Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Stuff you hear on the radio

I was listening to the radio on the way in today, and was incredulous to hear an ad put up by the tobacco industry criticising the push towards plain packaging for tobacco products.  The gist of their argument was that nobody knew if it would work, so why bother trying it?  They then try to stigmatise the concept by the several times repetition of the point that the legislation hasnt been properly thought through by Canberra.

This is as complete a load of horseshit as you would ever hear in your life.  Im tempted to say that if thats the best argument the tobacco industry can mount then its pretty pitiful, but the reality is that their position is completely indefensible.  The reason nobody knows how well it will work is that nobody has tried it before, you cretins.  It also doesnt matter how well it works, any improvement is worth having.  Yes, it will damage your brand.  Thats precisely what we are trying to achieve.  The tobacco industry is an outdated, morally bankrupt industry that pushes a reprehensible, dangerous and vile product onto society, and anything that can be done to expunge the weeping sore it represents should be pursued to the utmost extent possible.

Ideally, the tobacco industry would fold its tent, sneak into the night and perish forbid find something to do that makes a contribution to society, but since its clearly not going to do that itself, were happy to beat it to death one stroke at a time.  While forcing the industry to pay for the bat to do it.


I was also listening to an ad for a new office building in the Melbourne CBD.  Apart from the normal and expected blurb about location, amenities, pricing, good natural lighting etc, they then began wibbling total crap about how the site was sustainable and ecologically sound.  So we ask, what the hell does that mean?  Apparently the thing has got a solar panel on the roof, and they bunged a rainwater tank in somewhere.

Guess what, guys?  Big, fat, hairy deal.  Nobody cares.  Businesses care about location, visibility, carparking spaces, access to public transport, whether the site does what you want in terms of size and layout, and how much it costs.  Rainwater tanks are approximately item 1,483 on the list of things they care about.


I filled the car up on the way home yesterday, paid $1.47 a litre.  Fark.  And then what do I find in the paper this morning?  A report saying that investigators in the USA are trying to subpoena personal e-mails between a man and his wife because they both worked for BP at the time of the Deepwater Horizon problem, the bloke had something to do with the failed blowout preventer, and so they have decided they want to invade the pairs personal privacy just on the speculative chance they might find something to have a witch hunt over.  Hey guys, a suggestion go screw yourselves.  If you go ripping oil out of the ground, sooner or later someone will screw up, or something will break, and you need to deal with the fact that shit happens.  Persecuting the industry is hardly a rational action with oil prices through the roof, and I presume nobody is making too many arguments in favour of nuclear lately?

Speaking of nuclear, Im amazed the coverage of the Japan TEPCO plant problem has faded so quickly, and personally I think its because fundamentally nobody like the Japs.  As soon as everyone had had their fill of images of destruction, the media moved on.  It also doesnt help that while you can take a picture of a boat parked upside down on top of a house, you cant take a interesting image of 1000 millisieverts of radiation or particles of plutonium soil contamination especially not from 30km away.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Funny of the morning...

... watching a spoiled brat general manager throw a tantrum because someone sat at her desk overnight.  Perish forbid her keyboard was moved slightly.

This is the same general manager who doesnt understand why staff who will be hot desking would like some personal space a locker, and a cubbyhole or personal set of drawers in the NOC itself.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Just found a pic

Just found a pic lurking on my phone I have been meaning to post.

It was taken in the pissoir of PJ O'Brien's Irish pub in Sydney, a favourite watering hole while I am there.

I first saw this ingenuious bit of grafitti in 2007 and was quite delighted to see that it still exists in 2011, so I took the opportunity grab a photo with enough resolution that you can actually see the damn thing.

Cool free game

Download this and have a go for free.

Level 8 is awesome. :)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Can I borrow your dog?

A man was leaving a convenience store with his morning coffee when he noticed a most unusual funeral procession approaching the nearby cemetery.  A black hearse was followed by a second black hearse about 50 feet behind the first one.  Behind the second hearse was a solitary man walking a dog on a leash.  Behind him, a short distance back, were about 200 men walking single file.

The man couldn't stand his curiosity.

He respectfully approached the man walking the dog and said, "I am so sorry for your loss, and this may be a bad time to disturb you, but I've never seen a funeral like this. Whose funeral is it?"

"My wife's."

''What happened to her?"

The man replied, "My dog attacked and killed her."

He inquired further, "But who is in the second hearse?"

The man answered, "My mother-in-law. She was trying to help my wife when the dog turned on her."

A very poignant and touching moment, of brotherhood and silence, passed between the two men.

"Can I borrow the dog?"

The man replied, "Sure, get in line."

Rant of the morning - the world's most micromanaged expenses system

Heres how to travel anywhere in this company.

- Determine the need to travel exists.

- Fill out a travel authorisation request form, and have a general manager countersign it.  Which is really convenient if you need to travel tomorrow and the GM is somewhere else in the country.

- Arrange all travel, accommodation and hire vehicles etc via an online system.  This reserves the resources, but doesnt actually book them for real until the corporate travel agent micromanages them to ensure you havent done anything other than absolute least cost.  You cant actually print out tickets or check in until this is done, so good luck if you need to get moving quickly.

- Corporate travel agent (hopefully) OKs everything, you get e-mail acknowledgement, start printing out tickets and itinerary etc.

- Travel is booked back to the corporate account, but you pay for all accommodation, taxis, meals etc yourself, which you have to claim back afterwards.

When you get back:

- Create an expenses claim in a godforsaken Oracle based e-expenses system, complete with a million description boxes, drop down field (none of which adequately describe the entry you are making), general ledger codes, need to provide merchant IDs and ABNs etc.

- Print this disaster out, an e-mail notification also goes to your manager.

- Very carefully sticky tape all small receipts to sheets of A4 paper (apparently the world will come to an end if this is not done), and photocopy everything.

- Keep the copy for yourself for when accounts payable dick you around, give all the originals to your manager.  Assuming hes around to give them to.

- Manager OKs the claim in the e-expenses system and snail mails the originals to accounts payable.

- Accounts payable do precisely fuck all for about a week and a half, then e-mail you to say they are knocking the claim back because theres a molecule of ink in the wrong place, can you please correct this.

- Claim is eventually authorised about 5 minutes too late to catch the payroll run, so you get to wait another fortnight to get paid.

Telstra system:

- Employee has a corporate credit card.

- Any travel required is booked via online system, done immediately.

- Any and all expenses while travelling go on the credit card.

- At the end of the month, you get an e-mail asking you to reconcile your monthly statement.  You log into an e-expenses system, check the bill is right, and stick a reason and GL code on each line.

- Your manager gets an e-mail to authorise the payment, they click one OK button and the account is paid.

- You keep the receipts, save for anything over a threshold which you send to accounts payable via internal mail.

Perish forbid, but I have to say the Telstra system was a lot better.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Route me

Just spent a couple of days at Alcatel learning how to drive a service router network.  Im going to be managing an ethernet aggregation and transport network based on the Alcatel 7450 ESS-12 and ESS-7 router technology, heres a pic of one of the monsters:

Pretty heavy duty gear 2 terabit backplane, redundant controllers, everything hot swappable, takes 10 line cards with up to 48 10G ethernet ports each.  I nearly died when told the price of the things, each line card is just over $1,000,000 and there are 10 of them in there.  Then youve got to load them with SFPs or XFPs, which depending on the distance you need to go (and whether fibre or copper) go for $1-5,000 each.  I think we need about 1,000 of them all up?  Good job we are not paying retail.

The logical network is a bit complex.... its an OSPF cloud used to support an MPLS switching network.  Over that we then run either RSVP-TE or TLDP to allow us to specifiy layer 2 LSPs, and once youve got those then you can build SDPs and create entry/exit SAPs *Then* you can create VLL e-pipes and bolt them to the SAPs.  Finally, you can physically plug stuff into the VLL physical terminations the SAPs extend to and get yourself a data route.

Now, take at least two of these things (up to 16) and bond them into a ling aggregation group (a LAG) which creates a virtual network interface with multiple layer 2 routes inside it.  To make it a bit more robust, well do multi-chassis LAG.  With MC-LAG the bonded physical interfaces are spread across multiple pieces of equipment, so no one route failure can take you down, and even a complete chassis failure cant.

Now, backhaul all this through an absolute minimum of two geographically diverse and completely redundant DWDM transmission paths.  The most common way of doing this is nested and overlapped transmission rings so youve got both an eastbound and a westbound interface at all times, so if anything fails you just go the other way around the ring, and even then youve got two totally separate rings going 400% protection.

Driving all this is a wee bit daunting, and the management system is... yeah...

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tuesday morning coffee

Almost as good as the morning coffee was this news article showing that the coalition "government" and Tony Abbott personally are back in the basement on political support - right where a group whose sole claim to fame is promising to do the opposite of Labor deserves to be.

Over the years I have been very much the classic swinging voter, I don't think any of the pricks actually have a complete platform I can support, but yet again the Liberals have trotted out a fundamentally weak leader in Abbott who seems to be little more than a rather nasty little man with few ideas when all the actions are tallied.

I also found this an interesting article.  While I can (very much) see the point that employers eroding salaries or lowballing because there's nothing much else on offer brings down conditions for all (or at least starts the undermining process), this does bring into question whether or not unemployment support is too effective if it is allowing potential employees to be able to afford to not take a job, because it's not one they'd like, or they'd have to travel a bit further to do it, or it doesn't pay as much as they'd like.

I'm not suggesting that anyone should have to up and move to Bahrain, but we can't all drive BMWs to work either.

In some ways I put it down to consumerism and lust for possessions; I know my kid is going to get a very, very rude shock when he gets his first job and discovers that he's not going to be able to afford a V8 Holden sports ute, a 50" flatscreen TV and to eat takeaway every night, and not for some forseeable time either.

Or like the certain young-ish former co-irker who announced a couple of years ago that they were sick of paying rent and were going to buy a house.  I don't think they liked it when I pointed out that they had $500 in the bank, were $5000 upside down on their piece of shit Hyundai, and spent every cent they made on takeaway food and electronic gadgets.  He went green when I pointed out what a mortgage would cost him, and was damn near ill when told he'd need at least a $30,000 deposit due to have precisely zero demonstrable budgeting ability.

If that bloke isn't paying rent until the day he dies I will be very surprised, unless he somehow (don't ask me how) manages to pry himself away from WoW to meet a girl who might have some degree of practicality about her.  I doubt it though.  The only women this bloke will ever meet are of the clan JPG.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

News of the morning

Some tree loving, right wing, bunny hugger has gotten herself shot in the face protesting at a duck shoot in Victoria.  Luckily for the sane people of society, it looks like it was entirely her fault - she was in the water in a duck landing zone 40 minutes before she was allowed to be, so basically tough shit, hippie.

ICANN has finally bowed to the inevitable and released a .xxx TLD for the internet.  Why this took so long I have no idea, probably some bunch of old prudes who can't quite cope with the face that the internet is for porn.  On balance I think I have to disgree with the proposal to release a .gay TLD though.  While it would actually be quite nice to get all the gay crap on the net grouped together like that (it would then be really easy to filter the lot and make sure you never, ever have to see it), I think there's a danger there in further legitimising what it a disgusting and deviant practice that shouldn't be portrayed as anything other than that.

It's quite refreshing to see some common sense being applied to a subject that is traditionally one of the strictest preserves of tiptoeing around and idiotic political correctness.  I have a very solid sympathy with employers concerned over maternity leave laws; how is it reasonable that a business should be expected to hold a position open for 12 months for someone to make a lifestyle choice?  The business has to hire and train someone else for that period, then what do they do with them when the woman decides they want to come back to work now - a time which they can vary at their discretion?  (And yes, I've been the employer on the end of this, and it's a totally unworkable disaster.)

By refusing to confront reality on this issue, what happens is that, to quote Barnaby Joyce (and this is probably the first time I have ever agreed with the bastard) "it was best just to assume women would want a child" and therefore question whether you want to employ the woman in the first place.  Of course you can't say that without getting sued to within an inch of your life, so "while your application was of a high quality, on this occasion there was another candidate whose skills and experience were more closely aligned with the position, so your application has regrettfully been unsuccessful".  Which is, of course, the boilerplate and totally legal way of saying you're not getting the job, you're not being told why, and you have no way of finding out either.

Of course, here comes the all-guns-blazing rabid pro brigade.

NSW Shadow Minister for Women Pru Goward said it was blatant sex discrimination.  "Where does it stop? Do you ask a woman whether she has a boyfriend? Why don't we ask men whether they have had affairs in the office? There are a lot of personal things that would be useful for employers to know but it doesn't achieve anything and it is offensive."

Actually, Pru m'dear, as usual for your ilk, you deliberately miss the point entirely.  I don't think employers would give a damn one way or the other if a female applicant had a boyfriend (they'd be more worried if she had a girlfriend).  I also don't think anyone gives a flying rat's arse if someone has knocked off the photocopy girl (although pictures would be good).  However, yes it bloody well means a lot to our poor employer to know if one of their staff might be choosing to take a 12 month lifestyle choice sabbatical and thus knock a huge hole in their staffing roster and budget, and personally I don't care less if you find that offensive.  I actually find it offensive that you can't see anything other than your own narrow agenda, which like all your kind, you seem to think transcends all other considerations.

Falling back on the excuse that it's legally discrimination is also about the weakest argument going.  Yes, it's discrimination.  The whole point being made is that the current law on the matter is incorrect, irrelevant, and doesn't address all the facets of the situation.  So, until the day you drag yourself kicking and screaming towards some sort of a common sense compromise that suits all parties - not just our own self interest - business will continue to discriminate legally, as it's the one way their can protect themselves.   If you think that you're acheiving anything by changing the wording that goes on the letter of rejection, then I suggest you're living in a dream world.

Oh yeah, Pru - just before you go, have you read this?  Want to comment on why that might be happing?  Any chance it's because employers are too scared by draconian legislation and possible costs to hire women?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Just in case you haven't seen anyone totally out of their mind this morning.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Might as well enjoy it

Stuck in Sydney airport with half the flights cancelled due to system issues, but the bar in the Velocity Lounge is open so I'm having a good go at drinking it.

Mugshot of the year

Gee, I hope that this wasn't a surprise to anyone.  We might have taken away a bunch of the legally owned guns - you know, the ones that weren't the problem - but funnily enough the illegal ones are still out there because criminals tend not to register their illegal guns...

My ephiphany of the morning

I had a real epiphany this morning while having breakfast at the hotel.  Theyve got a couple of industrial full-auto coffee machines there, push the desired button and coffee appears.  The buttons are all labelled clearly as long black, macchiato, extra milk etc.  A monkey should be able to use it.

So why did I spend several minutes watching people peer myopically at the worlds simplest interface in consternation, then hesitantly push a random button, and finally look disappointedly at the result?  Its a freaking coffee machine, not rocket science, but it defeated multiple people.

The same people then lined up to try their hand at the toaster.  Put bread in top, toast comes out bottom.  One group required the combined efforts of three people to figure this out.  One of the people wasnt sure about all this and squatted down so they could watch the bread the whole time it went through the conveyor, presumably just in case there was any witchcraft going on and they might have had to burn someone.  I suppose this is why fax machines confuse people how does the fax go to the other people if the paper comes back out?  And can you e-mail me that document back when you have finished with it, its my only copy.  *sigh*

I think its times like these when I had what alcoholics refer to as a moment of clarity(thanks Jules).  Stuff that is incredibly basic just seems to turn people into drooling idiots when theres any sort of technology involved, regardless of how basic it seems to the rest of us.  If you cant operate a push button coffee machine, then I have no idea how youre going to master using a PC.  Certainly subjects like a file directory structure or navigating somewhere that cant be found using your Yahoo toolbar isnt going to happen.  Log into the worlds simplest Belkin or Netgear modem and enter a username and password?  Forget it, youre talking fantasy.

This will probably make me sound like a complete cruel bastard, but its true so what the hell.

As an exercise, think of someone you know whom you consider to be of average intelligence.  Now consider that 50% of the people running around out there are dumber than that, some considerably so if theyre at the end of the bell curve.  That kind of frightens me.  Some old dude in the hotel this morning was having problems figuring out the freaking lift buttons.  I have no idea how such people cope with modern society.  Theyre the people lined up at the post office on Saturday mornings with their little dog-earned bank book, withdrawing cash from their savings account theyve had since Menzies was in power.

Like I said, its mean but its true.

Its times like this that I think I understand the challenge to be faced in selling something like the NBN.  It means nothing to these people.  Ultimately they might benefit from it when their doctor has access to a high speed medical database, or they can access additional services at the local government department, but to them I honestly think its all white mans magic they cant see, dont understand, dont even know they dont understand and thus how can they see the benefit?  They can see additional teachers in schools, more being spent on roads and more nurses in hospitals, because thats tangible for them.  What they need to see is a killer app like a full-screen video phone they can talk to their grandkids on.

In the end, I did get my coffee, but only because one of the group finally achieved success (possibly by accident) and everyone else charged around to see this miracle (apparently the last time such a thing happened, there was a star in the east), thus giving me unfettered access to the other rig.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Prick of a day.

Got up at 3:45am, drove to airport, dropped off car, got dropped to flight line.

Awesome.  Virgin Velocity lounge is being remodelled.  Scrum with 30 self-important powers of the business world to get in.  Im truly sorry to the tall smarmy git with the French cuffs and the Shaun Micallef haircut who spilled orange juice on his shoes when I opted not to bow to his superiority and let him go first in line for the toasted brioche.  (Note:  preceding paragraph may contain traces of bullshit.)

Even better:  flight delayed 15 mins.  On the other hand, that means another shot the buffet and another rather nice long black from the also rather nice (but non-black) barista.

Happiness is a work supplied laptop, a high speed wireless card and enough data allowance that you honestly dont give a damn.

Less nice:  sit on tarmac for 15 minutes before pushback, pilot blames Sydney ATC for throttling traffic due to runway remodelling.

Speaking of throttling, if the prick who owns that car with the alarm going off doesnt fix the situation quick smart, the response may become literal.  Ah good, hes turned the goddamn thing off.  Or the car thief has found the right wire.

Land in Sydney, go to pick baggage up, all but three of us have gone and the conveyor stops.  WTF?  Make stern representations to the baggage claim desk.  Situation quickly rectified, and hopefully baggage porter shot or something.

Hit the data centre at 9am, then read the paper for about an hour while my colleague has the riot act read to him by security.  Cant do this, cant do that, no smoking, no swearing, no bare feet etc.  I had this a month ago.

Got something done a bit after 10am, the worst thing about data centres is no coffees allowed.  :(

Finally gave up at 6pm and staggered back to the hotel.  Nice dinner of vodka and lime pickled ocean trout with horseradish cream, sirloin with garlic mash and baked subdried tomoatoes, and King Island cheese platter.  Burp.

Now, here we are at 11pm and Im doing rosters while trying to decide whether or not to kill a certain tier 1 irrit at work, and thinking that the construction site next door would be a good place to hide a body.  Note:  buy slab for site foreman, go with Crownies.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

I'm in the wrong job again

What I love about this bloke's effort is that he was actually claiming overtime for it too...  well done!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Monday morning, pass the coffee

Calley got me some more coffee on Saturday, she gets it from some gourmet place in the Chadstone shopping supermegaginormousplex.  I am now the proud owner of some nice Colombian and two varieties of Nicaraguan, currently working on the first and its got a really nice hazelnut caramel finish going on I had expected Colombian to be a lot darker and more acidic.  She was going to get me some Jamaica Blue Mountain but the $237 price for 200 grams put her off a bit, cant think why.

Merv made me a new basket tamper last week with an alloy baseplate which produces a very even tamp, its made a serious improvement to crema production and flavour.

Its only 8:45am and Ive already had my first fight of the morning, with one of the tier 1 staff in front of their manager.  Eddie is not the brightest crayon in the box, he used to work at Telstra BBHD as an agency casual and was several times passed over for a full time slot due to not being particularly impressive, twice of those times by me.  Believe me, given the competition he had, that was not saying much.  I spent a chunk of Friday playing e-mail tag with Eddie (with cc: to all management) regards a roster he is mangling, trying to explain that you cant have staff finishing at 11pm one day and then starting duty at 10:30pm the next.  Eddie does not think this is a problem, and I think Eddie is a blinking idiot.  He bailed me up this morning and tried once again to defend his view of the indefensible.  I just turned to his manager and told her that the very fact that we were having the conversation demonstrated that Eddie has absolutely no idea about the subject and should be put back into his box, and that if the tier 1 team wanted to do that roster then fine but there was no way in hell that tier 2 would be.  I also pointed out to here that the problem wouldnt last long as the rest of the tier 1 team would mutiny the first time they had to do that shift change.  She can deal with it, it will hopefully be part of her learning curve that you tell Eddie what to do, not let him think.

5 weeks until we go 24/7, which means back to having some RDOs during the week and some real penalties kicking in.  Hopefully were ending up with a 9hr/9day rotation so back to an RDO every fortnight, yay.  :D   

Friday, March 4, 2011

Your cretin of the morning

Why is it so hard for McDonalds cafe staff to comprehend the concept of black coffee?
The pattern is always the same.
- Order black coffee
- Cretin makes white coffee
- I point out that I asked for black coffee
- Cretin stares at me blindly for a few seconds while the sole neuron working tries to process this
- It finally dawns that a new coffee will need to be made
I realise I’m dealing with someone who, by default, is not the brightest crayon in the box here.  But what I love is the dopey look I get when I say they’re wrong and they can’t figure out why.  You can almost see the thought process going on, albeit very, very slowly.  Did the customer order the wrong thing?  Did I mishear?  Did I ring up the wrong item?  Did I make the wrong item?
While these virtual gears are grinding, I’ve got a four-letter stare going on to firmly communicate what I am thinking, which is that I have been ordering black coffee for the past twenty-five years, and I didn’t bloody well do it any differently this time to any time previously, so maybe you should just make me the right fucking coffee??
On an unrelated note, I see that OfficeWorks are now flogging wireless networked black and white laser printers for $98.  GTFO.  Only twelve months ago, anything wireless was $300, and anything laser was about $400.  At $98, it’s close to the point where you toss the printer once the toner is used up.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Made my day

This absolutely made my day when picking up the car from the station on the way home from work.

Rule of the jungle is - don't piss off the other motorists by cheating and "making" a parking space.  They got their arses there on time to get a space, you're not special.

Remember, since the other bloke was there first, chances are he's going to be back first... and he knows it too.

This goes double if you park the other bloke in.

It goes triple if you're enough of a pretentious git to drive a BMW, even one that's been thrashed.  People aready think you're a wanker, giving them excuses should be the last thing on your mind.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

BOOM! Headshot!

I work with some dumb people

Somebody created a shortcut in our network drive folder yesterday.

The shortcut points to their own local C: drive.

Beam me up Scotty, theres no intelligent life on this planet.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Welcome to your latest kaboom.

"Each mask is provided with a rectangular pane (7 x 3 inches) of shatter-proof glass. Although scores of violent detonations have occurred, with resultant demolition of much apparatus, no personal injury has been suffered."

I like this guy.  :)

On an unrelated note, the comment spam that used to be posted to this blog has gone through the floor since I added the fuck-off-spammer disclaimer.  I haven't even bothered to enable Captcha or anything similar, it's been so effective.  Apparently your average low life, scum sucking, should be shot, then drawn and quartered, then the bits thrown in the creek Indian comment spammer can actually read a little better than I would have credited them with?