22 March 2017

Shucks, I've done it again.

I've managed to leave it six months without writing anything on here. It can get a little embarrassing, when I think about how many times I've thought 'oh, I could write a post today.'

Oh well.


Seems to make sense, with life going on, that a lot's happened in mine since I last wrote here. The biggest of these to me is that I'm no longer engaged - and not in the sense of the engagement having been fulfilled; it was cancelled. That was a very sad blow, and in a moment all the plans I had made to live and die with this one, specific person were dashed away to nothing. That was in October. A couple of weeks ago, we would have been our third anniversary. Yes, I got drunk.

Though things could be worse. We are still friends; it wasn't some argument that came between us, just a matter of personal make-up that came to light, which left incompatible in a pretty fundamental way. One has to be philosophical about it: it sucks dicks but it's just the way life goes.


2016 claimed a number of friends of mine and of my family, and two uncles. There isn't really much I can say about it though, which itself feels bad.

My uncle Robert, I knew well. He died of various metastatic cancers, and didn't really have a chance. My other uncle - my father's sister's husband - I didn't know, even though I knew about him. I guess I can excuse myself to an extent by saying 'well, they lived at the other end of the country,' but there was the phone, and Facebook, and even I could have thought about writing a letter now and then.

The thing with it all is that I'm spending all too much time contemplating my own mortality these days, and that's not a good mental position to be in. Too preoccupied with death to live? Bad idea. So I've been watching Andromeda and Xena and reminding myself that life is for the living.


I've still been writing plenty, and have even managed to bring some projects to their conclusion:


I swore to myself, like a million years ago or something, that I'd take part in NaNoWriMo. Every year I wanted to, every year I silently wimped out at the last moment. Welp, it just happens that NaNoWriMo is November, which comes right after October, at the end of which this break-up I mentioned before happened. Oh yeah, I needed the distraction.

So I actually did NaNoWriMo. Fucking nailed it.

Not that I think the novel I wrote for it ("The Child Factory") is all that good, but I posted it on Facebook as I was writing it, and one or two people seemed to enjoy it. I might polish it up and publish it properly, but I'm not completely sure how much I want to.


I also finished the second part of The Force of the Gods, and have published it now - as an eBook, paperback, and an audiobook (see below). It follows on from Journeyman, picking up six months later, but it's really quite different, in some ways that I'm rather proud of. As I was writing it I was thinking 'this is crap this is crap this is crap i am a fish i am a fish...' but when I got to editing it, I saw for myself how many little nuances of weirdness there were in the story that made it something that, now, I'm quite proud of.

If I can say that about my own work.

I've also started work on the third (and final) part of The Force of the Gods, which will bring it round into being a complete novel. Hopefully 2017 will by much kinder to me than 2016 was, and won't make a four-month project take nine months.

There are a few ideas I've been having for writing projects after FotG III is done, and I'm going to try and get some more notes down on those as I'm working on other things.


A couple of my friends are badly dyslexic (and, actually, so am I), and expressed interest in reading the novels I've done so far, so I thought it would be a good idea to do an audiobook - partly for them, and partly for general release, alongside the ebook and paperback releases.

Well, it was hard work. Very hard work: as a listener, one might not realize that for every hour you hear of an audiobook, there's been maybe two hours' recording and three hours' editing. Five hours' work for every hour you hear. But I did it, and then I did it again; both parts of The Force of the Gods so far completed are out as audiobooks too, and knowing that I actually just swallowed my frustration at it and got it done makes me proud.



I've not actually been doing an awful lot of radio stuff recently, other than the odd piddling around with the cat's whisker I made or winding a couple more earpiece voice coils.

No - as a music lover and general nerd, I've been kindling my interest in... 

...Tape Decks

It started last year when I found a copy of Tubular Bells at a charity shop I volunteer at, and had nothing to play it on, and no money. After some time, I got my hands on an old Walkman, and a couple of tapes, but I really wanted something to record on.

A short time later, an ITT SL 35 Automatic portable cassette recorder (c. 1973) turned up at the charity shop, and I bought it before it went out on the shop floor. *bang* I have a cassette recorder. But it needed some repair work, and I had no service manuals and no particular idea about it except the roughest knowledge of electronics from when I was at sixth-form, and that the turny things are supposed to turn. Well, I figured it out eventually, and managed to get a replacement belt for it and get it working. And it's actually surprising how well it works, considering it's billed up as being nothing more than a dictation machine.

One afternoon, around a couple of weeks after finding this thing at the shop, the man who does PATs mains electricals handed me a vinyl case with a silvery front panel sticking out. 'Take it home,' he told me, 'or it'll just go in the bin.' I took it home and got it out. A National 401S portable open reel deck (c. 1966), with some obscure European plug on it. It was in need of some serious repair, and for a few months I was wondering if I'd be able to tackle it, but eventually I did figure it out and managed to make it work. Only problem was that it can only take reels upto four inches, and reels that small are really hard to find.

And then around November, having a little more money, I bought a Miny on eBay, for around £15. Early sixties, rim-driven, kiddies' toy, really... but a really amazing testament to how simple tape tech really is. I don't use it, really, and didn't buy it thinking I would. I just thought it would be cool to have one.

And then I decided to stop dicking around, and ordered a hi-fi deck from a house clearence on eBay. A Technics RS-263US (also about 1973) with all the bells and whistles from that time - Dolby circuit, high bias for chrome tape, memory wind, whatever. Doesn't sound like a brilliant machine when I describe it, but plugged into my hi-fi, the sound is far, far better than people give tape credit for. Now I've been using this deck for a few weeks, I've bought quite a few old tapes, and will be buying blanks whenever I see them. Never know when I might want to record something myself...

So, playing with these machines over the last... probably around a year or so, by now... has actually taught me quite a lot about how the circuitry works inside, how the transport works, everything. I wouldn't say I'm upto par with a pro, but now I can confidently say that I can just about repair a tape deck. The only problem is, of course, now, that I'm at risk of just buying decks whenever I see them...

Computery Shiz

A new version of Windows 10 came out. Yay adverts. Wotevz.

But seriously, some of what's going on in W10 is cool. Some gets on my tits, and some doesn't matter. People on the tech blogs need to chill their beans about things: I've seen them rant about phone cases, one guy even did a review of a USB car power adaptor. I mean... these people are being paid to write tech blogs, and all they can do is car power adaptors. I wouldn't, personally, pay them in washers for pulling stunts like that.

I got a new computer. A nine-year-old Sony VAIO VGC-LN1M. Picked it up really cheap, when I was looking for an HD TV to plug into my laptop when I watch films, and bugger me if it doesn't turn out to be a total top-of-the-line box from its day. All I had to do was provide a hard drive and some RAM (which I literally have a basket of spares of in my room) and fire it up, and I found it to be so high-specced that it actually stands pretty well against my laptop... which is from last year.

I also got a new phone, which I'm really glad I did. Splashed out and bought myself a Lumia 950 W10 phone, and cannot believe how people didn't go crackers when it came out. 4K screen, 4K video camera, 20MP camera, 4G mobile broadband, good processor, 3GB of RAM. £260-ish. It's a good phone (I'm totally unconcerned with the "app gap"), and with Continuum (using the aux HDMI input on my VAIO) is a worthy adversary to any of my other machines - including my i5 laptop. If MS do come otu with a Surface Phone that scales up to full desktop W10 and can run x86 software, I'll probably not bother buying any more laptops.

21 June 2016

Intel: shysters.

Once upon a time, I was a big supporter of Intel, as the originator of the x86 instruction set and, by extention, the modern concept of the microcomputer as being a device whose processor was contained in a single integrated circuit.

However, as I've come to learn more about how businesses work - especially Big ones - I've come to realize that they're only after one thing: your sheqels.

Let me elaborate.

A couple of years ago, I received for my birthday an Asus VivoTab Smart, along with a Microsoft Wedge keyboard. Together, they made a damn' good setup, and I wrote quite a lot of Singularity and Journeyman on it. The tablet itself had - and still has - a pretty respectable spec.

And then Windows 10 came along, and brought with it an architectural fault which made it somehow incompatible with the graphics driver. 'OK,' I thought, 'Microsoft will do an update that'll make it compatible, or Intel will release a compatible driver.'

But there wasn't a whiff of a new driver between Windows 10 going RTM and now. I'd heard rumours that something was going to be done, and then I'd heard rumours that it wasn't. So I took to Twitter to ask Intel's customer support when they were going to address this problem. And what did they say?

First, they said I should check Windows Update for updates, but then when I told them I had done, and had gone so far as to research the hardware inside my tablet to work out if I could find new drivers direct on the Intel site, they said I should be running a "supported operating system." In other words, I shouldn't have upgraded to Windows 10.

Not upgrading to Windows 10 would have meant quite a lot of time every other day, continually removing and declining updates, removing GWX, and hacking and re-hacking the registry (which I've had to do on my Windows 7 netbook a few times). It would also - more fundamentally - have meant that I wouldn't be able to run much of the software I now use on my laptop and my 7-inch Windows 10 tablet, which would have made it, ultimately, little more useful to me than it is now.

Now - of course - I'm sure they knew this when they said that, and - of course - I pulled them up on it. Their response: I should be running a "supported operating system," and about that particular device: "I regret to inform you that Intel is not planning to release drivers for Intel® GMA. Sorry for the inconvenience." Inconvenience, my arse. It's a profound waste of money and time, resulting in my labours going unrewarded and my tablet still being, essentially, a £300 mirror. And then, ironically enough, they say that "in order to get the best performance out of your equipment it is good to check the latest software supported for it." Like Windows 10. With Windows 10-compatible fucking drivers.

The crux of the whole exchange, though, was this: "Intel is always moving forward with its support and seeking to provide the newest products to their customers." What does that mean!?

It means that Intel are, in theory, happy to provide support for their products - by way of getting me to buy new hardware every time a big release of Windows happens and borks the drivers which they then refuse to replace.

It's built-in obsolescence. Microsoft break driver compatibility, and then Intel refuse to update the drivers. Result? I pay for a new computer, the cost of which includes an all-new processor (from Intel, they hope), an all-new GPU (likewise probably from Intel), and an all-new Windows license.

That is shystery. It is utterly pathetic, reprehensible, and a fucking good reason for me to seriously consider going back to using Debian as my primary operating system.

In the meanwhile, I would be tempted to urge people to avoid buying Intel products. If they're going to be so blatant regarding their intention to make me give them more money, I'm going to be so blatant as to say fuck that.

5 June 2016

More of life.

Yes, I know it's been a while since I last posted anything. These apologies are beginning to become something of a tradition in my posts, aren't they? Oh well. I'm not sorry. I'm just crap at getting round to it.


I'm getting on well with the follow-up to Journeyman, and I even have a title in mind for it. It might seem a little more comical than the tone of the book is seeming at the moment, but personally I don't mind that, as there are elements of comedy in even the darkest and heaviest of times. Even if that's just life laughing at you.

The draft of the book is two-thirds done; I've made progress a little slower on this one than on the last one, but in my defence life has been happening - and I've been looking after Journeyman too, which has sold coming up for nine hundred copies on the Kindle now. I've got to say, it's done a lot better than I expected it to, but I know this is only the beginning. I'm back into writing to agents, and am hoping someone will pick me up for it at some point (obviously...). In the meantime, just get on with Part II.

I'm also having some other (unrelated) ideas that could turn out to be fun: some silly political satire idea fell into my head the week before, and I've been scribbling about that a little, and I'm hoping to get on with NaNoWriMo in November. That's in spite of whatever I might be working on by that point: I'm gonna get it done.

Autism and Mental Health

It turned out, following an appointment I had in March, that I'm not just dyslexic, dyspraxic, and dyscalculic - I'm also an Asperger. This does not surprise me (or anyone who knows me).

The funny thing is that, looking all the way back through my school records to when I was four, it was obvious that I am autistic. I wasn't interested in "social graces" as they were described, and I worked far better on my own than in a team. I also was prone to tantrums when things changed without reasonable explanation, and showed incredible aptitude in specific areas. So how, I ask myself, was I not flagged as a primary school child?

Probably because autism was a thing people thought a prodigy couldn't have. 'He's intelligent, he can't be autistic.'

It was similar in secondary school, of course, though by this point people were starting to wonder if I was autistic. They even had an educational psychologist come and see me - and she decided I wasn't autistic, just a disruptive problem child (with a high IQ... umm).

This caused me a lot of years of mental health issues, from being a small child to now, pretty much. It precluded me making friends through almost all my childhood and youth, such that I was knocking on twenty's door by the time I made any friends worth keeping (which I did). I have depression and anxiety, which before were linked to a troublesome past and broken brain chemistry, which has now been proven to - actually - be caused by nothing more or less than my frustration at having had no identity of my own and a limited ability to communicate.

I'm not going to drive on about that. I'm over it, and I'm over myself. Ultimately, while there are things I would do differently with my own children (chiefly to not send them to school), I wouldn't change a moment of my past; it's made me who I am, and for what it's worth, I'm proud of who I've grown up to be.

Little Tablet

For a little bit of fun, I bought one of those £25 Allwinner Q88 tablets, after reading some very mixed reviews of them, and now I've been playing with it for a week or two, I'm happy giving a little review of my own.


The first thing anyone's likely to notice with one of these is that the displays aren't very good. They're not - though the touch panels work really surprisingly well. The colours have a very low saturation level which can't (apparently) be changed, and the backlight is quite bright, which makes everything look slightly washed out. It's good enough to watch something on or play a simple game, but that's about it. Don't expect HD, kids.


It's not fast. It's just not. There's nothing more I can say about it.


512MB of memory is enough to do most things you might want to do on a tablet, speaking realistically. I can play Minecraft or Plants vs Zombies on it, I can listen to music or watch something, and I can run Word and tap away (even though Word says I need at least a gig). In this area I'd say (despite what others say) that it's perfectly good and useable.

Storage is another matter, however. Being a cheap SoC means that it's the same as other cheap Android systems, in that the internal storage is partitioned into "internal storage" and "expanded storage." What this means, practically speaking, is that while there's 8GB of storage in there, I can only install, say, 800MB's worth of apps. Not a huge bummer, I guess, though it would be nice to be able to put some more on. 'But you can move apps to the expanded/SD storage,' I can hear you holler. Yes, but it only moves the app's data, not the core of it. So I can't put the Final Fantasy games on it that I paid such a lot of money for a few years back. But that's OK, I'm thinking I might get a Nexus for that at some point.


It comes with Android 4.4.1 (ICS, I think) in ROM, which is pretty much what you'd expect when you're buying a cheapie. What I didn't expect, however, is that there was no bloatware at all installed on it when I got it. No knock-off games or Netflix/Facebook/Twitter clients like there have been on other tablets I've had in the past. Just a straight-up Android distribution with enough to get started. That genuinely impressed me a lot. The software that does come with it consists mainly of a little video player/picture viewer and a little music player - both generic, both tiny, both just get the bloody job done. Impressed.


It's not bad. It's a £25 tablet - you're not going to get a Nexus, a Surface, or an iPad for that money. It's a cheap Chinese generic tablet with the OS in ROM and a plastic screen, but d'you know what? If you're looking for something mess about with, maybe some light gaming or something to pacify the kids or whatever, I'd recommend it. Hey, even if you just want an oversized mp3 player.

Speaking of mp3 players, I ordered one from AliExpress, for the princely sum of 83p. That's less than the price of a drink in a café. It (apparently) includes nothing at all - not even storage. It charges by USB, and reads micro-SD cards, which leads me to think there must just be a ROM in there with an mp3 codec on it. We'll see how it performs when it arrives.


I need more books, a coffee, and a hug. In the meantime I'll look forward to going to see the Rocky Horror Show live in early October.

26 February 2016

Marching on.

So, it's nearly March. Time's marching on, and people are getting on with it; both dancing on inexorably toward the future.

Good for them.

Myself, I'm still here. Still being who I am: a writer and an amateur-amateur radio nerd.


I'm just under half way through drafting the follow-up for Journeyman, and as it goes I'm happy that that's good progress, considering I started two months ago, because it means (as it stands right now) I'm slightly ahead of schedule.

However, I know I'm likely to need to pull it apart once it's done, because a lot of the writing so far seems - to me, at least - to be rather boring and dry, and because it's written in the voice of someone who's having a bad time, a little depressive and irritating. Maybe that's what it's supposed to be like, I don't know. All I do know is that I'd like to do a fair bit of polishing.

Also, as I've made more progress with the text, I've become less certain what I want to call it. When I first started writing, I was going to call it Guardian, but I realized pretty early on that a title like that would be likely to draw in the wrong sort of reader. So, right now, I'm somewhere between Provost and Regent. Make of that what you will, as regards the plot.

Finally, for those who might remember Singularity, I'm considering doing a big rewrite once the FOTG cycle is done: looking back, it was a pretty desperate attempt at getting a book out. Yes, I'm proud of it, but what I'm proud of is the story, not the writing.

Amateur-Amateur Radio Nerd

That might seem like a bit of a daft way to put it, but it's true; I'm an amateur, even compared with amateurs. I don't buy proper equipment, I improvise everything, and mostly build to century-plus-old plans - Marconi-era stuff, none of which would be legal to operate at full power.

However, my main station is now pretty much completely to the spec I originally designed it to, the only exception being that I'm powering it from a couple of lantern batteries, rather than a small car battery as I had intended. The main difference here is that uing lantern batteries vastly limits the power of the system as a whole (smaller spark, smaller range, probably extremely inefficient), though that could be a good thing from the legal point of view: at full power, this thing could probably achieve a range of a handful of miles.

That being said, I have done a significant upgrade to the transmitter this last week, in the form of a full-size tuning coil (made from copper brake pipe, which cost me a fortune) and a respectably-sized glass-plate condenser (capacitor) for the other half of that tank circuit, made from old glass photo photograph plates and measuring about 3.3nF.

So, it's now up to about the same sort of specification as those century-ago operators' stations would have been, which is what I've been ainimg for. All the parts were made by my own two hands, including the Ruhmkorff coil powering it (which, I might add, took me nearly a month to wind entirely by hand).

Also, for the fun of it, I've got a couple of other things working, including a small (pocket-sized) transmitter based on an electromagnetic buzzer (again, made by myself) and a transistor battery, and a microphonic detector based on a battery carbon suspended between two steel wires. That transmitter has achieved a range of maybe a hundred feet, and the detector... well, I've no way to gauge it, because there's no transmitters powerful enough to actuate it around here, other than my own - though both the Marconi-type transmitter and the buzzer have been picked up by it.

I'll go into much more detail about these things at some point. Actually, I'm considering writing a short textbook about it at some point in the future.

19 January 2016

Things to Remember.

When I published Journeyman on Kindle, a month ago tomorrow, I felt a litle nervous about how people would take to my style of writing; when one writes something - whatever it is - one is baring a significant part of themselves to the world. How they think, how they feel, how they perceive the world around them. It's almost like sitting on a psychiatrist's couch and allowing their mind to be observed by whoever is prepared to look.

As the book has started to sell reasonably well, I've been drawn into something of a false sense of security, especially given some of the positive feedback I've had. I've forgotten to remember that people aren't always reasonable, and will judge parts of the work on other parts which are irrelevant. I've had negative reviews, from people who didn't finish reading the book, complaining about now openly and often I've used naughty words, and about my "irritating characterization."

I know, I know - you don't need to say it. That's what I get writing a book and putting it out there. And you're right. But I still can't help feeling a little disappointed that people are going to judge the whole on a small detail. Yes, I don't have a problem with people saying they don't like how much profanity I've written into the book; that's a matter of personal taste, and if you don't like it that's upto you.

But when my writing is being judged on a character's flaws, I can't help wondering if people can tell the difference between a character acting badly and me writing badly. Yes, it's probably unreasonable of me to think that, given that it's a book for an audience and not simply for my own amusement. But there we are.

So, from now on I have to remind myself that Journeyman is the book I intended to write, and if people want to decide that I'm a bad writer because the protagonist did something they don't agree with, that's on them.

In the meantime, my coffee's getting cold. L'chayim.

17 January 2016

Beginning at last...?

First post of the year, and it's over two weeks in. Not much has happened, really.

Except my book, Journeyman, has been selling fairly well. In America, at least; my sales rolled past 160 this afternoon. Personally, I don't think that's a bad start for a self-pubbed book by an unknown author, whose only publicity has been a small handful of Facebook groups. OK, it's not made me a millionaire, and I'm still looking for work, because I understand that any given sale could be my last.

But the figures have shown signs that there's a bit of quiet growth going on in the quiet. I hope that's what's going on.

So, what does this mean?

Well, for a start it means that Journeyman isn't shit, as I had been worried it might be. My parents and my fiancée had said it's good, but they're kind of supposed to, especially given my predeliction toward neurosis and self-deprecating behaviour. But maybe they were right on this count; their comments weren't actually biased.

However, it's making almost no headway in my home country, England. Seriously, I've sold about five copies over here. Which makes sense in a way, because in many ways we English prefer subtlety, quiet, and pretty much everything else that Journeyman isn't: there's swearing, there's people crapping their pants, there's nothing really sanitized. That's mostly for realism (were there such a thing in a fantasy novel), so I'm ignoring the negative review I got (from someone who didn't even finish the book) and getting on with life.

So, I'm slowly coming to the conclusion that maybe I should be writing to US literary agents to try and get it published, rather than to UK ones - especially since the UK ones have shown almost no interest.
Which makes me wonder... maybe this year is, at last, something of a new beginning for me, career-wise.

30 December 2015

Maybe a writer is what I'm supposed to be, after all.


My novel, Journeyman, is out and starting to sell respectably well, considering it's the work of an unknown. I'm quite happy about that, and looking forward to what the next year (and next books in the series) will bring.

And it's the penultimate day of 2015. During this year, I've been looking harder than ever for some sort of employment, and every time I think I'm getting somewhere, I get knocked right back to square one.

I know what a lot of people are probably thinking, whether or not they are reading what I have to say: 'oh, but you've got a degree, why are you being so picky and claiming that you're entitled?' Well, I'm not. I've been applying for everything I think I can do, from cleaning in the early mornings, to telesales, to trainee software developer roles. Nobody will take me on, usually because either:
  1. I'm not experienced enough.
  2. My degree isn't good enough.
  3. I have a degree.


And I'm not joking. I've been volunteering at a charity shop near to where I live for something like sixteen months now, and so I've gained experience working behind a till, in the warehouse, doing deliveries, accepting donations... pretty much everything except answering phonecalls. OK, I'll grant that this isn't the most beautiful list of working experience, but it's all I've got at the moment. But will shops take me on? Will they buggery. 

As far as experience as a programmer goes, I have no professional experience because nodoby has actually let me gain any. Simple as that. As a hobbyist programmer, I've written libraries to control VT100 terminals on Unix/Linux, and once even designed an instruction set and implemented it as a crude simulator (including writing a simple assembler) over a weekend. But because they were only the experiments of a hobbyist, they don't count even slightly as being experience.


I have training as a software developer, and know about five languages fluently and could pick up others as needed very quickly. Much of what I've done, however, has been as a hobbyist, which means that software houses aren't interested. Or so it seems. And, since my honours degree is only third-class (due to mental health during my honours year and a very awkward dissertation supervisor), graduate schemes won't take me on. Conversely, apprenticeships won't take me on because I have a degree. Which means I'm between a rock and a hard place, pretty much literally.

Types of Work

What I know counts for bugger all, seriously. These are the types of work I've applied for:
  • Kitchen Assistant at a care home.
  • Telesales
  • Programmer
  • IT Technician
  • IT Helpdesk
  • Admin/data entry
  • Cleaner
I've even had interviews for most of these, but never had a job out of it. Let's take a look at why.

Kitchen Assistant: alright, this job went to a friend of mine who needed it a hell of a lot more than me at the time, so I'm not going to cut my throat about it. But what riled me about it was that I didn't get the job because I chalked all their fancy-named standards up to common sense. Wash hands before handling food. Wash plates/cutlery properly, with scalding water and plenty of detergent. Wash hands after handling raw meat. Make sure meat is completely cooked. Blah. I knew all that, but because I didn't know all the special acronyms and TLAs which applied to them.

Telesales, while something I abhor, is a valid means to earn a wage. I have a good telephone manner and am very interested in pleasing the customer (short of going and fucking myself, which I am aware that many customers may request), and bloody need the money, which I am aware that many telesales companies rely on in their staff. Any joy? Pft, they didn't even get back to me.

Of course I've gone for lots of jobs as a programmer, as I've said above. Lots of web development stuff, some in-house POS type stuff. Some security-related stuff. Never got any further than an initial interview for any of them. Why? Because no experience, even when I've demonstrably had more knowledge than even the nerds who were interviewing me. Ich sheiss du nicht; I asked one prospective employer about what secure coding practices they had in place - asked the main programmer, mark you - and he said 'um, we've got a firewall.' In that specific case, I'm glad I didn't get that job, because I'm not sure I want to work for someone so profoundly stupid. But there have been lots of really good chances that I've had and not succeeded in, invariably because I've not got any prior professional experience as a programmer. I mean... what? And then there was a time I applied for an apprenticeship quite recently, and they just simply sent me an email back saying 'no.' Aaaaaalrighty then.

Working as an IT technician is something I can do as well as anything else, and probably at least as well as anyone else. I've been around hardware all my life, having been constantly building, repairing, and rebuilding my own boxes since I was about eleven. I know all standards of components that have been in use since the mid-eighties (I started on old hardware that wouldn't be missed if I broke it), right up to today. But nope. Either not hiring or not interested.

Same has gone with helpdesk work. I know a lot about operating systems, networks, common software, blah, and never even got an interview. Why? No idea; they never even get back to me.

Cleaning work... mostly they don't bother getting back to me, so there's no point in really mentioning it.

But the admin stuff, there's a corker for you. Had two interviews for admin jobs recently; one at ****** *********** and one at ******, both fairly near to where I live. Well, I say "interviews," the one at ****** *********** was an interview, and the other was something else, which I'll go into more detail about in a moment.

****** *********** went really well, and both the people interviewing seemed pretty impressed with me as a person, and with my abilities. I came out feeling like I'd done a pretty good job, but later that day I got a call saying I hadn't got it; one of the others had pretty much the same abilities as me but more experience. Cool, whatever - you need the guy who can prove he'll be good for you rather than the wildcard.

****** was a different story, though. I'd got a phonecall from them a couple of weeks ago, saying effectively that I'd got a job. All I needed to do was confirm a few things and print some forms, fill them out, and take them into the office yesterday. Awesome, amazing - someone's giving me a chance! I knew someone would give me a job by the end of the year.

So, yesterday comes and I go to the office, armed with my forms, my pen, and an ID photo I'd had taken, and was presented with a contract of employment to sign. Here's where it gets a bit silly: ****, who met me there, told me to sign it and didn't give me any time to read it. I signed it and handed it back, without thinking to ask for a copy myself, for my own reference and archiving purposes. And that was it: I was told they'd do a background check on me and once that was done (about two weeks) I'd be able to start. No what-ifs, maybes, buts, caveats, or anything like that.

Off home I toddled, and later that afternoon I got a phonecall saying my application with ****** wasn't being progressed any further. Wait, WTF? How does that make sense? **** told me on the phone that it had been her decision, and that they would email me with full feedback. Which, so far, I haven't yet received.

Right. So it was her decision. Which, given that she hadn't been around me long enough to pass judgment, gives rise to the following questions:
  1. If I wasn't suitable, why was I invited to meet with this person and led to believe I had a job?
  2. This person had only been in the same room as me for about ten minutes but subsequently decided not to "pursue the application any further:" what grounds were there?
Of course only one of these questions needs answering, because whichever one is relevant would rule out the other, and whichever one is relevant would (of course) be answered by the feedback I asked for by email. What's more, the answers to these questions would be simple, meaning that there shouldn't be any delay in dreaming up responses to them.


OK, I get it. You think I'm being pissy and "entitled" and just generally being a whingy little bitch. Maybe I am, but I don't think getting any of it out of my system will do any harm to anyone. To be completely honest, I'm not even that angry. All I am is perplexed. It makes no sense.

Being a Writer

Which brings me back to my original point: maybe I'm just supposed to write. Because, as I see it, every time I go for a job I get knocked back, but Journeyman is starting to do fairly well. Or, at least, well enough to satisfy me for the time being. I find the idea a little difficult to swallow, but at the same time exciting. It does feel like I've found myself through writing, more so than ever I did as a programmer or anything else.

So, of course, I'm going to carry on looking for a "real job." Actually looking, not pretending, because - as much as I love writing - I need the wage that a job pays, not the instability of my pay being subject to my popularity at any given time.

But now, I honestly think that a writer is what I am "meant" to be, and I think I have reason to.