Bamidele O. Shangobunmi

JANG Speaks!: March 2007

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Learned a new word today

This just in from a product manager:


As in, "let's wait to review the prototype in later state of updation..."

Friday, March 23, 2007

Son of a...

(an actual reminder that showed up today for a real meeting, I kid you not)

OOoooooh am I mad. I set my alarm for 6am this morning right, versus the ~8ish I usually have it set at. That gave me time to toss & turn in protest of having to get up early, finally lumber out of bed, get ready to go, and be on the road before 7. That was so that I could be at work by 8am for the surprise meeting I was added to late yesterday evening. All of that worked out just fine. I got to the office and naturally the place was pretty empty in comparison to what I'm used to, and that was fine. It as also still dark because none of the early-risers ever turn on the full bank of lights (and I don't mind). So I check my email, verify what room the meeting is in, undock my laptop, and head upstairs. I get to the conference room, and it's completely dark, completely silent, completely empty. Every chair is at the same height, perfectly arranged around the long conference table. Five minutes go by. Not a soul in sight. I pull up the meeting invite and dial up the teleconference number they had for the India folks to call in, and lo & behold, the meeting is in progress; everybody's there. On the phone. Calling in. Because little did I know, "folks usually just dial in to these things." Freakin. A.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Videocons are go!

Well our first semi-permanent video conferencing setups are in and I had an interesting introduction to it. When I walked into the room for my team's weekly meeting, followed by a few colleagues, the snazzy new video conferencing unit woke up and the camera started auto-tracking... me. I got the remote and started trying to figure out how to simply turn it off, but the power button did nothing and I, an experienced UI designer, couldn't find a place to turn off the camera from the convoluted menu system. I got the camera into manual mode and decided I'd just face it towards the wall and then turn off the monitor. That's when our manager walked in and sat near the screen. The direction controls were reversed, so my first turn of the camera, quite by accident, was directly towards our manager. Making lemonade out of the lemony situation, I just centered on the side of his head and started endlessly zooming in. Of course the room erupted into poorly-controlled snorts & giggles, and our manager kindly did me the favor of turning off the monitor.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Big things, little things

Ah, progress. It's a good thing. At times I've felt like I was trying to take down brick walls by throwing toothpicks at them, but now I'm actually starting to see some results. I'm getting through, to my peers, to the directors, and to the VP. I'm starting to see that when I raise a valid concern and suggest a course of action, something actually happens. When I first joined PayPal UED a little over three months ago, literally almost every project team I came across was building something a page or piece of a page that looked noticeably different from the next, creating what I called "the quilt effect." Today, the days of the quilt effect are numbered.

It's been interesting for me, being the bad guy, going around everywhere saying "no, don't do that" or "wait, hold on, that's not a standard, use the standard," especially since as one of the newest members of staff, I hardly have a right to. Sticking to my guns, though, I've managed to reaffirm the notion that no matter who you are, you can make a difference if you put your mind to it.

I had an especially sweet experience just this week. At the color printer I happened upon yet another feature that was being created with a brand new set of design rules, but by the time I investigated it and flagged it to the standards initiative lead and our creative director, the two of them had already seen & synched up on the project. The next day, a I found an updated version of the mockups on the network, following our current de facto design standards. Sweet, indeed.

Since I last wrote, I inherited a new project that had an insane timeline, and after busting out a draft design spec, I got to play bad guy yet again, pushing back very hard on a scope increase that was accompanied by too many unknowns for my liking. The push-back was approved and we delivered a design that met the original goals of the project while enhancing the user experience in a few more ways than expected.

Today I had my annual review, presented by my manager of old and attended by the new. The fact that I had an annual review after a little over 3 months of employment was fairly comical, but not as much so as the fact that the review itself actually covered just one single holiday-studded month. Much to my surprise, I picked up a raise! Given my extremely limited tenure, the amount didn't add up to much, but the thought certainly counts. Plus, I got a bonus equity grant of a very respectable size. It's like as if the company wanted to keep me or something. Hrmph.

Oh, I almost forgot, I picked up a new RC helicopter and took it in to work to show off. The first coworker to have a good look got his hands on the controller (my fault) and immediately proceeded to play with all of the very sensitive trims that take half of a battery pack to get just right. In the evening, I took the thing to a semi-secluded area outside to get the trims back in shape, and when I came back in and was walking past the main lobby, a coworker yelled out from the elevators, "DUDE! I've GOT to see that thing fly!" I gladly obliged, setting it up in the middle of the floor and heading up one story to the PayPal logo hanging from the high ceiling and then flying around the deserted lobby a couple of times. The security guard at the front desk turned around to see what the noise was and oh, how his eyes lit up and a smile grew from ear to ear. After getting over the initial shock of how cool the thing was, though, he remembered his duty to protect company property and the safety of the employees, blah, blah, blah, and kicked me out. It's ok, though. I took it up to my floor and flew it around up there to the delight of a bunch of onlookers. Friday evening I'll meet up with the Platform UI manager in our conference center a couple buildings over and fly with him -- he recently picked up a similar heli, following the lead of the same visual designer who inspired me to get mine after bringing his in.

Lots of work and a little play on the side. I can't complain.