Thursday, July 2, 2009

I'm Out!

Today is my last day of work at the company I've worked for for the past 6 years. Here's my going away email. Also, if anyone's interested I have the actual files of the "highlights" mentioned below to share.


I have to be quick. There’s not much time. They’re escorting people from the building and I don’t know where they’re taking them. You’re given little warning before being removed forever and there’s so much I have to tell you all….

Actually, aside from the fact that apparently we’re escorted out of the building on our last day I made most of that up. But yes, today, after 6 years is my last day at the company known as DFI/DeticaDFI/Detica/BAE Systems Inc. In that time I’ve seen a fair amount of change, despite various assurances that “NOTHING WILL CHANGE!” I’ve had 14 different desks, 13 different admin managers, 9 different projects, 5 different organizational structures, and 4 different company presidents. When I started there were 54 people employed at DFI Government Services, BAE Systems apparently employs 106,000. That’s 1962 times as many people. In my mind 1962 is a year, not a coefficient, but it is what it is.

In that time there have been many highlights, and I’ve saved a few of the best here: H:\Staff\Billy Hileman\Good Bye Email. We used to get personal folders on the H drive, by my count 12 of the 109 will still be in use by employees on Monday.

I’m off to Law School – UC Hastings in San Francisco – and while I’m excited for the next phase I will miss each of you I’ve bcc’d on this email. If you’re ever on the Left Coast please feel free to give me a call (edited from blog post) or shoot me an email ( It’s been a pleasure knowing all of you and good luck with the rest of your lives!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Old Books

I rarely go anywhere without a book. This has been true since I was 8. That gives me 18 years of always having a book near at hand. In this span of time I've read most of the published works of fantasy and science fiction that are worth reading. Given the fact that I generally go through about a book a week, and authors don't seem to publish quite that frequently, I'm generally rereading something for the 10th+ time. Currently I'm on my umpteenth reread of Edgar Rice Burrough's (ERB) Martian series, specifically Warlord of Mars (really specifically, JC and Woola (best dog name ever) are on the Koalian road). This experience prompted me to write about old books for two reasons.

The first reason is that this particular series is the first one that I have a meaningful memory of (yes, that sentence ends with a preposition, bite me). These books are my dad's all time favorite, and I have many fond memories of the back yard in our Chicago home, taking whichever book in the series we were on out to my dad and smilingly entreating him to "weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeed" (juxtaposition of w for r intentionally there - it was more cute as a 6 year old). In retrospect I'm convinced that this early experience is why I prefer the fantasy/sci-fi genre, why I have my nerdy predilections, in essence, why a huge part of who I am exists. The series is filled with sword fights, ship battles, last minute rescues and all manner of derring do. When the stakes are the existence of a world, it's hard to care about one-limbed-Inuit-lesbian-communists struggling to find themselves, or whatever else "good literature" is these days.

It was books like these (ERB's Venus series specifically) that really got me reading. We were on vacation, half way through one of the books when my dad had to go home - I think for the trip that would eventually lead to us moving to San Fran. He had been reading the book to me, but I really wanted to find out how it ended, so it go left with me. I remember reading about T-rays and chases in the Venusian atmosphere while sitting in an airport in Florida. Ever since that day, deciphering the 6pt font text I was hooked. Going back to those first books always brings a smile to my face and warm memories of (in retrospect) easier times. That's half of why I fondly remember these as "old books".

The other half is that they are in fact very old. "A Princess of Mars", the first of ERB's Martian tales was published in 1912. That's almost 100 years ago. The science is dated, the dialogue is laughable, and the characters are all caricatures. That said, it's incredibly readable. The action is fast paced and the derring is always doing. It's sad that the long discussed movie is still in pre-production because all the books are tailor made to become movies. And unlike Harry Potter style movies which, while good, end up missing tons of detail to save on time, ERB's pulp fiction style means that each chapter would serve as a ready made scene. For a hundred year old book it's pretty impressive how well it's aged.

Any other favorite "old books" out there? If so please feel free to sound off in the comments section.

Things to Come

We live in exciting times. A small part of life that make it enjoyable is the internet. Think back 10 years. Most of you were probably using dial up, or, maybe if you were lucky, getting a first generation high speed connection. Most people still communicated by phone, cell phones were the exception rather than the rule, google, facebook, youtube, twitter, blackberry, itunes/pod/phone, blogs, all were unheard of concepts. The beauty of this change is that it begets further change. The world of 10, or even 5 years from now will likely have similarly unthought of tools that will make our life easier.

One of the better writers chronicling these changes is Farhad Manjoo, and his latest discussion can be found here. Personally, I'm writing this post from a Chrome window - I like Google. Who knows where I'll be blogging from (if it's even something people still do) 10 years from now....

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Be Sober When You Look at This

Well, this is one of the more mind numbing things I've seen in a while. Kinda cool to know that you can trick your body this easily.

Shut Your Eyes!

Well, I guess it's better than only being known for your pirates. Still, if anyone offers to open it up around you be sure to keep your eyes shut. Remember, it was the Old Testament God, he of fire and brimstone, who had this thing made, not the turn-the-other-cheek New Testament version.

(EDIT: Also, the Google ads that show up next to this post are kinda scary, thank me for not monetizing)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Trifecta for the Day!

Because you will be hearing more about this silly thing over the next year, here's a preview. Say it with me everyone, the vu-vu-zela!

Good Advice

Not that the 4th is even a glimmer in my eye at this point, but here are some good pieces of advice.

I will caveat it by saying that it is tougher to force a child to cheer for a non-home, non-winning team. Sorry dad, but me being a Browns fan was a non-starter.