Posts Tagged ‘computer’

Careers advice

When I was in my late teens and still at secondary school, there was a lot of talk about forward planning for a possible career. We had talks from people who gave us advice about this or that, there was a careers advisor on hand most days near the sixth form common room and we had various computer programme things that asked you questions and suggested possible careers that might match your likes or dislikes.

I didn’t know for definite what I wanted to do. I had played with different careers in my mind – popstardom beckoned at one point, the literary life at another, not to mention my brush with TV presenting fame.

I hadn’t settled on one for definite because my main thoughts, in my last year at school, were on the gap year I had planned. So I just kind of let these career talks go in one ear and out the other. I had my place at university sorted, I was off to study theatre and English literature when I got back from Africa, although I didn’t really know what I could do with it as a career. I just liked them!

One day though, I must have been wondering what career the computer might suggest if I took the questionnaire. I secretly love stuff like that as it often comes up with something hilariously off-kilter. In a free moment between classes, I decided to take the careers questionnaire.

It took a long time. Long, long, long. And it went on and on and on about things that were so similar to one another that I thought that surely I must have answered it already.

“You enjoy working in a group.”
Agree

“You enjoy working with other people.”
Agree strongly

“You get on well with other people.”
Agree

“You like to lead a group.”
Neither agree or disagree

“You like to be in charge.”
Agree slightly

“You are good at taking control.”
Agree slightly

“You like to fix things.”
Disagree slightly

“You like to take things apart and figure them out.”
Disagree

“You work best alone.”
Neither agree or disagree.

And so it went on. Click, click, click went the mouse, on varying degrees of agreeing or disagreeing with certain statements. Until finally, five billion questions later, I got a little egg timer on the screen while it came up with my results.

I waited in anticipation, thinking about all the things it might suggest for the career I was best matched to. Based on the questions I had been asked, I thought it might come up with things like ‘Team leader on expedition of huge world importance similar to that of Shackleton,” or “Queen’s best friend,” (is that a job title?) or “World famous travelling sensation.”

Think, think, think, went the egg timer and then, finally, up popped my results!

I’ve long since forgotten what my number 1 most suitable career came up as because right there, sitting in the number 2 spot, was the word ‘Embalmer.’

You’re thinking, no, surely not? Is that what I think it is? Well yes, it is what you think it is. The person who embalms dead bodies and gets them ready for burial.

At number 2! That high up! Did I fall asleep during part of the questionnaire and accidentally click ‘agree’ on the statement “You like working with the recently departed”?!

Laura Maisey, Future Embalmer.

My Nanny Rhino journey

My Nanny Rhino journey began on November 1st, obviously. I sat down, wrote ‘The Food And I’ on the page (like that film, The King And I) and I started writing. The first thing I wrote about was microwave chips. Who knows why? It just came into my head so I wrote it. Then I wrote about squid. Then I had reached 1667 words and gone a little further than that. So I stopped. The next day I wrote about truffles. I hit my 1667 word count again. It was easy. I read posts on blogs about how by the end of this month of NaNoWriMo, friendships and marriages would have been tested to their max, mental states become frayed and mealtimes passed by in a haze. I didn’t know what they were talking about. The words flowed freely and I wondered if I’d stop at 50,000 or just keep going. I loved it. And so it went, happily, uninterrupted, until November 10th.

Then the invites to dinner came, the extra workload, the work I was meant to be doing from home, which I had cast aside for NaNoWriMo but which now really needed doing. I started carrying a pad with me to try and snatch bits of time to scribble something I could type up later. For a whole week, NaNoWriMo didn’t get very much attention. I managed a few thousand but, by the time I got a few hours to sit at the computer, I was five days behind. There was nothing else for it. I sat down and wrote ten thousand words in a day and caught up.

The next day I was back to writing 1667 words and feeling good. Then the next few days, I was busy and when I next got to the computer, I started writing and the biggest load of nonsense found it’s way on to the page. Who wrote that drivel about nutmeg and limes? Shockingly enough, I did. I pretended all was fine and moved on hurriedly, excelling myself with my section about cheese.

I fell behind a few days from the end and squeezed four and a half thousand on to November 30th, the last day of NaNoWriMo. I finished on 50393 words. There is some nonsense, some slightly better stuff and some recipes.

All in all, I’m extremely pleased I undertook the challenge. I feel great having done it, although I haven’t yet got out of the habit of drifting to the computer as soon as I get in the house…

Rubbish acronyms

BGR

A friend and I were on our way home from a night out. It hadn’t been a particularly raucous night, in fact I think I’d been on apple juice all evening. We had been waiting in Trafalgar Square for ages and finally the bus came. We got on and sat down. Three boys got on after us who had the distinct appearance of computer nerds. Now, I don’t have a problem with computer nerds but I think it goes a long way to explaining what happened if we understand this fact about them. They were very excited, as though they had only just discovered a world outside of computers.

“BGR!” one of them was saying. “BGR! Huh, huh, huh.”

“What does that mean?” one of the other boys asked.

“Bloody good result!” he replied.

The other two loved it! They grinned and started going “Yeh, totally! BGR! BGR!”

And that, my friends, is a true story.

VLT

It may not definitely have been this. It could have been VBT. Anyway, I was watching a programme the other night about telescopes and space etc and they kept on talking about a VLT and how powerful it was, etc etc. By the time someone said the actual words, I’d figured it was some sort of telescope and was imagining maybe it was named after someone or something important, like the Higgs-Boson.

No. What the acronym actually stands for is ‘Very Large Telescope,’ (or possibly Very Big Telescope).

How uninspired. A very large telescope. So they just call it that. The VLT. The very large telescope.

DLF

Now I love Narnia. Every Christmas (December 16th, to be exact), I get out my box set and get reading. I love Aslan. I get frustrated by Edmund in book 2 but by book 3, he’s back on my good side. Susan is endlessly boring and mumsy but her total destitution in book 7 still seems harsh. Lucy is fabulous and never a disappointment.

Apart from once. In book 4, Prince Caspian, they are on a journey by boat and Trumpkin the dwarf, who was sent to find them calls them ‘little children’. Lucy returns the insult by referring to him as her ‘dear little friend’, which then becomes ‘the DLF.’ And they keep calling him it through the whole book. The DLF. I just think it sounds silly.

BFBFF

Are you ready for this one?

Best Facebook friends forever.

Hilarious.

I touched the key and….

Ok, so I’m still not done with this week’s Chat magazine. You’ll be glad to hear we’re revisiting it and this time, I’m heading to the ‘Spirit World’ section, with Chat’s medium, Tony. Now every week, there’s a picture of a key.

The ‘lucky things that happened to readers’ last week were….

Kate baked the perfect chocolate cake for her son’s birthday.

Peggy learnt to ride a bike (she’s 60).

Maggie’s dog has finally stopped chewing her shoes.

Apparently those things happened because of touching the key. Amazing. So if you’re reading this and you want some amazingly good luck (if you are going to make a cake, ride a bike or get a dog, maybe) close your eyes and touch the key and report back the lucky things that happened to you as a result of it. Let me tell you about my day yesterday after I touched the key. The luckiest day ever!

I woke up at 4.15am to do an online exam, my last thing for my law degree, and my computer didn’t break in the middle of it! Wow!

I made a cup of tea and didn’t spill any of it on myself! Amazing!

I wasn’t late for work! In fact, I was three minutes early… Lucky!

I was very tired but I didn’t fall asleep standing up! Omg!

I had five coffees but didn’t have a heart attack! Gosh!

Someone annoyed me at work but I didn’t punch them! Brilliant!

I had a sleep when I got home from work and didn’t fall out of bed! Yeh!

I made a tasty banana bread! Fantastic!

I made a nice dinner for a friend who came over! Fab!

The football was on but I read a book instead so I wouldn’t get bored! Great!

The washing dried on the line outside so I had clean pyjamas for bedtime! Amazing!

You see? All you sceptics out there. I bet you’re eating your words now, aren’t you? See how LUCKY my day was after I touched the key? I might write in to Chat to let them know how much they helped me and they might put me in their Lucky Key column.

I heart Chat.

Freedom internet

The next installment of our guest blogger’s thought-provoking series on freedom….

After Freedom RulesFreedom MusicFreedom Art & Freedom Literature we now come to Part 5 which I’m calling Freedom Internet. As you probably guessed I’ve been covering elements of what most people call popular “culture” (music, art, literature). I think we have to accept that the internet has now become an element of culture in its impact and coverage. Not only is it an element of the culture here in our society but it also affects most cultures in societies across the world. Wikipedia has become the ubiquitous reference tool despite not having the reliability of the printed encyclopaedia. In the past, print had to be far more rigorous in what it published but today’s Wiki sites have only to say: “No ref” or “Citation needed” to indemnify themselves against claims of being conduits of false, confidential or potentially malicious info. And here lies a far bigger issue – unsubstantiated info appears alongside verified stuff with the result that people end up not being able to tell the difference.

The first thing to notice is that “the internet” or, as its altruistic creator Tim Berners-Lee called it, the World Wide Web, does not exist as a separate entity or area like which previous freedom subjects did. Remember his original idea was simply to enable scientists to share info & research without having to resort to paper, telecoms (telex, fax, at the time) & postal connections. There is no unique place called the internet. It exists only on computer chips, in telephone lines and on many different servers across the world. It is actually an open network of linked servers with various files which can be shared. It’s a bit like a library, not of books but of other libraries all across the world.

From that point of view what you see as “on the internet” may not be what someone else sees: take China, North Korea & other nations who severely restrict the access of their inhabitants to it. Their “internet” is not the same as mine or yours. One server owner may agree to content which others may not. These server owners then become the arbiters of what will or will not be released into the public domain. Quite simply they have now become the ones who, to put it mildly, “push the boundaries”. More bluntly they have become the source of much of today’s morality and the setters of standards apparently deemed acceptable. How so? Well think of it this way – to whom are they answerable? There is no ruling body for “the internet”, no high council (or committee) who decide the rightness or wrongness of putting a particular site up for public viewing. It is completely in their hands. The internet is an open network with no controls – except the consciences of the server providers! Comments made in print, film or artistic endeavour are more rigorously scrutinised because of the potential for libel claims. Where the internet is concerned, people can just “hide” behind made up names and identities.

The potential for criminal activity is greatly increased. I don’t suppose there are many of us who have not received an email telling us that upwards of $100,000,000 is lying in a bank account somewhere in Nigeria and that we are the only ones who can unlock this vast store of money. Why would you believe a totally anonymous stranger would want to give you a huge chunk of money? Most don’t; email deleted, move on, no worries. But, and it’s a big but some DID believe it and sent their bank details. Their accounts were emptied, no-one was caught; they suffered the complete embarrassment of being taken in by the scammers. Then there are the internet sellers who simply take the money and no product arrives or, if they’re buying, receive the product and stop the payment. And so it goes on. Starting up a proper trading company takes a lot more effort than sitting in front of a keyboard and conning people. Are we surprised so much of it goes on?

Then there are the “Munchausen Syndromers”. The internet has many forums for people with various illnesses and disorders. It’s an ideal breeding ground for attention seekers. A recent UK radio prog discussed the issue and interviewed people who had gone onto cancer sufferers’ web forums pretending to have cancer and how they were managing day-to-day. Not only was their condition fictitious but they often invented other family members: girlfriends, boyfriends, children to make their situation seem believable. (I think most people will agree that it’s one thing to pretend to like sport on a sport website forum but quite another to pretend to have a terminal disease.) People were befriended and some completely taken in by the person who was not ill at all just pretending they were. (LLM’s “Chat” blog from yesterday referred to it in para 3 without actually naming it.) There is a further condition known as Munchausen by proxy but we don’t have space to go into that one here. In the internet world Munchausen’s Syndrome has become known as MBI (Munchausen by Internet). Those duped by such people are (rightly) devastated to learn that they have been conned, sometimes out of money they offered to help a situation which really didn’t exist. How can the forums’ hosts check out everyone who joins them? They rely on the trust and truthfulness of those who join to give the site the credibility so that people can feel secure revealing details, often very personal, of their condition and their feelings about it.

In real life, meeting someone talking like this you would pick up a number of signals from their body language, facial expressions and the like. On the internet all these human interface reactions are not on show. You are, or you become, what you type because no-one can see you. Only the perceptive or the ones who’ve been through a similar experience and pick up on stuff that doesn’t ring true will see through the lies. That incidentally is how a number of these cancer phoneys were found out. Very soon after they take their details down, disappear and some admitted they just create a new identity and begin the whole process again.

Recent surveys in the UK highlighted the age at which kids admitted they had first viewed pornographic material on the internet. Some admitted seeing it between 10-12 years old and from that I think we could assume that they had done so at a younger age but were wary of confessing to that so they said an age that to them seemed acceptable. Is a button asking them to confirm their age going to deter them?

Further areas of intimidation or “cyber bullying” as it’s called have resulted in a number of suicides over the past few years here in the UK and I suspect in other countries as well. How can it happen? Simply because if one person wants to call another person names or say things about them which are untrue they can. Until a complaint is made any comment is allowed, it seems. Even then the damage can be done and taking the comment down does not reverse the effect on the person hurt.

Without an overall arbiter of web content we should not be surprised that things have gone rapidly downhill in the moral sphere as well as the practical. The genie is well and truly out of the bottle; closing the barn door will be no good, the horse has clearly bolted and we’re not going to catch it. But how many really want to catch it?

Imagine standing at a bus stop and a bus comes along but it has no destination on the front. Would you get on or would you ask the driver where it is going? Even if it’s going the right way would you like it if the route was decided by the passengers shouting out where they want it to go next and not by the bus company. If I travel from say Glasgow to London I will see signs along the way telling me, as I get nearer, that London is 400, 300, 200 and so on miles away. It’s there on a blue metal road sign at the side of the motorway. I know where I’m going and I know how far it is. As you’re reading this you’re obviously on the “internet bus” and probably got on some years ago. Are you just on to enjoy the ride? A Magical Mystery Tour? Perhaps serendipity? Or do you worry about where the bus is going? Will you get off if the bus starts going down a road you don’t like and get on one that doesn’t go that way? A different service provider for example.

The internet has done so much good in many different areas and undoubtedly is greatly beneficial in the realm of study & research, commerce, communications for families and so on. That is to be welcomed and applauded. However we will reap what we sow and sadly we’re seeing a lot of negatives. Whilst I can only raise a few pointers to the current situation I hope you can see that unless controls are introduced the whole thing will continue down the road of decline. Freedom on the internet has had very serious consequences for us all. In a way it is breaking down societal norms and the differences between societies because those with unrestricted access can see what others are doing or how they are behaving. They then press their governments for change and, if successful, their society and culture changes. But to what? – To be more like ours? Why should ours be better than theirs?

Perhaps I can finish with some crucial questions: “Where do you think we as individuals and society in general are heading in this very difficult area? Are we, in reality, just being led by the internet? Can you see any signs? Is freedom helping us get there?”

Now moment of truth! If you look in a real mirror you see what you really look like. If you could look into an “internet mirror” what would you see?

Are you who you are or are you what you type?

Things that bother me but shouldn’t

Ok, the alphabet is finished! It was great fun actually and I’ll probably theme my next few blogs, I just have to figure out a good theme. For today, I’ll just talk nonsense. Not so much different to usual then!

So these things really bother me although I’m well aware of how unreasonable it is and that I shouldn’t spend any energy thinking about them, but I do, alright?

image

When I pull a cleaning wipe out of the box and there’s loads sticking out afterwards. I like there to just be a tiny tuft of the next wipe to grab onto.

Having to use more than one bowl to mix things for a cake.

Drawers being left slightly open.

Little bits of ground coffee falling into an espresso while I’m making coffee.

The cutlery being left to dry with the handle up. It needs to be handle down or you get drip marks.

Washing not being hung out to dry properly.

Stuff getting in my way when I’m stretching out my arms doing yoga.

Getting a wet sleeve.

Having to wait more than 3 seconds for the computer to load something up.

Plastic plants.

Avril Lavigne.

P.S 24 days till exams. I’m still revising murder for criminal law.

F is for…

FILING!

If any of you work in an office, you probably don’t like filing. Most people I know don’t like it. It’s tedious, takes forever and it’s so easy to get to the end and realise you’ve done something wrong and everything’s in the wrong place.

And that’s why I can’t explain the fact that I love filing. I love it. I love it when there is a pile of paperwork chaos and you come along and impose order on it, give everything a home, in a nice neat way. I once did some work with a project which had only just been set up. There was a small office space, some empty filing cabinets, a computer and the biggest disorganised mess I’ve ever seen in an office. Did I think ‘O no! What a nightmare!’ No! I rubbed my hands with glee and thought ‘I can’t WAIT to file all this stuff!’

I made dividers for in the filing cabinet. I looked through every individual piece of paper and worked out which category it belonged in. I bought marker pens and highlighters and gave each piece of paper a brief description so I wouldn’t have to read everything again to work out what it was about. I worked late. I came early. I found muscles I never had, lifting stacks of paperwork. I shunned company or food or even drinks. I HAD A PROJECT! AND I WANTED TO COMPLETE IT!

It probably took about three weeks of half days here and there as I had a full time job somewhere else. After everything had gone into a place in the physical filing cabinets, I then got started on the electronic filing. I think I might love electronic filing even more. I have a certain way that I name files, which I wrote up on an instruction sheet, should someone else dare to step inside MY office to use the computer and try to save something which didn’t have the proper name format. God forbid!

My memory is quite good when I’m in project mode because I’m really into what I’m doing. So even after there was order imposed and it looked like a normal office, with paperwork all in a proper place, I would get calls on my mobile, while I was at my other job, asking me where the piece of paper for the business bank account, with details of the loan agreement was. And I knew. I just knew. “Second drawer down in the large blue cabinet next to the computer. It’s near the middle, and the tab says Business Banking Natwest.” It was just there, in my memory.

Omygoodness, I think I need to file something! Writing this post has really excited me!