Monday, April 16, 2012

First day at Cray

I know a lot of folks will be curious how my first day went. Here goes:

Last Thursday I was given the choice of showing up at 6 or 9 a.m. Or presumably somewhere in between, but I chose 6, in order to watch an installation. Now I thought this would be a video feed of a massive cluster being installed. Turned out it was a software upgrade on a development cluster. More on that later.

I woke up a few minutes before my alarm this morning, at 4:50ish. I had tried to go to bed early last night, but the anticipation of the new job, plus stress from the ongoing extras casting project I'm working on, kept my brain on overdrive for a while as I lay in bed, wishing for sleep.

Anyway, I got up, got going, and was on the road at 5:30.

I parked at 5:50. In the wrong ramp, because I couldn't find the right one, then, in the dark, couldn't even find the right building. I'd only been there once before, and it was sunny. This morning at o-dark-thirty it was still nighttime. And raining. A minute or two after 6 I got into the building and made my way to second floor, to the suite where I'd gone for the interview.

Door locked, lights off, no one around.

Now's when I become worried that I hadn't actually heard back from my boss (Blaine) confirming the time. I'd replied to him Thursday afternoon, literally 3 minutes after he emailed asking about my start time. Then some skyway walkers told me the Cray people never get there before 6:30/7. So I waited.

And waited.

And thought to myself, what a crappy way to start my first day. Worse, I was pretty sure in one of the suites there was a person waiting for me, but I was in the wrong place.

At 6:30 the receptionist arrived and let me in, but said Blaine usually doesn't arrive until much later. So I stuck by her as she opened up the suites, turned on lights, restocked coffee, etc. We bumped into Scott, a now-to-be-co-worker of mine, who introduced himself and took me back to the office area, where I got to watch Jason, another now-coworker, do the software upgrade. They were both very friendly, but I was A) tired and B) in over my head. Which I should have expected. Jason answered a lot of questions, nevertheless there were simply A LOT of terminologies and acronyms and I felt lost and overwhelmed and thinking to myself, "I'm never going to get this".

On a complete side-note: I love how so many people have decorated their cubicles. Scott's, for instance, is literally covered with rubber ducks. Hundreds. It's just his thing. In another cube I saw a Winnie the Pooh, in another, a pet rock collection, Star Wars collectibles, and so on.

Back to watching Jason. While I was panicking on the inside, they sent me across the hall (back to the main suite) to meet with Mary Lu. She took my photo, gave me an ID badge, and told me all about the building, parking, etc. She showed me all the free tea/coffee/hot cocoa, the vending area and fridges, then around the building, underground parking, desk areas, and so on. Very friendly, helped me feel a little more at ease.

Blaine finally arrived about 9 or so, apparently he'd never received my email (it got lost in cyberspace, and came in Friday night after business hours). We talked briefly, he basically said "learn stuff from Jason", and so I continued watching Jason's Linux prowess. There was literally nothing else for me to do: my workstation hadn't been set up yet, and I was specifically told I didn't need to bring my laptop. But the time did give me a chance to ask Jason more questions, and we also talked briefly about his family, and the three iOS apps he has in the App Store.

Ben, my roommate from college, arrived a little after 10. I had to give him a hard time, since I'd already been there 4 hours! Really, I was just grateful to see a face I already knew.

Blaine walked by again and offered to take me to lunch with a couple other coworkers (one of whom happened to be Ben's brother, who I'd met before!), and they brought me to a delicious diner a couple skyways away. Let me rephrase: the diner may or may not have been delicious, I didn't try eating it, but the food they served was delicious.

During lunch Blaine and the others admitted how much lingo there is to learn just to get a basic grasp on what's being said, and I readily agreed. I was naïve to think I could jump right into doing something productive on the first day.

After lunch I spent the rest of the afternoon with Carl, who is currently doing most of the job that I'll be taking on (he's got more important things to work on).

First we toured the Cray cube farms and he introduced me to some key people that I'd either be working with or asking questions, or just good people to know in general. Then we grabbed a conference room and, in between my yawns (he wasn't boring, I was just so dang tired), Carl walked through the basics of their computer environment.

This time was a Godsend. He made me feel much more at ease than I had all day. Finally I felt like, "yes, I might be able to understand this." Much of what we talked about helped bring this morning's time watching Jason into focus - now some of those commands were making more sense, knowing how the clusters are set up. The pretty pictures on the whiteboard also helped. Well, they were functional diagrams, anyway. And we also tangented into more fun topics of conversation, about technology, life, and whatever.

After we finished, my desktop was all set up and ready to use. Except my login didn't work. Turns out I don't yet exist in their system. Typical. No, seriously, this is the kind of luck I have - if something can be wonky, it's gonna happen to me. It's fine, they should have it fixed tomorrow.

And that was my first day. The end.

1 comment:

Nicole said...

...And now you're going to go straight to bed. ;)