That fork in the road again

It seems to be (at least for me) that many things just run their course. Eventually they reach some kind of closure or logical stopping point. This seems to apply to many differnt types of things too, houses, tv shows, favourite foods, favourite coffee spots, pubs, friendships, software preferences, laptop preferences, jobs. The list goes on.

Ahh yes. Jobs

Fork in the road (from the muppets)

So in the post BHP world my mental health improved greatly. This reassured me that leaving was the right thing for me - it was required. And luck had it that I landed in a pretty reasonable gig with some old mates - and we had some good times and did some cool things. Sadly though it wasn’t really challenging - not in the technical puzzle problem solving sense, and only in the political shit fighting kind of way.

I pride myself on doing great work, and letting my work speak for itself. Many times you do need to draw attention to it because the reason I’m proud about something might not be obvious. Maybe it was a neat hack, or some self generating thing, or sometimes just an awesomely documented thing. Once you do a good job on something, I feel proud that it’s done, and you can move on without hesitation to the next task. (Sidebar: agile methods, story points etc.)

Once you have a bunch of these things that are done around, they are solved problems. Possibly building blocks for solving the next thing. Or even just a reference for the skill/technique as a reminder for next time. These solved problems just become another tool in your toolbag. Things like how storage is a solved problem. Running things in VM’s is a solved problem. I’ve done many great things with Ansible over the years, learned a lot and became highly proficient in it - to me using it is a solved problem, which I then can solve many other problems with it (it’s become another tool in my bag).

There are only two hard things in Computer Science: cache invalidation and naming things.

– Phil Karlton

Unfortunately for Rio, this specialised skill area wasn’t truly leveraged to it’s potential. They just weren’t ready, which initially was a concern/risk, in time it proved to be a huge hinderance. But the failings went way deeper. The lack of skilled staff (or any staff) over a prolonged period has cost them dearly. Struggling to do the basics, yet aspirations of flying is only going to disappoint or frustrate. So much technical debt from years of neglect, with few people able to recognise it, let alone fix it. Endless re-orgs too; management must think:

What we have today isn’t working, so we must flip it on it’s head and try something new.

Only to cause pain, disruption to what was working, confusion to everyone, delays to adapt, new gaps in responsibilities, and no success criteria or metrics to measure against. Also the re-orgs are so frequent any broad success will not be achieved because change takes time. Once the next management shuffle happens, whoever did the re-org will have left with their bonus and a pat on the back, and the next person will come in, do another shuffle and round and round it goes.

Infrastructure technology in the resources world is broken, under appreciated and largely under funded (although huge waste occurs due to politics and re-orgs). It underpins critical business functions & processes and exists as a platform for enabling future benfits.

Yet it is a political play thing by the big wigs. Random vendor swaps, 100% TO THE CLOUD, what could go wrong. Insource, outsource, partnering (it’s not outsourcing, but we’re getting an external company to do everything), global, regional, product group. Do whatever the management consultants say - because we don’t know what we’re doing. Surely that should be a sign that the big wigs should be sacked for incompetence (or negligence, or fraud). But no, they cast broad strokes across the org, damaging peoples lives with no care for them at all. You were on a documented career plan - tough luck, sorry mate, you’re now doing this instead. Working towards a new role, org pivots, sorry that doesn’t exist anymore - tough luck. Something’s gotta snap.

If you can’t break this cycle of stupidity, at least make bank off it. Contract, demand crazy money and do amazing work. Enjoy it while it lasts, and be prepared for it to end. And what I’ve now realised is understand the transient nature of it. To avoid the mental health risks of the broken crazy orgs, get in, make bank and plan your exit before you break/burn out (or the inevitable re-org gets you). If they want to bring you onboard really it means they NEED to keep you around, but don’t want to keep paying you as much, and they’ll try and convince you with all the time bombed incentive handcuffs. Avoid those golden handcuffs completely - there is no company loyalty in these inhuman orgs. You are just as expendable as a contractor as an FTE.

I used to also think that only useless people got made redundant - they had to pay you to make you go away. I thought that until I saw some good people score the jackpot and get made redundant in yet another pointless re-org. I’m not that lucky, so I have to make my own luck. Great people departed frustrated.

Q: Goodbye, Jean-Luc. I’m gonna miss you. You had such potential. But then again, all good things must come to an end.

As such it’s time to cast off from this island home where I’ve been these past gulp {{ large_number }} years and try something different. Letting the worries just fall away is almost liberating. Freeing my mind for the next challenge.

So long, and thanks for all the fish.

– Douglas Adams

Next week I start a new job, where I hope to learn a lot, work with some amazing and very smart people and get exposure to other types of business entirely. Stepping forward with an open mind is the only way, even if it feels like a blind step into the unknown - a leap of faith in many ways.

Leap of faith from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Pandemic politics

The Pandemic thing

So here we are, 2.25 years into the pandemic and we’ve all but given up. Except China that is, they’ve stuck with covid-zero as the goal longer than anyone else. To me that suggests a few possible things:

  • they know something we don’t about it (long term impacts maybe)
  • they can’t change tact’s now without looking weak to their people (they’re all about image and perceptions remember)
  • they know their vax wasn’t as effective as they claimed and letting it rip might go badly compared to other places

But their literal locking people in their homes behaviour I just hope makes the people think more closely about what they let their government become and hopefully lead to some positive change there. The current regime has a huge list of atrocities on their hands (Uighurs in Xinjiang province tops the list, Hong Kong, Tibet) which they just pretend are fiction and hand wave away any wrong doing. It should also serve as a warning to other countries that we can’t sit idly by while our elected people run amok, and maybe we should reflect on 1984’s portrayal of the power of revisionist history on shaping the minds of the population.

Right since the beginning of this pandemic - in fact, before it was even called that. I remember reading at Christmas time 2019 about a new pneumonia going around the Wuhan area in China. If it made the news here it was significant enough to be real, yet the reality was downplayed by the (controlled) media. The figures weren’t real, the truth suppressed and delays in acting allowed it to escape and spread all over the world. Doctors and reporters being detained, silenced and disappeared just adds to the abuse of power.

When there was talk to find the source of the virus, it seemed to me the most obvious was the most logical and my gut feeling was always this: (I’m no expert, this is my gut feeling only)

  • it was being studied at the Wuhan Institute of Virology lab (as records showed studies into the whole family of viruses was underway there - follow on from SARS and MERS most likely)
  • it escaped from the lab by accident (careless mistake of some kind, poor PPE fit, bad waste disposal, cross contamination or something)
  • it was not released intentionally
  • it was not man made (but don’t rule out gain of function research or strain selection over time)
  • the nearby wet market just helped it spread by being a hot bed of people interacting closely, possibly with other animal transmission being involved (no solid link was ever found for that so maybe it was just the people)

Chinas reaction to the world wanting an investigation also was a bit of a smoking gun. Australia asked for it in the interests of the world (let’s not repeat the mistakes of the past), but it was interpreted as an attack which was retaliated against with trade sanctions. Then the WHO wanting to lead the investigation only lead to delays in it getting underway, and China controlling the whole investigation, and later suggesting it came from elsewhere with no evidence either. Classic diversion tactic, and then when the investigation completed, they found nothing because it had already been destroyed/covered up/hidden/moved. Not an honest and open investigation, so we’ll never know the truth. Perhaps it was far worse than my gut feeling, and it was manufactured, possibly released intentionally or accidentally and they didn’t want to get caught with a smoking gun. But don’t let any 12 monkeys plot twists get in the way of a good tale.

The world must not forget this attack. Covid came from China probably though incompetence and mismanagement and in trying to save face just let it go further and wider than anyone imagined. The damage caused, the lives lost and lives destroyed are innumerable.

Not to say they didn’t profit from it either - it seems a pandemic is as good as a war to make money. Those billions of masks, rapid tests and all the cleaning products - and all your amazon deliveries. So much money was made, and no doubt a bunch of corruption too. Even here in Australia.

The Politics thing

So there’s a federal election underway here in the land of oz, and it’s again showing the worst things of our system. I’ve had a few thoughts on possible solutions to the issues I see in our democratic process…

Election sweeteners. Every time there’s an election, each party will go out an offer a bunch of targetted handouts ultimately to win votes - that shouldn’t be allowed, it’s bribery and we see some peoples votes are very cheap. They also use the election road show (campaign trail) to announce shiny new policies and promises that they’ll do if they get in. I think this process is a total load of crap, it’s insincere, and with the volume of policies and announcements there’s insufficient time to validate they’re all correct and well thought out. It’s a data dump designed to overwealm. The to add salt to the wound, these election promises frequently are multi-term and will start late in the term, so really have little chance of completing and only suck up more public money.

I think the parties should have to have ALL of their policies locked in when the election is called. There’s nothing stopping a party from developing a policy and publishing it for public feedback anytime in the political cycle, and if it’s ready to become a bill and get presented they they should do that. They are after all elected representatives so should be doing what the people in their electorate want. So they would need focus groups, community involvement and so on - but they should be doing that already, the whole time, not just at show time before an election.

I think they should also be held to account for their election promises. Like a score card. Some politicians might have very few well thought out policies which become reality (high hit rate) and others might have a truck load of poorly conceived ideas sprukied around but barely any get off the ground, or fail early (low hit rate). There should be a score card for this, taking into account all manor of metrics (budget forecast/estimate/reality deviations, time to commence, time to complete, benefit was how close to forecast and so on). Some things take a long time to see a difference, but can be the kind of things that make a large difference to the community. Some things cost a lot up front and need little to keep going, but if you stop funding all benefits are lost.

I feel the focus on the political cycle and the election period prevents any visionary ideas from getting off the ground and we’re left with major parties each doing the opposite of each other, all wasting money and none heading in any great direction. Gone are the days of the snowy river project, or C.Y. O’Connors pipeline to the goldfields. Mega projects to benefit all the people. Now it seems easier to take back handers from business and let them do it - and profit from it, rather than the community getting the long term win from the activity.

I also feel the party politics system disconnects the elected officials from the people they’re supposed to represent. They have a conflict of interest in towing the party line and the interests of their electorate. It’s a load of horse shit to be honest. Then the way preference deals are done and obscured. The actual meaning of the mark 1 box above the line should be 100% clear what that represents, compared to reality where the how to vote cards hide it, or don’t show it, or overlay other crap on the example form. This should also be locked in well in advance of the polling day to allow voters to be informed should they want to use this simplified way of voting (and it’s simpler than numbering 1-72 below the line).

While on the subject of parties and voting too, there should be a none of the above option on the ballot, as that should trigger a break glass type event should it gain a significant proportion of the votes. Hopefully that would cut down on spoiled papers and donkey votes. Perhaps failing to turn up to vote automatically casts none of the above as your vote. The ratio of that would be another interesting figure, those who cared enough and turned up to vote for no one vs those who cased so little they didn’t even bother with that. Mandatory voting protests and low voter turn out just show that some of the people don’t care or agree with the system - but unfortunately we’re stuck with it and have to work within it’s framework to fix it. Otherwise heaven forbid we go down a dark path of, say, removing term limits for a supreme leader and allow a techno authoritarian privacy destroying surveillance based regime to take over.

The government has failed Australia and sold off the assets, and continues to follow this playbook. Eventually there will be nothing left to sell, and then how will we pay the debt? We need more integrity, honesty and transparency at all levels, and we need it 20 years ago!

Horse Shit!

These are not the only things that have gone to shit though, but that’s the topic of a future post.

Powered by hampsters on a wheel.
Built with Hugo
Theme Stack designed by Jimmy