Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Yard work sucks

Seriously. I fucking hate yard work. On top of everything else I'm doing, I'm trying to prepare for a kid's party on Sunday. And it looks like we're in for a few days of torrential rain so I had to get out and mow the lawn and trim the edges this morning before the storm set in.

Have I mentioned before that I'm very lazy? And out of shape? I pretty much got a year's worth of exercise crammed into a few hours today. And it feels like my fucking arms are going to fall off. It's almost beyond my abilities right now to sit here and type.

And after months of preparation the big YouTube gathering starts in about 36 hours. Wait a minute, it's actually 2 and 1/2 days not 1 and 1/2. I'm right on the edge of freaking out over this. One of the ways this is manifesting is I've had no sense of time this week. It feels like everything is going to happen NOW. I'm consistently forgetting which day of the week it is. On Monday I thought it was Friday and had a panic attack.

Next week it will all be over. And I'm sure I'll have no idea whatsoever what to do with myself.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

World AIDS Day "I promise" campaign

One of the reasons I haven't been posting every day lately is I'm on holidays. The second reason is I'm absurdly busy. Seriously, I'm far busier on this holiday than I usually am when I'm working. The biggest thing (for those who haven't been paying attention) is the YouTube As One gathering this Saturday (December 1st) in Melbourne's Federation Square.

I'm trying not to freak the hell out in the leadup but it's hard.

The day of the gathering coincide with the World AIDS Day Concert in Federation Square which is a bonus for us. There will be a lot going on during the day including free concert performances. So I figured some payback was due and I've been helping the promoters of the World AIDS Day Concert, The Burnet Institute with some YouTube promotion for their event.

The centrepiece of their promotion is the "I promise" campaign. It's a fairly simple concept - make a promise to take some practical steps in response to AIDS. This video has been put together featuring some YouTube celebrities and "real world" celebrities to encourage the YouTube community to make their own video promises:

And I thought I'd kick things off with my own promise:

Oh, and I also promise to get back to writing longer and angrier posts some time after this madness has died down. Sometime in the next couple of weeks.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Designed by a 3 year old

Have you ever heard of the five whys? I came across it in a business context, the idea is when trying to find the root cause of a problem if you ask "why" five times you should identify the real issue. In the course of my work, identifying business requirements, the idea was that each proposed requirements should hold up to five whys.

If you can't continue to give good answers to at least five whys then maybe you shouldn't be doing whatever it is you were planning. It can be a very effective technique. But I'll tell you this much: it wears thin really quick when it's being used by someone who's already pissing you off.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Anti-Muslim race baiting in the Australian elections

Well, the Australian federal elections are on Saturday and the incumbent Liberal government has been staring down the barrel of a crushing defeat for a while now. I always feel compelled to point out to overseas readers that the Liberal party are the dominant conservative party in Australia (given the generally understood meaning of "liberal" in political terms). Anyway, they've been trying every trick in the book but they've been unable to dent the popularity of the opposition Labor Leader, Kevin Rudd.

It seems desperation has set in and some really dirty tricks are coming out. The seat of Lindsay is in outer western Sydney and could easily change hands from the Liberals (who currently hold it) to Labor. So in desperation, the Liberal Campaign team decided to play to the lowest common denominator and inflame anti-Muslim sentiments.

They falsified and distributed a flyer that purported to come from a non-existent radical Muslim group. The flyer proclaimed the group unswerving support for the Labor party including quite despicable (and untrue) references to Labor supporting forgiveness for the Bali bombers. Here's a link to a news story including a copy of the flyer.

To his credit, Liberal leader John Howard has unequivocally condemned the tactic. This is in stark contrast to, say, the conduct of GW Bush when Republican operatives have used blatant lies to slander his opponents. But this is still going to hurt him. It just reeks of desperation and for a man who's always staked his reputation on honesty... well, this doesn't look very honest.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Give me liberty or give me... ?

Add to the long list of people who need to shut the fuck up: Donald Kerr, the principal deputy director of national intelligence in the US. God knows what power that title actually gives him in what spook agency but his principal role seems to be letting the American people know they're utterly fucked.

You know that freedom and liberty idea that so many Americans are so fond of? I think it's time to face facts and file that under "not so much". Most rational people expect their government to have all sorts of spy operations in place. Most of us manage to sleep at night by convincing ourselves it's for our protection and as we're clearly not criminals or terrorist, nobody's spying on us.

That tissue-thin layer of self-delusion tends to get torn apart pretty thoroughly when a government official actually comes out and says "Oh yeah, we're totally spying on everyone. All the time."

In a speech he gave in October, Kerr said Americans shouldn't be fighting to protect their anonymity - they should be "changing their definition of privacy". You see, in this brave new world, privacy doesn't actually mean privacy. It means accepting the fact that the government is going to have full access to every tiny detail of your life any time they want. It means being innocent and law abiding doesn't mean "not under surveillance". But we should all take a deep breath and relax because you can trust the government not to do the wrong thing.

It isn't as if it's easy to find examples of the Bush administration unjustly smearing their opponents (even those within their own party). Incidently, a Google search for "Bush administration smear opponent" returns 579,000 results. Nothing to worry about there.

In the good old days of the Cold War and the McCarthy era, a sizeable proportion of people being spied on actually belonged to the Communist Party (or at least went to meetings hoping to score with those hot politically active chicks). Not any more. Ever had a phone call with someone outside the USA? That's all they need to spy on you now.

Actually, I should correct that last alarmist statement. They won't spy on you for a call where the other party is outside the US. They'll spy on you if they have a reasonable suspicion that one end of the conversation is outside the US. And of course we're talking about eminently reasonable people here. What could possibly go wrong with allowing that sort of power without the usual checks and balances?

And this Kerr character is either frighteningly stupid or simply enjoys insulting the intelligence of everyone else. One of his primary justifications for unlimited government intrusion into innocent people's lives is the way some people use social networking sites like FaceBook and MySpace. Yes, this is what passes for logic with these twisted freaks. Some people give out personal information online and so everyone should give up all rights to privacy.

I keep wanting to avoid hyperbole and gratuitous references to rape but that's what keeps popping into my head. This sounds like the classic drunken moron's defence for date rape. "Hey, the bitch let me buy her dinner and all those drinks. Then she came back to my place. She knew what was coming next, you can't expect me to listen when she says 'NO' after all that."

But this prick really got me angry when he said "Protecting anonymity isn't a fight that can be won... (stop struggling, bitch!)... Our job now is to engage in a productive debate." Oh yeah, that old chestnut. Don't get angry. Just because the government is violently raping your basic rights and expecting you to say "thank you" afterwards. Whatever you do, don't get angry. Be reasonable.

Do you know why Mr Angry exists? Because it's impossible for Mr Angry not to exist in today's world. Every piece of shit in every country in the world who wants to screw over other people is always quick to say anger is wrong. You need to be reasonable. You need to be productive when you respond. You know what?


Here's the big secret they want to keep from you: It's OK to be angry. In fact, fuck that too. It isn't OK. It's the appropriate response. It's fucking required. I'm more than reasonable when somebody presents a reasonable proposal. When they're unreasonable I'll resist. And when they want to lie, cheat, steal and destroy the basic rights of innocent people and tell me I'm not allowed to be angry in response?

I. Get. Fucking. FURIOUS!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Blazing heat and flies - it must be summer in Australia

So after months of planning, it's now less than two weeks to go until the As One gathering for YouTube users here in Melbourne. And right on cue Melbourne has delivered a reminder that it might be a hot day. We're in the middle of a three day stretch of mid to high 30s temperature-wise (that Celsius! 90-100 Fahrenheit for those not good at conversion).

I thought it was my duty to provide a reminder to those planning on attending to take our warnings about the sun seriously. And while I was doing a location shoot it became obvious what else I had to warn people about: the fucking flies! Federation Square is right next to the Yarra river where the bastard things are probably breeding. I didn't have repellent and they wouldn't let up swarming all over me.

Although I didn't catch it on camera I actually inhaled one of the fucking things! I HATE it when that happens! I made quite a scene, doubled over, hacking and coughing, trying to get a fucking fly out of my throat. The little shit was actually still alive when I spat it out!

Mind you, today's temperature is no indicator of what it will be like on December 1st. Or even tomorrow for that matter. Melbourne is notorious for sudden weather changes. For fans of Kiwi band Crowded House, their song "Four Seasons in One Day" is about Melbourne. The gathering day could be stormy, just as hot as today, even hotter or pleasant and mild. Or some combination of all of those.

People think the talk of rapid changes to the weather here is exaggerated here but it isn't. The record for weirdest day I have experienced here was summer last year. It was really hot, more than 38 Celsius (close enough to 100 Fahrenheit) when a storm front moved in late in the afternoon. This would normally cool things down a bit but the temperature dropped 15 degrees Fahrenheit in an hour. The maximum the next day was 20 degrees lower than the maximum on this day.

So yeah, Melbourne is not a city that rewards you for planning an outdoor event a long time in advance. If there's torrential rain on the day of the gathering the crowd will probably punch me out.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

My addiction

I think it's time I came clean. I have a serious problem with addiction. I've tried to give up but I haven't been able to kick it.

I can't stop baiting morons on YouTube. I know I should be a better human about it but they're soooooo stupid and it's sooooo easy to rip on them. I've been having a funny experience over the last few days on YouTube since they featured one of my videos on the Australian home page.

It's actually the video I posted earlier in the week where I expressed my amusement at the proposal to crush cars belonging to hoons. Now that it's being exposed to a larger audience all the sad acts who define themselves according to their penis-compensating cars are coming out of the woodwork.

And so I taunt them. I keep saying to myself "just one more, then I'll quit". And then I've done it twenty times without realising it. Ah well, I'm planning to set up a support group for fellow sufferers, Maybe I'll find the cure one day.

Friday, November 16, 2007

An angry train encounter

I've been going to jon interviews this week which involves the joys of public transport (parking is far too much of a hassle in the city to drive in). We're getting our first hot days of summer and I seem to keep lucking in to getting on trams, trains and/or buses with non-functioning air conditioning. Plus, in Melbourne the public transport is usually absurdly crowded.

Maybe they aren't broken. Maybe it's a deliberate plot. It could be that the government is conducting large-scale experiments to see how the populace will respond to being crushed into a small space while being subjected to high heat and humidity.

If that's the case, you can suspend the experiments now. The results are in. People in that situation get pissed off.

Coming home yesterday I found myself stuck on the tram from hell. Literally, judging from the internal temperature. My mood had gotten progressively worse until it reached the point where I was planning the order in which I would kill people when I finally snapped. Hmmm, he looks easy... she'd be a pushover... I bet his head would pop right off... oooh, he looks tough, I'd better throw some frail bodies between me and him...

I was just about ready to put my plan into action when the tram passed a train station. I took a punt that a train would be less hellish and jumped ship. This turned out to be a good choice - the train was considerably less crowded.

There were a few seats empty in the vestibule of the train but somebody had a bike leaned up against them. These are the type of seat that flip up if nobody is sitting in them so they were flush with the wall, which doubtless seemed like a good thing to the bike owner. I thought I might actually sit in one of the seats that were designed with humans in mind rather than bikes. It seemed like a reasonable plan but it led to the exchange detailed in the following video:

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Crushing Hoons

Hoon is a fun word. I don't know if it used anywhere else in the world but in Australia it's used to describe hooligans. Trouble-makers. Loud mouths. Idiots. It's often used specifically to describe morons who drive like they're trying to over-compensate for their tiny penises and get involved in illegal street racing.

Because going after these dorks is a sure-fire vote winner ("law and order" never goes out of style) politicians are always proposing new laws to punish these miscreants. Each new edict tends to get promoted as an "anti-hoon" law which has a nice ring to it.

In the news at the moment is a proposal by the NSW government to actually crush the cars of hoons convicted of illegal street racing. I know there are similar laws around the world but I like the twist they're adding to this one. They aren't simply crushing the cars into cubes. They're actually using them for crash tests. And the bit I really like is that they're planning to video the crushing and put the videos online.

That's a good start but I have an idea for taking it one step further...

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Wireless Routers Suck!

Some days I'm not all that angry. These days I either don't make a post or video or I end up doing something that isn't all that angry. Yesterday was one of those days. Not all that angry. Not much motivation to do anything angry on the internet.

And then I tried to set up a wireless router...

Friday, November 09, 2007

Yahoo's spam filter sucks!

I'm getting so pissed off with how useless Yahoo's spam filter is. Oh, and I won't even consider adding an exclamation mark every time I write Yahoo - fucking wankers. I have both Gmail and Yahoo email accounts and the difference between their spam filters is staggering.

Gmail hardly lets any spam through but every day I have to wade through spam in my Yahoo inbox. And it isn't even cleverly designed spam. It is absolutely bog-standard Nigerian 419 scams and messages telling me I've won the Irish lottery. And even when I mark something as spam an identical message gets through later in the day.

And the clueless feebs at Yahoo wonder why Google is kicking their arse from one end of the internet to the other. This is the absolute basics of spam management and Yahoo is failing miserably.

On a slightly related note, I had a funny experience with what I guess I could call phone spam. I've published the number for the angry phone far and wide (0403 069 148) and received a few interesting calls. Yesterday I received one from a chap saying he was calling from Ghana. He was apparently feeling hard done by and was assured I was a generous and caring person. He then proceeded to recite one of the standard spam scripts that Yahoo is so useless at blocking.

I said straight away that I knew the call was a scam and I wasn't going to give him any money or any of my personal details. But he was not easily dissuaded and wanted to keep telling me about how I was the only one who could help him with his desperate plight. At first I thought I'd see how long I could keep him on the line and so cost him money but I soon realised from the low sound quality he was calling via voice over IP. So no chance of sending him broke.

I really wish I had a camera running and was able to record the whole thing because there was quite a comical element to it. My African phone spammer had managed to call just after I had put some dye in my hair. Because of this, I couldn't put the phone right up to my ear or it would have been covered in dye. This, of course, mad it hard to hear him. Plus he had a really thick accent.

So he's doggedly ploughing through his script and I keep interjecting with "Dude, I can't hear you. Or understand you. And I wouldn't give you any money if I could." All the while holding the phone daintily away from my ear to avoid colouring it purple.

Sad to say, it was the highlight of my day.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Back in the job market

I'm testing the waters in the job market again. I won't be starting another contract until at least December but I'll probably need to start lining up interviews soon. I checked the main job website and the market looks healthy. It seems as though about 60 contract positions for my line of work are being advertised each week.

I say "seems to be" because although that's the number that pops up when I search, it isn't strictly accurate. Some of them are being re-advertised so they aren't all new. Some are being advertised by more than one agency so the numbers are a bit deceptive. And then there's the morons who advertise permanent roles under the contract listings.

This really bugs me. When I've questioned agencies about this in the past they've said they wanted to reach the widest range of candidates possible. Yeah, including the ones who aren't even slightly interested. That makes sense. I decided to call one of the agencies and share my displeasure with them:

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

When private and public meet

I had a funny experience today. The upcoming YouTube gathering coincides with the Melbourne World AIDS Day Concert hosted by the Burnet Institute. Both events will be at Federation Square on November 1st. Given the global nature of YouTube and the global nature of World AIDS Day seem like a perfect fit, I'm working with the people at the Burnet Institute to do some cross-promotion with YouTube.

At a big meeting today it was my job to explain to the various attendees what the As One YouTube gathering actually was. When I described the promotion that had been happening on YouTube, the guy next to me said "Yeah I saw a video about that done by AngryAussie."

The fact that he referred to me in the third person while I was sitting right next to him threw me for a moment. Then I realised. He had no idea I was AngryAussie. When I explained that I was AngryAussie his reaction was amusing to say the least.

About a dozen expressions flickered across his face. What? What are you talking about? You're crazy. Oh, wait a minute. Yeah, maybe. No, but... Do I look like a dork for not recognising him?

It's nice to know that my "disguise" actually works. Apparently I come across differently when I'm not wearing a mask and ranting. Who knew?

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

My brain won't switch off

So at about 2.30am I realised I wasn't going to sleep and I should stop wasting time in bed. I'd be much better served getting up and wasting time on the computer. My brain was going over and over details about the As One gathering for YouTubers in Melbourne. I kept thinking of all the things I still have to organise.

I'm lying in the dark ticking off videos I want to make, people I need to call, information I have to publicise and on top of it all I'm still planning for my trip to LA next week.

Well, at least I have one less thing to worry about now. In the middle of wasting time skipping through YouTube videos (welcome to YouTube, Oprah!) I got an email from my NY contact saying the producer had changed plans. Now they want to shift the interview from LA back to NY and do it in December or January rather than next week.

With any change to a plan there are positives and negatives. The single biggest positive to this change is that I don't lose a week of preparation time just before the As One gathering. I'm sure my partner in crime, SeanBedlam, will be greatly relieved (although he's been nothing but supportive about me going for this interview). Now I can concentrate on one thing at a time. I'm thinking of all positives and negatives of this change:

POSITIVE: More time for me to prepare

NEGATIVE: More time for me to freak out

POSITIVE: I get to go to New York! For the first time!

NEGATIVE: I don't get to see the people I would have seen in LA

I'm sure there's more than that but it's 4am here now and my brain isn't functioning as well as I thought it was. When I started writing this I imagined I had a really long +/- list. Hmmm, there is the possible complication that I was planning to start a new job in December or January. Oh god, and NY is going to be freezing in Dec/Jan isn't it?

Ah well, life is an adventure. I knew I was asking for trouble when I made that "May you live in interesting times" video a few weeks back.

Monday, November 05, 2007

How to speak Oz - Lesson one

With the Melbourne As One gathering for YouTubers fast approaching (December 1st for those who need reminding) I find myself with a lot to do. I'm answering questions, still hopeful of securing some sponsorship, organising events for the days and working with the Burnet Institute who are running the World AIDS Day Concert which is also on at Federation Square on the same day.

But I need to do more. Now that several people from overseas have confirmed the will be coming I have realised I need to help them. With the local language. Many of them assume they will be OK because they think they speak English. Sadly, some will find they only speak American which is not the same thing at all.

Teaching these people to speak Australian (or Strine as it is know to academics) will not be an easy task. But I am not daunted. I will start with the basics and work up from there. Todays lesson covers two things visitors absolutely must know:

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Think ahead

As part of my preparation for going to be interviewed in LA, I've been working with a director to practice responding to questions. I've mentioned the director before, his name is Adrian Calear. I went to college with him and these days he's a respected director in the Melbourne comedy scene. My thinking is, chances like this don't come along very often so I really don't want to fuck this one up. If I do well in this, who knows what other doors might open.

One of the things Adrian has been teaching me is how to structure my responses. Start with something concise that can fit into ten seconds but be thinking two sentences ahead in case the interviewer asks you to elaborate. While the skills I've been learning will be directly useful beyond this TV interview (I have to start going to job interviews again soon) there's a lot of areas where it would be indirectly useful too.

This was actually brought into focus for me as I was driving home. There are a significant number of drivers on Melbourne roads who are only alive because they haven't run into another driver (literally) who's as stupid as them. These are morons who seem incapable of reacting to what's directly in front of them. Hoping that they learn the ability to plan for what's ahead is a long shot to say the least.

You end up stuck behind these cretins when they slam on the brakes as they reach a green light because they suddenly remember they wanted to turn at this intersection. They come out of side streets without slowing down and just maybe think about looking for oncoming traffic after they've already cut you off. These are the people that I use to justify my car-mounted machine guns.

The biggest concern with these morons is that their idiocy is life threatening when they get behind the wheel. But sometimes they're just plain fucking annoying. The particular brand of genius I was subjected to on this drive was when there were two turning lanes at an intersection they get in the wrong one.

I'm talking about the sort of intersection where there are two lanes for turning right. If you're going straight once you turn the corner it doesn't matter which lane you're in. But if you're going to turn left STRAIGHT AFTER the intersection, then common sense dictates you get in the left lane. Sadly, common sense doesn't seem to be one of the core requisites for getting a driver's license. Because there are far too many morons who clearly think "hey, I'm in the wrong lane, but what could possibly go wrong with sailing across a few lanes of traffic without indicating? Because after all, my convenience far outweighs little things like the safety of other people."

I wouldn't have believed I could have morons inflict this on me three times in one drive but that's what happened. I guess they were very excited at this weeks' meeting of "Morons United" when the chief moron explained this brand new way to fuck people up.

Worse still, these idiots cop an attitude when you dare point out their stupidity. It drives me crazy when they flail their arms about pulling "what's your problem" faces. You're my fucking problem, dickhead. Well, I'll fix them with my new invention: chainsaws mounted on extendable arms at the front of my car. Let them stare at the bloody stumps where their flailing arms used to be until they get the message.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Stalkers take note

I received confirmation of my travel plans for going to LA next week. I'm flying in to LA on Monday November 12th and doing the shooting for the TV show on the 13th. They've got me staying at a place called the Montrose Suite Hotel in West Hollywood. I had a look at their website and it looks pretty good.

If anyone is in the LA area and wants to get together, I'll probably be in the mood to party a bit on the night of Tuesday the 13th. Assuming the shooting goes well, that is. If I screw it up completely I'll be in the mood to get so drunk I forget it all. So youknow, either way could make for a good time.

Friday, November 02, 2007

It runs in the family

People often ask me if my angry behaviour has any effect on my kids. Allow me to present Exhibit A:

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Pointless Interview questions

The job market is a fun place. Well, it's fun for me at the moment, mostly because I'm in no rush to start another contract. This makes me very relaxed during interviews which tends to result in me coming across better. It also frees me up to decide I don't want a particular job. I'm not desperate for money so I'm content to wait for the right opportunity rather than grab the first thing that comes along.

It also gives me a bit of freedom in my responses when I think the interviewer is asking stupid questions. I don't want to burn any bridges so I'm not actually rude. I never actually come out and say I think the interviewer is asking stupid questions but it's fairly easy to turn things around so they are in the position of justifying why they're asking questions that are so, well... stupid.

For instance, there was the putz I had to see this week who thought he was being really clever. It seems as though someone gave him the book of Microsoft interview questions and he was eager to show off his new "knowledge". This style of interviewing gives you abstract questions that have no relationship whatsoever to the work you'll be doing. Or to the real world.

Proponents say they're trying to see how creatively you can think. Normal humans say it's a waste of time. In my case, the interview went a little like this:

Annoying Recruiter: How would you move Mount Fuji 1/2 a kilometre to the South?

ME: Why would I do that?

AR: Uhhhh, it's a project you've been assigned.

ME: As part of my work I've been asked to move Mount Fuji?

AR: Yes, so how would you do it?

ME: How could that possibly benefit the business?

AR: What?

ME: As an analyst, my first reaction is the project would be prohibitively expensive and take forever to complete. The first thing I'd want is to see a business case that showed how this would benefit the business.

AR: But how would you do it?

ME: That isn't the important question. What you need to be asking is why would you do it?

AR: I just want to know how you'd do it.

ME: But if you can't tell me why it should be done, that tells me there's a problem. As an analyst, I wouldn't be doing my job if I let the project go forward without answering that question.

AR: I'm trying to get an idea of how you'd approach the problem.

ME: I'm telling you how I'd approach it: I'd try to find out why someone wanted to do this. Seriously, even suggesting such an outlandish project tells me that things are seriously out of whack.

AR: No, this isn't a real work project. I gave you an unusual example to see how you'd approach a problem that you wouldn't face in your day to day work.

ME: So what you're saying is the way you're planning to work out if I'd be any good at this job by asking me questions that have nothing to do with the job and could never be of any value to the job?

AR: Uhh, yes.

ME: It never occurred to you to ask me questions related to actual issues I'm likely to face in this job?

AR: Well, this is a creative exercise.

ME: So you're sticking with the plan that finding out how I deal with something useless is more valuable than finding out how I'd deal with something that actually matters to the business?

AR: Well that isn't really the point...

ME: Is it hard to get your job? (extended silence) Wait I've got a better question: If I took this job, would I ever have to see you again? Because I gotta tell you, that would have a pretty big influence on my decision.

I'd like to point out I'm not a cruel man. It was never my intention to reduce the interviewer to tears. But I think with the right therapy, he'll come through this a stronger person.