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Archive for February, 2013

The Importance of Paying Earnest

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

One of the most irritating (nay, disrespectful) things a manager or organisation can do to a worker is send them home on Friday afternoon without money in their pockets. From experience, the larger the organisation the less the managers give a toss whether casual / part-time workers receive their wages. Obligations seem to stop at collection of the time sheets.

There are few things as demeaning as putting in daily effort in a workplace where everybody else can afford a cup of coffee, while you can’t get enough food onto your family dinner table. Even as a contractor, where you can invoice a period for payment limit like 30 days, the larger organisations will come back with their own payment policy of at least 40 days or higher. So you either take the work, or you let your competitor take it.

Not being paid for a few months happens. And from experience it happens to in-house part-time and casual workers with an even greater hit to morale and social well-being (because at least the contractor knows he’s on the outside). That’s the part that really boggles me; not paying someone is easy to fix by actually paying them. Cross their palms with silver.

There are a couple of relevant factors worth noting in my little gripe about OPDD (Organisational Payment Deficit Disorder).

The first is that a full-time employee has traditionally had a one-time blow at the pay office until things were sorted. However, organisations now employ as many part-time / casual workers as possible to maintain flexibility, save on the wages bill and to avoid being bound to any legal obligation to provide extraneous benefits afforded the real employees. Many of these non-permanent employees drop in-and-out of the organisation’s wages regime. Every time they drop back in, the non-payment issue returns as a systemic wound.

Yet, with all that saving being achieved there seems to be no determination (or skill) at either Human Resources or the pay office to get people payed promptly and without error. Absolutely every time I’ve worked for large organisations this has been a tiny little nightmare. There’s nothing like constantly being told you’ll get your pay this fortnight and not seeing it in your account on the day.

The second point is a little less flattering for those organisations. It has everything to do with the time value of money.

The longer funds stay in the organisation’s account (and this adds up to quite a lot of funds across the employment register), the richer the organisation’s account is for gaining interest and securing short-and-long-term finance.

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Film Photography is Analogue

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

This rant is in response to an article flicking around among film photographers authored by an artist, designer, illustrator and photographer from Chicago who appears to have a large cult following. Mine is a response based on my IT degree and a number of years as an IT professional. The author of that article, claiming film photography is not analogue, is wrong on a number of crucial points.

The place to start looking is basic first year undergraduate computer science (UTAS will reassure you that I graduated in December 2008. My marks were consistently in the top 5th percentile).

Really, the second place to start is the opposite of pedantry. Calling film photography by the term analogue is a social convention that shouldn’t make you feel offended or smart. It’s just what we call it. I’d suggest you make more pictures and enjoy your life. But otherwise… carry on reading.

A Photograph is the capture of an Analogue Wave

That author is wrong because he is trying to say that the process of information capture, stored on film (the picture), is neither digital or analogue but something else. I’m sorry but there is no “something else”; the only two ways you will store information is as analogue (continuous variable waves) or as binary (discretely sampled bits as 1s and 0s).

To explain. Light is an analogue series of waves, in the simplest of explanations. Or, to be more precise, a photon is a particle at rest (with a resting mass of zero) and displays the properties of a light wave while moving (where mass increases without limit as speed increases). Environmental (analogue) signal information passes through the camera’s aperture at a correct exposure onto the light sensitive material of film. Thus, the storage of the information, the picture, is a capture of analogue waves that enter the camera.

The primary difference between an analogue camera and a digital camera is how that analogue wave is captured and stored. A film camera attempts to capture a wave of continuous variable information. Please don’t email me to explain that light isn’t a wave, or that it doesn’t vary over time. Please resist. Please.

A digital camera takes samples from those analogous waves and stores them as 1s and 0s (which, read on a little later, is binary information). The digital camera uses mathematics to interpret the missing pieces of information to make up the stored picture. The mathematical term for this process is interpolation.

The confusion seems to come from the idea that the film picture is revealed and fixed by chemicals and therefore the photograph is “chemical storage”. That is scientifically untrue – you can choose your opinion but not your facts. The picture information is caught as a wave of photons (noting the dual nature of light) and then revealed on the film negative at a later date by developer and fixer chemicals, true. But if the information isn’t caught as the wave of photons collide with the film medium… then the bottle of developer must logically hold the picture – how else could my trip to the beach get across to the chemicals?

There are only two alternatives for captured information – analogue vs digital. It is ALSO correct to say film photography is a chemical process. It is. But it is incorrect to make the statement “film photography is not analog”. And it is entirely correct for somebody to assert that they shoot analogue photography… that is, they make pictures with a film camera (as opposed to a digital camera).

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ANZAC Day is Important for many Australians

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

Veterans march on ANZAC Day

In the last few years there has been criticism leveled at ANZAC Day.

They say ANZAC Day is nationalistic. I say it’s patriotic. They say it glorifies war. I say it respects those who have fought in our name and who serve in our defense. They say it’s not in line with modern principles of social equality. And I say, ANZAC Day respects a historic experience among living men and women that bonds in a way non-service citizens may not entirely comprehend.

They say it’s about Gallipoli. I say, all stories have a beginning whether a battle is lost or won.

They call our flag racist. I worry that people are lulled into some idea that wars only happen nowdays between rich countries and poor. I worry that chai tea comfort and iPhone convenience have spoiled a good crop of otherwise well intentioned Australians. Our flag encompasses a British heritage. That is just a fact of life. We are a constitutional monarchy, the Commonwealth of Australia.

I thought our country had learned its lesson with the shunning of Korean War and Vietnam Veterans. But I can tell you the parents of the fallen, the brothers and sisters, the children of those service personnel who gave life (and many-a-limb) experience a real connection to ANZAC Day. It’s not just a story marketed to the people. This is an ongoing shared story between service men and women and their loved ones.

To serving military personnel and reservists (over 80,000 Australians) it’s a day where we as a society stop just for a minute to say thank you. There are around 58,000 full time serving members, 22,000 active reservists and another 22,000 standby reserves. They all have families. They all have feelings.

The number of Australian ex-military personnel would be huge. Many a medal stands on the sidelines of the parade as the old men and young children pass.

To ex-military personnel it is also a day for society to say thank you. Thankyou for that effort. Thankyou for that leg. That relationship. Those five marriages. That piece of mind. And it’s a day where old friends are able to come together for a few quiet beers and remember the years when they served.

It’s not an easy job in peacetime. It’s a terrifying job in wartime. When you see old men shed tears at ANZAC Parades it’s not for rubbish ideals about Gallipoli. They are tears for the fallen, the lost and the maimed. Tears for memories that haunt their dreams a half a century after the event. A man my age at the Hobart Cenotaph this week couldn’t stem the tears. Don’t suggest they’re not real or invalid. The story behind those tears may be utterly profound to the human being.

ANZAC Day is probably lost on people who have never served. I understand that. But those who expect their beliefs to be respected should have the decency to respect the opinions and beliefs held by a large number of Australians.

Yes there should never be War. It’s an abomination. But if you for one second are foolish enough to believe we live in a World where socio-economic drivers aren’t going to lead us into mass conflict ever again you are naive in the extreme. The military has, and will again, lay down their lives for us if asked to do so.

If you don’t like ANZAC Day, don’t attend. Be respectful. Say thank you anyway.

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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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