Rule of Threes

Because I don't want to lose this text, and I frequently use and reference it when talking to others, I will duplicate it here. This is originally from

The Rule of Threes

By David Heath

October 28, 2004

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I've spent a long time, perhaps too long, in the computer industry. Through my various positions and after careful observation of my own and the actions of others, I've come to realise there are some special rules that relate to IT people and to how they interact with the world. I've decided to call this the rule of threes. Here's why...

The Three-Decade Rule: The IT industry is constantly evolving and changing, much more than any other "engineering" discipline. So, three decades represents the amount of time it takes for a body of IT knowledge to become truly "ancient". There is nothing we learned (from an IT perspective) 30 years ago that has any relevance today. Strangely, there was a brief aberration to this rule recently. Y2K suddenly brought back to life the ability to write Cobol - previously considered to be a long-extinct skill!

The Three-Year Rule: In many ways, the three-year rule is related to the three-decade rule. Three years is the maximum time anyone should spend in the same IT position for the same employer. C'mon, if you aren't itching to move on to a new position either with the same employer or with a new company, you must be working for the government!

The Three-Month Rule: Having made the jump to a new employer, you have exactly three months to build your empire. During this time, everyone is tiptoeing around each other. Use this time wisely - build relationships, demand responsibilities, insist on new equipment and software. Whatever "world" you manage to create during this period of grace is the world you will have to inhabit for the remainder of your time in that position (see the three-year rule).

The Three-Week Rule: This is the "what on earth have I done?" rule. It might be less, but typically it takes as long as three weeks to decide whether the new position you have just taken up was a good idea or a total mistake! In fact, I strongly suggest taking the full three weeks to make this decision - after all, early impressions of your newfound workmates on a Friday afternoon may not be a true reflection of their level of professionalism!

The Three-Day Rule: Here's where we turn away from employment and strike right at the heart of geekdom - this is the rule of new gadgets. Whenever a gadget freak buys a new toy, you find that whatever features he/she manages to master in three days are the only features they will ever use. I've seen this in myself and others countless times.

I recall on more than one occasion buying the latest wonderful mobile phone on a Thursday or Friday and playing with it all weekend. By Monday, that's it - I've figured out everything I'm likely to use on it. Never mind that most of the new wonderful features were on my previous phone - I didn't figure them out in the three-day learning period last time, so as far as I'm concerned, they're new!

The Three-Hour Rule: Strangely, there are two versions of the three-hour rule; I don't know if they're related.

IT support is a very complex job; no support guy can know everything; in fact many pretend to but they're soon found out. So, here's the first of our three-hour rules. It is impossible for a support person to go more than three straight hours without resorting to a manual to either solve a problem, improve his knowledge or study for the next exam.

There's an alternative to the three-hour rule, sometimes also known as the 3:30pm rule. Hopefully you only encounter this on Fridays; I sincerely hope it's not too regular in your professional life. If you're off on the liquid lunch (either with workmates on a Friday or being "coerced" by a vendor) and the lunch lasts more than three hours (or goes past 3:30pm according to the alternative rule) don't go back to the office. After that much "liquid lunch" there is no point even pretending to be productive and being seen in that state by your peers (or worse, your bosses) is not a good look!

I'll leave you to decide if the two versions of the three-hour rule are related.

The Three-Minute Rule: The average support guy has next to no personality, rather like lawyers or bankers, I guess. However, unlike lawyers and bankers (you have seen the TV advertisement of the banker at the barbecue, haven't you?), if our support geek does get invited to a party, he becomes much too popular - for all the wrong reasons.

Once people learn he's a computer expert (their emphasis, not mine), the Three- Minute Rule kicks in. Three minutes is the maximum amount of time a geek has at a party before someone comes up to him with "I don't know if you can help, but my computer...." Unless our geek is also a trainer (they're a different breed altogether), this is the main reason geeks don't like to go to parties.

The Three-Second Rule: Technology has to respond quickly - particularly if it is out of sight. Websites for instance. Three seconds is the maximum time we will permit a website to take to clear our screen and start drawing its front page. It's also the amount of time we will wait for a telephone connection to be established or indeed for any other remote action to occur. We get frustrated very easily in this modern age; if we can only see one end of a connection, we expect instantaneous response from the other end.

The One-third of a Second Rule: As frustration levels rise, so too do our attempts to get things done quickly. We click here... click there... highlight this file or that... stab at the delete key... click OK... OOPS! Here comes the one-third of a second rule - this is the amount of time that usually elapses between clicking OK and the OOPS.

So, there you have it, the rule of threes. I'd love to hear from readers with examples of other rules that fit this structure - my studies are far from complete!

David Heath has worked as a sysadmin, trainer, security consultant and IT manager and has nearly 20 years experience in the industry. This article is reproduced with permission. Copyright rests with the author.

coming home

sunriseCache.jpgWe started the day by getting a sunrise webcam GeoCache. It required us to be in front of the camera at 6:30 AM for the photo, but it was a beautiful way to start our day. It also marked the first time I saw the sun set, and the sun rise the next morning.

We didn't know how long it would take to return our car, or what type of traffic we would encounter on our 1.25 hour trip to the airport, or how long the car checkin would take or security. So we left at 8:30 for our 1:00 flight. It wasn't a rushed get out the door thing, but a "we're ready, so why not go now?". We got to the airport, checked in the car, which was extremely quick, found our checkin counter, and at 10:00 we got our boarding passes. We ate lunch, went through security, waited at our gate for about an hour, loaded the plane, and came home.

IMG_0182.JPGThe flight was smooth and quick. The pressure bothered Anna's ears quite a lot, but the flight was uneventful. 

We met the Geragi's at the airport, grabbed our bags from baggage claim, and then went for dinner at Perkins with them and my Mom. We gave our gifts, shared our experiences, and stories. Came home, showed some photos, retrieved Anna's Rat from our friends the Monge's house, and tried to relax and go to bed early.

This has been the most relaxing vacation I've ever had. I cannot believe how much I enjoyed spending all this time with my beloved wife.

Last beach day

The last day of our vacation. I have slowly come to terms with the end of such a relaxing vacation. I have spent a lot of time today thinking about my father, which was the driving reason to have this vacation. We packed up most  of our stuff this morning, and we only kept  out the few things we need between this morning and tomorrow. Finding room for all the bits and pieces is hard, as we didn't have a lot of room to begin with. 

After packing and cleaning, we had one last visit to Max and Porky's. I really will miss Alan's stories, like the giraffe licking him from ear to ear. 

We had a wonderful time on the beach, where we got some last shots for the christmas video, and enjoyed the sun one last day.

We of course had Bizarros and Java Surf's shaved ice in the evening. 

After supper, we went to look for a series of GeoCaches that are on the river side of the island. We only found one, but we had fun looking for all four. I got a nice view of the sunset during this time. We were all tired, so we left for our beach house.

We spent the rest of the evening packing the remainders into bags and suitcases. We are ready to go home and see our dogs

Beach day

Lexi DolphinAfter yesterday we just took it real easy today. We had some Max and Porky's for lunch, did some shopping at the longboard surf shop, Surf Style, and the Shell Souvenir store. Then we swam at the beach for the rest of the day. Lexi got this most obnoxious and funny blow up Dolphin. it was great for Lexi to ride waves, because she could get above the waves and stay above them. She could ride them for 60/70 feet, about twice as far as the rest of us.

I still wasn't quite ready to think about going home, so those conversations were avoided for the most part, although we did make a checklist of things that we needed to do, or wanted to do, either today or tomorrow.

We had Bizarro's pizza and Java Surf's shaved ice for dinner. It's the best combination. After dinner, we found a geocache just north of our beach house. its a fun pasttime, and all the kids enjoy it.

Salty Kisses at Discovery Cove

Oh, Where to start?

Discovery cove is the focal point for our vacation in the preparation. We knew it would be a great experience for the children, and wonderfully nice for us.

The service level at Discovery Cove is on par with a cruise ship. Once you are in, all you need is your swimsuit. They provide towels, sunscreen, meals, snacks, snorkels, masks, ... you name it. This atmosphere changed my pace from busy busy, to slow and relaxed. It was so nice to simply go and do what we wanted.

We got up early, as we read online that they schedule the dolphin experience in the order of arrival, and we didn't want to be delayed by afternoon rain, so we were at the park by 7:50. We had our complimentary photo taken, got an individualized explanation of 'what's what' in the park, had a nice breakfast, put on our wetsuits, and by the time we were ready to swim, the pools were opened.

We started the day by feeding the stingrays in the Grand Reef. I didn't think I'd get a chance to do that with my children, without visiting Grand Cayman again. The ray's were not as 'personal' as in Grand Cayman, but for a lot of the younger park goers, that was a good thing.

While the Grand Reef has cold water, I could snorkel there all day. The fish are beautiful and the rays are so graceful. There was a shark tank with a window to the grand reef, so we could  look into the shark tank from the grand reef tank, and feel like they are swimming with us.

About an hour in, our dolphin experience time had come. It was so sweet to see the smiles on my kid's faces as Lester the dolphin pulled them back to our group one at a time. After all in our group had their dolphin swim, we got to meet Hurley, and feel the skin of a young dolphin. 

The dolphin experience was over too quickly, and we then moved on. There was a much warmer fresh water river experience where you go lazily through a winding river that we did next. We spent the rest of the day between these two tanks. During lunch it started to downpour, and lightning, so we spent a bit of time just relaxing under the provided shelter.

In the afternoon, again we swam with all the fish in the reef, and I think my favorite part was swimming just Katie and I around the reef while our kids played on their own in the reef or onshore.

On our way home we had Chili's in St. cloud, and almost as an afterthought, We watched the Melbourne Causeway fireworks show, and then put the kids to bed.

another beach day

First off, last night we saw a loggerhead turtle on the beach. She was huge. We kinda scared her back into the ocean, but that's ok, she will come back, as we didn't get anywhere close to her.

Anna has been getting a cough that is worse and worse, and started complaining of an earache, so today I took her to an urgent care clinic just up the road.
After much poking and prodding she has:
Swimmer's ear.
a sinus infection

So, Anna is all drugged up, and she took a nap while I joined Katie, Noah and Lexi on the beach.

After digging a huge hole on the beach we went for a tired supper at long doggers, which offered a relaxed atmosphere, and a great video of professional surfing competitions.

Afterwards we went back on the beach for a little bit to let Lexi and Noah burn off more energy, and as always we finish up the day at Java Surf. As  you can see, Anna did feel better enough to join us for a little while.

Tomorrow is Discovery Cove, so its off to bed early!

salty grapes

Today we got up late, had a nice breakfast at the beachside cafe. It was recommended to us  a week ago, but we never had a chance. Good food at a great price. I really liked the breakfast.

We then decided to go to the Bathtub Reef in Stuart Florida. It was a GREAT swimming area. The water near the shore is nearly HOT.  as you get a bit further out, it is cooler, but still warm.

We snorkeled around the reef for several hours while the tide came in. We found some great shells, and each of my kids learned how to use a snorkel. I swear that each of them would spend the entire day face down in the water if we gave them all snorkels.

Unfortunately a stormfront appeared from over land, and forced us to head towards home. The rain that tiny blip on the weather radar had was impressive. After a total downpour, my wife was outvoted and we went to iHop for dinner instead of crackerbarrel.

Now the kids are in bed after a long ride home, and we are settling in for a nice quiet evening and another moonlit walk on the beach.

Sunday, the beach day

AnnaOnTheBeach.JPGWhat more to say? We spent the day at the beach. For the first time since our arrival, the green flag was being flown by the lifeguard. The water was clear for the first time. Noah learned to use the snorkel, Lexi learned to balance and stand on the boogie board. Anna made some new friends who taught her how to surf the waves.

It was almost low tide when we arrived, so we had to move our progressively up the beach as the tide came in. After about 25 feet, we decided to head home for dinner.

Tonight we are having baked potatoes, and shish-kabobs on the grill. (and of course shushies at java surf).

We will see what the evening holds!

KSC Visitor Center

This morning I was so excited to go, I woke up my kids by my typical dad 'squish'. I was kinder and gentler to my wife, but we were up and on the road by 8:20, which is a full two hours later than yesterday.

The drive took an hour to get there, but the whole thing was so relaxing. The whole center has a very relaxed feel to it. The rocket garden doesn't have an 'order' to it, and the area isn't in arranged to funnel you from one attraction to another. 

We started out with the Future of space travel building. My sweetest moment was when Anna was viewing the next generation crew vehicle and said: "I'm gonna take that to Mars". She has it all planned out. when they start selecting astronaut candidates, she will be just the right age. That building was interesting but, not as cool as the rest of the day.

From there we visited the rocket garden where we all sat inside a mockup of an apollo capsule, and we saw each of the different rocket types that we strapped somebody on top of and launched down range. (the gemini rockets had ejection seats!).

From there we tried the Shuttle launch simulator, which was pretty cool. Especially how they simulate the G's on your body, by changing the 'squishyness' of your seat behind you.

From there we went to the early day's history building for lunch with Winston Scott. He flew two missions on the shuttle, both as a mission specialist. He got to do 3 EVA's and had some really exciting moments in space. Winston Scott was a real treat to meet and get to know. We did a photo op later, and I shook his hand. I didn't make it to the giftshop for an autographed copy of his book, but that's OK.

After lunch we finished the early years building, and then went on the bus tour, where we got to see Atlantis from about 30 feet away, while inside the vehicle assembly building. The Vehicle Assembly Building is HUGE. The statistics are staggering. It covers 8 acres, and is 528 feet tall. You can see it clearly from five miles away, and you think its only a mile or so. (Florida is that flat). 

I also got to meet Terry White, (the white guy on the left). Terry was extremely interesting, as he was in charge of all 3 orbiters that were being reprocessed at a time during the 80's and 90's. I cannot tell you how much I would love to have him come over for dinner and tell stories, and share his experiences.

IMG_2864 2.JPG
From there we went around the two launch pads (up to the fences), and then they dropped us off at the Saturn V facility. We went through a launch room that has the same hardware as the first saturn V launch facilities, with a simulated launch that even shook the windows behind us. Inside there is an unflown Saturn V rocket on its side. it was amazing to see how long the rocket really is. it just kept going and going and going.

We ate dinner next to the rocket, and underneath an actual lunar lander that would have flown, if they hadn't decided to redesign it to include the rover.

I could have stayed all day, but my kids were REALLY tired, as was Katie, and I didn't want anyone to get crabby at the end of such a nice day. The tickets were worth every penny we spent.

I need to sleep now, but this was a *good* day.

Delta IV Launch Friday

We got up early so that we could watch the Launch of the Delta 4 rocket that was scheduled for 6:15 am. We were on the beach waiting, and then learned that the rocket was delayed. 
so we waited 25 minutes. 
delayed again. 
We then drove up to dunkin donuts which was closer to the launch pad.
delayed again.
After much waiting, the rocket did launch at 9:15.

It was a bit anticlimactic. It was cool to see, but it was just a plume of smoke with an orange dot at the end. after about 90 seconds, we couldn't see it. We didn't hear it until about two minutes after launch, and didn't stop hearing it intill 6 minutes after launch, which means, we could hear it for much longer than we could see it. I wonder if I would feel differently if I had been closer to the launchpad.

During this time, though we did see the sun rise over the atlantic ocean. Not something us midwesterners can all say we've done. 

We enjoyed another day swimming, and had lunch with Alan Bunch at Max and Porky's. Afterwards we had a quiet afternoon around the house where we cleaned and relaxed. I cooked some steaks, chicken and fish for supper, and then the kids went swimming while I flew my kite on the beach.

We must be up early for the space center tomorrow, so not a lot here at this time.

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