Saturday, January 18, 2014

Need to make a change I can embrace

I did manage two hours' sleep shortly after my last post, and felt surprisingly awake on Saturday. The Beatles cover concert wasn't bad at all. OK, the band (who we could hardly see because there was a tree in the way) seemed to lack energy at times, but heck it was free. The audience was younger than I expected, but when you think about it the weather was excellent, it didn't cost anything, and most importantly you could bring as much alcohol as you wanted. They finished with Hey Jude which I think would be my favourite Beatles song.

On Sunday I caught up with a woman from the autism group. We had a coffee and a long chat. Unusually for someone at the group, she's in a long-term relationship. When I talked about work she knew exactly where I was coming from (and that's unusual anywhere). She's had serious problems with depression and is on the maximum dose of Efexor and that's not all. She's also carrying a lot of excess weight. In fact her dream is to design clothes, that aren't tents and don't cost a fortune, for larger women.

Monday was a very fine day and after work I sat out on the waterfront. Two stingrays swam by, one of which was practically man-sized. It was an amazing sight; the last time I saw anything like that was at Kelly Tarlton's a long time ago. I then attended the first autism group of the year. I mentioned work, of course, and got all kinds of job ideas from bars to libraries.

Looking back over work-related blog posts from 2009 and 2012 (it's amazing how much I've forgotten), my latest experience is giving me a real sense of déjà vu. I absolutely have to leave the world of big faceless insurance companies, or else it'll be déjà vu all over again in my next job. It never ceases to amaze me that some of my colleagues don't just tolerate the environment, where everything you do is monitored at all times, they seem to enjoy it. I can sort of understand it with the younger ones, for whom privacy is a foreign concept (and I think you're naturally more competitive at that age), but when people get into their forties and fifties and are still driven by targets and KPIs that have been foisted upon them by some authority figure, I'm completely baffled.
On Thursday the global CEO sent us all a 32-meg email, which was nice because we have a whopping 150 meg of storage and can't send anything over three meg ourselves. The email outlined a three-point plan for us all to follow. First, put our customers at the centre of everything. Fair enough. Second, adapt to change faster. Embrace change. That's always a tough one for me. The last one though was like someone had Googled "corporate bullshit" and tried to cram as many buzzwords in one sentence as possible; I had no idea what it meant.
I am looking for jobs now but it's very hard to know what I should be applying for.

It's been a very hot Australian Open so far. Inhumanely so. It's not fun for anyone. The extreme heat policy doesn't really work, and I wonder whether it'll take loss of life for them to change anything. The temperature has since plummeted but it's pretty muggy out there now. It's interesting listening to the commentators. Today they were talking about the demise of serve-and-volley. In 2001 Roger Federer beat Pete Sampras at Wimbledon (7-5 in the fifth set - I remember it) by coming in on almost every serve, and of course Sampras did the same. Now they're saying racket technology would make that style of play almost impossible, which is a shame. The tournament website has something called Slam Tracker, an analysis section run by IBM. You click on a match and it brings up three options. One of the options is entitled "momentum" and it's almost totally meaningless. A much better idea would be to show the estimated probability of a player winning the match given the current situation. It would be easy to understand and show the relative importance of each point, which I think people would find interesting. The second option is called "social sentiment" and shows a graph of the number of positive tweets each player has received. My first thought to that is, who cares? My second thought is, how do they know? Do they search for key words in tweets so they can tell whether they're positive or negative? What if you describe a player as "amazingly crap"? It's all a mystery to me - I wouldn't know a hashtag if it walloped me on the nose. The third option just shows the stats, and that's the only bit worth looking at.

15UP - yes it's the one I invented
People aren't buying the app, and that's hardly surprising because there isn't much to entice people to buy. There's so much you could do to make it really good, but the current developers aren't capable of making the (extensive) necessary changes. It's frustrating when you see what other apps have done. I was recently introduced to Wordament, a Boggle-style game involving a 4x4 grid of letters. You have to connect the letters together (diagonally is OK) to make as many words as you can in two minutes, but that's most definitely not all. Everybody plays the same game at the same time, and at the end of the game you can see how you stack up against the rest of the world. The games aren't all a simple find-as-many-words-as-you-can: sometimes there are themes or multiple letters on one space or some other variation, and that all adds considerable variety. The hardest variant is the one where you get a hefty bonus for making a certain long word, which is difficult to find when you're trying to make other words as well. My only gripe would be the arbitrary distinction between "common" and "obscure" words: some of the "common" words (which can give you more points) actually seem quite obscure, and vice-versa. Because I don't have a Facebook presence or an iPhone, I can only play as a guest, but that's fine by me. I'd give Wordament 4 stars.

No comments:

Post a Comment