Dec 21, 2008

Office Politics ... Get Me Out of Here!

IT TOOK five months to crystallise my hatred for office politics. When I started work, it was something of a novelty, something to get used to along with the rest of the new job. Now, it's something that slows down work, makes it less efficient, and throws up occasional nasty surprises to be dealt with.

Playing the game is sometimes fun, of course. You can have a laugh about the antics people get up to. It helps if a colleague is sympathetic and sees things the way you do.

I wouldn't say the experience is worthless. It's forcing me to discover what kind of job environment I'd like to work in. When I'm faced with a job task or problem, I don't just like to solve it--I like to solve the general class of problems in that category, and discover and handle the root cause(s). I like to tackle a problem from the ground up, and if necessary, design a new workflow to handle it.

Unfortunately, I can only do that for the relatively trivial tasks which are given to me to do in whatever way I want. For more well-established tasks and duties, things which have been set in their ways for many years, all I can do is follow along doing exactly as I've been instructed--and maybe supplement it with a little more to make things easier in the long run. But in the short run, that always adds up to more work. It's almost not worth it.

I was never into Dilbert much before, but I did know what PHB stood for (Pointy-Haired Boss). After having experienced it for myself, I actually have it like a morning dose of coffee, and I have some consolation that, I'm not the only guy in the world who has to put up with a PHB.

Dec 7, 2008

Stupid Windows Mistake #1

I MADE my first stupid Windows mistake since buying a brand-spanking new laptop a few months ago. It's been running like a dream so far. But a few days ago I tried to download a movie on Bittorrent, and when it was almost done the video file refused to play--even on VLC--unless I went to a special website, downloaded a codec and installed it. Well, I fell for it. But even after installing the codec, the file wouldn't play. I took the bait and caught it hook, line and sinker.

Uninstalled the codec after that, but the damage was done. Past few days, some spyware has been randomly popping up Internet Explorer windows every few minutes, and a resource-hogging Internet Explorer process has been running in the background, restarting itself every time I stopped it. The dud antivirus program Windows Live OneCare failed to find anything, so I got AnVir, which was being given away for free just yesterday apparently. AnVir found some possibly-risky programs in the system, so I got it to rub them out. Then I got rid of AnVir--despite these annoyances, I still don't like having any more programs installed than I have to.

The problem didn't go away. I then installed Spybot Search & Destroy--given rave reviews by PC World--and it found and removed a bunch of tracking cookies. No actual software on my hard drive as far as I could see. Got rid of S&D too.

The problem still didn't go away. By today I was sick of lame-duck software and tried a different approach. Since it was Internet Explorer that was being continually started up at some random ad sites, I decided to get my firewall to block Internet Explorer.

The firewall in question is the slightly enhanced--and more or less easy to use--one that comes with Windows Live OneCare. I'm on a trial version of OneCare that'll run out in about a couple of months, so I'll have to get another firewall up and running then. But for now, this simple block is doing the job perfectly. After I killed off the last couple of Internet Explorer processes that were running, they didn't respawn any more. I guess maybe OneCare isn't so lame after all.