September 10th, 2002

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Style

I am playing with my LiveJournal styles for my page and my friends page. Fun fun. Mostly the only difference is that the forward/back links appear at both the top and bottom of the page. And on my friends page I changed the coloring scheme so that the foreground/background colors are used for the whole entry, rather than just for the name of the person. Some of the other styles do it that way, but I liked the "Clean and Simple" style, except for the coloring. That's about enough playing for now though.

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Training Day

I have come to despise corporate training. Perhaps training is conducted in a different fashion in other companies, but in mine, I dread training.

Today, we had training in the new performance review forms. None of us had actually seen them before. No one had except for HR and our European offices, which was where they were rolled out first.

I've already forgotten the name of the new section in the forms. Some HR type buzzword... starts with "comp" I think. I'll have to look at them when I get to work tomorrow.... ah I remember now "competencies."

So here's what's wrong with training. They always hire the same motivational speaker to come. I can't stand her style. Lots of group exercises. I don't mind role-playing exercises. I hate games like "you figure out what this buzzword means and then afterward we'll pass out the official definition." And the introduction game: "let's have everyone introduce themselves and their position and their favorite travel destination." Fine, my name is Phil and I am a dev lead. Fuck you on my favorite travel destination. Do not try to force me to be congenial. Hate that crap.

I also hate the stretched out nature of our training. Everything today could have been covered by writing it up in a nice standard operating procedures manual and just handing the damn thing out. But nooooo! We have to leave it all undocumented and rely on remembering what our trainer said over the course of a 4 hour meeting. Never mind that they never cover the part that can't be done in a policy manual or similar documentation. They always leave out the difficult stuff. In the 3 training sessions I have been to on performance evaluation, we have spent a total of a half an hour on writing good goals for a review period. And then the discussion was cut off and we moved on as soon as we got to tricky goals that measure teamwork or initiative. Bah! That's another rant. I think I will do my rant on performance evaluation and reviews tomorrow.

What I wish is they would bring in someone to do training on making time estimates for projects. That's something that nearly every software company needs to do, and one that nearly every developer is shitty at. I am horrible at it, and I am pretty good at it compared to nearly everyone I have worked with. But it's all mostly guesswork based on a developers memory of past projects, rather than based on real data about past projects and the size & complexity of the requirements for a project. I would love to know how to do that systematically. Repeatedly. And be able to pass the skill on. I couldn't mentor someone in time estimation if I tried right now. But a useful subject apparently will never be the topic of a training class in any company for which I work.

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Two tardy movies

[Aguirre marquee]A little late, but last Thursday I watched two more movies at Louis' (izador) place with Jeff (vulture23), Jason (LJ?), and two lovely ladies Elana (domestinatrix), and Ivy (vorona). The first movie was Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes, a German film by Werner Herzog. It's the story of an expedition of Spaniards through the Amazon on a quest for El Dorado. Basically, everything goes to shit for them as they are ill-prepared for conquering the mythical El Dorado, and even less ready for the Amazon. Klaus Kinski is the leader of the band, although not officially in charge. He plots and schemes as the #2 man, where he can control the expedition without being a target in charge. The story is interesting, but we know where it is headed. What is most wonderful about the movie is the acting. There is very little dialog, and so the actors must convey the drama through facial expressions, gestures, and timing. These are as subtle as a look. Unlike an American film, Herzog's film does not feel the need to explain everything to its viewers.

[Cat People marquee]The second movie we watched was Cat People, starring Natassja Kinski. This one is set in New Orleans where a young woman is re-united with her long lost brother only to slowly discover her heritage as a member of a race of cat people. She doesn't understand what is happening to her, and although her brother sometimes regrets the curse he endures, he embraces the wanton killing required of him. She does not, and must contend with a growing love with her boss who is attempting to hunt down the wild animal her brother has become. Yep. Pretty schlocky. Still an enjoyable film, for the camp factor. My only objection is to the expository nature where in a dream-like soliloquy our protagonists brother explains everything we need to know about the cat people. They could have just left it unsaid and told that bit through action. Although perhaps the studio wanted to cut the length and so they had to find some way to explain it without the time of finishing the plot.