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 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.


Y2K Was All Hype?

Watching David McCandless’s Data Visualization talk, he does a great job of both data and showmanship, but (as you can tell my the title) there was something that bothered me.

Y2K was a factual issue; it was known and understood over a decade before, and the hype around the date was needed in the final two years in order to get action moving.

It is because of that hype that budget was expended.

It is because of that budget that the engineers of the world were tasked to react.

It is because we all did such a good job that these various billing and control systems didn’t randomly stop. Indeed, I finished my final deliverable, pushed it out, and dropped straight into a drivers’ seat for a 2-hr icy drive to meet my buddy for New Years. I got there just before the countdown.

We all know that Y2K was a real issue, and that it turned out OK; the part that so many seem to forget is that budgets and people were needed to effect this smooth changeover. This wasn’t a natural disaster like an earthquake or comet striking the earth, but a man-made issue with man-made solutions.

Many of us were part of that man-made solution. We worked very hard. We don’t want medals, but for the love of your internet and billing systems and lights that turn on, how about not implying that “it was nothing”, that “all the hard work that engineers and scientists and project managers put in was a sham”.

ps: for your lack of appreciation, you friggin fax-loving luddites, bite me


Where’s My Bloody Stone Chisel?

I’m amazed at how our worship of paper persists.

Seriously — it’s ridiculously easy to forge a signature, and facsimile technology is so wretchedly old and inefficient, why haven’t we moved on? Moore’s Law pushes CPUs and RAM efficiency and overall throughput further and further so that Microsoft can make software that entirely fills that space, runs no faster, but gives us control over microscopic font-kerning parameters (have you noticed how MS Word today is no more efficient today than it was 5 years ago?) … but FAX and paper, nah, no reason to speed those up.

HP makes a mint every year on the “cheap razor, expensive blades” market with cheap printers that need expensive ink — in fact, if you factor in the cost of $80 to replace all my inks, and the printer with ink is $100, then that printer is either ridiculously cheap, or HP knows full well that we will keep paying annually.

OK, 3 times per year — it only takes 2-3 months for a brand-new set of inks to go completely dry without printing more than a dozen pages.

Facsimile is a different equation: it costs for the machine, and you’re shelling out for an additional line (or if you use your home phone line, your number will be sold out by any facsimile machine to whom you send anything so that 4 times per day fax machines will call you — ask me why I had to ditch my 212 number). Facsimile was made commercially-viable in 1966 based on a string of innovations that started in 1902 and carried through past Xerox’s 46-pound monstrosity — but we the consumers didn’t care before or after the sacred Facsimile Machine shipped. So you’re shelling out for a fax line, and don’t tell me that the telephone companies aren’t silently happy that a 1966 technology hasn’t quite died yet.

In 1998, it was made possible to relay Facsimile through digital lines, but no, we still use the analog dial-ups. We like our 1966 cutting-edge technology.

I think the Fax is up there with the people who use Excel to write a letter… because there’s nothing a spreadsheet can’t do. Except anything. … but the omnipotence of a spreadsheet is a faith-based argument I haven’t actually tried to debate since the fellow signing my invoices in 1997 used Lotus-1-2-3 to write memos.

… and that’s why Fedex (in their stores nee Kinkos) charges $2 per page: because facsimile is free. Wait, it’s not?

If facsimile was sold today like HD TVs are, the cheap-ass fax-boxes would be dead years ago. 100dpi? 200dpi for “fine”? Can I get that n Full-HD? 1080dpi please? Yeah, Full DPI thanks.

So we’re paying HP and their ilk $240 per year to allow up to print something, sign it, and $2 per page to send it, when it’s free to digitally sign a document and email it back in 100% digital fidelity rather than twice-degraded (see also Shannon Theory, and Aliasing) can-no-longer-read-it document with a forged signature.

Before the strawman argument of “it’s not legal to digitally sign”, it’s been legal since Oct 1, 2000. So you friggin’ Luddites, quit worshipping the God of Papyrus or whatever you’re calling it this week, and BAN THE FAX.

We were better off with friggin chisels and tablets.


Local Daimyo

We collect into functional groups where no other exists to fill that void.


Family is a funny thing — Asians are better at keeping a family communicating even if they are unimpressed with each other. One could claim that the non-existence of social security is the driving force, to which I argue that there are more altruistic and Confucian reasons to stick together; but aside from that, the downward spiral of Social Security implies we’ll need that skill.

North Americans are so quick to trash their family. Lacking one nearby (or unwilling to accept the blame for another’s self-inflicted issues) those of us who are social, and want to participate on a big over-arching house need to go elsewhere to meet that need.

I had dinner at a friend’s house –I get to practice a little cooking for more-than-one. Simple cooking. This friend is very much like family, and they practice a very open door… Along the lines of “if I don’t answer my phone, you have door keys for a reason”. I think all five of us tonight have such keys. This is very similar to my father’s open-house, and my aunt and uncle’s ” pay it forward” mentality.

Such a grand open house is like a great land baron or head of estate of old: replace the arts sponsorship of yesterday with a sponsorship of associates towards more enjoyable mix of drop-ins at home.

I think it’s the right way to go about it; I’d just like to be the guy inviting people into my house to share my table. Being the younger brother role is not so bad.

My pride is ok with having other outlets through which I can “pay it forward”

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:20th Ave NW,Seattle,United States