Orig from Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gettheshot/1047513542/To the outside observer, it might appear as though Amanda had consumed a double-large caffeinated "something" before arriving at the office, but actually, she was just that excited to start her new job.

After spending the 90's as a code monkey working for big businesses downtown, she had finally escaped the maddening world of long commutes, smog-filled lunchtime walks, and stuffy corporate processes. Her new refuge was a small, niche software company located right in her comfy suburban neighborhood. Heck, not only could she walk to work, but she could even wear jeans if she wanted to.

To her, this wasn’t just her first day on the job, this was her first day of freedom.


Michael, fellow developer and the company’s official "welcome wagon", had taken the liberty of setting up Amanda's work area ahead of her arrival.

Waiting was a brand new tower with dual monitors, ergo mouse, and a nice keyboard to boot.

"The company takes lengths to make sure we developers work comfortably!" Michael stated proudly and, with that, handed over an impressive looking gift - a two inch long piece of sculpted aluminum that could have easily been mistaken for a art had it not been for the company logo and the USB plug on one end.

"Here, you can use this to see a set of application updates that were checked into the main trunk of source control this morning," Michael explained.

"Ok, thanks! I guess this beats waiting to download the updates off of the network, huh?"

"Well, you see, that's the thing. We don’t exactly have a network. Ever since the office was hit by the Melissa virus, upper management decided that connecting our computers together was a security risk."

"Suuuure!" replied Amanda with a sly wink, "and everybody reads email on a shared PC, right?

The Email PC

"Ok, so in this corner of the office," explained Michael, "there are a few cubicles that you’ll see have sign-up sheets. If you think that you’re going to have a busy day, you’ll probably want to stop by before getting your first cup of coffee."

"For example, if you need to send or receive an email, you'll use the Email PC," Michael explained, "but bear in mind that all of the company's email address are kept in the same Outlook session, so you'll want to keep personal emails to a minimum."

"What if I need to call a meeting with the other developers to discuss a critical issue?" asked Amanda, "How can I reach them in a hurry if they aren't scheduled to check their email?"

"Do what I do - send an email to Janice, our administrative assistant - she’s scheduled to check her email once an hour. Ask her to print out a meeting invitation and she’ll drop the invitation into the mailboxes of the people that you want to meet with."

With a cocked eyebrow, Amanda replied, "Printed? How can I be sure that they’ll get the notice?"

Michael rolled his eyes. "She uses goldenrod paper for meeting invitations, of course."

The Source Laptop

"That seems to be a little, um, underpowered for a source control system," she thought aloud upon noticing the diminutive notebook PC sitting opened on the desk.

"Ah, that’s where you’re wrong!" exclaimed Michael.

He went on to explain how since the source laptop would only ever have one developer at a time working on it, the system didn’t need to be fast. Really, just so long as the computer came equiped with a USB port for the developer's company issued flash drive, the bare minimum had been achieved. Michael also went on to explain the laptop's main advantage over other choices - in case of a fire, it’s easy to grab a laptop on the way out, but not so easy to grab a server!

"Well, how often is the system backed up?" Amanda quizzed.

"Oh yeah, we do that too. I’m pretty sure there's a reminder that pops up in Outlook on the Email PC."

Good News!

Once the grand tour of the office was complete, Michael led Amanda into a nearby conference room where they were to discuss Amanda’s first assignment – make a minor change to a client’s site and promote it.

"This way", said Michael, "you can get some hands-on experience with how we do things around here."

True to form, Michael had already booked time for Amanda on the Email PC and the Source Laptop and the change couldn’t have been easier. Change the contact telephone number. A 5 minute fix!

Once the change was checked back into source control, Michael, face beaming, proclaimed, "That was super! See? You don’t need a network to do real development! Now all that remains is to promote the change."

"Great!" exclaimed Amanda, "Let me guess, there’s a ‘Promote PC’ for that, right?"

"Ha ha, you’re close!" chuckled Michael, "You’ll do the promote from your home computer, or Promote PC."

Thinking back to her interview, Amanda recalled a mention of the ability to work from home. Surely the interviewer didn’t mean this.

"Can’t I just do the promote from the Email PC? I mean, to get external mail, it’s got to be connected to the Internet someh-"

"I’m sorry, but that’s just not possible. The Email PC is dedicated for email. No exceptions," Michael solemnly replied. After a moments pause, he lit up, "naaaww, I'm just kidding with you. The FTP Computer is actually in my office."

"Heh," Amanda forced a smile and responded wittily, "for a second there, I thought deployments would be cumbersome."


Amada fought her instinct to run out the door and never look back. Everything's worth a try, she told herself, and at least I'll get plenty of walking in. And try it she did, for two full years. Though it was just as bad she imagined it would be on the first day, she got plenty of walking in.

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