Archive for August, 2008

Dear God…

August 24th, 2008

How come people have to believe in You?

Why don’t You simply make Yourself available to our senses?

Answers via burning bush or a voice in my head, please.

The benefits of a classical education

August 24th, 2008

I am university educated.

I don’t say that as a boast. It’s a statement of fact.

There are many people of great achievement who either lacked the desire or the means to go to university. I am not a man of great achievement, but I am who I am in no small part due to my university education.

I have a BA in Philosophy and Greek and Roman Civilisation. This does not make me a philosopher. It simply means that I was able to demonstrate in an exam that I had read certain books and understood them to an acceptable degree. I also have a Master’s degree in ancient Greek civilisation. My thesis was titled “Greek Infantry and Cavalry with Special Reference to the Fifth Century BC”. It was an achievement, but it’s not like I found the cure for cancer.

My e-mail address seems to attract a lot of spam. That’s irritating enough when it’s for stuff I don’t want, such as fake Rolex watches, drugs for conditions I don’t have, drugs for conditions I don’t want, farmyard movies, [enter name of female celebrity here] shocking videos. However, it’s particularly irritating when they try to sell me a university education.

At university, I learned skills which have outlived the knowledge that I acquired during my time there. The ability to read critically, the ability to structure my thoughts, the ability to express those thoughts both orally and in written form using precise and unambiguous language.

So I draw on every one of those skills to send the following message to those who would try sell me a university education via spam:

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August 22nd, 2008

I’ve been confused lately because I have been receiving e-mails that display a paper clip icon as if there is an attachment but I can’t find the attachment.

Then I noticed that such e-mails all have one thing in common: they have their company logo and slogan embedded into the body of the e-mail, which shows up as an attachment.

It’s irritating. I often need to search for an e-mail from a particular person which I know has an attachment. However, Outlook doesn’t distinguish between e-mails with a genuine attachment and those with an image embedded.

I know companies have this thing about their brand and making sure their brand is represented consistently and making sure anyone who receives an e-mail from them gets to see the latest flavour of their branding.

Here’s the thing though…

Nobody cares.











Nobody cares.

Of course, the branding people know this, but they don’t let on because they like their cushy job picking out colour schemes and fonts.

Get a real job, you layabouts!

Sabrina Dent has an excellent post here on e-mail signatures.


August 22nd, 2008

I have Windows Vista.

I know, I know.

I didn’t choose it. It came with the laptop.

One of Vista’s interesting “features” is a pop-up to tell you that you have plugged in a jack whenever you plug in a jack. I’m struggling to see the benefit of that. It’s like your house telling you that you have opened the front door as you step over the threshold.

Imagine the irritation of your kettle constantly saying “You have unplugged me” and “You have plugged me back in again”.

It’s not like when your car tells you that one of the doors is open. That’s useful, because you might not be aware that one of the doors is open. But announcing “Someone has indicated left” when you have just indicated left?

Someone at Microsoft has too much time on their hands.

They have even chosen to use the passive voice.

As if someone sneaked up behind my laptop, concealed themselves behind a pad of Post-It notes and slipped me the jack while I wasn’t looking.

“A jack has been plugged in,” Vista helpfully informs me.


Will I ever learn?

August 14th, 2008

I am a business process consultant by profession, which means I help companies improve their business processes. It’s a job that suits my character and type of intellect in that I am analytical and logical and I am a friendly enough person who likes to help people out. When I am working for any customer, I genuinely want to help them succeed.

I’m not one of those consultants whose ego is more important than the success of their customer and who would rather bluff it than say “Actually, this is outside my sphere of expertise.”

Because the way I act as a consultant is as much a product of my character as my training and professional experience, I sometimes offer free consultancy to friends and even strangers.

Yesterday, for example, I was in a lift (that’s elevator, if you don’t speak English) in the UK, and I was talking to a woman who had been waiting for the lift with me. After a couple of floors, a colleague of hers joined us and shared with us the startling news that she had made herself a piece of toast that morning only to find she had no butter! We were aghast.

That was when the Good Consultant reared his smiley head. Good Consultant likes to help people and where he thinks he can help, he will pipe up and offer a suggestion. So I thought I might offer her some advice, based on my experiences in Spain, that might be of use to her in such circumstances. So I suggested, in a friendly tone, that if she had a tomato and some olive oil, she could cut the tomato in two, rub its juicy innards on the toast, then drizzle it with olive oil and sprinkle a little salt over it. A great alternative to butter if you don’t have any or just feel like a change.

How did she reply?

“That sounds tasty, I’ll give it a try tomorrow.” No.

“That does sound interesting, but I’m afraid I don’t like tomatoes.” No.

Any other reply that would demonstrate even rudimentary social skills? No.

Yeah, but I like my butter.

That was the reply.

That’s when Evil Consultant tried to rear his scowling head. Fortunately, Good Consultant held him down.

“You have already stated that you didn’t have any butter, you fucking ingrate! Butter is not a feasible option when you don’t fucking have any!” EC spluttered as he tried to wrest himself from GC’s grasp, “What’s the fucking point of hanging on sentimentally to an old process when you no longer have the means to implement that process?”

Fortunately, Good Consultant clamped a hand over his mouth, smiled at the woman and bade her “good morning” as he alighted the lift.

“Afraid to embrace change! Afraid to embrace change!” EC taunted as his better half dragged him away by the collar.

“You are just too intolerant,” GC gently chided.

“Will you ever fucking learn, you cretin?” EC retorted, “Some people just don’t appreciate help.”

Consideration for parents

August 8th, 2008

I’ve just got off a flight from the UK and seated behind me was a mother and her two children aged roughly three and six.

She did a great job of managing them during the flight and the toddler only kicked my seat around twenty times (although the mother did yank on the back of my seat several times as she got in and out of their row).

Anyway, I began to think of how many things I have to remember when I am just trying to get myself out of the house and to the airport, so how much harder must it be for a mother on her own, trying to remember all of those things and get two small children ready. She couldn’t possibly think of everything. It occurred to me that I could do more to help, perhaps by carrying one or two essentials that the travelling and weary parent might have forgotten.

So next time, I’m carrying a roll of duct-tape in my hand luggage.