My best memories of Valcom are when I worked in the fishbowl.
The fishbowl was a corner office in the 3113 building (at the time the education center). It was a place for the I2 team to get away from the disruption of the main office on Pinehurst.
I started working with the team somewhat covertly while I was a “regular tech” at on the Rayovac contract. After sucessfully deploying MRTG on WindowsNT, something happened and I was magically transported from the bowels of “the third ranked battery” company to the shiny digs of the Fishbowl.
Well, it wasn’t exactly shiny. The room was filled with six-foot folding tables (we reffered to them as “lunch room tables”) and crummy office chairs that were crept from unsuspecting classrooms. The rest of the room contained a dizzying array of discarded PC’s, ethernet cable and various bits of networking hardware.
Reguardless, this was heaven compared to where I had come from. My original charter with the company had me driving to Land’s End in Dodgeville (about a hour commute, which at the time seemed long) every day for about six months. After that I filled various roles “in the field”, untill landing my more permanent seat at Rayovac. I wrenched on that account for what seems like ten years, but it was more like two. After living in the white-noise-corporate- hell that was Rayovac, I was ready to move on to something that challenged more than my patience and sanity.
The fishbowl just felt right. The only people with access were the most elite of elite engineers, and our rock-star boss Bob (the first in a long series of managers I would have named Bob). At this point in my life I had little to do with myself beyond my work, so I spent day and night in the ‘bowl, tweaking on ASP, Linux, SQL, whatever we could find a way to sell and was interesting enough to loose sleep over.
We made a regular habit out of bailing out the “other” engineers in the company. I would probably be retired in the Bahamas now if I had actually gotten paid for the hours that we spent on-call, or in the office, or out in the field recovering some abortion of a server upgrade that one of our employees managed to get themselves into.
I remember one day looking out over the aurboritum from the second floor of 3113 and thinking about the future; I did this alot then, more than I do these days. I thought about ways to take our little company and turn it into something big, something that would leave a beautiful stain on the technology world.
I had no idea.