Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

He really does know everything.

We have a saying at my place of employ: Work smarter, not harder.

Now, I tend to assume that this is really corporate-speak to mean something along the lines of “We’d be able to save money on employees if we can make the employees we already have do more work in the same amount of time.”

But I kind of take it to heart. I’ve already mentioned on this blog how much I enjoy creating methods to make it so I don’t have to do repetitive tasks, but tonight I encountered something that made me really question how much those other people really enjoy the idea of reinventing the wheel:

Let’s say that you have a computer. If you’re reading this, you either do have one or you employ somebody to print out your favorite websites for you to read with the morning paper. Since nobody in his or her right mind would pay somebody to print out this blog, I’m going to go with the former. Anyway. You’ve got a computer. And let’s just say, you want to run a program and it doesn’t load. Instead, you get an error message. Doesn’t really matter what it says, because when I ask you what the error said, you’re not going to remember it anyway. But we’ll come back to that.

When I encounter this type of situation, there’s a very specific set of things I do to try and fix the problem. It goes like this:

  • Make note of the exact text of the error.
  • Go to Google.
  • Type in the exact text of the error.
  • Read the links that follow to see if anybody else has had the same error, and what they did to fix it.
  • Do what those other people did, which will almost always fix the error.

Now, that makes sense, right? I mean, it’s Google. As my friend Jonny says, “Google is the best sysadmin in the world. That Google dude knows everything.” It is incredibly rare that I get a computer problem that nobody in the world has EVER had before, and since it’s, well, Google, all those issues are generally available with a few simple keystrokes.

Thus, it’s very, very easy for me to do my job. I simply check to see if anybody else has done it before me, and I copy them. Now, utilizing these very same secret methods, you too can become a systems admin.

And now we’re back to the part that I said we were going to get back to: If you ever call me with computer problems, you can be sure that the one question I will absolutely, definitely ask you will be if there were any error messages, and what they said. It is in your best interest to be able to answer these questions. :)

But back to tonight. Without going into details, let’s just say that I encountered an issue with a computer that had been confusing people for days. During that time, the only time I actually got to look at the computer was while it was running a scan or something, so I didn’t have an actual chance to sit down and try to fix it myself until tonight. And when I did, what was the first thing I did? Looked for the error messages. (You starting to notice a recurring pattern? Good, I thought so.) Once I saw the error message, it took me all of five minutes to go to Google, find a solution, and implement it.


I don’t think I’m anything too special when it comes to what I do. Hell, I already said that you could do my job if you wanted to, just by using my tried and true methods. So what does it say that for almost a week, an entire team of people couldn’t fix an issue that was solved by fifteen seconds’ worth of googling? I mean, seriously, folks, it was the first link that was in the search results.

Like I said, for me, a lot of these issues are fixed in this manner. In reality, it’s a very simple thing.

I don’t really know if what I do is working smarter, but one thing it’s definitely not is working harder.

Because obviously, they aren’t making enough money.

I just read a story on Slashdot that states that the RIAA is requesting that royalties given to recording artists actually be lowered.

Do you ever have that moment where you read something that makes the least amount of sense ever, and your brain actually has to reboot before you can continue? Yeah, I totally had that happen to me just after reading that story.

The argument made by the RIAA is that the royalties should be lowered “for use of lyrics and melodies in applications like cell phone ring tones and other digital recordings.” So in other words, they’re saying that the use of things like ringtones shouldn’t make as much for the artists—presumably the argument is that ringtones, being shorter, don’t warrant the same royalty as a full-length song.

I can’t even begin to articulate how downright awful this is on the part of the RIAA. As the article states, “in the past week the RIAA has made it quite clear whose profits the group is truly out to defend, and it’s certainly not the artists who actually make the music.” As if it wasn’t obvious in the past, it certainly is obvious now that the RIAA has absolutely no desire to protect the interests of the recording artists and is out for only one client—its record labels. The funny thing is that they aren’t even pretending here: they’re stating that the royalties need to be lowered because the labels aren’t making as much as they could be.

It’s not even like the labels aren’t still making money hand over fist. I’ve always wondered how on earth they expect us to feel sympathy for them because they aren’t making as much money as they used to make. Excuse me while I cry a river for you because you only made six hundred million instead of seven hundred million this year.

Citizen Journalists: One weekend a month, two weeks a year

Reports of my death, yadda yadda yadda.

I’m alive. My friends are starting to ask where I’ve disappeared to, so I thought I’d at least post something. I’ve had ideas for things to write, but I’ve pretty much been too tired or lazy to start writing about them.

I did read something interesting today, though: Apparently, Yahoo! and the Reuters news agency have partnered up with a new service called You Witness News. It’s a service that lets citizens upload photographs of news events and get paid to have them published. Say, for example, that you’re present at a political demonstration and take pictures of a person giving a speech. You could be paid to have those photos published. Think of it like the ultimate freelancing gig.

Naturally, the “professional” news outlets are decrying this. I can only assume that they feel that this “cheapens” their own profession because now any joe schmo with a camera could get paid for what they’re worked hard for. You know what my advice to these professionals is?

Deal with it.

As a former student journalist myself, I’m firmly of the opinion that journalism has changed subtly but significantly over the last several years and with the Internet has grown into a different beast altogether. It’s only through its evolution and ultimate re-emergence as a new form of media that it will be able to survive. Journalists had felt for years that blogs weren’t true journalism either—that is, until they needed to start citing blogs as news sources. Then it suited them just fine. Now, even the news organizations have blogs.

So how is this any different? This is just another extension of “Web two-point-oh.” It’s another means to get the community involved in what happens around them. I don’t really see how getting the general public more involved in the world around them is in any way a bad thing.

Now, I’m not suggesting that any person with a cameraphone can suddenly be the next Pulitzer winner. But even point-and-click digital cameras are getting to the point where they can take print-quality photos (or, hell, near-print-quality at any rate) without a second thought. And sure, most of what they take is going to be crap. But that’s really no different than professional photographers. 95% of what they take is crap, too, but professionals know what the trick to true greatness in a photo is: timing. They take and take and take and take photos until they manage to snap that perfect shot. It’s only a matter of time before the ordinary joes can do it too.

Hell, maybe this will even increase competition in the journalism industry. At least by paying these citizen journalists, they’re creating demand. Maybe we’ll ultimately see better journalism come out of this.

…Or maybe we’ll just see more paparazzi. I haven’t decided yet.

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