Saturday, September 13, 2008

Seeing 5 Years Ahead

Sometimes I wonder why do people ask this perennial question during job interviews, "What do you see yourself doing in 5 years time?"

If someone were to ask that to all the CEO's and company presidents that I've worked for in my life, their answers would probably be wrong. Almost all of them have closed down, downsized, restrategized, or refocused their direction.

Nobody really knows in 5 years where they will be or what they will be doing. The best that anyone can come up with a plan for is 2 years.

So what can we do about it? The only thing is about being a better person and doing the best that we can do each moment.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Nokia Music Store: Fail

I've just recently renewed my mobile phone subscription plan and get a Nokia N78.

It came along with free $20 of downloads from their online music store for you to get started on.

"Hey, great" I thought to myself, I'll get to download music legally and find the tracks I want. iTunes and Amazon only allow downloads in the USA.

Now that's about as great as my experience felt.

First, their music store only allows IE users. Nope, not Firefox users, or Google Chrome. Only Internet Explorer.

Fine, I choose a track, "Way Back Into Love" from the movie "Music & Lyrics" and whadya you know. That single isn't downloadable. You have to download the entire album. (Even worse, I couldn't find the track the first few searches. It returned nothing.)

Okay, how about something else. I tried "Mandy" by Barry Manilow. An oldie should be easier. Then I try downloading it, and then... IE crashes on Vista. Okay, so it's probably a problem with Vista. Fortunately my credit balance is still intact.

I can't download the track without installing a one-time plugin. But it's about 7-8Mb. (I can't remember). Fortunately, I have broadband.

After downloading, it's stored in my music folder. But... my default player, Windows Media Player can't play it! It needs a license.

You can however play it within Internet Explorer plugin. The plugin then downloads the license and I can play it now. And my windows media player can play it as well now.

How about transferring to my mobile? Dragging the file to my mobile fails as it says that my rights are restricted. Oooookay. I start up Nokia Music Manager to transfer the file.

But the Nokia Music Manager has a really crummy interface. I set it to search my hard disk for songs. I've got like 3300+ tracks. Now to look for Barry Manilow. There's no autosearch function! I've got to scroll through my list to find the tracks I want. Yes, my entire 3000+ tracks.

I transfer it to my mobile successfully, but then... my mobile refuses to play it without a valid license. It then starts my mobile browser to have me log in to music store and acquire the license. The webpage first says that I have to pay to acquire the license again. But it's misleading, because the webpage hasn't finished downloading yet. If I was impatient, I would have closed the browser. Moments later, the login form appears, I log in and the license is acquired.

In summary, I understand the reason for acquiring the license because music companies need to prevent piracy. But the number of steps required just puts me off. Downloading doesn't acquire the license yet. It has to be acquired on each device it's transferred to. Transferring files isn't drag and drop, it needs Nokia's Music Manager which isn't very easy to manage when you have thousands of tracks on your hard disk.
Acquiring license on your mobile also requires a data connection. If your data plan doesn't have some free traffic or your mobile doesn't have WLAN you'll be charged

All that hassle for a $2 track? I would have preferred $1.50. At $2 I am slightly more tempted to use filesharing or just buying the CD and ripping it. In the USA it's 0.99 per track. That's about $1.45 converted to SGD.

Games People Play

In transactional analysis, I realize that a lot of times people are reliving their programmed scripts in their lives all over again.

It's kinda like Groundhog day but their lives are repeated day in and day out, going through the same old grind.

Without knowing it, people are just following an accepted script that they believe rules their lives. "I'm a loser", "I'll never win", "People can't be trusted", "People are stupid", "The only way to win in life is to watch out for number one", "White people are against the black."

In a dreamlike state, they seldom question the reason why they are doing the things that they are doing and the same patterns are repeated each day.

The same series of behaviour repeats itself between parent and child, or husband and wife, abuser and abusee or seducer and seducee. It almost seems as if these people are programmed to seek out other people who are willing to play the game with them.

In a way, it sort of confirms that people are playing a role, they aren't being themselves. Like a giant drama played out on the world stage, they live unexamined lives, with that nagging feeling that life is something bigger. Wearing a mask, a persona that they show to their colleagues, their spouses, their family; human society is one where one rarely sees the the true faces behind the facades that they wear. People are afraid to show their faces until they have almost forgotten what they look like.

When will we ever have faces to show? When will our masks come off?

Companies don't look for a person, they also look for someone who fits a role; an actor who can play a part in their production. So it isn't just his qualifications that matter, it's also his look, his demeanour. "Does he look like he can play the part?", they ask in their hearts. In Japanese companies, you are expected to stay late. That is the role that you are expected to play. Never mind if you spend the day goofing off, as long as you stay late. Non-conformists are penalized because they are not playing the role implicitly assigned to them.

The theme of the Matrix movies is that a majority people are living their lives in an artificial world, never questioning, never wondering what and why they are doing in this world.

Are we caught in a daze? A groundhog day? A computer simulation? A dreary existence? Are we able to unplug ourselves from the Matrix? To stop the cycle of Groundhog days? To tear off the masks that we wear and to live truly real and authentic lives devoid of game playing?

Monday, September 08, 2008

Conflict Resolution, DHL Service Level

My pastor today remarked that conflict should be resolved as soon as possible, even if you are in the midst of worship, before the sun goes down.

That struck me. How often do we actually resolve conflict as soon as possible?

Usually any offenses we endure or inflict are kept, held in the hearts only to be unleashed on the proper day. In transactional analysis, experts call this Stamp Collecting. Much like coffee house patrons can sometimes keep cards on which a stamp is given for every cup of coffee drunk and then redeemed when enough stamps are collected.

They call this collecting red stamps.

Instead of collecting stamps, conflicts should be resolved by the end of the working day. However, it is much more crucial to resolve these things that almost any important activity should be dropped. This reminds me of a famous actor who played the lead role in Phantom of the Opera. His door was always open and he always told anyone who he had a conflict with to see him in his dressing room to resolve things immediately.

However, the worldly culture is to let things go. It may even be glossed over spiritually like, using "forgiveness" and the like. But then these things bite back. Hurts are remembered even 20 years ago. "Remember back in 1957 you did..." In the corporate environment, a passive boss may bite back at his subordinates during his yearly evaluation.

Conflict should be resolved, same day. Just like DHL promises same day delivery.