This, exactly this...
virtual meetings have bloated into endless gob-churning, lard-arsed fartery. They are now longer than real-life meetings.
Productivity is plummeting because all we do nowadays is have bloody meetings :(
"Do you know who I am?" As if that line’s going to work. Too pompous. I might try: "May I remind you that I am a paying customer?" (One among millions, that is.) Or possibly that most devastating of customer complaints, "I pay for a service and I expect it!" immediately followed by the throat-clearing Yoda-style affirmation " …
…and certain fuckwits think that because they don’t have lives outside work the rest of us don’t, so send out meeting invites for stupid times when I’m either still in bed or long since knocked off for the day. WFH is a change for good for a lot of people, but my working hours aren’t changing because you’ve got nothing better to do at 7-30am or 5-30pm.
I'm usually pretty good at trotting out the line "Am I needed in this meeting? Because while I'm sitting there for 2 hours, I could be working on the super-important project that you want done."
I still managed to get stung, somehow. Said chain of meetings (that I was included in at the start) began by scoping out the project, and I began work while they argued over where to put a button and how big the text on it should be. When I finally took a look at the end design, I found out that a small-scope project had ballooned into a six-month project, but my deadlines hadn't changed from the initially-agreed few weeks. Too many non-technical people had been involved and had decided, by committee, that the software equivalent of launching a rocket into orbit could be done by one and a half men in a few weeks.
The bloat, gob-churning and lard-arsed fartery has begun leaking out of these meetings...
That's always the one justification to actually attending the meetings, especially if you're the one who's going to have to implement it. Just to inject an occasional dose of reality as to what's actually possible in the given timescales and resources (human and otherwise).
Often lately this does seem to come close to requiring the use of the clue-bat towards various sales and management drones (usually with the word "executive" somewhere in their job titles - translation "I don't do anything constructive personally but make work for everyone else") whose sole roles seem to be making promises for others to keep, and generating problems and laying landmines along the way just to keep things interesting.
The "friendly fire" of such from those supposed to be on your side (or at least your colleagues) is usually worse than the flack that customers can throw, especially when most of the latter is also triggered by the former.
This isn't a new complaint.
There's even a professional body we can join... the Institute of Meetings Engineers (which I first heard of in the 1970s) whose motto is "Circuitus Verborum"*
The first Google (or Bing) hit on the term lead to a nice description of the Institute and it's membership levels. I, myself, am an A.M.I.Meet.E. (I do not Chair enough meetings to qualify for full Member status).
*loosely translates as a circumlocution
Had a nice short meeting today. Maybe too short. At least I hope they really do the f'n work now!
When I started the job 1BC (bevore CoViD), I simply went there in person and made sure they gave me enough information and started doing their f'n work they are f'n paid for....
Sadly though, not always true after the Fisher Price trained UX intern scrawled their coloured pencils all over the bloody UI again and the app has been updatded this morning in the name of improving the user experience.
But yes, theres always the same senior exec who is *always* on mute when they start their droning, 'oops, sorry, snigger, i'll get the hang of this one day'.
*glares at teams*
Even more fun when you've got a mac (yes, yes it's a work machine and so it's not my money... Also saves on sending me this week's latest iThing). The touch bar has a useful feature of putting the mute button on said touch bar.
Which then powers down because you've not moved the mouse/track pad/keyboard in a couple of minutes or worse you try to work on something else and it context switches to that app. Then you panic, try to find your way back onto the app and press the button once it returns....
Which then inevitably requires at least 3 jabs before it notices what you're trying unmute.
Coming off mute sometimes takes time when you're trying to not focus on whatever meeting you're trying to feign interest in.
Zoom at least has the feature where you can just focus on the app, jab the space bar to comment and then release it to return to mute.
That's what eventually turned me off Facebook (circa 2005 or so). I didn't log in all that frequently, and every time I did they'd dicked about with the UI again and I had to re-learn the damn thing. Until one day I just didn't.
Seeing what the company's done over the years, perhaps I should be thanking their UI designers.
I was on LinkedIn until recently. I got a new job, I tried to update my profile to reflect the fact, as you do. It utterly failed to accept either the silly modern job title I have or the sensible old style on everyone thinks of my role as.
The suggestions were not even close, not even in ballpark.
So I thought if you cannot let me be myself on your platform what is the fucking point? So I no longer have a LI profile and told them so and why on twitter. They don’t care.
Day after I was told I had this job guy via LI tried to recruit me. I’m perfect for that job too, utterly different, but it was in Wales and I don’t want to move and I cannot do it remotely though I’m not sure why not
I’ll be in this job until I retire now, that kind of role. Unless I go do the same thing back in NZ after a few years experience.
Even an overdose of psilocybins and several bottles of Blue Nun would not enable me to listen to that stuff all the way through, Black Sabbath or similar would have been blowing my speakers in those days.
Thank god I am retired and have no need to zoom at any time other than when on my Suzuki.
There were two 45 second sections I liked,
the 45 seconds before the track began and the 45 seconds after it finished, the bit in between spoilt it for me.
FWIW, my dad thought I must have been dropped on my head as a baby at the hospital and it damaged my ability to recognise music.
To be completely fair, that's probably absolutely the worst example of Aphrodite's Child music you could get.
Listen to this, this, and this.
They were actually quite good, considering the time period they covered. But being prog (which I like)... well, sometimes the pretentiousness got a bit too much.
Anyway, I'm more interested in why Mr Dabbs was listening to that particular one.
I know what you mean - I have the same problem with Rod Stewart's voice! And always have.
Musically, that period had some great stuff - this is the Ramases one you referred to.
Gotta love one of the comments underneath that! I quote:
"I remember dropping really really good acid and listening to this. At some point during the album, we would hold the spread out cover in front of a light. The inside showed them waving goodbye to the spaceship taking off out of the old church!"
Now does that sum up the early 70s prog scene, or what?
It used to be a quick status check, but lately they seem to meander quite a bit and last longer than needed. I always start with my mic on MUTE, I'm sure my colleagues appreciate not hearing the boy getting ready for school.
As far as productivity plummeting, some people now use being in 'any' meet as the justification of being busy. I walked into an office, the zoom seemed all business, then, when the user saw it was me, they started chatting about the weekend again...
That's why I choose to route my webcam through free streaming software "OBS Studio" when on interweb meetings.
Or hang a cut-out photo of your face in front of your face while you have a snooze. Hey, it worked for a deceased Bruce Lee and nobody can spot the join.
"Do you know who I am?" ... Yes, they reply, because you gave your customer number when dialling in
My experience differs. The automated answering system asks you to enter your account number, so you take the phone away from your ear, put it on speaker, get the keypad back, and laboriously enter a 30-digit number.
But when you're eventually connected, they ask for your account number again (plus DOB, home address, mother's maiden name - all those things nobody but you could possibly know).
So we have to tell them they’re on mute and then wait while they work out for the seven billionth time where the same old un-fucking-mute button is (hint: the same place it was yesterday, and the day before that, ad infinitum)
This is not true, at least on Teams. I think it must have changed places at least three times in the last year. And they still haven't cottoned on to space bar for mute.
And to improve things they've fucked up screen sharing in one of the latest updates, you press the screen sharing icon in the notification at the bottom right and instead of sharing the screen it brings the meeting window to the top and leaves you to find the screen sharing button in the meeting window.
Nobody can fucking design a UI these days, they've all been lobotomised. Rant over.
Agreed on the mute button moving. Plus, mute is one place on Teams, another place in Skype, somewhere else in Zoom, and who knows where in Google meets. One or more of those let's you use your spacebar to temporarily unmute. Or, if I'm in a conference room, I'll dial in using the nice batphone instead of the tinny little speaker and microphone in my laptop, then we need to look at the phone for a mute cue. Added hilarity if multiple people are in the room and one has control over the button.
Final wrinkle is the Crestron room videoconferencing system. That has a tablet with nice controls for the camera and call settings. Mute is actually a physical button that looks like a power button.
Zoom is really good about reminding me that I'm on mute when I cough during a call. If I'm actually talking on mute I'm usually focused on another screen or on a notebook, so I don't see it.
This is not true, at least on Teams. I think it must have changed places at least three times in the last year. And they still haven't cottoned on to space bar for mute.
My main complaint with Teams is that you can't maximise a desktop that someone is sharing with you. You can't even remove the icons of the participants as far as I know. All of us have the same screen size so it's now more difficult to read the shared screen because it's always significantly scaled down.
Been that way for nearly a year now.
"i don't understand why they will need extra 3 months to build the Full Screen Feature that is already in the current version? Before removing the feature that is commonly used, why not look at the status of the usage or ask the users? Microsoft has a habit of releasing Beta versions that's really not ready.."
Pet peeves about Teams (at least on MacOS):
1. The pop up notification for messages in the chat of a meeting appear over the LEAVE button, preventing one from clicking it because every fucker in the room types "Great meeting! Bye!" as they go.
2. If you change to another Teams window, say a private chat one, during a Teams Live event, the Live window shrinks to a pop over and you can then ONLY go back to full screen, not resume the windowed version.
3. The already elaborated upon screen sharing one. And if you DO manage to get it to work, videos and animations don't work on the Mac unless you share the screen instead of the application window, which ALWAYS throws a guest lecturer.
4. Everything else. It's a terrible UI, it's unintuitive, clumsy, invasive... just very unpleasant indeed. Like driving an early model of the Smart Car - it would get you from A to B alright, but it leaves you wishing you'd taken the bus instead.
No. Zoom does muck about with the UI, certainly: the ‘Raise a hand’ button tends to play hide-and-seek with users at every update, for example. But the Mute/Unmute button is in the same place it has always been, with the same icon it has always had, using the same keyboard shortcut as ever.
The problem isn’t that nobody seems to be able to build a useful UI. The problem is the fact that too many people think they can build a UI, whats worse, is they think the UI should be refreshed ever 2 months with an invitation to come use the latest turd turf
Did I just describe O365?
I think I understand the sequence of events
1. New manager type bellend with massive ego starts a new job
2 Bellend want to make their mark, like an animal pissing on a tree
3. Bellend instructs their newly found minion slaves to build a new UI fit for a god (obviously they’re referring to themselves)
Very good joke about helpline wait times. The track comes from the album "666" by Aphrodite's Child, which is an almost unbelievable prog rock double concept album based on the Book of Revelations, featuring Vangelis and Demis Roussos. Yep, really.
Agree that it's an immortal album - and as mad as a box of frogs - but for me the best bit is "Aegean Sea".
Only a week or two I posted a link to it to a football forum, where a review of a game had said that our defence had "parted like the Aegean Sea". In correcting it - y'all know which sea it should've been ;) - I posted a link to "Aegean Sea", because the author is even older than me and often posts links to music from way back then.
That way when my Internet is down the end of the line drone cannot catch me off by telling me it's back up since I'm phoning through it.
And as an added level of naughtyness that way I can create complaint through the website when my phone line is down so that they fix it up.
( oh and as a side note, $TELCO has to fix the phone line ( old PSTN ) within 48 hours or there's penalties involved while $ISP ( which is also $TELCO ) only has to prove it tried to fix the DSL line but couldn't do it in a decent time [ and has left you hanging for weeks without Internet... Usually fixing the PSTN line means that the DSL link gets fixed too... )
I'm on a fibre connection but when installed the wire was in two parts. Turns out they replaced my telephone line with a fibre/telephone line paired cable. So if I lose Internets I know I should still be able to use the phone line.
This is also helpful for my house alarm since it gets quite unhappy without a dial tone.
On the flip, with a decent fibre package from a certain privatised national provider, you can get a 4g router as a backup anyway which works better than expected considering victorian red brick houses and NIMBYS combine to give poor phone signal.
"I pay for a service and I expect it!"
I always love the customers who say this. Yes indeed you do, but are you aware what you actually pay for? Customers are often surprised that their contract stipulates a 48 hour fix SLA.
"You can bring that down to only 8 hours, but that would involve upgrading your care package to premium, which would involve a one off fee."
"8 hours!!! But I have a zoom call in five minutes!"
I just love customer expectations.
But it's always, awalys, always the CP's fault:
"This connection has been down for over an hour and nobody has done anything to fix it!"
"But you're only just reporting it and diagnostic tests are showing that the router is powered off."
"Are you saying I've switched my router off?!!?!"
"No madam I'm saying the router is not powered on. Can you check cables connected to the router it could just be a loose connection."
"I can't really check at the moment. It's in the cupboard under the stairs and it's dark in there."
"Well we can send out an engineer to check the router, but there would be a charge if there is no fault with the router."
"OK. Well I don't want that. Would it be OK if I call back later?"
"Of course madam, if you want to schedule a time we can call you back."
"But I'm not sure when this power cut will finish."
Some fair points there, but we're not all lusers. The ISPs are just as full of shit.
- Wait 5 minutes to see if it fixes itself. If not, don't expect the ISP to notice a problem.
- Try other devices (wired & wireless), check router diagnostics, reboot router.
- Check the ISPs status page from my phone. Nope, no known problems.
(Oddly, one weekend the ISP was upgrading the network across Greater Manchester, which affected me. The next weekend I had a similar outage during network upgrades in London - apparently my house had moved?)
- Phone the ISP, wait through the lie that COVID is affecting their ability to use technology (which replaces the worn-out "unusually busy at this time" lie) and the suggestion to use their unreachable website.
- Eventually get a human being - well, someone who can read a script - and repeat the tests I've already done.
- Get to the point in the script where I can ask them to test the line. Quite often this "test" will magically fix the connection and they can deny there ever being a problem.
- After some badgering and waiting on hold for them to check, they may admit there's a fault in the area. No ETA for a resolution. The status website will never get updated.
- Otherwise, I have to agree to an Openreach engineer being sent out, with dire warnings if the problem is past the demarc. In fact, the engineer never even knocks on my door, but the connection starts working around the time they are due, and they probably deny there was ever a problem.
- No-one offers an engineer to check the router. They may offer to ship a replacement, hoping that someone else has fixed the real problem by the time it arrives.
48 hour fix SLA? Understandable it it's just one connection. But if it's affecting many connections, 48 hours is a stupid SLA
"- Phone the ISP, wait through the lie that COVID is affecting their ability to use technology (which replaces the worn-out "unusually busy at this time" lie) and the suggestion to use their unreachable website."
If the call centre is in India, then yes, COVID may well be affecting their response times at the moment.
The world is unsurprised by this
They can’t even build toilets, apparently they don’t want them, they’re happy to just ‘shit into the open ground’
I have to wonder, is it the advancement of technology what defines us separate from the animals?
Or is it the ubiquity?
If the latter, then we’re as evolved as the lowest denomination.
Recently had an issue with BT where my upload speed would happily drop to zero for a time. BT's initial response? They insisted upload problems were always caused by a problem in the home and "We don't guarantee upload speeds anyway". A very public social media rant, and two Open Reach visits later, and it's fixed. Far from being a problem in the home, it's taken two changes of the green card, in our local cabinet, to get things back to where they should be (downloads 70+/uploads 18+). Worryingly, this all happened uncomfortably early into a new contract (ending in November 22).
To say something positive I found amazing…
So my download speed went down to 150kbit per second. Still working, but really slow. I tried to call them, but my phone want working! Eventually they came to my home and found that one of the two wires to my home was cut. Ends still close together, but separate. No wonder my phone wasn’t working. But broadband still managed 150kbit per second over a broken cable! I found that massively impressive.
Don't the French adore Le Piat D'or?
(My French girlfriend at the time that advert appeared said "we 'ave never 'eard of the stuff")
I used to annoy my parents by always asking why the French were so enamoured of golden anti-tank weapons*. Apparently, after the seventeenth time, it wasn't even vaguely funny**.
** I now know that I am ASD, so it was probably never funny to anyone else.
Amongst my various personality defects (I collect them) is a strong intolerance for entitled tw*ts publicly mistreating staff for stuff they have zero control over, so when that phrase comes up I usually butt in with "Oh my God, are you OK?" and then shout out to nearby people "This person has lost their memory, does anyone know who he/she* is?".
I have found that separating staff and what they have to do works great in (a) keeping some control over variables in play (pissing off your only path to a solution tends to be less than helpful) and (b) even improve how much effort staff will put in to help. That said, amongst the aforementioned collection of defects is also an abject intolerance for staff who is just filling time until it's time to go home.
I have worked for telcos and mobile phone companies and have an engineering background, so when I call those I can be fairly specific and it sometimes takes a moment to get that through to someone-who-only-joined-last-week (read: they often have as yet zip idea about the company they work for and barely know how to use their systems), typically passing me on to second level.
As for video meetings, we use a system that sets up 50 minute conferences (default so it gives some in and out coffee/toilet break time for joined up meetings) and frames them with facilities for agendas and the usual sharing of documents, whiteboard and group chat. Coupled with a booking system this format encourages structure and efficiency and best of all, we run it ourselves so we're sure a meeting only has visible members and not an extra backdoor to Langley of Fort Meade..
* I'm an equal opportunities insulter
I had a friend who worked for BA check-in who used to call security and say 'we have a customer here who doesn't know who they are'. Oddly enough, they made her redundant after she tore up an irritating customer's ticket and said 'the railway station's over there, you're not travelling with BA any more'. Can't say I blame her.
One of the best bosses I ever had used to go to meetings instead of me, to leave me to get on with actual work. I could trust him to report back accurately on any actions that I might need to know about and fight my corner to avoid actions that were not relevant to what I was doing. Also, I suspect that the meetings didn't meander all over the place when he was there instead of me.
Unfortunately, he left, and was replaced by a normal boss. But it was great while it lasted.
a) have 1 or 2 agenda items
b) make sure the relevant parties are present and only the relevant parties
c) make sure there's actions at the end of it.
d) set a maximum time of 30 minutes, preferably 15. If it takes longer than 30, you probably need to go away, get information and have another meeting
e) do everything possible to avoid a meeting. this should come after you've exhausted email and just need to get people in a room.
f) "team meetings" are a colossal waste of time. If you need to tell people something, send an email around.
To be fair the phone and internet go through two separate places so one could be working while the other is not.
I remember one time my ISP could not work out why the internet would not work for me.
The modem got taken into their office and it would work their. We had ADSL signal at home too.
Turns out we had moved to a reseller of the old ISP and the transfer process was not done correctly. (The old ISP account was still active for email until it was canceled). So we had two ADSL accounts on the one line but only one code. When the old account was stopped it took the line code off.
"For videoconferencing, however, I don't have earphones and have frequently forgotten to pause quiet music coming from the speakers before doing so. With the earphones pressed firmly in place, I then participate in a meeting blissfully unaware of subsequent noises babbling from the far corner of the office."
Try like this: "Do you know who the fuck I am?"
My favourite moments during virtual meetings is not when people speak when they are on mute, but when people speak when they think they are on mute and aren't. It's often the most interesting part of the meeting.
... is for the local substation to go on the fritz and plunge the entire estate into the pre-electric era.
In one go, it takes out the internet, desktop machines (laptops and phones survive thanks to local batteries), room lighting, mood music ...
Yes, it's happened.