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ATPM 4.05
May 1998


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On a Clear Day, You Can See the Hollywood Sign

by Mike Shields,

This place has become a real litterbox (with apologies to David Gerrold).

I read a column about fifteen or twenty years ago by the above-mentioned author which I'm going to bastardize to make my point this month. To wit, what it comes down to is this: You're either in a sandbox or a litterbox. Find out which one you're in and act accordingly.

Remember when you were in kindergarten? Ok, for the two or three of you that don't, I'll explain. Sandbox wasn't an activity, it was a way of life. You built your castles, and your friends helped. They offered to build bridges from their castles to yours, and everyone got along in one big happy kingdom--until the bell rang or the big kids came over and bulldozed your kingdom to put up their own condo project.

And of course, cat owners know what a litterbox is. Those of you that have observed your cat in the aforementioned box know that your cat gets in, does its business, and gets out.

Ok, what does this have to do with the price of Macs in Japan? Nothing. Why do I bring it up? I'm way past deadline. Well, that's not the only reason.

A little history, for those that may have joined us recently. I'm contracted to a company, that contracts me to Computer Sciences Corporation, hereafter referred to as CSC, that in turn contracts me to Ray-O-Hac, the once and former Huge Aircrash, now Raytheon Systems Company. And for over two years, I've related my exploits with you, the home reader, each and every month. In fact, I'm thinking of having a contest to see if you can name the different titles my column has had.

When I started out, I was doing something I loved and being paid fairly well for it. I was in a sandbox. Macs enjoyed a modest superiority at the site. Of course, almost as soon as I got there, things went downhill.

Now, I'm not suggesting a cause-and-effect relationship here, as I'm sure some of you are. Far from it. I call it a case of bad timing. You may recall my writing about the 7200s and the late, lamented OS 7.5.2.

That was the first domino to fall, with more to follow. Still, I'm in a sandbox. Everyone's cooperating with everyone else, life goes on.

Then, Apple went through some tough times. Very tough. Long-time readers will remember myself and others writing about not panicking.

Which is precisely what Huge did. Mac orders went down. Departments put out unofficial official edicts: no more Macs. As a Mac tech, I'm troubled, to quote a TV attorney from my current favorite show. I'm going to take a moment.

The sandbox has become a litterbox. Time to finish up and get out.
The project from hell is going quicker than anticipated. We even took a week and a half off, while they patched the server, as it kept going down. The original estimate was that we'd be done by June 30th, and now it looks like we'll be done a month early. And the project leader isn't so much insane; he's just driven. I say that not as a retraction, but because he might read this.

This month will be the first time I alert the MacHacers (pronounced Mac Hackers) that this rag even exists. And I'm going to tell them,

"You're in a litterbox. Time to finish up and get out."

Other signs: I attend an all-hands meeting with the site manager. Up there in black and white on his viewgraph in front of God and everybody are the following words: Macs will be drastically reduced.

It's a litterbox. Time to finish up and get out.

The CIO of Raytheon is reported to be anti-Mac. Don Crabb and others have even posted the unofficial official memo.

It's a litterbox. Time to finish up and get out.

I find out from a source close to the situation that the no-Macs directive comes not from Raytheon, but from the fine folks at CSC. It seems that they believe they can't meet their Service Level Agreements supporting two platforms.

It's a litterbox. Time to finish up and get out.

Now, even if I don't get fired for having written this, my current job isn't going to last too much longer, for the reasons stated above. So, again, I ask you, my loyal readers, for help.

I'm looking for a sandbox. A place where Macs are freely flowing, and I'm not ridiculed for supporting the superior platform. Preferably in the South Bay area. Of course, as always, I'll go out of the area for a job in the entertainment industry--supporting Macs of course. I hear Disney is hiring. I also hear 20th Century Fox is hiring. But they call me every six months, then give the job to someone else.

Now, to make what's left of my column relevant to the rest of you and not just myself, my advice to you is this: You're either working in a sandbox or a litterbox. If you're in a sandbox, you'll know. They aren't getting rid of their Macs, corporate short sightedness hasn't taken over, and you're probably being paid what you're worth. Stay as long as you can. Let your coworkers use your shovel and pail.

On the other hand, if you're in a litterbox, it's time to finish up your business and get out. Are they getting rid of their Macs? Are you being paid what you're worth? Are you being micro-managed? Are they forcing you to give up your Mac for an inferior PC-compatible? If you don't know or don't like the answers to any of these questions, it's a litterbox. Time to finish up and get out.

So, to review, Mike needs work. Quickly. Mike also needs to meet his deadlines. Last month, due to a random spell check error, I wrote that I had bilateral tendentious, not to be confused with bilateral tendonitis. Why didn't I meet this month's deadline? Well, I was finishing up a script I was writing for a contest deadline. For some reason, my brain couldn't write two things at the same time. [That script had better win, Mike. --Ed] Wish me luck.

72 and sunny in El Segundo.

e ya next month.

Disclaimer: Mike will accept praise, flames, and job leads at: <>.
Blue AppleHe wants to stay in the LA area and would prefer some sort of Mac job in the
entertainment industry.

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