Letters to the Power Plant #3 – Learning new things at Dell
After I left the power plant and went to work for Dell on August 20, 2001, I wrote letters back to my friends at the plant letting them know how things were going. This is the third letter I wrote. Keep in mind that at the time, I didn’t intend on it being posted online when I originally penned this letter. So please ignore the bad grammar and the overuse of the word “Got”, “Get” or “Gotten”.
9/17/01 – Learning new things at Dell
I have been learning a lot of new things at Dell. I spend half of the day in “bootcamp”, ( a place where we learn a different computer language each day), and I spend the other half of the day working in my cubicle. They are teaching me a lot and I am grateful.
I found out today that I have been teaching them a lot too, without realizing it. When I first moved in my cubicle, I didn’t have a chair, so I did the most obvious thing. I went out to my car and got my tool bucket. I placed it in my cubicle and sat on it while I worked. It wasn’t until today when I received a chair that I found out that people around here don’t sit on tool buckets while they work. — They told me that I would have gotten a chair a couple of weeks ago, but that they were so intrigued by my use of a five gallon bucket that they thought they would hold off giving me a chair so they could study the benefits of working while sitting on a bucket.
Many of my cubicle mates have shown an interest in my style of writing code (that means, programming). They haven’t seen anyone splice code fragments together using wire nuts and a pair of strippers before. One guy down the way asked me what brand of dikes I liked best because he was going to go out and buy some after he saw me trimming some clip art with mine. Of course I told him that there was only ONE brand of dikes — Kleins.
I have also taught my fellow computer nerds the benefits of butt splices when copying and pasting computer code. With a good pair of crimpers and some electric tape, copying and pasting takes on a whole new dimension.
At first they thought I was just joking when I whipped out my electric tape and started wrapping up my code into a three-tier business model. Their first response was, “What kind of Duct tape is that?” (actually, I think they said, “Duck Tape”). I showed them how a properly wrapped piece of code wouldn’t short out the program causing it to crash.
They have shown me a few things too. I had to go get a can of skoal and keep it on my shelf. Whenever the monitor overheats, I whip it out, squish it around in my mouth for a few seconds and spit in the back of the monitor, and voila!!! (voila is french for, “There it is”).
They have also taught me that keeping a cowboy hat in your cubicle is a useful tool. Whenever someone yells, “Hey You!”, the first thing you do is toss your hat up over the cubicle, just in case someone is shooting a rubber band across the room. It is an old cowboy trick.
I call it a room, but where I work is really about the size of 4 basketball courts. Cubicles as far as you can see. Being tall is a great advantage (which I’m not). It changes your perspective from being in a maze to being in a wide open prairie. I think I saw Dilbert (or is it Dellbert?) working down on the far end the other day.
It is good to hear from you guys, I’ll talk to you soon,
Letters to the Power Plant #2 – Everything is Fast in Texas
After I left the power plant and went to work for Dell on August 20, 2001, I wrote letters back to my friends at the plant letting them know how things were going. This is the third letter I wrote. Keep in mind that at the time, I didn’t intend on it being posted online when I originally penned this letter.
9/7/2001 – Everything is fast in Texas – Dell Update
Hello everyone at Sooner Plant,
I miss you guys, when I find time to stop for a moment to get a drink of water, (from my sponge that I use to wipe the sweat from my brow). I am finally receiving my computers and stuff for my cubicle. I have been using a borrowed laptop from my manager up to now. I have two computers with two keyboards and monitors. I use both of them at the same time. — They are made by Dell by the way. — Since Compaq went out of business – 🙂 . With two computers I am able to program in two computer languages at the same time. On one computer I may be programming using C++ while on the other computer I am using JAVA, or composing an ASP page for the intranet. This is great!!! The next thing they are working on for us programmers is to put on headsets that connect directly to our brains so we can write programs in our sleep. I can’t wait!!! All these years I have been dreaming about all sorts of programs, and now they will finally be captured and made into something useful. — Things like: Birthday Phantom 2.0 !!!!
Note to Reader: To learn more about the Birthday Phantom, see this post: Power Plant Birthday Phantom.
It is interesting to work in a place where security is such a big issue. You wouldn’t believe how many companies would like to know what Dell is doing. All sorts of security measures are taken to ensure that spies aren’t infiltrating our environment. Not only do they check all of our e-mail (like this letter), but they also filter out everything that is flushed down the toilet or spoken in a restaurant. There are actually spies from other companies that sit in restaurants and listen to Dell employees out to lunch. How do we know? Just say, “Do you know what my manager told me today?” And you will see people in nearby tables stop talking and lean in your direction.
The reason is similar to Sooner Plant’s position of being the best plant in the country. Dell is able to sell computers cheaper than any other computer company in the world, and only they know why. The secret to their whole success is ******SECURITY VIOLATION******** THIS PORTION OF THE E-MAIL HAS BEEN DELETED BY DELLSECURE—-IT CONTAINED PROPRIETARY INFORMATION. ******SECURITY VIOLATION******** Isn’t that neat? Who would have thought that the solution would have been so simple.
Well, I have to go, two big bouncer types just showed up at my cubicle tapping their feet with their arms crossed across their chest, and for some reason they don’t look too happy. — Did I say something wrong?????
Write to you later,
Letters to the Power Plant #1 — Working at Dell
After I left the power plant and went to work for Dell on August 20, 2001, I wrote letters back to my friends at the plant letting them know how things were going. This is the first letter I wrote. Keep in mind that at the time, I didn’t intend on it being posted online when I originally penned this letter.
8/30/2001 – Working at Dell
Sooner Plant employees,
I thought I would drop you a line and let you know how things are going in Round Rock Texas.
First, and most importantly. I have learned how to drive like a Texan. I regularly and randomly swerve into other lanes. I pass only when there is a yellow line. I fly through yellow lights, (one note — I never noticed before, but at 98 miles an hour, when a yellow light turns red, it actually looks orange for a millisecond as it flies over your head). I fall asleep while waiting at red lights, and only wake up just in time to watch the green turn to yellow. To keep myself from getting bored, I play with the turn signals by turning them left and right and watching the little green arrows on the dashboard turn on and off. I can tell everyone else on the road is getting into what I am doing, because they keep cheering me on by honking their horns. It is really a friendly atmosphere on the road down here. People wave a lot. There is a lot of team spirit. They keep indicating that “We’re number one” with their hand gestures! — They have all made me feel real welcome.
Second. In Austin, I finally figured out why there are so few trees. It usually goes for a month or two without any rain, and then all at once it floods the whole countryside. It is only then that you realize that everyone ELSE has built an Ark in their backyard. — As you see them lifting up over the roofs of their houses. On Monday we had 5 1/2 inches of rain in about an hour. Today I think we’ve had another 4 inches.
Which reminds me. They also have all the mailboxes down at the corner where you use a key to get your mail. I thought it was for security, but it is really so they can secure the mailbox to keep them from floating down the river. I wondered why the neighbors had strings tied to the mailbox post, but it all made sense to me when the jugs on the end of the strings were floating in the temporary river, and the neighbors went floating by in their arks checking their jug lines for fish. These guys take advantage of every opportunity to get the best out of every occasion.
There are many other ways I have adapted to Texas life, but I will save that for another day. Let me know how things are going up there. I’ll write to you later.