Posts Tagged ‘technology’

I used to love computer technology.  Ended up with a dream job working with computers for a living.

One year at Thanksgiving, my boss called her staff into her office (it was a small gang), and we had a Thanksgiving meeting.  She asked each of us to talk about what we were thankful for.  Two of the girls rolled their eyes.

I said “I’m thankful for my job”.  One of the girls barely stifled a snicker as they grinned at each other.

“I’m serious.  You don’t know the kind of hellish job I came from.  For the first time in my working life it’s a treat to get up in the morning.  I actually look forward to coming to work.”

The point was lost.  These girls had it great, and didn’t appear to know it.

It wasn’t the computers so much, I now realize.  It was the fact that I’d found something interesting that made me curious.  This job was all of that.  I got to be the lone computer guy for the office (among other things).  I managed a consultant and soaked in all of the knowledge that I could.

I think maybe it was the shiny buttons and lights that attracted me.  Press a button and something happens.  Press another combination and something else happens.  I loved exploring that world.


Eventually I moved out of that job and into another one, again involving computers – only more so.  Once again I had an excellent boss, who believed in letting his people stretch the limits of their understanding.  He encouraged us to work with servers.  At first, we spent time learning about them.  Then they became our responsibility.  We spent many long nights in the server room trying to figure out why one or the other server wasn’t working.  Long nights talking long distance with the server manufacturers, jointly troubleshooting problems.  While we had lots of frustration, it was coupled with bouts of joking and laughter.

There was the time that four of us were stuck in a tiny room, working on a server.  There was a guy about my age, and a vendor rep around the same age, a younger woman, and then of course me.

The vendor guy said “I don’t know.  This isn’t working the way it’s supposed to.  Do you know anyone who specializes in this server type?

My older colleague said “Oh I know.  I’ll give Dave a call.  He works with these all the time.  He’ll know just what to do.”  He got his cell out.

“Can I speak with Dave?”

While waiting, the vendor blurted “Dave’s not here”.

Three of us burst out laughing.  The poor younger girl looked confused.  Never had I seen such a clear barrier between one generation and the next.  Someone should make it a rule that as part of their education everyone gets exposed to the material of “The Beatles”, “Cheech and Chong” and “Monty Python’s Flying Circus”.  Make it mandatory.  I guarantee you very few would complain – those are all classics.

For the past number of years, the number of new and innovative applied computer technologies has diminished, as have the opportunities for late night struggles with workmates.  This all mirrors my level of engagement and interest.  If there’s nothing new, there’s little to be curious about.  No new shiny lights and buttons.

Getting up in the morning has become more of a chore than a joy.  In fact, over the past couple of years, there’s been a new interest to take its place during my off-work hours, a new shiny bauble.

Writing – something I used to do as a hobby – has become something a little more.  I now write freelance critiques of a couple of TV shows.  The challenge is to make them interesting and readable. To have an opinion and to articulate it in such a way as to invite comment and conversation.  Luckily, the shows themselves are so well-written that they provoke emotions in our readers.  This helps.

Seems a little ironic that the one subject that bores me is being used to indulge another passion.  The computer, far from being a fascinating innovation, is now serving as a tool to enable the expressing of my ideas in writing.

There are a ton of questions I’ve yet to answer, and a bunch I’ve yet to ask or figure out.  Like, what’s next?  Where can I take this writing thing?  I mean, beyond the obvious (e.g. a novel).  If I’m to escape the “golden shackles” of computer-related employment, how do I leverage this love of writing?

(That’s an open question, by the way.  Any of your ideas would be gratefully received.)

The bottom line is that Dave is most certainly here.  Keep knocking.  He’ll get there eventually.


Posted: April 12, 2010 in Life
Tags: , , ,

I don’t know why it is – maybe it’s because of last year’s market slowdown, or maybe it’s because our Canadian dollar has been all over the map in the last few years – but lately I’ve taken a keen interest in the economy, and regularly read the Financial Post, and I watch the currencies market.

Anyway, last week I found myself attending a meeting after work that I would normally never even think about.  It was my credit union’s annual general meeting (known as AGMs).  It was, as you can expect, pretty f**king boring, really.  They talked about balancing the books and they bragged about how they managed to tread water while banks in the U.S. were losing their shirts and running to the government for bailouts.  Seems to me their bragging was well-earned, even though the entire banking structure in Canada is fairly conservative to begin with, and so wasn’t subject to the same risks to which the banks in the U.S. were exposed.

I went, primarily because I’m still keenly interested in the technology side.  The idea of having phones that you can use as banking swipe cards seems slightly orgasmic to me.  I’m in love with the idea of a reduction in the steps it takes to purchase something.  I look forward to the day when lineups anywhere – banks, movie theatres, cashier lineups – will be a thing of the past.  Something that our children’s children will look back at and say “gee Grandpa – you mean you had to actually *wait* to pay for something?”

How ironic is it that I have a problem holding on to money?   And the fact that my discretionary spending is spent on technology?

And how further ironic is it that one of my most prized technological possessions – my $500 Shure earphones – was lost while attending this banking meeting?

Yet still, this fascination with the economy continues to maintain my ADD interest.  Along with technology, women, movies, and whatever else crosses the home plate of my wayward consciousness every day.  

Not cars though.  Automobiles may look nice but, in a busy city like Toronto (which the transit system covers like a close-meshed spiderweb, with frequent service to pretty much any place you want to go) that’s their only appeal.  I’ve checked it out a few times:  the time it takes to travel by car from my place to the furthest southern spot in Toronto is far greater than the same route taken by overground and underground transit.  With the car, you’re paying for: the car itself,  maintenance, parking, insurance and of course you can’t go anywhere without gas.  All of that amounts to about a zillion dollars a month.  A monthly transit pass: $100.00.  Seems a no-brainer, and I haven’t owned a car for years.

There’s just simply no advantage to having a car, that I can see.  It just costs too much.

Outside of the city, it’s a different story.  There are always car rental places.

It’s amazing to me that I can be so wise when it comes to cars, but so foolish sometimes when it comes to other high-priced items.   Is it really necessary to pay $300.00 per month to my cable company?   Granted, there’s a lot of coverage with that (which includes internet and my iPhone plan) but really, do I watch more than three channels per month?  Answer: no.

Plus I’ve got technology out the ying-yang.   Even so, I still find myself checking out Macbook Pro laptops and even Macbook Air, while there is contemplation of the new iPads that will come to Canada very soon.

Maybe there’s a lack of balance going on here.  A need for focus that can’t come except by external means.   Maybe I need an engineer to devise a mini-taser device that zaps me if I drag out my wallet for anything other than true necessities.

 There are no excuses.  Not really.  Doesn’t mean I won’t dream some up.

“Well it’s Ok that I use money on technology.  Some people drink or gamble their paycheques away.”

Which is true, but it doesn’t mean there’s carte blanche just to spend like there’s no tomorrow. 

“It’s probably depression.  Some people shop, you know.  Isn’t that what you’re doing?.”

There’s merit to that too.  I do feel better for a little while after buying something.  Yesterday I purchased a $300 Bose speaker system for my computer.  The sound is amazing.  The dearth of cash is not.   How long this good feeling will last is anyone’s guess.  My best guess:  not long.

Maybe if  I took a course on economics.  That would tie up some time so I couldn’t go out spending money.

Which reminds me:  it’s late afternoon and I haven’t been out for my coffee break yet.   Time to head to Starbucks.  I’m sure there’s change around here somewhere that I can use to buy a nice little $5.00 coffee…..