Sunday, June 5, 2011

Night Shift

Some thoughts about the new job. If they make even less sense than
usual it's because they're all written around 2am for reasons that will
be shown below.

This job is strange. I think it is most similar to working in a network
operations center (NOC) only with things and people rather than data.
It's 95% visual, with maybe a couple of phonecalls per shift. It's also
95% transparent to the public. Nearly everything done on the job
(keyboard, mouse, etc) is published in near-real time. A minute or two
delay while servers sync up, maybe. If I write a sticky note and put it
on a co-worker's monitor that's about the only thing that's not directly
or indirectly visible, and there are times when you might see that, too.
Told you it was strange.

-= timeshift =-
First things first. This is a night job. I go to work in the evening
and come home the next morning and go to sleep. I've been doing it for
a few weeks now and my body is almost used to it.

Working nights is not hard, though it /is/ weird. Transitioning to
nights was brutal, however. The first week felt like impending death,
like a continual hangover without the headache.

commute is generally better
outdoor temps are generally lower; I can walk outside on my lunch
it is very quiet. For 80% of my workweek I am the only worker
time off is very productive (see below)

The timeshift takes some adaptation. I brew a pot of coffee and bring
it with me in a big, industrial 1960s Uno-Vac steel thermos. I think
you could beat a shark to death with it if you had to.

Days off for nightshift people can go one of two ways:
1. try to keep a normal-to-others schedule. This allows for fragments
of Normal Life at the cost of continual walking death fatigue.
Basically it's changing body clocks 2x/week. Uh, no.

2. keep your working schedule. This means stay up all night on your
days off and sleep during the day as "normal". This is the approach I
have taken. Being up all night when the world sleeps feels like
time-expansion. The night lasts forever. I can get more done in one
night than in a week of normal free time.

-= 4x10 =-

This is my first experience working 10hrs x 4 days. The main benefit
would appear to be three days off in a row, but IMO the benefit is in
the 20% reduction in commuting (time, direct expenses like gas, and
indirect expenses like wear-and-tear).

-= Offline =-

Many employers let you check your email from time to time. Not so at
this gig. Fair enough, I get it. But there's not even a standalone
machine where you can check it during lunch/breaks.

If I had excess cash I'd probably buy a data plan for my android phone
and be done with it. But I don't. Subbing clobbered my savings and
credit card balances so it will be a few more years of intentional
frugality to get the debt monster back under control with my
regular-but-modest paycheck.

So I bring the Eee netbook for lunchtime email duties. I use
Thunderbird (mail client by Mozilla) for its robust offline abilities,
syncing the mail right before I leave for work and again when I get
home. It's not a total replacement for online email but most of it can
be read and deleted or replied to and synced later. Some of it contains
links or photos that need a net connection to see properly; I move
those to a Gmail folder called "offline" which I look at when I am online.

Theoretically HTML5 will get us offline gmail. Had that with Gears
until google took it offline (ha!) during the transition period.

I also figured out how to email blog entries like this one. The upside
is I can make blog posts for free during lunch. The downside is I don't
see a way to add labels, I can't see my past entries to remember WTH
I've rambled on about before, and I can't easily make links I don't have
memorized. But it works.

posted by offline email

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