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There should be two principles to back office IT.

1) Make monkeys redundant.
2) Free up good guys time.

It’s not difficult. It’s not complicated. It will save money.

So the world’s indexes are crashing around us, employment fears surround all contracting staff, and house prices are wobbling.

As a non-houseowning, non-stock-investing, permanent member of staff, I’d just like to say:


Seriously, one of these days, I’m gonna just freak out and move to San Francisco.

January’s just preposterously shoite in England. Firstly, I have no money, secondly, it’s dark ALL THE LIVE LONG DAY, thirdly, there’s nothing to do. Admittedly, I’m being a whiny bitch as I’ll be in Whistler snowboarding in a fortnight, but still.

I like my job, I do. Really. It’s a challenge, I’m learning loads, it pays well, and, honestly, I’m pretty damn good at it. It’s just sooooooo soulless. Why won’t someone pay me to listen to music and geek out all day long?

Why is it that a minimum wage job seems so much more glamourous if you’re hanging out in Boston or San Francisco?

Anyway, Questionable Content is a most excellent web-comic, and mildly less unaccessible than the quite superb xkcd

I sold out so long ago, I’m not sure I was ever really sold in. Nevertheless, my ‘youth’ (i.e. Uni life) as a ‘punk’ (i.e. geek with dyed hair) is somewhat at odds with my current joyous existence running IT teams for an Investment Bank.

It’s not that I pine for my lost innocence, I quite like no longer living month-to-month and, you know, having shit, but I do miss the friendships and mostly the gig-attendance. Fuck that, I miss actually knowing any new bands. Nowadays, my exposure to new music is limited to whatever Chris Moyles deems worthy to play and, whilst that could be worse (I could listen to Heart or Magic), it’s not exactly the scummy heart of novelty.

This blog is mostly inspired by having spent the last 10-15 minutes watching the Kerrang channel on Sky. And I’ve just realised that the last three tracks which have inspires such nostalgia are Feeder, Hole and Nickelback (Nickelback mostly inspired self-loathing). So maybe it’s not that I’ve sold out. There just seems to be so much less to sell into.

‘Agile’. It’s the way forward. Every CV you see makes a feature of a contractor’s experience of (or vague exposure to) XP/Scrum/RAD (delete as meaningful). The problem is that it’s so difficult to apply it in a genuinely useful way, especially in an Investment Banking environment. The short-term pressures, the jurassic steering groups, the pervasive conservatism render an Agile process into a morass of meetings and metrics. Tying it to such godforsaken ideas as CMMI denudes any usefulness from a seriously fragile concept.

The worst thing is that it’s not a bad idea. But it’s wasted on investment banks and it’s been screwed by the prostitutional actions of Thoughtworks who’ve lost their idealism and have sold out faster than a, well, prostitute with a smack habit and a boob tube in Alaska.

Passion with calm, calm with exuberance

One of the most abhorrent statements in the English language is ‘the ends justifies the means’. It’s used by people to rationalise away their actions, without taking responsibility for them. I genuinely believe that if there were one thing that could be changed to ‘improve’ the state of the world it would be to educate people on the critical importance of personal responsibility. No exceptions, no excuses, everyone is responsible for their choices and must accept the consequences of them.

One of the downsides of being a computer geek at an investment bank is the tendency to live almost exclusively at your desk. I get in, sit down, check e-mails, work, continue, go home. Meetings are a respite from this, but hardly a particularly positive one. The air quality in my office just about manages to approach ‘fetid’ (due to a combination of non-functioning aircon, crappy heating and being surrounded by building sites). The only main gap is lunch, and in general that’s a pop round the corner for a sandwich, then back to eat it at my desk. I could potentially go to our other site’s canteen, but as that’s been painted a blindingly oppresive bright white it’s just a guaranteed headache.

So it’s the same sandwiches every other day, alternating from Pret to EAT and back again. I got pretty tired and fed up with this, especially during the horrendous period over Christmas where EAT hatefully discontinued their Chorizo and Grilled Pepper baguette. So I’ve started wandering further afield and discovered how blissful it is to be away from your desk for a bit. St. Pauls is just down the road and the Thames only slightly further. It’s just an extra 10 minutes away, but it makes all the difference in mood and happiness (Note the spelling Will Smith).

So I’m heading to Tokyo this weekend. One can only hope that it’s better than dull, dull, dullsville Singapore, but to be honest I can’t really imagine that it would be worse. The thing about long business trips is that you get stuck into a repetetive work/hotel/work/hotel routine and are pretty reliant on the locals taking you out. Normally by the time I get back to the hotel it’s 9-10pm and I can be arsed to do anything other than eat/read/watch telly. The swimming pool’s usually shut by that time. I spent two fortnights in Singapore and was never in the hotel when the pool was open (except for an occasional 30 min overlap at breakfast).

Anyway, I’m staying here which looks… pretty much like any other hotel. Guess it’ll be off to wikipedia and possibly the bookshop.

And don’t even get me started on having to fly BA rather than a decent airline.

What Has Gone Before

May 2022
i miss your disposition and your strength to see the best in everyone