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Hacking Work: Breaking Stupid Rules for Smart Results, by Bill Jensen

Got this for one penny at Amazon. Of course, shipping was $3.99, but it’s still a great deal. The book doesn’t have a boiler plate of tools to use for hacking, but it does give a good sales pitch about the risks and benefits. By the way, the work hacking is not the malicious kind–it’s about going around rules when you can get the job done faster, while benefiting the company.

Vendor roulette

Two days ago, a client reported a problem that I suspected was on the web host side. They couldn’t upload media files. This has happened before with Dreamhost, and it was resolved by calling them, and having them clear a cache somewhere. I chatted with a support lady for 90 minutes with no resolution, and her promised followup call never happened. I tried again the next day, and that person found the problem immediately–it was a line in the server log. Wow, who would have thought to look there? This has happened multiple times, sometimes requiring 3-4 separate chats … Read more

Officer, why are you in my room with a flashlight?

I was talking with my landlady last night, and she asked me if I was upset about the cops coming into my room. Say what? This is another episode of my crazy dealings with renting living quarters in Maryland. Some of you may remember a previous landlady’s son being thrown in jail for dealing drugs (turned out he was innocent). And then she died suddenly while he was still locked up. And the druggie housemate that wandered the hall outside my room at all hours of the night. And the house that exploded three blocks away. Here we go … Read more

A new direction on the job hunt

Okay, I’ve moved through the first two iterations of my job hunt–ramping up my profiles on Google and LinkedIn, and refining my resume so I have multiple versions. That looked promising for a while. On the upswing? I actually got two local job interviews last month. Granted they were referrals from friends, but nonetheless, things were looking up. I was fully qualified for both, but I didn’t get either position. Could SAS work? So. Cobol doesn’t appear to be panning out. I decided to try the SAS market, as I’ve used it quite a bit over the years, and … Read more

My 6 month adventure with (shudder) unemployment

This is an update on the original article, written in 2010. Remember those days when people kept saying “Cobol is dead?” We just laughed, and kept on coding. Well, laugh no more. Cobol is not dead–there are still thousands of programmers out there. It’s just finding a new mainframe position after losing a job that’s dead. I’ve been a contractor for over 30 years, and I’ve never lost any sleep over getting the next contract. Until I finished my contract with Geico, 6 months ago. Reality sinks in At first, I saw lots of job postings in Dice, etc., … Read more

GTD, My way–an update

This is an update from something I wrote when I was using a (don’t laugh) PDA (Personal Data Assistant). PDA’s were the big rage before smartphones. Since then, of course, software and smartphones have made them obsolete. But, because planning and prioritization of tasks hasn’t changed much, this article is still relevant. I’ve used GTD for most of my career. GTD (Getting Things Done) is a methodology on tracking and accomplishing tasks, both at home, and at the office. It was invented by David Allen, who wrote a book about it, and has created a worldwide following. You can … Read more

Job hunting in 2009–it’s a whole new world

Ah, the good old days. When you could find a job in a day or two. Sometimes within hours. 2009, on the other hand, sucks big time. My last contract ended on May1, and I’ve been looking for a job for 3 months now. I keep a spreadsheet of jobs I apply to, and I’m now closing in on 65. The funny part is that I had two job offers in the same day, 3 weeks ago, and it looked like my job troubles were over. I was on my way to a job interview with a new team … Read more

Great hotkey program–Autohotkey

I found this through PC Mag about a year ago, and have been using it ever since. Autohotkey is free, and does several great things, which I illustrate here: You can key in an abbreviation, like btw, and it will automatically expand to “by the way.” You define the expansion with a text file. For more common names, and for using in email addresses, you can prefix a name, with say, two periods + terry, and terry’s email address will appear. Great for forwarding internet news articles–they usually require you to key in a person’s whole email address. You … Read more

The ultimate blog software–WordPress

I have struggled for years to put up a decent looking web site. What I usually ended up with, although functional, was a patchwork of different pages, all with different functions. Then, I started reading about WordPress. What makes it so wonderful? It’s free It has hundreds of templates You can update in real time, without using an upload process It’s open source, so you can customize it to your heart’s content It’s widely used, so there’s a lot of help out there It has lots of plugins that allow RSS, SEO (Search Engine Optimization), search capability, and much … Read more