More unintended consequences

I ran across an article talking about a bill that would require folks buying prepaid mobile devices A.K.A. “Burner phones” to register.

Burnerphone

As was pointed out in the article, “Burners” are used legitimately by reporters, investigators, and inside sources, for whom maintaining their anonymity is sometimes a matter of life and death.

Granted there are some criminal elements that use “Burners” for criminal activity. That’s what this proposed legislation is aimed at stopping. 

As I was reading the article a few things went through my mind.

Congress

These lawmakers are trying to demand that everyone purchasing and activating a phone be identified, and registered.

But, these same lawmakers will fight tooth and nail against a voter ID law, on the grounds that the poor can’t afford to have identification.

Yet, the primary market for cheap contract free “Burner” phones is the poor, and often the poorest of the poor, who use these phones as lifelines and methods for finding work. 

Homeless People and their Dogs Unconditional Love 3

Homeless people will sometimes have a “Burner” because they scraped together enough money to buy one, and until they use up its minutes the phone works. If they’re looking for work the phone is important even if they have no permanent address.

But if you force registration, doesn’t that exclude all of the homeless population, further disenfranchising them and forcing them further to the fringes of our society? 

Abused Woman

Then there are abused women for whom a “Burner” may be their only option, if they’re trying to escape their abuser. 

How about runaway children who might realize that a “Burner” would allow them to reach out and call their parents? They likely wouldn’t have a method to “Register” either.

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Bills like this, aimed at preventing the use of phones for trafficking, anti-terrorism, the drug war, or general criminality, tend to cause as much collateral damage as the very things the Bill is supposed to prevent.

The Representatives who come up with these ideas either never knew or have forgotten what it’s like to be on the lower end of the economic ladder.

They’re like the person I encountered on New Years Eve. They’ve led such charmed lives where nothing really bad happened to them that they can’t even conceive of a situation where they might not have easy access to their ID, or cash, or communication, or travel.

Try bankruptcy, or having your house burn down with your ID, wallet, cash and credit cards inside, for a taste of what it’s like to have nothing and to be excluded from the system. For giggles, leave you house some day without your wallet, that will give you a taste.

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These are the spoiled brats that scream bloody murder when they can’t use their cell phones after a natural disaster. When the power goes out they’re mad because they can’t buy gasoline for their generators, and their frozen dinners have thawed. God forbid they’ve planned for anything, or know how to siphon gas out of their cars.

Remember the chaos of the great Orange County blackout? The folks in Orange County were so horribly inconvenienced they thought their lives had ended. Meanwhile the homeless folks were laughing their asses off because they know what it’s like to live daily without “Essential Services”. Hell afterward there were hearings to blame the cell phone providers for not providing service during an “Emergency”. 

The Martian

In SCUBA there’s a saying. “No matter what else is happening, ask yourself, ‘am I breathing?’ If the answer is yes, then you can set about fixing whatever else is fucked up.

The movie The Martian was an awesome exploration of that concept. “I’m alive, now how do I stay that way?

offthegrid

I guess since I’ve been looking at falling off the grid due to unemployment, and being a planner, perhaps these issues are more relevant to me.

Even now, my big pack downstairs is loaded with my tent and supplies in case of natural disaster, or me deciding it’s just time to walk away from a society that no longer has a place for me. And yes, there’s a “Burner” phone stashed in the pack too.

Welder 011

It’s because of my experiences that I’ve come to believe we don’t need or want a bunch of lawyers, or wealthy people in government.

We need common people because they’re far more likely to bring practicality to government.  It’s why I’m a believer in term limits, campaign spending caps, and grass roots politics.

I’d rather have a welder in congress representing me than some asshole lawyer.

At least the welder, is more likely to have his constituents in mind while he’s sitting in congress. I’ll bet someone like that is also a lot more likely to be in his seat every day congress is in session because that’s his job.

If any of this is ringing a bell with you, take the time to call these elitist politicians out on their stupid ideas. Write to them and tell them they’re idiots and explain politely why you think so.

jackiespeier

I know I’m writing Jackie Speier (D-CA) to tell her my thoughts.

In San Diego …

I slugged my way down to San Diego, for a 30 minute Job interview. The trip took 3 1/4 hours. It’s only 120 miles. Sigh!

The interview went pretty well, I’m hoping that I’ll see some kind of an offer that I can take. I keep running the numbers, and it’s gonna be tight. This is only doable if they’re willing to pay me starting at the absolute upper end of the pay scale.

Perhaps there will be enough to keep all my finances from collapsing and if that’s the case I’m going to count my blessings. There will be damn little to spare.

Prometheus david8

Long term this could be a break, allowing me to enter a growth field using my technology skills. I keep thinking of David in Prometheus “Big things have small beginnings.”

Of course any company hiring me would probably not end in such a disaster as the Prometheus mission.

I’m chilling it at a Starbucks, waiting for the traffic to abate… 

YEAH RIGHT! Like that ever happens anymore in Southern California.

I’ve decided that should I be offered a position, I’m moving down here. I can’t abide 2 and 3 hour commutes anymore. I have zero desire to piss my life away sitting on a damn freeway.

So that’s what’s happening, for those of you wanting an update.

 

The peril of incessant resume editing

Job Search Magnify

Placement agents will often ask that you make “minor” alterations to your resume for presentation to a client, “Don’t say Oracle, say SQL,” and inevitably there’s a time constraint giving you the impression that you’re not going to be submitted for a particular position if you don’t make their suggested changes instantly.

Evaluate these requests carefully, especially if you’re applying to multiple positions through multiple resources.  On the one hand, the suggestions may yield a stronger resume. On the other hand, the suggestions may be the placement agent picking nits, due to their personal biases.

Job Search Apps

After four solid years of looking for permanent employment, I can’t honestly tell you if making changes under the gun will land you a job, it sure hasn’t in my case.

What I can tell you, is that making changes on the fly can introduce some of the darndest typos in your resume.

In various attempts to comply with placement services “requests” I’ve found myself editing my 900-word resume on my phone, sitting in a parking lot, in my car. “This is an immediate opening; I can’t submit your resume without these changes…

Planned” and “Planed” look an awful lot alike on a phone’s screen. Spellcheck isn’t going to catch the difference either. Punctuation? Ha!  Worse yet, you make the edits then rush headlong into another interview, forgetting you made them.

If you’re using a cloud service your edits are propagated to all your devices and any errors, introduced may linger in your resume for quite some time. Who re-reads every single word of their resume each time they send it out? You “know” you’ve worked hard on getting it just right and you don’t recall making any changes…

JobSearchSite Cartoon

So you merrily select “Upload” on whatever job placement site you’re using and move on to the next flagged position.

Wanted: detail oriented person for high paying position…

Yep, they’re going to really believe how detail oriented you are because you planed the project, cutting costs by 20%. While shaving costs, may in fact be a good thing, you probably meant you planned the project.

I recently noticed that I’d at some point, (fairly recently, I hope,) made exactly that mistake. I did it literally on the first line describing my former duties. I even think I know when I did it.

I was having to reword several descriptions because the placement guy wanted a bit more “punch”. I was distracted, sitting in a coffee shop, doing the edits on my iPad between interviews, and probably accepted the first suggested word choice. I know better!

Nonetheless, I finished the edits, and emailed the update to the placement agent. The agent, in my humble opinion should not only have caught the error, but told me about it and corrected the word prior to sending my resume to his client.

Guess what? He didn’t notice the problem at all.

Which brings me back to the original point.

Minor edits being demanded by placement agencies may land you in more trouble than simply allowing your resume to stand on its own merit.

I’ve been considering placing my resume under source code control for a while. Maybe today is the day! I’ll put my resumes under Git, just like all my other code projects. It’s easy and allows me to compare changes and even roll changes back. 

Sounds like a winner. 

Ya know… I just want to find a JOB

I don’t think that doing so should require that I sell my soul to the company store! That  comparison is a bit of a stretch but it’s the closest I can come to expressing what I feel.

I was applying to a retail position. When they asked me for the last four of my Social Security Number to CREATE an account, my security senses were heightened.

As I read the terms and conditions governing my use of the 3rd party site handling the application I came to a FULL DAMN STOP! 

I’m linking to a full PDF of the terms to which I was expected to agree.

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I had a couple of problems with the terms.

This is a retail position. I don’t see why I should be required to forfeit my right to privacy to apply for the position.

I strongly disagree with the premise that it’s alright for my information to be extorted from me, while trying to get back to having gainful employment.

I believe It’s wrong that the company, PeopleAnswers not only is making money from the employer but they are collecting data, reprocessing that data and then using it without my express permission or my ability to delete or control that information, so that they make additional money. 

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They go so far as to absolve themselves of any and all responsibility for the information that they create. They continue by telling you that you’re not allowed to take any legal action against them.

EXCUSE ME?

They create a situation where you aren’t able to apply for, or potentially keep, a job except by agreeing to vacate your right to privacy. You have no right to know what they’re doing with your information, who or where that information is going and no legal recourse for any damage done to you by the release of that collected information. 

This is WHY I’m opposed to online job application services / tests / and all that goes with them.

I’d suggest a boycott of these sites, the problem is that those of us who value our privacy are in the minority.

So where does that leave job seekers?

Screwed that’s where. Between a rock and a hard place. Give up your privacy, or be homeless.

I’d write a letter to my representatives at the state, and federal level, but I think that I’d be better served taking that sheet of paper, crumbling it up and wiping my ass.

I’m going to try walking into the business and see if I can fill out an application.

I must be Bored!

I just posted my first yelp review.

CartmanYelp

NO! I’m not becoming a “yelper” like those depected in South Park!

The episode “You’re not Yelping” cracks me up every time I see it.

OH Crap! Now I’ve got the boogers & cum song stuck in my head!

LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA !

Damn! Maybe some Nine Inch Nails will flush that all too catchy South Park tune out of my head.

Anyway, my very first yelp was about a recruiting firm.

Basically, I just lambasted them for their unprofessional behavior and muddying the waters for people like me that are genuinely searching for a new job.

ConfusedRecruiters

I was going to contact the management of the recruiting firm but trying to find out who even owns the place is nigh impossible. And don’t even try to reach a manager or supervisor. It’s all double and triple dead ends designed to obfuscate. Which means that essentially no-one is responsible for anything at the place.

It’s my fault for believing in ANY recruiter.

I got suckered by an email that described exactly what I’m looking for. I want a job that is in my field and that is close so I’m not spending my life on the freeway.

After the woman at the recruiting firm milked me for all kinds of information she said she was going to send my information on to her client. Then she went all radio silent and isn’t responding to emails or anything else.

A few days later I ran across an ad for the exact same position that appeared to have been posted by the hiring company on a public jobs board. So now I can’t apply because I don’t know if the recruiter submitted my resume or not. I also don’t know what is going on because the recruiter is not responding to any of my entreaties.

(Cool word, you just don’t get enough opportunities to use cool words these days.)

Since I have no mechanism to bring this recruiters unprofessionalism, to the attention of her superiors, I was left with adding my review to the chorus of reviews of her agency on Yelp.

Not my first choice, by a long shot, but hopefully it will help some other poor schmuck not waste his or her time.

Diversity? Oh Really!

Brain

Sorry, just read another article about the lack of “Diversity” in technology and realized I am totally screwed! Apparently, I’ve also been way ahead of the curve because for years. To me, my coworkers have been nothing more that their intellect. I think the ultimate diversity, is for all of us to be considered nothing more than a brain.

Here is the inevitable rant!

The lack of diversity in Tech means more DIVERSITY is being demanded even though some of the “Diverse” workers may have been given their degrees as a quota filling move.  Like the Dr. from MIT (yes… a real PHD from MIT) who was my boss. That idiot couldn’t read simple sentences, much less run a department.

PinkynTheBrain

All of us used to write memos that read like Dick & Jane books.

“See the network plug”
“The network plug is different from the phone plug”
“Forcing the network plug into the phone jack is bad, it makes the network sad”
“See Sparky run…”

Of course writing like that takes time and thought so we’d get dinged on productivity.

If we didn’t write memos then we had to talk in person and that meant what should have been a 2 minute conversation ended up being an hour long conversation as we explained repeatedly the fundamental concepts of digital communications in an “adverse” environment. The idiot really had trouble understanding why you didn’t want to run ethernet cables between moving vehicles. Truly this person was the poster child for “The Peter Principal”.

BTW the issues weren’t because of being  black, they were because of stupidity, and an artificial quota system which presented a pass based on skin color instead of having the student learn things and work for the degree(s).

truth

The lady who taught me UNIX was also a graduate from MIT and she was freakin brilliant. She spoke all kinds of languages, had an undergraduate degree in physics, and graduate degrees in Computer Science and AI.

She was tough to deal with but we got along. I think it’s because when we were at work it was only about the truth of the data, the validity of the software, and personalities or feelings didn’t matter. She’s what I thought all MIT folks were like, until I met my former boss and the fantasy was shattered.

I know if I was hiring now, I’d be suspicious of folks and their degrees. That’s what happens when you devalue an entire educational system to bring “Equality” based on anything other that intellect.

My suspicion  is evidenced by the number of pre-interview “Tests” that hiring companies want you to take.

Einstein

Yeah, they want to test you on your knowledge before you ever speak to anyone outside of the HR department.  It’s annoying, but I get it. Degrees are like toilet paper now. Very expensive toilet paper, but toilet paper nonetheless. Everyone has one and all the degree means anymore is that you’re in debt and sat through X years in an institute of “Higher Learning,” and have a mountain of debt.

There are some very good professors who do really care about facts, and whether the student has retained the facts or not. These professors are also interested in teaching and verifying that the students can use the “facts” in new ways.

But sadly these professors are retiring at an alarming pace and many of them are glad to be doing so. The helicopter parents haven’t gone away, they’re simply plaguing a new set of educators, except now they’re holding college professors accountable for little Johnny not doing the work.

Turns out the critics & educators of 50 years ago were right, things do slip to the lowest common denominator, not the other way around.