Sven gets vocal again

I just ran the stats on my little Sandisc Sansa MP3 player, I’ve had it for 3-years now, it was a great buy and yep, cheap, and no it doesn’t work with iTunes. I’ve done a few file reloads and am starting to think about music selection for the marathon I have to run at the end of the Challenge Roth ironman-distance triathlon in July. Yep, MP3 players are allowed on the run.

Overwhelmingly, the number one MP3 played on my sandisc is my Houston dance-music friend, Sven Neers’ “sven gets vocal again” mix from February 2010. It’s a perfect, uplifting, uptempo, happy/vocal house mix. It used to be available via Svens soundcloud page, at http://soundcloud.com/neer-music/sven-gets-vocal-again but it’s been taken down. There is a track listing here on his old blog and you can find it online here.

Careers and Professions in IT

Next week I’m speaking up at Texas A&M University on professional development, career management et al. I’ve finished the revision of my slides and if you’d like to preview them, or even better give me some feedback, you can find them it here: Technical and Professional career (3/27 Update: Final version.)

A couple of related things came through my email today, they both have some interesting material some of which I cover, and that I don’t.

10 Mistakes that Could Doom Your Career as an IT Pro.

How to get paid more (on theregister.com)

Banking in America

I don’t get it, I just don’t. For almost a year I worked to get away from the evil empire, Bank of America. I was proud that I’d moved all my business to a credit union, for UK friends and family, thats pretty much a building society. I bank with Amplify Federal Credit Union. I was pleased when just after the new year I shutdown my BoA account, cancelled my BoA credit cards etc.(1)

As much as Amplify have been really helpful, their inability to do electronic payments to accounts outside the bank has got me to the point where I think it’s time to move again. I just never realized how inefficient their processes were, how they were totally dependent of printed checks and that’s all just too slow for me.  Back in the UK at FirstDirect I can logon, enter an account number, routing code(for the bank), amount and date and in many cases the transfer is done electronically, often simultaneously and always within 2-hours.

At Amplify, I have to use the pay-a-bill system. Essentially this with a few details, allows me to tell them to print and mail a check.

So for example, today I logged on, had to enter a name, a full postal address, and only the account number of a payee; then I entered the amount of the payment, and could select the day I want to send the payment, I chose today. Low and behold the system informed me the payment would be received on March 27th. Note in this instance when they mean received, what they mean is a check would be received on 3/27, they couldn’t mean anything else since they didn’t ask for a routing number for the receiver.

My alternatives were Overnight check – $18.95. Yep some how they were charging me about $12 for them printing and handing my check to USPS for next day delivery, or some other courier company. The only other option is to do a domestic wire transfer, cost $15.

So I’m looking for other responsible banking options., None of the big international banks, ideas anyone?

This seems to be another area, like cellphone plans and cellphones in general where America is gradually has little more than a 2nd rate service. Which really is a shame. Anyone got any insights into why?

I didn’t get where I am today…

In a meeting at the mau5trap today I used the phrase “I didn’t get where I am today…” and then had to explain the humor and it immediately struck me that it was an obvious precursor to The Office. Given Ricky Gervais is only 4-years younger than me he’d have definately been influenced by the original 1970’s The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin tv series and the follow-ons.

I went looking for a YouTube clip and came across this one. Yes, it’s dated. But the content couldn’t be more relevant. The clip, from a program originally aired in October 1976. Not only does it contain some great examples of Reggies acerbic wit, which was a hallmark of the series but he also makes fun of the mediocre, pompous, ex-Army styles that were common in the workplace in the UK still in the 1970’s when I started.

The speech though touches a number of key issues that didn’t come to the fore for a number of years; he talks about growth, chemicals, pollution, destruction of the natural environment, societal approach to weight, food, war and more. I didn’t get where I am today by continuing to work in that environment, CJ.

Humour without consequence, what about sex?

When I used “humour[British Spelling] without consequence” in my earlier blog post, I that thought it was quite a snappy summary of the long drawn out discussion about the differences between British and American humor, apart from the spelling of the word, obviously.

Ricky Gervais has a useful blog entry on the subject, here. I just googled for “Humour without consequence” to see if it was an original phrase, and it appears to be. One search result though leapt out at me, Sex without Consequence, in a blog post on the Daily Kos by Dave Robbins. It totally sums up my discomfort with the current US non-debate about contraception and abortion, that I’d felt uncomfortable about but hadn’t worked out why.

The way the current debate is framed, typically by the right, and mostly by the religious right, is against abortion, against contraception, etc. etc. One small victory recently was the push back that happened against the Susan G. Komen Foundation when it announced it was cutting ties with Planned Parenthood. They tried and tried to position and rationalize it, but when you looked back at the time line, it ultimately seemed it was a religiously and politically motivated attack on an organization for whom abortion is a tiny percentage of what they do for women. And that’s the point, it’s not a for or against abortion post, it’s how comes this always comes down to an attack on women?

Dave’s post nicely calls out the fact that Men have to take at least 50% of the responsibility, and often much more. Nothing is without consequence.

Google Chrome confused by spellings

Badass film…

Carol doing a Q&A at SXSW with Matt Harlock
It’s always good to catch up with people from the “old country”, time to relax and do humour without consequence, and last night I got to go to dinner with Carol Morley, Director of Dreams of a Life, as well as the Cairo, the producer and Andy Whittaker, the CEO of UK distributor Dogwoof. I saw in Dreams of a Life in Stratford down by the Olympic Stadium in December with Lauren and Jamie.

Carol blogged about dinner here in the last paragraph on the Film-4 blog, and for the record, the Football re-union is something we’d like to do, we have not done it yet.

It’s a strange old world though. I first heard about Dreams of a Life when Carol was interviewed on the BBC Radio London Robert Elms show; Robert Elms and I share a love of a all things Flying Dutchman records, and it’s even possible I sold Elmsy one or two; Lonnie Liston Smiths iconic, Expansions was on Flying Dutchman and importantly, Gil Scott Heron had his first album recorded by Flying Dutchman owner and producer, Bob Thiele; Joyce Vincent, the subject of Dreams of a Life met Gil Scott Heron, and the film includes this qoute from Gil: “A pessimist is someone in possession of the full facts.” – I’m guessing neither Robert or Carol realized how square the circle is.

Here are the dates for the remaining screenings of Dreams of a Life at SXSW in Austin. I’m getting a small group together to go Saturday afternoon, please add your name to my facebook link if you’d like to come, complimentary.

ps. Badass? It came from this text I got from Lauren “how lovely! check you out! hanging out with the uk film elite! what a badass!” – ha!

Same SUV, different day

I admit it, I parked next this selfish bad parker deliberately today. I’m going to have to find who it is…. I’m betting it will be someone shorter than 5’8″…

ps. I’m not picking on short people, its just my observation that they don’t have the same spatial awareness as us larger/taller people because they don’t grow up having to duck under things, turn sideways to get through things etc.

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Fee’s how much longer?

I’m so over paying fees for events, it’s such a rip-off. I just bought a ticket for my first ever visit to the One World Theatre here in Austin[the home of star’s from the 1970’s and 1980’s], I’m going to see Ramsey Lewis do Sungoddess Revisited. It was this track and the album, Sungoddess that introduced me to Earth Wind  and Fire and a life long love of their music and harmonies, heck I even got the tattoo in 1976. So I wanted to get a decent seat and went for a “prime seat”, price $75. Yeah, I know.

Then came the sticker shock, for an entirely computerized print at home system, I paid an additional $14.50 in fees. One of the fees was listed as simply a transaction fee, maybe this is the fee they are paying to the credit card company so I could use my card, well I’ll get some of that back as I used a cashback  card. Which still leaves an $11 fee for someone sitting down and typing the name of the event, a description, posting a picture and setting up the web page. Alright, maybe I could pay a small amount, say 20c towards the license of the software, and another $1 max. for the system time on the server, but at best thats’ $4.50. Since they actually use seatadvisor.com for bookings, the fees should be even lower.

I had thought about going their to see the Average White Band in October, but not $14.50 worth of fees. For the record, it’s not that I can’t afford it, it’s that it’s a ripoff and a barrier to entry to those who can’t. Enjoy Sungoddess…