Tangentens and Alphans

Okay it’s been decided.

Look, in a way Alpha and Tangent are our children, and I know parents are not supposed to have favorites, but let’s face it, Tangent is no one’s favorite, well no one from the original simulation team at least. The Greystle folks are just giddy about Tangent actually.

You know this is just another example of what has become a really awkward work environment. We’ve gotten to be like one huge clique. We exclude Greystle consultants from our lunch tables, our conversations change when one of them comes near (even when it doesn’t have to). Some of the old group has taken to calling them Greys (okay – almost all of us. Sally started it and it just worked so wonderfully). Unfortunately the new scientists and engineers that we’ve brought on are probably feeling a bit left out. But we don’t know who to trust, so we only trust ourselves.

So maybe Tangent just doesn’t feel like one of us. It does feel like a violent hopeless place. War is constant on the north continents with the inventions of war occurring at a quick pace. Luckily the spirit of warmongering hasn’t seemed to infect the lizards. That said though, they don’t seem to be the same as the guys on Alpha. They seem a little less interested in intellectual pursuits and are migrating farther south on the continent than they are on Alpha. It’s like they are scared of those apes up on the northern hemisphere (not to be too worried though, their ship building abilities seems to have been stuck at raft stage ever since the battles that occurred during the divergence).

We’ve taken to calling the primates on both Tangent and Alpha as Tangentens as a way to describe our disgust with them, and the lizards are now officially named Alphans. We are so very proud of them. We love our Alphans – The Tangentens make me think of the Greys. Not a nice way to think of our benefactors, but I’m beginning to think of them like I think of the Tangentens – that they are primitive, greedy and brutish. Even if their greed is symbolized only be their patent grabbing and their brutishness symbolized by the guards, whose presence I resent yet I must admit I am happy to feel safe in this day and age. Though the campus is safe I can tell from others in different departments that the actual feeling of safety is a rare commodity.

Science is not a risk management matrix

Being back at my room doesn’t feel like being home anymore. I feel like I’m visiting. But does that mean the lab is my real home now?

There is a lot of hustle and bustle back at the lab. Work is being done, but it doesn’t seem to be science. All that the software and hardware teams are working on is how to do our simulations on a massive scale. There are plans, timelines, risk management, contingencies. It’s like Project Management for the sake of project management.

And if I see another spreadsheet… I’ll do nothing, I’ve got a lot of spreadsheets to look at in the coming days.

Janice has been able to get a skeleton grew to be dedicated just to Alpha and Tangent. Technicians and scientists that somehow haven’t shown up on a Greystle resource plan. The hardest part for them is to not follow their natural instinct and file reports. What happens in Alpha now is documented only in their personal journals. Anything official and they might get noticed. And if they get noticed they’ll be “ramping up,” and making the project “scalable.” And documenting our systems “best practices.”

Really, if it has never been done before I’m not sure the way that you did it the first time can be considered “best practice.” But what do I know – this is just what my career has become.

The Big Boom

The explosion woke me up. It was loud. The glass shook and the smell felt like that it would burn my nose hair.

Next thing I knew I was outside in front of our building. When I was running across the campus I was joined by most of the simulations staff and students; we were pouring out of every piece of housing. I hadn’t thought of how many there were of us until that moment. And we were all sure it was from our building.

The troops didn’t run. They were already there. Blocking us from getting into the building.

It was if we were parents being blocked from entering the burning school knowing our children were still in there. The Alphans. Were they destroyed? The billions of simulated lives gone. Did some destabilizer commit the largest genocide ever, and not even know it?

Janice rushed the guards and was pushed back – hard, and in a strange moment of bravery or anger or – let me take a moment to sound lame – chivalry, I rushed the guard. I’m told I was met with a rifle butt.

I missed the real excitement. Adit dragged me away. Janice ran to me. Sally screamed and thankfully Kaitlin had the sense to take her back to the trees. Because the next think that happened was for all intents and purposes a riot.

A bunch of IT nerds and science geeks, made even more pale than normal from weeks of not being outside, rushed armed soldiers and Greystle guards. The only advantage we had was the few seconds of their inaction due to the fact that they were in a state of bemusement.

But they were old pros at dealing with rioters by then and we weren’t that adept at rioting. An hour later I was at the campus hospital along with a dozen others. I’m sure one of the soldier’s boots got scuffed.

Sally got me the slate and a bag of cheese curls when she and Janice visited. Janice gave me a kiss and a lecture.

Now half my face is a big swollen clammy weird feeling mess and I’m told that I’m a very lucky little project director because my eye is fine and my retina didn’t detach with the force of the blow.

But the truth is that the Alphans are dead, the project is probably shut down and every one of us is royally screwed.

Unicorns and Rainbows for data safety!

Well thank God for unicorn stickers.

Now that I “work” for Greystle on “their’ simulations project I no longer have a right to privacy. They are trying to rebuild the project and have gone through everyone’s rooms/houses/apartments searching for every electronic device that may be of help.

Basically they are praying that someone broke their IP rules and took some work home.

They wanted to look at the slate but I let them know it was for Sally’s homework. And without missing a beat they just moved on. I wonder if that is out of respect for me having once been in charge of this project or for the fact that the slate is covered in unicorns and rainbows. Yes there are actual animating rainbows on the slate I’m typing on right now. I’ll never call them distracting again.

Funny thing is the “device” that knows the most about our project is Adit’s brain – so much of it is stored right up there. I’m guessing Ned isn’t fully in bed with Greystle, because they don’t seem to know that he is Rasa. The fact that Ned is keeping that secret makes me forgive the fact that he never showed up at any of the court hearings.

Tomorrow I meet the head of the project for Greystle. My first question is what are we doing, because Alpha and Tangent are dead.

People Helping People

You work with people day in day out for months. Some are friends. Some you have lunch with. Some you say hi to. And all of them are brave and good people.

I have never been more impressed by my team. I have never been so overwhelmed at what people can do.

One long standing item on my to-do list was simply making what we were doing with Alpha easier.

The set up for Alpha and Tangent required so much custom coding; even the maintenance required so many developers, engineers, and DBAs hands on all the time. Of course some of the work was caused by the ever present hovering biologists, anthropologists, ecteraologists wanting to see more details or wanting to test a theory.

But when you got down do it the code to implement much of the laws our simulation needed to obey were already written. I had always planned on making some of these items as simple to implement as clicking a button. A world creating GUI if you will.

Thank god for procrastination. We never even got to the point of spec’ing such functionality. The simulations we ran are as difficult and complex to create and manage as they were from day one.

If you want to do it again we are necessary. All of us.

Greystle has been very obvious that they want us to do it again. So much so that they got us all out of jail.

So we put that to the test.

Last week Greystle announced that the Simulations Department was moving to ‘a new location.’ The last pretense of this being a project from an institution of learning- being on campus- is being removed. We were also told that we would be in some way working for the Defense Department and that because of that we weren’t being told where we were going.

Then last Thursday Janice learned that Sally was not coming with us. She was devastated. I was devastated. Within a minute of Janice and I being told I the news I was getting calls from team members about what we should do about it (even without access to the grid news travels fast).

Our team almost filled up the old cafeteria in the student center and I suggested something that to me seemed ludicrously ballsy. We would strike. We would go to jail and not to work.

And it was agreed to quickly and unanimously. Janice cried, so did I, so many of us did. The team was a beaten group, and this was a moment where they would fight back.

Whatever Greystle is planning on with another Alpha project must be big, because Sally is coming with us (and so is my unicorn covered slate I guess). They folded immediately. Good to know we aren’t powerless.

Sally promises cookies for everyone as thanks. Assuming Greystle allows us access to cooking instruments (no knives?).