Tag Archives: mouse

Like A Boss: The negotiations never took place

Ha ha ha! I'm the boss of you!

Ha ha ha! I’m the boss of you!

I recently completed my first year of working at home as a contractor. Although not as good as my dream of doing nothing, the year was still pretty good and … I had no complaints.

What’s good about working from home? No phones. No walk-in customers leaping in your office. No floor sales. No public toilet across the hall. No attending awkward pizza-only lunches on every employee’s birthday. You don’t spend your day using company-owned equipment. (A previous boss liked to joke he was logging my keystrokes. That was a real damper on my twitter activity.) You get your very own chair. No boogers from other employees on your stuff. There’s an ottoman where two cats sleep and the view out the window is squirrels playing.

When my one-year contract expired, of course I wanted more. It was a no-brainer.

These are the actual and verbatim excerpts of the official transcripts of the negotiation process. I’m sharing them because I don’t mind being humiliated in public.

From: Shouts
Subject: Contract

I am ready to keep things simple and renew the same deal, no changes needed on my end, with all the same terms (another 12 months) excepting a modest increase of only $x.xx to the hourly rate for COLA. That’s $xx.xx/hour up from $xx.xx. Other than that I can’t think of anything else.

It’s official. You all know my salary now. I literally make $X amount. Note my colorful use of marketing terms like “modest” and “only.” Ha ha ha! Player at work! Also, thinking I was being clever, I provided dollar amounts and not percentages. This was a deliberate attempt to confuse and astound. -Ed

Make the jump to read additional communiques from the “negotiation” process and the surprising twist at the end.
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Graphic video: Mouse eaten by Lion

Apple Mighty Mouse

An anachronism under Lion?

A new version of Apple’s operating system called OS X Lion is afoot. It will be out by the end of the month.

I’m no expert, but as far as I can tell, Apple is using Lion to make the desktop computer more like an iPhone. I think they want to confuse the user. “Am I sitting at a desk using my home computer or is this my iPod? I can’t tell the difference!”

One thing I noticed when I switched from Windows to OS X earlier this year was that my right arm was getting tired. I’m not wanting to say anything good about Windows, but it did do one thing right: There was very little that you couldn’t do with the keyboard. Almost everything you could do with the mouse could also be accomplished with a keyboard shortcut, if one was willing to learn.

I have a keyboard in front of me and my hands are already there. I find it convenient. Might as well make use of it, eh?

Sadly, it was not so with the Mac. To this day I still don’t know keyboard shortcuts that will allow me to access application menus. (Maybe they exist. If they do, I haven’t found them.) True, most things in the menu have their own shortcuts, but that can be a lot to remember. Accessing menus with the keyboard was very convenient. And some menu options don’t have options. In those cases you have no choice: time to take a ride on the mouse.

If there is one thing I hate, it is moving my hand from the keyboard over to the mouse (and back again) when I don’t have to. This particular gesture (if you’ll allow the term) is extremely annoying. Extremely.

I noticed right away on my brand new iMac that my right hand was traveling more than it ever had before. You’d be surprised, but in only a few short months the forearm girth of my right arm now doubles the left. I got lopsided guns! If I could be ambidextrous and use a left-handed mouse half of the time I would be totally ripped.

I’ll provide two telling examples of where I think Apple’s OS X is weak on the mouse.

First, try doing something like emptying the trash. You move the mouse down the the bottom of the screen and right-click and select “Empty Trash.” Viola! The dialog box opens up miles away, vertically centered, near the top of the screen. Hey, Apple! Why not have the dialog open near where the mouse pointer already lives, thus reducing the distance I have to move to get there? Any of you brainiacs ever have that bright idea?

My second example is the “Your Changes Will Be Lost” dialog. This is just one example of a problem that exists throughout the operating system. This particular dialog box gives you three choices: Don’t Save, Cancel, and Save. By default “Save” is already highlighted and you can hit the RETURN key if you wish. If you want either of the other choices, though, you’re screwed. You can’t do anything like type the first letter or use the LEFT ARROW and RIGHT ARROW keys to navigate to a new choice. You guessed it! Your right hand kisses the keyboard goodbye and heads for the mouse. You are simply given no other choice.

It’s the Apple Right-Handed Back and Forth game! Only in this game there are no winners. Apple just loves it some freakin’ mouse.

LionWell, it used to. Cue OS X Lion.

I just watched a four minute video about Lion on the Apple.com website and guess what? Apple is “gesture” freaks now. The mouse was almost entirely left out of that video.

Gesture is the new mouse!

The video primarily featured the Macbook Air for most of the happy shots of people using OS X Lion. Occasionally they did show a desktop. In those cases a touch pad was prominently featured, either sticking off the right side of the keyboard or as a separate shot. In only a single shot did they should a desktop computer with … gasp … a mouse.

The mouse’s days appear to be numbered. And here I was hoping that Lion would finally address the long-standing issues I’ve had with Mac OS X and my right-handed workout. I’m getting keyboard shortcuts aren’t going to be prominently featured, if there are any at all.

Fuck you, asshole

The Terminator ponders his choices

Did you know the original “Terminator” movie cost about $6.4 million to make? What a friggin’ piece of genius that was.

One scene in particular has piqued my interest today…

Cleaning Man at Flophouse: [Damaged skin on the Terminator is rotting from gangrene] Hey, buddy. You got a dead cat in there, or what?

[the Terminator visualizes: ‘POSSIBLE RESPONSE: YES/NO; OR WHAT?; GO AWAY; PLEASE COME BACK LATER; FUCK YOU, ASSHOLE’]

The Terminator: Fuck you, asshole.

Now that is a high quality screenplay!!!

Part of what makes this scene genius is that it illustrates that the Terminator Model T-800 learns. At the beginning of the movie the Terminator is sent back in time. Like all time travel in this movie franchise, the trip is made completely naked. Therefore one of the Terminator’s first tasks is to obtain clothing. He encounters some punks and says, “Your clothes. Give them to me. Now!”

The punk leader (played by a young Bill Paxton) and not knowing who he is up against responds, “Fuck you, asshole!” The T-800 then displays his surgical skills and knowledge of human anatomy by removing the punk’s still beating heart. Classic movie magic!

Later, when the cleaning man asks the Terminator about the smell emanating from his room, the Terminator runs through his decision tree, including his newly acquired knowledge, and decides how to respond. As we all know, he wisely selects, “fuck you, asshole,” and maximizes the odds that he’ll blend in. The cleaning man shrugs and moves along.

The reason I bring all this up is that I believe I have encountered the gerbil version of this phenomenon.

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Workplace injury fails to satisfy

I’ve been dreaming about Mama Compensation* for a long, long time. At long last, this week, I have finally been injured at work.

What a heady experience and an exciting time! It is a time full of great promise …

Here’s how it happened. This last Monday I returned to work after a nine-day vacation. That’s five whole days off sandwiched between four weekend days. It also happened to be the first week paid week of vacation I’ve had since the year 2000. (Shudder. That streak is almost too evil to contemplate.)

If coming back from a three-day weekend at work is rough then being away for nine whole days was a friggin’ nightmare. I knew there was zero chance of having a “normal” day upon my return. What is normal, anyway? One definition is: “What everyone else is but you are not.” In a workplace setting, however, a normal day is a theoretical construct; something that simply doesn’t exist.

So on Monday because some job duties had been shuffled around due to a new employee, I was forced to work at her desk for a few hours so she could work at mine. (This has gone on all week. I’m still waiting for that “normal” day.) Eventually her new computer will arrive and we’ll get all of the software and printers moved around so we can each do what we need at our own workstations. Who knows when that day will come? Like usual the company fails to plan ahead. Hire employee then think about the tools. It just isn’t possible to do things in any other order! Until then we’ll continue to play workstation switcheroo.

Now the one thing I hate most in the whole world are those little slide-out keyboard trays that live just under the top of a desk. (Ever notice how the thing I’m complaining about right now is always the thing I hate the most? That’s just the way I roll.) My workstation certainly does not have one of those trays. The day I moved in I grabbed some tools and physically removed the damn thing so it wouldn’t hit my knees all day long.

Co-worker’s desk, however, had the keyboard safely ensconced below. This forces several things to happen. First your hands are too low which increases the distance your eyes must travel when looking back and forth between the monitor and the keyboard. I normally keep the keyboard as close to the monitor as possible. And secondly, the tray when slid out forced me to sit an additional one foot away from the desktop. Which happens to be where the mouse lives. (The tray didn’t have room for a little mouse pad.)

Without realizing it, I used the mouse for hours right at the extreme edge of the desk. That meant my arm and wrist were suspended in mid-air as I did my work. At my desk my right arm normally stays flopped on the desk like a dead fish and very little power and muscle movement is required to twitch the mouse around its pad.

You guessed it. That minor little difference in arm position led to my injury. By 11am I was like, “Damn! My wrist fucking hurts!”

Now, aside from having absolutely no muscle conditioning of any kind, this is the embarrassing part. I bitched about the keyboard tray to my supervisor and she said something rather brilliant. “Why not move the keyboard on top of the desk?”

WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT!

I’m a genius sort of dude, or so I thought. Why the hell didn’t I think of that??? The keyboard was even cordless, so there was no need to get an my hands and knees and fiddle with cords. (Which is, by far, the thing I hate most in the whole world.) Two seconds later the keyboard was snuggled up to the monitor and my arm was properly lounging on the desk where it could fondle the mouse in leisure all it wanted.

Pure genius.

Of course I was still injured at this point. And this is where the dramatic sadness and melancholy kicks in. See, even though severely crippled by injury, I still had to keep working! And the next day, too. And the day after that! In fact, it’s almost like I’m never going to see a return on the promise of bounty on this injury! Even now I can sit here and clench my fist. Ow! That hurts!

I guess Mama Compensation is going to leave me hanging one more time…

*Video: Kids in the Hall: Mama Compensation.

Pulling a computer training

An Itty Bitty Machines (IBM) computer processing some Social Security data in the 1950s.
Image source: Social Security Online.

We here at AFAIK (the Abyss Facility for Advanced Information Knowledge) have decided to publish “online” to the interwebs some of the courses offered in our Information Technology with Specialization in Input Devices doctoral program. Enroll today and take advantage of offerings from our syllabus including:

  • Left mouse button and right mouse button – What’s the difference?
  • Single-click and double-click – Understanding situational context
  • Upgrading  – Why things no worky after five years of refusing to install software updates
  • Task switching – An introduction to the concept that applications don’t have to be completely shut down in order to do something else
  • Lateral Hand Movement Minimization – A focus on keyboard shortcuts to prevent “tennis elbow” caused by an excess of user hand movements between the keyboard and mouse
  • Folders and Directories – An overview of file saving techniques with an emphasis on locations other than the Desktop
  • ALT and CTRL – Extending their power with the knowledge that they do different things
  • Webcam 101 – With new online services such as Chatroulette gaining in popularity, this class covers essentials like plugging in the webcam, starting the browser, entering the web address, and targeting the camera at the crotch area (men only)
  • One-Handed Typing Proficiency – This class provides real-world skills that are essential in a myriad of real-world situations with a specific focus on those wishing to move on to government agencies like the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)

AFAIK graduates are highly sought after in all walks of life. Major accomplishments by our alumni are documented in IT and scientific journals and include feats such as calculating a sum from a column of numbers, drawing a happy face in Microsoft Paint, typing up to 10 different and hilarious “emoticons” and successfully locating a picture of a grandchild that was saved to disk more than seven days in the past.

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