Tuesday, 9 January 2007


Friday, October 31, 2003

Contemporary history through... - searches for drugs
Mesothelioma - Viagra - Phentermine - Zocor - Bontril - Prozac - -Tenuate - Zyban - Didrex - Meridia - Lipitor. As of this writing, these are the most popular terms searched on drugs.com, a site that mainly seems to shill for secondrate drug companies and cut-rate cure-alls... It reveals an interesting anthropological find and a not altogether unsuspected snapshot of people now - i.e. people are stupid. Mesothelioma is a disease of the lungs caused usually by inhalation of crocidolite (blue asbestos fibres) in a certain range of lengths. It isn't a drug at all.
The interesting fact here is that if mesothelioma manages to beat viagra as a search term, then there must be a lot of people with asbestosis out there... How did this happen? Dust from old asbestos fencing? Asbestos house cladding? Pipe lagging? Or car brake shoes?
Then we have the inevitable small dick syndrome people, and then the obese and the cholesterol-obsessed, the stressed, smokers wanting to get off, and more fat people whose inner thin person is screaming to get out.
If for any reason, this fact survives s few centuries and is finally dug up by an anthropologist / historian, what sort of a world will they imagine we lived in?
Categories - ::/:: Edited on: Sunday, January 18, 2004 10:06 AMposted at 12:13 AM Ted
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Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Something else I hate
Huey's Cooking Show - went to the website, he expects me to pay to see recipes. I don't even like the putz...
He also has an ad/survey pops up that asks me various questions. You have to tick something on every question, even inapplicable ones, and then when I wrote something uncomplimentary about him in the comments section, the server 'crashed' when I went to submit the questionnaire.
Sucks to you Huey!
Categories - ::/:: Edited on: Sunday, January 18, 2004 10:05 AMposted at 3:49 PM Ted
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Pride in incompetence
Maybe it's just me. Maybe I was just too young when I was young, or maybe too gullible, or something...
Have you ever noticed though, that less and less people take pride in their work anymore? In fact, some people I deal with seem to revel in their incompetence at their job, a kind of "look, I'm so fuggen useless and I'm still making that asshole PAY me for my services!" kind of pride at yet another job fucked up...
Why I reckon it *could* be me, is that when I was growing up, it seemed to me that people actually gave a shit about their jobs. Maybe I just perceived them as 'grown-ups' and knew that grown-ups were practically perfect in every way, maybe it just seemed to my young mind that these grown-ups were doing things that I considered unimportant and thus it made me think that in order to perform such unimportant tasks, they had to take some strange pride in their work. But the fact remains that I still feel that work ethics have changed tremendously in the last thirty years.
When I was 11, I met my first incompetent. She was my friend's mum, and she worked checkout at our local grocery store. I used to amuse myself by racing the cash register, and one day I noticed a miscount of around a dollar in the store's favour. Being a polite little lad, I was very polite in pointing it out, and also noting that since the amount corresponded to a particular item's price, that it was most likely that this item had been rung up twice. No scanners back then, it was all manual punch in the price...
Thing is, she knew my mum. and she complained to mum about me, said I was a 'little smart-ass'... I ask you - what sort of internal reasoning led her to believe that her fuck-up was due to me being a smart-ass? How convinced of her own competence did she have to be?
I read somewhere that more incompetent people are most convinced of their own competence than more competent ones. Because they are so bad at what they do, they don't realise that there's a lot of improvement to be made in their performance, while a more competent person is more aware of what their duties entail and more critical of themselves because they *know* they could improve a lot.
I believe that, implicitiy and completely...
When I was 20, I went into a stereo store to buy myself a reasonable stereo system. I discussed what I wanted with the salesdroid, and then pointed out two turntables which I thought were to my specs. Salsedroid immediately ignored both of those and pointed to several other, more expensive, and actually *lower* spec, units. He was selling to me based on price and had no idea of specs whatsoever! After asking him once more to stick to my specs and not to the catalogue prices and getting nowhere, I'd had enough of him. Back then, you expected the salesperson to know at least *something* about the product they were selling...
I asked to see the store manager, explained that I had the then not inconsiderable sum of $5,000 in my pocket in cash to buy my stereo equipment, and that his store had just lost that sale because of the incompetence of that salesperson. I bid goodbye and only walked back in once more a few days later (after buying my gear at a store where the staff knew something about their products) to see what had happened. I was gratified that the salesperson had apparently been sent packing. Managers took $5,000 seriously in those days...
Thing is, for those days, that was still considered inexcusable, offensive, and unprofessional. Nowadays, it's the fashion...
On a similar vein, more recently I was shopping for a secondhand laptop and walked into one of those computer trader shops, and finally found a laptop in my price range, but... so little RAM, such a low-powered CPU... It wouldn't run Windows 98, which is what I wanted it for, so I asked the salesdroid if they would upgrade the RAM for me so it wouldn't swap out all the time, and mentioned that I needed it to run W98.
'Oh it'll run W98 fine' was his breezy reply, 'it just depends on how much of Windows you install."
Pardon? You mean I can install a cut-down version of the W98 kernel? Can you tell me how? You mean save hard drive space not RAM, don't you?
'Ah, you just uncheck some stuff when you install it..."
By that stage I'd had enough, and said, in a voice loud enough to carry all over the store, that I was going somewhere else to spend a few grand, somewhere where the staff knew anything at all about what they were selling. The manager came over not to apologise, but to try and convince me that his salesperson was right, that any dickhead knew that if you installed less of the 'fruit' as he called it, it would use less 'memory.' At that point I just shook my head, called the manager a name I'd rather not repeat here, and walked out.
More? My next door neighbout works as a delivery truck driver for a whitegoods outlet. He has a diesel 1.5 ton truck, and every morning I hear him crank and crank and crank that truck, because he doesn't know enough about that truck to know that you should hold the key on preheat for a minute before starting, so that it won't have to supply current to both the glowplug and the starter... If it was just a few weeks I'd believe that his preheat had burnt out and he was waiting on spare parts, but it's every workday morning for a year now, so it's obvious he's either just clueless, or else he doesn't give a shit.
I believe the latter actually, because a few times he's come home with deliveries still in the back of the truck, canvas-covered rear wide open to thieves and often to the rain, and I wonder why the store keeps him on...
Went to a restaurant with three friends, checked in at the counter, and then sat there for about 15 minutes without anyone bringing us a menu or asking us if we wanted drinks to begin with. Quite a ritzy restaurant, it charged a premium price and was supposedly one of the best new venues in the locality. After 15 minutes I used the mobile phone to ring the manager and ask if there was a chance of being served, the reply? 'We're not busy, you would be served as soon as you arrived. When were you thinking of coming?'
I informed him that we'd been sitting at table 16 for almost 20 minutes now without any contact, and there was a profuse rush of apologies, but still no waiter.
About five more minutes elapsed before one did arrive, so we placed our orders and waited some more. By this stage some 30 - 35 minutes had elapsed since we first came in and were asked to take a seat. None of us were badly dressed, nor were we rowdy or otherwise objectionable, after all, we wanted our dinner. About seven of around thirty tables were filled by that stage, absolutely not a busy evening.
No excuse for it, really. But that's not the end of it...
About halfway through dinner, my friend's coffee ran out and they flagged a passing waiter and asked for another cup. We finished the meal and were still waiting for that coffee. Two more of us felt the need for a post-prandial coffee so we flagged down another waiter, asked again for the first coffee, and asked that another two also be brought out. Waiters were walking by at the rate of one every few minutes, and we waited for about ten minutes before flaggin down another waiter. Yes, he'd check into it, yes, he'd make sure our coffees arrived as soon as possible.
Another ten minutes and we got up to leave. At the register we noticed that we'd been charged for those three extra coffees, and asked to see the manager. Explained to him why we had decided to go to a coffee shop instead of waiting for almost 30 minutes for a coffee after the poor evening's service we'd already had. And he went and asked his waiters who said they'd never received any orders for extra coffee! (Yeap those same extra coffees which were on the tab, that's the ones...)
When we pointed this out, he said he had to back his staff and the extra coffees must have been entered 'in error...' At that point we'd all had enough, and I'm glad to say that this particular restaurant, which was a new venture, went broke and was taken over by new management in it's first year.
That points out something to me. The manager had the chance to smooth things over and keep four regular customers, because the food was indeed excellent. Instead, he chose to support his staff, staff which cost him more and more clientele, more and more bad word of mouth, and less and less income. And yes, we did tell everyone we knew about how the place had been, and probably cost him another 100 clients among our circles of friends, and I daresay that every other dinner party that his incompetent staff drove away from the restaurant also badmouthed the restaurant to *their* friends...
Here's someone who not only was incompetent, he also seemingly looked for and fully supported incompetence in his staff because he himself knew so little about how a competent restaurant was run...
So is it me, or is ignorance winning the race?
Categories - ::/:: Edited on: Sunday, January 18, 2004 10:05 AMposted at 10:01 AM Ted
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Sunday, October 05, 2003

Apology for quantity
Sorry for such a lot of stuff on one day, but moving a blog is never easy, even a small, beginning, young blog like this. I transferred the best articles from several other blogs to this one, hopefully now thanks to Thingamablog I'll at last have one stable format...
Categories - ::/:: Edited on: Sunday, October 05, 2003 10:59 PMposted at 10:58 PM Ted
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The conspiracy theory that dares not speak... - something... umm...
I'm saying SARS. I'm saying AIDS. Can you say "tailored," dear reader?
Why was I looking at a news item the other day which stated that a possible reason SARS was so successful in Asia is because Asian people have a particular genetic trait which SARS can latch onto? It just seemed so - convenient - that this virus would cause us less collateral damage than another, competing-for-the-world's-resources, racial genotype...
How did I bring AIDS into this? Well, it's another virus that targets specific groups, although this one does it via another mechanism. But the group it targets are people who won't be mixing it up in the gene pool, or else it gets to people who can't easily avoid or treat it, i.e. African people. And I'm almost willing to bet that someday very soon, some scientist somewhere will spot another "genetic hook" in this virus.
I don't claim to be politically correct. Life (no matter how many nanny-staters say otherwise) will never be politically correct, it'll always pursue its own course, which is to weed out political correctness and the nice guys and the not-quite-guys and... well, you get the idea...
It's just that... well... dammit, I am NOT a conspiracy nut but these things seems so... so... convenient... Bugger, now I've said it...
The world is shrinking, resource-wise. No-one can argue with it anymore, we are cleaning it up as fast as we humanly can, and therein lies the rub: Who will end up inheriting what's left? Yes yes, the "nice" folk would have you all sit arm in arm around the campfire but be honest, do you think it's gonna happen? Uh-uh...
And I can hear someone asking how the heck we could have developed AIDS before we cracked the genetic code. In fact, how SARS could be targeted at a genetic loophole so quickly after the genetic code was opened. So I'm going to digress for a moment.
When I was a much younger pup, I read about lasers and how they were going to develop lasers and I was amazed. They developed lasers, and I was amazed some more. Then I read in an electronics magazine that someone had theorised that a magnetic field could be amplified and used to fuse wiring and electronic devices, and I mentioned this to a retired technician friend of mine. "That sounds like project Green Ray" he said. When I asked him more about this, he said that he'd worked on a magnetic pulse weapon in the Air Force some 20 - 30 years earlier.
In other words, it took around 25 years for mainstream Defense technology to make it into mainstream civilian technology. So when exactly did genetic work first come to the point where it could become useful for targeting virii at specific groups? Ah-hah, ah-ha...
Then too, look at how scattershot AIDS is compared to SARS. AIDS did it's selection by using circumstances against particular groups, who have become the target group by virtue of economic disability. SARS is more refined, but hmmm... Targets, say, North Koreans, does it? Or Iraqis? Not too far away is it?
Pass the gene-splicer lads, I need to get rid of this tribe in the middle of Australia here!
Categories - ::/:: Edited on: Sunday, January 18, 2004 10:07 AMposted at 10:54 PM Ted
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The promised weigh-in. On permanent employment...
This is where I'll lay out some thoughts on the length of one's employment. As you gather, I'm a system admin, I'm also the guy (at my office in any ways) who's employed one other admin and is soon going to employ another one. If I'm lucky I'll also have to find another one to do my current job, at some stage.
I'm a trifle old for this sort of work, but that's the point - sooner or later everyone gets old, even the whizkids who rose like rockets in the dotcom boom, went boom like spectacular fireworks and illuminated a whole generation of IT, and then fell to earth in a shower of meteoric fragments which their psychs are still trying to reassemble to this day... (I think that particular peak in IT alone has cost us more good people than the preceding five hundred years.)
During that period, anyone who ended the year at the same company as they started off the year in, were almost regarded as unemployables. Being headhunted was a triumph for one's resume, and changing employers several times (or even leaving to start one's own company) was regarded as a prerequisite for further employment. Aside from the untenable initial premise (how can one become employable unless one has had several jobs to establish how desirable one was?) there were a lot of things wrong with that ethic.
See, we homo erectus are a funny lot. We compete, it's in our very natures to do that - and yet, we cooperate and collaborate. Our survival strategy depended a lot on how we outplayed outwitted and outlasted. And that in turn depended on our allegiances and alliances.
At some stage we got past the family unit and into the village unit, then town units and lately, city state and country units. And along the way, how smaller groups got along in the bigger picture was to form small units like households. (Some households provided a safe haven for up to 200 "staff" and 20 family members.) Households (and castles, kingdoms, and fiefdoms) survived because they were small enough to coexist within the local government, big enough to give benefits and protections to its members.
Later, the idea of households underwent a downsizing and the idea of a company became important. And like it or not, we're still at that company point, because we haven't yet formed a planet-wide alliance to fit anything larger under the aegis of.
So to me, the time you've spent at one company tells me your commitment to an alliance, your dependability, your general "human-ness" quotient. I'd hire you if you'd spent five or more years at another company and had the skillset I wanted.
On the other hand, you can't give me enough reasons to take you on if your employment record includes more jobs than you've had formal dinners... You can try your reasons, but I guarantee that none of them would make a favourable light.
Headhunted often? Cool, you're very intelligent and good at what you do, but I won't have you in my employ long enough to gain any benefit from you before you're headhunted again. And besides, what are you doing responding to my employment ad if headhunting's been such a way of life for you? Stopped being flavour of the month have we?
Situation at each company got worse and worse, forcing you to leave? Well, companies depend on *everyone* to be on the same side and rowing in the same direction, so that indicates that you weren't involved in much teamwork, for a start. Then there's the nagging question of why you always seemed to find *that* sort of a company, and what the heck are you doing here now, because we aren't one of those companies. Did all those companies go bust because of bad management? Then what are you, a slow learner? I'd expect you to begin seeing warning signs and figure out when not to accept a position at a company where the CEO's busy pissing the profits against the wall.
The other perennial - "improving my situation" - also doesn't light my fire, sorry. You mean that you were unsatisfied in one company after another? What do you expect to tell me that will have me believe you won't need to "improve" yourself out of my company too?
Or was it just better money that made you change so often? Again, make me believe that you won't do the same thing again in six months when I've got you involved in a project and the competition comes along and offers you ten grand more just to wreck my product development. Uh-uh... Don't think you'll get a raise just to keep you there sunshine, because in fact you won't even have gotten there...
This is me talking, a babyboomer old fart who's (luckily) been an early adopter of technology and held down exactly four jobs and one six month contract in the last twenty years, two of them concurrently, because I was working for myself but also employed in another industry and didn't want to let my employer down.
I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for the understanding of organisations that those jobs have given me. And my biggest realisation of company structure I gained was this: There's always a core of people who are reliable and team players and who hold the company together. Them, I want. If I can't get them (highly probable given the nature of those people) then I'll grow and nurture my own. If you want to work for at least this one global company in the IT department, then you'll do better if you've got a proven record of dependability...
Categories - ::/:: Edited on: Sunday, January 18, 2004 10:02 AMposted at 10:52 PM Ted
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TechnoFRZ - why weenies will never work out...
I'm about to work twice as hard at work, because we have a techno-weenie, an OS FRZ... (Fanatical Religious Zealot to those of you who missed the heyday of acronyms.)
And why? Because we both look after the same network, from different offices. We're connecting a company that's striving for that elusive first WAN, and we have different approaches. I tend to use what the company wants, for the sake of the company's network, while he tends to want to make the company use what he prefers, on *his* network... It's not going to work for him, on a lot of levels, and I think you can see why.
Being an Admin in a company means that you have a slightly different customer focus than the rest of the company. The company are there for the clients - you're there for the company... While my opposite number is in head office trying to change us to his idea of a perfect networking solution, I'm happy to provide whatever our customers are using so that our sales and tech support people are talking the same language as our customers. He has the company's Big Boss's ear, I have the interests of the whole company at heart - can you see who's going to win?
Our company made software which was revolutionary for it's heyday, which pushed the envelope and needed Silicon Graphics' finest just to run. As computing power ramped up, our software got a complete facelift into the 20th century by being fully ported to Windows. The reason? Our clients' networks have gone to Windows, and keeping a few SGI boxen around was becoming too cumbersome.
So now all our customers are all switched, and my oppo has switched as much of the network as he can to Linux and OS software... Why are our programmers and developers, who've just gotten used to Visual Basic and the Evil Way being asked to use gcc again? Well, at his office site, anyway...
Meanwhile, we have a decent MS based network, and a VPN based (as it should be) on *nix firewalls. I like to use what's appropriate, not something I'm devoted to. If you have favourites, you won't be touting them long unless they happen to agree with the needs of the company, if you stick to those favourites then you'll be outgrown when your company outgrows the technology.
I don't want to weigh in right now on the value or otherwise of sticking with one company for extended periods of employment. I'll just say that I think if you can stick with one company for a decent period, I'll respect you more because I consider that you've grown with that company and thus have shown dedication, ability to learn, and must have some measure of something which enabled you to keep your job. I'd hope that one of those "somethings" would have been the ability to adjust to the needs of your organisation...
Categories - ::/:: Edited on: Sunday, January 18, 2004 10:02 AMposted at 10:49 PM Ted
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Leave The Car At Home Day
... which was today, has come and gone. I noticed only marginally less traffic than normal (if at all) and decided that someone needs a reality check. The idea is to promote health by asking people to walk. It wasn't pre-promoted all that well, first I heard about it was on the radio in the car on the way to work... And it's definitely ditzy and impractical...
Example: I live 12km as the crow flies, or 15km by road, from where I work. Yeah sure I'll leave the car at home, start out for work at 2AM and get home by 9PM... I'm sure everyone else in Perth would also do this, yeah sure...
I've also tried using what laughably passes for "public transport" in this fair city. The bus route must be 16km at the very least with all the zigging and zagging to cover as much territory per route, and they stop about seven times as often as I do when driving to work. It takes me 15 minutes on a good day, 25 on a really bad, slow traffic day. I tried the bus the other day. 35 minutes later I arrived at the busport, waited another 10 minutes for a connecting bus, then another almost 10 minutes to get from there to my workplace. And that was the fastest route...
Train? Don't make me laugh. My nearest train station is 12 minutes away by car, then takes 20 minutes to get to the city, then I have another two or three kilomtere hike (depending on which station I stop at) to walk to work. Connecting buses? Oh yes, walk 5 minutes to the stop, wait 10 for a bus, then sit in it 5 - 10 minutes while it meanders all over the place and finally deposits me about 2/3 of the way towards work, leaving me almost a kilometre to walk anyway. Or get on one of the "CAT" intracity buses, then it goes the LONG way round its route and finally drops me about 200 metres from work. But takes 15 minutes to get there...
And our government wonders why we stick so doggedly to cars.
Oh - and using eco-friendly transport? I can't cycle - emphysema tends to do that to you - and I've looked at electric and hybrid vehicles. Who can afford them? Hell I am one of those people who buy a $2000 old smokey banger because I can't afford to hock my life for a new emission-controlled vehicle, give me a break okay? So until there are incentives to lose the smokers and go with the sparkies, I would very much like to drive a new Prius or some such greener vehicle but can't. I'd love to get on a bus or better yet a train every morning and go to work in a reasonable amount of time, but it's not possible yet.
Ask yourself why nothing gets done about this. "Hmm" says the government, "we could spend a few billion on better transport and providing incentives to make, import, and buy green vehicles - but the disasters that are happening now won't come home to roost for another 10 years. And not doing this now makes our figures look better..."
I REALLY don't want to be alive when those chickens come home to roost...
Categories - ::/:: Edited on: Sunday, January 18, 2004 10:01 AMposted at 10:38 PM Ted
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Something I really like?
URL: http://atanks.sourceforge.net/
Something I really like is the old classic Scorched Earth, but for years, PCs had become too fast for the old unclocked DOS battler, and I'd given it away as a bad joke. (They recently released a version of Scorch that didn't need one to run SloMo but I can't find the URL.) So when I saw Atomic Tanks I just had to download it. Verdict? Cool!
Categories - ::/:: Edited on: Sunday, January 18, 2004 10:01 AMposted at 10:29 PM Ted
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e3 :: blogging the wireless freenet
URL: http://e3.com.au/
e3 :: blogging the wireless freenet are a wireless freenet in Perth, Western Australia. I plan to provide some linkage to this network, by way of letting them piggyback on my wireless link to work. Always assuming the wifi to work becomes a reality. Man it's difficult to get spare time to do stuff!
Categories - ::/:: Edited on: Sunday, January 18, 2004 10:01 AMposted at 9:24 PM Ted
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Know What Really Annoys Me?
Umm women with split skirts who then walk around holding the split shut. Why the hell did you buy a high-split skirt like that in the first place?
Categories - ::/:: Edited on: Sunday, January 18, 2004 10:01 AMposted at 8:59 PM Ted
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