Last week of work.

Eighteen years and three months. As Freddy pointed out, thats almost 1/2 my life….. When we started here, there were 2 serial controllers (LC4’s) and 2-3 racks of digital I/O (B1’s). Now, the whole joint just humms with Opto22 gear. 14 controllers, over 100 racks and thousands of points of I/O.
Amazingly I have known the guy that first ‘picked’ Opto22 for the hospital automation for years, but never knew that he made the choice till about 2 weeks ago. What an amazing train of events has led me here, to this blog, to reflect back on the past 18 years.

I have lots of memories, and the nice thing is that they are ‘all’ good. Sure, there has been some low points, but most of them were self inflicted, so I cant point the finger at any one other than me to say that I had a bad day because of them.

The shear amount of Opto22 gear that we have installed, configured, programed and tuned would have to be the highlight. Its good stuff (and no, they did not pay me to say that!) Remember, I have been on my own the bulk of that time, so its not like it was much of a social job, FactoryFloor and ioProject are my friends that I know well.

Watching it grow and seeing the plant come alive on the graphics screen has been great. I have always enjoyed automating things, so it was a great job for me. Getting involved in the IT side of things has been fun, learning about networking under Dan was a real highlight. Working with the architects and contractors has been interesting. Getting involved with planing and building a 6 story hospital block was intense. So was commissioning it! I think I wore out a pair of shoes getting it done! (~180 SNAP-PIDV modules over the 7 floors (basement had a few) had a learning curve that has now flat lined).
We talked about web pages and touch screens for the users back in 2002, and its just happening now, about 3-4 weeks from now, the first of many touch screens will go in, at least I got to do the programming for it.

We have gone from Paragon, to Paragon NT, to Cryano to Factory Floor to ioProject, thats MSDOS to Win95, Win98, WinXP and some Linux file servers thrown in for ‘fun’. The first controllers were serial, then Arcnet, then Ethernet. From our own network to piggybacking on the IT network and infrastructure.
I think you get the point, 18 years has seen a lot of changes and different thinking go under the bridge.

The past 3 years with Nick have been great, I have really enjoyed the brainstorming sessions we have had, I had not known it, but I have really missed throwing ideas around with someone……no one, and I mean no one, other than Nick, knows what I do (what I did!), what we go though to do it down here all this time. I always wanted to someone to know, and when Nick came up to speed, it was better than I imagined.

I still wish that ‘management’ took the time to try and understand what we do. No one is irreplaceable but they just don’t get the fact that we program the computer that runs the joint. They can pay the surgeons and managers all they like, but one ‘opps’ here in the little office in the basement and all those high paying staff would walk out and the place would grind to a halt. Not bragging, just stating facts. You cant open the windows anywhere, turn the heating on and it would be 40°C in no time! Do that and watch all those high paid, ‘important’ people do their job then! Now that they are back to only one guy that knows the system, they are exposed again like they were when it was just me.
My point is simple, its important, on really big jobs, that more than one person knows how it all works…..

Anyway, its an odd feeling leaving after so long. I think the time is right, and I am really looking forward to starting at Opto22, and I am looking forward to changing rolls from ‘hard core’ programming to sales and marketing. Its going to be very exciting…….so, overall, the sadness of leaving is overwhelmed with the excitement…… Still, I suspect there will be a few tears in the bike helmet on Friday afternoon…..