Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop


Forgot your password?
DEAL: For $25 - Add A Second Phone Number To Your Smartphone for life! Use promo code SLASHDOT25. Also, Slashdot's Facebook page has a chat bot now. Message it for stories and more. Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 Internet speed test! ×

Comment Re:Is any job worth it? (Score 1) 180

Oh, I moved on from support years ago. That's why I'm still alive and sane. It's the ditch digging of the 21st century; it's hard, unforgiving work, with those who consider themselves better than you laughing at and occasionally spitting on you.

You may understand that IT folks are human beings, and as a small (I'm assuming) business owner you have some more flexibility in how you take care of your people. I am also gratified to learn that there's still someone out there who thinks of his employees as human beings instead of cost centers. Unfortunately, you are in the very small minority. It's especially bad at larger companies, where the ones making the decisions about how people get treated are sometimes three states (or an ocean) away, and they're just numbers to them. All they see are statistics (tickets closed, hours worked, number of user complaints, etc) and cannot think of them any other way. It's even worse at publicly held companies; they have a responsibility to the stockholders to minimize costs and maximize profits, and most unimaginative managers, rather than find some innovative way to improve efficiency, just start treating workers like crap to save money.

With your business, you had the choice of whom you wanted to work with; if a customer was too much trouble or cost you money, you could fire them. Not so if you're a help desk jockey or a desktop support drone; that useless Administrative Assistant who only has a job because she's banging one of the executives and who doesn't have the brainpower to solve a jigsaw puzzle will still fuck up her computer on a daily basis and you will still have to fix the exact same fuckup every single time. You don't get to choose.

It's not just the tech industry where this happens. If anything, it's WORSE at companies in other sectors. Hospitals are the worst from what I've seen; imagine supporting not only nurses who were born before computers were a thing (it's a very gray population), admin assistants who are also banging one of the doctors, and doctors themselves. Doctors are usually pretty smart, capable people, but they also believe the world should modify itself to line up with their expectations, and that they should never have to change any of their behavior. So not only do they fuck up their computers, they keep fucking them up deliberately until IT decides to break several rules and give them what they want, just to get them to go away. I've worked in multiple Fortune 500 companies doing support; one thing you learn is to never try to tell anyone at the director level or above that they're violating IT policy (or in fact doing anything wrong at all, even when it's your job to tell them), because you most likely like having a job. I have seen CEOs whose passwords (the ones protecting their email, and preventing someone from emailing gay porn to all the stockholders) were simple dictionary words, or the name of the company, and never expired. This was because someone tried to tell them they were subject to the same policy, and naturally they don't work there anymore. The rest learned from it. Shoot one hostage, the others start cooperating.

I have washed my hands of support. It is miserable, hard, maddening work that pays nowhere near what it should. Chances are that janitor is making more money than someone on the help desk. (This is because the janitor gets paid a fair wage, not because they're overpaid.) Dealing with stupid people all day is not unique to support; what is unique that their ignorance is funny and will be defended tooth-and-nail. (I worked one place where the union had a rule that computer literacy could not be made a condition of employment. I'm pretty pro-union but it's fair to say that's an abuse.) I'm a programmer now making nearly three times what I made a few years ago. But even now, someone who doesn't understand what it is I do or how important it is can look at the balance sheet and decide that I can be replaced by someone in India who has the same job title, but nowhere near the programming skills (while their code may work, it's an unmaintainable mess and will cost much more in the long run).

It really is that bad. People burn out, become alcoholics, drug addicts, some kill themselves. And I have yet to be at a business that treated its IT folks like the important assets they are instead of a money pit.

Comment Re: "Seattle Hundreds" suck (Score 1) 180

Yeah, a fucking idiot that wants to keep his job. At many companies, actually taking the time off that you have earned is a one-way ticket to not being a "team player" and poor performance reviews. Vacation is optional here. You can get fired for taking vacation (because of poor performance reviews because you took vacation).

Comment Re:Is any job worth it? (Score 1) 180

Your suspicion that you don't really understand the issue, not having been in that situation yourself, is correct. Let me tell you what will happen if you take the advice you're giving, in the 2, 3, 4 order you suggest.

2: You have got to be fucking kidding me. Your users make you miserable every single day. If it's not their blinding stupidity or refusal to learn anything ("That's not my job to know that, that's your job" "Oh, I don't have to know that") it's the attempts to have you fired for doing your job or the fact that nobody seems to be subject to IT policy except IT. What you're suggesting is about the same as treating the guy with the shotgun on a chain gang you're on like your best buddy. After about a day and a half of being all sweetness and light you'll be dead inside. (I myself have been told both of those things.)

3: A few issues here. 1) Management does not give a single flying fuck if you like your job or not, because they don't understand it (and therefore it cannot be important). 2) Management is the source of many of the problems faced by IT. It's like asking the kid spraypainting graffiti on your wall to help stop people spraypainting graffiti on your wall. 3) You seem to think that you can make yourself more valued by doing your job well. You can bust your ass 60 hours a week or you can do just enough work to not get fired, your status and treatment (and salary) will not be affected. This is not limited to this particular field; these days the only thing hard work gets you is more hard work, and if you want a raise that does more than keep up with COL, you need to find a new job (where you will be treated just as badly, if not worse).

4: Why do you think people you would deal with working independently would treat you any better? If anything, it's worse, because you're on your own and the only defense you have against abuse is to fire your customer, and they know that. At least with a corporate IT department, there is some sort of process, if a completely ineffective one.

If anyone treated the janitor like they treat help desk / support folks, they'd get fired. If anyone spilled garbage on the floor deliberately every day and yelled at the janitor for the floor being messy, they'd get fired. If anyone yelled at the janitor because they don't have access to a restricted room and demanded that they open the door, they'd get fired. If anyone yelled at the janitor because management has implemented some sort of insane new recycling system that requires 5 different bins, they'd get fired. All of these things happen to support folks on a daily basis.

Your comments smack of privilege and victim-blaming. Why should support folks make any extra effort when they know that nothing will change, they'll just be dead inside with the same paycheck and the same oxygen thieves breaking their computers. Perhaps the problem is how disposable and sub-human the user population thinks IT folks are. There aren't many jobs where someone will try to have you fired because you did your job. No, the problem is not IT workers' attitude, the problem is the treatment that led them to have that attitude.

Comment Re:Is any job worth it? (Score 1) 180

I have yet to see a support job where that wasn't the case. Accounting or Marketing need to do something wrong before they get abused; support folks do not, they are there for you to bitch at about things you can't do anything about. You don't even need to say or do anything. With the workload I had, and the treatment I got from the mundanes, I had no time or inclination to talk to any employees that weren't in IT, lest I get roped into doing something that I didn't have time for.

It doesn't matter if the rolls are worn, or what the workload is for that printer, it's your fault. Then it's your fault when their request for a new printer is denied. No, it doesn't make sense, but you're there and can basically do nothing if they yell at you, so that's what they do. It's like yelling at the fry cook because you think they should have sweet potato fries; they can't do anything about it.

Comment Re:Is any job worth it? (Score 1) 180

The poor treatment I'm talking about is not related to within IT, it's without when we have to fix the AA's computer for the kajillionth time because they don't understand that pop-ups are bad and they shouldn't click them. The IT person will immediately be blamed for the problem, since they fixed the computer in the past, and when they try to do their jobs and educate the user on how to prevent the issue in the future, they either get ignored or have their jobs threatened. I routinely had to fix a laser printer that some dumb bitch in AR kept fucking up, and I got told that unless I stop that from happening, I'd be in danger of losing my job. For something she did, something that I tried to educate her about, and something that broke the printer consistently every time.

If you fuck up your budget and need Accounting's help, you don't blame them or threaten their jobs over it. If you need some paperwork from HR for a review or something, you don't blame HR for your needing it. But, somehow, when it's IT, abusing them is not only acceptable but encouraged. Those nerds never do any work anyway, they're just down in the basement playing Warquest or Evercraft or something.

Comment Re: "Seattle Hundreds" suck (Score 1) 180

In theory scrum does give the developer some insulation from managerial bullshit. The product owner (idiot MBA usually) decides they need a new feature or an enhancement, the tickets are written and groomed, and they're presented in the backlog at a sprint planning meeting.

This is where it goes off the rails: According to the scrum rules, the developers get to decide if an issue is ready for development or needs further grooming, and if the issue is too large to get done in one sprint and needs to be broken up further. The developers are supposed to be able to decide, ultimately, what goes into a sprint. However, what ends up happening is that the developers get ignored, as usual, and end up with the same unreasonable workloads and weasely ambiguous requirements. Scrum is supposed to limit the product owner's ability to ask for the unreasonable; however, most idiot MBAs have never met a ridiculous deadline they didn't like, and since they're usually above the people who do actual work on the org chart, they don't have to listen to the developers.

Comment Re: "Seattle Hundreds" suck (Score 1) 180

Because they don't have to. Most companies will actually let you take the vacation time you've earned, but many have turned PTO into a meaningless number on a screen. You might have 160 hours of vacation in the bank, but if you can't ever get a vacation approved, you might as well not have any at all. And that's perfectly legal; with only a few exceptions (FMLA, which is unpaid; jury duty, National Guard exercises) that they'll still try to fire you (or at least try to screw you out of getting paid when they're required to) for using.

As I've said elsewhere in this thread, the only thing that will curb this abuse is mandating vacation/sick time by law. But that benefits the employees, which obviously makes the government fascist.

Comment Re: "Seattle Hundreds" suck (Score 1) 180

That's because the rest of us don't get mandatory, statue-guaranteed vacation time. But try to bring that up and you get shouted down by the corporate lobbyists who would not only like to continue to be free to abuse "exempt" employees who don't get overtime (or sick days, or parental leave, or a lot of things common in other First World countries), they find it offensive that they can't chain the cogs to their desks.

Mandating vacation time would put everyone on the same playing field, instead of one company being tempted to cut PTO to a smaller amount than the competition, so that they can "increase shareholder value". Eventually a race to the bottom hits the bottom.

Comment Re:Is any job worth it? (Score 2) 180

The tech bubble generated a lot of annoyed middle management who suddenly found themselves at the mercy of people who did actual work and knew actual things. While it's true a lot of startups from the wild west of the tech bubble were more about fleecing people out of VC than actually generating useful products, neither of them could even pretend to exist without people who knew a modem from a printer. These were the people the fratboys bullied in high school/college, so to have the tables turned, to a point where they were basically at the nerds' mercy, was incredibly galling. When the bubble burst and the market for tech workers cooled off, instead of finding new and interesting things to do with the suddenly-more-plentiful supply of smart people, the fratboys decided that to use that supply to drive salaries down and make one person do three or four jobs (AKA "DevOps", "Full Stack Developers, etc) was a lot lazier.

We have always produced. We produce what we're tasked with producing. The issue is that the stuff we're tasked with is total irrelevant garbage that some MBA dreamt up in the middle of a cocaine binge. We're tasked with updating the shade of red on the homepage when the spit-and-bailing-wire infrastructure we've been tasked with fixing without any additional resources or budget is on fire. We get ignored in meetings when we're standing on our heads trying to make the fratboys understand that we can prevent Bad Things from happening; we then get blamed when the Bad Things happen, and have to clean up the mess.

"Know your place"? I think we found the walking-haircut MBA shill. Our place is as valued members of the team, where the expertise we're paid to have and maintain is actually listened to, where it is accepted that not understanding something does not immediately make it irrelevant, where people understand that spending money now to do preventative development will save money in the future. No business can survive without our knowledge, yet tech workers are routinely treated like shit; nobody from Marketing or Accounting would ever accept the treatment tech workers get without someone getting fired for it.

Our place is in the boardroom, not in the steam closet fixing some piece of shit networking equipment that one of the CEO's golf buddies said we should buy. Knowing "our place" will allow the idiots to continue to do stupid things that we then have to clean up. It needs to stop.

Comment Re:Banned? (Score 1) 338

Perhaps if you spent another fifty cents to get a bulb that wasn't made by "Bob's Lighting and Bait Shop", then you'd get better results. It's really simple to buy the cheapest shit you can buy and then complain about how they failed sooner than expected. It gives you a nice justification for your stubborn, contrary, I-don't-care-about-anything-but-myself attitude.

Comment Re:Banned? (Score 1) 338

Still, it's not a good idea to regulate to the point of picking 'The Solution' and imposing it on everyone.

If people weren't so fucking stubborn and ignorant about switching to more-efficient technology ("they can take my bulbs from my cold dead hands" etc) then there would be no reason for government to take any action. If that action takes the form of a comprehensive, multiple-solution format, people would bitch about how complicated the law is, no matter how clear the actual format. If the action takes the form of a simple solution, people would bitch about how it's one-size-fits-all and doesn't work very well in a lot of cases, and talk about how incompetent government is. People are going to complain in all three cases: 1) voluntary replacement (good fucking luck), 2) comprehensive government solution, 3) simple government solution. At the end of the day it's a lot simpler to just shut up and replace your bulbs, but we can't have that, because "hippies suck" as far as I can tell. They'll probably bitch about mercury, or Chinese labor, or expense, or some other bullshit when they should be shutting up and changing their damn bulbs as the incandescents burn out.

Comment Re:Aaaaand.. (Score 2) 248

This. I'd add that union membership also (usually) gets you progressive discipline, as in they actually need a reason to fire you. (In at-will employment states, which are nearly all of them, you can be fired for no reason at all. I have literally been told "We don't have to tell you.") Add in health benefits secured by the union and not your employer (so that your employer doesn't find out when you start seeing a therapist, and fire you because you're "psycho"), guaranteed raises (some tool is going to say "but that restricts you from getting bigger raises!" You won't ever get bigger raises than 2.5-3%. That's the way it's going. If you want a raise, you need a different job.), and the ability to do some real damage to the company if they decide to abuse you. No more unpaid overtime, no more making you do three jobs for half a salary, no employer deciding it's cheaper to pay the fine under the ACA instead of providing insurance, none of that shit.

I'll take seniority-over-merit, because that's what we have now anyway.

Slashdot Top Deals

"Only the hypocrite is really rotten to the core." -- Hannah Arendt.