Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Tuesday: More Boston, more rain, more SIW

Former WorkplaceYou're looking at Rowes Wharf, one of the pricier locations in Boston on the harbor.

I know of this place because this is where Breakaway Solutions was once located. I was hired by BS for 87 days in January 2000, right when the Dot-com bubble was starting to burst.

I'd been working for SAIC as a software and systems engineer on the JSIMS program for over a year. SAIC was a sub to TRW, who was the lead integrator.  I'd gotten pretty burned out working on JSIMS. JSIMS had turned into a death march, with 16 hour days and six day weeks before I left.

Many in the government at the time I was ready to leave were looking to kill JSIMS, and SAIC didn't appear too keen on finding a new spot for us on another program.

It really hurt. I'd been given a merit award by SAIC the middle of 1999 for the work I'd done up to that point, but by December 1999 the whole thing had turned into a huge political train wreck that had already gone over the cliff. It just hadn't hit bottom yet.

BS, a subcontractor on the JSIM program themselves, made me an offer of salary plus stock options and gave me a signing bonus. I jumped at the offer without really thinking things through. The signing bonus was enough to keep me around for 90 days.

At the end of those 90 days, after I'd learned that BS wasn't for me, I went back to work for SAIC. The former SAIC JSIMS PM was instrumental in getting me another slot on another program; WARSIM. I stayed with SAIC for another six years.

While I was gone by April of 2000, BS kept going for a while, declaring chapter 11 on 7 September 2001. By 2002 the company was completely out of business. During the 87 days I was there, my fabulous stock options lost so much value so fast they were useless paper by the time I left.

A core company that helped create BS, called WPS Labs, rose out of the BS ashes and re-incorporated as Gestalt LLC. They occupied offices in many of the older BS cities, including Orlando. Gestalt developed a pretty good consultancy business in heavy industry and defense. They were acquired by Accenture Ltd in January 2008.

I first came to Rowes Wharf in March 2000 for a BS "bootcamp". I remember all of this area under construction due to the Big Dig. It was cold and rainy then as it was today, with the added bonus of having to step over and through all the construction going in immediately in front of the building. I wish I had a photo of the area from back then, because you wouldn't believe how torn up it all was back in March 2000 compared to how nice it looks today.

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Even when it's cold and wet Boston has an organic beauty that's hard for me to capture. I love the textures and colors of the older buildings, buildings made of stone and brick and exposed steel. Those parts of Boston are more beautiful than the more current behemoths with skins of plate glass that tower over everything else. The real architectural beauty of this city is in it's historically rich buildings.

Boston strikes me as something of a compact dynamo of a city. I'm not going to judge it as better or worse than any other city I've been in. I just happen to have fallen in love with the downtown section. It reminds me of downtown Atlanta when I was a boy, before it became over developed. I'm going to miss Boston when I leave.

Update 6 April:

Lame Fail. Wrote this late Tuesday when I was very tired. I was concentrating on Wednesday, when I was to present twice at the SIW. The title is updated but the underlying URL isn't, which is one of the really annoying flaws with Blogger; change the text title, but the URL that was originally created is forever.

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