Archive for June, 2004

The ubiquitous Gmail invite post

Everyone seems to have one of these now, but I’ve grown quite attached to Gmail; if you want a web-based account, this is about as good as it gets. Lots of nice features, though a few details of the Safari compatibility are lacking. I’m actually using it as my primary right now.

I have invites so if you want one, comment, with an email address in the box, saying “I’d like one” or words to that effect. I only have one right now but apparently there’ll be more.

Edit: Please pay attention. I do not have any more invite codes left now.

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While it is slightly nice to have a project at work that requires some thought, it would be even nicer if it were not the exact same project of which I said, when I heard about it being proposed a few months ago:

  • “christ”
  • “that’d take, oh, half a dozen people working full time for nine months”
  • “it’s horrible hacked-up legacy code that nobody understands, as well, it’d be incredibly frustrating”
  • “you’ll never catch me doing that, I’d go bananas”
  • “if I’m asked to do it I’ll say no”

But then if you don’t actually ask someone and just assign them to it, they can’t say no, can they?

To be fair I am the obvious choice for this (it’s a data migration thing, I’m not going to go into the details) and, you know, it keeps me off the streets. I spend a lot of time complaining that I have nothing to do; is it reasonable to complain when there is something?

Well, sod reasonable, quite frankly. I don’t see why I should have to be reasonable about this. I don’t want to do it and I can think of many things I would rather do, I’m quite capable of doing, I’ve asked to do and I’m not doing. Basically, bugger them. Should I feel guilty about talking about predicted workload later on this year when I’m quite aware that I’ve got no intention of being there later on this year? Who cares? I don’t. Do I get accurate information about the company’s plans for me and my job in the future? No, of course not, we get fed an enormous quantity of lies and “we’re so great and you’re such saints for working here” bullshit. We get bloody adverts aimed at us during supposedly informational sessions, for christ’s sake – we’re not the bloody customers, we know this is just a business, not a worldwide crusade (in fact, most of the customers are completely aware of this too). It’s a wonder we don’t have a company song.

If anything infuriates me it’s this fake morale-boosting stuff. You don’t make people happier by pretending to give them information and showing them videos of cute kids, and the mortgage/salary trap doesn’t work on me – debt-free, child-free. Try offering a reasonable career path, the opportunity to learn things, develop, a few tasks that aren’t codemonkey work and provide more intellectual stimulation than the quick crossword.

This all sounds very stupid because of course there’s no real interest in doing that in the first place. I know this. However – and I freely admit it – I was briefly sucked into the corporate hardman idea, the Company-Of-One, go-getting, work-hard-play-hard ideal that’s a setup for later dysfunctional debt-slavery. I started to believe the idea that the company and I were on some sort of equal footing, the rational players in a free market beloved of delusionary economic theorists, buyers and sellers able to make mutually beneficial bargains, without fully understanding how much better at it they were than I. Stupid. Yes. I know. It’s an attractive idea when you’re young, confident but slightly insecure in your position; you get to believe in yourself but simultaneously hand over some control to another entity, on the basis of this assumed bargain. But if there’s one thing that can inspire more hatred than simply being fucked over, it’s being fucked over plus self-loathing.

This has been today’s fridgemagnet job rant. Tomorrow I will be teaching people to use a system that they don’t want to use but have to. I will endeavour, in the spirit of the bloody Protestant work ethic, not to inject too much sarcasm into the presentation.

Funny stuff will return at an indeterminate date.

Oh, and I broke the flower off my plant.

Comments (4)

Advice spam?

Some drug-linker has spammed a whole bunch of entries here with the following:


People posting to these types of boards are ruining SEO (Search Engine Optimization) as we know it. If the owner of this site is interested in curbing this problem, please obtain another script that does not allow HTML or that requires verification and you will stop the endless advertizing on this board. Otherwise people will continue to do this indefinitely. Or perhaps you don’t mind?

as well as the usual link to a pill site. Do a Google for the beginning phrase and you can see it’s pretty common…. None of them got through the spam filter of course, due to the link, but I get notifications that the comments were attempted.

I really don’t know what’s going on here. Is this some person with a modified spam script, sending out advisories to unprotected sites, and using a spam link to make sure sites with spam protection don’t get anything? Of course, I did, though it never actually hit the web. Thanks, mate. I know about comment spam.

Oh, and screw Search Engine Optimisation – if you want to optimise your pages, make sure they’re standards-compliant, use semantic code and actually have relevant content. In other words, write properly. It works for me.

Comments off

What to do

Well, it looks like some sort of decision is going to have to be made. Let’s sum up the situation.

I don’t think it is at all likely that I am going to stay in America much longer. Nothing against the place, it’s just that I am pretty much on my own and gradually growing madder and madder. I used to be able to cope with weekends, and work; now, I hate my job, and I hate my free time, and both of them make me want to live in a yak and drink beer for the rest of my life.

I can’t get another job in the US unless I find some company willing to get me another Indentured Servent Visa, which is unlikely to happen. These things cost money. I really hate my job, which is the stupidest codemonkey work for morons imaginable with absolutely no social outlets, and there are no internal alternatives – believe me, I’ve checked, there’s nothing, unless I get the opportunity to retrain, which I won’t. Budget restraints, you know. It’s not like EMC are rich or anything.

I can’t cope with my job because I don’t have anything in my personal life that makes it worth enduring. I haven’t got anything in my personal life because I moved over here on what was basically a romantic whim, knowing one person who I now don’t talk to; I know one other person who’s pretty cool but, you know, you can’t put your entire social demands on one person. I’m perpetually too miserable to attempt to make the situation better, and even on the rare occasions that I try, I fuck the follow-up. I seriously spend every single weekend without talking to anyone except to buy things. Some sort of drugs might help here but I’m sceptical about anti-depressants, having worked on them for too long myself and had too many experiences of them not really helping long-term. I don’t react to them terribly well and I hate the side-effects.

So I conclude that the best move would be back to the UK. At least there I’d know some people, I’d know the social situation better, I’d have employment freedom and I wouldn’t have to see adverts ending with “I’m George Bush and I approve this message”. I’d have better mobile coverage, though worse broadband access… I’ll survive.

What are my options here? That’s the bit I’m currently debating.

» Continue reading “What to do”

Comments (17)

AP and Reuters confuse me

On my Bloglines page, I currently have both

Bush Can Hold U.S. Citizens Without Trial (AP)

AP – The Supreme Court ruled narrowly Monday that Congress gave President Bush the power to hold an American citizen without charges or trial, but said the detainee can challenge his treatment in court.

Mon, 28 Jun 2004 10:31 AM


U.S. Citizen Can’t Be Held in Bush’s War on Terror (Reuters)

Reuters – The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Monday that an American captured overseas in President Bush’s war on terrorism cannot be held indefinitely in a U.S. military jail without a chance to contest the detention.

Mon, 28 Jun 2004 10:26 AM

It’s on my My Yahoo page too.

U.S. National News from AP Jun 28 10:46am
* Bush Can Hold Citizens Without Charges * Family of Captive Marine Asks for Prayers * Magnitude 4.5 Earthquake Strikes Midwest * Peterson Defense Getting Upper Hand Early * Supreme Court to Hear Case on Medical Pot

Top Stories from Reuters Jun 28 10:47am * Court: Foreign Terror Suspects Can Use U.S. Courts * Iraq Formally Returns to Self-Rule Two Days Early * U.S. Citizen Can’t Be Held in Bush’s War on Terror * Supreme Court Decides Terror Case on Technicality * U.S. Military Denies Reports of Zarqawi Capture

Helpfully, all of the links are down. So that’s completely clear, then. For god’s sake, can you two come to some agreement please?

Edit: I think I might have worked it out based on those summaries. Here’s my idea – it’s legal for him to be held without charges, but it’s not legal for him to be held without being able to challenge his being held in court, even if that doesn’t mean that charges are pressed. Does that make sense?

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Few thoughts about statements in the media

I was thinking about stages that I’ve gone through in my reaction to the statements of politicians.

  1. Believing what they say;
  2. Giving them the benefit of the doubt unless proved wrong, though being sceptical to some degree, and considering the possibility that they are bending the truth;
  3. Not believing the content of what they say and only making a decision based on independent data, quite happy with the idea that they may be simply lying to your face, but considering the subject valid;
  4. Ignoring the content of what they say, and using their words as a method of divination to find out what their real intentions are and what they want you to believe.

I flit between stages 3 and 4 for some time now; I can’t conceive that the content of any statement made by a politician provides information directly. I remember watching Tony Blair on the TV and realising that I didn’t just doubt and look for holes in his statements, I simply didn’t believe them. His words had no influence on my beliefs at all, not in the way they were meant. It didn’t occur to me to believe him.

Of course, there’s information to be gathered:

The White House said today that X was responsible for the attack

tells you that

The White House wants you to believe that X was responsible for the attack

and whatever else that entails.

» Continue reading “Few thoughts about statements in the media”

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Oh yeah

There is no such thing as “carmel”.

It’s not even spelt “carmel”. Even here.

Count the vowels.

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To all UK readers

I may be sitting here trying desperately to motivate myself, while you are doubtless in the pub right now with your <bitter>friends</bitter> having <bitter>fun</bitter>, but think on this, football-sceptics – while you were gritting your teeth today as yet another conversation started behind you along the lines of “that Swiss bastard“, I was in an office where nobody even knew that there was a game yesterday. Football? You mean soccer? The English soccer team were playing someone? That’s apart from the Brits here of course, and they are admittedly a bit of an infestation, but I don’t work with any of them. Generally I try to avoid such people anyway in case they recognise me from Crimewatch, or I owe them money, or I killed their father and should prepare to die.

As an expat I find that one sometimes develops a certain affection for aspects of one’s home culture that one either didn’t think about at all or considered completely fucking stupid when one was actually there, as a sort of psychic self-defence against an alien culture and a petty, lazy statement of personal identity (“look! I’m different from you! I like Marmite!”) but I really can’t imagine ever doing this with any sport. I don’t hate football as such, though I will pretend to to wind people up – guess who’s #1 when you google for “football is shit”? – I just don’t care. I never did when I was younger, I’m very poor on the whole group loyalty thing and I don’t see the point in pretending, no matter how useful a conversation topic it might be. I can talk shit about plenty of other things, admittedly mostly with a narrower appeal.

And god, there are some football twats about.

Anyway, it’s amazing how Friday-afternoon boredom, fatigue and apathy can completely counteract common sense.

Common sense:

“You must finish this before the end of Monday, ideally earlier. Unless you do some serious work now, you’ll have to do it all on Monday, and you know what you’re like on Mondays.”

Friday apathy:

“Hmm… nah, can’t be arsed. I’d rather sit here and eat crisps.” (or blog)

It’s rarely of course true that one has to do work by a certain time, unless your boss has a “summary execution” management style, but if you don’t you get into trouble, and the resultant problems caused by job loss will be worse than the problems caused by you getting off your lazy arse, and only metaphorically at that, unless you’ve worked out a way to code while standing. Which I haven’t.

P.S. It’s actually really convenient writing in Markdown and I think I will carry on doing so.

Edit: did not, as it happens, finish task today. Bet that comes as a shock.

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Don’t try to install operating systems while intoxicated.

I’d actually been attempting to put Mandrake 9.1 PPC on the iBook, but it just wasn’t happening. I can’t remember now, something to do with the partitioning, and the graphical installer not working at all. And then I fucked everything somehow.

I got a little annoyed

  1. here
  2. here
  3. and particularly here

I know the world was always lacking a recording of me ranting about Norwegian. (NB not in Norwegian.)

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Spam warning

Never order anything from Tiger Direct (an Amazon-linked company that sold me a memory card) because they add you to their spam list, and distribute your address to other spam lists.

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