metamorphosis (met-uh-mawr-fuh-sis) : A change in an animal as it grows, particularly a radical change, such as the transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly.
The last few weeks of my life have been very… interesting… to say the least. To be more precise, they have been very disruptive, frustrating, stressful, maddening, confusing, difficult, sleep-depriving, and hard.
After having worked for the Rite Aid Corporation for 13 years, I was offered a job by the CVS/Pharmacy Corporation. The last position I held with Rite Aid was “Master Systems Engineer.” The position I have accepted with CVS/Pharmacy is “IS Architect, Technology.” It certainly seems to be a step up from a career standpoint.
This change requires my little family and I to relocate from Harrisburg, PA (one of the least-expensive places to live in these United States) to Rhode Island (not so much). And once again, we’re doing it in the dead of winter. Kind of funny, that. The last two big family moves of this magnitude have also taken place during December/January. God has a sense of humor, I’m pretty sure.
My last day at Rite Aid was Friday, 11/4/2005, and my first day with CVS was Thursday, 11/10/2005.
Tuesday, 11/8/2005 saw me up early, packing my little car with all I could fit (including the cat), kissing/holding my family and crying with them in our driveway, and driving for 6 and a half hours to northern Rhode Island. The cat also was not entirely happy with this journey, and felt obligated to tell me about it constantly during the drive.
CVS has given me two months of temporary, furnished housing in RI. This gives me two months (about a month and a week left of it now) to find a new place for my little family to live during the evenings and weekends. This would be one big cause of the current amount of stress in my life. Part of the problem is that there’s just so little time that can be spent looking for a home. 2 months isn’t much to begin with, even if that was all that you were doing–let alone having to do it only in the evenings and weekends.
In addition to the stress of trying to find a new house for our family to live in, my work environment is very, very different now, and has caused some serious re-thinking and re-tooling of how I have become accustomed to live, work, and play over the last 6+ years. This has nothing to do with the kind of work I’m doing as of yet, but more to do with what OS I run, what applications I use, and how I do all that I do–both at work and outside of it. Whilst employed at Rite Aid, I used my work-provided laptop for everything I did. Obviously, I did all of my work-related work on this laptop, but I also used it for all of my personal stuff too. All of my personal documents, banking files, personal contact information, was on it. It was also where I did all of my free-time (hah!) hacking on KDE-related stuff, church website development, etc., etc.
In hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have. In hindsight, I was probably very lucky to have been able to do this for so long. In hindsight, I most probably should have just bought a laptop for myself years ago and used only it for personal stuff. But I didn’t, so that was one big, huge, monstrous, gi-normous hurdle I had to face during this move.
I still don’t have it all figured out yet, honestly.
I ended up buying an amazingly sweet little Powerbook for all my personal stuff, and I shall endeavor to use only it for non-work-related stuff. And I have a nice-enough Thinkpad T42 for work. And I’ve already installed Linux (SuSE 10) on it. But I’m not honestly sure how useful or fun it’s going to be, since my new employer uses Exchange for mail/calendaring/resource-management/everything, and KDE doesn’t have any support for such things. Yes, I know there’s Evolution, but I don’t like GNOME nearly as much as KDE, and, as always, Exchange/Outlook do magical, proprietary things that Evolution can’t do (weird document/link embedding that neither Evolution nor Kontact grok). And really, the biggest hurdle that I have to figure out right now is how to keep my work and personal calendars in sync on my PDA. Still don’t know how I’m going to pull that off. I absolutely do not want to have the sync process put any of my personal information onto the Exchange server. I want to have my Exchange calendar be more of a feed that is kept up-to-date on my Palm, but don’t want to sync my personal calendar up to the Exchange server. Kind of like a one-way RSS feed. Does anyone know if it’s possible to do such a thing?
In addition to the Exchange issue, I’m told I’ll have to be using Microsoft Project and Visio, and obviously, Microsoft hasn’t released any Linux-native versions of their cash-cows yet. And before you mention Crossover Office, it’s Office 2003 that I’ll be using and Crossover Office doesn’t yet work with Outlook 2003. Frustrating. I may have to go the other way and run Cygwin inside XP, though I can’t tell you how downright grumpy that will make me. =:/
It’s not all negative, though. The folks at CVS are very open to Linux, and are more than willing to let me run it on my laptop. It’s just that it may or may not be all that useful in the end because of all the Microsoft-only tools. I’ll have to see how often I have to use Project/Visio, I guess. *grouse*
Another realization in the midst of these frustrations is that what I’m experiencing is most probably the norm at most large corporations. That is to say that most anywhere I would go, I’d be running into the same situation–Microsoft-centric core applications and full separation of work and home computing. So that helps a little bit. It’s just something that I’d never thought about before, I guess. And the separation of work and home computing is most definitely something that I can live with. It makes perfect sense. But it’s frustrating to see that we of the Open Source persuasion still don’t have answers for those things that Microsoft has the true strangle-hold on corporations for–Project, Exchange, etc. And yes, I know we’re getting better. And in some non-US markets, we’re making definite inroads. But we’re still not there yet. *grouse again*
So, all in all, life goes on. I’m growing, learning, expanding, and while it’s painful during the metamorphosis, I can recognize that good will come out of all of this. I believe it was Jefferson who said that “A little revolution, now and then, is a good thing.” And so I can gather a little solace from all the turmoil, and it’ll be interesting what life looks like in a few months from now.