Tag Archives: availability

Holiday Break 2016.

It’s sad I don’t get more time to post here these days. Being a manager is a pretty busy job, although I have no complaints! It’s enjoyable, and fortunately I have one of the best teams imaginable to work with, the Fedora Engineering team.

Since we’re coming to the close of another calendar year, I wanted to take a moment to remind people about what the holidays mean to availability. I’m going to crib from an earlier post of mine:

My good friend John Poelstra is fond of saying, “It’s OK to disappoint people, but it’s not OK to surprise them.” That wisdom is a big reason why I like to set expectations over the holidays.

Working at Red Hat is a fast paced and demanding job. Working full time in Fedora is itself demanding on top of that. These demands can make downtime at the holiday important for our team. At Red Hat, there’s a general company shutdown between Christmas and the New Year. This lets the whole organization relax and step away from the keyboard without guilt or fear.

Of course, vital functions are always staffed. Red Hat’s customers will always find us there to support them. Similarly, our Fedora infrastructure team will monitor over the holidays to ensure our services are working nominally, and jump in to fix them if not.

Some people like to spend time over the holidays hacking on projects. Others prefer to spend the time with family and friends. I’ve encouraged our team to use the Fedora vacation calendar to mark their expected “down time.” I encourage other community members to use the calendar, too, especially if they carry some expectations or regular responsibilities around the project.

So all this to say, don’t be surprised if it’s harder to reach some people over the holidays. I’m personally taking several weeks around this holiday shutdown as time off, to relax with my family and recharge for what’s sure to be another busy year. Whatever your plans, I hope the holiday season is full of joy and peace for you and yours.

Vain hope, no. 36.

OK, I could be wrong about this, because I’m not an encyclopedia of knowledge about groupware. But to the best of my knowledge, throughout 20+ years of group calendaring software I’ve only been allowed to choose to accept a meeting, mark it tentative, or decline. To the best of my knowledge — again, not the best knowledge admittedly — there hasn’t been a single system that lets me set “depth of commitment” to an appointment, or lets a meeting organizer estimate my importance as an attendee (again, beyond a single setting of “optional”).

In a perfect world of flying rainbow-colored ponies, I’d like to be able to show my commitment to a meeting in a more granular way for appointments where I’m not a key attendee. So for instance, for 1×1 meetings with my manager, or a meeting I’m running, I’d set my commitment at the highest setting. The default commitment for what we currently call “tentative” would be much lower, and perhaps the default commitment for “accepted” would be somewhere in between, or represented differently.

With said ponies clogging the skyways, a meeting organizer would also have the option to set how important they believe it is for me to attend the meeting. Then using some algorithm, the calendaring system could, instead of just sending me a dumb invitation, make a suggestion to me on how to handle the conflict as an attendee. Some weight would be given to appointments whose organizer bothers to set these request levels. For bonus points, the calendaring system might even record some sort of relationship between me and other users of the system, so that certain people (my manager, other trusted users) find it easier to kick other, lower-commitment appointments when needed.

I’ve often found people’s availability changes when I talk to them in person. (“I’ll move this other meeting around to make room for the time you’re proposing, this sounds important for me to attend.”) Yet reaching out to everyone individually is precisely what group calendaring systems are supposedly designed to avoid.

Perhaps it’s too much to ask for a system to do all this work for me. This might be a pipe dream. But it’s been on my mind a couple times over the last few months and I wanted to get it off my chest and onto the intarwebz. I’m sure it can be ignored silently without a problem if it’s unworthy. 😉