D4D

I don't know anything about saints, but I have an uncanny instinct for sniffing out a son of a bitch.

Archive for the category “Thoughts”

Slightly Quiet – the Repercussions

As I wrote yesterday, some of the stuff of the last few months has affected me in a number of ways, none of which I’m all that great at explaining at the time.

The work and jobs I’ve been doing this year haven’t left me in a good place, and I’ve found that (as on other occasions) it affects me more than I’m actually happy about.

I value myself to some degree by the work I do – and I like doing good work. Being part of a grinding factory of make-work bullshit isn’t my thing, and that was the kickstarter this time, a three-month contract with a company in Cambridge that was almost local-government in its use of people and make-work self-justifying crap that signifies the environs I really hate working in.

The work I did there was negligible – it wasn’t even relevant – which never helps. The next one was just bad, totally demoralised staff and an obsession with everything being “Agile” and a “Minimum Viable Product” (MVP), which appears to be techie-code for “Yeah fuck it, that’ll do”.

The idea of MVP is a good one in a startup business, or one that’s launching. It means that you do the basics, get it ready and get it out, then continue improving, adding functionality, listening to customer demands and the like.  However, when you’re in a business whose product has been available for a while, MVP means basic “do what the customer requested”, but without any thought for knock-on effects, or even how that functionality affects or integrates with existing code and setup.

From there, the next role was more challenging, but owned by an asshat. Lots still ongoing on that one, but at least it’s over.

But when all’s said and done, it all affects me – and more than it should. More than I admit, probably even to myself.  It leaves me demotivated, and not wanting to work on my own projects – whether web/tech-based, or just writing.  You’d think – and logic would dictate – that when I’m down about my paid-work being shit, I’d want to rectify that with producing decent stuff outside of work. But it doesn’t work like that – if I’m not happy with what I’m doing, I don’t want to do more of it.

With the excessive work hours at the last place as well, I didn’t really have time. I felt like I was existing only to commute, work, and sleep. Never a good place to be.

About the only positives to come out of it all have been that I’ve learned ever more about things I really don’t want to do, more warning signs about working with/for douchebags, and some more writing ideas when I get back into the mood for it.

Changes (Once Again)

At the end of September, I quit my job with nothing to go to. It’s been an interesting couple of weeks – and it’s hard to believe it’s only been a couple of weeks. Anyway.

I mentioned it earlier this month, but haven’t said a great deal in the meantime.

When I handed in my notice, it was with immediate effect. The company in question – well, it hadn’t been fun. Being underpaid by 20% didn’t enamour them to me – and that’s a situation that’s still outstanding – but despite that, they still assumed I would continue to work all hours in order to bring their badly-timed and shitly-specced projects in on time. Indeed, I say ‘assumed’, but it was actually expectations – with real shock when I would have a life outside of work, and wouldn’t be available to keep their arses out of the flames yet again.  The additional fact of not having a contract provided the seal on things.

I did get a contract in the end – one day before I left, and certainly well after the 8-week limit.  Happily, it was breached and invalid immediately, because they’d written the original offer salary on it, which hasn’t been paid at all in the three-and-a-bit months I was there. Oops.

I left with immediate effect, and with nothing to go to.  Not necessarily my wisest move, and not necessarily one I’d choose to make again. I had a bit of confidence from my previous history with interviews and contracts, but all the same that confidence could’ve been a real kicker if I wasn’t careful.

As it is, that hundred-percent interview success rate is now gone – although not by much.

I had two unsuccessful face-to-face interviews – which didn’t disappoint me. For the first, the commute would’ve been at least 90 minutes each way. Great for the whole “unemployed for two days”, less great for energy, sanity, or having a life.  For the second, it was based in London, and the evidence afterwards is that it wouldn’t have been right – I would’ve been offered it, but the company in question U-turned their plans post-interview, so the role I interviewed for didn’t even exist.

Other than that, I had three phone interviews, including the one I accepted. Of the other two, I’ve since been offered one, and got to face-to-face interview on the other.

I haven’t worked out the actual success ratio, and don’t really need to. All that matters is that it took me two weeks from leaving one place to starting another.  And that’s no bad thing at all.

Staying Put

In other news, it’s the time of year again where I renew (or not) the tenancy agreement on my current place. It’s hard to believe that I’ve been here two and a half years now, but that’s how long it’s been. Time flies when you’re having fun, and all that.

As always, I do some thinking when this comes round, deciding what I want to do, where I want to be, all that tat.

I know that at some point I will want to be moving on, going somewhere new, doing all that stuff again. But the time for that isn’t now. In some ways I really do want to move on, but the time isn’t right, and I don’t know where I want to be. So this’ll do for the time being.

I’m signing up for another year. By then, I’ll most likely have decided what’s next. Or I might stay another year. I don’t know. There’s lots can change in that time.

By the time of the next renewal, this will have been the longest I’ve been any one place in a very long time. And yet I don’t feel settled – and I don’t quite know why. I’m sure I’ll figure it out at some point.

Publicity

Over the last few weeks, there’s been a whole load of stuff talked about IS (AKA Islamic State, Isal, or ISIS) – both stuff about hostages held by IS (and the killing thereof) as well as politicians saying how people who go to fight for IS in Syria and the like are just Wrong.

Maybe I’m missing something, but surely if you don’t want people to go and fight for IS etc., there’s a few things that could be done ?

  1. Don’t keep feeding them the oxygen of publicity. The more they’re mentioned, the more they’re talked about and covered in the media, the more they’ll be seen as an attractive option by those of a certain persuasion / defective nature.
  2. If you feel they have to be publicised, you do the same as happened to the IRA, where no spokesman was allowed to be broadcast, any statement was done by an actor’s voice, so on and so forth.
  3. And make sure you don’t show anything but disgust for them. Fuck impartiality, allow presenters etc. to show what they think. Make it clear, say “The terrorist organisation IS has done this, but that’s the most we’ll say about it”.

If you take away the glamour of the organisation, stop feeding them airtime and headlines, they’ll stop being popular.

Of course, the other thing that can be done is to stop focussing on, and alienating, those sectors of the populace, making them feel that the country is against them.

As an example of that, I’ve a colleague who happens to have the surname Ahmed. He flies a lot for the company at the moment, and has been told – in no uncertain terms – “Oh, your name makes sure you’ll never be on the accelerated access programme to get back into the UK”.  That’s a completely law-abiding, tax-paying, UK-resident, UK-born person, who now feels more victimised than he has any right to.

But of course as a nation, we’re not letting terrorists win.  Riiiight.

Peaceful

Today at work was likely to be pretty nightmarish – lots going on that the existing codebase was never written to handle, and which has been hacked and kicked into place by Yours Truly.

Thankfully, it’s all gone pretty smoothly – far, far better than I was expecting it to in some ways.

Mainly though, the reduction in stress levels has been more about the fact I had the office to myself all day, leaving me to get on with stuff without constant distractions and inane conversations.

So while it’s good that the day’s gone well and so on, I can’t help but think it’s probably not a good sign that most of the reason for that was about not having my colleagues around…

10km

Over the weekend, I took part in a 10km (6 mile) walk to raise funds for Marie Curie cancer care.  They’d done it as an evening thing, round a local(ish) stately home.  In my case, that meant Boughton House, near Kettering in Northamptonshire.

As it was, I just fancied doing it – it seemed like a fun alternative to the whole ‘fun run’ (an oxymoron if ever I heard one) and just something I wanted to do, so I signed up ages back, and did some (very minimal) fundraising with friends via Facebook.  I raised enough to be able to do the walk, so there we go.

In the meantime, life conspired to make sure I had no practice or ‘training’ whatsoever – with the icing on the cake being the fact that my decent walking boots fell apart the night before the walk. Ain’t life grand?  Still, it wasn’t a major issue – I walk everywhere in boots anyway, so sod it, just use my everyday ones. At least I know I won’t get blisters!

Fortunately, Saturday evening was dry – the limit of my preparation was a vaguely waterproof jacket (well, more fleece than anything) but by halfway round I was sweating like a perv in a playground, so it got taken off and carried the rest of the way.

I wasn’t really in the mood to be sociable, so didn’t actually speak to anyone else on the walk. Chatted briefly to some of the marshals, but nothing else. I was doing it more for the walk, the fundraising, and just to be doing it – plus plenty of time for thinking/planning, of which more another time.  I could’ve strangled a few people – particularly the dog-walkers, with their extendy-leads that conspire to try and trip people at every opportunity – but for once I was fairly mellow. Mind you, one of ‘em nearly ended up with a boot up the arse.

All told, I did the 10km in 1hr 50 mins, which I was really quite pleased with. It wasn’t super-quick, but at the same time I was also surprised by how many people took a lot longer to do it. It wasn’t competitive: no names, numbers, or times, but it was still interesting. I didn’t set out to be first, or to do a blistering time, but managed to end up in the first third of finishers, if not the first quarter. Which surprised me, but anyway.

And then just the drive home. I could’ve stayed for some kind of concert and fireworks, but again, I wasn’t really in the mood.

More importantly, I was quite chuffed that I’d done it, and while my feet were sore afterwards there’s been no lasting pain, blisters, or anything. All told – and bearing in mind how little preparation I’d managed to do – it went pretty damn well.

Who knows, I might even do it again next year. After all, I’ve a time (and financial) target to beat now…

Scottish Independence

In a few day’s time, Scotland will be voting on whether they should become independent from the United Kingdom.

Personally, I don’t give much of a damn either way on this one, if I’m honest.

However, I do think it would be a more interesting referendum if it had been a UK-wide question, rather than asked just to the Scots.

Anyway – regardless of the outcome, what I hope is that there is a clear and large margin between the Yes and No votes.  I don’t want to see it being 49 to 51 or whatever – because then it’ll just end up with more fighting, that the people who are in that ‘minority’ (that’s still just under half, and thus makes for one heck of a lot of people) feel they’re being forced by the other half to do what they don’t want to.

If it’s a 75 to 25 in either direction – maybe even a 60/40 split then it’s harder to argue the toss at all.

Mind you, the cynic in me really wants to see it split 50/50, and see what happens then.

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