14 03 2008

I heard a new term the other day – “partnering”. It’s used by those bidding on large projects (such as construction) and is a budgeted line item.

What it really is, is costs for entertaining the bigwigs – golf afternoons, drinks at the bar, lunches, dinners. Schmoozing, basically. But I guess the bean counters wouldn’t agree to “Schmoozing” as a line item… “Partnering” sounds better, but it’s the same thing.

Busy days

4 03 2008

My first two (of four) days back in the office have been busy. Quite a lot of staff on the team are away in far-flung places, but that hasn’t made it less busy. I think they’ve been keeping some things aside waiting for me to arrive!

I didn’t get a chance yesterday to write in this blog, and it’s now 10:30pm on Tuesday night and I should be in bed, but I wanted to get this out of the way before I rested my head.

After work yesterday I caught the train out to Thorneside (?) with Ian from work, then he drove me to his and Donna’s place. From there we went to a restaurant called The Lighthouse over in Cleveland, where we had the most fabulous meal. Ian had the Tempura Tiger Prawns to start, and while there were only three prawns, they were HUGE. Donna and shared an entree serve of the most beautifully spiced and cooked calamari. To die for. Then we all had a Coral Trout as our main course (delicious), and shared the ‘for two’ “Lighthouse Death by Chocolate” dessert. Three of us couldn’t finish it! I took photos of a seafood platter at a nearby table (yes, TFP, you’d be proud of me–I just went up to their table and asked permission to take a photo!) And I took a couple of photos of the chocolate dessert we shared. When I get better connection (tomorrow?) I’ll upload the photos…

Seafood platter

Death by chocolate

The worst thing was catching a cab back in to the Brisbane CBD. I have no clue where Cleveland is, but the taxi fare was over $70!!!! And I had to wait 20+ mins for it… the restaurant staff were in the closing up stages by the time it arrived.

Today was another busy work day, starting at 6am (under pressure to get a doc finished for the client by 8am–two of us came in early to get it done as we couldn’t finish it yesterday). And my $5 fake Rolex that my Mum bought for me in Bali died! For the past 12 months I’ve hardly needed to wear a watch–and just when I have to, it dies. So I bought a $15 watch from Big W. It’s only got to last 4 weeks… Normally, I wouldn’t have bothered, but tomorrow I’m doing my conference presentation for the software development teams, and have a couple of meetings, and so I NEED the correct time. My husband suggested the clock on my phone, but the phone will be turned off in the presentation, so that wasn’t a solution. It’s not like I have a plane to catch… NOT!

Tonight I practiced my presentation out loud and had a go at recording it on a voice recorder I purchased a while back. So I ended up not eating an evening meal. But then, after last night’s feed and breakfast and lunch today, I really didn’t need it.

OK, to bed!

How many degrees of separation?

8 01 2008

Late this afternoon I get an email from someone I don’t know. Let’s call him Mark. He addresses me by name and tells me that someone else (let’s call him Larry) from some company I’ve never heard of has recommended me for some proof reading work.

I’m intrigued, so I call Mark. I tell him I don’t know Larry or Larry’s company. Mark fortunately remembers that Larry actually got my name from someone else—let’s call him Rob S. Somewhere in the dim recesses of my brain I vaguely recall someone of this name—he was the contact person at a printing company. But I’ve never met Rob. I only know his name because I recall that a friend of mine—let’s call her Kris—mentioned him some years ago when I edited some company prospectuses for her.

So, I do some work for Kris back in 2000/2001. She mentions my work to Rob. Sometime between 2001 and 2008 (!), Rob—whom I’ve never met and never done any work for—mentions my name to Larry, who remembers it and mentions it to Mark, who has enough information about me to find my website and send me an email requesting an hourly rate quote for occasional proof reading!

What’s that? Four or five degrees of separation?

BTW, Mark’s happy with my hourly rate quote over the phone and is happy to hire me to do work for him on an ad hoc basis, purely based on a recommendation. That’s what it’s all about! Love it.

Update (1 February 2008): It’s happened again! This afternoon I get an email out of the blue from someone I don’t know (M) who works for a company (A) I’ve never worked for. It’s a pretty generic email asking about my availability for some Word template work. I’m not available, so I respond saying so. I get an email back thanking me for a suggestion I made, and stating “I heard you were the best Technical Writer around – obviously your commitment speaks for itself!”

So, taking the bait, I ask who they’d heard that from. The return email gives me a name (J) and company (C). I don’t know the name, and I’ve never done work for company C. BUT… I have worked with someone (F) who’s currently at company C. Now, before you think, “Ah! That’s easy!”, let me tell you that company C is a global company with some 15,000+ employees in numerous locations throughout the world (think of a company starting with C + oil and gas…). I last worked with F back in 2002 or thereabouts. And I’m not even sure that’s where the connection is.

Cue Twilight Zone music about now…

‘The simple truth of service’

26 12 2007

I was sent a link to this inspirational three-minute movie today: http://www.stservicemovie.com/

Take 3 minutes out of your day to watch it—you may never forget it.

(For more movies in this vein, go to the main page: http://www.simpletruths.com/movies/; another one that got me was http://www.appreciationmovie.com/—being an ex-teacher and knowing plenty of other ex-teachers, this one struck home)

An MCSE is…

21 11 2007

Lots of interesting discussion is happening today on one of my technical communication/writing lists about certification (again!). In amongst all the arguments for and against (mostly against), was this definition of an MCSE:

“Minesweeper Consultant and Solitaire Expert”.

LOL! The real definition is “Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer”, but I like the alternative better.

Computer privacy policy

15 11 2007

More on the ‘clean up the laptop’ saga… I came across something called “Viewpoint Media Player” in my Add/Remove Programs list and had no clue what it was, so off to Google again, where I found this brilliant piece about Viewpoint Media PLayer by Joe User (great domain name!) and his efforts to remove it. In amongst his diatribe about this piece of software—tell us what you REALLY think, Joe!—was this:

Here is my privacy policy: I do not want any type of crap on my computer unless I specifically OK it. I do not want anything installed without my permission. I don’t want some poorly programmed piece of crap crashing my computer, changing my bookmarks and homepage, and making itself part of the operating system so I can’t delete it without instructions from the internet. I do not want programs that record what I am doing. I don’t want programs accessing the internet at random intervals to send data to its home servers. I don’t care if “At no point is the CUID connected to a user’s name, email address, or other personal contact information”. I don’t freaking believe what is written in the privacy policy (which I didn’t even get a chance to read since it installed without my knowledge), nor do I trust your abilities to safeguard my personal data even if you are telling the truth.

When can you install something on my computer? If you get within arms length distance of my computer and can install it before I cave your head in with a baseball bat, then I will allow it.

Couldn’t agree more!

Christmas cards for clients

15 11 2007

On one of my technical writing lists today, there was discussion about Christmas gifts for clients and links to websites that deal with such things. Someone mentioned donating to charity, which is what I did for the first time last year. Here’s my contribution to the discussion:

Along the same lines, last Christmas I decided not to send out cards to my clients as I figured they’d be on display (maybe) for 2 weeks, no-one would do more than glance at them (at best) and then they would go in the trash or recycle bin. The amount I would’ve spent on Christmas cards and postage (not including the time to write them!) I gave as a donation to Perth Zoo. I emailed my clients wishing them all the best for the season and told them of the donation in lieu of cards. Some responded saying what a good idea it was. No-one complained about not getting a card!!

I’ve always thought corporate Christmas cards were a strange custom – and now I don’t do it. I’ll find a suitable organisation to donate to again this year – preferably one where I can donate direct (like the zoo) as versus one that goes through fund raising agencies etc. to get donations.

That spurred me on to actually do something—so this year I’ve decided to donate to the Royal Flying Doctor Service, a VITAL service for rural and remote Australians.