Technology, politics, life

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Good wireless headphones may never exist

I love good headphones but I don’t love the wire. I want good wireless headphones.

I have been seduced by the idea of not having dangling cables between me and what I’m listening to. That’s a shame because the copper wire in headphone cables is pretty good at transmitting audio. It’s reliable, reproduces the original audio almost perfectly and requires negligible power to operate.

When I say I want good wireless headphones I’m really saying I want wired headphones with the cable replaced by some magical feature that makes the space between my headphones and the audio source transmit audio like a wire no matter where I am.

That’s why I’ll never have good wireless headphones.

Let’s assume Bluetooth wireless headphones are the current state of the art and look at two of the main obstacles.

Firstly, even if your headphones are right next to your laptop they can’t be guaranteed to work. Bluetooth uses a range of the radio spectrum that is shared with all kinds of other things. WiFi routers and cordless telephones are usually well-behaved occupants of this part of the spectrum but they can introduce errors, or otherwise reduce the bandwidth available to send full quality audio. Bluetooth is also susceptible to radio interference that is generated by misbehaving household appliances like microwave ovens.

You could argue that mobile 3G and 4G wireless encounter many of the same obstacles yet work admirably for audio. Unlike Bluetooth’s 2.4GHz bazaar, mobile network spectrum is reserved almost entirely for mobile radio and it’s policed to provide reliability and safety. Also, one end of the wireless mobile phone connection is almost always fixed in well-surveyed space.

The second issue is physical impediments. Humans are mobile bags of meat and fluid that absorb and distort Bluetooth wireless. Even when Bluetooth gets through a human it may then have to traverse walls, cars, trees, handbags, tinfoil hats, backpacks or a universe of other obstacles.

And it has to navigate them perfectly or it is not a good wireless headphone.

Brainsnorkel back from the dead

Last week my very old hosting service was hacked to serve ads and partially deny administrative access.

Everything important was backed up so I was able to restore everything quickly. Score one for having regular backups that you don’t have to think about. Shout out to backing up to DropBox and OneDrive regularly.

This site took a little longer because I had been neglecting it for a while and had none of this new-fangled easy and reliable backup software. I had an old posts  backup, so what you’re seeing is a hand-restored

There is Unicode conversion weirdness and missing links, but it’s back. I’m not going to bother about restoring the old pages unless there is rioting in the streets.

Do you want to resume this resume?

My employer for the last 18 years is waving farewell to me in April. This may explain my sudden uptick in blog posting frequency. My employer is giving me a soft landing with four months notice and a termination package. Part of my package is access to Career Transition Support consultants. I have decided to look past their euphamistic service description and talk to them about me.

I have been asked to bring along my resume for assessment.

This presents a problem. My resume has not been edited or added to for nearly 15 years. I’d like to think that my reputation alone would get me any job I would apply for, but I know that’s not true. It is time to build a new resume from scratch.

I have reviewed hundreds of resumes in the past decade. I think I know what a good one looks like, but I also know I have been focussed on the content and not the form of the documents. Rather than deconstruct and reproduce the traditional form I thought I would articulate some of the requirements I have for my own resume.

  • I am the first page of my resume. My first page should mention all of my best attibutes and my starring roles because most people don’t read to page two if they’re not hooked on you by the first page, and the first page is the page that spends the most in front of your prospective employer as it sits on the desk between you in an interview, or on the screen of someone assessing multiple candidates.
  • The front page should state who I am, what I am looking for, and what I am good at. That way my time is not wasted interviewing for a position I don’t want.
  • Anything I did more than five years ago should be summarised to points that could assist me in my future career. This is because my memory of the fine detail of events five years ago is unlikely to impress an interviewer.
    Make sure the whole document is short and easy to read. Because no matter who you are if it takes more than four or five pages to explain what you are good at then I’m not hiring you.
  • Once I have built my resume, how will I know it is acceptable before I release it into the wild?

Get someone I trust, who does not fear offending me, to read and criticise it. Because I can not tell when I have left out necessary detail, used corporate vernacular when plain English would do, or left out some significant gem of experience.
Thankfully Ms J is expert in all of these things and has promised to be merciless.

I still have areas of uncertainty. For instance, I don’t know if I should specify the positions I am looking for. I don’t want to limit my options. Being too prescriptive could eliminate me from consideration for fascinating jobs with hard to write job descriptions. Being too vague about my objectives makes employers unsure if I really want a position. Maybe I won’t be considered for a good position that I don’t mention by the correct keyword.

I guess that’s what a “Career Transition Support” consultant can help me with.

Yet another Röyksopp video

There is so much to love about this music video.

Q: What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?

Really, I’ve never had a *bad* job. There have been bad parts to all of my jobs, but I think I’ll focus on my history of menial work instead of the time I worked for gambling, alcoholic, habitual absentees.

In my youth I was designated child responsible for the chopping and carrying of wood. This was an important role because our house had wood-fire-powered everything. I’m sure that if they were still sold in commercial quantities we would have owned a wood-powered car. We had slow combustion heaters and a slow combustion stove that acted in the role of oven, stove and cameoed as our sole source of hot water. There’s nothing that motivates you to get out of the house more than a 35 degree (celcius) day when the stove has to be stoked up for a couple of hours so that we could have hot showers that night.

However, It was the cold days that hurt most. Snow, frost, sleet, rain – when we ran out of wood it was my duty to chop, carry and stack.

Within six months of leaving home for university mum and dad ripped out all of the wood-powered stuff and bought gas-powered replacements. Whenever this comes up in conversation I smile pleasantly and move on.

I was also security guy at a local Fosseys store during high school. That was good for the kind of money I needed to fund my motor scooter and C64 game habits, but a little mind numbing. My usual duties were to tidy stuff up, count things as they were delivered and compare the numbers to mysterious printed reports, give customers directions to stuff and look busy. After failing to look busy enough a couple of times I was given a badge that said “Security” and stood out the front of the store to smile pleasantly and look inside bags. No touching of people or bags was permitted. Security work was a delicate matter.

At the other end of the scale is the *best menial job I evah had*. During university I got a job at a large Sydney law firm as a … wait for it … fax operator. That’s right.

My job was to:

  1. Work out who incoming faxes were for. Clip all of the pages together. Phone the intended recipient’s assistant and ask them if they wanted someone (else) to deliver it, or if I should just place it into their pigeon hole for later delivery by the mail room
  2. Receive sheafs of documents from the firm’s solicitors with notes on who to send them to. Either dial the fax numbers on the note, or look them up in the pile of international fax directories provided
  3. Examine the 15th storey, 200 degree unobstructed view of Sydney harbour
  4. Replace toner and call the manufacturer if any of the six fax machines broke

Sure that sounds hard, but the machinery provided to me was more than capable. These were top of the line for 1987-1988. The Rolls Royce, the Alan Bond, the Christopher Skase of fax technology. My babies had touchtone dial, comprehensive error reporting and job logging, big trays, 9600 baud, huge toner reserves and racing stripes. Sure the photocopier guy next door had bigger gear than me, but I was wired to a world of communication he couldn’t hope to understand. He had all that Gutenberg could offer while I had the lovechild of Gutenberg, Marconi and Samuel Morse at my beck and call.

The most challenging part of the job was figuring out when you had been given a telephone instead of a fax number and interpreting international ring tones (what were the French thinking?). Perhaps that’s where my interest in telecommunications comes from?

My employers didn’t care much whether I looked busy or not, so long as I smiled pleasantly and faxes were fax-operated upon competently. This was fortunate because I started a few days before Christmas, and a few days after Christmas the courts shut down and 99% of the solicitors in the office were suddenly on vacation. This left me with just about nothing to do. Often I was so busy I was only able to read one novel a day.

Eventually the pace picked up again. Sadly I had to hand my stable of 6 fax machines over to an apprentice and return to university.

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