Tag Archives: work

Workblogging: My Brain In Blosxom

Yesterday’s Take Note covered the first half of my work equation, the actual entry part. But what of the critical organization step? Sure, I mentioned I had Quicksilver and Spotlight to keep the structure hounds at arm’s length, but there needs to be some organization. I’ve never been one of those people who keeps every file I’m working with on the desktop, and I wasn’t going to start now.

There’s also the presentation issue, and the access limitation issue, and the categorization issue, and…man, I sure do have issues!

If you’ve read the title of this post, you probably know what the solution is, but I’m a big fan of nuances, so let’s take a look at criteria and how I picked the tools I’m using.

Continue reading Workblogging: My Brain In Blosxom

What Is It You’d Say You Do?

I suspect that when most people ask me about my job, the sound that comes out of my mouth is reasonably similar to the sounds the teachers made in the Charlie Brown animated cartoons. Wah wah wah e-learning wah wah wah Qatar wah wah wah Xserves wah wah, wah wah!

The sad truth is that my job has always been a bit nebulous – especially when I was hired. Over the year, the lines have firmed a bit, so I now have a good grasp on the day-to-day and the overall plans of things that I do. So allow me the pleasure of explaining my job in clear, regular terms.

Continue reading What Is It You’d Say You Do?

One Year At WCMC

Tomorrow, the twenty-first of June, marks my one year anniversary of my current job with the Weill Medical College of Cornell University. If you weren’t around when I made the grand announcement last year, the archives can fill you in to what remains one of the most monumental life shifts I’ve ever made.

In a poorly written attempt to celebrate this momentous occasion, I’m going to do a series of think-y, navel gazing, long-winded posts. The titles of the posts I’m planning are:

  • What Is It You’d Say You Do?
  • Take Note
  • Workblogging: My Brain In Blosxom
  • OS X Server – Apple’s Other Great OS
  • Make Your Own Workblog (Another 10 Minute Drill)

Work is not something I write about a lot here, so I realize the topics covered will be foreign for nearly all of my readers. Consider it a chance to see a whole different side of me. Hope you enjoy the posts – and hope I can keep the schedule.

San Francisco By The Numbers

175: Number of hours the trip lasted, including all travel.

4: Number of hours I played Metal Gear Acid on the plane flight out.

19: Number of sessions I attended at WWDC.

3: Number of sessions I attended I would rate a 5 out of 5.

2: Number of sessions I attended I would rate a 1 out of 5.

2554: Number of lines of text written into my workblog in the “WWDC” category.

160: Number of kilobytes total in said workblog entries.

30: Approximate value in US dollars of all the free Odwalla Lemonade and Limeade I consumed at WWDC.

6: Number of online friends I had met previously and met up with again. (Nicole, Nastassya, Matt, Kevin, Brad, Susan)

3: Number of online friends that I finally met in person. (Hana, John, Suw)

1: Number of times I had someone say in realization, “OH! YOU’RE DAN DICKINSON!”

7: Number of times I was wished a happy birthday.

55: Number of pictures in my summary San Francisco Trip Flickr set (if you have full access rights).

121: Number of dollars spent on goods and services of personal interest. ($20 at Portal One, $10 at SVGL, $35 on a subscription to Make, $40 at the Apple Campus Store, $16 at Aardvark Books)

2: Number of times I went to an In-N-Out Burger.

0: Number of times before this trip I had been to an In-N-Out Burger.

103: Approximate number of phone calls made or received by my Sidekick during the last week.

50: Approximate number of text messages made or received by my Sidekick during the week.

3: Number of Apple events I went to. (Enterprise IT Cocktail Party, Stump, Campus Bash)

6: Number of times I went to the Sony Metreon.

2: Number of places on my body that ache in extremely painful ways. (Knee and very lower back)

Smell Like This

New York is a city of sensory experiences – sight, touch, taste, sound, and particularly smell. I’ve grown to simultaneously love and hate the city for its smells; loving the delicious (the Greek bakeries in Astoria, the various shishkabob carts, the flowers and trees of the Upper East Side) and hating the ridiculous (the disgusting odor in the 51st St. subway underpass from the downtown 6 to the E/V; anything that smells like urine).

Last week, while at work, I started to notice a very faint but familiar scent. I have become used to strange smells near my desk, as there’s a vent above it which is constantly blowing crap into me with smells ranging from “barbecue” to “gasoline”. However, this was a new one – cherry (and I use the term “cherry” only very loosely) scented urinal cake. For those who don’t use urinals, this may be a foreign smell, but in brief: nice in a 5 second dose once a week, not nice for prolonged exposure.

I compared olifactory notes with other co-workers, and I seemed to have been the only one who noticed it. This only increased the annoyance level of the smell, because it made me wondering if my nose was on some sort of hallucinatory drug.

Today, however, as I was working and going to throw something out, I actually looked down into my trash can and noticed a very pink mini-gumball sized pellet. It looks like a piece of urinal cake. I looked through the transparent trashbag – there were more underneath, near the other trashbags. (Our janitorial staff likes to load up multiple trashbags at once to save time later.) I leaned down to take a small whiff. Sure enough, my nostrils were assaulted with the scent of fake cherry.

So now I knew the source. But why was I the only one smelling it? I went to another trash can nearby – sure enough, more pink pellets. And then it occured to me – there are three trashcans in immediate proximity to my desk. More than anyone else in the room. I’m not hallucinating, I’m just getting triple the dosage level of sanitation.

I do the only thing I know how to do when faced with bizarre and surreal working conditions: complain. I tell our administration. I tell my co-workers. Everyone else suddenly notices that hey, the room *does* smell like a urinal cake. Questions are asked as to what the hell our janitorial staff is thinking. I start to consolidate the pellets near my desk into one trash can instead of two – this backfires, however, as it exposes many more pellets to the air as I remove a trash bag.

Meanwhile, in a part of my body disconnected from most of this affair, my stomach decided it was lunch time, and insisted I get a wrap from the cafeteria. I oblige it, and then – without much thought – plop back down at my desk to eat the tasty wrap.

Sometime after I finish ingesting, my nose starts communicating with my stomach, telling it the story of the past few hours in much of the same way I’m retelling it to you now. My stomach decides it would be fun to mix the smell with the digestion process.

I immediately get sick to my stomach. I leave work an hour early, come home, crash out for a two hour nap, and completely fuck up my sense of time.

Long story short: Urinal cakes have now joined the list of smells I cannot stand.

Blinded By The Lights

I need to preface this by saying that while I’ve blogged through many major event in my life, what follows is not only major change but affects a number of people who have been my friends, peers, and coworkers for the last four years.

Over a week ago, I declared that my 24th birthday was going to be “most unremarkable”. Life, thankfully, has a way of making me eat my words.

Last year, while I was working remotely from Ithaca, I was making occasional trips into New York City to help out at the Freeverse office, usually during a time when the office was going to be short-handed. Somehow, in the middle of one of these trips – one in late June – I was pulled into a sudden interview at the Cornell Medical School. I wasn’t prepared, I wasn’t aware of what I was interviewing for, I was just there and trying my best.

Over the following year, a bizarre series of events continued to unfold at a slow rate – slow enough to simultaneously make me both anxious for resolution and to forget about the process entirely at times.

But, as you may have figured out by me now posting about this, the process has in fact come to an end.

I have been offered – and accepted – a position with the Office Of Academic Computing at the Cornell Medical Center. The position will have me playing a number of roles relating to the distance learning program for the school in Qatar.

To a number of people who are so used to me being a part of the Freeverse equation, I’m sure this comes as a bit of a shock. At the very least, it’s been a difficult concept to wrap my own head around, despite having done the mental math and seen that this is undoubtedly a good thing. Having been with Freeverse since March of 2000, there’s a large lump in my throat as I have to disconnect what’s been a fairly constant part of my life for the last four years. From the bizarre position of “distance intern”, through a drought, then back for occasional work, then to CTO, then to CTO/Webmaster, and then to some weird amalgamation of so many roles I would often make up new job titles as needed, I think I’ve probably done everything possible at one point or another. When you’ve been that entrenched in something, it’s hard to move on.

This is beginning to sound like a break up letter, isn’t it? I don’t want it to be read that way. I’ll still show up on GameSmith, I’ll still keep my ear in the Mac gaming industry, and I’ll still be willing to give you all the same shrill advice I’ve become known for over the last four years.

There are roughly a thousand people who I’d like to thank, and I think most of you are going to get yours over IM as I can’t possible drag this blog entry any longer.

But to Ian and Colin – you two took a ridiculous chance on a kid you didn’t know, and gave me so much more leeway and room to grow than I ever could’ve hoped for. You put up with my devotion for minutiae and went out of your way to help me out, and for all of this I am eternally grateful.


I will not be leaving NYC, and I’m not moving back to Ithaca. The Cornell Medical School is on 69th & York Ave, in the Upper East Side. It’s actually closer to my current apartment than the Freeverse HQ is.

I will not be traveling to Qatar. Incidently, It’s pronounced “Cutter”, not “kah-tar”. I still consistently get it wrong.

FVPE .1a released

Well, it finally happened – I wrote a piece of software that was
vagually useful and now it’s available to the public. FVPE, the
Freeverse Puppet Editor, will eventually be a full-fledged puppet
editor, but for now just lets you tweak puppets for Freeverse’s card
games. You can download it here if you’re into that sort of

Oh, and the quotefile was updated a little bit, so check that out.