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Thursday, October 30th, 2014 07:01 am

Advisory 01/2014: Drupal - pre Auth SQL Injection Vulnerability

A "highly critical public service announcement" from Drupal [] "Automated attacks began compromising Drupal 7 websites that were not patched or updated to Drupal 7.32 within hours of the announcement of SA-CORE-2014-005 - Drupal core - SQL injection. You should proceed under the assumption that every Drupal 7 website was compromised unless updated or patched before Oct 15th, 11pm UTC, that is 7 hours after the announcement."

Impressive. I think this is an appropriate place to quote one of my father's aphorisms: "A locked car with an open window is NOT a locked car."

If PHP is your open window, you may as well leave the keys on the dashboard where they're easy to see.

Thursday, October 30th, 2014 09:14 am


Been working on trying to see my floor for a while now. Finally just took the time to work on it it 3 sessions.

Now just to deal with the foot of my bed, and my desk area.

Thursday, October 30th, 2014 08:46 am
Had another Civ: Beyond Earth play-through. Transcendence victory this time. Only marginally more interesting than the last one. It would help if they didn't first put the text for your victory on screen as just plain letters on a black background, then play them over their painting while an actor or actress reads them off; seeing the "You Won!" message like that before they give you a picture leaves you with the "A Winner Is You!" taste in your mouth and when they bring up the artwork and the voice acting it's too late to be properly impressed. That being said, the voice acting does not impress me at all. I mean, the actors are okay, but none of them are voices I know, and if they are not going to be voices I know then they should at least be voices that are impressive. They are not. The developmental paths for tech and society in the game are kind of interesting, but the whole "You have to choose one of exactly three possible directions to take your society in unless you want to use one of the really boring anybody victories" thing makes it feel like stuff's being rammed down your throat- especially since you only get three possible Affinities, which more or less amount to "AAAAAAH SPACE IS SCARY! WE'RE HUMANS! XENOS SCUM WILL CONTAMINATE US ALL!", "We're going to live in harmony with this planet. SERIOUS harmony. Raise your hands if you've seen James Cameron's Avatar", and "The flesh is weak! HAIL THE MACHINE!".

Which isn't to say that the game isn't kind of fun in its own way, but it's really hard to get emotionally attached to or even seriously interested in bodged-together scifi space cultures the same way as you can get wrapped up in a given culture of Earth, back in Civ V. Each of the culture leaders has a name, but I've had a hard time being impressed enough with any of them to actually learn them. I've wound up calling them Brazil Guy, France Lady, Maori Tony Stark (he's in charge of 'Polystralia' and he seriously resembles Robert Downey Jr.), CEO Susan (that's the American colony, they're corporate sponsored), That Asian Lady In The Green Outfit (she runs the Pan-Asian Collective and she sounds like she's speaking Chinese, but 'Sochua' isn't a Chinese name- I think it's Cambodian), Indian-Looking Prophet Lady, and African Guy. Oh, and Slav Guy, I forgot about him. I think Brazil Guy's first name is Rejinaldo. France Lady's name is Elorie or Elodie or something like that, but as far as I'm concerned she's France Lady. I think Maori Tony Stark's name is Hutama. Slav Guy usually winds up being called 'General' within about two or three diplomatic visits so I suppose he's General Slav Guy. African Guy kinda drives me up the wall because he mostly turns up during the game to offer trades of resources or energy, which is fine, but his introductory spoken line is 'No village was ever destroyed by trade'. Um... wow. Just... I'm pretty sure anybody who had to live under the colonial rule of Leopold of Belgium would disagree with you there, sir. Wow. And Prophet Lady is the faction I first played when I started the game; I picked her faction because I liked their ability to gain more ground very quickly, and only learned later that the leader was supposed to be the daughter of a charismatic speaker and leader and prophet who had united the whole Indian subcontinent under his leadership. Her name's Kavitha Thakur, but since some of the guys I saw in the startup animation for the game were wearing what looked like Sikh turbans, my brain keeps insisting that her last name is supposed to be Kaur.

Anyway. The game's all right. The graphics are neat and the music is pretty awesome. The gameplay isn't really all that innovative, though, and the tech web- technologies are arranged in a web rather than a linear tree, so you don't have to progress through a specific linear path of development- can be a little annoying if you don't remember where to look for the next tech you want (Swarm Intelligence and Swarm Robotics, for example, aren't anywhere near each other). It's an okay game, but the scifi elements aren't enough to really get me going. If you like world colonization and development games, go buy Civ V and make sure it's got the Brave New World and Gods and Kings expansions. I can't recommend Beyond Earth, at least not yet.
Thursday, October 30th, 2014 05:32 am

this is considered freakishly neat for my bedroom... inability to walk in a straight line aside

i sort things. a lot. ngl usually into various 'misc' boxes but still

FLOOR!!! see how the mess gets moved out to the edges? it LOOKS tidy at least, that way.

*sounds hallelujah chorus* ONLY A TEENY MISC PILE LEFT


click for commentary…

i have to take a photo of my jewellery box though - for the first time in my life, i have organised my earrings. THROUGH THE MAGIC OF BUTTONS!

Thursday, October 30th, 2014 03:42 am


A small unfuckening.

So, I just found the blog Unfuck Your Habitat and I must say it’s pretty inspirational. It has lots of before and afters, everyone loves those, right?

Normally, I keep my place pretty clean, I am not the most organized person but I do like to keep things tidy. My room, especially my makeup area, always gets totally fucked. This took a while and it wasn’t as bad as it has been lol. It didn’t take too long to clean. I think I did two 45/15s but I wasn’t really counting I just wanted to get it done! It still needs some work but I can do that throughout the week.

I also cleaned out the space under my bathroom sink but that wasn’t really worth taking pictures of but it got done, shit got purged, life is generally better.

Thursday, October 30th, 2014 01:51 am


Set the room to rights! This was really tough as I had pretty low spoons today but A helped me out :) 

Housework Playlist (I listened back to some lectures after the playlist finished so double productivity!)

Yes, I do need all those alarms. 

Thursday, October 30th, 2014 04:03 am

Posted by Ask a Manager

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. Interviewer asked me about personal items from my Facebook page

I’ve recently started a job search. I had a scheduled phone interview with an attorney for an executive assistant position. When she called, she put me on speakerphone with herself and a colleague. The first thing out of her mouth was, “Do you like horeseback riding?” I said, “How do you know that?” She didn’t answer and proceeded with more questions, like, “Describe yourself in three words” and “Where do you see yourself in 3-5 years?” I was surprised and not prepared because I haven’t heard that question in about 15 years! They asked some other questions and she ended by saying, “Well, it matters if you can make a good potato salad.” I was so dumbfounded I didn’t know what to say!

It was only after I hung up that I realized she went to my Facebook page and was commenting about a horseback riding trip I took recently and a picture from about 10 years ago about potato salad. I was so weirded out. Where do we draw the line? My Facebook/personal life doesn’t have any reason coming up in an interview! It’s not relevant! My Linkedin does, not Facebook. Where are we going with technology and the professionalism of interviewers?

She was a bad interviewer; I wouldn’t read anything into it beyond that. (Well, actually, I’d also read into it that you might want to adjust your Facebook privacy settings.)

The “where do you see yourself in 3-5 years” question is a little hackneyed, but not terribly shocking; that’s one I’d be prepared for when interviewing because it’s a common one.

2. Colleague wants me to use special subject lines in every email I send her

I am working on a new project, which requires me to work with a contractor who has been working with my new client for years. Its been made clear to me that the contractor feels like I’m imposing and stepping on her turf, but I’ve done my best to be professional and polite.

I’ve noticed that she seems to be missing many of the emails I send to her, which are generally replies to emails from her or our client. When I followed up with her today to alert her that she missed an email, she responded by asking me to change the subject line in every email to her which requires action. She said my emails are getting lost in her inbox and that the new subject line will be easier for her.

Am I wrong to think this is a crazy request? I understand doing this for urgent actions items, but it seems ridiculous to do for every single email. 99% of emails I send to her have some kind of required action! And this totally defeats the purpose of replying to an email chain to keep all emails on the same subject together. How do I respond to this request in a way that is understanding and accommodating to her, while also explaining why this isn’t an ideal system?

It’s probably crazy. But your’e a new contractor and she’s a long-time contractor and unless you’ve come in at a much more senior level than she is (or unless the client has already expressed reservations to you about her work), you probably just need to suck it up and do it. But you can certainly say, “99% of what I send to you will have a needed action attached. I can try to do this, but can’t promise I’ll remember each time and it would probably be more efficient for us both if you assumed our emails will usually be things to take action on.”

3. I have a job offer in email — should I push for something more official?

I accepted a job offer yesterday from Company X, but haven’t put in my resignation to my current job yet. About a week ago, I was sent an offer from Company X through email stating that I’m being offered the position and the amount it pays annually, with some details on orientation date and first date in office. They also mentioned that their HR would be contacting me regarding next steps. All this was written in the body of the email.

From conversations with the hiring manager, I have been told that it’s an exempt position with benefits but I have nothing in writing. When I accepted the offer, I asked whether I will receive a formal offer letter. The hiring manager told me that her email is the official offer.

I’m afraid to ask her again to send me an official offer letter because I fear this will start off the relationship between us on the wrong foot – she’s already a bit condescending towards me. However at this point I’m very hesitant about leaving my current job and moving cross country for this position. What to do?

You already have the official offer — the one in email. That’s perfectly sufficient and there’s no need to press them for more. There’s nothing about one written in a separate document that would be any more official. You have the details in writing, and that’s what matters. The point of getting an offer in writing isn’t to create a binding contract — because it doesn’t do that — but rather just because it reduces the risk of mistakes or misunderstandings. You have the details in writing, so you’re covered there. (And this is a pretty common way to do it.)

That said, I’d think long and hard about whether you want to move across the country to work with a manager who’s already condescending to you. This is usually when people are on their best behavior, on both sides.

4. Is this mileage reimbursement policy weird?

I have a question for you about mileage reimbursement policies. I work for an agency that commutes about 50 miles away once a week to work onsite at the client’s office. Our company recently let us know that we are eligible for get reimbursed for this mileage when we use our own vehicles.

However, here are the details of the policy they just sent us: “If an employee business travels to a client that is a 40 mile one-way trip, the employee should deduct from this, the number of miles that represents a normal commute from home to the agency’s office. Thus, if a normal commute from home to the office for a given employee is 10 miles, the employee should submit an expense claim for the net of these two figures, which is 30 miles.”

This just seems…weird to me. I never drive to our office, and don’t expect to be reimbursed for regular commuting costs, but a 100-mile roundtrip drive once a week is very out of the ordinary. Also, my home is closer to the client’s office than the agency’s office. I don’t see why the two should be related at all, in this case. Is my company’s policy legal? Or just a way to save a little money?

Perfectly legal, and very common. The company is saying that they’ll reimburse your mileage for these trips, minus whatever your normal commute might have been. In other words, they’re paying for the portion of your drive that’s over and above what you would have doing anyway. It’s actually pretty fair.

5. Including work info in my email signature when applying for jobs

I am emailing potential employers my resume and cover letters. I was wondering what you think about email signatures in this situation. Specifically, should I include my current title and employer? In this case, it relates to the position I am applying for.

No. You’re not applying as a representative of your current employer, which is what signing your email with your title and employer would convey. You’re applying as a private individual, so you do that from your personal email account, without your work info attached. (And they’ll of course see your work info in your resume, which is the appropriate place for it.)

my interviewer asked me about personal items from Facebook, coworker insists on special email subject lines, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014 10:09 pm


Unfucked my kitchen and bathroom today. unfuckyourhabitat

also I keep a picture of my parents wedding in my bathroom because their marriage went down the toilet.
Wednesday, October 29th, 2014 06:00 pm

Posted by PJ Jonas

Quote Post Fletcher normally wears sweatpants or shorts.  Today he walked into the Soaproom, flashed a brilliant smile, and asked, “Hey! What’s different about me?”

“Jeans! I’m wearing jeans!”

He’s growing up.

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014 05:00 pm

Posted by Ask a Manager

A reader writes:

A few weeks ago, on Boss’s Day, one coworker had initiated a boss day gift for our director, and made an executive decision to get a $50 cake and flowers without soliciting any of our input. I really have never heard of Boss’s Day before and feel like it’s a totally manufactured holiday. I’m all for celebrating birthdays, holidays, and general team rah-rah’s, but this event raised an eyebrow for me. Anyway, my coworker sent an email, went out during lunch, and then by 1:30, the cake/cards/flowers were purchased. She then proceeded to email the entire department (except the director and VP), asking for contributions.

This scenario sounds similar to the advice you had given in this article.

This had particularly frustrated me because a number of us don’t particularly care for our director (she just parks there and collects a paycheck) and the way that my peer had initiated the request made it sound as if contribution was mandatory. I replied all, asking why we were just doing this for our director and not our VP and then stated that contributions really should be voluntary if we have not had a say in the gift. A number of coworkers and managers had thanked me for speaking up because they felt the same way.

My peer was really upset at me for replying all, and word got escalated up to my VP. The VP called my boss on Friday, saying she had concerns about my professionalism and that she is concerned that I am causing a division among the team. My supervisor then called me on the weekend, telling me about his conversation with the VP. He had mentioned to the VP that I had nothing personal against my peer (which is true; I didn’t want to feel forced to contribute, but I have nothing else against my peer), this incident is water under the bridge, and that I shouldn’t try to air things out with the VP. I asked why couldn’t I approach the VP, and he said, “Oh, it’s all handled – you don’t want to make it seem like it’s still an issue.”

What bothers me is that my peer’s supervisor ran this up the chain without even trying to talk to my supervisor about this situation or try to clear things up with me. That, compounded with the fact that my VP is only hearing one side of the story, I’m more inclined to talk to the VP one on one and approach her from the perspective of clearing the air. However, I also feel that I don’t want to make a mountain out of a molehill, lay low, and only talk to the VP if she approaches me first. Thoughts?

Way too much drama! Let it go.

The drama isn’t your fault, but now that it’s been created by others, your best bet is to dial it down rather than fan its flames.

To be clear, your coworker was indeed out of line in implying people were obligated to chip in for a gift they hadn’t already consented to give.

And your manager was wrong to call you on a weekend and get you alarmed about this. And the fact that he was telling you not to take any action makes it even sillier that he dumped this on you over the weekend. (And that just makes it all the more drama-filled: “This is such a big deal that it can’t even wait for Monday! … But, oh, don’t do anything about it. Instead, just fret on your own.”)

However, your manager has told you very clearly that it’s been handled and that you shouldn’t approach the VP about it. Given how very minor this situation really should be, that’s probably good advice. Plus, openly ignoring your manager and doing the opposite of what he asked you to do is generally a bad way to proceed. If you really feel strongly about it, you could go back to your manager and say, “Hey, I really feel like I need to set the record straight myself — is that okay?” But I don’t think you should even do that, because this is so minor – and everyone involved should just let it go.

Your manager is telling you that it’s handled, so let it stay handled.

And you are correct that Boss’s Day is a silly, made-up holiday.

I’m in trouble for pushing back on a Boss’s Day gift collection was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014 03:00 pm

Posted by Ask a Manager

A reader write:

I work on a team of four – our manager and the three producers. Our manager is not very experienced with managing, and we tend to pick up a lot of the slack for clarifying directives, managing vendors, setting plans, etc. Personality-wise, our manager is typically very playful and her goal is for us to all be friends. However, every now and then, she’ll flex her authority in a very authoritative fashion, as if to say, “Look. This is not up to discussion. It’s the way it is.” It’s not the words, but the tone of voice, the anger, and power that she flexes in the moment. This happened today during a team meeting that caught all three of us off-guard.

In this particular situation, she asked how necessary a particular vendor was because she was wanting to cut the resourcing. We let her know how vital their work was and started brainstorming how to cut costs. She fumed and went off on us about how “THIS IS THE WAY IT WILL BE” and stormed out. We were completely befuddled and confused about what happened. I felt extremely disrespected and protective of my two team members, who are younger and less experienced. I don’t believe in taking verbal abuse from anyone, especially when unwarranted.

In what ways can I nip this in the bud with my manager without coming across as threatening, overstepping my role, etc.? Also, if I do address it, how do I ensure I do not place myself in a place where she might hold it against me?

Ah yes, the manager who wants to be friends — until she doesn’t and flips out in an over-display of authority, instead of just calibrating things correctly from the beginning. It’s likely that she’s not sure what normal, calm authority looks like or how to exercise it, which is why she’s cycling back and forth between two bad extremes.

Usually people who act the way your manager is acting are incredibly insecure about their own authority. She doesn’t know how to use it normally (and at some level, she realizes that about herself), and so instead she over-compensates, beating you over the head with it when she doesn’t need to.

As for what to do about it, your best bet is to talk with her about what happened, calmly and rationally. This will signal that her blow-up isn’t a reasonable way to operate, but rather was something that took people aback, and thus is now A Thing That Must Be Discussed. And if you do it right, it can also shore up her ability to use authority correctly, by highlighting for her that you’re perfectly happy to do things the way she wants and that she doesn’t need to freak out on you to make that happen.

I’d use this an opener: “What happened yesterday? I was surprised by your reaction and wondered where we went wrong, so that we can avoid it in the future.”

And I’d be ready to also say things like:

* “I got the sense that you felt like we were ignoring what you wanted us to do. But we weren’t. If you’d told us that we needed to find a way to make things work without (vendor), that would have been fine. It felt like you were frustrated that we didn’t realize that that’s what you were saying, but we just needed it clarified.”

* “This sort of thing is your call. We’ll go along with whatever you decide, but I’m hoping we can communicate about these things without being yelled at. If you have concerns about how the team is working, we should of course address it, but yesterday felt like we were being berated, and I’d like to figure out how we can avoid that in the future.”

* “Is there a different way we can handle this sort of thing in the future?”

You want your tone to convey, “Look, you call the shots. But we got yelled at and that’s not cool, so how can we figure out how to avoid you wanting to do that in the future?”

Also, you should be totally calm during this conversation (not scarily calm, like talking-someone-down-from-a-ledge calm, but just normal-person calm). You should sound concerned, but don’t sound flustered or angry. You want to model how competent professionals talk, and you don’t want to reinforce the idea that wild displays of emotion are appropriate.

Ideally, this conversation will help her realize that what she’s doing isn’t working and that people aren’t okay with it — or at least start the process of that happening. Of course, if she’s a truly horrid manager, it’s possible that she’ll dig in her heels and you’ll be the target because you pushed back. But that’s a fairly rare response to a reasonable discussion like this.

That said, keep in mind that you’re dealing with classic new manager issues here. Those don’t usually go away overnight, and you’re unfortunately her training ground, which is rarely fun.

our manager periodically flips out and jams her authority down our throats was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014 10:00 am

Posted by Brett Jonas

Many of you know about The Beast, our Sprinter with all of our faces on it. But we also have a slightly smaller, grey, 15 passenger Sprinter, which is the car that I drive. We’ve had the Sprinter for as long as I can remember.  It was our first Sprinter (we’ve had 3), which is […]
Wednesday, October 29th, 2014 09:25 am
BTW, those of you who've included me in your DR plans in the event of an apocalypse should know that I'm not gonna do the learn-to-sail thing after all. I used that Groupon I bought this summer for an intro to sailing lesson this weekend. Aside from starting off with "There's a small craft warning and winds gusting to 33 miles an hour so technically inexperienced mariners aren't supposed to be out there today", the lesson was pretty good and it was a neat experience, but it just didn't seize my interest enough to want to learn to handle the sail and the tiller at the same time. When you're tootling around Boston Harbor and you realize that you're more fascinated by how magnificent an airliner taking off over the water looks than by what you're actually doing in the boat, you're probably not really in your element.

And by 'your element' I mean I'm gonna stick to kayaking instead. Less separation from the act of being on the ocean or the river or whatever, and while it's mega-annoying to find yourself having to paddle against the wind I have found that to be less frustrating than trying to deal with being becalmed in a boat with no engine.
Wednesday, October 29th, 2014 09:15 am
Something weird is going on with my laptop's connection to the internet. When I close the lid and then come back, none of my programs are logging back in automatically. I can still browse the web, and my e-mail does okay (I suspect because it normally tries to connect at frequent intervals), but Gmail, iChat, and Colloquy are all having trouble. For iChat and Colloquy, I have to actually quit the program and restart it completely. Gmail just sits there and doesn't even try to connect until I specifically tell it to. I haven't updated any software, so I don't think it's that, but I haven't the vaguest idea of how to trouble shoot this one.

Last night, Cordelia's school had a social event. Kids and parents came in, many of the kids in costume. There were a couple of games, and kids could get Halloween themed temporary tattoos. There were small cups of cider, and everybody got half a donut. There were also apples available. They showed a DVD in the gym-- A Halloween episode of The Cat In The Hat Knows A Lot About That. Fifteen minutes before the event ended, there was a costume parade.

Cordelia didn't wear a costume. She thought that was silly. Most of the other sixth graders I recognized also weren't wearing costumes (I no longer know most of Cordelia's classmates by name. It's kind of weird). I guess they feel too old for that. Cordelia wandered the school with a couple of her friends and spent some time out on the playground.

Scott came for about fifteen minutes, but he had to go in to work early this morning, so he wanted to get home and get ready for bed. He mainly showed up because he wanted a donut.

I was largely bored. I don't know very many other parents, and most of those I do know were busy talking to other people. At the end of the evening, I ended up talking to a couple of sixth grade mothers I know from Cordelia's volleyball team. One of them had a five month old baby girl who was darling (and fussy. She was tired but too stimulated to sleep). I meant to volunteer at the event, but I lost track of it and never signed up. They didn't seem to be short on volunteers, however. I didn't recognize most of the volunteers, and I'm used to the same dozen people doing most of the work for all events. I guess the bigger school means more volunteers.

I do think that the PTO won't be able to do most of the activities they used to do. Floor hockey nights only works up to a certain density of players, and the bigger student population would mean more crowding in the gym. I don't know if they'll try bowling night or mini golf night for the same reason. The international dinner is a potluck that, again, might not work with a lot more people. I also suspect that the talent show would be very different-- Last year, it ran more than two hours, but everyone who wanted to participate did. More kids means either a much longer show or real auditions with only some kids getting to participate.
Wednesday, October 29th, 2014 09:06 am
Had my first Civ Beyond Earth victory last night. Word of advice, if you're playing the game and starting to be fascinated by the technologies and the implications and the potential promise of stuff, don't let yourself get roped into a Contact victory. It sounds great- find things, build tower, signal aliens, see what shows up- but you literally spend X number of turns building the beacon and when you turn it on it takes 1000 energy and siphons off all surplus energy for thirty turns and then A Winner Is You. No cinematic, no nothing- a little painting or some such with some vague images and a few lines of "we don't know what to expect but we have proof we're not alone!" and that's it.

I haven't had a game be that promising and have that unsatisfying an ending since the original Pick-Your-War-Crime ending of Mass Effect 3. Even Fallout 3's woefully unsatisfying original ending at least had Ron Perlman reading off a speech that was marginally affected by things you'd done.

I'm playing CivBE again, of course. I want a better ending. If all of them are that bleh then I'm going to be peeved; I don't mind an unusual Civ variant but I'd really like something that's at least going to live up to the promise of some of the more exotic bits of the tech web, not just "Have a still picture and a bland half-paragraph". Different civ this time- the Pan-Asian Cooperative sounds like fun- and I'm not sure if I'm gonna go for the same Affinity or if I'm aiming for Supremacy instead. We'll see.
Wednesday, October 29th, 2014 12:30 am
Well, folks. Today's the day.

Yep. Surgery day. Which means an anesthesiologist will be escorting Julia into dream-land.

Woo hoo! I love happy gas.

I had my eyebrows waxed by one of those fancy schmantzy spa places just for this occasion. When my anesthesiologist slaps that mask over my schnozz, I want him to think, "Hey. Nice eyebrows." And then I'll Zzzzzzzzzzz may way to sleep.

Ever wonder what you look like when you're sleeping?  I do.

But I'm a realist. I know better. How much you want to bet when I roll into recovery room I'll look like this?

I'm thinking that I may take a few days off from blogging after surgery, but I'm sure y'all understand. 

I'm a weirdo unmedicated. I can't imagine what sorts of goofball stuff I'd be writing when on post-op narcotics. Wouldn't be pretty.

See y'all soon. 
Wednesday, October 29th, 2014 01:22 am
Mondays, every week, let's celebrate ourselves, to start the week right. Tell me what you're proud of. Tell me what you accomplished last week, something -- at least one thing -- that you can turn around and point at and say: I did this. Me. It was tough, but I did it, and I did it well, and I am proud of it, and it makes me feel good to see what I accomplished. Could be anything -- something you made, something you did, something you got through. Just take a minute and celebrate yourself. Either here, or in your journal, but somewhere.

(And if you feel uncomfortable doing this in public, I've set this entry to screen any anonymous comments, so if you want privacy, comment anonymously and I won't unscreen it. Also: yes, by all means, cheer each other on when you see something you want to give props to!)
Tuesday, October 28th, 2014 12:27 am
Graded tests.

I have no problem with that. Their math program actually comes with tests I can give them if they/I want. Easy peasy.

But what about everything else? Anybody have any information on how to write a test to give them in any subject? My normal idea would be to just make them write an essay, but I'm trying to limit that because Ana has started writing a lot more and I don't want to make it a chore again. How do you know if you've picked sensible questions?
Wednesday, October 29th, 2014 04:03 am

Posted by Ask a Manager

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. I was called “mean” for reporting a coworker for stealing

I’m a civilian office worker at a military-run veterinary clinic where I work with other civilians and military personnel. One night I noticed our civilian veterinarian gathering supplies in a bag, with a total supply value of about $6. (I purchase all the supplies with a government credit card so I know what everything costs.) I asked what she was doing, and she said she was visiting a friend after work and needed some stuff to work on the friend’s dog. I have no supervisory authority but told her she couldn’t take supplies; if she took them or not, I have no idea, but I did call our military supervisor and tell him what happened.

His first response (he’s not the sharpest tool in the shed, and English isn’t his first language so we have some communication trouble) was, “If she needs supplies, tell her to make a list and we’ll get them for her.” I had to explain to him that we can’t fund her charity work and taking supplies from the clinic shouldn’t be allowed. We ended it with I’ll send him and his boss an email.

Two weeks later and not a word about the incident, the military supervisor and I are talking and he says that was mean of me to tell the doctor she couldn’t take things. I know I’m right that nobody should be taking supplies and that it’s stealing, but why am i the only one in my office who understands that? How was I being “mean” by looking out for the business?

I suspect the military supervisor sees it as a matter of scale — that $6 isn’t a big deal, whereas $100 would be. (Or at least I hope that’s what he’s thinking; otherwise, his reaction is inexplicable.) Whether or not $6 in supplies is a big deal depends on who you ask. There are certainly some office cultures where it’s totally okay to take $6 of post-it notes home with you, as long as you don’t go hog-wild with it. And there are other offices where that’s absolutely Not Done. You need to know the culture where you’re working.

It’s possible that this guy is telling you that he sees $6 in veterinary supplies as de minimis. Hell, for all I know, he’s seen your coworker bring in supplies that she’s paid for herself, or knows that she routinely does extra work for free in the evenings and doesn’t want to nickel and dime her, or he’s not going to give her a hard time over taking supplies to treat a sick animal.  I don’t know — but if you want to get clarification, it’s entirely reasonable to say, “Hey, is that kind of thing actually not a problem? If so, I won’t make a big deal about it in the future.”

2. Employee refuses to share login info for the company Facebook account

We are a newly formed company in the UK. I’m a director, and one of our employees has consistently refused to give me the login details for our company Facebook page. On the last request, she replied asking me why I wanted them and what I intended to do with them. I feel it is extremely important that I have a copy of them, as she is the only person in the company who has these details. Does she have a right to withhold them from me? Does it warrant a written warning?

No, she doesn’t. Assuming that you have authority over her, stop framing it as a request, and instead say, “Jane, I need access to the Facebook page by the end of today. We need a system where that type of information isn’t accessible by only one person. Please set me up with access today.” Then, if she doesn’t, you handle it like you would any other outright refusal to comply with a work assignment, which in this case presumably means that her manager makes it clear that it’s not optional. If she continues to resist when it’s made clear to her that it’s not optional, she probably shouldn’t be working for you.

3. Is it bad not to ask questions at the end of an interview?

Is it necessarily a bad habit to not ask any questions of the interviewer at the end of the in-person interview? I explained that I felt the website/previous interview had provided answers to any questions I might have and it seemed okay. Are they any questions you think should definitely be asked?

Yeah, it’s pretty bad not to ask any questions when given the opportunity. It signals that you aren’t being especially thoughtful about whether this is the right fit for you, and that’s alarming to savvy hiring managers, who want to make sure that you’re doing a good job of your side in this assessment process so that you don’t end up in a job where you’ll be unhappy or not excel.

Do you really not have questions about a job and company where you’re contemplating spending 40+ hours a week for the next several years? I think if you think about it like that, you’ll realize that there’s plenty that you want to know, but here are some questions you might think about asking.

4. What should my office door say?

I have been asked to submit my name as I want it to appear on my office door. I am wondering if I should put just my name, my degrees, or title?

What do other people in your office do? Follow their lead. (But in general, it’s typically just your name, and rarely would it be appropriate to include degrees.)

And if you’re not sure what other people do because you haven’t started yet, it’s completely reasonable to reply to the request by asking. You could simply say, “What do others typically do — just their names, or titles too?”

5. Has long-distance job searching become any easier in the last few years?

I just found your blog by accident while I was researching how to make a move from one city to another. I came across a post about long-distance job-searching dated back in 2010. Now that the economy has somewhat improved, what do you think my chances are of moving from the east coast back home to the midwest (Chicago) in particular? I am willing to pay for interviewing and such but got a little worried after reading your blog. To your knowledge, have conditions improved? What would your advice be four years later?

My advice is still pretty much the same, unfortunately: It’s still much harder to job search long-distance than it is if you’re searching locally, unless you’re in in-demand field with in-demand skills. When they have plenty of local candidates, employers don’t have much incentive to deal with the hassles or risk of long-distance candidates. However, the more senior you are, the easier and more accepted it is to search long distance, so the picture is definitely less gloom and doom if you’re fairly senior in your field.

I was called “mean” for reporting a coworker for stealing, not asking questions at an interview, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014 09:00 pm

  • Wash the dishes in your sink

  • Get your outfit for tomorrow together, including accessories

  • Set up coffee/tea/breakfast

  • Make your lunch

  • Put your keys somewhere obvious

  • Wash your face and brush your teeth

  • Charge your electronics

  • Pour a little cleaner in the toilet bowl (if you don’t have pets or children or sleepwalking adults)

  • Set your alarm

  • Go to bed at a reasonable hour

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014 12:01 am

Posted by Tab

It’s Asexuality Awareness week! I’ll be taking part in a talk at Leeds university this Thursday on Asexuality in Media from 3-5pm. It’s open to everyone so come along and join the discussion!

Check out more info here:

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014 02:46 pm


Before and after my first 20/10. I’ve needed to get rid if that rotting couch for over two years now. One load of laundry done. The corner is next.

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014 06:00 pm

Posted by PJ Jonas

Quote Post Greyden:  “UPS is here!  UPS is here!   My MACHETE is finally here!!”
(Apparently getting a deadly new tool to make the job of clearing a path in the woods easier is very exciting)
Tuesday, October 28th, 2014 06:00 pm

Posted by Ask a Manager

A reader writes:

I am an IT professional with 10 years of experience across consulting, public service, finance, and software. Typically I contract into companies for periods ranging from 3 months to 18 months to work on projects and then move on again. Recently I have realized that I am my brand – in other words, given that what I offer is “me,” I have to be careful to protect both my reputation and what projects I attach myself to.

I have recently been approached by a large company who have asked if they can use my CV in a bid they are putting together. They would use my brand as part of their brand to enhance the attractiveness of their bid. I have neither worked for (or with) this company before, but they have a good reputation. The quid pro quo they offered was that at some unspecified point in the future, if they win that contract bid in a form that would require someone like me, they may hire me to work with them. In other words, the quid pro quo is a lottery ticket with very long odds. Now, given what I have recently realized about my brand, my problem with this is twofold: First, I invest a lot in my brand through training and certifications which I pay for myself and which is not cheap. Second, I see it as a company gaining immediately from my brand and giving nothing concrete back.

My own thought is to propose charging them a professional consulting fee of, say, $2,500 to use my CV. It would be small amount for a company of that size but would keep the value of my brand intact. If I were to charge nothing, it would mean I value my brand at $0, which I believe damages it. To put it in perspective, $2500 would be roughly the equivalent of a week’s work. It would not matter much to me if the company rejected my request for a fee – it’s unlikely they would see it as majorly out of line (although they may reject it as their bid could ultimately be unsuccessful).

Friends and mentors cannot agree that this is the best approach and I would love to hear your opinion on the matter.

No, you absolutely should not let them use your resume in their pitch, not without a solid agreement that you’ll be part of doing the work if they win it. Otherwise, you’re engaging in a joint fraud with them — allowing them to present you as part of their team when, in fact, you aren’t. This is pretty black and white: You don’t work with them, there are no plans for you to work with them, and yet they’d be presenting you as part of their team. This is pretty damn fraudulent. And that doesn’t change even if they pay you for the right to include your resume.

So no, you shouldn’t do this. It’s unethical and wrong.

As for considerations about your brand — I have to admit that I cringe every time I hear someone use the term “brand” in this way. What you have is a reputation, and that’s absolutely worth something — quite a bit, in fact. But “personal branding” tends to be the snake oil sold by questionable career advisors.

should I let a company pay to use my resume in a job bid? was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014 12:55 pm


So that was probably the most productive twenty minutes of 2014, without a doubt.

And geez, that was like half a load of laundry I took out of the backseat. Big whoops.

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014 04:30 pm

Posted by Ask a Manager

If you’d like to take on more responsibility – a new project, more senior-level work, or perhaps a leadership role – how can you convince your boss to give you a shot?

At Intuit QuickBase’s Fast Track blog today, I talk about the four key steps to persuading your boss to let you take on higher level work. You can read it here.

how to convince your boss to give you more responsibility was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014 11:05 am


It is done.  Well, it is mostly done. I need to get rid of the monitors in the corner and find a place for those spare chairs, the rug that used to live in my living room, and the rug cleaning machine. But until I survey the situation in my shed, the office is done done and done!

Though surely there must be a better way to “house” the lappity top.

I even sorted, shredded, AND filed the boxes of paperwork that were stacked around! 

This was the last room in the house that really needed some unfucking.  And now it has been!  Storage room no more!  Functional office, huzzah!

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014 11:26 am
Started playing Civilization Beyond Earth last night. I keep trying to call it Civilization V: Beyond Earth, which is not entirely fair. Does rather resemble Civ V, though. I do like the way very nearly everything you build and create gets slightly tweaked along the way according to your decisions; that makes sense in an environment where you're starting from scratch. I'm a bit annoyed about the difficulty of keeping the colony's health up, though. And I am going to put the Brazilian guy and the French lady through the WALL. We came umptybajillion miles through space in coldsleep to find somewhere better to establish ourselves and you two can't figure out a way to handle your differences other than warfare? We are ON A COMPLETELY NEW PLANET. You have been here LESS THAN TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY YEARS. How do you not have enough room to refrain from trying to kill each other? HOW?
Tuesday, October 28th, 2014 08:18 am

A couple of dizzy spells, which felt a lot like a return of the orthostatic hypotension I used to get rather frequently before I changed my blood pressure meds, only more severe. Turns out that they could be exactly that, as a side effect of cutting down on my SSRI antidepressant.

Worked from home Friday and half of Thursday due to our office move. Spent Monday (and will probably spend most of today) setting up my desktop box, whose hard drive didn't survive the move. :P Grumble. Only things I'll actually be losing are a couple of little scripts in ~/bin, my .zshrc customizations, and my browser config. Everything else is in git.

Stupidly tried to upgrade the OS on my laptop. Stupid, because it left it practically unusable. A clean reinstall of 14.04 fared better, but there are still some oddities here and there.

Working from home today, too, because I'll be waiting for the washer to get repaired. :P It broke on Saturday. The backup drive on Nova has apparently been broken for a *long* time -- read is ok, but write fails. This may be a timing thing, but switching it from USB to eSATA renumbers the drive letters, so that's kind of a non-starter.

On the positive side, the CenturyLink internet connection is on, and the new modem arrived yesterday. Hopefully today I'll be able to get our network configured -- it may be a simple matter of swapping two routers.

The new building is significantly farther away from the bus stop -- there are closer ones, but it's actually faster to walk than to wait for a transfer. So if it's not raining, I'll do that.

Kind of a rough week. Oddly, the fact that I've cut back on my antidepressant doesn't seem to have made much difference that I can perceive, which says that either it wasn't doing much good, or I'm still bad at detecting my mood. Or both.

raw notes, with links )
Tuesday, October 28th, 2014 03:00 pm

Posted by Ask a Manager

A reader writes:

I’ve been at my current job as an editor for two years now and so far I have had a very nice experience. I report to a manager who reports to the director. The director assigns me work often. She doesn’t really work with any of the other editors directly so I feel like she really trusts me. In all the time I’ve been there I’ve never been reprimanded. Many of my coworkers complain about the director’s attitude but to me she’s always been very nice.

Earlier last week she called me into her office and gently let me know that I didn’t catch something I should have and e-mail her to let her know. She was really nice about it and basically said it was ok because I usually always do catch things like that. The thing is I DID catch it and I DID e-mail her about it. I also sent her a follow-up email when she didn’t respond. She misses e-mails often because she gets so many but she usually sees it when you send her a follow up. I wanted to lightly mention that I did e-mail her but instead I just apologized since she didn’t make a big deal out of it so I didn’t want to look overly sensitive.

Then last Friday a very similar mistake came through and again I caught it and sent her an e-mail. First thing this morning she sent me an e-mail asking why I didn’t catch it and e-mail her when we talked about a similar scenario last week. This is the second time I did e-mail her and she didn’t see it. Again, I didn’t say anything because I wasn’t sure how to let her know without sounding like I’m saying she didn’t check her e-mail. If this happens again, how can I handle it?

You’re actually doing yourself and your boss a disservice by not correcting the record in each of these two cases. You’re allowing your boss to have incorrect information, and no sane boss wants that.

The thing to do the first time it happened would have been to say, “Oh, I actually did email you about that. Did you not receive it? I can check to make sure I’m not misremembering.” And then you could have checked and, assuming you did indeed find the sent email, you could forward it to her with a note saying, “Ah, just wanted to confirm that I did send this — sounds like it might not have made its way to you though!”

The idea here isn’t to play a game of gotcha, or even to defend yourself — it’s to simply and matter-of-factly correct the record so that she’s not working off of bad information.

Giving your boss correct information isn’t accusing her of not checking her emails. People miss emails for all sorts of reasons — a tech error, a simple oversight, a crazily overloaded inbox. It’s not a moral judgment on her. (But you know what is a moral judgment? Thinking that she couldn’t handle you just explaining that you did send the email. I’d be totally taken aback if I found out that an employee wasn’t speaking up when I criticized them incorrectly on something so objectively black and white.)

But you can actually go back and correct the record now. Say something like this, “I could have sworn that I did email you about X and Y, so I went back to check — and I was able to find the emails. I’m forwarding them along just in case there’s an issue with my email or yours!”

You really need to do this — if no other reason than if you make an actual mistake in the next few months, you want it to look like number one, not number three.

my boss thinks I made a mistake — but I didn’t was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014 09:14 am


So…September/October was a low-point. Just doing laundry was a struggle, and even then I slept without sheets on my bed for two weeks just because I couldn’t muster the will to put them on after I washed them. BUT between the excitement of my boyfriend coming to visit next weekend and just generally being unable to function in such a cluttered space, I tackled it all over the last couple days. Couldn’t even open the door all the way in the first picture, but now look! Hooray! 

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014 08:35 am
My brother surprised me by calling me back yesterday. Naturally, he called just as I was about to start doing Body Electric. Oh, well, one more missed day won't hurt me much. He sounds like he's doing well. Work on his new house is keeping him pretty busy. We need to figure out a time to get him to come our way for dinner soon. I'd like to see him when we have time to talk.

Cordelia enjoyed her field trip; she actually was sad that it will be back to ordinary school time today. I'm not sure where all they went, but the field trip was focused on hydrology, and Cordelia talked about recycled plastic as something they encountered. The two sixth grade classes went to each place at different times, so Cordelia only saw her own class. They didn't even have lunch at the same time/place.

Scott didn't get the supervisor position on third shift. He's very disappointed. They gave the position to a supervisor from second shift, so there's now an opening for a supervisor there. That shift runs 3 p.m. to 11 p.m., so if Scott applies and gets it, he would only see Cordelia on weekends (it would also make a lot of things like Cordelia's sports much more inconvenient as I'd have to find transportation for her). I get the impression that he's seriously thinking about doing it because he doesn't see any better way forward.

We went out to dinner last night to Saica, a nearby Japanese restaurant that also serves Korean food. I always forget how little there is there that I can eat. Everything is spicy or has egg. I should probably stick to udon, but I keep trying the tempura and ending up with bad reflux. I slept poorly last night because of that, and I'm still coughing because my throat is irritated (it's not because I'm getting Cordelia's cold. It's not).

I called Mom after we got home from dinner. She didn't find a house to buy in Lawton, so she and my step-father are thinking to rent a place next summer (I'm not sure for how long). There have been a few houses they've wanted to buy, but the sellers are in debt for more than the houses are worth and can't afford to sell at market value.

Like everybody else, I'm waiting eagerly for my Yuletide assignment. Sixteen of the fandoms I offered have requests, so I should be relatively easy to match. Of course, most of them had more offers than requests, so who knows? I am sad that the Alcatraz series didn't get any offers from anybody but me. I would like fic for that, but I guess it's not at all well known. Maybe I need to work at getting people to read it-- Who can resist a book called Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians?