September 17, 2005

Bulk view

More about call centers

A lot of people look down on call centers. I think that’s wrong. I
think there’s dignity in the work that people do at call centers. I
think that people pick up so many transferable skills. Call centers
are great at helping people learn how to deal with difficult people.
Call centers teach people patience, because people can’t yell at
customers online (even if they’re being really dumb!). Call centers
teach people how to deal with stress. Call centers help people learn
how to communicate, and that’s probably the most important skill in
today’s world.

I firmly believe that tech graduates should be exposed to customers
and trained to communicate even if they’re eventually going to go into
deep systems hackery. There might be better ways to learn these
things, but a call center job isn’t a complete waste of time. If
people learn how to make the most of even their call center
experience, then they’ll be much better off.

If people think that call centers are a dead end—well, that’s _our_
fault! Are we building the companies that provide opportunities for
others? Are we offering interesting challenges and competitive
salaries to attract and retain people? Or are we just sitting back and
complaining about the lack of real opportunities in the Philippines?

The Great Merge

Thanks to Yann Hodique‘s totally awesome
backend structure in [email protected]—test/planner—merge—1.0, the distinction between planner/emacs-wiki and planner/muse is on the way to disappearing. Yann’s Elisp-fu is far beyond mine, and it shows in the elegance and cleanliness of the backend code.

It’s much, much better than my kludgy attempts when I wrote the first
port of Planner to Muse. I kept running into problems thinking of an
elegant way to combine both backends. I just wanted to get Planner out
the door, so I tagged a new branch and replaced all the emacs-wiki
code with muse equivalents.

That spurred a lot of development on the planner-muse front, and we
blessed Michael Olson’s tree as the canonical planner-muse branch.
Keeping up with patches became a real headache, though, because of all
the translation between branches.

I’ve tagged a new tree off Yann Hodique’s branch and made emacs-wiki
work again. I’ve also brought it up to the latest dev (I think!), and
I’ll be using it for the next few weeks. A number of modules still
require emacs-wiki, and with the Planner community’s help, we hope to
open them up to Muse people as well!

You can grab the merged tree with

tla register-archive
tla get [email protected]/planner--merge--1.0 planner

Back up your plans and customize planner-backend. Have fun!

Remembrance agent for GUIs for the Mac

Onlife looks ubercool.

Onlife is an application for the Mac OS X that observes your every interaction with sofware applications such as Safari, Mail and iChat and then creates a personal shoebox of all the web pages you visit, emails you read, documents you write and much more. Onlife then indexes the contents of your shoebox, makes it searchable and displays all the interactions between you and your favorite apps over time.

It’s like Remembrance Agent (Emacs) and Dashboard (GNOME), but cooler.

That settles it. I want a Mac when this computer falls apart. =) All
the interesting productivity developments are happening on Macs.

E-Mail from Sven Kloppenburg


Turns out that the phonecard I’m using gives me great rates for
calling cellphones in the Philippines, but has ridiculous surchanges,
so it’s better to use all 40 minutes at once. That’s the $5 Yoyo
prepaid calling card.

There’s another phonecard without connection fees, but the cellphone
rate for that one is probably higher. I’ll try getting that one later.

Microsoft booth babes

Regarding the latest LinuxWorld Philippines:

happy_eclair there were so many babes at the MS booth
sachac <roll eyes> It figures. Of all the sneaky, underhanded tricks… ;)
happy_eclair they even had Barbie Almalbis of Barbie’s cradle
happy_eclair Yeah. Manny Amador was saying PLUG only had one booth babe – me! *laughs*

Of all the sneaky, underhanded tricks…

I know all’s fair in love and business, but must Microsoft _really_
stoop to stuff like that? All the comments I get about LinuxWorld
mention the ‘MS babes’ some way or another.

From Jijo’s comments:

It was truly weird entering the exhibit area to be greeted by their big booth located front and center, with attractive (and distracting) Microsoft Babes at their booth and at the entrance. I also caught the tail end of a talk on Microsoft Visual Studio .NET 2005, which was a time slot ahead of my talk, in the same room.

Oh, wait, it’s Microsoft. Right. They’re not exactly known for ethics.

This is what makes me grit my teeth and remember that somewhere in
Microsoft are good people who like making things that help others.
I have friends who work at Microsoft. They’re decent people.

They’re just weighed down by a terrible corporate culture that focuses
on crushing the competition. Court docs: Ballmer vowed to ‘kill’ Google. At least IBM has guidelines telling employees never to trash-talk the competitors.

Congratulations, Microsoft. You’ve just succeeded in your marketing
objective: distract people from your real problems.

When are we going to see _real_ answers to the stuff we keep
complaining about?

I’m going to write someone I know in Microsoft to say how disappointed
I am in their marketing…

Clair’s entry