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Showing posts from 2012

Gun control in America

It seems America might finally be ready to talk about gun control, and all it took was 20 dead children. The problem now is the GOP and NRA rhetoric has already started. Already I've heard the tired old argument about how the German government took all the citizen's guns away before WW2. Yes, yes, and in that same period in history, America thought nothing of enslaving black people and treating women as second class citizens so suck it up and realise that times change. The second Amendment is an outdated notion; when it was introduced, the gun was largely the most powerful weapon in existence and the predominant form of transport was horseback. The Amendment was put in place to allow Americans relatively equal footing to defend themselves from their own government should it turn on them. Nowadays, if the government turned on its citizens, it has far more powerful weapons and methods of delivery. People are living in the past if they think they'd be able to defend their pro…

Playing the waiting game

You know those times when you know, 100%, that you're right? A lot of the people I work with are 100% convinced which way our company should go with its products. We've been convinced for years - decades even. But every day we fight an uphill battle with the top brass who have a different view, a view that has been proven to be wrong on most occasions, but a view they stick to like chewing gum in your hair. Every time we get into a bitching and moaning session, one level-headed soul keeps telling us to "just wait - things always change". We've been playing the waiting game in its current form for five years now and just today, a single ray of light emerged from the dark storm clouds of this company's future. But it's a really bright ray of light, the sort of light that shines the truth on people. I think the end might be in sight for this round at least, which is more than I thought a couple of weeks ago when one of our most talented programmers walked of…

What is Romney hiding and why?

It's traditional, but not required, that presidential nominees release copies of their tax returns. The posting of the returns is a form of trust despite the fact that only an accountant could understand them. This is a standard set by George Romney in 1968 when he released 12 years of returns whilst running as a presidential candidate. The Clintons released 8 years. Both Bush's (senior and junior) released 3 years and 7 years respectively. Reagan released 6 years. Barack Obama has released 11 years worth (even showing he overpaid by $8,000 on the income from his books last year). Mitt Romney still steadfastly refuses. Sort of.
At first he said he didn't plan to release the returns. Then he said, "Maybe." Then he declared he'd release only the previous two years' returns. Then he said that because of the complexity of the return, he filed for an extension from the IRS so he could file after the April 15 deadline for the 2011 return. Then this past week be…

The opening ceremony

Being in the US, we initially watched the London Olympics opening ceremony on NBC and it quickly became apparent that they had no clue how to do a live broadcast like this. The sound was awful, the commentators had no idea what was going on and spoke over all the parts where they should have stayed quiet. Countries were missing from the parade, they ditched chunks of the Industrial Revolution and Frankie & June, and they completely cut Emile Sande's 7/7 tribute song. So all in all, a massive #NBCFail there. Fortunately, the interwebs is a wonderful place, and thanks to BitTorrent, we acquired a 9Gb MKV file of the BBC transmission. So last night we sat down to watch the ceremony for a second time, this time on our big screen (and I mean big, as in a projectors and a 10ft diagonal screen) with our theater sound system.
Where to start? I suppose given that I bought the official soundtrack album as soon as we'd finished, and that I'm listening to it as I type, I'll st…

So about that rapture thing.

Remember Harold Camping? That religious nut who predicted the end of the world 12 months ago today? I wonder how things are working out for him?
It always makes me giggle when nutters like him make those sorts of predictions. They're so adamant in their belief that the idea they could be wrong is completely beyond them. What's bothersome though is when they manage to get others onto their side and waste their lives too. I'm thinking of the various suicide cults that we've seen over the past couple of decades - flying up to the UFO hidden in the tail of the comet etc. I know the world is a diverse place and some people are more easily led than others, but I find it despicable that people will masquerade as religious fanatics because they know they can attract the weak-willed. David Koresh, Harold Camping, Marshall Applewhite, Warren Jeffs. They're all the same. Persuasive lunatics who get their kicks from destroying the lives of others. They all choose to reinvent r…

Corporate online training courses

I was just subjected to another of our company's online training courses this morning and every time I do one of these, it saps the will to live out of me. I do these courses wondering how anyone could get the questions wrong when everything is just basic common sense. You don't even need to watch the course to get the answers right - just leave it in the background somewhere and when the noise stops, check and see if it wants you to press a button.
Most of the engineers around me are of the same opinion - we just can't understand why time and money is wasted creating these courses and forcing people to sit through them.
"John wonders if he can take the code he wrote for a project in his old job and just re-use it for the current project. Is this the right thing to do?" Frankly I don't need training to tell me the answer to that one but recently we began to understand why these training courses exist. Apparently in our company there are tens of thousands of cor…

When I unsubscribe, it means unsubscribe.

Recently, moveon.org has started spamming my mailbox with "newsletters" sometimes as many as four a day. So today I went to their 'unsubscribe' page and took my email off the list. Fixed. Sort of. This afternoon I received two "please don't go" emails from moveon.org telling me to re-subscribe, or confirm that I really had intended to unsubscribe.
It's this sort of crap that gives online presences a bad name. I'm quite happy to support moveon.org for the most part but when they start spamming my mailbox even after I've left their mailing list, that's when my support for them evaporates. Same is true for any online system that sends me newsletters or emails. I'm quite OK with them arriving at the predetermined interval but when that goes from once a week, to once a day, to multiple times a day, that's when it is time to draw the line.

Wow the Mormon church has a lot of money

Our rejuvenated city centre opened this weekend - City Creek here in Salt Lake City. It's a glorified shopping mall, built by the Mormon church, on land that they now own in the centre of the city. The cost? $5bn. With a "b". To put that into perspective, the Burj Khalifa - the tallest building in the world - with all its associated infrastructure and shopping, office and living facilities, only cost $1.5bn to build. Here's the best part - because it's owned by the Church, City Creek is closed on sundays - arguably the busiest shopping day of the week for people with regular jobs. That's a good investment then. I knew the Church had a lot of money to burn. With all it's followers paying a mandatory 10% tithing (they'll tell you it's optional or 'suggested', but in reality it's mandatory), they rake in the cash like a charity on steroids. And speaking of charity, because that 10% is considered to be charitable donation, they don't p…

This won't end well.

You'd think that after American forces had been exposed for burning a copy of the Koran, and then last week for urinating on the bodies of dead combatants, that things couldn't get much worse wouldn't you? You'd be wrong. Now we've got reports of one, possibly more, US soldiers going house-to-house in the middle of the night last night killing sixteen people - between five and nine of which were kids - with gunshots to the head for no apparent reason, then piling the bodies into a room and trying to burn them. Reports are still sketchy at the moment but irrespective of whether this was a single person or a group, this can't possibly end well. As commander-in-chief, Obama is now responsible for this latest US military lunacy. This could all have been prevented if he'd just pulled everyone out of Afghanistan at the beginning of his presidency. Instead we're still emboiled in military conflict in countries where we should have no business. I'm sure Ame…

It's been a long time

Well it's been a while - most of my status updates and general thoughts and ramblings go to Facebook now but it seems like I should probably keep the blog going for the idle curiosity of anyone who reads it. In the weeks that have passed since the last post, things have continued to go from bad to worse where I work. The management have a firm grasp on the stick and have it pushed as far forward as possible so we continue to hurtle to our inevitable demise at great speed. Still I suppose when the messy end comes at least we'll have a process or procedure that explains how it happened.
I was totally robbed of winter this year. My favourite time of year and we barely had any snow - it's been unseasonably warm, sort of like it was when we had the Olympics here ten years ago. Skiing's been OK - the resorts finally have enough snow to ski on unlike the beginning of the season where it was like an episode of Wipeout. The flip side of that of course is that it's rapidly b…

Corporate culture when it comes to layoffs

It's silly season again. Our company just laid off 10 more people. One of my closest friends who has bailed us out of many a precarious situation and has led the way on a bunch of new development work - he was deemed expendable. Obviously no managers were touched. As of this exact moment in time, I still have a job but it's not 11am yet. When the middle managers swan in to take lunch, I'm sure there's going to be more moronic decision making. It just wouldn't be corporate America if any logic or business decisions were used to determine the people to be laid off.