It has been a little over a month since I started my new job and the transition was a little bumpy at first. I knew that moving to a new company after most of a decade was going to be challenging, but I wasn’t completely prepared for the new environment.

One of the biggest challenges was just getting my workspace setup. Most companies issue laptops to employees, however I’m not a member of the Cult of Mac and my preference for Linux is unrealized by most. I find it incredibly ironic that everything runs on Linux, but when it comes to the desktop it is almost unheard of for Linux to be supported. The second challenge is that 14″ laptops seems to be the current standard among enterprise and I find those to be too small.

A couple of jobs ago I took the hiring technical assessment in-person on a Dell laptop with a 15.3″ screen. Fast forward and when that laptop was destined for the landfill, I saved it because I liked the size of the screen. Fast forward more and when I decided to buy my next laptop, I pulled that one out and measured the screen to determine the target size of my next laptop. I ended up purchasing an MSI GT60 2OD, this is a gaming laptop with 15.6″ 2.8k screen and 10-key style keyboard. It is expandable, upgradeable, has a bunch of ports, and is basically my dream laptop — except for the big and heavy aspect, but you can’t win them all.

I tried to integrate the work laptop into my existing environment using PiKVM and VNC to access the laptop remotely, but the rendering lag proved to be a significant limitation. RDP was not an option due to policy, so that left me with little in the way of choices. Running Linux under WSL doesn’t allow the ssh-agent in Linux to talk to the Windows ssh-agent, so keys are not persisted across reboots. Running Linux under WSL2 does not work with the VPN software, so networking goes nowhere. Finally, Cygwin is unmaintained at this point and newer SSH key algorithms don’t work with the version of gnome-keyring in Cygwin. So what choice did I have left? I ended up with an IT blessed Windows VM and I use Windows Terminal. Windows Terminal is a 95% passing substitute for the variety of Linux terminal packages, but the copy and paste semantics (following cmd) and font kerning (the characters are too closely spaced on the X axis) leave some things to be desired.

Linux has long had 2 copy and paste buffers, there is the X buffer and the clipboard. When you highlight text and middle click, it pastes the highlighted text. When you highlight text and do Shift-Insert, it pastes the highlighted text. If you don’t highlight anything, Shift-Insert pastes the clipboard contents (usually). This means you can have a semi-persistent clipboard and a buffer that is only persistent for as long as the text is highlighted, this comes in very handy in the terminal.

You may ask “why do I prefer Linux?”, and mostly it’s familiarity and how seamless a Linux desktop works with the world. Windows is quirky and has its own way of doing some things. There is also a subtle difference between how Windows and Linux render fonts, I prefer the kerning of the Linux font rendering, the characters are farther apart and easier to distinguish. Font kerning is supposed to be the domain of the font itself, but Windows and Linux are different. I think that Linux has lead Windows in this regard in the last 10 years or so.

That being said, I use Windows for entertainment and some productivity purposes, but as a code and terminal jockey it is like the persistent soreness of a splinter stuck in your hand.

Being dropped into a new environment is very challenging, this is the most challenged I’ve ever been. I am finding that my normal way of attacking challenges has to be altered to work in this environment — I need to bite off smaller pieces and chew, then go back for more. My goal is to accomplish 1 thing every day, this is a low bar for me, but it’s what I need to be able to work in this new environment.

My new role is bittersweet because I left a situation and team that I was very familiar with, but now my horizons are much broader and I am adding skills to my résumé that I could not at my old employer. Leaving the known for the unknown is challenging for everyone, but a little more challenging for people on the spectrum.

I enjoy the days when I can contribute something and accomplish a task, it gives me that dopamine hit that we all desperately crave. I think that feeling useful is a central desire and tenet of all employment, when we lose that we seek to find a new job. My outlook on this new role evolves on a daily basis, I am hopeful for the future and don’t regret the change.

By Phantom

Coder, sysadmin, maker, human

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