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Comment: Re:morality a hindrance or help? (Score 4, Interesting) 191

by CrankyFool (#48421643) Attached to: Is a Moral Compass a Hindrance Or a Help For Startups?

You raise a really good point that gets ignored often.

As a startup, you're fighting not just for money and customers, but also talent. Speaking as your typical tech person in the bay area, I'll say that the place is lousy with startups doing interesting tech work where I could solve interesting problems, and it's full with a plethora of places that will pay me well. One thing that I consider in companies is their moral and ethical profile. I work where I work because, irrespective of the crazy wages and the problems, I feel like it leads the way in ethical and humane management of high-performance engineers, and its approach to its customers is transparent and ethical. I wouldn't work for a company I considered evil, or whose execs I had serious ethical problems with -- and Uber falls into that category.

Summary: Not appearing like you're ethical will noticeably impact your ability to compete for talent.

Comment: Re:Looks Like This May Be Controversial ... (Score 1) 203

by CrankyFool (#48379583) Attached to: Your Incompetent Boss Is Making You Unhappy

It's worth noting that this isn't always the manager's fault. A bunch of companies look for their managers to do both the classic people management stuff and the technical leadership stuff. I interviewed at Facebook some time ago, for example; FB tries to create heterogeneous engineering teams with widely disparate levels of technical expertise. While the more experienced engineers are expected to provide some technical mentoring to the engineers, most of the responsibility seems to be expected to fall to the manager, so the manager has to provide technical leadership to the team, in various degrees based on which team member they're dealing with. Once you open the door to "the manager knows best sometimes," I think it makes it much harder to know where to draw the line.

Comment: Re:Peter Principle (Score 2) 203

by CrankyFool (#48379311) Attached to: Your Incompetent Boss Is Making You Unhappy

My company seems to have gotten to the point of doing this reasonably well -- in the last 18 months or so, I saw three individual contributors (IC) get promoted to manager, and then within 3-6 months decide the job wasn't for them. In all cases, the general perception from around them was admiration they were introspective enough to realize this, and happiness they'd decide to go back to IC instead of leaving (I've also seen at least one case of someone promoted to management, who didn't realize he wasn't into management until another company offered him an IC position, at which point he jumped ship. I was sad about that).

It helps to work in an environment where there are no formalized payscales that are affected by the mgmt/IC choice -- typical managers here get paid somewhere around the average for their team's salaries, so it's not like you're going to get an automatic raise if you go to management, nor get a pay cut if you go back to being an IC.

(That said, an important distinction here is that this was driven by the new managers' own decisions. I suspect that if they were terrible, but decided they were happy being managers and clawed onto the role with all their might, the only way we'd have dislodged them would have been through more ... traditional means).

Comment: Looks Like This May Be Controversial ... (Score 5, Insightful) 203

by CrankyFool (#48378841) Attached to: Your Incompetent Boss Is Making You Unhappy

I manage a group of engineers; I've spent about half of my career being an IC engineer and half managing engineers, and it's been intertwined -- in this company, I started off as an IC, then became a manager, moved to another group as an IC, then became a manager. When my boss proposed to me that I manage the group I manage today, I declined because I didn't think I was technically competent enough -- I'd never actually built the huge, scalable, systems they built, and I knew they could run laps around me.

Eventually, he persuaded me to take the position, with my team's consent. On my first day with my team I sat down with each person in the team and literally my first question to each of them was "What's my job around here?" And they told me they didn't need or want someone to review or approve their technical decisions -- when they had doubt, they talked with each other. They wanted someone to help them understand our customers a little better, and that's why they wanted me.

Generally speaking, I figure my job is to act as a retention aid (my presence around should make my engineers want to stick around more than if I wasn't around) and doing whatever the hell my team needs done that engineers don't want to do. I have technical opinions, sure, and sometimes I even disagree with my engineers. And they do whatever they think is the right thing to do. I think about 80% of the time we disagree, they're right.

I'm good at some things; I'm bad at others. I wonder if the issue is not whether or not a manager is technically competent, but whether or not a manager is competent in the area in which that manager actually spends their time, and their team expects them to spend their time.

Comment: Re:Compared to Facebook (Score 1) 99

by CrankyFool (#48315801) Attached to: LHC Data Generation Expected To Scale Up To 400PB a Year

I'm not doubting or challenging you, but I'm interested in knowing about your 1U 136TB SSD servers. Can you suggest some specs?

The highest-density boxes I get to have some familiarity with are Netflix's OpenConnect caches, described at https://openconnect.itp.netfli... -- where it's mentioned that they fit 36 6TB drives in a 2U chassis, for a total of 216TB, or 108TB/U. You're beating that, and with SSDs, which is ... impressive.

Comment: Re:TL;DR "Recruiters" Suck. (Score 2) 253

I have to admit that I still disagree with you.

I have about nine engineers working for me. I appreciate the work they do, and -- as someone who's a vastly less qualified engineer than they are -- deeply respect and admire their skills.

At my company, my job as a manager is defined to be all about attracting and retaining great engineers, and giving them context (and then they figure out what they're going to do with that context). So retaining them is, quite simply, my job.

That said, these engineers don't _belong_ to me or my company. They're human beings, and if I want them to work for me I should be willing and able to compete for them every. single. day. And that means that I don't win by making it harder for them to know what's out there in the job market that's better than the job they've got here -- I win by making this job the bast damned job they could want.

Trying to keep recruiters away from my engineers as a way to have a lock on them feels oddly similar to Apple suing Samsung to not have their competing product on the market.

Comment: Re:What a shame (Score 2) 189

by CrankyFool (#48310575) Attached to: Pirate Bay Co-founder Arrested In Northeastern Thailand

What I love about this is that when people on this thread post about the crappy quality of content produced by the entertainment industry -- as a way to explain why it's obscene that they're trying to charge for it -- they get modded up. And when people describe that content as something that sharing of which creates a "huge benefit to soceity by allowing information to ... inspire and educate" they get modded up.

"Guardians of the Galaxy is Grade-B superhero trash! That will inspire and educate future generations!"

The abstract case, of course, is "comments critical of the entertainment industry and efforts to control unpaid distribution of their work get modded up."

Comment: Re:He must pay for his crimes (Score 0, Flamebait) 189

by CrankyFool (#48310529) Attached to: Pirate Bay Co-founder Arrested In Northeastern Thailand

Of course, given what we're talking about here, the truth is that he DOES want to see the latest obscure Marvel comic book character get regurgitated into some shitty action movie, followed by a dozen sequels and reboots.

It's just that, because he thinks it's in that magic sweet spot of "shitty enough I don't want to pay for it," and "good enough I want to see it," he thinks it's OK for him to see it for free.

Comment: Re:TL;DR "Recruiters" Suck. (Score 5, Interesting) 253

I work for a tech company that, for exactly this reason, tends to hire people who've never recruited before into its recruiting group -- that way, they're less likely to be broken (we also consider hiring managers responsible for recruiting, and recruiters don't have any technical conversations with candidates).

That said, I'm not all that opposed to blacklists, and I know that we use them ourselves. If you interview with us and make profoundly idiotic statements (I was once in a hiring loop where the candidate told the recruiter, an Asian-American woman, that he'd never hire an Asian woman because they're too diffident. After a moment's pause, he then amended to note that it wasn't that he was sexist -- he wouldn't hire an Asian-American man, either) I don't see a huge reason why we'd want to bring you in, ever again, for another position.

(Anti-poaching agreements, though, are just evil)

Comment: Re:Goal in life (Score 2) 253

Reductively, you could argue the same about hiring managers (their goal in life is to increase company profits) and candidates (their goal in life is to get paid so they can do whatever the hell else they actually want to do in life they enjoy).

In general, though, it seems like people -- at least the lucky ones -- end up gravitating toward doing something for their job that they feel some sort of calling for, and I've worked with enough recruiters who actually enjoyed and found fulfillment in what they saw as the higher calling of finding people the perfect job that I wouldn't discount this actually happens and, further, that the very best ones are the very best because they are passionate about it.

Comment: Re:Well (Score 3, Interesting) 326

by CrankyFool (#47846831) Attached to: Stallman Does Slides -- and Brevity -- For TEDx

I give a lot of presentations, both internal to my company and at conferences. Writing presentations is easy, and results in the issues you raised (and many others). Writing GOOD presentations is much harder, and takes a lot more effort.

For me, I find the key to making a presentation that my audience will value is exactly that -- the audience. I try to figure out what it is my audience wants to learn and hear about. I'm not there to talk about whatever the hell it is I want to talk about -- I'm there to communicate something that's going to make a difference for the people in the audience (and, given audience focus, I also make sure I practice my presentations well enough that I know how long they'll take and I MAKE SURE to leave time for questions. Presenters who run out of time are just lazy).

I think presentations are like writing code -- in the end, it's really up to the author, most of the material out there is bad, and the editor (whether vim, emacs, Sublime Text, Atom, IntelliJ, or pick your favorite IDE) has little to do with the quality of the product. At most, and at best, the presentation software makes the mechanical effort a little easier.

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." -- Bertrand Russell

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