IMHO Rants '02

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Kindergarten Journos, Nov 02
230pm on a mid-week afternoon. NME/Dotmusic/BBC/NYTimes/WashingtonPost have all been thoroughly examined. You wander onto MSN from a link on your (s)hotmail browser. What are you rewarded with? Utter trollocks.

This article is one to treasure, even by MSN's own lowest common denominator levels. Originally entitled "Why do college kids drink?", it aims to shed light on the apparently baffling phenomenon of university students going out on the piss. Although it is refreshing to see an article which goes beyond the staple MSN themes of scoring (jobs&partners), getting dumped (ditto) and buying a car (for the purposes for the former 2). Read and weep. 

Response from Tonks:

How about these so-called 'truths'

Those who go out as part of a group and stay with the same people are less likely to drink excessively.

Perhaps they should check out our 'group'.

Those who stay in the same place are less likely to drink too much than those who jump from party to party or bar hop.

Can anyone say 'Potts', 'Wash Park', 'Herbs' or 'Phil's House"?

Those who drink only one kind of alcohol during the event are less likely to get drunk than those who drink a variety of types of alcohol.

Need I say "Jack and Coke"?

Response from the Nixta:

Great glorious crap!

Researchers also note that about 17% of the students surveyed said they had not consumed alcohol since coming to college, and about a fourth of all the students reported that they did not drink during any of the eight celebratory occasions mentioned in the survey.

Shoot the 17%. Those that remain of the fourth (or quarter, or 25% if we were an editor striving for consistency within just the single article - heaven forbid) that didn't drink to celebrate anything, send them to Belgium where they could avoid celebrating anything and slowly become chocoholics before progressing on to being boozoholics (like chocoholics, but with booze) 

[Particularly amusing link] <>:

On the perils of hundred year old house ownage, Nov 02
Sucked in as I was by the Australian mafia trio (Gurner/Ash/Osbourne), in a fit of impending-mid-life crisis, I entered an overripe property market at an overripe age of 31. Why?

I'd like to have a rant at the bastards that pulled the wool over my eyes prior to purchasing the house. They didn't get that the oven was built before the house, that the waste desposal was actually desposing of itself and that the electrical system was wired by blind drunk who had Dr Davis'd himself into a stupor prior to his butchery. And don't even get me started about the leaves falling off the trees, or the fact that the grapes on the vine have pips in them. 

"House Inspectors"? Perhaps they were mouse inspectors -- their detailed report of "everything's fine" was probably approved by mouse number 7. 

Still, in other news I didn't get the usual reek of mouse chunder in the heating system upon my return from Hawaii. I declare the poison to be a winner -- the woman on the cover of the box was not just smiling from the satisfaction of sadism (though I rather suspect that was her chief reason). 

MP3 Soapbox Rant, Sep 02
Do they really believe getting some hyperpaid entertainers to be patronising is going to get us to stop getting music for free, or to stop understanding that $10 is an insane amount to pay for MP3s with no distribution costs, or that ?

Bark on, Britney. Let me confidently predict (with a nod to JB) that the winner will be music, made by people who love it, consumed by people who love it and, bad luck chaps, freely available. Swimming against the tide of history. I'm sure Marx would have had something to say about it. The era of capitalist music production is drawing to a close.

As advertised by Shiv, if Kazaa is the new Napster then Soulseek is most assuredly the new Audiogalaxy. Someone needs to add a plug-in to automatically mail the artist after each download, telling them of the increased likeliness of your going to a gig. Yes, I didn't pay for the Strokes album but, yes, I did pay $20 to see them on a couple of occasions. Am I missing something?

Conflicts of Life, May 02
Some geezer once wrote...

"All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being in seven ages."

Erik Erikson, "Identity and the life cycle", 50s psychologist type chappy, took old Shakey's 7, broke them down & added one (a vanity versus modesty sort of a conflict right there).

Central idea is that to live life to the fullest, each of the ages must be demarcated & experienced. Each age involves a conflict and its resolution. See what you think.

The format of below is (<number>)<conflict>//<conflict participants. Yes, of course I should have put it in a table but it's Friday afternoon and UT is beckoning.

1) Trust vs mistrust //infant & mother, struggle for confidence in environment
2) Autonomy vs shame/doubt // young kid & parents, finding autonomy through shame/doubt as to one's capacity for self control
3) Initiative vs guilt //kid to family/friends, making & learning vs taking/stealing & the consequent guilt
4) Industry vs inferiority //kids, making stuff alone & in a group, failing, adapting to society tools vs not
5) Identity vs identity diffusion //adolescent to peers relationships, search for continuity, time to ally with creeds & programs
6) Intimacy vs isolation//young adults partners in sex & work, committing in relationships, losing & finding oneself in relationships vs avoiding people
7) Generativity vs stagnation//adults & their relationship with division of labour & the creatino of a shared household, to establish & create & guide, vs failing to do so
8) Integrity vs despair//old age, relationship between a person and makind/world, acheivement of wisdom, love oneself & kind, face death openly with the forces of one's life integrated; the despair that life has been useless

Hmnn...looks like numbers 4-8 are all still a-go-go with me, especially of note is numero 7. The 'shared household' is under control but the relationship with division of labour is not where it could be.

Recession Bites Cont'd, Apr 02
An update on the story below ...

To the list of the fallen (2001-2002) I would like to add mention of a couple of honourables. Derren & Mike, who are currently on the corporate 'sabbatical' gig. Basically, 3 months at 20% of pay for not showing up to work. Mike's been travelling & Derren will continue his pilot gig.

Back in 1999 I had to fight tooth & nail to get a measly 4 months UNPAID from work. It was 'against the corporate culture', 'what if everyone else wanted to do the same?', 'I wasn't allowed to' (from the HR person herself) etc. The possibility of sitting out this tedious period of going begging for work, as well as the general atmosphere of the boss rule (versus the over inflated developer egos from 3 years ago), seems to be enormously enviable.

Anyway, earlier this week I was asked to fill out some corporate fluff about 

Basic description of what you believe in, what values you pursue at work and/or in life, what motivates you and what drives you in your job.

Aargggh! They've got to me. Surely this was the corporation's way of getting me overly introspective, to the point where I cracked. How can someone come up with a personal philosophy in 30 mins? A simple survey of 3 people around me provoked 3 responses (typical software engineers):

a) I just copied/pasted some fluff down

b) It's insulting/intrusive. They can sod off & die.

c) Er, no one asked me to do it. Am I about to be ditched?

Anyway, after an hour of soul searching (including 40 minutes discussing ShiftF7-beating alternatives for "sensually stimulated" -- you try explaining addiction to computer games/exercise/sports in two words), here she goes. Hedonism & community.

My goals are to enjoy every day by forging rewarding relationships and being physically & intellectually stimulated. Variety is key in achieving that enjoyment.

In the imprecise area of software development I seek to attain quality by working with state-of-the-art technologies, varied/talented teams and whichever processes are necessary for the current project.

Within this organization I want to avoid the trap of becoming a corporate cog, but remain a mover & shaker. 


Recession Bites, Apr 02
Apparently our own company is not immune to the effects of the latest downturn. Neither are the people I know below... 

The list of the fallen (2001-2002):

Simon Chaplin Jay Fishel
Rachelle Bowen Steph Reed
David Davis 2001 Sunanda "O'Connell"
Kevin Terp Jason Ihaia
Kelley Kiefer Bruce Rahn
Monica Hargis Kerry Moyer
Nikki Wheeler Marcy Rosenbloom
Roger Wilde Michael Ellis
Greg Scott Bitsy Schneider
Jon Hartley Steph Stoppenhagen
David Davis 2002 Erin Hirsch
Emma Pearson Dana Sisti
Mindy Marler Simon Gurner

There seems to be a blank on the bottom right. There also appears to be a dearth of work & sales in my workplace. A quarter of the year has passed and yours truly has been on the 'bench', which is the sort of place that elicits "I'm sorry to hear about that" comments at parties/lunchroom/work dunnies.

The question of the moment is, why me? At first I thought it might be the curse of the Vail House (tm). 4 of the people on the above list are (or were), after all, Vail House residents. Had I been sucked down the Vail Vortex of antiproductivity? (why am I writing like Sex & the City?)

I've been consoling myself in various activities at work, mainly concerned with learning new technologies at a superficial, unsatisfying level. Trying to acheive something in such an atmosphere is like trying to play tennis in Houston on a muggy August afternoon -- pretty tricky. The lethargy has spread to all areas of my organized life, and even paying minor chores like paying bills & getting haircuts have become events of 3rdWorldPoverty-eliminating difficulty. Getting a simple Java certification, the Holy Grail destined never to be found. I have succumbed to a JB-style lethargic confusion. Gnadgers.

How to crawl out of this quagmire? Step one (step zero having been described in paragraph above) was stumbling across joelonsoftware. The bloke's got it together. His site is amusing, informative and very much the world through the eyes of a software developer. Things are logical but not without irony. Anyway, I decided to wander on to a page of reading links. I'd read a bunch of the books on the list but delving into Peopleware made me laugh as Messrs DeMarco & Lister laid into Corporate America, but it also helped respark my desire to get back into software.

Anyway, next is the somewhat trickier prospect of analysing my 'career' (for want of a better word). Questions I hope to address are: 

- Is working for a large company too soulless? 

- Post Mortem (where did it all go wrong?) 

- Do I want to stay in software development for the next 5-10 years? 

- What other careers are there for someone with a predominantly software background?

- Is it time for another sabbatical (slightly more relaxing than 1999's world trip)?

Last edited: 08-Nov-2002

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