Waiting For A Living

Back in late November, I got an email from a recruiter who had a client that needed a programmer as soon as possible.  I sent back a resume and quickly got a reply asking if I could show up at a local community college for an interview that afternoon.  This was at about midday, so I figured that they must really be in a hurry.  I showed up a few hours later for the interview, and it went well.  The job was a six-month contract that paid well, and they wanted me to start the following week.

I was glad to be getting back to work, and I excitedly told my parents and friends that I had a new job that I would be starting soon.  Everyone wished me good luck, and I was raring to go.

That Friday, I got an e-mail from the recruiter saying that the job would have to wait another few weeks until late December.  I wasn’t happy about having to wait, but what the hey, it had already been a few months so it wasn’t be a big deal.

Two days before the new start date, I get another email with more wonderful news: the job was going to be delayed until late January because of a higher priority project.  I grit my teeth and say okay, I can wait, but I’m starting to get worried about the situation.  I enjoy the holidays and try not to worry too much about things as I move into a new apartment with the anticipation that I will have a job soon to pay rent and keep the lights on.

The Friday before the new-new start date, I get pinged from the recruiter, who tells me that we haven’t gotten a final answer for the folks at the college.  I wonder if I should pull a George Costanza and just show up, but I don’t.  It takes the folks at the school until Wednesday to touch base.  According to them, the job is funded, but there the higher priority project is running late.  They don’t bother to provide a new possible start date, so I’m left now with a “job” that has no start date.

I’m searching again in earnest for a new job (I’ve continued to search this whole time) but honestly, this is no way to do business.  If they get in touch with me before something else comes up, I’ll take the gig, but I really don’t know how much I can trust those people now.  The way they’ve been jerking me around this whole time has left a very bad taste in my mouth, and I wonder if there is something going on that I’m not being told.

Regardless, its a hell of a way to run a taco stand.

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Apple is the new Nintendo (which is the new Apple!)

Somedays it is easy to believe that I have waken up in Bizarro-world.  Apple recently decided that the iPod Touch was going to be a game machine.  Nintendo turned the DS into a music player with the DSi, (using Apple’s codec, of all things!)  In addition, Nintendo announced the DS XL not even a year after the DSi’s release.

What’s next, a new version of Windows that actually works?

Oh…

I have thought of Nintendo as being the “Apple” of the video game industry for some time.  Much like Apple, they march to their own beat and don’t worry about what “the other guys” are doing.  Sometimes it works out great, sometimes they trip over their own innovations, and sometimes they are just too far ahead of the curve for their own good.  At the end of the day, they make lots of money and have lots of die-hard fans.

Apple, of course, has long been known for “thinking different,” as well as for Steve Jobs, overpriced hardware, constantly re-releasing new iterations of said hardware with minor updates, and not being very interested in gaming.  At the end of the day, they also make lots of money and have lots of die-hard fans.

Thus, it came as a surprise to see Apple take a page out of Nintendo’s book, as they touted the iPod Touch as their new portable “game machine.”  Apple was also pretty blatant in promoting their device as being superior to Nintendo and Sony’s portable offerings.  The beauty of Apple’s approach is that Apple itself does not have to make any of the games themselves.

Nintendo, for its part, recently announced the DS XL, a curious move which defies traditional gadget logic.  After all, things are supposed to get smaller over time, not bigger!  In fact, the 4-inch screen of the XL nearly brings it to par with Sony’s PSP.

Speaking of Sony, Lord only knows what they’re thinking…I mean, seriously, $250 for the PSPgo?

For all of the hype, I don’t see games being a big part of Apple’s overall strategy; instead they will be another revenue stream just like apps and music.  The games themselves have been mostly casual affairs, the ‘big budget’ titles have come from EA and their ilk…as if they needed another platform to release Madden onto.

It remains to be seen whether Nintendo will be adding other multimedia functions to take advantage of the DS XL’s bigger screen.  While a video player would be much appreciated by DS users, it won’t contribute to Nintendo’s bottom line, so I doubt we will see that happening anytime soon.

While Nintendo and Apple have taken pages out of each other’s business plans, the fundamental core of what both companies will remain the same, so long as the DS and iPod continue to be money-makers.

I suppose Bizarro-world isn’t such a bad place to be after all.

Blockbusted

Blockbuster has been on my “companies I hate” list for some time now because of a screw-up on their part some years ago where they all but labeled me a thief for supposedly not returning a game.  Thus, the news of their slow death (mainly at the hands of Netflix) has filled me with glee.  I am only disappointed that they didn’t buy Circuit City before they imploded; two crappy companies could have been taken off the map at once.  I’ve been noticing signs that The End Is Near for both Blockbuster and Hollywood Video for some time, as various locations in the neighborhood have been closing.

In terms of value, Netflix kicks Blockbuster to the curb: For $10 a month, I get a movie a week from Netflix in the mail AND an all-you-can-watch buffet from their Instant Watch service…or I can rent two first-run movies at Blockbuster for two nights.

The impending demise of Blockbuster and its ilk was made much more apparent to me when I took a trip to one yesterday.  In the past, the lines at Blockbuster on a Saturday evening are as long and as slow as the ones at the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Yesterday was different; there were just over half-a-dozen cars in the parking lot, and just as many people inside.  Instead of the hustle and bustle of familes, couples, and kids sorting through the movies, and debating the merits of Shrek 3 versus Finding Nemo, all was quiet save for the rustling of the employees and my size 14s tromping throughout the store.  The line was nonexistent as I went to the counter to pay for my movies and get my foot-and-a-half-long receipt.

As I walked out, I thought about the company I used to work for.  I thought about the movie “Other People’s Money” and the speech given by Danny DeVito’s character:

“We’re dead alright, we’re just not broke…and do you know the surest way to go broke?  Keep getting an increasing share of a shrinking market.  Down the tubes.  Slow but sure…”

I’d like to say its been nice knowing you, but don’t let the door hit you where the Good Lord split you, Blockbuster.