Disclaimer: I wrote this. At home. Please don’t bother respectable people I work for with my personal blog. As per my standard Sri Lankan disclaimer, please don’t beat-up, kill, jail, or throw grenades at me.
Today I went to two meetings. One good and one so sucktastic that it has kept me entertained all day.
Best. Meeting. Ever. I didn’t have to go (always good). I just dropped in for 5 minutes and they told me I could have everything I needed to work. They didn’t waste weeks with reports and preliminary meetings and shit. They just got it done. I’m finally going to start getting reports from the field and a functional computer… and fast. I asked today and it’s done. Mr Jayaratne and Channa are awesome.
Let’s call the MH. I’m speaking personally and I don’t want to piss anyone off. When I walked in they were getting chewed out by someone, which is always awesome. He is always nice, but he always tells people what’s what. I saw Juan and Tod and I said hi cause I like them. Then I went downstairs and started uploading some news from Batti. Somebody came down and said they wanted me to go to their meeting. I was actually deadly curious to see what MS people look like, plus I honestly miss white people. I took my tea and went upstairs.
Ah, meetings. First the pointless introductions. 10 minutes. Then someone insists on sharing their general impressions on the Tsunami which would be cool if 1) I gave a shit and 2) I had nothing better to do. That is normal meeting stuff I guess. I’m at the bottom of my tea and it’s all sugary and gross but I’m drinking it anyways cause I’m bored. One thing I can say about MS people is that they are generally young and attractive. Or maybe they just keep the Morlocks underground. I bet these guys listen to fucking iPods.
Blah, blah, blah… something, want to help… blah. That’s nice. I think they raised some money which is cool. I’m getting antsy so I decide to tell them the technical problems I had so I can go. I told them that I had serious problems with Servers, Payment Gateways, Internet Access, and lack of Bloggers to update the website. Elena (Director, Make-Us-Look-Less-Evil Division) looks at me all blank and tells me to write a report. Why are we even talking? Is this a pre-meeting? I thought the subject was ‘How MH Can Help’ but I guess it’s ‘Blaaaaaaaaha, I’m from MH. Here is my business card… Blaahahahahaa”. Yesterday I asked Mr. Jayaratne for constant District Reports and a Laptop. Today it’s done. MH gave me homework.
Let’s say they want to help. This is how I quantify help:
Workload: 949 – 9 = 940
This is how Elena seems to quantify help:
Workload: 949 + 2 (meeting and report) = 951
How does giving me more work help? If we’re having a meeting then take notes or something, don’t ask me to write an additional report. I got other shit to do, like actually reducing my workload. If she ever reads this, here’s a list of my priorities at that moment. Writing that report is not up there.
1. Update the Website
2. Talk to Jeevan to get News from the field
3. Get more Donations
4. Build a e-Commerce thing so people can donate to specific projects
5. Transfer 25 old files to a Content Management System (PHP)
6. Get that Interactive Map Working
7. Fix Dr. Ari’s computer so he can send email, not viruses
7. Fix the Internet which is right now slower than Dial-Up
8. Find one computer that isn’t infested with viruses, spyware, and dead people
9. Build a logistics database
10. Build a people database
11. Say ‘Happy Birthday’ to my Dad
77. Have friends
949. Was that kid Billy gay or did he just lisp and like theatre? Find out.
950. Write report for MH
There’s a second reason I wouldn’t write a report. It’s not the shortest distance to my goal. The needs are pretty simple. Either fill them or don’t. Donate or don’t. I’m not going to spend time to get money, that’s barely breaking even. Let’s assume my goal is finding Bloggers. Here are the two paths I can take:
Write Report -> Elena Reads Report -> She Sends Report to MH Regional -> He Sends Report to His Pimp – They Ask Each Other What a Blogger Is -> They Approve Something -> Sun Explodes -> I Get Free Accounts on Their Already Free Service
Post a Request For Volunteers on the Blog -> Get Bloggers
I want to say thanks to Juan cause he tried and I appreciate it, but it’s the exact same way the Server worked. He and I made 20 phone calls, talked to a bunch of people, and in the end I just bought the thing myself. My momself. Same reason that nobody buys MH software here. I can get XP bootleg at the mall. I have no idea how to get a license. I have to go to a bunch of obscure offices and meet district managers and sign shit. I’m not a pirate, Arr, I just want results. Work with me here.
Here’s the other stuff I said we needed:
Server – we didn’t have a good one. The original was Sri Lankan and crumpled under the traffic. In fact, all the Sri Lankan sites crumpled. I remember the .gov.lk pages took literally 20 minutes to load. We luckily had a .org server, but there was no scripting. That meant I had to do hours of repetive work that 4 lines of PHP could do for me. In the end I just got my mom’s credit card and bought a Server. Apparently Amma’s credit card works for national emergencies as well as me fucking up the car. The server is on MediaTemple and it is a beautiful thing. The ‘problem’ is that I’m using all Opensource Code simply cause it’s free and I’m poor. I don’t know if Microsoft would ever buy me a Linux box.
Payment Gateway – we didn’t have one. The first few days we couldn’t collect any donations online. We probably missed out on at least $200,000. In the US you can setup PayPal in 10 minutes, but you can’t use PayPal with Sri Lankan banks. Sampath has a gateway, as in an open wound. D and a bunch of Virtusa geeks had to write custom code to interface with the bank, and even then we dropped a bunch of payments. That code took 24 hours and it was a really bad day for me. In the Third World we can’t get money into our banks online (easily). I’ve been talking to PayPal about this and they’ve been cool but they still can’t do anything. Right now the donations thru PayPal to Sarvodaya USA and then wired over. MS could setup emergency accounts and wire stuff to the local NGO they support. I dunno.
Rapidly Deployable Wi-Fi – We need Internet Access to get the word out and get this crapflood of NGOs, volunteers, and donors organized. Not that complicated. Wi-Fi is easy and cheap.
Digital Cameras – The most effective thing for showing donors and the world results are photos. I’ve been getting analog photos in from the field but it takes too much time to scan and Photoshop them. We just need really cheap and crappy Digicams – like 1-2 megapixels – that we can send out to the field.
Programmers – PHP/mySQL specifically, CSS and HTML too. It has to be Opensource cause we’re poor and we can’t pay for proprietary code. We needed/need databases to track logistics, volunteers, and the people (clients) who’ve been displaced and whose needs we need to serve.
Bloggers – I need Bloggers to write good English and take photos in the field so we know what’s happening, what the needs are, and so that the organization is transparent and accountable. One of the MS guys asked me what a Blogger was, which doesn’t seem right. I hope the Morlocks eat him.
Damn it. I think I just wrote a report.