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Wednesday, January 05, 2000

Sudbury Homeopathy, and Megacorp Hell

Michelle has been here almost three weeks. We've talked about everything from breaking up to getting married, all rather impartially. She's leaving in a couple of days.

Garrett*'s parents have been in town two weeks. His father came down with a nasty stomach flu a couple days after arriving, and his mother followed suit a day or two after that. They've been sick and loudly moaning ever since. It looks like they'll be getting better just in time for their flight home the day after tomorrow.

My mother and her husband called today and made spur of the moment plans to visit for three days starting Friday evening. They'll get a few hours to meet Michelle. Unfortunately, they want to go snorkelling, which I've just done twice (once too many) in the last week with Michelle.

Another school meeting today. Garrett* and I are steadily becomming indispensible staff members, if for no other reason than that the school is barely able to keep the school staffed. We have eleven students presently; a few new ones arrived with the new year. I went to Eagle today and bought some rope to install as a slack rope tomorrow during my shift. I've got phone messages out about a piano I want to buy for the school, but I haven't heard back in over two days so it's possible it has been sold already. One of the staff members bought a gift for the school today: a $60 homeopathic medicine kit.

Is laughter just a mild form of screaming?

Megacorp is already driving me insane. I've spent days by now just trying to install all the necessary software and plugins necessary to fill out, digitally sign, and submit all of the various forms I've had to deal with. My Megacorp-related Todo list continues to grow, and I don't think I've completed a single item from it yet. Their firewall software crashes my machine regularly. This evening I repeated a very typical scenario:

I need to submit a couple of forms--an expense report to recoup nearly a thousand dollars worth of hotel bills currently weighing on my bank account, and some new-hire urgent must-sign-and-return-NOW papers which I've been trying to submit for a few weeks now. So I run the firewall software to get into the site, search around through levels of sluggish html and finally find the expense report form. Mind you, this is after the days it took me to get the appropriate form-handling plugins installed in the first place... So the form comes up, and it's a bit cryptic--perhaps I'm just not used to this, since I've been a contractor my whole life and have never had to fill one of these things out before. The form software is slow as a dog, on my 400mhz G3 PPC. I can't imagine what it would be like on a two year old computer. I'm nervous filling it out--it's a web form for christ's sake--what happens if someone picks up the other phone and I loose my net connection before I'm done filling it out? Do I loose everything and have to start over? Not to mention if their firewall software crashes my machine... So I carefully fill the whole thing out, half an hour of reading receipts, poking and fields and enterring numbers. Then I wince and hit "Submit". It won't accept the form without a travel authorization code and cost center. I have no idea what those are. I dig through old emails from Megacorp Travel... no mention of the cost center or TA number. The trip was authorized by someone two tiers away, and I never saw the paperwork. So my net connection is still up, my machine hasn't crashed, but I still loose all the form data because I don't know a couple numbers. So I fire off some emails, add some related entries in my Todo list, and perhaps I will try again tomorrow. Item #2: the new-hire form. This one turns out to have come to me as an email enclosure, which I am supposed to digitally sign and return. The same form software which I just finally got installed is now finally able to open the form. But when I click on the signature, it says the plugin is not available. Back to the Megacorp internal website.. layers of html... finally find the small print which says I need to install the "Parity Plugins" in order for this to work on a Mac. No mention of where those come from. So I bring up the file which lists the Appleshare servers, copy the address and port number that corresponds to the Applications disk, open the Mac Chooser, click on Server IP, paste the server, enter the username and password, click on Apps, click OK, wait a minute or so as the firewall software teases the bits through the phoneline. All this just to mount a stupid disk. I've tried making an alias, but for whatever reason it doesn't work, so I have to repeat this dance every time. And when I do, it's just a matter of time before my machine crashes--sometimes before the disk even successfully mounts. This time I get the disk. I go to my browser to read the fine print one more time so I know what I'm looking for... HANG. The computer is dead. Time to start all over. I'm done for the day, can't do this any more. I could spend another hour connecting to the net, running the firewall software, bringing up the browser, getting it to the internal site, doing the little dance to get the Applications disk mounted, waiting patiently while Find searched for the Parity Plugins, and chances are it would just crash while I was downloading them anyway. Or they wouldn't be there at all. Or I'd download them, and I wouldn't have the disk mounting software necessary to use the installer. Or who knows! I'll brave that adventure tomorrow. It's what they pay me for, I guess, though obstensibly I am an engineer. Life at Megacorp.

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Simon Funk / simonfunk@gmail.com