We hired a new girl recently. She started this week to general satisfaction of most of the office staff. They’ve been overworked, obviously overworked, and have needed a general labourer for a while.
She’s not the first. In fact, she’s the third person we’ve hired recently to do just this job. This simple job. This ridiculously easy, stupendously uncomplicated job.
The third person. It boggles my mind.
Yet she’s managing to screw up, and not in small things. In gigantic things. In the most elementary of computing processes that most five-year-olds on this planet can handle with ease. Such as not deleting top level directories full of technical drawings that only get backed up every weekend. Such as not simply ignoring warning dialogues and simply clicking “OK”. Such as watching, listening, learning, and doing.
I just… can’t handle it any more. I can’t handle whatever idiots we’re hiring from the idiot factory to do jobs that idiots are supposed to be able to do. I can’t stand the far more idiotic hiring policies that allow these IQ-challenged people into the office. I can’t keep explaining, keep trying to address the fundamental point of failure, keep understanding why they’re not understanding.
If you’re not competent, get a job at Tim Hortons or at a gas station somewhere. And if the skill level of the job offering is higher than pouring coffee and swiping credit cards, seek higher-level employees.
I’m surrounded by almost $50,000 of high-grade computing equipment. We’ll throw down money for these things if there’s even a hint that we might need to have another computer. We buy high-tech machines at the drop of a hat. We still, however, baulk at hiring competent people. We baulk at paying real money for really good people.
How stupid, how ass-backwards is that?
It’s intolerable. I’m a smart guy. Maybe even a really smart guy: I don’t know. And I do a superhuman amount of work around here. Ten hour days, that kind of stuff. And even when I’m at the very end of my tether, there’s more to be done, more that I could do if I wanted. At the end of that tunnel of blase work is the light of the things I would like to be doing. Do I ever get there? No.
I’ve often asked for someone to help me out here. Just to give me a leg up on the stuff that I need to get done. To help me, if you will, get over the hump so I can see level ground again.
Still, I find myself wondering if, should I get my wish, I’ll end up getting what I wanted and hating it. I can only imagine what poor Rebekah must be going through trying valiantly to make something worthwhile from the material she’s given.
If I had to deal with that on top of my work, I don’t know what I’d do.
It wouldn’t be nice, I bet, whatever it was.
They really do. Let me ask you a question:
What functionalities of MSO and OOo do you use? Do you use Word/Writer to make documents? Do you use Excel/Calc to put things in rows and columns? Do you use Powerpoint/Impress to make slideshows?
Then you’ve never scratched the surface of the functionality present in either of these office suites. You might say that they’re both way, way too complicated and unwieldy for you. You need a knife, what you have is the USS Enterprise.
Or, do you use Excel/Calc, for instance, as an application development platform of some kind? (And, tangentially, are you completely and utterly insane?)
I have been emailed a thousand spreadsheets and text documents. Literally. And I have never come across one that did anything other than page layout and a few basic formulas.
MS Office and OpenOffice both suck because they try to be both simple and complex and in trying to be both actually arrive at neither. In your typical office, what do you need to do? You need to collaborate with co-workers, you need to share calendars, you need to email, that sort of thing. None of these things is a single-user process, none of these things exists as an island.
Why then do both the major office suites insist on foisting this single-user mentality from the 1990s on us? I don’t want to edit a document, save it, have someone else edit the document, save it (or even worse, have it emailed around). I don’t want a document with an embedded application.
I want a document that I can edit in real-time while other people edit it in real time as well. Why has no one done this? Why are spreadsheets and text documents still two different things? Why has no one put them together?
Microsoft, at least, has tried, in its dorky, cumbersome way, to remedy this with a Sharepoint Portal, but even that’s a weak solution to a huge problem. Throwing a bunch of wikis and shared calendars at a paradigm that needs radical change isn’t going to solve anything; they’re merely adding another layer of abstraction on a layer of cruft and acting as if this is a new and radical idea.
It isn’t. Microsoft Office and OpenOffice are old and busted. Where’s the new hotness? Why is a company like Google trying to re-re-invent the wheel by replicating this old and busted on the internet with AJAX for crying out loud? Talk about bolting crap to crap! Where’s the new and different and outside the box and productivity-enhancing program that’s going to rock my socks off?
It’s not just that MSO and OOo are boring. They are, but that’s not the problem. They don’t meet my needs. I don’t need to make a document. I consider the idea of a document out-dated. I don’t need to save or auto-save or click through menus or scroll along a ribbon. I consider both those interface ideas out-dated.
Old and busted. So tell me, ladies and gentlemen, where is the new hotness?
Or, who is going to build the better mousetrap?
I was floating around on the intertubes lately, and came across a blog post (so help me, every once in a while I read a blog or two) that claimed iTunes doesn’t suck.
But you know what? That post is wrong. iTunes sucked before, and it sucks now. I have had the unusually annoying experience of trying it out on a computer at work–you know, seconds chances and all that–but came away disappointed again. Let me address a few key points.
iTunes is a system hog.
It just is. Come on people, I know you like it, but let’s not deny the facts that I’m not going to support with numbers. Instead, a worthless anecdote: I initially installed iTunes on a grey box with a fresh vanilla XP install, and it used 46mb of memory fresh out of the box (so to speak). On my sister’s computer, with a large library, playing a good old MP3, it’s using 59mb. That’s far too much memory for something as basic as a music player. WinAmp, even with all the bells and whistles, doesn’t come anywhere close. Without the bells and whistles, it’s at a quarter of the memory used.
iTunes does too much stuff. But not enough stuff.
Really, people. iTunes is wildly functional. Extravagantly functional. It plays video, for crying out loud. It generates a thousand kinds of playlists. It has a built-in music store. &cetera. Except where it needs to be. When I want to write a plugin, how do I do this? How do I play a different codec than the limited pre-chosen selection? How do I easily manage multiple collections? Any player worth its salt–including Windows Media Player, the most worthless hunk of confusing crap ever imagined in the mind of man–can do these things. Why can’t iTunes? Sure, iTunes is pretty easy to use. It’s an MP3 player for crying out loud. But who cares if it does things easily if it doesn’t do what I want it to do at all?
Note to software designers: You will never be as inventive as those who use your software. Design for extensibility. It may be hard, but it will add value you can’t even imagine to your software, and allow those who use it to use it as they see fit.
Wait, I don’t want to use iTMS.
I don’t particularly like the iTunes Music Store. I mean, I know I can get restriction-free music for a buck thirty or so, and their selection is great. So maybe I want to use iTMS and a different music store in conjunction, or maybe not use iTMS at all. How do I do this inside the program?
iTunes is locked into this proprietary iPod -> iTunes -> iTMS channel and won’t let you exit the channel except by going outside the program. Do you see how silly this is? Imagine if you bought your car from Ford, and not only were you only allowed certain Ford-approved fuels, but you had to buy them from Ford-branded petrol stations. Or if you bought a Sony television and it could only be plugged into a Sony brand electrical socket with a patented electrical plug. You wouldn’t stand for that.
Now of course, people are going to say, “Well, iTunes can handle other music store’s MP3s!” Which it does. But that functionality is only a caveat from Apple, understanding that no one in the world would use a player that only played restricted media from iTMS.
So they went another route entirely. iTMS -> iTunes -> iPod is an easy way to buy music. It’s all integrated. You literally just click a couple times, and you’re done.
Boot up Firefox -> Log in to other music store -> Download -> Drag into iTunes -> iPod is decidedly less easy. So of course, only the people know alternatives exist will use said alternatives, and then only sometimes. This is Apple’s right, of course. It’s their software. They can do with it what they like, at least within the bounds of law. But that doesn’t mean that I have to like iTunes, or even use it. I’d much rather nurse an antipathy.
But you don’t have to listen to me. I may think iTunes is annoying and bloated, but you can keep using it. That’s your right. iTunes will fade into history like every other media player has, and eventually neither of will have to worry about it.
From an Ars Technica story, comes these ten inconvenient “truths” per the IFPI.
1. Pirate Bay, one of the flagships of the anti-copyright movement, makes thousands of euros from advertising on its site, while maintaining its anti-establishment “free music” rhetoric.
Probably. But to clarify, do the profit from it, or do they simple make enough money to cover the server and bandwidth related stuff? That’d be a nice question to answer. In any case, tPB’s rhetoric is its own, and I doubt many people who use it to facilitate their downloading actually care about the rhetoric.
2. AllOfMP3.com, the well-known Russian web site, has not been licensed by a single IFPI member, has been disowned by right holder groups worldwide and is facing criminal proceedings in Russia.
True. AllofMP3 is pretty much a skank joint, and if you’re buying music from them, you might as well just download it via The Pirate Bay.
3. Organized criminal gangs and even terrorist groups use the sale of counterfeit CDs to raise revenue and launder money.
This may be true, though who really knows. In any case, physical piracy is another beast altogether from digital piracy, and I’m not sure why it’s included on the list. You might remember that no one really (with the exception of the Pirate Bay and the people who index trackers) makes any money from digital piracy.
4. Illegal file-sharers donâ€™t care whether the copyright-infringing work they distribute is from a major or independent label.
Doubtful, but what’s the point here? That people aren’t all a bunch of RIAA-boycotting freedom fighters? Sure. Free music is free music.
5. Reduced revenues for record companies mean less money available to take a risk on “underground” artists and more inclination to invest in “bankers” like American Idol stars.
Absolute hogwash of the worst kind. Record labels are some of the most conservative companies in the world. They’ve always been reticent to develop new artists vs milking cash cows, from the 1930s to today. If piracy went away this very minute, they’d still be doing it, because they’re entrenched companies and are scared of change.
6. ISPs often advertise music as a benefit of signing up to their service, but facilitate the illegal swapping on copyright infringing music on a grand scale.
Good, shoot the messenger. Is it not true that bandwidth providers also facilitate people downloading from iTunes and its ilk as well? Clearly these monsters must be stopped!
7. The anti-copyright movement does not create jobs, exports, tax revenues and economic growthâ€“it largely consists of people pontificating on a commercial world about which they know little.
And here, ladies and gentlemen, is why so many people hate labels and copyright organisations. Because they don’t like anything that comes between their hand and your pocket. They don’t like piracy because it costs them money. They don’t like the internet because it makes sharing trivial and breaks up the cartel on physical distribution. They don’t like copyleft and Creative Commons because you generally don’t have to pay for these things, and because if there’s an ecosystem of free music out there, that means less revenue for the labels.
8. Piracy is not caused by poverty. Professor Zhang of Nanjing University found the Chinese citizens who bought pirate products were mainly middle- or higher-income earners.
Are you telling me that poor Chinese farmers with a subsistence living aren’t interested in downloading music from the internet? I’m socked. Shocked!
9. Most people know it is wrong to file-share copyright infringing material but won’t stop till the law makes them, according to a recent study by the Australian anti-piracy group MIPI.
This is partly true. The reality is, however, that even laws won’t stop them, because guess what, there are simply too many people for the law to deal with. Even in the US, where the most strict laws ever are in effect and the most piracy happens. Period. PS: A study by a group with a particular bias comes out supporting that particular bias? You. Don’t. Say.
10. P2P networks are not hotbeds for discovering new music. It is popular music that is illegally file-shared most frequently.
Which is what the labels fear the most. The most popular music is their cash-cow. Their big revenue stream. They don’t actually care about independent music as you might think from point number 4. What they actually care about is money. Pure, hard cash. And they’ll do anything (from suing their own customers to lobbying and bribing the US congress and by extension the world to making ever so slightly deceitful lists of “truths” to support their viewpoints) to make sure that these cash-cows are protected.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course. If you can get away with selling crap to people for $20 a pop, by all means, it’s a free country. But if it stops becoming a free country because you want to protect a revenue stream instead of inventing new revenue streams, then at least let’s stop wrapping the truth up in frilly pink dresses.
I mean, record labels can call pirates leeches who eat from their revenue streams, and the pirates can call labels leeches who bottomfeed off culture itself, but that doesn’t mean that it’s a binary issue where one side is right and the other wrong.
Call a spade a spade: they’re both wrong, they’re both scum, and they both deserve to disappear, both labels and pirates.
I know, you’re sick of the constant whining. But I gotta say this, I really do. 680 News sucks. Big time. The only thing that sucks more than 680 News is talk radio. Which, as you might imagine, leaves this void on my radio, where most of the AM band is garbage.
Let me explain why. Today, 680 ran a story about Arnold, governor of California, arriving in Toronto. One of the things they keep saying is that “no one knows much about his politics, but tonnes about his movies.” I get that. We’re in Canada, we don’t care so much about Californian politics. But he’s here on a trade deal, so maybe we should, eh? Yet instead of informing the general public of what the Governator thinks and does, 680 sends out a reporter to ask Torontonians what their favourite Arnold film is. Yeah, thanks for raising the level of debate there, guys.
-10 score for pointless, information-light, bush-league, tabloid journalism. You basically found a way to turn a story that could have been about the debate over stem cell journalism, or Republican politics, or the cult of personality, into a crap non-story about a bunch of substandard films.
Then, there’s a story right afterwards about A-Rod (a baseball player or something), being seen with a woman, not his wife, after partying it up at a strip-joint. I don’t even need to comment, but really? A story about a baseball player? In Canada? And not even a Canadian player? Or a player for a Canadian team?
-20 for ridiculous, sensationalistic, paparazzi-style celebrity-magazine so-called-journalism. Another in a long line of things that just don’t matter and no one in their right might gives a crap about.
To top it off, as the coup de grÃ¢ce, a story about gun crime. Okay, a topic I care about, marginally. Reported on as if it were an epidemic, as if guns are falling from the sky into the hands of our precious children. You know how many gun crimes there are per person in Canada as per the UN? 0.00502972 per 1,000 people, that’s how many. Compare that with 0.0279271 per 1,000 people in the United States. Yes, that would 550% more. And of course no one mentions that though crime may be up slightly, it’s up from historic lows. Yes, that’s right, violent crime in Toronto is down, not up, at least from historic levels. Yet the frenzied calls for a ban on hand guns (a ban, co-incidentally, that no one has taken the time to explain how it will work), the frantic cries of “gun crime epidemic!!!!”, and the shrill sky-is-falling think-of-the-children rhetoric of those out to push an agenda take forefront over a rational approach to what is, yes, a problem. Who is at the forefront of this fear-mongering, you might ask? 680 News. If I hear them use the words “epidemic” and “sweeping gun violence” one more time, I’m going to… well there’s nothing I can do.
-50 score for fear, uncertainty, and doubt. A big thumbs up to 680 News for their quality reports, standards of journalism, excellent grasp of facts and issues, sterling choice of stories, and sense of fair and balanced reporting!!! Way to go, only -80 points from me today!
While Windows updates, let me write a quick post.
One thing I hate about Windows is updating things. Every single time some system file is modified or something big changes, you have to reboot your computer. This is a pain. I don’t like rebooting my computer. There’s no real reason that it shouldn’t just run for ever and ever.
Now, admittedly I used to be one of those people that just accepted that Windows will, by the nature of the beast, just have to be restarted every few days or so. Then I installed Ubuntu at home and (even with pre-stable Beryl running) I have had two months of uptime, only interrupted by a power outage. Two months! That’s unheard-of in Windows Desktop Computing Land.
Windows isn’t that unstable anymore, I guess. It’s just the damn updates. All the time. I mean, I thought these things were supposed to be released on “Patch Tuesday” or something?
It’s like Microsoft said, “Oh, okay, you people want security? We’ll give you security!” and then went on to punish us for wanting security with their implementation. If this stuff hasn’t been made better by the time I absolutely must install Vista, I’m going to get a little angry.
It’s like this, see? If Ubuntu, a Linux distribution that is supposedly “not ready for the desktop” according to the shrill cries of Windows and Mac fans, can manage to do every single little update (excepting upgrading the kernel itself) without restarting anything, why can’t Windows?
Come on, Microsoft. You’ve been trying to make a desktop operating system for something like 15 years now and this is what you give me? I’m sick and tired of this crap. I am forced by the software ecosystem in this country to run Windows. I expect better.
The day I become a parent is about a million years away, it feels. Or at least a bunch of years. I don’t particularly feel like being a parent right now; don’t know if I’m cut out for it. (As an aside, I also have some pretty strong views on why 19-year-olds should not marry and reproduce, but I’ll leave that for another occasion.)
That said, there’s a certain likelihood that I will one day help introduce a child into the world. But, Thor help me, should I ever, ever become one of those fathers that can’t talk of anything but babies, children, and things related to babies and children, you may take me out behind the barn and put me out of your misery.
Since this is more common in women, I want to say this: your child is very important to you, but your child is not important to me. I don’t really want to see pictures every time I see you, or hear you talk about the adorable little guy/gal every time you open your mouth, and I don’t like it when you’re covered in barf and smell like crap.
And I’m posting this even though I know I’m going to look back in ten years and sort of laugh at myself for this post, as I’ll be up to my chin in baby crap from the triplets God will give me for complaining about other peoples’ children.
There’s this guy my shop has dealings with that is, in the words of a less couth co-workers, a lying cheating bastard.
Now, I like to give people a chance, so I agree to make some tools for him. Four pieces of Tool 1 and four pieces of Tool 2. We made the tools in exactly those amounts, and sent them over. They worked alright. To be absolutely clear, I looked at the the tools myself before sending them out. Everything was good.
This morning I get a call from him that he’s short two tools. Nay, he claims we have given him six pieces of Tool 1, and two pieces of Tool 2. Which is of course impossible: not only did I inspect the tools before they went out (4 of one, 4 of the other), but I dropped them off myself.
These are not similar tools, either. The shank size is the same, but they’re radically different on the front end. In fact, one of them is much smaller than the other. So we have a choice: either someone is lying to him, or he is lying to me, or the space/time continuum itself has ruptured and the world is not as it seems.
But I think he’s lying to me. Such is his reputation. And so this guy joins that group of customers who, when quoted, get the “as if made out of diamond” pricing, as they’re not even close to worth dealing with.
This really amazes me. Every time I think I’ve achieved some level of peace with the minor foibles of those I interact with regularly, one of them pulls a rabbit out of the Annoying Hat and I have to restrain Thunder and Lightning with all my might.
Seriously, do these people go to school for this?
This is going to be one of those posts. Basically I’m killing time waiting for Laura to arrive so we can do lunch together; she should be here in a half hour, leaving me a short while in which to write about anything that comes to mind.
She come to mind. But I won’t gross you all out. Just this: I thank God for her every day.
I got Notion yesterday. For those of you who don’t know, it’s a notation and playback program. And of course my problem has always been reading sheet music: I’ve got some sort of mental bock against it. You can imagine, then, that actually scoring anything is difficult for me. I have no background in scoring, dynamics, articulation, time signatures, and the like. The piano music I play is all in my head in a way that doesn’t translate in any real way to paper. Wrapping that music in a specific type of notation is like learning to write again, and I’m certainly not at all fluent.
There’s nothing quite like white chocolate. For those of you who know, I dislike regular milk chocolate passionately (unless it’s very mild). But white chocolate: that’s the stuff. Disgustingly good, if you will.
My main computer keeps shutting off randomly. I think Ye Olde Power Supply is slowly giving up the ghost, but the thought of perhaps having a hard drive failure has had me wondering about smooth, swift change-overs from computer to computer. Would it be practical to find a way to do this? To compile a list of programs, settings, and whatnot? To move it to a new computer regardless of operating system? I know; it’s a crazy pipe dream.
Christmas is upon us. But don’t make me watch Steven Curtis Chapman’s “Christmas is All in the Heart”. If I wanted to listen to soporific, banal, pedestrian, vapid, clichÃ©d, asinine tripe, I’d already own the disc.
That’s all, folks.