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Archive for January, 2013

Technically I’m no longer a Web Developer

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

It’s been a good four years since I threw in my last paid ride as a web developer… hired for my CSS (cascading stylesheet) expertise in a now defunct public sector department. Time passes faster than you’d think in the quiet leafy suburbs.

As a web professional, in various capacities, I’ve worked for the Tasmanian Department of Education performing quality assurance; TAFE as a part-time teacher; the now defunct Department of Environment, Parks, Heritage and the Arts as a contract and then part-time in-house web developer; and, numerous private sector clients and organisations in Hobart, Melbourne, Sydney, Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, the UK and Dubai.

Since then, I’ve finally graduated from the Bachelor of Computing and gained a Master of Business Administration (Specialisation) with some post-graduate study in Journalism. Don’t get me started on the yard arm of industry level certification that sits in my drawers from TAFE and Cisco. Over the years I’ve done pre-vocational plumbing, a certificate in commercial / industrial cleaning, an IT certificate 2, an IT certificate 3 (General), an IT certificate 4 (Website Design), an IT certificate 4 (Website Administration), Cisco’s CCNA1 Networking and CCNA2 Routers and Routing Basics.

I quit that last paid work because the environment was unhealthy. It’s crazy to think a government department would hire somebody specifically for their CSS (cascading stylesheet) expertise and then allow the design team leader to openly fling verbal abuse in a partitioned environment while they all pretend it isn’t happening. And, in such an environment, one dares not open the conversation about strategic ways to improve processes – for example, when a project comes in 3 years overdue and over budget there is a need for a post mortem or after-party. Apparently, in the public sector this would be blaming and shaming. So, that’s where your tax dollars disappear. I currently owe over AUD$50,000 in education debt to the Australian Government.

What really did disenchant me with the web development industry? Clients who you have to physically pull content out of with steel forceps. People willing to work for $5 an hour and clients who want to hire from India or Bulgaria and ask if you can match their prices. If only things were cut and dried and every client had content and every employer gave at least a passing concern about doing things the best way.

So I stepped away from web development work entirely.

But I got to thinking in the last few weeks about how I self-identify. Jokingly, I call myself a stay at home bum but the truth of the matter is I don’t know what I am anymore. I haven’t shipped commercial web development since the end of 2008, so although I’m in step with industry practice it probably isn’t valid to call myself a web-anything anymore. Most of my industry related reference library has been handed away for good causes to make way for more interesting stuff.

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Old Film:: Two Men in a Truck, South West Tasmania (circa 1940s)

Saturday, January 26th, 2013

South West Tasmania was a particularly hard place to eke a living in the middle of the 20th Century. This photograph is scanned from a 6cm x 9cm film negative made by my grandmother Elvie Ruth Bonner (1901-1986). I have no idea who the men in these photographs could have been but they were obviously important to my grandmother’s photography. The work to be had included back-breaking and dangerous hard labour as our infrastructure got built by itinerant workers, a high proportion from devastated Europe. So, to that end, I don’t know the slightest thing about these men except they worked hard and long hours. This photograph would have probably been made sometime from the mid-1940s through to the mid-1950s.

Two workers in a truck, South West Tasmania

900,000 Australian Dead since 1950

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

One of the subjects from my MBA this semester was Economics for Managers, boring subject matter with interesting applications in the real world (even if I don’t agree with everything being proposed). One of the assignments led Dominik Ziomek and myself to explore Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s proposal to remove all branding from cigarette packets and dramatically increase cigarette tax.

To put cigarettes into their real context… the Australian population is around 21.5 million. Since 1901, including both World Wars, we’ve lost 102,807 servicemen to conflict (according to the official records of the Australian War Memorial). That’s since Federation.

The official figures for Australian deaths as a result of cigarette addiction since 1950 are 900,000. Yes, nearly a million people have died as a result of smoking cigarettes in the last 59 years.

So, if you count all the costs of cigarette smoking including palliative care and other medical expenses of maintaining a mass of slow deaths within the population, as well as lost productivity of 900,000 potential workers then we’re definately not doing as well out of cigarette addiction in the long run as we appear to be in the short run. Kevin Rudd is actually right and regardless of whatever the cigarette companies whine about their loss of branding – they are costing our country significantly. In fact, were any other country responsible for 900,000 dead Australians we’d be demanding a war.

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About the Author

Steven Clark Steven Clark - the stand up guy on this site

My name is Steven Clark (aka nortypig) and I live in Southern Tasmania. I have an MBA (Specialisation) and a Bachelor of Computing from the University of Tasmania. I'm a photographer making pictures with film. A web developer for money. A business consultant for fun. A journalist on paper. Dreams of owning the World. Idea champion. Paradox. Life partner to Megan.

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