General

Logical Inconsistency in America

According to a Newsweek poll, 79% of Americans believe that Jesus was birthed by a virgin mother. Furthermore, 67% believe the entire Christmas story is true, including the angels proclaiming his birth to the shepherds, the guiding Star of Bethlehem, and the visit of the wise men. Now here’s where it gets interesting – 82% believe that he was God or the Son of God. So at least 3% of the people polled believe that though God walked this Earth in human form, that he wasn’t born of a virgin – who do these people think fathered Jesus?

55% of the people polled believe the Bible is literally true, while 52% of the people polled believe that Jesus will come back. Are at least 3% of these people unaware that Jesus says in the Bible that he’s coming back to this Earth, and why can’t they accept a small miracle compared to the larger miracle of God walking this Earth?

And as for these other people, just what is it about the Bible that is so hard to swallow? They apparently believe that God sent himself or his Son to this planet in human form, yet is incapable of ensuring that His instructions for how we should live our lives are recorded accurately enough that they can be taken literally? Who do these people believe that Jesus is, and what strange limitations have they put on God? 62% of people polled believe we should teach creation science in schools, while only 55% of the people believe the Bible is literally true. Who are the 7+% of people who don’t believe the Bible should be taken literally, but believe we should teach creation in schools? If you can believe the creation story literally, what other part of the Bible is not to be believed, what is impossible for a God that can create the universe?

Are you one of those people whose belief in the virgin birth is inconsistent with your other beliefs? If you believe Jesus was born by a miracle, as God walking this earth, doesn’t logic suggest that your life should be lived in a way consistent with what He said? (If you think it’s all false, I think you’re wrong, but at least that’s a logically consistent viewpoint.)

General

And for my next job…

…perhaps I’ll work for myself. With the thinking that goes along with changing jobs as I am, I’ve been contemplating my next move. Some people love technology for the sake of technology. I love technology because of the things it enables – the new ways of solving problems, the efficiencies added to inefficient processes. The technology is a compelling means to an end, something that I enjoy learning in order to get the job done efficiently.

So why not work my way up the food chain into a leadership role in a company? Well, that option’s certainly on the table, especially at my new job. Small, growing companies can offer incredible opportunities for accelerated growth and strong input into the company’s vision. But I’m a strong proponent of maximizing the available options, maximizing options is one reason I’m changing jobs – broadening my skill set for the unknown future. Giving 100% of your effort and time to your job is critical while you’re at work, but if that’s your only career focus, you won’t be ready for that next step. The next step forward could be back to the company I’m leaving, applying the expertise I’ll be developing in scalability to their new order management system, it could be at any number of Atlanta’s Fortune 500 or even 100 companies, it could be in destroying the incremental cost of developing new web sites and back office systems for small business with Tailored Technologies, a venture my bold friend Stuart will be devoting some of his time to as he chooses to leave a guaranteed paycheck behind and build the businesses he believes in.

What really gets my blood pumping is solving problems with technology, preferably big problems that relate to my interests. What interests me? Music, Christianity, stewardship, distribution networks, and Yuengling, to name a few things. Without tipping my hand too far, I’ll simply say that I have a few passionate ideas in these areas that I’m looking to pursue. I’d love to turn something up, in the spirit of The Bootstrapper’s Bible, and have it succeed at least enough to make it my day job. But why stop there? Some of the ideas are revolutionary, paradigm changing – so much so that they would be considered improbable if not impossible – too challenging to existing traditions and habits. But who would ever think that people would buy books from a place where they can’t skim the introduction to see if they want it (until recently), or buy trinkets in an auction from a complete stranger. There’s plenty of interesting problems yet to solve with technology. Why not make a living from it?

General

A New Job for the New Year

Now that the news has been broken to my coworkers, I can post the news for anyone to see. After being carpet-bombed by recruiters for months with unsolicited contract-to-perm opportunities, a nice gem of an opportunity developing software with Proficient Systems came out of nowhere. Is making the move from a 156 year old, Fortune 500 subsidiary to a 4 year old, VC backed startup the safest thing in the world? Not necessarily, but for experienced Java developers in Atlanta, I believe the market is strong – at least strong enough that one could find a short or mid-term contract within a week or two.

So why not take a risk? The team there seems sharp, pragmatic, and composed of interesting individuals. The challenge before us is significant but achievable – scaling a product to boost capacity tenfold and beyond to meet growing customer needs. The location is ideal – a 15 minute commute in Atlanta is cause for celebration. The opportunity for growth is critical – interviewing with them opened my eyes to many gaps I have in my resume as a technologist, gaps that are hard to fill as the most senior member of the team in my current job. The easy path would be to stay put. This company treats me well, with nice benefits, a manager who actively looks out for our interests, and near-guaranteed raises. But the raises were a danger as well – collect those long enough, without growing my skills, and I’m stuck with the golden handcuffs, a salary that doesn’t match my skills in the job market.

They seem to have a good balance of the late 90’s work environment and actual business sense. Dress is casual, the structure isn’t rigid, free cokes and razor scooters in the office, but without hiring twice as many people as they need, wasting money on extravagant office space and parties, burning VC like it’s manna from heaven, or squeezing employees into 60-80 hour work weeks.

The last major perk is a matter of personal preference. My experience in both corporate IT jobs and smaller software company jobs has me developing a preference for the latter. I like the open communication, the need for each person to perform multiple roles, the agility to change plans to match actual business priorities, the clarity of purpose, and the closer relationships with co-workers. Elements of big IT drive me nuts – the idiocy of corporate politics, for one. Competing in the marketplace is challening enough, and is only made harder by the inefficiencies of internal maneuvering. I will not miss the stupidity that is the Sarbannes-Oxley Act, and the obscene amount of overhead it requires. We have numerous people whose jobs are entirely dedicating to overhead – deciding which web sites we should and shouldn’t be able to see from work (ESPN is BAD), acting as traffic cops in overly complicated business processes, scanning people’s PCs for unauthorized software, monitoring network packets to identify anything that might not be business related. Small companies don’t have time for that. Each person understands that their job is essential, that their contribution is significant. They don’t have time for internal micromanagement or infighting. They care that the work gets done, not how long your lunch hour was. I enjoy the cross-disciplinary interaction in software companies. At Air2Web, it wasn’t unusual to be on a conference call with a customer, our CEO, and the VP of Marketing. Big IT focuses on funneling interdepartmental interaction through help desks.

Could I find occasion to move back into big IT down the road? Possibly. Would I recommend that someone work for my (soon to be former) employer? Absolutely, especially under my manager and with my co-workers. In the mean time, I’m going to fill the gaps in my skills, take a risk with a smaller company, and help them succeed. I have no illusions of instant or even deferred riches through stock options. Is it risky starting over, having to prove myself all over again? Slightly. But it seems like precisely the shock my career needs to keep moving forward.