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Comment: Or, you could just watch a production of it... (Score 1) 338

by MattBD (#44566815) Attached to: Bill Gates Seeking Patent To Make Shakespeare Less Boring
Surely the way to make Shakespeare less boring is to let schoolkids see a production of a Shakespeare play, rather than have them read the script? If it was written as a play, people should experience it primarily as one. Maybe after they've seen it, there's some value to going back and looking at the dialogue, but only afterwards. There have been some wonderful productions of Shakespeare plays - I really enjoyed the production of Hamlet with David Tennant and Patrick Stewart that was televised a few years ago.

Comment: This is why I love Octopress (Score 2) 94

by MattBD (#42922971) Attached to: Blogging Platform Posterous To Shut Down April 30
Nowadays, I use Octopress, having gone through Blogger, hosted WordPress.com blog, self-hosted WordPress beforehand. Admittedly it's not for everyone, but it has massive advantages in terms of retaining control of your data over every other blogging platform I've tried. Because it just generates static HTML, you can host it pretty much anywhere you like (mine is on GitHub Pages). It's under version control, and you can easily store it on any machine with Git installed. With Octopress, this kind of thing will never be an issue because you can just push the files to somewhere else with ease.

Comment: Re:I'm going to be the asshole programmer (Score 1) 313

by MattBD (#42573831) Attached to: Learn Basic Programming So You Aren't At the Mercy of Programmers
This is why I love Cucumber and the various ports of it to other languages. If you can get the person with an idea to write up some feature files explaining how it will work, you can get a good idea of how they want it to work. It forces them to think hard about the kind of flow the application will have and gives them no excuse for half-arsed requirement documents.
I introduced Cucumber at work for writing automated tests for a web app, and it worked so well we're talking about using it for every web app we build in future. If we treat the feature files as requirement documents, then we will always know exactly how the app should work to be considered acceptable, and if the client changes their mind then it's outside the requirements and we should be charging more.

Comment: Re:Everyone should use IRC instead (Score 1) 248

by MattBD (#42086171) Attached to: Companies Getting Rid of Reply-all
Just what I was thinking actually. At a company I used to work for, people were in the habit of sending round Excel spreadsheets as attachments to everyone in the whole department (over 100 people). I dread to think how much of a headache that must have been for the mail server admins. Surely it would have made more sense to run an NNTP server and create a newsgroup for each department.

Comment: Calm down... (Score 1) 333

by MattBD (#39786349) Attached to: Company Accidentally Fires Entire Staff Via Email

As a former Aviva employee who left to take up a new job last year and has seen their dismissal and resignation procedures in action (I suppose it's conceivable they might have changed since I left in September, but I seriously doubt it), I call shenanigans on this.

The company as a whole is so ridiculously risk-averse and keen on trying to present itself well that there is no way on Earth anyone would have been fired by email like that. Every time someone was lef go they were given the news in person by a line manager.

From reading the article, it sounds like the email that went out was actually a standard "Don't forget to return any company property" thing that goes out to someone who already knows that they are leaving. I have a very similar email from when I left.

Comment: Re:Aviva is a joke name, surely (Score 1) 333

by MattBD (#39786173) Attached to: Company Accidentally Fires Entire Staff Via Email
As a former Aviva employee, I actually recall seeing on the company intranet how it came about. It was in about 2002, after the merger between CGU and Norwich Union was completed, and at the time the group was called CGNU, but that was only ever a temporary name, and they had apparently hired some marketing agency to come up with the name. Apparently it was chosen because of the connotations with vitality, activity and health. From then on it was known as Aviva on the stock market, but they continued to use the Norwich Union brand until 2009.

Comment: Re:Wrong (Score 1) 333

by MattBD (#39786077) Attached to: Company Accidentally Fires Entire Staff Via Email

I used to work there until September last year, and unless something has changed radically in the meantime, they don't actually fire people using a form letter. When I left they sent me a form email confirming my resignation and linking to an intranet checklist, and it sounds like this was the kind of thing that went out. Believe me, their HR department is far too risk-averse to risk looking bad by firing people by email. Everyone I knew who was let go while working there was given the news by a line manager.

Agreed on the high turnover rate though, which I can confirm they have, although that's mainly because most of the jobs there are shit. The place was also full of silly management philosophies and bureaucratic nonsense, and it seemed to favour toadying and sycophancy as ways to get ahead. Also, I had to deal with financial advisers, many of whom are very nasty pieces of work.

Comment: Re:Giant Mistake? (Score 1) 333

by MattBD (#39785791) Attached to: Company Accidentally Fires Entire Staff Via Email

Actually, as I understand it, this was just a standard "Don't forget to hand in any company property before you leave" email. I actually worked for Aviva for over a decade (including in their previous incarnation as Norwich Union) until I left to take up a different job last year, and when I left I got exactly the same kind of boilerplate email to confirm my resignation.

From my experience it's not really any worse than any other big company like that, it's just hugely bureaucratic and tiresome to actually ever get anything done there, and they are one of those companies that every few years hire in a new set of consultants who introduce a new cargo cult management philosophy that everyone has shoved down their throats for a couple of years.

Comment: Re:WTF? (Score 4, Interesting) 922

by MattBD (#39487139) Attached to: UK Man Jailed For 'Offensive Tweets'
I'm not a lawyer either, but I do know that Britain has a rather sordid reputation as a venue for libel tourism. People have been using our legal system to go after someone else for libel when neither party has any affiliation with the UK. The US has actually had to pass laws barring U.S. courts from enforcing libel judgments issued in foreign courts against U.S. residents, if the speech would not be libellous under American law, largely because so many unscrupulous people have tried to get around the protections offered by the First Amendment by using Britain as a legal venue.

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