This is How I Work

Inspired by Adam Bertram being inspired by Lifehacker’s How I Work series, I’m also doing a post about how I work ;) I really liked Adam’s balanced assessment so I decided to follow in his footsteps there, too.

Where are you located?

Belgium, land of the free, home of the beer. Also home of the Belgian PowerShell User Group, which I run with Luc Dekens.

bepug

I moved here back in 2012 from Washington D.C. Prior to my short stint in DC, I lived in Southern California, Northern California and Southern Louisiana.

What is/are your current gig(s)?

I’m a Systems Engineer/DBA for General Dynamics Information Technology. I’ve always heard about General Dynamics growing up because they’ve got a bunch of rocket scientists so it’s pretty cool to get to work for them.

I also have a couple other side gigs. I’ve always preferred it that way; get my primary source of income and health insurance from a corporation then do other stuff on the side. So I’ve had netnerds.net since 1997. The work I do through netnerds is generally web development or systems engineering. But between finishing my masters at Regis University and doing community work, I haven’t had much time for contracting lately.

My other paying side gig is RealCajunRecipes.com. I run this site with my mom and best friend. My mom does some pretty amazing work on Facebook. We’ve got about 90,000 likes as of today. The money we get from Google Ads helps pay for my bombass homelab.

What’s one word to describe your work?

Fun

I frikken love what I do. All of it is fun, even when it’s exhausting and even when it sucks.

What apps, software, or tools can’t you live without?

The obvious things: PowerShell, SQL Server Management Studio, RSAT, Remote Desktop Client, putty, GitHub Desktop

Not as obvious:
Spotify
Snagit 13
Notepad++
Paint.net
Handbrake
Ethervane Echo
PowerShell Studio

Snagit 13 is amazing! I used to use Camtasia and iMovie (well, I still do sometimes) but mostly use Snagit these days. I also use Handbrake to remove black bars on the side of videos and compress the hell out of videos.

I also love leather-bound notebooks and glitter pens. Oh! And I can’t live without my lil Address bar. It’s the first thing I turn on when I log into any desktop.

address

What does your workspace look like?

Here’s my home office.

desk

That flag on the right is the Acadiana (Cajun) flag. My wife is kind and keeps my space clean – I’m messy by default. Also, I love Apple products, lighthouses and Aveda candles.

The monitor looks all lit up because it is — I bought some Luminoodle bias lighting to help prolong the time I can spend at a computer ;)

What’s a typical work week look like?

My work week starts on Sunday when I spend the first half of the day procrastinating and the second half doing school work. On weekdays, I get up and get my energy from vitamins and energy drinks or tea, depending on whatever phase I’m in.

At work, I do mostly DBA stuff and try to avoid doing SharePoint stuff. Then I go home and either work or hang out. When I work, I usually do dbatools and/or host a webinar for the PASS PowerShell Virtual Chapter.

My weekly output varies depending on my level of burnout. Sometimes I have to force myself to go to bed at 4am because everything is awesome and I’ve got the Flow or I crash around 8pm, exhausted from staying up till 4am for weeks straight ;)

Reading Steve McConnell’s Code Complete helped me with accepting this oscillation between Flow and burnout, which he pointed out is normal for programmers. I’ve tried to moderate but that always just ends up in a premature onset of burnout.

Speaking of, I once had burnout for 3 years. 2008-2011 was pretty much just spent partying. So if you ever get prolonged burnout, don’t worry. Recovery is possible and things won’t have changed so much that you can’t pick it up. The basics will always remain the basics, unless you work with JavaScript.

What do you like the best about your role?

I really love that I get to work with PowerShell all the time. I get to choose the tools I want to use and I’m encouraged to automate.

Also, my role happens to be in Belgium and I love living in Europe. My wife loves it. Our cats love it. We feel very fortunate to be surrounded by beer, different languages and cool people. The chill but enthusiastic members of the European tech community are so down to earth and amazing to be around, too. It’s heaven.

What’s something about you that no one knows about?

I used to work for Ani Difranco. Well, she was my client. I wrote a really long story about it back in 2004. Warning: the writing is cheesy and reminds me of fanfic.

What do you listen to while you work?

I’m totally addicted to Spotify and have over 100 public playlists. Overall, the heaviest in rotation are the House of Cards soundtrack, Hacker’s Soundrack, Spotify’s Trapaholics and then my own Dark or Slow, which has songs that are either dark or slow (but always sexy).

What do you wish you could change about your work?

I wish that I could enjoy downtime a bit more. I often feel guilty, as though I should be doing something. Unless I’m traveling. So I guess – I wish I could enjoy downtime at home without guilt. I guess in this way, I kinda feel like Adam. There’s just so much to do.

Is there anything else you’d like to add that might be interesting to readers?

When I first won MVP back in 2015, I became totally overwhelmed and went into a 2 month depression. I was SUPER excited, but then I didn’t know how to handle the attention. It took me a while to accept that I could live up to what Microsoft saw in me.

A few things made it better. First was seeing this thread on Reddit where SharePoint MVPs pointed out that one downside to being an MVP is that people assume you know everything about the product, when really each of us have our own specialties.

I always knew people would expect me to be a PowerShell syntax and architecture expert and I’m not. That thread helped me accept this fact. I’m extremely honored that I can help make a difference in the world of SQL Server and PowerShell, however. That’s what I love and it’s my passion. But when I need syntax help, I do what other people do and ask members of the PowerShell team or other MVPs who specialize in the language itself. I usually leave it to others to debate semantics, which I totally appreciate and ultimately benefit from.

The second thing that helped was going to the MVP Summit and being surrounded by MVPs who were really supportive of my work. SQL Server MVP Aaron Nelson has always been a key person for me in this MVP adventure. He’s always so excited to introduce me to people and he nudges me along when I’m burned out or trying to avoid meeting new people because I’m shy.

And in general, the PowerShell MVPs are just an incredible group of professionals. Like, many of us have strong opinions, but at the end of the day, everyone is so respectful and accepting, even when we’re really direct or impassioned. I’m honored to be a part of such a great group; it’s been positively life changing even if my brain got off to a rocky start :)

awesome

Chrissy is a PowerShell MVP who has worked in IT for nearly 20 years, and currently serves as a Sr. Database Engineer in Belgium. Always an avid scripter, she attended the Monad session at Microsoft’s Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles back in 2005 and has worked and played with PowerShell ever since. Chrissy is currently pursuing an MS in Systems Engineering at Regis University and helps maintain RealCajunRecipes.com in her spare time. She holds a number of certifications, including those relating to SQL Server, SuSE Linux, SharePoint and network security. She recently became co-lead of the SQL PASS PowerShell Virtual Chapter. You can follow her on Twitter at @cl.

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