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Saturday, January 4, 2020


I don't feel verbal right now.  You folks on the Spectrum know what that's like.

My employers have decided to make changes with the beginning of the year.  Because it's January, and you change things in January, so let's change things.

Being on the Autistic spectrum, I deal with change about as well as you might expect.  Extreme stress, anger, severe depression.  They dropped the bomb on the big change for me today.  Because I work on Saturday.

I won't be working on Saturday anymore.  That's not the big change.

I've been working for this company for over ten years, after a prior job, doing the same thing, ended when my employers packed up their carpetbags and left town.  "Displaced worker."   I originally took the job with the promise that it would never require sales.  Never.  They didn't keep that promise, and I stayed, because I'm an idiot.  Or at least I'm Autistic, and while I suck at sales (as is to be expected), I suck more at job seeking.  Social skills are kind of important for job hunting, doncha know?  If you doubt that, don't make any eye contact at your next job interview.

So, in the last few years, they moved all of us to work-from-home.  They gave various arguments, but I suspect it's just cheaper for them, given we pay for the electric and network service for what has to be treated as their office space in our homes.  They had me taking calls on maybe 10 different inbound programs.  Thought I was doing well, and then...

Today they announced I'm being taken entirely off all inbound work and doing full-time outbound til God-knows-when.  Basically sales.  Full time.  M-F 9:30 - 6.  Sales.

"Hey, let's have the Autistic guy do sales, that'll work out swell!"

I know it's not because they think I'll be good at sales.  I know it's because they do not value my talents, skills, or decade of experience.  Effectively, they said so in writing.  (Another story I may tell you sometime.)

Ideally, I'd now go looking for a new job and get out of this.  Except it's northern Minnesota in January, and I don't drive.  And I'm over 60.  And while being Autistic makes me mind-bogglingly ill-suited for this job, it also makes me either ill-suited for other jobs or at least a hard sell.  Because they can always hire a younger, non-Autistic person.  And as I mentioned, I'm not a good salesman.

And you know, simply because I've done This Thing for  These Guys for so long, I'll get offer after offer to do the same damn thing, which is a painfully bad idea.

The one talent of mine they really could have used came a few years ago, when they decided to do a podcast.  I saw that mentioned in the company newsletter, and I emailed them to point out I had (at that time) nine years of experience as a podcaster.  Even talked to the main communications guy about what was needed.

Did I mention I'm not a good salesman?

They picked someone else to do the podcast, who had never ever done a podcast.  But she'd gone to college, and they (also college grads) understand people like themselves.  And I don't know, but I'd bet she's not on the spectrum.  They did four episodes over a three year period... and stopped.  You know that rule-of-thumb where if you haven't done at least five episodes, you haven't started podcasting?  They don't know that one.

I know why it failed and what needed to be done differently.  But they haven't asked, and they're not going to.  In my more cynical moments (and it's hard to get more cynical), I suspect someone in the C Suite said "we should have a podcast!" and someone else got stuck with the unwanted project.  Now they can say, "Well we tried, and it didn't work."  Not Invented Here, laissez faire capitalist version.

So anyway, change.  Deep dark depression, excessive misery.  Not considering "a permanent solution to a temporary problem."  But those of you on the spectrum know how it feels when it becomes so urgent to Do Something that you can't do anything, can barely move, can barely breathe.

So, I slept all day.


Sunday, September 8, 2019

Up and Down

Listening to Terry Fallis' 2012 novel "Up and Down," his third I believe.  I'm trying to listen my way through all of those available as podcast feeds.

The idea is that a PR firm is given the task of reinvigorating public support for NASA and and Canada's CSA.  The new guy (David) throws out a brainstorm for a contest so a regular citizen of each of the countries gets a "working" trip to the ISS.  (They would be doing some of the work up there, not just staring out the window.). The selection of the vetted candidates would be made by a random drawing.

It may be a 2012 thing.  But an' t'were me, I'd do more of a "America's Got Talent" thing, with perhaps periodic interviews or minidocumentaries about each of the top X contestants, and the audience voting for their favorite candidates.  A drawing is like the lottery, people are interested till they find out their number wasn't drawn, then they're off to something else.

Have them do the voting and they have some ownership of *their* candidate. And if their candidate doesn't win, they were still part of the process, and they're still invested in the success of The Whole Thing.

Then again, Terry has decades of experience in PR, so I suppose he'd know better than I.  And it's likely a moot point; closest we came to Citizen Astronaut was Teacher in Space -- which didn't turn out well, no fault of the Teacher in Space idea.  Maybe someday.

"I blame you for the moonlit sky...."

FIR on Technology # 3 - Markdown

Listening to a podcast from 2016 (cause that's how I roll) from FIR Podcast Network where Chip Griffin talks about something called Markdown.  The idea is, rather than mousing around and clicking buttons, or typing truly arcane HTML, one types their content -- and in appropriate spots, one adds a few characters as part of the text to create special format items, headers and bulleted lists and whatnot.  Sweet!

Being old enough that I still own a sliderule... I learned how to use most of this back in the day when we wrote actual letters, stuck them in envelopes with stamps on them, and gave them to some guy in a blue uniform.  I also learned formatting by creating newsletters that got printed on paper.  And I learned by using WordPerfect 5.1 for DOS.

I still prefer the idea of WP over MS Word.  Microsoft created Word kinda backwards in my humble opinion.  Spend an extended period making your document all pretty, create a bunch of formatting stuff and put in graphics and all that, and then if you have any time left, maybe do some actual writing.

WordPerfect was written for people who learned typing by typing, who learned to create content by creating content.  Once you'd written what you wanted to say, then you went back and added on any fancy formatting stuff and graphics, if needed.  If it wasn't needed, if you were one of us, well, then you didn't put it in.  Start by writing content.  You may well be able to stop there.

I have yet to use Markdown.  But what I admired about Markdown from Chip's description is, you can create a Markdown document without using a mouse -- another strength of WP.   A couple decades down the road, I can certainly flip back and forth from keyboard to mouse to keyboard to mouse with reasonable facility.  But if I want to get actual content created without wasting time, use the keyboard.  Because that's what it's for.  Straight-up keyboarding, once I've learned what is where, is much faster. And with muscle memory, as with typing itself, I honestly couldn't tell you what key combination I just used -- I think what I want to produce and my fingers respond.

So I look forward to doing a bit of fiddling with Markdown.  Sad to say, I've lost most of the WP muscle memory I had, though when I want to print something my hands still start toward the right keys to get WP to print.

In a larger sense, I still recommend Play Episodes in Order on podcasts.  It is especially educational where the podcast feed goes back a few years.  You don't just hear the current commentary about The Next Big Thing.  You hear what they said about it when it hadn't proven itself.  Investment guys back in 2010 saying Google isn't a good investment, and Facebook is a fad that'll soon be gone.

It's history. If you want to understand what is there, you should understand why it's there and how it got there, and what it replaced.

Here endeth the sermon.

Friday, August 23, 2019

A comment on This Week in Google 513

Was just listening to This Week in Google 513, "A Secret Route in Jersey" with a rather vehement discussion about a column about privacy called "The New Wilderness" which went off track a long way.  Was going to comment

Jeff Jarvis made a valid point which got lost in the shouting.  His original point was, as I heard it, we need to be very careful about how we regulate the handling of the vast amount of data we are allowing to be accumulated.  The argument devolved into an almost-shouting match, and the objections presented to Jeff's point amounted to claiming that he was arguing for not regulating the use of that data.  So then he had to devote time and energy to defending a stand he hadn't taken in the first place.

Should the capture and use of such data be regulated?  Probably, though I'm not sure what the right way would be, I'm sure there isn't a simple answer with no possible flaws.  Jeff's argument as I heard it  was partly about the baby and the bathwater.  Write your regulations too broadly and you lose what good might come from the existence of that data.  And what good will that be?  I don't know.  You don't either.  Neither does Jeff.  "Of what use is a newborn baby?"

Likewise, legislation written with a battleaxe can demolish elements of the free discussion to which we now have access.  It can get ugly and bloody, but muffled silence is not an improvement.  Google, Facebook, et al, are not the ideal custodians of public discourse.  But for now they're what we have.

And simply because legislation claims to be for protection of privacy or restriction of excessive power, that doesn't mean it is.  A solution that claims to protect doesn't always protect.  I saw an article the other day, mentioning how shocked the administrators of a school were to discover some first graders had taken a gun from an unlocked box in the school's administrative office -- likely put there for Protection.  "But it's for the children!"  Uh-huh.  Heard that song before.

My own belief is that there should be an open mechanism that allows communication among a few billion people worldwide.  I don't think it should be run by Mark Zuckerberg.  But the US Government wouldn't be my choice either.  I honestly couldn't tell you who should.

We don't want multi-billion-dollar multinationals censoring our speech.  But we have folks introducing laws requiring them to do so -- and the people introducing those laws are also people we don't want censoring our speech.  So they pass laws that allow them to do the censoring at one remove, in obscurity and with no accountability.

So, Professor Jarvis, you are correct.  You didn't offer a solution.  But you did clearly state what the solution is not.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Is This Better?

Wierd. Just installed the Blogger app, and at best I'd say it's a lot to get used to. It makes obvious how to add a title (fine) and labels (okay)... but I sure would have expected entering actual content should be obvious, too.  Not unfindable, but not obvious.
On the other hand, it doesn't appear to have that "feature" of doing a line through when I put in double hyphens -- like that for example.  Probably worth making sure, huh?  ;-)
I have seen reviews on Play Store contending that this has some issues with uploading pictures.  Since I use pictures for essentially nothing on my blog, I may never notice those issues.
So in other words, so far, so good.