LowComDom Performances Presents
The Crapolla According to Fek'Lar
You know you're screwed when...
Your Halloween costume includes a latex one-piece, 6 inch heels, spiked dog collar, police badge, handcuffs, riding crop, flail, and vampire fangs glued onto your K9 teeth, but you can't get into the party because this is The Castro, and that's just not considered "Fancy Dress" around here.
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...
Having night meetings about that letter, and other industry standards.
We had another lay off here at WTHAIS. We've had so many that traditions have been established. Those of us left behind throw a party for the escapees. During one conversation over Diet Cokes I had with a Product Manager who had been axed, I was told she would be asking perspective employers if they have engineering in India and does the job require meetings during Indian daylight hours?
The new phenomenon in The Valley is the "night meeting". This is occurring more and more at companies who have shipped engineering off to India. The problem is India is exactly on the far-side of the globe, so to have a meeting, someone must work late, and the other person must work early to have some time that over-laps.
This happened when I had my Indian team. But since I was the customer, I made the rules. There was a meeting when I arrived, and one just before I left. The shifts in Bangalore were structured so that they changed in sync with our non-Indian shifts. I would talk to each person from all three shifts because the meeting happened right on the shift change. As I said, I was the customer. But it's very different when the Indian team is part of your company. Under these circumstances, everyone is expected to sacrifice a little.
The problem is, people in The Valley are now being asked to start work earlier and stay later. A person I know at The Bridge Company, is now being asked to work a split-shift. His boss thinks he's being generous by allowing my friend to take some hours off in the middle of the day. The truth is, a person with a family needs all their off time bunched together to deal with their household. Leaving the house before your kids are awake and coming home after they've gone to bed isn't making the employees happy.
The job market is pretty tough right now, but this practice won't be sustainable after the pendulum starts to favor labor again. Long term, the answer is to keep Product Management, Project Management, and Engineering in the same time zone. That can only mean more jobs being sent to India.
Sometimes to get ahead, you've got to do a dirty trick.
A customer was asking me for information of a contractual nature. The trouble is I don't have access to customer contracts, and this is clearly a customer relationship topic. I needed the Account Manager to get involved to explain to the customer what they were entitled to. This isn't at all unusual. What was strange this time, the Account Manager went silent on me.
A week after I wrote my first letter, I wrote a second. A week later, I wrote a third. A week later, it was time to drop a bomb. I found the Account Manager in Lookout and discovered who was his Managing Director, and fired off this letter with the previous email thread. (Names changed to keep me from getting fired.)
I'm so sorry to hear of the passing of Jimmy. I mean, Jimmy must be dead, or surely I would have received answers to three important emails. Where shall I send flowers?
You have to play this hand carefully. Not only did I send my letter to the Managing Director, I also CC:ed the Account Manager, and BCC:ed my Manager. CC:ing the Account Manager tells everyone I know they aren't dead. The letter is a message that says, "Don't ignore me, or I'll whip it out and go sarcastic on your boss." BCC:ing my boss makes sure they aren't blind-sided when the complaint comes in from the Managing Director. (Never let your boss be surprised with a complaint.) It's also important not to go too far. You just want to get the Account Manager off their ass and answer you. You're also causing them some embarrassment so they won't ever ignore you again.
The person I wrote to was in Germany, the Account Manager lives in London. I'm in California. I sent the letter about 10 AM my time. That's about 6 PM London time. Not four and a half hours later, the Account Manager rose from the dead and sent this letter to me. (About 10:30 PM in London.)
I have met with the customer and explained the situation to him.
The condolences letter works if it is used sparingly, and carefully. You also have to know what you can get away with in your organization. (I wouldn't use this if I worked for the government. There are other techniques for rigid organizations.) It's also necessary to let people out of the dog house when you get what you want. Only a fool keeps beating the other person. So I simply wrote back,
Thanks very much!
My response to the Account Manager's letter was short, and said, "This is now over." I've used this only a few times. By letting the Account Managers off the hook at the end, I've been able to continue to work with them. Now, they always answer my letters.
By the way, the Managing Director never wrote back to me, nor did he complain to my manager. This tells me the Account Manager's silence was also not acceptable to him.
As I write this, the oil well is capped. The government is holding hearings to decide whose fault this mess is. Obama has just re-opened the Gulf to deep water drilling, with new rules.
We know new law from Congress is coming, and there is a simple reason why. The owner, and crew of the Deepwater Horizon failed to enforce industry standards. The failure to do so resulted in the explosion, the deaths, and the pollution. When a private concern fails to toe the line of industry standards and best practices, and causes death of workers, and an ecological disaster, it is government's role to impose regulation that criminalizes the practices that lead to the disaster.
I know, soon the far right will be complaining about big government sticking its nose into private enterprise. Someone will quote Thomas Paine, "That government is best which governs least." But I think the people who make their living from the natural beauty of the Gulf, and the seafood industry will agree, we can't keep having this sort of disaster.
In the late 1960's we allowed drilling off the coast of California. A large oil spill then caused the state government to clamp down on the industry and not allow any new drilling. There are a plethora of ironies concerning this ban. One is the enormous appetite for gasoline Californians have because of our car culture. Another is the state was going to try to re-open the coast for drilling, sighting our need for oil. Just then the Deepwater Horizon exploded, causing the Golden State to tighten its sphincter. The Govenator did an about face and declared that we would not be re-opening the oil fields.
The trouble with government regulation versus industry standards is the attitude of the regulated. In general, industry standards come from the industry they are meant for. They are adopted by committees representing companies, trade organizations, and individuals to better the working conditions, develop better tools, and to build an environment where free enterprise can flourish. Once standards are in place, training that is applicable throughout an industry can be developed, workers can move from job to job retaining their developed wisdom and expertise. Conflict between companies can be minimized. In general, this is the rising tide that lifts all boats. The desire of individuals and companies to keep that tide rising encourages all to enforce the standards.
On the other hand, government regulation is rarely embraced by those regulated. First, the regulation is crafted by politicians who rarely are true experts in the craft. Regulations are often built to make headlines, with signing ceremonies in the White House Rose Garden. Members of Congress huddle around the President for photographs. These laws are often born in an environment where a few uninformed persons will tell an industry what to do. The trouble is, it may add complexity and cost, yet not accomplish the desired effect.
Then, of course, there's the Lawyer Effect. Once a new set of laws is signed, companies tend to dispatch their lawyers to understand the law, and then figure out how to skirt past it. If the industry's lobbyists have done their job, there will be loop holes built into the law which will allow companies to only slightly change their behavior and minimize any effect the law was to have. This is not something you see with industry standards.
But the oil industry is going to get regulation. BP, Transocean, and Haliburton blew it. BP blew it when they demanded behavior which violated standards. Transocean and Haliburton blew it when they didn't demand existing industry standards be enforced. Oddly enough, some of these standards were created by the oil spill in California, when the industry gathered and decided they couldn't have another spill in US waters. They had already lost the California fields, they needed to protect their access to other US fields.
I don't for a moment believe that the government will prohibit drilling in the Gulf. The oil industry is as big as tourism and fishing. Shutting down drilling will cost thousands of jobs during a jobless recovery. Stopping drilling is political suicide. What will the new laws be? I don't know. But I'm doubtful new laws will make any oil rig any safer. I, for one, would like to see the industry have another gathering as it did after the California spill, do it's own postmortem, publish the cause, and then sign a communique expressing the industry's response. Ultimately, open standards and peer pressure will do a far better job than laws. But if the industry can't do this, it does fall on government to protect the people, their assets, and the environment. Or at least try to.
Katy Perry Too Revealing???
Big Bird Still Refuses to Wear Pants!
Heard in the halls of various software companies.
"That is the subtle finesse of hacking the shit out of Windows."
"It's what separates the Uber Geeks from the N00bs."
"There will be no nipple waxing."
"It takes a Xanex and two rum and Cokes to get me on an airplane."
"If the good Lord had meant for man to think he wouldn't have provided computers."
I need to go shoplift at the Apple store again.
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 from the Christian Right.
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