Weekly Wrap 157: Too many spiders and dogs

Spider in my water glass: click to embiggenMy week Monday 3 to Sunday 9 June 2013 was laid low by an excess of the black dog. Most unproductive. Most annoying.

I’d intended things to be fairly quiet, to counterbalance the previous week’s hectic pace. Well, quiet it was, because it was the beginning of a new month and nobody had paid me yet. Most inconvenient before a long weekend.

Still, I did nearly drink a spider (pictured), and did quite a bit of pre-production for my new SEKRIT podcast project. The first episode will appear very soon.

Articles

Media Appearances

None.

Corporate Largesse

  • On Thursday I interviewed Sean Richmond at Sophos in North Sydney, and he bought me a coffee.

The Week Ahead

Monday is a public holiday for the Queen’s Birthday, in theory, but I’m planning to continue my planning for the weeks ahead.

The only fixed appointment is on Wednesday afternoon and early evening, when Intel launch their 4th Generation Core processor chips in Sydney. So that means I’ll probably stay overnight in Sydney that night and cluster some appointments around it.

My writing schedule says that I’m doing pieces for Technology Spectator and CSO Online, as well as my usual column for ZDNet Australia.

[Photo: Spider in my water glass, which I nearly drank, but managed to spot it at the very last moment — and there was water everywhere.]

Weekly Wrap 154: California, with wine and Bloody Marys

Vesuvio's $8 Bloody Mark: click to embiggenMy week Monday 13 to Sunday 19 May 2013 was spent in San Francisco and San Jose which, I am reliably informed, are cities in The America.

It also finished nearly a week ago, so I’ll just list the things for now. Should I be in the mood, I’ll reflect upon the week tomorrow.

Articles

Media Appearances

Corporate Largesse

  • I travelled to the US as a guest of NetSuite Inc. Their largesse consisted of: return flights Sydney to San Francisco with United Airlines; limousine airport transfers (well, one way at least, ‘cos the return journey was buggered up); two nights accommodation at the St Regis Hotel, San Francisco, plus USD 100 in American Express gift cards to cover meals; dinner and drinks at Colibri Mexican Bistro; private bus to San Jose; three nights accommodation at the Hilton San Jose; dinner and drinks at ARCADIA by Michael Mina, San Jose; dinner and drinks at Testarossa Winery, Los Gatos, followed by moar drinks at ARCADIA; an iPad Mini 16GB Wi-Fi, engraved with the NetSuite logo; a 3.5-ounce tin of Wine Lover’s Chocolate by Bridge Brands Chocolate; a NetSuite-branded HydroFlask thermos; a NetSuite-branded North End Sport windbreaker (that is, a kind of polyester jacket); a NetSuite-branded ball-point pen and notebook; a re-usable shopping back by RuMe; the usual conference satchel full of never-to-be-read pieces of paper and cardboard, and endless food and drink in the press lounge.

The Week Ahead

Since it’s already Saturday afternoon, there’s not really much point, is there? There’ll be a new Weekly Wrap tomorrow.

[Photo: Vesuvio’s $8 Bloody Mary. At Vesuvio in San Francisco, the bar where Jack Kerouac used to drink, you can get one of these fine Bloody Marys for just $8. Plenty of vodka, spiced as you require, with a huge stuffed Spanish olive, white pickled onion, lemon and lime.]

Australia’s Budget 2013 keeps us stuck in the past

[As it turns out, my planned Budget commentary for Crikey didn’t happen. I got up early in San Jose, read the budget papers and made notes, but then my as-yet-unwritten article got spiked. This is a quick and somewhat belated post based on my notes, not as polished as it might have been if written for Crikey.]

Photo of Budget 2013-2014 papers: click for official government budget websiteThe problem with Australia’s Labor government is that after having had One Big Idea for a bold new future in the National Broadband Network (NBN), they’ve come up with almost nothing anywhere else. This year’s federal budget was a dull plod. Again.

There was even one move which struck me as remarkably dumb: capping the available tax deductions for self-education expenses at just $2000 a year. Apparently that saves $500 million, and that’ll go to the schools — and schools are good for the kiddies, of course — but that’s half a billion dollars less for people to be able to keep up with a rapidly-changing work environment.

This strikes me as particularly stupid when so many of the people servicing the computers, networks and other technology that powers small business are often freelancers, as are so many web developers and designers.

Two grand a year doesn’t go far when it costs nearly half that just to attend the annual user conference for just one of your core software toolsets — more if you have to add airfares and accommodation — and the rest would soon be burnt up on a handful of reference books.

Back when I used to work in various management and staff development roles, I was told that any organisation that wants to advance its knowledge base should be spending at least 5% of its time on staff development. In a technology field, in my opinion, that should be at least 10%. That’s four hours a week, or a week or so every three months.

That still doesn’t sound very much, but it’d cost at least four times that capped amount. And that’s still not compensating freelancers for the loss of billable hours.

“Business and training groups have already said capping the expenses will stop employers from being able to offer staff new training initiatives. There were reports [the week before the budget that] the government would end up reversing the move, but the budget papers now state the change is locked-in,” wrote Patrick Stafford at SmartCompany.

“The announcement is sure to raise the ire of small business groups. Many business owners also use these deductions for short courses and industry-based training sessions.”

There’s two particularly galling lines in the budget papers themselves. First, the tax deductions are now only available…

…where these expenses are incurred in the production of the taxpayer’s current assessable income.

So you’re discouraged from educating yourself for the jobs that will become available even in the very near future. Why?

The potential for uncapped claims for a wide range of expenses provides an opportunity for some people to enjoy significant private benefits at taxpayers’ expense.

Orly? That’s a bit rich, given that vast sums already given to private schools. Or the “baby bonus” that people on quite significant household incomes still get for extruding another brat. That simply reeks of hypocrisy.

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