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The Almighty Buck

Coder on the Cross 217

Salon has a nice story of start-up greed and stupidity. It's not the first, and it's not the last, but it's good reading, in a schadenfreude sense. :)
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Coder on the Cross

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    You have a mildly interesting story, but, really, what was the point of the first two sentences where you paint yourself as the best hacker in the entire universe? It had no bearing whatsoever on the rest of your story. Delete those sentences and the story is not dimished at all, but rather enhanced because it doesn't sound like it's coming from a blowhard.

    Really, learn some humility. It doesn't matter if you're as good as you say or not -- saying it is divisive and makes the rest of your story sound as unbelievable as your initial claim. Even assuming that it's true.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I have a salary that could get me a nice 4-bed semi with garden, a nice car, holidays abrad.

    I don't need a 4-bed semi, I don't really garden, I can get most places I need by walking or bicycling (expensive bike, mind), and I just go for a chap package holiday.

    End result? I'm wealthy in a job that pays fairly. I can take or leave the job (in another couple of years, I'll have the mortgage paid off, and I can afford to work at McDonalds if I have to...), and stress is something that happens to other people.

    If you want to be happy, live *below* your means. If that means skimping on things that you want, then you work harder. Otherwise, make do with what you get.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 01, 2001 @09:36PM (#252025)
    Salon's about to get kicked off NASDAQ. They should have their writers talk to their financial department.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 01, 2001 @11:12PM (#252026)
    I've done this a few times.

    It's a total crapshoot.

    Once I got to go to a faraway land, work on strange and interesting projects and kill deadlines, helping to score a $15M contract right out from under the nose of a competitor. I was one of 5 Golden Boys and we did nothing but eat sleep and drink code for almost 3 months straight. I got paid well and got a vacation out of it at their expense in the end.

    Most recently, I went back in the barrel for two months, coded my ass off, gave the demo of my life and practically brought tears to the eyes of the CEO. She still canned the lot of us 2 minutes later, citing problems with their "burn rate".

    What did I learn?

    It's a total ride and a total crapshoot. When you win, you win big, when you don't you tend to create new and interesting geographical features known as "impact craters".

    Also, just my personal experience, you tend to win more often when the project's scope is more than just "owning the space" or "conquering the market segment" and not just in a karmic,spiritual sense either.

    Why sign up for a 3-5 year gig when your owners(and I do mean owners) have a 3-month (1 Quarter) attention span?

  • The problem is that the unions in the states have gravely misunderstood their purpose. Just like american law, they take it by the letter instead of by intent, which makes everything go horribly wrong. Unions are supposed to protect the workers from mistreatment by the companies, not, as they are, trying to be as greedy as possible.

    Look around you in other countries for better examples of good and working unions.

    (And yes, I'm on of those socialist bastards from Sweden)
  • Yes. "Drop everything" does indeed have a different meaning for different people.

    Sadly, I have found that for many managers, this actually means: Give this assignment your undivided attention until it is done. Also give each other project your undivided attention. Your unwillingness to violate physical law for the good of the team astonishes me.

  • It means taking pleasure in the misfortune of others. Like all German philosphical concepts, it doesn't translate particularly well into simple English. It's a bit like a smug "I told you so", but not quite as petty, if that makes any sense.
  • by sql*kitten ( 1359 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2001 @12:31AM (#252034)
    it's all just exo-structure built to obscure that we're all greedy and no-good. Hobbes was right, I guess, in that respect. We need to make society so complex we can fool ourselves into thinking we're doing something good. 99.999% of us aren't. Me included.

    I don't buy this at all. A lion is not evil when it kills an antelope; that just the way it is. The lion is simply living according to its nature, which might be bad news for the antelopes, but moral good and evil don't even come into the picture.

    In fact, the lion is living exactly as it is supposed to. If anything, that is the definition of good, from its own perspective (apologies for the anthropomorphication, but good/evil is a human concept).

    Now you say that for man to live according to his nature - i.e. self-interest as motivator - is evil. But I ask you, how can it be evil? If this is how we are, how do we gain by denying it? You don't see lions trying to grow crops, do you? And you don't see lions forging weapons to fight hunters on their own term either.

    I will leave you with some Nietzsche:

    "Think again before postulating the drive to self preservation as the cardinal drive in an organic being. A living thing desires above all to vent its strength - life as such is will to power - self preservation is only one of the indirect and most frequent consequences of it".

  • by pedro ( 1613 ) on Tuesday May 01, 2001 @11:11PM (#252035)
    They don't realise that the 'microsoft interview' employs a tragically familiar cult indoctrination tactic: getting you to think *in* their box right out of the gate.
    It works like this.
    You want in. They're hip. They're cool. You want it.
    They seem distant but vaguely knowable. They challenge your intellect to *think like them*.
    You do so, successfully, probably damaging your neural pathways in the effort.
    You are congratulated. Now you're in! WHEE!
    You are now expected to 'hive think' like M$ does.
    M$ has a campus. They make it feel like college, where everybody has Status, to be taken or surrendered.
    M$ is a battlezone, much like college.
    Bill is the guy in the mask asking you to bend over for a whack to enter a fraternity.
    It's his revenge.
    It's also pathetic.
  • by Squid ( 3420 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2001 @12:16AM (#252037) Homepage
    What is so difficult about the software industry that it eats up people like this?

    Good question. It's not the industry, as such, that's eating people, far as I can tell - it's this sort of universal "corporate disease" that hits technology companies, or at least the tech divisions of companies, hardest. But why THIS sector of the economy? Why THESE companies?

    Maybe it's the "gold rush" mentality. I mean, people don't get burned out doing architecture, or doing graphic design (usually), maybe that's because in those industries, you have to BE one before you get put in a position to manage. In high-churn sectors, like the dotcom craze at its peak, you get a lot of nontechies owning companies and putting other nontechies in positions of power. Managers who don't understand what's really involved with a ship date, or who don't understand the mental stresses of keeping huge blobs of code straight in one's head for days on end. Leadership who thinks "if I don't understand it, it must be simple." And for that matter, leadership with dollar sign eyeballs, who simply don't care about anything except profit and don't even notice the burned-out empty husks of programmers sitting around the computer room. On the other side, programming isn't like manual labor, where your body wears out before your brain; most people don't understand mental stress and what it does, and thus will continue to put in 70 and 80 hour weeks, not making the connection between that and the routine fainting spells.

    Or maybe, this crap happens in EVERY industry, we just don't hear about it. :-)
  • Also, I'm noticing more and more German borrowing in the hacker world. Is it just me? If it's not, any speculation on why?

    The Jargon File has something about Jewish (Ashkhenazi?) hackers, and there are some traditional terms there from German. Maybe.

    But I don't see it apart from Slashdot stories. Maybe German-speaking editors?

    And now that Altavista's owners are certifiably evil (having patented things like web crawlers), are there any other places we can go for translation needs?

    Check translate.ru [translate.ru]. I don't know if it's better but it translates to/from Russian as well.
  • is that all average programmers, without exception, believe they belong to the tiny minority of the truly talented.

    In some respects exceptional confidence in your own abilities is a more reliable indicator of inability, because you lack the ability needed to judge your own work critically. Noone truly brilliant I have met or heard of in any field believed themselves to be any better than average.
  • it is a truism that a very good ("great") programmer's productivity is 10X better than a merely good one's [sic]

    Not as far as I recall. That's the best versus the worst (10x difference). The difference between the best and the average is something like 2.5x - see Peopleware [amazon.com] by DeMarco and Lister for accurate figures (my copy's at home).

    I know quite a few really good programmers, and none of them think that they are a "uniquely talented hacker", or that they have "never met anyone better".

    On the other hand, I've met plenty of arrogant jerks with big egos who can't work in a team, can't document their code, don't like anyone else even looking at their code - never mind working on it, and can't build any sort of large system, that think just like this.



  • There is no spectacle more agreeable than watching an old friend fall from a roof.


    Surfing the net and other cliches...
  • Two thoughts:

    1) The fact that you got moderated down to -1 as off-topic is a nice example of how you're wrong.

    2) I would subjectively say that out of a typical month of meta-moderation, I have 27 days of at least 9 "fair", often all ten, and 3 days where about 8 are unfair, all of them up-mods of troll posts. I'd say meta-moderation is working pretty well.

  • Yep, if you actually want to be fucked up, the best remains AMS

    Care to explain the obvious discrepancy between your comment and the fact that Fortune Magazine [fortune.com] rated it as one of the best places to work? Their ranking is based on employee opinions, by the way.

    Just curious.

  • by HardCase ( 14757 ) on Tuesday May 01, 2001 @10:04PM (#252050)
    Way back when, say, 5 or 7 years ago, the guy who busted his butt to perform was generally the guy who got recognized as an achiever. Right now, that's not necessarily so, but I'm thinking that the new mode of performance assessment is changing back to the old mode.

    The idea of working illness-provoking hours to demonstrate your loyalty to the company is slowly becoming passe as small, high tech firms are dying.

    All of the people who decided to sacrifice their social lives, their families and their health for some nebulous pot of gold at the end of the dot-com rainbow are now realizing what people like my dad (at age 70) learned a few decades back: There's more to life than making a bucket load of cash.

    While money is a great tool that lets you do the things that you want to do, work can also be a horrible way to keep you from enjoying the parts of life that make existence worthwhile.

    It seems to me that the moral of the story is that working a brutal schedule and producing a lot of product isn't always the winning combination for a successful life. I guess my dad wasn't such a dummy after all.

    BTW, I've figured out my own secret of success. I'm an engineer at a big electronics company. I work 40 hours a week. And that's it. And I go home, forget about work, mow my lawn, go for a walk, watch the sunset and enjoy my life. And still make enough money to do everything that I want to do.


  • Apparently "drop everything" has a different meaning for different people.

    I used to have this problem all the time. Poorly planned projects were dropped on my desk, and a meeting with the uberstaff would produce a list seven to ten items long which were absolutely, positively, top priority. Each and every one.

    The management refused to go into further detail as to what the real priorities were. So finally, deciding that it would be better to take a stand and risk a little job security, I shook my head. "Which one do you want me to do first?" The uberboss shook his head. "They're all top priority." And, at that point, I had a too fleeting moment where I actually connected with the boss, and uttered the following words:

    "Making everything top priority doesn't mean it all gets done faster."

    When I repeated my original question, I got a real answer, and things have been (somewhat) better ever since.

    BTW - I hate the fluorescent lights too. As I'm lucky enough to have my own office, I turn them off, and use desk lamps only. It got to the point where my coworkers referred to my office as "The Grotto" because of the groovy mood lighting.

  • I'm not out for "protecting" anyone from themselves. I'm a Libertarian, check my .sig

    I know you're a Libertarian, and so is every other person complaining about the AMT, for some reason.

    The AMT wasn't invented this year. It's been around. Libertarians are the ones who say that people should be held accountable for their actions, that they should hold up their end of a deal/contract, because they knew going in the terms. Well, stock options and the AMT are nowhere near as complex as people seem to be making them out to be (certainly no more complex than any other rules Libertarians defend corporations enforcing on customers).

    You don't just get $1 million in stock for a few hundred dollars and expect that there will be no financial effects. Call an accountant and find out what they are.

    Geez, what's the world coming to when even Libertarians don't want people to take responsibility for their actions!?

  • by NMerriam ( 15122 ) <NMerriam@artboy.org> on Wednesday May 02, 2001 @06:17AM (#252053) Homepage
    This is part of the tax code that MUST be changed

    Why? You were just given $100 a share of profit, as far as I can tell. If you are too short-sighted/greedy to capture some of that profit to offset your tax liability, then you're risking the value will go down and you're left holding the bag.

    Should we protect people who short stocks from the possibility it will go up in value? Should we stop margin calls because some people don't keep enough in their accounts to cover the margin and have a forced sale of their stock to cover the margin?

    This is playing the market, and if you don't want to play, then don't play. No one was complaining about the rules when they were exercising the options and getting hundreds of millions of dollars for free. Sometimes the market goes down -- should we all pay more taxes to cover these people who are too greedy to accomidate this fact?

  • by NMerriam ( 15122 ) <NMerriam@artboy.org> on Wednesday May 02, 2001 @04:02AM (#252054) Homepage
    . It is OK to love your spouse, OK to love your kids, yet, for those with neither, it should be OK to love you job equally

    But can your job love you back?

    That may, in the end, be the moral that we all need to learn...

  • nobody owes you nothing!

    Do you really believe that everybody owes you something? You might want to look at that view again, or you're probably going to get a huge disappointment down the road.

  • According to Lisa Simpson, it translates to "shameful joy."

  • by Saint Stephen ( 19450 ) on Tuesday May 01, 2001 @10:36PM (#252057) Homepage Journal
    nobody owes you nothing!

    working too hard means one thing: you let yourself get worked to death.

    it means precisely "dick" to the planet.

    get up and dust yourself off and maybe don't make the same mistake next time
  • by LL ( 20038 ) on Tuesday May 01, 2001 @10:14PM (#252058)
    What makes people tick? (in the sense of why choose a particular course of action). If we take a leaf out of the spy business, money is actually one of the least effective motivators. GNU appeals to ideology of "free software" whereas ESR notes the power of the ego in scratching an itch. Example of conviction motivated work (citatioation anyone?) was hersay about someone who released some gee-whiz tools (implmeneted nearly single-handedly) just for genomic analysis purely because he didn't want the for-profit group to do it first and fence off that intellectual common. Looking at this example shows the destructive tendences of choosing a task for the wrong reason (stock options + geek-lek comparison with superstar programmer).

    One thing you have to admire about Bill Gates is his ability to motivate a bunch of geeks. Yes, it is possible to produce a bunker mentality (cough*North Korea*cough) and studies have shown that you can accomplish superhuman feats. However, our psychology is not designed to be running in war-zone 24 hours a day. There are reasons why troops are rotated out. The problem is that complex software often requires really convoluted linkages and the optimal unit for holding it is one brain. However smart you are, you have a finit working memory unless you encode stuff at higher abstractions (one of the tricks mathsmatics train you). This leads to dimishing returns in that to progress software (shorter release cycles) more work can only be accomplished by concentrating the thinking into a smaller group of people which naturally leads to burn-out. So managers have to continually come up with tricks or one-upmanship to motivatae the microserfs to stay committed ... whether stock options, coolness factor, kudos or just appeal to ego, increasing use of these psychological tricks is likely to be an indicator of dysfunctional companies. One prof once said that the difference between normal engineering and software engineering is that you can look at a bridge design and say you can't build it in 90 days with 6 people but customers expect otherwise with software (even though the complexity may be equivalent).

    So given the horror stories and even web-sites describing the non-living (former employeees of Intetel, Amazon, Microserf, etc), why do people continue to act this way? Why become an economic slave for an absentee landlord (Wall Street sentiment)? How many talents will leave the industry because their bodies can't handle the stress? What is so difficult about the software industry that it eats up people like this?

  • by flimflam ( 21332 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2001 @07:56AM (#252059) Homepage
    I worked at a software company when I was 17 (this was before the whole dot.com thing -- this was back in 1989). I got paid $8 an hour (it was my first job -- I didn't know any better!). Before I knew it I was coding on some of their core products and working on some custom projects. (I later found out they were billing my time to their clients at $80 an hour). Everything was done using some libraries that my boss had written (all in Pascal). These libraries has, shall I say, some "deficiencies", so I kept my own copy of them and took to improving them for one of the projects I was doing. Of course, being 17 and never having worked with a team before, I never told anyone -- but hey, they liked the results!

    Somewhere around this time I found out that the two co-founders of the company had met in prison (one for Medicare fraud, the other for drug smuggling), and had some feud going on between them. One worked in an office in the city (they did hardware development), and the other (where I worked) ran the software end in an office upstate. Well, one day when my boss was out of town at a convention, a big moving van showed up and some guys came, told us we were all fired, and started taking all the computers.

    About a month later I heard from my ex-boss that he had heard that no one could compile any of my code, so they had had to hire a bunch of new programmers to rewrite everything from scratch. I then told him about my custom libraries. He gave me a big pat on the back and took me out for drinks.

    I think he's back in prison now.
  • by Gallowglass ( 22346 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2001 @07:14AM (#252060)
    Ah this is so typical of bad-to-middling managers. The problem is that when a problem presents itself to them, their immediate reaction is to go and find someone to fix it. They never stop to think about what you may already have on your plate. (Bad managers won't have a *clue* what tasks you are already busy with.)

    How to handle Managers
    to whom the Latest Crisis is the one with Top Priority

    1. Put a prioritized list of your tasks in a prominent position in your office.
    2. When your Clueless Boss rushes in screaming "Emergency!! Emergency!! Drop everything and handle this Right Away!!!", point over your shoulder to your taks list and say, "Put it on my list where you think it should go."

    Most common result of the above strategy:
    Boss looks at your task list for a couple of minutes, then goes, "Ummm. . . ahh, ohhhh nevermind," then departs looking for someone less busy.

  • Is I think what you want, as in "I took Perverse pleasure in seeing him fail."
  • by Salamander ( 33735 ) <jeff.pl@atyp@us> on Wednesday May 02, 2001 @07:04AM (#252064) Homepage Journal

    You're right that the programmer should have brought up the issue of conflicting commitments *when the "drop everything" order was given* instead of later, but other than that I think you're totally off-base. Saying "drop everything" without meaning it is a major error *by the manager*. Blaming the programmer for it, dismissing the identification of the manager's own role in the misunderstanding as a "smart ass remark", jumping to conclusions about the programmer's motives, slamming the door on a dialog that could clear things up productively - those are all just plain unreasonable. You sound like a manager yourself, the sort who accepts no personal accountability for what happens within their group because hey, it's the programmers doing tha actual hands-on work so it's their responsibility, right? BS.

    When an unclear order is given, both parties have a responsibility to seek a clearer understanding. But this wasn't an unclear order. It was *crystal* clear - just wrong. The manager conveyed a clear meaning that was not what he actually intended. Weaseling around with "'drop everything' can mean different things" is like "depends on what the definition of 'is' is".

  • "They're all top priority." And, at that point, I had a too fleeting moment where I actually connected with the boss, and uttered the following words:

    "Making everything top priority doesn't mean it all gets done faster."

    Word! That's even better than my standard: "That's mathematically impossible, a list where everything has the same priority is an unprioritized list. I would like prioritization, if you can't give any off the top of your head, then maybe I should just use my best judgement or maybe we should meet and go over the task list in a finer granularity and work together on crafting a schedule?"
  • My answer was 1, which seemed the only reasonable answer. The problems that I had with the answer are:

    1. No where in the problem statement is there any mention of it taking 1 day for someone to come to a conclusion (thus "end of the third day" is an ignorable unit of time).
    2. Why are we assuming that the people in the village are competent logicians?

    Hell, the way it's worded, it's perfectly reasonable to answer: all of them. Every last villager is a sinner, and it took them three days to pack their bags.

    I hate stupid logic problems. Give me a simple math problem any time.
  • Ashkenazi (sp?) means "European" jews. For that reason, "Yiddish" is saying "Jewish" in German, with a jewish accent, and there are lots of yiddish slang words found throughout the film and television industry - from schmaltz to schmutz to smut. Personally, I'm not too familiar with these type of words in hackerdom (where there are a lot more Israelis than American jews, I think). In hackerdom, the words seem to be predominantly sui generis, e.g. "luser".

    But "schadenfreude" is a pretty well established loan word. I don't know that American jews have much to do with it; Nietzsche does.

    Boss of nothin. Big deal.
    Son, go get daddy's hard plastic eyes.

  • by brianvan ( 42539 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2001 @05:43AM (#252068)
    Lemme just say that it's not as bad as you say it is... unless I let assignments accumulate for a while... but that I've been through your whole scenario.

    Right now I'm in the middle of school hell. I'm working on a time-consuming internship with a project team, where the company fucked us over and delayed our project three weeks in the past 5 weeks... and now me and one other girl on our project team are the only ones who can code at all and the weight of creating all the software for the project is on both of us. In the meantime, for the SAME PROJECT, I have to complete our benchmarking report, which means taking one of the top ten insurance companies in the nation and looking at a year's worth of claims data to find anomalies in trends. We have less than two weeks to do this. That's just one class. I only have one CIS class, but it's a pain in the ass... the professor is disorganized and swamps us with logic work and projects late in the semester due to his ineptitude to stay on schedule with anything. Now I have too much on my plate the next two weeks. Furthermore, my remaining courses are burying me with work, I have no job when I graduate in 24 days, I have to spend extra time at my part time job to make current ends meet (which means usually 5pm-3am shifts), I have to take a large "advance" from my parents just to pay rent for my first month of living out of college (there's no signing bonus and no job to pay for it), I have no money in the bank worth speaking of, I've been sick for a week, and I'm developing an asthmatic condition from my ridiculous allergies due to the shitty quality of the air around here.

    I have taken that ambulance ride before. Granted, that ambulance ride got me free passes to delay major projects for a few weeks, and I wound up getting on Dean's List as a result. That's the only semester I made Dean's List. Some of the rest of them are absolutely shameful. My GPA is shit, at least from where I want it to be. I'm just not a great consistent student, and I was unfortunate enough to get stuck in a major (CIS) where everyone works against you and your personal well being.

    I'm not enjoying my final weeks here, to say the least. But, the satisfaction of being done, once and for all, after 4 torturous years, is the payoff I've been waiting for ever since freshman year, when I was as shitty a student as one person can ever be. I've improved drastically now, and I'm extremely consistent. My reward, of course, is going to have to look for a manual labor or all-nite diner job just to pay rent once I graduate. However, I cherish that thought... the last thing I want to do is work for a high tech company that says "You'll work an average of 50 hours a week" at this point. My heart just isn't in it.

    I'll change the world on my own terms, thank you very much...
  • There IS a certain day where EVERYONE is equal, and that day can easily change the power in this country. The same neo-socialists that complain about captialism are usually the same group that fails to turn out to the polls.
    The problem is all the days before Election Day when those in power act to limit the choices you have when you go to the polls. "Gee, do I vote for the rich white guy who's under the thumb of multinational corporations, or the rich white guy who's under the thumb of multinational corporations [billionair...orgore.com]? The middle of the right wing, or the right wing of the middle?

    Yeah, I go to the polls, but mostly to vote on local bond issues and ballot questions.

    Tom Swiss | the infamous tms | http://www.infamous.net/

  • You seem to be leaving out those of us that enjoy their work and take pride in it.

    I (generally) enjoy my work and take pride in it too. But I also enjoy my karate training. And time spent making music and poetry. And the company of lovely women.

    I even think that time spent on one of these things often develops skills that are useful in another. Poetry works the language skills, oh so important for writing documentation for the code I write in my day job. Martial arts training fosters the sort of defensive "what-if" thinking required for robust programming.

    Spending all you time and effort on one task is ultimately self-defeating, as it limits intellectual cross-pollination. That's why the stereotypical hacker [tuxedo.org] has multiple competencies.

    Tom Swiss | the infamous tms | http://www.infamous.net/

  • And when you do leave, at the exit interview, make sure they know why, it's the sweetest revenge.

    Why let them know? Wouldn't there be a better long-term "revenge" aspect from leaving for "personal reasons", and let the horrible downward spiral continue?

  • And I go home, forget about work, mow my lawn, go for a walk, watch the sunset and enjoy my life.

    ...if you have to mow your own lawn? Either get your kids to mow it while you walk and enjoy the sunset, or hire a high-school kid to mow it while you walk and enjoy the sunset, or genetically modify the grass to grow no higher than 3.7 inches and forget about it altogether while you walk and enjoy the sunset.

    (I agree with you and your dad completely. I'm just teasing because I'd rather go back into the office than mow the lawn. I either stick with apartments where it's done for us, or I'll buy a house surrounded back a beautiful rock garden. Maybe some ferns.)

  • For those asking about the "logic" puzzles, yes, Microsoft does ask those during interviews. I did an interview for an Infrastructure Engineer job and was asked several of them.

    They are stupid and pointless. Let me give everyone some advice. If you ever schedule an interview with Microsoft (or ex-Microsoftees) do a quick google search and you'll find web pages going over their puzzles and how to answer them.

    They say they ask those so they can find out "how you think". Well, when I need to find an answer quickly I use Google. That's how I think. :)
  • I once had a MS interview while I was in college. The first question I got was...

    "How would you test a toaster?"

    I thought about that for a second and then replied with...

    "I'd make some toast!"

    Well, needless to say, that was not the correct answer.

  • by oldman1080 ( 63173 ) on Tuesday May 01, 2001 @10:56PM (#252078) Homepage
    Listen, you may abhor unions but it's a necessary evil and the alternative is much, much worse: unchecked capitalism. History shows us most of the inhumane ills: women and children working 70 and 80 hour weeks and worse. Like it or not, without unions the common worker has NO power in the present system at all. In a world that runs on money, only the corporations have the power to lobby, bribe, give campaign contributions, etc to politicial candidates. Only the threat of socialism (which incidentally didn't arise out of a vacuum, but was a reaction to the worst excesses of capitalism of the late 1800s and early 1900s) and repeated striking and unionization among the people have the autocrats of the United States decide to give SOME assurances to the workers: 8 hour days, safety regulations, etc. And we see them trying to slickly circumvent those all the time, don't we?

    It's unfortunate that people like you who only care for their own upward progress in the present system forget the past so quickly and have no sympathy for the people who live in the world with them. After all, it's just evolution right? Get rid of the stupid, the lazy, the ugly, the outcast. What right do they have to a decent living? None, if they're in your path up the corporate ladder and a six-figure salary. The sad thing is people like you are rewarded, climbing that ladder, firmly grinding your heel on the fingers of those below you because you are firmly convinced they don't climb fast enough, though perhaps they just chose to enjoy the scenery, actually have a social life, a significant other, or a family.

    And, by the way, for every person that has been "rewarded for being excellent in their jobs", there is another one who has been taken advantage of just like the one in the article. Yes, he could have voted with his feet, but they had tied him to his cubicle with bonds stronger than any chains: the American Dream*.

    * Incidentally, the American Dream is largely a myth. History has shown that at least 90 percent of the obscenely rich have risen from the upper middle-class or upper class. The remaining 10- percent is paraded out and overdramatized in hollywood, as a lure to keep the rest of the people working hard.
  • I really need some of what you're smoking.

    Human ambition, specifically the one that feeds our need for material wealth, is what has gotten us where we are. Did Ford create cars so he could be a hero, or so he could make wads of cash? Did that one dude that created the portable insulin thingy want to help the world, or did he want to patent it and sell the shit out of it across the globe?

    The point is ambition is not evil. Ambition fuels progress.

    As for me, money is not the most important thing in my life -- but it ranks up there. Once I have enough to buy one of these [lamborghiniregistry.com], I'll probaly change my tune.

  • by CaptainCarrot ( 84625 ) on Tuesday May 01, 2001 @10:40PM (#252083)
    It seems to me as if this guy used a whole bunch of words to say pretty much, "I worked too hard for a bunch of assholes, and it sucked."

    Well, OK. But there have been a bunch of people left a lot worse off than him, like the poor slobs with the worthless stock options who owe thousands of dollars they don't have on the Alternative Minimum Tax. I have trouble working up a lot of sympathy for someone who, by comparison, not only got off easy but did it to himself.

  • by phliar ( 87116 ) on Tuesday May 01, 2001 @10:33PM (#252087) Homepage
    Without writing up a bio, I'll just say that I am a uniquely talented hacker; I have never met anyone better (and I've been around). In three days I finish what it would take a good hacker a month. A few years ago I decided to quit my cushy silicon valley job and join a startup. The paycut wasn't too bad, and there was the dream of hitting the tech stock IPO lottery...

    What happened instead was that very quickly I didn't care any more about the money or the options. I worked just about every waking hour. I did it because I really liked the work and the people I was working with. Others might call it obsession but that has such a negative connotation! I was having a blast. Sure, maybe I should have taken care of my health (chronic medical condition) but I don't have time to go wait in a doctor's office....

    Well, the management was as bad as the technical people were good. After 2.5 years of nearly killing myself, the company went under. Suddenly, it was all gone! My code! The system, the design! And it was really cool stuff, something that would have made a difference! And, oh yeah, no more health insurance.

    Now after three months of unemployment I've been able to come back to halfway normal. Health still bad but at least I eat and get enough sleep and spend time with friends. I'm finally ready to start thinking about going back to work. Well, actually I start in a week - at another startup. Now the question is: have I learned my lesson (whatever it is) or is this going to be the job that kills me?

  • by iso ( 87585 ) <`ofni.orezpraw' `ta' `hsals'> on Wednesday May 02, 2001 @07:35AM (#252090) Homepage

    You know, this may sound stupid, but to me right now it sounds like college life...

    this reminds me of something i used to argue about with my classmates at University. i went to the University of Waterloo for Electrical Engineering. for those who don't know, Waterloo is widely viewed as the best engineering and CS school in Canada, and certainly not an "easy" program. i graduated from there in 2000, and while many of my classmates worked like dogs as you have described i did (comparitively) jack all nothing and pulled 1 (one) "all nighter" the whole time. and i honestly think that this is part of the point of post-secondary education.

    i got through University not by doing the work, but by simply "beating the system." i made friends with people who were a year or two ahead of me (perferably "off-stream"). when it came time to do assignments, i copied like crazy, or i worked together with others. sometimes i did a half-assed job of the assignments, other times i didn't bother doing them at all (based on their marks/effort). i attended around 2% or 3% of my classes, and i foudn out what needed to be done by having casual conversations with classmates or looking up information on the school network. when it came time for exams i crammed for 2 or 3 days but i only studied that information that i deemed important judging by comments from classmates or past exams and skipped the rest of it.

    the result? i have the same physical degree as all of my classmates, but put in (conservatively) 5% of the effort. sure i got averages in the 60 and low 70s (60 is the minimum to pass) but i realized quickly that the actual grade didn't mean anything, only the degree itself (especially with the work experience i gained through the co-op that was more important to potential employers than grades).

    my point is, you really don't have to work all that hard. i've carried the same "get the job done" over "work hard" methodology into my real job and it's working great. i'm getting phenomenal reviews while "working" at home 3/5 days a week. the really important part is that you have to learn to prioritise what's important and what's not and get the job done. i'm a really happy person with a great social life and no stress. i'll never work 40 hour weeks again.

    - j

  • But I'm damn good at my job and I get paid well for it. I'd rather not have some outside force dictating my salary just because the other end of the bell curve is whining about not getting paid enough. Maybe a career change is what you need.
  • If the play results in a comeback victory, it becomes "heroic" in hindsight.

    For instance, in Game 4 of the 1990 NBA Finals, the Detroit Pistons trailed Portland by about 10 points with 2 minutes to play. By playing solid team defense, they held the Blazers scoreless the rest of the way and won the game on a relatively routine jumper by Vinnie Johnson with 0.7 seconds left on the clock. That same shot taken 20 minutes earlier would have been completely forgettable, but because it was the margin of victory in the game, Pistons fans will always remember it.

    Another example came last night when the Devils beat the Maple Leafs in overtime. The game-winning goal was a lucky bounce off a defenseman's skate, but it'll go down in Devil's history as a great score...

  • by dingbat_hp ( 98241 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2001 @05:36AM (#252100) Homepage

    Unions WERE a necessity back during the first half of the 1900's, but the battles were won

    I agree with your sentiment, but not your literal statement.

    Read Marx - he's still as accurate as ever, if you can apply the appropriate contextual changes. His model of "industrial production" described the situation where a few individually expensive machines were assembled into factories, and the work was carried out by large numbers of unskilled or semi-skilled workers. This situation hasn't gone away; it has just shrunken or moved overseas. Nike's child sweatshop workers in Vietnam need a union today as much as Victorian miners or millworkers ever did.

    Even in the "high tech" world, unions still have a place. Look at call centres; they're classic instances of industrialisation on the Marxist model. How many bank or mail-order service operators can leave tomorrow and work for themselves, without the owners of the call-centre operation behind them ? Even back in the affluent west, there are still plenty of workers who need unionisation and would benefit from them.

    This simplistic view of industry doesn't cover skilled geeks, and those who work in similar areas, because the capitalist owner has no means of controlling my means of production. A PC and a mobile are cheap - I can start work tomorrow as an independent consultant, and make a good living without my large corporate employer. This is my current defence against exploitation, and (in the context of similar workers) it works better than joining a Union would.

    There's also a US / UK issue here. The UK has had inept, greedy and self-destructive unions (BECTA !), but we were spared the widespread corruption and graft that blighted the US union system.

  • Example of conviction motivated work (citatioation anyone?) was hersay about someone who released some gee-whiz tools (implmeneted nearly single-handedly) just for genomic analysis purely because he didn't want the for-profit group to do it first and fence off that intellectual common

    I read it on /. [slashdot.org] so it must be true.

  • A lion is not evil when it kills an antelope; that just the way it is.

    Well, there are a few differences between fair lion and fair man. When Lion takes down an antelope and eats it, he does not care whether it was good or evil. When Man makes a buck to feed himself or his kids, he may worry over good or evil. Man thinks himself above Lion. Not because Man has intelligence or reason or adaptability, but because Man has a "soul" and has the capability to be humane. Yet, we define our compassion by playing through a system that we have specifically designed to create the lower class, the impoverished, and those less fortunate.

    I don't argue against this system. I do argue that all too often we blindly follow it. Things'll probably turn out okay for you if you run blindly for the cheese at the end of the maze. At least you have ambition, of a sort. The problem is many people don't realize they're running the maze.

    It's not that man is cosmically evil, it's just that man is not as good as he would have himself believe.

  • by RoninM ( 105723 ) on Tuesday May 01, 2001 @09:53PM (#252106) Journal
    On my soapbox...

    It seems to me that the most natural assumption one can have about life is that there are highs and lows. It's a cliché, I know, but that doesn't make it any less true: what goes up must come down. No-one ever thinks that far ahead, though. Everyone thinks he can milk it for more. The smart ones get out when they should get out. But we never hear about them except when the company experiences yet another meteoric rise afterwards -- then they're the stupid ones that could've been even more rich.

    I fancy myself a scientist, so I don't believe in karma in any honest respect. But I think it has an uncanny way of working out. Greed never accomplishes much of anything. It's astounding to me that it's so often seen, so commonly cherished. In terms of money, past a certain point, you really don't have use for more. Why do people want to live in luxury? Comfort is enough for me. Money can get you that, but not peace of mind (the red tape of modernity is driving me insane). People that live in luxury, even, want something more. They want paradise. And those that can afford paradise? They still want more.

    People often tout money. They say, happily, "You can never have enough." And use it as an excuse to seek more. That doesn't make sense to me. If you can never have enough, what value is more? Part of the problem with modern society is that we have hundreds of billions of dollars locked up in the hands of a few people that aren't putting it back into the economy. There are people starving, of course, but I need to have the closest thing to the Garden of Eden that has ever existed in my backyard.

    Enough is enough. It's time we start to learn that money isn't everything, it's not the only thing, and it's not the most important thing. It's just more red-tape. I'm not against Capitalism, I don't argue against the foundations of our economy, but after a while, you begin to see that it's all just exo-structure built to obscure that we're all greedy and no-good. Hobbes was right, I guess, in that respect. We need to make society so complex we can fool ourselves into thinking we're doing something good. 99.999% of us aren't. Me included.

    Sometime down the line, I'm hoping, we can see the fractal nature of our life, how it's neatly reflected in sport and art to such a high degree. It's the NBA playoffs and I've seen a lot of teams down by 3-6 points as the game is coming to an end. They have time to do things the right way, to build it up, make solid moves, and win the game. But they go for the dagger, the deathblow, the dramatic rise to heroism and victory. Their hopes rise with the desperation shot that they didn't need to take. And the fall from that emotional high is swift and hard. So often they end their hopes by placing it all in one place, everything on one shot, and when it rims out, it's game over. You can see the same in art just as well. And in other sports. Life is full of microcosms we choose to ignore. We're an amazingly reflective society, but astoudingly blind to the messages we're sending ourselves.

    Maybe I won't be a millionaire in my lifetime. But I won't die trying to be one.

  • by intmainvoid ( 109559 ) on Tuesday May 01, 2001 @09:45PM (#252107)
    They wanted to pay me less than half of what I had been making

    Looks like things were good from the word go!

  • by sl3xd ( 111641 ) on Tuesday May 01, 2001 @10:12PM (#252108) Journal
    That, of course, depends on what your goals are; I would never sacrifice my efforts for a place of business-- unless doing so directly solved my own goals. Money, of course, is not a goal.

    A few years back, I was seventeen and working as an IT manager - yes, manager. And, I worked whenever I wasn't in school.

    I worked a lot of overtime hours - but for me, the goal was ca$h - college costs money, and I wanted to go. My parents can't help me out, and despite my grades and test scores, scholorships were lacking (due to my choice of major, my sex/ethnic background, and the trend towards diversity severely limiting offerings.)

    So - I worked my tail off to earn money. And you know something? It paid off in a very big way - I learned every aspect of system administration - from the corporate UNIX machines to Macs, to PC's to dummy terminals; and what's more: This has given me a serious advantage now that I am in school, and am using software packages and tools that only exist for UNIX - I can finish my projects with ease, where others are bashing their heads in just to start the program!

    There is a healthy attatchment - but only when it serves your personal interest directly. The hope for 'future recognition' is a useless endeavor.

    In my experience those who live for and wait for the future do little more than waste their time waiting for it to happen.

    Nothing is going to happen if you aren't working to your own goals first.
  • Why is this modded to 5?

    It's not insightful, its petty. It's not even applicable.

    Now if the poster had mentioned the irony of questionable startups writing about the failures of other quetsionable startups...
  • Moderators, sorry this is offtopic, but a common intellectual error has occurred.

    "Think again before postulating the drive to self preservation as the cardinal drive in an organic being.".

    Close, but no Cigar

    The cardinal drive is SELF_PROPAGATION. Think of this planet's most successful animals (as measured by biomass): ants. Individual ants have little sense of self-preservation -- but are wickedly well adapted at self-propagation via the queen. This story plays out again and again. Things that successfully self-propagate (ants, bacteria, internet jokes, the GPL) tend to stick around. Things that don't (sterile mutants, incomprehensible jokes ,dot.com startups) tend to vanish

    OK Back on topic now.

  • by Darth Turbogeek ( 142348 ) on Tuesday May 01, 2001 @09:33PM (#252117) Homepage
    Is worth what he put in. No way. It's just not worth trying to kill yourself - or was it a protracted form of suicide? I can appreciate what he went through as I have done such things myself.

    You have to have a balance. Sure, working to get ahead, do that, it may work out, even if in this case it didnt. But you have to ask yourself - is it me I put first, or the company? Is it really worth it?
  • The thing is that a couple of months ago I was doing some heavy reading into Scientology and Amway. Much like the subjects of my studies, this situation looks a bit... uh... cultish? Very disturbing. Very disturbing indeed.

  • Which is why you should check what the person who spoke to you meant.

    Excellent point, which is why I did. I mentioned the other things I had on my plate at the time, asked whether I should try to balance the activities, and was told "Work on this 100%. Ignore everything else until this is completed. This is crucial to the success of the business.".

    Instead, what you did was to take the most literal interpretation possible

    Not to be that annoying literalist geek, but that's how I am, and I view it as the safest option. If you want me to spend 90% of my time on something, say so. Don't say "drop everything", because I will. You manager, I coder, you say, I do. And I view the potential consequences as far lighter than the possible "Did you get X done?" "No." "Why not?" "I was working on Y and Z." "#@$^B&^%$?! I explicitly told you to only work on X until it was complete."

    literally stop work on another important task

    For 1 day. The stuff was due to be done in a week or two.

    And at the core, who should be managing things? I'd suggest the manager.

    and assume that you had made the correct interpretation of someone else's priorities from a quick, rushed conversation.

    People where I work like to do everything as a quick, rushed conversation, and it's caused me and others no end of problems, which is why I've taken to doing all this sort of communication by email. In fact, I'm going to put up a sign at my desk: Ask me to do it through email. If you ask me in person, it didn't happen.

    Frankly, in that manager's position, I would strongly suspect that you had just blown off the job and were using "drop everything" as an excuse.

    Yes, streetlawyer, you would.

    In short, you're in the position you're in because you're a poor communicator.

    Partially, yes. I have a hard time getting shunted around to a million different projects at once and I've missed (accidentally!) more meetings than I really should. I also know that I'm pretty much unable to say no. I think every problem is a quick 5min thing, and I accept too much on my plate. I'm working on that.

    I'm fully aware that I'm not without my faults, but all I ask is that I not be castigated for trying to do my job as I was directed.


  • Well, I'd like to thank all of you who replied with comments and/or advice. Even streetlawyer; he had 1 or 2 sentences of thought-provoking value.

    I really liked the ideas about making the managers manage (whiteboards and all) and was actually planning to implement such a scheme (well, I was going to make a little HTTP app to do it, but whatever :). I had also decided that it wasn't worth scrounging for respect, and had started checking out other opportunities.

    We were pretty much all laid off [quadium.net] yesterday. There is some irony in this.


  • As an interesting side note, I work with Zeio. He's the "IT guy" mentioned below...

    Several things struck me immediately in this article:

    The application I had written was finished, but I received no kudos from the management at the team meeting. [...] I fell just short of "superstar." It wasn't for lack of intellect, I was told, but for lack of focus. Overdelivery was my coping mechanism; I figured that no one would be able to overlook the fact that even though I was spread far too thin, I kept hitting deadlines.

    This is me, except for the "meeting deadlines" part (I'll be the first to admit that long-term concentration is not my strong point). Where I work, I'm having my "top priority" constantly jerked out from under me by my boss. Then I rush to get acquainted with the new situation, rush to get something accomplished, get 50%-90% done, and then get my "top priority" reset again.

    The most frustrating experience I can recall in recent memory is when I had been working on learning our new system and porting my bug fixes to it (despite being told that I'd be a valuable team member, come up with neat stuff, etc, I ended up getting assigned to bug fix after bug fix) when I was told that I absolutely needed to drop everything and work on getting a new QA server set up. So I did. I got in sometime in the morning and worked completely straight until 1900, no breaks of any sort, my coworker hovering over my shoulder and breathing tobacco-smoke-tinged breath on me. Finally, I finished what I could do, and with a splitting headache, I took my laptop and sat on one of our futons.

    "Did you finish the bug fixes?" I look up to see my boss standing over me. "What?" I am the tiniest bit incredulous. "What's the status of the bug fixes?" "Not done." "Why not?" "Because you told me I had a new top priority." "Well, yes, but you have other priorities as well." Apparently "drop everything" has a different meaning for different people.

    Anyway, this is pretty much par for the course. When I do get a moment to myself, I'm unable to just sit down and code. I can't just hack new code in between 5e6 other things; my mind doesn't work that way. I'm not blaming anyone else for this, either — I know I'm not getting anything done — but it sucks to want to be creating new code, to add a little piece of myself to our product, but to sit and fester when I have the chance to do so.

    So I'm unproductive, unhappy, and unfocused. Yippee. This is not at all the environment I was promised when I was hired, and a number of coworkers have exactly the same cheated feeling. I'm the butt of all jokes, the person all odd jobs get handed to, and the assumption is always that I can pick up whatever crap J. Random Sloppy Coder left lying about. My suggestions are mocked, my self-esteem is shot, and at the core, I know only I can earn any respect for myself, but I'm sick of trying to impress these people. Oh, and when I had a deadline the next morning and did my best to stick to my word and have it ready, I was openly insulted for being so gauche as to spend the night at the office.

    My resumé [quadium.net]'s up now, and I've got a few job offers coming in, but I don't know how firm they are, and I really don't want to leave one company in which I have stock options (no matter how few) and a decent salary for another one which might be just as bad.

    I've taken to sitting around with our IT guy and posting to Slashdot. I don't feel like a vile festering leech; I'm actually helping get things done for the company, but it's not what I was hired to do, and I know that my "projects" are getting held up while I cower in the corner. I'm just hoping that I can work myself back up to writing something decent tomorrow or this weekend (yay for wasting my weekends doing a poor job of recovering the time lost during the week).

    AND I HATE THE FLUORESCENT LIGHTS!!! They give me painful headaches and destroy my concentration. But what am I supposed to do? Sabotage the circuit breakers?

    Whee. What a rant. :-P

    If you're a manager, the one useful thing I hope you get from reading this post post is to give your people a chance to accomplish what you've assigned them, and treat them as competent professionals.


  • I have to disagree with your post and agree with the parent post. Current day unions really don't help the workers out much. They may help you get that 1% raise every year and that 15 minute cofee break every hour, but they really hurt those who want to excell. Unions WERE a necessity back during the first half of the 1900's, but the battles were won. What were the unions supposed to do after that?

    I work in a union, and I work with a few other craft unions. Some of the practices today are just plain ludicrous. For example - let's say I am an engineer that wants to examine some electrical switchgear using thermography. All I will be doing is taking a few images without touching any of the wires. But in order for me to be able to see the wires, I must use a screw driver (or quarter) to turn a fastener 90 degrees to open the door. I get seen HOLDING a screwdriver, and the electricians union goes crazy and files a grievance. Now, whenever I need to do thermography, I have to arrange for an electrician to come hold a screwdriver for a few hours. Worse, most of the time there are no available electricians, so I can't do anything. Hold on, it gets better. Every hour while I am taking pictures, I have to stop so the electrician can go take a 15 minute cofee break. It is terrible.

    I will admit, there are many guys who work in unions that work their butts off just because they care. Unfortunately, there are more guys that know that they get their $20/hour, no matter how hard they work or how good their work is. And if management tries to take a hard line to ensure quality, if the contract does not specifically state that quality control is grounds for reprimand, then the laborers go on strike or file grievances.
  • ... but you are at least partly the author of your own misfortunes. Let me analyse this vignette from an alternative point of view:
    The most frustrating experience I can recall in recent memory is when I had been working on learning our new system and porting my bug fixes to it (despite being told that I'd be a valuable team member, come up with neat stuff, etc, I ended up getting assigned to bug fix after bug fix) when I was told that I absolutely needed to drop everything and work on getting a new QA server set up. So I did. I got in sometime in the morning and worked completely straight until 1900, no breaks of any sort, my coworker hovering over my shoulder and breathing tobacco-smoke-tinged breath on me. Finally, I finished what I could do, and with a splitting headache, I took my laptop and sat on one of our futons.

    "Did you finish the bug fixes?" I look up to see my boss standing over me. "What?" I am the tiniest bit incredulous. "What's the status of the bug fixes?" "Not done." "Why not?" "Because you told me I had a new top priority." "Well, yes, but you have other priorities as well." Apparently "drop everything" has a different meaning for different people.

    Yes. "Drop everything" does indeed have a different meaning for different people. For a lot of people it just means "this is urgent". For a lot of people it means "drop everything, do this right now, but not at the expense of severely delaying something else". It's a very ambiguous term. Which is why you should check what the person who spoke to you meant.

    Instead, what you did was to take the most literal interpretation possible, literally stop work on another important task, and assume that you had made the correct interpretation of someone else's priorities from a quick, rushed conversation.

    Your boss comes back, and the bug fixes aren't done. Now, it's very hard to say the sentence "But you said, 'drop everything'" without it sounding like a smart-ass remark (try). I'm guessing that, whatever you intended, it in fact did sound like a smart ass remark. So from his point of view, he's not got the bug fixes he wanted, he's got an employee who failed to remind him of other tasks he was carrying out at the same time and (from his POV) randomly reprioritized the job queue, and that employee has justified his action by acting like Mr Fucking Spock and hanging everything on the phrase "drop everything". Frankly, in that manager's position, I would strongly suspect that you had just blown off the job and were using "drop everything" as an excuse.

    In short, you're in the position you're in because you're a poor communicator. You don't make an effort to find out what people mean, you don't give information to the system about your status (something that even C++ objects can manage) and you make smart-ass remarks to justify your behaviour. No wonder your manager regards you as a management problem.

    Being talented with computers is not an excuse to act the stereotyped g**k. It is not reasonable to demand of busy people that they submit their requests as if they were a Unix kernel, and it is *your* responsibility to ensure that someone else knows what your workload is like. Burning midnight oil in a heroic quest to get half a job done as a one-man team is no substitute for communicating and prioritising.

    And when people say "work smarter, not harder", that's what they mean.

  • A long time ago, I had a job that was exactly like vsync64's (not coding, but mutiple, conflicting "This is the top priority" directives). It didn't help that they were firing people left-and-right and dumping their responsibilities onto me.

    I tried to do exactly what you said by running a list on a whiteboard and pushing back on them to priortize the workflow. It was actually quite successful for a month or two. Until they decided that whiteboard itself was some metaphorical totem of my lack of respect, it was actually my fault that you can't squeeze a gallon of lemonaid out of one lemon, and I too was eventually fired. To nobody's real suprise, the company was pretty much shut down and certain stuff was outsourced at great cost within a couple months.

    And I'm afraid that's the boat vsync64 is in. They don't respect him. They're dumping shit on him percisely so that he takes the blame. He's got more work than he can do, and no amount of manager-massaging is going to change the fact that every potential scenario involves him getting shit on. He's personally involved in a company's self-destruction, and there's no real good solution except a new job.
  • by weylin ( 174709 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2001 @12:57AM (#252141) Homepage
    It's all very well to criticise the programmer but managers are hired for their communication and project management skills, programmers are hired for their programming skills. Good managers are at least as rare as good programmers.
  • No need to go to a German translation; it's a word that appears in most good English dictionaries [m-w.com].

  • by cOdEgUru ( 181536 ) on Tuesday May 01, 2001 @10:39PM (#252144) Homepage Journal
    Salon has a nice story of start-up greed and stupidity.

    Micheal, you just threw everyone who works in the Valley down the drain. The millions who work here, not all are working for making millions the next day. We are here because we believed in something, we loved the work we were doing and we love the weather down here. Not just because we wanted to be millionaires (ofcourse the thought of that obviously helped). But the way you say it makes it look as if you were some high and mighty puratinist who never cared for a dollar and does editing and readiing all day. Yeah right. Go ask Andover.net..or else..Go figure.

    I know its kinda Flaming.. But I just couldnt help it. The idiot had some nerve...
  • by fonebone ( 192290 ) <jessephrenic@nospam.ninjaguy.org> on Tuesday May 01, 2001 @09:54PM (#252146) Homepage
    On top of looking at how places can overwork their employees, this is also an issue of company attachment. There's so much propaganda at a work place, if not just the feeling of company success as being 'good', and failures 'bad'.

    As a side note, what do you think is a 'healthy' attachment to your company (if you're not the owner, etc.)? Should one feel obliged to work long overtime hours in order to further the goals of the place they work? Or should we always remember to work towards our own goals firstly?

    What have you found yourself doing?

  • Holy shit, you're me, or I'm you, or something or other. What I mean is, I know EXACTLY where you're coming from.

    Currently the team/group I'm with is about 50% relatively new people and I'm a technical lead. I am also largely responsible for a few of the major products, and so am the only person who can answer a lot of the technical questions from marketing and support. There's always a few of the new people doing tasks that require a lot of direction/help from me due to the lack of documentation from the past 3 years. It's gotten me to the exact same point where you are. The experiences have left me *totally* demotivated. I've spend the last MONTH doing around 3 days of work, 10-15 days of dealing with all these other non-task related interruptions, and 12 days of doing absolutely nothing due to my motivational state (get in late, slashdot, mail, mope, browse favorite web pages/cartoons, lunch, mail, meeting, mope, etc etc).

    It's gotten me to the point where I think it would be better for the company and for me to ask for a transfer to a different division, or for an indefinite leave of absence. Of course there's always the chance that they'll decide to fire me for slacking off and doing nothing, instead of trying to do something productive to get me back on track. Of course even I have no idea as to what to do about this. Guess I should read some management type books, figure out what's missing, and tell them. Of course now that I think about it, I can easily come up with a half dozen things. I just can't figure out how to tell them, nor what to suggest to do to deal with it...

    ( When's the last time you heard of anyone going to their manager and saying "by the way, I'm horribly unmotivated and I haven't done any work for a month, you should do something about that!" )

    Another semi-related story: A while further back I was on a project where I was sysadmin/troubleshooter/etc of ten million in hardware and software. It was fun, it was interesting, and I got to interact with users and developers and new systems going up, everything. But then the project deadlines came in and the occasional emergency, so I was handed some real tasks to get done. Unfortunately my days as a sysadmin consisted of 30% rote tasks and 70% interruptions for important things. You can draw the conclusion already, just guess at how much I got done while being interrupted 5 times an hour for important-critical systems things? Now I didn't mind, but it got to the point where my boss basically stood over my shoulder for an entire day and micromanaged what I did. It was only at that point that he understood what the hell was going on and why, and gave me the authority/direction to de-prioritize these interruptions. That helped a ton.

  • Yes. Lately huge amounts of moderator points are being handed out. Just last week I got moderator access 3 times in a row. Normally I only get it once every 1-3 months. (I have a karma around 40.)

    Someone's over-reacted to some perceived situation. I mean there is always the occasional story that ends up not getting enough moderation, and posts to older articles not getting their share of moderator eyeballs, but this is ridiculous. Since everything I think should be a 4 or a 5 is already at 5, then I end up hunting down something else to moderate up that normally wouldn't go so high...

    And I imagine with all that extra moderator points, they're not so 'valuable' or 'rare' any more, and so there's less disincentive to moderate down.

  • by rhysweatherley ( 193588 ) on Tuesday May 01, 2001 @10:42PM (#252149)
    I can definitely relate to much of this article. Especially working longer, harder, faster for little extra recognition. Confronting management usually back-fired. Health-wise, I was a mess, just like the author of this piece. I eventually escaped, and now am blessedly self-employed. But it took me six months to deflate and become (sort of) social again. Managers and VC-crazed CEO's have a lot to answer for over the last 5 years. Unfortunately, they seem to get away scot free when their bad decisions hurt the employees. There really does need to be a "tech guild" of some sort, or dare I say it "union", but I despair of ever coming up with a way to stop the union turning into the problem it is trying to solve. "Equal work for equal pay", protectionism, and other traditional union bureaucratic nonsense is not what we need. But we definitely need the right to strike to protest irrational decision making. "You want a global e-commerce system in 3 days? Sorry, you'll have to take that nonsense up with the union".
  • by dagoalieman ( 198402 ) <thegoaliemanNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Tuesday May 01, 2001 @11:56PM (#252151) Homepage
    You know, this may sound stupid, but to me right now it sounds like college life...

    Take three junior level coding courses, and two gimme courses, and what do you get? 8:30AM to 4:30AM days, coding taking up a majority of this time. Oh, and since I work the local IT equivalent, that adds some more to the plate.

    The thing is though, the classes are the killers- when I have three different courses in which I'm writing 75+ printed page programs at once (yes, they are simple, but it's the fact those 75 pages are in relatively short amounts of time...), that's insane coding time, much less debugging time. (And I'm a horrid coder, so up the debug time from normal..) Many times over the past three years I've become very sick from lack of sleep, over exertion, etc, even taking a couple of ambulance rides due to the times I neglect myself.

    You say no job is worth what was put in. The problem is though, to get a job or keep a job these days, it sure seems that in many workplaces this is dead minimum. And each year the IT/development expectations grow.. so where does it stop? Should I just head to McDonald's now, or rough it out?

    Put me first, then I'll have to leave school (any less hours, I lose scholarships, and any less coding, I won't grad. in time..). So, I lose my dreams. Put "the company" (or search for a job/degree) first, and then I end up losing my body, sanity, and God knows what else. So I still lose. If I didn't love my IT job so much, It seems like I should leave, because this appears a no win situation.
  • Well, OK. But there have been a bunch of people left a lot worse off than him, like the poor slobs with the worthless stock options who owe thousands of dollars they don't have on the Alternative Minimum Tax.

    That is a very good an often overlooked point. For those non-tax savvy out there, basically, if you exercise an "in the money" option, you owe the AMT the year you exercise the option, on the difference between the option price and the market price when you exercise, even if you don't sell the stock.

    So Bob Geek gets options that let him get the super high-flyer stock that is worth 134 bucks for 4 bucks a share. Generally, he will have to pay tax on $130 per share, the year he exercises the options, whether he sells the stock or not. Stock then drops to $3 a share, and he is left with tons of taxes on money he never saw. Even if he sells all the stock now, it won't cover the taxes owed on it.

    This is part of the tax code that MUST be changed. The only way around it currently is to sell the stock as soon as you exercise the options, something people generally don't want to do if they believe in their company's future. This is also not good for other investors, as this will increase dilution.

    It also brings up issues about this budget surplus we have been seeing in the US. Once people are burned a few times on options, they won't want them anymore and the employers will just stop offering them. This will cause a lot of tax revenue to disappear. I sure hope that congress takes this into account when they give dubya his big tax cut, otherwise we will end up like we did with Reagan, cutting taxes without reducing spending enough to cover it.

  • Why? You were just given $100 a share of profit, as far as I can tell. If you are too short-sighted/greedy to capture some of that profit to offset your tax liability, then you're risking the value will go down and you're left holding the bag.

    I'm not out for "protecting" anyone from themselves. I'm a Libertarian, check my .sig.

    I just don't think the IRS should be charging an income tax on money that isn't income (yet). As someone pointed out, when they put this in the code they never intended it to affect Joe Schmoe anyway. It promotes things that are contrary to one of the IRS's goals, that is holding long term investments for retirement. It creates motivation to sell out immediately, increases stock volitility and dilution, and in general is a bad thing.

    Of course, I think the common person should be able to use the Mark-to-market election for normal capital gains too, but that is just my opinion.

  • by beth_linker ( 210498 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2001 @07:25AM (#252163)
    That's a lot of nonsense. If I tell a programmer to drop everything and do a new task, and that new task takes 12 hours, it's completely unreasonable for me to come back 12 hours later and ask why something else isn't done.

    It's pretty unambiguous that "drop everything" means put this new thing first on your to-do list. The issue is really not whether or not one has other priorities, but whether or not one can do two jobs at once. Most people can't, and it's unreasonable to expect that introducing new work into a full schedule won't push everything else back.
  • >It's a total crapshoot.

    Which is why, even now, people get sucked into a good line if they are not careful. And even some who are. There are just enough "overnight successes" to make people believe it could happen to them. It's like the lottery that way, and without the benefit of clear and overwhelming mathematical evidence to the contrary.

    Maybe it will, maybe it won't. But since nearly all companies have long since stopped having the slightest concern for employees beyond ROI, I have exactly the same position when it comes to my personal life. Professional pride spurred me to many a late night, but when it becomes a regular and expected occurrence, there has to be more in it for me than some assumed loyalty that never goes both ways. And I'm not even as mercenary as some people I know. (You included, Mr. Nobody-Knows-Me AC, despite occasional comments to the contrary.)

    I want to believe that my employer actually lives by the platitudes they dispense about how their people are their greatest resource. I pretend to believe, when necessary, but I cannot in truth. And almost all the tech professionals I know think the same. Anybody who doesn't is suspected of being incredibly naive or stupid.

    Someone told me that if my employer discovered they could make fifty cents more by digging potatoes, we would all be issued shovels. Every time someone tries to give me a line of hype about how, as a competent Professional, I need to sacrifice my personal life to someone else's cause, I think of that. And I don't take on other people's causes lightly.

    Maybe that means that you should go off on your own. You certainly won't be working any fewer hours, but at least it will be for your project and not so someone else can go to Bali every year while you sit home and write code until 3am.

  • Physical paper money is just a way to exchange labor for other things, like food. Wealth might be meaningless, if you come from the hippy mind-set, but money is our labor, skills and time. And, what alternative do we have to capitalism? Socialism is dead, or dying. Communism works for ants but not us. What's left? Feudalism?
  • by update() ( 217397 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2001 @07:58AM (#252173) Homepage
    2. Why are we assuming that the people in the village are competent logicians?

    That's a given. People in these riddle villages are always excellent logicians.

    My answer was 1, which seemed the only reasonable answer.

    Here's my analysis:
    1 person - A goes around town, sees no one marked. He leaves town at the end of the day. (Or on the second day -it's ambiguous.)
    2 people - On the first day, A and B see each other. On the second day, they see the other is still around. They both leave, at the end of the second day or on the third day. I think this is supposed to be the answer.
    3 people - A, B and C see each other on the first and second days. They all leave at the end of the third day or on the fourth day. This might also be the answer.

    OK, I damn well want karma for this one!! ;-)

    Unsettling MOTD at my ISP.

  • I know exactly where youre at and how you feel because I had to make the same decision. I decided to try a normal 9-5 job with a good manager. What I found is that I have plenty of time to do what my employer wants (whether I agree with it or not!) and then go home and do what I enjoy doing. Its a healthy separation and everybody wins.
  • not to spiel or anything, but that's one of my favorite things about unions - they protect those of us who love our jobs from ourselves. Yeah, I can work all night and all day if I choose, but at least now I'm well-compensated for it. (no, i'm not in IT)
  • Sorry for the brutality, but Bullshit.

    Gus, I've worked with organized labor for 5 years now, and....you are absolutely right. Those are the bad points of union employment. The $$$ and bennies are the good points. Fortunately, the more intelligent members know how to get the good without exposing themselves to too much of the bad.
    Oh, and you forgot the way-too-common mob mentality whenever management doesn't approve that 35% pay raise.
  • by namespan ( 225296 ) <namespan@elite m a i l.org> on Tuesday May 01, 2001 @09:52PM (#252180) Journal
    Schadenfreude = "harming joy" according to the fish.

    German speakers: I'm wondering if this is along the lines of decadent/destructive pleasures ("tainted love") or if it's more like training for a marathon or putting up flaws in someone you love.

    Also, I'm noticing more and more German borrowing in the hacker world. Is it just me? If it's not, any speculation on why?

    And now that Altavista's owners are certifiably evil (having patented things like web crawlers), are there any other places we can go for translation needs?

  • It sounds harsh, but I think that that's the only way to work in the softwrae industry. Have no loyality to to anyone or anything other than yourself. I'm not saying not to work, but do your work, take your pay, and go home. Ideally, do it as a contractor. Most companies today (expecially software) don't really care about their employees, so why should you care about them? So treat work as just that: work. It's NOT your life. I always suggest that programmers work as contractors so you DON'T have to spend your entire life coding. Work your 40, and go home. They want you to work more, they pay you. I know it sounds harsh, but I'm convinced that it's the only way to work in this industry and NOT get screwed.

  • by ConsumedByTV ( 243497 ) on Tuesday May 01, 2001 @09:28PM (#252185) Homepage
    Anyone notice that the times are gone from the front page? That extra karma is being given out? that slashdot is going awry? Whats gone wrong?

    Are you on the Sfglj [sfgoth.com] (SF-Goth EMail Junkies List) ?
  • ...I described it as "the paper clip of ideas."

    I seem to recall [slashdot.org] that paper clips can lead to quite nasty [zdnet.com] consequences.

  • by discovercomics ( 246851 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2001 @02:54AM (#252188) Homepage
    Take out all references to coding and computers and this story could apply to any startup in any field.
    Two years out of college back in 1988 or so I went to work for a "startup" in a small town. I was underpaid and worked long hours, while I didn't have stock options I had "promises" of an ownership stake and visions of store expansion into multiple locations. As time went on my responsibilities increased and my pay went up, not alot, but up. I would stay late to get a head start on the work for the next day. Allways trying to move the company forward. The crushing blow came when I realized that I had wasted 8 years and this "startup", wasn't ever going to get beyond the point where one person, the owner, could be rewarded well.

    I was living to work instead of working to live.

    So what did I do? I went back to school to get a CIS degree and here I am now ready to enter the brave new world.

  • Well, it's still May Day somewhere. Capitalism has its finer points, but it's best to see the seamy underside now and then--the hopes, the deceptions, the slavish devotion, the shattered dreams. I think that a purely collaborative model would enable us to have the same, if not higher, standard of living but without the dark side effects of capitalism.

    Buckminster Fuller [google.com] (not a communist) proved, so to speak, that wealth is infinite. It's a concept that--like capitalism--everyone has to buy into in order for it to work. The whole supply/demand model that they pushed in my undergrad buz classes is a similar concept that only works if everyone buys into the notion of perceived scarcity.

    My point is that we can still have innovation, etc. without the damned rat-race and constant shift of wealth to the already wealthy. Money has become God in America, and we are spreading this religion throughout the world by force of treaty. When the illusion is finally shattered; i.e.--next time the economy crashes, remember that all we've lost is the fantasy that those little green pieces of paper actually mean something.

    Ewige Blumenkraft!
  • is on dict.leo.org [leo.org]. According to them it's
    On this page you will find the developers and maintainers of the legendary LEO German/English Dictionary. In 1995 this Dictionary was founded by Achim Jung, a former student and scientific assistant of the Technical University of Munich. Since then it is online, available free of charge to every internet user world-wide. In the tradition of the pioneers of the Dictionary all members of the LEO Dictionary Team - supported by the diligent helpers - currently make big efforts to permanently improve and extend this service. So we can provide you (further on) the world's biggest and fastest help on English-German translations.
    HTH h.c.
  • by Someone Different ( 262631 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2001 @05:00AM (#252197)
    ...really complex.
    And that is why I risk being redundant here, but having read the other comments I got the impression that that really nice word gets off to negative. So...

    Yes, it's true, it describes the joy you feel about other peoples misfortunes. I once got told (on German TV) that it is caused by the relieve that something bad that happened to someone else did not happen to you.

    That can be something really bad if it happens to someone you dislike. I just felt really good about reading the Microsoft IIS hole gives System-level access [theregister.co.uk] article at The Register. This is really bad for Microsoft, but I laughed anyway. Or just because of that. That's one case of Schadenfreude here.

    But usually it's the smaller tricks life plays on other people that make you feel this way. Like when you walk along with your buddy, he turns his head to look at 'the woman in the red dress' and bumps into something. Funny.
    Or maybe if you sit together with some friends in the evening, and one of them spills wine over that ridiculous Hawaii shirt.
    Most classic cartoons work this way. And they're damn funny. I'm sure in every coutry there are TV shows that feature home videos about kids falling off bicycles, dancers slipping and falling to the ground and various other people falling into/off stuff. That is supposed to be funny, too (I think it's not. But if I would have actually been there when these things happened, I would feel Schadenfreude).

    But no, it's not funny to watch your best friend being run over by a truck. That would be sick, not Schadenfreude.

    German has the advantage that virtually all words can be combined to form a new one. Sometimes they describe certain things pretty well. Some you might heared of are Weltanschauung, Fahrvergnügen, Autobahn, Kaffeeklatsch, Hinterland, Poltergeist. And yes, also the infamous Blitzkrieg. Blitz is lightning, Krieg is war. It is supposed to be a war that is over really quickly...

    We use a lot of English words here. We even make up our own! A mobile phone is called 'Handy' in German. We have Showmasters. I have no idea why we do this. But you call a 'Dackel' Dachshund, don't you?

  • Essentially, yes. We had a server with a web site divided by region. We'd sell people the right to sell web sites in those regions. We also developed the sites for them. We charged an insanely small fee for everything to the regional offices, who then charged more to the clients.

    So yes, basically, it was an MLM scam. But it did have some good intent behind it. One client ended up selling his products to Oracle founder Larry Ellison, and making a hearty amount of money for it.

    Of course, knowing what I know now, I would never be associated with such a company.

    Oh, and I want everyone to note, that before I took all the office stuff, I had been seeing a lawyer and protecting my ass. If you're working for a legitimate business and you're getting screwed and you're leaving (seems contradictory), what worked for me probably won't work for you.

    In fact, if you try it, you might just get to visit the old CEO in jail.

    Luckily, I had a rightful claim to the money, and I was always hard-ass enough to make the CEO realize he would have to pay me.

  • by KupekKupoppo ( 266229 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2001 @12:32AM (#252201)
    When in high school, I did the same kind of thing. At 15, I was expected to maintain an ISP, repair and build PCs, teach classes (even a week-long computer camp), and maintain our network.

    We were an Internet cafe, web portal, ISP, and computer store--and why not? Every one of those was making money back then.

    Quickly enough, the CEO found it quite easy to just fire everybody but me and have me do everything. Don't read that sentence as hyperbole--I'm being quite literal. Eventually, I worked there, his wife was the secretary, and a middle-aged guy took on web design without being paid for 4 months (then, not at all).

    I had EXCELLENT job security. The small town afforded no one who could replace me, and I was not about to go home without my paycheck. The CEO kept me paid, and I got bonuses if I seemed disillusioned (yes, I know that's poor business practice). When I was promised a Christmas bonus, I got it in writing. And I got it (a $1500 bonus is really nice when you're in high school). But nobody else was being paid.

    Remember what I said about being a web portal? Imagine eFront, but more ghetto. We had tons of regional offices, who paid an absurd fee to be able to sell advertising space in a region of our web site (divided by state, county, and city). Eventually, as the CEO guzzled away the finances of the company and my moral side got the best of me, I did the only thing I could do:

    I destroyed the company.

    At that point, I'd get $50/hour when I came in on off-hours, and $20+ at normal times. But it felt like hush money, and as the regional license money was pissed away and not invested into the company, I knew we were going down the toilet, and I wasn't about to go with them. Of course, the FBI snooping around town helped me decide, as well.

    I warned the regionals. Without me, the server would soon go down--it could maintain itself, to a degree, but if you have ever managed a 8 GB+ web site that's using FrontPage extensions to an extreme (yes, NT, sorry), you will know how unstable it can get. They prepared to wrest the company from my boss.

    At that same time, he was preparing to leave town. He didn't want to go to jail, so he fled to California. The server was co-located, and I remotely managed it. My assistant, who was hired on later, also managed the checking account for our office location.

    My paycheck was coming due, and the account had $600. I was owed $2000, and my co-worker was owed $800. We called to find out how we were getting paid, and we got the runaround. My co-worker liquidified the bank account, and kept it all (which I agreed to--since I had no expenses, I thought he might want to actually pay his bills and live). I moved all the office equipment into the back of my truck, and we sent out our resignations.

    The company decided it was in their best interest to provide me with the hardware as payment, and then the CEO gave a horrid speech about how terrible employees we were to all the offices. They already knew the true situation, and have now taken the company from the CEO (in prison, I've heard).

    The company never made it big, but I think that prevented them from dying in the dot-com crash. One of the regional offices appears to manage everything now, and they're doing a decent job, and offered to re-hire me, but I like college better.

    However, from the experience, I learned a few things:

    If you're being screwed, you should leave.
    If you're watching someone be screwed, you should leave.
    If you're screwing someone, then you're the CEO.

    (sorry for the scattered nature of the post, I'm sleepy).
  • by cavemanf16 ( 303184 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2001 @05:59AM (#252203) Homepage Journal
    The above post, and the one modded up below make two very good points that we should all realize as people with interests in the IT work world.

    Unions are necessary, but not to serve those in 'charge' of the union, but the worker. At the same time, people should have a choice to join unions if they so desire. If I know that a particular union is predatory, encourages laziness, and benefits the 'powers that be' instead of me as a worker, I should be allowed to not join that union, charge less for my services, and receives plenty of work contracts from employers because they too will recognize the corruptness of the union. This in turn will keep unions on their toes to make sure they have more productive members.

    OR, if I knew a union was a great organization, one that fought for the little guy, and was well respected for the work of its members by employers in general, then I would choose to join that union. I could then benefit from the mass organization of productive workers.

    The problem, as stated elsewhere in this thread, is when a union becomes a monopoly and all competition to their work ethic, no matter how good or bad it is, is stifled. That's when it becomes bloated and subservient to the greediness of it's leaders, much like communist or dictatorial regimes become corrupted by greed and general human sinfulness by those in control of the system. I can see the US heading this direction too in recent years, with many judges and elected officials taking campaign contributions from the corp's instead of from the little guys like you and I.

  • The fact that my above remarks generated +6 and -5 mods (so far) indicates that this is a seriously debatable thing ... these unions.

    My comments above are largely based on the negative aspects of unions. There are positive aspects as well. Some unions work.

    Still, my experience of unions (My father in a metalworkers union in South Africa, my fiance as a teacher in Toronto) is such that I have little faith in them.

    As a classic example, the school support staff in Toronto recently went on strike for four weeks for an 8% increase over 2 years. 4 weeks is nearly 11% of their income for a year. Thus, it will take years for the increase to cover the lost income during the strike, if ever. Where is the logic in that?

    I agree with other posters that the unions have had an important role to play in the past, but their relevance is rapidly diminishing.

    I believe that the power of the union is not so much in "collective bargaining", but rather through it's tight grip on the balls of the employers. It is no surprise that the forces most credited to the mechanisation and implementation of technology at mines, industries, and other manufacturing centres in South Africa is without doubt the unions.

    It is ironic that the forces designed to protect jobs, income, and people is the force which is reducing the availability of jobs in South Africe.

    Here in Toronto the unions have managed to bring industry to a near halt simply by having the schools closed. It was estimated that on some days, nearly a quarter of the workforce was required to make alternative plans for their children, often at excessive direct cost or through having to take leave to care for children.

    This is pure blackmail, and should not be tolerated.

    As for the lack of unions, it is apparent that the teachers at private schools generally are better paid, are better rewarded for excellence, and never go on strike. As a parent, I would have to considder the welfare of my child by considdering a private education. As a teacher, If I was good, I would be better to move to the private sector as well.

    Unions have had a strong negative impact recently in toronto. Next up are the nurses and EMS unions.

    Again, the benefits of unionship are marginal at best, and at worst very destructive.
  • by gus goose ( 306978 ) on Tuesday May 01, 2001 @09:53PM (#252205) Journal
    they protect those of us who love our jobs from ourselves

    Sorry for the brutality, but Bullshit.

    Unions are a collective bargaining force. They are paid to make sure that the average member is happy. Unions do not allow for the reward of those people who excel, and do not allow for the (easy) removal of those who do not. Unions protect the job, not the person.

    Without unions, those people who are excellent at their jobs would be better rewarded for it. Thos people who are poor at their jobs would be encouraged in to a new vocation which would perhaps be better in the long run.

    Unions do nothing more than enforce mediocrity.

    Never underestimate a person's ability to vote with their feet.

  • by gus goose ( 306978 ) on Tuesday May 01, 2001 @09:58PM (#252206) Journal
    Life is a long, hard road, and many lessons are learned on the way (My grandfather told me this....). In his terminology, this story would be described as school fees. School fees are the price you pay for an education.

    The education in this context, is not that it is bad or wrong to sell yourself or your sould to your job, the real lesson is that you should be more careful about who you sell your life to. There are jobs which are worth giving up your life for. Speak to Nuns. Speak to pop-stars.

    Still, the lesson is that you need just reward, or the consequences are school-fees.

    It is a great thing to see a person who is sold out to a good cause. It is OK to love your spouse, OK to love your kids, yet, for those with neither, it should be OK to love you job equally.
  • "
    Unfortunately, you've confounded "natural" and "moral." Thanks for playing, though.


    I have to back up sql*kitten here. I think he's fully aware of the fact that our view of morals is an introspective one applied by humans onto humans, and that they cannot be directly applied to tha natural living world. (Or the non-living either!)

    If we were to anthropomorphise the lions briefly, then their view on killing antelopes would be their morals. They would also view our behaviour as 'nature'. OK, let's stop that anthropomorphising immediately, I don't like making such a projection.

    It appears you are saying "from a fixed point of view, these two things are different". sql*kitten is perhaps saying "these things are different, but by changing ones point of view they can be made equivalent"? You're both agreed that they are different.

    However, I can't concur completely with Nietzsche's "will to power" quote. I believe that the "will to power" has evolved as a succesful trait in very many creatures. I don't believe it's universal or even evolutionarily necessary. Nietzsche is perhaps over-anthropomorphising here.

  • Find a software product someone else hasn't made, or that someone hasn't created properly, then learn all the technical details you need to code it, and spend 2 solid months(500ish hours) on coding up and making it a reality and successful. Then when Microsoft comes to pay you a visit, they're there to compete with you and steal your ideas.
  • by Zeio ( 325157 ) on Tuesday May 01, 2001 @09:51PM (#252212)
    I am currently under the employ of a Silicon Valley startup. I was allured by the prospect of becoming rich from the stock options. While I did receive a 16% raise in pay, I moved 2800 miles from home to come to this new position as an 'IT Manager'.

    So, with my new salary in hand I go off to the land of the high-tech, the SI Valley, the birthing place for the greats. Yeah, the land of high rents, outrageous gas prices, ludicrous state taxes and the best weather this earth has ever seen.

    I arrive at the startup to find this mongoloid 'IT Manager'. My dreams of truly attaining a higher rank are smashed in a single moment. I have to get into a dick waving contest with a valley kid who covets Microsoft. We were officially deemed both IT Managers. I knew I just had to wait this loser out.

    Finally, the hard rain falls and economics kicks in. Valley boy gets the boot and I get to pick up all the slack. Under-funding is abound. The two fools before me squandered $750,000 and I have no budget. The end result is a lot of time spent on AIM, email and Slashdot. Hopefully, I'll be moved from the IT group to something more intelligent, I can only hold my breath.

    So here I am, smack in the middle of Silicon Valley during job-nuclear-winter. I'm afraid to get too cocky to be fired because jobs aren't growing on trees. So I keep coming back for budget-less existence. The one thing that stands out the most - the job I left which was paying rather well was sending me to school/training/etc. I received several certifications under their employ. Now I will get nothing, unless it is done under my own volition.

    Here I am with my worthless stock, high rent and outrageous taxes from the foul state of California (good weather though). It's not all that bad, its really a long, almost paid vacation without any schooling.

    All in all the company is interesting, I have the possibility of expanding my horizons with some new things to administer, and luckily this startup has weathered the storm of .com deaths... It's not all that bad, but I would have been better off leveraging my offer with a counter offer with my former employer.

    Don't fall into the trap, and make sure a bonus, schooling/education/training is in the contract!

    There is no free lunch.
  • He worked himself to a nub so that he could feel like he was doing something important? Sounds like BS to me. He wanted the money.

    Sure he did step up to the plate when things got rough but that was only to try and keep the gravy train rolling.

  • by SkiHardTX ( 412598 ) on Tuesday May 01, 2001 @09:56PM (#252214)
    Schadenfreude doesn't translate well directly into English. Better to give a description of what it is. You know that kind of good (albeit selfish) feeling you get when you see bad things happen to other people (probably deservedly so)? That's schadenfreude.
  • by lightfoot jim ( 441918 ) on Tuesday May 01, 2001 @10:17PM (#252217) Homepage
    As I read the article, I couldn't keep from thinking that this new trend in the press is really depressing. The whiz-bang new economy left a lot of good people burned. They cried, I cried, the v.c's cried. Now isn't there something else to report on? I'm not saying it's not valid news, but at this point everyone's heard this story more times than they can count, and yet they still keep wanting to hear it again.

    I wonder how long it will be before some instrument of the press sees that the profitability of these articles exceeds the number of available stories. What then? Hire a journalist with a creative talent and a fair technical vocabulary? Good heavens no! From the article:

    About the writer
    David Wadler is a writer, performer and techie in New York.

  • by surrealcode ( 447945 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2001 @01:53AM (#252224)
    I remember working in a startup company. I was one of the 3 developers. The company consisted of 40 people, 37 of whom were managers/admin/sales types, who made coffee all day. They worked upstairs amongst the plants and bay windows. We worked downstairs in this dimly lit dungeon with no windows and a small pipe supplying air to us. We'll to cut a long story short, the company went bust when it was discovered that the MD was taking all the venture capital for himself. Motto of the story is you ae getting less air than management, then you should leave. There is no point in working 100 hours a week when management works 40 hours a month.

The absent ones are always at fault.