Tuesday, May 26, 2009

John Key, you confuse me

OK, so that's not really much of a surprise, seeing as there's very little that John Key and I would be able to agree upon. But his latest announcement has me even more confused than usual.

Seems Mr Key wants to encourage loads of expat Kiwis to come home and "plug the brain drain" in order to help us out of the recession.

Call me stupid, but - um - where exactly are the jobs for all these people going to come from? John Key seems to take great delight in booting as many public servants out of their jobs as possible (why do you hate public servants so much, Mr Key?), and has been known to make more public servants redundant in a single day than the total number of jobs saved by his much vaunted 9-day fortnight plan - and yet he now seems to be saying that there are tons of jobs out there for all those highly-educated Kiwis who've left EnZed for pastures new.

I hate to break it to ya, John - but I think you'll find that many of those jobs are either filled already, or no longer exist.

Take my field of expertise for example - the New Zealand IT industry. A year ago it was definitely true that we needed more IT professionals here. I could have walked out of my job a year ago and found 5 great positions within a week. Today that's definitely not the case. I've said before in my blog that if you apply for an IT job these days you'll more than likely be up against hundreds of other people (no exaggeration - apparently a webmaster position advertised at the Ministry of Justice recently garnered 300 applications!).

These days you're lucky to even get an interview in my experience - I've stopped bothering because it's just not worth my time and effort - I'm doing much better with contract and freelance work - but that's not what Key's talking about. He's talking jobs and Kiwis coming home to set up new businesses and suchlike, and I think he's dreaming.

He's certainly not talking about public servant positions (see above!) - by the time he's finished there won't be any of those left at all - and yet it's where a heck of a lot of highly-educated Wellingtonians end up. I know a bunch of ex-public servants who've gone to England to work, and I think some of them do want to come home - but they won't find many openings in Government right now.

So what's he talking about? I think you need to be a lot more specific John - are you talking nurses, teachers, doctors, police etc? I don't think there's much of a chance of persuading expat Kiwis in those professions to come home - you're freezing (already crappy) pay for most of those jobs "in a spirit of working together to help NZ ride out the recession", and I can't imagine many people would give up a job they already have overseas to come home and battle for one here.

Personally, I'd rather all those IT professionals didn't come home right now. There's enough competition around here already, without having to compete with a whole bunch of web designers fresh off the plane from London. Call me selfish, or call me realistic - but I truly don't understand where he thinks these jobs are hiding, when more and more job losses are being announced every week.

Redundancy sucks, but I've found out it's not the end of the world - it can be a new beginning if you're prepared to work at it. But persuading Kiwi expats to leave good jobs overseas to come home in the middle of a recession when they'll be up against all the usual applicants here PLUS a whole bunch of recently-made-redundant job-seekers - I think that's unrealistic, and dishonest, and pretty short-sighted.

Think again, John. This expat Kiwi plan ain't gonna fly.

Technorati tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

Read the full post

Monday, May 25, 2009

A sad farewell to Dymocks

If I hadn't found the career of my dreams as a web designer/developer, I'd be the owner of a bookshop. I love bookshops. I love books, so that's not really a surprise I suppose, and some bookshops are definitely better than others.

Wellington has a wonderful selection of second-hand bookshops - my favourites being the two Arty Bees at the far end of Courtenay Place and in the Oaks Complex near Manners Mall - and I have to say I frequent them probably more than any other bookshops in town.

But when I want a new book - for book club, say, or as a present, or a gardening book as a treat for myself - I go to Dymocks. Or at least, I used to go to Dymocks.

I couldn't believe it when I read that they had gone into receivership and were closing down. Nooooooo! Not my favourite new bookshop! What will I do now?

Every single new gardening book on my shelves came from Dymocks. I've bought a lot of new kids books there over the years - and new books for myself - and cards, and wrapping paper - and all sorts of stuff. How can the bookshop with the ultimate best window displays of any shop in Wellington go into receivership?

Where will the lovely man with the ponytail go? Where will his world's best collection of Tolkein and other fantasy books live from now on? Where will Weta get to display their fabulous LOTR models? Who's going to light up that corner of the street?

The warm and welcoming red and gold that I always associate with Dymocks is darkened now. The shop is closed. The books are gone. I felt so sad when I went past on the bus today and the lights were out, no-one home.

I should have bought more books at Dymocks, and done more to help them stay afloat. We all should have. I knew when Borders opened up down the street that it spelled danger for Dymocks, but I hoped fervently that the competition wouldn't be too great.

Sadly it was, and the result is that a bookshop owned and run by lovely people who adore books and who are passionate about literature gets eaten up by a great big soulless multinational chain. It's like "You've Got Mail" - without the emails, romance, Tom&Meg or the happy ending :(

There's one thing for sure. I will never ever shop at Borders. You can trust me on that. I'll be at Unity Books if anyone wants me.

Technorati tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

Read the full post

Friday, May 15, 2009

Woah! SERIOUSLY windy Wellington!

Bloody hell!

The wind's blowing harder than I've ever seen it blow in Wellington. It freaks me out big-time. I'm shaking like a leaf here, people!

It's 1.00am and there's no way I can go to bed with the wind this bad. I just went out for a cigarette (protected by my house from the worst of it) and watched the cabbage tree at the top of my garden completely freaking out from the strength of the wind. My house faces north-west, and so we get completely mashed when there's a north-wester, and this one's a doozy.

Here's a video of the same cabbage tree (and my shed, which was distinctly wobbly in those days) taken nearly three years ago, the last time I can remember it being this windy.

An hour ago the weather watch for the Wellington (Kelburn) weather station was giving a wind speed of 30km/h, now it's up to 46km/h but that was measured an hour ago at midnight. Goodness knows what that last massive gust was. Way over 100 I should think.

I love Wellington and I adore my house, but sometimes - like tonight - I wish I lived on flat ground instead of on the side of a hill, and I wish my house was protected from the wind. I hatessssss it.

Mark the hedge guy came over today to start trimming the massive privet hedge in my veggie garden, and he's left piles and piles of loose clippings behind, ready to be picked up on Monday. I laughingly said (this afternoon when it was a perfect, beautiful, sunny day) I hoped it didn't get too windy between then and Monday or I'd have bits of hedge flying all over the place...

Now I'm just praying the uncut parts of the hedge will protect the loose bits from the worst of the wind. I just went outside to check and it isn't too bad, but I'm not looking forward to being woken in the middle of the night by flying garden debris hitting my windows. Ugh.

Technorati tags: , , , , , , , .

Read the full post

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Reported Attack Site! (only not)

What a complete nightmare.

If you've visited my website since this morning, and you're using the very wonderful Firefox as your browser of choice, you may have gotten the same shock I did when I went to check it today...

Instead of my lovely welcoming homepage you are currently subjected to a greyed-out screen with a big red box in the middle that loudly proclaims "Reported Attack Site! This web site has been reported as an attack site and has been blocked based on your security preferences."


I read the auto email from Google again (which is what had prompted me to check my site this morning) and follow the instructions. Check the source code for injected weird blocks of code or anything that shouldn't be there etc etc. Absolutely clean and pristine, nothing wrong with my source code at all. What's going on?

I call my ISP and they sheepishly admit it's all their fault. Someone who has a website hosted on the same server as mine has found a way of randomly (and only occasionally) intercepting a Google request for other sites on the server (including mine) and has been able to redirect the person Googling for my site to their own (malware) site instead. So now Google thinks I have malware on my site which I don't. I'm not a happy bunny right now.

I find it incredibly frustrating because I now have to request that Google remove me from their "no-fly" list (which I shouldn't be on anyway) and in the meantime all my clients and potential clients will think I have a dodgy site and am therefore a dodgy person to do website dealings with.

I've done the requesting-a-review-from-Google thing, but have no idea how long it will take for them to clear me - and meanwhile my reputation is potentially heading rapidly south as potential clients see the warning page and race off in the opposite direction!


Technorati tags: , , , , , , , .

Read the full post

Thursday, May 07, 2009

The Karori Nature Reserve BLOODY CAR PARK

Heh. Apologies for the SHOUTING CAPS in the post title, but I'm a wee bit miffed right now.

A couple of months ago they started dumping piles of earth and gravel at the far end of Appleton Park. There was a digger there and a couple of lorries, but nothing much seemed to be happening, and I wondered if it was being used as a temporary storage area for building materials or something.

Then about a month ago the temporary fence around the dumping area suddenly expanded quite dramatically, and they pulled out a couple of the baby pohutukawas that they only planted there a couple of years ago. "Not good" I thought.

Hmmm. What's going on?

I noticed a big sign had gone up on the fence which said "Any enquiries, please contact the Karori Nature Reserve", which reassured me somewhat. "Oh phew" I thought. "If it's the Nature Reserve it can't be anything bad - they're Good People."

I was wrong, sadly.

I called them up and asked them what was going on and was told that they are building a BLOODY GREAT CAR PARK there! It's going to be overflow parking for the Nature Reserve, plus a Park & Ride facility, also for the Nature Reserve.

In an attempt to divert my pissed-off-ness (I was not a happy bunny when I found out) they breezily informed me that it's Road Reserve (this almost one-third of Appleton Park that they are going to cover in bloody tarmac) - as if that would make me feel better!

I don't care whether it's 'officially' a Road Reserve (What's that anyway? Space reserved to build a road, should they want to?) or a park or a Conservation Area or anything else they want to 'officially' call it - to me it's a lovely green expanse of grass and trees that I can see from my house and which I enjoy enormously - and now it's going to to be turned into a bloody great car park. With attendant noise, fumes, cars, buses, people coming and going, rubbish, screaming kids... Great.

Moan moan.

It just seems so ironic that the wonderfulness that is Karori Nature Reserve is now ruining my view (and not theirs, as it happens) by concreting over a perfectly nice piece of open grassy space, just so that more bloody lazy people can drive there and park (and it isn't even very nearby - hence the Park & Ride I suppose).

Why don't they encourage more people to catch the local bus (which plenty of people do already) and then stroll down to the Reserve (which plenty of people also do already) - rather than having this wussy Park & Ride facility - or walk all the way there, or cycle? All much greener, much healthier, much more in keeping with the aims of the Reserve in the first place - and much less of a blight on MY VIEW.

Grumble grumble grumble bloody car parks. Bloody Telecom tower nearby as well.... grump grump.

I bloody hatesssss "progress".

Technorati tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Read the full post

Monday, May 04, 2009

OK Universe, you can slow down a bit now

So you remember how I was having a little freak-out in March because I had one or two days in a row where I had no work to do?

I realised I hadn't actually Asked The Universe To Provide for a wee while, so I asked - and now I have work coming out of my ears.

How funny. I certainly won't be signing on for a little while longer, that's for sure.

I see the feast or famine thing time and time again with contracting and freelance work. Happens all the time. I guess that's because there's only one point where "too much" and "not enough" are perfectly balanced, whereas there are many points where one side of the seesaw is heavier than the other, but still - it can be somewhat exhausting, this not-knowing thing.

I guess that's made up for by the fact that you earn a little more per hour when you're freelancing or contracting, but then again, there's a heck of a lot of preparation work involved too - especially when you're doing all the pitching for jobs and much of the project-managing, like I am.

I spent the entire week last week either at planning meetings, presentation meetings, or writing proposals and drawing up website wireframes. All prep work really, but when it goes well, it's a very worthwhile investment.

Sue and I won an awesome contract a couple of weeks ago which we're completely thrilled about, and she's working on the designs as I write this. Can't wait to see them - I know they're going to be lovely.

Tom and I are working on another website for a freelance client at the moment - I've been working on the design for the last couple of days and it's really coming together nicely. Hope the client likes my colour palette. We shall see.

I'm definitely feeling very positive about being a contractor and freelancer at the moment (probably because I've got heaps of work on!) - and I do like the freedom of it, even though writing pitch proposals isn't my favourite thing... This morning for example I was able to watch the ATP tennis delayed coverage before I stared working - which I certainly couldn't do if I were an employee. Heh.

I do miss being in a team though. I did a couple of week's work at Shift recently and OHMYGOD it was so nice to be back there again. I love those guys! You might think it would feel weird to be back there, but it wasn't at all - it was just really nice.

I think I'm turning into a crazy old lady though - because I'm spending so much time working from home I've noticed I've been talking to myself rather a lot (or the cats) - there being no-one else around to talk to. I just have to make sure I don't do it in public too much, or my secret will be out!

OK, back to work - wrangling logos into a tiny space is always fun.


Technorati tags: , , , , , , , .

Read the full post