US Federal Government Declares War on the Matrixed Contractor Employee

DFARS.

If you don’t know what that is, look it up. I’m not going to go into it in this article. I only want to discuss the ramifications of DFARS and how it’s being interpreted/implemented.

Every federal contractor company I’ve worked for has a “matrixed” business model. This means in order to save money, they will employ you on a single federal contract – but “leverage your expertise” on other federal contracts. The end result of this is that you’ll end up working on multiple projects across multiple agencies. Because federal agencies refuse to get along and agree on standards, this means you get to go through multiple clearances and obtain multiple credentials (i.e. CAC or PIV cards and usernames/passwords).

This is a little disingenius on the part of the contractor company. It’s been my experience that they will tie you to a single contract and then matrix you to others. But if the funding lapses on the primary contract, they’ll show you the door. Valuable employees are kept but others that are lower level (but still matrixed!) will be laid off.

That’s another issue that is between you and your company.

Anyway… DFARS. The way companies and agencies are interpreting DFARS is the subject of this article. Basically, if you’re a matrixed employee, the end result is that you will end up with one laptop and one mobile device per project.

That’s right.

If you’re matrixed across three different projects, you will end up with three laptops and three different mobile devices. None of these devices will be allowed to communicate with the other agency. Your company will likely issue a company-specific laptop and mobile device as well. In my case, this could result in four separate devices to do your work.

That sounds reasonable, but it’s woefully ignorant of how a matrixed employee does business. Every agency expects the employee to be devoted to their contract, even if they are on record as having only a slice of time. The agency/customer expects that employee to be available at any time… not just during certain hours of the day.

The end result is that the matrixed employee is expected to manage multiple meeting requests across multiple devices without a single integrated view of meeting and work conflicts. This means the employee will miss meetings, emails and lort knows what else.

I predict this will be rolled back within a few years.

It’s untenable.

Me? I’m going to set “out of office” replies that notify senders that I only check my email and calendar during certain parts of the day. They’ll receive that autoreply every time they email me. Sure, I can set it to reply once a day.

I wouldn’t want to like… be annoying, or something.

Magic

Love someone in the way they need, not in the way you think they need.

Love is not selfish.

If your love needs match theirs, that’s when magic happens.

If you believe your mate’s needs are stupid, unreasonable, or anything other than something you’re willing to do…

…then you don’t deserve that person.

Stephen King, I blame you.

Stephen King… I used to love you. Your legends themselves were the stuff of legend. Not a single week went by without someone bringing up Danny boy, the little Gage that got hit by a truck and dragged down the street… the murderous supernatural car that ran people down just because… the girl wearing pig’s blood at the prom… and, one of my beloved favorites, the nurse that likes to crack ankles with sledgehammers… and we all learned what rabies REALLY does to a massive domesticated pet. Your source material is pretty much all the same, but with just enough schtick to keep us coming back. It was much of the same characters, much of the same town, much of the same dialog full of dialects…. but we still loved it.

Producers loved you because they mined your source material for decades. Sometimes they twisted it to fit their own agenda or make it “audience-friendly” (cough cough… who in their right mind thinks horror is audience-friendly? That’s the whole fucking point… it’s NOT).

You even tried your own hand at directing. I remember being aghast at your choice to include AC/DC as the soundtrack to Maximum Overdrive. I think you enjoyed it, but frankly, AC/DC doesn’t scare me. I marveled at your strange choices to augment your horror with unintentional slapstick. You knew you weren’t that awesome at directing and you pulled out. That’s fine. Let others collaborate with you and make it better.

My point is… you have had decades upon decades to build a massive fan base and production credibility. You could do almost anything you wanted and the sheep will follow. There isn’t a bookshelf in the country that doesn’t bear your name, and yes I’m talking about every individual household that owns a book.

You spent the time to create and write a phenomenal series of books that I have yet to finish… and may never finish (but that’s ok), and successfully blend science fiction, fantasy and horror into one single twisted modern masterpiece that people place in such high regard as Tolkien.

The time came for you to put together The Dark Tower. Now was the perfect time for you to cash in your accrued credibility and satisfy your fan base. Now was the time to seal your fate in the annals of pop culture. We heard the movie was coming out. We heard Idris Elba and Matthew McCoughnaheygirlwhatchauptoo were cast. There were debates. There were rages. There were wadded panties. But we all held our breath.

The trailer came out. We exhaled slightly. The trailer did wonders for your anticipation, just as a trailer should do.

We all opened our mouths and waited.

You walked up, unzipped your pants, and pissed in them.

95 minutes. Out of a series of x books and two gifted actors with fantastic star power, you gave us 95 fucking minutes.

Somehow, you let the director… the producers… the studio… someone… decide… that this sprawling horror fantasy with blood, sex and gore… should be distilled to PG-13.

In the age of Game of Thrones… Westworld… Lost… and countless other serial dramas that have overtaken our lives (THANK GOD GOODBYE REALITY SHOWS)… you… the creator of this massive, proud work… YOU… let them do this to us.

YOU, kind sir, are solely responsible for this reprehensible decision.

I don’t give a fuck if you think the studios did it. I don’t fucking care if you think the director was going to make the right choices. You did this. You should have stayed involved with your work closely enough to make sure the RIGHT DECISIONS WERE MADE.

THEY WEREN’T MADE, STEPHEN. THE RIGHT DECISIONS WERE NOT MADE.

You cashed out decades of good will and fan base on 95 minutes and a PG-13 rating that was created so a horned helmet wearing priest could pull the heart out of a sacrificial victim. You let them pick a rating that explicitly allows the use of one occurrence of the f-word.

FOR THE DARK TOWER.

I will never be able to register my malcontent over this. The least I can do is avoid giving you my ticket money. I’ll do my best to wait and see if it comes up on HBO or something that I can use my existing subscription to see. Or, maybe I’ll pirate it. But I’m sure I’ll even waste the my valuable time to download it.

The real horror story here is how a single man, full of arrogance and pride, singlehandedly murdered an entire fan base in the span of 95 minutes.

I’m so disappointed.

Idiot.

Cloud Migrations… A Word of Advice

If you hired a cloud consultant that heartily recommends a “lift and shift” migration and they assure you that everything will be fine…

Fire them.

It won’t be fine.

Yeah, ok, back on WordPress

I got tired of wrestling with Hugo and the static site generators. At some point, when you’re too old and have too much to do, you just punt to what worked in the past. WordPress is still slow, clunky, and the wordpress.com app is just incredibly lethargic.

Sigh.

But I’m trying to move to an iPad on iOS 11 as much as possible and I just needed something that would work. I was able to hook things up over git with Lambda (see earlier post). Sometimes, though, things would just break for no reason at all. I don’t know why. I also don’t know why wordpress.com and the Dreamhost MySQL backends are just slow as hell.

If I had the money I’d move my WordPress sites out to AWS and use CloudFront. But I just don’t have that kind of cash, sadly, so I’ll keep them on Dreamhost for now.

Sorry about the shifting. If anyone is still around and reading this blog, please speak up and say hello.

AWS GovCloud and CloudFormation

Be careful when you’re working with CloudFormation in the AWS GovCloud region. Almost every code snippet available on the Internet refers to the public regions of AWS. If you’re making resources in GovCloud with a Cloudformation templates, there are subtle differences.

For instance, referring to an S3 bucket in a code snippet is:

“Resource”: { “Fn::Join” : [“”, [“arn:aws:s3:::”, { “Ref” : “myExampleBucket” } , “/*” ]]},

But if your bucket is in GovCloud, your arn is different:

“Resource”: { “Fn::Join” : [“”, [“arn:aws-us-gov:s3:::”, { “Ref” : “myExampleBucket” } , “/*” ]]},

Subtle things like that can make CloudFormation development a real hoot. Be careful.

AWS Solutions Architect Pro Test

Yesterday I sat for the most difficult IT certification test I’ve ever attempted – the AWS Solutions Architect Professional test.

I passed it… by the skin of my teeth.

I’ve essentially studied for this test for two years or more. I took the Solutions Architect Associate test two years ago and I’ve been involved with AWS projects ever since. Actually I was involved in AWS projects since before that test.

I also attended an advanced Solutions Architect Professional bootcamp and another training class provided to AWS partners that I can’t remember right now.

None of them prepared me for the absolute difficulty of this exam.

I’m glad it’s over. But I’m already looking forward to 2018, when I have to take it again to keep the certification current. Sigh.

Microsoft is doing better

It looks like Satya Nadella’s strategies are paying off. Microsoft reported some gains in Windows 10 and its cloud business.

That’s good news for overall competition. I’ve also witnessed Microsoft become more and more “Internet friendly,” by way of embracing multi-platform applications and developers. This is what needed to happen.

Just think if Ballmer was still around… maybe Microsoft would be folding by now.

They do need to do something about the Windows handset business, but I’m betting that Satya has a plan for that.

Still, I’m firmly entrenched in my Apple camp because with this hardware, I can have the best of all of the OS worlds. If Microsoft could arrange licensing for OS X to run on their hardware, they would really have my attention.

Let’s Try Again

My love affair with blogging has significantly diminished over the years, as I’m sure you can tell by the lack of activity on my blogs. WordPress was quite busy while I slept. They created and updated the Jetpack plugin and released a desktop editor that is actually quite nice. I like how it aggregates all of the useful features of any WordPress site that I run into a single window.

This is useful.

It just might bring me back.

Why Video Chats Don’t Work

Video chat may never replace a real life face-to-face. I think I know why.

I was talking to a friend earlier today about video chats and why they don’t work. She said she really didn’t like to do video chats. Actually, come to think of it, I don’t really know many people that like to video chat.

I am a refugee of Generation X. I don’t know anyone in GenX that actually enjoys video chatting. Face time is irreplaceable. I mean time that is spent face-to-face, not Apple’s FaceTime. I’ve often thought about why I don’t like to video chat and I think it comes down to one simple thing. You can’t properly make eye contact.

When you’re video chatting with someone, you can’t look them in the eye. You look them in the eye on the screen, not the camera. The person on the other end sees you looking at something else – not them. That starts to grate on your nerves a little bit I think.

Could this problem be solved? Probably. If someone could invent some multi camera method of video chatting so it looks like you’re making perfect eye contact it would likely go a long way. What I don’t know is how other generations other than mine feel about this. What do you think?