Sunday, December 31, 2006
The object of my anger today is advertising for cleaning products. Stupid fucked-up advertising for cleaning products usually falls into one of two categories: disinfectant thingies that try to convince you that that you're surrounded by germs and you'll die immediately if you don't swab/spray/soak with this product and some minor "improvement" to a traditional cleaning product that you can't possibly exist without.
It's actually the second sort that annoy me the most - the ad tends to show people struggling with an old mop, broom or vacuum cleaner and their life is clearly miserable. All of civilization is being held back because of this archaic device. People's home's are not clean enough! We are being repressed by dirt! The only thing that can save us is this... thing. Why this makes me angry is I really fucking hate having my intelligence insulted.
I can imagine the conversation at EvilFuckers International Advertising Inc when they have a new product:
Senior Executive: Billy, we've got an exciting new project for you!
Junior Executive: Sounds great JT! What is it?
SE: You're developing the campaign for the new Ultima 3000 Cleanovator.
JE: Hmmm. Looks like a map.
SE: This is going to revolutionise mopping.
JE: I'm not sure mopping needs a revolution - mopping just kind of... works.
SE: That's why this is so exciting. For you. You need to convince people they absolutely need this product. Or you're fired. And you know what happens if you're fired.
JE: You'll eat my soul?
SE: Hahaahahaha. That's why everyone loves you Jimmy, you're funny. No, no, no. We ate your soul when you started working here. No, if we fire you we'll eat your head.
JE: Oh, great. Well, let's go with the Ultima 300 then. Awesome.
I'm sure it goes almost exactly like that.
Saturday, December 30, 2006
You can never really tell what aspect of your behaviour, your past or your appearance people will latch onto and use as your nickname. After all, it's very rare you get to pick your own nickname - someone usually "anoints" you.
You might think my nickname at work would be Mr Angry. You'd be wrong. This video reveals all:
Friday, December 29, 2006
But practice your angry vibe and you can radiate "don't fuck with me" without actually doing anything overtly angry. People won't be able to put their finger on exactly what they're being cautious about, but they'll have a strong sense that their life will be less troublesome if they leave you the fuck alone.
It's amazing how much you can actually freak people out by being emotionless - I've used what I call me "ice man" expression to sterling effect more than once. One of my favourite examples was way back when I was at college. I was with a friend at a "non-college" pub which could occasionally be a dicey proposition in a country town. I made my life more difficult by letting a hairdresser friend do a wacky haircut on me that nobody local would dare get - I had a design that looked like crop circles cut into my hair.
So I was walking up to the bar and I passed a table of yobs who felt compelled to comment on my haircut. The most eloquent of this little brains trust shouted "Nice haircut, mate," as I passed. This was actually quite threatening as their were four of them and they were all bigger than me. I was going to ignore them and continue on without acknowledging them but then I thought "No, fuck these idiots."
I stopped, then slowly turned to face them. I stared at them for a second, expressionless, then said in a monotone: "Thanks (long pause) I'm glad you like it."
This table of cavemen were absolutely gobsmacked. I was actually terrified of them but had managed to convince them I was totally fucking insane. The look in their faces made it apparent that they believed I'd swap my intended order at the bar for a bucket of their blood without hesitation.
Then the poet laureate of the group broke their stunned silence by stammering "No... uh, no. I, uh, really meant it. I think it's... ummm, a good haircut."
At this point I realised my bluff had worked but still betrayed no emotion - simply rolled my eyes and muttered "Yeah, right."
They were real careful not to make eye contact with me for the rest of the time I was at the pub.
Thursday, December 28, 2006
I got my plan half right.
So I'm safely home but twitching and drooling more than I'd like. My brain is sorta like radio slightly out of tune with a channel. Lots of static that occasionally almost forms coherent sounds that make some sort of sense. I think I'll run around outside and chase cicadas for a while.
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
The URL for this video is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iTnD-DyS8Tk
So I've got a week at home then I'm off for my first international travel since before the terrorist attacks of 9/11. So, while I'm looking forward to the holiday in Lord of the Rings country, I'm sure the bullshit routine at airports is going to give me all sorts of angry fuel.
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
When the road is clear the accelerate to well above the speed limit. But if there's oncoming traffic or you're going uphill or around a bend so it isn't safe to pass the bastard slows right down. And then you get an overtaking lane so you think you'll finally get past them BUT there's another vehicle in front of them so they swing around to pass that car.
But they don't overtake.
They keep pace with that car so both lanes are blocked. Until the overtaking lane runs out. Then they seem to wake up to the fact they were supposed to ACTUALLY FUCKING OVERTAKE WHILE THEY WERE IN THE OVERTAKING LANE. So they pass the car as the overtaking lane leaving you shit out of luck.
For ages I was unsure as to whether they were doing this shit deliberately or they were just fucking morons. So I ran one of them off the road. Purely in the name of science you understand. I dragged them from their overturned car and politely asked them what the fuck they thought they were doing. They seemed a little dazed and confused so I helped them out by slapping them repeatedly until they made sense.
They admitted they were completely unuaware of how obstructive they were being. Or they might have been asking for an ambulance. It's hard to be sure - they were coughing up a lot of blood.
Still, at the end of the day I think I provided them with some much needed education.
Monday, December 25, 2006
And they stay there.
You speed up and they speed up. You slow down and they slow down. Apparently they love your company. That might be nice if they weren't so fucking intrustive. I've got some advice for dickheads who do this:
Either back off or overtake. Don't just sit there. My back seat is already full, I don't want you there too.
Sunday, December 24, 2006
Actually, as a tease, I'll lead in with the video of the first 100 vids. Most of my regular will have already seen this but it's worth a viewing for anyone who missed it.
The URL for this video is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8karvfqR_HI
SO here's the follow up. Special thanks to Gruntski who has no idea he was going to play such a prominent role in my 200th video when he sent me the little piece of video you see right at the end of this piece.
The URL for this video is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5RWtbfNhol8
Saturday, December 23, 2006
I'm planning on doing a number of posts over the coming days inspired by Tom's "Epikles" characters - one for each genus of moron I encountered on the road. But that's ahead of me as are approximately 36 hours of my kids saying "can we open our Festivus presents yet?"
Oh and I'm going to post my 200th YouTube video as well.
See you soon!
Friday, December 22, 2006
The main reason is telling you secrets about myself would jeopardise my tissue-thin anonymity. A determined person would work out who I am pretty quickly and in fact several people online already know who I am. But let me cling to the illusion that I'm not going to get dooced tomorrow.
A secondary reason is that this is just a little too much like a chain letter for me. This is not a criticism of people who are taking part (which seems to be just about everyone in the blogosphere) but it's a personal choice of mine not to propogate it. I hope this doesn't offend anyone. Who am I kidding? Anyone who's that easily offended would have dropped me like a hot potato ages ago. No fucking weenies on Team Angry!
I did actually reveal a fair bit about myself in a video a while ago. For those who want to revisit it, here it is:
The URL for this video is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3UDiq2eQs1E
I have actually done a response of sorts to the tag meme. By coincidence, I'm up to video number 199 on YouTube and I took this opportunity to do a sort of a retrospective. So here's my psuedo-response to being tagged; five things I've never done on YouTube (for those who can't watch videos there's a transcript of sorts following the video).
The URL for this video is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cJ09mA2L7I
One thing I've never done is leave a negative comment on someone else’s video. When some moron has had a go at me via comments on one of my own videos I’ve frequently let them have it with both barrels but I’ve never played the hater game on someone else’s video. And I’ve never followed an argument with a hater back to their profile or their own videos in the rare cases where haters have actually bothered to put together videos. I’ve backed up friends on their profiles and videos but I won’t chase haters. That’s just a downward spiral.
A second thing I've never done is I’ve never tried to have a user banned or a video banned. I’ve voiced my opinion in my own videos about what I see as despicable behaviour and I encourage others to speak out against hateful behaviour but my personal belief system doesn’t support censorship.
A third thing I've never done is rate someone’s video at less than 5 stars. I don’t rate every video I watch but when I can see someone’s making an effort I always give five stars. Life’s too short to not encourage people to keep trying.
A fourth thing I've never done is to go after any individual YouTuber. I’m almost always disappointed when someone goes after another individual and some people I really respect have done it. I’ve spoken out against types of behaviour, notably racists and haters but I’ve never gone after an individual YouTube user. I’ve gone after some very public figures but they make their living by being in the public eye and they frequently go after other people, usually people who are defenceless so they pretty much invite this sort of attack on themselves. But I don’t see the value in going after people on Youtube. No matter how many some of them deserve it. Except Mr Safety. Fuck that guy, who does he think he is?
A fifth thing I've never done is I've never regretted something I’ve done in a video or tried to retract something I’ve said or done in a video. Which is not to say I’m never wrong, just that (despite appearances to the contrary) I put a lot of thought into what I say in videos. I’m usually well aware ahead of time when I’m doing something that might offend someone. As it turns out, I’m often far more sensitive to this than most of my viewers. This goes for my blog readers too, whenever I write something that I worry will alienate people, my regular readers are cosistently astute enough to get the joke. When I know something’s in risky territory I usually go ahead because I think it’s important... or I think it’s really funny. I’m happy for them to continue to stand, flaws and all. People can either deal with that or stop watching.
By the way, this is not my “rules for life” – I’m not saying everyone should follow these guidelines, they’re mine and they won’t necessarily suit everybody. Whatever works for you, be true to that. I get asked a lot for advice and I try to give the best I can but knowing for yourself what’s important to you is the best advice I can give. What is important to you? What are the things you want to achieve? What are the things you won’t do? If you don’t have a clear idea of these things then how will you know when you succeed? If you get all these things clear in your head, You’ll find it a lot easier to go forward. You’ll still screw up, but you’ll screw up on your own terms. And that counts for a lot.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
I know you'll hear people saying that this is evidence that you're totally clueless and this is nothing more than a stupid publicity stunt but it's obvious how wrong they are. When a stunt makes you the most widely discussed topic on the internet, the stunt is anything but stupid. I'd call it a pretty fucking cunning stunt (with apologies to Reverend Spooner).
Your example will be held up to marketers for years to come. There is no tired old annual cliche that can't have new life breathed into it so long as you are willing to keep sinking lower into cliche and cheap grabs for attention. The only thing holding you back is your dignity and I think we can all agree that this means nobody in the media will ever be held back.
Publishers of Time magazine, I salute you just as you have saluted me. Really, you're the people of the year. Oh wait, you've said that yourself haven't you? Never mind, good job anyway.
Here's my Angry News bulletin covering the story:
The URL for the video of my acceptance speech is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tUPpnLOXj1c
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
At the time I noted that there was one whiner who complained they would run into the plant. Apparently they are so fucking stupid they think they are more likely to suffer trauma from running into a two metre rubber plant (that you could not possibly fail to notice no matter how fucking stupid you are) than from someone they can't see coming around the corner holding a hot coffee. Nobody paid attention to them.
Or so I thought.
This week the big plant was taken away and replaced with a small plant because of the complaints of this one fucked-up loser. This is the worst of both worlds: there's still an obstacle on the corner but it's below your natural line of sight so it's a fucking hazard rather than a help. The idiot calls this a "compromise" but I call it fucking moronic. A compromise is where both sides gain something. This is just a whiny control freak who couldn't deal with not getting their way.
So far this week I've bashed my shin on the pot three times and had half a dozen near misses with people coming around the corner because the small plant does nothing to encourage you to take the corner wide and slowly.
If I get my way there's going to be a MUCH bigger pot there because I'm going to kill this bastard and I'll need somewhere to stash the body. It's the perfect solution - the only way this person could possibly be of any use to society is as compost.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
This first story is about how some media companies have decided to band together to build a massive multi-million dollar neon sign proclaiming how stupid they are. The sign will be visible from space. Well, OK, strictly speaking that isn't what they're doing. But it may as well be their plan.
The URL for this video is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJZarM788Eg
This next story shows how evil criminal masterminds are planning to take over the world. Again, it is possible that this description is not entirely accurate.
The URL for this video is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nSr4T7fhVAI
Finally, in this video I get to explore my long held desire to present a nature documentary. No, seriously.
The URL for this video is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6XGiWYLbtQg
While I'm on the subject of videos, I have now uploaded 196 videos to YouTube. I'm planning an extravaganza for the 200th video featuring snippets of each of the previous 99 videos. Essentially the same as I planned for the 100th video. This didn't work out exactly as I wanted because of logistical issues and the compilation video ended up being the 102nd video I posted. But I'm prepared this time and I've already edited the first 90 videos. In case anyone is wondering, it's taken me a little over six months to reach this milestone - I posted my first video on June 9th.
I'll be the first to agree with anyone who wants to question my sanity regarding this little venture.
A quick tip: the thing most likely to get you caught in the filters is including more than one URL in a comment. I'm not trying to put people off providing relevant links (I like links) but more than one greatly increases your risk of being filtered as spam.
I'd actually like to single out two of the spammers for special mention and tell you what I'm going to do to them if I ever catch them. One of them precedes their URLs with a line of broken English saying essentially "Hi, this isn't spam." There's something about the sheer affront of this lie that makes me want to punch the person in the face. Then there's the one who submits literally hundreds of URLs in each spam which seem to take forever to scroll through.
If I ever catch this bastard I'm going to shoot them in the face so their mother can't give them an open coffin at their funeral (I'm channelling "Goodfellahs" today.)
Monday, December 18, 2006
The initial two-page scope document for this project (which is about to celebrate its second Christmas) gives a few dot points about the business problems that need to be solved and then declares that this will be solved by updating some databases and developing a custom application.
This may not sound so serious to people who haven't worked on IT projects but declaring what the solution will be before you even adequately describe what your requirements are is a recipe for unmitigated disaster. This is known in the industry as the "Ready, fire, aim" approach except this is a little worse than usual in that someone shouted "Fire!" 18 months ago and now it's my job to tell them that they have to take aim.
It was actually mildly entertaining to see the look in the manager's eyes as I told him all of the work done in the last 18 months was essentially in the wrong direction and I was going to have to start from the beginning. He very quietly and slowly said "That's a little disappointing," but he looked a hell of a lot like he was going to have a stroke.
But that isn't my topic for today. Part of the conversation I had with the previous Project Manager when this dog's breakfast was being handed over to me was "Be careful when you're defining requirements because the business users on this project have a tendency to say everything is mandatory." This is a common complaint from IT developers, they're told everything is mandatory but then they're starved of time, resources and budget to actually achieve these supposedly mandatory requirements.
It is certainly common for business users to insist "everything is mandatory" and if this happens it becomes the Business Analyst's job to define what's really mandatory and what falls under "really, really important". The first helpful advice I'll offer in this area is to define terminology. The usual scale for importance of requirements I follow is:
- Mandatory - The project will fail if this requirement isn't met. You'd be better off not starting the project if you can't meet this requirement. In cases of software procurement, not meeting this requirement would totally rule a particular software package out of contention.
- High - A major factor in how successful a project will be. This would deliver major benefits but is not absolutely essential.
- Medium - Nice to have. Not having this feature would not have a major negative impact.
- Low - A bonus. This requirement should not be a significant part of deciding whether or not the project goes forward.
The next big task is often dealing with someone from the business who still says all 200 requirements are mandatory. In cases like this, really put them on the spot. How are you dealing with this situation now? Why is it not viable to keep handling it the same way? What alternatives are there? What would the impact on the business be if this requirement wasn't met? If someone can't quantify why something is mandatory then it probably isn't. Mind you, if they can quantify why it's mandatory, you probably have to go along with it, no matter how painful it seems.
And the really important thing to remember is mandatory is mandatory! It's rarely a good idea to leave a mandatory requirement until the last minute. Even if you think it will be easy to manage, it's better to be sure of this early in a project rather than later. Nasty surprises are easier to manage when you have a bit of time up your sleeve. I'll illustrate this with a couple of recent examples from my life outside of work.
Regular readers of this blog would have seen my recent venture into "Agile comedy." This was essentially treating a stand-up comedy competition the same way I would an IT project and going through multiple quick iterations to reach the end product. (I didn't win that competition by the way, the winner goes to air this week and I'll be very interested to see them.) One of the mandatory requirements I ignored until pretty much the last minute was that the video file submitted had to me smaller than 5MB. I thought this would be easy but it turned out not to be. I eventually delivered on this requirement within the deadline but it resulted in quite a bit of unnecessary stress. On the plus side, I now know I can punch my PC screen very hard without damaging it.
My other experience revolves around the holiday I'm planning for January. I had to book flights, accommodation and a vehicle, all of which I did quite methodically. Now, I'm going to New Zealand so another mandatory requirement is a valid passport. I thought I had this under control BUT I DIDN'T CHECK. It is not a good idea to let mandatory requirements slide. It turns out that my passport expired in September. So added to my normal Christmas rush is the stress of trying to get a passport renewal through quickly at the busiest time of the year. It should be all sorted this week but I caused myself mountains of unnecessary stress by ignoring an absolutely mandatory requirement.
So the moral of the story is, be sure of what requirements are really mandatory and identify the difference between important and mandatory. But once you're sure of what's mandatory, you can carve this in stone: Mandatory is Mandatory!
Sunday, December 17, 2006
But the video seems insanely popular and this one has my favourite: "Jesus Christ, it's a lion! GET IN THE CAR!"
The URL for this video is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8BtDkILHFfc
Saturday, December 16, 2006
In short, I've seen a couple of examples of slightly overweight middle-aged women dressing in such a way that, to put it mildly, puts their rather abundant cleavage front and centre. Some might argue that this is up to them and some people might even argue that it's a good look but this is work for fuck's sake. And yes, I did point out that this involved middle aged women who are on the generously proportioned side of things. If they were young and hot and pushing their boobies out I would doubtless find the distraction more pleasant but it would still be totally inappropriate for work.
And the middle aged aspect is an important part of what appalls me and not just because I'm not enjoying the spectacle. Is it too much to ask people to act their age? The phrase "mutton dressed up as lamb" springs to mind. It would be like me wearing hip-hop gear and thinking I looked like anything but a fucking idiot. It's not so much that I've "grown up" (my level of immaturity should be obvious to anyone who reads this blog) but there's certain things that basically make you look desperate.
What on earth is the impression these women think they are making? Do they think the men are thinking "she has big boobies, that's hot"? Well, OK some men will think that but they're pretty creepy. And what's so great about attracting creepy guys? All it makes me think is "oh my god what the fuck is she thinking."
Then I have nightmares about being suffocated by my pillows while I'm sleeping.
Friday, December 15, 2006
The specific behaviour that is appalling me the most at the moment is the behaviour of the women who are dating a friend of mine. Their behaviour starts to be appalling when they agree to date him at all. He's about 45, not much to look at, not fabulously wealthy, the possessor of a range of disturbing personality traits and he refuses to consider dating women who are (a) over 30 and (b) fail his measure of attractiveness (a measure he would fail dismally if it were applied to him).
Essentially, although he's a friend of mine, I think it's fair to characterise him as a prick. Vain, self-centred and shallow. And he does very little to hide his nature when he meets these women. Amazingly, not all of them run screaming for the hills. Some of them even put out. What the fuck is up with these women? Lift your fucking game already, you're letting the whole team down!
He regularly asks for my opinion and/or advice (basically because I'm happy and he isn't) and I regularly refuse to give it. Because he doesn't fucking listen. Every now and then I'll snap and be unable to resist giving him advice. The advice will usually be some variant of "Stop what you're doing! That thing you're doing, (and the particular thing will change from time to time) stop doing it because it's a really fucked thing to do!"
But why should he listen? These women keep lining up for dates and he keeps getting semi-regular sex (which is how he measures success) so he can't understand why I tell him to change his behaviour. Maybe I'm more concerned for his immortal soul than he is. I keep telling him "You're 45 and single, this is probably your last chance going up to bat. Stop fucking it up!" But his "results" suggest to him he doesn't need to change.
From my experience in dating, the biggest thing he has going in his favour is that he doesn't have any kids (that puts a lot of women off - rightly or wrongly). Like I said, he's not much to look at but attractive women as young as 20 are going out with him. He's not fabulously wealthy but he is a successful professional so I guess at least some of them are "after his money" but it still doesn't make much sense to me.
Ladies, if you want my advice, don't try and change men. Men aren't going to stop being pricks as long as there are ANY women who'll put up with it and even reward it. Plus, it leads men who aren't pre-disposed to act like pricks to think they'd be more successful with women if they WERE pricks. Focus your attention on changing women who put up with this shit. The enemy within always does more damage than the enemy outside.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Admittedly, $500US (which translated to $630AU - yay for crappy exchange rates!) is not a fortune and I'm not about to give up my day job but it aint bad! That money will actually pay for flights to New Zealand in January for myself and Ms Angry. Two weeks in Lord of the Rings country, woohoo!
While having the holiday is going to be awesome, it requires some planning in order for me to maintain my one post a day rule. I may or may not be able to find internet connections in NZ so I'm planning a two-pronged backup. One is writing some short posts ahead of time and timestamp them to come up once a day while I'm away. The second is to invite guest contributions to fill in the gaps.
Gruntski is already on board with providing some video blogs but there's plenty of space to fill so if anyone feels like getting angry, drop me a line. These could be either written posts or video posts. Maybe there's something you really want to get off your chest but it doesn't fit in with your own blog or site. You can have things published under your own blog name with links back to your site or it can be completely anonymous. Maybe you don't want people to know how angry you can get :)
I personally recommend getting extremely angry from time to time. The catharsis is great!
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
I wouldn't complain about anything as trivial as smoke when people have been battling these blazes non-stop for more than a week. The worst fires are a couple of hundred kilometres north-east of Melbourne, coincidentally right where I took my weekend drive just before the fires started (I had nothing to do with starting them, honest). They have burned through over 400 hectares of land and it's reached the stage where 20 or so smaller fires have joined up into one super-fire. The fire front now covers more than 150km.
Here's a satellite image from a couple of days ago showing how widespread the smoke is. I couldn't find a more up to date image but trust me, it's a hell of a lot worse now.
And the volunteer bushfire fighters are working as hard as hell to manage what looks like an impossible situation. Yes, that's right, in a country that's ravaged by bushfires every year it's left to volunteers to fight the fires. The Country Fire Authority (CFA) is made up of people who essentially give up every summer because you can't exactly say "Oh I'd love to help you with that fire but we're having a bit of a pool party and I don't feel like leaving." Call me harsh but I think it's a fucked up way to deal with such a critical issue.
Obviously paying the entire CFA would get very expensive but I can't help feeling that relying on volunteers will be more expensive in the long run in terms of human and property costs. My cynical side also suspects that the various governments are essentially exploiting the dedication of the volunteers. I believe it's actually quite hard to get into the CFA because of the number of people who volunteer but it seems that every year, somewhere in Australia, fires get out of control to the extent that the CFA can't even slow their spread and we desperately import firefighters. First from interstate and then from other countries (some noble New Zealand firefighters are joining the fight here at the moment.)
We actually have a bushfire "season" that runs from December to March - this being the highest risk period for serious fires. The worst fires usually come in February or March after a long dry summer. The fact that such major fires are already happening in December is freaking people out. It's looking like a long, hot, dry, smoky summer is on the way.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Of course, the powers that be at YT would likely argue that the site is all about video, not about text messages. To an extent they'd be right and it's certainly how they got themselves established but it isn't what's going to help them maintain their position. As a fairly deeply involved YT "community" member, I see on a daily basis that the majority of the hordes of people on YT really want to interact. YT allows this on a very rudimentary level but falls significantly short on delivering the experience most people are looking for. This is YT's biggest vulnerability - if a competitor like Revver offered a compelling community building experience I believe that would have a bigger impact on YT's user base than any offer to pay video creators.
I documented my standard gripes in my recent post titled "Reasons YouTube Sucks" (I'm on the first page of Google results for "youtube sucks" by the way). But as I said at the start of this post, they've found a few new ways to suck in the last week. The first revolves around spam. A certain someone has been creating masses of user accounts for the sole purpose of sending porn spam to other users. To the best of my knowledge, it isn't possible for a spammer to automate this process so somebody is dedicating a lot of time to being an annoying fucking prick.
The YT help desk approach so far has been to block each account as it's reported but this is an endless game of whack-a-mole. Each time an account is blocked another is simply set up. I've worked in this sort of crisis environment (and I suspect YT are treating this as a crisis) and they must be tearing their hair out. I suspect they are doing a lot of work behind the scenes but I also suspect YT's architecture is working against them.
The first clue that YT is structurally fucked with regards to this problem is that you have no spam filter for your personal messages. There's no function to mark a message as spam. There's no spam folder. It seriously seems as though they've set up a messaging system for millions of users with almost no thought of how to deal with spam.
Another possibly related issue that has appeared only in the last week is your message inbox indicating there are approximately 40 million unread messages waiting for you. Whether the spammers have broken the system or one of the attempted fixes has broken the system, I suspect that the spam and the counter bug are related.
Another weird bug that I've only noticed this week is the counter for video views only working intermittently. This might have slipped by me if the cute kitties with captions video I put up wasn't so popular. It's getting about ten times the usual number of views for me which I didn't really expect. But the counter is getting stuck and not moving for a number of hours and the next time it changes it's gone up by about 500 views.
All of which brings me back to the heading for this post, my idea that I should be working at YouTube. Not so much because I'm a genius (although I clearly am) but more because solving these sorts of problems is essentially what I do in my day job. Watching each change and "enhancement" made to the YT site makes it clear that YT is a technology driven site. This may sound like an obvious statement but what I mean is that from the outside, each change seems to be about making the site slicker (woo! new buttons!) as opposed to addressing any actual user issue.
Making a change for the fundamental reason that the technology allows you to rather than thinking first about what would improve things for users and THEN looking for a technical solution is a common flaw in IT-related companies. The issue is particularly pronounced in the web space where getting mentioned on TechCrunch seems to matter way more than making several million users happy. But like I said, this is from the outside looking in and I could be totally wrong. But it feels like I'll never know because the powers that be at YouTube almost never fucking communicate to the user base.
If only they had at their disposal some medium that allowed them to communicate easily with their entire user base. Hmmmm, but who could develop the incredible technology required to do this? Hey, here's an idea guys: why don't you do a video blog?
Monday, December 11, 2006
Whether there's an Agile/XP evangelist saying let's just jump in and start coding without actually analysing what we're trying to achieve or some hidebound bureaucrat who isn't happy until everyone is bleeding from the eyes (and probably still wants to keep going even then) - sticking to some orthodoxy no matter what is likely to end badly. So what does this BA think is the ideal amount of analysis?
You should do as much analysis as is required but no more than that.
That statement isn't half as glib as it might seem. The real issue is that "how much analysis is required?" is the wrong question. The right question is "What are we trying to achieve?" And just to head off the Agile zealots, I'm not talking about definitively answering "what will the end product be" before starting any coding. The important thing for the business to know before they start wasting developers' times is what are the desired outcomes? Not how it's going to be done but what the business needs to achieve for the project to be a success.
As a BA, it's a constant struggle to stop people on the business side from leaping straight to "We should use this software and have this sort of widget and all the buttons should be cornflower blue." At the early stages when the scope of a project is being set, the analysis should ideally be limited to "what do we want to achieve and why is it important?" In almost all cases these conversations can and should be completely technology-neutral so there's no need to drag developers into endless brain-storming sessions.
When it comes down to it, the non-IT side of a business should almost never consider technology when analysing requirements for IT projects. That's the role of the technical team. Scope-level discussion should almost always steer clear of technical issues (apart from any mandatory compatibility issues) but even documentation of detailed Business Requirements and Functional Specifications can be done without focusing on technical details. These documents should be telling you exactly what their names suggest: outcomes the business requires and what functions the system will have to perform to deliver on those requirements. Both of these can be analysed in depth without dictating the technology to be used.
So at the end of the day, the "right" amount of analysis is going to differ from situation to situation. If you're following an Agile-type approach with rapid iterations then analysis probably only needs to progress to the scope level. Define what outcomes you want at the level of "this is in - this is out" and go for it. But be very wary of anyone telling you any up-front analysis or design is too much. How can you possibly know when you have succeeded if you have nothing to measure your output against?
While I lean towards much more analysis that the average Agile devotee would advocate, I'd run a mile from anyone who wants to saddle me with crippling never-ending design and analysis processes. Nothing will crush the life out of a worker like a death march with no end in sight.
If you can't define what it is you actually want to achieve then you need more analysis. If you are in the 10th hour of meetings to discuss what particular shade of green will most inspire customers without having developed a functional prototype to see if the solution is even viable then you are wasting valuable time and brain power with analysis paralysis.
Do what is required. Nothing more. Nothing less.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
Often these things don't appeal to me but I found a site that had a whole series of these captioned animals pictures and several of them made me laugh out loud. Then I had a brainwave - what pisses me off most about YouTube? Stupid fucking videos of stupid fucking bunnies and kitties getting featured by the fucking idiots who choose the fucking feature videos!
So I decided to make my own cute animal video... except the animals may possibly be Satan's house pets.
Saturday, December 09, 2006
In this "Angry News", The Blogging Bot makes a cameo appearance to apologise for my behaviour. From his vantage point in the future he knows when I offend people:
Friday, December 08, 2006
All of a sudden, I'm in favour of this proposal. Is there any more justified punishment than politicians having to sit through a speech from other politicians while they run through an endless series of pointless slides droning on in that characterless way politicians are so fond of? This feels like payback, people!
I want to get a job working in parliament where I get to create presentations for the pollies. I would get endless job satisfaction by creating mind-numbing presentations that ran into hundreds of slides knowing those bastard politicians were going to have to sit through the whole thing.
In all seriousness, this idea that PowerPoint actually improves communication must be stopped. There is a truly horrifying story that the Bush Administration actually used PowerPoint to develop and "communicate" their disastrous plans for the colossal clusterfuck that is Iraq. That would explain a lot. I don't like to make light of how badly this can go wrong because this is literally Death by PowerPoint for thousands of unfortunates.
A good communicator doesn't need Powerpoint but could, if they were so disposed, make effective use of it as a supporting tool. A bad communicator is made worse when they use PowerPoint to try and cover the fact that they have fuck-all of intelligence to say. The idea of political policy being communicated by PowerPoint is awful, pure and simple.
Stop the madness.
Thursday, December 07, 2006
We were looking at the "serious incident" reporting form and, well... how do I describe what happened? My brain let me down. More specifically, the little voice in my head that's supposed to control my more bizarre impulses took a fucking holiday. Most people have a little voice that advises them against committing career suicide - "tell the boss his tie looks great, don't tell the truth and say it looks like someone ate an entire ice cream cake then threw up on it."
I suspect my little voice has some chronic substance abuse issues. Most of the time he's either comatose and unable to help me or he's actively contributing to a negative outcome by screaming something along the lines of "Go ahead and tell him he's an idiot! You'd be doing him a favour by pointing out how fucked up his idea is - who cares if he's a divisional manager?"
My little voice hadn't gotten me into trouble for a while so I guess I was overdue for a blowout. Everything in the emergency process review was going well until I saw that the reporting form included a space for drawing a picture of the "incident". I blurted out (in a rather enthusiastic tone):
"Do you get to use different colours when you draw the picture?"
This met with a confused silence until someone asked the obvious question: why would that matter?
"Because," I responded, "that would be really cool. You could do a before and after picture and use colours to really illustrate what happened." At this point, the warning voice should have been screaming at me to shut up but all was quiet. So I walked up to the whiteboard to illustrate. "You see, here's Ralph before the accident and everything's fine:"
"And now we show Ralph after..."
It's easy to see why I thought this was a good idea, right? This is an accident report that really lets you know how serious the accident was. I like to think my special skills were really shining through here.
Those people don't invite me to meeting any more.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
The first area where this argument usually falls down is that it rarely has any material relevance to the issue being discussed. It's usually self-aggrandisement for the sake of self-aggrandisement. The second (and to my mind more important) area where this falls down is that the facts are totally unverifiable. What the fuck is the point of saying "I have millions of dollars," "I have ten post-graduate degrees," "I had sex with five hotties last week"? You can't prove it (unless you're a well-known public persona - and if that's the case, why are you wasting your time arguing online?)
One of my favourite completely un-PC jokes I've ever seen on a website is "Arguing on the internet is like competing in the Special Olympics - even if you win you're still retarded." I'm sure I'll get heaps of hate mail for using that one. Let's simplify things by saying if you hate me for using that line, you're right.
Having said all that, it's often very difficult to resist responding in kind. The most common attack launched on me is "You don't have a life, you loser! Get a job! You're obviously unemployed and don't have a girlfriend, that's why you have so much time to do all this stuff." This is usually nothing more than a generic insult with no meaning but some haters think they are justified in saying this because it seems logical to them. All of my output suggests to them that this is all I do.
I feel compelled to say that I'm an IT professional who makes quite a bit of money and has a rather lovely girlfriend but really, what's the fucking point? Anyone who launches an attack like that is obviously a fucking moron and should be utterly disregarded. Plus, I'm pretty much doing the same thing as them; making an unverifiable statement in an online environment and pretending that actually means anything.
Anybody who's had the fortitude to struggle through the mountain of abusive comments I've received on YouTube for having the temerity to post anti racists videos will see that my responses go in cycles (I've linked to these before). Sometimes I laugh at them, sometimes I taunt them, sometimes I respond with incredibly angry and abusive comments of my own.
My current mood swing has me saying to them "You know I don't give a shit about anything you say, right? You are totally meaningless." At the moment this feels like the easiest way to respond to them and it's certainly better for my mental health to not bother engaging with these idiots. I'll probably change my mind about this in another week or so.
One thing I'll never change my mind about: anyone who disagrees with anything I say is an ignorant loser who doesn't make as much money as me and doesn't get as much hot sex. It must be true because I said it on the internet.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
People are dicks. No, that's an insult to dicks. People are fucking morons. Whether it's some idiot who can't drive, some loudmouth in a public setting or some antisocial loser online, there's always someone around to ensure that Mr Angry stays angry.
My latest run-in with a moron was via email and the subject was the internet domain "angryaussie.com". I actually own a number of domains based around the name of this blog and I haven't done anything with any of them yet. A little while ago I received an email from someone wanting to know if I'd sell the domain. My answer was, of course, no. I was intrigued about what the person was planning, though, and asked them what they intended to see if we could work something out. I pointed out that I wanted the domain for this blog (eventually) but if our aims had sufficient common ground there might be an opportunity to do something together.
To which I got this stupid response saying that there's no way he could possibly reveal his amazing secret plus he was wondering why I wanted and "Australian" domain when I wasn't an aussie. So he manages to be a fuckwit on three counts.
First, he obsesses that he has some amazing secret that can't possibly be divulged to anyone because this would compromise its wonderful, unique, brilliant, sacred secretness. I've heard this criticism of Australian so-called entrepreneurs from VCs before. They're so obsessed that they have a secret that will be stolen away from them that they will never tell ANYONE what their concept is and so nobody will work with them or fund them. While there most certainly are many examples of bastard money lenders screwing over innovators, the end result of truly obsessive secretiveness is NOTHING EVER HAPPENS.
Second, he makes the stupid statement that I'm not Australian. He has absolutely nothing to base this on. Plus, I've pointed him to the evidence that I clearly am Australian, which he clearly hasn't checked out. So he's a dick who does no research and leaps to conclusions.
Third, he's completely ignored the fact that I've given him an opportunity. I don't know a thing about what he's planning but if there's something we can do together I'm willing to look into it. He clearly hasn't taken the time to actually read my response properly or maybe he's simply too stupid to get it. He seems like a 3 year old - "I want that! If I can't have what I want, when I want it with no negotiation then I'll chuck a tantrum!"
I suppose I should point out that the guy wasn't actually aggressive. He was just a dick. And I fucking hate people who act like dicks.
Monday, December 04, 2006
Now, I could have simply worked on a routine and submitted the video but that would be ignoring the strengths of the system - namely being able to get feedback from viewers and using that to improve the performance before submitting a video to the competition. And what methodology promotes itself as a way to achieve delivery via multiple rapid iterations? Agile, of course!
It seemed as though the geek and the performer in me would finally meet and get a chance to work together. A few disclaimers about me and Agile: first, I don't know a damn thing about Agile in any formal sense. Basically, I know what I've picked up from reading articles and blogs but I've had no training. Then again, when they're put on the spot about Agile's lack of suitability in particular settings, its evangelists usually say "use what works - ignore what doesn't." So I planned to take the "launch a prototype, get feedback, re-work the prototype, release another iteration" approach and ignore any of the finer points of the methodology.
I'm just geeky enough to be fascinated with how the process of developing a stand-up routine mirrored IT development so closely. The essence of this routine goes right back to the first video I ever put on YouTube in those dark and far-away times of June 2006:
The URL for this video is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CT2rTapxI4E
So to treat this as an Agile project I looked at the three key requirements:
- An original routine
- Less than three minutes long
- The video file had to be less than 5MB
In considering the first iteration I actually decided to ignore requirements 2 and 3. These had to be met for the release version but I decided first to simply do something and refine it as the iterations progressed. So this was the first version I released for review (regular readers may have seen some of these videos but I'm including the whole series here to illustrate the process):
The URL for this video is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uph6uYz5kTE
The responses to this prototype were broadly positive and included "keep it simple" and "more anger". Obviously it also had to be shorter, so on to iteration two:
The URL for this video is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vIomX1lK1Lw
The key feedback that came out of this iteration was "lose the conversation with the cow-orker." The next version took this on board and worked harder on meeting two other requirements; make it shorter (mandatory) and make it angrier (optional but nice to have).
The URL for this video is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JrzJilgsz9Q
The "user" feedback to this iteration was overwhelmingly positive. At this point it's fair to say that the users' "wants" had been met (it was regarded as a funny routine) so the final iteration had to meet the mandatory requirements: it had to be less than 3 minutes long and the video file had to be less than 5MB. These requirements proved to be more difficult to meet than I had foreseen, especially the 5MB limit. I'll be exploring the "lessons learned" in detail in another post but suffice to say that leaving critical technical requirements until the last minute is not a good idea.
The important point is I got there in the end with this final iteration:
The URL for this video is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HFf0vuAbOJ0
So, to answer the central question of this post: Can Agile Methodology be adapted (successfully) for stand-up comedy? Well, there are two measures of success in this case. One is whether or not I managed to deliver something according to the requirements and the other is whether or not I actually win the competition. To the first, I'd give a resounding "yes"! I was not exactly surprised but certainly very pleased with how well this approach worked. As for the competition, I should know the answer to that within about 48 hours. I have no idea how many people have entered the competition or what the standard of my competitors is, but I think I'm in with a chance.
The nerd in me can't resist following this experiment up with a more detailed "post-implementation review." It has been fascinating to me how closely this development cycle has followed my experiences in the IT world. I know I've often thought my job was a joke and it appears I may have been closer to the literal truth than I realised.
Sunday, December 03, 2006
Those who pay attention will know I intend to post a new piece to this blog every day for a year. So I went away this weekend leaving my faithful computer at home. No problem, I had a plan: I'd post on Saturday morning before I left and on Sunday night when I got back . Brilliant. Except I straight up forgot! I left on Saturday without posting. So I was desperately hoping that I could find somewhere that provided internet access when I got to the destination.
Now, in these modern times, pretty much all motels provide internet access. Unfortunately, it seems what they all provide is wireless internet access that you can get onto if you have your own laptop with a wireless modem. If you don't have your own laptop, you're pretty much fucked. I don't have a laptop. I know, I know... join the 21st century Mr Angry, that isn't very web 2.0 of you.
The only place I found that provided internet access and a computer to access it from was the most expensive place in town - double the price of anywhere else. And it was available for guests only. It seemed as though I was going to miss a daily posting for the first time in 8 months! Then I had a brainwave. I asked if I could inspect their internet facilities. The receptionist pointed me to their business centre and I went in and had a look.
The room was unsupervised. That was in my favour. The computer wasn't locked. Another point in my favour. The internet access was live! I figured I had about sixty seconds before someone came in to check what I was doing. That's why yesterday's post was two lines long. I'd always wanted to wage guerrilla warfare against the forces of oppression. I struck, stealthy as a ninja and faded into the night.
I have to admit, I didn't think it would be so hard to get internet access in what's supposed to be a tourist destination. This place (Lakes Entrance) is quite a nice location but it's a fucking hole. I mean, if you're looking for entertainment keep driving. By 8.30 on a Saturday night everything is closed. 8 fucking 30 on a Saturday fucking night and it's fucking summer in a so-called resort destination. Fucking yokels.
Anyway, I had a good time and even shot a video while I was there. My wonderful girlfriend indulged me and played along with my stupid joke. Actually, I think the only reason I got away with doing this is she didn't realise that me saying "bow-chicka-bow-bow" was a joke about 70's porn soundtracks.
Straight after making this video I went to clean the pool and then delivered a pizza with extra salami.
Saturday, December 02, 2006
Friday, December 01, 2006
The current federal government has been moving the country further and further towards the US model over the last ten years. The motto seems to be "employers can do whatever they want, whenever they want." From a certain perspective this makes sense - if employers can't run companies the way they want, the companies may grind to a halt and collapse. Then everybody loses. There are many instances in the past of heavy-handed unions strangling industries so that the end result is higher costs for everyone and companies ultimately being killed off by faster moving competitors who weren't similarly encumbered.
This approach of "the boss knows best" tends to fall down when the boss is an evil, scheming, malicious and/or criminal bastard. There are plenty of examples of companies being destroyed and ordinary people bearing the cost due to straight out criminal behaviour by bosses (Enron and Tyco in the US, Bond Corp and Qintex in Australia). That's the problem with ideologies - fighting against the one you oppose tends to blind you to the failings of your own.
To me, it's quite amusing to see the government pushing their own ideology to an extreme because they seem utterly blind to how much they are fucking up. This government hates unions. The influence of and membership in unions has been declining steadily for at least 20 years. So what does the government do? It institutes such scary-ass industrial relations laws that people are beating down the office doors of unions in their rush to sign up. It's such a colossal blunder, it reminds me of the grand plan pushed by US Neocons - let's eradicate Muslim extremism by invading a Muslim country!
The environment being created essentially allows a boss to say to a worker "Your job no longer exists. However, we invite you to apply for this newly created position. It happens to be identical to your old position but the salary is 25% lower and there's no overtime pay. If you don't like it you're out the door. Today." For some crazy reason, this complete lack of security freaks some people out.
I have actually chosen to work under pretty much that exact setup for quite a few years. As a contractor I have to negotiate my rates and conditions on a regular basis and there is no guaranteed future. The difference between me and the majority of workers is that I'm in a highly specialised industry with high pay rates and I tend to have the upper hand in negotiations. Pretty much the complete opposite of the position low-skill workers find themselves in.
My advice to people who find themselves in this precarious situation is not to be scared: embrace the situation! Contracts work two ways and employment contracts are no different. Aggressively pursue what you want from an employer. If the current one isn't giving what you want, find one who is. There are no secure jobs any more. Thinking you have no choices means you will be sitting there with the sword of Damocles hanging over your head until the day when it inevitably drops. It requires a whole new way of thinking for most people.
With that in mind, I'm going to submit a plan to the government for some vocational training for school students to get them ready for this brave new industrial world. Essentially, the training would involve dumping a class of kids into a pit and giving them each a cricket bat. Then I tell them that last one standing gets a thousand bucks. After most of them have been beaten unconscious and the victor rises for their reward I say this to them:
"I've changed the terms of the agreement. Here's a week's worth of two minute noodles. Come back and do the same thing next week if you want to eat again."
It's exactly the same as what they'll face in the workforce.