The Importance of Being a Douchebag

Life update: I’ve moved to the wonderful land of Seattle, Washington to work at Amazon.com! Now on to the meat.

No matter how hard you try to be a good person, the sad reality is that you have probably done something dumb, mean, or inconsiderate at some point in your life. You may even have done it intentionally, and with malice aforethought. Maybe you were even consistently a jerk at some point in time. But the important thing is that you have (hopefully) gotten over it, apologized, and gotten on with your life.

Today, I want to talk about the process of recognizing your faults and trying to fix them. It’s easy to criticize other people for being douchebags, but when you are the one being a douchbag it’s often harder to accept. To start off this discussion, I’m going to tell you about George. This person’s name and the situation have been obfuscated slightly, because I still interact with George on a fairly regular basis, and having him realize that I was talking about him would be more than slightly awkward. Still, I think it’s worth having the discussion. And George, if you’re reading this and you realize I’m talking about you,  know that I’m terribly sorry that I was a douchebag.

George

Even the nicest people have things that piss them off to an irrational degree. No matter how peace and love you are, someone out there will do something some day that will really stick in your craw, and make you want to punch them in their stupid little face. For me, this person was George. It wasn’t that George was stupid or mean. On the contrary, most people liked George a whole lot. But for some reason, George and I rubbed each other the wrong way and I was astonished with the level of irrational anger I felt toward him. I caught myself criticising him for things he did that – when I stepped back to think about it – I realized were perfectly correct, and were probably better than what I would have done in the same situation. Sure, maybe George was a little overconfident sometimes, but that surely isn’t any reason to hate someone.

This led to a period of about two weeks where I was in complete emotional turmoil. On one side, I recognized that George was in the right, and I was in the wrong. But on the other side, my inner cave man wanted to hit George over the head with the biggest club I could find, and feed him to a saber-tooth tiger. I was constantly fighting the urge to disagree with him on things he wasn’t wrong about, and I struggled constantly to resolve the dilemma: How can I dislike this person so much when they’re not a bad person? Why don’t I like them if it makes no sense? This was at a point in my life when I had recently figured out how to think deeply about other peoples’ perspectives, and on the whole, I considered myself a fair and non-judgmental human being, and the anger I felt toward George was in direct conflict with that belief. Most of the time, I just wanted the whole situation to go away. I wanted to never have met George, to never have said the things I said, to never have done the things I did, and to continue living my life as though none of this had ever happened. Needless to say, my experience with George really (as Jeff Bridges said in the movie Tron: Legacy), messed with my zen thing.

The truth is, there are things that simply piss us off. I subscribe to the idea that, to a large degree, we are a product of our experiences, and especially our experiences during childhood. Things that happen to us as children become woven into our personalities, and sometimes the events of our adult lives resemble a situation we experienced in the past so closely that they set us off for seemingly no reason. One of the most important such situations in my life is feeling patronized. A sure-fire way to get me to fight your idea tooth and claw – no matter how much sense it makes – is to put me in a situation where I feel like my authority is being overridden, or I feel like you’re treating me like a child. Logically, I understand that people who patronize me either aren’t communicating effectively, or are responding to something I’ve done that is foolish or immature. And I understand that the best response is to figure out which it is, and respond accordingly. Emotionally, however, being in that position pisses me off so much that it occasionally overrides my ability to respond rationally.

Hating Yourself

I have a friend who told me once that the teenage years are about hating yourself, and that it’s important to hate yourself during that time because it sort of irons out the kinks. At first, I didn’t understand how he could say it was good to hate yourself. But then I thought about it a bit more. We often use simple words to encapsulate larger, vastly more complex ideas that the listener is supposed to infer from context. In this case, it isn’t about hating yourself, it’s about recognizing you have flaws and trying to resolve them. But it rarely happens as calmly and deliberately as that. It’s often an emotional battle between the part of you that wants to be right, and the part of you that wants to be a better person. Feeling like you did something wrong is one thing, but feeling like you charged headlong into a bad decision on purpose  is far worse. When you know that you were wrong, not because you didn’t have all the information or because you accidentally overlooked something, but because your core values and habits caused you to make a poor decision, it’s a lot harder to deal with. In that case  it’s not just what you did that is wrong: a fundamental part of who you are is wrong. And that’s a hard thing to come to grips with.

Hating yourself doesn’t mean you think you’re worthless or that you’re a stupid, horrible person; hating yourself – so to speak – every so often, and for short periods of time, means that you recognize that you have been a douchebag, and you are trying to correct the root cause of that douchebaggery. You know that you’re awesome, but that awesomeness requires maintenance.

Balance and Conclusion

Obviously, there is a balance to be struck between “hating” yourself and recognizing your self-worth, and that balance is hard to find. Personally, I think I’m a bit hard on myself, and that prevents me from going as boldly forward as I’d like to sometimes. While I’m not sure I’ll ever feel completely at ease with George and what happened between us, I know that the struggle keeps me on my toes, and that those events were a huge learning experience for me in many ways. From now on, when I notice a similar trend happening, I’ll be able to look into myself and ask, “Is this person really being a jerk? Or do I need to re-evaluate the situation?” And that’s the point of hating yourself: learning from your mistakes.

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Anger

People today have a lot to be angry about. Politics, cars, news, work, construction, bicycles – there are a lot of things that piss us off. What’s weird is that some people seem to actually enjoy being angry. A few years ago, I realized that I was becoming one of those people, and it scared me. I think we’re all that person sometimes. We’ve all clicked on a negative review of a movie we liked just to see “what this jerk is talking about,” or confronted someone about a topic we know will get them riled up, even when we know we should just let it slide.

It really occurred to me that I was embracing my inner dark side while I was riding my bike to school. I was pissed off about something – someone was biking too slow, or a car almost hit me – and I got angry. I didn’t grow huge muscles and turn green and yell “HULK MAD!! HULK SMASH!” But I probably peddled off furiously and muttered something scathing under my breath. Great. The kicker is, I sort of liked it. Being angry felt like some kind of revenge, and I felt secure in the knowledge than next time… next time I would say something or throw a glare, or do something to show the person that I was really mad. And then we’d be even… but would we really?

At the time, I recognized that this wasn’t helpful. After all, the only person with any negative emotion about that encounter was me. The other person went on being their jack-ass self, not caring about the world around them. Maybe it would get them in trouble some day, or maybe not. Either way, in my little world, the only person who was angry was me. A more immediate concern, however, was that I knew I had accidentally been a jack-ass a few times. Sometimes you lose your head, and you cut someone off. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad person, it just means you made a mistake. So how can you be so sure that the person who just cut you off is a jerk, and that they didn’t make a mistake?

So I tried to change. If someone was going to be a jerk, I would deal with the situation dispassionately, secure in the knowledge that they were a douche-canoe, and they had to live with themselves. If they decided to do something stupid, good for them.

I ran into a story on Reddit a while ago that really changed my feelings about anger. I might not retell it exactly correctly, but the gist is there:

The Buddha was walking in a market one day. A man on the street noticed him, and started cursing him, insulting him, and jeering at him. He threw horrible insults at the Buddha. The Buddha looked at him with a peaceful smile, and walked on. The next day as the Buddha walked through the market, the man saw him and again, he insulted him, insulted his family, and cursed his beliefs. Again, the Buddha smiled peacefully, and walked away. On the third day, the man did the same, but before the Buddha walked away, he stopped and said, “I have stood here insulting you for three days. I have said horrible things to you, and all you do is smile and walk away. Aren’t you offended? Aren’t you mad?” The Buddha looked at the man and said, “If I were to give you a gift, would you accept it?” “No!”, said the man,”I would never accept a gift from someone like you!” “Then to whom would the gift belong?”, asked the Buddha “Well, you would still own it.” “Exactly,” said the Buddha, “and if I don’t accept your anger? To whom does it belong?” (paraphrased from a Reddit comment thread here.)

My effort over the past two years or so is to let other people hang on to their anger, rather than taking it on myself. An extension of this is that if someone is being inconsiderate or selfish, I try to let them wallow in it, rather than letting it make me upset. I let them shoulder the burden of their own dickishness. And if they just made a mistake, then I won’t blow up at them for no reason. It’s tough to do sometimes, but I feel a lot better about myself for it.

A good example of this happened a little while ago. I was walking home (having just bought Assassin’s Creed II: Brotherhood, I might add,) when I was almost hit by a pickup truck, driven by a man who was clearly not paying attention. “Jesus!” I yelled instinctively, as I turned around and glared at the man. “Excuse-moi! Excuse-moi!” he shouted back to me (he was francophone; he wasn’t being cheeky). I turned around and walked away, slightly shaken, but not angry at all. In fact, I was struck by how little anger I felt. The thought occurred to me that maybe I should turn around and yell at him, curse him out, and tell him to watch where he’s going. But something else occurred to me that was even better:

What I did was worse for him than getting angry. If I had gotten angry at him, I would be angry, and he would have cause to be angry at me for not being understanding of his mistake. It would have given him the slightest excuse to deflect his anger at himself toward me. But I didn’t leave him room for that. The only options I left open to him were to forget about the incident, and to be angry at himself. If he forgets about it, then he wasn’t going to listen to my swearing anyway. And if he’s angry at himself, he might just be more careful next time. But either way, I felt fine, and I went home to play my new video game, completely unfazed.

It might sound like I’m peddling some kind of weird hippy crap that makes no sense. You might assume that you would eventually blow up at someone, releasing all kinds of pent-up anger that you had been storing for years. But I really believe that – like the Buddha said in the story above – the anger stays with the person who created it. When you open yourself to the possibility that 1) the person might have simply made a mistake, or 2) that becoming angry will only make you feel worse, you start to catch yourself becoming angry, and you start to let it go. It’s not about letting anger go completely – sometimes anger can be a useful emotion – it’s about not getting angry destructively. It’s about only getting angry when it counts, and letting yourself enjoy the rest of the time.

I may write more about this subject, since it’s an important part of my life. If you have comments, suggestions, questions (although I don’t pretend to be an expert on this,) or anger deflection stories of your own, please do leave them in the comments.

Hot, Crappy, Miserable Day

Today, to put it bluntly, was not a terribly good day. Every Saturday, I make pancakes for breakfast; it’s a fun little ritual. Except that most Saturdays it’s frustrating as hell, because something usually goes wrong. The first time I ever made pancakes on Saturday morning, the gluten free flour I was using decided that it would burn onto the pan, but never cook. It was the batter from hell. The few times since then, my Saturday morning has started off with some similar (although typically milder) panic, and gotten gradually much better from there. I should have known that today was going to suck when – despite the fact that I had less pancake mix than the recipe called for* – the pancakes went off without a hitch.

After eating my pancakes, I had planned to head over to Maker Faire, leaving at 11:30 so that I would get there at exactly 12. I wanted to be there when it opened, for the principle of the thing. Well, it turns out I forgot that I had a driving lesson today at 12, and fortunately my driving instructor texted me to remind me half an hour before my lesson. Maker Faire would have to wait. After my driving lesson, I got changed (I always leave my driving lessons smelling like air freshener,) ate some lunch, and decided to go off to Maker Faire. It was about 2 at this point. I would still have around four hours to explore before the faire was over, and although I was tired, I was still pretty stoked about it. So I ventured out in the awful heat, my dad’s camera in tow, to check out Montreal’s very first Maker Faire.

I got there, bought my ticket, and went to the entrance. A volunteer took my ticket, ripped the perforated tag off, and the security camera asked me to open my bag. Nope. DSLR cameras aren’t allowed. First of all, IN WHAT FREAKING UNIVERSE are DSLR cameras not allowed at an outdoor event? And it’s not all cameras either; no, cell phones and point and shoots are fine, but DSLRs? Aw hell no. Second, check my bag BEFORE you tear my ticket up.

I should say at this point, that my annoyance has nothing to do with the lovely people who organized Maker Faire; they had nothing to do with this silliness, as far as I know. Whoever it was, they’ve officially made my shit list. So when I find out who it is… I’ll glare at them… grumpily.

The security guard helped me get a refund, and I made the trip back home. However, a friend of mine was recently featured in a documentary film that premiered at the Montreal Film Festival called Echoes, and I have been meaning to see it. I had checked the times earlier, and it was playing at 5 tomorrow (Sunday.) This being Saturday, I assumed the times would be the same. NOPE. I went all the way out to Cinema du Quartier Latin to find out that I had missed the movie by two hours. This was my second trip out past Berri-UQUAM metro in the ugly, humid heat today. And at this point, I was still fine. I wasn’t grumpy, I wasn’t angry, I just thought, “Oh well, I’ll buy my ticket for tomorrow, and I’ll see it then.” I bought my ticket, and trudged back to the metro. And that’s when things started to go down hill.

Sometimes, the crumby days just creep up on you. It’s not until the end of the day – around 5 or so – that you realize that it was a crap day for no reason. That’s usually when I retreat to my room and do whatever I think will make me feel better, and that’s exactly what I did today. I went to the store and bought a bottle of Diet Coke and some pasta, poured a massive glass of said carbonated beverage with lots of ice, and sat down in my air conditioned room to cool off.

And here I sit. On days like this, I’m reminded of the saying, “Some days you get the bear, and some days the bear gets you.” Well the bear got me today, or at least he tried. Despite my two failed outings, I still managed to do quite well during my driving lesson, and I made and ate delicious pancakes. And tomorrow, I’m going to Maker Faire and to see my friend’s documentary. It’s still supposed to be hotter than the hinges of hell tomorrow, but I’ll live. It turned out not to be such a bad day after all, but that bear really gave it his best shot. Another thing I remember on days like this, is something Jeph Jacques of the web comic Questionable Content once said, “Sometimes you’ve just gotta let a shitty day be a shitty day and move on.” And that’s exactly what I try to do whenever I’m having a bad day. The bear can have today, because the next month is mine. For every day the bear gets, I’ll take thirty or more. He’s had his one day, and tomorrow I’ll be back in force.

Until then, I’ll be at home eating sausage and home made macaroni and cheese, and drowning my sorrows in Diet Coke and Star Trek**.

*I usually make pancakes from scratch. However, after the aforementioned incident of the pancake batter from hell, I went out and bought gluten free pancake batter at the store. Not as good as the ones I make, but it did the trick. Dammit, I wanted pancakes!

**Yes, one of my goals was to eliminate TV from my day, but I do love me some Star Trek, and I chose to finish Deep Space 9 now so that I’m not tempted to watch it once school starts. It was a tough decision, but someone had to make it. Those episodes aren’t going to watch themselves.

Enough With the God Bashing

It’s time we had a talk about religion, Internet. It seems that there are some misguided people who, flying under the flag of atheism, have taken it upon themselves to fight theists as though they were a plague. I know it’s a touchy subject, but I think it’s time people realized that attacking people for their religious beliefs is no more justified than attacking people for their sexuality or skin color.

To be clear, the only side I’m going to take in this blog post is not being a dick. My own religious beliefs are not in question here, and in fact, I’m not even sure what my own religious beliefs are. So before you yell at me for being a theist, or for being an atheist, let’s get this straight: I don’t care what you believe, as long as you don’t persecute or harass other people for their beliefs.

Argument number one is the easier to digest of the two. We’re small beings, living on a small planet, on the edge of a small galaxy, somewhere in a huge freaking universe. This makes people feel small and lonely. If some people are comforted by the idea that there is a greater purpose to all this emptiness, then who are you to screw with that? I agree than some religious people are zealots and fanatics who support horrible things, but those people do not represent all religious people. By classifying ALL religious people with the likes of the Westboro Baptist Church, you might as well make similar generalizations about black people or gay people, and we all know how that ends: bigotry.

Speaking of bigotry, a bigot is defined, in the Oxford English Dictionary, as “A person who is prejudiced in their views and intolerant of the opinions of others.” So yes, if you attack people for believing in a God or Gods, then you are a bigot. Welcome to the club. Other members include the Nazis, the aforementioned Westboro Baptist Church, the old American South, opponents of Gay Marriage, and many other perpetrators of nastiness throughout history and the present day. Attacking people for believing in God doesn’t make you a hero, it turns you into exactly the sort of person you hate: a bigot.

Finally, let’s say that the atheists are right. There is no afterlife, and we’re all just going to die and rot and eventually be vaporized when the sun burns out. Congratulations, atheists, you were righ – OH THAT’S RIGHT YOU’RE DEAD AND GONE SO NO ONE CARES. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter who’s right. (To be fair, I’m also unaware of any religions that will exclude all their members from the afterlife because of the existence of non-believers.)

The spark that ignited this rather frustrated blog post, was a Jezebel article whose message is essentially, “I’m ok with theists who stay out of my business. But wow, look at all these idiots who believe in God!” Anyone who has spent time on Reddit, and who has encountered r/atheism, knows exactly how much theism-bashing goes on online these days, and it’s really disheartening. You’re not helping, people, you’re just proving that people can be bigoted for reasons other than the fact that they are religious.

Montreal Downtown Cycling Map of Hazards

My daily commute to work requires me to pass several hazards, most of them places where pedestrians, cyclists, and cars come together at awkward intersections. The other day I was thinking about how the area between Côte des Neiges and Crescent street really lends itself to the name “The Concordia Corridor,” because it really is a corridor in which you can’t pass other cyclists safely. And McGill College Avenue is such a cluster …(your expletive here) that it really needs a good, solid, angry name like “Cape of Good Pox,” which also makes reference to the Cape of Good Hope, from which few ships used to return. So I decided to draw a map of all the major biking hazards on my way to work.

Explanations:

  • Concordia Corridor: The Concordia Corridor is the place where you don’t pass people. Ever. Bixi’s go slower than usual, the road is more uneven than usual, there are tons of pedestrians, and the traffic lights are close together. Coast it out, or pass at your own peril.
  • Drunkard’s crossing: This isn’t much of a problem during the day, but if you’re biking past Drunkard’s Crossing (corner of Crescent and De Maisonneuve) after dusk, be ware the drunkards! They’re easy to spot because they’re usually loud and obviously inebriated, but they cross brazenly and without mercy!
  • Festival Bay: Crescent st. gets blocked off once or twice during the summer for silly little “festivals” that no one actually goes to unless they’re curious about why the street has been blocked off. There’s usually a stage with some bored looking musician and a bunch of cars on platforms. Oh yeah, and they divert the bike path to the other side of the street, with no proper way to cross the street, which is really hard to do safely. Just by the way.
  • Tourist’s trap: The tourists driving in downtown Montreal don’t seem to understand that bikes have to obey the same laws as cars, and that vehicles going straight have the right of way. So if you’re going straight through an intersection, check the plates of the car turning in front of you, and pay extra attention if they’re from out of province.
  • Impatient Driver’s Cove: This is where all the foot traffic from McGill crosses from the McGill side of De Maisonneuve to the opposite side. Because of the sheer volume of pedestrians, and the fact that the light is so short (maybe 45 seconds?) only one or two cars can turn from McGill College Avenue onto De Maisonneuve after all the pedestrians have crossed. They get impatient, and they get pissed.
  • Cape of Good Pox: Turning up onto McGill College is practically worth your life. My opinion might be slightly colored by the fact that I was almost hit the other day by two taxis (at once) when I accidentally turned too early (my fault.) It’s best to cross to the other side of the street, wait for the light to turn, and go up with the flow of traffic. There are also a lot of taxis trawling for weary pedestrians here, so it’s even more dangerous (hence the “Here Be Taxis,” because taxi drivers are maniacs.)
  • Straight of Sitting Cars: If you’re driving and you need to drive on St. Catherine street, then good luck to you; I’ll see you in a year. St. Catherine is always full of traffic, especially with the construction on Sherbrooke st. And if you’re on a bicycle, don’t even think about it.
  • Sherbrooke St: Sherbrooke is where all the people who are too pissed and impatient to take De Maisonneuve drive, and they do so quickly. I never bike on Sherbrooke, and I never intend to. I value the intact-ness of my limbs, torso, and face.
  • The Valley of Atwater (Pictured Below): I couldn’t think of a good, seafaring name for this one, and I didn’t draw it on the main map because it’s sort of out of the way, but it’s worth mentioning. I wanted the name to reference “Charge of the Light Brigade” (“Into the valley of death rode the 600”,) because riding through this area of the bike path is like passing through an enemy controlled valley, while being bombarded with pedestrians. First, there are the mall customers, who feel completely at safe and morally satisfied crossing in the middle of the street/bike path, leaving inches between themselves and the cyclists. I glare angrily at these people as I ride past. Then there are some wayward Dawson students who feel it’s ok to not only cross in the middle of the street, but to walk down the bike path, stand around taking their time as they cross it, or hang around and talk on the edge of the path. To make matters worse, there’s a driveway above the mall entrance, which produces cars when least expected. Hence the “Bumpery Death” denoted on the map.

Depiction of the Valley of Atwater (Yes, I realize that De Maisonneuve is actually a Boulevard. No, I don't care enough to change it.)

The truth about Montreal traffic is that few people know and respect the traffic laws, even though cyclists take most of the blame because they’re the new kids on the block (and because existing traffic laws aren’t designed for today’s quantity of cyclists.) Cars take second place for blame, because 1) they’re bigger and more dangerous, and 2) taxis are some of the most reckless and dangerous drivers on the road. But the truth is that everyone is to blame. So I follow traffic laws to the letter when I’m biking (except for stop signs, which I slow down, check, and roll through, because it’s harder to stop and start, and I’m more likely to get hit by another cyclist if I stop all the way.) 1) I’d like to stay in one piece, and I’ve almost gotten hit multiple times while following the law, and 2) how can I expect other people to follow the laws if I don’t follow them myself?

PSA: Two Little Annoying Words

There exists, in our society, a collection of guidelines that most people follow called “Manners.” Some people use them as the boundaries surrounding an exclusive group, but manners exist mostly so that we don’t all end up hating each other’s guts. It’s true that some of these traditions are outdated; for example, it’s no longer acceptable to treat women with the sort of condescending delicacy that was once demanded by typical European manners. However, the majority of these manners still apply, and most of them can be easily summed up by Wheaton’s Law: Don’t be a dick.

Why am I talking about manners? Because there is one polite thing people do that pisses me the hell off. I think I speak for many people with allergies when I say that the words “Bless you” are FREAKING ANNOYING. We appreciate your consideration – saying “bless you” or “gesundheit” or whatever it is you say is friendly – but when we’re having a sneezing fit, and you’re at the sixth bless you and ready to keep going, it drives us crazy.

The thing you have to understand about sneezing spells, is that as funny as they may be to you (the person not sneezing like a maniac,) they’re really frustrating and sometimes painful. You can’t really control your body when you sneeze, all you can really do is aim, and that’s frustrating. That’s really frustrating. So why does someone else saying “bless you” piss me off? Well other than the fact that I’m being a grouchy old man today, I don’t know. I think it reminds me of the fact that I’ve just sneezed a bunch of times, which pisses me off to begin with, and “bless you” just pushes me over the edge.

To clarify, I’m just being grumpy. I think saying “bless you” is a nice, if outdated, gesture, but please do wait until the sneezing fit is over. If someone’s face is still scrunched up, chances are you’re in for another bout of sneezing, so hang on to your wishes of good health and blessings until they’re good and done. Their soul isn’t likely to escape from their nose in the time that it takes for them to sneeze a few more times, so it’s probably safe.

Tips for Using Omnivox that Will Make You Hate Your Life Less

Perhaps I should have written this post when most of my friends were still in CEGEP, but it might still be helpful for those searching for “I hate omnivox OMG save me” on Google. For those not living in Quebec or not attending CEGEP, Omnivox is an all around student management program, which is apparently designed specifically for the Quebec CEGEP system. It comes with a fresh, shiny interface that is all but completely useless, and which is phrased in the annoying manner in which Windows used to tell you “You’re not smart enough to access these files” when you click on “C:\” in My Computer. Furthermore, Omnivox apparently serves the website from their servers, which means that the URL is annoying to type in (especially when your school is called “Marianopolis” like mine was,) and that whenever the system goes down, the school has to wait for Omnivox to fix it. I’m not known as a person who likes Moodle (a similar student management program,) but at least it’s interface is more or less efficient.

So here are some tips and tricks to make Omnivox a little less annoying.

  • First thing’s first: kill that annoying URL. In Firefox, click on “Bookmarks-> Organize Bookmarks.” Then click on the “Unsorted Bookmarks” item (unless you want it in you toolbar or somewhere else,) and in the right hand box, right click and create a new bookmark. In the name, type whatever you want. In Location type your school’s URL for Omnivox (e.g. http://marianopolis.omnivox.ca). Now, in the keyword box, type “omnivox” (no quotes). If you can’t see the keyword box, click on the more options arrow. Click add. Now whenever you type “omnivox” in the URL bar, Firefox will go straight to your school’s omnivox site. If you don’t have Firefox get Firefox.
  • Second, you’ll undoubtedly have quite a few teachers who like to send you MIO’s (Message In Omnivox.) Because you don’t want to check you MIO all the time, go into MIO, click on settings, and under the heading E-mail Notification, type in your e-mail address and click the check box. Save the settings, and you will be notified by email every time you get a new MIO. Sadly,MIO isn’t quite as user-friendly as Facebook, and you won’t get the body of the MIO in the notification, just a message that you have one and should read it RIGHT NOW. (By the way, Facebook’s interface isn’t a model of efficiency either. I suspect this is on purpose… but thats a subject for another post.)
  • Third, never clear your browser cache after you sign out of Omnivox unless you’re on a public computer or have computer safety concerns. You probably should, but personally I have never done this and never intend to. If you’re using your computer, and if your computer is adequately protected from viruses (or you use Mac or Linux,) you’re not going to have a problem.
  • You may have noticed that Omnivox will log you out after you’ve been inactive for a certain period of time. This is really annoying and totally unnecessary, but that’s what it does. However, last time I checked, it will not log you out if you’re in MIO, so when you’re going to leave Omnivox open for a while, head over to MIO and let it chill there until you need it again.
  • Logging in is also a pain, because Firefox can’t enter your student number and PIN for you. Whether this is a “feature” intended to make things more secure, or there’s something weird going on in the site’s code that prevents it from working I have no idea. I’ve been meaning to write a Greasemonkey script for Firefox to at least enter your student ID automatically, but I haven’t had time thus far. If I get a chance I’ll post it here.

Every time I use Omnivox I cringe, because of how unnecessarily complicated the interface is. If someone from Skytech is reading this, I will help you make your interface more efficient from a user’s perspective. Contact me.