Carrying Nikhil

Things were not so good at LocationLogic and since being acquired by TCS I was looking to move on to a new project. But there hadn't been much news from anybody. I was spending my time learning about web frameworks (like Seam and Web Beans) and other technologies. I worked on a business process management (BPM) project for fun. I wasn't contributing anything to the very critical Chaperone 3.0 release.

Why was that?

History: My current boss Nick, in part, fired my old boss, Boon Hwang. Boon's a long time friend since I started working full-time in software in 2000. The firing was probably good for all concerned, given the way Nick wanted the engineering group run. It was not his sole decision, at least as far as I heard from President Martin Hale. I wasn't bothered by Boon's firing as much as him losing a few months' worth of severance that Autodesk had offered, had he not continued on to LocationLogic.

About a month later, I visited Calgary. Given the timing, I got the impression I wasn't needed yet. Most of the development focus was on the web site for Chaperone, not the mobile component I was working on. Thus, it was mostly a waste of time. I spent about 1-2 hours with Nick over three days, discussing the things I needed from him. Since I was relying on some of the same components for the mobile site, I told him he needed to check in his code. He promised to do so. I offered to help and I completed a standard build for his components.

As part of "due diligence," I took a look at the code base dubbed "Fission". This was Nick's replacement for the much maligned MRM Framework. Unfortunately, he pretty much copied the same basic design flaws from MRM Framework. I made a note of this on the Wiki. I got a bit carried away with the criticism because it was sold pretty hard. What he came up was clearly inferior to a framework like Seam or Spring.

I understood Nick was a busy guy but I got the impression he was distance me from the project. After a few weeks back from Calgary, it appeared the team had just a mock web site with no back-end functionality. Nick also had not yet checked in his code, and nobody on his team checked in any code either. So, really I didn't see any process being followed in terms of design discussion, code review, or build and QA process.

Process really is about avoiding mistakes and making sure you're heading in the right direction. Having done the "start-up" thing a few times, I advise: The harder you're working, the more deliberate and conscientious of your work you have to be. This is pointy-haired-boss obvious, but pressure always causes one to faulter.

After acquisition, I told Joe Hannan in person I was concerned about this. A few days later, I write I didn't want to work with Nick anymore.

Still, a few weeks later I still haven't seen any code check-ins. Does the code still get backed up on Nick's USB drive?

This week in work, I thought Nick might be coming in and things would come to a head. But it was Curt and other operation folk from Kansas City came instead. I then ask in person to be reassigned to a different manager, and my wish is granted.

Joe Hannan tells me he's fine with this. And he insinuates I can't work with Nick since Nick fired Boon and I'm angry at him. But if I held any grudge against Nick it would be for avoiding and ignoring me and refusing to work with me. Maybe Nick thinks I'm angry since I criticised his "Fission" framework. (Oddly, he deleted my Wiki page, but soon enough recreated it pretty much verbatim.) Joe's not really interested in the story he says, but I get the feeling he has entirely the wrong impression.

So be it.

I am reminded of the following story from Zen Flesh, Zen Bones:

Tanzan and Ekio were once traveling together down a muddy road. A heavy rain was still falling.

Coming around a bend, they met a lovely girl in a silk kimono and sash, unable to cross the intersection.

"Come on, girl," said Tanzan at once. Lifting her in his arms, he carried her over the mud.

Ekido did not speak again until that night when they reached a lodging temple. Then he no longer could restrain himself.

"We monks don't go near females," he told Tanzan, "especially not young and lovely ones. It is dangerous. Why did you do that?"

"I left the girl there," said Tanzan. "Are you still carrying her?"

I have felt wronged. But do I need to confront Nick? No. What I should do is just stop carrying Nick with me.

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About eliasross

Blogging before the word "blog" was invented.
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