Return of Paleface and black swans

Got left in the office Friday with one of the accounts guys to hold the fort. Went well. Got some funny stories to tell. It’s a small office, no more than 4-5 in there at a time. All men, apart from the account manager who is usually gone.

A client was getting frustrated and told an engineer over the phone “No, you listen here, paleface! ”

A client who owns a business and insists on fucking his server up trying to fix it before handing it over to us to unfuck it. The example of his workflow is going into the server room and “ripping wires out of the plugs”.

A client who read his employees emails, view their desktops remotely, and compulsively watches porn at work. This had to configured especially for him. This client also called our boss and asked how hard it would be to set up an online porn site, and if the company would do that.

A client called me to fix his emails not displaying correctly. I thought it was a firewall issue, but logged in to his machine, and found he had slid his Outlook window over, so he wasn’t able to see his inbox. The fix was as simple as dragging the divider between elements over a bit.

I feel like the job is going well.  The software development course has stalled: haven’t made it to any classes since I started the job a month ago. Projects are getting handed in late, or half done. Trying to manage it with extensions , but I have a big skills gap due to missing class that an extra few days won’t remedy. But this weekend I caught up on some of this work, and I am not so worried about it.

The college also fucked up and didn’t teach us a module on Java/Android/Ruby on Rails it was supposed to. This may mean they are going to grade us leniently. At this stage, I am not too concerned about it. I’m doing all I can. I went back to college to get a job – I got a job. So all I want to do is pass what’s left and get my degree. If worst comes to pass, I have to repeat a few bits.

Knowing how to get shit done and how it works is more important to me than the specifics of a development environment and language. I interview well, and have the thought process to develop if I need to. But actual “whip out your text editor of choice and make something” is beyond me still.

Really glad I got the road bike. Doing the 9km in about 20 mins, which is good considering the traffic, lights and uphill sections. Had some longer 30km spins, and I’m falling in love with cycling again. I find the drop handlebars more comfortable than the flats at this point. My old hybrid is slow and uncomfortable compared to the road bike. Fenders are a necessity here, so I had to spoil the aesthetics of the bike to keep it, and me, clean. Dabbled in some bike courier work as well for server installs within 10km of our office. Handy for medium sized parts and cables.

Probably the fittest I have been in a long time. Practically pain free. Stress is a lot lower. Even managing to put on some weight, up to 78kg now. Strength work since quitting EY has definitely helped with pain I am even considering getting back squatting and pressing. Legs are nearly as wide as my shoulders. This is a sign I should balance the cycling/squatting with some curlz.

Girlfriend got hit with a real black swan. The publishing company she works for has gotten £100,000 Arts Council funding every year since 1973. In the last 5 years, it was cut to £83,000. And this year, it was cut to £0. So the job that was there for her for a year is now looking very shaky.  We are waiting to see what happens, but it looks like she will be employed month-to-month. She feels like she doesn’t have many options, and would like to go back to China for a year to teach English. She’d make good money with her M. Lit and experience, but I may not have the same opportunity. I really don’t want to teach English there. But I would like to go back to China, and make serious money, so I can travel more of the country. We want to go before my need2breed overwhelms us.

I thought Black Swan was an OK summary of the flaws of assumption and the limits of knowledge, but only really enjoyed the last third of it. It made you feel urbane reading it, but too often I think Taleb went heavy on namedrops. The structure of the book was also repetitive: the anecdotes about Jewishness and Lebanon began to grate very quickly. I had noticed a lot of the things Taleb writes about while in college and Big 4, so it wasn’t as fresh to me. It’s one of those “interesting party topic” books, like Malcom Gladwell or Freakonomics.

Maybe I will write another post on “black swans” and big 4 audits.

I am on the lookout for “Fooled by Randomness” by the same dude, and that’s probably the best recommendation I can give.

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8 thoughts on “Return of Paleface and black swans

  1. i read fooled by randomness. I feel he developed his ideas over time and it was the least satisfying since I too read it after black swan. Imo antifragile was best. Also big gladwell and freakonomics fan. I just want taleb to fucking explain how I can make millions trading options. I looked at his options textbook but it was too advanced and I barely know the difference between a put and a call. Sigh I’m fat Tony but without the coolness connections street smarts and money.

  2. “A client called me to fix his emails not displaying correctly… and found he had slid his Outlook window over, so he wasn’t able to see his inbox. The fix was as simple as dragging the divider between elements over a bit.”

    This is a painfully accurate description of my job.

      1. What do you do? Does your company just give support to different clients or something?

        Also it’s only going to get worse. I’ve been called because “the timeclock is disconnected” and I go over there and it’s just turned off. This has happened more than once and I lose a little bit of my soul each time.

  3. I met one of my friend’s friends who works in IT. Told him “Yeah I don’t really know shit about computers, but I use Linux.” “Why?” “Well, it’s kind of like owning a Mac, but it’s free. But it’s mainly so I can pirate things and not get viruses.”

    Wish I was actually smart at computers. I can’t even get my printer driver configured on Linux. Give me a tar.gz file and I’m fucked. Install from a .deb file and missing dependencies? Well, guess we’re fucked again. Oh well. Wish I could be like those smart cool people in IT. But instead I paint houses. My life went wrong somewhere along the way.

  4. You don’t need to be smart to work in IT. Because of demand, they are taking everyone they can get.

    Try for sum community college.

    hop on that obamacollege if it comes to pass
    get a Pell Grant if you are eligible.

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