Sunday, September 29, 2013

Rest In Peace

I found myself horrified while watching a TED video today and it brought me back to a couple of instances that have happened over the last couple of years.

I found myself helping out a few people. The kind of scenario where someone has died and there's some sort of electronic trail left behind. A message on an answering service. A photo on a cellphone etc.

Every time something like this comes up I find myself thinking life, or rather, death, used to be easier. Our loved ones didn't linger around.

And if they did, it was unexpected. It was a photograph in an old family album that hadn't seen the light of day for many a year. It was seldom a voice.  Or, it should never be what the guy in that video suggests - that our online presence continues after we're gone. I don't object to a last post. A kind of "goodbye" but as much as the idea of digitizing our brains seems like really cool science fiction, there's something really creepy about it as well.

Think about who you are online as opposed to who you are in person. While it's not miles apart for me, it is different. There's a certain freedom to how we communicate in text. For starters, it lends itself well to forming the thoughts a lot more completely before communicating them. As opposed to the odd little clues that eventually grow into something that happens when you're talking. I seldom say "fornicate" or "phallus" in real life.

I've had cause to think about this lately. Someone said to me that they don't really know me. This feels really strange to me. I think I've accepted that you never really get to know people. You get some idea of their personality and attitude - that's the bit that feels important to me. There are the superficial things that may explain parts of their personality and attitude - like what they do for a living. For example, someone who's been within the military is likely to have a different perspective than a pacifist.

Which all leads to another interesting thought. What does this blog say about me? If someone were to get to know me via the blog and then meet me in person, how different would their expectation be compared to who I am in person?

And given that there's very likely a discrepancy between who you are, and who you appear to be online (this comes up in dating as well. A friend and I talked about this today - in terms of humour, it can be quite different in text in comparison to in person.), would you really want your loved ones remembering you for your online presence?

And if the online presence is an issue, how much contact with the dead is healthy? A séance proves that the dead are a bunch of phallus' (if it really is true). They're unclear. They talk in riddles. So clearly unhealthy. Following new posts in a dead person's twitter feed? Yep... creepy. How about if you're still able to hear the dead's voice?

There's definitely a scale here... I tend to think though, if you have digital photos and the like... imagine that the subject of that photo were to die... How safe are those photos? Or recordings? With the online storage options (Dropbox, Google Drive - though Google are a bunch of phallus' for STILL not releasing a Linux client) out there, I tend to think it's a failure of people (or their support) to have not backed up those files that could potentially be important to them. We don't need to get creepy about it...

Friday, September 20, 2013

Being Confused about What I Do

Whenever someone asks me what I do I find myself stumped. I don't really have a line for that question. It's really tiring, in a social situation, when people keep asking me... usually to the extent that I start taking the Mickey. "I skin people for a living. Killing them is extra". That sort of thing.

I think I've finally figured it out. What troubles me so much about defining what I do is the fact that the value I think I add is completely different to the value other people define me as having added.

There's evidence of this. At one stage I was getting paid but I was working ridiculous hours - days, nights, weekends etc. - and my health was really starting to suffer. I was getting shakes to the point of frustration and I just couldn't go on doing it. So I went to my boss and said "I can't keep doing this. If we're able to get someone to take care of the support, I can then focus on the development".

It turns out that the development was never in the contract. For all that work I had done and was finally getting paid for it, it wasn't for what I do but rather for the support around it. This was probably one of my lowest points. Finding out I was only valued for work that anyone straight out of high school could do.

This may come as a surprise to some people but support to me is just a form of user feedback collection. If you can see what's going wrong and get it straight from the horse's mouth you're able to have a very user-centric approach to your development. The user feedback is important.

But no one ever sees the nerd working away in a dark corner uttering spells of usage and functionality which, once produced, seems natural and like nothing at all... So if you then run the numbers... I got paid less than $20,000 in total for the development I've done. $40,000 for support one year and $26,000 for another year. Over three years, that falls short of $30,000 per year.

Of that money: if schools have to open for 192 days / year, and it costs around $12  / day in transport (assuming I'm not having to move from one end of the cluster to the next in one day) then it's around $2,300 / year just in transport. Working crazy hours also means that you don't really get time for decent food.... which means I also ended up spending quite a bit on food.

In other words, I know what I am and what I do. It's just that it's never been valued. In which case, if it's not what I'm paid for, can I say that it's my job? It turns out I find the things that people value in my work to be really depressing.

So I'm left in a bit of a quandary. I can say what it is I was paid for which I find horrendously demeaning, or I can state where I think I add value and be proud of it but it's all a lie given that no one else saw any value in it...

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Capitalism Refugee

A friend of mine used the term "Capitalism Refugee" yesterday. I love it! What a brilliant term! It kind of describes me at the moment. Where do we go when we stop believing in the big lies?

The big lies you ask? Remember the Debate on the Prime Ministers Statement 2013? ACT got up and pretty much equated being hard working with being rich. Obviously if you're not well off, you're just not working hard enough. So me being poor means that I just haven't worked hard enough... Given that I had to dial it all back because it was having an inverse effect on my health because days, nights and weekends was just way too much...

I've decided that mass gambling is one of those great lies. Mass gambling? National Lotteries... In New Zealand's case, it's Lotto. Just about everyone's retirement plan is to win Lotto. They wouldn't need to if they worked a little harder... Sorry.... I probably shouldn't try to be sarcastic while writing. But imagine it. If people didn't have that hope of getting lucky and living out the rest of their lives in relative luxury, would they so willingly participate in capitalism?

Money is not important. Think about it. Money gets you things or services... You get stuff. That stuff is what's important. Money is little more than an abstraction. For whatever reason we seem to stop thinking about the stuff and obsess over how much wealth we've accumulated. At some point, those getting up in the world would say to themselves "actually.... I'm good. I've got the life I want. I can stop accumulating wealth now". That doesn't happen.

Charity is one of those really interesting things. I'm not saying that it's necessarily bad, but it does feel like a band aid. Those with wealth who are able to donate a lot of money are celebrated as philanthropists. To me it feels like a great big giant lie. We're giving with one hand, but taking with the other. In order to have accumulated that wealth, we've had to step on people. Those at the bottom of the stack who are quite probably living hand to mouth for example aren't sharing in that wealth. They've been stepped on but... well... at least they have a job. Are the guys in the factory working less hard than those guys in the office?

They have a job.... that they probably hate but have to have the job in order to have money... so that they can live. Because obviously, you can't live without money... That's the capitalist way! And it's immoral not to make those jobs right? Except that... well... are the jobs that are around really necessary? Do they not kind of feel like jobs created for the sake of having jobs?

In an ideal economy, we would be working far fewer hours and maintaining brilliant lifestyles. Instead, the cost of everything around us goes up under the terrible guise of inflation (which doesn't take into account living costs - the rise of oil prices for example has had a profound effect on the pricing of just about everything). So prices go up - look at the New Zealand housing market for example. While a house used to cost around twice the average yearly income, it's now around five times the average yearly income.

The status quo simply isn't working. It's a wonder people aren't demanding to be granted capitalism asylum... or, is this a good description of what the occupy movement was all about? People lost their jobs and houses etc. due to what those at the top did. The people, the 99%, didn't suddenly one day decide to stop working quite so hard. A whole bunch of people found themselves in trouble for something they hadn't done. The lies were proven to be lies and they protested... Essentially something has to be done. The leftist elite approach to it probably wasn't the best way to approach it but there was a message there and one which I think was dismissed to a large part.

Essentially we could think of each of those participating in the occupy movement and millions of others as capitalism refugees. People seeking out capitalism asylum. If we stopped being dismissive of these people, perhaps we could start to work on a more.. humane and fair system.


A very long time ago I had this situation where I asked out a girl that I care about and she told me that she was into my best friend...

This scenario could play out in several different ways. There's what I call "the phallus card" (actually... the way I say it, that middle word rhymes with Rick).

This all goes back to the bro code. Basically the bro code is something that males use to manage relationships between themselves. The general idea is this. If a guy likes a girl and his friend then meets the girl and also likes her, then it's incumbent on the second guy to essentially ask permission.

Here's the thing. The bro code is more about saving face. The girl will pick who the girl will pick (or not as the case may be). So it's a chance for the first guy to be cool with it. "The phallus card" is basically not being cool with it. They're playing the phallus... They're implying some sort of exclusivity.

In my case though, this scenario played out very differently. It wasn't about the bro code or saving face or anything. If I care about someone, then I want to see them happy. No two ways about it. It's even better when it's 2 people you care about.

In saying that, it still does hurt just a little. There are a few people around me that I care for and hoped things may have started - but then, I don't think we would be right for each other, or I've given it a shot and they've told me they're not into me. Sure, things go the other way as well. Those who were uncomfortable by me caring about them "in that way"... or whatever.

It's always easier, despite it perhaps hurting a little, to be allowed to care for someone even if they don't reciprocate those feelings than to be told (or have it implied) that your feelings are invalid. To stop having feelings. In which case, communication is key.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

If I Disappear

I'm starting to have some real anxiety issues at the moment. While walking I just get the urge to find a cave so that I can just watch the world go on without me for a little while while I puff away (I don't mean smoking - I'm a non-smoker. I mean that anxiety fueled "Oh crap, oh crap, oh crap...." breathlessness) trying not to freak out at random people around me.

So there's a chance that I may just disappear for a little while and stop writing and just... I don't know... Try and figure out where I fit.

At the moment I don't seem to really be fitting anywhere. I don't mean "fitting in" in a social way, but more.... Where do I fit into this world?

This world that's so full of boxes (labels, skill sets, job descriptions etc.), and disappointment (I recently had the displeasure of seeing a document that felt as if it were a dossier of my failures. Things like not managing perceptions properly, not socializing what Tartare Source is and how much power it really has, accepting the limitations placed on the system by others rather than challenging them for the sake of the user, not socializing plans for future development etc.), and injustices (we're fed this line that hard working people get their share - such is the way of capitalism), and expectations (I've never been good at managing these) etc.

So if I do disappear, I probably won't be too far away. I just need to get some... direction... certainty... less anxiety... into my life.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Getting to Grips with Different Leagues

I pointed out a poster to someone for the Auckland Roller Derby League when I was suddenly asked if I'd ever been to a bout... It turns out I was meeting one of the players... Funny how I keep stumbling across roller derby things...

There are two leagues in Auckland. You can recognise them by the posters.

The Auckland Roller Derby League always have a really boring blue uniform and the photos always kind of look like they're a bunch of girls colliding into each other while doing figure skating - the posters I've seen so far are dark with what looks like spot lights on them.

Compare that to the Pirate City Rollers who generally have a big theatrical, meet some of the players kind of a poster.

Big difference right? The Auckland Roller Derby League concentrate on the sport more so than the theatrics. To me this feels like a mistake as it just doesn't look like fun. Rather than a bunch of holy crapballs on toast kick butt people out there embodying a persona, they're looking to be athletes. It's just that it feels less... engaging. Rather than cheering on the individual, you're kind of stuck with a bunch of people who all look kind of the same.

So I know where I'd rather spend my money (though it's worth noting that it's $5 cheaper to go to a ARDL game). I am getting to a point. In a fit of curiosity, I did a search on "derby roller" (it turns out the order of search terms on youtube matters. Who knew?) in youtube and came across a short video that had an interesting point in it.

They're talking about their league being a volunteer organisation and that to be "legitimate" or whatever, they have to lose a piece of themselves. What does that look like?

Remembering of course that each league does have sponsors.

This struck me as interesting as it kind of brings the two leagues into an interesting contrast. ARDL (Auckland Roller Derby League) talk about how their league is more about the game. It's not just for the spectators. It's their league. The Pirate City Rollers seem able to charge a little more but how much of what happens is a popularity thing?

I'm not sure the question is all that valid really... or rather, I would think that part of the appeal of the game is the dressing up and finding that confidence to be in a full contact sport and having that separation from the mundanity of everyday life. In which case, it's still about the players. Sort of a version of Fight Club (except that the first rule of Derby is you will talk about derby because it's awesome!). But that also introduces a problem. Some players are held up as heroes while others flounder. Either which way, I'm sure the separation of the leagues felt like a personal conflict at the time...

Sunday, September 15, 2013


I was catching up with Renedox's blog and came across a post that had me thinking (I also stole the picture from the blog).

The blog post talks about being paralyzed by fear as you try to play out the possible scenarios in any social situation leading to awkwardness. We often use the offhand term "over thinking" to describe this though I think it's a kind of anxiety disorder.

I had it. I probably still do. For example, I saw someone breathless yesterday just as I was leaving somewhere and haven't seen them since in which case, I'm feeling very anxious about it. I know they're fine... I've had it confirmed from other people.

But in my head I'm playing out the scenarios. For the most part, in social situations, I do tend to overcome that paralyzation... for the most part. It's still a thing. it's just not as big a thing. There's an episode of "The Big Bang Theory" that explains this very well.

Actually I've been feeling quite a lot of anxiety of lot. I'm feeling really uncertain about just about everything. In terms of my vocation I've been contemplating a life outside of computers.

Yeah... I know... huge right? Well okay... Huge for me. I've wanted to be involved in computers and/or electronics since I was.... well... I don't know. Initially it was robots and moved to computers and I remember when I wanted to get into computers but robots... that's a mystery.

But I'm now at a stage where I'm wondering if there's ANY demand for a desktop Linux person. Any offer I've had of late has been to set up some sort of infrastructure or backend - stuff I hate. And I hate having to do an inadequate job... which means I don't really have much choice but to be a contractor or consultant - someone working for themselves (I had to look this one up. Apparently "themself" is the logical singular form of "themselves" but isn't widely accepted). But if there's no demand for someone like me... Then my career is effectively dead. Where to now? Do I try and find that niche or do I move on? And if I were to move on, where would I move on to?

And in my private life.... well.... yeah.... There's something happening though I have to say - I really hate feeling this vulnerable. Enslaved to the beeps - which admittedly is better than waiting by the telephone but still.... it all leads to anxiety.

It's all kind of getting to me. My sleep patterns are kind of stuffed. I was walking today and found myself breathless. I just wish there was some certainty to my life at the moment.... but then... that's not the way life works.

This was supposed to be this really positive post about how things have changed. I've quit smoking. I've shaved. I'm comfortable talking to a wide variety of people despite my anxieties (though first meetings are still tricky)... But given that I've kind of just spurted what's on my mind at the moment the title of this post doesn't really fit... Sod it. I've written it. I don't think it's particularly bad... though chances are I'll come to hate this post within the next year... or something.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Bad Representatives

We have a great big giant problem in parliament at the moment. They're just not asking the right questions. I was just watching an episode of "The Debate" where they had a team made up of opposing politicians (those in parliament but not in power) and a team made up of politicians currently within power.

They're debating Labour's - gotten from the Green's - policy around foreign ownership. To me it's simply the wrong question. The question is more, "Why are houses so expensive?". And I would say it's a cultural thing. For as long as I can remember I was told to invest in housing because the housing market never goes down.

That's a problem. That's a great big giant problem. The word used was "invest". We're mixing terms here which mean quite different things. While we're saying there's a housing crisis and that first home buyers are effectively locked out of the market, no one seems to want to talk about the elephant in the room. We all expect to buy property and have it increase in value. It's not a home. It's an investment. We've been weighting things towards it being an investment for a very long time (look at the drop of interest prices during the recession in order to simulate the market).

So housing is about our national economic health. I'm really starting to hate those words - national economic health. We're quite willing to sacrifice people and, in this case, their homes, in favour of our national economic health. Does that economic health reach our most vulnerable? Should we not be asking about how to house everyone rather than how does everyone get rich off it?

Personally I'm in favour of property values keeping their current values UNLESS some sort of value add has been added to that property. Effectively, land value stays the same. The house may increase in value based on what has been done to it but may also decrease due to the same issue. But if land value couldn't change anymore property is no longer an investment. Really.... how many homes does a single family need? Demand would drop, houses would mysteriously become available. People would be housed, and better yet, would own those homes so there's a sense of ownership...

Do we need xenophobic policies? No. Is keeping the status quo going to help? No. Does increasing the "housing stock" help? Probably not - it's a temporary solution. How do we get politicians and parliament to ask the right questions? I don't have a clue... perhaps an email?

Friday, September 13, 2013

Enslaved by Beeps and Loving the Internet

When I write about people - especially if I've never blogged about them before and they're not generally public figures i.e. I never do this for politicians, I tend to try and email people and invite them to have a read of the post and get me to remove it if they so wish. None of them ever have and until recently, none of them have ever replied.

Recently I say? Samara replied. That was really nice. I have no idea if she recognized who I am or anything - I at the very least have some idea that I left a last impression in that I pointed out the passion fruit cider on tap at the bar and later that's what I saw her drinking. Actually I'm probably being a little unfair here. There was a sentiment that hopefully we'd meet again. I suspect that I'd be more than a little reserved if someone was gushing over me that much. Though it'd be one way to get me to stop typing...

But even cooler, remember the Marmite picture by Hayley Heartbreak? She offered to send me a copy. I know - I've mentioned this earlier. It's just that it really does just have me thinking about just how brilliant the Internet is. I want the Internet to challenge traditional distribution methods and get rid of the middle men. For people to start thinking of copyright as a right rather than a tradable commodity used to get their work seen as valuable rather than obscure.

Speaking of that. After the initial email from her, I'd replied back and then nothing... not a beep. Absolutely nothing. So after a few days I sent her another email making sure I hadn't scared her off with my gushy and long email.

I should explain the beep bit. I have this love hate relationship with beeps. Beeps tell me that people have been thinking about me. It's a SMS message or an email. A lot of the time it's that old anxiety that was waiting around at home for days on end for the phone to ring. I'm waiting for that one special email or SMS message. It's nice having someone thinking about me. It's so much better when it's that one you've been waiting for. The one piece of communication that can make or break your day.

But the hate bit. Beeps are my invisible master. I hear a beep and I'm up looking for something to do.... unload the dishwasher. Unload the washing machine. My phone's flat. Someone's been thinking of me and needs to be replied to NOW. Whatever was in the microwave is now finished. And there are people who just abuse the power of beeps and send you 20 odd SMS messages within the space of 10 minutes - and it's just not the SMS you've been waiting for... So quite often you'll find me yelling at the fornicating emitter of the beep. It's somewhat worse when you don't know what's emitting the beep. There's a beep... and then 3 minutes later, the exact time that I generally stop looking, there's another damn beep!

The beeps are my invisible masters. Never mind the giant iPod's forcing us to build them pyramids.... or whatever. It's the beeps. The beeps have taken over my life. I live for the beeps....

What does this have to do with Hayley Heartbreak? She's a really nice person and was apologising for not having responded earlier. I was a little troubled by the email and so didn't reply right away. When I did I apologised. I often forget that not everyone is as enslaved to the beeps as I am.

Hayley Heartbreak apologising for not being enslaved just feels... odd.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Limited Use Computers

There's a trend in computing at the moment around limited use computers. People don't seem to be looking at what they could do. They're looking at what they can do. This presents somewhat of a problem for me.

If people are no longer yearning for more and looking for ways that things could be improved, they're essentially saying "it's good enough". This is in direct conflict with my mantra - "there must be a better way".

I have a friend looking at low cost low power machines for a sort of distributed personal server set up with an eye for privacy. He's not happy with what was revealed about the NSA so he's saying to himself "there must be a better way". Encrypted email, offfsite back up, even search nodes could all be done on these cheap machines.

Meanwhile, I've reading been forums and the like and I find myself kind of..... disgusted with what people are willing to put up with. Take the MS Surface RT for example. Currently retailing in NZ for around $430, the only thing it has going for it is it's integration with an office suite. It can't run other software (which feels like a great big watering down of the MS brand. i.e. the argument for Windows over Linux is that you can't run X piece of software on Linux) except for that available in the apps store specifically for that platform. So to me it feels like a great big giant bust. MS have already written off a major loss on the platform. One of the big indicators here is that apparently (I haven't looked this up myself. It's all hearsay though really... you should take anything in this blog with a grain of salt) there are no other web browsers available on the platform. You're stuck with MS Internet Explorer. This may not be due to a lack of interest in developing for the platform, but rather, which I think is much more likely, that MS have control over deployment mechanisms and so can effectively censor what can be installed and what can't. A trick they learnt from Apple.

However, we know that MS is continuing down this road with more ARM based devices and there are fans of the platform out there. They are those who see the integration of MS Office as important to the exclusion of just about any other task.

Likewise with Chromebooks. Machines designed to run one OS (and specifically, Google's version of the OS). While the machines themselves, the processor, kernel etc. are designed to run fully fledged environments, it seems people are happy with just a browser. Those more ... intensive tasks i.e. those not suited to a cloud environment, aren't catered for.

I remember a few years ago I was pricing up a computer for someone and asked them "What do you want to be able to do on it?". And the response?


It seems like people no longer think in these terms. I think this may be a symptom of information overload - a great nod to Alvin Toffler's book "Future Shock". We are capable in a way that we have never been before. Take the recent blogs about art for example. At what point could a computer geek talk about visual art on a mass scale? The communication that resulted in the background as a result was brilliant. Samara was flattered, Hayley Heartbreak offered to send me a print of the Marmite picture.

While we ourselves are capable, I worry that for commercial interests, that capability is being distilled down into limited corporate interests. The big things that changed the world are likely to not be possible in a less free, more corporate dictated world. The shake up that peer to peer sharing did to the music industry who were talking about, not how to adapt and make things better for their audience in this new medium, but rather, how to kill off the Internet. I would argue that the likes of Youtube could not exist if corporate interests had their way. The fear of IP (Intellectual Property. I object to this term as it implies a certain... exclusive right to knowledge) breach would have stopped any sort of readily usable video streaming technology in its tracks.

In which case, in a very abstract Freedom (though you could argue that the changes we've seen on a societal level make the abstract very concrete) sort of a way, we need to go back to the "Everything" response. Don't be happy with limited use devices. Challenge this thinking. Does it do EVERYTHING you want to do? Does it have room for you to do the things you might want to do in the future?

While the rate of change likely has us upgrading our devices more often, if we care about those things around us that have most of us feeling guilty for our use of consumable packaging and the like i.e. the environment, then our devices should be able to last us 3+ years. In which case, it's not just the now but the future that we need to be worried about. Just think about what's been accomplished in the last 3 years - that rate of change - and double it for the next 3 years. Is that device you're buying going to be able to keep up? If it's stuck within corporate interests, what's the bet they're going to tell you that you have an old obsolete piece of hardware and need to upgrade?

In which case, it's within the consumers best interest to reject limited use computers. Computers aren't appliances - your toaster and jug has probably lasted a few many years. Your iPhone however...

Monday, September 9, 2013

My Relationship with Art

I figured given that I said something about really digging art I thought I'd write a bit about the pieces I own - but firstly.... Once upon a time I earnt way too much money. I had stacks of cash and art is not such a bad investment. Even better, I was helping out friends. When I left high school and went into tertiary education, it turned out I had more friends in art than I did in my own department (electronics).

I'm into things that speak to me rather than looking at balance, use of space etc. So the pieces that I've recently come across (I mean within the last day) that really speak to me (though admittedly in a really pop culture sort of a way) are these:

Both are from Hayley Heaertbreak who I found from going even further down the rabbit hole. The first one... it's just a fantastic reference to pop culture (Dr. Strangelove) with what was at the time current affairs. I would love for that to be a poster on my wall. The second one illustrates how I'm feeling about my career at the moment - a great big giant leap but unfortunately a bit of a miss.... Hayley Heartbreak's facebook page is here and her tumblr page is here. I was going to include her twitter account but it seems to have very little to do with her art.

I've got this thing about art. If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then art is just the things you appreciate. So it's perfectly valid to walk into a gallery and say "that's not art". You shouldn't be judged for it... or at least, judged as uncultured. Rude perhaps - also very valid - but not uncultured.

Unfortunately, the artists of the pieces I actually own don't have a fantastic online presence. It's a generational thing I suppose. So I'll have to take images of the bits I've got. The bits that I can put up now... Jane Thorne has some pieces out there. She uses bugs and skeletons in agonizing detail to tell a story. The title of the work is usually as important as the paintings themselves.

I'll post some stuff up when the light's a little better and I have access to a camera that doesn't completely suck (my phone was never brought for its camera).

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Accidental Stalking

I've had this really odd experience of late. We all know by now that I've become a bit of derby fan. It turns out there are fan groups on facebook (thanks for the link Baillie).

I got to talk to one of my heroes after the game I went to last
weekend. Lady Trample. I looked her up for a blog post and found out that her name is Samara. I found myself a touch disappointed. She's a character, and now, instead of the "holy crapballs on toast, she's brilliant on a pair of skates, and is just plain cool" derby goddess that is Lady Trample, she's now a real person with a real name. Reality's over rated.

I was noting my disappointment to someone and followed the rabbit a little further down the rabbit hole. It turns out she's an artist who studied/studies? at Whitecliffe.

Most of the people around me know that I'm into art so I found myself curious. I wonder what her stuff is like?

Still being a little disappointed that I know too much about the person behind the character, I haven't looked up her work until tonight. I was surprised to find that I know the work... it's been plastered all over the place by Chorus with the taglines "What will you be with Ultra Fast Broadband?" or "What will you be without Ultra Fast Broadband?". The silly bit is that her name is on the posters and so on some level I probably knew. Anyway - if you want to have a look at some of her other work (I'm kind of tempted by the Dinermite Doll t-shirts but then I'm broke an' stuff - it'd make a pretty cool birthday pressie though.), her facebook page has all sorts going on as well as her tumblr page having loads of easier to go through content.

Which is back within my wheelhouse - don't get me started on how slow the uptake of UFB is going to be. I hate being at conferences and the like where you have a bunch of geekboys tell you that it needs to be faster when there really isn't the content available legally for a New Zealand audience for most New Zealanders to see a justification in the cost. On the other hand, if it leads to New Zealanders being able to produce more content (but for crying out loud - please no more cats), then it's well worth it.

I don't really get what Samara's artwork has to do with UFB... but there you go. It's funny how these things all seem to go full circle.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Customer is Always Right

Renedox, a very good friend of mine, did a blog post a couple of months ago that's been bothering me.

The term "The customer is always right" , which has entered into our everyday vernacular, is seldom understood. As Renedox points out, it's more a statement in support of trusting to the market.

What really bothers me about it though is that it assumes that the customer has all the facts in order to make an informed choice. This is very seldom the case. Big companies hide the facts and fight for legislation to keep the customer blissfully unaware.

Badges/icons on packaging that are supposed to let us know what's going on are forms of branding only allowing for higher prices to be charged OR only meet the conditions of those icons under certain circumstances (the heart foundation tick is an interesting one. Milo did have the tick but dropped it 8 months after getting it due to the product being close to 50% sugar). How free range are the chickens who lay free range eggs?

if we knew half of what went on within the chocolate industry, around slavery, we probably wouldn't eat chocolate. Our clothing is much the same - the conditions people work and live in for us to have jeans and the like might make us consider buying locally produced clothing (Mahatma Gandhi would be proud). If manufacturers were honest about the pollution produced by all of our disposable mobile devices, we would be thinking harder about whether we really need that next shiny new generation of whatever fang dangled device.

In which case, the statement doesn't hold true. The customer can't ever be right if we're not honest with the customer...

Horrified at my Blog

We had some visitors to Tangleball - one of which followed the link on the footer of my email to this blog. She was horrified. She took a friend aside and told him to have a quiet whisper in my ear as it was probably better coming from him.

Here's the thing. Before the blog I had great difficulty finding a job. There was an instance in the weekend when someone asked me what I do and I kind of looked blank and said "I'm not really sure at the moment". Someone else explained while I stood there chewing it all over. I just don't sell myself well and the only time I've ever gotten a job is when I've been able to prove myself.

One of the very few jobs I turned down, I was asked to accept the job because I was horrified by something they saw as acceptable. It was a magnetic strip card printing place where attention to detail was paramount. They gave me a list of names to type in. That was it. Except that I corrected the case. So only the first letter of the name was a capital. Turns out they wanted it all in caps. So I then threw in a formula in Excel and had it corrected but when they'd thought I had finished, I'd cut, and then pasted the altered values back over the stuff I'd typed in. Why? Because if you're looking at a lot of these files, you really want them to be consistent. No odd missing columns or anything. That means - do not hide columns. Make the sheet exactly as you'd do it if you knew exactly what they wanted from the get go.

In the end I chose not to take the job as it had a few really bad signs. They were still using floppy disks. Not all of the machines they were using had USB sockets (making floppies their best option). Everything was stand alone. This indicated a strong reluctance to spend any money and that's not a place you want to be working. But the point stands - it was the chance to prove myself - not what I said in an interview or what people knew of me that got me the offer.

Anyway, her problem with the blog is that I'm putting far too much of myself out there. If I'm ever going to be hired again, then this is a footprint that kills off any chances.

Should I have a problem with this? Should I attempt to be anonymous? Or find another outlet?

One of those things that really annoyed me growing up was being the youngest. 3rd in line for everything. It was never my music that you'd hear playing - it was my older siblings. Choice for bedrooms when getting to the new house? I got the smallest, dampest room. This lead, in some small way to my depression. Feeling constantly invisible. I had a voice - it just wasn't heard. So being anonymous isn't really an option.

Another outlet? Why? This one gives people things to relate to right? Even if I'm grumpy at times - this blog was born out of grumpiness by the way - I think this blog is for the most part positive. I can talk about the things that concern me such as what's happening in New Zealand politics. I can link to my friend's blogs about how they're going through much the same things that I'm going through. I was fascinated to see that I got my first +1 on the other day. My very first!

So if you are a potential employer reading my blog, it's probably worthwhile noting that this is probably a bit of a test for you too. If you take exception to this blog, then there's a pretty good chance that I would rather keep the blog than the job.... It's a chance....

As @peachesancream (on twitter) said:
New boyfriend is allergic to kitten so can't keep him :( He's ginger and named Tom. Friendly. Comes when called. 28yrs-old & works in IT.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Reconfirming My Awesomeness

Lynda's got a new post that I'm just loving and one that I really needed to read.

I've been having a crisis. I've been drinking someone else's cool aid. Rather than trusting to what I know, I've been taking on board other people's comments. This kind of happened last year except that I got angry and went with the jobless option just to do what I knew to be right.

Basically last year I was given an ultimatum. I could give up the paying job in favor of working on the image or I could accept that I was nothing more than a support pleb and keep getting paid. Of course, being awesome and broke sucks but doesn't suck quite as much as taking on board those limitations that people place on you.

This year though I've been told the image isn't scalable. I had accepted this as true until I realised what I had just done and what had me so frustrated. Just because Manaiakalani chooses not to use Tartare Source in a scalable way doesn't make it incapable of scaling. In fact, it's been built to be scalable. Hell - Manaiakalani do use some features such as the bookmarks and the like. It's just that they don't recognise it (whether that's intentional or not is a whole other matter. I'm finding it really hard to be trusting now given what I know and what doesn't get said).

So there are a whole lot of questions coming up. I have a problem with Chromebooks. They're generally better than netbook hardware (those limitations from Intel were just a mistake) BUT they're designed to only run a single operating system. This presents an issue. If MS could have made it so that machines could ONLY run Windows or, if not only, then provide some negative reinforcement for doing anything but running Windows, they'd be seen as being horrendously monopolistic. The other big thing about Chromebooks... they're severely restricted machines in that they are nothing more than an Internet Kiosk. Ever been to an airport and used an Internet machine there and thought "I want one of those!"? So if some of the most vulnerable people are being "encouraged" to buy Chromebooks, what's the message that they're being given? To me it has that "good enough for you" feel as opposed to "Good enough for all of us".

So to me the image creates equality. It's fully functional. It's "holy crapballs on toast you're still in control of your own hardware" ethically aware. There's no messing about with proprietary rubbish that disregards the user. It keeps money within the New Zealand economy. It caters to the users rather than dictating how it has to be used. It's scalable and portable (desktops and netbooks). In a word, it's awesome. It's awesome because I made it awesome. I made it awesome because I'm awesome.

There we go... No need for me to feel down (except for the lack of a job bit). I'm awesome...

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Roller Derby - 31st August, 2013 - Brawl Stars vs. All Scars

Last night I went out to a roller derby game and it's official - I'm a great big giant fan boy.

The Northern Brisbane Rollers - Brawl Stars came out strong showing off a depth of experience, especially when the Pirate City Rollers - All Scars' jammer ended up in the sin bin. It was obvious early on that they knew how to maximise these opportunities.

The second half was an entirely different game as the All Scars did well to shut down the Brawl Stars with an impressive big hitting blocker line and some strong defensive tactics.

For me though, it was the focused jammers that had me enthralled. Lady Trample did well to find the gaps and keep the momentum going (and I got to have a conversation with her a little later on which was just plain cool).

Final score:
   Brawl Stars: 211
   All Scars: 80

So fan boy... I'm thinking I might use these games to have a play with a completely different style of writing....

Labour's Major Screw Up

I'm of the opinion that National can't get back into power during the next election.... that is unless there is absolutely no alternative. Currently, the next party up - the one most likely to get into power - is screwing up.

We've got a great big giant leadership thing going on. David Cunliffe comes across as a swarmy git. Shane Jones really should be in the Maori party - everything comes down to Maori and Pacifica issues with a disregard to other kiwis. Grant Robertson looks like a return to days gone by. I'm sorry Grant Robertson, but if you become leader, Labour will lose votes overnight.

Why? The problem for me is that people have voted. They don't like Labour. So Labour HAS to reinvent itself. I don't mean reinvent as in "create xenophobic policies" but rather, start being more focused on people. It will all come down to the people. Talk to them, listen to them, acknowledge them. Labour's downfall for me was when Section 92A was happening and Judith Tizard disregarded the select committees findings. So Labour needs to be about people.

Labour can not afford to be the Labour of old. That means Grant Robertson, who looks like a younger David Lange, really shouldn't be the face of the party. It's just not smart.

Who does that leave? The party needs a great big giant shake up and in terms of public perception, a face that reflects that. Thus far Phil Goff and David Shearer have not been these people and the current candidates are a further step in the wrong direction. That leaves just one choice for me. Jacinda Ardern. She's horrendously young but presents a face that yells out "We're all about change".

And heaven knows, we need a change toward people rather than corporations...

Birthday Frustration

It's the end of my birthday celebrations and I'm finding myself quite ... angry. Peeved. Annoyed. Frustrated etc.

After 3 years of doing awesome stuff there's something that has me really depressed about the idea that I'm just going to have to abandon the work I've done if I ever want to make a living. Not a fortune. A living. There's a part of me that thinks I might as well take a sledge hammer to my head rather than (or in addition to?) try to do a mediocre, holy crapballs on toast I am so bored, job. I might as well be doing data entry... Hell... I'll go looking for data entry jobs tomorrow.

Mid thirties and I've figured out the world in general kind of bites. When people ask me what I do I say to them that I don't really know. I'm not really doing anything at the moment except being peeved off and trying to do stuff with Tangleball. What have I done? It doesn't matter - you can't make a living off any of it. It's ridiculous that I should be this poor for this long doing the sort of work that I've been doing. Stark raving nuts.

And the most depressing bit about it? I'm still, to a large degree, marginalized. Or rather, the work I do is marginalized. Instead of the entire product taken into account, it's a bit of it. So I got paid to do desktop support (hint:- desktop support is normally considered an entry level job) without any regard to the development work I needed to do (while the expectation to do development work never changed to line up with the paid work).

And now there are discussions around how to do what I've done for the next 3 years in a sustainable way. The really galling bit about it is that none of it involves me. I would not get paid as I'm not considered sustainable...

The main problem though: I'm really angry. Being angry is tiring and tends to burn bridges (though I'm not sure I care at this point. If the bridges were ever going to lead something, they would have by now). I don't want to be angry. I want to be paid to be awesome rather than trying to force myself to be mediocre. How's that for a job description? Just be awesome. Not all the time - but enough of the time to make it worthwhile... So yeah... Tired, angry, frustrated...