Category Archives: Rants

Job Interviews of 2011

I’ve been getting kicked in the teeth a lot recently. A while ago I went for a few job interviews. I even thought about going permanent for a while. In fact I even applied for a few permanent jobs. I applied for 3 places. One of them, www.playfire.com, a gaming social network) I really wanted to work at. Another, Assanka, I thought would have been good for me as it would have been able to shift my career path slightly. And also a 3rd company, Webgains, a good place with a focus on improvement.

Webgains said:~ “No thank you”. They were very nice and respectful, which was nice. Originally I thought that I interviewed really badly that day and would have done better another day. But when started being honest with myself, I played the interview back to myself in my head and realised that I have a surface level knowledge of enough of things to enable me to find the answer rapidly when the technical requirements exceed my current level. So in short, with the knowledge I had then, I probably would have never interviewed well. There is an argument against that level of questioning and that my strategy of “knowledge + Google” should be enough. I would have to disagree, the role was for a senior position where I would be mentoring other. Einstein once said, “If you can’t explain something simply, you don’t understand it well enough”. If that’s the case, I was in no position to be teaching others. Looking back in it now it not getting the job has only been a blessing, it showed me how I can improve and I think had I gotten the job I think I would have been really by the content and industry.

Assanka was plain shit shit (double shit). When I made the application, I got this automated response:

Thank you for your application to join Assanka. You have now passed the CV review stage and we would like to invite you to complete our online skills assessment.  The test takes at least 2 hours for a strong candidate so, not wishing to waste anybody’s time, we have only extended this invitation to you because we feel you have a good chance of being the right person for the job.

Once you submit the test, it will be scored and you will receive a response within 7 days. If successful, we will invite you to an interview.”

I thought the email rude. I decided I wouldn’t take the job. In my head imagined them offering me the job and me telling them “No, I don’t like the elitist attitude portrayed in your communications. I don’t care how big you are or how many awards you have won, you are dealing with people and I want to work in an environment with decent friendly people and if this email is representative of your culture, NO”. So to make my visions come true I decided to do the test.

The test was terrible. They showed blank boxes you clicked on to view questions. The questions ranged from easy to difficult with headings for multiple disciplines. You choose your own subset of questions to answer. Once you clicked a question, you HAD to answer it, you couldn’t read it and leave it for later. ANSWER NOW or FORFEIT were the options. If I want to show that I have SOME knowledge in other fields so I could be useful in more than one place, no luck. You can’t read a question and say: “Ok too easy, everyone knows this, I will be proving nothing by answering, move to the next” or “Too difficult, answering this now is going to waste time I could use proving I am competent elsewhere”. Forfeit is forfeit. I had 0 human interaction, so I had no idea what skills they valued in their programmers. Did they use this same test for everyone or just programmers? Do they expect me to have knowledge in all the disciplines? So my strategy was to spread myself thinly across all the disciplines. Most of the questions were worded confusingly forcing you to make assumptions about what they were actually asking.

A week or so later, I got an email. (I can’t find the email so I’m paraphrasing slightly):

“Dear human,

Your test results indicate you would be good at: MOLESTING GOATS.

Unfortunately we don’t currently have a position for: MOLESTING GOATS.

Thank you”

They told me no!? I WAS GOING TO TELL THEM NO! Hmmm… I should have said no before I took the test. No helpful feedback wrapped in a healthy dose of snark for them. It’s no wonder they have the word ass in their name.

Playfire, I’d been eyeing for months and months. The first time I saw they had an opening I wanted it so badly I talked myself out of applying for fear of not getting it – weird logic, I know. Playfire are a cool startup, doing interesting things. If I got the job not only would I would be programming, but also surrounded by content I love. I foresaw much potential and have no doubt (with the correct guidance) they’ll do really well. I talked myself into applying.

I was nervous sending them my CV, nervous doing the tests and nervous waiting feedback. I always found nervosity to be a good thing. It gets me to perform better. That made me confident… or less worried. (Nervosity is ACTUALLY a word!? Here I thought I was being funny by making up words).

I know you can be very thinly spread when running a start-up. So I was surprised and humbled when one of the Co-Founders took time to get into an email conversation with me.

I got sent the test. There was a strong emphasis on performance, something that doesn’t always take precedence in agency work. Even the test questions were mathematically worded. I was never an algorithmic byte jockey, so the test challenging and new to me. It was great.

They very next day after completing the test, I got a reply. Here’s part of it: “you’re clearly a strong developer, but unfortunately not quite what we’re looking for in this role”. I suspect the co-fo was just trying to not hurt my feelings. All-in-all dealing with playfire was most pleasant. I really do hope they do well.

That’s it… I haven’t written in a while… I wanted to write and this came out. The you have it, go about your business.

Argos are not ripping you off

LOL. I wrote this whole article originally thinking that Argos was ripping customer off. My maths was wrong and I thought it was a bum deal. Yes, blindingly simple maths I know, I should be ashamed. I think my only saving quality in this case that I am sceptical enough to check it is what they say it is.

I was just on my way to the store to get Rage. I don’t have a Game near enough to me so my options are Argos or Sainsbury’s. I have bought a few games from Argos and I have seen this deal before. “Get 800 Xbox LIVE points for just £4.99 with selected Xbox 360 games”. Sounds like a good idea. If I’m buying the game anyway I might as well get some cheap points. With all the amazing Xbox live arcade games coming out, you can never have enough points.

Is this a deal? Yes, as in deal with it bitch, I am not ripping you off.

I nearly took the offer on two occasions. On both occasions something said: “Wait, don’t do it, check first”. But I could never remember the actual price for Xbox points. So today I was at home saw the deal and I decided to check if the offer was actually in my favour. On Xbox itself, points cost £8.50 for a 1000. That works out to something like 0.0085 cents per point. With the offer, it works out to 0.0062 cents per point. So as you can see, you are throwing away saving a whole 0.0022 cents per point. That is throwing away saving a whole 1.81 for the 800 points.

Anyways. Off to get Rage I go, and maybe some cheap points too, if Sainsbury’s can’t beat £48.17 (£49.98 minus the saving).  :)

Move along – You can’t Like that here

According to this article the Facebook Like button has been one of the guiding forces of defining how we interact with content on the web today. To be honest I can’t remember what the article said but I thought it was a decent enough lead in, so I went with that. However what I said isn’t really such a bold claim if you take into account all the sites that already have the Like button somewhere on the page. I’m sitting here, trying to think of non-sterotypical hyperbole of how frequently the like button is used on the web as a way of avoiding doing any form of research on what I am writing about. The problem being, I am not really in the most verbally creative states of mind just yet… so lets just say it’s a lot… like really a lot… like over 12.

As much as I want to hate on Facebook, the idea of a Like button is a simple and intuitive concept, it’s difficult to see why it wouldn’t work. Without doing any research or caring about whether I am right or not, the Digg button existed long before the Like button. If things were different and Digg was a little more cautious with it’s version 4 overhaul and it’s users weren’t so whiny, we may have still been Digging stuff. I’d like to think that the Digg button was the precursor to the Like button. The concept is not new by any means, but being in the right place at the right time has seen a huge uptake of the like button.

As an aside I find the corporate Like culture quite weird. It’s used as a form of currency, Like me and you can have this download. Like me and you can enter this competition, you had to make a purchase previously. You have to like me before you can interact with me. What is that shit all about? Companies are collecting them, kind of like XBOX achievement points but for corporates – to see who has the biggest dick. I am not saying that is all it’s good for, as a content provider I can see how it may have value as a feedback system. But… I’m getting sidetracked.

The undeniable success of the Like button has spawned some Like clones. Google’s +1 is an obvious one, while Behance has the Appreciate This seal of approval at the bottom. There is also Flattr, but that’s different. It’s the put your money where you mouth is of Like buttons, the put up or shut up – there are direct real world consequences for clicking a Flattr button. That’s just three examples, I’m sure there are many others and I have no doubt many others will follow suit.

Hmmm... Do I Like this or is it Tits?

With everyone wanting to cut out their own little wordy real estate on the web, I was wondering why we can’t reuse. Will I be allowed to like stuff in a non Facebook way? They probably won’t, but why can’t Microsoft, Google or Apple let users Like stuff? I am not saying they would want to either but I sure would like to see someone try. What would happen? Litigation? Even if the button were branded differently so there was no confusion? I don’t know? A Nike Like or something? I mean, people were liking stuff long before the internet. Liking something has always been a natural form of expression. Why can’t we reuse it? Surely you can’t hold a monopoly on liking stuff?

Motorola Droid Bionic [pics] – Unlock Hidden Functionality

The Motorola Droid Bionic. The latest feature to be added to the Motorola Droid Bionic, the company’s new flagship smart phone, is the ability to fuck you in the ass. I know some of you may be thinking: “Finally! Smart phones have finally reached the pinnacle of human technology!” The truth is this is nothing new. This feature has been included in many of Motorola’s older products including the original Motorola Droid, the great-great-grandfather of Motorola Droid Bionic. It’s not common knowledge, but this feature can be unlocked on nearly all of Motorola’s mobile products, including the soon-to-be-released Motorola Droid Bionic.

The best part about accessing this functionality is that you don’t have to root your phone, you don’t have to download an app. It already comes standard with the phone and will DEFINITELY be included in the Motorola Droid Bionic.

You may be wondering how you can do this on your phone. Well, I was one of the first people to get hold of and become a proud owner of the original Motorola Droid. I’ve been really happy with it. I shouted its praises at anyone willing to listen. Imagine my joy in finding new abilities on an old piece of hardware that I already thought was amazing.

Anyways enough teasing. In then next few paragraphs I will explain to you how to unlock this functionality so that your own Motorola phone can fuck you in the ass. So without further ado:

Unlock the ability to get fucked in the ass with the Motorola Droid Bionic

Motorola Droid Bionic - The fuck machine
  • Step 1: Use your phone as normal.
  • Step 2: Wait for a fault that you yourself are unable to fix.
  • Step 3: Send it to the repair centre listed on Motorola’s own website.
  • Step 4: Hear nothing. Wait a week.
  • Step 5: Phone the customer centre. Listen to them tell you they have no idea where your phone is… even though it was tracked and you can see that someone has signed for it.
  • Step 6: Send a few emails, wait a week.
  • Step 7: They find your phone and email you to tell you they will send you a quote.
  • Step 8: Wait for the quote, receive nothing.
  • Step 9: Call them up. Get told you’ve already been sent a quote and they have been waiting on you all this time.

That’s it! You’ve been fucked in the ass. As you can see it comes standard with every Motorola phone.

The best part is the feature has lasting effect and with the last few steps probably being:

  • Step 10: Pay through you teeth for this shitty service.
  • Step 11: Maybe get your phone back.

SBE Ltd UK, the company behind Motorola’s customer service, is shit. LG uses them too as does T-Mobile. If you can, avoid these companies at all costs. This is NOT an isolated incident. Support is a big part of the product. If you don’t have good support, you don’t have a good product.

Fuck you, a lot.

What about the rest of us?

Update: Facebook and other third party measurement firms reports are in conflict with previous statistics and indicate that overall Facebook numbers are still growing. Three of the firms’ figures do indicate a decrease in the Facebook user base for at least two non-consecutive months. Rightly so, some are saying there is not enough information to call it a trend.

I attempted to quit Facebook the other day. I say attempted because Facebook does not actually let you delete your account. I just deactivates it. Meaning the data is all there. So when you come back in it’s as though you have never left. It’s as though the digital you has just been asleep and everything has carried on around you.

That’s not actually what I wanted to talk about but let me continue down this way for a bit longer. There are both good things and bad things about being in a digital coma. The good thing is that because my account was only deactivated I still have the opportunity to get information I have on there. For instance I had a few appointments sitting in Facebook that I had not yet put in my Google calendar. I logged in to diarise these before deactivating again. Technically I would not have been at that much of a disadvantage if my account was actually deleted, I could have called/emailed the person and I’d have it again. Facebook however, does make it easier. The bad thing is that I feel as a person I’d be much better off from not having a Facebook account at all. To me being slightly less connected feels like a breath of fresh crisp mountain air.

WHY YOU HERE? YOU LEFT US! WHO NEED WHO NOW MUTHAFUCKA!?

 

The other thing to consider is I am by trade, a WEB developer. I develop applications for the WEB. With Facebook being such a large part of the web, is it really plausible that I cannot have a Facebook account. Is it professionally irresponsible? Is it my professional duty as someone who enjoys what he does to have a Facebook account – Arguably to give myself a better reflection of what is happening on the web?

And with Facebook trying to cement itself in every facet of the web, with the bulk of the current web having nearly 5 Like buttons per page, Facebook orientated commenting and also a lot of newer sites using Facebook connect instead of having native registration.

So with the last sentence in the last paragraph, I’m very nearly on the topic of what I want to say. I heard of a new social music experience Turntable.fm today. It’s description was quite compelling so naturally I wanted to try it out. The thing is, I had to sign up using Facebook. This being the other major reason I have been reactivating and deactivating Facebook since I left. The two services I wanted to look at both required an active Facebook account.

This is a worrying trend for me. Well, “worrying” is the wrong word, it doesn’t fit my lifestyle. I understand that everything is better with friends. I also understand that especially in the case of social software you want to tap into Facebook. Your software is social and it’s a pre-built network ready to go, you would have to have a good reason NOT to use Facebook. The thing is I am an introvert and I think right now I want to be a digital introvert now too. I want to be off Facebook, I don’t want everyone knowing my business. And now especially with people losing interest in Facebook, services like this should, if it makes sense, at least cater for my lifestyle too… what ever that may be, native sign up or twitter integration.

Just as an aside to me not being on Facebook, keep in mind if you see me on Facebook in a year or a months time and want to bring up this post to call me a hypocrite, here is my reply: “Fuck you. I do what I want”

Ye Olde Rapture

No idea why I titled the post that.

I came along this image on twitter:

Donate

I had been thinking something similar the whole week.

I was just about to retweet it and spread this message when I started thinking how stupid people actually are. I thought about it some more.

Is it irresponsible to tell people who believe the rapture is happening to donate all their stuff to charity…? I agree with the sentiment… put your money where you mouth is if you believe it that much. And sure, it would be funny to see those people after asking and pleading with god why he is testing them… but do they deserve the suffering that might come from their act of charity just because they are stupid/gullible?

As someone who thinks many people need a wake up call, I would love to do this and sit on my high horse of smugness but I don’t think the lesson should be taught so harshly?

 

Fuck Take2.co.za Errata

Update: For those posting comments, it’s my blog. That means only I get to be a dick. If you are not going to be civil and try to attack me or the others in the comments, your comment won’t get approved. If you do that, I will might change your comment to make you look like an asshole and then approve it. If you really want to be a dick, get your own blog, be a dick over there. :)

This is in regards to my original take2.co.za post I have the following to Note:

This was over 4 years ago, so it may not be fair to still hold this against them. A current employee of Take 2 has contacted me and told me that management has changed since then. If management has changed it may be fair to assume that how they treat customers has changed. I hope so but I would like to claim I have the courage convictions and say that I won’t be going back to find out.

 

The story behind this post:

I was contacted by an employee of Take2 in connection with this post. What they said can be seen in the comments of the post in question but I will post them here for ease or reading:

Are you banned from buying from us.. Cos you can’t hold a Grudge like that forever everyone makes mistakes including you we are all human..

Just so you know Take2 has new owners so their is always time to start off on a clean slate.

I replied with:

Yes, this WAS over four years ago, different management, whatever. When the company was taken over, you took over the good AND the bad.

It’s not a grudge, it’s my strategy for survival. I am a very fair person and it takes me a very long time to put people on my shit list but if they DO happen get on the list they never get off. I have that same philosophy with “friends”, acquaintances and business partners. It’s make sure the influences around me are positive.

Having said that, your refund policies may have changed but I am not willing to use your services again and find out. So to be fair, I will post an errata saying management HAS changed but I still won’t be using your services (provided you can prove you are from take 2).

The email provided by the “employee” was from a yahoo address so I contacted the employ via email to allow her to prove she was in fact who she said she was. She replied with ample proof she worked for take2. So the “employee” was actually an employee.

The conversation then continued via email… well it was not really a conversation. Giving her the benefit of the doubt, my reply to her verification only came what was already weekend time for her. So I have not yet received any response from what I said in the email:

I will put an update at the top of the post saying:

“Note: This was over 4 years ago, so it may not be fair to still hold this against them. A current employee of Take 2 has contacted me and told me that management has changed since then. If management has changed it may be fair to assume that how they treat customers has changed. I hope so but I would like to claim I have the courage convictions and say that I won’t be going back to find out.”

You might not think so but this is me coming to a compromise. I would just like to note that no such compromise was even attempted to be made when dealing with me. No compromise nor any apology was ever made – and now an attempt to make peace has only happened because it’s probably what shows up when you search for take 2. From where I stand the attempt to make peace has only happened because the balance of power has shifted slightly. I seriously doubt you would have contacted me if my site was result #30. But that’s it, rant over.

Apologies I can’t give you what you want (assuming what you want is for me to take the post down). You really do seem like a nice person. I really do want to give you what you want but I have to keep reminding myself that I am also a nice person and was being a nice person when this happened.

Then the more I think about it, the more I feel like I pussied out, the more I feel like I became a supplicant… but also the more I think about it, the two main points I made in the last two paragraphs solidify themselves in my thoughts:

No compromise, nor any apology was even attempted to be made with me. An attempt to make peace only happened because the balance of power has shifted meaning the post in question is what shows up when you search for take 2 thereby harming their public image.

They did approach me in a civil and non-antagonistic manner so I feel compelled to comply, however, on the other hand originally back then my approach was, knowing myself, more than likely even more civil and non-antagonistic.

By accessing the mind’s installed principle core, I know that there are two things that need to be done. I need to stay true to myself and I need to keep my word. In this case staying true to myself means sticking by what I said, having the courage of my convictions and keeping the post in the original form. An in this case, keeping my word means posting an errata at the top of the post. A moral conflict. A compromise needs to be made. An extract of my moral core can be seen on my other site and it states: “Some things you should never compromise on, one of them being yourself.

This is the result of the compromise.

Fuck take2.co.za

Update: For those posting comments, it’s my blog. That means only I get to be a dick. If you are not going to be civil and try to attack me or the others in the comments, your comment won’t get approved. If you do that, I will probably change your comment to make you look like an asshole and then approve it. If you really want to be a dick, get your own blog, be a dick over there. :)

Back in 2007 I was really angry with Take2.co.za. The reason being that they advertised a product would be sold on their site for a certain price. I pre-ordered the product. I am 100% sure I was one of the first to order it, as I’d been watching the site pre-empting it’s release. The product was quite cheap so they probably made a mistake with their pricing.

Over a month after the order had been placed, Take2 got hold of me. (As an aside I did not think anything wrong because month long waits were not uncommon for getting video games in South Africa at the time). What I received that day was a not a videogame. What I had received that day, was bullshit.  Without any warning or providing any alternative solutions, they cancelled my order. They told me the videogame was not available.  By that time it had been in shops for about a week already. But for a more expensive price. Instead of admitting their mistake, they lied to me. Then to add insult to injury they forced me to take store credit. I was not allowed to spend MY money elsewhere.  I wanted the fucking game, not your bullshit.

So, I vowed NEVER to use their site again. It took a few weeks for the anger to pass. Eventually I settled down and went on with my life.

The next month and the month after that, and after that, and after that, they kept reminding me that I had store credit and that I should use it. Them reminding of me of why I would never use their site. This continued for at least a year, reminding me of my anger. In the midst of my rage I realised that the taunts would never stop and something would need to be done.

At least a year or so after the original order was placed, I got black out angry and ordered the CEO some items from his own store.

Below is a copy of the invoice. (Notice the titles on the products.) Click the image to view a larger version

Take2? More Like TakeCustomersAndFuckThemInTheAss.

In case you were wondering, I did know I had to spend more of my own money to do this. Fuck Take.co.za… fuck ’em hard.

Internet Segregation

Since when has it been ok to Segregate the internet?

What you say? You’ve no idea what I am talking about? If you’re’nt* from the states, you may not know that internet segregation exists. It does though. If you don’t live in the states, try watching a Hulu clip or try watching something on Comedy Central. Under normal circumstances, you can’t! That’s called internet segregation. You may think, “Gerard, Lord of darkness, why does this matter, it’s one site.” True, but if you understand the true nature of the web, it’s all interlinked. This detracts from the whole web experience not only on hulu but digg and all sites that reference locked content. There are ways around this though. By using a proxy it can appear as though you are browsing from inside the United States, thus allowing you to watch the content. Hulu however have begun to shut down content for people using proxies even if they are for a valid reason. All this leads to is people finding other methods to watch the content, namely torrents. Pointless.

Hulu, its pretty gay.
Hulu, it's pointless.

Another example of internet segregation is this talk of Microsoft trying to buy the news from News Corp. My current belief is that Google currently hold an information monopoly on the world. Don’t believe me, check out Google Dashboard and just see how much they know about you. If you are anything like me, it’s a lot. So if you could ignore my paranoia about Google until the day I get to say, “I told you so”, you would see that I am all for removing the Google information monopoly. (Losing it to Microsoft, is another issue all together, but still). Assuming it’s the actual news and not the news brand that is more important. And assuming it’s possible to get the same news on the internet from more than a single source. With all this in mind is it a good idea to prevent content being viewed from a specific network. Even if somehow it did make sense, ultimately it would be pointless. All this will do is broaden the the market for something I thought previously useless, search engine aggregators.

These are just more examples of big business messing up the internet.

*you’re’nt: contraction for “you are not”… I totally just invented that

David Versus Google

I want to write a post, but I am horribly rushed. I feel I have something really important to say but not enough time to say it in. Instead, I will link to the articles I read which have angered me.

This one: http://www.boingboing.net/2009/11/20/britains-new-interne.html. This is rubbish. If it happens I will leave the UK. I promise you this. I don’t like petitions because I don’t believe they work but  go here to “help prevent” this: http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/dontdisconnectus/

The other post is this: http://gigaom.com/2009/11/22/should-web-page-speed-influence-google-pagerank/. This is bullshit… because I say so. The internet is currently a level playing field for everyone, big and small business alike. Are you going to skew it towards those with most cash? Are you Google? Recently I’ve become A LOT more untrusting of Google.

Ok, it’s true that one swallow does not make a summer, but these things seem to point to the trend that the internet is now going to become more of a corporately controlled entity? I hope I am wrong.

Edit: Also?! Why is my text justified? Justified text?! WTF? This also angers me.

Update: Ok. I removed the justified text. At least I feel like I have the power to change something.