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.


  1. I'm always kind of in awe of people who do IT stuff and programming etc. It's a skill I would have liked to have learned more of (teaching myself HTML over 10 years ago while I was bored on a job has been one of the most useful skills I've gained) but my worry is that I will have such a rudimentary understanding of it that the conversation partner won't think I'm worth going into depth about what they do. So this is a roundabout way of saying maybe you should give it a try, talking about what you do, or about what you love about what you do, because maybe the other person really wants to understand.

    That being said, I habitually dismiss what I do. I'm a writer, "but not a very good or successful one"... So maybe it's a thing, to be down on what you do. Not false modesty per se, just maybe a needless modesty?

    1. It's a hard thing to not do. I've become more guarded around it. The glazed look? It's just the tip of the iceberg. I've had the people asking for help and then do the whole white noise thing as soon as you start talking (really wanted to punch them in the mouth for that) - they find it funny. Being interrupted with a weird hiss while they're falling about laughing is just insulting.

      And then there's the risk in a social situation where you do actually talk about it for a second with a computer person. Suddenly you're stuck with that person the entire night because you're the computer people...

      Admittedly it's a little easier around groups that are ALL computer people but then you find those that aren't computer people and actually... they're probably the more interesting people to talk to anyway.

      I think at one stage I was passionate about computers. I mean, when I first started in tertiary education and was asked "why did you chose to get into I.T.?" my response was "I just love computers". There's something to be said of feeling in control of something (in a world where you can't control someone i.e. bullying and the like). Nowadays it's very much about the positive things I can do with them. The problem though... I'm so used to being guarded that even then, sometimes I don't really talk about them and when I do talk about the stuff I've done, I feel like I'm bragging.

      And then there's the institutional dismissing of what I've done in terms of "what did people see value in for the last three years?" It's not the software development, the approach to dealing with issues, the larger help in terms of brain trust, the perspective etc. When I was paid as an I.T. person It was for desktop support.... Fucking desktop support.

      Given it's an entry level type of job (and is another one that's just done incredibly badly as general practise), has me doubting whether I'm even a half decent computer person. In which case, talking about something I'm apparently no good at would be dumb.

      I really shouldn't say that here as there's more than enough trolls around who'll jump on that... Back trolls! Stay back!

  2. It may be time to move on from IT. Take up natropathy, more money and you can build relationships with people rather than being the awkward IT guy that gets 10 seconds in with a busy teacher after waiting 5 minutes for her to settle the classroom.

    I also got into computers for passion but like you imaging and deployment is getting overrated and with then move to EFI windows 8 and more Mac and IPad based learning I think our job opportunities are fading fast.

    1. There's a couple of things to address here:

      The question is, if the passion is for what you can achieve with the technology as opposed to the technology itself, does that not create more passionate, happier, more generally well rounded people?

      Let's face it. It's a soulless industry. How many job listings for the I.T. industry do you see that talk about what you will achieve as opposed to a shopping list of meaningless "skills"?

      I don't get what UEFI has to do with diminishing job opportunities. The specification for x86 is actually not too bad. Having the option to turn it off is a really good thing. It's a pity the option isn't be included in other architectures. There's something to be said about Google's dick move by not following said standard with Chromebooks - making room for the monstrosity that is "safe boot".