RTOD: Nothing Really Rocks and Nothing Really Rolls…

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One of my favorite parts of my work day is when I clear away the morning detritus,  take a deep slug of coffee,  open up Aptana (my IDE (the application I use to make other applications)),  put on my headphones,  hit play,  and let the music drive me to create mind bending awesome code…

Today my phone presented me with Meat Loaf’s Bat out of Hell…

That is definitely an  F* YEAH! LET’S BANG OUT SOME CODE!!! song…

I pulled up my first task….

I need to create a new user role in our Risk Management system,  and create new access rules for a list of users.

…./sigh

I wonder if Google Music has any Sharon, Lois and Bram?

Some People Think I’m an Asshole (and they’re right)

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Have you ever been asked, “What is the first impression people get when they meet you?”?

I’ve seen this question pop up in dating profiles,  and even job interviews.

I think that the person whose idea it was to ask the question really wants to see how creatively you can lie,   because very few people will be honest…and here’s why.

If people generally have a positive first impression of you,  and you tell people this,  it might sound like you’re conceited,  or vain,  or lying.

If people generally have a negative first impression of you,  and you tell people this,  you’re either very honest,  or,  if you don’t think it will hurt your chances,  you’re a psychopath.

I know what impressions I usually make with people when we first meet.

It’s usually some combination of the following:

  • Smart
  • Kind
  • Funny
  • Fat
  • Diplomatic
  • Compassionate
  • Really Fucking Smart
  • Weird

There are cases where the first impression I may leave someone with aren’t on that list,  but in those cases its usually someone I’ve sought out while looking to rectify some situation or other…but that’s not what I’m talking about here.

I’m talking about times when I go from something on that list,  to what might be mistaken as Full-On Asshole mode.

Professionally I enjoy a reputation of being very good at what I do,  willing to help out,  and very honest and open in letting people know when I see problems with their ideas, design, projects.

Suffice it to say that I do not suffer fools easily, gladly (or at all really).

Some people have suggested that when I do this,  that I’m self-aggrandizing,  and that I don’t leave people with a positive impression,  and that its “not pretty”.

Here’s a newsflash….unless you can prove me wrong….I don’t care.

Someone recently felt the need to have this discussion with me….he apparently thought that the way that I generally interact with people (kindness, humour, diplomacy) so that they would like me or something.

I’m going to pause here so that the people who know me well can stop laughing.

I don’t interact with people the way that I do because I want to be liked.  I do it because that’s the way that I am….I care about people,   even the ones I don’t know.  I know that a smile,  a kind word, and maybe a small act of kindness can turn a person’s day around.

But here’s the thing….I don’t do things like that on purpose…it just happens.

There are some of you thinking that because I said all this that I’m some sort of conceited jerk….which ties into my initial point…if you answer the first impression question honestly,  people might think you’re a conceited jerk.

And to those of you who are thinking that,  I refer you to the previous assertion:

I am not the way that I am because I want people to like me.  I do it because its the way that I am.

Here’s the thing,  when I’m working on a project,  if I come up with something that won’t work,  or could be improved upon,  I would want someone to tell me.

Yes,  I might object, and argue,  however, if you make valid points,  I will appreciate that you spoke up and pointed it out.

Even if your concerns were things I had already considered,  or didn’t apply,  or couldn’t be applied,  I will still respect you for pointing them out.

I know its hard for some people to do that,  because, like the title of this blog says…some people think I’m an asshole,  and I know sometimes I can be too blunt when I don’t mean to be.

When I’m involved in a project,  and I see problems with some aspect of it,  I will speak up.  I will always provide why I think its a problem,  and will go so far as to provide technical details, and links etc.

I do this, because, working in healthcare I believe that my end users (who are the patients) deserve the very best that I can deliver….which means preventing wasting money and resources on poor implementations.

Now, some people will think I’m an asshole because I will point out these problems….even though I do so politely.  Simply because I won’t accept pat answers like, “Oh yes, we considered that, and we don’t think its a problem.” .

If you’re wondering, there are a couple of ways I would deal with that..

If the problem is a patient safety issue,  I will not proceed with the work until I’m satisfied that its not.  I don’t care what assurances or release of liability you provide…I will not be even partially responsibility for something that would cause harm.  (because I’m selective when it comes to being an asshole).

If the problem is a privacy issue,  I will ask for a privacy impact assessment from our privacy officer.   If he says there are no privacy concerns (in an email),  then its out of my hands.

If its none of these, I will ensure that there is an email trail showing that I raised the concerns…for when they crop up.

The Full-On Asshole mode comes on when my concerns are dismissed,  or I get attitude back.  An example of this was where I raised concerns on a new interface I was asked to implement where I saw that other organization would be receiving bad data as they were deliberately excluding a broad range of HL7 message types that ensure data quality.

I detailed the reasons for my concerns, and was polite (I had someone check that).

What I got back was a terse response,  explaining their logic,  and why they weren’t concerned.  It was done in the same manner one would explain to a child why they shouldn’t put their hand on a hot burner.  (and contained logic so flawed that I forwarded the reasons to a group of HL7 programmers for a laugh.  I mean, seriously,  how could you work in healthcare integration and expect to use a patient’s name as a record match?  We thought it was funny because people entering names in the system can make typos,  and even if not, in one system the same person could be Smith, James A, and in another it could be Smith,Jimmy Andrew).

So yes…that sort of thing brings on Full-On Asshole mode….which made for a very tense kick off call.

I didn’t rant, I didn’t rave….I didn’t even curse.   I did forcefully tear apart their logic,  with the tone of, “How could you not know this?”

When I stopped talking there was a long silence, broken by one of them addressing his boss and pointing out that changing their system would cost time and money.

Of course,  during the conversation they pointed out that other hospitals they implemented this solution with didn’t object.  They did bend over backwards to compensate for the bad design.   Something that wasn’t possible with our system,  and that I wouldn’t have done.   Extra work I didn’t have time for caused by someone else’s bad design.

I know its hard to speak up when you object to something,  especially professionally,  because there may be career implications.

I’m not denigrating those who don’t.

I’m explaining why sometimes I’m an asshole.

Because not only do I have to work on these projects, and deal with the problems,   but I have to live with myself…..down the line I don’t want to find myself sitting there ,  when things are going wrong,  asking myself, “Why didn’t I say something?”

If wanting to ensure that projects I’m involved in are the best they can be,  means that occasionally I have to flip to full-on asshole mode,  then so be it.

The end result of all this is that I’ve earned the respect of a lot people.  To the point where I’ve been consulted on projects having nothing to do with my organization because I have a reputation of giving my honest assessment,  and that I can back up my assertions.

Except this one time, when I was wrong…and yes, I owned up and took responsibility,  and apologized (profusely).

Because I’m not really an asshole,  I just play one at work.

Definition-of-Stress

Apparently a poor credit score means that you’re likely going to steal from your employer….

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Its been a very long time since I posted a rage post….and this is a good topic to rage about…

Apparently the use of credit checks in pre-employment screenings is on the rise.

We’re not talking just jobs where people handle money.  The linked article above mentions that even Tim Horton’s workers have reported the requirement to submit to credit check during the recruitment process.

The article refers to an email from a TransUnion spokesperson Clifton O’Neal which states:

One study found a job applicant with a troubled financial history was almost twice as likely to engage in theft as an applicant who lacked any financial history issues,”

You have to sign up to the website in order to read the study in detail,  however,  denying someone a job using such subjective and controversial data,  based on a single study is reprehensible.

Its made even more so by the fact that the same company,  while testifying in Oregon in 2007 said:

“At this point, we don’t have any research to show any statistical correlation between what’s in somebody’s credit report and their job performance or their likelihood to commit fraud,” government relations director Eric Rosenberg said at the time.

One has to wonder how much revenue these pre-employment screening checks generate for the credit reporting bureaus who tout their efficacy for weeding out thieves during the hiring process.

As one whose had credit issues in the past, I find it galling that anyone would factor a credit history into determining one’s character.

This would be especially true when you consider that many job seekers are unemployed,  many for extended periods of time.

You need a job to pay your bills,  you lose your job,  fall behind on your bills,  which causes you to not be able to find a job.

In that scenario,  who loses out?   The job seeker, absolutely,

The creditors (those other clients who rely on credit bureaus) also lose…because if a person can’t find a job because of a poor credit rating,  their creditors are not going to get paid back.

It seems to me that the extension of their client base only benefits the credit bureaus.   After all,  if an employer has to keep running credit checks for the same position, until they find a satisfactory one,  who gets paid for those repeated reports?

The employee doesn’t benefit at all,  because they’ve had a potential employer leafing through their financial history.

The employer might think they’ve avoided a bad hire,  but that might be a false sense of security.

Are there any studies that show that a good credit score is an indicator that someone WON’T steal?   Maybe they live beyond their means, but were smart enough to start stealing from their employers BEFORE their bills came due.

I also have to wonder if people who think this is a good idea have ever had issues with dealing credit issues.

How many of us have found erroneous, and derogatory entries on our credit report?

How many  of us have been faced with the option of paying a creditor sometimes hundreds of dollars to satisfy an invalid debt,  simply to remove it from a credit report?

How many of us have refused to do this as a matter of principal?

I’ve encountered all these things,  and while we are assured that there are mechanisms in place to deal with such matters,  it is a daunting task which must be repeated for all the major credit bureaus.

Then there is the matter of information making it onto your credit report that is false?

You can (and should) periodically review your credit report from each of the major bureaus.

You can get a free credit report from TransUnion through the mail (snail mail).

For just under $17/mo you can get unlimited access to your credit report as well as notifications of activity on your account.

Here’s a link.

Other credit bureaus have similar deals.

So,  you can get a free report through the mail,  but it costs money to get a copy of your credit bureaus almost instantly, electronically.

I guess Transunion pays its servers more than who ever it is who physically prints and mails these things out.

But I digress…

In today’s age of identity theft, and unethical collection practices,  credit monitoring is very important,  and the monthly cost (multiplied by the number of credit bureaus you open an account with),  could save you a lot of money and headaches in the future.

Having said that,  I have to ask…

Why are consumers forced to pay credit bureaus to monitor their own accounts for suspicious activity?

When you consider how credit bureaus are now profiting from employers using their services in order to screen applicants for positions that don’t involve handling money,  I have to question if such a service is even ethical.

Credit bureaus are providing a service to employers that make is essential that any job-seeker subscribe to these credit monitoring services.

These same credit bureaus provide such monitoring services,  to consumers,  for a fee.

In my opinion there is a clear conflict of interest.

This leads me to my next point:

It is relatively easy for a business to pull your credit report,  or file a derogatory incident with credit bureaus

I had that happen to me once when I did subscribe to monthly monitoring.

A business I had never heard of did a hard hit on my bureau.   By hard hit,  I mean a query that indicates that I had applied for credit.

I saw the email, and contacted the bureau in question (not TransUnion in this case).

I was told by the credit bureau’s customer service agent that,  (and this is a quote):

You will have to take it up with business in question.

So,  this company that collects sensitive data on millions of ordinary people,  and provides said data to anyone who says that they have your permission failed to act when notified of a fraudulent query.

I did follow up and discovered that the business had acquired another company with whom I did have an account (in good standing),  and that the query was “human error”.

That doesn’t excuse the reporting agency’s apathy in dealing with a privacy breach.  (This happened before I became intimately familiar with PIPEDA).

A logical question here is:

Why is it that with today’s technology there isn’t a mechanism that would allow a bureau to directly request a consumer’s permission to release credit information instead of relying on the business to honestly indicate that they have permission to do so?

As far as I can tell,  credit bureaus don’t sanction businesses that run afoul of the rules,  and ruin people’s credit in doing so.

The point I’m making here is that if the credit bureaus are going to provide services that will make it more difficult for people to find jobs,  then they have a duty to strengthen consumer protections.

When you consider this case,  where a guy was awarded $21K  by the courts because Bell TV ran a credit check without permission,  it would be safe to say that if things don’t change on their own,  litigation may force some sweeping changes.

The crux of the matter is best illustrated in this quote from the article:

“In this day and age, when we often can’t meet face to face, how do you determine someone’s character? We do it through looking at their past history and see how they’ve paid back debt,” Nadim Abdo, Equifax’s client solutions vice-president, said in 2013.

So, this Equifax guy is obviously under the impression that someone’s debt repayment history is a great indicator of someone’s character.

Apparently a quick credit check more accurate and objective than spending 20 to 60 minutes calling a person’s professional references and asking about what kind of individual the applicant is.

For many professional positions,  you could simply use Google or one of the other search engines out there.

Of course,  you could always refer to the criminal record check that is done alongside the pre-employment credit check.   A criminal record is a pretty good indicator as to whether or not someone is a criminal.

It won’t surprise many of you to hear that I have a big problem with that too.   Especially with The Harper Government making it harder and more expensive to get a pardon…but I’m not going down that road here.

What is boils down to is sheer laziness.

Recruiters who agree with Nadim Abdo’s statement above are really in the wrong profession.    If you can’t meet face to face with a candidate and can’t form an opinion of their character by doing some basic research,  but instead rely on a credit report (which may or may not be accurate),   are you really hiring the best candidate?

I can imagine that there will always be companies that forego this check.

If I’m right, and the ideal candidate you reject because of their credit history might end up working for your competition,  while you hire the second or third, or fourth best candidate because they’ve got a better credit score.

What employer would fair better in the long run in such a situation….

Here’s a hint….not yours.

How the Wheel was Invented (and why its important to protect your Intellectual Property)

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18 Apr 4,032,008 BC:  2:32Pm
On the site that will eventually become “Big Ed’s Used Tire Emporium”

Its market day and Grogg meets Ugg,  a member of a neighbouring tribe as they take their goods to trade at the local market.

Ugg:  pointing to some strange contraption that Grogg’s goods are sitting on.

 “What the hell is that??!!!” 

Grogg: proudly:

 “I call it a ‘Neanderthal Assisted Heavy Lift Device”‘!  Pretty cool eh?” 

Ugg: shifting the load on his back so he can take a better look

  “How does it work?”

Grogg:

“Last week I came up with the idea of using those round things underneath to make it easy to move stuff around!  They roll when you push them!   The rest just fell into place.”

Ugg:

 “What do you call the round things?”

Grogg:

 “Tony”

Ugg:

 “So, you invented Tony to make carrying your stuff to market easier?”

Grogg:

“Yup”

Ugg:

 “You need to stop taking the easy way!”

About 3 weeks later Ugg’s tribe starved to death while Grogg’s prospered.

Grogg’s people would’ve become very wealthy except for the vile actions of a neanderthal named Tony.

Unbeknownst to Grogg,  Tony,  irked that Grogg was profiting by naming the “round things” after him,  had recently invented “Patent Trolls”….he wanted to call them “Assholes”,  but everyone called a guy in the neighbouring village that, so he went with the term that survives to modern times).

Grogg and Tony (as a Non-Practicing Entity (aka: guy with no skill except be really vague in patent filings)) presented Patent #00000000001 and was awarded all proceeds for Grogg’s invention.

In an attempt to smooth over any hard feelings,  Tony approached Grogg to get ideas on what to name the “Round Things”.

Tony:

Hey Grogg, I need to find a name for these round things of yo…er,  mine…
Can you think of anything else that is round or circular?

Grogg: muttering

Wheel!

 

And that’s how the wheel was invented……

Fun Fact:  The term Wheel was first used by the neanderthals living in a cluster of caves just south of the weird tree and the rock where Morg was found passed out after discovering fermentation.
While some historians differ on the exact translation,  it is generally agreed that it roughly translates to the modern Asshole.

 

 

ISIS Downgrades Threats

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Awhile back,  ISIS….the band of masked nutjobs trying to take over the Middle East,  not the Egyptian Goddess, attempted to terrorize the West by threatening to make us feel unsafe in our own bedrooms.

There were no specifics on how they intended to do this,  but this threat made it clear that they had never met my first wife….or my current dogs:

200lbs of Don't Mess with the Bringer of Food and Thrower of Balls

200lbs of Don’t Mess with the Bringer of Food and Thrower of Balls

Back when ISIS was big and scary,  and started making these threats,  I wrote about how their inconsistent message called their integrity into question….and how,  if I was a power mad despot,  I wouldn’t let some crazy Brit run around beheading people on YouTube.

Today’s headlines are talking about how ISIS threats and activities indicate that they are in decline.

It might be a bit much to expect from a band of religious zealots who happily bend the word of Allah to whatever strikes their fancy,   but I have to wonder if perhaps its time they downgrade their threats to meet their new reality.

So maybe instead of feeling unsafe in our bedrooms,  they could aim to say,  make us feel slightly uneasy in the upstairs hallway,  and instead of threatening an entire mall,  they could say threaten to say,  use the toilets in the washroom and not flush afterwards…because you know…everyone hates walking in on that.

Hey Harper, Where’s our Budget???

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Has anyone noticed those radio ads where Harper talks about how awesome it is that he’s giving tax breaks to families and that ‘some politicians” want to take them away?

I’m not even going to mention that experts say these tax benefits will only help the rich.

What I will mention is that he’s prattling on radio spots that reach millions of Canadians on their daily commute, about how he’s going to tax them less,   but he completely glosses over one important fact.

The Harper Government has NOT TABLED A BUDGET!

I know these radio spots are short,  but if you look at everything else coming out of the Conservative Party campaign machine, you’ll be hard pressed to find anything about the budget.

It’s more important for them to protect us against imaginary terrorists by stripping us of privacy rights

Its also more important for them to identify those pesky brown people (or lazy white people (whities)..its hard to tell) as the reason the Temporary Foreign Worker program is bad (or good…its hard to tell)

Even more important is that Harper has placed a priority on speaking out against anti-woman culture,  by telling women what they can’t wear.

This sparked an hilarious twitter hastag #dresscodePM

You have to wonder exactly why he’s not airing radio spots about these issues,  as they’re obviously very important to him.

But wait…remember way back when he aired all those “Economic Action Plan” ads….the ones where the disclaimer at the end of the spot pointed out that the plan being advertised hadn’t been approved by parliament (yet).

At this point,  I’m thinking that this guy would make a better PM than Harper….cuz,  you know…he’s upfront about being a dick.

Proud to Blog for Mental Health in 2015!

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bfmh15-4-copy

I pledge my commitment to the Blog for Mental Health 2015 Project. I will blog about mental health topics not only for myself, but for others. By displaying this badge, I show my pride, dedication, and acceptance for mental health. I use this to promote mental health education in the struggle to erase stigma.

I stumbled across this on one of my rare sojourns into looking at what other people blog about on WordPress.

Its not that I’m not interested in what other people have to say,  its just that I’m really busy and don’t have a lot of time when I’m sitting at my computer.

My followers,  and those that know me personally know that I sometimes struggle with mental health issues and sometimes I talk about it here.

I’ve never regretted it when I have.

But often I won’t,  for various reasons that are usually not good ones.

I will continue to do so,   in hopes that someone who is struggling may read about my experience and realize that they are not alone.

If you’re interested in joining the cause, here’s a link:

http://blogformentalhealth.com/2015/01/30/blog-for-mental-health-2015/

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