Tuesday, November 27, 2012

More fun with an I.T. Job Search

I've been going through sent emails again...

You know, the ones that I send to recruiters who shotgun phony job descriptions hoping to pad their stack of "candidates."

I suppose they get their training in outbound sales making cold calls.  Just like Spam and junk email the perpetrators figure it's worth it for the 1 in 100,000,000 odds of actually cashing in.  What I hate is the laziness. 

These bottom feeders don't even want to cultivate their own leads.  Instead they send out spam and stick a "If you know anyone forward this to them" tag line at the end.  

This one was for a spam job posting  from an outsourced Indian recruiting sweatshop.  They demanded I answer a list of questions for them before they even got my first response so I obliged.  

By the way,  I don't dismiss "opportunities" easily but when the email is addressed to: "Undisclosed Recipients", well they're just asking for it...

Top Technical skills: Windows System Administration, networking, Hardware
Strengths: Troubleshooting, planning, communication, attention to detail
Years of Experience: In what? That's a very personal question....
Industry experience: Legal, Computer Software, Pharmaceutical, others
Education/Certificates: BS/BIS, AA/Electronics, MCP, CCNA, PHD in BS
Currently employed (contract/full time): Not Full Time currently
Current Location : United States

Here's where it gets fun...

Why looking: Because it’s such a joy.
Open to contract, contract to hire or direct hire: Contract 1st others considered
What do you like about your current/last position? That it’s over
What do you dislike about you current/last position? That it went on so long.

The above questions about likes and dislikes are meaningless, You’ll never get a truthful answer and have little to nothing to do with placement of a candidate and you’re fully aware of it.

Work authorization: Citizen
Third party info: I didn’t have the first or second party yet.
Current salary/rate: Guess.
Desired salary/rate: No less than $60K/day
Availability: Available but I'm not a cheap date
Vacations planned: I could use one but can’t afford it
Drug and background check: No issues but you may cause that to change
Travel: None, I don’t travel for a job unless the booze is free.
Communication Skills: Speak Write English, obviously better than you...
Any Special Circumstances: Low tolerance for BS, like your SPAM emails
Linkedin check: As though I’d put anything I didn't want you to see, come on now...

Monday, November 26, 2012

Pain and Suffering

I'm convinced there's a bit of masochist in all of us...

It's not that I have a low opinion of humanity I think it's just human nature if not biology to need a bit a suffering to validate our accomplishments.  Think about it.  Without pain we can't know pleasure.  Without a challenge, victory isn't so sweet now is it. 

That's not to say that wanton suffering is a good thing.  Suffering for no good reason is the definition of masochism.  If there's a goal to reach, however, it's perfectly reasonable to endure a bit of pain.

That's one of the reasons I hate cheaters in multiplayer games.  They add needless suffering for their own selfish ends.  It may be fun to dominate everyone else for a few hours but after awhile it just gets boring.  Unless that's your idea of fun.  In which case you'd be exhibiting some sociopathic tendencies. 
In which case, I'm keeping an eye on the kiddies when you're around...

There was a line I remember from the movie "The Matrix" and I think of it often.  Agent Smith was interrogating Morpheus and made the following commentary on humanity.

"Did you know that the first Matrix was designed to be a perfect human world? Where none suffered, where everyone would be happy. It was a disaster. No one would accept the program. Entire crops were lost. Some believed we lacked the programming language to describe your perfect world. But I believe that, as a species, human beings define their reality through suffering and misery"

Agent Smith's premise was good but he paints with a bit of a wide brush.  If we weren't meant to endure some pain we wouldn't have any nerve endings.  We'd just aimlessly walk around stumbling into traffic and occasionally ending up in wood chippers without a care in the world.  We wouldn't have as clear a grasp on consequences either and I'm fairly certain the human race would have been nothing more than a fossil record by now.  In Star Trek 5, Kirk said it best...

"Damn it, Bones, you're a doctor. You know that pain and guilt can't be taken away with a wave of a magic wand. They're the things we carry with us, the things that make us who we are. If we lose them, we lose ourselves. I don't want my pain taken away! I need my pain!"

We're programmed to value our victories more when they aren't so easy to obtain.  We've all wished at some point that we were rich or got paid to do nothing.  The reality is that most of us wouldn't be idle for long.  It's more likely you'd find something to challenge you even if you didn't have to worry about paying the bills anymore.

In the case of Bernie Madoff, his challenge was to not get caught, hence my earlier sociopath example...

Hopefully your motives would be more pure but it ultimately comes down to the same thing.  We're just  not happy unless we're striving for something.  It could be your career, a favorite project, a game or even just surviving to a ripe old age.  All of it involves a challenge and like it or not challenge and pain are synonymous terms.

Nothing has value to us unless we "pay the price."  So long as it's a fair price there's no problem just be sure it's worthwhile.  Otherwise we end up being martyrs and masochists which is just unnecessary pain.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Sour Grapes and the Folly of Secession

Article first published as Sour Grapes and the Folly of Secession on Technorati.

Arizona is certainly a trendsetter, unfortunately for all the wrong reasons...

This week, hot on the heels of President Barack Obama's second term the local news reports that over 14,000 Arizona residents have signed a petition to ask "permission" to secede from the union.  The petition was started by the mysterious Nicholas M. of Gilbert, Az. 

Using the White House's We the People website a petition submitted by our Mr. "M" states...

 "The citizens of the great state of Arizona have the right to stand for their principles,” and  “That man is granted unalienable rights, which are not the dispensations of the government, but find their beginnings in God and come from God alone. These are the principles that our forefathers stood for, the principles upon which our Constitution is based, and those in which we firmly place our belief and resolve"

I'm not sure which constitution he's talking about. 

To hold up the U.S. Constitution won't work since it governs the body you're trying to leave.  To hold up a  state constitution is folly since the last state to have anything resembling a secession clause was Texas.  In fact one of the conditions of statehood is to specifically remove any secession language from the constitution of the prospective state.

Arizona isn't alone in its activism and apparently all  50 states have similar petitions in the wake of the election with some more successful than others.   

In Texas an equally mysterious character in the person of Micah H. has managed to collect over 100,000 signatures for his Texas secession petition

Strange how all these mysterious characters are suddenly starting petitions.  It's almost as though there was some type of organized effort.  Perhaps by a conservative group pre-occupied with politics and hot caffeinated beverages?

Petitions require only 25,000 signatures to receive an "official" response which upon meeting that threshold is likely to go something like this, "Thanks for your petition, we value your opinion but No"

Even Arizona's fiery state's rights advocate, Gov. Jan Brewer, has publicly stated she did not support the idea of secession.  Of course she doesn't.  Her distaste for the federal government may be obvious but no state can afford to lose its share of the Federal dole.

Unfortunately for the secessionists, they're not likely to find much support from other state governors either.  Setting aside the legal ramifications, state governments are far too dependent on federal funding to seriously entertain the idea of secession. 

When the South lost the Civil War (a secessionist movement)  it was due to a failing economy and flawed economic construct.   Perhaps it is the best example of the dangers of an extreme ideology overruling reason.   Apparently history has few lessons for a secessionist. 

So much for the bloodless revolution.

The YouTube monetization follies

I've been waiting....

Waiting for YouTube's vaunted "content ID" system to screw up and it finally did, big time...

On my other blog, Midagedgamer.blogspot.com I do a weekly gaming news wrap-up that generally includes a video of me reporting on the week's events.

For the Week of November 16th I took great pains to not run afoul of anything that would deny me the 26 cents of revenue I could potentially make from viewings.  (I'm not that popular on YouTube)

I had run afoul of the arbitrary copyright enforcement processes that YouTube employs before but in each case I was never clear on exactly what the issue was.  As such I usually hold my breath on every upload till my video clears all of YouTube's legal hurdles.

Knowing that I'm not going to make a living off YouTube I primarily do the videos as a convenience to my Blog readers.  It's also a decent way of getting some cross-pollination between the blogs and the YouTube channel.

Back to my latest YouTube adventure...

After 24 hours of waiting for my monetization request to be approved I finally got the dreaded,
"We need proof of commercial use rights to monetize" email.  I knew it was coming.  Monetization is usually instantaneous unless the video gestapos think there's a problem....

At this time, we are unable to approve your video(s) because we do not have sufficient information regarding your commercial use rights.
We may consider your video(s) for further review provided you verify that you are authorized to commercially use all of the elements of your content. This includes all video, images, music, video game footage, and any other audio or visual elements. Learn more
Please note that YouTube reserves the right to make the final decision whether to monetize a video, and we may disable monetization for partners who repeatedly submit ineligible videos. All videos are subject to our Terms of Service and Community Guidelines, and may be removed from the site if they do not meet those standards.
Please submit your additional information below:

Remember that a variety of factors, such as video performance, may affect review time. We may not be able to process every submission, but we continually monitor these factors and prioritize accordingly.
The YouTube Team

Proof of what? That I have the right to use my own face, voice and content?  Let's not forget that I'm fully cognizant of the gestapo tactics of YouTube's copyright policing so I do everything I can to make sure I don't have to deal with them. 

My reply was simple...

After clicking the "Contains only my own original content" option from the drop down menu under the video's monetization tab I wrote...

Details?  Here they are.  Nothing in this video violates any copyright or requires a release from any party but me.  There are no background noises, radio broadcasts or reflections of a television broadcast in my glasses or anything else that could cause any issue with copyrights not held by me personally.
All the content contained in the video is 100% original and of my own creation.  I challenge you to prove otherwise as I'm confident your efforts will be unsuccessful.
In short, it's my ugly face, crappy voice, bad editing and original content.  The fish has signed a release as well and there is no content that wasn't created and controlled by me in the video. (I usually have my aquarium in the shot in case you wondered) 
To satisfy your request for proof of ownership I make the following statement...
I hereby authorize myself to use whatever content I may produce without restriction.  All content claimed by me is under my direct control.  No copyrighted or derivative works appear in the subject video and I certify that all the content is owned and created by me with all associated copyrights at my disposal.

So now I wait.  In the meantime the few views I have gotten haven't netted me a dime (which would be 1/2 my revenue! )  while I go through the process.

UPDATE:  As of Nov. 27th YouTube still hasn't monetized the video but had no problem with the prior or following videos...

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Advertising to your affliction

Commercials annoy me.

"Yeah so what", you're likely saying to yourself right now...

If you have time on your hands like I do, you get to see a lot of ads pitching everything from luxury automobiles to breakfast cereal.  Of course the later the hour the more egregious the commercials become. 

Male enhancement and impotence cures show up the most frequently followed closely by well dressed lawyers pitching resolution via litigation.

All of those are the standard fare.  Even those products that promise to rectify men's...shortcomings. 

Most disgusting of all, however, are the ads from the pharmaceutical companies.  Regardless of how you feel about modern medicine, hawking prescription drugs like feminine hygiene products is something just short of criminal. 

"Ask your doctor" and "You don't have to suffer anymore" are common pitches.  Since when is it acceptable to create a demand for a controlled substance?  Is it wise to blithely wander into your doctor's office requesting medication without being sure of the affliction?  The commercials would make you think so.

How arrogant is that? The pharmaceuticals industry does the diagnosis making your doctor just another middleman.  I'd hope that rampant capitalism hasn't done the medical profession what it's done to our eating habits but I wouldn't hold your breath.  The practice of kickbacks and promotions given to physicians to favor one treatment option over another isn't as rare as we'd like it to be. 

With the advent of the Internet it seems self-diagnosis with a website as attending physician  has turned us all into hypochondriacs.  Every pain or discomfort is sure to have a miracle pill and all we have to do is make an appointment and ask for it.

Of course all the ads mention, "Ask your Doctor". 


If my doctor knows my physical condition and I don't have any medical training shouldn't he be the one prescribing treatments?  Who cares what a commercial says?  Why is it so important that I be aware of the names of prescription drugs and why do the drug companies feel the need to give them catchy names? 
So what's the point? 

Why does a company that makes drugs have a retail profit motive?  Need should dictate sales in medicine, not the other way around.  Commercials are explicitly designed to create a desire for a product.  In the case of prescription drugs that's a potentially unhealthy goal to say the least.

It's disgusting and highlights one of the primary flaws with the healthcare industry in the United States.  Personally, I don't believe healing should have a profit motive.  When you corrupt healthcare with greed both health and care are compromised.  There is no profit without sales and the ultimate goal of the salesman is to sell as much product as they can.  It's a goal inconsistent with medicine. 

Medicine should be more like the Red Cross than General Motors.  After all GM may charge you for antenna wax but the Red Cross will never charge you for a cot and a blanket when you need one. 
The worst part comes when we see our friends in the legal industry show up on late night TV again.  This time, however, it's not an auto accident or denied disability claim.  It's a class action against the pharmaceutical companies for injuries caused by their wares. 

Medicine isn't M&M's and shouldn't be marketed as such.  Pharmaceutical companies rush products to market often with inadequate testing and lax safeguards.  Competition may be the core of capitalism but it can be lethal to the unlucky patient receiving a recalled prescription.  Profit motives in business is fine, profit motives in healthcare at any level is a perversion.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Why the Conservative Media got it wrong

Article first published as Why the Conservative Media Got it Wrong on Technorati.

If there was any question as to whether there is such a thing as a conservative media it was settled in the run-up to  the Presidential election.  From Forbes to the WashingtonTimes,  right-leaning  media outlets predicted a close but decisive win for Mitt Romney.

Their assertions were based almost entirely on the Romney campaign platform which focused on perceived weaknesses in the Obama presidency. Let's take a look at a few of them...

The weak Economy...

The argument ignores basic economics if not the calendar. 

For one thing, Economists of any stripe agree that it's impossible to completely recover from a worldwide economic recession (near depression) in less than four years.  It also ignores Wall Street, a favorite economic indicator of the media.

Speaking of Wall Street...

Throughout the Romney campaign President Obama was accused of being "Bad for Business"

On January 20th 2009 (Obama's Inauguration) the Dow Jones industrial average closed at 8279.63.  Election day 2012  found the close at 13245.68.

We all know that Wall Street isn't main street  but the media treats the securities markets as an economic barometer.  A 5000 point spread is hard to ignore.  A number conspicuously absent from the Republican campaigns.

Let's try another one...

Legislative gridlock that could only be resolved with a Romney presidency...

This one is pure fabrication unless the mere existence of the man is reason enough to despise him.  Remember Republican Senator Mitch McConnell's quote?

For the two years since the quote to the National Journal, McConnell has insisted he was taken out of context.  Considering the almost intractable ideologies we've seen in congress throughout the President's first term I'm not sure what other context would apply. 

Both parties were aware of the frustration of the electorate with approval ratings leading up to the election hovering at 17%, an historic low.  "My way or the highway" isn't compromise and even a casually informed voter knows that the President can only propose not write legislation.  After that he has to wait for something to come to his desk  to sign.  Misdirection and the fallacy of the straw man. 

Finally, the straw that was to break the back of any hope of  the President's reelection.
This one was more wishful thinking than calculated advantage...

Even in the face of reduced voting hours and recent challenges to early voting laws Obama voters turned out in force.   In many cases standing hours in line to cast their ballot.  Chants of "Let Us Vote" still ringing in the electorate's ears from the weekend before the election.

Whether or not voter suppression was going on, the suggestion alone was enough of a motivation to engage the ambivalent.

So how could conservative media get it so wrong? 

Three possible scenarios come to mind. 
·    The people writing this stuff are just pandering to their readers who are comprised largely of well heeled conservatives. 
·    They based their assumptions on campaign rhetoric without any fact checking.  The second Presidential debate should have discouraged that route.
·    They're just the media arm of the Republican party.

None are good options and all call into question the standards of the publication.  Popular media is no longer under any type of fairness doctrine, however,  short of libel.  That's allowed media outlets to safely engage in a political bias.    Nobody would confuse Fox News with Mother Jones for example. 

In the end I offer no cautionary admonition against such gaffs.  If anything this is simply an  example of media consumption (or creation) based on individual biases.  Most bias is usually based on at least some factual information even if it's of our own creation .

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Politics as Product

Article first published as Politics as Product on Technorati.

Never has there been such a splendid example that we as a society are severely afflicted with Attention Deficit Disorder.  This flavor of ADD  is far from the inattentive child nervously fidgeting in his classroom, however.  

No, this is an affliction of the first world dominated by the churn of  consumerism.   It expresses itself in everything from fad to fashion and increasingly to critical thinking as well.

We in the first world have become so conditioned to reacting to a marketing message that we require no further information to make a decision.  We make the choice based on the promotion we most easily identify with.  No further deliberation is entertained. 

We've come to expect all of our information to be packaged in this way.  Politics enjoy no immunity.
Our impatience is reflected in the flood of campaign ads that have plagued our airwaves for the past year.  Probably the most obvious example is the current U.S. presidential race.  To date, both candidates for president have raised over 2 Billion dollars for their campaigns with approximately 1.5 billion of that spent thus far. 

Half truths, errors of omission and inflated context are the tools of political persuasion and they easily translate to the world of marketing.  Politics promotes the image by obscuring the product. 

We choose our leaders with less care than our favorite sports team.  That's by design and the reason why political positions are largely parroted from political propaganda.  Politicians know voters have a low tolerance for long-winded technical arguments.  Instead they choose a popular position with their base and relentlessly repeat the same message regardless of its veracity.

Remember the Go-Daddy commercials?  In 30 seconds we knew who they were but only because we were constantly exposed to scantily clad models that appealed to a core demographic.   How many of us tried them based on a subconscious reaction to those ads instead of their reputation?

It works just as well for politics as it does for web hosting.   Think about where you get your political news.  Is it C-Span or are you more interested in the packaged offerings of Fox News or MSNBC?

Let's look at a current hot button political issue as an example...

Is it really the fault of a sitting president that the worst economic downturn since the depression of 1929 is still affecting the economy?

It is if you ignore the boring technical argument that it took a decade and a world war to bring the U.S. out of the great depression.   

Unfortunately, our short attention spans won't allow the retort.  We crave instant gratification and sway toward the product that promises it.  Ironically, If challenged we frequently justify our position based on that same marketing construct.  It's circular logic which dovetails nicely with our distaste for depth.

Perhaps it's time to examine how informed we really are.