november
thanksgiving again

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dull boy
good thing deb's on vacation

971107






     i got my job at visto via word of mouth. now that i've been working two weeks, i know how the want ad would have read.

HTML Developer / Technical Writer
the perfect job

     Come join the Visto Team. We're a leading edge Web development company. Our flagship product, the Visto Briefcase, is a monthly service which lets you get your files and email from any computer with an Internet browser. Have you ever seen how AOL customers can check email from any AOL computer? We're delivering that kind of convenience for ALL of your computer information, from ANY Internet Browser. Really.
     You'll be joining our small team of geniuses and industry veterans. Out of 31+ employees we have fifteen software engineers, from places you may have heard of: Apple, JavaSoft, Sun, Oracle, RSA. We have four Marketing personnel, and a full-time MIS guy. There is no second-class status for non-engineers, no office politics. We're here to make the Visto vision into reality, not to play ego games.
     We're in building H out of T in a cool Mountain View technology park. Visto Corporation shares second floor office space with Kairos (No, We don't know what they do either). SETI is down the hall. We have card-key security, plants and rustic woodwork, skylights, 40-foot A-frame ceilings, cubes with proper ergonomics, (uh, you get a half-sized one--that's OK, right?).
     You'll get a 401K plan, plus medical (with dental/vision starting in January). Your first day we'll give out expensive shirts with an embroidered Visto logo, in honor of our product announcement. Your 15 days annual vacation/PTO/sickleave accrues forever: none of this use-it-or-lose-it end of year crap.
    We want everyone to be comfortable. That way you'll never go home. The refrigerator in the break room is always stocked with free food and soda: peanut butter & bread, carrots, bananas, pears, onions (?), fat-free pretzels, Calistoga mineral waters, Pepsi products, and orange juice. Let us know what you like and we'll make sure you get fat. Did we mention we're about thirty seconds from the Castro Street restaurants?
     Within three days you'll be working on a Pentium 233/NT workstation with 64 megs of RAM (if you think that's all you need?) and multimedia speakers. However, if you happen to bring in your laptop, we'll buy you an ethernet PCMCIA card before noon the first day. Just to get you started. Hint, hint. If you want to bring in one of your Macintoshes, you'll be able to test your web pages on that, too.
     We'll hook you up with desktop Web access. You get an IP address with a T1 connection for both your desktop and your personal laptop. You'll get 98.8K/sec uncensored throughput reported by Netscape. Never forget our business is Internet Technology.
     Enough about the Visto environment. You'll report to the VP of Development. Let's say you'll get most of your duties assigned by the User Interface Designer, but we all know marketing drives the Web in properly run companies.
     Our contract technical writer gave us a great start, but we're growing to where we need to have a writer on-site for those instant fixes. Don't worry too hard that your Doc trainer is on vacation your second week. The Sr. MarComm Manager and Marketing Reasearcher will keep you plenty busy with a total renovation of the Website right away. How soon can you start?
     We trust you. Don't disappoint us. You must be productive while unsupervised for long hours at a time. However, when you need direction, we'll give you hints without reproach. Heck, we even want you to write up everything you do and learn, so we can teach the next folks easier. Are you taking notes yet?
     Expect to put in solid effort. Visto is a fast-paced environment, where people love their work, so we get things done before you expect. Visto needs you to spend about 60% of your time making and maintaining the Web pages on our two websites. The other 40% of your time you'll be creating Help Files in HTML and Robohelp. We're serious about that--we want 100% of your entire waking hours. You won't have a life. We're a silicon valley startup, remember. You need to keep up, jack. "Starker--this is KAOS. We do not slack off here."
     OK. The ping pong table in the Niagra Room sees daily use. You'll understand that name when the rainy season starts.
     Show up when you want. We trust you to get the work done. Since your boss arrives at the office around 10-10:30 AM, you can sleep in and still get to work before him. You may prefer to leave Santa Clara after the rush hour ends to get a minimal 22-26 minute commute. However, if you show up after 9:30 AM, you could have trouble finding parking place close to our building. Um, don't forget that your boss works 10-7. You'll find yourself staying until past 6 PM regardless when you arrive.
     It's great that you know HTML. We'll even adopt your favorite page editor. We know you never programmed in Java before, but that's ok. You'll learn. Besides, you have solid credentials as a technical writer and we need one of those too, just not full-time yet. You'll have to learn Visual Souce Safe, because Visto does things right, therefore we control HTML web page publication as stringently as we control our source code builds.
     And while we must admit to status meetings, they take only 15-20 minutes, perhaps twice a week--really! We hate long boring meetings, too. If you're invited to a meeting, you should show up or you'll wish you had. Your first one-hour brainstorm session with Marketing will last three hours, humble you with the amount of talent in the room, and generate 21 action items. Your name will be on merely 14 of these tasks, and most will be due within three business days.
     Your first assignment will be to redesign the corporate website, from top to bottom, redoing the layout from 640x480 to 800x600 screen size. Your boss, the User Interface designer, will do phenomenal graphic design just by glancing at his Mac. This is especially beneficial when your Windows95/NT GIF tool loses background transparency in animations.
    Expect three revision cycles after everyone has signed off, because there are always those spelling error on the home page your VP will find at the last minute and the layout experiments that no one really thinks worked out as well as we agreed. By the end of your second week you'll have your fourth web site credential go live on the Internet.
    Come on, join the Visto team. You'll be describing this as your "perfect job" after a fortnight, if you live that long.

     sign me up. wait. i already have.









Do you call it a "Mister-Two"?
guest editorial, by zimri luce smith, jr.

971101






     There are few feelings more satisfying than zooming around in a new car, whether it's fresh from the factory or a previous owner. It's really hard to avoid wearing that shit-eating, look at me look at me look at me in my bitchin new ride grin, especially when the small of your back is still getting used to the new acceleration curve and you're glorying to the sound and feel of the engine.
     I miss my car terribly. I sold my '86 BMW 325eS before moving [to England]. It served me remarkably well for 11 years and 144,000 miles.
     About a week ago I went to the London Automobile Show, held in the cavernous Earls Court exposition center. There were some gorgeous, zippy little items there, including some rag-tops from a British sportscar manufacturer called TVR, and the new Porsche Boxster.
     My favorites, though, were the Aston-Martins. Oh, man, oh, man, oh, MAN! Slip into a dinner jacket, fix yourself a big martini, and rocket down the autostrada in pursuit of some international villains.
     Have a look at the DB7. I'm sorry to say they start at about 89,500. Pounds. That's $145,890 to you and me, brother.
     You may recall that at one point I had an Austin-Healey. It was a 1967, Austin-Healey 3000, Mk III BJ8, to be exact. White top, red body, white below the detail line. Bought it for $5,000 and sacrificed it to the tuition gods a few years later for $7,000.
     Now I'm getting all nostalgic. The Healey had an unbelievably great throaty growl to its engine, as many of the British sportscars of the 50s and 60s do. When they're running. Mine had a propensity to spit an alarming quantity of oil all over the place, most enthusiastically when it had just finished throwing a piston down through the engine block. The oil was rapidly followed by all manner of engine parts, leaving an impressive display of precision British engineering all over the road behind me as the car bucked and heaved to a stop. Two months and about $800 later, the car had another engine, and I was able to roar around on the roads of Massachusetts once again, winning admiring stares and cheating death.
    Cheers,
    zsmith@bloomberg.com









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