D4D

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Archive for the category “Work-related”

Lazing

My current contract is quite cushy, and lets me work from home for four days a week, only needing to be in the office for one day.  The car thinks it’s been nicked, the mileage has dropped so much.

Working from home is an odd thing – it can be quite hard to motivate oneself (although I’m doing OK so far) when you’re spending the time at home instead of in a proper office.  It’s easier when one has a specific room for use as a home-office, but this particular house isn’t big enough to do that without some serious changes – which would involve either an extension, or roofing over the outside yard and using that – so it’s a bit tougher on that score.

At some point I may look at renting desk-space again, as I did earlier this year. Depends how things go over the next couple of weeks.

Other than the work side though, it’s also allowing me to catch up on some recorded TV that’s been hanging around for a while – no bad thing.

And finally, it’s making it clear to me – yet again – just how much my bloody cars actually sleep. I’ve always known they’re lazy bastards, but seeing just how lazy is a real eye-opener.

Anyway, back to the grindstone.

Slightly Quiet – the Recovery

Carrying on from the last couple of posts – Reasons and Repercussions – I’m hoping that I’m now on the road back. (If nothing else, the fact I’ve done these three posts should say that I’m on the way!)

This last few months has been tough, there’s no denying it. There’ve been a number of facets to that toughness, but I’m generally optimistic that they’re all on the way back to something approaching sanity.

Financially it’s definitely been tough, and I’m back to pretty much square one again. This month will (hopefully) be the last of that level of toughness, now I’m back to working on contract instead of permanent roles. The last few months have cost me dearly, going into what savings I had amassed, based on promises that salary deficits would be fixed and so on – which never happened.

Socially it’s been absolute piss. I’ve hardly seen anyone – some of that is related to the financial stuff, some of it down more to depressions, to not wanting to go out, as well as to feeling a bit trapped by a number of things.

Workwise – well, we covered that in other posts. Safe to say, it’s not been fun, and it’s affected me pretty negatively.

Creatively, it’s been a bit of a dead zone. The only positive is that the amount of time spent on the road while commuting gave me the opportunity to think a bit about some writing ideas, although I didn’t have the time or inclination to actually get them done. Still, with any luck that’ll be part of the next phase.

Really, the only real positive of the last few months has been health-wise – I’ve managed to lose two stone in weight, and been walking far more than I was. And again, that’s something I’ll continue making the effort on, I think, as well as (now I’ve got some more time to myself and my life) getting back to the gym a bit more.

This last few months have left me feeling pretty flat and wiped-out. I’m hoping that now it’s a bit more settled and sorted, things will head in a more positive direction for a while.

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.

Slightly Quiet – the Reasons

I’ve written many times about depression and how it affects me – although at the same time I realise that I don’t actually write about its effects on me, and I rarely (if ever) write about it at the time it’s all happening.

If I’m honest, this post isn’t going to change that status quo, I’m afraid.

I’m truly, truly awful at asking for help, and even at saying “No, I’m not doing well”. I go quiet, curl in on myself, and fight through it, being the only person I know I can rely on. I guess I’ll never really be an open book, it’s just not in my nature. I like to think I’m open, that people who truly know me should/would know what’s going on in my head, but I know that’s not the case. In many ways I am open, there’s very little I won’t disclose or talk about. But – ah, that infamous ‘but’ – I don’t disclose it at the right time, at the time of need. Afterwards, and with hindsight, yup. But at the time? Nope.

So – the last six months here haven’t been overly fun. It’s mostly been work-related, but that’s then had knock-on effects into every other aspect of life, which is never a good thing.

I’ve been more aware this year of my work instability, it’s been very much a year of ups and downs – and more downs than ups, by a significant margin. With everything else, I thought I’d aim at permanent roles rather than contracts, but the two perm roles I’ve had this year have been utter, absolute dogs. Roles and situations I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. (In balance, I’ve also had a contract that was one of the worst and dullest in recent memory, so it’s not been a good year all round)

The first of the perm roles lasted exactly three weeks. I knew within a couple of days that it was a dog (the interview whanged on about how positive everyone was, and within those two days, I knew that was a sack of shit, as was the product they were working on)  I left and quickly moved on to Job Two, which turned out to be even more of a dog – although this time because of the owner, rather than the work itself. The work was grand, the owner was (is) a cunt. I won’t talk about it, because there’s a lot of legal tat still ongoing. Safe to say, signifcant dollops of broken employment law, disregard for Working Time Regulations, Contracts, and many many other things.

More than anything else, it was Job Two that burned me out, and pushed me further down the slope. It’s not been a good year anyway, but that job was the final shove.

I left there at the end of September, once I’d been paid. I didn’t have anything to go to, didn’t even have any applications or interviews lined up. I just knew I needed to be out. Even with my experience of interviews and so on, knowing there’s no safety blanket makes that a pretty nerve-jangling decision.

It took me two weeks to get a new job, that was all. I’ve been ridiculously lucky, and the new contract seems like it’ll be OK – I’m two weeks in, and it seems to be going well.

All this is most of why I’ve been quiet for the last few months.

I’m hoping that things will start their slow build back to normality – or at least my usual approximation of it – and that things here will come back too. We’ll see.

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.

Moving On

At the same time as I’m deciding on staying put domestically, it’s definitely time to move on again workwise.

I’ve handed in my notice, so now I’m going to be looking seriously. Who knows where/what I’ll be doing, but it’s for certain that a change is going to come. It can’t come soon enough.

Speeding Up

Over the last few months, I’ve had some significant issues with my broadband and phoneline – most of which are still unresolved, due to BT’s insistence on blaming the customer rather than the infrastructure.  Some of the issues have been down to the distance I am from my ‘local’ exchange – right on the border of even being able to have broadband at all.

This week, though, BT have finally activated their fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) product, Infinity, on my exchange. It’s been “in the process” since March, with promised date after promised date, but it’s finally here.  And I’ve signed up to it.

The difference promises to be stunning – a 75-78mbps connection, instead of my current 2 (on a good day)  That’d be worth it on its own.  Hopefully there’ll also be improved stability – if it’s as dodgy as my current connection, I’m going to be having serious words with the shysters at BT. And happily, it’s not going to cost me much more. On current evidence (and I’ll wait for the first bills to know for sure) it also won’t cost me much more – by my reckoning, less than £10 a month extra.

I hope it’s worth it.

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