June 24, 2007

Back to the drawing board...

I had some bad news on Friday evening. Work related. Yes, I'm sure you can see where this is going.

I was "let go".

My boss cited 2 separate reasons for this reason:

1. "You weren't proactive enough. For a company of our size, you really have to get involved more."

The size of the company was 4 people (including me), consisting of a programmer, the technical director and MD. Quite frankly, there wasn't anything I could be proactive in - I would have had to sabotage things so that I could fix them.

However, there is an element of truth in what he said. I didn't get involved as much as I would have liked, and by the end of 5 weeks, I had become a mind-numbingly bored worker who had absolutely no motivation.

I did have a conversation with him on Thursday morning that sort of went counter to his exit-interview statement though - "I know its frustrating not having any work at the moment, but once it starts to come in, you'll be in the reverse situation. You'll be rushed off your feet."

Now, that doesn't sound to me like I wasn't being proactive. That sounds to me like I had no work and they knew it.

2. "Your technical skills aren't up to scratch. I asked you to produce a document on the product, and what you wrote wasn't up to standard."

The problem here though is that in my interview I told them I didn't have any technical skills apart from server administration and installation. Beyond writing a thesis and this blog, I don't have any technical writing skills to speak of. That was also evident in my interview when they assured me that any required skills I would need, they would train me up on.

As I have come to realise, they could have shown me what standard they had expected and asked me to write more in that format. Asking someone to write up a document in an industry they have no knowledge or experience of is pretty counter-productive unless you offer them some serious help.

This is the first job that I have been unsuccessful in and it really hurts. Could I have done more? Could I have been better? People whom I've worked with have said to me that the chances are, they hired me too early. There was no work for me to do, and they finally realised it would be less expensive to let me go and then in 3 months hire someone else as opposed to paying me for 12 weeks of twiddling my thumbs.

I had a long talk with Elsha about this and the fact that sticks out is that after 5 weeks of no work, they let me go during my probationary period which should only have a day notice. They've given me a week paid and references. That's not something you do for a lazy worker.

But it still hurts.

June 22, 2007

...says it better than me...

Tobold is a blogger I read on a daily basis, and in this case, says it much better than my previous post.

June 21, 2007

Reputation grinding

I said I would blog more but with Work occupying my time recently, I haven't had much of a chance to sink my teeth into a blog post. Seeing as how I've finished my latest exercise though, and now I'm waiting for some feedback, I thought I'd write something new up on Gaming.

I haven't said much about my exploits on World of Warcraft except to skim over them and say that I'm having fun. I'm not sure I *am* still having fun but I continue to plod my way through the game.

Currently, I'm trying to hit Exalted reputation with the Netherwing faction so I can get a Netherdrake to fly around on...

...I suppose some explanation is required, for those reading who have no idea what the hell I'm talking about.

In World of Warcraft, in order to achieve certain items or goals, players have to obtain an amount of reputation by doing quests for certain factions. For example, if you want to go through the Timbermaw Hold from Felwood into Moonglade/Winterspring, you either need to become neutral/friendly with the Timbermaws or run really fast. Since running really isn't an option, you have to do the quests instead, which isn't too bad. The quests themselves are repeatable and can be handed in over and over, each reward amounting to a certain amount of reputation points. Before long, you can get past the Timbermaws and carry your journey on. For those who want more though, you can continue to gain reputation past neutral/friendly/honoured/revered to exalted for special items that will only be purchasable once you gain that reputation rank.

Of course, that example is from the Old World (a term to denote the game before The Burning Crusade expansion arrived). With the Netherdrake, the pre-requisite is to have purchased the epic riding skill, costing 5000g and be mounted, costing another 200g. This pre-requisite is actually hard to achieve although not as difficult as many make out. I spent around 2 weeks of gaming farming materials (oh dear, another explanation?) so I could sell things to make the money to buy the skill and the mount.

Once you have the skill and the mount, you can set off to do the Netherwing quests. Which quite frankly, suck.

There has been a lot of recent murmurings about the issue of World of Warcraft, and it seems finally the bubble has burst. For the first time since the game launched, subscription rates are not going up. In fact, they appear to be slowly dropping.

One of the big issues that has been uttered over and over again is that of The Burning Crusade expansion. It's clearly not doing what it's supposed to be doing - actually driving away the people it was supposed to be retaining.

The expansion was supposed to allow players huge amounts of solo content over a lengthier period of time. This means that players who don't wish to play with other players can go off and do their own thing. If you want to play in dungeons with groups though, the expansion also introduced "instances" where you could meet up. And finally, if you wanted to raid together against huge opposition, you could do that too.

The problem, though, is that the expansion took something away from the original game. For example, the end game that you reach eventually has changed. Instead of gearing up with mates and raiding, you have to handpick your raid mates instead. Essentially, the original game catered for "casual" players, those who weren't essential to your victory but kept your morale up for the 3+ hours that the raid required. Bards, for want of a better word (in the Dungeons & Dragons game, bards were a cross between mages and thieves but didn't really offer much else). So for Molten Core, a 40-player raid dungeon, 25 players were heavily involved, 10 players were semi-required and 5 players were just there for the hell of it.

In The Burning Crusade expansion though, the 40 and 20 man dungeons have dropped to 25 and 10 so the "casual" characters aren't being taken any more. This reasoning, although brilliant on paper, has destroyed whole guilds in their efforts to get ready for the raids (Swords of Justice, the guild I'm in is no different).

All of this is slowly making me want to try out City of Heroes once more. I just can't wait for Stargate Worlds to come out...

EDIT: Blizzard recently announced that they were changing the requirements for raiding in World of Warcraft. No longer will players have to become "attuned" to various dungeons in sequence. Essentially, this suggests that Blizzard's number crunchers have realised that subscription rates are slipping considerably and have pushed for a change. I'm not entirely sure, though, that this is enough.

June 01, 2007


Dentistry really does has to be a profession with one of the worst reputations you can possibly have. Not only are you dealing with people's teeth - arguably one of the places that people could never reach by themselves without inflicting large amounts of damage - but you also have to deal out some pain.

As you can imagine, I am not a good patient when it comes to dentistry. Whilst Elsha can go without a dentist for years, I can just about manage around 3 months.


I haven't been to a dentist since June 2006 - mainly because we were moving to another country and, with dentists in the UK now going private, we couldn't afford the quarterly checkups. So I stopped going and thought that once we were ensconced in our new place in Perth, I'd start up again.

Now, back in January, Elsha hit upon the bright idea of joining a private health insurance firm called Medibank. You pay money to Medibank, they help cover your health costs. One way that they do this is to give you two free dental exmainations and scalings with their local dentist.

So far so good. I checked - yes its all free and anything not is happily subsidised by Medibank. So, today, I went down for an appointment.

"Well, your teeth are in a pretty bad state of affairs. You're going to need 3 fillings. And most likely root planing as well. But if you get back onto track with your regimented cleaning practises, you won't need as much care."

Succintly put, and filling-requirements all pointed out. X-rays taken, and wrists slapped.

All in all, its a much better experience than it was in the UK.

Just more costly.

Each filling comes to around $117, about £45 each. Is that normal? I suppose it is for a private dentist.

Of course, now I get to spend days going on about the state of my teeth to poor Elsha who, quite frankly, puts up with a lot of whinging from me.