Knees-up gives thinking time

The last couple of weeks have been relatively quiet - a major work project got slipped onto the back-burner a week or so ago and I spent the last two days of last week working at home while recuperating from my second knee cartilage repair in six months.

The last couple of weeks have been relatively quiet — a major work project got slipped onto the back-burner a week or so ago and I spent the last two days of last week working at home while recuperating from my second knee cartilage repair in six months.

Actually the delayed project thing’s just fine: (a) it’s given us a bit of time to regroup and think about a few things and (b) it means that, for probably the first time in my IT life, it’s us waiting on the business rather than the other way around.

Oh, and in case you were worrying and before you all shower the Computerworld office with cards, flowers and gifts (as if), my knee will be just fine, thank you very much. Orthopaedic surgery — or at least the incident (viz: lapse of judgement and/or coordination) leading to it — isn’t always as glamorous or exciting as you might think. I used to see people wearing post-operative braces hobbling around on crutches and I’d imagine all sorts of glamorous skiing/surfing/rodeo/whatever accidents.

Now, anyone who knows me knows that I enjoy nothing more than tearing around a forest on my mountain bike (preferably downhill of course … I’m not that athletic). Since damaging my knee I’ve been asked something like: “Woah, dude, how’d you do it?” many, many times. My immediate urge is to lie through my teeth and tell whoever’s willing to listen I stacked it massively in the middle of a really gnarly run down the Fruit Loop, but the sad truth is I slipped on wet concrete and kahawai guts in my mate’s neighbour’s garage while cleaning up after an afternoon’s fishing. Bugger. Sorry to shatter your illusions, dear readers. I’m just a spazzy geek after all.

The other sad thing I have to report was last week’s Computerworld Expo. Actually, I ought to qualify that before I get myself into trouble … the show itself was great — what was sad was the lack of schwag. Schwag? You know, it’s the stuff that Wired magazine called “customised ready-made apparel and products”, the promotional stuff that gets given away at trade shows. There was, in fact, such a lack of good-quality schwag at this year’s Computerworld Expo that I’m currently really worried about the health of the New Zealand IT industry.

What is it with geeks and schwag anyway? How is it that we can never, ever have enough badges, pens, mouse pads, mugs, t-shirts, baseball caps and stress-relieving squeezy things? In some societies an individual’s wealth and importance is judged by the number of cows, chickens or goats they own. In the geek world, it all comes down to schwag. Quality is important — bosses get the good stuff like clothes and Mont Blanc pens and workers get the crap. Of course, the brand name stencilled on the side matters too — office battle lines get drawn between the people who have Oracle schwag and those who have Microsoft schwag.

Yes folks, without schwag life just isn’t the same. Sigh.

Swanson is IT manager at W Stevenson & Sons. Email him at jxs@stevensons.co.nz.

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