LowComDom Performances Presents
The Crapolla According to Fek'Lar
You Know You're a Real Geek When...
The greeter at Fry's knows your name.
You've stumbled onto another issue of The Crapolla, a journal written for software professionals. No not the managers; I mean the people who do the work.
This Crapolla is sponsored by...
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In This Issue...
Dishing Up Something New on the ESPP
Honestly, times have not been that great at WTHAIS. To put it kindly, we're transitioning. To put it bluntly, we're losing money. But there's always been a safe haven for making a quick buck, the Employee Stock Purchase Program (ESPP). I've participated in many of these going all the way back to Big A Software. They give the employees a chance to buy the company's stock cheap and turn a quick profit. Well, until this quarter.
When you participate in an ESPP, a certain amount of money is deducted from your take home pay and dropped into an escrow account. Every six months, the company sells you stock at a price lower than the closing price that day. It's usualy about an 18 percent discount. One last great feature, is the price you purchase stays the same for 18 months unless the market value goes down, then the next time the purchase is made, the price is lowered and the 18 month clock resets. If the stock is going up, that 18 percent is nothing compared to the big profits you can make.
That's how the ESPP at WTHAIS was designed back in 1999. But there's been a change. The Sarbanes Oxley Act has complicated making quarterly reporting so much that WTHAIS is now reporting earnings later into the next quarter, and the regularly scheduled purchase date is at a time when employees are blacked out from selling stock. That's not a big deal if your stock is raising. Ours isn't.
The employees had purchased the stock well before the earnings call and were stuck with a stock that was dropping. After the call, the stock dropped more. I checked the price 5 minutes before the quarterly all-hands. We were 7 cents underwater. Not only were there no profits, we all were losing money.
When question and answer time came around, mine was the first hand up, and it didn't hurt that I was standing two feet in front of the CEO. I brought up the ESPP and the Cousteau situation. I asked that the plan be changed to prevent the employees from being put in this danger again.
Our Fearless Leader started by trying to bullshit us, but then stopped. I don't know if he realized that I'm older than him and have done more of these than he, or if one of the other old timers in the back shook their head "no", but he punted to the CFO, who said they would change the plan if they could.
So the six month escrow period has started. If one stays in, the buy price is going to be very low for 18 months. If we can show a profit the market value should raise, and that means back to easy obscene profits for the employees. Happy employees don't ask embarassing questions at the all-hands. Are you listening Mein Fuhrer?
When I bought my Dish receiver with the hard drive attached at Costco several years ago, I was wondering if it was going to be worth the extra money. We had had the service for a bit more than a year and one of the receivers (the one we got completely free) had gone tits up. We're a two receiver house and being down one wasn't going to cut it, but was spending the money on a PVR when the previous receiver hadn't lasted very long a good move? The verdict is in and the forces of good service have won.
What puts me in the happy-go-lucky mood is the early Christmas present I got from the satellite company. Here I am sitting on a receiver that's, what, three or so years old? One night they decided to do a big software upgrade. Suddenly, the scheduling software had brains injected into it. Rather than telling the machine to record this channel for this amount of time begining at this time, now the machine knows the name of the program and your preferences on how often to record it. It ain't Tivo, but it is a fire and forget missile!
What I mean by that is if I say to record Top Gear, a tribute to British automotive snobbery, all I have to do is select the show anywhere in the schedule and say if I want it once, everytime it's on, or just the new episodes. That's it! I never have to worry about when it's going to be on, or what channel it's on. The machine will never record a rerun. If the season ends and there's nothing new for seven months, it's not a problem. In dog terms, my receiver just graduated from schnauzer to collie. (Schnauzer's have only two brain cells. One is for eating and the other is for barking.)
As I was clicking away on stuff I wanted from the TV buffet, I started wondering why Dish had given me this software upgrade. They probably developed the software for their high-end HD systems as a selling point. But I'm not yet in the market for HD. To put this software on my receiver they had to do a QA cycle to make sure it was fully compatble. Why would they give just my old model the upgrade? They wouldn't. If I got it, they gave it to every receiver that could record programs. That's a sizeable number of models, and they'd have to do the QA cycle on all of them. Why would they go through this expense and not charge for the software?
If this company was a bank, they'd charge for the upgrade. Banks charge customers for any feature the customer likes. You like breathing air while in the branch, pay for it! There are tons of software companies who sell the base product and then charge for every extra feature. So wasn't Dish leaving money on the table? I don't think so.
Remember, I'm going to have to buy a bunch of gear in about a year. (Yes, I know that rhymes.) At that point, any vendor can steal the bacon. I don't have to stick with Dish, I could go to Direct TV if they had a better deal, or I could go to Comcast if I want to be treated like property. This is Dish's year to lose my business. But if they give me a really useful feature upgrade, and get me really adicted to it, I'm less likely to bolt when the HD set arrives. There are many people like me (those poor bastards!) who will remain brand loyal if that brand doesn't piss them off. But screw me over in that last year, and not only am I open to a new vendor, I'll go looking for the other vendor. This is exactly why pushing a much better software package to every customer at the end of 2007 and not charging for it is a brillant business move.
Oops, She Did It Again!
Judge Orders Britney to Sit in the Corner
Heard in the halls of various software companies.
"I have too much useless television and sports information in my head to remember any more of this business crap. Stop asking me!"
"How can you say you can't get a signal in any location. You didn't come here and try."
"Shit! You're in Lawyer Mode."
"Were you high?"
"Worse. I was stupid. High you get over. But you're always stupid."
"Give me the answer, but don't tell me what it means."
I need to plow through an entire season of Robot Chicken.
They pay me to think. These are my thoughts. Do you think they are getting their money's worth?
Remember: The Crapolla contains my personal opinions. That's right they're mine, so get your own! And you kids get off my lawn!
Although written with the software professional in mind, my mind tends to wander all over the place, and I sometimes write about politics, mass stoopidity, dumb things I saw, and whatever else comes to mind.
From time to time, I use salty language, thus The Crapolla is not intended for children, or certain people in the Bush Administration.
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