Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Tuesday ramblings

Wow, that could be a regular topic - ramblings.

I was reading lorum ipsum this morning, and her discussion on what heaven might be like. I haven’t thought much of it. I was raised a Catholic, with pictures of Jesus sitting on a cloud, and told it would be pure pleasure just to be in His (with a capital H) presence. Hell would be knowing that he was there but not being able to get to him. Never had a good impression of purgatory. Sorry, I don’t believe it now. I just figure when I die I’m gone, turned off, nothing hanging around. But Lorum figures there is a place for people like me too. So thanks for the inclusion. It’s nice to be presented with philosophical questions periodically.

Aerosmith was in town, concert last Saturday. Steve Tyler sightings are up all over town. He was seen at the Harley dealership last week (no report on what he purchased) and assorted restaurants and nightclubs. Bon Jovi is due out in March, and a local radio station is running a contest to select their opening act. Sounds like a big break for a local band, to open for Bon Jovi in Vegas. We’ve been having discussions on how good a place Vegas is for celebrity sightings. They might live in Los Angeles, but LA is so big it’s hard to find anybody. Vegas is much smaller, and since visitors are concentrated down on the strip it’s fairly easy to be at one of Ceasar’s restaurants or shops and see somebody well known pass by. B and I are not ones to go looking for celebrities, but it’s fun to read about them and laugh.

I’ve talked before about my job. I’m a programmer for the credit card section of a bank. I work in a computer language that has been around for a while, and is very appropriate for small to mid size companies. But the corporate attitude here falls into the Microsoft line. Which is to continually buy in to the language of the moment. The only way Microsoft makes money is to keep producing new products and getting people to buy the new stuff, buy the training required to learn the new stuff, and convert up. Then in a few years even newer stuff comes out.

Microsoft’s latest push is for something they call ‘.NET’. When the Internet started getting big a few years ago (wow, I’ve sure used that word a lot, let’s stop helping Google and shift to M) M tried to ignore it, but suddenly there was an attitude shift, and now everything they sell is aligned toward supporting Internet activities. Our upper management has fallen for this, so the stuff I am supporting that has worked for years is now being replaced. It’s going to cost our group almost $30,000 to upgrade to M’s latest products. Plus the training. Plus we are using Oracle for back end data storage. That requires the employ of expensive Oracle experts – not an easy thing to learn. But it means I have to learn something new.

This also means that our manager has promised short deliveries for the new programs. I was supposed to be in the group that did a replacement over the summer – they worked 80 to 100 hour weeks July August and September. Of course our boss got a big bonus for delivering, but the guys that were working all that time got nothing. Well, the satisfaction of producing a good product. Really helps when your planned vacation is cancelled (as our analyst’s was) and you don’t see your family. Anna at Red Boat pointed to her sister’s which pointed to a different Rob discussing software. But watching other people deal with management in other jobs shows that it’s not only software people that are given tight deadlines. Every company tries to suck the most out of every employee, then wonders why people leave. The problem with changing jobs is that the new company is probably very similar to the old, and you’ll still get stuck with unrealistic expectations.

I received my annual review a few weeks ago. All I can relate to is Alice in the Dilbert comics. At her last review she obtained a very small raise from the pointy haired boss. She discussed how she worked tons of hours, and even donated a kidney to one of the top VPs. Management’s response was “well, we expected you to do that so you only ‘met expectations’ you didn’t exceed them, so no big raise”. Most of my review points were ‘met expectations’. I can’t disagree, I’ve had a lot of experience, and would be very disappointed if my boss didn’t expect a lot out of me. Which makes it harder and harder to ‘exceed expectations’. Of course the HR department has a grading scale, with points given for grades which directly relates to salary increases. Only ‘met expectations’? Well, not much money for you. Which is another reason that programmers bounce between jobs so much – the only way to get a good raise is to go to a different company. And firms wonder why it’s so hard to keep good employees? If I keep getting this level of increase, and new hires keep coming in at the competitive increases required, in five years I’ll be making the same as somebody with just a few years experience. Oh well, at least they are keeping me trained, so I’ll be ready for that next place.

More bouncing, average Tommy had a good post:

“Americans have forgotten what it takes to remain free. Instead, every ideology, every group is determined to use government to advance its agenda. As the government’s power grows, the people are eclipsed.”
I agree with one exception. One really big exception.
“Americans have forgotten what it takes to remain free.”
I suspect most never knew. Freedom doesn’t just happen. You get it the old fashioned way, you earn it.
Have you earned it?
Protesting doesn’t count. Much like you can’t get rich simply pointing out where to invest, you can’t be free by wearing a funny hat and carrying a sign. Freedom requires a commitment. A commitment much larger than the one required by marriage. Have you looked at the state of that lately?"

And somebody had a Google ad on the top of their page. This one was interesting, it looked like a purple – um, well, a purple article that might be used for a personal purpose. The Tesla Shield makes use of ‘tachyons’ to create a unique product (sounds like something out of Startrek). “The Tesla Purple Energy Shield™ is available at the special introductory price of $89.95 which represents a 50% discount from the regular price of $179.95.” Wow, I haven’t read an advertising blurb like that in years, wonder if they sell many at that price. Well, it probably costs them $1.29 to make in China. I thought all of the ‘new age’ stuff hand gone away. Guess not, if you have enough money. Maybe they sell energy crystals too.

Oh, sorry if I offended anyone that does believe. That’s another nice thing, that people can believe in whatever they want to; and others can make fun of their choices.

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