Letters to the Power Plant #16 — A New Year 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 sixteenth letter I wrote. Keep in mind that at the time when I originally penned this letter I didn’t intend on it being posted online.
01/03/02 – A New Year at Dell
Dear E-Pals from Soonersville,
I hope everyone had a great holiday. I just came back to work yesterday from my vacation. I was able to take the whole week and a half, from Dec. 21st to January 2nd.
Today it is cold outside. I mean, it is really cold out. The weather man called it a “Hard Freeze”!!! I bundled myself up and stepped outside this morning ready to face the harsh weather of Austin USA. The first thing I noticed when I stepped outside was that my cat’s water wasn’t frozen. So I thought. “Hmmm, has someone been putting antifreeze in my cat’s bowl?”
Then as I made my way through the blinding blizzard to my car, I thought it was strange that there was only a thin layer of frost on the windows. I climbed into my car and turned it on to let it warm up, and began the tedious task of scraping away the patches of frost from my windshield.
Then my son Anthony came prancing out of the house, and told Kelly that he didn’t want me to drive him to school, he just wanted to walk. I asked Kelly if he was sure, I didn’t want them to get lost in the blizzard between our house and the school a block and a half away. She said, he was determined to rough it, and they took off down the sidewalk.
I went back in the house and turned on the news and there was a winter storm advisory. The temperature was 31 degrees, with no wind. The sky was clear and the sun was shining. I have to keep reminding myself, I’m not in Oklahoma anymore.
In Oklahoma when the weather man says there is a winter storm advisory, there really is. Down here, when the weather man says there is a winter storm advisory, then that means that you have to put on your jacket, or at least walk briskly to the car and rub your hands together a few times to keep them warm.
Now I am sitting in my cubicle with a long sleeve flannel shirt and a tee-shirt on underneath that. It must be about 80 degrees in this building. I have my jacket hanging behind me, just in case I get too cold.
My forehead is all sweaty from wearing too much clothes. I made the mistake of wearing my better pair of shoes that are laced up, so I can’t easily slip them off under my desk, so my socks are getting damp from the sweat. — I have made three trips to the ice machine to cool myself off.
The sun is shining in the window, adding radiant heat to everything around me. All I can think of is that there is a weather man taking a break in the newsroom chuckling with his buddies about how many people probably overdressed for the “Hard Freeze” today, and now they are all sweating out the day in their cubicles at Dell.
Anyway, I am looking forward for the new year at Dell. I think Dell is supposed to run all of the other computer companies out of business this year. It will be interesting to see. I’m supposed to write a program that tracks the demise of all the other companies, and then schedules a fun committee party each time one goes under.
I’m writing a program that scans the news articles on the Internet and looks for certain keywords associated with certain companies, and then using some statistics, it figures out the exact date the companies will go under. People are always trying to get the inside scoop from me, so they can win the office pool for guessing which day Hewlitt Packard, or Compaq, or Gateway disappear from the face of the earth. — We’ll see if that statement gets past the DELLSECURE e-mail screening program. — By the way, think about that the next time you decide to buy a computer, and you are wondering who has the best warranty. The warranty won’t be any good if the company is gone.
Your friend from Dell,
Kevin J. Breazile
Programmer Analyst II
Dell Computer Corporation
Letters to the Power Plant #15 — Roads around 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 fifteenth letter I wrote. Keep in mind that at the time when I originally penned this letter I didn’t intend on it being posted online.
12/05/01 – Roads around Dell
Hey Sooner Friends,
I’m sorry it has been a while since I have written. I was in town for the holidays and came around to visit. It was good to see you guys again. Sorry I missed seeing some of you. Mike Gibbs and Alex said they wanted me to add them to the e-mail list, but I don’t have their e-mail addresses easily accessible. If someone would tell them to e-mail me, I’ll put them in the address book.
There is an interesting phenomenon in Austin, and I didn’t understand it at first, and I’m not too sure that I fully appreciate it yet. I noticed that a lot of roads around here didn’t have names, they only had numbers ( some have names AND numbers). There are a lot of streets called something like this: CR 169. Then there are those that are called something like this: FM 1325. Then there are some called something like this: RM 620.
At first I thought that CR stood for County Road. I could understand that. It was a little strange I thought, that CR 169 went through both Williamson county and Travis county, but I thought, “What the heck”, if both counties want to name the road the same thing, then why should I care. I thought that FM 1325 might be a radio station where I could hear the traffic report about that particular road, but since my radio didn’t have 1325 on the FM dial, I thought maybe it should have been 1325 on the AM radio. There was a Mexican station there, and I couldn’t tell if they were talking about road conditions or not, but if they were they had written a song about it and had a band playing along. — So I thought, “Maybe not.” Then I thought RM 620 sounded like a hotel room, but that didn’t make sense either.
I was beginning to think that the CR 169 meant that there was a curve in the road and we should slow down to 169 miles an hour, and that RM 620 meant that they were doing Regular Maintenance and we should slow down to 620 miles an hour, and that FM 1325 meant “Fast Motorists”, and we could go 1, 325 miles an hour. But someone finally told me what these road signs meant.
It seems that CR stands for “Country Road”, and FM stands for “Farm Road” and RM stands for “Ranch Road”. — “OK”, I thought. I could see where CR might mean Country Road, except for the fact that many Country Roads ran clear through the middle of town and had Malls and Huge movie theaters on them.
Then I thought, Well, Texas HAS declared itself as it’s own country, and maybe that’s what it meant. That it was “Texas Country”. And I could see where FM might stand for “Farm Road”, after all, there is an “M” in the word “Farm”, so FM could mean “Farm Road”, even though every Farm Road I had driven down was more like a two or four lane highway, and I hadn’t seen a farm anywhere. — “Ranch Road” I’m having a little more trouble understanding.
First of all, why have an abbreviation “RM” for “Ranch Road”? There isn’t even an “M” in “Ranch Road”. When I brought this to my fellow Texan’s attention, I was asked, “What do you want them to call it? “RR”? Then everyone will think they are driving on a Railroad Track. You don’t want that do you? Then no one will stop at intersections. They will just honk their horns and go right on through, and then there will be a big mess.
I didn’t see that that was much different than what they were doing right now, but I could see their point. “Since Farm Roads were FM it was only natural to call Ranch Roads RM, don’t you see?” Continued my Texas Mentor.
I thought that it would be kind of nice to give roads names instead of numbers, and so I mentioned that to my coworker. “Oh, they have names, but people like the numbers better.” The traffic reporters like to say, “We have a tractor trailer jack-knifed on 183 causing major delays, and there is a 16 car pile up on 3248 just south of the mall, and there is a major slow down on 79 at I-35 where there was a head on collision with a motorist who sped through a red light while honking his horn.”
I had to admit that made a lot of sense.
I hope all is going well with you guys. Thanks for keeping in touch.
Your Friend at Dell,
Kevin James Anthony Breazile
Letters to the Power Plant #14 — Meeting 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 fourteenth letter I wrote. Keep in mind that at the time when I originally penned this letter I didn’t intend on it being posted online.
11/16/01 – Meeting at Dell
I hope everything is going well with you. I suppose your overhaul went smoothly and you guys are getting ready for Thanksgiving.
We had a Hellacious storm last night. The neighbors were out in their Arks again. No rainbow this morning, so I guess we must be doing something wrong.
You guys know how I don’t really care to be the leader in a group, but I do like to be the recorder, or the facilitator, or something like that. Well. The other day I was elected to be the guy to take the minutes at a meeting. Since the purpose of this meeting was to schedule other meetings there was nothing proprietary that was discussed. So I thought it would be interesting to you guys to read what I wrote in the minutes of that particular meeting just to get a feel for the meetings at Dell.
It went like this: — Well before I start, let me just say that the names were changed to protect the innocent, so I changed Robert’s name to John, John’s name to Marvin, and Marvin’s name to Jim, and Jim’s name to Kevin, and Kevin’s name to Robert, Kori’s name to Shilpa, and Shilpa’s name to Rosalind, and Rosalind’s name to Kori. So don’t be too confused when you are reading the minutes and you are thinking “boy that sure sounds like something that Robert would have said”, but I said that John said it, well, now you will know why. Anyway, here goes:
Robert started out the meeting by mentioning that the Thanksgiving lunch this week was much better than the Mixer lunch last week. He thought that there was a lot better desserts at the Thanksgiving lunch. Shilpa nodded in approval.
Marvin looked at the other members around the room and then had a look as if he didn’t get the e-mail for either lunch so he just looked at the table for about five minutes as if he was dreaming about all the food that he wasn’t able to eat.
Jim said that he thought that the desserts at both lunches were equally good, and pointed out that the best dessert at both lunches was the blueberry, marshmellowy fruit bowl thing, (which he had brought and had made with his own two hands — unlike some others who had went down the street to Boston Market and bought their stuff. — The desserts and salads were brought by those members that remembered to bring something).
Kori said that she thought that the best time to hold the daily issues meeting would be in the afternoon right after lunch, but Rosalind said that right after lunch she has too much trouble staying awake and that later in the afternoon would be better for her, and then Kori said that it shouldn’t be too late because she usually likes to leave early and she didn’t want to leave late because a meeting was late getting out.
Rosalind didn’t seem to hear what Kori was saying. At this point Rosalind’s head was beginning to nod up and down in apparent approval, until the point where her eyelids were visibly beginning to close. (Did I mention that this meeting was being held right after lunch?).
At this point Marvin had recovered from the shock of missing two free lunches, and he said that he thought the weekly code review meeting should be held every Friday morning in the team room at the corner of the building. Jim began to chuckle, and when Marvin asked why, Jim said that we couldn’t have our meeting there, because the Breakfast Club sets up breakfast there every Friday morning, and we wouldn’t want to be sitting there discussing programming code while someone is frying pancakes.
Marvin said, “Breakfast Club? What the Fricken is Breakfast Club?” Then Marvin said he had to go burn one and he left the room. (‘burn one’ is Texas lingo for smoking a cigarette. At Dell, you have to stand at least 50 ft. from any Dell entrance if you want to smoke a cigarette). Kevin at that point said, “Well, if he would go read his e-mail instead of ‘burning one’, maybe he wouldn’t be so skinny.” (Remember, I changed Jim’s name to Kevin, so that wasn’t me that said that, it was someone else).
Jim stated that we could meet for our daily progress meetings at 2 in the afternoon, and Kevin said that he couldn’t because he had another meeting scheduled every day at that time. So Jim suggested that we could meet at 3 in the afternoon, and Robert said, “that would be alright, but I have my one-on-one with Kevin on Wednesdays during that time, if I can change that meeting time, then that would work.
Then Kevin said that Robert could change his meeting time to Thursday at 1 in the afternoon, and then Shilpa said that she was hoping that we could hold the code reviews on Thursday at 1 because Rosalind doesn’t really care that much about the code review, and if she falls asleep, that’s ok. Everyone looked at Rosalind, and she didn’t object, (though there was a slight purring sound emanating from her throat).
So Robert suggested that we could hold the one-on-one during the breakfast club time on Friday morning and eat breakfast while we discussed the world events and career development (I gave it away that I changed my name to Robert didn’t I? By saying “we” when I was talking about a “one-on-one” meeting — oh well. If you had looked up at the top of this letter, you would have figured it out that I was Robert anyway).
Marvin rejoined the meeting. He was soaking wet. Jim asked if it was raining outside. Marvin nodded that it was. He squished and squished his shoes on the way to his chair.
Marvin said that he thought the development server Dev AP Oh One should be upgraded to Win two Kay. (Note: I am spelling it out like it sounds, He was actually talking about a server that has the name (Note: the actual name of the server has been removed because it is propriety information), but we refer to it as DevAp01 for short, and he thought that it should be upgraded to Windows 2000).
Jim pointed out that this was not an issues meeting, this is a meeting resolution meeting, and we should discuss that in the issues meeting, not a meeting meeting. So Marvin said, “When is the issues meeting?” Kevin said that we were going to have it right after lunch, but now it will conflict with the Code Review Meeting on Thursday, so we will move it to later in the afternoon.
Kori groaned at this point and said, “but not too late. I want to be able to leave early, and if the meeting runs late, I’ll be later.” Everyone agreed that no one wants the issues meeting to run late, and it really can’t because Jim has another meeting directly after the issues meeting if we hold the issues meeting at 3:30.
Then Shilpa said to Robert, “Aren’t you on the fun committee?” and Robert said that he was, and so Shilpa said, “So what sort of fun things are we going to do at this meeting? And Robert said that we were going to eat candy from Rosalind’s Halloween bowl, and we were going to watch Jim stack up Starbursts to see how high he can stack them before they fall over.
Then if we still needed to have more fun, Robert was going to lick a tootsie pop over and over again to find out how many licks it took to get to the center of the tootsie pop. — It was after saying that statement that Robert began to feel that most of the rest of the people in the meeting were much younger than him, and hadn’t seen the commercial with the owl licking the tootsie pop. So Robert sat back down after his triumphant speech and quietly said, “and that’s what we’re going to do.”
So we all ate candy, and watched Jim stack the starbursts, and when he had stacked five of them end on end they fell over, and when they looked at Robert for more fun, he opened a tootsie pop, and licked it three times, then bit into it and said, “Three”. Then Marvin said, “I get it.” Then the meeting was adjourned.
That was it.
Kevin J. Breazile
Programmer Analyst II
Dell Computer Corporation
Letters to the Power Plant #13 — Dellbert 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 thirteenth letter I wrote. Keep in mind that at the time when I originally penned this letter I didn’t intend on it being posted online.
11/09/01 – Dellbert at Dell
Hello to overhaul worn buddies,
I have had an interesting week. On Monday my 2nd line manager took me and another guy out to the Macaroni Grill to eat. They had this paper table cloth and he started to write all over it with a crayon drawing diagrams about things at Dell. I kept looking around knowing that there might be some spies lurking about, but it wasn’t that crowded, and there was just a couple of ladies sitting by us with some very young kids, and all they were doing were eyeing the crayons wishing they had some so they could draw also.
We sat there for two hours discussing this and that. (Notice how I’ve learned to avoid the dreaded — “DELLSECURE” notice). This and That is a good phrase for just about anything. Anyway when we were done with our discussion, the manager started to scribble out everything that he had drawn, and that was just about all those little kids could handle.
They had been complaining to their mom earlier that they didn’t have any crayons, but when they saw that grown man scribbling all over the table, they went ballistic. Needless to say, the Hostess quickly supplied them with their own set of crayons. — I think the manager was a little jealous by this, because they clearly had a pink crayon, and we didn’t. He didn’t make a fuss about it though, but it might have been reflected on the tip. I’m not sure.
Anyway, they’ve been upgrading things here, and so servers have been going up and down all week, and sometimes I could write programs on one server, and sometimes I could write them on another one, and at other times, I could write them on two servers, only to have them completely reformatted, and loose everything I had. — Luckily I back everything up quite regularly now. Especially after my manager made the point to tell me that I should back up my work many times.
I had one of my monitors pushed all the way back in the corner of my desk and the other clear down at the end of my cubicle, and I was wondering if he wanted me to do a circle for safety again, when he finally explained that he wanted me to back up my work so I wouldn’t keep losing it. He also went the extra mile to point out that he didn’t care one way or the other where I placed my monitors on my desk.
Backing up by the way doesn’t always have to be done in a “pickup”. It can also be done on a computer. Actually, it’s quite the opposite. Where you have to do the circle for safety before you back your vehicle, you only have to click and drag stuff to back things up on a computer.
I suppose, if you weren’t paying attention to what you were doing (as some people like myself are apt to do) and you got things mixed up, you might end up clicking and dragging your truck around the parking lot, and running rings around your computer monitor. I suppose that would look kind of silly. At least that’s what some members of my team have said.
Anyway, today we had a “Mixer” for lunch. That was where we had a lunch in that big room I have so frequently mentioned. It brought back memories of how Eldon Waugh never wanted the Women’s Club to have dinner with the Men’s Club, because that would lead to “Fraternizing”, and that was nothing but “Evil”.
Well. We had a lot to eat for lunch, and I’m very full of it, (at least that’s what some have been known to tell me), and if that is Fraternizing, I will have to agree with Eldon. Anyway, that is where I think I ran into Dellbert, and finally you can see why I have the Subject as Dellbert at Dell. I’ll tell you more about him later, because, it is Friday, and it is 5:00 and I have to go.
I realized after I sent the last letter that I had left off the subject line. Oh well it was too late by then, and you could probably have guessed by reading it, that the subject of last weeks letter was: “Fun at Dell”.
I hope everything is well with all of you. Way to go Mark Fielder!!!
Your Dell Pal,
Kevin James Anthony Breazile
Kevin J. Breazile
Programmer Analyst II
Dell Computer Corporation