Productivity

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.

iOS 11 Dock Tip and a Files App

In iOS 11, you don’t only have to use the dock for single apps. You can drag an app group into the Dock as well. I just found this out by “trying it out.” That makes it much more useful for app switching when you swipe up from the bottom.

I’m really liking iOS 11 a lot. It sold a new iPad to me… an iPad Pro 256gb 12.9”. I just had to have it. I can almost turn it into my work machine, but the Files app let me down. I couldn’t rename a file extension with the Files app. I needed to do that and it hosed me since I couldn’t. I reported that though :)

Why Video Chats Don’t Work

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.

Mac Productivity Tip: Tagging Files

Here’s a little productivity tip for those of you who may need it. In OS X, one of the features that I find is vastly underused is Spotlight comments. Wouldn’t it be nice if you had a way to tag your files quickly and easily with say… a “TODO” tag or something so you could easily find them and remember to work on something? Using Automator, you can do this very quickly.

Exchange Server 2007 SP3 RU4

Description of Update Rollup 4 for Exchange Server 2007 Service Pack 3 It looks like Exchange 2007 SP3 RU4 has a lot of goodies in it. At least 5 of the items in this list are impacting the environment at my day job. While it’s good to see progress, I’m always wary of these updates because of the regression bugs they often introduce. Test and patch carefully, gang.

National Pile on RIM Day

Since today appears to be National Pile on RIM Day, I thought I would add a little fuel to the fire. I see a lot of people talking about the Playbook, the devices and the terrible mobile device experience that RIM has brought to table in contrast to the sleek, new offerings from the competition. I do not disagree with anything that has been said in that area. It’s sad to see a once-mighty company implode the way they are, but given the leadership of the two CEOs in power there, it’s really not a surprise.

Quick Apple Mail Fix for HTML font size

Hi, just dropping in from raiding the lands of healthy heroes and creamy young virgins to let you in on a quick Apple Mail tip. Do you use Apple Mail in an environment with Outlook? In particular, do those Outlook users prefer HTML mail? Do you receive mail from them with a microscopic font size? Thanks to the tip I found here you can correct this issue. Close down Apple Mail (command-Q) Open the Terminal (/Applications/Utilities/Terminal) Type the following command: “defaults write com.

Why Bother to Plan Anything?

This morning I had planned to get up, grab some coffee and enjoy more lynda.comcourses on Final CutPro. Instead I found myself cleaning up a coffeemaker that decided to explode grounds and liquid all over the kitchen. Now it’s time for work and I have no coffee. Not to mention no time for coursework. Why do I bother?

“Chrome” set to reignite old tensions

Continuing my recent tradition of expressing what are likely to be fairly unpopular opinions with my peers, tonight I’m going to rag on Google‘s “Chrome” project and tell you why this is a Bad Idea ™. I’ll try to keep this short (update: I failed). This is considered to be a discussion starter, not a final statement. I’ll probably elaborate on these discussion points on the next NO CARRIER, so be sure and give me some feedback here.