Monday 1 December 2008

The beginning of the end of free Social Networking

Maybe the title of this post should be something like "someone has worked out how to make a buck out of social networking and it is likely to bring it all down around our ears".
What has prompted this train of thought is a recent foray onto Linkedin. After logging in, the web site usefully told me that 16 people had recently viewed my profile. When I searched for more details, it then, in a non useful manner, told me that "somebody in a Law firm in South Brisbane" had viewed my profile. If I upgraded my (free) account I could find out who. Well I had a look at the upgrade options and they wanted AUS$ 19.95 per month to show me these viewers. Well quite frankly Linkedin is not worth $240 per year to me. So I think that Linkedin may soon fall off the radar for me.
It reminds me of one of my first forays into the world of the internet. I found a site that offered "free e-mail addresses for life". I duly registered and was born. (Don't bother sending to that address it is now defunct.) This account worked well for a couple of years. Then they introduced paid e-mail accounts with different domain names. Then they started adding adverts to the bottom of e-mails that I sent, and I could pay to have them removed. Then the advertising got so over the top that a free e-mail address for life was not worth the effort. So that went also.
I don't mind paying for premium services, if they are useful and represent value. But I will be choosy about where I register and what Social Networking sites I use. What annoys me most is the erosion of features and functionality that was originally free. By paying more you can get the same services, in many cases more.
Hey this is the same technique that drug pushers use, get someone hooked and then jack up the prices. I am not the first to comment on the degradation of the Internet as the Corporate's and Entrepreneurs move in and try to make a profit off it. No doubt I won't be the last. Neither am I "with it" enough to fully understand how to use Social Networking, you should hear me swearing at Facebook, "what is the benefit in Poking someone?". So I guess that I will sign off here and see how much it costs to log onto MySpace.
the Bludger

Tuesday 25 November 2008

Peurile Humour

During my travels today at one stage I was in China Town in Fortitude Valley. I popped into an Asian grocery store as I was looking for some Asian sauces. As I wondered amongst the shelves I came across some candles, picture below.

I couldn't resist buying a packet, fully aware that the level of amusement that I was getting from these is about 10 year old level. But it made me think about all of the idiosyncrasies of our Language not just when foreign languages are translated into English or vice versa but also different variants of English come into conflict.For example growing up as a 10 year old there was always the giggle factor around the word Durex. To me Durex was a brand of condoms, how did I as a 10 years old know that? Hmmm! But in Australia Durex was a brand of Sticky Tape and it caused hours of amusement when our teachers kept suggesting we use Durex or asking for the Durex.
As I have grown up I have come across Americans talking about their fanny (bottom) which is totally different, although same region to a fanny as I know it and only females have a fanny in Australia and I think UK. A quick search of the Internet shows that I am covering ground here that has been well and truly covered before. So given that I am covering old ground I will sign off and leave you with this. 

The Bludger.

Tuesday 18 November 2008

Wild Storms Hit SE Queensland

On Sunday November 16, after a hot humid day, a wild storm struck the Gold Coast and worked it's way north through Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast. News reports started coming in about 3pm and by 4pm the sky above me was getting rather dark.
I checked the Bureau of Meteorology web site Radar images and decided that the storm would pass nearby but miss me. In a way I was right the storm missed my place. I was entertained for about an hour with a huge thunder and lightning display and torrential rain. I have seen some pretty wild weather in my time and this was right up there with the best of them. At times the lightning was so close there was no discernible gap before the thunder. And it was loud. Despite cleaning my gutters recently, they simply could not clear the water away fast enough so experienced some overflow.
I watched the storm from the shelter of my balcony until the wind sprang up and blew the rain horizontally and I got soaked. The next day there was a lot of leaf and bark litter in the streets but no serious damage. That was when the news reports started to tell about the devastation at a nearby location called "The Gap". The Gap is about 4 km from my place and I have friends who live at the far end about 8km away.
Despite seeing pictures on TV and the internet and hearing the various news reports it didn't really sink in until today what incredible damage had actually occurred. This morning Laurie, the friend who lives at the Gap with his wife, called me up and asked me to go out and see his wife and inform her that she could not drink tap water as it was contaminated. With no power, no phones, no radio, no TV they had been cut off from the world and did not know that their water supply was potentially contaminated. Laurie only found this when he got to work and asked me to pass on the message.
I loaded the car up with drinking water, Gas (for the BBQ) and headed out. It was totally awe inspiring the amount of destruction. The TV news does not show the depth of the devastation. There were huge numbers of trucks carting debris away and dozens of people with chain saws working on trees to make them safe or chop them up to take away. Emergency services all over the place, including the army who have been asked to assist in the clean up. Still no power out that way. Cars with crushed roofs. Houses that looked like the roofs had collapsed or gutters overflowed causing huge internal damage. Many trees still standing but in various states of damage with limbs ripped off or the trunks split apart. The awesome power of nature was on display. It was a sobering viewing and probably helps me understand more what the reality is when I see other disasters on TV. I guess that in 9 months time there will be a baby boom in that area, no power, no TV, as soon as it gets dark there is nothing much else to do but go to bed.

Friday 14 November 2008

Nick has left the building

Well as anticipated, yesterday November 13th was "D Day" for me. D for Disposal. I have been trying to work out some play on words as November 11 is Armistice Day or more often called Remembrance Day by most people. Technically D day commemorates in the Western cultures the day of the Normandy landings which was the beginning of the Allied counter strike to push the German Army back out of France and ultimately end the war against Germany. It's a weak link at best. (I expect that Germany does not celebrate this day!) I had been given the heads up the night before and about 9:30 I was in front of two of the Senior Partners being told how they valued my contributions, but economic forces were changing, profitability down blah blah blah. Hey wake up!
I sat there saying to myself "Show me the money!" and thinking that if these guys had put as much effort into building their business as they did into fighting amongst themselves and finding out how to slash costs, we would not have had this conversation. But I am not bitter, I never expected to stay there forever, the timing was pretty poor however. My main mission had been accomplished I had left Canberra, I had been paid to relocate, I had 20 months of a fairly easy job and been given a soft landing. Time to move on for me.
There was a bit of devastation around the firm with a total of 16 people made redundant, not quite 10% but getting up there. It was a big shake up, pretty much all of the younger staff cried as did a few more mature people. People cleared their desks out and left throughout the day. I had a few loose ends to tidy up and couldn't get out until mid afternoon. Gave me time to say goodbye to a few people however. Eventually I rode off into the (figurative) sunset.

Thursday 30 October 2008

Redundancy I embrace you

What a strange day today has been. This morning a breakfast talk that I had organised, for my University Alumni, in collaboration with a lovely lady called Margaret went very well. We had a nice meal and an entertaining speaker and some interesting attendees. That was the morning bookend. The afternoon bookend was a total contrast. My boss told me that I was redundant. To be perfectly honest I had been expecting this, I just wasn't sure of the timing. And to be quite honest with the lack of direction, vision, management, communication and respect within my current employer at the moment, it is a great relief. My aims now. 1. To save some of my staff from the same fate. 2. To get a new job. I have already been applying for jobs. I am an IT Manager. The way I view my career is to evaluate business environments, determine their current problems and find a good solution to improving their profitability and IT systems. Those same skills I applied to my situation. The result was that I expected redundancy. I got the date wrong. The next series of posts will detail my job search. At the moment I have about 6 applications out with various organisations. One has reached the stage of interview. Two are under consideration by the recruitment agencies, several have been so quiet that I guess that they don't consider me a serious option. Look for the next instalment.

Monday 27 October 2008

Chicken Supreme and Rice

As a child, and later teenager, and even later adult, I have done a lot of camping in my life. I enjoy it. A cheap holiday, often in lovely locations that the hotel a few metres away is either non existent or charging a motza to stay in.
I grew up in the era of (almost) minimalist camping. As a child with my parents the car had to take 2 adults and 4 children, there was not much room for equipment and food. However later in life dad did buy a trailer for the tent, food and other gear.
As a teenager I joined a Senior Scout Group (Venturers) where camping often included hiking which meant that we often would want to carry only the bare minimum to keep you dry, warm and fed. The core period of this camping era was the 70's, during which my age ranged from 9 to 19, in hindsight a rather primitive time. So with weight and volume needing to be kept to a minimum meals did not generally involve a lot of fresh food or vegetables and relied on dry biscuits, dried fruit and freeze dried meals.
One of those freeze dried meals that I remember was called Chicken Supreme and Rice. From memory I think that it was made by "Vesta", I could be wrong here. I also think that in the freeze dried range there were other meals, but Chicken Supreme and Rice is the one I remember as being most popular. With the benefit of hindsight I suspect that it was the most palatable of the offerings. Maybe that should be least unpalatable. Once again I could be wrong but I remember that the rice was probably boiled as normal and the Chicken Supreme was an off white powder with various chunks in it. Some chunks looked Orange, some Green, some "white" for want of a better description. The Chicken Supreme was boiled for a period of time in water, until it re hydrated and formed a thick sauce with lumps of Chicken, Peas and Carrot in it. This sauce was poured over the rice.
As a meal it was fairly bland, but for a camper/hiker it was hot and filling, not to mention easy to prepare on a Billy, camp fire or small stove. Being light it was easy to carry, you just needed water at the other end. You either had to carry the water or since it was boiled could use creek water. Basically a carbohydrate loading that as a camper kept you warm, filled your belly and was not going to kill you that night.

Tuesday 17 June 2008

What is the value of anything?

I have noticed, near my workplace, several newsagents selling 2008 Diaries. They are advertising these as 20% off the marked price. It makes me wonder what is the value of a Diary at this time of the year? Consider. A diary is valid for 12 months. It may have some extra information, such as holiday dates, multiple year calendars etcetera, but primarily a diary is based on functionality over a calendar year. It is now June. Effectively the year is half over. Shouldn't the diaries be selling at 50% off? Is not half their usefulness now been lost? If I was buying a diary now, would it not be more cost effective and more sensible to buy a financial year diary and get a full 12 months use out of it, for only 25% more than the discounted Calendar year diary? What do these shop keepers think we are? Stupid?

Saturday 14 June 2008

Some Background

Keeping a Diary has never been a priority for me other than travel diaries when I have been travelling. That is to say longer term travel while backpacking around parts of the world rather than shorter holidays. Therefore the idea of blogging has never held much attraction to me.
I also have the feeling that some people are attracted to blogging and others not. Before the advent of blogs the people who now blog regularly would have been writing letters or articles for newspapers or magazines etcetera.
Despite that I have also felt a need to keep in touch with people and let them know what I have been doing. I have chosen a lifestyle that means I move sufficiently often that I have gained a number of friends in various parts of the world and am pathetic at keeping in touch. So the idea of a blog where you broadcast to the world, or whoever is interested, does have appeal to me.
Since the late 90's I have prepared newsletters and sent them via e-mail or snail mail to family and friends. Those letters were also laboriously converted to HTML documents and placed on a web site. So to a certain extent I feel that I was blogging before we knew what blogging was as a concept. Mind you my early efforts were not bidirectional nor interactive communications by any means in the current accepted style of blogs.
I have used a number of free blog sites to attempt to keep up with the times. However I have always struggled with those sites for a number of reasons including that they weren't owned by me and they weren't branded as me. Neither were they entirely flexible in how they were presented. Until recently I have struggled with a very low speed internet access and this has also seemed to be a barrier to regularly updating my blog. Mind you even I aren't convinced by that argument as I never put much effort into composing anything to put up.
The modern crop of sites such as MySpace, YouTube, LinkedIn etcetera do not appeal to me either. I am too old no doubt to understand the fun of poking someone on MySpace (or was that Facebook?) and have no interest in uploading a video of myself being stupid. Never the less I do maintain a presence on those sites as one day I may "get" them.
In my work I also need to understand them, their role in society and whether they have a work related function that I and my employer should be using. I have also been inspired by my friend Phil who has for many years maintained a blog which is an important method for him to maintain contact with his friends and family. I should note that Phil is a creative writer and fits my pattern of those who would naturally be attracted to blogging. Phil's blog is highly personalised and, to me at least, seems to be the model of how a blog of that nature should be. That is to say it is an extension of his personality and reflects the personality,thoughts and aspirations of the owner. It is also a great way of following where he is and what he is doing. I am not trying to emulate Phil, we have different personalities, but I certainly draw inspiration from his approach to blogging.
Which gets us to today. The problem of poor internet connectivity has been solved. The problem of where to host a blog has also been solved. The problem of developing my own blog and style is ahead of me as is the problem of motivation and creating content. I have all of the technology that I need to create content and publish. All that I need is motivation and mastering the technology.

Friday 11 April 2008

Departure gets closer

Today my IT Manager was taken into a Board member for a discussion. This was on short notice and the poor guy had barely come up to speed with what was going on. He had to think fast on his feet. He obviously did well as based on later discussions I think that he and I between us have saved the remaining team. Tomorrow morning the full Board meets to pass judgement. I am gone as are many others. On the positive side I have a job interview tomorrow. Another LAW firm. Will have to see how it goes.
Well even though I am a shot duck, it seemed appropriate to save my team. I had been informed that my team was also under threat and had worked out that the head slashers also had their sights on my team. There was only 6 of us, so any further cuts was going to be disastrous. So I put a case forward to try to save my team. In this memo I described their roles and responsibilities and their current workload. I also brought in figures from other organisations. This information was submitted to the Board and HR Manager.