Monday, November 19, 2012

Two WP Visits - Double The Pain

UPDATE: Hey post number 250 wowzers


2 WP Visits, Twice the Pain

So welcome back to Shaftsword VS SEETEC or my ongoing dealings with all aspects of the Work Programme. This post will cover my fifth and sixth visits mainly because the fourth was quite quick and not worth a whole post. So let us get to it.

The fourth visit was an early morning visit to a BDC advisor, which I had no clue about as it wasn’t explained. Basically the BDC advisor is in charge of looking out for jobs for me, jobs not placements as I checked that at the time to make sure. Anyway we had a talk about the kinds of jobs I was interested in and any restrictions to that work, commuting distance that sort of thing.

Overall it was a very pleasant experience, the only glitch was in the discussion of my CV once again we fell into the WP Waltz (I’m working on a snappy title) where he talked about sending out my CV to jobs. I then informed him that he could not send my CV out for jobs, he was like “But you signed the waiver” to which I responded no I didn’t, that caught him out a bit and he asked why yadda yadda yadda. They always use the what if a job appears and you are not at home when we e-mail.

I really have no idea where all these strange advertised-for-24-hour vacancies come from but apparently SEETEC has some sort of deal with them. I once again told them I was more than capable of applying for any jobs that came up, plus I got the advisor to e-mail me a job he wanted to send my details to.  I applied for it when I got home well before the deadline which was the day after.

MY REVIEW – DUN DUN DUN!

When I went to my first proper SEETEC meeting I was given a list of tasks to go through including things like, sending them my CV (which I did after some changes), listing companies I wanted to work for and a few other things. When I came in for my fortnightly review I was informed that I would be changing advisors to a new person.

ONCE AGAIN there was discussion about using their e-mail address, I refused arguing that I have an e-mail address and I am not happy to share that information with the WP provider. They were very insistent about it to the point of becoming rather aggressive about it. I was in the unfortunate position of being seated with my current advisor right next to the new advisor who felt the need to butt into our conversation and make snarky remarks when I talked about not wanting to use their e-mail, pretty much saying that as I am on the WP now I have to do EVERYTHING they say “You’re on the Work Programme now”. Rude is understating how she was with me, way to start off the relationship in the right manner.

Basically I am going to have to go into the next meeting on Wednesday on my toes and ready to wholeheartedly defend my reasoning for not signing the data waiver and wanting nothing to do with their e-mail address system. Wish me luck.

One other thing I thought I would mention was signing on the register of the WP, something we are asked to do as soon as we step through the door. I had just been initialling my name without putting in a signature and the manager at the WP confronted me over it. She said that if I didn't use my correct signature then I was not attending. She also stated that they send their attendance registers to the DWP every week which sounded very unlikely to my ears but I am just tell you what they told me. So not wanting to get into a lengthy sanction battle over not appearing I put in my signature. A loss for me then on that score.

Stay tuned for the results of my first meeting with this new advisor it is going to be a slobberknocker.

Friday, November 16, 2012

GAMING - I needed a WoWcation.


So if you have an interest in World of Warcraft and are staying current you might have heard of the endless back and forth over the current content in terms of the dailies and reputation requirements. If you haven’t heard about it and have a appetite for MMO drama grab your popcorn and head over here or try here, they should get you started.

Anyway moving on, as the title suggests I was not playing World of Warcraft for the last week so I have been looking at some other titles. 

APB Reloaded

A free game from Steam it looked interesting and described itself as a sort of Grand Theft Auto MMO. My initial thoughts are that yeah that is a pretty accurate description with some interesting extras. You can choose to play as criminals or enforcers and then you are let loose on a fairly large urban sandbox and go about doing missions with others against other players of the opposing factions.



My problems though are few but very important, it is REALLY difficult to get going in the beginning the so called tutorial is more than a little lacking. I really didn’t know what to do so I did some exploring and tried to get used to how ridiculously sensitive the controls are. That comes from someone not used to FPS type games so it could just be me. What I saw of the game was interesting but a tutorial system would really help.

Since then I have checked out YouTube to get some ideas and I now at least have a notion of how things are going. I will have to give it a try again but at the time I decided to move on to my next game of choice.

Star Wars: The Old Republic

I have already played a little SWTOR, got to level 11 on a Sith Warrior and pretty much enjoyed the experience other than somehow managing to make the character on a French server (oh how I laughed at myself). In reality that matters little as I was on a trial account and therefore could not talk on the general chat or send tells and such.

My second experience with SWTOR was going Republic side and choosing a Jedi Consular, you watch the preview video on the website and tell me they don’t look cool. Going through the second time even with completely new quests was a lot quicker. I’m not really a light side fan but at least I get the choice to go with some dark side choices.

the light side has scantily clad warriors

For a lore nerd like me it is nice to be able to go all dark side especially in the time of the Old Republic as the Jedi Order then is makes the Tea Party look liberal. I am more of a fan of the later time periods but they don’t have an MMORPG based on them.

So I hope you liked this glimpse at what I did in my Wow-cation.



Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Work Programme Visit 4

CV WORKSHOP

So today bright and early I had a CV workshop, it was one of the three, specialist appointments I guess you could call them. It started straightforwardly we had an adviser not my regular one but he seems to have some sort of specialism. He basically went through CVs and their purpose and highlighted various approaches to CV design. I didn’t agree with all of what he said but I can’t say that his advice would be damaging.



My issue with the 3 hour long session is that my CV was not in need of work, of the people at the session there was two without CVs and one who needed guidance on things like dealing with gaps. In discussions with my advisor, they never stated that they thought anything was wrong with my CV the only real discussion was me outlining in detail the fact that I was not happy with them doing with it whatever they wanted (more on ROUND 2 of that fight later).

Part of the CV session was a one to one opportunity where the advisor personally looks at your CV and rewrites it, there doesn’t seem to be a choice in the matter. It was at this point that IT happened. First I was asked if I had a CV on file which of I did, as a watermarked PDF with ‘do not copy’ written all over it. When the advisor asked if it was a PDF to prevent them messing with it, I said simply ‘yes’. I was at pains not be rude about it still left him a little stunned, he looked through the CV then suggested he wanted to make changes to it at which point I said I was more than happy with it.

This was the moment where after some back and forth he said something along the lines of “Well you know you signed the waiver so…” to which I responded “No I didn’t”. That left him flummoxed to say the least and he went in a bit about how they need the waiver so they can apply for jobs on my behalf, I said if they find a job they can get in contact with me, what if I’m busy they said? I patiently explained about wanting to be in control of my job searching.

Another interesting thing that happened was during the CV Workshop the manager of SEETEC came into our session and tried to get me to sign the desk register I just initialled it but that wasn’t good enough for the Manager and I was told that “We would have to have a talk”. So that is something to look forward to.
Tomorrow is my next meeting where I have a meeting with someone called a business adviser but I don’t really know what it will be about.

Next update should be up soon if you have any questions about my experience you can leave a comment and I will get back to you or contact me on Twitter.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

BOOK REVIEW: Hidden (House of Night #10) By PC & Kristin Cast

Hidden is the tenth instalment of the House of Night series by PC and Kristin Cast. It was published on the 16th October 2012 by Atom in the UK. The hardcover edition of Hidden is 320 pages long.

PLOT

I'd known it before we saw the fire trucks and the smoke. I'd known all hell had broken loose at the House of Night the moment it had been proven beyond all doubt that Neferet was on the side of Darkness. Only now I had a terrible feeling that outing Neferet would serve more to free her than to force her to pay the consequences for her lies and betrayals.

At last, Zoey has what she wanted: the truth is out. Neferet's evil has been exposed, and the High Council is no longer on her side - but she's far from done wreaking havoc in the vampyre world.

With the seeds of distrust sown and Darkness breeding chaos at the House of Night, everyone must band together - but that's proving to be more difficult than ever before. The twins are barely speaking and the House of Night's former enemy, Kalona, has now become their warrior, pushing their trust to the limits.

To top it all off, Zoey is pretty darn sure she might be losing her mind - she saw something when she looked at Neferet's minion, Aurox, through the Seer Stone that she can hardly explain to herself, let alone her friends. Zoey knows that following her instincts might be just what they need to defeat evil... but if she's wrong, it could cause the destruction of those closest to her.

With the tension at a breaking point and friendships on the line, can the nerd herd come together to stop the spread of Darkness before it's too late?

NOTES ON SPOILERS

It would be near impossible to discuss Hidden without spoiling some of the details from the previous books. I would highly recommend if you are interested in reading House of Night that you should start at the beginning, the books follow on immediately after one another and could not be more connected.

HON Controversy

I don’t feel like I can write a review of a House of Night novel without talking a little about the controversy surrounding the title. The controversy is about the maturity level of the content, while HON is about Vampires in High school with magic powers there are a lot of mature themes including things like sexual themes and swearing. When I read book blogger reviews of HON they highlight this content as if there isn’t a clear warning on the back of the books about the mature content.

I feel that book stores both physical and online are partly to blame as they tend to incorrectly place any books not overtly romantic straight into the children/teens section. While House of Night could be described as a YA or Young Adult novel it really isn’t for kids despite it being set in a school.

WHAT I THOUGHT

House of Night novels are regular as clockwork around October each year and I am always eagerly awaiting each new addition to the series. Zoey Redbird and her gang are fully engaged in the fight against darkness but things are becoming too much for Zoey. This book is about Zoey as well as several other of the major protagonists taking steps to decide their own destinies. 

While this is obviously a series about magic and vampires it is also about people choosing between easy and the hard choice. A lot of times when I read YA books I question whether the characters are inspirational, whether or not they could be thought of as role models.

The characters in HON are relatable, now too flawed and not too perfect though I have to say Jack was pretty brilliant. They are some of the most believable characters I have come across in literature and they have a permanent place in my heart (yes I know that is so cheesy especially coming from an adult guy).

Religion and the way it is portrayed has always intrigued me in HON and the religion of the Nyx is a fairly well defined one and it throws up an interesting relationship dynamic, it makes possible a triangular romantic relationship, whereas 90% of YA books make use of the love triangle this book goes in another direction entirely suggesting a new relationship structure and I find that interesting.

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT

First if you are a fan of House of Night this is a great addition to the story, if you left the series because of the change in the storyline a few books back I would urge you to come back as the essential qualities of House of Night never left even if the story has changed somewhat since the beginning.

If you are new to the House of Night series I can tell you that it is not just another Vampire book it is a richly detailed alternate world and a story about friendship first. House of Night is definitely worth adding to your read pile.

If you want to get in touch with me, maybe to argue the merits of House of Night or YA in general you can find me on Twitter on @shaftsword, I’ll be happy to reply.  




Saturday, November 10, 2012

Third Visit to the WP


This is my third visit to the Work Programme run by SEETEC. This time I was booked in for a two hour session on the virtual training environment. This is where we can get some training on basically everything involved in getting ready for work and applying for jobs.

They asked me to go through the online presentations for cold calling for jobs and good interview habits. The second part seems quite useful to me and I suppose the first may be useful depending on what sort of jobs you are going for certainly not in my case due to the type of organisations I apply to.

The Training

The training material is fairly straightforward stuff just a PowerPoint slide with a voiceover that is intentionally distorted so you can’t tell gender and I guess it makes it harder to pick up accents, very strange. As you wait patiently through the voice track at various intervals you have to click on videos broken into multiple parts that give you tips and what and what not to do.

All in all a good idea however the implementation is more than a little off. The first problem is that the videos are at least 15 years old, considering that these providers are being paid to help it would be nice if they used some of those profits to buy some training materials from the last decade. The problem with the age of the material is that a lot of it is no longer relevant and maybe a quarter of the things they suggest seem that they just wouldn’t be possible now.

And then there was the time, all in all I spent a little over 2 hours just sitting there clicking my mouse every now and then while watching this largely pointless material and of course listening to the strangely distorted announcers voice as they guided me through the material. I would add this was mandatory so I wasn’t going to raise a stink about it certainly not worth getting or having to fight a 4 week sanction.

The thing that annoyed me was that perhaps 10 minutes before I finished up I got a tap by one of the floating advisor types to say “Hey you can go as soon as you finish” I looked at the time on the computer and yep 2 hours had passed. There was no interview at the end to round things up or even to ask if what I had just watched made any sense or was in anyway useful to me moving from unemployment back into the workplace. It was the epitome of a ticking box episode and frankly I and everyone who attends these Work Programmes is worth more than that.

Anyway that is enough from me; feel free to join me next week when I attend the CV workshop which is another 2 hour mandatory activity to take place at the WP.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Cross Realm Auction Houses - BLOGGING CARNIVAL


Is the CRAH a good or bad idea? What would you predict would happen to the auction economy?  Does the notion excite or horrify you?  Would a CRAH we good or bad for WoW?


So it has been mentioned that with all these recent changes that a Cross Realm Auction House is not beyond the realm of possibilities in the future. Now I am coming from a selling place, I’m no amazing Gold Goblin mere silvers away from his 1 million gold target but I still like to play the AH I just measure things in terms of being able to pay for my professions and save a little to invest.



I really can’t see how a perhaps Battlegroup wide Auction House is going to be good for those of us who like to play the markets. You have to think of it in the ways that you or the average goblin might try the AH. So say you’re a jewelcrafter and let’s leave the other profession blank for this example and you want to do some crafting. Let us say rings so you go to the AH looking for ore, good news it is dirt cheap but then when you check the prices of the rings you want to make they work out less than the cost of the mats.

Why you ask because you are now dealing with 4 times the amount of competition being fuelled by god knows how many times more bots from the various servers flooding the ore market. Now imagine this across all the professions as very few have gold making possibilities not directly linked to the raw materials. You could maybe argue Inscription and DMF cards because of both the fair only being 1 week per month and the cards being limited by source materials with a 1 a day cooldown but that market is fairly limited and will be limited further as we are currently in a DMF.

This stuff of course is not necessarily game breaking for all but for those who like the AH the effect would be quite noticeable. I think the more important thing to consider is the reason behind things like the discussion of a Cross Realm Auction House and the establishment of the Cross Realm Zones. These are all just Blizzard branded plasters covering the festering wounds of dead and dying servers (now that’s some imagery for you).

I’ve been on one of those abandoned servers (Blizzard liked to call them Recommended) and I know how much of a nightmare they can be. The server that I was on wasn’t always bad but it slowly went down as top 10 guild after top 10 guild server transferred away. Yes they are the elite but where they go others follow and soon two of the guilds I was in which were nowhere near the top decided to move on as well.

This all took time 5 level 85s worth of time, so when I decided to move to follow a friend and her guild I had to start over from scratch. Which is the other part of this with all this Cross Realm talk Blizzard can continue to double charge people to move server and faction just because they can’t properly deal with the fact that they need to consolidate servers.

This issue goes all the way back to when LFG and BGs went from just your realm to your Battlegroup. Unfortunately for me it seems that Blizzard has gone so far down this road that they are really not going to turn around now so perhaps goblins everywhere should be prepared to deal with a Cross Realm Auction House.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

K-K-CANCELLED!?!


So it is November and it is getting seriously cold out there. Not that I have anything to complain about given the devastation around Cuba, Haiti and of course the Eastern seaboard of the United States. I felt that I just had to at least mention that before moving on to the discussion of TV shows.

Unfortunately good friends I bring you news of cancellations.



The first show is Fairly Legal which has been cancelled after two seasons. It starred Sarah Shahi (she being the reason I watched) about a lawyer turned mediator with a bit of a hero complex and an incredibly messy personal life. It also featured Michael Trucco that you probably recognise from Battlestar Galactica as one Samuel Anders.

It was a solid enough show that showed during the off season but I could never truly sympathise with the lead character as she always come over a little too self righteous for my liking and the mess she made of her private life made even a singleton like me wince on more than one occasion.

I enjoyed the antics of her personal assistant played by Baron Vaughn, he was just so intensely likeable as was his brief courtship of the sandwich seller. I can fully understand though why the show was cancelled as deciding to come up with the main romantic prospect in the 2nd season was never likely to work. Still I will miss Sarah Shahi and her smoldering looks.



The other show to get an official cancellation notification was Political Animals starring Sigourney Weaver
The reason this one left me surprised was the fact that it was a miniseries, I don’t know about you but when  I hear the term miniseries I assume only one run and not several seasons, otherwise it wouldn’t really be a MINI-series then would it? Still for whatever reason USA made the announcement, from what I can gather Political Animals was one of those critic, good, ratings, bad shows that often like to appear every now and then.

I watched the entire run but I can remember only catching up on the final 5 episodes weeks after they aired just to say I had watched it because the show didn’t really move me. I get the idea it was supposed to with some many heavy hitters in the cast list but then I have never been one for mainstream drama. Perhaps the American public gets more than enough of their politics from Fox News.

SOME GOOD NEWS TO FOLLOW BAD



Homeland has been renewed for Season Three and it is only five episodes into Season Two. That is pretty early as renewals go especially for someone who generally is still waiting to hear whether or not his favourite show is going to return in May or June after a season finale. Homeland stars Damian Lewis who also starred with Sarah Shahi in Life which was a cop procedural that lasted two seasons. It is a great show and I am glad to see that it is going to be around for awhile though I do have questions about how far it can go.



Arrow is also going to be show in its entirety for the first season. Obviously this isn’t as big news as a renewal but it is still important as all too often shows like this might be silently lead off to execution after only a few episodes of a longer intended run. Look up Birds of Prey as a noteworthy example.

Arrow is certainly no Smallville it goes in another direction probably more accurate to equate it with Batman which Arrow is a copy of. It makes sense for CW to run with it though as the Batman rights are in use, the writing and pacing of the show is excellent though one minor gripe is for Oliver to go a little further with his family than just being the obnoxious playboy.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

WORK PROGRAMME - 2ND VISIT


So this is a summary of my second meeting with the people of SEETEC

One of the first things that we covered once we got started was the CV, last interview I was asked to send my CV in which I decided to comply with subject to making some changes. The first changes I made to the CV itself was to add a watermark (you can do this easily in Windows or if you’re advanced you can edit the PDF with Acrobat) which said ‘DO NOT COPY’. I also removed my telephone number and e-mail address. Finally I added a line in red that said please do not disseminate (fine word).

As you might guess my data is important to me so to ensure that there would be no mistakes I wrote an e-mail stating that I was providing this CV only because I had been directed to do so in my previous appointment and that by accepting this copy of my CV, SEETEC (my provider) were agreeing to destroy any previous electronic or paper copies of my CV that they may have had as a result of me being on their New Deal programme previously or that they may have somehow received from DWP.

The advisor accepted this and told me that my e-mail had been passed on to the manager so that everyone knew how seriously I took my data which was great. A little later I was asked whether or not I was using the e-mail and I said that I was not comfortable using it and then the advisor spilled this little bit of info. The reason that they do this is for lazy people who they feel don’t do enough to look for jobs so they (SEETEC) can then send off applications to jobs. The advisor agreed with me that if there are jobs they want me to go for they can get in touch with me.

So overall an excellent interview with no one trying to screw me over.

OTHER THINGS TO LOOK FORWARD TO

I have to attend a 2 hour CV workshop compulsory but a total waste of time. I only went to a CV interview at the job centre maybe 2 months ago which was pretty useful more for the interview practice than the CV thing as my CV was made by someone who used to work in recruitment and it has proven reasonably successful in getting interviews.

I also have a two hour VTC Elvis session. This is an online training area which to be honest I have to check out but when I do I will try to write a little something about it.
So big thanks to everyone over at the Unemployment Movement


Without the advice from those guys I don’t know where I would be. Keep your eyes peeled for WP labelled posts if you want to hear of my misadventures but be warned it is not the only thing I blog about.
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