Surviving the work day

In which I work to live and not live to work.

I hate having to work for a living, not the current job I am in per se, just the actual institution of having to get up in the morning and go and sit somewhere else that isn’t home. I understand that I need to to pay for things like bacon and electricity to cook the bacon that I’ve bought, it just seems so unnatural that you need to pay for things that have no real tangible value other than that bestowed upon it by others.

It’s sad that I have to spend 35 hours behind a computer screen to earn pieces of paper and metal that can be exchanged in return for goods and services. The issue isn’t that I’m VDU bound, but more to do with the fact that I have to labour to provide others with more wealth and benefits than I put in myself.
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How to be a data analyst

In which I try to lift he fog of war on numbers and reveal it all to be a feint.

As a data analyst I have often believed that it is more important to look right rather than be right. Accuracy will always lose to style; it seems to be the way of the world. I have been told by previous managers that “these numbers don’t feel right” and “could I go and check them”. Later after changing nothing but the colour scheme and some borders the figures all of a sudden feel better.

Double Decker buses are also a standard unit
Double Decker buses are also a standard unit

It’s like evidence depends purely on the appearance of the information, this is why we live in a world where infographics seem to be the fad du jour. Losing a percentage of the rainforest each day can only be measured in Wales (a standard unit of measurement, much like Double Decker buses for length or Eiffel towers for height) rather than hectares.

I once ‘wowed’ a manager by placing a button on a spreadsheet that allowed him to print it off. The fact I had placed it directly below the print button in the toolbar (and it simply was a macro that replayed a press of that button) was beside the point. It was a button that printed.

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Good desk or bad desk

In which a tidy desk is a tidy mind.

The big office move has gone off without a hitch and despite losing a window, natural light and air-con there is one thing good to come from it. I now have a straight edged desk.

You see curved desks are stupid, and if you disagree you are wrong. As wrong as a desk that does not fit under quadrilateral in a shape test, as wrong as the waste of desk area generated by the pointless cut out shape of a pleasantly bending surface with which to work on. For centuries we have worked at desks that have consisted of nothing but for straight sides and do you know what was built?

The Pyramids
The Great Wall of China
The modern world

Even though we now have the modern technology is vastly superior to that of the 1960’s we have yet to go back to the Moon, and why? Curved desks.

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The great data swindle

In which plenty of mistakes are made with bad data.

I made a comment today that with the computing power in my scientific calculator we were able to send men to the moon and back, yet the computers at work often fall over because too many people are using them. In response someone mentioned that for a misplaced full stop a space shuttle crashed and that it is just human error. Perhaps this is the problem; the world has got too complicated. There is just too much data.

The BBC ran a good article yesterday about data overload and I think that it’s pretty insightful, we have more and more information at our fingertips than ever before in human history but is it just too much noise?

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Taking a leap of faith

In which taking a leap is the best way to live life (unless you are a funambulist).

I’m on my way to work, the thirteenth different job I’ve had in fifteen years. I got to the station from my third different house in my fifth different car. For some this would show how flighty I am and constantly changing, but more me it shows the importance of sensing opportunities and taking a leap of faith.

All of these changes were made very quickly, a possibility for an improvement to my life arose and I went out and grabbed it. There have been some stumbles along the way (as two three-month jobs would suggest) but the important factor has always been when I had a chance to ‘go for it’ I did.

I’ve been accused of being able to fall in a pile of excrement and coming out smelling of roses. It implies that I am lucky in whatever I do and i take offense at that. Getting a new job is not lucky, I have had to prove myself numerous times and, because I lack a degree qualification, convince someone to hire me.

All the key points in my work career were because I saw a gap and went for it. I could have been happy to not record my performance on a spreadsheet and never started on the analytics path. I could have worried I would never make a manager and not applied to be a team leader. Before I did marketing I had never marketed so why would I think I could go in that direction?
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Parenting is not a career option

In which I complain about the working hours but the boss don’t care.

One of my greatest frustrations with parenthood is how I’m told what a great job it is. You know what is a great job? International Cricketer or President of the Bacon Tasting Society. Parenting as a job kind of sucks.

Firstly, and most importantly, the pay is terrible. It is below minimum wage, in fact an internship is a better deal, and the holiday and sick leave is non-existant. Even rewarding vocations like teaching and nursing pay more and have less stress.

Being a parent means that you are on call all the time and the customers are real hard asses. It is nigh on impossible to make them happy. Any service you provide is too late and wrong, but you will not be told what is wrong you just have to decipher the blow up in front of your face.

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The kind of people who use Excel

In which Index Match is like sugar.

Part of my job involves having to make something from lots of things. To do this I am not given the best equipment in the world, instead I am given the cheapest.

Time and time again I fret over the resources I am provided with but I always have to learn to deal with the lemons I am given. I may be given an hour to produce a report from hundreds of thousands of rows of data, but I am also given Excel. It may be a grid of empty spaces but it also my canvas.

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Excel is not that exciting

In which I am excited by no longer being bored at work

I’m just a couple of days into my new job and I’m still loving it. It would be a little awkward if I wasn’t as jobs are not a dime a dozen. I’m still in the honeymoon phase where everything is new and different and, as a result, exciting.

I’m now in the world of contracting which means I may now only spend a few months at a company before moving on. As well as the financial recompense this may be perfect for me because what can bore me is becoming stuck in the same role, I want to develop and learn new skills and not just do the same thing every day.

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Teach yourself

In which I learn the lesson that I need to learn my own lessons.

The induction process of any new job is tedious and dull, you sit around listening to others telling you what your job really is (as opposed to the one advertised) and get handed a pile of documents that hopefully tell you how to do it.

This is normally supplemented by hours upon hours of sitting next to someone and watching them go slowly through these documents and explain complicated concepts such as copy and paste and using the long way to save a file. You have to sit there while you scream use Ctrl+S and please learn the Alt+ESV method of pasting values. If only this style of learning wasn’t the form of education that riles me.

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No I in team

In which I have to learn to play nice with the other kids.

Teamwork, collaboration, playing nicely with others. In my new job these are all traits I’m starting to realise I don’t have. I like being thrown in at the deep end and left to fend for myself, I want to achieve through discovery and tenacity not through training and picking up an existing process.

This has come to light from my new job, mostly I have always been the analyst on a team of marketeers so had lots of control of how I presented the data and a lot of freedom to go and explore. Now I have joined a team of like-minded souls I have gone from big fish to little fish.

Like most things you don’t realise what you had until someone comes along and puts up a parking lot. It’s as simple as being allowed to have control over the colour of the bars on the charts I use. Now I have to negotiate and compromise to create a unified team style, but the style we are choosing sucks.

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