Thursday, July 30, 2009
Well, I can now add theft to the long list of annoyances that have plagued my move to Boston. Whoever it was that received my desktop after its manufacturer repaired it and then "cross-shipped" it and his computer, has, as I learned when I called yesterday to ask when I could expect it back, "not been cooperating." I sent his in nearly two weeks ago, the day I received it. If I hadn't received mine by now, it should have been on its way, according to my last conversation with them.
In other words, this person ignored the strange boot menu he got when he powered up the "upgrade" that arrived after he sent his in (It dual boots Windows and Linux.), never bothered to call about the error, and then ignored the calls he got requesting him to send it back. In short, he stole someone else's computer and he knew it. He stole from me. At least I removed the data from it before I sent it in and have full, redundant backups, including the hard drive of the machine it replaced.
I'll end up with a computer as good or marginally better in every respect, but I have now been without my main computer since leaving Houston and will be for at least another week, possibly two. And, of course, this has dragged out incrementally, tossing in good time after bad. Had I known I'd be without my computer for six or seven weeks, and had the money to do so, I might have just sucked it up and bought a new one.
The real kicker is that every time I call these clowns, the first thing I hear is an "offer" for an extended warranty! Ummmm... No thanks. And the new machine had better be as good as they say (and work) or I'll mention the manufacturer by name and tell the whole story in more detail all at once.
Dude, I should have gotten another Dell...
Seriously. On-site repairs!?!
Thoughts on Meetings
Over the course of my work life, I have endured my fair share of time-wasting, counterproductive, and inane meetings. Lifehacker's Gina Trapani discussed some concrete ways to get meetings to speed along some time ago. (I doubt whether making people stand is necessarily a good idea.) I recall finding some of the back-and-forth within the comments worthwhile, too.
What reminded me of the Trapani post was a highly original piece (also via Lifehacker) by Paul Graham that I ran into yesterday evening. It explains -- for the benefit of creative types and management alike -- why meetings are hated and feared by the former (although they are necessary).
Graham notes how "makers" and managers use their time differently, and explains it from there. As with many of his essays, this one is so clear and forceful that the point seems obvious after you read it.
Most powerful people are on the manager's schedule. It's the schedule of command. But there's another way of using time that's common among people who make things, like programmers and writers. They generally prefer to use time in units of half a day at least. You can't write or program well in units of an hour. That's barely enough time to get started.Do you manage makers? Are you a managed maker? Either way, you will want to read this all the way through. And it's as engaging as it is insightful and useful.
When you're operating on the maker's schedule, meetings are a disaster. A single meeting can blow a whole afternoon, by breaking it into two pieces each too small to do anything hard in. Plus you have to remember to go to the meeting. That's no problem for someone on the manager's schedule. There's always something coming on the next hour; the only question is what. But when someone on the maker's schedule has a meeting, they have to think about it. [bold added]
Myths and Realities about Writing
Erin Doland, a professional writer who is editor-in-chief at Unclutterer, describes how she used to imagine life as a writer:
Before I became a full-time writer, I didn’t give much thought to what a realistic day at the office would be for me. I had an idealized image of a writer in my mind -- one that included afternoon drinks at the White Horse Tavern with Jack Kerouac and Anais Nin -- and most of my wayward fantasies didn’t actually include writing.This reminds me of two other, more realistic pictures of writing. One, by Tom Shone of The New Yorker, takes a sobering look at "writers who drink." And, on a more positive note, Doland talks about "Having it all."
Lessons for Activists
Amit Ghate points to a story about how to fight off a bureaucracy, and Moe Lane of Red State tells us "How to ruin a professional agitation group's day." (HT: Instapundit)
Today: Corrected an attribution and made one other minor edit.