The next job I got was at JPSnet, in May of 1998. This would prove to be one of my all-time favorite jobs, mainly due to the combination of cool people, good location, interesting work, and bizarre experiences that I enjoyed at this job. I made some great friends there, several of whom I am still in contact with.

JPSnet (or just JPS, as most of us called it) was one of the largest nationwide internet service providers in the days before Eathlink, AOL, and MSN ruled the world. They were eventually swallowed by Earthlink, which was too bad – but they were a pretty great company to work for while they lasted.
They hired me because their primadonna in-house designer chick had quit suddenly. It’s odd that an ISP would even have such an employee (because it usually makes more sense to outsource all creative work), but nevertheless it had been deemed an important enough role within the company to warrant a full-time employee. That position had suddenly become vacant, and there was a ton of work that had to get done… so they were mainly looking for someone who was halfway competent that could take care of the workload and keep things rolling. After my interview, I was hired soon thereafter and became the guy assigned with this task. As indicated in my previous entry, it wasn’t difficult to leave D.B. Graphics. Here was a better job, in a cooler location, doing cooler work for cooler people, and it paid a lot more. And it was now mine.
JPS was located in the Union Bank of California building on the corner of 8th and L in downtown Sacramento. I now had to drive the Ghia all the way from my pad near CSUS to get to work, which was a drag. It costs about $6 to $12 a day to park in that part of town for an entire day, and after two days I decided I wasn’t interested in coughing up that kind of cash for parking. I instead made like everyone else I worked with, and took the light rail to work in the mornings. It was cool, because the station was right near my apartment – and the train dropped me off at our building.
During my time there, I worked closely with our marketing guys and had to do all of the design and production work for JPS’s national ad campaign. It was like doing the work of four people, and was freaking insane at first. It was very stressful, because of the sheer amount of money that goes into buying and placing ads in magazines and newspapers everywhere. I won’t get into the boring specifics here, but the general rule is this: when creating stuff for print distribution, everything has to be set up 100% absolutely unquestionably perfect – or the whole thing will print wrong. For example, if you overlook one tiny little obscure setting in a document that you send out (or don’t include every single one of your fonts and other resource files), it could end up being printed at the wrong size, the wrong color configuration, the wrong fonts, or might not even print at all. We had something like 12 different publications that I had to design for, each of which had totally different guidelines, schedules, and parameters for submitting ads. I felt like I was juggling chainsaws, but after a while I got into the role. The very fact that the seemingly impossible could be done was enough to keep me going. Eventually, I switched over to using Adobe Acrobat for all this stuff… and my life got a whole lot simpler. I credit Acrobat for helping me keep my sanity during that time.

Later on, I started doing more and more web design work within our internal design department. We set up cheap little websites for people who were unwilling to pay more than a hundred bucks. Working with people like that is surprisingly difficult, mainly because they’re so cheap – but also because they have no concept of how much quality web work actually costs.

I’ve got to say that working at a decent-sized ISP is a pretty interesting experience. When I first started there, we had roughly 100 people – the IT guys, the call center, sales, marketing, administration, and reception – all up on the 9th floor in that building. The place was abuzz 24 hours a day, and it provided a kind of cool, surreal work environment.

Unlike the job I had prior to this, my boss Gary was one of the best aspects of working at JPS. He immediately struck me as being a very cool guy — laid back, yet professional. He was the exact opposite of the supervisor I had before, and it was a real pleasure to be part of his team there. We all had a lot of fun, and
he and I actually became good friends – and remain to this day.

In January of ’99, I started getting some weird anonymous calls on my office phone. These continued and got progressively more entertaining, and thus began the Crazy Drunk Guy saga. That story is far too long to relate here, unfortunately. It’s also only one of a hundred different funny and random experiences that I had at this job.

I ended up leaving JPS in July of 1999 on the best of terms. I was sad to go, but I had an opportunity to move on to a better job – so I took it. I left behind a number of good friends, and it was pretty tough to leave. Nevertheless, I was on to something bigger, new, and exciting.