Posts Tagged ‘technology’

Vancouver’s Other Dirty Little Secret

March 7, 2008

I’ve been looking for another revenue stream to supplement my self employment.  There just isn’t enough coming in yet, so I need a daytime job.  I’ve been trying to focus on established companies and the ones whose websites and job ads state that they are one of the fifty best companies to work for in Canada or BC.  Money, benefits, work conditions.

Unfortunately, I haven’t had a lot of luck with these organizations.  I don’t know what they’re looking for, but it doesn’t seem to be me.  My resume usually provokes a phone call and an interview.  But when I send it to one of these companies, nothing.  This is despite the fact that I easily meet the criteria.  You’d think large, established companies, some with international operations, would most value something like international sales experience involving talking to senior executives of multinationals.  Nope.  I guess it’s not useful here because, for all its apparent world class reputation and its multicultural population, Vancouver is rather parochial.  It is a branch office market, not a head office location.  Talking to the CEO isn’t something that people relate to or need.

There are some employers who would value it, though.  They could use someone who isn’t afraid to talk to a high net worth individual and ask for the money.  They aren’t well known companies and they’re not on the list of the fifty best companies to work for in Canada, BC, or anywhere.  They are Vancouver’s other dirty little secret, along with the downtown east side.

When most people think of Vancouver, they think of a beautiful city by the ocean set against a backdrop of mountains.  As they say in the real estate world – location, location, location.  No wonder I can’t afford real estate.  I’m not likely to either, unless I can find a legitimate way to make some decent money.  I say legitimate because what most people don’t know is that beautiful Vancouver is a centre for fraud.

Many of the telesales jobs here are actually fraud related, one way or another.  They sell lottery tickets, vacations, medications, or investments.  They focus on high net worth individuals or pensioners, usually in the U.S.  That’s not unusual.  Telesales fraud is usually done across borders to get around the law, no matter where in the world it happens.

These operations aren’t too difficult to spot, once you get a look at them.  I went to an interview years ago and checked out a company.  The only piece of office equipment in the phone room, other than the very basic phones, was a paper shredder at one end of the room.  There were no computers.  The staff had printed lists of leads in front of them on their cheap, table style desks.  The whole thing had an air of impermanence.

Recently, I saw an ad that seemed too good to be true.  Sixteen dollars an hour plus commission.  There was no company name, but there was a number to call.  I did some high tech sleuthing and searched the number on the web.  A number of articles came up.  One headline link was about a stock worth $0.001.  When I clicked on it, I found the page no longer existed.  Hmmm…

Another headline took me to a company website.  The phone number matched.  Apparently, they have an incredible new technology that will drastically reduce carbon emissions from cars.  Well, it is incredible that no one has heard of it yet, considering the fact that greenhouse gas emissions and global warming are in the news daily.  You’d think the news networks would be tripping over each other to do a story on it.  The section that explains how it all works was a pretty slick presentation accompanied by techno music (coz it’s the technology, get it?) that made no sense to me.

The most striking thing about this company, though, was it’s name.  Their product was an environmental solution for automobiles, but the name had no indication of environmental or automotive industry affiliation.  It included the word ‘capital’, however.  They’re in the capital raising business.

Remember that headline about shares worth $0.001?  They’re stock pumpers, something Vancouver has gained a bad reputation for.  Sixteen bucks an hour plus commission is pretty good, by local standards, but I don’t want to participate in fraud to make a living.

Hands On or Manual?

January 22, 2008

I recently bought a digital camera during the Post-Boxing Week sales.  Or is it the New Year sales?  The Let’s Milk This Thing For Everything It’s Worth sales?  Whatever.  Why not just give me the best price all the time?

And, while we’re at it, now that the Canadian dollar is roughly at par with the American dollar, how about charging us the same price?  The same REGULAR price – not a sale price that brings it down to the American regular price.  I don’t buy the excuses they give for charging us more.  We’re subsidizing the American market.

Anyway, it was just a simple, inexpensive little camera for some quick snaps.  I thought I’d ease into digital before dropping a bomb on a digital SLR that I could use all my lenses with.  But, this little ninety nine dollar wonder appears to be capable of way more than I thought.  It even records movies – and with sound!  I doubt they would be of very high quality, but it could be a useful feature in the right moment if there’s nothing better at hand.

I don’t know these things for certain, though, because I haven’t actually used the damn thing, yet.  You see, I haven’t even set the camera up yet because I haven’t made it through the instruction manual.  It seems to be designed to make you not want to read it.  It’s repetitive, unclear, and just plain annoying.  It’s so annoying, in fact, that every time I pick it up, I put it down again and do something else.

I should probably just play around with the camera and figure it out myself.  A menu system is a menu system, after all.  But, as the one clear part of the manual says, digicams are pigs for batteries.  I’m worried the batteries will die before the self-guided tutorial is over.

Never mind that, it’s a beautiful sunny day and there may even be a couple more of those this week.  There are such things as rechargeable batteries.  Throw caution to the wind.  Live dangerously.  Just pick the thing up and use it.

If you happen to be an executive in a foreign consumer goods/electronics corporation, I’m available for writing services at reasonable rates.

Analogue Makes Life Easier

January 12, 2008

It may come as a surprise to you that I’ve recently rediscovered some decidedly analogue technology that is helping to increase my productivity.  It comes as a surprise to me because I hate radio.  That is surprising in itself, considering I was a DJ for four years.

The corporatization of rock radio, and the shortening of playlists that went along with it, was enough to put many people off the medium.  When you hear Led Zeppelin every hour on every station, it becomes a tad predictable.  It can also make you sick of them.  Every few years, I put on some Zeppelin and remember how good they were.  You’re better able to appreciate something without the overkill.

But there is something I’ve started listening to on the radio and it allows me to be more productive by multitasking.  This is no mean feat.  Multitasking is not a skill I could ethically include on my resume.  If I try to manage three burners on the stove, for instance, or do something else while dinner is cooking, inevitably something sticks to the pot.  What I listen to is hockey.

By listening to the Canucks games on the radio, I can work at the computer – writing this blog, for instance – without missing the action.  I can hear it without having to watch it.  Then I can watch the highlights on the news later.  I can even take my hands off the keyboard to clap when the good guys score, without seriously interrupting my workflow.  I no longer have to choose between catching the game or working.  I can do both at the same time.  Isn’t that amazing?

Believe it or not, this wouldn’t have occurred to me not so long ago.  Having grown up in the television age, I think of hockey as something you watch.  And when you watch something, you set time aside for it.  But there are other things I want to do, too.  Now, with a little compromise, I can do both.

Of course, I still watch some games, here at home or sometimes in a bar, with a crowd.  You have to take breaks, too.  But I don’t have to watch every game, like I used to.  So, I generally listen to most games on weeknights, rather than watch.

In a digital world that puts everything at our fingertips and encourages us to want it all, there’s a certain irony in an old analogue technology, which I had considered obsolete, enabling me to do more.