro photography, and too unlike an SLR, with too little zoom. We gave it to Dawn's dad, who's been wanting a digital camera for a while. It'll certainly serve him well, because he won't mind being very careful of the lens cover (as Dawn does), won't care about how slow it is to start up, and will undoubtedly love the 5x zoom.

In it's place, I've gotten two cameras. First was the Casio Exilim 7.2 megapixel, which is primarily for Dawn. This camera is slightly narrower and shorter than the Optio, but it is about half as thick, and in addition to being much smaller and lighter, it has an enormous LCD screen. It is extremely fast to start up, being ready to take a picture, at least without the flash, in less than a second. It only has a 3x zoom, but the 7.2 mp can cover that a little bit, and 3x is more than enough for snapshots, which is what we do the most with it anyway. I suppose I'll probably still want to take it to Yosemite with me, if we go next year, but we'll see.

Second, I now have, and am very excited to start using for real, the Canon EOS 20D with 17-85 and 70-300 zoom lenses, both of which are image stabilized. The IS clearly doesn't apply as much with the smaller lens, but I like the range on it much better than the 18-55 that comes with the Rebel XT. I was very amused to hear the IS happening while playing with the 300 a little while ago. The Image Stabilizer actually moves the optics within the lens to account for a certain amount of camera shake. I only have a 1G compact flash card for it at this point, but I certainly won't need more this weekend. I need to see about returning the 28-135 IS lens I bought from, but they do seem to have a return policy; that's a whole other story that I may or may not ever tell. Perhaps I'll get the 10-22 wide zoom in it's place. Then I'll be pretty much set from 16mm to 480 (because of the 1.6 multiplier caused by the small size of the CMOS).

When they came home today, after a trip to the library, I asked Rachel to take her library books up to her room. After she said she didn't want to and asked me to, before I could say that they were her library books and she should take care of them, she said "you know where my room is, Daddy." I couldn't help laughing. I told her she had to give me a hug, so she did.

Saw a very funny, if a bit sad, t-shirt this evening. Showed three or four Native American Indians, dressed in appropriate garb for the late 1400s. Headline said "Homeland Security", caption: "Fighting Terrorism Since 1492".

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