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Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Freelance Warrior

In Big Brother, Blogging, SlavesInc, Technology, Wage Slaves, work life balance on January 2, 2017 at 18:45
It is easy to fall into the ‘Pen is mightier than the sword’ wordplay. But one man’s knight is another man’s mercenary.
In a post-modern WiFi inundated world, knights are often slouched behind desks following up on their pizza home delivery. Nature is inherently violent and only the fittest survive. But what is fit is changing and physical violence is now translated into the language of money and economics.
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Most of us visualize life as this long epic battle for which we are fighting, suffering and sacrificing everyday so that day one day we will reach Graceland. The Big Payoff, the Big Promotion, the Big Offshore posting – which may or may not come and if it does it may or may not seem worth the life force spent in chasing it. One would think it would be hard to sell this world view. But it’s not because the scriptures themselves prescribe daily drudgery in lieu of otherworldly salvation. And we have all bought into Jehovah’s stock-options that will not mature in this space-time continuum.
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The ads selling you fizzy drinks and fitness bands, your employer’s mission and vision statements and the condolences you offer yourself every night before setting the alarm again – all adding to a loosely bound narrative that keeps you in a trance you call a life.
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You do a have choice though, increasingly so. A choice of sitting it out, hitting the eject button on the rat race, watching the circus from the sidelines. Live a little bit of Graceland everyday, happiness in small daily installments. Mutual funds are always subject to market risks but Ponzi schemes are only subject to your ignorance.
Freelancer, rebel, outcast or just social slacker, at least you have the freedom to own your mistakes. That’s better than being an extra in someone else’s Forbes dream.
– Punit Pania

Life Spans and Short Cuts

In Health, humor, SlavesInc, Technology, work life balance on October 29, 2012 at 04:08

Your brow is sweaty, your heart’s a beating and you sense a vague but seldom felt emotion…that of being alive! Maybe it is a mix of adrenaline and testosterone coupled with (shudder) normal blood sugar. You have not exactly jumped out of a plane but in a nine-to-five cityscape, this is the closest you can get to physical exercise.

Walking. That’s right. Plain old walking. On your own two feet. Imagine that. Just like our ancestors who climbed out of the trees.  That is all you have to do for good health is what some ‘experts’ will have you believe. But it also all you can do for good health. Fair trade. But even you know that walking while eating a king size cheese burger is just fooling yourself.

And to think all it took to get you vertical and in a non air-conditioned environment was a series of seemingly unrelated cross-leveraged events, like Cloud Atlas. Powers that be in your galley decided the long term cost of employee insurance would take us all down like the Titanic. Gone are the good old days when you could select your slaves by looking at their dentures and shooting them dead when they were too frail to pick in the fields. Now, you have cover for their medical expenses. What a scam!

WalkOn they call it, for lack of a better name. And quite a pile on it is. Each employee is given a Pedometer, you know, those devices that magically count the number of steps you take. They are kind of like cattle tags except you can harness them on your person without the need for painful piercing in the absence of anesthesia. The cost has probably been claimed as depreciation already. But a lot of pomp is beaten up citing ‘employee engagement’. You have heard the word ‘care’ so many times over the past few weeks; it has begun to sound like something dangerous. They just stopped short of getting Johnny Walker to sponsor it. Something about company policy and alcohol came in the way. It was close.

So if you haven’t got it by now, here is the dough: Fat employees eating up too much insurance-Need to whip them into shape-No time left after insanely long office hours and working on weekends-Gyms too expensive-Simplest way is to make the blobs walk-But they are bound to cheat-So we stick them with cattle tags linked through the magic of GPS to their Slave numbers (employee IDs) and hence their insurance benefits and salary accounts-Wrap this all up in the shiny gift wrapping paper of employee engagement and…

There is one problem. Motivation. Yes, it is in short supply. We can’t give out more green, if anything, we should be giving out less. So you tie it with up with team building-KRA- inter-department-competition hoopla, add weekly updates via mass automated mailing and voila – Healthier Slaves!

It is a modern day miracle.

So on a typical Monday morning, typical meetings begin as such:

Colleague X: Hey, we can’t start, J is not here

HS:  Oh I have put him on…another assignment

Colleague X: You mean the new product? That is a dead end

HS: No-no. This is a very important assignment; he is taking one for the team

You see, walking is a team activity with team goals and you can’t expect to HS to be out walking when there is millions worth of business walking past us. So you agree to do his part of the walking and a little bit more. It is a pain to carry a change of clothes and sneakers. You look like you are going out hunting in the morning and your use of deodorants has increased significantly. But any bit of work-life balance is welcome, random events and ulterior motives be damned.

PS: The Pedometer is not a very smart device; it continues counting even when you take a bus. It gives you a feeling of bastardly smugness, like a Hedge fund manager. But that is not how you were raised.

– J.

Upgrade

In Technology, Wage Slaves on October 8, 2012 at 04:04

You know how you have given it a run too many and it just doesn’t feel like before? You know how you know its past its prime but what’s one more time for old time’s sake, right? You know how you know when there is nothing left in the tank, not even for one more run?

Off course you do.

The question that keeps me up nights is, does the horse know?

Does he know that there is nothing else left to do but to de-commission him?

Since you are a mere wage slave, your story is not as heart-wrenching, certainly not enough to be made into a mainstream biopic.

But it does sadden you to finally put your old-world CDMA handset to rest. That’s right kids; CDMA is what your grandparents used to use to communicate with each other, kind of like a string phone, slightly better. You can almost hear employees at the service provider’s office giving each other hi-fis now that one the last remaining subscribers has ceased to subscribe. What were they thinking giving out life-time offers? You feel like the only surviving member of a war veteran’s club or a ham-radio enthusiast who finally realizes no one is ever going to talk back.

Not that you didn’t try, you really did. You faced ridicule from one and all, including haggard vendors, kids in your neighborhood and the security guard. You braved radiation fears even when it felt like your ear was being deep fried over a thirty minute conference call. You learnt to ignore the industrial grade vibration mode. Having dropped it one time too many, you will have to be content keeping your handy handset at home as a relic.

Not that you were not prepared for this day. You have already bought a fruity replacement for your war horse years ago. But it has never seen the light of day. You just carry it in your bag every day and never use it. That’s kind of twisted, a bit of Hitchcock in it.

Finally you will graduate to the twenty-first century. Say hello to sleepless nights and pointless status messages. You too, will become a part of the fruity club and try to look happy to be called a ‘Berry Boy’ in your mid-thirties. And as far as Berries go, yours is already a couple of ‘generations’ old.  So you will never catch up, such a shame.

Not that you are particularly a laggard or (gasp) old-fashioned. You don’t have an active msn account and you don’t wear glasses with rims. Not everything needs an upgrade but not everyone appreciates this. And you don’t expect them too either. If an upgrade is a proxy to moving up in life, you have very low standards.

–          J.

Slave Station 2.0

In humor, Office humor, Technology on May 3, 2012 at 21:32

The thing about old friends is…they know you…And there is a thing or two to be said about familiarity. The personal kind, not the kind thrown at you through an analysis of your browsing history.

But the march of future is inevitable. If you still think Android is something to do with biology and if you still carry a pen in your breast pocket, chances are you’ll look more outdated than retro. You belong to the land of elbow pads, carbon copy and (gasp!) Orkut.

After holding out for months, you have finally had to upgrade to a laptop. With Murphy’s specter in action, the administrative work moves faster than ever. Soon, you are faced with a sleek new machine that you will practically have to go to bed with everyday. As you pull out the plugs on your old faithful, you feel like you are being forced to administer euthanasia to an old family member.

And that is not all, there are also signing formalities for the handover, like death certificates. As the laptop is switched on, you look at its shiny new operating system and glossy icons. It’s like it is trying too hard to please. All you can manage is contempt. Perhaps this is what being old feels like.

Besides the bells and whistles, the new machine is also a needy creature. It needs to be hauled around your back wherever you go. It needs a charge about as many times as you take a loo break. And unlike your old work station, you certainly can’t kick it when it hangs. You would end up hurting more than its feelings. Now you know why your father hangs on to his old Fiat in the era of Prius.

Nostalgia aside, there is certainly a thing or two to be said about ergonomics. You can’t work for twelve hours and more in a submissive pose on the ‘lappy’ (puke!). You are not going to give in that easy. So you tame the machine. You attach an external keyboard, an external mouse and mount the damn thing on some boxes so you can see it eye to eye.

Sleek was never your style. So they can call you DOS Uncle if they like. But till they plant a chip in your head, you are going to fight it! The thing about old friends is…they are old. And you would trade gloss for warmth any day.

–          J.

Daylight Saving Time

In circadian rhythms, conspiracy theories, day of creation, Health, humor, nine to five, Office, rare occurrence, Technology, Wage Slaves on September 6, 2011 at 03:16

As you near the gates, your steps grow anxious. You are still trying to determine if this is really happening. You have a look of heightened disbelief on your face as you approach a familiar milestone. But it looks different, better, happier. As you finally step out, “Daylight!” you utter loudly ‘Daylight,’ the guard concurs affording a faint smile.

This is not the last scene of a formulaic prison movie. This is you leaving office on time; it is a rare occurrence, a blue moon. For a few seconds, you just stand there, not knowing what to do next. Your eyes are still adjusting to the extra lumens, your nose taking in whiffs of what actually feels like cleaner air. You want to do a Hulk and tear off the shirt but prudence is hard to shake off even in broad daylight. This is your interview shirt but you can afford to loosen your collar, let your hair down and call it a day (sic).

You have still not understood why your galley pulls the blinds and uses flourescent lighting throughout the day. It does not fit the penny-pinching personality of Slaves Inc. You can think of numerous evil reasons why artificial light would be imposed: to develop detachment from nature, induce vitamin D deficiency, scrambling circadian rhythms, acclimatize to never-ending shifts… But there will be loads of time for conspiracy theories tomorrow, and the day after. Today, you need to make the most of day light hours. A quick nap seems appropriate. Sure there is a mountain of work to climb tomorrow. But for now, the demons of your desk seem to have sublimated like Vampires in sunlight.

– J.

Super Me

In Boss, Dick Cheney, Goats on the Farm, Head Slave, humor, Office, Technology, Two Syllables on August 7, 2011 at 23:19

You: John who?

JY: John Yan

You: You changed your name?

JY: No, John Yan is my username.

You: Who will use it?

You know what he means but you still want to be sure. Maybe paraphrasing it will convince him of its ridiculousness.

But John is convinced that despite his high BMI, adding two syllables and a consonant to his common last name will bestow him with uncommon coolness.

Online, everyone is Boss

 JY: ”You know, like Jackie Chan or Jet Lee. It is exotic…yet familiar.”

John Yan paused for effect; he was acting like a star already!

On a different yet predictable weekday, you learn another taxonomic quirk:

When your boss signed off mails simply as ‘- BS’, you always thought he was telling you not to waste on your time on it…coz it is BS!

But when others start addressing you in their syntax-starved mails as AD, you realize that BS is not what you think it is. It is Head Slave‘s initials!

You don’t know whether to feel stupid or scoff at their typographical terseness.

It is clear to you that your Pan Card name will just not cut it in the virtual world of augmented reality!

Over time, you get used to getting updates such as:

Hellzangel adores her two baby goats on the farm

Handsomedevilfromhell wants you to share his booty, click here

And

Dear AD,

Thank you for the appreciation letter. Looking forward to more – BS

You start referring to these savvy individuals by their nuked names with a badly disguised genuineness. It is like addressing Dick Cheney with his lawful Christian first name. At least you can afford a chuckle every time you get pinged.

– J.

Approval Pending

In Boss, humor, Office, Technology, Wage Slaves on June 6, 2011 at 04:07

You have been yearning for it for so long now that you’ve forgotten how it started. You are not sure that you want it any more, or even need it. But it has to be done. You can’t give up now, not after 90 days and 67 attempts. You may be the proverbial underdog and your adversary overpowering. But all you need is a moment of weakness…a temporary lapse of guard and/or reason.

What you are struggling for, off course, is a computer upgrade approval. Your adversary, off course, is your boss. On many occasions, you have not even had the opportunity to get a word in; your approval papers brushed aside like a foul smell. Other times, you have retreated, discouraged simply by the look on his face.

But today, things look promising. You have even heard the occasional laughter from the Head Slave’s (HS) cabin, a phenomenon as rare as a Big Foot sighting. Today, you will not take no, maybe or later for an answer. But you’ve dwelled on the mission for too long. HS is feeling so benevolent today that he is leaving. You make dash for it and intercept him right at his door.

No words are exchanged. You have a look that says, ‘you have to sign this, now!’ HS has a look that says, ‘No, maybe and later,’ at the same time. The guy is definitely talented. But you won’t back out this time. You are the only thing keeping him from his half-day, physically so. A faint smile flashes across his face and disappears just as quickly. He sits back on his chair and finally says, ‘Tell me.’

You pour your guts out. You put more into your pitch for a computer upgrade than you have in any business presentation. HS almost starts enjoying it. He starts scratching his back by inserting a stray innocent ruler through his loosened collar.

“Okay.”

“Okay?” you ask. (Making a note to yourself never to touch that ruler again)

“Yes. You won’t be requiring this upgrade.”

“I won’t?” you confirm trying not to think of the various reasons why this may be the case.

“Yes, I have asked for a laptop for you last month. It should be here soon.”

As HS walks out of the cabin and into his half day, you sit there perplexed, staring at the unfortunate ruler. The Galley works in mysterious ways.

–          J.

Desk-bound Nostalgia

In humor, Office, Technology on May 2, 2011 at 13:25

Tomorrow is a very re-assuring concept. It is a soft pillow, a foot massage and Valium rolled into one.

Couldn’t finish that file again?

We will catch it tomorrow.

An old colleague has been calling to catch up?

May be tomorrow

Forgot to fix the leaking pipe again?

What is one more day…?

Still haven’t updated your CV?

You get the drift.

Tomorrow is therefore under a lot of pressure to deliver. But it always comes through for you at the end of the day. It has one mortal enemy though, death. Yes, eventual and coldly absolute. Death means no more tomorrows and no more second chances.

Demise is scary, even when it comes to in-animate objects. That is why the recent ‘news’ of the last type-writer factory shutting down has received widespread sympathy. From horse-drawn carriages to gramophones, many of us feel nostalgic about a time we have not even lived.

Still a good choice for a gift; albeit, in a different context

Being born into a world without correction pens and film rolls, it is difficult to appreciate the subtle flavors of an era past. It is great to read about Sherlock Holmes taking on a city full of crime with nothing but his intellect. But the stories don’t get into the nuances of everyday life in the Victorian era. Think uncontrolled polio and uncollected horse dung.

And that is what nostalgia is, a condensation of the best of yesterday. The feeling is at best, a fleeting romance. It conveniently side-steps the petty drawbacks and little frustrations of the time you long for. Think Dot-Matrix printers and highly pixilated TV games.

As soon as I read about typewriters finally kicking the bucket, my first thought was: ‘I should get one!’ But as the news gets traction, more and more Nostalgiophores will line up to get their past-cringing hands on the last few specimens of typewriters left. The pursuit will look increasingly lame.

This is when you need to look around your desk. A lead pencil, a calculator and a dark ages version of MS Office. Nothing of note about them individually, but put them together and you have…technophobia or even a general anxiety towards change.

Can't imagine snoopy with a netbook, or worse, a Black Berry

I know the recorded ‘click’ of cell phone cams just does not feel as warm as your old Kodak but it’s better to collect relics than to become one.

–          J.

Berry Boys

In humor, Office, Technology on March 5, 2011 at 17:22

Seriously, which straight guy would like to be associated with a fruity-sounding group like that? Why would you want to tag along in any vain corporate gimmick for that matter? If you do not have an identity of your own, can’t you build one? You may not be a case study-worthy personality but at least you won’t be a fruity boy.

Companies bestow this fine piece of technology on the hierarchical few whose time, words and actions are at a premium. If they do not appear so, perhaps the device can help project things thus. So the company pays for the hardware, the software and the extravagant services. Fine. Go ahead, be a Berry Boy. You’ve earned it!

But people who procure the device out of pocket…common. Even if you finch and pay for the services, you ain’t gonna get access to your company account on your modesty. Your designation ain’t man enough, yet. Sorry. You sling it around your waist like a tumor or hang it around your neck like a ghastly ornament; you will look like a twerp either way. Not only are you a sub-privileged fruity boy, you had to pay for it!

Technology may be a lot of things but it can’t be a prosthetic for your lack of confidence or vain ambitions. There are always options though, like diesel cars and open source software. So I stick with an earthier and less fruity ‘smart phone’ or as I like to call it: ‘Poor Man’s Berry!’

–          J.