Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Fred Thompson on '300'

Fred Thompson makes some excellent points about Iran's reported unhappiness with the movie '300'.

It does pretty much beggar belief that a regime which sponsors a conference entitled "A World Without Israel" can complain that a work of fiction, representing events that happened thousands of years ago, is an act of warfare against it.

Anyway, I think this guy would make a pretty good president.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Behind the mask

Today, driving past Kenwood House, the stately home on Hampstead Heath, I saw that barefoot doctor chappie from the telly, getting out of a black Audi TT in a cloud of cigarette smoke. He wasn't barefoot. Obviously.

Monday, March 26, 2007

The market will take care of it. As it always has.

Was thinking a bit more about the Tesla and my reaction to it, which is similar to my reaction to low-energy lamps. I buy the latter, not because I give a sod about so-called global warming, but because they last longer (hate changing the buggers) and cost less to run. When LED bulbs finally become available I'll buy them because they last forever (yay!).

In the same way, I would buy a Tesla (if I had £50k to spend on a car) because it's a fantastic performance machine, looks cool (you can see Lotus are involved) and it costs less to run. Starting to see a pattern here? If you serve a real need, offer a real advantage, people will want your product. No hectoring required.

And this explains my basic antipathy to the global warming bandwagon. It's stuffed with people who live to hector, who can't be bothered finding out what people want because they're so busy telling them what they ought to want. The antipathy to the market is most marked, I think, in those who have the guilty knowledge, deep down, that what they want is not what most people want. And therefore they have to avoid, at all costs, any mechanism for making that fact known, while promoting any scheme, from socialism to anti-discrimination to environmentalism, that gives them license to tell other people what to do.

Prius damages environment more than Hummer

The darling of the eco-poser set, the supposedly super-efficient (and super-expensive) Toyota Prius is the most environmentally damaging car to build. And it takes five years for the petrol savings to offset its high price. By which time the battery is probably dead.

Me, I'm buying a Tesla. As soon as I win the lottery.

Recruitment agencies and finding a job

My friend Simon, who runs the CareerBalance careers consultancy, said something interesting the other day. In his experience, only about 20% of the available jobs at any one time are in the hands of recruitment agencies, like Robert Walters and Martin Ward Anderson. Far more jobs are found through networking, direct application to companies, graduate recruitment, and headhunting.

This means that those job-hunters who simply sign up with the agencies and do nothing more, are focusing their efforts into a relatively small bit of the market, and the most competitive bit as well. Plus, many are under the misapprehension that the agents work for them. Of course, the agents work for the companies, and so put their interests before those of the candidates.

The reasons are not hard to see though. In the first place, the agencies, being businesses, put a lot of effort into promoting themselves, whereas the other methods are not the subject of such promotion. Headhunters, for example, are not interested in being approached by candidates; they do the approaching.

Secondly, the most effective method by far, networking, is poorly understood by most people. It's either seen as something that only works for some well-connected elite, who have gone to the right schools etc, or as pretty desperate job-begging of hapless friends and relatives.

In fact networking is simply about relationships, and the fact that people trust people they know, or who are known by people they know, more than complete strangers. It's usually best to take a slightly more systematic approach to your networking if you want to use it to find a job, but the principle remains the same, and it is most definitely not about phoning up everyone you know and asking for a job.

But it is about staying in touch, and making sure your network of friends, family, ex-colleagues, business associates, suppliers, customers, etc, are aware of your situation, so that if they should hear of an opportunity, they will have you in mind. That's it.

One way to think about it is this: if you knew a friend of yours was looking for a job, you would want to help. If another friend mentioned he was looking for someone, or a vacancy was posted at work, you would be sure to pass it on. All that's required is that you know your friend is looking. If he just went to an agency and didn't tell you or any of his friends what he was doing, you wouldn't be able to help him.

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Friday, March 23, 2007

Yahoo! sponsored search to become like Adwords

So I got this fairly interesting email from Yahoo! sponsored search
(ie pay-per-click) support, about the "new" sponsored search they've
been threatening for some time now.

For those of you unfamiliar with Yahoo! (formerly Overture), it works
completely differently from Google Adwords. In the latter, you write
an ad, then pick a number of keywords that you want the ad to show
for, and it's usually up and running within a few minutes, getting
clicks (and costing you money, of course).

In the Overture/Yahoo! universe, things are a lot less simple. First
you choose the keywords. Then you are supposed to write an ad for each
keyword. Now it's true that there are buttons to copy down your first
ad to all the other keywords, but it's still a bit of a pain to do.
And the user interface is really unresponsive and unintuitive compared
to Google. Plus, your ads don't start running immediately. Oh no. You
have to wait anything up to three days for a human to "approve" your
ads and keywords. And if they don't think your ads properly describe
your website, they reject the keyword. Seriously.

Anyway, it's quite funny to see Yahoo! explaining the New Search.
What's new about it? "Fast Ad Activation", for one: ads online within
minutes! Wow! What a unique and brilliant idea!

But there's more! " Individual titles and descriptions will apply to
multiple keywords." I see. For those confused by this, Yahoo!
helpfully explains that " Titles, descriptions and URLs" will be
"known as "ads" in the new Sponsored Search". Uh huh. And "Keywords
and ads will be organised into ad groups" - exactly as they are in
Adwords. And then "One or more ad groups will make up a campaign". You
don't say.

They could have saved everyone a lot of time by saying, "You know
Adwords? Right, that's what the new Yahoo! Sponsored Search will be
like." And about time too.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

It's the Sun, stupid!

LGF has the recent Channel 4 global warming documentary, The Great Global Warming Swindle. Not nearly as fact-free as A Convenient Untruth, it's actually pretty good. You come away marvelling at the ability of grown people to so studiously ignore the pretty obvious truth of the role of the Sun in determining the climate of the Earth, something that was actually discovered a century or more ago! And it also highlights an inconvenient truth that Al Gore forgot to tell you: the Arctic ice cores that form the centre of his presentation clearly show that rising temperature causes an increase in carbon dioxide, and not the other way around.

The final ten minutes are pretty heart-breaking, actually, showing the awful reality of the peasant lifestyle romanticised by the anti-human environmentalists, and how the West is once again betraying Africa. Not content with tolerating or colluding with the kleptocratic thugs in power, the environmentalists are now moving in to deny Africa the use of its own mineral wealth, and thus progress, in the name of saving the environment. Very sad viewing.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Hasta la vista, Firefox

OK, I've finally given up on Firefox. I know I'm supposed to like it, I know it's the hope of the free world, the Rebel Alliance fighting the good fight against the Microsoft Empire, etc etc, but I'm just tired of it killing my PowerBook all the time. I'm tired of my Mac feeling like a 486 PC with 8 megs of RAM, struggling to run Windows. I'm tired of the exhaust fan coming on every time I move the mouse, because Firefox has eaten up all the free memory AGAIN, and OS X has to shunt more pixels into and out of virtual memory to redraw the screen. I'm tired of waiting for Gmail to catch up with what I've written. I've had enough.

It's not like Safari is that bad, anymore. It has tabbed browsing. It doesn't screw up so many sites anymore. And if you have to have a Mozilla-based browser, Camino is pretty darn good. I've been using it for a couple of weeks now, and I like it a lot. It uses the Keychain to store web passwords, which is really nice: it makes me feel much more secure about my important passwords, and I can find them easily if I want them for another browser. Plus, it has an "update stored password" function if you're trying to log onto a site you haven't accessed for awhile, and your first password guess turns out to be wrong: it simply notices that you've typed a different password the second time, and offers to update. Nice.

And it looks pretty nice too.

Of course I'll keep Firefox on the machine, to check the appearance of my web pages, etc, but at the moment I mostly use Camino and Safari for actual web browsing. No more painfully-slow Mac. No more periodically shutting down Firefox just to get it to let go of all the memory it hogged. No more worrying about opening Photoshop with Firefox running. Oh joy!