Thursday, August 31, 2006

Ten things guaranteed to make workers angry

I'm somewhat of an expert on anger. I think I've had good teachers, which is to say, I've worked for some very bad managers who were absolute masters in the art of infuriating their employees. I've decided to distill all the worst anger-instilling behaviour I've witnessed over the years into a top ten list - the things that absolutely guarantee an angry workforce.

This is not intended as a how-to guide for wannabe satanic managers. I did briefly consider that this might be akin to distributing a bomb-making recipe (very dangerous information in the wrong hands) but I actually believe most bad managers aren't deliberately bad. They are far more likely to be ignorant of how destructive their actions are. As Hanlon's Razor states: "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity."

So please, anyone in doubt, this is top 10 list of things NOT to do. So here are my top 10 tips for guaranteeing an angry workforce:

1. Don't communicate - That's right, don't tell 'em anything. Why do they need to know? They're not the all-powerful manager - you are. Here's a tip: if you aren't communicating, you're staff are filling in the gaps themselves. And they rarely put the most positive spin on things. Case in point: in one job the IT manager went on a trip to the branch office in India without telling anyone what he was doing. As a joke, I said he was going to outsource the whole department.

Everyone believed me. I assured everyone it was a joke and I had no reason to think we were being outsourced and everyone calmed down. Then he came back and still didn't tell anyone the purpose of the trip or what he did while he was there. Then I started to think he really was outsourcing us.

2. Encourage a culture of blame - Things go wrong from time to time, that's unavoidable. But if you spend more energy fixing the blame than you do fixing the problem people will know not to make mistakes again. Actually if you make people think your first reaction to discovering a problem is to look for someone to blame, they'll stop coming to you with problems. And then you'll never find out about problems until things are totally an irretrievably screwed.

3. Don't recognise achievements - if you congratulate people for doing a good job they'll expect pay raises and that will ruin your budget. Actually, recognising positive achievements can create more positive feelings in a workplace than money but still, they'll get all uppity if you congratulate them for a job well done.

4. Impose arbitrary rules - There's no end to how far you can take this one. The rule can be no talking to co-workers, limits on software, hardware and/or peripherals available or even no drinking coffee at the desk. The important thing is not to waver from arbitrary rules no matter how logical the counter-argument made by employees. Change one rule and they'll think they can change any rule they can build a compelling case for.

5. Play favourites - Some people are just more likeable than others. Everyone tells you to treat staff equally but how will your favourites know you like them more unless you give them preferential treatment? And besides, what's the worst that could happen? The rest of the staff get resentful? You don't like them anyway, maybe they'll stay the hell away from you.

6. Be inconsistent - Even arbitrary rules can be made worse by enforcing them inconsistently. If staff don't know how you're going to react to a given situation, they'll never relax. And relaxed staff are unproductive staff. Probably. Best not to take the risk.

7. Be secretive - This is not exactly the same as not communicating. Being secretive is making it obvious that something is happening but not telling staff exactly what. It's even better if you tell them there's a big secret that you can't tell them. Combine this with playing favourites for extra effect - make it obvious you've told your personal pet but forbid them from telling anyone else.

8. Be unresponsive - Don't respond to email. Stare in the general direction of your staff with a peeved expression but don't say anything. Respond to any questions or (god forbid) small talk from staff with a grunt. Agree to meeting requests then don't show up. This will let staff know exactly where they stand and exactly how powerful you are.

9. Refuse to listen - When staff come to you with important issues, brush them off. If you listen once they'll expect you to listen all the time. How they think their concerns can have any effect on managing the department is anybody's guess. They're probably just complaining that they think your favourite never does any work. And you wouldn't play favourites with anyone who'd exploit that favoured position, would you?

10. Refuse to change - Sometimes staff will go to the trouble of presenting a case for changing your way of doing things. Sometimes that case will seem compelling. Sometimes you will be tempted to think about changing because it seems like the best thing to do. Banish that thought from your head! Are these schmucks managers? How could a non-manager possibly be smarter than a manager? Make sure to mark them down in their next annual review.

These are not the only ways to make staff angry but they are methods I've seen successfully employed many times over the years. Sometimes very successfully. So successfully that sometimes I formed the obviously mistaken impression that the manager concerned was a deranged psychopath. It's a consistent disappointment to me that all the best staff quit when faced with managers like this. Where do they get off making logical choices to protect their own well-being? And how do quality staff always manage to find another workplace where they aren't subjected to such negative behaviour?

Don't people like a challenge any more?

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Hot uncut raw sex porn video action returns!

I'm a bad baaaaad man. I was bored and wanted to get some more hits on YouTube so did another "trick" video that fools desperate horny losers into thinking it's a porn video. Hopefully you'll find the out-takes funny - they certainly appeal to my juvenile sense of humour. Particularly the last one. The sound is real, not a trick effect. And, as embarrassing as it is to admit, it's me.

I'm gonna get lots of hate mail from disappointed horny losers on YouTube now. HAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAA

Sometimes being positive can get you killed

I'm all for positivity in the workplace, most of what I put in this blog are jokes (grounded in reality) but I usually wouldn't act remotely like "Mr Angry" to anybody in real life, particularly at work. But every now and then someone gets just a bit too goddam cheerful at precisely the wrong fucking time to precisely the wrong fucking person.

This morning one of my cow-orkers crossed an important cheerfulness tolerance threshold. The wrong fucking time was 8.55 - 5 minutes before an important presentation when a major system meltdown occurred which, shall we say, slightly derailed my plans. The wrong fucking person was me. Basically, the situation was pretty shitty but salvageable. I was going to lose face but the people I work with are pretty reasonable, they know unpredictable disasters happen occasionally. So I was stressed but not totally losing my shit. Then the inappropriately cheerful cow-orker piped up:

Cheeful Cow-orker: Cheer up, it could be worse.

Me: (deep breath, search for inner calm so I don't punch CC) How exactly?

CC: At least you have your health.

Me: How do you know that?

CC: What?

Me: How do you know I have my health? You don't know anything about me. For all you know, I have cancer.

CC: Oh my god, you don't, do you?

Me: No, but you don't know that. Stop saying fatuous things or one day you'll end up saying it to someone who's just been diagnosed with some horrible disease.

CC: That's a terrible thing to say. I was only trying to be positive.

Me: Well don't, there's nothing positive about this situation.

CC: There's always something positive, you just have to keep looking.

Me: Yeah, like maybe I do have cancer.

CC: What?

Me: A really fast acting cancer that's going to kill me in the next five minutes so I don't have to deal with this shit.

CC: You shouldn't say things like that.

Me: Or a massive brain haemorrhage. I could really do with a catastrophic subdural hematoma right now.

CC: I... uh...

Me: You do realise that the only reason you're still alive is that this projector is too fucking heavy to throw at your head, right?

CC: (looking considerably less cheerful now) Whuh?

Me: How many seconds do you think it would take you to get out of my sight? Because I reckon I can find something to stab you in the brain with inside of 7 seconds from now.

And then the only sound I had to put up with was the sound of scampering feet as the inappropriately cheerful cow-orker fled in terror. It turns out he only needed 3 seconds to escape. Which was quite lucky because I found a sharp bit of metal in 5 seconds.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Stephen Colbert, ZeFrank, a doughnut and a predictable backlash

Long-time readers of this blog will know I'm a big fan of Stephen Colbert, having formed the Church of Colbert earlier in the year after being simply overwhelmed by his ballsiness in ripping on George W Bush at the Whitehouse Correspondents Dinner. While Bush was sitting about an arm's length away from him. Go and watch it on Google video if you've never seen it - it's astonishing.

More recently, I have become a fan of ZeFrank, an online video blogger funny type dude. ZeFrank's "The Show" is, for my money, far and away the best work of its type being done online. If anyone thinks they've found a video blogger funnier than ZeFrank I'd love to hear about them.

Anyway, this week, Colbert finds himself embroiled in an Internet storm-in-a-teacup involving ZeFrank and a doughnut. Sharp-eyed Wordpress blogger Kleinschmidt who has an interest in mathematics noted that ZeFrank and Colbert made essentially the same joke about the Poincare conjecture, illustrated with a doughnut. ZeFrank's show featured the joke before Colbert's. He made a good natured joke about the cynic in him thinking Colbert had ripped off ZeFrank but acknowledging that in all probability it was a coincidence. The blog linked to above contains links to both videos so you can see them for yourself.

Then BoingBoing picked it up and ran with the rather more sensational headline "The Colbert Report rips off Ze Frank? For shame, if so." This in not a rip on BoingBoing, I'm a big fan and they did leave the question open ended. Then they went and included a reader comment that basically said Colbert does this all the time as you'll see in the following quotes:

"this isn't the first time I've seen Colbert "ripping off stuff" from the Internets... It's like he takes the stuff that, say, received 1,300 diggs that day and does the same thing on show and passes it off as his own... Now I wish I had a bunch of examples to give you to back up my point, but I don't. I know, bad me."

So essentially they decided to reprint someone's opinion slagging off Colbert when that person admits to having no objective measurement for what he's saying, just his opinion. Well, I guess that's what blogging is all about - slinging shit at other people. The overall tone of the BoingBoing piece was reasonable enough but this reader comment was just bullshit.

Let's see if we can objectively recap what happened. ZeFrank does a daily show where he gives humourous takes on current events. Colbert has a daily show where he... you guessed it... gives humourous takes on current events. They both make an incredibly obvious joke about a current event. The fact that ZeFrank got his version out first does not give us a straight line to Colbert ripping him off. Admittedly, if I did a joke on my blog and then saw the same joke on a TV show a day later I'd be pretty spaced. I might even suspect I'd been ripped off. To his credit, ZeFrank doesn't seem to be making a big deal about it.

If you think about it, for this story of a deliberate rip-off to be true, The Colbert Report's writers, producers and Colbert himself would have to be stupid enough to think they could steal from one of the most popular video bloggers on the net and get away with it. Possible but not very fucking likely. And seeing someone big-note themselves and go on about how Colbert is unoriginal just pisses me off. It's an absolutely predictable backlash against someone who's popular - it always happens. Someone tries to build themselves up by tearing someone else down. Real responsible, BoingBoing.

Like I should complain. I say worse things all the time.

Medicine is voodoo!

...Wherein I recount my misadventures with the head-hole spelunking ear specialist who traumatised me:

On the subject of videos, I'm doing my next piece for The Blogging Times in the next 24 hours. If anyone has any suggestions for a topic I'd be glad to hear them. Something topical about the internet generally or bloggin specifically that's worth getting angry about. I'm thinking about the British newspaper that stole someone's blog post but I don't have anything definite planned yet.

The Revver URL for this video is:

Monday, August 28, 2006

Even when you're right, being obsessive is weird

I'm starting to think all governments should be run by obsessive-compulsive hypochondriacs. We're already dealing with a world run by people with severe personality disorders (usually of the Narcissistic sociopath variety) so I think we should simply switch the personality disorders involved. Seriously, all the major ills of the world could be fixed by OCD politicians.

We'd never go to war because they'd be freaked out by the potential consequences (as opposed to the current crop of political and religious leaders who don't seem to even take a breath to consider the consequences.) We could stop worrying over what does and doesn't cause cancer because they would focus on finding causes rather than protecting industries, companies and products that might be responsible. Pollution would be reduced as they obsessed over the health implications. We'd get clean energy sources because they'd pour research money into way to reduce pollution. That would get rid of oil dependence (a major source of conflict) and help reduce global warming risks as well.

But they'd still be weird.

It's one of those things - being right doesn't stop you from being weird. And most people would rather not listen to weird people. Attacking "problems" in an obsessive manner leads many people to think you are actually the problem. Like people who get obsessed with disinfecting every surface and constantly admonish you to constantly wash your hands, particularly when going to the toilet is involved. I have covered this topic several times (in fact I was prompted to think about it again when my very first video blog on the subject was featured on Chartreuse over the weekend) and I think I've established the definitive rules on the topic.

One of my favourite websites, the Snopes Urban Legends Reference Pages, has a great example of where being right doesn't mean you aren't weird. As a bit of background, seems to be run by people with way too much time on their hands. They actually have the time to research urban legends and see if there is any basis in fact. Sometimes it is a real surprise which stories are actually true, like this one about purses carrying germs from public toilets into the kitchen.

It turns out the freakishly obsessive person who wrote the original email message is right. But they're still a fucking freak. Just get a grip! Why do some people have such a problem with perspective? If a few fucking bugs in your kitchen is your biggest problem, you're doing OK. We all give ourselves food poisoning now and then. Deal with it and move on. This reminded me of one of the stories that tabloid "current affairs" TV shows regurgitate every now and then.

A couple of times a year they run some variation on a story where an "expert" runs tests on things like public transport, stair railings and door handles to show there are germs all over everything and we are picking them up whenever we touch anything. Well, duh. Whenever I see one of these freakish people obsessing over the germs that saturate every surface, I can't help thinking they'd be a very weird sex partner.

"You want me to do what? Touch you where? Oh my god, you actually want me to put my mouth there? Do you have any idea how many germs that carries? I have no idea where it's been!"

Or at least that's the sort of thing I imagine.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

The voices tell me what to do

It's Sunday. I'm trying to think of what to do for my blog. I'm feeling a little... peculiar. Then the inevitable happens. I switch on the video camera.

The Revver URL for this video is

And what did the voices tell me? The told me another sign of the impending apocalypse.

Spread the Revver ad-included gospel:

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Help, they've stolen my creativity!

Anyone who's read this blog for a while will know that I've got a fairly liberal attitude towards content linking and re-use AND I've had some complete scumbag straight up steal my work and provide no credit back. The scumbags in question particularly pissed me off because they reproduced one of my posts in total, didn't even suggest it wasn't theirs and had a site full of ads. In other words, they were making money off my work and offering me nothing in return, not even a tip of the hat.

At the end of the day, I don't think it's worth losing too much sleep over the sort of prick who would do this. At this point in time, my biggest concern is getting my work seen. If someone manages to popularise my work while making it clear that it's my work I'll be happy even if they make money off it and don't share it with me. If they're better at publicity than me, that's how they're paying me. If they try and pretend my work is theirs (and therefore don't give me publicity) I'll be pissed off but it's still relatively easy to prove it's my work if they make it popular - after all they can't steal it until after I publish it.

This video put forward my case that people who are getting really uptight about (for example) their Flickr photos being used on other people's websites should calm the fuck down:

Of course you should feel free to distribute this video far and wide if you so choose. Here's the Revver URL:

I've been possessed by the spirit of Barry White

Which is to say, my voice is all deep and husky on account of this fucking chest cold. On the plus side, with my voice sounding like this, I could start a new career working on a phone sex line. I can't see it lasting though, I'd start off sounding all sexy and sultry then end up coughing up a lung.

On the plus side, I'm not really, really sick, just enough to have the life sucked out of me so I don't feel like doing anything. And my brain is so overworked simply maintaining basic bodily functions that it has no energy lift for actual thinking. Luckily I did another video yesterday before I started to feel this way. As soon as I edit it, I'll post it. Which might take a little while because right now I can't concentrate on anything for long before I uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.......

Friday, August 25, 2006

It's official - I'm on The Blogging Times!

Anyone who reads this blog regularly will know how fixated I am on world domination so I'm very pleased to announce that Phase Two has begun. After a whirlwind of high-powered meetings (involving a couple of emails saying "You wanna do this?" , "Yeah, sure.") my first video blog is up at The Blogging Times.

Here's the first of what will hopefully be many regular posts about the wonderful world of blogging and the internet:

This is shaping up to be fun. Getting involved at close to the ground floor with some clever and committed people makes the future look very interesting. And this is just the beginning, Howard says he has another venture I can get involved with as well. Woo! Step back Rupert Murdoch!

They've taken away Pluto!

How far can our lives be torn apart? If it isn't terrorist threats it's governments that would rather be monarchies. And if that isn't enough, these bastard scientists have taken Pluto away, shaking the very foundations of reality. I for one am not going to stand idly by and let them get away with this. I'm going to do a video blog about it - that'll teach them a lesson!

Here's the Revver URL for this video, spread it around and make me rich! Now dammit!

Mr Angry's Top 5 Tips for becoming the grownup who runs things

I thought it was time to follow up my earlier post on why IT people seem to hardly ever run IT companies or even the IT department. I'll start by repeating my original point, the biggest reason for this is that most IT people don't want to be in charge and for good reason. The passions and goals that drive a committed IT worker are not the same goals that drive someone who wants to rise to the top levels of management.

So there's the first lesson: in all probability, you're going to have to adjust your goals and passions in order to succeed and be happy as a manager. In fact, "adjust" is too mild a world. If you are a "hands on" IT worker with a real passion for the work you are doing, you are going to have to leave it behind completely. And I mean completely. There's no "keeping your hand in" by occasionally delving back into the nuts and bolts. As a manager it's your job to manage. Trying to get involved at the detail level is selling yourself short in terms of reaching your potential as a manager and more importantly, selling your team short in terms of what they need from a manager. Be sure that you want to make this change and be honest about whether you can leave your IT work behind, because if you don't enjoy being a manager, you won't be successful.

The next thing to do is make sure you understand the role of both management and IT from your company's perspective. Forget why you think IT is important, find out why the company thinks it's important. Techies are excited by IT for its own sake. Business are excited by the outcomes created by IT. So what outcomes is your company looking for? Is it simply to support business processes, to increase productivity, to reduce expenditure, to open up new market opportunities or some combination of these things? Work out how you can translate your knowledge and skills to serve these goals. Better yet, find a way that you can expand the benefits IT provides the company without limiting the existing goals. This change in mindset is fundamental if you're going to be a good manager.

The third thing you are going to have to do is make sure you are up to dealing with the level of interaction and communication required of a manager. Let's be honest, the reputation of IT people being introspective and having low people skills is not totally undeserved. This is not talking about "schmoozing" and socialising for its own sake, this is talking about developing the skills needed to successfully interact with other people both inside and outside IT circles. It isn't limited to learning how to talk to other people (although that's important) - you need to learn how to really listen to other people and respond to them in a way that lets them know you heard and understood them.

I wouldn't recommend a management course, most of the ones I've seen are a waste of time and money. The world doesn't need more MBAs, the world needs more people with genuine passion and real experience in their field of choice. Finding a way to develop these skills while staying in your job is the best way to go. Look for a mentor in the workplace - someone whose management style you respect and preferably someone who has influence within the company. If your company has an official mentor program, all the better. If not, make the approach yourself. Genuinely good managers are usually eager to help others develop (even if they're not your manager) and might even be flattered that you respect them enough to ask.

Another good strategy is to increase your confidence in expressing yourself in a context outside of the workplace. It may seem to have no relationship to moving up the management chain at work but you'd be amazed at how developing your confidence in one area spills over into other aspects of life, making you more confident and successful generally. Think about a public speaking group like Toastmasters. Maybe coach a sporting team. Hell, if you want to go crazy, try some standup comedy. Don't forget written communication. Try blogging regularly if you're not doing it already. Although don't make it a blog where you regularly spew forth your anger at the world generally and your workplace specifically. Then you'll have to make the blog anonymous. Trust me, you don't want your employer finding out about that aspect of your personality.

But if you're really driven to succeed and are sure you have exactly what it takes to succeed, here's the top tip for you: Do it yourself! Don't wait for the greyhairs to retire, don't fight your way through the corporate jungle, don't expend all your energies on workplace politics. Get out there and do it! The times have never been better for starting an IT business. With proper planning you can keep costs low and your reach is limited only by your imagination. Hell, there are people out there earning six figure incomes from blogging, imagine how well you could do if you were doing something that's actually worthwhile! Start a Micro-ISV, develop a product, sell your services or write a book. If there's something you can do better by yourself than you can inside the confines of a big company, don't let anyone stop you.

So to summarise, Mr Angry's top 5 tips for IT workers who want to run the show are:

  1. Shift your focus to management rather than being a hands-on techie
  2. Understand the company's view of management and IT
  3. Improve your communications skills - find a mentor
  4. Build up your confidence
  5. Do it yourself!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Coming apart at the seams

Oh god. I'm being held together by medication, adrenaline and several litres of cola today. This could charitably be called a bad combination and my body is doubtless planning its revenge on me right now. As soon as the veneer of functionality provided by these props dissipates I expect to lapse into a coma. Or maybe my brain will just leak out my ears. At the very least, this cold is going to set in and suck the life out of me.

Which is probably similar to how YouTube feels right now. It's hard to escape the feeling that YouTube is being held together with Blu-tac and wishful thinking because it's certainly been very shaky of late. I've worked in big banks and other corporations where people really lose their shit when systems go down but I imagine it's nothing compared to the sort of hysteria going on in the halls of YouTube right now. The weight of millions of users and the expectations of investors is a good recipe for causing a major scale freak-out. Right about now, the swearing is probably getting pretty creative. They would have used up "Shut the fuck up and leave me alone, I'm trying to fix the fucking thing you shithead" the last time the system went down.

Anyway, I'm coping by "working from home" today, AKA getting paid to sit around and surf the web. I made a big show of taking the Pensky File home from work yesterday afternoon because I could feel my ill-health building up. I told the boss I was taking it so I could work from home if I felt worse today. I haven't even looked at but I'll have to later on because I was supposed to have finished reviewing it by tomorrow and I don't think any George Costanza tricks will help me out. It all worked out extremely well because I was up really late preparing videos for The Blogging Times so I got to sleep in until 9.30 this morning. Then I was able to sort out some more issues with the videos that I wouldn't have been able to do if I was at work.

This work thing totally gets in the way of blogging. Anyway, as Bubble 2.0 heats up, I'm cashing in this time. I guess I get paid more than I ever imagined I would (I'm an internet thousandaire) but when I saw the money people were making in the dotcom bubble in the late 90's it really pissed me off that I wasn't making out like a bandit as well. This time I think I can see the signs so I'm jockeying for position. By all accounts we're unlikely to have a real bust again like in 2000/2001 but things are going to reach a peak and slow down.

By my reckoning, it's about 1998 right now. The hype is starting to build up. Some of the net phenomenons are starting to impinge on mainstream consciousness. The first really big deals have been done (MySpace is the new Netscape). Now the big money is starting to circle, wondering where they can cash in. Do they go for the obvious targets (will Apple buy YouTube?) or try to build up one of the small fish (Sony just bought Grouper)?

Working out a deal with The Blogging Times isn't going to make me rich in and of itself and that isn't why I'm excited about the possibility. Getting involved with some smart people who are really trying to push boundaries (TBT, Howard, Chartreuse) is where the action is. Even if no real money comes out of it, the scope of the adventure has me fired up.

Last time this sort of opportunity came up it sailed right by and I got nothin'! This time I reckon I can see the wave coming. I might be a shit surfer but I'm paddling for all I'm worth.

Insomnia-induced video madness

Some more videos for you today, a few things I was doing last night when I should have been sleeping. A little note as I post this (that will quickly become redundant) - YouTube has been having some weird problems for the last 24 hours or so. These videos may not work when you try them but they will eventually. Anyone who works in IT and knows YouTube have been performing "upgrades" will not be surprised there are problems. It seems every time you make changes to a major system to "improve" things you introduce a whole slew of problems that didn't exist before. Hopefully they'll get it sorted out soon.

This first one is a performance of one of my very early posts, all about how I'm going to open a restaurant called "No More Green Crap":

Here's the Revver URL for this video. Circulate it and make me rich! Ka-Ching! I've already made $3.45 and this is real US dollars - that makes me one of the highest paid entertainers in Australia!

This next one, to be honest is pretty fucked up. I kill a bunny and drink its blood. Consider yourself fairly warned - don't blame me if you watch it and end up permanently traumatised.

This is a YouTube specific video so it isn't on Revver. The issue about the screwed up way YouTube picks feature videos actually does piss me off quite a bit. This is important to a shallow attention whore like me because being featured means your video will be watched hundreds of thousands of times even if it sucks. Here's the YouTube URL if you want to share it around:

Anyone who has read the comments on my previous post will know the other big video news. Howard is interested in featuring Mr Angry videos on one of his ventures, The Blogging Times. That's right my blogrollers are not just beautiful, intelligent and talented, they are also bona fide goddam moguls! Next wave new media moguls anyway. Stay tuned for news of how this pans out.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Why everybody is wrong about Revver

Revver is moving closer to their 1.0 release which of course means I'm closer to being rich because all it takes is someone offering the possibility of money for me to automatically make a fortune, right? Well, probably not, but I'm getting more interested in the possibilities as Revver release more news. Those who are paying attention would remember that my recently published "Public Service Announcements" were inspired in part by the news Revver would be giving the opportunity to send videos to mobile devices.

The latest news that made me happy was that Revver would be hosting Flash versions of videos which I think is a major step forward because this was a significant hurdle to market penetration. I think Revver originally made the decision to host videos in QuickTime format because it's arguably higher quality but the marginal improvement in picture quality is a poor trade-off for losing usability. Simply put, not everyone has QuickTime but nearly everyone (98%+) has Flash. I, for one, can't watch QuickTime videos at work. A fact my workplace is undoubtedly extremely grateful for.

Also, I'm hoping the advent of Flash versions of Revver videos means Wordpress will support them. Wordpress are admirably cautious of the security implications of various types of embedded files but they came to a solution with YouTube. So pretty, pretty please Wordpress support folks - will you come up with a way to allow Revver videos to be added to blogs?

When I look at the coverage of Revver and what impact, if any, they will have on the online video market, the opinions seems to fall at one of two extremes of the spectrum. The biggest supporters say Revver will kill YouTube because Revver actually shares ad income while YouTube keeps it all. The biggest naysayers say Revver is simply too late to the game - YouTube has too much dominance and can't be overtaken.

Here's why they're both wrong:

Obviously, I'm keen for the idea of making money so I like that aspect of Revver but I think this will have a negligible impact on YouTube for two reasons. First, as I've stated before, the millions of people using YouTube now are doing it with no thought of being paid - not by YouTube anyway. They want the attention and they're getting it. People who don't understand the lure of attention for its own sake have never experienced it. Second, the vast majority of what's being posted and watched on YouTube simply won't work on Revver. Despite their talk of respecting copyright YouTube obviously doesn't give a shit because if you check out their "most viewed" page you'll see nearly all of it is either partly or wholly copyrighted material. So in other words, no matter what happens on Revver, it's likely to be business as usual for the majority of YouTube.

As to the folk who say Revver is simply too late, here's two reasons they're wrong. First, there seems to be this strange conceit in the IT world that they way things are today is the way things will always be. Tell that to Netscape and a dozen other IT companies who were top of the pile one day and crushed into the dirt the next. I personally think YouTube is going to be around for a while but saying they'll always be on top just because they are now and you can't imagine it any other way is unsupportable logically. Second, Revver doesn't need the teeming masses. It needs the best original videos that people really want to see. And paying people who are working hard to create original content is a damn good way to get them on your side.

Put simply, "eyeballs" are overrated. I thought people learned that in the dotcom bust. One million viewers who generate one million dollars in ad revenue are worth a lot more to you than one hundred million viewers who generate one million dollars. It costs a shitload for YouTube to host all their videos (they don't publicise exactly how much but I believe shitload is an accurate technical term) and it will be an ongoing challenge for them to manage costs. If Revver is able to generate better quality content to better quality viewers (i.e. a combination that results in proportionally more ad income) they will be winners.

The other interesting aspect of Revver's 1.0 launch is the new Terms of Service (ToS) I had to agree to. The intricacies of ToS for these types of sites got quite a bit of publicity recently when it was noted YouTube's ToS seemed to say "we own your shit and we'll do whatever we want with it and there's nothing you can do to stop us." YouTube clarified that all you have to do is take your videos down and all rights revert to you. Here's some gems from Revver's ToS:

"Although Revver will use reasonably commercial efforts to ensure Your Video Content is removed from the Revver Site within seventy-two (72) hours following termination, Revver shall have no obligation to remove any of Your Video Content that: (i) is otherwise publicly available through the Internet or other publicly accessible medium; or (ii) any of Your Video Content that has been re-distributed by Syndicators in the Revver Syndication Network or their end users"

This seems to be saying "Sure, we'll try to go along with what you want but if your video is out there in the wild on other sites, why should we give a shit?" I'm fine with this. Check out how keen they are to restrict "adult content" - all of the following are banned:

"d) any content which is intended to let users know that You have Adult Content materials, submissions, content or websites;
(e) any content which, because of the nature, images, music, tone or description appears to be designed solely to solicit sexual/adult talk or thoughts;
(f) any content that indicates that the author is engaging in sexually-oriented conduct or Adult Content;
(g) any content related to bestiality, rape, pornography, sex, incest, sex with graphic violence or degradation, excretory functions, bodily fluids, fisting and any other content, whether expressed or implied, which may be judged as obscene; and
(h) any content containing or referring to child pornography or suggestive of child sexuality, including references to "Lolita" or inclusion of images of or references to nude girls, boys, teens or children."

Well, I never liked Vladimir Nabakov so I'm OK with this. Although I can't be held responsible if the mere sight of my chiselled good looks inspires "sexual/adult talk or thoughts." And am I the only one who got a giggle out of the specific mention of "fisting". Really? Just me? Sorry. It's interesting how far they are going as there are rumours that Google Video are preparing specifically for adult content. Also, the restrictions on suggesting you are involved in adult content elsewhere would shut out some YouTubers who use "suggestive" videos to promote their porn websites elsewhere.

But seriously, Revver, if you want to get popular, run the "community" aspect well. Make it easy to interact with viewers, add comments to videos, subscribe to videos. YouTube's growth is due in no small part to this aspect but their handling of video comments is woeful. Seriously, it's absolutely shit. Just build the level of functionality that a blog has. Or even simply the ability to have a coherent threaded conversation that existed in Usenet in the 80s. It can't be that hard.

If you do this better than YouTube, that's how you'll kick their arse.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Smelling like a tart's hankie

The title of this post is paraphrasing a line uttered by Sean Connery in the James Bond film "Diamonds are Forever". It's all tied up with the gay assassins who were trying to kill him favouring an apparently tacky cologne. I bring it up now because I've been assaulted by the automatic deodoriser in the toilets at my workplace.

Like many workplaces, the toilets here feature a stink-reduction machine that sends out a spray of deodoriser at regular intervals. This is fine in principle (who wants to be subjected to the smell of stale shit?) but several aspects of the implementation are less than perfect. The most common thing I have noticed in these machines is how bad the perfume used smells. While it's arguably better than human waste, it's still pretty awful. Not that I've spent a lot of time in cheap brothels but this to me is the archetypal cheap brothel smell. I only go to expensive high-class brothels.

The second problem with this deodoriser is its location. It's right above the sinks where you wash you hands (regular readers will know how important I think it is to wash your hands) and it's far too close to where you stand. So much so that it sprays the perfume directly on you if you are standing there when it has one of its regular stench eruptions. I made this even worse by timing my turn away from the sink so that I was facing directly into it when it sprayed.

So I staggered away from the sink, hardly able to breathe because I'd inhaled the spray and almost blind because it hit me in the eyes. I stumbled out the door rubbing my eyes and swearing, almost bumping into a cow-orker which resulted in the following conversation:

Cow-orker: What's the matter with you?

Me: I got spray on me

Cow-orker: You should be more careful, at least you're wearing dark trousers.

Me: No, not my pants, it got in my eyes.

Cow-orker: What the hell were you doing in there?

Me: No, I was at the sink and did it.

Cow-orker: WHAT?

Suffice to say, the conversation degenerated at this point. For some reason, it's impossible to rescue the situation once you mention getting spray on you in the toilets.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Angry Public Service Announcements

So here's the next stage in my plan to be professionally angry. The inspiration for this comes from Dragonlady and Sandra telling me to video myself pranking my friend who did the annoying call six times without leaving a message. Then I thought of Revver's promise to deliver videos to mobile platforms and pay the creators. I combined the two and came up with this.

These Public Service Announcements are made to educate idiots who can't use mobile phones properly. Send these to morons (anonymously if you like) to give them the idea of what they're doing wrong.

This first one is for the repeat callers with no messages. This is the family-friendly version.

Here's the Revver URL for this video:
Send it around and make me rich.

Here's the potty-mouth version of the same PSA - to let people know when you're really pissed off.

Here's the Revver URL:

This PSA is aimed at those loudmouth idiots who have conversations on their mobile phone in public places at the top of their lungs. Send them this message and let them know you want them to shut the fuck up.

Revver URL:

The fourth in this series of PSAs is for people who leave their mobile at their desk when they go somewhere. Then the rest of us have the constant annoyance of their phone ringing and not being answered. Send them this message to let them know how you feel.

Here's the Revver URL:

Make me rich. Or I'll come looking for you.

Why programmers need grown-ups to run things for them

The rather inflammatory title of this post is in response to a question I have been asked many times over the years and, indeed, I have asked it myself on many occasions. Why is it so often the case that companies that are either all about IT or heavily dependent on IT are not run by IT people? Folk in the IT trenches see IT decisions being made or directed by suits who clearly have a limited understanding of IT issues. By many, many measures the suits are less intelligent that the IT workers. In many cases the suits have less industry experience than the IT workers. So what logical reason could there be for the business not being run by IT?

First, it's worthwhile to note that not all IT workers have the same view of this question. There are some who do in fact want to run the company. I think the sensible majority have no significant interest in management roles. They didn't start working in IT to become managers, they'd much prefer to stay in the area of work that interests them. But even this group tends to ask the question, "Why don't I get to make all the decisions about my work?" Why do all these damn business analysts, designers, project managers and goddam USERS get in the way?

Let's get one unpleasant fact out of the way: most IT people simply aren't suited to make strategic decisions about the development of IT projects or applications. Good IT people are very good at executing IT applications or developing innovative and useful programs but these are very different skills to the strategic aspects of making a business work as a profitable venture. The fact that many IT people can't see this is the central problem. How do you solve a problem if you can't clearly see or articulate what the problem is?

I have lost count of the times that a programmer has coded something that executed perfectly but did not come close to serving the needs of the business. The programmer can't see the problem because the application "works" and the business has yet another (unfair and inaccurate) story to tell about how useless the IT department is. A couple of anecdotes from my past to illustrate this concept:

One day, someone decided to organise an office pool for a high-value Lotto draw. A conversation developed around whether it was better value to get a lot of standard tickets or one expensive "systems" ticket. I analysed the problem with a typical business analyst approach: what is the problem and how do we measure success? It proved fairly easy to do a cost/benefit analysis - work out the relative probability of winning with each ticket type and compare that to the relative costs.

To win this particular Lotto variant you had to pick all 6 numbers that would be drawn out of 40 numbers in total. A standard ticket let you pick 6 numbers so you had to get all 6 right. The probability of this is 6/40 x 5/39 x 4/38 x 3/37 x 2/36 x 1/35 (if you're not a maths nerd, this translates as close enough to no fucking chance at all.) The Systems 9 ticket lets you pick 9 numbers which gives a winning probability of 9/40 x 8/39 x 7/38 x 6/37 x 5/36 x 4/35. This is a much higher probability than a standard ticket but it still aint gonna happen. But on strict cost/benefit analysis the System 9 gave you more chances for your money.

This should have ended the discussions but one of the programmers who was a hardcore maths nerd and not very good with people skills got involved. He went into some really complex mathematics that was meant to prove I don't know what. It was something along the lines of calculating the number of variations in numbers possible. His conclusion was that the standard tickets were better because you could select a wider variation of numbers. The thing is, I'm pretty certain his equation was absolutely right - it simply wasn't answering the question being asked. And he really didn't cope well with having this pointed out.

Me: That isn't relevant to what we are talking about Kim.

Kim: But I just proved... (long technical explanation I didn't understand at the time and don't remember now.)

Me: That may well be true but it wasn't what we were asking.

Kim: But I just proved... (same theorem but stated in a louder voice.)

Me: Kim, saying the exact same thing in a louder voice doesn't make it suddenly right.

To which Kim responded by repeating the same points over again except this time (you guessed it) louder still. Kim had maths skills at the post-graduate level and interpersonal skills at the kindergarten level.

Another, shorter anecdote: On my first day in a new role I was sitting down with a project manager to discuss the project I would be working on. This was a pure IT company, it even had bona fide Internet millionaires (a rarity in Australia). This particular PM was a programmer in the early days of the company and a friend of the founder. He had been promoted to management because he had been there longer than most, not because he had any management skills. His first line to me was:

"No offence, but I've never seen the point of Business Analysts."

Why is it that when someone starts a sentence with "no offence, but..." the sentence is always going to end with something really offensive? You may not be surprised to learn that this company burned through many millions of dollars over the next year before being acquired by a service company that replaced the entire management team. For my part, I worked with the development team over a period of 3 months to take an eCommerce application that had been lingering in limbo for 2 years to a working beta release including all system and user documentation. That, my friend, is the point of Business Analysts.

So at the end of the day, companies are rarely run by IT people because very few IT people are suited to the job. Most simply don't want to do it and most of those who want to aren't very good at it. Fortunately, there are signs this is getting better. The trend towards keeping IT companies small (known as Micro Independent Software Vendors - Micros ISVs) is keeping the development of both the company and the products in the hands of people with a real passion to get quality results. This would be my ultimate advice to IT people who think they are the grown-ups and are the best ones to run the company. Don't waste your time trying to climb to the top of Megacorp. Get out there and do it yourself - start your own company.

Prove the bastards wrong.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

How to make yourself angry

Most of the time, my posts on this blog are detailing how the rest of the world pisses me off. Sometimes, however, I have to admit I'm my own worst enemy. Like last night for instance. It being Saturday I decided I had no need to rush with my daily blog post. I wrote half of it in the afternoon and saved it as a draft. I had agreed to babysit on Saturday night and my plan was to finish the post after the little ones had gone to bed.

The slight twist to the plan was that I wasn't babysitting in my own place. I didn't think this would be an issues as there was a computer and internet connection where I was babysitting. But not my computer. On my computer, I have saved my login details on both Blogger and Wordpress so I don't have to enter my user name and password each time I go to the sites. Which means I don't have to remember what they are.

Which mean, when push came to shove I couldn't remember what they were. If I could have gone home this wouldn't have been an issue but of course I couldn't go home because I was looking after sleeping children (all the same I seriously considered it.) For a full hour I was agonising over all my usual permutations for user names and passwords. I do have some "standard" combinations but I decided a while ago it was unwise to use the same combinations for all my web services. All it would take is one slip on my part or one malicious employee at one of the services to unravel my whole world.

Pat on the back for me: I have good security protocols.

Kick in the nuts for me: I should have some way of remembering the dozen or so logins I have.

Well obviously the story had a happy ending, I got my daily update posted and maintained my record of not missing a day since the start of the blog. Right when I was about to give up I remembered I had started using Blogger before I started the Mr Angry blog and the user name related to that first, short-lived blog, not Mr Angry.

You might think I'm angry most of the time, but if anybody in the street made me as angry as I made myself last night, I'd kick their fucking teeth in.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Revver is coming out of beta

I received an interesting email the other day from the folks at Revver announcing they were planning to come out of Beta and launch Version 1.0 soon. This could be big news for the Angry Alliance, mainly because Revver opens up the possibilities for getting paid. And getting paid would make it far easier to spend more time on the growing the Angry Alliance.

The promises from the Revver team included that the upgrade to the service will make it easier to "syndicate and share" videos. I'm hoping this means they are changing the site to make it more community oriented and easier to interact with other users and viewers. Because this is an area where Revver is sorely lacking at the moment. When you start with YouTube, it's pretty easy to see how to respond to videos, interact with other users and promote your own videos. Revver (Beta) has gone for the stereotype Web 2.0 clean interface. It looks very slick and spartan but it isn't any help with working out how to get your videos seen.

The angle Revver always trumpets is that you can get paid for your videos. Revver shares ad revenue whereas YouTube keeps it all to themselves. This line is being increasingly focused on in media reports as well. There's a constant suggestion the YouTube is perhaps exploiting its users and profiting from all the videos uploaded without sharing the wealth. This makes some sense on the surface but it really is missing the central point.

All those millions of videos were uploaded to YouTube with no expectation of being paid in return. That mountain of creativity was born out of people's desire to be seen and recognised. And YouTube has provided that in spades. Millions of views daily. Thousands of subscribers to the most popular YT "celebrities". In simple terms, this is what people want and are getting from YouTube.

I have no idea what Revver's business plan is, but I hope for their sake it isn't competing with YouTube on numbers. I'll take a wild guess and say this isn't their plan because they don't need all of the YouTube contributors to migrate to their service.

They just need the best ones.

They already have ZeFrank (the gold standard for video bloggers). And when it comes down to it the vast majority (90+) of highly viewed videos that were loaded on YouTube with no serious hope of remuneration simply can't make the leap to an environment where they can make money. The reason for this is they are based largely or in many cases solely on other peoples work. Look at the "most viewed" listing on YouTube and nearly all of them are straight out clips from other shows, music videos or people dancing to someone else's music.

And you can't make money from someone else's copyrighted material. You may have some talent and I'm not about to argue in favour of the insanely restrictive copyright laws inflicted on the majority world but the person who own the music you dance to is going to get paid a long time before you get paid for the video of you dancing in your bedroom. But for people like ZeFrank who are producing truly original work that sponsors are willing to place their ads on, the future is looking interesting.

Revver are starting to announce the sort of deals that could well attract others looking to make their vlog hobby more professional in the dictionary sense of the word. The most interesting deal they have already signed is with - probably unheard of outside Australia but the home of the most trafficked websites in Australia. It's an alliance between the dominant commercial network in Australia, Channel Nine, and MSN. Its reach is increased by the fact Channel Nine is controlled by the Packer family company Consolidated Press - owners of several high profile magazines and newspapers.

The most interesting possible deal they have floated is for delivering videos to mobile platforms, mainly phones. This is really the perfect medium for the standard lo-res 3-5 minute vlog. And if you develop the sort of work that people want to pass on to their friends, mobile phones could be a significant cash cow. God knows the phone companies are looking for things to convince their users to use high bandwidth applications on their mobiles.

So we're at a crossroads. YouTube is the undisputed king of eyeballs. But Revver just possibly has a viable long-term business model for both themselves and their performers. There are a few other things to explore on this topic. Revver have some very interesting points in the terms of service they have released for version 1.0 (I actually read the TOS before clicking "I agree" for the first time in my life). And at the end of the day, performers getting paid by the company that hosts their videos may have nothing to do with who wins. More on this later.

We live in interesting times. You might yet get yourself a fully-professional full-time blogging and vlogging Mr Angry.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Mr Angry provides some additional phone etiquette

I know I put forth my rules recently for mobile phone use but I have to put forward one more after the appalling episode I was subjected to today. I was in a fairly important meeting this afternoon that involved my boss, my boss's boss and an outside party so I was on my best behaviour. I had my phone set to vibrate so I'd know if I had a call to follow up without disrupting the meeting.

Sure enough, nobody had called me all day but halfway through the meeting my phone started to vibrate. No worries I thought. A little bit later I felt the secondary vibration which meant the caller had left a voice mail. All well and good. Then ten minutes later the phone vibrated again. I snuck a look at the display but there was no caller ID. I let it go.

Ten minutes later it vibrated again. I checked and still no caller ID. I was starting to get a little nervous. What was so important that somebody had to keep ringing after leaving a voicemail? Over the next hour (the fucking meeting was really dragging on) six calls came in. By the end of the meeting I almost ran out the door so I could check the voicemail. I had to wait a while longer while we did the polite goodbyes but finally I got to check the message.

Except there was no message. There was a few seconds of silence before the caller hung up. By this time it had been about 20 minutes since the last call. I thought if I started making calls to try and find out who it was, Murphy's Law would kick in and the person would call back and I'd miss the call. I waited ten more minutes then started calling. I started working my way through the most likely numbers, mostly family, but nobody called me.

I called a friend I had been talking to earlier in the day to see if he had called back. When I asked if he had been calling he said no. I explained all the calls and how I was trying to track down who it was. Then he said:

"Actually it was me, I was joking when I said it wasn't."

Me: "What?"

Idiot So-Called Friend: "Yeah, it was me calling."

Me: "Six times in an hour?"

IS-CF: "Yeah."

Me: "Why?"

IS-CF: "I wanted to tell you about how my date went last night."

At this point I decided to take a few deep breaths. He was a friend, after all. So I chose my words carefully:

"What the fuck were you thinking calling that many times? I though someone was dead! That's the only reason anyone with a brain would be so insistent with calls. Just leave a fucking message next time. I swear to god, I'm coming around to your place to beat you to death with your fucking phone!"

So that's my etiquette lesson for today. When you reach someone's voice mail or answering machine, LEAVE A FUCKING MESSAGE!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Can you get jet lagged on a 40 minute flight?

Ohhhhh. I'm too screwed up at the moment to work up much of a head of anger. I had to fly to Canberra and back today, it's only 40 minutes each way but it wasn't a flight for the easily scared. There was turbulence. Not really bad turbulence but enough to bring home the message that you are defying the laws of nature, yay verily the will of god, as you hurtle through the sky in a tin tube.

You don't have to be overly paranoid to start questioning the wisdom of flying as the plane shakes and shudders around you.

So no quality writing for you here today. Instead I point you to some other quality writing. I'm a big fan of everyone in my blogroll but I want to specifically mention a few people who are writing some quality fiction on their blogs. I've had the intention for quite a while to use a blog as a platform for fiction (not this one - I was thinking of a fictional MySpace persona) but the Mr Angry blog and videos have sorta taken over my life right now.

Curse this need I have for material things like food and clothing. If I didn't need these thing I could quit my day job and blog full time. Ah well. Without further ado, I present the following links for your reading pleasure:

Tom has a time travel story that's bound to mess with your brain: Time Zone - a time travel exploration.

Range has a SF story speculating on a transhuman future: Galactic Rim

And for a change of piece try Maliha's story collection that she has recently renamed Soulful Fiction.

That's enough to keep you reading for a few days and thinking for long after that.

More evidence of the Apocalypse

Well, I'm off to Canberra today for a business trip. For those who don't know Australian geography, it's like going from somewhere you like to... somewhere really shit. This means my daily post will be later than usual but I leave you with this video I made last night. I'm in a bit of an Armageddon mood at the moment, here's more evidence:

The URL for this video is

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

When a ticket for the cluetrain isn't enough

Today's addition to the list of people who piss me off and are going to pay the price one day is Australia's Channel 10. These morons are a classic example of why the majority of existing media entities are living on borrowed time. I was going to say they have no idea what the future is bringing but these clueless fuckwits have no idea about the world today.

Their latest bit of stupidity that has pushed me over the edge is that they have decided to run season 2 of the mind-bendingly fantastic Battlestar Galactica a year after in ran in the US. It pisses me off enough that they waited this long to run it but they are screening this first-run series that has a fanatical fan base at 11pm. With no advertising.

So in a world where you can download episodes legally from the SciFi channel website, download them illegally from the various P2P services and buy the DVD from international websites, these fuckwits make this mind-numbingly stupid decision. And then they wonder why people are downloading pirated material from the net. Listen, you idiots: the days when you can treat your audience like shit are rapidly disappearing. You are no longer the only source of information and entertainment. For younger generations you are not even the primary source. You have massive resources at your disposal and if you would only learn how to use them properly you could build a new future for yourself.

What do you need to make you wake up? Do you need a clock on the wall counting down the hours until all the baby boomers are dead? That's about the time you have left to dominate the media landscape. I try to refrain from talking about the net and "user generated content" taking over the world because most of the cheerleaders of this movement are, quite frankly, delusional. But when major media group make a succession of stupid decisions it's hard not to see the writing on the wall.

Personally, I bought the BSG Season 2.0 DVD on Amazon about 6 months ago even though this is technically illegal because of stupid fucking laws that don't make any fucking sense. Why the fuck should buying the DVD be illegal? To protect Channel 10? I'm not staying up until 11pm just to watch a TV show. The producers etc. of the original show all got their money from me so fuck Channel 10. Can you tell yet how pissed off I am?

Another thing these morons at Channel 10 do that pisses me off is they refuse to allow the cable service, Foxtel, to include their programme schedule on Foxtel's digital programme guide. So when I flick through the 50-odd Foxtel channels to see what's on, I get a blank on Channel 10. I can watch the channel but I can't see what's coming up. I have no idea why these fuckwits do this (Channel 7 does it too). I can only assume they have some sort of idea that by limiting the utility of Foxtel, they are protecting their own interests.

Well, geniuses, the practical result is I never fucking watch your channel because I never fucking know what's on. And yes, paper based TV guides are too much trouble. Why the fuck should I indulge your stupid attitude? Channel 10 actually screens some of the best shows on commercial television but I never see them any more. This is a slow drawn-out suicide. Someone should put these clueless idiots out of their misery.

And to hell with buying them a ticket for the Cluetrain. That's too subtle for these idiots. I'm going around with the Clue Sledgehammer (tm) to pound some sense into their thick fucking skulls.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Signs the Apocalypse is coming

I don't know if you've noticed but there's a lot of chatter these days about the apocalypse. Many people are looking at trouble in the middle east thinking that we could be seeing the beginning of the end of days. Some people consider this with trepidation, scarily enough others can't wait for Armageddon because in their mind it will be followed by the rapture. Even more scary, it's hard to escape the feeling that the mood in the Whitehouse might be leaning towards "Yay, apocalypse! This rocks!"

Whether people are looking forward to judgement day or not, there's a lot of conjecture around where to find definitive signs. I'll tell you where conclusive evidence of impending Armageddon can be found:

In the supermarkets.

There are all sorts of things in supermarkets these days. Many useful, many bizarre. Before I tell you the definitive sign I saw, a little explanation. For those who have never heard of "bubble and squeak" this is a rather odd English term for what is essentially leftovers. The basic recipe is you mix up whatever bits of food you have left over with some egg and re-cook that to make another meal. The other day in the supermarket I saw...

Frozen bubble and squeak.

That's right, no longer is it enough to provide frozen meals for people who don't have the time to cook. Now we have frozen leftovers for people to lazy to eat a meal and save their own leftovers. I can't think of a better indicator that society is doomed.

Any god that would allow the existence of frozen bubble and squeak has abandoned his people. The end of days is upon us.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Japanese Country and Western Busker in Melbourne

So here's the Japanese busker I saw on the weekend while I was shooting my Melbourne video postcards. He doesn't do thing by half measures - cowboy hat, slide guitar and southern US accent when he sings. He even throws in some bars of "Waltzing Matilda" for the local audience.

I had a flyer from this guy so I could tell you a bit about him but I lost it. Never fear, YouTube to the rescue. This guy is all over YouTube, his name is George Kamikawa (apparently). If you follow the URL this video on YouTube you can find more videos of him (if that seems like a good idea to you) all shot at basically the same spot but he's doing a few different songs. On of the other YTers calls him a Blues Busker - maybe that's more accurate. The URL is:

Melbourne Video Postcard (part two)

Well, I got lots of positive feedback both here and on YouTube so here's a second video postcard from Melbourne - featuring more of Port Philip Bay, central Melbourne and some more street art. I also say hello to a popular Tasmanian YouTuber Blunty3000. Look closely and you'll see him wave.

I'll post the Japanese country & western busker later.

Recycling gone too far

My current workplace is, to put it simply, mad for the recycling. This is something everybody should be more active in but I've never seen a workplace embrace the principles of recycling so wholeheartedly. It's not done in a hippie way (and I've worked at Lonely Planet, so I know the hippie way) but in a totally pragmatic way. And it's also done very comprehensively.

We are way beyond recycling bins here. Along with that, we have rainwater tanks on site and the collected rainwater is used to flush toilets. The men's toilets have these new-fangled waterless urinals (this probably won't mean anything to female readers but male readers will recognise how unusual it is). All printing and copying is done double sided to save paper. This obviously saves a lot of paper and while the focus here is on environmental reasons for doing it, I think all businesses should do it simply as a cost saving measure. The first big business I heard was doing this was the Westpac Bank back in the 90s. They did it purely to cut costs and saved a fortune.

There are a lot of "message" posters about encouraging recycling, most of which are fucking stupid and sometimes downright embarrassing ("Print an email or save a rainforest?") Although one of them actually made me laugh. It features a cartoon of people around a meeting table with the manager saying: "War and Peace, The Sunday Times, even the Bible are all printed double sided. But Bob's report... Bob's report is sooooo important he just had to print it single sided."

The recycling committee decided to kick it up a notch recently and introduce food waste bins and this is where I think they've gone too far. I think composting food waste instead of sending it to landfill is an excellent idea but I'm very suspicious of this initiative. There's two things I don't like: one, they've gone to the trouble of pointing out that all food produced in the canteen can go into the food waste bin. The second, and far more disturbing, thing is that these bins have a tap on the bottom. Why the fuck do "waste" bins have a tap on the bottom that looks like a dispenser?

Just how many times are they planning to recycle the canteen food?

Maybe I'm the suspicious type but they seem to be serving a lot of soups and indistinct looking stews in the canteen since these bins were introduced. I'm bringing in my own food until someone can convince me that I haven't seen the "Chef's Surprise" before.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Video Sunday

I've been out and about today making a video postcard of Melbourne so I haven't had time to do a very long written blog post essentially, this is it. But I do have a few videos for you.

The first one was done in response to the news about the terrorist plot that was thwarted by British police. After seeing some of the coverage I was pissed off not just at the dickheads who think murder somehow makes them more holy but also at what seems like some really stupid responses to "security" at airports.

I actually did two versions of this because when I finished the first one I thought it was a bit flat and even depressing. Fortunately, Sandra was online at the time and after a few emails back and forth I had the inspiration to fix it up. And special thanks to Sandra for making me spurt drink out my nose with the joke: "Take away liquids at the airport and they'll still find a way, they'll insert it beforehand mixed with Preparation H. Now that would be an explosive bowel movement."

The URL for this video is - if you're really interested you can check out the original version on YouTube as well.

This next one is a video postcard. Not angry at all really. It's a shout out to the haters who think that saying I don't have a life will actually upset me. I suppose everyone else might be interested in seeing a little bit of Melbourne and who knows, you might get a bit more insight into my life. And you get to see outside the room I usually shoot videos in.

The URL for this video is

Don't forget to let me know if you want to see the Japanese country and western busker.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Mr Angry's rules for handling wrong numbers

Inspired by a recent post from Michelle on MutantKat, I decided to share with you several of my experiences with wrong numbers and some Mr Angry rules to help you deal with them in the future.

As a general rule when I get a wrong number I make sure to ask them what number they were calling. I don't tell them my number (there are too many freaks in the world - you never know what's going to encourage them to call you back) but I make sure to ask them what number they were calling. This is important because they may actually have your number and will simply ring back (they wrote it down wrong or something). Other times they will have simply misdialled and you can let them know so they call the right number.

This works two ways - if you dial a wrong number don't just hang up. Make sure you sort out why you got a wrong number. I fucking hate it when people hang up without saying anything.

Mind you, clarifying the nature of the wrong number can have some unexpected side effects. One time a guy called my mobile asking for "Cheryl". I checked what number he had and it was my actual number. I told him I'd had this number for years and I'd never heard of Cheryl. He sounded disappointed. Then I said maybe he wrote the number down wrong. He sounded pissed off and said "She wrote the number down, I didn't get it wrong." I thought yeah, whatever and hung up.

Call me slow, but it took me a minute to realise that what had obviously happened. This bloke had tried his best chat-up lines at some bar and thought he'd scored when "Cheryl" gave him "her" number. Pity she gave him a fake number. Sucks to be a loser.

So as you can see, I'm usually quite reasonable about wrong numbers. There was one time when I wasn't so tolerant. A few years ago, my home number was one digit different to a nearby hotel so I would get a lot of wrong number calls looking for the hotel. I don't know what sort of clientele this place attracted but one thing about them was they tended to want to book in during the wee hours of the morning. This resulted in periodic awakenings.

I don't know about you, but if my phone rings at 3am I assume it means someone's dead so I always answer. Most of the time I was pretty reasonable but one night this same guy kept calling. The first I said wrong number - I checked with him and he had the right number but he'd mis-dialed it. The second time a said a bit more slowly and clearly (the guy's English was quite limited) this is a private home, not a hotel, it's the middle of the night, please take more care when you dial the number. The third time I screamed down the line JESUS FUCKING CHRIST IT'S THREE FUCKING AM WILL YOU STOP CALLING THIS NUMBER YOU FUCKING MORON!

He called again.

So I answered in a different voice and said yes this is the such-and-such hotel. He asked if he was able to check in. I said no. He said is it too late? I said no, but you sound foreign and frankly we don't want your type here. He got angry. I said several rather crude things that questioned his parentage. He screamed don't say things about my mother. I said several more rather mean things that impugned his mother's personal hygiene. He threatened me. I said, oh yeah? Come down here and try it big man.

I don't know what happened after that but I didn't get any more phone calls.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Mr Angry is Decimated

Another of my older posts converted to a video (so you're not missing out OK Maliha? You would have read this one before.) Sometimes I find life is easier if I get angry over the little things rather than the big things. This video also features the making of another new t-shirt.

And remember, I'm not pedantic - I'm right.

Happy Bicentenary to me - 200 posts and counting!

An introductory note: all the numbers in this post refer to my Wordpress blog. I maintain this blog as a backup and it contains almost identical material but if you want to join the party, all the action is over at Wordpress.

Yes, you read right viewers, I passed 200 posts. On the grand scale of things this is pretty insignificant but as I've never attempted anything like this before I like to mark the milestones. And I also get to celebrate at my little party for myself with the highest number of hits in a single day and more than 40,000 total site hits. Although it wasn't planned, my post from yesterday about meetings resulted in around 1700 hits to the blog and is still going strong. Again, not huge compared to the real movers and shakers but a record for me.

There are three things that keep me going on this blog. One is my original reason for starting this blog - to practice my creative writing regularly and improve it. Writing is like any other skill - practice it and you will get better. Number two is my developing obsession with numbers. I really look forward to passing each milestone both with the blog and other mediums (over 30,000 video views on YouTube and I've reached the rank of 35,000 in Technorati). I had no idea I was so competitive but a little success has left me hungry for more.

Number three, and probably the strongest motivator, is the interaction with readers via comments here and on their own blogs. I feel like my horizons have broadened so much in the last six months that I can forgive the internet generally and blogs specifically for all their shortcomings (and there is a lot about both that sucks). I've railed frequently about the haters you have to deal with online but they count for nothing next to the positive bonds you can build with other people in an online community.

Which brings me to an apology. I feel totally slack for my inability to keep up with everyone's blogs. This is an unfortunate product of my self-obsession. I am dedicating so much time to this blog - on average my more involved posts take about two hours to put together and each video takes a couple of hours to produce as well - that I feel like I neglect other forms of contact with my readers. So... Sorry. At the moment, I don't seem to have enough hours in the day to fit in my day job AND my blog AND my videos AND everyone else I want to keep up with. I need to either win lotto or find a way to make blogging my day job.

Looking back at my 100th post I found it interesting that I was speculating on broadening my blog by branching out into podcasting. Since then I've done about 40 videos so I'm quite happy with how I've followed through on that goal. That leads me to think I should state some big, fat, hairy, audacious goal in this post in the hope I reach it just as successfully. I think I'll stick to something a bit more realistic.

My pledge in this post is that I will definitely start doing live standup performances as Mr Angry. As much as possible I will be videoing any performances and posting them so you will be able to see how I'm going no matter where you are. So that's it, in post number 300 I will be evaluating how well my standup career is going.

I hope you can all stay on board for a wild ride.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

An Angry Book Review

I am very excited to bring to you the best kid's book ever written. It's so good, I felt compelled to bring you this review:

The author has written a series book about emotions including "When I'm Feeling Happy." That one's crap. Who the hell needs a book to tell them it feels good to be happy? Books about anger - we all need that.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Some video goodness

It's time for something new and exciting I've never done before... TWO videos in one post. These are more YouTube-y than bloggy if that makes any sense. They are both "response" videos - me continuing to try and ride on the coat tails of someone else's popularity.

The first one is applicable to all teenage girls wondering what their parents might want to say to a boy who is hanging around. It's from a dad's perspective, me being a dad and all, but I think it's applicable to all parents. This one goes out to you Happychick ;)

The URL for this video is:

The next one is an attempt to answer the deceptively complex question "who are you?" If you are particularly interested, follow the URL back to YouTube and check out the original video by a user who calls himself Renetto. Last I checked he had over 100 video responses to his question which is, I'm pretty sure, unprecedented for YouTube. A popular video would usually get about 10 responses if they were lucky.

I don't think I reveal any secrets that regular readers of this blog wouldn't already know but you never know. Watch it and you might learn something new about me.

The URL for this video is:

Things I promise to never do in a meeting

One of the things I like about working as a Business Analyst is that, in the right environment, there is quite a bit of variation in the actual work I do. So much so, that when people ask me "what does a BA do?" my usual answer is "it depends on who's hiring me." Depending on the nature of the contract, I might be involved in some early stage requirements gathering, researching options for new software or a website, putting together a tender, writing up Business Requirements and/or Functional Specifications or maybe coming in towards the end of a project to write user documentation and/or help with implementation.

One of the things I am often called on to do is run workshops or meetings to work with users to develop business requirements. The internet is a wealth of information for running effective meetings (Google is my co-pilot) and I frequently search out new ideas. My current contract was no exception so when I was planning some meetings I looked online for some ideas on how to structure the sessions.

I found one particular guide on a number of UK government websites. It seemed aimed more at community groups than corporate bodies but there were some useful tips. The full guide ran to about 10 pages and as I worked my way through it I started to notice something a little odd about the tone that was developing.

It seemed to have been written by a passive-aggressive hippy.

There was a lot of the expected touchy-feely, positive atmosphere, support everyone vibe. But every now and then I think the author let a little more of their inner psyche show than they intended. There were recurring warnings about trouble makers ("watch body language", "Note digressions and remind members to stay on task", "Guide members who speak a great deal to be briefer"). And every time the author gave a suggestion for what to say to a troublemaker, the comment was always directed at a female. I'm sure the author would say they were simply being gender inclusive but I couldn't help thinking there might be some... issues behind this.

Then we come to the part that made me really think the author was a hippy: make everything FUN! This isn't a completely terrible idea but it ended up getting more than a little overdone. Apparently, if you start each meeting with something fun, people will come on time because they don’t want to miss the fun part of the meeting. Silly me, I try to make meeting relevant and concise to encourage people to come. This advice was followed up with some real doozies. The "ideas for launches and fun" went like this:

  • Sing your name and have the group sing it back to you.

I stared at this suggestion for a full minute. Seriously. If I ever do this in a meeting, someone stab me in the eye, please. Because I'll sure as hell do it to anyone who sings their name at me.

  • Break into small groups and do a mime skit about an agenda item.

Oh my god. All I could think of was that the group would be more likely to be plotting ways to murder the meeting presenter.

  • Become someone else, mime it and have people guess.

"You're a moron." "You're an escapee from a mental institution." "No, I've got it, you're a brain damaged weasel."

  • Sing and dance the song, the hokey pokey

Personally, I'd start a conga line right out the door at this point.

  • Do a weather report on how you are feeling. "Sunny and warm. Cloudy with chance of grumpiness..."

I am a tornado. You are a trailer park.

  • Dress up in costume and make a story about the history of an agenda item.

What the hell? If I get a meeting request asking me to bring along a costume, I'm staying the hell away.

  • Have everyone write their middle name on a piece of paper then try to guess what name belongs to whom.

I would conspire with the others so that everyone wrote "dildo" and then every time we'd guess it was the presenter's middle name.

  • Have everyone write something about themselves nobody knows then try and guess who wrote what.

Again, I would conspire with the group. This time we would all write "I'm going to kill the presenter before the end of the meeting."

So much for fun. Another good piece of advice was "praise people twice as much as you criticise them." My previous, obviously misguided, strategy was to not criticise people at all if I could avoid it but with this advice under my belt I was free to go "Excellent point Bob, thanks for sharing... Wonderfully illustrated Bob, thanks for that... Shut the hell up Bob, you're a moron."

If anyone is looking for serious advice on running meetings, here's mine. Plan it out. Know what you need to achieve. Set an agenda and stick to it. Make sure everyone attending knows ahead of time what's expected from them and what you're aiming to get out of the meeting. There are times when you need to get creative to keep people engaged, particularly with longer sessions (anything over two hours needs serious planning and some variety). But whenever possible, keep it simple. Cut the bullshit and people will thank you for it.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Angry with real estate agents

I keep this blog pseudo-anonymous for all sorts of reasons, mostly so it doesn't have an undue effect on my day to day life. I'm thinking of changing this policy and actively advertising the nature of my blog to people I encounter in the hope that these bastards will stop fucking with me.

In one of those hideous little coincidences life throws in you path occasionally, on the same day an insurance company decides to fuck with me, a real estate agent tries to screw up my life as well. I really hate real estate agents. At their best they are annoyingly obstructive rules-bound bureaucrats. Their more common form is soulless deliberately lying thieving scumbags. Right now, it's their annoying shithead bureaucrat form I'm having to deal with.

Most real estate agents refuse to take cash payments for rent these days (I'm surprised more of them didn't get held up in the days when they did take cash) and they usually give you a few options for paying. The thing that pisses me off about my current agent is that they have changed the acceptable payment methods twice in the last year. I am a hopelessly disorganised individual so I don't adjust well to changes to the hoops these pricks make me jump through.

Their most recent vaguely worded letter made me think the changes wouldn't affect me because they were still accepting a particular card payment system. I was using a card payment system that turned out to be the WRONG sort - the sort they weren't going to accept any more. This resulted in one of my rent payments getting lost in the ether which led the agent to threaten me because from their perspective I hadn't paid rent. I sorted out the rent through the OTHER payment system which they were still accepting but now there's over $1000 of my money lost in transit somewhere. I can just see this shit dragging on for weeks as I'm the only one with an incentive to resolve it - neither the agent nor the bank involved give a shit whether or not I have my thousand bucks.

My one foray into the property ownership market also resulted in me being totally fucked over by a real estate agent. Circumstances conspired such that I had to sell the house after a couple of years which shouldn't have been a problem because it was in a supposedly strong housing market. I tried very hard to make sure the agent was not aware of what was driving me to sell but I suspect they worked out I had a time limit and exploited my weakness. For some reason they could never get a buyer to come through with the sort of purchase price they were promising up front. Eventually I had to take a loss on the sale but the bloodsucking leeches still got there cut so they were happy.

I really fucking hate real estate agents.

So like I said, I'm thinking of going public with my blog. I'll threaten every business entity I deal with that I'll rip them to shreds publicly if they fuck me around. I think I'll be able to get the point across if I wear my "Fuck you in the neck with a..." t-shirt when I'm talking to them.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Fun and games with the Junior Angries

Well, here's a test video I've uploaded to Revver. It's a G rated version of my Solving Rubik's Cube in 10 Seconds piece. I re-shot this today with the help of Little Miss Angry and Little Mr Angry. This is one reason it's a G rated version, the other reason is to lull Revver into a false sense of security about ratings for me. The involvement of the little angries resulted in much giggling and jiggly camera work but maybe that makes the video better.

I'm very interested in any feedback on this video compared to YouTube video. Namely, did you have any difficulties viewing it, does it look better or worse than a YT vid, how much does the ad at the end suck... that sort of thing.

The other highlight of my weekend with the kids was the following conversation between them in the car, prompted by Little Mr Angry asking me to play a particular song from the CD that was playing:

Little Miss Angry: God I hate this song, I wish it was over. Mr: God's not going to help you. Miss: Don't say that. Mr: It's true, praying never works. It only works for people who are magic.

I had this feeling I should have been saying something wise and fatherly in response to this but it was taking all my willpower not to burst out laughing. Now if I could only work out how to break it to their mother that her son's an atheist.

Insurance or extortion?

So I find myself in the fabulous position of having to deal with an insurance company right now. It's my own fault - I made the mistake of thinking it was worth insuring one's possessions against loss or damage. Because, you know, they might cover the losses.

So now it's looks like I'm paying a $600 stupid tax. The insurance company doesn't actually call it a stupid tax, they call it an excess. I call it a stupid tax because I'm being forced to pay it for being stupid enough to place any faith in an insurance company. It isn't as if I expect these fuckers to be a charity but if they're going to indulge in extortion I'd rather they drop the pretence and act like they criminals they are. I don't know, they could wear a mask, hold me at gunpoint, make threatening phone calls.

Oh wait, they did the threatening phone call thing on Friday which is why I'm so fucking pissed off at them right now. So I'll pay the $600 stupid tax and... Well, I'm not going to be any better off. If my foresight was a little better, I would have saved the money I've been paying in insurance premiums to hire a hitman.

I used to work for an insurance company so I know a lot of their customers are jerks but you all know how reasonable I am, right? Ummm, actually I don't think that line of argument is going to work for me.