Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×
The Almighty Buck

Techies Working for Peanuts 718

The San Francisco Chronicle has a story about laid-off techies getting desperate and going to work for, well, nothing. No offense to these people, if you're up against the wall you do whatever you can, but I hope they're aware that most of them are not going to get even the slightest compensation for their time.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Techies Working for Peanuts

Comments Filter:
  • t, and i've been unemployed for a year. Not fun.
  • by CatWrangler ( 622292 ) on Saturday December 28, 2002 @06:37PM (#4973538) Journal
    Working for Peanuts is ok. If I get to work with Marcie and Peppermint Patty... Can you say threesome?

    I don't know what these guys are complaining about anyways.

  • Depressing... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 28, 2002 @06:39PM (#4973546)
    Could it be more depressing to be about to graduate with a computer science degree?

    If experienced people are having to work for nothing, what hope is there for a recent grad? Any advice?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 28, 2002 @06:42PM (#4973564)

      Could it be more depressing to be about to graduate with a computer science degree?

      If experienced people are having to work for nothing, what hope is there for a recent grad? Any advice?

      Practice in front of a mirror:

      "Do you want fries with that?"

      • They want techies fresh out of college, willing to go anywhere, work for any wage, any hours, with the sparkle still in their eyes.

        They don't want 15+ years experience in 5 different platforms, 8 languages, database design, applications, systems analysis, or training and documentation backgrounds.

        They aren't looking for programmers who understand business requirements, or who have full life-cycle experience with real-world applications.

        They want youth, to be ground-up and spit out in 10 years.

        Yes, I am bitter. I am a damn good programmer. But I'm 37, with no degree, and a mortgage and family to look out for.

        Even short-term contracts are impossible to find these days.

        I am starting to take some vo-tech courses. I'm thinking welding might be a good career move. Programming and UNIX administration is a field for the young.

        • They want techies fresh out of college, willing to go anywhere, work for any wage, any hours, with the sparkle still in their eyes.

          They don't want 15+ years experience in 5 different platforms, 8 languages, database design, applications, systems analysis, or training and documentation backgrounds.

          Uh, no.

          They want techies fresh out of college, willing to go anywhere, work for any wage, any hours, and who have at least 10 years of experience with the specific hardware and software that they're using. They want people who have 10 years of C# experience and 15 years of Java experience (that those languages haven't even been around that long is irrelevant).

          They want it all, and in this very down tech economy they can get away with demanding it.

          This is why techies fresh out of college are having just as much of a problem finding work as experienced people. Companies want the impossible, and are just as happy to ask for it, since doing so only works in their favor -- people are eventually willing to work for free for them, so why not?

          And that's only the beginning. You think things are bad now? You haven't seen anything yet.

          We're headed for a real depression on the scale of the Great Depression, people, and I don't think anything's going to pull us out of it in the near future. It's going to happen because the only major things on the horizon to invest in (biotech and medical) are either highly regulated (and thus have the same future that personal aviation has had) or are morally ambiguous at best, and thus something companies won't touch here in the U.S. due to the political repercussions. Much safer for them to conduct such research and development outside the U.S.

    • Take up landscaping.
    • Re:Depressing... (Score:4, Informative)

      by Raiford ( 599622 ) on Saturday December 28, 2002 @06:50PM (#4973591) Journal
      If you are getting a B.S. in CS or CE and find yourself having a hard time finding a job then check out getting a teaching position at a local technical college. Places that offer associates degrees in IT often hire bachelor's grad and are happy to get folks with honest computer science degrees or engineering degrees. You might even find the work rewarding which will make up for the lower pay. Hey it's better than being unemployed.

      • Re:Depressing... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by DeadMoose ( 518744 ) on Saturday December 28, 2002 @06:57PM (#4973625)

        That being said, please make sure you have at least some form of a clue before you start teaching others.

        Back in high school, I took some CS classes at my local community college to start building up credits to transfer later. There's nothing more disgusting than watching a teacher giving wrong information in a technical class. I'd regularly get into arguments with him in class for up to 10 minutes about how "No, see the little ampersand? You're making a pointer to a POINTER, and reading something COMPLETELY DIFFERENT INTO IT!"

        Hopefully someone who actually has gotten a degree in CS would do a little better, but after dealing with most of my classmates, I can't say I have too much faith.

      • by billstewart ( 78916 ) on Saturday December 28, 2002 @08:10PM (#4973852) Journal
        If you're going to teach, it's really helpful if you take a course or two in teaching methods, and a course in technical writing. Toastmaters wouldn't hurt either, if you haven't picked up equivalent experience at work. You really need to know how to do things like preparing lesson plans, having some clue about pacing if you're teaching a semester-long course as opposed to a one-night session, and in general how to talk without being boring, or scatterbrained, or running out of material, and it helps a lot to know about different learning styles that different people have, because some of your students will be great at abstract thought, some will be really concrete, some will be intuitives who get a lot out of examples if you've given them principles first while others do better with a few examples before you give them principles, but at least half the class learns differently than you do.

        No need to do that at MIT or Stanford; your local community college can teach you that just as well. Real-world experience is always valuable too, of course, but the only way to get it is to teach people in the real world :-)

        Remember the worst teachers you had in college? Besides the grad student who didn't speak English, there was that old guy who droned on and on and rambled without getting to the point, and the guy who discovered halfway through the semester that the class had only gotten through a third of the programming projects he'd planned for the semester, so he'd have to double your workload for the second half? All of them were nice people I'd studied under, one was a co-worker teaching a night course, and the last one really was a good teached but I had to drop a humanities elective to be able to finish his course instead. You could be one of them, or you could be a much better teacher than that.

    • No, whats depressing is having already gotten a BS in Computer Science and after finding no work for 6 months, doing dsl tech support. Oh joy.

      "what version of windows are you using?"
      "its a dell."
    • whats even more depressing is losing jobs to people with a BS but with little or no experience. I don't have a BS but I have 8 years of experience.
    • Re:Depressing... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SCHecklerX ( 229973 ) <thecaptain@captaincodo.net> on Saturday December 28, 2002 @07:13PM (#4973680) Homepage
      Any advice?

      Yeah. How about remembering that you aren't going to college to be trained for a job. You are going there to learn something and perhaps broaden your knowledge in many subject areas, hopefully making you a bit of a better person.

      I never could figure out people who go to college expecting to be trained for a certain job. If you want that, go to a trade school.

      I graduated with a degree in Aerospace just as the Clinton administration took over. Military cuts == bye bye aerospace (although, in hindsight, if I'd focused on rockets and satellites instead of aircraft, the communications industry today really kept aerospace jobs around). But IT jobs are easy to come by, less stressful, and pay much better than anything an entry level engineer could hope for, so it's all good.

      Programming is something you should do to support your real job. Get over it.

      • Re:Depressing... (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Yeah. How about remembering that you aren't going to college to be trained for a job. You are going there to learn something and perhaps broaden your knowledge in many subject areas, hopefully making you a bit of a better person.

        Yeah, right... thats the ideal but in practice we all know thats not the way things go down. i graduated with a B.S. in biomedical engineering... after all the engineering courses (fluids, thermo, mechanics, etc) all the required math courses (one class shy of a minor!!!), all the required technical electives and required, non-substitutable "core" classes (which were a joke), I ended up with 4 free elective classes. (How do you expect to broaden your knowledge in many subject areas in 12 credit hours worth of work?)

        And really, thats the way engineering is. If you had a different experience then you probably didn't get as thorough education in engineering as I did.

        I never could figure out people who go to college expecting to be trained for a certain job. If you want that, go to a trade school.

        for all intents and purposes, the college of engineering IS a trade school.

        But IT jobs are easy to come by, less stressful, and pay much better than anything an entry level engineer could hope for, so it's all good.

        IT jobs Less Stressful? Obviously you've never worked one. I've worked as a Mechanical Engineer and also as a C programmer. I'll consider that comment of yours as pure Flamebait.


        Programming is something you should do to support your real job. Get over it.


        Quality software is what drives the economy of the world, from banking to travel to communications and beyond. You sound so bitter because maybe you went in to the wrong field perhaps?
      • Re:Depressing... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by thelexx ( 237096 )
        "Programming is something you should do to support your real job. Get over it."

        Right, and we all know how much world class software has been written by accountants, HR and marketing people. And how many VB jockeys even know who Donald Knuth is. Spare me.


        • Actually, Initially I agreed with your comment but then I realized that actually may be the direction we are heading, in that programming will become a part of what you but all you do.
          Especially if you are programming to do things, then just like in the academic field where physics, biologists, chemists are expected to know how to program because that is where a lot of research is being done, I think likewise in the healthfield you are getting more doctors how are designing the medical software because they know what is needed to get things done and not have it mediated by a programming team that has not a clue on the real intent of the product code.

          Anyway, thanks for the interesting post and hope to hear some replies
          • Re:Depressing... (Score:4, Insightful)

            by cduffy ( 652 ) <charles+slashdot@dyfis.net> on Saturday December 28, 2002 @09:41PM (#4974299)
            I think likewise in the healthfield you are getting more doctors how are designing the medical software because they know what is needed to get things done and not have it mediated by a programming team that has not a clue on the real intent of the product code.

            Well, that's why we work reeeal close with the doctors -- keep one down the hall who can tell us when he wants something done different, and several more elsewhere on staff. The programming team doesn't do all that much "mediating" when our customer is right there providing instant feedback on how we propose to implement the features (and UI) he requests.

            Having a team of competant programmers who act at a doctor's direction is much more effective than trying to expect reliable, scalable, secure software to be created by someone whose years of training and experience have been in a completely different field. I'd no sooner take over my CEO's place as an emergency room physician or our CMO's former job as a GP than see either of them try to write code. Large-scale software design, like medicine, requires specialisation and experience; trying to write or design software without the programmers is every bit as bad an idea as trying to perform surgery without the surgeons.
      • Move to China.

        I'm serious. I have a Chinese friend who reports that the pay over there for Westerners is extremely high, while living costs are almost nothing. The country is throwing billions of dollars trying to ramp up for the new century. --And to host the next Olympics, don't forget. If you're white and you know technology, then you have a job and you'll make a mint. The governments of the West prefer not to advertise this to their citizens for obvious reasons, but the word is real. You want to live well and make a stellar living? Then pack your bags. China is the new America.


        -Fantastic Lad

        • China is the new America.

          Really?

          http://iso.hrichina.org/iso/ [hrichina.org]
          http://www.christusrex.org/www1/sdc/hr_facts.html [christusrex.org]
          http://www.derechos.org/human-rights/nasia/china/ [derechos.org]
          http://www.hrw.org/asia/china.php [hrw.org]

          Or you could listen to the Chinese government propaganda...
          http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/zhuanti/Zhuanti_ 29.html [peopledaily.com.cn]
        • Flamebait. As a foreigner who worked in China (left in 99) and still maintains ties with people there, I can tell you that things are hardly as rosy as painted above. It's true that multinationals who have just recently gotten into China are on the hunt for "white" professionals due to their distrust for local talent/work ethics. However, due to the extreme cost differential between local and foreign workers, any "white" foreigner can pretty much expect to be replaced within 2 years by a local employee.

          Any company that has been around for more than a couple of years has a large local staff, even of technical people. Upper management may be foreign, but that's maybe 1 position in 20. Getting that position is also extremely tough - even in 99, at the height of the tech boom in the US, you would find highly skilled foreigners in China working for only equity. We're talking about ivy league grads with years of work experience. The best way to get an upper management position was either to get transfered over from headquarters (i.e. home country of multinational) or to be best drinking buddies with the local General Manager.

          This of course does not take into account the difficulties of legally acquiring a work permit in China, finding affordable housing, etc.

          Working in China is quite an experience and I would recommend it for the adventurous. But don't expect to make a bundle of money or get a cushy job. I'm not sure such a position exists anywhere in the world anymore.

    • Re:Depressing... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by peterpi ( 585134 ) on Saturday December 28, 2002 @07:15PM (#4973688)
      Here's a bit of advice:

      If you find yourself earning shitloads of money in a too-good-to-be-true hyped up area of business (can you say dot-com?), it's possible that it really is too good to be true. Try saving a little bit of your insane salary for when the bubble bursts.

    • Re:Depressing... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by freeweed ( 309734 )
      I don't know, almost every one of the people who graduated this year from CS at my university had a job lined up (and sometimes several other offers) before they even graduated.

      Perhaps Canada really has stayed above water compared the US? Or are our degrees considered less commonplace?
    • by wackybrit ( 321117 ) on Saturday December 28, 2002 @08:00PM (#4973831) Homepage Journal
      It's only depressing when you've applied for hundreds of jobs and not landed a single interview. Until that point, it's an adventure, and if you don't treat it like one, people will see straight through you.

      Remember, skills alone do not get jobs. It's all about personality, especially in today's business climate.

      If you're a frosty sub-zero sort, you're going to be sailing down Shit's Creek with a turd for a paddle, even if you have that MCSE and PhD. Smile a lot, be genuine, and you're going to go much further than the typical money-hungry graduate.

      Remember, smaller companies are all about personality, and you're probably going to be dealing with someone who owns the company, or at least makes a whole ton of decisions. Love these people and win their respect, and you'll get a job.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      My advice is to pick another career and get started while you're still young enough to switch.

      The majority of people I know in the business (many of whom have over a decade of experience, several of whom are MIT) have been out of work for over a year, with no sign of future prospects. I myself am looking at the end of my latest project with no prospects for the coming year.

      Almost all of the CS kids I know who graduated in spring 2002 are still not employed in their field. It's no surprise, with the job market saturated with seasoned professionals who are willing to work as cheap as summer interns once did.

      The H1-B visa quota insures whatever work isn't getting jobbed out to India is getting done by Indians here working for "fair market wages" that are usually around $15-$25 an hour.

      At various times in the last 2 years, tens of thousands of engineers were hitting the job market a week. This has ebbed and flowed, but basically the bloodletting appears to be continuing unabated, and with the non-response to the corporate scandals we've had from Bush, together with the coming war and the outrageous consolidation that's continuing to occur in various industries, I cannot realistically expect it to get better within the next year or two - in fact, the smart money is on it getting worse.

      I'm sorry kid. It may seem bad, but look on the bright side; at least you don't have a house/family/dog to support. Imagine what it's like for the old timers - people are losing everything.
    • by blixel ( 158224 ) on Saturday December 28, 2002 @10:32PM (#4974495)
      Any advice?

      Porn.

      Find a cute girl and use your computer skills to build and maintain a website for her. No matter how bad things get, people still jack off.
    • We've got it bad? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DesScorp ( 410532 )
      Could you be any more depressed?

      Sure, you could be an Indian tech support worker or programmer working for a few dollars an hour.

      Hey, better yet, you could be an Indian with NO tech skills whatsoever, doing menial labor for barely enough money to survive. And maybe not even that much.

      This also applies to any third world country. Yes, we're going through what we consider a rough time, but I'll take our rough times over third-world rough times any day of the week, thanks.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 28, 2002 @06:39PM (#4973548)
    I thought it said techies were getting laid for peanuts. No chance of that ever happening though. Heh.
  • by starnix ( 636547 ) on Saturday December 28, 2002 @06:40PM (#4973550)
    Boy, when I was looking at what to go to school for everyone said "Learn computers, you will always have a job". What a crock that turned out to be.
    • Re:Job Security (Score:2, Insightful)

      by hector13 ( 628823 )
      Boy, when I was looking at what to go to school for everyone said "Learn computers, you will always have a job". What a crock that turned out to be.
      That is probably the biggest reason for the current problem: so many schools churned out so many half-ass "IT professionals" that there is just way too much supply out there. With competition from countries like India, mere programmers are becoming a commodity (perhaps they should be?).
      • Re:Job Security (Score:3, Insightful)

        Programmers aren't the only people who "learn computers", though: sysadmins do it, too.

        I think that system administration, unlike most kinds of software development, is becoming a trade. Think plumbing, or HVAC technician. Every company has servers these days (and if they don't, they will soon), and every company needs people to manage them. Just like every company has a Facilities department.

        The problem with the whole "learn computers, always be employed" idea is that it doesn't specify that you're supposed to learn the boring parts of computers--the parts that are most like being a plumber or an HVAC repair technician.

        I'll bet you the guy working on better cash register algorithms for NCR has pretty good job security. I'll also bet he doesn't get rockstar pay or benefits, or as much "excitement" as the guys on the dev team for Loudclowns [loudcloud.com].

        • Disclaimer: I worked for them 7 years ago, and times have changed a lot :-)

          These days, a cash register is a PC with some non-standard peripherals, like a cash drawer and a weird keyboard, which is networked to a server in the back room. Seven years ago, for reasons I didn't understand, the cash register part of the company did hardware development, but the software was mostly done by third parties. Some registers ran on Unix, some ran on OS/2, some ran on proprietary OSs, a few were running DOS or Win3.x, and all of them had various issues with their programming interfaces and toolkits, and the backroom servers might be Unix but often were still IBM. The networking was often an IBM retail-oriented twisted-pair network that did longer distances but slower speeds than 10baseT.

          And no, the hardware developers didn't get rockstar pay, they got stuff 1970s-big-stuffy-dull-corporation pay and benefits. Some of the sales people got rockstar pay, in good years.

    • by kfg ( 145172 )
      when a child was looking at higer education, his/her parents were likely to say something along the lines of, "That's nice dear, but why don't you learn a trade. That way you'll always have something to fall back on."

      It turns out Granny knew something about sucking eggs. Go figure.

      KFG
    • Re:Job Security (Score:3, Interesting)

      by iggymanz ( 596061 )
      heh, when I entered college in the early 80's it was engineering that was The Hot Thing. By the time I graduated, it was Computers...which is where I ended up working for 16 years. Having been laid off in April, I've been spending the last 8 months building the software for a startup with 2 of my laid off friends. Now that the softare is essentially done, we're finishing up the business case and will be looking to sign up clients in the next 2 months. No pay for the last 8 months, but at least there's no gap on my resume, and I'm learning alot of new things.
  • Charity? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by chrisseaton ( 573490 ) on Saturday December 28, 2002 @06:41PM (#4973559) Homepage
    If you're not doing anything that gets paid, why not work for a charity?
  • heh. (Score:5, Funny)

    by pb ( 1020 ) on Saturday December 28, 2002 @06:42PM (#4973561)
    Yeah, really, who would ever write software for FREE?
  • I've got to talk to my boss about a raise on Monday...
  • by LordOfYourPants ( 145342 ) on Saturday December 28, 2002 @06:45PM (#4973577)
    I'd rather ask for $100 a week and blow it all at the race track. Your odds are better and at least you know whether or not you've flown the coop within the span of minutes as opposed to excruciating months or years.

    The value of stocks seem to have no logical basis anymore. Remember the big IPOs when most rational people were thinking "How can a company that gives away its product make money?" while watching stock values rise to $280 a share? Add to that so many daytraders that the fluctuating prices mean absolutely nothing.

    On top of that you have well-paid economists that can only explain the past and not the future and you have a self-feeding network of greed.

    There's an episode of The Nature of Things about statistics. Someone from the Toronto Star did an experiment a few years back where she threw darts at a stock listing in order to choose investments. She outperformed a pool of 10 investors 2 years in a row. Obviously you'd have to do it over a longer time, but I think it's amusing how little a difference there is between chance and skill in the world of investing.
    • Well, 86.4% of all statistics are made up on the spot by an idiot.
    • by BoomerSooner ( 308737 ) on Saturday December 28, 2002 @07:19PM (#4973697) Homepage Journal
      All you need to do is take a real Financial Planning Course. Something real is taught by a CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) not a CFP (Certified Financial Planner) since I could pass the CFP without studying (I have a degree in Finance). A CFA is like a CPA, you've really got to know your shit.

      Anyone that is investing solely in the Stock Market gets what they deserve. There are simple rules to becoming financially secure.

      1: Insurance is the most important purchase you make. (If you get lucky enough to make a few million and then a tragedy strikes all your work is for nothing.)

      2: Chose a good career. You can be a success in anything but some fields are easier than others.

      3: Save a % of your income always. Living below your means allows you to keep your head above water when the chips are down.

      4: Invest in a home (mortgage) before the market. It gives people without their own business one of the few tax write offs, and you're accruing equity instead of throwing money away on rent. (My house was purchased via FHA loan with $2000 down and I got lucky and bought from a buyer that was willing to accept paying closing costs to sell the house at their asking price, which saved $4000+)

      5: Don't trust others to invest your money, do your own research and diversify (not stock diversification but REAL diversification, stocks, bonds, T-Bills, CD's, Real-Estate, Tangable Assets (Gold), ...) to a percentage that gives you the return you desire at a risk level you're willing to take.

      If people took 1/2 the care in researching their investments as they do in buying a car, house, dvd player, ..., there would be a lot less problems in dealing with money. Remember you're smart enough to earn it, you are smart enough to invest it.

      6: Don't follow what the street says, if you did you were buying RHAT at 230 and Global Crossing at 180. When things seem crazy they probably are.

      7: Continue to learn through out your career. You never know where you might end up. You don't want to be the 50 year old that everyone at work is suggesting the book "Who moved my cheese" for light reading.

      8: Don't try to hit a home run with your investments. Sometimes several base hits gets you more runs. (Take the sure thing, instead of the high risk/high reward).

      Juste mon deux francs.
  • was sub-par for a first job. I hope neither myself nor any of you are forced to do such a thing again.

    As for working for free, I've been doing it as the lead programmer for this company [dnsart.com] that I started with my friends four years ago. I do it because its fun, not because I think that the stock will ever be worth anything. We are too kind hearted to charge for our software.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Same story different source, most of the people in these situations are either a) product/project managers or b) marketers/sales people. Talented engineers and programmers can always find work, if they are willing to relocate.
  • foot in the door (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 28, 2002 @06:48PM (#4973587)
    a jobless friend of mine volunteered to work for free at a company that he desired employement with.

    about 3 months later they hired him.

    his work ethic got noticed, and a several people figured out he was too valuable to let go.

    My opinion? I know a lot of techs with good work ethics...and I think that some of the managers now had a name and a face and they only had good things to say about him.

    when a slot came open....instead of interviewing hundreds of hungry techs...they hired him.
    • He should be arrested. He's just as bad as Microsoft. By working for free (which is illegal for the company to have accepted) he has locked out all of the competitors for that job who aren't able to undercut free.

      Minimum wage. It's not just a good idea. It's the law.
      • Re:foot in the door (Score:3, Informative)

        by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 )
        Ummmmmmm. No.

        It is perfectly legal to provide your services for free, be it to an individual or to a company. It is illegal for a company to pay you less than minimum wage if you are employeed by them, but you are free to give them help just because you want to.

        Check the law books.
        • Helping, yes. You can be a contractor who gets paid less than minimum wage or even zero. However, if you act like an employee (Work at times of their choosing, not your own, use mostly their equipment instead of mostly your equipment, create IP that they own rather than IP that you own and let them borrow, etc.) then you are an employee. No agreement can change that.
  • by Reality Master 101 ( 179095 ) <RealityMaster101&gmail,com> on Saturday December 28, 2002 @06:51PM (#4973596) Homepage Journal

    Miles Locker, attorney for the California labor commissioner, said it's against the state labor code for employers to offer stock options as compensation if they're not paying workers at least the minimum wage. All workers in California must be paid at least $6.75 an hour, plus any applicable overtime. He said it doesn't matter if the worker has agreed to work for less.

    This is why I hate government interference in the economy. I once worked for a company and developed their product for free, in exchange for future consideration. This was probably illegal in California, but OH MY GOD I did it anyway. It eventually turned into a full-time employment and a really sweet royalty agreement.

    If I had followed my oh-so-compassionate government and not allowed myself to be "exploited", I wouldn't have earned a pretty good pile of money.

    Obviously that's not the norm and not what the minimum wage is intended for, but "unintended consequences" are what happen when the government screws with things. Of course, let's not even get into how many poor people are locked out of any job at all because of minimum wage...

    • by Daniel Dvorkin ( 106857 ) on Saturday December 28, 2002 @07:14PM (#4973685) Homepage Journal
      This is why I hate government interference in the economy.
      Like, say, minting money, issuing articles of incorporation, insuring bank accounts, creating and enforcing laws against fraud ...

      All governments regulate the economy to some degree. The only question is how much. "Free market" vs. "government interference" is a false dichotomy, a Randoid fantasy.

      Obviously that's not the norm and not what the minimum wage is intended for
      Exactly. Minimum wage laws exist for a reason. Read some history and see what working conditions were like before we had minimum wage and other labor laws. You may disagree with exactly how those laws operate, but we need them or something very like them to prevent some truly horrible abuses.

      but "unintended consequences" are what happen when the government screws with things
      Been paying attention to the news lately? What happens when the government doesn't screw with things isn't so hot either. Private industry's track record in foreseeing unintended consequences is just as lousy as government's, perhaps more so.

      Of course, let's not even get into how many poor people are locked out of any job at all because of minimum wage...
      I've heard this before, and given how low minimum wage is (much, much lower in real dollars than when the law was first enacted) I have to say I'm skeptical. Evidence, please.
      • I've heard this before, and given how low minimum wage is (much, much lower in real dollars than when the law was first enacted) I have to say I'm skeptical. Evidence, please.

        Example? Guess why there are no ushers in movie theatres anymore, nor anyone washing your windows at gas stations. Teenagers used to do those jobs for low wages. But who is going to hire people for those jobs for minimum wage, plus unemployment insurance, plus matched social security?

        • But who is going to hire people for those jobs for minimum wage, plus unemployment insurance, plus matched social security?

          Can you say "part-time job"? Apparently not.

          You don't see ushers because there has been a change in attitude where companies no longer give a damn about their customers... If having one less usher will improve the bottom line, then he's gone.

          Hey, it would be trivial for theatres to clean up between shows, but that would cost $1 more per hour so that's out of the question... Meanwhile companies wonder why they are loosing so much business, and respond to that lost business by making the situation even worse.
      • by thelexx ( 237096 ) on Saturday December 28, 2002 @08:26PM (#4973895)
        All governments regulate the economy to some degree. The only question is how much. "Free market" vs. "government interference" is a false dichotomy, a Randoid fantasy.

        You are overstating it. Before the advent of the Federal Reserve, eventual move to a baseless currency and the adoption of a debt-based economy, things were pretty good. Jefferson had this shit nailed two hundred years ago:

        "...we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt...If we run into such debts as that we must be taxed in our meat and in our drink, in our necessities and comforts, in our labors and in our amusements, for our callings and our creeds...our people...must come to labor 16 hours in the 24, give the earnings of 15 of these to the government for their debts and daily expenses; and the 16th being insufficient to afford us bread,...We have no time to think, no means of calling the mis-managers to account; but be glad to obtain subsistence by hiring ourselves, to rivet their chains on the necks of our fellow sufferers. Our land holders, too...retaining indeed the title and stewardship of estates called theirs, but held really in trust for the treasury...this is the tendency of all human governments."

        "A departure from principle becomes a precedent for a second; that second for a third; and so on, till the bulk of society is reduced to mere automatons of misery, to have no sensibilities left but for sinning and suffering...And the fore horse of this frightful team is public debt. Taxation follows that, and in it's train, wretchedness and oppression."

        "The bold efforts that the present bank has made to control the government and the distress it has wantonly caused, are but premonitions of the fate which awaits the American people should they be deluded into a perpetuation of this institution or the establishment of another like it...If the people only understood the rank injustice of our money and banking system there would be a revolution before morning."

        But what did our founders know? Society was different then. Bullshit. Human nature, especially as concerns power and greed, is ever the same.

        • by Copid ( 137416 )
          You are overstating it. Before the advent of the Federal Reserve, eventual move to a baseless currency and the adoption of a debt-based economy, things were pretty good.

          Yeah, the gold standard combined with no way of controlling the monetary base was pretty swell. Deflation, depression, and massive unemployment in the 1890s comes to mind when thinking of problems that a baseless currency and a strong federal reserve would have mitigated. To be fair, the Great Depression of the 20th century is an example of regulation gone wrong, but just about everything we do now in terms of regulation is done to correct mistakes of the past.

          People may complain about the minimum wage and government regulation of the banking systems, but these regulations don't come out of nowhere. Large scale exploitation of workers, runs on banks, bad-debt banking crises...all of these things happen with unregulated financial systems. It just takes a quick look at our history or the current state of other economies to tell us that.

          But what did our founders know? Society was different then. Bullshit. Human nature, especially as concerns power and greed, is ever the same.

          Bullshit to that. Human nature and greed are certainly the same as they were when Jefferson wrote those words (God knows he was right about just about everything else), but our economy and industries are far different. Complex international lending institutions, insurance companies, securities exchange, and manufacturing were all in their infancy (at best) 200 years ago. Society was different back then. It is because, as you point out, of the fact that human nature hasn't changed that modern economies need government oversight to prevent dangerous system-wide failures.

          As for a debt-based economy, there are some good arguments in favor of a constantly balanced budget, but the ability to run deficits and surpluses depending on the state of the economy would do a lot for California and several other states right now. Perpetual debt is bad, but without the option of temporary debt, I would argue that any large economy would grind to a halt.

        • by tjb ( 226873 )
          Of course, because all that gold served Spain so well.

          What's that? Over 30 state bankruptcies in 200 years? Having half the world granted to them by papal decree and then having to surrender it due to lack of funds? Hey, if we can't pay our bills, the only thing to do is get more gold... /sarcasm

          The gold standard suffers from the exact same inflationary problems as fiat money. If the government needs more gold, they'll just dig it up, like Spain did. And remember, gold-extraction technology is much more advanced now. Besides which, gold is completely unregulatable - if gold is money people are gonna dig it up on their own accord (unless you plan on shooting prospectors).

          The US, and most of the world, was officially or not, off the gold standard by the 1930's. In the US, the myth of a gold standard applied until 1972, at which point there wasn't enough available gold in the world to properly represent the US economy, so the fiction was dropped.

          Since 1935 or so (when the gold standard was mostly dropped), the world economy has grown more than it did in the preceding 1000 years. Having the money supply being restricted artificially by the availability of a particualr metal is like trying to swim wearing cement shoes.

          Tim
    • by StarTux ( 230379 ) on Saturday December 28, 2002 @07:26PM (#4973733) Journal
      You do need some government lookout on the labor market...Otherwise we might have geek workhouses pop up (instead of getting paid with money you get to live in a dry, dark room room and be fed pizza and Mountain Dew...Hey wait, geeks do this already!).

      Maybe you're right :). Having work houses for the unemployed techies would give them a free roof over their heads and they can continue doing what they do and eating what they eat. They wouldn't notice would they?

      StarTux
  • Makes sense to me. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JaredOfEuropa ( 526365 ) on Saturday December 28, 2002 @06:51PM (#4973599) Journal
    If you are unemployed but you can still pay your bills, this beats sitting at home in front of the telly.

    5 Years ago I helped start a small IT consultancy company. I learned tons of stuff, not just IT skills, but things about how companies work, what is actually involved in setting one up, legal issues, finance matters, marketing, etc. etc. Looking back, I would say that experience has been invaluable to me, so much that I'd say it may be worth quitting a paying job for, in some cases.

    Then again, do take a good hard look at those stock options and make sure you'll hit big if the company does take off. You are working for free to build a company, with part of the risk of things not working out falling on your shoulders. But... if it does work out, you should then reap part of the (substantial) rewards as well.
  • by kowalski1971 ( 591702 ) on Saturday December 28, 2002 @06:52PM (#4973604) Homepage
    Whilst I couldn't see myself managing for long without regular compensation, if I was out of work I would definitely consider voluntary/low-paid work simply to keep up to date. There is no easier way of keeping up to date with standards and new technologies than working in your area of expertise (xml/xsl + related in my case). I realize this is only applicable to those who work with technologies that change (I guess most of us here ?) but is still valid for others as its a great way of keeping the brain ticking and looks pretty good on the CV/resume too. Gareth.
  • This is pathetic. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by NineNine ( 235196 )
    I find it really, really pathetic that these "people" (yes, I meant the quotes) have no life outside of work. What most people call work ends for them (ie: performing a task for compensation), and they're lost. They have to do "something". And that "something" is work for free. There sure are a lot of empty, sad people out there. If my life was so empty that I'd rather work for free then do something on my own time, I'd probably shoot myself.
    • They're getting stock options, and when the company they're "volunteering" for starts hiring again, guess who gets first consideration?

      It's better than sitting on their asses collecting unemployment, isn't it?
  • Crisis? What crisis? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Saturday December 28, 2002 @06:52PM (#4973608) Homepage Journal
    Wonder why my employer has only just now managed to fill its programmer vacancies despite having advertised them for about two years?

    In all honestly, these people - where they can, I recognise some have families with other major commitments etc - need to move to where there is work. Yes, salaries are five digits every where other than a few hot spots - but those hot spots (a) are effing expensive to live in and (b) don't have the jobs any more.

    IT remains a growing field. The adjustments in the last couple of years were specific and related to a crash in one, relatively small but high profile, area of the industry. If you're prepared to work for options, consider instead casting your job searching net over a wider area.

  • by billstewart ( 78916 ) on Saturday December 28, 2002 @06:54PM (#4973614) Journal
    A couple of my friends have done this. One of them has been trying for years to start a startup to do something, anything (:-) A few of the projects have gotten up to 20%-likely-to-start phase, but not started, and while the latest project was no better than 5% likely, and probably more like 1%, it's still worth trying to do a business plan for until something better comes along, and it was too early in the fall to get a job at the mall.

    Another friend of mine worked on the project writing the technical side of the business plan. She didn't seriously expect it to turn into money, and she'd have dropped it in a minute if a paying job came along, but it gave her a 3-month job entry on her resume as well. I don't know if she called it a contract or a limited partnership or what.

  • by saphena ( 322272 ) on Saturday December 28, 2002 @06:54PM (#4973616) Homepage
    Working on someone else's idea for nothing seems a particularly unproductive thing to do. Yes, you *might* get *some* future value (but probably not your fair share). You will almost certainly make yourself inelegible for unemployment benefits and you run the risk of getting caught up in the project without ever settling the question of proper remuneration.

    Employers will be reluctant to spend money on good staff when they can already get it for free.

    Why not simply develop your own idea? Maybe it'll work and maybe you'll get rich in the process. If not, what have you lost?

    You still have all the benefits of practising and improving your art, maybe learning new, more marketable skills in the process.
    • by Tim Macinta ( 1052 ) <twm@alum.mit.edu> on Saturday December 28, 2002 @07:32PM (#4973751) Homepage
      Working on someone else's idea for nothing seems a particularly unproductive thing to do. Yes, you *might* get *some* future value (but probably not your fair share). You will almost certainly make yourself inelegible for unemployment benefits and you run the risk of getting caught up in the project without ever settling the question of proper remuneration.
      I've always looked at equity this way too - why work for somebody else for 1, 2, or even 5 percent equity when you can work for yourself for 100% equity? Especially if you aren't getting paid, I can't envision any situation where it would make sense to accept anything less than 20% equity as the bulk of your compensation (certainly, it's OK to accept less equity if you are being paid a reasonbale rate, though). I would even say 20% is too low in most cases because for the same amount of risk you can have 100% of your own company.

      Personally, my core competency is software design and development, so I do think there would be a benefit for me to join an existing company (for equity) where there are people with complementary skills, particularly in the business and sales areas. If I tried to do these other things myself, I probably wouldn't do as good of a job as others. The critical factor, however, is that even though I wouldn't do as good of a job at these other things, I would probably do a good enough job. The tradeoff is between having a small piece of a larger pie (when working with others who are better at selling, etc) or having the entirety of a smaller pie (when working alone). Say that a company were offering me 10% equity (which is unusually high from what I've seen) to work for them - do I really think that by working with others the product would be 900% more successful or that if I were to start my own company I would do 90% worse job at the non-technical aspects of things? The answer has always been "no" for me so far. Everybody should ask this question when considering equity as a substantial form of compensation and adjust the numbers accordingly.

  • by mrsam ( 12205 ) on Saturday December 28, 2002 @06:55PM (#4973621) Homepage
    The sob story in the linked article is about someone who's supposed to be a "product marketing director." That doesn't sound like a techie to me.

    Certainly things are a bit tough out there, no doubt about that. Still, I think that if anyone's in a tight spot right now their time is better spent in hitting the classifieds and the help-wanted ads, instead of sitting around and feeling sorry for themselves.

    I've been doing contract programming for, oh, about ten years now. A little less than a year ago I went back "on the beach." Rather than wringing my hands out, and sharing my sad life's story to anyone who'd care to listen, I diligently looked for work, while at the same time I was studying up and brushing up my skills. I literally went to work each day: got up, went through all the job websites to see what came up overnight, then hitting the man pages, and studying until breaking for lunch. After lunch, another go at the job boards, to see what the pimps uploaded in the morning, then going back to the books until the significant-other finished work and came home.

    Because of that, I picked up a number of good skills before I found a new gig, in early fall; and the stuff that I learned by then is precisely why my current contract just got renewed this week.

    This may not be what people might want to hear, but if you have a good head on your shoulders, buck up, hang on, and don't settle for some cheap job that pays a half of what it should be paying. There's no doubt that companies these days are taking advantage of the soft economy, and using that to get geeks for pennies. I've witnessed this first hand, for almost a year now.

    See here: folks need to understand that companies won't stop abusing geeks as long as the geeks permit themselves to be abused. Fsck them. There were plenty of low paying gigs that I could've taken earlier this summer. But I waited until I found a reasonable gig, at a reasonable pay. And if I didn't? If I took the low-paying jobs that all the headhunters/pimps were calling me about, then now, at the end of the year, I'd end up with the same pile of cash, but instead of picking up new skills over the summer, I would've wasted it in another windowlesss office, for toiling away for chump chnage.

    Of course, a lot of advanced planning is required before you can afford to be on the beach for a prolonged period of time, without much of a lifestyle change. You have to be thinking ahead all the time; if when life was good you should still live a modest lifestyle, and hoard as much cash as you can, instead of blowing it away, living high on the hog. But that's another rant...
  • figure your average weekly hours worked.
    (5dx9-10h) Be sure to include all office hours
    (.5 - 1.5h) plus commuting time
    (5dx1-3h off hours research time at home
    (~4-8h) weekend time on pet projects to keep skills sharp
    ~57.5-77.5 Total hours per week.

    expect about 48 work weeks (2wk vaca,1 wk sick, 1wk holidays)

    hours worked = 2760-3720 hours/yr
    Figure over your career you will go from 32K-120K
    A nice average of 76K/yr

    Leaves you in the hourly rate of $27.50 - $20.43

    Yup you are screwed.
  • by The Tyro ( 247333 ) on Saturday December 28, 2002 @07:00PM (#4973633)
    That has to be hard to swallow; going from a fully-paid, full-benefits employee to a minimally-paid stock-options-only person.

    Stock options only? Considering the life expectancy of some of the Dot-coms out there, you'd be better off working at Taco Bell. Yes, fast food is a job, but it's painful to do with a degree under your belt (I'd expect more liberal arts majors to be doing that). "Hello, tech support desk" becomes "you want any hot sauce with those burritos?" How awful.

    I'm not a tech for a living; strictly a hobbyist. My day job required me to work an slave-labor internship... 100+ hours per week... but even THAT was paid. You can't pay the rent with stock options.

    I don't see how the companies that are employing these folks are getting away with this kind of thing. Whether you agree with it or not, there is a minimum-wage.
  • Alternatives also (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 28, 2002 @07:04PM (#4973645)
    (Yes, I understand that the person in the article is not technical, however there are valuable discussion points):

    I got laid a bit before Thanksgiving, the market is soft, etc, etc. While I get serious about the job hunt (and have rested enough to recover from just plain burnout on my part), I've done a bunch of "free" work for interesting places.

    It's not benefiting corporations, but helping wire up a community center, getting a box read as a firewall and one ready as a mailserver/file server/web server so that they can teach kids computers and how to build web pages is kinda rewarding.

    Do I expect another volunteer to mention me to their company when they have a need? I wouldn't turn it down, but it's not WHY I started.

    Am I learning new skills? Not from this, but I'm doing some stuff in that playground that I've wanted to learn (playing with AFS and LDAP and such).

    Fill your time as you want, gain new skills.
    I'm not too hyped about doing real work for no real compensation (I have plenty of single ply stock options and they chafe - I much prefer the two ply stock options).

  • With McDonalds facing up to a loss for the first time in its history, many servers are finding themselves out of work as the burger giant closes stores across the World.

    All is not lost though, as many of those who previously spent their day deep fryin' hash browns and pulling milk-shakes are having to instead make do finding work as computer programmers or systems administrator, earning as little as USD 100,000 per year.

    The BigMac(TM) bubble has burst, and Fast Food industry analysts predict a year of consolidation before a potential BigMac(TM) revival in 2004. Until then, workers highly trained in deep fat fryers and express lane tills will just have to live as best they can on the salaries of dot com techies.
  • by salesgeek ( 263995 ) on Saturday December 28, 2002 @07:10PM (#4973669) Homepage
    When I'm between jobs I sometimes will volunteer for a charity... It's a great way to network and do something good.

    They call a company that makes money off investors a scam. A company that makes money for investors by selling something to customers a business.

    I don't like the idea of working for a company that will pay me if they get funded... I'd rather work (especially if I'm not being paid) for a company that will pay if we get orders from customers. Businesses should seek to generate INCOME not INVESTMENT. Investors should put their money into companies that can MAKE MONEY. So what about R/D or new concepts? Sometimes they pay off... but most have a 10% chance of surviving the first year.

  • by xj9000 ( 598397 )
    Just like any industry when qualified workers work below their value it brings everyone down. If i freelance at a set price, someone (just as qualified) will under-cut me. Then it devalues EVERYONE's value making it harder for successful freelancers and employees to hold their value. Usually this works itself out because of professionalism and quality. I do alot of HTML and webapplications and when i give my price they are taken back and go look for a high school kid that will do it for peanuts. The difference between me and him is quality and professionalism, but there is no difference between me and a layed-off version of me.
  • "Working for peanuts." You don't hear that phrase very often. My first mental image was of a bunch of A.I. hobbyists resurrecting Charles M. Schultz as a computer program or something...
  • by X-Nc ( 34250 )
    From the article:
    Rather than wait for work that may never come, Perry is part of a small and apparently growing number of highly skilled workers who are accepting so- called equity-only jobs.
    A small number of independently wealthy people. Man, doesn't anyone else have a family to feed and people to take care of? Go flip burgers or drive a garbage truck. Anything you have to do survive.
  • No way, I'd rather work for Kinko's. For one, have too much pride in my own value (which I have lowered a bit), but I would *never* work just for stock options with no actual pay. Its like living for a dream

    If I was on benefits would I risk it? No...Not in my opinion. Most people will end up losing more than they gain and some companies will even be closed due to being sued out of existance...

    How do I keep up skills? Like everyone has always done, be a typical techie and play and learn technology.

    On another note, since when has a marketing type been considered a techie geek?

    StarTux
  • by MattW ( 97290 ) <matt@ender.com> on Saturday December 28, 2002 @07:20PM (#4973704) Homepage
    Now, I can't speak for everyone, but I've only met one product marketing manager who truly qualified for the term 'highly skilled'. The rest were a bunch of marketroid frauds. The one who WAS highly skilled quit the last company I worked at, started his own, and just sold it (in the midst of the horrible recession, no less) to a huge company for well over a hundred million dollars.

    If you're a programmer or other skilled person who can truly create something, do this if you find something you love, but don't do grunt work. Expand yourself. My first hobby -- network security -- turned into my full time job. My hobbies during that job have again become my work. I've cultivated a new set of hobbies, specifically with an eye on turning them into my full time work intentionally. Having had it happen many times, I'm determined to direct it a bit more the next time.

    Good luck to those workers. I hope it works out. But the companies have a bunch of free labor, and you often get what you pay for.
  • It's a hard life. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by agent0range_ ( 472103 ) on Saturday December 28, 2002 @07:23PM (#4973720)
    ... pulled in more than $100,000 per year.

    After she was laid off in September, she and her husband moved to Sonoma County to be closer to their winery, which she manages.


    Boo hoo.
  • A Challenge (Score:3, Interesting)

    by snarfer ( 168723 ) on Saturday December 28, 2002 @07:45PM (#4973787) Homepage
    I challenge any of those posting that people should go get a job, or that if they have good skills they can find a job, etc., to please post their phone number at work, so people can call and ask them who at their company to contact.

    Companies posting job offers in Silicon Valley are getting THOUSANDS of resumes. So give people a break about finding a job, please. It ain't gonna happen. Even Starbucks isn't hiring.

    In fact, if you live in a town where a Starbucks is hiring, please post that.
    • Re:A Challenge (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Klaruz ( 734 ) on Saturday December 28, 2002 @08:58PM (#4974084)
      Oh c'mon, just leave silicon valley. Move to a modest sized city with around a million people in it. Less crime, lower cost of living, and believe it or not, they do use computers.

      I live in Omaha, NE, about 800,000 people in the metro area. Granted, we have a higher than average tech/telecom industry than most cities this size, but it's not too hard to find a job. I had my last day on one job of 4 years on a friday this august and started my new job on a monday. I spent about 5 weeks job hunting. I still get offers for jobs almost 5 months later.

      You may only make $50k a year, but $200,000 buys a really nice house and $800 buys a really nice apartment. I live in a 3br 2500sq foot apt that takes up a whole floor, 2 blocks from a medical center so my neighbors are doctors and med students, and we (2 roommates and I) pay $1000 a month. Starter houses and not as nice 2 br apts are about $125k and $500/mo respecivly. You won't need to pack heat to make it from your car to your door either.

      It's time to cut your losses and say you're willing to relocate.
  • hmm (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nomadic ( 141991 ) <nomadicworld.gmail@com> on Saturday December 28, 2002 @08:10PM (#4973850) Homepage
    I've hoped this has knocked some of the pomposity out of a lot of you; if so, this cloud has a silver lining.

    2 years ago 95% of the people on slashdot were CONVINCED that they would never worry about work, since they were just so amazingly skilled that they could always get a job. Unemployment was for those other people, those liberal arts majors and all the people that made fun of them in high school and aren't we showing them since we're all rich and will stay that way. Oh, guess we won't.
  • A Better Idea... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by meldroc ( 21783 ) <meldroc.frii@com> on Saturday December 28, 2002 @08:15PM (#4973865) Homepage Journal
    The fact is that ninety-nine plus percent of those companies who are employing people for options are not going to end up with stock that's worth anything.

    So if you have to work for free, do it for yourself and start a project. At least you won't be deluding yourself into thinking your getting money when you're not.

    You'll be able to work on exactly what you want to work on, and all the fruits of your labor will be yours in the end, even if it has no dollar value. You can sell your project if anyone will buy it, or you can give it away under the GPL and get karma++.
  • The job gap! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AtariDatacenter ( 31657 ) on Saturday December 28, 2002 @08:51PM (#4974051)
    I've only seen one person say this, and it was in passing. Probably one of the major benefits of this is not having a huge gaping hole in your resume. "Let's see, you've been unemployed for 8 months now? Well, sounds like we want to pick you right up!" The benefits are most important in the immediate term.

    Although the parallels aren't exact, I think of it as selling a home. A just-on-the-market home is going to look far more appealing than one that has become a stale property. Everyone wonders, "what is wrong with this that it hasn't sold?"

    There are some interesting parallels to this and what happened when the domestic oil market bottomed out... was that early 80s? Lots of unemployed oil workers (yes, even technical types). They eventually shifted into sales or other things. Here, I think they're trying to ride it out. I don't think it is going to make for a good recovery (pent-up worker demand for jobs).
  • by linuxlover ( 40375 ) on Saturday December 28, 2002 @09:09PM (#4974138) Homepage
    Most of the laid -off people I have seen are in this category
    - novice graphic designers (2 yrs exp). Most of them working some totally unrelated field then saw the dot-com boom, went for a quick diploma, and joined the 'hi-tech' companies

    - marketting types..

    - 'irritable' programmers, who think all programming is pressing that button in Visual Studio IDE. These are again the 'quick-buck' types, who doesn't know what a 'stack' is..

    All my friends who are real techies (programmers / engineers / sys admins) are still employed. Sure they don't get 20% raises these days. But they still have a job.

    This just my observation, I am NOT saying who ever doesn't have a job is not a real techie. What do other slashdotters think?

    please no flames.
  • This is illegal! (Score:3, Informative)

    by LostCluster ( 625375 ) on Saturday December 28, 2002 @09:41PM (#4974297)
    The article points this out. There are minimum wage laws. You CANNOT legally pay an employee strictly with stock options, or even stock. You have to give him at least the state minimum wage in spendable money.

    You cannot agree to be an independant contractor and then behave like an employee. If it quacks like a duck, it's a duck in this case. If you behave like an employee (go to work at the hours they appoint, use their equipment and not yours, etc.) they cannot file a 1099 form and say that makes you a contractor... it just means they've filled out the wrong form.
  • Not a techie (Score:5, Informative)

    by sleeperservice ( 62645 ) on Saturday December 28, 2002 @11:07PM (#4974657)
    The person initially described by the article isn't a techie. She's a product manager, a part of marketing. She's a great example of the kind of person with "soft" skills who made obscene money in the "heyday" and were laid off in droves.

    Remember the person who called you 3 times a day to wholly change the design of the product you and your team were developing?

    Remember the person who came to work at 10 and whose job seemed to consist largely of kibbutzing?

    Remember the person who promised the client the world and told you it needed to be done in 2 weeks, without being able to understand the architecture overhaul that would be necessary to implement the changes?

    Remember the person who asked you, the Sr. Developer, why their email wasn't working (assuming you could and would fix it as a top priority)?

    I'm sure there are lots of real techies struggling to get by these days. In fact, I know some of them. Let's hear more about these people. That would be more relevant.

    But I'm tired of hearing the sob stories of non-technical "soft-skilled" people who fanned the flames of the nascent Internet boom by helping to hype products and ideas that weren't tangible, pulling down 6-figure salaries for spouting off ideas with no grounding in technical realities, and then blaming the technical folks when things didn't materialize (because they couldn't).

What this country needs is a good five dollar plasma weapon.

Working...