Monday, 30 November 2009

Not waving

Some bad habits you never grow out of. Such as wanting something, not being sure why you want it, and then not being sure what to do with it once you’ve got it. Such is the case with Google Wave. I logged in, changed my profile picture and… logged back out again. The thing is I don’t have the time to invest and I can’t really think of anything to communicate. I do at least have one contact, that’d be the wannabe writer, the one who deserted me to go and do something more worthwhile instead and who it turns out can write a good tale. Perhaps he could make it up to me by collaborating on a way to hold back time so I can become only slightly adrift.

I am so far behind schedule; the number of constantly snoozed reminders has reached double figures, I see red flags all over Outlook and I’ve been off work ill. I still feel like crap. I’ll feel worse I’m sure when I run through my e-mail. For some light entertainment I may start the day by comparing the mail requiring me to complete my compliance training (ethics and some such) with that explaining the consequences of failing to adhere to the change request process as documented on the company SharePoint. One was undoubtedly from an external service provided to the company… one managed a firm yet friendly warning of what was required… and the other threatened the recipient with termination. Well you’ve got to laugh. At least that’s the rumour…

Wednesday, 18 November 2009


On Tuesday evening my daughter and I walked into town to see the Christmas lights switch-on. I wouldn’t normally indulge but children change everything. As a child I remember random moments of wonder and adventure, but over time they dissipated to be replaced with that thing called life; work, earning a living, the usual suspects. And then, unexpectedly, my wife and I discovered that contrary to previous advice, having children may be possible. Even then I was somewhat ambivalent; I didn’t marry to propagate the species, though listening to some you’d think that was the only reason to marry. But my wife wanted a baby and I wanted an easy life. That’s right; I wanted an easy life so we had a baby.

Eight years later and it remains the greatest moment of my life, or to be more accurate I should say the last eight years have been peppered with great moments. There have been trials too, health worries, job worries, marriage worries; life continues to threaten with maudlin regularity. I have many bills, little money and the vast empty expanse of the New Year to contend with, but I am armed with my daughter and the Christmases yet to come, together we remain invincible, undefeated... and I have hope.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Lies, damned lies

I’m spending a little too much time ‘task switching’ as opposed to ‘task doing’, but I suppose it’s better to be too busy. I like busy. Being able to see the value in your work helps, but it's not that way for everyone.

I have a developer friend who was once tasked with consulting and updating reports for another department of his company. It was all for a good cause, to determine their internal efficiency. Unfortunately it turned out the department had been taking the term ‘internal’ all too literally and, as if unaware of the outside world, managed to cut the customer out of the equation. Imagine your job is to take data from a customer, manually process the data and then hand it back. Not surprisingly the company want to know how efficient that process is. But the department doesn’t have the tools to record the time taken for data coming in, processed and returned to the customer on the same day; it does however have a tool that records the amount of data waiting to be processed that came in on a specified day.

Oh dear. The department reasoned there was no cost to queuing data coming in and queuing data going out, no internal cost anyway. Hence there was no need to ask for any engineering resource. When the company asked how long it took to process an item they may have meant ‘how long until the customer gets their data back’, but what they got was an answer to an entirely different question. How many customers did they lose? We’ll never know; my friend doesn’t work there any more. Very few people do.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

There’s no place like

For the past fortnight I’ve been intermittently without a home to go to. Indeed home became so unreliable that yesterday I dropped any references and set about messing with the DNS, or to be more accurate trying to undo the mess that I created. There’s nothing more annoying than heading for home when the outcome is uncertain; and there’s nothing more anal than periodically clicking Home to check the result.

It’s only a temporary residence too. Google Sites has its purpose but mine was to build a website. I’m a little hazy as to why I wanted to do that but I’m sure given time I’ll come up with a reason. Not surprisingly, I have a random approach to establishing a web presence. I start blogging and only later grasp on the idea of addressing it with my own domain. And I’m determined to use a ‘blog’ sub-domain. And if you’ve got a ‘blog’ sub-domain then you need to have a ‘www’ sub-domain too. Don’t ask me why, you just do. Google Sites was an accident but it serves a purpose in acting as a placeholder. For a while my blog distracted me with a little HTML play, and then I remembered how I’d wanted to understand the various pieces.

Ah yes, maybe that was the reason. So now I look to the ‘Build your own website for people who ought to already know’ books and hope that I really can. Maybe email a few former colleagues for advice. Maybe I’ll use a few technologies along the way... and maybe I’ll even learn something.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

All of this has happened before

So the hurricane came and went leaving a trail of devastation in its wake... completely untrue but I rather like the way that sounds. It was nothing personal; it was business though it still hurts. The axe fell in an unexpected quarter, the sales department... as you’d expect, I’m devastated. I’d almost convinced myself that this time, this one time, it really was going to be a ‘state of play’ visit; you’d think by now I’d know better.

Some cynics may suggest the loss of a sales department is no big deal, it’s karma for a lack of investment in product, but one thing is definite; if you don’t have sales people then you don’t have anything to sell. I figured that one out myself. The other clue was when the boss said “we’re not selling that anymore”.

It’s safe to say the patient is on life support and with no hope of recovery. We think he stands a chance of making it into the New Year but the prognosis beyond then is certain. Meanwhile I’ve entered a bizarre alternate reality in which I genuinely like the sales people who survive. Me and sales; who’d have thought it possible?

Since I’m old enough to have seen it all before and wise enough (don’t laugh) to not take it personally, I get on with what work there is; though having said that, due to staff shortages I’m making very little progress. I’ll probably get fired for that. I blame it on my friend and ex-colleague, the artist wannabe, who up and quit work the other week to pursue something worthwhile, rather than wallow in a collective doom and see it through to our inevitable and bitter end. Fucking writers, eh?