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Wrote my friend Sam a letter when I was still working in support. I think it still holds up today.
I understand that you will join us in our overseas office. Congratulations on landing that job. It’s good steady work. I’ve been doing it for the last ten years.
Your still young so maybe I can give you some little wisdom that will help you in your working years to come.
Let me begin by shedding some light on phone calls.
I try. I really do try Sam. But it is getting so hard for me to hold back the rage that builds up during certain phone calls. Especially the ‘Sorry, I just don’t know anything about computers! -giggle-’ ones.
Those are the times that I have no access to what they see. I’ve no team-viewer, can not take over that screen in any other way. And why-oh-why can I not take over that terminal session dear Sam? It’s because the caller can not double-click an icon or find a terminal session number.
And what is the reason for this? Because they ‘just don’t know anything about computers! -giggle-’. This is a sort of get-out-of-jail-free card. Beware of these callers Sam.
There is nothing so nerve-wrecking then finding yourself at the mercy of people describing Internet Explorer (do not even get me started) as ‘the big ‘E’, if they use Chrome for their webmail then they most likely will say ‘Mail’ if they mean Chrome. There is no logic Sam. That is just the way these people work.
They will suck all enjoyment out of your work. They will make you want to hunt them down in dark office hallways and show them your tears Sam. Because cry you will.
Sure, I understand that not everyone can be tech savvy. Why, if everyone would be, where would that leave us? No. I love the technologically challenged. They put the fiber in my internet. They make me LOL for real. After the initial anger subsides anyway.
But just below that well-willing folk, on the other side of that border… there they dwell: Management.
Nice cars, suits and iphones Sam. First thing a new manager will require is a brand spanking new business-card. It will hold his/her new title. Then an iphone or overpriced android model will follow suit.
Then they will barge into your office, holding it like it’s the next best thing since sliced bread.
Any manager will automatically assume that you will drop anything you are doing at the present moment to acknowledge the presence of greatness. Failing to do so will result in awkward yet fulfilling situations. I recommend that you do not take your hands of the keyboard and give only the slightest of nods after 5 minutes of complete silence and glaring.
Well… you feel the glare. You do not glare yourself. You do not break eye-contact with the monitor. It does not even matter if you are typing for real or not. I once clicked away happily for 5 minutes. I just typed ‘he is still there’ over and over again. Do not break down Sam. This moment will decide your relationship with this individual.
After the nod there will be a flood of words aimed in your general direction. You can disregard anything that is said. It boils down to ‘can not operate device’.
You then take the device from this person and put it next to you on your desk. You’ll ask the name of this simpleton, write it down on a sticky-note, slap that on the phone. Then you’ll write a random date in the not so near future on another sticky and hand that to the bewildered person in front of you.
It will usually utter some incoherent words about ‘needing, time or but’ (I find that ‘but’is a word they like. They tend to use it three or four times consecutive before you usher them through the door).
Now you’ve won Sam. Well… not really. But it will feel good, I can guarantee that.
This must do for now. A new suit is glaring at me for the last five minutes.
Felt good to do something productive with this time.
P.s. I just noticed that there is some foam around his mouth. So if you encounter this, don’t worry: it seems to be perfectly normal.14
I wish people would stop claiming their product is an AI when it isn’t.
Guy on product hunt today says his name generator is an AI. This is how he describes the process:
- first it passes your input keywords through fasttext
- we get a random sampling of the top 100 or so words most related to your input keywords
- the top words are used as the dictionary input to a markov chain word generator, which generates 10~15000 random words
- the results are passed again through fasttext, we take the cosine distance of the resulting word to your input keywords (by using the out-of-vocab feature of fasttext)
- the top 100 most relevant results are returned6
I have seen it. They say it doesn't exist; just a story we tell our children so that their innocence does not lead them down into a nightmarish adulthood from which there is no salvation. But the evil lives. So vile that were you to look inside its soul, all you would find is a terrible desperation for suffering. To cause it. To revel in it. To bathe in the tears of those it considers less than human and feed off the emotional detritus.
It was 2009. The financial crisis. I was one of the lucky, having found refuge in a large company right before the jobs dried up. General IT: system administration, documentation, project management, telephony, software training, second level help desk. No software development, but with a two-year-old at home and Ph.D.s lining up outside the local Olive Garden whenever a help wanted sign was posted, I grabbed the health insurance and entered into darkness.
The Thing did not need to hunt it's prey. A manager title with 21 reports brought it new opportunities for fresh meat by the hour. But I was special. I resisted. I needed to know my place.
My first mistake was incomprehension. I did not understand the Thing's lust to be right at all costs. I was reviewing some documentation it had brought forth from its bowels. I mentioned that two spaces were being used between sentences. That proportional type made that unnecessary. It insisted, I was wrong. It insisted that Microsoft itself, the purveyor of all good technical writing, required two spaces. I opened the Microsoft Manual of Style for Technical Publications that it demanded its staff use and showed it that the spec was one space. It was livid. I was a problem.
From that point on my work life became exponentially more wretched. I was given three Outlook calendars to maintain: one with my schedule, one with the team's schedule and one with the Thing's schedule. Every time I had an appointment, I was to triple schedule it. If I was going to be away from my desk for more than 15 minutes triple schedule. Triple schedule my lunch, vacations, phone conferences.
Whenever it held a meeting, I and a colleague would be taken off mission critical IT projects to set tables with name tents and to serve as greeters as attendees arrived.
I was called into its crypt to be told never to say anything in a meeting unless I told the Thing beforehand what I was going to say. Naive, I mentioned that I often don't know what I will say as it is often in reply to someone else. Of course the response was that I should not say anything.
I would get emails 10-20 times a day asking about a single project. I would regularly complete work that was needed to be completed ASAP, only to have the Thing rake me over the coals for not completing it a week later. And upon resending the emails proving I notified it of the work being competed, disparaged at length a second time for not sending repeated notifications of the competed work.
I would have to sit in two-hour meetings to watch it type. Literally watch it try to create cogent thoughts. In silence.
I received horrendous annual reviews. At one, it created a development plan that stated a colleague would begin giving me lessons on the proper ways to socially interact with personnel. I pointed out to HR that this violated privacy concerns and would make the business liable in many areas, not least of which would be placing a help desk person in the role of defining proper business practice. HR made the Thing remove this from my review. She started planning to remove me.
I had given a short technical training to a group of personnel months earlier. Called into its tomb I was informed that feedback surveys on my talk were disturbing. One person stated that they did not think I was funny. Another wrote that I made an offensive statement. That person did not say what the offensive statement was. Just that I had said something he or she didn't like.
The Thing interviewed the training attendees. Gathered facts. Held three inquest-like meetings where multiple directors peppered me with questions trying to get me to confess to my offensiveness. In the end the request to fire me was brought to the man who ran the business at the time. The statement on high: "Humor is a subjective thing. Please tell This to be sensitive to that."
The Thing had failed, but would no doubt redouble its efforts. I had to find a new job. I sent hundreds of resumes. Talked to dozens of recruiters. But there were no jobs. And I had a family. And the wolf was at the door.
So I didn't say a word to the creature. For six months. Silence. At one group meeting it shrieked at me "what are you smirking at? If you've got something to say then say it!" I just shrugged. For my salvation was revealed. The Thing could not stand to be ignored. And at the end of my penance I was transferred to another group: Software Development.
I am one with the Force. The Force is with me. I am one with the Force. The Force is with me.4
I am going to set up my own mini company and I am wondering about the name I will choose. Definitely want something strange and sarcastic like "undefined" or "null"...but these two are already taken? I was thinking about "1;DROP TABLE users" but it is too long. Any ideas out there? xD2