I've worked for Inexo since January of 2007. To be honest, looking at the emails from that time when I was applying for a position there, there was a clue that maybe things weren't as sound as they seemed on the surface. But I thought that maybe since they were a small company, that I had to have patience...
My patience finally wore out this morning.
After spending almost a year and half being owed a none-too-small sum in back pay, and having almost no health insurance (I did have dental insurance)...all the while working as best as I know in the hope that the company would pull out of its doldrums and return to how it operated before...ultimately I just couldn't take it anymore. I feel I have nothing to lose, and maybe more to gain, by leaving instead of staying. Even in this economy, I'm fairly certain I'll find another development position somewhere. Maybe even one with benefits.
Working late, even if it was only for an hour or two, cut too much into my time for the Stanford classes. I've therefore unenrolled from the AI class, and wrote the following note to the professors:
Dear Professors Thrun and Norvig:
It is with a heavy and sad heart and mind that I must unenroll from this course. It isn't the course, and it isn't the work; I've spent many, many hours over the past few weeks studying, taking the quizzes, and reading the book. Units 2 and 3 made me want to tear my hair out, but I persevered, and didn't do too bad (I think) on the homework, even though I did terrible on the questions in the videos.
The servers being down earlier this week has influenced my decision; I work (well, worked) full time, so I only had my evening time to work on this course, and the ML class. Every hour missed had to be made up in some manner. I've been under stress at my job on a project; ultimately because of it, and where I feel I am at in my life at 38 years of age - something needed to change.
This morning I quit my job (web application developer). I wish I could say that would allow me more time for this course, but I can't. I need to step back, and see what I can do differently. I do want to say that this course opened my eyes to possibilities; I honestly think that had things been slightly different, I could've completed both courses. Maybe in the future, if this class is offered again, I'll re-enroll, and try my hand at it a second time.
In the meantime, I'll keep the book close, and my notes closer; both will come in handy as I continue to develop my homebrew UGV. It may not ever win a DARPA challenge, but that's ok. Heck, if I can get it to navigate my back yard without getting stuck, I'll be happy.
Thank you both for this wonderful opportunity, for me, and for everyone else. We all truly appreciate it.
I'm going to try to stick with the ML class. I'm a bit behind as of today, but maybe I can catch up and get the homework submitted this weekend. Time will tell whether it lasts or not.
I'll admit that maybe I "bit off more than I could chew" in taking on both classes. At the time I did so, I didn't think my workload at Inexo was going to be so stressful. I think the final turning point was last night, when my boss basically made it clear to me that my working at Inexo should come before my dreams; that I had taken on too much, and that I should either drop my classes, or resign.
So what is my dream? Thinking about it, I guess my real dream has always been to build a robot. I've always wanted it to be something that I could be proud of building, proud of programming, proud of learning from. A machine through which I could advance my knowledge of mechanics, programming, electronics, and artificial intelligence, while at the same time helping to inspire others to pursue a similar goal. Enrolling in the ML and AI classes at Stanford was a part of that dream. I thought that by taking those classes, I could advance myself in realizing my dream. Even though I had to drop one, and I might still have to drop the other, I won't let that stop me.
Unfortunately, dreams don't pay bills. Maybe someday I can point to my robot and say it helped in my getting a job, or started me down a different career path, or inspired me to start a business, but not today. Instead, I start a new chapter in my life, away from Inexo. I'll continue to work on my robot, try to stay on top of my ML class at Stanford, and ultimately look for my next employer.