Tag Archive for job

Concluding the WriMo

I didn’t win.  I ran into a few obstacles this year.  I fell into the switching stories trap.  I also got sick… nasty stuff.  And I also suffered from a general unemployment malaise.  You know, you would think that with all this free time I’d get plenty of writing done.  But it turns out then when I’m unemployed I spend all my time looking for a new job and worrying I won’t be able to pay my bills.

Anyway… I did manage to get further than I ever have before.  I got just over ten thousand words on one project and probably twenty thousand across all of them.  I’ve never cleared ten thousand before.  So, even though I didn’t win, I managed a milestone.

But now it is December, and the NaNoWriMo is done.  However, I don’t think I’ll stop writing this time.  I’m going to try to block out at least an hour every day for working on something, and I’ll even try to make it the same something as often as possible.

A Dream Deferred

Langston Hughes once posed the question in a poem, “What happens to a dream deferred?”

The search for a new job is never easy.  The hardest part of it is finding work you love to do in an industry you love working for.  Over the past four years I have learned that one thing I love to do is program, and more specifically, I love programming dynamic tools over programming static solutions.  You see, I’d rather give someone a tool they can use to get their own answers than to give them the answers.  When you give a person answers, later, if the specifications change, you have to give them new answers, but if you originally gave them a tool, then they can tweak the tool to the new specifications and get their own answers.

A couple of weeks ago I had a job interview.  It was literally, my dream job.  As best as I could understand it from the interview I had, they wanted tools integration between purchased applications that would allow them to pull customized reports to support job functions.  This is pretty much exactly what I have been doing for the last four years, and I loved doing it.  My only problem in my last position was that I didn’t like the industry: telecommunications.  But this new job, being as I said it was my dream job, was in the gaming industry.  A company developing an MMO was looking for someone to do tools integration, custom reporting and web design.  I nearly messed my pants.

So, I suppose you can imagine my disappointment when I learned that of the seven people who interviewed for the position, three were asked back for a second interview and I was not one of them.  Now I am faced with a couple of weeks of interviews for companies in industries at least as uninteresting to me as telecommunications, and all doing work I’m not particularly enthusiastic about doing.

What exactly does happen to a dream deferred?  I guess I’m about to find out…

Thirty-Four

Happy Birthday to me!

It has been a year since my wonderful self-examination post called “Thirty-Three“, where I said I needed to do the following:

  • Stop being a lazy shit and get my work ethic back.
  • Stop being a lazy shit and exercise to get my waistline back.
  • Stop being a lazy shit and find a new job that engages and excites me.
  • Stop being a lazy shit and finish some of these projects around the house.

So how did I do?

Well, I can say that somewhat I have gotten my work ethic back.  I’ve been working smarter and harder and not letting the corporate jackassery get me down.  I still need to do more, but my problems now are related to item three and that I have no passion for my current job.

I have occasionally exercised, but more importantly I completely kicked caffiene and sodas.  I drink only water and Crystal Light now.  I’m also sort of eating better.  I have lost weight, but not enough.

If you have been reading my blog, you know that item three is now a self-fulfilling prophesy.  I will get a new job because the contract is over and I have to get a new job.  So, there is that.  And I am trying very hard to make sure I only pursue jobs that I will enjoy.

And lastly… well… there are still projects around the house that need doing.  But I’m not going anywhere (especially in this housing market), so I have time.

Looking ahead to Thirty-Four, I want to get an awesome job, one I love going to.  And I want to write more, so I’ll be making more of a concerted effort to do the NaNoWriMo this year.  And that’s really all I want out of the year to come.  It doesn’t seem so much to ask…

Countdown to November

I love October.  It contains my two favorite holidays: my birthday and Halloween.  However, in the last couple of years, passing through October has also held a certain growing level of dread… November is coming, the NaNoWriMo is almost here.

Once again I’ll be attempting to participate in this annual event.  The worst thing that could possibly happen to me within the next month is for me to not find a new job and have to start juggling finances until I do.  The best thing that could possibly happen for the WriMo is for me to not find a new job and have the month to split between looking for work and writing.

We’ll just have to wait and see how this one goes…

Traitor

11 out of 13 nots
for illustrating the difference between Muslim and terrorist

The story of Traitor is that of Samir, played by Don Cheadle, who is undercover trying to get at the heart of a terrorist organization, and of Roy Clayton, played by Guy Pierce, as the FBI Agent fighting the same battle from the outside.

The thing I found most compelling in the movie is how it shows that Muslim does not equal terrorist and that terrorist does not equal Muslim.  Samir is a Muslim, but he believes the terrorists are misusing their religious texts to justify their actions.  The movie is a slow struggle for Samir between what he wants to do and what he must do to catch the terrorists.

I think every actor here did a superb job with their roles, and the story kept me riveted.  I’ve seen there are others who don’t agree, they found the film to be boring, they wanted more action, but I thought the film was quite good just the way it was.

Pirates of the Burning Sea

I was going to write up my thoughts on the game, as I’ve been in the beta for a long while now, but Tobold already did a fine job of it, and he covered pretty much all I wanted to say.

To me, the game felt like City of Heroes crossed with EVE Online. Towns, missions, character creation, all of that feels like it is right out of City of Heroes. The economy is player run like EVE Online. The major difference, and the biggest innovation, is how “winning” the PvP game is handled. If one side dominates the game, holding control of enough ports, they “win”, the ports reset control, and the other teams all get a leg up for the next round.

Over all, I’m not horribly impressed, but I’m also not disappointed. If you have been wanting a Pirate game that isn’t Puzzle Pirates, this is a well built game, much in the way that City of Heroes is a well built superhero game. However, if you are looking for breakthrough, innovative MMOs, this probably won’t blow your skirt up.

I won’t officially give this game a rating unless I play it after release, because they still have more beta time and things could change. But if I were to rate it, right now it would be a 9 or 10 out of 13.

Thirty-Three

Some time later this evening, shortly after eight I think, I will have officially survived thirty-three years of life.

Yay me.

I’m not the kind of guy who believes in omens, or the kind to prophetically announce that this will finally be the year that Fink beats the Stomach, but I do honestly believe that things have to change. I am officially a job burnout. One thing I have prided myself on over the years (well, at least after high school) is my work ethic. I go by the following rules:

  1. A job worth doing is worth doing well.
  2. A job that pays a decent wage is worth doing.
  3. If I accept the job for the offered wage, it must be a decent wage.

By those rules, if I take a job for the money they offer, I’m going to do the best job I can. Right now, though, I am just going through the motions, doing enough work to not get yelled at. I am Peter Gibbons. Even worse, I have noticed myself engineering situations with coworkers to properly lower their expectations so that I can do even less work.

Its a bad situation all around, and honestly its not because I care about the company I’m contracted at, it is because at the end of the day I am disappointed in myself. Add to that, I am officially thirty-three pounds overweight. Maybe I need to be putting a little more stock in these omens and signs and stuff.

My general down turn of attitude has also crept into other aspects of my life. I want a new job, but getting a new job takes effort and I’ve been avoiding it. I have at least a dozen unfinished projects around the house that could have easily been finished by now. I’m sure there is more, but I don’t have the energy to do a full self evaluation right now.

So, my goals for thirty-three:

  • Stop being a lazy shit and get my work ethic back.
  • Stop being a lazy shit and exercise to get my waistline back.
  • Stop being a lazy shit and find a new job that engages and excites me.
  • Stop being a lazy shit and finish some of these projects around the house.

I’m seeing a theme here… guess its time to stop being a lazy shit.

Deja Vu All Over Again

I believe in the past I have made it pretty clear that I do not really like most recruiters. And my opinions really have not changed.

Recently, though, one organization could not be bothered to employ the simplest of tools. See, within the course of three weeks I received fourteen phone calls from eight different recruiters out of the same company. Each and every call began the same, “Hi Jason, I’m [insert name here] with [company name] and I found your resume on Monster.com and I think I have a job that you might be a perfect fit for…”

My problems with that are many.

I have been working with this company for over eight months. They have my resume on file, or at least they claimed it would be kept on file. My name has not changed, nor have my phone number or email address. They should have a record of me in their contact database, which should be searchable, and the conversation should have started, “Hi Jason, this is [insert name here] with [company name] and I have this opportunity come available and when I searched our resume database I came up with your and wanted to see if you are still in the market…” Even if it isn’t true, even if they actually did find my resume on Monster because they don’t keep resumes on file, they should maintain consistency.

If the “Most recent contact” is within the last few days, they should say, “I know you recently talked to [insert coworker here] but I came across another opportunity that might be a good match for you…” If they themselves have talked to me before, they should say something like, “Hey, how have you been? Its been [insert time span here] since we last talked…” Maybe even say, “I’m sorry that last interview we sent you on at [insert client here] did not work out, but I think I’ve got something you’d be great for…”

All of this could be solved by using one of the many products available for contact management, like ACT! or Goldmine, Lotus Organizer. I think even Outlook overs Business contact management that will sync with other Outlook clients… or just put it all on an Exchange Server in a shared contact list. Given the job, I could probably even write them a simple contact manager in less than a week.

Either they don’t have a contact managing software, or they have too many recruiters who don’t use it. Which ever it is, it doesn’t matter to me anymore. Eight months and one interview. The results weren’t worth putting up with the annoyance.

WriMo Results

November is a horrible month. At least it usually is for me. The holiday and other family stuff, Christmas preparations, and my job aligned against me to foul my plans.

Mostly it was the job. Thanks to the traditional December code freeze (which they introduced for Y2K and just haven’t bothered to remove), everything has to get done before then. Rush, rush, rush. Blah.

Anyway… I managed to write about 2,000 words. Maybe 3,000. Far short of the 50,000 word goal of the contest. Better luck next year.

Happy Birthday PC!

Sure, personal computers had existed before, but today marks the 25th Anniversary of the melding of Microsoft and IBM in the form of MS-DOS.

I’ve always liked computers, and seeing as how I was not quite 7 when this monumental merging occurred, and 11 when I got my first PC, its no surprise that MS-DOS is a huge part of my computer history. It seems unfathomable now, but when I took my first job working with computers, Windows 95 was out but wasn’t the standard yet. I was still installing MS-DOS 6.22 on machines, and Windows for Workgroups 3.11. I had a briefcase (and I used to wear a tie to work every day) and inside was always stashed my trusty copy of 6.22, and a few cobbled together boot disks for diagnostics and virus scanning (DOS had no “Safe Mode” to load into to hunt down spyware -of course, there wasn’t a whole lot of spyware- you can to book from a floppy disk and scan from there).

Long before getting a job though, back when I was 11, my parents brought home our first family PC, a Leading Edge IBM PC Clone. It was an 8088 processor, 8MHz, with 512k of RAM. Yeah, that’s a “k” there, half a megabyte. It had a 20 megabyte hard drive in it, and it seemed like we’d never fill it up (20MB these days is about 4 or 5 MP3s). There was a switch on the back where you could set the processor speed down to 4.77MHz, just incase 8 was too fast (and it was for some games). It didn’t have Windows, it booted into DOS and then from the autoexec.bat file it would load up a program called PCMenu, where you could get to the Leading Edge Word Processor, Lotus 1-2-3, and a few other applications. All games were played from disk. We spent a ridiculous $350 to upgrade that machine to 640k of RAM, and another $200 or so on a modem, I think it was 1200 baud, maybe it was an early 2400. And for $50 of my own hard earned cash (you have no idea how hard it was for me to save that and not buy other stuff), I bought an AdLib soundcard from a kid named Ari at school so that our games could play a little more music instead of just beeps through the PC speaker. Not music like you hear out of PCs today, but hardly more than synthesiser, it was awesome. Through the modem I discovered BBSs, back when you’d have to pick up a local trade magazine, or in my case a MicroCenter sale paper, to find the numbers. That’s right, we dialed up the BBS direct on the phone and logged in. There was an Internet, but at that point only schools, the government, and few businesses were really on it. I even ran a BBS for a while, one summer, and only at night when no one else wanted to use the computer.

Eventually we got a new PC, a 386. It was either 16 or 25 MHz, and it had 1024k of RAM, a whole megabyte. This one came with Windows 3.0 installed. And it had a SoundBlaster sound card and a VGA video card. Finally, games played in 256 colors! Well, when they supported them. My parents let me keep the old 8088 in my room, even got me my own phone line, and that pretty set me in with PCs for the rest of my life. Of course, even with a computer in my room, I still used the 386. I mean, the 8088 couldn’t play games like DOOM, Warcraft and Lemmings. Then one day, my friends and I all chipped in and bought network cards (co-axial, naturally) and would get together and play games of DOOM and Warcraft against each other. And when I say “get together” I mean that we would disassemble our PCs, and take them over to one person’s house where we’d put them back together, install network cards, hook up and play into the wee hours of the morning. It would still be a while before ISPs showed up in our area.

After that, when we bought the Pentium 90, the computer history gets a little less interesting (to me anyway). We put Windows for Workgroups on it (made the networking LAN parties easier), and eventually upgraded to Windows 95. It was another PC that saw Windows 98. And since then I’ve gotten a new PC every couple of years, each one at least twice as good as the last. Now my laptop PC, that I’m writing on right now, has double the horse power of my desktop, and my desktop is old enough that it can’t play any new games anymore, except World of Warcraft and other games that go for style over pushing the limits of your machine. My network has gone 100% wireless. And instead of using my phone to connect to the internet, I now connect to the internet to use my phone.

Well, this trip down memory lane was fun. But now its done, and I have boxes to unpack. Feel free to share your own memories of PCs gone by and raise a glass to MS-DOS… I still have my disks of 6.22, its just a shame that PCs don’t come with 3.5″ floppy drives anymore.