giveamouse: Chocolate chip cookie (Default)
Maybe I just need to stop reading tech news, no matter the source. Or something.

Article after article talks about a "talent shortage" in the software industry. Supposedly, the unemployment problems of the past few years don't exist in the tech sector. Anybody looking should be able to find a job if they can program their way out of a wet paper bag.

One of two things must be true:

1) There is no lack of good programmers, and all the news stories, blog posts, tweets and articles that say otherwise are wrong. The CEOs who post to news.ycombinator.com are simply unable to bother sifting through the vast numbers of qualified applicants, so they write posts claiming they can't find anybody, but in fact they can't be bothered to look much. The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and NPR can't do basic research, and accept the idea that programmers are somehow extremely rare. The world is awash with capable software developers, and the unemployment rate *isn't* different for programmers vs. non-programmers. There is no tech boom, much less bubble, and the widespread frustration good programmers feel over not being able to find work is somehow not being expressed, anywhere, despite the internet being ideal as a medium for expressing this - the unemployed just don't blog, or comment. I'm probably just one voice among many that are silently frustrated.

or:

2) The journalists and CEOs are right- there aren't enough good programmers, and it's increasingly difficult for employers to be very picky when they are lucky enough to learn of someone actually looking for work who can write code at all. Therefore, my existence as a rather persistently unemployed programmer, given that I've been actively looking, entails that I'm not employable. There's something about me that is reprehensible to potential employers, and nobody who is aware of it has the stomach to bring it to my attention. Maybe because it's something I'm unable or unwilling to change, or maybe because I wouldn't accept it, so there's no point in telling me and making me unnecessarily upset. I just need to take what little evidence I have, turn away from the tech industry, and stop looking back. The problem really *is* me.

Is there a third option? Why else would an even *adequate* software developer be unable to find work when everyone seems to be screaming about there not being enough good programmers to hire?

I have two options:

1) Try harder. Do more to demonstrate my abilities, keep applying, something will change eventually, but it's apparently not something I have much control over. Maybe I can manage to get a job, as soon as I can beat my way past all the other candidates out there. Take *one* of my projects and make it something good enough that it can't be ignored, so I'm more obviously worth hiring. The news is wrong. The CEOs, blogs, twitter, they're all wrong.

2) Find a new path. Stop looking back. Don't let a computer hobby get in the way of finding a job I can actually be considered capable of doing, ignoring whether I actually am or not, since it won't matter outside of the hobbyist context anyway. Time to go back to college for something that will actually work for me, because this apparently isn't it.

Other options?

I know that depression makes for rather black-and-white, binary judgments on things, but really, is there anything else? Stick with it, or start over?
giveamouse: Chocolate chip cookie (chocolate-chip)
U+1F42D: šŸ­

(If you lack the appropriate font, it's a mouse's face)

Yay, unicode!

Causes

Feb. 24th, 2011 02:39 pm
giveamouse: Chocolate chip cookie (Default)
A friend just pointed me to this lolcat, which made me smile. I've gotten some job applications out lately, for a change. And in the process, I've learned something important about myself.

Read more... )
giveamouse: Chocolate chip cookie (Default)
I think I've finally found a good combination of antidepressants. It's usually a little hard to tell, but there's definitely a floor now.

Without antidepressants, there seems to be a bottomless pit in my mind - my mood can just go down, and down, and further down. And there's a feedback loop, almost a kind of gravity, as it picks up momentum quite easily.

Antidepressants set up a floor across that pit, some way down. My mood can drop, but it can only go so far before something prevents it from going past a certain point. And my mood can spend a long time crawling around at the lowest possible point allowed, and it can get through the floor if I spend a lot of time dwelling on things, but once my mind has any kind of distraction, the floor comes back.

It doesn't make me feel better, not really. Not even a little. It just stops the freefall.

My roommate has cable TV. My recommendation to anybody who suffers from depression: don't watch TV. At all. Doesn't matter whether it's a comedy or not, it doesn't help at all. And if anyone ever suggests you watch the recent HBO movie "Sunset Limited," don't. TV won't help your outlook, but it certainly can hurt it.
giveamouse: Swiss cheese (cheese)
So, I'm getting settled in at a friend's place, with over 90% of what I own in storage. I don't want to impose. Feeling like I'm imposing is inevitable, since this friend is the reason I'm not homeless, so I'm just trying to manage that feeling. Though having a PO Box and a storage unit makes me feel homeless anyway.

But things are improving slightly. It seems that wellbutrin is making a notable improvement in my ability to cope at all.

I even managed to work on job applications the other day. If that isn't a notable improvement, I don't know what is.

One of my frustrations for a long time is that I feel there are rather few people I know in person that I'm really want to talk about computer-related stuff with. It's not that I don't know enough computer geeks - I certainly do, but I've grown distant from many of them as I've struggled with my long-term career goals. It feels strange both wanting to discuss technical ideas with other people *and* having a very heavy feeling of obligation that if I talk about it at all, I'm making it harder to put the profession behind me.

Right now, though, I'm looking for programming jobs, because that's what I know and have experience in. It simply pays better than the alternatives, because linguistics has turned out to be an extraordinarily unemployable degree to have unless I can uproot and move to wherever the next job is.

So I've been considering doing a separate blog someplace of (non-personal) technical stuff that I can associate my real name with, because then I can un-bottle all these ideas. Another likely benefit: potential employers will want to see some evidence of clue when they google for me. I'm still hoping that by using a pseudonym, I can become more comfortable expressing myself online -- owning things as mine in any case, but with a separation between my public face and that where I can speak more freely.
giveamouse: Chocolate chip cookie (Default)
I pack for a few hours, and then I cry for a few hours. That's the way things are right now.

Going through my things, I'm finding a lot of stuff I don't care about. Lots of nonfiction I have little real use for, but appealed to my inner data packrat. Papers from college, lots of computer books I'm scared to open for fear that it will make it easier for me to continue the status quo. Most of the fiction I own, I don't see why I'm keeping. Most of it really isn't that good, most of it I've had since before college, before I developed the skill of knowing what's worth buying. I haven't listened to anything in my CD collection in years. It's not a matter of age - it's jazz, which I still like. It's that I really haven't listened to music at all in years.

My digital piano is very dusty, and it will have to go live with my dad for a while. I haven't really played in years, either.

I don't like who I've become. She doesn't either. She needs me to get a hold on my depression and anxiety, to get a job and keep it for long enough to show that I'm worth being around. She still loves me, but her life needs to move forward, with or without me.

Most of my life is going in storage this weekend, so the next few days will involve a lot more packing, and a lot more crying.
giveamouse: Chocolate chip cookie (Default)
There really is no good reason that I haven't written in a long time. Oh, well.

I start classes again next week. I'm taking coursework that will be a prerequisite for any graduate work I'd want to do in speech pathology, but it's really quite basic stuff. I feel a little silly taking some of it, because I already know about half the material that will be taught. I'll just need to deal with the busywork, but this hasn't put much of a damper on my enthusiasm for going back to school. I really miss it, a lot.

I haven't been reading as much fiction in the past couple months. Lots of non-fiction, though. I've been doing some volunteering for a non-profit in town that has lately started to seem like a complete waste of everyone's time and energy, which is disappointing.

I've even had a couple job interviews for software-development-related jobs which have also been disappointing. One because it looked like I'd be likely to lose money rather than make any (long, useless story), and the other because the guy who was "hiring" got a deer-in-the-headlights look when I asked him if he had any funding sources.

But if I'm in a rather bad mood right now, it's because I got a new pillow recently that seems reasonably comfortable, but I've been sleeping progressively worse and worse since then. At this point, I'm exhausted, I've had a bad headache the entire time I'm awake, I'm annoyed and irritable, and I'm going back to my old pillow. The new one is going back where it came from, tomorrow.

Why do pillows have to be so thick? A thick pillow puts my neck at an angle that makes me feel like my breathing is restricted. What I want is a little neck support, and to keep my head from flopping side to side - I've come to prefer lying on my back when I sleep. I'm getting pretty close to trying to make myself a pillow in order to learn some sewing...
giveamouse: Chocolate chip cookie (Default)
I've been meaning to make a post to help me explain why I just can't bear the thought of taking even one more job doing software development.

Read more... )
giveamouse: Swiss cheese (cheese)
You know what I like? Services that allow you to be concise, without requiring it. Thanks, Dreamwidth.

Also, yay, cheese!
giveamouse: Chocolate chip cookie (Default)
I don't know if this is a common pattern for documentaries, but I've noticed it in two that I've seen so far: An Inconvenient Truth, and Food, Inc.

The documentary spends so much of its time getting its point across, and making its arguments, that it really motivates a sense of impending doom and hopelessness. Now, I understand that what they're trying to express is the importance of the topic, and the need of individuals and institutions to deal with the problems discussed, but they really leave the viewer with the message that Something Must Be Done, without spending much time at all discussing and evaluating the actions that can be taken.

I think it's appropriate to ignore the last 30 seconds of both movies, where they use a little text and music to give a short list of what can be done. The entire rest of the film is designed to inspire outrage. Unless that outrage is given a specific direction to go in, it can contribute to a sense that nothing can be done and that the situation is hopeless. The endings, which completely fail at changing the tone of the rest of the movies, seem like a pretty feeble token gesture of giving direction to the outrage inspired.

But that's not the worst problem, which I can't really blame on the documentaries themselves... I worry that giving a bad review could be interpreted as disagreement with the content and arguments, rather than with how well it does at being a useful device for communicating.

I can criticize an action movie for not having enough action. Can I criticize a documentary without it being assumed that I'm disagreeing with it? Not without a disclaimer.

I suppose that's okay. I have more practice giving disclaimers than I have at making arguments.
giveamouse: Chocolate chip cookie (Default)
I just finished City of Bones by Martha Wells. It's a decent book, though the pacing has some issues. I didn't like it as much as The Element of Fire (free online version) but maybe I just haven't been able to give it the attention it needed.

I must admit, attention is something I seem to have in short supply, recently. That comes from not sleeping very well, or much at a time. I've been sleeping in about three hour increments, usually waking up from nightmares. It's mostly been a problem in the past few weeks, and I think it's related to the fact that I've been increasing my dose of antidepressants. I hope it stops soon, so I can actually get some rest and do something with my days besides simply trying to stay awake.

giveamouse: Chocolate chip cookie (Default)
I keep a list of fiction I read in a database on my PDA. Someday, I'll export that database to some HTML, to provide the whole list somewhere, but for now, here's a couple of recent things I've read:

Un Lun Dun, by China MiƩville, finished reading it today. It's a fun book, with a story reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland, The Phantom Tollbooth, and Spirited Away. I particularly enjoyed chapter 60 (they're very short chapters, rarely more than two pages) with its very accurate retort to the attitude taken by Humpty Dumpty in Alice in Wonderland ("When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less."). It's one of the longest books of fiction I've seen with so many illustrations, which are very whimsical and clever. I definitely recommend it.

The Sunless Countries, by Carl Schroeder, which I finished reading last Wednesday, is book four of a series. It's got excellent worldbuilding - imagine a Dyson Sphere that's completely full of air, zero gravity, and with great big lights instead of a sun. The characterization is also good, but the main problem with the book is the pacing of the plot and the flow of writing. It's slower to get through than most novels I've read lately, because of that, but I think the worldbuilding makes up for it.

The Spy Who Haunted Me, by Simon R. Green, I finished reading on the 6th. I had been told this series is good by a friend, but I just didn't find it all that good, relatively speaking. In the urban fantasy with cheesy dialogue genre, I think the Dresden Files does it better. Why? Okay, maybe I should have begun at the beginning and read other books in the series first, but there's a problem when every single character seems too powerful for a plausible story -- especially the main character. It's just not as much fun as it could have been.

That's enough for now...

giveamouse: Chocolate chip cookie (Default)
I got to see my favorite author at a local bookstore the other day - Connie Willis was doing a book signing!

I got my copy of Doomsday Book signed, and I said I've been reading about 2.5 books of sci-fi/fantasy a week for some years now, and she's my favorite author. She seemed rather taken aback by that statement, which amused me. I wonder how many people have told her that.

Past a certain point, it's hard to compare authors because the top several are all awesome, but I think I can say that Connie Willis is probably by favorite. Though some other authors' books are better than some of hers, I love her stories, characters, dialog, style, and particular mixture of science and mysticism. I like her ideas for how time travel could work.

I wanted to ask, in the QA section, which of her books she'd most wish to be remembered for, and which she expects she probably will be remembered for... but there wasn't time, and I don't mind not having asked, because it was enjoyable to hear everything she had to say.
giveamouse: Chocolate chip cookie (Default)
The subject may seem to be a strange statement to make, but hear me out. )
giveamouse: Chocolate chip cookie (Default)
Hello, good readers.

I hope to use this journal to branch out a bit... I've been on the 'net for many years, but have rarely posted in public forums because of that little voice in the back of my head that goes, "You know, every single future employer you have will be googling for some reason to not hire you. Do you *really* want to say that?"

On the one hand, that voice is just being prudent. On the other, it's resulted in a lot of self-censoring, when there may well be good things I can say and contribute to the world. (I've had more than one friend say, "But you should write about that! People want to hear it!")

This journal is meant to allow me to stop censoring myself, and start participating. Meet my new pseudonym: giveamouse. Sometimes to be known as "A. Cookie" depending.
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