Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The "sharing" economy and "buying your own job"

Catherine Rampell has a nice piece on “The dark side of a ‘sharing’ economy” in the Washington Post today, link here 
I have to “admit” that I bought into this worldview over twenty years ago.  Remember when Lincoln Electric in Cleveland went from a wage to “piecework” to avoid layoffs, and that was said to be progressive?
Rampell comments on the historical connection between the social safety network and employment, especially health insurance, a connection that developed during WWII when the nation needed war workers.  It is falling apart now.  And longer lifespans, greater debt, the need for two incomes, and fewer children add to the mix. 
I can’t see myself making the capital investment required for some things – like a new car if you’re an Uber driver.  I don’t go into debt for other people’s agendas.  But is it so different from the investment involved in buying a franchise?  

Update: Feb.4

Even the Wall Street Journal has admitted that low wages and debt are driving the "sharing economy" and driving people into dangerous personal risk, link.

Update:  Feb 15

Time Magazine has a story "5 Things You Never Knew about the Sharing Economy", link here

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Some companies have "work on what you want" days

Today, at a congregational consultation class held at the First Baptist Church of the City of Washington DC, Rev, John Wimberly mentioned the “work on what you want” policy at some companies, for one day or afternoon a week.  At Google, this was the source of Gmail. Here’s an account  At 3M the policy is said to have resulted in the sticky pad.
Many companies had long had strict policies on “non business use” of corporate computing resources, even extending to doing school homework.  I think a “work on what you want” policy could have helped me back around 2000 when I tried to switch from mainframe to client server.  I had taken a week of java in 1999, and took one week of PowerBuilder, but it is impossible to become skilled at a language without building some things from the ground up.  It’s very hard to jump into supporting random problems on systems developed by others. 

Of course, at Hennepin County Technical College in the fall of 2002, I took C#, and XML, and there were projects in both courses, which met once a week.  But the knowledge didn’t “stick”.   The project were done with Microsoft Visual Studio .NET which I loaded on an old Sony machine upon which I had put Windows XP in 2002. 
I then played around with a “java starter” website trying to develop an “opposing viewpoints” database, before the hosting company failed completely in 2006.  However, had I enjoyed the freedom to do this at work back in 2000, maybe I really would have learned to code more java (or C++).  Had I been working for Google, maybe I could have!   I do recall playing around at home (even before I had Visual Studio) with some sort of application to keep track of the characters in my novel, but I didn't get that far. 

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Yes, SQL can be helpful to novelists and screenwriters

In setting up the worksheets for my major screenplay and novel, I’m going to keep track of “loose ends” in Microsoft Access.

There are incidents that are common to both the screenplay and the novel.  What would be of interest is to match the characters involved, when the incidents are supposed to have occurred, and the relationship of the incident to the particular character’s sense of reality.

For example, a “reality code” could be set up as follows, with respect to up to two characters: the subject, and the “remote viewer”

1000 – present day reality
2000  -  flashback for something that actually happened, by direct narrative
2100  -  flashback detected from online writings of subject (2110 is deep web only; 2120 is searchable web only, 2130 is whitelisted only; 2140 is Internet Archive)
2200  -  flashback detected from books by subject (positional within code)
2300  -- flashback detected from government wiretap (legal or illegal)
2400  -  flashback hacked from subject’s computer
2500  -  flashback hacked by telepathy
2600  -- flashback hacked by advanced remote viewing (as at Monroe Institute)
3000  -- fictive (with subcodes to show detection by viewer as with flashback)

a suffix "01" means it is supplemented by the subject's verbal narrative. An "09" means that some aspect of narrative is deliberately blocked from some remote viewers. 
A flashback could be further characterized by another field showing the name of any other manuscript (of mine or of “Bill’s”, or any other character) in which the same incident had been reported.

It will be possible to keep track of characters in a table that lists the physical characteristics, DOB, personality traits, master name, and possibly real life identity (that is dangerous – hence the “encypted” master name).  Then the same character can have other names in different screenplays and novels but would need a “master name” entry.  If the same character can have different names in different works, the character table would need to add “alias” master names.

Microsoft has a pretty good writeup of the SQL for its own Access products here.  Notice that in Inner Joins and Outer Joins, you don’t to have the field names in different tables match, but the values need to (hence alias fields for characters).  For Unions, you would need field names to match. The Access SQL seems to be a subset of the ANSI standard or what you would get with MySQL or DB2 (which is slightly different). 
As work on my manuscripts progresses this month, I’ll post more details on my Wordpress media blog. 

Saturday, January 03, 2015

A free ,market cultural revolution

When I was working in my “long sequence” IT career (from 1970 through the end of 2001), I tended to see each workplace, as I got used to it, as “my universe”.  It got a bit more nuanced in 1997 once I had established myself with a second track as an author and moved to Minneapolis (for the last four of those 31 years), as my publishing world was also a “universe” (it’s no accident that “iUniverse” is the trademarked name of a major self-publishing company and brand).  And, at many points, when my job was perhaps less demanding, my personal life, and all the little intrigues thereof, that went through so many stages, also became “the world”. 
Once I “retired” at the end of 2001 (bought out, pretty much had to) I really had to find out how the other half lived.  I knew that it would be a real challenge to continue the career I had, at age 58, partly because of the fact that I had my own online reputation as a pundit, but also because the “nature” of work was changing so much after Y2K was over with. 
I would definitely learn what “the real world” deals with, with the interim jobs that I would hold and interview for subsequently, as outlined on Wordpress here. So what do “real people” deal with?  Well, regimentation, for one thing.  Wearing uniforms (although I cut my own interview with the TSA short at an open house in Aug. 2002).  I came within a “hair” (I could use an Army term) of getting a “real job” as a letter carrier in Nov. 2004;  only the inability to get my medical records from Minnesota (after that 1998 hip fracture) stopped it.  Could I have done a physical job like this accurately, starting every day “canvassing the mail”?  One of the worst ideas was delivery of newspapers, getting up at 2 AM.  Another was driving a taxi, which is dangerous.  If I faced this today, the game would be all Uber. 
The other big thing was hucksterism, approaching people to sell them “stuff”.  I actually did this for 14 months for the Minnesota Orchestra Guaranty Fund (in 2002-2003), but this was a little more acceptable then than it is now.  Again, that little part time job became another “Universe” giving me some stability and shelter from facing worse.
But the range of other sales ventures I fielded seems shocking now.  Some of it seemed really cheesy – Primevest, predicated on getting people to convert whole life to term.  And then two companies would approach me about becoming an insurance agent (New York Life and Humana).  And HR Block would approach me about becoming a tax advisor.  I could not do these things and do what I do now, because I would have to manage my social media contacts to sell someone else’s product, not mine.  For a debt collection job, I was once asked whether I could "make people do things", a rather offensive question.
I've covered elsewhere my escapades as a substitute teacher.  Had I realized that subs in VA didn't have to be licensed, could I have come back a year earlier and planned to become, say, a calculus teacher?  I covered some of the COI considerations on my main blog Dec. 18.  But the real need was for people in lower grades and special ed.  You had to be ready for very "intimate" responsibilities for some students like it or not;  that would drown an older male adult who had not raised his own family.   
Still, this whole exercise leads me to appreciate where Maoism came from,  I was experiencing the outskirts of a “free market cultural revolution”.