Archive for Random Thoughts

Hey You!

Yeah you!  I know being Customer Service is tough.  I used to do it.  Listening to people bitch about their problems and blaming you for them when there isn’t anything you can do.  But you know what you can do?  Your job!  When someone calls you and gives you details about a problem, how about adding them to the ticket, huh? When the technician reads it and it has no details, I’m pretty sure he won’t be a fucking mind reader and know all the things you didn’t write down!

And hey, while we’re here… you!  Yeah you, Mr. Technician.  When you get a ticket that is light on the details, how about you call the customer and ask, “Dude… WTF?” or, you know, something more business-ish like “Excuse me, sir, but what seems to be the problem?”  You know what you shouldn’t do?  Wander around on your own trying to decipher the cryptic garbage in the ticket and figure out what the problem is all by yourself.  You really don’t want to waste six hours working on the wrong thing when three minutes on the phone would have told you it was a five minute fix.

And the whole lot of you… yeah, ALL of you! Stop lying to people.  Don’t tell the customer they’ll be getting a call in a few minutes unless it’s true.  An hour is not a few minutes, not even close.  Two hours is way off, four hours is even further away, and six hours is a giant waste of everyone’s time.  The real kicker?  You all work at a communications company and the one thing you suck at more than anything else?  Communication!

Movie Round-Up: September 3rd, 2010

Going the America Machete DistanceApologies if you saw this earlier, Dragon*Con got in the way and I didn’t finish it…

The American:

I have no idea what this movie is about.  I haven’t even seen a trailer for it.  It just isn’t on my radar.  But Clooney is pretty much always good, so… I’ll see it at some point.

Going the Distance:

Saw a screening of this last week, and before going in I didn’t pay any attention to the rating of the film.  So, I entered expecting a typical PG-13 romantic comedy that the wife would love and that I would tolerate.  What I got was an R rated hilarious masterpiece on the frustrations of long distance relationships.  There was just so much funny and good about this film that I don’t know where to begin.  Totally worth paying to see, in my opinion.

Machete:

Just two nights ago I went to the Fete Machete down at the Plaza Theater.  It was awesome.  If you liked the Grindhouse double feature from a few years back, you’ll love this.

This Halloween, the dead will walk…

I’m going to go ahead on record and say that this will be, in my opinion, the greatest television show ever.

Ev. Ver.

You are doing it wrong

We all hate spam.  But I suspect that some of you out there are ruining the Internet for the rest of us.

The good thing about spam is that either by content or by source 99% or more of it is fairly easily identifiable.  Spam filters look for words or groups of words or sources or other characteristics of the content or sender to flag undesired emails and put them in the spam bin.

However, if you sign up for a newsletter, just because you don’t want it anymore that doesn’t make it spam.  I have seen tons of people do this.  Sadly, because spam filters often strive to be better they try to learn from items people manually mark as spam in order to better filter.  Many legitimate newsletters get thrown in my spam folder, not because they are spam, but because other lazy people have been marking them as spam instead of unsubscribing.

And while I’m at it… Gmail?  Just because I delete mail from a particular sender all the time doesn’t mean I don’t want to get their mail.  Stop marking them spam.  I’m deleting them because I don’t need them, not because I don’t want them.  Cut it out.  Unlike many people, I don’t keep emails that I’ll never need again ever.  If I send someone an email and they send me back a “Thanks!” reply, I delete it.  If I happen to send that same person too many emails, each of which they reply “Thanks!” to (which I like, mind you, I love when people acknowledge getting an email, that way I don’t have to ask them later “Hey, did you get my email?”) and each of which I delete, Gmail decides they must be spam since I keep deleting them and now I have to go to my spam folder every day and look for the falsely accused.

So, to recap… People, stop marking things as spam that are not spam.  Google, stop marking things as spam that are not spam.

Thank you.

Not as private as you may think

Are you a Facebook user?  Do you like posting photos and status updates?  Do you enjoy posting on people’s walls and having them post on your wall?

One of the main issues that I have with Facebook is the illusion.  You log in and you are presented with your news feed.  Over on the left you see the smiling faces of your friends that are online, and your feed is full of them telling you about random stuff.  And see all this friend-centered stuff and you think, “Hey, I’ve got something to say, let me update my status and share it with my friends…”  Who can really see that?  If you’ve gone into your privacy settings then it might just be your friends.  More likely, it’s your “Friends of Friends” or even “Everyone”.

You might have heard that horror story about someone who bitched about their boss and the boss saw it and it got them in trouble, so you haven’t friended your boss.  However, you are unaware that your boss actually went to high school with someone who is your friend.  You’ve got your status updates set to “Friends of Friends” which means your boss, who is a friend of your friend, can see that you just called him a twat, so maybe you don’t get that raise or promotion.

That photo you posted of your girlfriend meeting you at the door when you got home, naked with a beer and a steak… sure, the plate covered all the naughty bits, but you just posted that to your Mobile Photos album (since you uploaded it from your phone) and that album is marked visible by Everyone!  That’s on the Internet now.  Tagged and cached, for-ev-ver.  The next time your girlfriend goes looking for a job, someone just might Google her name, see that photo and decide her future based on it.  Maybe she doesn’t get the job… or maybe she does and her new boss treats her like a girl willing to have half-naked photos of her posted on the Internet… or maybe it doesn’t matter…

I prefer to err on the side of thinking that it matters…

A caution about privacy and the Internet might seem odd coming from a guy who blogs and mentions his real life now and then, but know that every tidbit of information I put into a blog post is carefully considered.  I ask myself, “Do I mind if everyone knows this?”  I have over 1,100 posts here and I’ve probably put just as many in the trash bin.  It’s actually common for me to come here, write out a diatribe on the latest frustration at work or amongst friends, let it sit in draft form for a couple of days and then delete it.  It’s one of the reasons I love blogging and haven’t been a huge fan of most social networks, like Facebook and Twitter, because they are immediate, there is less chance for careful consideration.

So, my Monday morning bit of advice this week is to go to your privacy settings in Facebook and make sure all your sharing is at levels you are comfortable with.  At the very least, be aware of who can see what you say…

The Secret Powers of Time

Blog Recursion

Turtles, all the way down...

If you don’t care, why should I?

The other day, I went to tour a colocation facility.  For the uninitiated, it’s a place to put your business servers so you don’t have to house them yourself (and maintain UPS and generators and other things like that).  Outside this facility were some protesters.  They had signs about unfair wages and other stuff.  I found out from the employees that the reason for the protest was thus: this company decided to expand, took bids for sheet rock work, and accepted the lower bid, a company with a higher bid didn’t like it and claims the only reason the other bid was lower was because “that company doesn’t pay a fair wage”, but it turns out the upset company is a union shop and likely pays more due to contract not because it’s “fair”.

That’s fine.  I understand, company upset, protests.  But the kicker is, the protesters are not employees of that company or members of that union.  The protesters are homeless people that the company is paying (well below the minimum wage) to stand there 24/7.  I know, I asked, and protesters, when approached, often ask if you know about the protest and offer to give you details, they don’t usually ask for cigarettes and money – homeless people do.

Look.  If you don’t care enough to do your own protesting, then I can’t be bothered to care about your protest.  And the ironic part of paying people an unfair wage to protest unfair wages is not really helping you.

Besides, have you been inside?  Their setup is freakin’ sweet!

Social Networks: Real Life vs The Internet

I thought this was quite interesting, so decided to share.  It’s long, but it makes a number of good points.

Too Many Secrets

One of the great things about the Internet is how easy it has become to post and find job listings.

One of the horrible things about the Internet is that once you put your resume on one of these sites you can never ever truly get yourself removed.  Take it off one site, you’ll find it on another.  Get it off all the sites, you’ll discover that many placement companies have already saved a copy of your resume and contact information.

The only way to really be safe is, each time you start hunting for a job create a new email address (there are dozens of free email companies) and when you are done, abandon that address.  And get a throw-away phone.

Anyway, I’ve never done that, and in fact I’ve always used an address on a domain I own (this one) and I use it for everything.  So, despite having a job and not being on the market, I get emails, probably a dozen a week, about positions I might be interested in.  The one thing all of these emails have in common is that they lack details.  What’s even worse is that even if I were to respond and talk to them about the job, details would still be missing until I actually walk in the door for the interview.

What details?  Simple stuff, like the name of the company.

See, if I get an email that says “.NET Developer position, 6 month contract, may go perm” I’m not really interested.  I have a job, not a contract, and that just doesn’t make me want to consider jumping ship.  If it said, for instance, “.NET Developer position for Amazon.com, 6 month contract, may go perm” I might want to go to that interview anyway, because, you know, working at Amazon might be awesome.  Even if it isn’t something as awesome as Amazon, a company name means I can look them up and see if it’s something I want to be involved in.  “.NET Developer” for a technology company, I’m intrigued.  “.NET Developer” for Joe’s Country Plumbing and Septic Tank Repair… not so much.  Sure, hiding the name might help get applicants for the latter, but it is also going to lead to disappointment for most.  Better to be honest and actually talk to people who want to work for the smaller company.

Once upon a time, I got an email about a programming job.  The details I got were that it was “a small company” and the position was for a “.NET Developer” and required experience with “data warehouses”.  I went around and around with the recruiter trying to get more details, but she never gave any and so when I finally agreed to interview it was more out of exhaustion than excitement.  I walk in the door and discover, oh by the way, the company is Hi-Rez Studios.  Um, what?  If the recruiter had lead with that piece of information, I’d have been chomping at the bit and probably brought in samples of my work and been a lot more prepared.  Instead, everything I’d gotten lead me to believe it was going to be another endless stuff dull job like the one I was leaving, and I walked into the interview cold and shocked, dumbfounded and stuttering.  I did manage to get a second interview, but damn, a little warning next time would be nice.

Another bad part is often a recruiter won’t tell you the name of the company until after they’ve submitted your resume.  Problem is, many companies, when dealing with recruiters who get paid a commission for placement, have rules about excluding double submissions.  So you might actually have the most awesome job listing in the world ready to submit me for, but if a competing recruiter has already submitted me then all you are going to do is get me excluded.  Sure, you asked me where I’ve been submitted to try and avoid this, but your competitors use the same tactics so I don’t know where I’ve been submitted.  And no, I’m not going to use just one recruiter when looking for work.  Why should I limit myself just because you want to keep secrets?

And you know what?  Stop putting things like “solid company” and “great work environment” in your email because it’s in EVERY email.  You cheapen the meaning by using them for every company, especially when it’s marketing and not necessarily true.  Of course they all say that.  No company is ever going to say, “Tell them we are a large unwieldy mass of middle managers who micromanage with lots of unpaid overtime.”  Not gonna happen.

Is a little openness and honesty too much too ask?