Friday, August 31, 2007

A horse sneezes and an industry catches the flu

Strange goings-on in Australia this week. An outbreak of horse flu (more properly known as equine influenza) has shut down the horse racing industry. This may not sound like a big deal but horse racing (or more specifically, the attendant betting) is a big deal in Australia.

Aussie are mad for gambling. The old saying is that if there was nothing else, Australians would bet on two flies crawling up a wall. Horseracing in Australia involves billions of dollars a year so when it grinds to a halt a few people start squeaking.

It's also happened at the worst possible time. The biggest part of the racing calendar in Australia is the Spring Racing Carnival which was due to start in the coming months. As I understand it, Sydney's Spring carnival has been cancelled because of the horse flu being found at their major racecourse. It isn't this bad in Melbourne (yet) which is lucky because the major horse race of the year is in Melbourne on the first Tuesday in November.

It's hard to describe how big the Melbourne Cup is in Australia. I guess horse racing is big almost everywhere but the Melbourne Cup is different. I understand the Kentucky Derby is regarded as somewhat of a big deal by locals. On Melbourne Cup day, we have a public holiday. For a horse race.

I think it is a uniquely Australian trait to get so obsessed about a horse race which is a really inconsequential thing when you get down to it. I imagine a lot of people in the racing industry are on serious doses of tranquilisers right now. To try and control the spread of the disease there is a complete freeze on the movement of horses across Australia.

There's no confirmed cases of horse flu in Melbourne yet and because of the impact it would have on the Melbourne Cup, a lot of people are holding their breath at the moment. I believe the racing industry have set up machine guns along the Victorian border and are shooting at anything vaguely horse-shaped they see.

Tori Spelling is advised not to show her face in Australia anytime soon.

The big problem is that horse flu was unknown in Australia prior to this outbreak. Because it didn't exist here, none of our horses have any resistance to it. If one horse gets it, ever horse it comes into contact with will get it. It isn't killing horses yet, apparently it's like human flu in that regard - it's most dangerous to the very old, the very young and those already sick.

Oh, and unlike avian flu, there is apparently no danger of transmission to humans so we're not about to be wiped out by a killer plague. Phew. But a few people will be out of pocket. I did hear some announcers on the radio this morning joking "Won't someone think of the milliners?" It's a big tradition for the ladies to wear outlandish hats to the Spring Racing Carnival. It looks like that won't be happening this year.

Jokes aside, a few hat makers will be freaking out right now. I'm pretty sure they depend on Spring Racing the same way florists depend on Valentine's Day and Mother's Day. Without this annual boost to their revenue, a lot of them are going to be utterly screwed.

At the big end of town, the NSW betting authority (a government licensed company called TAB is the only outlet allowed to take legal bets) says the cancellation of racing in Sydney means a loss of about $50 million a week in wagers. There are estimates that the cancellation of the Victorian Spring Racing Carnival would mean $50 million a day!

I have a bit of trouble getting too worked up about this figure. It isn't the same as factories being shut down or mines being closed or primary industry being crippled by drought. That $50 million isn't literally being lost. Quite the opposite really - it's staying in punters' pockets. That's rent being paid and kids being fed. Maybe even a few less lives being ruined. It isn't all bad.

I wonder if we still get a holiday if the Melbourne Cup is cancelled?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Zombie Pride

It seems like every special interest group in the world spends a lot of time expressing their "pride". I figured it was time zombies got in on the act.

This video was actually inspired when fellow YouTuber SeanBedlam did a video entitled "Stupid people are dumb". In the description for the video, he wondered "As awash with retards as the net is, I wonder how all this dumbness affects me mind? (If representatives from the Retarded Community could comment, that would be great.)"

He sure as hell got his wish. The level of stupidity displayed in some of the comments was truly staggering. Even with my famously low opinion of some of the fuckwits found on YouTube, I found some of the responses surprisingly stupid. I decided the only appropriate respondent to these morons was another zombie. Besides which, it was an excuse for me to invent another character.

I'm actually undecided whether or not a zombie (excuse me, I should have said "member of the life-challenged community") is a perfect match for a YouTube hater. On the one hand, they're both brain-dead so I figure they'd have a lot in common. On the other hand, zombies famously subsist on braaaaaaaaains. The poor bastards would starve to death around these hater fucktards.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Project Management on the Titanic

One good way to highlight how stupid "accepted wisdom" can be is to transpose the situation into a different setting and see how ridiculous it looks. This week I've been imagining software project management being applied on the Titanic. Because the project I'm working on hit a big fucking iceberg.

The basic situation is the company I work for has bought a big software package. The vendor submitted a fixed price tender to supply, configure and install the software. Fixed price contacts sound great in concept but anyone who's dealt with them knows their shortcoming.

Whether you're building a house or installing software, there are always things you didn't allow for. You, the buyer, want these things when they come to light and the supplier says "Sure, you can have that but it's a change to the contract which means I have to charge you more."

One of three things happens now:
  1. You don't get what you want so you're dissatisfied with the end result
  2. You pay more so you're dissatisfied with the final cost
  3. You have a big fight over whether or not this is a change and the relationship becomes really adversarial which is no fun for anybody

We seem to be stuck with outcome 3. And as the Business Analyst I'm stuck in the middle of the business Project Manager and the vendor Project Manager. I've been imagining the scenario playing out on the Titanic as follows:

ME: Iceberg, dead ahead!

Business PM: Quick, get us past the iceberg.

Vendor PM: There was no mention of icebergs in the contract.

BPM: So what? There's an iceberg there now, we have to deal with it.

VPM: We can deal with the iceberg but we'll have to charge you for a change request.

BPM: But the owners won't agree to pay any more. They wanted you to steer the ship for a fixed price.

VPM: But there were no icebergs in the original plan. It's going to take time to deal with it and we'll have to charge you for it. You'll have to document what you want us to do.

BPM: I can't believe you've never encountered icebergs in any of your other ships, what did you do in similar situations?

VPM: I talked to the owner and he was clear he wanted the ship to reach its destination as quickly as possible so we configured the navigation differently. Don't you have any existing processes for dealing with icebergs?

ME: Kind of. People just do whatever's required to deal with situations as the come up. There are some guidelines like "don't hit icebergs" but there's no detailed instructions. That's why we hired you, for your expertise.

VPM: We can come up with a solution but we'll have to bill you for the time.

BPM: There are other cruise lines thinking of installing similar systems on their ships but they're waiting to see how things turn out for us. Isn't it more important to your future to deliver a good result to us than to screw every possible dollar out of us here and now?

VPM: But I can't keep ordering my engineers to do more and more work when we signed on for a fixed price. I have no more money to pay them.

ME: Oh shit! The iceberg just ripped a big hole in the hull. We're sinking.

BPM: You have to help us now or we'll all sink together.

VPM: We have to agree on a change request first.

ME: You two go off and have a meeting then, leave me out of it.

BPM: What are you going to do?

ME: I'm going to throw myself into the icy water and hope I die quickly.

Monday, August 27, 2007

I told you I was sick

I haven't had as much energy as usual lately due to my previously mentioned illness. My efforts with both blog posts and videos have suffered as a result. I offer up this video as proof I'm not faking it:

Friday, August 24, 2007

Top seven angry weight loss tips

I noticed I'm putting on a little weight. The first spring blossoms are appearing now so I need to take some action to be in better shape for summer. I used to be on the upper end of the "husky" scale but I managed to lose 25kg. So I know about weight loss.

Here's Mr Angry's top weight loss tips:


2. Get off your arse once in a while. Why are you sitting at your computer writing about weight loss? Get out and do something.

3. Why are there chips and chocolate in your pantry? Those things aren't food! Stop buying them!

4. Portion control! A little bit extra with one meal won't hurt. A little bit extra with every meal is what turns you into a fat bastard.

5. Only drink sugar-free drinks - it makes a big difference. Don't pay attention to those freaks who say you should only drink water, that's boring. And definitely ignore the conspiracy theory freaks who want to tell you diet cola will give you cancer. Those nutjobs think the World Trade Centre was blown up with Aspartame.

6. See a doctor about prescription appetite suppressants. That stuff is the shit! Legal speed! Oh, and it's easier to lose weight when your appetite is suppressed.

7. DO NOT go for alli or Xenical. That shit is fucked up.

But don't forget rule one: STOP EATING YOU FAT FUCK!


- - - - - -

By the way, I'm sure someone's going to make a comment along the lines that this post is insensitive. That fat people are discriminated against. That it's someone's fault besides their own that they're so fucking fat. Yeah, you're right. I'm incredibly insensitive and prejudiced towards myself. I'm very cruel that way. You can go away now.

A pseudo war on drugs

I'm sick as a dog this week which is why I haven't been posting much. I'm propped up with pseudoephedrine at the moment which is successfully suppressing the symptoms but has my body sending me weird signals. My lungs feel really dry which is better than full of phlegm but it feels unnatural. Tsunamis of phlegm are just waiting to overwhelm my lungs the moment the drug effects recede.

Feeling like crap is bad enough but these days even buying decent cold and flu medication can be a challenge. Part of trade treaties between Australia and the US mean our government is compelled to follow most of America's fucked-up "War on Drugs" policies. It isn't quite as insane here as it is in the land of the free but it has its moments.

One of the fun effects is when a chemist treats you like a criminal for buying a legal product. Apparently the pseudoephedrine in the cold pills can be used to make actual ephedrine i.e. speed. I can see why this might make you suspicious of someone who buys 20 packets but why the fuck would it make you hassle someone buying a single packet?

To their credit, the chemists tend not to "profile". You don't have to look like a greasy biker to get hassled. You can be wearing a suit and tie (as I do for work) and still be given the 3rd degree.

Suspicious Chemist: "Why do you want these pills?"

ME: (snorking back a litre of snot) "Because I have a cold."

SC: (pointing to pills that don't contain pseudoephedrine) "Why don't you get these ones."

ME: "Because they don't work. I feel like crap and I'd like some pills that actually suppress the symptoms a little and make me feel better for a while."

SC: "We have to be careful because these pills can be used to manufacture illegal drugs."

ME: "Why do you even sell them if they're so dangerous?"

Apparently this was a bad question as the chemist started getting really belligerent with me at this point.

SC: "I'll have to see a photo ID before I can sell them to you."

ME: "Are you saying you won't sell me a single package of a legal, non-prescription product without seeing my ID?"

SC: "That's the rules."

ME: "Are you saying there's a law that makes you do that?"

At this point he indicates a sign on the wall labelled "pseudo watch" that says they're doing their part to stop illegal drug manufacturing by monitoring sales of products containing pseudoephedrine. This makes me laugh because "pseudo watch" sounds to me like they're only sort-of watching. And me giggling apparently convinces the chemist that I'm high.

The upshot of which is that it seems we now live in a world where some tiny minded dweeb can jerk you around as much as they like with no justification. "The rules" have become more important than the actual law. Let alone treating people decently. Life is really looking rosy for all the little Hitlers of the world.

And this wasn't even in an airport.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The biggest lie ever told

One of my YouTube pals, known as JustA11en, made a video he titled "The biggest lies ever told". He sent me a message suggesting I respond. Apparently he thought I might have an issue with liars.

He was right.

I had so many ideas about the biggest liars in the world my brain was buzzing for a day thinking about it. Lies told to justify war. Lies told by hypocrites who preach morality and condemn the sexuality of other while practicing quite extreme perversion of their own. The possibilities were almost endless.

In the end I settled on what I thought was the biggest lie I've seen told on YouTube.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Bloggerman to the rescue

Like most bloggers, I suffer from the delusion that my writing actually means something. In the bigger picture, I mean. As in, I'm going to change the world. While thinking about this I started to imagine a blogging superhero in full spandex-wearing, underpants-on-the-outside glory. Hence, "Bloggerman".

I like the idea of being a superhero but all superheroes have a weakness. Superman had Kryptonite. My weakness is pretty lame. I have a light sensitivity known as photic sneeze reflex. Essentially, bright sunshine makes me sneeze. Even looking straight into a bright artificial light can trigger sneezing. By bright, I mean about 100 watts will do it if I stare straight into the light.

Once the bad guys latched onto this I'd be screwed. I'd be all flying in to save the day and the criminals would say "Oh no, it's Bloggerman! Quick, shine the bright flashlight in his eyes and we'll make our getaway while he's sneezing."

I think I would use my blogging powers to confuse them. I'd start false stories through blogs that said my true weakness was hot naked chicks writhing in oil. Then they'd make the mistake of putting hot, oiled babes in my path to stop me pursuing them.

Actually, that would probably be pretty effective in distracting me from crime fighting.

Monday, August 20, 2007


If someone had asked me a year ago did I think I’d be posting 400 videos to YouTube I would have said “Of course not, do I look that stupid?” Well, apparently I am that stupid. I never would have imagined that I’d get so much enjoyment out of putting so much work into something for which I get no direct reward. Yet.

To qualify, I don’t actually think it’s a stupid thing to do. I enjoy and get fulfilment out of blogging and making videos. So every time I get stupid comment along the lines of “you don’t have a life” it makes me laugh. These clueless individuals seem to be suggesting that I should do less of what I enjoy because it doesn’t conform to their narrow perception of what makes a life.

I’ll tell you this for free: I’d rather be the person who spends hours creating things, even if it seems to be for no purpose, than the fucker who wastes five minutes passing a negative judgement on someone else’s creation. Now that is a wasted life.

Anyway, 400 videos isn’t my only milestone for my video making. It looks like I’ll be hitting both a thousand subscribers and a million video views on YouTube soon. All without being featured. I know I’ve complained before about not being featured on YT but I’ve got to the point where I’m OK with it.

I’ve seen people get absolutely hammered with tens of thousands of abusive messages after being featured. To say it’s a mixed blessing is putting it mildly. And this way I feel a sense of ownership over my achievements (modest as they are) on YT. So without further ado, here’s my 400th YouTube video. And I remembered to announce the t-shirt competition winner as well – you’ll have to watch through to about the 15 minute mark to find out.

OK, just in case you aren’t in a position to watch the video, the winner was LadySadist for “Anger is the body’s natural defence against stupid.”

While on the subject of milestones, I’ve been extraordinarily happy with the progress I’ve made on this blog. I passed 600 posts recently and I've had two posts reach the top of Reddit in the last couple of months, as well as getting some prominence on Digg and StumbleUpon. It seems like it wasn’t that long ago that I was celebrating a quarter of a million views in a little over a year and then I shot past half a million in about a month. And 1/10 of all of my views in the last 18 months come from a single day!

Damn, the internet is weird.

I’ve passed a number of milestones with the rather artificial measuring stick of my Technorati ranking as well. I say artificial because it doesn’t seem to mean anything. It certainly doesn’t drive any referrals to the blog. Even if it’s totally meaningless, I was still excited when I got into their top 10,000. Now I’m inside their top 8,000 with over 500 referring links according to their figures.

And I still haven’t earned a damn cent from any of it. OK, that isn’t strictly true. I have made money doing stuff for The Fizz, and although that’s technically outside of both the blog and YouTube I never would have had the opportunity if I had been out there doing stuff already. That said, I think it’s about time I got serious about this shit.

I have a major plan underway at the moment. I’m planning a significant event with some other people for later in the year. Stay tuned for more details. The time is soon coming when you’ll be able to say “Oh, Mr Angry? I was into him way before he was famous.”

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Goodbye Freedom

It isn't as if I want to encourage armed insurrection but seriously, why the fuck aren't Americans rioting in the streets? How far does this shit have to go?

Americans may need passports to board domestic flights or to picnic in a national park next year...

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Death is just the beginning

When I wrote a post about the diet drug "alli" a while back, the actual news part was not the drug itself. The drug had been available on prescription for a long time, known as Xenical. The big news was that it had been declared "safe" by the USFDA to allow a version of the drug to be sold over the counter.

Of the wide and varied comments I received (if you count all the forums it appeared on, it generated well over 1,000 comments) one stood out for me. A couple of times people posted comments along the lines of "why are you worried? the FDA says it's safe!" These tools are apparently unaware of the long and proud history of drugs being declared safe then later discovered to have side effects like causing birth defects. And death.

The latest in this parade is a painkiller marketed in Australia as Prexige. It turns out this "safe" drug can kill you too. I guess you stop feeling pain after that. It was banned in Australia last Friday. The reports into this intrigued me because they included the warning that your condition could get worse after you stop taking the drug.

What's worse than death?

Anyway, this story prompted me to file the following Angry News report:

The more I think about the Chinese authorities executing people for poor job performance, the weirder it seems. Where do they draw the line? Is it defined in your work contract? And it must make recruitment hellishly difficult. And how about annual reviews? You'd be terrified of getting a good review. It might be followed by

"Congratulations, we're promoting you!"

"Nooooooo, you can't promote me!"

"But you're the best performer we have, we want you to run the company."

"No, anything but that. Listen, you never found out but I've been stealing stuff. And I've been hiding my heroin habit from you. Pleeeease don't make me the boss."

It would certainly make for a weird variation of the Peter Principle.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

T-shirt competition finalists

I can't believe nobody hassled me to finalise my t-shirt competition. I finally remembered to do it. Without your help! Lucky I'm here to pick up the slack. Before I give the finalists, I'm going to reiterate the two most important rules of the competition:

  1. You're not allowed to get pissed off at me if I don't choose you
  2. The popular vote does not dictate the winner
I really mean rule one. Getting pissed off at me over this is illegal. The police will be around to pick you up if I hear any complaining. And rule two means vote stacking won't work. I'm shallow and will probably be swayed by popular opinion but I guarantee nothing. So here are the finalists:

I know exactly how you feel,I’m just not interested - Paul Brown(blog)

How about a nice cup of shut the fuck up - Cailin (blog)

I'm not angry at you, you pathetic little worm - Massif (blog)

I'm blogging about what an idiot you are - Engtech (blog)

People call you stupid for a reason - Elizabeth (blog)

I exist because of your idiocy - LongbowHawk (YT)

If I could have one wish it would be for you to shut the fuck up - Katara (YT)

I'm only angry because you're an idiot - RandomEdd (YT)

Anger is your body's natural defence against stupid - LadySadist (YT)

Anger is not an emotion - it's a way of life - MokongX3M (YT)

By coincidence I ended up with 5 finalists each from the blog and from YouTube. For those who like such things, I'm including the video version of this announcement that I did for YouTube. I'm wearing the "pirate" gear again because I couldn't find my Mr Angry mask.

So there you go. Get voting!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

More stupid recruiting questions

I swear I'm going to kill one of these recruiting agencies soon. Most of them are fine. Helpful, even. But some of them need some sense slapped into them. Slapping them may not actually make them any more sensible but I'd sure as hell feel better afterwards.

My pet hate this week is when they ask questions for which the answer would be obvious if they'd apply even a shred of intelligence. I'm a contractor. Which means by definition I work somewhere for a fixed period of time and then I leave. But these idiots insist on asking why I'm finishing a contract. Because the fucking contract has fucking finished OK? Can I make it any clearer?

To be fair, it is possible for a contract to finish early because of a bad experience. Either the contractor or the employer may have decided to end it early because of dissatisfaction. But I tell these morons I signed on for 6 months and extended my stay to over two years. But they still ask why I'm leaving with a tone in their voice that suggests something must be horribly wrong.

OK, you got me! I embezzled millions and got found out. I murdered the auditors who discovered my scam but it's only a matter of time until the bodies I stashed in the stationery cupboard start to smell. I have to get out now!

The other thing they do is hassle me to start a new contract straight away. Is this person's planning so bad that they REALLY need someone to start tomorrow? I explain the situation to them:

"I promised to give four weeks notice."

"Why does it have to be so long?"

"We negotiated that term so that there wouldn't be a major disruption to either party."

"But this employer only wants to talk to people who can start straight away."

"So he's only interested in unemployed people?"


"The only people who can start straight away are unemployed people. Not that there's anything necessarily wrong with unemployed people. But you're saying that gainfully employed people are automatically precluded from this role. That doesn't sound like a smart selection criterion to me."

This led to an extended silence until the recruitment gimp came back with:

"Couldn't you just walk out?"

"Despite the fact I gave my word about a notice period?"

"Yeah, you're a contractor, you could just walk out."

"So you're suggesting that I should start my professional relationship with you by doing something really unprofessional to someone else?"

"Well, yeah."

"I'm hanging up now. Don't even think of calling me back until you understand why I can't do that."

Call me crazy but I have a hard time entrusting my fate to a stranger who wants me to screw over someone I already know and like.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

I'd make a great babysitter

A prominent YouTuber who goes by the name of Renetto put up a joke video suggesting he was running a competition to find a babysitter for his kids. Here we discover a bit of an insight into my psyche. This video was how I chose to respond:

As an aside, my girlfriend refuses to kiss me when I wear this getup. I know, because I wore it previously at a party. She is a woman of impeccable taste.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Equal Opportunities

Anyone who's read this blog for a while would know I'm a supporter of equal opportunities. But why is that when I hear things like "Equal Opportunity Committee" I expect to see fat, ugly, bitter people?

I'm just saying is all.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Too much information

I think someone slipped me some alli diet pills.

I'll spare you the details. As it appears half of the western world read my post about these pills there's very little chance a reader of this doesn't know what I was suggesting. The short version of the story is I was in a meeting when my body, in its own special way, suggested to me I should leave the room. Very quickly.

Figuring that nobody in the meeting wanted specifics, I stood up in the middle of a cow-orker's droning monologue and said:

"Excuse me, I have to leave the room."

I was standing up when droning cow-orker felt compelled to ask:

"Can't it wait?"

I paused for a microsecond. Even though I was wearing dark pants, I had to make a quick decision. Waste time justifying myself to this moron or just make for the facilities I so desperately required. As justifying myself would (a) take up valuable time and (b) involve sharing more information than I'm sure most people would be comfortable with, I chose the rapid exit option.

"No. Sorry. I'll be back in a few minutes."

It seems droning doofus had not paid a visit to Clue Town recently. He was still going on as I charged out the door.

"It's just that we're right in the middle of something and..."

I considered shouting "Can you not fucking tell I'm about to shit my pants?" But that falls into a grey are with regard to acceptable workplace conversation, even for me. Besides, I didn't want to be known as "Mr ShittyPants" around the office. Trust me, the people I work with would do this.

Anyway, disaster averted. I made it back to my seat with no major trauma and only a few minutes had elapsed. But it seemed as though Captain Fuckhead wasn't prepared to let it go. As I came through the door he made a big show of suspending his monologue until I sat down. Then he did the condescending schoolteacher thing of saying:

"I trust you can stay with us now?"

"Yeah, I'm fine. Go ahead now."

"Because I wouldn't want to stop you from doing something that's so important you can't tell us about it."

"Look, me leaving the room wasn't optional OK? I'm back now, let's just move on."

"Well, it isn't as if the group deserves an explanation, we've all given up time to be here."

At this point pretty much everyone else around the table has taken a good guess as to why I had to leave so suddenly. People are rolling their eyes at how clueless this fuckwit is. I'm about to say "the same stuff coming out of your mouth was just shooting out of my arse" when someone defuses the situation by saying "Let's forget about it and keep going."

What I couldn't get over was this dork's inability to accept that I'm a grownup and I wouldn't just leave the room without good reason. The thing is, he's such a control freak if I had told him the nature of my emergency he'd probably want a detailed report on proceedings. Worse still would be the same emergency befalling him. I have a horrible feeling he'd recount his time away from the meeting in graphic detail.

There really is such a thing as too much information.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Mall cops are funny

I went out to a nearby mall to grab some lunch and I had to laugh at the security guy I saw there. He was young (probably under 25) and, quite frankly, stupid looking. He'd bought every bit of kit he could think of. He had a walkie-talkie, a big torch, a truncheon and he'd even gone and got an earpiece with a springy cord trailing out of it. The dork even had a military style buzzcut.

Some people might have expected him to go for the wanker gadget du jour - the Bluetooth earpiece. But you'd be missing the point. You see, all the CIA spooks in the movies have these spingy cables coming out of their ears. Bluetooth is for civilians.

What does the jerk think he needs his hands free for anyway? The CIA and Secret Service need it to deal with potentially lethal threats. This bloke's biggest problem seem to be the way he was utterly failing to chat up the teenage shop assistant.

I feel sure that this idiot gets a semi-erection every morning when he looks at himself in the mirror wearing his pseudo-military outfit. "Yeah," he thinks, "I totally look like that Jack Bauer bloke what's on the telly." Face it dickhead, if you're under 30 and working as a security guard that pretty much means you're too fucked up to make it as a soldier or a cop.

On top of everything else, in Australia a mall cop has all the authority of a school crossing guard. I've heard some outrageous stories from the US about mall cop excesses. You'd be in jail in five seconds flat if you tried that shit here.

He reminded me of the security guards I used to see on the streets back where I used to live, except they were way more serious. I was in the eastern suburbs of Melboure, the area John Safran called "Jewtown". There was a major synagogue on the same block as me and they had security up and down the street. This crew were in full spook mode: black suits, white shirt, earpieces and talking into their sleeves.

I often wanted to ask them if they were responding to a specific threat or if they were generally cautious. But they scared me. I'm pretty sure they were packing heat. I used to call them "Jews on Patrol". But not to their faces.

They were actually one of the reasons I used to laugh when self-proclaimed nazis said they were going to come and get me because of something I'd written in a post or said in a video. Showing up in my neighbourhood ranting about "killing the jew-lover" would be a shortcut to getting shot.

I was right - Web 2.0 IS a government plot!

Sometimes my powers of deduction amaze even me. A couple of weeks ago I had a bit of a go at the way people blithely put and absurd amount of identifying information online for all the world to see. To exaggerate things in my standard style of humour, I suggested that this was all a government plot. Who needs warrantless wiretapping when people willingly tell you every goddam thing about their lives?

Well, the conspiracy theorists are all over this like Bob Allen on dick. (I wonder if he also hits the crack pipe like Ted Haggard?) Anyway, the truth of it all has been uncovered:

Facebook is run by the CIA!

Well, maybe not. But there are certainly enough crumbs of evidence to drive the tinfoil hat brigade crazy. Crazier than they already are. Hard as that is to believe. So bear in mind I'm not only angry I'm also psychic. Right here is where you find the news that matters before it even breaks.

Oh, and to the Digg commenter who said in response to my original "government plot" post: "I don't know what's more ridiculously inaccurate; the term Web 2.0 or the idea it's a government conspiracy." Congratulations! That whistling sound you heard was the joke sailing right over your head.

You fucking moron.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The meeting from hell

I read a survey recently that asked business people what they disliked most about work. 80% of them cited time wasting meetings as the bane of their existence. It seems a hatred of meetings is universal. And at the same time most of us are stuck with them. The thing is, if they're properly organised, meetings don't have to be so bad.

It is remotely possible that someone reading this blog could come to the conclusion that I have a negative attitude. Particularly about work. In fact, I enjoy my work most of the time. People piss me off, true. But that doesn't make me negative. That makes me a realist. Besides, how entertaining would it be to read about how happy I am every day?

I've been a Business Analyst for almost 12 years. This suggests I either like the work or I'm not very career driven. The answer is mostly I like being a BA. The usual career path is to move into Project Management and I've made it clear before that I think Project Management sucks. I'd rather be a BA where I get to do things than be a PM stuck trying to manage schedules and budgets.

It also makes it a little more interesting when people ask me what I do because my usual answer is "that depends on who's employing 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 thing I'm frequently called upon to do is run meetings and/or workshops. This terrifies some people but I actually enjoy getting up in front of people. The videos I post here should give you some clue that I like to perform. When I'm planning sessions I usually look online for tips (Google is my co-pilot).

When I was doing such a search recently, I found one guide included on a number of UK government websites. It seems as though it was aimed more at community and political groups than corporate groups but it looked like there was some worthwhile information in there. The full guide ran to about 10 pages. As I worked my way through it, I started to notice a weird tone was developing.

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

The hippy side came out because there was a lot of touchy-feely, positive atmosphere, support everyone guff in there. But I suspect the author was not aware how much of their passive-aggressive side was leaking through. There seemed to be a paranoia about disruptive elements in the meeting along with a really punitive approach to dealing with them. Phrases like "watch body language”, “Note digressions and remind members to stay on task” and “Guide members who speak a great deal to be briefer," started to pop up.

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 really made me think the author was a hippy: make everything FUN! This isn't a completely terrible idea but I don't think it has to be binary choice between all fun all the time and complete drudgery. Plus, "fun" is a subjective concept. One person's fun is another person's hideous torture. And some of the suggestions provided went waaaay into trying too hard territory.

The hippy's central idea was that if you start each meeting with something fun, then everyone will rush to get to the meeting on time. After all, who wants to miss out on the FUN? I don't know how I've missed this in the past. For years now, my strategy has been to make meetings relevant, concise and as brief as possible. Clearly I'm talking out my arse.

Here's where I let the expert take over. I now present for your reading pleasure some verbatim extracts from "Ideas for launches and fun." Possibly followed by some bile filled editorialising from me.

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

Oh. My. Fucking. God. I stared at this suggestions for a full minute. Seriously. If I ever do this in a meeting, someone stab me in the fucking 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 or skit about an agenda item

I cannot imagine a presenter who made this suggestion getting out of the room alive. I know I would be leading my group in a plot to murder the idiot.

  • Become someone else, mime it and have people guess

I would not be able to restrain myself if a presenter did this. I'd be shouting guesses like "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 lead a conga line straight 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 Hurricane Katrina. You are New Orleans. Start swimming.

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

Here's a tip from Mr Angry, kids. You can take this one to the bank. If someone sends you a meeting invitation asking you to bring along a costume, DO NOT GO!

  • 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.” Each time the presenter read one out, we would all act really innocent. I'd love to see how the presenter's "fun" mood was going after about the third one.

So much for the fun. Another stellar piece of advice was "Praise people twice as much as you criticise them." My previous (and obviously misguided) strategy was to avoid criticism altogether whenever possible. But I like this equation. I look forward to going "Excellent point, Bob... I'm glad you brought that up, Bob... Bob, will you shut the fuck up already? We all hate you."

If anyone is actually 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
  • Set a time limit and stick to it - set another meeting for another time if there are still things to resolve at the end of the meeting
  • Make sure everybody knows ahead of time what's expected of them
  • Make sure the right people (knowledge holders and decision makers) are at the meeting

There are times when you need to get creative to keep people engaged, particularly with longer sessions. Anything longer than two hours needs serious planning and some variety. Actually, a better idea is to not run sessions longer than two hours. Whenever possible, follow the KISS principle (which, of course, stands for Keep It Simple, Shit-for-brains).

Cut the bullshit and people will thank you for it.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Cow-orkers don't have non-stick faces

Have you ever noticed how people who offer unsolicited advice have trouble backing down? Telling someone you don't want their input usually won't shut them up. Bizarrely, these type of people tend to go on for longer the more you make it clear you want them to shut the fuck up. The Cult of Angry shall make these people slaves.

One of the simple pleasures in my life is toasted sandwiches. Any sandwich tastes twice as good toasted. A little qualification for this statement: any sandwich I like tastes twice as good toasted. If you can come up with a sandwich that would be gross if toasted trust me, I already thought the sandwich was gross.

These two points are linked by the (mis)adventure I had at lunch today. I was toasting my lunchtime sandwich when disaster struck. My sandwich stuck to the sandwich press! I'd had to move departments recently and the sandwich press in this department's kitchen has lost all of its non-stick qualities.

So I'm gently trying to prize my bread from the surface without totally destroying the sandwich when some intrusive know-it-all feels compelled to pipe up:

"You shouldn't use a knife on it like that, you'll damage the surface."

"The surface is already completely ruined, that's why my sandwich is stuck."

"But you'll scrape the surface."

"I'm not scraping the surface, I'm scraping the bread. I don't want any of the surface attached to my sandwich."

"But that knife will damage the coating."

"I told you, there is no coating. This thing has lost all of its non-stick qualities."

"But you're not supposed to scrape the surface."

"Do you have any brilliant ideas on how to get my sandwich out? Any alternatives at all?" This was the first time the fuckwit actually paused. The time I ask them to say something is the only time they're silent. "I'm doing the only thing possible to get my sandwich out."

"But you can't use a knife on the surface like that."


"But the knife... the surface... the scraping."

On an unrelated note, through scientific experimentation I now know how long it takes for someone to stop screaming after you jam their face into a hot sandwich press.

Monday, August 06, 2007

The Cult of Angry

I'm forming my own religion. Sure, readers and viewers are nice but it doesn't have the same ring to it as "disciples". I figure the only thing that's been holding me back so far is I haven't been setting my sights high enough. If something as fucked up as Scientology (which is clearly batshit insane) can get a following then I can definitely put together a cult of my own.

I feel confident that I can offer followers far more enlightenment than Mormonism, for instance. Seriously, I'm not going to ask anyone to believe anything as deranged as "Jesus was a white American". Not that I'm worried about coming up with a stupid, illogical belief system. That seems to actually work on your favour in cult-land. Apparently, believing in bizarre things that are clear indicators of mental illness doesn't even automatically preclude you from being taken seriously as a contender for President of the USA.

I'll even let you in on one of the key revelations of the Cult of Angry. I want you to know that it's worth your while to join, after all. The central tenet of the Cult of Angry is this:

None of this is real.

By "this" I mean the intarwebnettubes. A true adept would not have needed that explanation. People online have a tendency to suspend reality and believe they really are "online". No you're not. You're sitting in a goddam chair. Your computer is requesting information from a remote server. It's being represented graphically on a screen. It's phoshor excited by electrons. Or something. But it isn't real.

That, grasshopper, is the first step on your road to enlightenment. The journey will be long and hard. It will involve lots of money and ritual sex in the Temple of Angry. But it will be worth it. I know this because the Blogging Bot From The Future has sent back this video message:

Don't delay! The next step involves forwarding all of your money to The Most Sacred And Revered PayPal Account Of Angry. Account details to follow.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

When insults had class

It's stating the obvious to say that the worst thing about the internet is the horde of morons that populate it (present company excluded, of course). I will admit to antagonising these sad excuses for human beings for my own amusement in the past. What can I say? As a kid I used to stir up ant's nests.

But no more. I'm done with these losers. I refuse to even acknowledge their pathetic attempts at insults until they make a decent effort. They may never reach the standard of the classics listed below but I'm not going to indulge people who don't even try.

There really was a time when insults had class.

"He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire." --
Winston Churchill

"A modest little person, with much to be modest about." --
Winston Churchill

"I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure." --
Clarence Darrow

"He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary." --
William Faulkner (about Ernest Hemingway)

"Thank you for sending me a copy of your book; I'll waste no time in reading it." --
Moses Hadas

"He can compress the most words into the smallest idea of any man I know." --
Abraham Lincoln

"I've had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn't it." --
Groucho Marx

"I didn't attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it." --
Mark Twain

"He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends." --
Oscar Wilde

"I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play. Bring a friend... if you have one." --
George Bernard Shaw to Winston Churchill

"Cannot possibly attend first night, will attend second... if there is one." --
Winston Churchill, in response

"I've just learned about his illness. Let's hope it's nothing trivial." --
Irvin S. Cobb

"He is not only dull himself; he is the cause of dullness in others." --
Samuel Johnson

"He is simply a shiver looking for a spine to run up." --
Paul Keating

"He had delusions of adequacy." --
Walter Kerr

"There's nothing wrong with you that reincarnation won't cure." --
Jack E. Leonard

"He inherited some good instincts from his Quaker forebears, but by diligent hard work, he overcame them." --
James Reston (about Richard Nixon)

"Why do you sit there looking like an envelope without any address on it?" --
Mark Twain

"His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork." --
Mae West

"Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever..." --
Oscar Wilde

"He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lampposts... for support rather than illumination. " --
Andrew Lang

"He has Van Gogh's ear for music." --
Billy Wilder

Friday, August 03, 2007

When Stupid drivers DON'T get what they deserve

I like to think of my car as a four footed destroyer of stupidity. "Sent to strike down the unroadworthy" to quote a the Night Rider from Mad Max. I have had passengers question why I sound my horn so enthusiastically when some brain dead fuckwit cuts me off (for instance) or runs a give way sign. "Why not just let them go?" passengers often ask.

It's education as far as I'm concerned. Not calling them to account for their stupidity is the same as rewarding stupidity in my book. Maybe they'll wake up to themselves and stop doing stupid shit. If I let them get away with it, they'll keep doing it. I could even be saving their life. I'm very selfless that way.

I bring this up because I had to let one go this morning. I have to drive about 45 minutes out into boodock suburbs for my current job. I'm sure it isn't my imagination - the further I get out in the suburbs, the drivers get... slower. This normally gives me many opportunities to "educate" them.

But when I start to get close to work I ease off a bit. I don't want to have conversations with cow-orkers along the lines of "Why was I behind you beeping for 90 seconds screaming GET OFF THE FUCKING ROAD YOU FUCKING MORON WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING!?!?!? That wasn't at you. That was at... someone else."

So when some fucking tool backed out of a driveway right in front of me and then blocked two busy lanes while they did a three point turn, I let it go. It was only a few blocks from work and they were pointing in the direction of the office so I figured it wasn't worth the risk.

Actually I've been easing of a bit in general lately. I'm a big believer in Murphy's Law and seeing as I'm doing job interviews at the moment I don't want to push my luck. It's actually a recurring nightmare of mine that I abuse someone on the way to an interview and they turn out to be the interviewer. Talk about starting off on the back foot:

"Just now, when I said you were a fuckwit... I didn't mean it. Oh, and when I followed it up by saying you were brain dead pond scum who shouldn't be allowed to breathe, let alone drive... I didn't mean that either. And the stuff I said about your mother? I meant that. C'mon, be fair, we both know she must have fucked some sort of farm animal to end up with you."

Hey, if I've failed the interview before even starting I want to at least have a bit of fun.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Passwords suck

I'm sure I'm not alone in this: at the start of each month I have to change my network password at work. Part of the "security protocols". (Side note: It's August already! How the hell did that happen? I know it's a cliché, but where the fuck did this year go?)

So when I logged in today I dutifully changed my password. Now every time I have to log back in I type in last month's password by mistake. I HATE the first couple of days of having a new password. Another of the security protocols mandates that the screensaver kicks in really quickly if you're away from your PC. So I have to re-log in about a dozen times a day.

It's a relatively small thing but it's fucking annoying. Having to log in so many times every day PLUS getting it wrong the first time for a day or so each time I have to change password. I know some people suggest you should change all of your passwords regularly but that's fucking crazy.

With all of the passwords I have to keep track of online (internet access itself, banking, blog, YouTube, LiveVideo, Reddit, Digg, Flickr and a bunch of other sites) actually changing them regularly would be impossible. The only surefire way of tracking them would be to write them down which, um, kind of reduces the security.

But then you hear stories of "hackers" all the time. The latest pack of fuckwit losers acting out their inadequacies online go by the name of "anonymous". There are all sorts of stories circulating about them "hacking" people's accounts. In some of the stories they deliberately target people and in others the people were just unlucky.

So how do they even "hack" people's passwords? Are these people using any sort of firewall or anti-virus software? Do they have a stupid password like "password"? Do they have the same password for every site they visit? (not a good idea) Do they leave their PC switched on and connected to the net when they aren't there? (also not a good idea) Were they tricked into signing up for a site whose sole purpose was to trick them into providing password details? (most likely porn)

Hacking is one of those all-purpose, borderline meaningless words the media like to throw around. I'd really like an idea of what method was used to "hack" these people's passwords. If only stupid people are vulnerable, I'd feel better.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Requirements are like Ogres

If ever I think I know everything I spend a little time talking to my eight year old daughter.

She's very good at asking questions I can't answer, or at least have to think hard about. The thinking hard bit is important because she cuts through bullshit quickly. When she was five and her mother had been sending her to Sunday School, out of the blue one day she asked me:

"If God made us, and God loves us, why would God let us get sick?"

What would you have said? My first impulse was "ask your mother" but that has limited effectiveness. My eventual answer was some lame variation of "what doesn't kill us makes us stronger" but I squeaked by.

When she asks me about my work I give her real answers and frame them in a way that makes sense to her. It's good practice for explaining IT concepts to management types. She's smarter than most of the managers I have to deal with but I figure if I can explain something clearly to her I only have to dumb it down a little bit more for managers.

Recently she wanted to know if everyone who worked with computers was a programmer.

"No," I responded. "I'm not, I'm a Business Analyst."

"Do you know how to program computers?"

"Not really, no."

"And it's the programmers who make the computer work?"

"Basically, yes."

"So why do programmers need you?"

"That's what they keep saying to me."

"I'm serious Daddy, what do you do?"

"I write the business requirements. I work with the programmers to make sure the computer ends up doing the right thing."

"Does that mean you're in charge?"

"I wish. First, I talk to the people in charge about what they want. I work out what their requirements are, that's why we call it business requirements."

"Don't they know what they want?"

"Not always."

"That's silly, everyone knows what they want."

"Not always. And people aren't always good at explaining to someone else what they want. How about if I told you I wanted you to buy me a car, what car would you get me?"

"Ummm, a Smart car, they're cute."

"That's too small for me."

"Then I'll get you a 4WD."

That's too big and slow. I want something faster."

"I'll get you a Porsche."

"I don't have enough money for that."

"Well, what sort of car will I get you?"

"See, now you're asking me about my requirements. I want a Volkswagen Passat."

"OK, I'll get you that."

"What colour did you get me?"


"I don't want red, I want black."

"Why didn't you say so?"

"You didn't ask."

"Is this what you have to do all day?"

"Pretty much, yeah."

"No wonder you're angry all the time."


This conversation was slipping beyond my control quickly. I decided to try a different approach. This past school holidays we'd seen Shrek 3 which had led to watching Shrek 1 & 2 on DVD again. I decided to explain requirement gathering in relation to Shrek.

"See, this is what I have to do - ask the right questions. The programmer is like the car dealer, they can get you whatever car you want. All you have to do is be clear about what you need you car to be able to do. Usually you have to start by asking big questions and work your way through layers of detail.

"It's like in Shrek, when Shrek said ogres are like onions because they have layers. Requirements have layers and I have to pull them off one layer at a time to get to the middle. Then I know what to tell the programmers."

"So the people you work with are like onions?"

"I guess."

"Do they stink?" Gotta love 8 year old humour.

"That's a bit harsh."

"Do they make you cry?"

"Sometimes I come close. Usually they make me want to scream."

"So they really are like an ogre? They're scary!"

Sometimes they are very scary. And I know I don't want to find one of them under my bed.