Qualified?

The woman in the video has the opposite “problem” to me.  Applying for a System Administrator’s job, she states “As my resumé indicates, I have a Masters degree and a lot of education in non-technical topics.”

The satirical video is, ironically, exactly what much of the Irish public service is doing when it recruits.  If you don’t have a degree, you don’t get in the door for an interview.  It doesn’t matter what the degree is actually in – you just need to have gone to college for three or four years and passed an exam.  It doesn’t matter that you’re already doing exactly what the job requires.  That you have been for years.  That you do it consistently well.

No “qualification”, no interview.  A degree in Agricultural Science, or French Literature, or – as one’s qualification doesn’t have to be Irish – a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) Degree in Comic Art – gets you in the door of, for example, the Office of Government Procurement, who were recently recruiting specialist ICT buyers.

If you’ve actually been working in the ICT sphere, administering hardware, software, systems and policies, for over a decade – and been buying the stuff you use, too, for all of that time! – but have no degree?  Nah, not interested, no interview.  Grr.

New marketing strategy: advertise our crapness!

There’s a new advert for eircom broadband doing the rounds.  I’d link to it, but it appears noone has deemed it worthy of uploading to YouTube just yet.  Understandably so.  A quick rundown of the advert:

There’s a party or some sort of social gathering on. Middle-aged bald, bespectacled guy – the stereotypical know-it-all, smug annoying neighbour – mentions to the host that he’s  gotten a new internet connection.

Host: “Let me get my IT department.”  His son wanders over. All 10 or so years of him. “Internet. Go.”  And the son asks a series of questions.

Son: “8Mb?”

Old, bald, guy: “Emm, yes.”

Son: “Uncongested?”

Old, bald, guy: “Eh…”

Son: “Kids in an exam year?”

Old, bald, guy: (thinks about it for a moment) “Yes.”

Son: “Studyhub?”

Old, bald, guy: “Eh… no?”

Son: “Free streaming music?”

Old, bald, guy: “No.”

Son: “*tsk* We’re done here.”

Which all seems fine and dandy.  Kids understand that internet thing. Old people don’t.  So our product, eircom broadband, is praised by this kid, while pointing out what a buffoon this old, bald guy is for getting the non-eircom package.

Now, in fairness, I do know some people who love their eircom broadband.

They all happen to live outside Dublin and have zero choice in internet service provider, if they want to pay a reasonable amount per month.  They “love” their eircom broadband in the same way I “love” oxygen.  I don’t have any choice in the matter…

So let’s rewind that advert…

Son: “8Mb?”

Old, bald, guy: “Jesus, no, not for a few years now. I used to be _promised_ 8Mb by eircom, and be charged for it, but they never managed more than 2 or 3Mb download.  I’m on 30Mb now.”

Son: “Uncongested?”

Old, bald, guy: “Of course!”

Son: “Kids in exam year?”

Old, bald, guy: “For the sake of this imaginary conversation, let’s say yes.”

Son: “Studyhub?”

Old, bald, guy: “Eh… no.  You’ve got me there.  But y’know, it’s the internet.  It has things like Google.  So they can look up all sorts of wonderful educational resouces from all over the world. And, because it’s an actual decent connection, they won’t see that ‘buffering’ thing we used to get when we were on eircom.

Though I freely admit they’re far more likely to just be on Facebook or looking at cat videos on YouTube.”

Son: “Free streaming music?”

Old, bald, guy: “Eh… you really don’t get this whole ‘online’ thing, do you?  It’s the Internet!  Do you know how many free, streaming music services there are?”

Son: “Uhh… but aren’t they illegal?”

Old, bald, guy: “Eh, no.  Mind you, if you’re on eircom? Don’t be tempted to ever download anything you don’t have the rights to. Three-strikes rule. Eircom are the only ISP to have agreed to it.  Basically how it works is that you download something that they think is illegal, they’ll write to your dad.  Invasion of privacy, much?

And if it gets done four times from your connection, they’ll cut you off.  Even if it was you one time, your sister another, your dad another and – oh – better hope your wifi is secure, too… cos those stereotypical students next door, if they were to hack your eircom wifi router and download stuff – yeah, you’d get blamed for that too.

But anyway – yeah, sorry, 8Megs and ‘free’ stuff that the Internet gives me anyway?  Look – I’m sorry, but we’re done here.”

Son: “Waaaaah!”

The thing is – everyone seems to know that eircom are crap.  Literally, the only people I know using them for internet are those who can’t get another ISP in their area.  Or those who’ve no techie knowledge whatsoever and just go for whatever seems handiest/the one they’ve heard of.  Or who really don’t want or need Internet apart from email and booking tickets. And one thing eircom does a lot of is advertising. “8Mb”  For real?  8Mb is… ten years ago.  Don’t boast about it.  Especially when you don’t even actually manage to deliver 8Mb!

What I did on my summer holidays

With a “summer” that’s been mostly wet and always changeable, and what’s been a busy year, we decided our family needed a proper holiday.  That means going abroad, rather than staying in Ireland.  (Note: “staying in Ireland” is only three words, five syllables.  “Staying in Ireland”, “holidaying at home” and similar constructs aren’t that hard to use.  But they’ll stop me stabbing you in the face, unlike for example, if you use the dreaded “staycation” in my presence!)

Holidaying abroad might be unpatriotic, but a) holidaying at home simply isn’t affordable; and b) it’d just rain all the time.  But mostly it isn’t affordable.  Case in point:

4-course meal where the 4th course isn't "tea or coffee"

A 4-course meal where the 4th course isn’t “tea or coffee”

This menu excerpt is from an open-air rooftop restaurant on the main tourist drag in the town of Argeles-sur-Mer, in the south of France (which, incidentally, is where we went).  This is the most expensive “formule” set menu that they offer.  Four courses, €26.  And the fourth course isn’t “tea or coffee.”  Compare that to a typical Irish restaurant – you’d pay €20 for the steak alone in quite a lot of places.  I’ve paid more than that for a mediocre steak served with McDonalds-like fries in Malahide (the Urban Café, for what it’s worth).  A meal in the “expensive” south-of-France restaurant for two adults, one teenager and one child, with drinks, cost us €70.  The meal in Malahide cost us over €120…

However, the purpose of this post isn’t to complain abour ripoff Ireland.  It’s to complain about Ryanair.  And their service companies.  Yes, they’re a no-frills airline.  A bus-in-the-sky.  That’s grand, you get what you pay for, and in our case, it saved us around €600 as a family of four travelling to the south of France (we actually flew into and out of Girona in Spain).

So we land in Girona (we’d taken off 40 minutes late and still arrived “on time” – amazing!). We get off the plane, walk towards the terminal, and are told to stop.  We’re held in place on the tarmac for about 15 minutes, in the afternoon sun, for no discernible reason and with no explanation provided.  But eventually we’re let in, get our car, and off we go – no point complaining, right?

On the way home, we check in (oh, sorry, wait – we’ve checked in online.  This is just a “baggage drop”.  Where they check passports and boarding passes.  And is in no way different to a “check-in” except that they don’t ask if you packed your own case).

And they let us through the gate, and we walk towards the plane, and we get stopped on the tarmac again.  In 30 degree heat.  With no shade.  For forty minutes.  With no explanation.  People are sweating, uncomfortable, kids are screaming.  It is… not pleasant.  Eventually I get pissed off enough to go to the top of the queue and ask a fellow passenger to let me past (we’re in a sort of corral with chains blocking the exit, he’s leaning against the post with the chain).  I intend walking over to the plane to either get on or at least to get an explanation.  But the passenger reasonably points out that there are now two planes (one has arrived since we started queueing) and we don’t know which is ours.  Fair point.

After some more time standing there, they let us on.  No explanation for the delay. No apology. We (several passengers, not just cantankerous old me) ask for water.  We’re told to take our seats.  We take off.  We ask for water.  We’re told “In a while”.  They proceed to pass out menus for food and drinks, and in fact carry on exactly as normal.  Eventually the drinks trolley arrives – and they insist on charging for the water.  €3 for a 500ml bottle.  I object.  The stewardess says that there’s nothing she can do, blah blah blah.  Other passengers say they should be given water, no charge.  She repeats herself.  It is explained to the stewardess that we’ve been standing outside in that heat for 40 minutes.  She has the good grace to look horrified – but no water.  If we don’t want to dehydrate, we have to pay Michael O’Leary.

I ask for details on how to make a complaint.  I’m given a snailmail address, with an apology that they don’t have a phone number or any email address except for marketing.

Well, I suppose we’ll see where that gets us.  We’ll also try the Spanish equivalent of the Health and Safety Authority.  Any other suggestions welcome.

The holiday was great, by the way.