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  1.  (4956.1)
    Everyone on here has a trade, maybe more than one, and every trade has secrets. Tips, lore, ways of doing things that only those in the field know and understand.

    I work in museum design, research and content development. My trade secrets?

    -We use Tuff-tie police restraints to bundle cables for audio-visual equipment. Sturdy as hell and resistant to heat

    -Every bid is over by 20-30%, every budget from a client is under by 30-40%

    -Wikipedia is a stunningly good ready reference, especially for animal and biological reference. There are more accurate references on wikipedia about the geological timetable than on the Smithsonian's site.

    -We use Warhammer paints and terrain on our large scale models all the time.

    -One model supplier, Preiser, makes a set of nude subathers in HO scale. That's 1:87. And yes, we've used the in models. To wonderful effect.

    What are your trade secrets?
  2.  (4956.2)
    Dude, i always figured that was GW terrain!

    I'm a professional historian.

    -A good chunk of grant money is normally spent on "gifts" (read: bribes) as access to many archives and research areas can only be gotten by paying guards, archivists, etc. off

    -About 1/3rd of "work" time on digs, research trips, and academic conferences is actually spent drinking and making god awful mischief.

    -Most college professors actually use Wikipedia quite heavily, at least for lectures. Especially on more obscure academic subjects there's little chance of finding inaccurate information, and page formats are easily coverted via copy-paste into power points and lecture notes.

    -At larger American universities, Professors actually do very little teaching work. Once syllabuses and lectures are planned at the beginning of the semester, the professor normally just has to show up to lecture. All grading, editing, immediate-lecture planning, etc. is handled by Graduate students and aides.
    • CommentAuthorOddcult
    • CommentTimeFeb 6th 2009 edited
    I work in PR.

    My main trade secret is that a very brief one line email to a bunch of journalists asking if they're interested in something will get far more responses than even the most beautifully written and presented press release.
    • CommentTimeFeb 6th 2009 edited
    I'm a paintmaker.

    Student quality acrylic paints are little more than powdered chalk, cellulose, and clay with a plastic binder and a dash of cheap pigment. Paintmakers also fill up the mixer drum with water as high as it will go, to maximise profits on the batch.

    If you're a serious artist, learn the names of the pigments in your paints, and which ones best suit your needs. The higher-series paint types are worth saving for and buying, because they are made from much better pigments at a higher saturation level, and they have added binders and mediums to give them a richer texture.

    Avoid buying paints with numerous pigment codes on the back, because they've been blended from cheaper ingredients to simulate the colour of the more expensive single pigment, and may very well not be the same shade from batch to batch. Examples are quinacridone purple 'shade' and cadmium yellow 'hue'. This goes for all types of artist paint that I know of.

    The more pigments you mix together, the dirtier the resulting colour will be.

    Paint mediums are interesting to experiment with. There are a lot of different types on the market because the manufacturers are always trying to outdo one another with a new effect.

    Paint in tubes is always thicker than paint in tins or jars. It's made that way because otherwise it won't flow through the filling machine.

    Thicker does not automatically mean better. Some manufacturers add extra ASE60 thickener to their paints to make them look richer and glossier as you squeeze them out, but it might well still be a crap student paint.

    A lot of inorganic paint bases are pretty toxic. Know what you're dealing with, before you try to grind your own pigment. Use gloves and a dust mask. Examples include cadmium (yellow) and ferrocyanine (blue, used in those old cyanotype photographs and in blueprints).

    [edited to add] None of this means that cheaper types of paint are a bad thing. They're affordable, for a start. They're fine for a lot of work, but they won't generally give as good a final effect as the top-of-the-range stuff will. And if you're a shit painter, even the best materials won't change your turds into saleable art - buy cheap paints, practise until you are no longer a shit painter, then start on the thirty-dollar-a-tube brands and watch your stuff shine.
    • CommentTimeFeb 6th 2009 edited
    Oh lord. I'm an IT Guy/consultant/computerwallah. After 10+ years in the industry, I can safely say we have more secrets than I think I can tell in one sitting. I'll just post the juicy stuff. I'll do another one later on legit, useful tech trade secrets to make up for it.

    *We check out the porn on your system. Totally by reflex, not even thinking about it, every single IT guy in the world has an unconscious routine of popping down the browser history, checking the cookies and temporary internet files, looking at the last few files played on the video player...just in case you have something we haven't seen before.

    * This means we have seen ALL the porn in the world. And called the police once or twice over it, depending on whether we thought you were creepy or not.

    * We also read your email. All the time. All of it. Even *that* one. Especially if you are a sexually desirable person of the appropriate gender. We're sorry to hear about your boyfriend.

    * That mysterious email outage the other day over the weekend that we told you was due to a heroic struggle against a virus infecting the network? Really it was because a consultant was working remotely on your system after having been to the pub, was playing WoW in another window and deleted a critical file while trying to kill an orc.

    * That piece of kit in the server room we told you was old and not worth keeping? Wound up in my kit bag/server room/closet of old junk.

    * We totally told you with a straight face that the crashes and reboots with your system was due to the humidity causing swelling in the flux capacitor, when really we just took a long lunch and haven't gotten to it yet.

    * Out of the four hour visit we spent on site with you, fully two hours of it was taken up with chatting on IM with the other consultants while wearing a look of furious concentration holed up in the server room and not in fact researching issues with the flux capacitor.

    * Remote email on your phone just makes it that much easier to work from the pub and be billable while you're doing it.

    * We totally just cut and pasted that documentation from something on the Internet and charged you three hours for working on it.

    * We really do tend to think you're stupid. It just happens. I'm sure auto mechanics and doctors think the same of us.
    • CommentAuthorRenThing
    • CommentTimeFeb 6th 2009

    * This means we have seen ALL the porn in the world. And called the police once or twice over it, depending on whether we thought you were creepy or not.

    * We also read your email. All the time. All of it. Even *that* one. Especially if you are a sexually desirable person of the appropriate gender. We're sorry to hear about your boyfriend.

    I had a number of friends who worked for FriendFinder back in the late '90's and the things they saw was the stuff of nightmares.
    • CommentAuthorIan_M
    • CommentTimeFeb 6th 2009
    I trained as a historian, and try to make money by writing. So my day job is Document Control Professional (Translated from the corporate-speak: File clerk).

    * Metadata is garbage. The more labels you slap on the same file, the harder it gets to find that file.

    * That fancy new piece of software we want to buy is just a glossy shell over a piece of shareware from the 1980s. Most of the budget for upgrading, training, and implementation to that new software goes to meetings. Meetings with donuts.

    * Filling was always pretty easy. Computerization has not made it faster and easier to find files. But it has made it easier to look at porn at work. Thanks, Bill Gates!

    * Metadata is garbage. The more labels you slap on the same file, the harder it gets to find that file.

    * Really, I can't stress points one and four enough. Metadata is make-work for the documents department.
  3.  (4956.8)
    I write comics (and work in construction, but I have no secrets except yes, sometimes the contractor is banging your bill to the sky. And sometimes not.)

    --Storytelling, like a magic trick, is the exchange of information and premises, giving the desired outcome in an unpredictable manner.

    --You can have more than one moment in a comic panel, despite what you hear. In fact, the best comic panels crystallize an unfolding action in the same way that a statue of a dancer captures the body at different points in a step. This is especially true for something swift, like multiple Spider-Men doing acrobatics across a rooftop.

    My main trade secret is that a very brief one line email to a bunch of journalists asking if they're interested in something will get far more responses than even the most beautifully written and presented press release.

    This is very, very true.
    • CommentTimeFeb 6th 2009 edited
    i have worked in healthcare for 10 years now (god, i just realized that...)so ive also got too much to list, ill try to keep it to the basics

    -your doctor/nurse/everyone who reads your chart WILL laugh at you for ridiculous shit. if you are a pain in the ass, they WILL tell other offices/laboratories/medical imaging places etc. you will get more help in general by being a decent human being.

    -if you are seeing a doctor for something specific that you have checked your own insurance coverage for, do everything you can to avoid discussing any other issue. it ends up in the medical record, your doctor will bill for it and it can lead to things that dont need to be getting listed in your medical history. its also a good way to get a claim denied and end up with a bill you werent planning for (and rightfully,dont deserve)

    -know your insurance! some offices have people like me, that do seriously want to avoid billing a patient for anything, some have people that straight up dont give a fuck and will bill you for whatever they are too lazy to actually do correctly. either way, if you dont know your coverage, theres sometimes nothing either group of people can do. when it really comes down to it, my hands are tied to do much if you dont do your research first.

    -95% of doctors really are as big of douchebags as you think they are.

    - if you truly believe you are being gouged or charged for something that was not performed, DO NOT PAY IT. you have rights as a patient/insurance customer. if your insurance is the one dicking you, work with your doctors office. if your doctors office is trying to screw you, work with the insurance company. neither side wants to help the other get away with screwing over their mutual customer (you), so they should help.

    -if you dont have insurance, always check with your state medicaid department! the coverage isnt the best, but you cant be billed for any disputes/denials etc once you are on one of those programs. also, dont be ashamed/embarrassed to do so- you have been paying for that shit with years of taxes anyway. thats what its for!

    i cant think of other general "inside" info, but if anybody has questions, feel free to fire away.
    • CommentAuthorRenThing
    • CommentTimeFeb 6th 2009
    95% of doctors really are as big of douchebags as you think they are

    Seriously. I worked for Kaiser-Permanente in their in-bound patient call center and the level of entitlement some of Kaiser's doctors had was fucking outrageous.
    • CommentAuthoricelandbob
    • CommentTimeFeb 6th 2009 edited
    Some tips i garnered from my previous job if you are going into Social Care/ Working with street people in london...

    - always bring the following items with you. Plastic rain cheater, small notebook, latex gloves, Hydro alcoholic antiseptic gel, Cigarettes, 2 tins of Nourishment. Rape Alarm (we were not allowed to take pepper spray). Oh and some vicks vapo rub.

    - Best places to find rough sleepers. Car parks, anywhere near a Canal, alleyways with heater vents.

    - If you bump into a beggar who is asking for money "so they can get into a hostel for the night" it will most certainly be untrue. All homeless hostels in London work by referral from a certified agency so you can't just walk in and get a place. Even if they were to get into a hostel, they are asked to pay a surcharge by putting a claim for housing benefit. There are only 2 charity hostels i know of in London, and they don't ask for money. Nearly all begging is to supplement booze and alcohol intake.

    - If you are homeless, ALWAYS have some form of ID with you. It will make your access to services so much easier. Ideally make it a birth certificate as you will be robbed for a passport.

    - As above, even if you are homeless, you can still claim benefits (mainly job seekers allowance, a lot can claim invalidity benefit due to diseases they've picked up on the street). All you do is put your nearest post office as your place of residence.

    - Drinkers are the worst in terms of self harm, personal hygiene and violence. Even a violent person who has been on crack for 3 days can be talked down from a confrontation. Drinkers will just want to fight you.

    - There is a hierarchy with the street population. Basically the drinkers look upon the drug users as rapists and prostitutes, while drug users often look upon drinkers as easy prey for their benefit money.

    - Get your first vomit in the first week of the job. You will be shown some nauseating sights, most of them faeces and infection based.

    If you have any queries about working with street people, i can give some lovely gruesome answers
  4.  (4956.12)
    For whatever reason, I've worked at movie theatres for almost 10 years. Some secrets, some bitching:

    -Asking for "fresh" popcorn makes you a douchebag. If you're at a theatre with a popper in the concession stand, you're getting the freshest possible popcorn, even if it's in a warmer, not the popper. The poppers don't have shit for heaters on them so the warmers make the popcorn taste better anyway.

    -If you are at a concession stand without a visible popper, chances are the popcorn is popped on a different floor then bagged and set out on racks for a few days (unless it's busy, in which case, probably only one day,) until they need more in the stand.

    -"Where are the bathrooms?" Is the absolute number one question in the movie theatre industry. Look for a sign, there are usually a lot of them.

    -Fake butter=Canola oil, Real butter=Butterfat(99% pure butter which is also pure fat.)

    -The concession mark-up is extravagant(really extravagant) but we barely make any money off of ticket sales.

    -I clean up more puke at the theatre in one month than the year and a half I worked at a bar.
    • CommentAuthorKosmopolit
    • CommentTimeFeb 6th 2009 edited
    I thought the real trade secret of healthcare was that modern medicine is a gigantic hoax and people really get better because doctors sacrifice chickens to the Loa. If you don;t get better, either your Doctor doesn't like you or they're cutting corners by using inferior poultry.
    • CommentAuthorE0157H7
    • CommentTimeFeb 6th 2009
    I consign out and then return what's left over of book fairs. The advice I have is to load everything into the van yourself. This is because these things are organized and executed by soccer moms and the like. You know that box that you wrote "FRAGILE! DO NOT STACK!" on? I hope you weren't terribly attached to it, because it just got a 50lb box of Stephanie Meyer books dropped on it.

    ...Which brings me to the second thing. Make a shelf just for vampire books in the stockroom. Keeping them all in one spot means that you don't have to figure out how to fit ten cubic feet of Stephanie Meyer books in an already overtaxed teen fiction shelf. Jesus, those bastards are big. As a side note, you are going to learn to hate Stephanie Meyer, bitterly.

    Finally, the last fair of the season gets the dregs. Sorry, guys. Usually we compile a list that's considerate of what school the fair is at, but the last one basically involves sweeping all the books off the mostly-empty shelves and consigning them.
  5.  (4956.15)
    I work for the government.

    Your tax money? Totally getting wasted.

    Yeah, I know: NOT A SECRET DOOD, but I'm just saying.
    • CommentAuthor256
    • CommentTimeFeb 6th 2009
    The only valuable thing I've ever learned from the world of work:

    Local government workers (ie The Council) actually do care about the banal things that you phone up to complain about - probably even more than you do, and certainly more than they should care - but they just really hate having to talk to irate members of the public.

    Not really a secret but wholly true & worth remembering.
      CommentAuthorJon Wake
    • CommentTimeFeb 6th 2009
    Bunch of years of security at bars and clubs.
    - Good bouncers are capable of violence but avoid it if they can. You've got to earn an ass whupping.
    - It's a tiny field, and your reputation is your resume. Unfortunately, everyone also gossips like little girls, so that rep may change over night.
    - Case in point: for a solid year I was referred to as "The Hawthorne Strangler." Don't ask.
    - The bouncer world is generally divided into solid guys, meatheads, and psychos. Meatheads like psychos because they can point them like guns, the solid cats like meatheads for the same reason.
    - It's really not nearly as Alpha male as you'd think.
    - Drunks are the most useless creatures on god's green earth. Don't get me wrong, I like the liquor, but when I'm hammered I'm barely a functional creature. You think you're some Behan-ian superdrinker? You're not.
    - I second that drunks being violent psychos. I've rolled on the ground with a tweaked out bum, and afterward sat him down and explained why things went like that. The only person I ever really hurt was just so drunk he didn't feel his shoulder pop out of joint. I trust coke heads over drunks.
  6.  (4956.18)
    I worked for politicians for several years as a policy adviser.

    1. Most politicians are neither stupid nor crooks.

    2. Media reports of behind-the-scenes political events are almost universally laughable incorrect. (As in, two politicians who've literally come to blows will be described as close friends. The passage of a Bill that was opposed bitterly by a politician will be reported as a triumph for him/her.)

    3. Most senior public servants ARE stupid, crooks or both.

    4. Changes of government have virtually no effect on the policies actually implemented.
    • CommentAuthorStefanJ
    • CommentTimeFeb 6th 2009
    Computer industry and electronics industry trade shows are the most boring, tedious events you can imagine. Press coverage that makes them seem like fun-filled geek gatherings are utterly wrongheaded.
  7.  (4956.20)
    * Metadata is garbage. The more labels you slap on the same file, the harder it gets to find that file.


    I use Access and Lightroom plus a paper filing system of my own design. When other people start adding tags and notes and Just. No.

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