back to article Multitasking is a myth: It means doing lots of things equally badly

Excuse me while I have another slash. Aaaaaah, that's better. I am a slasher. Not a Michael Myers type of slasher, though, oh no. I do not creep around remote houses at night, offing obnoxious teens, getting repeatedly killed and yet popping up again on a regular basis to cause Jamie Lee Curtis anxiety at various points …

  1. Caver_Dave
    Unhappy

    What do you do?

    I have a technophobe 85yo father who knows that I do something with computers, but how ever I try to explain what I do to him, he always thinks my brother does a better job - he digs holes and my father can understand that!

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: What do you do?

      The thing with holes is that they are consistent, half a hole or a hole twice as big are still both whole holes.

      1. laughthisoff

        Re: What do you do?

        "The thing with holes is that they are consistent, half a hole or a hole twice as big are still both whole holes."

        You mean a smaller hole, or a hole half the size, surely? By your own description you can't have half a hole; half a hole is a whole hole, just in a more portable size.

        S.

        1. jelabarre59 Silver badge

          Re: What do you do?

          You mean a smaller hole, or a hole half the size, surely? By your own description you can't have half a hole; half a hole is a whole hole, just in a more portable size.

          "I've got a hole in me pocket... well, 'alf-a-hole, I gave the other 'alf to Jeremy..."

          1. Spamfast Bronze badge
    2. jelabarre59 Silver badge

      Re: What do you do?

      I've thought working for the highway department would potentially have more job satisfaction; at the end of the day you can see some visible, discernable results of your work (notwithstanding Union slacking-off tactics). All too often on computer work, the next day or week you're tearing down what you did and have to start over again.

      1. the Jim bloke Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: What do you do?

        at the end of the day you can see some visible, discernable results of your work

        You see those potholes over there? I put those in last week. And the ones down the street?, My pappy put those in.. and the big one shaped like.. a really big hole, on the corner of the highway, my grandpappy put that there. They still talk about him you know, he was a real legend. Ah, tis a grand life, working on the roads, knowing you are making something that future generations will see and marvel at.

      2. DanceMan
        Happy

        Re: working for the highway department

        That's not pavement, it's temporary sewer cover!

    3. Nick Kew

      Re: What do you do?

      Is your father religious, and thus attracted to your brother's holy calling?

  2. Franco Silver badge

    I'm going to have to change my LinkedIn profile again....

    1. macjules Silver badge

      Done that so many times now that it is almost unreadable. In its latest incarnation I read it out in full to my wife, only to notice about half way through that she seemed to have dozed off.

      Freelancers rarely survive on one skill. Not because there's not enough work available but because the people who hire freelancers insist on spreading out the work amongst lots of them.

      That is because us freelancers are expected in this day and age to be able to do the following which is now euphemistically known as "Full Stack":

      PHP SLASH .NET SLASH Python SLASH Ruby SLASH MongoDB SLASH MySQL SLASH MSSQL SLASH Kubenetes SLASH HTML/5 SLASH Make Coffee SLASH React Native SLASH ReactJS SLASH Angular SLASH VueJS SLASH Terraform SLASH AWS SLASH GCP SLASH Azure SLASH Any DevOps not included above SLASH Ability to show a broom up ones backside and clean the floor on your way out at night.

      1. Franco Silver badge

        I'll just change mine to be a link to a Fatboy Slim video

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?edufilter=NULL&v=V1SpFt7zJUM

  3. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
    Coat

    Wonderful / inspiring / insightful / entertaining episode

    Thanks / merci bien

    Maybe I should get my coat

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Wonderful / inspiring / insightful / entertaining episode

      Me? I'm a Back Slasher (\).

      It means I piss up people's backs.

  4. TonyJ Silver badge

    Unable to explain...

    "....It was that I was never able to explain to him how I made a living..."

    <sigh> Something most of us here can relate to, I feel.

    My own father is far from a technophobe in most cases, nor is he daft - he trained electrical engineering apprentices for British Coal back in the day, as well as working as a lead R&D engineer in the food industry. Computers/computing though...nah....

    He once told me he'd Googled my then job title and said it made very little sense to him but sounded impressive.

  5. Mr Dogshit

    Back in the day

    we used to call it a "stroke"

    1. 2+2=5 Silver badge

      Re: Back in the day

      > we used to call it a "stroke"

      I was going to make a similar oblique reference but you beat me to it.

      1. Alister Silver badge

        Re: Back in the day

        Don't be so obtuse

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Back in the day

          Are you just trying to be acute?

      2. hmv Bronze badge

        Re: Back in the day

        I'm just going to go and bang my head against the nearest solidus.

      3. cmrayer
        Coat

        Re: Back in the day

        I think you've made a grave mistake...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Back in the day

      I sometimes do that after I’ve had a slash.

  6. Alister Silver badge

    He'll never improve his French that way but tant pis SLASH merde.

    ce n'est pas grave, Oui?

  7. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
    Trollface

    HooYa!

    Just/be/careful/or/else/people/will/think/you're/a/total/Yahoo!

  8. A K Stiles
    Coat

    Explaining jobs

    Never mind the parents - try explaining that lot to the car insurance people, who don't understand 'software developer' and can't explain the difference between a 'computer analyst' and a 'computer programmer', other than it's about "£20 a year on your premium sir".

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Explaining jobs

      Analysts are more likely to be hit from behind?

      I'll get my coat....

    2. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: Explaining jobs

      About two years after I first started work I found myself in the unenviable position of having to apply for a bank loan. The assistant manager who interviewed me (some of you will remember those halcyon days when High Street banks didn't take risks) asked me my job title, to which I replied "Computer programmer". After searching through all the options on her form at least twice, she asked, "Can I put you down as 'Mathematician (semi-professional)'?" I said yes, and indeed saw it as something of a compliment.

      1. MiguelC Silver badge

        Re: Explaining jobs

        I've mostly had to give "consultant" as my profession at banks, insurers, etc. No one ever gave a flying fuck about which industry or business area I consulted.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Explaining jobs

        "some of you will remember those halcyon days when High Street banks didn't take risks"

        It's getting difficult to remember the halcyon days when Hight Streets had banks.

        1. Rich 11 Silver badge

          Re: Explaining jobs

          Most banks now seem to be a cash dispenser on the outside with a coffee shop on the inside.

        2. TomPhan

          Re: Explaining jobs

          I thought high streets were for bookmakers and charity shops?

          Though I guess banks could fit in either category.

          1. Stork Silver badge

            Re: Explaining jobs

            Charity? Have you checked the charges?

          2. jake Silver badge

            Re: Explaining jobs

            Here in California, High Streets are for pot "dispensaries".

        3. Arthur the cat Silver badge

          Re: Explaining jobs

          It's getting difficult to remember the halcyon days when High Streets had banks.

          I'm old enough to remember when banks had bank managers. I think I'll just go off and crumble quietly in the corner.

          1. Stork Silver badge

            Re: Explaining jobs

            Our bank has a manager, and she is running a tight ship. I was there helping my son opening an account, and she messaged the clerk to make sure I was addressed "Senhor Engenheiro".

          2. J.G.Harston Silver badge

            Re: Explaining jobs

            My first bank manager got me my first work in publishing, from small talk when discussing my overdraft he piped up and mentioned he knew somebody down the road who I should approach. That was - wow - 30 years ago.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Explaining jobs

      As far a car insurance goes, your job is whatever gives you the lowest premium, surely?

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: Explaining jobs

        Depends, are they likely to be able to cross reference it with other insurances? Or should you look at the overall premium costs?

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Explaining jobs

      I just give my profession as "porn star" to avoid all the social stigma of being associated with Microsoft.

      1. Aussie Doc
        Pint

        Re: Explaining jobs

        For some reason I laughed a lot more than was reasonable for that.

        Probably because I can still see the look on my BM's face when I did, indeed, utter those words years ago.

        He said I was being silly. I said he started it with the ridiculous rates he was quoting me.

        I'll have one of these to keep hydrated ---->

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Slashing the Borg - Resistance is Fertile

    I'll just leave this linky here for all of you...

    ...snowflakes will get traumatized.

    http://www.tacticalmediafiles.net/n5m2/texts/markdery.htm

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Amazing stunts with a grapefruit"

    A "Goodies File" reference Mr D?

  11. RichardBarrell

    The English language includes support for lists

    Have you considered using the word "and" to describe your career? You're a writer, an editor, and a journalist. Easy and it doesn't make it sound like you're peeing on anything. If anyone asks "what kind of job title is that?" you just tell them that it's several job titles. You do several things.

    As a side benefit it gives you more opportunity to assert the ascendance of the Oxford comma.

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: The English language includes support for lists

      It also supports alternatives. Which leads us inexorably to and/or...

    2. Richard Jones 1
      Happy

      Re: The English language includes support for lists

      You beat me to that point, I thought he was starting a moan about prostate troubles. My relief came a few lines into the article.

      1. Alister Silver badge

        Re: The English language includes support for lists

        I thought he was starting a moan about prostate troubles

        But wouldn't he have mentioned the colon?

        1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

          Re: The English language includes support for lists

          But wouldn't he have mentioned the colon?

          I think you've put your finger on it.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: The English language includes support for lists

        "My relief came a few lines into the article."

        I hope you were reading it on the bog. That warm feeling running down the leg never ends well.

      3. 's water music Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Re: The English language includes support for lists

        You beat me to that point, I thought he was starting a moan about prostate troubles. My relief came a few lines into the article.

        As I age, I find the number of lines I can get through before pausing for relief is diminishing.

    3. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: The English language includes support for lists

      The principle of parsimony requires the Oxford comma to be denounced as Satan's own smegma and wiped from existence.

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: The English language includes support for lists

        You, sir, are an unreconstructed blighter, bounder, and cad! The Oxford comma is a necessary part of the English orthography!

      2. Mr Humbug

        Re: The English language includes support for lists

        The Oxford comma is a device to be used when needed, and not otherwise. For example, we know that traditionally crisps have been available in ready salted, cheese and onion, and salt and vinegar flavours. More recently the selection can include roast chicken, barbecue sauce and prawn cocktail.

        Using the Oxford comma correctly requires thought, rather than blindly following a rule. I know this because my job title includes SLASH Proof Reader (although I also have the benefit of full time wage slavery).

        1. SMITCH79

          Re: The English language includes support for lists

          "cheese and onion, and salt and vinegar flavours"

          Yep, the comma pre "and", and in a following sentence of similiar construction

          "barbecue sauce and prawn cocktail"

          I know its still gramatically correct but why? Is it a grammar joke?

          How do you interpret that comma, does it hint at an intonation?

          Has the comma been dropped from the second iteration of the sentence construction because of the existence of the first?

          I hated English.

          1. Mr Humbug

            Re: The English language includes support for lists

            In the first list the Oxford comma is needed to show that 'salt and vinegar' and 'cheese and onion' are individual list items - it shows you which 'and' is before the last list item. In the second list there is no confusion because the items do not contain 'and'.

            In other words, use an Oxford comma when the list items include 'and'. Crisps are sold at Sainsbury's, Waitrose, and Marks and Spencer. Cheaper brands are availble from Morrison's, Aldi and Lidl.

            PS 'pre' is not a preposition

            1. Martin an gof Silver badge

              Re: The English language includes support for lists

              [devi's advocate]

              You could argue it exactly the opposite. In the first list the comma is not required because any fule kno' that "salt and vinegar" and "cheese and onion" are common flavours while "salt and vinegar and cheese and onion" isn't, and if it were, it would be written, "salt, vinegar, cheese and onion".

              In the second list "barbecue sauce and prawn cocktail" could be a valid flavour, so adding a comma might be useful to make it clear that you are talking about three separate list items, not two.

              M.

              1. Mr Humbug

                Re: The English language includes support for lists

                Ah, but sooner or later you find a reader who is not 'any fule'. Then what flavour are they going to want?

                To get to the ultimate conclusion of any grammar argument: 'I'm right and you're wrong, so there!'

                1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                  Re: The English language includes support for lists

                  "Ah, but sooner or later you find a reader who is not 'any fule'. Then what flavour are they going to want?"

                  Hedgehog?

                  1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                    Re: The English language includes support for lists

                    So long as they don't leave the prickles on.

                    1. hplasm Silver badge
                      Coat

                      Re: The English language includes support for lists

                      "So long as they don't leave the prickles on."

                      That would be the Pricked Hedgehog flavour.

                      (Or possible Hedgehog and Prickled onion...)

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Pint

                Re: The English language includes support for lists

                salt and vinegar and cheese and onion

                That'll do nicely. And another pint, please.

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: The English language includes support for lists

          Bring back lamb and mint sauce flavour.

          1. TomPhan

            Re: The English language includes support for lists

            I want barbecue sauce and prawn cocktail flavour.

            1. Teiwaz Silver badge

              Re: The English language includes support for lists

              When I were a kid, used to be able to occasionally get the novel 'Barry McGuigan Nettle Flavour' in crisps.

              Really not sure how they knew what oule' Barry tasted like combined stingy plant leaf. It was hard to get a comparison taste test.

            2. quxinot Silver badge

              Re: The English language includes support for lists

              >I want barbecue sauce and prawn cocktail flavour.

              I want a table in another room, please.

          2. Martin an gof Silver badge

            Re: The English language includes support for lists

            Lamb and mint? Never went away. Here you go.

            Now, Hedgehog flavoured crisps might be a bit more difficult.

            M.

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: The English language includes support for lists

              Thank you. Must look out for them.

              1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                Re: The English language includes support for lists

                Not as meaty as I remember but not too bad.

        3. Alistair Silver badge
          Windows

          Re: The English language includes support for lists

          I have to ask, what is it that makes you SLASH proof?

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: The English language includes support for lists

            A colostomy bag?

      3. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: The English language includes support for lists

        The principle of parsimony requires the Oxford comma to be denounced as Satan's own smegma and wiped from existence.

        But parsimony itself is already in Satan's domain.

  12. Chris G Silver badge

    Have another slash

    I think Alistair shoul add Sci-fi author to his slashes, I could see humour in sci-fi making a comeback with his input.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Have another slash

      You want sci-fi comedy? Look no further than..

      https://www.goodreads.com/series/206992-space-team

      the series includes my favourite book title of all time..

      "The Wrath of Vajazzle"

  13. Unicornpiss Silver badge
    Pint

    If you work in IT, you're already a 'slasher'..

    ..especially if you're not in management, but in the trenches. I suppose my title could be: Sysadmin/analyst/hand-holder/diplomat/AV specialist/furniture mover/technical writer/buyer/accountant/security specialist/general lackey. (Perhaps those slashes should go the other way "\" since I mostly work on Windows these days)

    1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

      Re: If you work in IT, you're already a 'slasher'..

      Indeed. To the various members of my family I am son / unpaid IT support, nephew / unpaid IT support, cousin / unpaid IT support, etc.

    2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: If you work in IT, you're already a 'slasher'..

      since I mostly work on Windows these days

      I'm sorry for your loss..

      (That comment won the popular vote ahead of "inside or outside the windows?")

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Coat

        Re: If you work in IT, you're already a 'slasher'..

        George Formby did OK on windows.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: If you work in IT, you're already a 'slasher'..

          ..but he preferred LAMP-posts.

  14. James Anderson Silver badge

    LinkedIn -- artificail stupidity

    I made the mistake of filling in "self-employed" in my linked in profile. Now I get a "joined your company" message every time someone makes the same mistake.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: LinkedIn -- artificail stupidity

      Hmm, wonder if we could make "articifail" work as a coinage...

      1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

        Re: LinkedIn -- artificail stupidity

        Hmm, wonder if we could make "articifail" work as a coinage

        To me "articifail" sounds like the word for an artificer who does their job badly

        1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
          Headmaster

          Re: LinkedIn -- artificail stupidity

          Or someone who bent it so much it broke?

          As to what it actually is, I'll leave that up to your imagination.

        2. jake Silver badge

          Re: LinkedIn -- artificail stupidity

          C'mon, you lot, Shirley you know that artificial words are quite the covfefe these days?

  15. SVV Silver badge

    Oh, begone such bedevilment, such consternation of enlistment and entitlement

    Ditch the lists and "rebrand" as a Digital Content Imagineer : problem solved. All you have to do thereafter is live with the shame.

    1. herman Silver badge

      Re: Oh, begone such bedevilment, such consternation of enlistment and entitlement

      "Bedevilmint" sounds like a new chocolate flavour which I need to try.

  16. oiseau Silver badge
    Pint

    Thank you

    ... our prime minister recently pissed all over the Queen without getting carted off to the Tower.

    Thank you, Dabbs.

    Made my day. =-)

    I was beggining to think I was the only one who thought that was exactly what had happened.

    Have a good week-end. ------>

    O,

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That's modern life!

    When the job-for-life thing ended during the 80s/90s we all had to learn to be slashers. I started working in the mid 1980s and I thought I had a solid career ahead of me but by 1992 I was having to learn lots of things, find ways to make a living. It's just life these days, there's no safety net. I have my main IT career but I make money through my photography, selling licenses, selling tutorials and I write books on it. I've always wanted to learn to be a sparky like my Dad and I might go back to college part time to study for a qualification. You need a plan B, plan C and even a plan D. I know lots of people with second or third skills they can fall back on if the IT thing finally goes up in smoke.

    1. Commswonk Silver badge

      Re: That's modern life!

      I know lots of people with second or third skills they can fall back on if the IT thing finally goes up in smoke.

      In the spirit of the article the above should read...

      I know lots of people with second or third skills they can fall back on if/when the IT thing finally goes up in smoke.

    2. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: That's modern life!

      You need a plan B, plan C and even a plan D.

      I'll just stick to "Plan Nine" ;)

  18. cookieMonster
    IT Angle

    My mum

    told me once that when anyone asked her what I did she could never remember, so she just replied "he works with computers, or something".

    1. Ken Shabby Bronze badge
      Big Brother

      Re: My mum

      Apparently she used to say that I "played" with computers and yes, I do like my rattle.

  19. disgruntled yank Silver badge

    Questions

    1. Does baked-bean wrestling involve the young Ann-Margret?

    2. If so, where does one apply?

    1. chivo243 Silver badge
      Go

      Re: Questions

      You could apply at any local gaming arcade, the ones with pinball machines!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Questions

      More likely a sun burnt Mr Bean

  20. chivo243 Silver badge
    Coat

    SLASH on bail.

    He must be, he just opened a tour with GNR in the US recently!

    I'm getting it, I'm getting it... you don't have to push!

  21. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "hustlers"/ "work-a-holics".

    My spark brother in law calls it ducking'n'diving.

    1. jake Silver badge

      According to an old auntie of mine, it's known as steppin' and fetchin' ...

  22. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "You have to keep multiple career histories and CVs updated – something that LinkedIn ... cannot handle at all."

    To be fair to LinkedIn (it's the last Friday in the month so I'll allow myself a treat) they're not alone in that. Agents could never handle it either. Carefully tailor the CV company brochure to a particular gig and the pimp would submit it for a different one without checking and, I suspect, without submitting it for the intended one either.

  23. jelabarre59 Silver badge

    FF.N

    But to us fanfiction writers, "slash" has a much different meaning, dating at least back to the days of Kirk/Spock fanfiction (although I've never understood the need to differentiate with the term "femslash").

  24. davemcwish

    It's not called 'slasher' these days

    According to a yoof broadcast station I was listening to a while ago, the PYTs call it a 'side hustle'.

  25. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    Step one: I think Arthur is about to lose us all our jobs.

    Step two: This makes me feel... unemployed.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I've always found it so impressive that your skills, which one organization will value at the lowest wage possible, become instantly vastly more valuable when "volunteer" is added to the job title. I can't seem to get a job above small shop boss if they are paying, but I was an award winning manager of a 400 member organization that took almost as much time as my paying job, and they are still wishing I would come back to "serve".

  27. herman Silver badge
    Devil

    Third slash

    Backslash, Forward Slash - you forgot the all new Vertical Slash |...

    1. Disk0
      Coat

      Feed that into your hypertext preprocessor and you'll find a

      |fitter|smoker|dreamer

      and of course the mythological

      |r(πd)

  28. jake Silver badge

    I'd translate for my fellow Yanks ...

    ... but they would probably think I was just taking the piss.

  29. Noonoot

    the opposite sex

    Women are already slashers since god knows how long, except failure is not permitted.

  30. Jay 2

    What DO you do?

    My brother told me of this conversation...

    My Nephew: What does uncle Jay2 do for a job?

    My Brother: He works with computers.

    My Nephew: Wow, he gets to play games all day!

  31. Imhotep
    Pint

    The Creature With Two Heads

    I used to have to ask HR to remove "able to multitask" from job postings. My position was if the applicant had more than one brain (multi-core?) it might be possible. Otherwise we were just asking someone to do different things poorly in rapid succession.

    And I'm hoisting a beer to myself: Friday was my last day as a member of the gainfully employed. Early days I know, but I'm thinking being a member of the leisured class has much to recommend it.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Agree with the myth comment.

    Multi-tasking is a myth. I used to have an Operations Director who was a firm believer that multi-tasking meant getting more done = more productivity. He tried to get everyone juggling so many tasks at once, that it was impossible, without a really good memory and things regularly went wrong. I refused, and continued to work on projects one at a time. At my disciplinary I pulled out the following diagram as a simplified representation of my workload*.

    Your Way

    1234 5678 9012 3456

    ABCD ABCD ABCD ABCD

    My Way

    1234 5678 9012 3456

    AAAA BBBB CCCC DDDD

    The numbers represented months, and the letters distinct jobs I was to work on each taking 4 months each. I demonstrated that by working on jobs sequentially, that job A could be delivered 8 months earlier, job B 5 months earlier, and job C 2 months earlier than his method, and job D would be delivered at the same time. Overall not only would we be able to deliver and bill 3 jobs earlier than planned, it would mean the end users of the jobs would have 9, 6 and 3 more months of productivity with the final products than they would have had we only delivered in the final quarter. I also argued that because I was working solely on one job, that the work being produced was better, and that the follow up support requirements demonstrated that also.

    He couldn't argue with my logic, but it didn't stop him making my life a misery by micromanagement. Some people just can't accept efficient workers even when the results are slapping them round the face.

    *Edit: The Reg strips double spaces, everything was supposed to be in columns.

    1. Zack Mollusc

      Re: Agree with the myth comment.

      You seem to be under the impression that management cares about efficiency and profit. This is an easy mistake to make, because management spend a great deal of time screaming that they care about efficiency and profit. Management cares about underlings doing what they are told.

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