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House cleanups

Haven’t posted anything for a couple of days, and there’s a good reason for that. I’ve had to do some house cleaning. Emptied the shed and basement storage, and it took us 2 full days just throwing away junk. I just couldn’t believe that much junk could fit in such small storage space.

Anyway, that’s the hard work done, now the painters are in the house. Hopefully by the end of the week, the whole interior of the house will be painted. It’s a bit troublesome as people are working in the house all day, and it becomes hard to put my kid to bed in the afternoons.

Oh well, at least at the end of the week, the house will be ready to be sold. Yay !!!

Job description for my new position

Well, here’s the job description for my new position. This is going to be very interesting and exciting, as it allows me to improve my skills in .NET as well as learn something new in Cognos.

Assignment Purpose:
The Technology Solutions Branch (MCSCS) seeks a team player to help in business/systems analysis. You will: design/develop/maintain reporting frameworks based on business intelligence products/tools with ministry clients.

Statement of Key Responsibilities:
Applicant will design/develop programming applications using .NET Framework. Using their knowledge of database-development methodologies
and database models/schemas; the applicant will develop reporting objects and multidimensional cube for Online Analytical Processing (OLAP); using the Cognos application suite.

Friendster

Well, I tried out Friendster today. I already had an account from a couple of months ago, but just never had the interest to do anything with it until now.

Anyway, I spent some time hanging around, finding old friends, current friends and putting up my profile. I know this is still a beta version, so it might not be perfect, but there are quite alot of annoyances, for example:

- When I tried to login, I was asked to confirm my email address. So I asked for the confirmation number to be sent to my email. Got it and entered it. Everything seems fine right? Well, the next time I tried to login, the same message came along, asking me to confirm my email address. Ok, I’m thinking maybe this is just a simple bug, so I enter it again. Little did I know that I’d have to do this almost everytime I try to login to my account, no matter whether I’ve checked ‘Remember my Email’ or not. After so many times, I’ve memorized my confirmation number.

- I uploaded a photo, updated my profile and it saved fine. The next thing I know, no photo and no profile. Argggghhh, just cost me a whole page worth of typing. Let’s see, maybe it’s just a minor bug… ooopps.. I made that mistake already, not gonna do it again. So let’s just do some simple updates and see if it’s fine. Turns out that sometimes it saves fine, and sometimes it doesn’t. What’s weird is that sometimes my photo is there and my profile is updated, the next thing you know… boom.. back to square one with no photo and blank profile, and vice versa. What’s going on here?

- Tried adding a friend, got confirmed by him, and tried to look at his friends. I get this error : “… user doesn’t exist”. ?@##@%?^?$#@and ? If he doesn’t exist, then why have that link there in the first place?

I asked around and most people just tell me that this happened to them too, and not too worry about it. So, considering it’s still a beta, I’d say it’s doing ok. Most of the functionality isn’t affected at all by the problems I mentioned above.

Overall, more improvement necessary on saving and updating data, but in terms of what it’s intended to do (connect people), I think it’s going fine. I might just hang out for a couple of days and see if I can find some of my long lost friends :)

Know thy value

I have just had an interesting experience with a painter that came over to give me a quote on painting the whole house (We’re trying to sell the house). There were a couple of other guys who I called over to do the same thing before and after him, so I pretty much knew the average price for the service.

This guy came in, and was completely different from the other guys. He gave me a quote at 1/3 of what the other guys were offering. Of course, he didn’t do as much as the other guys, mainly because he kept saying “Nah, you don’t want to do that” or “Let the buyer beware” or “Let’s just get that low-grade paint and use that”. Of course I understand that he’strying to save me some money, but by showing that he only understands one side of it (the other side being, why would people buy this house at max price if you’re only doing the minimum paint job), it turned me off already.

So there are 2 things I learnt from this:
1. Know your value. If you value yourself as a low end kind of guy, then only low end jobs will come to you. If you place a high value on yourself, and offer high quality jobs, then high quality jobs will come to you. A cheap price is totally different than good value.
2. Get knowledge. You should understand what your customers want and need, and then adapt your service to them. Don’t just go on telling customers that they should use the lowest quality goods etc, so you can perform your job easily and quickly. Customer satisfaction is number one.

Learning to say ‘No’

It has happened to all of us. A very nice sales-person comes and presents a product to you. He/she seems very friendly and nice, and you dread the time at the end of the presentation when you have to try turn this person down. Often, you end up buying the product because of this person’s personality, not because you need it.

I’ve done this a couple of times myself, and after awhile realized that this is just not good for myself and my pocket, and that it had to stop.

So these are the things that I do when a sales-person comes over:
- Think about the product and ask if I really need it?
- If I do need it, and there are other people presenting the same thing (eg. in my case right now, real estate brokers to sell the house, painters to paint the interior), look at their products objectively. Which will give me the best value / service for the price? Selecting a person because he/she is nice but losing a couple of hundreds or even thousands of dollars is simply not worth it. We have to be wise with our money.
- When you have to say ‘No’, think about it in another way. Don’t think that you’re turning the sales-person down and making him/her sad, think of it as protecting your finance.
- Say it! Once you say it and stick to your decision, you’ll feel better about it.

I know it’s not easy at first, and I felt bad doing it to a couple of people who were really nice, but in the end it’s about whether or not the product/service is valuable enough for me to purchase, and not about the sales-person.

The vision for this blog

Well, I really should have started this blog with this post, but it’s better late than never. I’d like to post why I decided to start blogging, and what’s the purpose of it. After all, why start anything if it serves no purpose and has nowhere to go. That would be useless and a waste of time.

There are 2 main reasons I started blogging (besides a couple minor ones):
1. To allow me to reflect on the daily activities that happen to me. I find that by having a blog, I’m forced to think more about things that occur to me during the day. I believe that there are lessons to be learnt during daily life that are often missed because I don’t take time to think about them. Hopefully by blogging, I can learn more of these important lessons.

2. To establish myself on the internet. I found out during my job search period that more and more recruiters try to find information about candidates on the internet. This blog will allow me to have somewhat of a presence on the internet when people look up my name.

The vision I have for this blog is this:
- That any search on the internet for my name will take people to this blog, where they can know more about me and what I’ve learnt.

It’s a personal thing in the beginning, and hopefully it will grow to include some professional writing later on. But until then, this blog is mainly about me, Darrick Rochili.

Thank you for reading.

Argh… worm !!!

I hate worms !!! Both the physical type and the virtual ones.
Just found out that my computer has the Kindal Worm, and spent a couple of hours removing it.

I really should get an antivirus for my computer as soon as possible. Well, work starts in 3 weeks :) I’ll get myself an AV then.

More about my job

I have been doing a bit of research into the IT structure of the Ontario government, and found this very useful research paper.

For anybody who’s interested, my position falls under the Justice Business Cluster (page 8), as part of the Ontario Internship Program.

Next generation scams

I recently received this email through Hotmail, and very nearly believed it if not for the suspicion that this came from a Hotmail account and the fact that I couldn’t find anything about Corposerve International on the internet at all.

—–Original Message—–
From: corposerve inc [mailto:corposerve@hotmail.com]
Sent: Thursday, May 13, 2004 1:20 PM
Subject: Electronic Labour Exchange

We at CorpoServe International Inc have viewed your “work seeker (skill) profile” on the Government of Canada’s “Electronic Labour Exchange”, and are willing to offer you a position of employment with our company. Although this employment position is not in your specific field, we feel that you have the skills and knowledge needed for this rewarding career position.

Job Title: Regional Banking Manager (Canada Branch)

Annual Gross Salary: $45,600 (Canadian) paid on a monthly basis ($3,800 per month).

You will be given complete instructions on each duty you will be required to do, each and every single step, from the beginning to the end. You will be instructed and trained by CorpoServe via email correspondence on how to complete each of the job duties mentioned below.

-Banking (depositing cheques, making money orders, etc.)
-Mailing (mailing out the money orders to the required recipients)
-Setting up business bank accounts -Setting up tax accounts and business licenses
-Signing various forms, documents and contracts upon approval by CorpoServe.
-Communicating with CorpoServe through email on a daily basis

If you are interested in this employment position and would like more information about CorpoServe, please open the following attachments provided with this email:

Company Profile (4 pages)
Employee Profile and Contract (4 pages)

Both the attachments are in Microsoft Word 97, and are in rich-text format, thereby allowing you to view the files with whatever version of Microsoft Word you have. If for some reason you cannot open these attachments, email us at corposerve@hotmail.com and we will send it to you in another format. We look forward to you applying for our job offer.

Regards,

Peter T. Welling
Senior Manager of Human Resources
CorpoServe International Inc.

They actually explained the Hotmail account quite well in the document that they attached:


CorpoServe has a joint-promotion agreement with Microsoft/MSN that gives us unlimited email space and advanced security (since we deal with banking and finance), and in return we use corposerve@hotmail.com as our corporate email address. When you send us a message at corposerve@hotmail.com, it acts as a filter, and forwards your message to one of our head office reps.

Unfortunately for them, I don’t blindly email people my personal information and scanned signature . So I emailed Hotmail staff and asked if there’s indeed such a thing as a joint-promotion agreement with MSN. The result: Their email account got suspended for abuse.

This came in my inbox the next day:

—–Original Message—–
From: CorpoServe Inc [mailto:tech_corposerve@hotmail.com]
Sent: Monday, May 17, 2004 2:30 PM
Subject: Electronic Labour Exchange

NOTICE:

As of Friday May 14, 2004 CorpoServe has changed our main email (corposerve@hotmail.com). This email is no longer active. Our new email is the following:

email_corposerve@hotmail.com

We apologize for the inconvenience. If you sent CorpoServe any emails from Friday May 14 to Monday May 17, 2004, we would not have received them. Please re-email if you sent us anything, whether it be your completed and signed employee profile application, questions, etc. Also, do not press “REPLY” when re-emailing, press your “NEW EMAIL” button when replying to us, since this email was sent from our tech department. Again, sorry for the inconvenience.

Regards,
Katherina Solokova
VP of Employee Services
CorpoServe International Inc.

These guys are persistent, and I’m sure some people would actually believe them, especially since they somehow managed to find out that I had a profile on a government job site.

So, I just thought I’d post this on the internet to warn people who also receive these kind of emails and are tempted to send in scanned signatures. Beware of the new generation of scams, very clever and getting harder to detect.



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