Turn the page and start over...

… or the alternate title of this blog post could be ‘why haven’t I blogged recently’.

This blog post will be mostly a brain dump rant about professional successes, failures and (un)achievements, which coincidentally made me stop maintaining my blog for a while.

If your time is costly and/or you don’t like rants, please navigate away from this page NOW.

Here is what happened, though, and what lessons I learned:

The first half of this year was mostly a tremendous exercise in negotiating for me. Job negotiations, that is. At the end of last year I kind of realized that continuing working for the same consulting company is becoming more and more of an overhead and that consulting is tiresome when not done properly.

At the time I worked for a small consulting company, and as the time was passing, the management was becoming more and more demanding – they had enforced a rule that everyone should blog at least once a week on the company site and that everyone should meet during lunch once every week.

I figured that those two activities increase my work hours by 10% per week (after all, I didn’t want to blog and eat lunch at the expense of the customer’s time!), my only choice was to blog after work and to stay late at work because of the 3 hour company lunch every week.

As I started skipping some of the company lunches and some of the company blogging, the frowning management brought to my attention that “my work was property of the company”. What they meant by it was that, according to them, I had to link everything I wrote to the company site. (at the time I was writing articles on this blog and on simple-talk.com every once in a while.).

After a while, a manager called me to a meeting and explained to me that it was a company strategy to use the employees as marketing tools and cut costs by not hiring a sales person. It is a great idea – saving costs at a bigger scale can pay off; unless the company starts losing employees which actually bring real money to the company. (here is what I learned: income of real money is real, the cost savings is fake and debatable).

After all, I really could not make myself believe that my efforts after business hours were owned by the consulting company I worked for.

So, the only other logical action was to kick myself out of the consulting environment.

And so I did. At the same time, since the notice period according to contract was 3 months, I felt like it was not a good idea to blog and to pour more oil in the fire of the consulting company.

Of course, at the time, before I resigned from the consulting company I was already in negotiations for a new position. One of the companies I was talking to was Microsoft, and they had invited me to a series of interviews for a PFE position. Primary Field Engineer is the position at Microsoft which corresponds to what I was doing before – running from company to company as a consultant. The only difference is, that as a PFE you get kind of access to MS employees, and as an independent consultant you don’t.

After a few interviews, it struck me: Microsoft is desperate, and is becoming ‘yet another consulting company’. I guess there is a lot of money left in the business of finding bugs workarounds, or the business of lack of proper SQL Server documentation.

Anyhow, long story short, my last talk to Microsoft was a late dinner with 2 of their stellar PFEs. Somehow we got on the topic of filegroups in SQL Server databases, and I mentioned that when I design databases I prefer to set up several filegroups and not keep any user data in the PRIMARY filegroup. (I have a good reason: if you have data corruption in the user data residing in the PRIMARY filegroup, your entire database goes offline and unavailable, but if you have a corruption in a secondary filegroup the chances are that you will restore much faster and easier).

After explaining this, one of the brilliant PFEs said: “Yes, but this is not a Microsoft best practice, is it? We work only with Microsoft best practices, and we never go out of the way. ” And then he continued: “Yes, people write so much stuff on blogs and forums… our work as PFEs would be so much easier if we could shut down all the third pary blogs and rely only on Microsoft official documentation…”

I was speechless. What I should have done at that time is to leave the dinner. What I should have said was “Yes, buddy, but if you could shut down the community help Microsoft is getting for SQL Server, your sales would not be even half the size of what they are today…” But, unfortunately, at the time I was trying to be unrealistically nice. :)

Anyhow, it was the last thing I expected from a Microsoft professional. Oh well. This is how Microsoft saddened me for another 3 months.

But now, it is time to turn a new page and to blog again.

It turns out in the end that it is best to do what is honest and not go over your own ideas just because you want to fit within a place.

Working hard to fit is the way of the week; working hard on improving regardless of the fitting is the way of the strong. I hope I am not the former.


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