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The Almighty Buck

Tech Industry And Money 117

technotron writes " The latest from Bob Cringley is out on the Web. This time around, he talks about people who start start-ups with their money, and have reached the point of having so much money, they just keep starting more, but also mostly about the people in the tech industry, and the quality of life. "
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Tech Industry And Money

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  • I'm in the tech industry. I'm a poor geek boy. Wheres the justice?

    Your problem is you think that hard work that actually involves touching a computer is what will be rewarded!

    Forget that, what you need is a half-baked web-related idea, add "e" to the front of your company's name, practice smiling and exuding arrog^h^h^h^h^h confidence from every pore, and BLAMMO! Wealth, which is, of course, the true measure of human worth.

    God I love society's priorities =)

  • by tuffy ( 10202 ) on Thursday September 16, 1999 @11:57PM (#1676937) Homepage Journal
    I'd program stuff even if I wasn't paid for it. The fact that I can pick up better hardware or a couple DVDs now and then is just an added bonus. I don't have a million bucks, but if I did I'd still be programming in the mornings - maybe different programs, but programs just the same. Spending is nice, but seeing something grow and flourish feels a whole lot nicer.
  • A commendable attitude, but of lot of it is about age and circumstance. when I was 21, all i wanted was to play guitar at gigs every night, I earned a pittance and didnt care about earning more. Now im almost 30, have a mortgage and work for whoever pays the big bucks. Also its not just about you wanting the bucks, its a case of not wanting someone else to earn them off your back. If i code something and it sells, i want the money, not just because i like the money, but because if anyone deserves it, its me not a suit. Even so, if i earned megabux id give most of it to Greenpeace :-)
  • Right On!!

    If I had enough money that I didn't have to "work" anymore, I'd still be programming. It's just that instead of spending 8-12 hours a day programming for my company, I'd be spending 4-6 hours on my own pet projects, and doing other (non-computer related, I do have a life outside computers) stuff.
  • by decipher_saint ( 72686 ) on Friday September 17, 1999 @12:07AM (#1676944) Homepage
    I hate the way the IT industry operates (at least where I am). We push ourselves to put out product on time (which always requires OT) and we work the extra hours. But where I work we don't get overtime pay OR banked hours. So basically to meet the PHB's unreasonable deadlines I put in time and work for free.

    The problem is, everybody does it 'cause they're too afraid of losing their jobs and being replaced!(we have a glut of unemployed IT people here)

    This is what it's like for me, at least.

  • Good programmers are in very high demand. If you don't like ths situation you're in, find another one. Or negotiate a better one where you are right now.

    Put it in your contract that you only work 40 hour weeks. Or find a place that pays you to work 60 hour weeks.

  • by Signal 11 ( 7608 ) on Friday September 17, 1999 @12:14AM (#1676947)
    That's a common misconception. Simply going into the computer industry will not make you a million bucks and have you be the envy of your peers.

    Sure, some people get paid a nice sum - but not everybody. I'd even say - not the majority. I suspect that most slashdotters are in the same situation I am - slaving away in 60-80 hour work weeks fixing [y2k/server problem/failed router/late programming project]. Vacation is a joke, and so's your chances for getting one. While it may look nice to be getting paid $22 an hour.. after you break down the number of hours you really work... that figure drops down alot. And in silicon valley anyway, the cost of living is dramatically higher than in other parts of the country, further eating into your wallet (or so I've heard from people that live there).

    TANSTAAFL. It's a motto to live by. There's no free and easy money in this industry, or any other. You gotta work for it. And maybe, just maybe, you might actually luck out and make some real money doing it.

    --

  • Pretty funny that this particular Cringely was considered slashdot worthy straight after the Andover IPO story

    Or am I just seeing too much subtext in everything

  • If you're too facinated with what's on your computer screen to look at what's going on in the real world, you deserve to be taken advantage of. At the very least, by failing to care about the realities of life outside your computer, you give up the right to complain about the people who are movers and shakers taking advantage of you.

    People with technical skills are blessed with an opportunity to do something exciting and be very successful doing it. Shame on you if you're too captivated with your work to make anythign of yourself.
  • But this time from the other side of the wall... the executives.

    This is mildly disturbing. Push push push, money money money, and the last line of the article puts it all into a perspective...

    These people don't have hobbies. They don't read books or paint or travel. They do this. They have nothing else to do. There is no way out.

    Sorry. If this was my lifestyle, I'd find a way out after I made myself disgustingly wealthy where I wouldn't have to work again and be well off.

    Again from the article, "There is no real estate left to buy without leaving the Valley, and nobody can risk doing that," says Winblad. "So there will be no big estates."

    I'd buy an island. Screw it. What good is it if you can't enjoy it. You definitely "can't take it with you" after you die, so what are you doing with it? Commendable that they don't want to see their parents in a [retirement/old age] home. I sure don't want to see mine in one either. What happens, time will only tell.

    For 5 to 7 years I might be able to be into this lifestyle. Sorry, I just don't understand how people can do this for a life.

    There's more to life than work. Work to live, don't live to work -- as I always say when these California-work-a-life stories come around.

    Then again, maybe that's why I'm an employee, not an employer. Then again I've seen more than 75% of the US in my travels. Over the next years I'll off to Europe. Co-workers have been as far as Kuala Lumpur. What kind of life is it if you can't leave 408, 415, 510, 650 and/or 925?

    -m
  • In my area it seems to be similar. Where is this great shortage of "computer people" I keep hearing about? In "the valley?" Please. Nobody *really* wants to live and work there unless you plan on dying from pollution, ulcers and/or a stress-induced coronary at 35. And so I hear about yet another area with no tech jobs, yet a bunch of 'tech' people. All the while more and more programmers from India get off the boat.... Maybe it just hasn't proliferated throughout the entire country yet. I dunno. Maybe there's just too many 'NT-heads' who couldn't use a CLI to save themselves, and everyone's realizing that it doesn't take a rocket scientist (or a good CS-oriented person) to point-n-click.
  • The situation you describe is precisely what has promoted the explosive growth of the contractor market. It allows you to practice your skills while negociating as a peer with those that pay you, instead of working as a slave.

    Now it's up to you. Either go freelance or continue to moan about your plight, the cluelessness of PHBs, and the iniquities of the situation.
  • probably something along of the lines of knowing the difference between how something works and why it works.

  • http://www.pathfinder.com/fortune/ forty/wir.html [pathfinder.com]

    is Fortune's look at what money has done to SV culture, and what SV residents do with their money. Fortune's conclusion is that people are more afraid than happy, and that money has become the only way of keeping score.

    I doubt that; the survivors of General Magic are still regarded with respect, even though they didn't make a dime. Nonetheless, the article seems mostly accurate to me.

    I'd love to move to SV, but I dread getting trapped there by an underwater mortgage. I've lived through the collapse of a housing bubble (Rte 128 in Boston after the minicomputer collapse in the late 80s). It's no fun making payments on a mortgage that's 120% of the house's value. And you can forget about refinancing, even when the rates drop...

  • by Rene S. Hollan ( 1943 ) on Friday September 17, 1999 @12:37AM (#1676957)
    I lived there for 36 years until I came to the U.S. on an TN-1 (now H1B) visa two years ago. While I can't speak for everyone, I expect that my experience is typical:

    1. If you quit at a bad time, you're likely to be blacklisted as "unreliable", and not be able to get another job.

    2. If you're unemployed for any length of time, it is harder to get another job (some employers require periods of unemployment to be accounted for when applying for a job).

    3. Overtime only has to be paid to salaried employees to the extent that you make minimum wage for 37-1/2 hours a week (maybe 40 some places), and 150% of that over 40 hours a week. There are special rules for working holidays, etc.

    4. Two years ago, there was a real glut of IT people hungry for your job.

    5. In Quebec, skills don't matter -- you have to communicate in French to get a job (i.e. it is a legal requirement) and can get fired if you don'd do it well enough. English-speaking IT people constantly have to prove that they speak French well enough.

    6. Some of the issues above (like periods of unemployment mattering when applying for a job) are clearly illegal. But, in Canada, a lawyer can't take a case on a contingency basis. In practice, this means that if you're not independantly wealthy (i.e. need a job in the first place), or the beneficiary of a charity, you can't sue.

    7. In Canada, the IT worker is in a "select, priveleged" profession and earns a high salary (typically US$35,000 when I left, though I earned more). Because of the socialist climate, such people are considered a "resource" and are expected to "support" the country via taxation on their earnings. Not working, threatinging to not work, or anything that would mean not getting paid, is considered "anti-social".



  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 17, 1999 @12:37AM (#1676958)
    ...but seeing something grow and flourish feels a whole lot nicer.

    The first time a project that you've worked on for over six months is cancelled a week before it goes into production, because some suit up in the hierachy is having turf battles with someone else while they're out playing golf... then you will feel your naiveness crack and your "I just love to program" attitude be rent asunder. Then you will join us old and bitter coders on the Dark Side -- where no one places their fingers on the keyboard until the check clears.
  • If there is no skills shortage where you are then business is lucky and you're unlucky.

    In Europe (and here in the UK in particular), there is an immense skills shortage in the relevant areas. It's not good enough to know just one or two things though, because the current skills shortage is caused by convergence of many areas, and your skills have to match. If you have extensive knowledge in Internet networking, Unixes of various kinds (especially Solaris), server hardware and software administration, programming in C/C++, shell and Perl scripting, and experience with SQL databases, then you will find everyone scrambling to pay you more to work for them.

    And the shortage is so bad that everyone is poaching from everyone else, but that again drives up the contract rates. (I'm not complaining.)

    So, stop moaning, go freelance, and move where the work is.
  • by A Big Gnu Thrush ( 12795 ) on Friday September 17, 1999 @12:50AM (#1676962)
    What's CLI?

    I'm working on my MCSE right now, but if CLI will help me earn more, I want to get that too.
  • I will post this little story elsewhere, since it is a bit long:
    http://www.chadhead.com/philosophy.txt

    This actually made me think much harder about materialism than the Cringley article.
  • Ha,
    Would he rather we smoke pot, snort crack, and shoot heroine like all the yuppy Stock Brokers
    I see everyday on Wall Street ?. I don't understand how anyone can put down being rich, without being rich themselves. I program because
    I enjoy it, I don't own a startup company, but I work for one who will have it's IPO soon. I plan on becoming filthy rich with it, but I don't plan on leaving. I enjoy what I do, I enjoy the smart people I work with. I'm 21 and 14 days old, but currently I make more money than a lot of these people who report on the IT Industry, or people who always liked putting me down. In High School I didn't have a car, and my friends made fun of me, now I have a brand new fully loaded 99 Nissan Altima(sure it's not a BMW, but how many 21 year olds BUY an $18,000 car with cash?). I still have more money in my bank account than a lot of the "jocks" and "cool" people make in one year.

    I bought a new entertainment system and everything, the coolest thing about it is that I can afford the things I want. But I don't want a lot of things, I'm not flashy or anything, but I can buy nice clothes. I worked hard for it, I worked hard to know what I know, now if I'm looked down upon for working hard and enjoying the fruits, then screw you. Try working hard yourself.
    I've earned everything I got, I wasn't awarded anything by the liberal government that wants to take my hard earned money and give to people who like to enjoy "working the system" and collect unemployment, and welfare. Ugh.. i'll stop now.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I worked in SV back when Racal Vadic mae 300/1200 modems the size of small VW's. Even back then the talk was all about money. People sat around in bars and constantly talked about the next big thing and how they were going to be in on the next company going public. It was almost like going to Hollywood to make it big in the movies. But I finally got fed up with the rush and the traffic and the hours and moved out to the midwest. I'm not rich, but now when I come home in the early evening I can take a walk and watch the sunset and not think about getting a bigger house or a better car. Maybe that is rich. We best think about what's important to us. America's culture has been built on "do more, faster" and that has made us a large and powerful nation, but I wonder if the next big change for America will be to realize as a nation that we've been chasing the wrong dream...
  • Isn't every Cringely on Slashdot now? And given that Baloney! doesn't seem to have much recent updating, is he acknowledging /. as the uber-forum for discussion of *everything*?

    Hmm... getting a lot of server errors today, will this affect Andover's share price? :-)


    --
  • If you're snorting crack, you've got a serious drug problem. Crack is meant to be smoked.
  • 'nuff said
  • Maybe the folks at the very top of this business live to work, but I think the Pulpit article is fastening on a glamorous-seeming minority that hasn't got too much in common with the people I actually program with every day.

    Frankly, I think of most programmers I know as living to play. Programming is play; and we play hard. We also mountain bike hard, play Quake and Doom hard, love our families too hard sometimes...

    As for the not spending our money part of the article -- this part I agree with. We don't spend our money on ostentation. Why not? Well, part of programming is about community. Most of you have probably read it, but check out Eric Raymond's Homesteading in the Noosphere [tuxedo.org] if you really disagree with this statement. Anyhow, if we, as programmers, develop exclusionary "only the rich can play" habits, we isolate ourselves. Programming as a culture is about intellectual community and competition. Start buying toys other programmers can't afford and pretty soon you're outside your culture.

    I guess my point is that the Pulpit article suggests we are all pitiful losers who can't do anything else and won't spend our money. To them I say this: I am happy. I am productive. I don't work like a slave, I play like a child. Lighten up!

    --Scrappy
  • From the last paragraph of the article: They don't spend their money and they don't give it away. Their wealth is typically tied-up in equities they can't easily sell. So how do these people express their success? By doing it all over again. These people don't have hobbies. They don't read books or paint or travel. They do this. They have nothing else to do. There is no way out. Cringley makes it sound like these are 'poor little rich folk' trapped by their own success. That is a load of crap, these people do what they do because they like to do it. They get a kick out of it. Many of them would do much the same things if they didn't get half the money out of the effort simply because it is 'what they do'. Hell, most of us are no different. There was a time in my life when I thought I was going to be a mechanic forever, because that is all I was good at (that or become a rock star and die at 25, leaving a bunch of crying groupies and a horribly bloated corpse). But then I found computers. Now, if I was a mechanic, I would go home and program in my spare time. I don't have a vocation, I have an advocation. I love what I do, and making a good living from it is just gravy. The thing is that people who really like what they do is that they tend to be good at it. They read books and magazines about it. They pay attention to it and take notice when things are done well or badly -- and then use that knowledge to improve themselves. If the Silicon Valley Entrepreneurs are good and/or lucky at what they do then they win. If they are bad and/or unlucky they loose. This is the rule of the game they play and they play it with their eyes open. If anyone here wants to bitch because "I didn't get the lucky show-biz break..." you can go ahead. But I think it is all just whining of the worst kind. If you don't like what you are doing or where you are doing it then move on. Find something you really like to do. The best part is that chances are you will probably be great at it. But don't complain because someone else found their personal contentment in playing a game where stocks and power are the counters. Or, like Bob Cringely, consider them trapped in a life of bondage to their jobs. Jack
  • Money is no use in itself, but it has one very useful property: it stops you from having to worry about money.

    That's the really bad thing about being poor, IMO -- the fact that so much of your time and mental energy is taken up on such a draining subject. Having a stack of benjamins hanging round lets you take a lot of risks with the rest of your life.

    jsm
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Um, have you kissed a girl yet?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 17, 1999 @02:08AM (#1676978)
    If you're in the tech industry, and you're still poor, then you're doing something wrong.

    Ahh, the foolishness of youth. When I was younger, I used to think like that. The year I graduated from college, Apple had their IPO. I lived in Carmel then, and followed Jobs' and his purchases almost like a hobby. I kept thinking, man one day, I'll have a four-car garage full of Italian sports cars. That hasn't happened. I still cringe when I see the bill at the grocery store or for the $1.75 per gallon for gas here.

    Cringely said, "neighbors ... who already have more money than they can ever spend." Yeah, everyone in the valley is rich. I wish Cringely wouldn't propagate myths like that. Mostly, it's a bunch of poor geeks who drive bad cars. If everyone is so rich, why are most of the cars on 101 5+ years old and falling apart. I'm from Alabama and moved to CA when I was 12. When I go back to Alabama, I see better cars than I see in the valley. Over and over in the Bay area, I see young people working their asses off for not much. My last employeer's IPO made my boss (a PWB) over 25 million. Me, I made about minimum wage when you look at the number of hours I worked. It sucks working 7 days per week 12+ hours per day to just make ends meet. Last week at a friend's birthday party in Sunnyvale, the topic of discussion turned to health insurance. Not a single person there that had a technical degree, had it. Most of my friends have kids, and they had to take-out loans to pay the hospital bills. If I had worked on a education degree, I would have health insurance no. Instead, I worked my ass off for 7 years to get a masters in EE. I met Cringely once, and he seems like a nice guy. But please remember that most of what he writes is sensational. No, most people in the valley don't make the money he talks about.

  • It has been said that anyone who would be satisfied with $X, is not the kind of person who will be driven enough to get $X.
  • That's surely a joke, right?
  • What happened to my formatting? It looked OK when I did a preview, but all the HTML tags were stripped out when I clicked submit and now the post looks like crap. Dang!

    Jack

  • love our families too hard sometimes... What exactly does this mean? Whatever it is, it sounds illegal and should be reported to the police. Maybe you should ease off on the coffee and keep the pimp hand in check. gid-foo
  • that's a mighty chip on your shoulder. It seems you've missed the whole point. There's more to life than work and money.
  • It's that special place you touch a computer to make it happy (and do what you want ;-)

  • by Anonymous Coward
    If you have a masters in EE, and have a job without health insurance, then you are an idiot. Anyone who has a college degree in just about anything, who has a job without health insurance of some kind, is an idiot.

    Go get a job with health insurance, because your current place of employment is a sweatshop. Oh, and be sure to tell your friends they're idiots too. They're trading their finacial well-being, and the health of their kids, for the wonderful privilege of living there. That's an idiotic thing to do.

    Sorry, don't mean this as flamebait, but the SV folks need to get their priorites straight.
  • Every time I read one of these articles about the dismal life of Silicon Valley employees for some odd reason it makes me want to be there even more. Somehow it sounds exciting to me! The idea of being that wrapped up in my work! Wealth is a secondary motivator.

  • I know there is, and I do enjoy it. Thats just the thing, I don't work 80 hours/week. I have the time to enjoy things, I have the time to play. I don't
    have to worry bout how much things cost anymore.
    Thats the beauty of it. I always stop and smell the roses. I am enjoying my success.
  • As there is in this industry. And no, it's not among the programmers. It's among the leech VC's, know-nothing managers, and money-hungry sales people that smell their new Lexus everytime they see a brilliant programmer. Funny that Cringely would write an article talking about the great spirit of the Valley. You mean the spirit that causes everyone to one-up each other with new cars, fancy houses, and cocktail parties? The Valley of the 80's was about the technology. In the 90's, it's nothing but revolting greed.
    I don't think it's a far stretch to compare up programmers to the exploited child labor of third-world countries- yes, we all eat rather well and have the modern conveniences, but those of us who love what we do are exploited to all hell by the establishment.

    Marxist-type rant finished. :)

    -MVK
  • yes quite a few actually. oh and I kissed them before I got this neat job. and I kiss them after too. I have grown as a person.. but I've become a better person.

  • At the risk overgeneralizing a complex topic, I think the reason why rich geeks rarely buy shiny pebbles with their wealth is because of our experience with computer gear.

    In a spare bedroom I probably have about $200 worth of excess computer gear. I easily spent over $10,000 for it. Not much more than a decade ago I paid $500 (over $2000 in terms of today's salary) for a 40 MB hard disk *and was happy to get it at that price* I have a $3000 system which I can't give away today. Fortunately all I have from the 70's are old issue of _Byte_ magazine with ads for 360kb floppy drives for over $1000, or memory at $100+/*KB*. (This is why I roll my eyes when someone is shocked that my main system is "only" a 266 MHz P-II with 256 MB.)

    Outside of the computers, my major expenses have been things like TVs and microwaves. The price of each today is less than half of it was in 1984, about 1/10th when you consider salary. Cars? You buy them then drive them until the cost of repairs exceeds the cost of car payments.

    In this environment, you feel deep in your gut that money spent on objects is money lost. This isn't always true, but it's certainly true of the baubles most newly rich like to buy. I'm not surprised that most rich geeks aren't interested in buying material objects for their own sake.

    (BTW, I'm not a millionaire but I did get a significant inheritance a few years ago. I replaced a 10-year-old car, installed central A/C in my condo, and had LASIK surgery. All boringly utilitarian uses.)
  • "Having money has made my life a bit more comfortable," said Estrin. "I fly first class, have fulltime childcare and don't have to budget much. That's it."

    Fulltime childcare is a rise in the standard of living? I would think having more time to be at home with your family would be better, instead of always being at work and having someone else live your life and raise your children for you.

    I was reading a similar article in Info World where a man was quoted as saying "I'm gone on business all the time. My son's teacher didn't even believe I existed. Finally one day I made an appearance to show her my son really had a father."

    I think it's pathetic that people think it's a Good Thing(tm) that they can pay someone else to raise their children full-time and that others find it comical that they are away from their families so much. To think that they wonder why they have so many problems with their children later in life. How stupid and self-centered can these people get? Are they really doing all this just to support their families? I think not.

    I work at a school in a high income area where I see this happening to the kids all the time. Some of them are here from 7am to 7pm only to be picked up by a nanny, who usually ends up being the one to tuck them in at night. Sad.

    --SONET

  • Maybe you will make over 100k, maybe you wont. 45% increase in two years is a lot. I doubt the trend will continue.

    I too have a CS degree, and have been out of school for a couple of years. I was getting underpaid when I first left school. I've jumped about 30% since my first job, but that's because I am at least getting what I deserve. The increases will be much slower from now on.

    However, to disagree with the original poster. I work in my field, have health insurance, 401k, etc. I do agree that companies treat their engineers poorly. But we as engineers are letting them do this to us. Don't take a job if they won't pay health insurance. They will continue to screw people as long as people will take it from them.

    Demand more money. I went to one interview where the guy offered me less than what I was currently making. I said, "Good luck finding someone good at that price!" Another problem I see, is that people who don't have the credentials are entering this field, writing crappy, unmaintainable code, and are taking jobs for less money. This brings down everyone's overall earning potential. Employers think fine, this guy has a CS degree, but wants $60k. This guy doesn't have a CS degree and wants $45k. Lets hire the guy for $45k to save money. What they don't realize is in the long run it will probably cost more for them.

    Why do lawyers make so much? Because everyone demands that price. I support some sort of centralized exam (similar to the bar), where people can really be tested on what they know. These platform dependent (MCSD) exams, have the right idea, but aren't quite there yet.

    I'm just pissed off, because I had to fix some contractors program yesterday and today, and he obviously has had no formal teaching. I hate it! Learn to code people! Read "The Practice of Programming", or "Code Complete". Do SOMETHING to improve!

  • $600/month? That sounds like a crock to me. You're getting screwed - there's no way you should be paying $7200 a year for health insurance. You'd better start shopping around. As for the pay - any decent EE with a masters will definitely get paid in the 70K range... I know - several of my friends are them... Again, you are definitely not doing something right or are not qualified in your area... peace. JOe... ps -> I have a masters in CS and make over a $100/hour doing java... Again, you're doing something extremely wrong here...
  • They just wouldn't hire me, because they have 10 other programmers waiting for a job.

    Why are all of the tech companies lobbying for more work visas? There IS an IT shortage.

    If you're good, prove it to a potential employer. They will want you. Take the jobs with new technologies, and push for exicting stuff. Stay on top of things. There are ALOT of idiots out there, and good employers know this.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I had a kidney stone, and my wife had trouble druing the birth of the our second child and had to spend a night in the hospital. That's the problem. I tried shopping around, but most companies won't even give me a quote. When I was single and 21, I paid $300 per *year* with a $10,000 deductable. It covered only expenses incurred in a hospital. As for the $600/month, that is with a small hospital deductable ($2,500), and it includes yearly check-ups, pre-natal care, child birth, dental, and vision for the four of us. It's almost as good as my friends who are teachers and have insurance through the state. The lowest price I found for insurance, was 25% less expensive for 75% less coverages. I'm just stuck in a bad position.
  • I was always impressed by the ability of US nation to absorb new, usefull and
    amazing things from around the world. So what happened to this great nation now?
    People, look around, it's easy now to see farther than another coast. Not everything is going around the money!
    The whole civilizations are build around more crucial and eternal things.
    You don't need another car. Your kids won't drive it.
    Do yourself a favour, relax.
    And when the hard day is over, take a walk and enjoy the roses :)
  • "Having money has made my life a bit more comfortable," said Estrin. "I .... have fulltime childcare ...."

    This has to be one of the sadder statements I've read in a while. Having enough money makes you more comfortable because you can aford to keep your kids in daycare while you work all those long hours? If I had more money than I knew what to do with I'd be cuttin' back on the hours and pulling my kid out of daycare early so I could spend more time with him. I realize that being able to afford daycare is a necessary and difficult thing for a lot of people without premium jobs but I think this is different.

    My kid is too special to me and he is growing up faster than I'm ready for as it is. I don't know much of anything about Judy Estrin so I'm hoping that this was just a careless phrase on her part. Maybe if I had as cool a job as CTO for Cisco I'd feel differently about where I spent my time, I dunno, but with the so-so job I have I'd much rather be at home enjoying the familly.

  • $1.75 per gallon for gas here

    Yikes. I thought it was highway robbery the other day when I filled up and it was $1.18 a gallon.

    It sucks working 7 days per week 12+ hours per day to just make ends meet

    If everyone is so rich, why are most of the cars on 101 5+ years old and falling apart

    I've got three cars... One brand new one, a pickup that is about 8 years old (but not falling apart, its got only about 70k miles on it), and an early 70's muscle car. One reason I can think of why you wouldn't want a nice car if you were commuting into downtown SF, is that you'd have to be worried about it getting stolen/vandalized. A crappy commuter car is worthwhile having in such an area.

    I never work much more than 40 hours a week, and I am making ends meet O.K. I live in the midwest. I tried moving to the SF Bay Area in the late 80's, but I couldn't find anything there that could make ends meet, so I came back here.

    health insurance. Not a single person there that had a technical degree, had it

    Out here even places like restaurants and convenience stores offer that. I have no degree (only went to college about 3 years), and I work as a software developer making what would be equivalent to around $120k in the Bay Area according to the online salary comparisons I've seen. I wouldn't consider a job that didn't offer free or cheap medical insurance coverage, and I haven't seen any non-contract jobs that didn't offer it recently.

    Frankly, I don't feel too sorry for you, because you could definitely do much better if you wanted.

  • the company where i work is practically BEGGING for java coders (silicon valley based). if all the whining posters above can't find job using C then they need to learn java or some other language thats more in demand...
  • Where? Where? Where?

    Out here in the midwest we can't get enough educated and experienced people. Kids just out of college with a CS degree are getting $30-40K starting around here (would be about $60-$80K in the bay area). I make significantly more than that and I have no degree at all (though over 10 years experience).

    I went to a large college and still live near it

    Big mistake. College towns have oddly upset job markets (there are too many overeducated people trapped there due to SO in college, etc). I grew up in and attended college in a mid-sized university town (about 50K population, about 25K enrollment). I couldn't make 1/2 there what I make where I live now, only about 45 miles away in a town of about 300K population.

    More like a few jobs and a few lucky winners, and the winners are too blind to see how lucky they are.

    Nothing lucky about my situation around here. I could easily change jobs if I wanted to (I've had offers and headhunters call on a regular basis).

  • I'm just stuck in a bad position.

    No kidding. If you were in a decent position, then you would get the same group rate regardless of your medical history (like I do). Where I work we can choose between four different health plans, and everyone who is enrolled in a given plan pays the same amount. You do have to pay extra to put a spouse on (its typically a little over double what the price is for the single rate), and you have to pay extra for children (a little more than the spouse additional price -- but that covers multiple kids if you have them). I think the worst price you would have to pay on the most expensive plan for employee, spouse and kids coverage would still be less than $150 per month.

    The plan I am on costs me roughly $75 per month (medical, dental and vision), and has a $2500 deductible with a $10 copay on office visits and for prescriptions. I'd say it is better than the plan most of the schools around here use (I used to have that company a long time ago, and their service stank).

    My previous employer paid 100% of my health care insurance (you had to pay extra for spouse or kids, but I don't know how much since I wasn't married back then and don't have kids). I was offered a job with a different company recently which was a similar sort of deal. My overall compensation where I am at now is better than those other jobs though, which is why I don't mind paying a little for health insurance.

  • [vaguely offtopic, but this is too crazy to ignore]

    > While I can't speak for everyone, I expect that my experience is typical:

    You do not speak for everyone. Your experience is atypical.

    I live and work in Canada, and this simply isn't true. This is a /great/ place to be if you have some talent and initiative. Even if not, it's not bad.

    Taking your points one at a time:

    1. Blacklisting: if you screw your former employer, you will have a hard time getting jobs unless someone will vouch for you. This is true everywhere. I've never heard of anyone having problems after giving the former employer adequate (2-4 weeks) notice.

    2. Explaining Gaps: see #6 below.

    3. OT Pay: So? The company is offering $X for Y amount of work. If OT pay were mandatory, they'd simply lower the per-hour wage until the aggregate cost was back to $X. If it makes you unhappy, get a job that pays OT. I know mine does.

    4. Oversupply: My company spent a good chunk of change and effort recruiting in 1997, and I can remember sitting in on interview after interview with candidates that simply weren't up to par. If you were inexperienced / unskilled / unable to hold yourself together through an interview, then yes, you were competing with a 'glut' of people for any job. If you had some kind of skill, OTOH, you could walk into a job with minimal effort.

    5. Mandatory French: Untrue. I live just across the river from Quebec, and can assure you that many unilingual English-speakers are employed there. None of them are afraid of being fired.

    6. Gaps in the Record: This is just too much. Since when is it illegal to disqualify applicants based on previous unemployment? If a guy hasn't worked in five years, then he likely lacks current skills. If he's hopped between 15 jobs in the last 8 years, with 24 months of cumulative downtime mixed in, that makes you wonder how reliable he'll be in his next position.
    If it's illegal to consider [un]employment history when reviewing applicants, then what criteria do you think employers should use?

    7. Taxation: You're straying into tin-foil-hat land here. First, able-bodied adults who don't work without good reason are considered anti-social because it implies they're living off the labours of others. Where do you suppose welfare/UI/etc. monies come from?
    Second, Canada's high taxes are overhyped. I paid somewhere around 35% income tax last year, on a comfortable, above-the-mean salary. That's not outrageous, considering that I live in a country with no impending Social Security debacle, ~zero crime, free health care, clean air, and so on.

    The standard of living here is one of the highest in the world.

    My biggest worry is that the secret will get out, and mass immigration will cause property values to skyrocket.

    cheers,
    mike

  • >Cringley makes it sound like these are 'poor
    >little rich folk' trapped by their own success. That is a load of crap, these people do what they do because they like to do it. They get a kick
    >out of it. Many of them would do much the same things if they didn't get half the money out of the effort simply because it is 'what they do'.

    I guess it all depends on how you want to make a difference in the world.

    Let's consider a hypothetical example: some psycho goes thru Silicon Valley & gets rid of a good share of all of the players Cringley talks about: the good, the bad, the faceless PHBs. Larry Ellison & the guy Linus Torvalds reports to. They're just gone.

    How much of a difference would this massive carnage make in the world? From reading Cringley's article, & the Fortune article linked at pathfinder, I suspect that few people would miss many of them: & probably few spouses, children or parents.

    Prove me wrong. Please.


    Geoff
  • My point is that it wouldn't matter to them. Some might even think that they are changing the world. Others won't care. All that is important from their standpoint is that they get to do what they want. Are you or I any different, even if we don't want the same things?

    Like I said, there is no-one holding a gun to their head. They do what they do because they like to do it. I find no contradiction in this.

  • "Over the next years I'll off to Europe. Co-workers have been as far as Kuala Lumpur..."

    I found that misty-eyed pronouncement amusing and quaint in its naivete, but hey, you've got the right attitude.

    I quit my previous job on good terms after six years of quite satisfying work. When my boss asked me why I was leaving, I told him "so I can go mountain biking in Vietnam", and that was the honest truth, and that was exactly what I did during the following six months.

    I don't know when I'll leave my current job, but it won't be too far down the road, and it won't be just for more money at some other company down the road.
  • >>>
    I've earned
    ...
    Ugh.. i'll stop now.
    >>>

    Please do.

    Ah, to be young, brash, and oh-so-naive again...
  • by Chris Johnson ( 580 ) on Friday September 17, 1999 @11:23AM (#1677033) Homepage Journal
    The trouble with this is that the same people with no direction other than to make more and more money, with nothing else in their lives, are also typically fooling with stock options which are not vested immediately.
    It's a recipe for an entire industry full of people solely dedicated to pissing in everybody else's punchbowls so nothing interferes with their option vesting. I'm surprised there isn't more outright sabotage going on. Of course, who could tell? Hmmmm.
    It's an empty enough goal even _without_ the mechanism of vesting.

    "Make more money!"
    "To do what?"
    "To, uh, make more money!"
    "Yes, but what are you going to do when you have it?"
    "Er, make more of it!"

    The trouble is, once 'options' get involved in the equation, the logical (amoral) answer becomes,

    "Hire away the competition's best brains and set them to knitting just to keep them from producing anything that might hurt us, buy good reviews in ZDnet publications ( ;) ), pay off some senators and legislators to pass legislation letting us hire some more people easily locked into this mode of life, for that matter let's allocate some money to seeding government and the military with our stuff so we can lock 'em down good and tight, oh and while we're at it, company X is really firing on all cylinders so we'll buy that, take their best people and assign them to debugging Excel macros and lay off the rest of the cylinders."
    "And now that you have effectively gutted the market economy and done an end run around the theoretical capacity of people to exert selfwill, how about sharing with us the purpose for which you've caused all this destruction?"
    "To make more money!"
    "Why?"
    "So we can do it all even more."

    Sorry: this is pathological and destructive. It's cancer as applied to sociology and the computer industry instead of the usual application to biology. It will end in the competitors getting so much better at destroying than creating, that the result becomes stagnation and even fallback, the loss of what usefulness used to exist in the face of competitive pressure gone awry.
    In order for it to truly run amok certain changes have to be made, such as it becoming a crime to investigate exactly what the software is doing, and for the software company living according to this creed to be immune to any form of accountability for its actions. However, these exact changes _are_ being made, so we can expect an absolute scorched earth policy of commercial software.
    With luck Linux can be relatively immune to this stuff- it will be immune to the exact degree that it can disdain interoperability with the amok commercial stuff. Strategically, control of the internet backbones and most ISPs must remain either with free software or with commercial Unices that aren't too worried about seizing the mainstream. Tactically, it depends on how willing people are to take no for an answer. In general, commercial software is willing to _promise_ anything to win: it often can't deliver, but something like Linux cannot effectively take on a purely reactive role, constantly trying to achieve feature parity or match grandiose claims with grandiose claims. The result would be 'everybody lies and nothing works, only with Windows there's more software to not work, and sometimes it does stuff for you without screwing it up'. It's better tactically for Linux to set its own terms for growth, and not be too quick to lie or hype for the sake of a temporary win.

    How does that relate to the Cringely article? Well, the secret here is that Silicon Valley _can't_ be honest at this point. The biggest gorilla (MS, but it could just as well have been any of them) sets the tone for all of them, and if you are playing the same game you have to play by the same rules or you're just roadkill, fast.

    There is a possibility of changing the rules without telling them. It has everything to do with staying within reality, plodding along trying to produce genuinely helpful stuff even if it's not glamorous, and above all by not being frightened into accepting 'silicon valley time' in which you never do anything right, only FAST and buggy and temporary.

    Doing this, Linux people and slashdotters and free software programmers can ensure that they are laughed at and always out-hyped... and, in the end, not taken seriously enough. It's a stealth tactic, an infiltrate and assimilate tactic, because there will always be a percentage of people who will accept being inconvenienced for even whimsical or personal reasons. Eventually, the stealth maneuver pays off as you become an accepted part of the landscape, just part of the scenery with a reputation widely known through word of mouth.

    Linux can endure any amount of 'tough, geeky, iconoclastic' reputation as long as it doesn't develop a reputation for lies and deception. Claiming to be userfriendly doesn't count as nobody believes that ;) however, the claim of being solid and not overfragile must continue to be a reasonable one.
  • I've been out of school for a couple of years. Trying to find a company I really like. Everytime I have started to look, it takes me a minimum of 1 week to get multiple interviews. And when offers come in, it's always _multiple_ offers. I also get company recruiters calling/emailing me about possible job positions at their companies, even when I'm not looking. This is ironic, but just today a certain Seattle company (not M$), contacted me today, and I haven't even been looking.

    I know of no other industry that is as easy as this one to find good, new jobs.

    Crossing my fingers that it doesn't change soon!
    BTW, I live in So. California.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Hey guy, I'm a type I diabetic (for 30 years) and haven't had health insurance for over 10 years. I'm not stupid. I just have a disease that is not profitable for insurance companies with stockholders and greedsters. I damn all the money grubbing with healthcare in the U.S. What does being a "techie" have to do with not being sick and a risk? Get real sick you idiot and find out. Get a real disease and find out how much capitalism, hospitals, doctors and HMOs love you. Maybe get Lou Gehrig's disease so you can't haughtily type your social classes in your Java Bean and find out the hypocrisy in the HR/HMO/Benefit brochures. Better yet a crippling car accident. Find out the true cost of healthcare when you don't have good health. Hyper-techno capitalism doesn't love the sick and the poor.
  • $20k for an MR2?!?! You can get a used Supra w/ medium/high miles for that. I did.
  • Hear hear!

    "I didn't want to buy happiness, I just wanted to rent it for a while"

    (T Pratchett)
  • 5. In Quebec, skills don't matter -- you have to communicate in French to get a job (i.e. it is a legal requirement) and can get fired if you don'd do it well enough. English-speaking IT people constantly have to prove that they speak French well enough.

    Surprising ... I am a francophone from Québec. It is widely known in the francophone community that you can't get a good job if you don't speak ... english ! Most people succeding in business are fully bilingual. That is why kid learn english in elementary school and there are so many "immersion" stage and exchange for student. Speaking english in Québec is considered an asset, and it is absolutely essential if you have any ambition.

    This is even more true in IT, where half the documentation required for your job is only available in english, thus putting unilingual francophone at at a great disadvantage in the trade.

    In Montréal at least, a lot of business are being done in english, and most work environnement are bilingual. No risk to get fired if you don't speak french, althrough you might have problem finding a job in the first place if you are not able to speak to half of your co-worker. Most anglophone are at least minimally fluent in french, and a lot speak a very good french. The same goes the other way.

    The only place where speaking only english would really hurt your chance are governement-related jobs. But would you expect the US governement to hire people that don't speak english, the german governement to hire people that don't speak german and so on ?

    As for skill not mattering ... come on, you must be kidding !
  • he can hire all the ME's and CS's (yes, there are *lots* of processors in the machinary) he needs for less than $30K/year

    Crazy, you can easily get twice that where I live and the cost of living is half as much. I can't believe anyone with 1/4 of a brain would put up with that.

  • I was referring to actual interviews. Not just interest. I get hundreds of headhunters calling me, and I have NEVER actually gone through one. Everyone has been through the HR department at the specific company.

    The jobs are out there. And I mean engineering jobs. I won't do any other kind. Engineers on the whole don't know how to present themself. That is why I succeed. I know how. I know how to make eye contact with the people who are interviewing me, I am knowledgable, and I don't B.S.

    All I can speak for is in So. California. If you have the credentials, can prove that you can do what you say you can, and are personable, a job as an ENGINEER writing software is EASY to come by.

    I don't deal with mom and pop shops, only reputable companies. No one is going to offer me $X, and then try to offer me minimum wage. If you got screwed over because of a contract, somethings wrong with your contract and the people you are doing business with. Sorry to hear that, but you obviously need to change who and how you are doing business.
  • I have no clue WHO you are doing business with, but I have never run into that problem, neither has anyone I know run into that problem. That includes friends who have been in this business for over 35 years. I mentioned this to a family friend who does consulting, and even he was confused.



    I do work. Been working my entire life. Never had your problems. The fact that you mention you have gone without eating some nights because checks haven't cleared. Sorry to hear that. I myself, receive every check I'm promised, and always for the amount promised.



    Yes there are dishonorable people in this world. But if you are a good judge of character, you can avoid this problem. This problem you mention, is NOT the norm.



    Write up contracts that will protect you. It's not difficult.



    Confused as to why you have such problems. I have gotten every paycheck, for it's agreed upon amount, and never had to question anybody, or anything.
  • Well, you don't have Ga. Tech, Univ. of S. Carolina, Clemson, and Univ. of Georgia (plus over a dozen small colleges within a 120 miles from here) pumping out new engineers and CS majors at twice the rate that new tech jobs are created

    You think there are no engineering/CS schools in the midwest? There are quite a few within a 250 mile radius or so from where I live. While the oversupply phenomenon you mention happens in the specific college town in question, it doesn't seem to extend much past 20-25 miles outside them.

    Perhaps the university sponsored/affiliated 'development park'/'incubator' office park/environments around the universities in this area are working better than I thought they were.


    Half as much? I doubt that.

    Actually, the half as much was in response to the original poster, who lives in the SF Bay Area. The cost of living in the midwest where I live is about 1/2 that of the Bay Area. Georgia is probably actually pretty comparable to where I live in terms of cost of living.

    This is one of the annoyances of anonymous posting, you can't always tell who you are responding to in a long thread.

    lots of chicken farms around here, and they smell extremely bad

    Quitcher bitchin. We have lots of hog farms around here, and they smell just as bad if not worse than chickens... :-(

    There is a large front page article in the local paper about the 'crisis' of lack of skilled workers (and even unskilled workers) in the state. Unemployment nationally is just over 4%. Locally it is under 3%. They are saying that it is so bad its going to start causing a slowdown in the economy due to causing limited production or forcing companies to look out of state for workers or new plant locations.

  • Actually, it will be to see the half of my family still in Italy, and they're expecting me the year after next. Also it will be when my parents and relatives in the States will be going... :-)

    I'm already planning a [driving] vacation to Anchorage next summer, so a skip over the pond will have to wait until the next anyway.

    I'm not quite the mountain biking in Vietnam type, but congratutlations and best of luck in the future!

    -m
  • Yes, but how do you make the companies pay?



    Put in your contract that you will get weekly payments. Or throw the money into an escrow so that the company can't say "Ahh ha, I have your money! Too bad!"



    If you make sure you get paid every week, worse thing that will happen is that you lose a weeks pay.



    If this really happens to you a lot, find yourself a lawyer and become friends with them. I happen to be lucky, I'm the only engineer in my family, everyone else is a lawyer.




Hard work never killed anybody, but why take a chance? -- Charlie McCarthy

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