You Have Been Warned

Dear Friend of mine who likes to spoil things because you don’t think it’s a big deal,

I know you’re a huge Star Wars fan. You better go see it the very first second it comes out because I plan on seeing it as soon as I possibly can and I will send nothing but a series of spoilers designed to suck as much enjoyment out of the experience for you as I can. Why will I do that? So that you aren’t the only total asshole in our relationship. You have been warned.

Star Wars The Force Awakens

By the way, this is aimed at one particular person. They may have forgotten what I can be like but they have one year to mull it over.

My Prejudice

As far as I can remember, I have never refuse to be bothered with a person because of their ethnicity or gender. However, I am biased as well against those who I consider ‘dumb’ but I know that is mostly because I know my level of frustration acceptance. If I think I’m going to get frustrated with trying to explain something to you, then chances are great that I will prefer to avoid interacting with you altogether and since that’s not always possible, I just make it as unpleasant for you as possible. It’s a personal shortcoming, I know.

Outdated Recommendations

Podcast directories can be a good thing. Podcatcher programs can be a good thing. Working together, the combination of a podcatcher that connects to a podcast directory can be a great thing for the serious podcast listeners. You have the ability to find and listen to new podcasts immediately. When the podcatcher has a recommendation engine that takes a look at your current subscription list and finds similar podcasts that you aren’t subscribe to in the connected podcast directory, you have reached Podcast Nirvana.

Unfortunately, the weak point in the scenario is the podcast directory. Most directories want to be able to boast having the largest number of listings and therefore don’t do regular pruning. The only entity that I can recall going through a regularly scheduled pruning process was the late lamented Amigofish, which was more of a recommendation engine and not really a directory. (The last time I went to Amigofish, the website returned nothing but an error code and what seemed to be a dump of all of the Ruby on Rails settings.)

Recently, I was using my podcatcher of choice on my Kindle Fire to find new potential subscriptions. For some reason, I had never noticed the Recommended tab, but decided to give it a try. Three of the first ten were Book Review Noise (a show I stopped doing last year and doesn’t have a working feed), Noise Talk (a show which I haven’t updated since August 2010), and Mosai Noise (a show I put on hold in February 2011). Another one was Kryptographik, which I know for a fact had a dead feed and show hosts who have moves on to other realms of creative endeavor.

I can understand keeping old shows that still have working feeds because you never know when the show host will revive things, but keeping dead feeds is just a combination of laziness and padding your numbers. I hope that the recommendation engine will find a way to remove the dead links so that their recommendations actually mean something.

Acronyms aren’t always your friends

I am looking for a job again. One set of skills that I keep coming across is for ETL processes. I had no idea what that is, but whenever I see a job like that I would just disregard it and look at the next one in the list.

Today I decided to find out what ETL means. In my mind, I am thinking it is something along the lines of Six-Sigma for databases, but I have no real understanding of Six-Sigma either so that should have been the first clue that I needed to do some research.

According to Webopedia, ETL stands for Extract Transform Load. All it is means is you read a database, change the raw data into something usable, then you write the processed data into another database. “ETL is used to migrate data from one database to another, to form data marts and data warehouses and also to convert databases from one format or type to another.”

That’s it?

I do that same process every month to get the download numbers for the podcasts in the Deliberate Noise Network. I download text files with the information I need, I manually extract the numbers I need, upload them to an Access database, parse the data for each show into its own query, then export that query to an Excel spreadsheet for mailing to the show hosts. The details are different, but the process is pretty much what they are describing.

Hell, I used to do ETL for fun. My old laptop has a bunch of Access, MySQL, and Oracle databases on the hard drive because I would move the data from one format to another. At a couple of my more data intensive jobs, ETL was pretty much all I did.

Without a doubt, I have missed out on applying for a number of jobs (some I may have even gotten) because I didn’t take the time to understand the acronyms they used. Time to re-evaluate my resume and job searching routine.

Lying Unfunny Jackass Day Strikes Again!

Since it is Lying Unfunny Jackass Day, I decided to stay offline for most of the day. Out of habit, I fired up Facebook after lunch and see my oldest daughter saying that she just found out she’s going to be an aunt. After the initial shock wore off, I have decided that I need to develop new habits and will stay off the computer altogether next year.

BTW: I’m not saying my daughter is usually an Lying Unfunny Jackass, but today…

Extreme Phone Politeness Pays Off

When I was a teenager, I lived with my grandmother for a few years. One of the many things she stressed was good phone etiquette. To this day, my siblings and I have extraordinary good phone speaking voices. My mother and her siblings also have great phone manners, so this is something that goes back a long way.

When I call Patti at work, her coworkers always know it’s me simply because of how I talk when they answer the phone. For example, if they say “Hello, [company where she works], how can I help you?”, I will reply with “Hello, may I please speak to Patti?” and they say “Sure, Derek, hold on a second.”

On those occasions when they will give their name, I say “Hello [name of coworker], my name is Derek, may I please speak to Patti?”

It’s just something that has happened in the ten years she has been working there.

Today, the phone must have been busy because someone answered “Hello [company where she works], can you hold please?” I responded with “Yes, ma’am.” After the briefest of pauses, the young lady on the other end of the line said “You probably want to speak to Patti, don’t you?” I smiled and said “Yes, please.”

It pays to be polite and professional sounding on the phone.

Vintage Rotary Dial Phone
This is like the rotary phone my grandmother used to have. Only it was on an opposite wall.

Comment Section Trolling Done Right

Gawker has a story about a homeless man who used to be in a band with Carlos Santana and how the two were reunited.

Nice story, but this exchange in the comments made me laugh out loud.

“He stopped playing with Santana before Woodstock which would of been 1969. So for 44 years he hasn’t tried to find his “friend”? Then leaves him on the street after saying hello? I’ll chalk this up as another PR play for good ole Santana. ”

“Carlos Santana is Mexican and not Puerto Rican. Either way, your “PR play” is racist and revolting.”

The second comment was an obvious joke to anyone with a sense of humor. However, this is on the internet so a lot of people didn’t get the joke that was obvious to anyone with a sense of humor, which resulted in comments like “PR stands for “Public Relations”, not “Puerto Rican”, you idiot.” and several variations of that comment.

Now THAT’s how you troll a comment section.

UPDATE: I had to change my original post because I messed up and attributed something to the wrong commenter.

A Decision Years In The Making!

Years and years ago, I was playing Final Fantasy VII on my Playstation. I got all the way to the run up to the final battle when I saved my game and went to sleep. It was late at night after a long day and I had to go to work in the morning. I went to work and spent most of the day thinking about finishing the game when I got home. Someone “broke into the house” and stole a bunch of stuff, mostly my roommate’s fancy clothes and, of course, my Playstation (with the last FFVII disc inside).

Fast forward over a decade later, Steam has Final Fantasy VII on sale for less than $5. Do I buy this game and spend a bunch of hours just to get back to where I was or do I just let it go, especially since I recently got Saints Row 3, all of the BioShock games, Far Cry 3, and a bunch of Skyrim mods?

I have about 12 hours to make up my mind about this sale and even if I pass on it, I can still get the game for about $12, but I am wondering if I really want to spend all of the time to get back to where I was. At this point in my life, how I spend my time is a lot more important than how I spend my money.

I found this video on YouTube that picks up right where I left off. I haven’t watched the whole thing yet, just enough to verify that’s what I remember seeing before I cut the game off for the night.

Someone obviously doesn’t know me at all

I got into a brief internet dustup with someone about something. The original Facebook post was about 47 millions people going hungry in America, but one of my friend’s friends responded with a barely coherent comment that can be distilled to “I have a job, quit complaining and go out and get yours. Man up!” Believe me when I say that the original comment wasn’t as concise.

I asked me if he was seriously saying that 47 million people should rise up and take what they wanted. Something of that level would seriously overpower the current armed forces and law enforcement agencies, even if the people were weakened by hunger.

Instead of treating what I said either seriously or as a joke, instead he responded with something that I won’t distill because it should stand on it’s own. “I wrote an eloquent response. I am tired of arguing. Do you think if every rich person gave up all of their money to let’s say you, mr. coward…we’d have peace and prosperity? We’d have a bunch of Lexus dealerships hitting the orgy button…and your people would be in the same boat tomorrow as today.”

I want to point out that at no time did I advocate rich people (or poor people) giving up ANYTHING. Just like the original post about hunger in America and the guy changed it to a discussion about unemployment and personal responsibility (I think), my comment was asking for a clarification about his comment and instead he changed it to a discussion about class warfare.

1) If every rich person gave all of their money to me, I still would never be caught driving a Lexus. I know a lot of people buy them, but they have never appealed to me. Then again, even though I have lived most of my life in Southeastern Michigan, car culture has never appealed to me. Cars are tools to get from Point A to Point B and I don’t fetishize them the way a lot of people do. I also don’t understand how my getting all of the rich people money results in car dealers assuming they would have a huge payday coming.

2) I don’t want to be obscenely rich and have never wanted to be obscenely rich because I am the type of person who regularly puts the adjective “obscenely” in front of rich. Again, money is a tool. I only want enough money so that I don’t have to worry about not having money. Also, I never asked for anyone, rich or otherwise, to give me their money. I’m not a salesman, moneylender, or a con man for a reason.

3) As soon as someone from a different ethnic classification uses the phrase “your people” (or “you people”, whichever is apropos for the situation), then I leave the conversation knowing that any ill impressions I had of that person were probably justified. I don’t think racism automatically invalidates every point that a person makes, but it definitely makes me much less likely to take their points at anything other than face value.

4) I cannot tell the difference between someone who is unemployed by circumstance and someone who is unemployed by choice just by looking at them. Therefore, I would not say one should not be able to put food on their table because of the actions (or inactions) of the other. I was brought up believing that if someone needs help, you help them. Does this mean that I have gotten “scammed” by a sob story? Yes, it has, but I would rather help someone who didn’t need it than turn my back on someone who did.

I could have been really nasty and pointed out how he kept changing the conversation instead of answering what was asked, but then he probably would have changed over to gun control or some other nonsense. Instead, I got a pretty decent sized blog post about of it and he gets to live his life afraid that everyone is out to take what he has.

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