Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Worst Thing About Being Unemployed

There's so many things to pick from about being unemployed:
  • The realization that you have no skills anyone wants.
  • The lack of money.
  • Having to trawl through god awful job ads.
  • The templated rejection letters.
But none of these match up to the sudden lack of respect. I have this thing about time. Making someone wait is a really amazingly, make your blood boil, way to disrespect someone. I don't mean the one off "late in traffic" kind of making someone wait. I mean a pattern of it. Basically, if you expect someone to wait for you, you're implying that your time is more important than that person's. Sure, you might be one of those people who shrug their shoulders when you're late... again. It's not cute. It's god awful frustrating. You might as well spit in that someone's face - you're looking down your nose at them. Make a decision - either you're going to meet up with that person or you're not. If you're going to be late by more than ½ an hour, then cut the person loose. Let them get on with their lives without having to wait on you!

When you become unemployed, your plans don't matter anymore. If you want to spend a day doing something a little different... well tough luck buddy! It's just not a happening thing.

For me it's running. Getting out and pushing myself. Doing something that I can rely on myself to achieve as opposed to my fate being left in the hands of the employment gods. I'm determined to lose 15kgs this summer. So if I'm stopped because someone wants me to do something and then spend my day waiting for them to get their act together so that I can go and do what is really a simple task with them, I'm going to be furious. They've suddenly taken the one thing that I have some control over.

I should probably say something about why I find this so horrible. I grew up the youngest child (the youngest and the "mistake" i.e. unplanned) in a female dominated family (my mother's side of the family is almost all female). This meant that I was always given last pick (The one asthmatic in the family and I got the coldest dampest room) and that I was often left out (though I did manage to find someone to teach me how to knit) and generally just left in front of the TV when anything was going on (assuming no one else was watching it at the time). I had no value to anyone and I felt it. I often would act out - doing things just because it was against what someone else wanted me to do.

I strongly suspect that this is what lead to my low self esteem and depression. A world where you're just not valued in any way whatsoever is a really dark place to be.

So making me wait takes me back to being a kid with no sense of any respect given to me. I was a prop if anything. Which... given that I'm a bit of a workaholic, is what I am when I'm unemployed...

Saturday, October 26, 2013

"That Point"

I'm into "that point". The point of unemployment that I just Hate. Hate with a capital 'H'. The bit where friends and family start referring you to people who need "computer people".

I used to consider myself to be a generalist. I could do anything. Give me a platform, I'll figure my way around it. This didn't work in the least. Employers wanted specifics. They didn't want to know that you could figure out how to do something. They didn't care about your problem solving abilities. They wanted to know that you knew anything and everything about a specific piece of software (SAP, Peoplesoft... whatever). Which, given my experience, included things like "pushing" applications via Citrix, doing stuff with MS Systems Management Server, playing with Linux in order to generate configuration files for Lotus Notes (awk and sed), putting together complex solutions using VBA etc. None of which I saw as in the least bit important. The important bit was approaching the problem and finding a suitable solution. It's about fulfilling a need. Not about the solution used to get there (which I guess is why I'm so damn frustrated by society's over investment in a solution rather than keeping an eye on the aim).

This all goes to that problem in education where schools and the like are all convinced that we HAVE to teach our kids how to use MS Office - that it's a moral imperative and obviously to do otherwise would be doing the kids a disservice.... As opposed to looking at it and concluding "there's a set of problem solving skills need to use any office suite. If we taught our kids those skills rather than over investing in any one solution, our kids will be better equipped for the future".

But nowadays things are very different. I get on a MS Windows platform and I feel completely dis-empowered. Those things that I can do in Linux - those problems I can solve - I find myself looking for ways to solve it on a Windows platform and I'm stuck with what I feel are retarded (the literal meaning of the word) off the shelf, one size fits all solutions (when it's not part of the core OS - which, in the case of Windows, is just about everything). Which leaves me with trying to figure out the least evil solution. Something that does around 80% or more of what I need.

Compare that to FLOSS (Free/Libre/Open Source software) - I can change to fit the need. That's freedom. The end user may not realise this is what is happening (Manaiakalani is probably a really good example here. While they're describing problems and what I felt were half arsed solutions, I was looking at the software and saying "actually... that's not at all a problem. I can just change a piece of software to do what we need it to do.") BUT it's happening and the end user can remain unaware. The problem here of course is that you can create an unrealistic expectation. In my case, working ridiculous hours to get these solutions done and refined with no compensation.

So today I got told "you've got the foundation. I'm sure you can pick things up just like that". I was sitting there thinking "that's where I live and strive". If I'm not learning something new, I'm most likely getting very bored. BUT there's a problem here. How can I in good conscience apply for jobs knowing that those jobs are going to make me feel dis-empowered much of the time? Which pretty much leaves me with Linux jobs to apply for.

But then, what sort of Linux jobs are there? There's development (something that I don't feel - I'm not sure what the reality is here as I.T. is a strangely competitive industry - I'm all that well suited for) or system administration (which is mostly about security. Something that I think is, for the most part, done to death and at the expense of the user experience). That's it. I have 2 options if I want to work on the platform of my choice - or feel dis-empowered.

That's it. That's how the world works. It sucks and yet, I'm the one with the problem because I can't control the world. I only have power over myself. In other words, in order to work I need to sacrifice something of myself. I can't unthink much of what I've thought. So it's a case of saying "I'm going to have to be okay with being dis-empowered" or "I'm going to have to be okay with going against my own values in terms of usability and the end user and just suck it up and work to standards which I feel go against what we're aiming for - a usable experience". The only other way I can see is having to change industry. In which case, which industry would I go into?

In the meantime, I have to admit to people who are well meaning but ridiculous in finding "need computer people" type contacts that I just won't do Windows.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Discussing the Solution

I was watching an episode of The Colbert Report (I just stumbled upon it) and something occurred to me.

There are moments where a solution is proposed and everyone laughs. The solution itself isn't necessarily stupid. It might actually satisfy the aims... If only we'd keep an eye on the aims and whether the means - the solution - is in support of those aims.

Think in terms of communism/socialism. Is communism necessarily a bad thing? The way I hear it being used, it's exactly like a boogeyman.
"You can't do that! You'll invoke socialism!"
Mother's milk in a cup! What the hell is wrong with that? What is the aim?

Take the whole health care debacle. What is the goal? The goal is to make health care accessible. What are the proposed solutions?
  • Rely on "the market" to produce solutions.
    • Given that "the market" exists to be exploitative - that is, to make a profit - then opening up that segment of the market has not thus far been a priority for health care insurers.
  •  As a government subsidize insurance and make it easier for people to compare plans.
    • Sure, this means Government is spending money. To help people! as opposed to spying on and bombing people.
In which case, which of the options better satisfies the goal? The end game. The aim. We have words for it. Why do we invest so damn heavily in the system? If the system has proven itself to not work, then why keep beating a dead horse? Ignoring the problem just means the problem continues to exist and people start to accept the problem instead of thinking "There has to be a better way. We know the problems now. We can fix them."

Democracy keeps being "exported". Why? It's a damn system! And it doesn't work in all cases. For example, where you have 2 or 3 sides in an election who are tribal in nature... that is they don't just appeal to particular people. They represent particular people based upon birth and blood. It's not about income. It's not about status in society. It's based upon what could arguably be considered racism.

I would argue that it's a far better thing for these people to have a republic with no single leader. I mean the literal meaning of republic in that everything is done within a public manner. Everyone knows what's going on, what's being decided upon etc. That representatives from each of those tribal factions get to represent their people's needs.

What is the aim? The aim is for people to be represented at a governmental level. Is democracy the only way of doing this? Absolutely not!

Being a bit of a sci-fi fan, something occurred to me while I was watching Babylon 5. Our planet is a big place fill of diverse people. A North Korean person has adapted to their own situation (humans have an infinite capacity to adapt) and while they're still very much human, you couldn't mistake a North Korean for an... American or a New Zealander once you sat down to talk to them. They're very different. In which case, if ever humans got into space and met up with different alien races, aren't they too likely to be just as diverse?

So who is it that's out in space representing the entirety of the human race? Would New Zealanders be happy being represented by American's? Would American's be happy being represented by Russians? etc.

And would we judge an entire planet based upon what is essentially a snapshot - a single race?

If that's the aim - that diversity is represented by the planet (let's blow this out just so that it's much harder to stereotype people into one group or another): what sort of governance system would work? To me, it would mean that out of necessity, we could not keep secrets. That people would have to know exactly what they were buying into and how they were being represented. Do we stop things that might work because it can be framed as being socialism/communism? Hell - this bears a much bigger discussion (luckily we can discuss in the comments!)....

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

I.T. - The Soulless Industry

The last time I worked for an I.T. company, I was invited to a yearly meeting of all the staff. Those who could fly to Auckland for the meeting flew to Auckland. It was a big deal. And then... well... the entire meeting was about the business' cash flow. It wasn't about what people were accomplishing. It wasn't about resourcing. It was only about the business's cash flow... that was it. There was no other content except for a beer or two.  Bare in mind that I hadn't actually signed up to working with this company at this stage. It was an introduction to the company...

I've been really quite depressed by my having to find a job. You see, I.T. is soulless. If you go through I.T. job listings you see things like the following:
You will work closely with the infrastructure and applications support teams to support multiple environments, as well as assisting with analysis and design work.
The problem with that? That's about all it says. It doesn't say what you'd be doing... It's not a vision. It's a breakdown of component skills. You're supposed to go to job interviews based upon these horrendously sparse details which, let's face it, how the hell are you supposed to be enthusiastic about it? It could be supporting some horrendously immoral business that you wouldn't ever touch. It could be working for the coolest people ever. It just doesn't say ANYTHING.

Contrast that with a job listing that I got this morning in one of those automated
emailing type things:
Aucklanders love to get out and about whilst getting fit and healthy, with over 250 sports parks and 55 recreation facilities to choose from around the Auckland Region there's something for everyone. From football fields and swimming pools to cycling tracks and skateboard parks whether you are one or 100 the opportunity to participate in some type of sport and recreation activity is available to anyone across the Auckland Region.
Auckland Council's common purpose is to make Auckland the world's most livable City and deliver Aucklanders great value for money...
There's a vision that someone can be a part of! It's about 305 odd recreation/sport facilities. It doesn't talk about kicking a soccer ball, or filing papers. It doesn't say which teams you might be working with. Straight out of the gate it paints a scene. You're part of something much bigger! There's even an aim in there!

Okay - so I've got a really small sample size here. But try it for yourself. Pick out a random I.T. job listing and try and get a vision, some enthusiasm, something to grasp on to with that job listing. Some listings attempt it but they tell you things like "our product has an international reach". No comment about why their product is good or why you should care if it's got an international reach or not. What the hell are we signing up for?!?!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

I'm Fearful

Lynda did a brilliant post today.

In it she talks about Donald Glover and these little bits of paper that he's written on with his anxieties.

Unfortunately, everyone else writing about their anxieties probably doesn't have the same impact. For example:
"I'm afraid that no one will realise what I have to offer and appreciate it and as a result I will fade away into the background never having shown people what I'm capable of."
Look see? No impact. Anyone who's read this blog can plainly see this is one of my big fears. Actually, I think anyone who writes a blog about anything personal does this to some extent. I mean, one of the bits he has on there is "I'm afraid I'll regret this". That's every single damn blog post that ends up being published and much like Lynda, there's far more posts that get started and deleted way before they see the light of day.

Which is also why I get quite irritated when people suggest that I've removed a post or have edited something. Sure, editing happens, but usually just for the sake of making it more readable rather than changing content. Actually, editing normally happens within 5 minutes or so of hitting the "Publish" button. The cat is now out of the bag but sod it - I can fix the occasional mistake after the fact.

Sure, there are some posts that I'd really like to delete. Funnily enough one of them gets more hits to this blog than any other post. But I've hit publish.... it's not going away.

We are getting to a point. Remember your teens? We were all convinced that no one had ever felt this way before. No one understands us and gets how we're feeling... Well... It turns out we're all the same. We all have the same fears, anxieties and insecurities as everyone else. We have more in common with each other than not.

I'm kind of hoping this blog post leads to a bunch of people talking about their fears but I don't hold high hopes... But really... I'd love it if it did.

Oh - Roller Derby this Saturday night (and I have no one to go with).
"I'm afraid I'll have to go to derby on my own and look like a saddo."
"I'm afraid that the lack of responses for the invites I sent out to go to derby indicates how irrelevant I've become and that the feeling of irrelevancy isn't imagined."

The End Game

I've been thinking more and more about "the end game". Money can't be the end game for governance (really, it shouldn't be seen as the end game by individuals at all).

But the great and mighty leftist elite can be safely accused of much the same thing. Take for example the idea that decisions should be consensus based. It sounds good right? People can chose to participate or not to participate but if they're there, they're heard... or are they?

The system can be gamed. A consensus based system can be held to ransom by a single person. If one person chooses to disagree with everything - ANYTHING - then talk continues and eventually, people fall off. Their voice, their precious voice, is less important than the fly in the ointment. There is no value add to sticking around if someone decides to dispute the meaning of the word "is". If they're not there, they can't have a voice. Thus that one person has an undue influence. Awarded for being a pain in the butt.

In which case, a consensus system does not work. The system is not the end game! The end game is allowing people's voices to be heard (at the moment - remember, when we get there, chances are we'll see a better way). In which case, a super majority system is probably a better idea. This means that while someone may speak and disagree, they must have a certain level of support before being able to hold things up.

I kind of wish our government was based upon a super majority. There's a problem with bills such as the GCSB bill where parliament was split right down the middle. It's an important law that has an impact on all of us and yet half the parties in parliament were not happy with it. The next step here would be a conscience vote. At 90% I don't think we could argue with it which means anyone going against the majority needs to have 10% of the room on their side.

It's not perfect but it works. For example, if someone holds up an entire meeting, you'd need at least 11 people during the next meeting to neutralise that 1 person.

All of this is detail. The important bit is to take a step back. Have a look at what your end game is. Is it working? And if it's not, have you identified the right end game?

Imagine for example I retire and buy a farm (I wish!) but the farm makes me miserable. My end game was never to buy a farm but rather, to retire. So if I'm miserable, I need to go back to what I was trying to do. I wanted to retire happily and have the time to enjoy myself.

It's a journey... The end game is there if only we'd see it rather than getting so invested in "the system"...

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Risks in Basing Education on Current Information

I saw an announcement today about MS now offering Office 365 on student owned devices as part of the Ministry of Education's deal with Microsoft with comment about a report by IDC (released by Microsoft). The report supports the idea that MS Office skills are needed in jobs in which case, students should learn it.

Here's my problem. While jobs currently list MS Office skills as important, the conclusions being drawn are very much erroneous. What the workplace wants now is not what the companies that students want to be working for tomorrow are going to want. What do I mean by this?

I remember when we used to use floppy disks... Lots and lots of floppies. All of 1.44MB per disk. That was a lot of disks if you wanted to move anything kind of large. At one stage I had 30 odd disks for one program.

Probably... 10 years ago? I went for a job interview where they were STILL using floppy disks. It was the one time where the traditional job application process would have lead to a job except... there was something really.... depressing about going back to floppy disks. This was well after cd's, zip disks, jazz drives, and usb memory sticks (even the smallest memory stick is more reliable than a floppy disk).

So they had their time. But having skills in being able to format a floppy, copy files to and from it and using tools to revive what I could off them wasn't at all relevant by the time I reached the workplace.

Technology moves even faster. While Google Docs is in no way (those who tell you otherwise are on the take) a competitor in terms of functionality, MS Office 365 is likely to lose popularity due to it's lack of support on currently trending platforms. In other words, if word processor and spreadsheet functionality is the only reason to stick to a Windows platform, then people will be looking for the alternative.

So those Office 365 skills? There's a very good chance those skills aren't going to be useful by the time a student enters the workplace. What should we teach? How about how to handle change... how to transfer skills and pick up things quickly...

In a way, kids are already far better at this than a lot of the adults I've worked with. The most obvious sign of the lack of this skill is note taking when using computers. Take my mother for example. She'll ask me something like "How do I print?". Kids are more likely to figure out the context - What sort of operation is printing? If that doesn't work, then follow the flowchart to the left.

How do we teach this? Switch things up. Don't rely on one application. Have a look at the others out there. Abiword, Google Docs, LibreOffice, LyX etc.

What stops this from happening? Well... I would hazard a guess and say it's to do with educators. Given that they've never been taught in such a way to switch things up and learn quickly, then each and everyone of those applications would need a separate professional development session and the time to experiment with each application.

Which all goes to my whole criticism on the education system being more about the capacity of educators rather than bringing out the full capacity of students. What do I mean by this? The Ubuntu netbooks gave some students the space to learn a whole lot of other skills. Unfortunately the lack of control of teachers on those netbooks overshadowed the skills that kids were picking up outside of the curriculum - but transferable skills. i.e. some kids were learning programming. Something that they have less capacity to do on the walled garden that is the Chromebook.

I'm very much of the opinion that we should learn to ignore the vendor specific bullshit and get on with education. Quit the brand loyalty and start looking at the potential for learning. Does it all have to be about the curriculum or can we start to get beyond that and acknowledge that skills are far more important i.e. someone who can look at a paper clip and see the potential for something entirely different probably has absolutely nothing to do with reading, writing or math BUT is a skill that's going to treat them well. Hell - challenge things. If teachers were willing to allow the kids be ahead of them... imagine the sorts of things each of them would be learning!

Let's get past our own insecurities and concentrate on the learning instead...

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


I went out for dinner with someone last night. Nice enough night but, like a previous night, I found myself biting my tongue. You see, computer geeks kind of have this problem. While the rest of world can be passionate and talk about the stuff that they do whether it's teaching kids, performing experiments with things that would kill you etc. Whatever it is, people listen. Passion is a great thing.

However.... slip into talk about computers (accountants probably have the same problem) and you get the glazed over "we don't want to be listening to this" kind of look. And if you think about it, computers are huge. I mean, in terms of subject matter and the like:
  • Employment sites normally have a different section for I.T. related jobs.
  • Pick random I.T. people from society and ask them what they're into. You'll find a whole skew of answers. The people who do desktop support. Those that are into development. The types that keep up with every security report while they administer machines in bunkers. The types who design network architectures etc. And that's without mentioning operating system and the individual streams within those streams.
  • There are, believe it or not, philosophical subject matters in there too.
So I'm out to dinner and I don't talk about computers. To her credit she gave it a go - tried to get me to talk about them. Except.... what am I doing? Well... I never get the time to play computer games. So I'm playing through Doom 3... yep, a game from 2004! And I'm only just getting to play it now. Horrifying when you tell someone that all you've done today is played a computer game.

For the last couple of years I've had Manaiakalani to talk about and the kids at the schools. But I'm missing all of that. So at the moment, there's just computers... and to be fair... I'm not feeling particularly passionate about them. I mean, I think for me they're a means to an end. So I would love to be working on something that changes the world - by applying my IT skills. Which really just makes every job listing within the IT section horrifyingly mind numbing.

Basically - I'm bored. Bored bored bored. There are no jobs for a Linux desktop person. Getting into education was hard to begin with. While I would really like to go down to Christchurch or something (anywhere really) and help out at another school/cluster of schools, getting an invite to do so (you really have to be invited into the environment) is near on impossible. I got lucky with the invite to participate with Manaiakalani (though to be fair, I more than paid for it).

Anyway, I found myself answering a question on a mailing list about schools leasing computers and it lead me to talk about ALL SORTS. The legal structure around the whole leasing thing for Manaiakalani, the other considerations in terms of cost (warranty and insurance), the fact that small frequent payments work for lower income families a lot better than less frequent payments i.e. default to weekly rather than monthly., the ability to make choices and offering people the opportunity to mess up and how that's important for their ability to make choices etc.

In other words, while I'm horrendously bored and feeling of absolutely no use to anyone (and have nothing to talk about when meeting people), there's a whole lot of really useful stuff locked away in this head of mine.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Problem with Governance

Traditionally our leaders have come from positions of privilege. I was having a conversation this morning with someone about the idea that money can't be the end game. That when governing you can't hide behind a blanket statement of "people want high paying jobs" or whatever.
Behind that money (this sounds much like my whole "behind every computer is a user" bit in the I.T. industry) there are people. A saving in one place may have a greater cost somewhere else. For example, having our trains built in China instead of the Woburn and Hillside Rail Workshops, has a cost in terms of jobs and the lack of accumulated value from keeping the money onshore (from the perspective of the government, keeping money on shore means that part of that investment is coming back in taxes. Those employees are then spending that money at their local whatever and it is then taxed again, and hopefully they're spending that same money within the country and so on and so forth).

I don't think Labour are much different in this respect. While they may see that particular example, they did have the whole S92A debacle. The problem with S92A is that it criminalized a large proportion of our population. It did nothing to benefit people. Instead, it was about big business.

Okay, so the argument could be made that people need to be paid for their works except that they aren't. Or rather, it's not the creators who get the money, but rather the rights holder (stop trading away your rights!).

So we need a government that knows that money is not the end game... but how can this happen?

If those who are in line for power are all coming from a position of privilege, where a system of capitalism has treated them well and they've equated this to meritocracy, then the voices in government are very much biased and just don't represent the population.

So the first step is acknowledging that there is a problem. Here in New Zealand we're going in the wrong direction. We seem to be following America's lead in the whole capitalism going too far. We have a problem. Let's see if we can find a solution. We, the people, need to have a voice which extends beyond voting every 4 years. We need to acknowledge when a law exists for the benefit of business and when a law exists for the benefit of people and acknowledge that there is a difference. What is the trade off? Does it benefit both? Or is it lopsided? Is it a compromise we're willing to make?

This problem is probably bigger than we acknowledge. Think of the small "I agree with the terms of service" or whatever checkbox you find on websites. It would take a month of every year to read through those terms and conditions and the fact that they're also a moving target (I think Google have just changed theirs again?) makes it all the more difficult. Make it as long as a long thing in small text and you've got something that's not made for people.

I think there needs to be a quick easy people friendly version. A "to use this service, we collect stuff about you anyone else you may communicate with using our services. While the contents of the works you create using our services is yours, we have the right to sell it to advertisers" kind of a thing. 2 or 3 sentences that don't attempt to spell EVERYTHING out but rather, give the user a useful indication of what it is they're agreeing to.

This would be acknowledging the fact that there are users to the service!

You Can't Make This Stuff Up

Holy crapballs on toast - I can't believe this is still happening. America was taken down not by a terrorist attack but by a bunch of dicks. Yep I said it. Chances are the few kids who were reading this blog have since forgotten that there's a blog here. I'm just not going to censor it any more. If you are a kid reading this blog, stop reading this post... like right now. I'm not holding my punches. Perhaps you could leave me a comment telling me I have a potty mouth or something... just so that I know.

And what a great time to decide not to censor the blog when there's such a legitimate use of the words "dicks" and "fucktards". And why is this happening? I'd be as bold as to say that this action is unlawful by the republicans. I mean seriously - a law is passed and they decide to throw their toys out of the cot because they don't agree with it.

And their reasons for their disagreement? No body knows! They keep saying things like "it'll be a disaster!" or "it'll bankrupt us!". Usually accompanied by a flailing of arms and terrible analogies.

Now a whole lot more people are now likely below the poverty line... that is, given that government employees are no longer being paid, the cost of medicare is, ironically, going up.

Freedom of religion? Not a chance. Apparently it's unlawful to practise your religion if you're employed to do so by the US government BUT it's not unlawful to create a situation whereby practising your religion may become unlawful. What the fuck?!?! You seriously can't make this shit up.

Oi! You bunch of republican fucktards! You are not going to go to hell in a hand basket by looking after your population. The rest of the developed world provides healthcare. Sure... the system has problems. But fuck it. The alternative is not doing anything to help people. Those people? The ones at the bottom? You step on them to get where you are. You do it on a daily basis. Would giving up a little bit of your over privileged life styles really kill you if it meant "goodwill to all men"?

Want to figure out how to afford shit? Stop spending so much money on your tanks and your bombs and your bombs and your guns (What's in your head?). What does this really buy you except for a whole lot of derision from the rest of the world?

Basically, get your shit together.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Desperately Seeking Inspiration

Renedox and I went and hung out today and I was telling him that I'm just lacking a bit of inspiration for posts. Bearing in mind that it's Renedox who complains the most if I haven't done a post in awhile. We talked about the fact that sometimes I will take a topic from other people's blog posts but do it from a completely different angle

So I got home and decided to message a couple of people to see if they have blogs. I haven't heard a response back yet. The "followers" of this blog, for the most part, only seem to follow this blog except perhaps Alex whose blog was one that I would check out every so often but hasn't enjoyed an update since December last year. Oh and there are various educational blogs... But then I'm not finding them terribly inspiring either.

The problem is that I'm currently in limbo. I was talking to someone last week and realised just how much I miss being passionate about something... anything.

I'm no longer within education so can't really hook into anything there. In fact, I've become quite the cynic. It feels as if we're more interested in a bunch of checkboxes (unicode 2610 → ☐) and classroom control than actual learning. We have to stamp on genuine learning in favor of keeping that control! I really don't like criticizing teachers and so I really don't want to blog on that too much.

At the moment all there seems to be is Tangleball... and I'm feeling quite angry about that at the moment. This is mainly because there's one or two people who, while they will obsess about the idea of it being a consensus run entity, know exactly how to manipulate things so that only their opinion matters. There is a blog post in that though I haven't quite come up with it yet. There's this whole "I disagree" and "I don't see the problem" or "I don't understand" kind of thing going on. There's a theme. The word "I" and it's use within the context of a consensus driven system pushes the onus on everyone around that person to prove or disprove what they agree or disagree with, what they see the problem or don't see the problem with, or what they do or don't understand. So instead of making any sort of progress, everything centers on the person who's just spouting out a whole bunch of "I" statements. My thoughts on this: consensus systems allow for a minority to hold a community to ransom. There has to be a way for a minority voice to be heard without holding a community to ransom. There's a link between this and the people who seem to be working against the community either by intentionally going against an ethos of the place or misrepresenting the community. It's all designed to stop and stall things.

And even then, if I wasn't annoyed with what's going on, Tangleball is a privileged community. It's user pays. If you can't afford the $15 per week, provisions are made BUT you have to feel comfortable with saying "I really can't afford the fees". Those who would really benefit from a place that they could use to up skill, collaborate and fix/make things themselves are those who are less likely to have the sort of disposable income to able to use such a space.

So it's not really a passion.

I was talking to someone at a birthday party and she asked me "What is your background?". I looked behind me. No real inspiration there. What I was trying to say was "I'm in computers but really... I'm really sick of a geek mentality. In fact, I'm just really hating on geeks at the moment". If you're a geek, allow me to explain. It's not an individual thing. It's just that I think we can do soooo much better. We can realise that there are people behind the computers and make things a whole lot more usable (the most secure system is one that's locked in a vault that can never be opened, is not connected to anything and isn't on. Secure ☑. Usable ☒).

Of course, within a room full of geeks, one doesn't suddenly blurt out "I'm really hating on geeks at the moment" or even "I'm just not liking those within the industry". So my explanation.... "I'm kind of sick of computers for the moment". Not at all true... I'm sincerely apologetic to those of you out there who take offense to this bit. It's not meant to be offensive... If it is offensive though, you've got to ask: How much of your day goes into stopping people from doing stuff?

There's potentially a blog post in computing trends.

The fact that Google can get away with MURDER. Take the Chromebook for example. A computer using commodity parts (essentially no different from any other computer) that is intentionally locked to a single operating system from a particular vendor OR get constant negative reinforcement for choosing something different. If Microsoft did it we'd be up in arms. But it's Google so it's okay.

Apple's widening of their market by offering lower cost items. Though that's lower cost in Apple terms - so it's only lower cost in relation to other Apple products. Does this water down the Apple brand which has existed as something exclusive and horrendously overpriced? Is it still a status symbol if you've got the cheaper one?

Microsoft and their move into a more mobile platform and the rumours around their future direction. Given that it's MS and given their tendency to miss trends though, I'd be quite willing to bet that a CloudOS is just a dream for the time being. Oh and take their "failure" with the Surface RT with a grain of salt. I don't think they'll give up on that strategy quite so quickly even if it's costing them money to keep going in that direction.

But then... well... it can all be done in 3 paragraphs. See? It's not really a blog post.

So I guess we're at the crux of this post. Can anyone recommend a blog that might inspire me to write something? Anything?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


Quick update:
Sorry to anyone who read the post and found that there was a really old post somewhere in there... Just plain disgusting. Normally I would publish a post and then read it again just to make sure it was okay. I'm not sure why I didn't this time around but there you go.

I haven't really been doing that many posts of late. It's only partially because of my mood. I want to write stuff but then realise that I've written it before. The problem with that is that while they're perfectly valid bits and pieces, unless you've gone back over the bits that I have written or have been following this blog for quite a while, those things, that are still valid, are essentially locked away in time.

Last week I was telling someone about the $2 project and they seemed fascinated. The $2 project you ask? Let's rehash that... Basically I came across the "Live below the line" campaign and got to thinking. At $2.25 / day it's going to effect your energy levels. Either which ways, you're going to be feeling like crap. So if I were to do it, I was trying to figure out what was more important. Feeling full or getting the nutritional value. I concluded it was probably better to have at least a healthy meal. But then, there's a certain arrogance there. People have been doing this for a very long time. In India, the poor tend to have a shared curry - all off a central plate and only as much as they can afford to expend on a meal - and then eat rice to full themselves up.

I got to thinking. How could this be reflected in a very normal part of life kind of a way? If the campaign is about consciousness, then how do you make it something that people can be conscious of on a daily basis as opposed to just 5 days out of the year?

So the challenge is to come up with a bunch of recipes that I can make for $2.25 each. If I'm spending that much per meal, and there are people out there spending that much per day, then I'm definitely living in excess.

I found this really easy last year. I've started up again and am finding all sorts of interesting bargains. 6 chicken sausages for $2.40 (though they had to be dealt with immediately). 10 fish fillets for $4.30. And a real staple of mine - frozen prawn meat for $20 a bag. Add market vegetables, a bit of rice and you've got yourself a meal.

I'm going through the whole job application process at the moment. I've ranted and raved for years on this blog about how flawed I think the job application process is.

Starting from the level of abstraction - trying to find someone, farming it out to HR, who farm it out to an employment agency. While the employment agency is obsessed with "skills" (check boxes), chances are, the person actually looking for someone is after a particular attitude.

This leads to job advertisements not really covering what a job is REALLY about. In fact, we seldom know what it is we're applying to. Unless you've had some experience with the company, an "office assistant" could mean that you're taking on an administrative type or role, or a janitorial one. Who would know?

How CVs are designed to distil contaminants out of a person - like personality. We're all taught to make CVs as boring as humanly possible and then told to stand out when there are potentially hundreds of applicants for a job. The only chance you've really got is a cover letter.

The cover letter that is just soooooo boilerplate that it leaves you wanting to stab yourself in the ear with a pencil whenever you have to write one.

Douchey rejection letters that are all boilerplate. Those that have applied to more than a few jobs can probably recite the 2 or 3 slightly different worded rejection letters that may or may not come.

The interview where you're expected to be interviewed for the job rather than figuring out if the job is even close to being right for you. Things being fair, the potential employer would cull down the applicants then invite those on the short list to interview them (the potential employer) about the job.

Basically, I don't think anyone is happy with the results of all of this. It's never the best person for the job. It's the one that can navigate their way through a horrendously flawed system (unless the job description is navigating your way through horribly flawed systems).

Capitalism sucks. We know it... We need to change it.

Oh - and the media STILL sucks a big fat one. I don't watch a lot of TV and don't buy newspapers any more. I was thinking that I might start picking out a story every so often and pointing out how horribly flawed the story is which would mean actually seeking out news...

There we go. My equivalent to an "episode" made up of a bunch of other "episodes".