7/28/2004

Nerd for Hire

Well, I've just been told that, despite my excellent work:

I will not be paid more than a first year undergraduate student, there are no plans as of yet to move me from contract to permanent full time (which means, I will remain uneligible for benefits) there are no plans to make me the administrator for the software we are purchasing for the project I have been slaving over, despite being the only one who knows the details of what's been going on there are no plans for me past September

So, I have no plans to stay here.
If you are reading this and need or know someone who needs a hard working, high-powered, energetic individual with an MSc in Computer Science which focused on Human Computer Interaction, exceptional customer service skills, and various other assets which will no doubt be of use to you and your company, please contact me. I will be more than happy to send you my resume.

My email address is rootles@gmail.com


7/27/2004

Copious amounts of pontifical, anonymous mugwumpery

Winston Churchill once used this phrase to describe the BBC.

I often wonder if he would not say the same thing about most of today's media .

7/26/2004

Consulting

How would you like to make $1,000 a day for doing nothing?
Become an IT Consultant, and this grotesque amount of money will be yours.

It takes very little work, but requires a substantial up front investment.
Just read a few books (I have).
Take a few 2 or 3 day courses at $2,500 a pop (I have not).
Write the certification test for a mere $1,500 (I have not).
Learn to bs (but then, who can't?).
The corporate big wigs, that is to say, the mindless fools who think  they run things, will turn over their riches to you. Reiterate what  any one of their millions of peons have been saying for months, and  they will call you the Genius Who Saved their Company. You will "drive  policy and process definition." Just be sure to snag the notes  off that peon over there in the corner who's already spent four months documenting policy and process.

Consider this: If you actually worked all 365 days of the year minus 52 Sundays, minus 52 Saturdays minus 2 weeks vacation, you would make $247k a year to tell people what they really already know, but aren't willing to do until a "professional" tells them to do it.

And by the way, that's the educational discount rate.
The regular rate for non-academics, that is people who are actually stupider than us, is $1,500 a day, which would be $370,500 for the same number of days. Apparently, both of these fees are "cheap for consultants."

But let's be realistic, shall we.
In order for you to make what I make, you only have to work 28 1/2 days a year. Not bad, considering that I have an MSc in Computer Science, with a focus on Human Computer Interaction, and you probably only have your bachelor's or a college diploma combined with an outrageously expensive course or two.
That's one month and a week, because of course, I didn't count weekends. At the regular rate, you only need to work for 19 days, or four weeks minus a day.
In order to make a "normal" wage, you only need to work 40 days of the year. That's two months. At the regular rate, 26 and 2/3 of a day is all that is required which, for those who are paying attention, is less than what is required to make what I make if you're working at the discounted rate.

Go figure.

No wonder the vendor from Friday had such a fancy suit on.

I have decided to start my own consulting company.
Opinions 'R' Us.
For a mere $1,000 a day, and remember that's the discounted rate, I'll tell you what to think.
As a measure of good will, the first lesson is free. Here it is:

People are stupid That's why everyone does everything.





7/23/2004

Cross your fingers

"Gmail is temporarily unavailable. Cross your fingers and try again in a few minutes. We're sorry for the inconvenience."

Cross your fingers and try again!
I love it!
That has to be one of the best error messages I have ever seen.

7/21/2004

Control

Click here...

I just saw a commercial for this website.
Like I fool, I visited, only to be blinded by the glare of red and white of the Rogers/Yahoo corporate merger.


7/19/2004

That is the right question

I went and saw I, Robot this weekend.
Not as inventive as Minority Report, but certainly worth
seeing. I have never read the Asimov novels on which the movie is
based, but perhaps I should make a trip to the library.

There were a number of interesting moments in the movie. It's always
the little things what catch my attention. For example, the scene
where Dr. Calvin explains to Spoon what she does at USR. He stares at
her blankly, and she rewords her response as "I make the robots seem
more human." He then asks her if that wasn't easier to say and she
replies no.
What an excellent summary of the difference between academics and the
average individual. So often it is not simpler for the academic mind
to explain things in colloquial, easy-to-understand terms. Certainly,
paper-writing doesn't help this at all. I remember vividly how hard I
tried to summarize my thesis into ten words or less so that I could
explain it to my family and computer-illiterate friends.
What an exercise.

And then there is the pre-programmed hologram.
His responses were limited, and the only way to access the required
information was to ask the right question.
The ability to ask the right question is an important and desirable
skill. I always make a mental note of those people who are able to ask
good questions. They are the ones I want to work with, and the ones I
want to review my work. A good question will jump right to the heart
of a matter. An excellent question will expose the intricacies and
problems of a particular situation. A good question does not have to
be long or detailed; it has to be perceptive.



7/09/2004

Too much time on my hands

For fun, get yourself a gmail account.
Then, find a friend who also has a gmail account.
Then try manipulating their ads by sending each other emails filled with key words.
Computer's are so predictable. It's great.

7/08/2004

Scam-o-rama-mama!!

"Do you like dry wit?" I asked a co-worker. He prefers a dry martini.

Visit this site...

There's something truly brilliant about this sort of wit.
Scam the scam artists.
Take him or her for a few.
Make them pose in women's underwear if possible.

There's something highly educational about this sort of a site, too. The FAQ is particularly useful and necessary. I can't count the number of scams I receive of this type. A number of employees here have called the Helpline about them, especially when there are viruses attached. I plan to keep some of their answers, in particular:
Q But isn't it possible that someone in a refugee camp in Togo (which is somehow equipped with internet service) managed to carry $20 million in two 'trunk boxes' through stormy seas and has somehow chosen me, out of the more than 100 million people with e-mail, to receive great wealth, through a divinely inspired plan?
A No.
Q Would you like to receive large attached files of suspect format containing big honking viruses?
A No. Plain text in the body of the e-mail will do nicely.


It's so hard to pick a favorite. They're all so good. Do I get the biggest kick from the woman who managed to get the guy into a bra (good girl) or the guy who managed to scam $100 US from the scammer? What about Sir Marmite Luny-Binns, Sir Charles Farnes-Barnes, Lord Bovril, Mr Glassov Vimto, Lord Stringfellow and His Excellency The Thane of Cawdor verses poor ol' George Okron? The overall quality of this attempt is quite good.
I wonder if internet scammers know we're making fun of them?

But really, the more I think about it, the more I think I have to award the girl who got the guy to pose in women's underwear the prize.
Taking a scammer for money is good.
Demeaning him like the dog he is, is much better.

7/06/2004

EULA -gies

I never read the End User License Agreements before I click next. I would rather not know what I am agreeing to when I install a piece of software. I want the software... and besides, I probably only borrowed it anyway.

But, we're planning on buying a piece of software where I work, and our budget is larger than normal. I have to read the agreements. Today, in one of the bids, I happened to notice a catch to a possible price discount. The discount is only being offered because we are an educational institution. The catch involved some obligations, speaking engagements, etc. I decided to review the license agreements, just to make sure I wasn't missing anything from the other bids.

Would you like to see what I found?
Of course you do.

"Under no circumstance may <Software Company R> be liable for any special, indirect, incidental, exemplary or consequential damages of any kind or nature whatsoever arising out of or in any way related to this agreement or the software. Such limitation of damages includes, but is not limited to, lost goodwill, lost profits, lost of data or software, work stoppage or impairment of other goods, regardless of the legal theory on which the claim is brought, even if <Software Company R> has been advised of the possibility of such damage or if such damage could have been reasonably foreseen, and notwithstanding any failure of essential purpose of any exclusive remedy provided in this agreement."

Translation?
"You must sign away your legal rights in order to purchase this software. It will be a cold day in hell before we admit to being responsible for anything even microscopically related to us. We have lawyers to back it up, so don't waste our time. Sign here please."

Here's another:
"In no event will <Software Company F> be liable for indirect, special, incidental or consequential damages arising out of the use or inability to use the licensed software, even if advised of the possibility of such damages."

From the Maintenance Agreement of the above company:
"In no event, under any theory of law, including but not limited to, breach of warranty, negligence, or other tort shall either party and/or its affiliates be liable to the other for any indirect, special, incidental or consequential damages or lost profits arising out of or related to this agreement, even if a party and/or its affiliates are advised of the possibility of such damages."

Only two bidders don't have a clause like this. These two bidders are not liable if something goes wrong with the software, but that is as far as it goes. One bidder must hold us (the customer) harmless if anything goes wrong. Only one bidder (not the same one) has an extensive privacy policy. The others have virtually nothing.

Let us suppose for a moment that the warranty on a car was like this. Suppose car manufacturers could actually say "I'm sorry. You bought the car. We knew the airbag had a problem, but you signed this piece of paper. I realize your child died when the bag went off, but it's really not our problem." If you applied a warranty like the above to a car, you could do this.
But who would accept it?
A microwave doesn't even have a policy like this.
So how are software companies getting away with it?
How is it that M$ can own anything and everything transmitted over MSN?
Why isn't anyone making a stink about this sort of behaviour?
There's really no excuse for it.

Trust and Shopping

Read the article...

First off, let me wish you a congrats on the award, Milena!

Interesting ideas presented here. I would like to read the original article. I am particularly interested in this: "More interactive features can be added to improve the shopping experience," [Hassanein] says. Such features could include mimicking 'mall shopping', by allowing multiple remote users to shop on the site simultaneously, like friends going to the mall..."

This would be very popular among teenagers, I have no doubt. You would have to add a chat feature too. He considers the trust factor, but I would add that you should certainly consider the "coolness" factor if you are going to develop this sort of an environment. Consider your average mall: is it not jammed full of teenagers, dressed in clubwear, trying to hook up? I see it often when I go shopping... in fact, it's a large part of why I dislike shopping.

It would be interesting to examine The Sims Online in this context, and in particular, all of the associated expansion packs. There are malls and restaurants included to the neighbourhood. I would be willing to bet that there would be some patterns here that could be mimicked to provide a good start for the creation of a suitable online mall.

7/02/2004

Losing myself...

Why, oh why do some websites require an inordinate amount of personal information?
Inevitably, I make it up.
And then, what do I do?
I forget my password, AND all of my artificial information.
Of course I didn't give you my real birthdate.
No, I have no idea what I did tell you.
Please
Please
Give me my password!!

Ah ah ah ah! Stayin' alive!

Read the article here...
And another...

Looks like Yahoo isn't the only one worried about Google.
Microsoft is too.
Heh Heh.
Can't say as I feel sorry for them though. I'm sure they'll survive.
Especially in light of the second article. What an interesting statement this is: "Microsoft's lawyers responded that Massachusetts had sought extreme penalties that would require its engineers to redesign Windows, "almost certainly an impossible task." "
Redesigning Windows, an impossible task?
Hmm...
But your company built it... err... stole the idea and then modified it significantly. IE was not integrated into the system when Win 95 was first released. Why is it now impossible to remove?
Did anyone think to ask that?
If they did, I am sure any answer given was vague and did not address the issue. Bad software design? As though anyone from Microsoft would admit to that!!
Someone's on the take. They must be. Either that or abhorrently stupid, and no one becomes a judge without at least some wits. "The appeals court in Washington has proved a largely favorable venue for Microsoft. The court removed two other trial judges from the case, in 1995 and 2001, who had ruled against the company, Stanley Sporkin and Thomas Penfield Jackson. It also overturned a Jackson contempt ruling against Microsoft, and blocked Jackson's plans to break the company apart.
The same appeals court unanimously agreed with Jackson's ruling that Microsoft had illegally abused its monopoly over Windows operating system software, and it instructed Kollar-Kotelly to impose new sanctions."
And now they decide to settle?
And what's more, the move is applauded as being "in the public's best interest." I have my doubts about that.
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