Monday, September 15, 2008

Thoughts about growing up.

This was a seriously busy weekend for work. We were trying to debug hardware and software problems on a particular model of computer. We were running into some late breaking issues and for one reason or another, all the test units were at my house.

After hours of debugging and replication we finally found the issues & created fixes. Now comes the fun part. Testing to validate that we really did fix the issue. I had all the hardware, four of the units to be exact. One of the issue only manifested itself during a cold boot. To test it we had to boot the machine, wait till it came up to the GUI and shut it back down and start all over. No big deal right? Sounds easy huh? Try it across four computers 100 times per computer. Not hard, but time consuming.

That why I was blessed with children. I guess I got that from my parents (I was the family remote control until I moved out!) My son Matt (he's 11) was instrumental to the replication process. He dutifully sat behind two of the computers trying to get it to break while I had the other two and tried to replicate the other problem. And sure enough after a few hours we replicated it and worked with the rest of the team to develop the fixes.

Once we had the fixes he led the charge on testing, he rounded up his sister and they sat in font of the computers, flashing the BIOS, installing Ubuntu from USB flash drives and started testing. Six hours later the testing was complete.

The events of this past weekend got me thinking about when I was a kid. I remember working with my dad on the car, fixing lawnmower engines, hunting, fishing. Thats where my dad taught me about being a man. One of his favorite sayings was "Don't do anything half-assed, your as good as your word and the job you do". Its a different time and place today from when I grew up. My dad worked in factories and was a manual laborer. I work with computers, not much manual labor these days and I don't work on my car, I pay someone to mow my lawn. I remember being about 12 or 13 in the middle of the winter under our family car, a 1972 Ford LTD in the driveway with snow all around. We had to rebuild the transmission. Does anyone do that anymore?

As I thought about all this, I realized while I do spend time with my kids, its not the same. For example Dad taught me bar room etiquette, how to shoot pool, throw darts and in general to be a good citizen in the rough and tumble world. I grew up in Prescott Arizona and there is one of the oldest saloons in the town called the Palace Bar. Dad and I would meet some of his buddies on Saturday afternoons and he would bring me along. I was all of about 10 years old. He would prop me up on the bar stool order me a Coke and meet with his friends. He would teach me the finer points of how to behave. Today you can't even bring a kid into a bar. No wonder people don't know how to act in that type of setting. How many time have you seen a young kid acting the fool?

I guess in a different way I'm passing the mantle to my son. He can do things with computers and Linux that most grown adults can't do. We don't work on cars, but we do work on computers together. We do fish and hunt (not enough as we would like) so some things don't change.

I'm off this week to the Linux Plumbers conference in Portland, in fact I'm writing this on the plane on the way there. When I get back I think I take my son fishing and start tell him all the things his Grandfather taught me and more. I know times have changed and its not quite the same but hopefully as he gets older he'll remember one day and say "Wow dad was right". I know I say it all the the time...



Anonymous said...

What a wonderful entry. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I wish if I ever happen to have kids, we'd have same kind of experiences with computing, knitting and cooking :-) Family times are the best.

Derrek Cooper said...

Agreed.. very well put. Thanks for putting a smile on a hard long Monday.

Just Me, Amber! said...

Sweetie the kids read your entry. I think they were both walking a few inches taller. They both sat down with me to talk about how great your entry made them feel. We didn't even turn on the TV we just talked about them and how special they are, and what was on their minds. Thank you! By the way, we think you are GREAT to. :) Have a productive time in Portland and hurry home. We love you!