Disclaimer

BEFORE YOU START: Please note that although I currently volunteer for both the Stroke Association and Age UK, the views expressed in this blog are strictly my own. I am not a spokesperson for either (or, indeed, for any) organisation, and I accept complete responsibility for the views expressed herein. I've tried to use the Glossary to explain any ambiguous terms, but if you think there is anything I've missed, please message me.

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Smoke and Mirrors

Since I've been looking for jobs, I've noticed some trickery by either the job boards or the advertisers to make a candidate think that there are more jobs than there actually are.

Firstly, when I opened my email program this morning, I had two emails from one of the job boards. Each advertising a job. The two jobs had exactly the same title. Further, they had very nearly the same description (probably 495/500 words were the same), they were posted by the same person, from the same company, with the same reference. They must have been the same job. So, either the advertiser has posted the same job as two different jobs, or the job board has sent out multiple notifications. Possibly, advertiser saves a job, job board sends a notification, advertiser amends the same job, job board sends another notification?

The other thing is that this job has been doing the rounds for some weeks now. The same advertiser posts the same job every few weeks. Presumably the job can't be filled, and this keeps it at the top of everybody's search results. This happens across the board. Many advertisers, many jobs. I can kind-of see why this would happen, because I, as a jobseeker, would probably not bother searching on "all unfilled jobs, even if they were posted 5 years ago". But, all the same, if you could get advertisers to actually close out a vacancy once it no longer existed.... Or, have an auto-expire on every advert? The job is assumed filled, or the vacancy no longer exists, unless someone posts a fresh advert? Advertisers would probably say that this is exactly what they're doing! But perhaps the job board could restrict recycling to every month or so?

With a combination of these two factors, if you look at one day's job alerts, probably only 5% or fewer would fall into the category "totally new, have not seen before". Some of the job boards which actually send a digest of the previous day's jobs, will actually include multiple references to the same job, in the same email!

I do think this approach is indicative of our view of jobs as a whole. The government will claim that there is very little unemployment, and yet as a society, we rely more and more on food banks. We hear about people having three jobs in order to make ends meet.

I think when you have bad statistics about unemployment, you've got two options. You either fix unemployment by getting more people into work, or you change the way you calculate unemployment so as to bring the numbers down. One method strikes me as genuine, the other as a fiddle. And I see little of the one, and lots of the other. And the job boards are no better, having taken a deliberate decision to crack on as though there are more jobs than there actually are.

Friday, 12 October 2018

Four Eyes

I picked up a new pair of glasses today, they are all-singing, all-dancing varifocals. In theory, I put the things on when I get up, and take them off at bedtime. My eyes have a prescription with distance, and also a prescription for reading. It is weird so far because. as anyone with varifocals will know, the lens transforms from distance (top) to reading (bottom). So today, I'm looking a lot like a nodding donkey today, trying to get the focus right. Even now, whilst I'm supposed to wear these all the time, I find it easier to type without wearing them.

I did have some previous glasses - distance only - and used to wear them mainly for driving. Since the stroke, I don't drive any more and have mostly just left these glasses on the seat beside me, just to help me focus on the tv programme guide. And, with the old grasses, one of the screws came out, lost forever, which meant that the lens was no longer secure. So whenever I popped the glasses on, the first job is usually to pop the lens in the frame, getting fingermarks on it in the process. If I clean the lens, it pops out of the frame. Can't win. Well, maybe I can, by getting some new glasses. So, fingers crossed.

(I've now popped the glasses on. It feels weird, because to see the laptop screen clearly, I have to look over the laptop screen!

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Duh

At certain times, I've worried about my future in the IT industry, just by virtue of being "too rusty" to be useful any more. Then at other times I realise I probably needn't worry.

I have a digital (internet) radio which stopped working a while ago. All was fine from my network, but the radio was meant to connect to some cloud-based service, and couldn't. I resolved to fix it this afternoon.

It turns out that the service provider had discontinued the service, which is why I couldn't connect. Instead, they have a new service. My radio is quite old, must have been one of the first internet radios -we always had poor reception here in terms of RF signals, but good internet. So, over time, I can imagine things get superceded. Annoying, but true - companies think nothing of pulling the rug up from under their users.

The dumb thing is that the firmware of the radio obviously contains the URL to connect to. The old firmware obviously contained the old URL. So, my radio couldn't connect to the new service, to play radio, unless I upgraded the firmware. The only problem was that the "upgrade" function was obviously trying to connect to the old URL. Which no longer existed....

I am fortunate that this radio, whilst it should do everything by wi-fi, also has a USB port. Wires to the rescue!

Monday, 8 October 2018

Jobs (2)

Quite a surreal experience today. Pretty much since I lived in this village, I worked up in London. There was always quite a clear demarcation between home and work.

But today I interviewed with a couple of guys who work for one of the few businesses in the village. It'd be strange to work for them - working within walking distance of home, first time ever.

Realistically, I'm trying to get back into the industry after five years away, so wouldn't really rate my chances - I'm not sure if it is something I'd want to be doing either. But equally, they're a charity based in our tiny village, so they probably won't attract many candidates. I wouldn't mind betting that every candidate they do attract will have a back-story similar to  mine.

Realistically, every interview is practise for the next interview. This one didn't go at all badly, considering the time I'd been away, how much water has passed under the bridge. But then again, I have spent months boning up technically, so really, that shouldn't come as any surprise. I got a little tripped of on some of the most recent language concepts, but that's not really a problem because I have already read up on the question I was asked, and I can easily read up on general updates to the language in the next few days. The only day that I am busy this week is tomorrow. Next time around, I'll be convincing.

One interesting thing: I've never been a fan of "blagging" - pretending I know more about something than I actually do, instead I've always been very "matter of fact", and have generally floated to the top in every environment that I worked in because I have always been stronger than most people, technically. If fact it would surprise you how often I've worked with poor technologists in supposedly prestige environments. Anyway, yesterday I had already come clean about my lack of up-to-date knowledge, so I asked these guys some questions about a few aspects. They didn't use those aspects either! Just goes to show, you have to look past the blurb.And I still maintain that a lot of the languege's innovations, while labour-saving for developers, are not necessarily intuitive for reviewers.

Pharmacy Blunders

The first thing I do each morning is to fire up the computer and see anything that happened overnight, either on social media or by email.

This morning, a friend of mine had posted a story he'd picked up from the BBC. Some pharmacy (in the UK) had issued a chap with the wrong meds, the chap subsequently died. The same thing once happened to me, except I check all my meds, so noticed the mistake before I'd even opened the box.

The error was with Downton Pharmacy. Somebody had picked the wrong drugs. Somebody else had then checked those wrong drugs, and signed them off anyway. Having designed many banking systems, I am very familiar with four-eyed processes.

When I spoke to the pharmacy, their excuse was that they were very sorry, but the staff were soooo hard-worked and always in a hurry.

To compound matters, I complained to the NHS, lest the same thing happen to somebody else. The result was that despite the mistake, the pharmacy's working practises were sound so therefore no action would be taken.

I mean, I never complained to try and make any financial gain from the situation, but maybe I should have? I have a feeling that the NHS just cover up for each other, whereas a court might have taken this more seriously. Certainly, at the end of this process, there was a definite note-to-self: next time, call a lawyer. It can't have been far from their minds either, one of the first things the pharmacy asked was whether I could return the evidence, errrr, the meds back to them.

Sunday, 7 October 2018

The Appremtice

I'm just sitting here with the tv on, and the BBC keep playing a trailer for "The Apprentice". They must have a new series starting.

I must admit I have always found the idea of The Apprentice totally abhorrent. The idea that everything just boils down to profit and loss just negates those other things in life which are, in themselves, valuable qualities. The only thing I find difficult about this programme is finding a suitably negative word to describe it.

I'm sure Alan Sugar must be nicer than the role he plays on the programme - you can't possibly get by in life, let alone prosper, with such a negative attitude towards other human beings.

Friday, 5 October 2018

Prescriptions

I've been trying out an electronic prescription service, my experience so far (3 months) has been quite good. They are Superdrug. I should say, this is UK.

When I set up the account, it took a couple of days for it to work, just because I said I was exempt from having to pay for prescriptions, and I suppose they checked this. But thereafter, the meds arrive through the post 3 days after I order them.

They don't send refrigerated items, which means I have to get my insulin from a pharmacy still (but they issue me with a long number that I can take to the pharmacy, so it still saves me a trip to the doctor's). Of course, there is a reason for that - because refrigerated items wouldn't stay cold even if they sent them by courier! So, I'm wary of companies who say they will dispatch refrigerated meds. Especially as those meds are subjected to a "cold trail", which must end once the meds are put into the post. I did find one company who claimed to post refrigerated meds in some kind of insulated envelope, but i took it a step further and asked them whether they had ever experimented by posting a refrigerated item to themselves, then measuring its temperature upon arrival, just to verify that the insulation was effective. Surprisingly, they didn't reply but I think I know the answer.

My surgery, by the way, aren't as switched on as this online pharmacy. Last time around, I sent a request which was then re-issued to the surgery by the pharmacy. Not only did I get the stuff I asked for, but I got other stuff that I didn't! They're all meds I take, so I'll get to use them sooner or later, but it gives an indication that the surgery doesn't really care about the cost of all this stuff. I suppose receiving too many meds is better than not receiving enough, but it'd be nice if they could just get it spot on.

So, if anyone wants some needles or some test strips, I have some spare at the moment!