Category Archives: Business

for matters relating to business

Political Football

Back in the 1970’s, the British Columbia provincial government took automobile insurance away from private companies. Since then, one has to buy auto insurance from the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia.

ICBC makes money, and governments spend it like water. Consequently, ICBC gets raided to balance the budget.

I recently got a car. It cost me $1484 to insure it for a year. I thought that was somewhat pricey. When a co-worker mentioned that it would cost about $1000 less to insure it in Alberta, the word rip-off occurred to me.

To add insult to injury, a 15% price increase was scheduled to take effect around now so I just missed even worse!

A Hidden Downside of Economising

Quite often, people make purchasing decisions on the basis of cost. They buy the cheaper item. This has an advantage that manufacturers are encouraged to be price-competitive, but it has a nasty disadvantage.

That disadvantage is that manufacturers may cut corners to make something cheaper. The manufacturers do not often state what they are doing.

If packaged similarly to the original item, one may purchase it by mistake. I was once suckered this way into buying a butter/margarine mix that was just about the price of butter, but that was not suitable for my mom and me.

The corner-cutting can continue for several iterations until the cheap item may bear little resemblance to the original product. Consider most so-called ice cream compared with the real thing. If you have not done so, this is fun research that you should get going on.

“Let the buyer beware.”

Perspective

I had someone helping me with my job today. The person had just started with the company and did not know the ropes. He was just following my instructions. (He did quite well.)

I found that I was quite busy making sure that he stayed busy and that work items were completed properly.

What I learned from it is that there is a lot of admin knowledge that I have picked up that I have to know in order to do my job even though my job is a labourer position. I appreciate the perspective.

The Tyranny of Hierarchy

With so many systems, items are grouped into hierarchies. This is used especially with computer systems. It is argued that this is the way the things are organised, but this is mistaken.

Consider your Web browsing. You might want to save a link as a bookmark (also called a favourite). Many browsers allow you to put the bookmark in a category. The hierarchy is all bookmarks – category – bookmarks in that category.

Similarly, how do you categorise your E-mail?

This is less than totally useful. It works for many cases, but it fails when you have items that fit in more than one category.

Sets make much more sense.

I like humour, and I have a category for humour. I like business articles, too. Why can I not specify that the bookmark is in both humour and business?

I also like good articles about programming. These might be connected with business; why can I not specify that the bookmark is in both business and programming? The article might be humorous, too, and why can I not have it in all three categories?

For the three categories, there are seven combinations. Do I have to create all seven? If I then wanted to find all business articles, I would have to look at four bookmark categories (business, business-programming, business-humour, business-programming-humour).

This might not be the end of it. If I want a category of courses one can take, there would be fifteen possible combinations, and all could happen.

The next number is 31.

I would like to be able to specify that my bookmark is to go into more than one category. It would be easy enough to put it in just one category for those who do not care about this issue.

How about it browser and E-mail programmers?

Odd Language #214: Domestic

Recently, a Computerworld article had this paragraph: ‘At the briefing, a senior administration official said: “Just to illustrate a little bit more how the lottery works — so some companies oftentimes are called outsourcing firms. You may know their names well, but … the top recipients of the H1B visa are companies like Tata, Infosys, Cognizant — they will apply for a very large number of visas, more than they get, by putting extra tickets in the lottery raffle, if you will, and then they’ll get the lion’s share of visas. Which is very different than I think how most people think of the H-1B program — they imagine it for more — being for — again, they would think of it as being for skilled domestic work, rather than contract work.”‘

The issue: I first read “domestic” as in housecleaning. I wonder how many others might have, especially those who are less aware of the H1B system. Of course, it means within the country.

Finally?

I have been looking for full-time work for all too long. Today, I think I finally have a position. I knew that it had been warping me, but even so, I did not realise quite how much. I have been unable to really relax for a long time.

If you know of someone who is looking for work and having difficulty finding it, please do not just ignore him. Please give him a hand.

Unnecessary Change

The computer field has a lot of change. Personally, I think that there is too much. Quite often, changes appear to be made for the sake of change. When this breaks something that was working, it is somewhat irritating.

My local corner store is a combination Esso/7-11. I have an Esso loyalty card.

It used to be that I would be prompted to swipe my card; the swipe would then be acknowledged with a message.

Obviously, this was too easy.

Now, there is no prompt. There is an acknowledgement of the swipe (I think): the display blinks once.

Who thought that this would be better?

It is not as if there are not other changes that would be more useful. For example, if I wish to redeem points and make a purchase, it has to be done as two transactions. My Petro-Canada loyalty card does not have that limitation.

Computer Stuff Can Be Invisible

It is easier to deal with things when you can see them. While computers are very useful, sometimes, they hide things.

A note attached to a fridge works quite well. The note on the fridge is in your face. If you have a notes file on your computer, you have to explicitly look at it. If you do not, you do not see it.

A local company has been running an ad on the Web that I have seen many times. It is a very nicely done ad, but it is about a winter need. Spring is nearly half over. It was too easy for them to miss this. I sent an E-mail yesterday letting them know.

Job Fairs Are Fairer

These days, it can be very difficult to get any response from a job application. Many employers only reply to those they short-list.

Last week, I attended a job fair. It was the first time in quite a while that I had the opportunity to speak to employers about employment.

It felt good to be treated as if I mattered.

I think that employers should do this more often.

Stuck and Being Stuck In

Have you ever noticed how eager people and systems are to stick you in a role and keep you there forever? For example, I see many jobs advertised where one has to have experience even though a reasonably intelligent would already know the general parts and could learn the rest rather quickly.

It has been pointed out that some models of business structure are based on WW II militaries. There were few people who knew how and a lot of people had to be trained up fast. It is not the same situation in an office yet this same model gets used over and over.

If you had to do something that you did not know how to do and you really wanted to do it, how long would it really take before you could get a decent product out? I suggest to you and employers that the answer is much shorter than most think.