If To-do Lists Were Software Projects

The best time to discuss a list of to-do items is probably when there’s immediate time to do them. Seems obvious, but stick with me for a few hundred pages.

I was considering on the way to the office today how software teams do “sprints” (bracketed efforts to achieve specific goals) and “scrums” (term borrowed from rugby: return to the game/effort after pausing). The sprint focuses on (50%) what is most important to achieve and what gets pushed out, then (50%) how to achieve these tasks.

I have a difficult time keeping up my my wife’s multitasking: I’m constantly worried that the details she’s thought of won’t stick in my memory. Mens’ brains are compartmentalized, and the wrong context for a discussion can delay comprehension as we context-switch to the right compartment. I’m much much worse than others in this “compartment-switch”, which makes gaps and delay stand out.

I’m all about deep-dives.

Also, this delay makes me feel dumb.

The same process as software can be related to the to-do list. Or the “honeydew” list (the Honey (to-) do list). Or the planning of home repairs. Or the prioritizing of any list of tasks.

Before embarking on a to-do list, at the start of a week, discuss which to-do items are most important. re-align to make sure you’ve caught up with the others in your group or family or knitting circle. maybe launch into a session of “ok, this is how I think I can do that” to see if it conflicts. Really difficult to rearrange a room if that room will be used for studying.

If this is done before a major to-do item, it can help remind and re-align the details and constraints if it’s been a while since that item was considered, and if the details have changed a dozen or so times.

Because this can be done just before, it’s not necessary to discuss very many times in detail before that timeframe — maybe broader strokes — allowing better use of time. Focusing on the more immediate tasks can avoid “feature creep” wherein more and more things are last-minute added to the current list of tasks.

Yet here, Laertes!

The hardest thing about lending people money — helping them out when they really needed it — is that you have to constantly ask for it back.

Some have borrowed and simply broken off contact ($7k down the tubes, and I’m the bad guy somehow).

for loan oft loses both itself and friend

Most people are openly good about it, just… you helped then in an old leaky boat, the leak is fixed, but the boat is still old and leaky not gonna turn a profit to repay.

borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry

I know, it’s just money, which is like a score to show you’ve worked and deserve to purchase a cookie. It’s just a number, and we should focus on other things. As an aside, it’s the borrowers or the super-rich telling you that.

…but all my life, even before paying the extra share on a shared PC as a teenager, I’ve been the guy people assume will foot the bill. At a big dinner, it’s nice to pay the cheque, it feels like the boss, but that’s a choice not taken for granted.

The assumption gets tiring. The asking gets tiring. The borrowers fleeing gets tiring. Being punished for lending gets tiring. I guess that’s a facet of friends “their adoption tried” towards being “select [yet] generous”.

What Benefit Are Unions Today?

Worker unions got together long ago and pushed for days off, and I believe it’s a union that got us the right for women to vote. That’s kinda cool, but I wasn’t alive then.

I’m not against unions; I’m against the cattle who join them and — without thinking — trust with absolute faith whatever they say.

Let’s say that again: I am against faith used where logic and reasoning should be used.

I’m especially against the hypocrisy of “let us teach you about logic and reasoning and math; now, use them everywhere except when we’re on strike again”

Apparently unions are good for everyone, if you’d believe entities such as the BCTF (BC Teachers Fed). The honest truth is that Unions have helped set up a basis for employment, but they didn’t give me two free paid days off weekly; rather, my salary is negotiated annually when I accept a job offer, paid bimonthly, and part of that agreement is a 40-hr workweek. I don’t recall a union member being present, and if you think about it, if unemployment tanked again like it did at the end of the Bush Years, many people would be willing to work 6-day weeks to get paid. That may be a competitive edge they’re willing to undertake. Would unions stop that employer? Forbid the worker his choice? Forbid the employer from hiring that worker? Help that worker in some way? No.

Unions are primarily present to raise the salary of its members; behind the rhetoric of “good for everyone, making good changes”, they forget “…up until 1921” (Women’s Suffrage) and they forget that their goal is to make more money for their members. Who pays that? Government. the big endless money coffers of the government. Quick reminder: that money comes from everyone. So, in effect, unions are intended to siphon cash form us to the union members. I can’t quite see how that is “good for everyone”.

In 2005, BCTF went on strike, and was declared in contempt of court, and finally convinced through negotiation to return on Oct 24. I doubt that delay in the school year benefited everyone. In the process, other unions went on strike, denying services to people other than just the students of voters. Yep, somehow it was legal for people to simply not do their job in support of other people unhappy with doing their job.

In 2006, on the issue of compensation, the BCTF went on strike. The government gave them a 16% raise increase before it impacted the school year, plus a $4000 signing bonus. That deal was later calculated to actually be a 14% to 21% increase (http://www.vancouversun.com/business/Facts+about+teachers+contract+dispute/6259331/story.html). Nice deal.

When this contract expired in 2011, teachers demanded a 15% salary hike. I wish I could get that; I wish I could get a provincial government shut down to support me.

In 2014, Teachers are on strike yet again, impacting students’ ability to learn. This is again that trick where you impact students so that government worries about its voters. That’s like the mafia hitting kids because they’re easier targets.

Indeed, the BCTF claimed its big issue was around classroom sizes, despite constant comparison with the wages of others. Their entire platform seemed around how the governing class had better wages. But wait! Wasn’t the intent of unions to raise the salary of its members? I can see how they covet the success of another group, but that other group has nothing to do with classroom size.

So let’s go back to the almighty classroom size. I admit, that’s cool, but let’s be honest about it. The claims are that classroom size will be reduced, yet they won’t raise costs. Last time I checked, reducing classroom sizes means more classes, means more teachers total. I’m not sure unions are incentivized to reduce salaries (kinda against their goals) so where does the cost to support additional teachers come from? Magic Math?

The biggest shame is that the people who taught me math want me to ignore math.

Worse, they leverage one party by hurting another: they leverage government via voters by hurting the kids.

There’s a reason “think of the children” is a meme, but I don’t quite hear the BCTF saying it. Hmm. Wonder why.

I’m not against funding education. It’s the most important investment a province and country can make. I’m against the teachers misleading the students to abandon critical thinking and trust what the unions says, to ignore the “we’re about students but how about your salary and can I have some?” trend. Really, if they’re about students, then why impact the students? If really the government is at fault, then have faith in the legal system, and set an example of a lawful protest that only affects the people with whom the dispute is lodged. Oh wait, BCTF ignored in the BC supreme court in 2006, perhaps they feel it will hold a grudge.

I’m not against funding education. Seriously though, if money is all it’s about, then just come out and say it. Be honest. Be open. Don’t splash scholiastic collateral damage on the student they claim to be in favor of. It’s just not being truthful.


Hey Allan, Maybe you can Work on Sunday

Often, I get asked to work on a Sunday or a Saturday — indeed, sometimes it’s accidental: some people don’t think things through when expanding a service offering to be 4 or 5 days.

1) there’s travel
2) there are timezones
3) travel tends to occur on the cheapest/crappiest flights

It’s not all about money, but money makes a great indicator of work/life balance that was sacrificed for naught.

In the last 3.5 years, I have had stellar reviews, while cost of living has suffered under inflation of 8.57 % (Feb 2009 to Aug 2012).

When I work weekends, I often get a “thanks”, but no cash. When I work late, no cash. When I travel overnight, no cash. When I sacrifice a weekend’s plans to make sure XYZCheeseFactory has what they need, no cash.

… but I do remain employed. Maybe if I didn’t work late/weekends I’d be fired.

By comparison, quite often it’s salespeople who ask me to work on weekends, “maybe just fly out on a Sunday”. When a sale gets completed, they get a bonus. If the customer feels well-treated, they get additional sales, some improved reception for new calls, even a frank non-business discussion that may lead to sales, or maybe just shooting-the-breeze. When the salesguy works late/long/weekends, they get cash either short-term, or in future business. Yes, it profits the company, but that commission cheque also helps.

I don’t pretend to understand the Salesman’s psyche — and this includes our talented ladies in sales as well — but I know that I don’t want it. If I wanted it, I’d be doing it, or failing at it, and reaping lessons from my failures.

When I work late/long/weekends, the company profits, the salesguy profits, but I don’t except continued employment.

A few hours on a few weekdays is easier to schedule around than trashing a few consecutive weekends.

Trashed weekend plans leads to being single again. Too far? Never taking a stand against this slide means nothing stops it from sliding to that extreme.

Paid no commission, but being alone again? Although it’s easier to sacrifice weekends as a bachelor, I can’t say that makes me want to jump on a plane on a sunday morning. Nope.


TSA Employees Have Cancer, DHS’s Head Still In Sand

It’s been longstanding well known knowledge around frequent fliers that even TSA agents don’t stand near their porno-scanner machines. They don’t allow customers to carry dosimeters, and they quote doctrine which implies they don’t know the difference in radiation dissipation from their machines and natural radiation at higher altitudes that occasionally get through the aircraft’s metal skin.

In Epic v DHS, the US Department of Homeland Security also seems to be surprised that radiation can cause cancer.

TSA employees may have detected a Cancer Cluster, but this information is held from the unquestioning travellers — perhaps for fear of countering the goal of making fliers feel safer.

At what point will TSA and their parent DHS actually being acting in a way that encourages trust?


Prejudice to a Name

Prejudice is prejudice: be it by race, colour, body shape, and yes, even a name.

Can a word describing an industry that built up demand for bandwidth on the internet, improved video codecs (faster youtube videos), and the electronic payment-processing system, be a bad thing?

Very few people have indicated concern over my email address: chickenandporn is a name I picked up from a joke based on a college event. Most people are unconcerned; others are concerned for themselves: somehow a word about an industry is a very bad thing — I’d hate how these people judge the industry itself, or the talent involved. Finally, there’s a group that are concerned not for themselves, but over concern that others might be concerned. Yes, concerned that someone ELSE might be worried. I like to call these the Sympathetically Skittish, or the “HR Wimps” for short.

Some people will talk to you about things that concern them: politics, your choice in fashion, Michele Bachmann’s questionable understanding of .. everything.. It depends. Most people are tolerant of a wide range of things, especially engineers and international travellers. Shoot, the more you travel, the more you realize how petty the HR Wimps’ concerns are.

Still, another group will have all sorts of concerns or issues, and never mention a word about it. I lie to call these people “Dicks”. I’m not sure what it is about Dicks, whether they take pleasure in mistakes made by others rather than helping them, or whether they worry that they might be incorrect. Hell, incorrectness is merely a discussion away, and that discussion itself leads to better understanding. Maybe Dicks think they are correct and avoid discussions which might cause discovery of possible error. No, don’t want that. In general, Dicks are, well, Dicks.

Another type of person I typically refer to in the negative are those security guards who see flashy, shiny people walk by all day, and out of jealousy, use their little bit of power to harass them. It’s not like that security guard, that TSA agent, that rent-a-cop is going to risk his life to save ours. No. They just slow us down, jack us up a bit, partially as theatre and partially from, well, being a Dick.

Unfortunately, the TSA has collected up a bunch of these people, honed their harassment skill, and allowed them to congregate where they can cross-pollinate their dick-ness.

I could see the position of HR people — knowing who makes what salary — combining with the comparison and resulting envy that always ensues from discussion salaries — leading to unhappy people looking to screw with whoever passes their desk who might earn a better salary. The few exceptions to this seem to be my current coworkers, and Sandra in NYC. She knows who she is, and she is a genuinely nice person.

Unfortunately, what grates on me is that HR Wimps are also Dicks.

Moreso than power-drunk security.

In order to get through to people who actually have a clue, we need to wade through the muck of HR Wimps who just want reasons to exclude us.

Seriously, that is what an HR Wimps is trying to do: exclude you. They’re looking for any reason to kick you out of the liferaft because that’s their job. It’s not their job to find the best candidate, the most skilled, the guys who really know anything. No. They need to whittle a stack down to a few.

I’m not sure what pisses me off more: The Dicks in life who don’t help others, or the HR Wimps, or the HR Wimps who are Dicks and act like power-drunk Security Guards: you’re shiny, so I have therefore shat upon you.

All because of a name, a race, a colour, a belief, whatever might be different, therefore suspect or wrong.

Don’t be a Dick.


BOSU and P90?

A friend has had significant results with a 6-minute ab routine; I can’t buy into so much benefit from a few short exercises, but perhaps accepting a P90x challenge would help fill some gaps.

I would need something that “travels” better than a P90X; the abs also needs a BOSU Ball.


Ringtone: Allan! Allan! Al! Allan!

A friend sent me a link on youtube, so I figured a ringtone was in order (converted via listentoyoutube)

We now return you to your previously-scheduled RSS reader.


Yahoo Is In the Business for Private Details

So I went to join a Yahoo group today; my options were:

  1. create Yet-Another-Friggin Account (that’s soooo 1980s)
    • Extra “benefit” — the mail cannot be reliably read anywhere except opening up a web browser to yahoo.com and waiting… waiting…
  2. Login using OpenID and Google
  3. Login using OpenID and Facebook

Facebook is closest to my actual ID, so I used that one; I was amazed to find that — among the data that Yahoo considered “required” — are my political views, birthdate, all my friends and their contact information and private details.

The extra-dumbass part is where Yahoo — after sucking in all this information about me — still wants me to create a profile. That’s like cops slamming a 2-inch dossier about you in a desk, then opening with “so tell me about yourself”

What’s my beef about waiting for a website to read your mail?

  • Coming to a website to read my email is the bank’s stupid game: emailing me to come to their website to read an email they left for me — just friggin send it! (yes, I know what PKCS is, do you?) My phone and laptop have a mail client, I use gmail on the web, but I can also use a number of mail protocols
  • Website is synchronous; email is asynchronous. If you don’t know what that is, then “website needs me to wait despite slow bandwidth until I finally see all the ads and all the chewy bouncy animated graphics, whereas mail just sends when it can in a much more efficient transfer”.
  • Accuracy of protocol. See also The Fountainhead

Dialing Number Optimized for Smartphones?

So my work colleagues have been sending around conference numbers that are “Optimized for Smartphones” using an “x” as a dialing character that perhaps is intended to wait for a pause.

Unfortunately, it probably only works for RIM’s Blackberry line of devices (the #4 product, behind Apple, Nokia, and the whole collection of Android stew). RIM holds 15% of marketshare.

It seems that none of them have checked?

“x” is treated as syntactical sugar and ignored just as “-” and spaces are. …except maybe on their RIM product. “Works with IE” (if you don’t understand the significance of that statement, you might want to move on)

At least they aren’t using “+” to look cool (as opposed to the international code for “put this local hamlet’s random indicator for long-distance dialing here” which becomes “011”, “119”, “110” etc as required).

Unfortunately, very few of us would recognize the double-bonehead of “+18005551212×345631#” (if you have to think about it, just move on).

…but we all recognize the limits of the behavior of making an assumption rather than actually checking facts before regurgitating.