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    • CommentAuthorlead_pipe
    • CommentTimeFeb 13th 2009
    Economic / statistical analysis

    - Analysts can't predict the future. The best technical analysts (guys I used to work with) get it right maybe 55% - 60% of the time. If their success rate was higher, they wouldn't need clients to make money - they'd just play the market themselves.

    - People are in awe of numbers, and that is why a lot of crap analysts have a job*. Numbers should be treated with suspicion. They are normally compiled by (a) government, (b) companies trying to sell you stuff or (c) special-interest groups. Data are almost always dirty. They are analysed by people with inherent biases. They are interpreted by morons.

    - Economic journalists are morons. They are writers who have a year of economic studies, tops. When I read the way basic concepts are misinterpreted**, I want to reach through the newpaper and punch the reporter hard.

    - When we spend days building a big multivariate statistical regression model of, oh let's say the manufacturing sector, and after using all the logical variables that should predict manufacturing activity we get a forecast that's bullshit, we adjust the forecasts up / down, based on what we think the numbers are going to be. This belief is based on our personal biases. Yes, it's circular logic, self-fulfilling prophecy, and so on. More honest analysts will try to include an 'adjustment factor' or dummy variable to account for this.

    - As many other people have mentioned, in many diverse contexts, if the client is a dick, the project's costs will be padded. If the client is kind, polite, and intelligent, we'll bring the cost down. Most of the time consultants charge an hourly rate, and we can justify a detailed breakdown of project items and sub-items in our sleep.

    - Being a dick usually entails: having a vague idea of the project; being prepared to pay way too little for the work spec, belittling our efforts / profession, refusing to pay on time, trying to extract extra work after the terms of contract have been signed off. Many clients at my old job were in government / parastatals. These organisations are notorious for their internal bureaucracy and sub-intelligent staff.

    University lecturering / teaching

    - You grow to hate most students very quickly. You realise just how lazy and stupid most students are, and you have the benefit of having been a student yourself.

    - This means that you *know* that students' excuses are bullshit 95% of the time, that they copied the assignment, and that they are cheating in the exam.

    - I like tits. A lot. But I don't give special privileges to first-year girls who ask for extensions and favours in a low-cut top and a little-girl voice. If I really really like you, I will wait until there is no longer a teacher-student relationship before asking you out. I'm not scared of being fired***, but I tend to take the job seriously. Maybe more seriously than I should.

    *Admit it, some of you believe that the numbers I quoted in the first paragraph are gospel. They are close to the truth, because the best analysts are right a bit more than half the time, but not as much as 75%. You believe that number also? Good.

    **Evergreen example: If the inflation rate is falling, it doesn't mean prices are falling. It means they are rising a bit slower than last month.

    ***The proportion of teachers who bang their students is roughly 85.9032%
    • CommentAuthorKosmopolit
    • CommentTimeFeb 13th 2009
    "When we spend days building a big multivariate statistical regression model of, oh let's say the manufacturing sector, and after using all the logical variables that should predict manufacturing activity we get a forecast that's bullshit, we adjust the forecasts up / down, based on what we think the numbers are going to be."

    Except when the client tells you approximately what result they want, in which case the starting assumptions are massaged to get the desired result.

    Does a 5% hurdle rate make that new motor racing track look like a bad investment? Well here's a paper that argues the appropriate public sector hurdle rate is 4%.
  1.  (4956.3)
    I used to work on a ferryboat for extremely rich people to get out to a private island where they could tell themselves they were sequestered from a public that did not, in fact, care.

    Nouveau riche are, about 75% shitheels. They have all the money in the world and no idea what they want, except the respect of the established, moneyed elite, so they all buy the same stupid SUVs (then freak out when there's no more room on the deck for their monstrous car), wear a uniform of khaki shorts, Mount Gay hats and $200 sandals. The men refuse to listen and the women despair of doing anything for themselves. They appear to be quite insecure.

    I avowed if I were ever a millionaire, I'd use my money to enjoy life. Louis Armstrong did this and he was one of the happiest people ever.

    Old rich can be surprisingly cool. They're used to it and they have nothing to prove. They skew in personality much more like the rest of society. But they too have strata -- some, of which Paris Hilton is an extreme example, have absolutely no frame of reference or idea of value, of having to give up something to get something. They tend not to see other human beings as real people, but as objects.

    There were lots of swell people on that island, though.
  2.  (4956.4)
    I'm a safety and risk consultant:

    Some advise, some rants


    - If my quotes are too heavy for preparing key documents, it means that the designer/contractor you are using is a pain and will waste a lot of my time.
    - If the project gets more time/construction added on - it will cost more
    - If you have one project in two parts, my quote for the two parts combined will be cheaper than the two parts split
    - I give you advise for your own good, you hire a professional, why not take his advice?
    - Get as many investigations as possible, that way there are less suprises!
    - The (UK) CDM Regs 2007 put a lot more responsibility on the client - meaning, if you don't supply information/research or realise this, you could go to jail!
    - I do what I can to stop the above point, or you will not pay me.
    - As long as I am under budget, do not complain


    - I will ask questions, not give solutions - that would make me a designer and I don't want that.
    - Your client should provide you with information
    - If your drawings are not clear, nor will the contractor
    - Speak to the contractor, ofter, they have to work to your design
    - Don't send me 10mb emails
    - A line on a map if not a cable/pipe route
    - 'passing everything onto the contractor' is not how you design out risks


    - Ask me questions, I will propbably work with you again, and I don't like repeating myself
    - If the client sets a goal, you will try to achieve it - its a goal, not a must!
    - I am not out to get you/shut you down.
    - Yes, my kids still play conkers
    - If i have an issue I will explain to you in small words
    - I don't belive you if you have been on site for a year, and never had an accident.
    - Record meetings, chats, people and issues - even in a day book.
  3.  (4956.5)
    This thread is the proverbial boom-diggy.

    I work clientside as a web designer for a blue-chip cosmetics company, but I spent a lot of time freelancing. The two aren't that different, except for instead of sitting about in my robe eating coco-pops all day, I have to wear shiny shoes and smile at rightwing-corporate-swiss-tony-look-a-likes who always smile back (but think you're some sort of drug dealing hooligan who would key their precious toyota RAV4 if they gave you the chance). Ahem...

    Here are some rules/best practices/ideals that will make your life as a freelancer bearable.

    1) That photoshop masterpiece you spent two days on will probably be heavily amended by the client - for your own sanity learn to live with changes and learn how to compromise.
    2) If the client has an absolutely ridiculous suggestion, don't tell them that - offer alternatives and explain why your idea is better (not why theirs is worse).
    3) Planning. Planning is vital. At the start of a project, create your sitemap and wireframes and get them signed off by the client. Now you have a nice list you can tick off as you do it and any pages the client wants adding you will be able to charge them extra (which is only fair).
    4) Regarding sign-offs - there is absolutely no problem with telling a client that something will cost them more if it's not in the brief they originally signed off. Let them know that they should get their spec 100% solid before they sign off, because adding stuff later will cause no end of problems with the timeframe and end up costing them more.
    5) Conversly, if something you've done isn't as it was specced, don't even think about charging the client for it. Your mistake, you pay for it.
    6) If you're developing as well as designing, build yourself a reuseable abstract codebase, you'll save yourself no-end of time and you can still charge the client for the time it originally took to make. I spent a whole month without clients building myself a rock-solid CSS, AJAX and PHP framework. I ate a lot of 50p noodles that month, but afterwards I was able to handle three clients a month (average of £2000 per client - ka-ching!!!).
    7) Time management is essential - get yourself a big whiteboard and write down what you have to do each day, week and month. Stick to it.
    8) Always answer the phone/reply to emails. Whatever issue it is it won't go away by ignoring it.
    9) Most business you will receive will be from word of mouth. Make sure you are curtious, punctual and professional and you'll be so busy you'll be turning clients away.
    10) Get a dedicated office space. Working in your bedroom/living room is not productive. You need to seperate your professional life from your private one. Also, let your clients know that they can phone you during normal business hours, anything outside that they will need to send an email which will be picked up the next day. If they're nice people there's nothing wrong with replying to emails after office hours, but make sure they don't become accustomed to it.

    For freelancers the most important time saving, economical, sanity-preserving thing I did was....
    GET AN ACCOUNTANT. Seriously. Just get one. Now. Not your mate who did business studies at A-Level. A chartered accoutant. Google it.
    • CommentAuthorKosmopolit
    • CommentTimeFeb 13th 2009
    A general retail one: if you are a regular customer, the sales staff will assign you a pet name. You will hear this name except by accident.

    Some examples:

    Porno Guy
    Cry-or (of Eternia)
    Rabbity Man
    NAF (an acronym for "Nazi animal Fucker")

    These names will be used by the staff quite casually: "Porno Guy was in and picked up his special order." "The rabbit brought that back for store credit." "I ran into NAF down the pub last night."
    • CommentAuthorKosmopolit
    • CommentTimeFeb 13th 2009 edited
    Remember the old cliche about the psychotic postal worker running amok? Ever wonder why you don't hear about that any more?

    Most mail sorters have been replaced by OCR machines.

    I worked as a mail sorter while at uni.

    The pay was shit, you had to work shifts. The job actually required a fair degree of skill and intelligence - you had to memorise a couple of thousand town/suburb names and post codes and sort a hundred or so handwritten letters into the correct mail routes in a minute. Supervisors with stop watches stood over you to ensure you kept up the pace.

    The supervisors also used to play a game called musical chairs. That's where you have 55 sorters on a shift and 50 seats on the sorting primary. Last five people back from break get to load trucks.

    Because the conditions were shit, the people who took the job were a mix of students, ex-cons, drug addicts; compulsive gamblers; psych cases and cult members.

    Given the shit I saw, it was surprising there weren't more spree killings. Acid flashbacks, nervous breakdowns and punch-ups in the break room were pretty much weekly events.

    God knows where all those people went when the OCR machines put them out of jobs. Probably telemarketing at a guess.
    • CommentTimeFeb 13th 2009
    If you have a job where you have to communicate with human beings:
    Read How to win friends and influence people. It's like hacking people.

    Freelance computer repair:
    - Don't carry product. It depreciates in value WAY to fast. You can usually order anything you need overnight. If clients need it that fast, they'll pay for the shipping.
    - Charge what you're worth. You're worth more than you think you are. I charge $25 to walk in your door and do nothing, $50 an hour after that. I'm cheap because I live in a very small town. If I were in a metro area, it'd be double that. People will assume you're worth whatever you charge, so if you charge $10 an hour, they'll think you're crap. If you can double your rates and only lose half of your clients, then you should do it.

    From when I worked at Geek Squad (pre-BestBuy Corruption)
    - If you come in talking on your cell phone, I will not help you until you hang up. I have more important things to do, and obviously so do you.
    - If you built your own computer and it doesn't work, I don't want to fix it for you. I really don't want to fix it.
    - I'll charge you more an hour to fix your printer than your printer is worth. Go buy a new printer.

    Also, second that all of your porn will be looked at. I spent some time doing nothing but data recovery. I really didn't care about stuff that was downloaded. Mainly looked for stuff with the client in it. Saw some really nice honeymoon shots.
  4.  (4956.9)
    doctors make fun of odd looking patients. little kids get stamped with the acronym FLK...funny looking kid. seriously.
    • CommentAuthorKosmopolit
    • CommentTimeFeb 13th 2009
    "I'll charge you more an hour to fix your printer than your printer is worth. Go buy a new printer."

    My business no longer worries about PC repairs - we have a stack (literally) of ex-government machines we bought for a $100 each. We back up daily and at the first sign of trouble just take another machine off the stack. The old machines are given to staff for home use on a caveat emptor basis.
    • CommentTimeFeb 13th 2009
    @Kosmopolit - Do you have to install software on those computers, or are they just ready to go? You have people on staff who are capable of restoring from a backup I take it. Many people, sadly, are not.
    • CommentAuthorKosmopolit
    • CommentTimeFeb 13th 2009
    They come with an XP license and a freeware/shareware disc with open Office. Firefox et cetera.
    • CommentAuthorThomDunn
    • CommentTimeFeb 13th 2009 edited
    I work in theatre in a few different capacities.

    --Theatre is expensive, but there are tons of ways to get decent tickets for dirt cheap, or free. Of course, if everyone knew that, we wouldn't have the millions of dollars from those rich, rich subscribers that helps to sustain our business.

    --My company tickets for multiple shows by many other theatre companies. When I ask what show you are here to see, answering "this one" really doesn't help the situation at all. That being said, each company for the most part fills its own niche, so if you're black, gay, old, or Irish, I usually know where you're going anyway, but I still ask because I don't want to make it painfully obvious that I'm judging you.

    --I really don't care how about how hard of a time you had parking in one of the most popular residential and restaurant and arts neighborhoods in downtown Boston, nor do I care why you are late or that your cat is sick. I hate cats.

    --If you have to ask: yes, he/she is probably gay. Granted, I say this as a straight man that people often assume is gay, but still. I'm one of maybe 5 exceptions I've met in the last 5 years?

    --For some reason, people continue to support and enjoy theatre simply on the grounds that it is theatre. Regardless of how hard the artists try to produce a quality piece of drama, people tend to praise it just for being theatre. No, I don't understand it, but some of the worst shows I've seen or been involved with were still somehow successful, in a way that an equivalent film would never be.

    --The majority of our demographic makes about 5 times as much money as anyone who is working on the shows (except, ya know, the WAY higher-ups), and this makes it even more insulting when they (a) don't tip at any of the countless ridiculous benefits/galas that are thrown, or (b) speak to you with the condescending fascination that one normally reserves for very strange foreigners.

    And most importantly:
    --At any given time, yes, someone is probably drunk, and everyone is expected to be drunk at certain times as well.
  5.  (4956.14)

    * On a teller's screen, sometimes the acronym 'AH' will come up when the pull up your account. That's because you're an asshole.

    * Use a smaller local bank and not a national bank. The FDIC's charter was written before national banking was legal, and its reserves don't have enough to cover one of the major nationals going under. Also, your check will float longer the smaller the bank you work with.

    * A friend and I put together a bulletproof plan to jump country with six hundred million dollars before the bank realized what had happened. Sometimes I really kick myself for being inherently honest and law-abiding. Instead, I pointed out how to do it and the bank changed its entire operational layout to prevent it from happening.

    * Most tellers really are raging sluts. Especially the older ones. Male and female.

    * The personal bankers are even bigger sluts. Male and female.

    * The real freaks work in the back, though.

    * Most bank employees have a genuine concern for their customers, especially at the local, smaller banks. The shit I would see people doing to their elderly parents at the bank made me cry on occasion. Once I threatened to quit if they made me process the transaction where a man emptied out his parents' accounts. We had to call the police over that one.

    * I was held up in two robberies, once with a bomb, the other with a gun to the back of my head. If you ever plan to rob a bank: Don't. It's a federal crime, you won't make enough money to make it worth it, and you will fuck up peoples' lives. Steal a check book, and you'll make more and it's not federal.

    * One time, one of my tellers said, "Rob, my drawer smells like shit." We went through it and found a five dollar bill that someone had used to wipe their ass. What did we do? Lysol'ed it down and handed it out through the drive-through.

    I later called my Mom who has been in banking since 1970, and told her about the shit-caked fiver, and she said, and I quote, "So what'd you do, Lysol it down and hand it out through the drive-through?" Paper money is disgusting.

    * The first thing people do with a stolen check book? Order a pizza.

    * The first thing people do with a stolen debit card? Buy gas.

    * The stolen check books and debit cards are 95% of the time taken by a teenage dependent, or by a spouse that's about to leave you.

    * Most people won't make a report on stolen checks and cards, because we will refund them, but we will then contact the police to arrest the person who stole it.

    Title Insurance:

    * The mortgage companies really did know they were fucking all of you.

    * At the same time, I could not believe people were signing those things and going through with the loans. They really did expressly say they were going to fuck you.

    * There was so much illegal shit going on I couldn't believe it, and when I set up a department that did everything the correct way and above the table, we were ridiculed and despised, until it got to the point they shut down our whole division.

    Phone Center:

    * We really are human beings on the other side.

    * There are dicks on the phones at call centers, but most of us hate them and actively try to get their asses fired.

    * Instead, they're normally promoted.

    * One day I did an informal poll and found over half of our staff, including myself, had at one point worked for a sales cult. JUICE, anyone?

    * If you're a jerk to me on the phone, I'm normally not only not going to help you, I'm going to go out of my way to make your situation worse. And I can fuck up your day, buddy. But if I can tell you're just projecting, I will put in the extra effort to improve your situation.

    * If you call a call center and get someone who's a prick, though, don't fuck around with them and just demand a supervisor right away. Get that asshole fired.

    * We get a lot of calls from an outsourcing company from India, and every now and then they pick their American names (sometimes they use American-sounding names when they call) from the wrong list, and you'll get a man saying, "Hello, my name is...Nancy." One of my coworkers even said, "Dude, you've got a girl's name." Sometimes they'll have not much of a grasp on English, and you'll get something great like when they spell something and deliver a gem like, "A as in 'Mother'." Still, I don't know how to do the equivelant of my job in India, and I don't speak any of their languages.

    * We make fun of you after the call's over. When it's really good, we'll call our supervisors to listen to the recording of the call so that they can laugh, too.

    * I had to take a drug test to work at a gas station, but not to work for a call center or a bank.
  6.  (4956.15)
    continuing that, i had to take a drug test at a supermarket, but not once in the medical field where i am privvy to all sorts of documents and materials that, were i a shady fucker, are easily stolen and sold at a high profit.
    • CommentAuthorKosmopolit
    • CommentTimeFeb 13th 2009
    "* I had to take a drug test to work at a gas station, but not to work for a call center or a bank. "

    When I signed up to be trained as a tax auditor, I was asked to sign a declaration that I hadn't been convicted of any pecuniary offence.

    Murderers were okay but they didn't want any thieves.
    • CommentTimeFeb 13th 2009
    Addendum to the call center- DO NOT call in either a) for a relative, or b) pretending to BE that relative. We can always tell, we WILL call you on it, and we'll put potential fraud notes on the account.
    • CommentAuthorE0157H7
    • CommentTimeFeb 13th 2009 edited
    @robschamberger - Holy crap. What are you even supposed to do during a robbery, aside from comply? Do they give you any training or advice, or is it more of a "learn as it happens" experience?
  7.  (4956.19)

    On the Call Center, you speak some real truth about the occasional assholes in the system.

    My heat was disconnected by mistake. My mom died and I'd shut off her utilities. The bills had been coming to my apartment and evidently a \wire got cross and it was January and I woke up to find a very cold house. My landlord had let People's Gas in. They never said they were doing a turn off, never checked to see if the unit was occupied and shut it off when the temperature was below freezing. All illegal in Illinois by the way, but fuck that I woke up, tripped over the cat and a piece chipped off.

    I was literally shivering when I called. The heat was out 12 hours by this point, 8 of which I'd been asleep. I was trying real hard to be polite, then the call center guy told me it would be 6 days to get a person out there. Mind you, turning on the gas, takes about 5 minutes. I know this, I've seen them do this. I was livid, but controlled. I don't yell at call center people, that's childish. I offered to pay an additional fee, I said I could be available any time. "It's six days. I can't do nothing for you. It's not MY fault. Pay your bills on time." I kept my calm. I said this was a mistake, if he looked he'd see I'd order the shut off, but not for this address. My mother had died a month before, this was for her home.
    "Not my fault your mother died."

    I don't have a lot of power in this world, but I know a few people in a few places in Chicago business and government. I was raised an Irish Catholic in a city run by Irish Catholics. I know a guy who knows a guy who knows Daley.

    I not only got this ape fired, they're pretty much blackballed. If he's working in Chicago, he's working for cash under the table these days.
    • CommentAuthorKosmopolit
    • CommentTimeFeb 14th 2009 edited
    From retail management:

    1. Management is spying on the staff, even if they say they aren't. That guy who came in and dropped $500 on what's normally a really quiet day? The manager's cousin. That extra $50 bill in the till - the manager stuck it in there to see if you'd report it.

    2. That really clever trick you're pulling on management? (Like say adjusting your leaving time in the shift book from 4.15 to 4.45.) Chances are management knows about it and has decided you're too valuable to fire or is training your replacement in preparation for firing you.

    3. Management expects a certain degree of staff theft. If you go over the top with it you will be fired. If you are sufficiently blatant about it and/or encourage others to steal you will be fired. Quick rule of thumb: swiping drinks = okay; using you staff discount card to buy stuff for friends = okay; hauling plasma screen TV out of the shop = jail time.

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