Archive for the Work Category

Going to Ireland

Posted in Work with tags on December 2, 2009 by hotpoo

Ha! Eat my shorts! I’ll be wandering through the pissing rain from pub to pub, trying to replace my bodily fluids with Guinness and Bushmill’s. I’ll be thinking of you all while I do it.


I do actually have to work for most of it, and it’ll be nothing but rain and darkness when I’m done. However, I have an extra spare day I wasn’t expecting, so I’ll be able to wander around Belfast and Derry for a little while. Much drinking will occur, I assure you. I’ll take some pictures of the debauchery…

Wut’s, uh, the deal?

Posted in Work with tags on November 14, 2009 by hotpoo

Been a busy of couple of weeks for me at Camp Dork:

  • Completed an escalation in Fishkill, NY.
  • Visited the Big Apple.
  • Flew back to Portland and took care took my mind off my money, and my money off my mind (finally!).
  • Beat off conficker again with a mighty stick. Finally convinced the Powers That Be to follow my instructions to keep it out of the environment.
  • Flew back to NY to install another tool in Albany (at SUNY). Did this one in record time, as the install was supposed to take 10 days. Good thing, as they closed the fab 5 days early…
  • My little sister brought new life into the world. Welcome to the circus, Phynley (or however that is spelled)!
  • Found out that the new tool I installed at Sematech (the Albany nanotech consortium) is fucked, for lack of a better adjective. Spent 3 weeks trying to help the field service guys with various issues, including our first field stage replacement.
  • Helped my buddy Guy move into his new casa. I am VERY happy that I will not have to move his television ever again. Especially down a flight of stairs. Ouch.
  • Bid my boss a fond farewell. There goes one of the few competent people I’ve ever worked for.
  • Gave up on trying to help the field service guys remotely, and I’m back in Albany again. After about 16 hours of tuning the motors (yes, it is as exciting as it sounds), and uncovering a kink in the vacuum line, I think the tool is finally going to behave. If it doesn’t, I’m going to hit it with a hammer…

So, here I sit in soggy Albany, trying to decide what the hell it is I’m going to do for the weekend. The customer will not have their new wafer ready until Monday, so I’m going to be cooling my heels all weekend. Not that this is a terrible place to be stuck, mind you. I’ll gladly take Albany over Fishkill any day. I have to admit, I’m a bit  bored though. It’s wet, and not really conducive to adventuring, even though I thought ahead enough to bring with the rain gear (also know as my normal day to day clothes in Portland). I did the downtown tour last time I was here (i’ll upload pics soon). I didn’t plan on being here this long, so I didn’t bring the camera with… not that I would really want to bring it out into the rain. Good thing the hotel has a customer laundry facility. I’m down to my last clean pair of… well… everything.

I guess it’s going to be a fine evening of Yeunglings, Kindom of Loathing, getting a bite and a couple of beers at the Albany Pump Station (highly reccomend going there, if  you are ever in Albany), some Diablo II (yes, you heard me right), and some more beer. Beer beer beer beer.

Better get to it. Getting thirsty for some reason…

First Install Completed!

Posted in Work with tags on January 15, 2009 by hotpoo

It’s only a week behind schedule, but finally done! Go me!

I’ll be glad to put San Jose behind me for a while. Sweating in a cramped cleanroom compartment for 8 hours a day with no ventilation is not exactly my idea of fun. BTW, the streetlights here are some sort of strange yellow sodium. Almost exactly the same color as the yellow lights on the traffic signals, which makes driving while tired… interesting.

Funny picture of the day: FLEE!Flee!

Back in San Jose…

Posted in Work with tags on January 14, 2009 by hotpoo

Due to some… issues… last week, we were not able to complete our installation. So we are back. Weather is nicer this time, at least, and we have a better / closer hotel. Since we seem to have all the parts we need this time, I’m hoping we can wrap this up by Thursday. It’ll be nice to have this first one out of the way. I was able to extract my first lamella, by the way. It was a proud moment… felt like I was driving a nanoscale bulldozer. Which is actually not far from the truth.

In other news, my travelling companion (mentor, teacher, trainer, whatever) is bloody slow. I’m a morning person… don’t mean to be, but kids / work has defined that. She is not. I find myself killing a lot of time in the morning, waiting for her to get ready. If I was travelling alone (as I will be the next time I do this), I would have been into work an hour ago… Poopy.

A comedy of errors…

Posted in Work with tags on January 6, 2009 by hotpoo

I’ve recently taken a drastic change in direction, career-wise. I’ve been doing the computer thing for a long time now… unprofessionally since 1993… professionally since 1997. I was very good at what I did, but starting to burn out. When you spend that much time in a specific field, you have a tendency to get trapped under the glass ceiling… especially if you are far too good at it. I briefly considered changing into the role of a system’s administrator, but I don’t think it would hold my interest for long. Management has never really been my thing, so that wasn’t an option.

Early last year, I was approached by the head of our Field Service division (I work for a company that makes a variety of electron microscopes… our electron columns aren’t the best around, but we have some of the best ion columns in the world… we specialize in nano etching, milling, and extraction). He wanted to have me on board.  I lack a lot of electrical theory, but I’m a pretty quick study and a dedicated worker bee. He felt my computer skills would be of great benefit to the team. However, my wife wasn’t interested in relocation, so I had to turn the offer down. It did give me the incentive to start thinking about a career change. I decided perhaps I would be better suited joining the Technical Support end of things… get a bit of electrical theory, particle theory, and chemical science under my belt before deciding if I wanted to try to get back into field service. After several months of pestering and negotiating, I was able to get into the Technical Support Group. Now I am the proverbial 5th wheel. I have neither the electrical or scientific background generally required for this sort of job, but have more than enough computer knowledge to carve myself a comfy little niche in the group.

Anyhoo, I’m down in Partially Sunny, Mostly Rainy and Crappy San Jose to do my first microscope install. It’s a fairly unique “little” machine… it’s a lamella extraction system. That is to say, it is designed to remove tiny cross-section slices from a wafer and drop it onto a “grid” for viewing in other microscopes. Thus far, it’s not going well. The system was supposed to be uncrated last week, and the facilities (compressed air, house vacuum, and electricity) were supposed to be ready before we arrived on Monday. It’s now Tuesday night, and all we have managed to accomplish is uncrating the damn thing (not an easy task, as no one has the correct tools), and moving it to the supposed “spot” in the clean room. The room isn’t finished yet, as they are still trying to fit a very large transmission electron microscope into the same room. Doesn’t look promising. As a result, the facilities may not be ready until tomorrow afternoon at the earliest. Or they might have to move it into another room, which will need another site survey and more time to prepare. Looks like I may get to go home early, and come back again in a couple of weeks.

I’ve still learned some very valuable lessons on this trip:

  • Always pack your own tools
  • Always make sure you have the right tools (pliers come in handy, but hurt the hands after couple of hours).
  • Expect the customer to be unprepared, regardless of time spent in preparation
  • Expect the unexpected
  • Carry an extra adjustable wrench just in case you need to “adjust” something forcefully, or kill someone on the way out