This is entirely random. But the more I think about it, and evaluate my employment options come May, the more I get the feeling that I'm a Product Person. First, a few counter-points.
I love/hate math. Really, I love logic, which is why I am repeatedly drawn back in computer science and engineering stuff in general. Nothing beats pouring through tech specs on a new device or technology. And I do love the thrill of squashing that bug and troubleshooting something into oblivion. But when it comes down to algorithm design or optimization, I start to glaze over and I get bored. It's not that it's hard, it's that after a while, something so deeply mathematic starts to bore me and I look for something more broadly complex. Something larger.
I understand networking. Well. Not only that, but the history of the stuff is fascinating as well. But I can explain TCP/IP, and "how routing protocols help route routed protocols" (Cisco CCNA 3.0). Routers, switches, and big telco metal are tons of fun and do present the kind of troubleshooting and design challenges that I revel in on a technical level. Elegance in network design and the knowledge that our fiber link isn't going to collapse upon itself like so many dying stars is tremendously rewarding. But here again, I eventually get bored. Things are always exciting yes, but they do start to fall into patterns for me, and things can become so process oriented and slow (for good reason) that creativity is often stifled and the new and dangerous don't really have a chance to flourish.
Then, there's Product and Design.
Both are essentially creative endeavours, and both (in the right org) are going to be pushing the envelope to something prettier, more useful, faster, and so on. Moreso than design, I see Product as being a sort of 3,000 feet high view of a single product/design/problem with the fun problem-solving part being the before, during and after "vision" fiddly bits. The way my brain sees it, is that when designing and guiding a product, you're constantly solving a puzzle. If you're lucky, you start at the beginning so you get to choose your foundation and initial direction, in either case you're having to be consistently one step ahead, choosing the next move in anticipation of what will follow, and steering the big ship on a dime (as some would say) to course correct for any missteps that follow. In my experience, the fun parts always come together in crisis, such as in the STS mission simulator when you're acting as Flight Director and you just realized that the Shuttle has lost usage of two fuel cells and is in the middle of a docking maneuver with the ISS. The best of times are often the worst of times, if for no other reason than you survived.
At the end of this midnight excursion, I finally found the perfect analogy for all of this. Chess.
Chess club taught me two things. 1, move your pieces forward quickly, aggressively, and intelligently (react, not reactive). And 2, never ever underestimate the power of dumb luck.