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May the source be with you, but remember the KISS principle ;-)
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Social Problems in Enterprise Unix Administration

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Information Overload Shadow IT  Preventing Vendors From Playing The Blame Game Bootlickocracy Managing Managers Expectations KISS Principle
Toxic managers Female Sociopaths The Techniques of a Female Sociopaths The Fiefdom Syndrome Surviving a Bad Performance Review Stoicism
Dictionary of corporate bullshit Dealing with multiple flavors of Unix Number of Servers per Sysadmin IT Outsourcing/Offshoring Slackerism Nicholas Carr's "IT Does not Matter" Fallacy
 Ten Commandments of the IT Slackers Society Tips History Admin Horror Stories Humor Etc

"Bureaucracy is the death of any achievement."

-Albert Einstei

There is not a more honesty-enforcing device in modern life than a compiler and the attendant run-time system, nor a greater intellectual joy than the art and science that can be created with it. But IT departments are generally managed by people who failed programming.

C Wright Mills standard of leadership - "men without lively imagination are needed to execute policies without imagination devised by an elite without imagination"

Here are my notes/reflection of sysadmin problem in strange (and typically pretty toxic) IT departments of large corporations:

Introduction

 

Pros: Good technology, some competent people. Benefits good but getting worse. Work from home program helpful to employees (and doubtless abused by many).

Cons: People protecting their turf, incompetent middle managers, horde of non-technical yes men calling the shots. Zero opportunities for career and professional growth inside if you're unhappy with where you are in the organization -- expect friends and buddies to get hired in your place. Also expect such friends and buddies to get re-hired promptly in case they are laid off. Extremely incompetent managers not encouraged to ask tough questions or indeed any questions at all, since they don't have a clue about the product.

Summary: “Best place to work if you're an incompetent ass-kisser”

- Write-up about Sun Microsystems environment
by Member of Technical Staff in Santa Clara, CA: (Past Employee - 2006)

Unix system administration is an interesting and complex craft. The key question for any job:  is your work demands use of your technical skills, creativity and judgment. If it doesn't, then you're in absurd world of Dilbertized cubicle farms. Or worse,  in the middle of outsourcing/offshoring campaign.  The answer for system administration is yes, it can be a good occupation for capable, creative people,  but with caveats ;-).

Unix system administration has potential of utilizing creativity, judgment and tech skills, but they don't materialize automatically. Many sysadmin feel overworked, underappreciated and underpaid. In large firms widespread feeling is that IT bosses are either incompetent or cheating those who are in the trenches or both.  Users are also pretty resentful and generally passionately hate corporate IT.  Excesses of IT bureaucracy stimulates rise of Shadow IT which is essences is an attempt to create alternative IT solutions using own non-supported by central IT software  products (often open source) and "stealth" support personnel.

Stories about bureaucratization horrors are widespread and that generally suggest the aging of most IT organizations. Often such stories depict remarkable exercises in absurdity that look like taken directly from the pages of  famous The Good Soldier Švejk  stories about military bureaucracy (which BTW is probably a better book for treatment of sysadmin abuse then Alice in Wonderland ;-)  Much depends on particular work climate.  Still it is fair to say that over the last ten years things have got a lot worse for the IT "worker bees". Among typical problems: 

In worst case you will feel like a mercenary who is fighting in a bloody, dirty, exhausting conflict he does not understand, with commanding officers who have little or no brains, on behalf of a country to which he has no loyalty. If you are just out of the university one of the most important parts of your adaptation to such an environment is not learning technical staff (you will be surprised how little some long time members of staff know), it is adapting to the situation and finding your niche without losing your dignity and making too many compromises. Adapting to the situation when many of the people in IT managerial positions (I refuse to call them "managers") are clueless, empire-building, turf-protecting bureaucrats interested mainly in self-promotion and self-protection,  regardless of the consequences to their subordinates.  Reading books like Peter Principle helps a little, but reality is much more dangerous and people can be much more evil. Without Conscience might help too, but it's too simplistic.  One of the real problems we have in IT departments is that they turns intelligent adults who graduated from the universities with pretty high score and were genially interested in programming and IT into morons. Here are a couple of insightful comments from Why I left Google - JW on Tech - Site Home - MSDN Blogs

Ian Smith

Isn't it inevitable that Google will end up like Microsoft. A brain-dead dinosaur employing sycophantic middle class bores, who are simply working towards a safe haven of retirement. ...

ram

This was exactly how I felt that Google has become under Larry Page. I was surprised that the community wasn't discussing more about this .

It is becoming more like any other company. Google was supposed to be the ideal shining beacon in the tech world. With Google becoming just another corporate company, I think the tech landscape will become more like that of the network carriers. Neither of the them are good but people adjust to what is available,

In view of unending stream of more and more complex systems that sysadmin needs to manage we need to to promote KISS principle. Design is measured not by quantity, but by quality. That's were Unix traditions come into play, but recently they were distorted by competition with Microsoft, which in a way is "The king of software overcomplexity", the company which stripped IBM from this title (although IBM still desperately fights for the title as we can see in Tivoli, WebSphere, Lotus Notes and several other products ;-). 

Fight against overcomplexity is related to fight against overload. There is an optimal amount of time and effort spend on the job. And that optimum is different from maximum :-). Killing yourself for some stupid project that in ten years will be in the dustbin of history (even if it does enjoy initial success) is probably not the optimum form of self-sacrifice, even if you inclined to such a destiny. This is the point that is difficult to understand when you are young and enthusiastic so it might be more easily explained in the form of humor; for that purpose we created Softpanorama IT Slackers Society with its own manifest and Ten Commandments.  The key point here is that excessive zeal is more dangerous and self-destructive then you might think... 

Kafkaesque absurdities of IT workplace

  P:

Vonbek777 wrote:

That night I dreamed a surreal Dilbert type revolution where oppressed cubical workers everywhere rose up and pitched workstations out windows, torched the server rooms, danced on the backup tapes in the streets, and bowled mid-level managers strapped to fake leather office chairs into vending machines and stacks of office water bottles, the big ones.

Perhaps you should seek professional help :-)

Vonbek777:

JP wrote:

Perhaps you should seek professional help.

Are you suggesting that isn't a normal fantasy for frustrated IT people everywhere?

Advance Report- Real Annualized GDP Grew at 3.2% in Q4

The absurdities of Dilbertized cubicle farms are well known, but any write-up is nothing in comparison with your actual experience of joining and working in such an organization. Students entering large firms should be aware that in such an environment system administrators are usually expected to fit the organization as a cog, not as a craftsman. Too detailed requirements of "experience" in particular non-essential or obscure tools in resume is just one facet of this "cog" approach as if a person who graduated from the college cannot master them quickly enough.  Here is a humorous take on a typical situation:

I’ve been asked to compile some Dilbert advice for new IT graduates who have no idea what’s awaiting them in the IT world. I’m talking about practical advice. Here are some of the ones that come to mind.

The whole mentality is pretty much feudal with separate  lords (aka managers) guarding their kingdoms (and number of serfs, aka staff  positions) and God forbid you to make some proposal that cross the line. Usually there  are way too many shallow PowerPoint B.S artists who rose up the ranks far above their level of competence. But there is a silver lining in any dark cloud: often you can get along pretty well doing very little useful (or at all) as long as you fall inline. That creates plenty of opportunities for self-education as well as to contribute to open source (preferably under pseudonym).   In this sense large organizations are superior work environment that small firms when each person contribution is critical to normal functioning of the infrastructure and you need to run like crazy just to stay on the same place.

"Organization induced idiocy" is another term that explains a lot of what is happening on IT floors of large companies. As organization grows and matures changes in behavior similar to aging in humans became more and more pronounced. One is risk aversion and it starts at the very top. Size makes the IT  datacenters rigid and innovations hostile. Quantity turns into quality. Larger IT organizations also  are more susceptible to "strong ruler" trap. I think this is a situation somewhat similar to totalitarian states dynamics. The society is simply captured until the crash of the regime occurs. Dictators can be very efficient at the beginning and solve problems quicker and more comprehensively then any democratic states, but the problems always arise as the regime ages.

Bureaucracies often  trivialize important matters (e.g., those affecting the reliability of network or servers or other "life and death" issues), and grossly exaggerate the importance of trivial matters (e.g., PowerPoint presentations to management). Sane people can and do behave  insanely in their bureaucratic roles. That is a special term for this, something like "acquired  stupidity". As authors of Peter Principle suggested the most detailed analysis are performed for orders around $1-10K. Projects around $1 million which typically introduce new large software or hardware system into environment often are reviewed extremely superficially with most decision-making at the top. Solutions are often are granted without any detailed technical analysis at all. In many instances such books as Peter Principle are simply too true to be funny. There's hardly anything in them that didn't sound exactly like real IT environment to me. And a typical reaction to the various absurd incidents of bureaucratic inertia, institutional insanity, and blatant higher-up incompetence depicted in the book was a simple shrug. All-in-all life in IT can be as repetitive, irritating, absurd as in Catch-22, and bad things happen for no rhyme or reason. The only thing that is absent is the danger of death.

In the large enterprise workspace every sysadmin has periodically to deal with absurd mission statements, objectives  and benchmark standards, working towards pre-agreed goals of teamwork (which often means the necessary of being a the conformist). It's important to understand that what they require is surface obedience and if you are comfortable with this mask, you have substantial degree of freedom. So that atmosphere would not necessary be bad for and drive the creative, intelligent, free-spirited guys out. It just required diplomatic skills and ability to deflect the mot absurd requirements.  Because paradoxically excessive regimentation is often accompanies by complete loss of understanding of what those who are in the trenches are actually doing. If so, the situation  represents a huge opportunity.

All those campaigns  for 99.9% uptime, increased "customer satisfaction" and, especially, "increase shareholder value" whatever it means (the latter usually means brainless cost cutting and utter destruction of quality and/or safety to please investment banks and get bonuses for the top brass) should be approached as bad weather. It will change, probably soon. Such campaigns tend to self-destruct and results of resulting destruction quietly swiped under the carpet.   Still side effects linger for quite a long time and the most important side effect that more and more rank and file staffers realize that management is incompetent and care only about themselves.

Due to those limitations you can often see that amazing group of talented people can perform poorly. When the leaders are all incompetent, you just wanted out. Demoralization kicks in and from that point things are going downhill...

Performance Reviews

Performance review is a special case of company trying to pressure people into conformance which needs a separate discussion. First of it is important to understand that performance reviews are not about your performance. It's more about your contribution to your boss performance and you being perceived as a conformist ("a good team player" in corporate jargon).  It is also example of raw and almost unchecked power projected by the manager: a powerful way to keep employees in check.  If your manager wants to say that you are bad performer, he/she can do it. That makes performance reviews pretty Kafkaesque experience, especially for new sysadmins.

"[Kafkaesque] would be an existentialist state of ever-elusive freedom while existing under immitigable control...anything suggestive of Kafka, especially his nightmarish style of narration, in which characters lack a clear course of action, the ability to see beyond immediate events, and the possibility of escape." 

In reality performance reviews serve as a powerful tool to kill employee morale: people who know that they will not receive a reward for completing a task or for doing that task successfully simply do not perform as well as those who expect no reward at all. Also humiliating nature of performance reviews leaves scars that are slow to heal. There are couple of things that can make performance reviews less distasteful:

Performance reviews are often structured according some internal company document which probably is close to published junk, for example Harvard Business School recommendation, and if you can get hold of those guidelines you pretty much can simulate what they want from you with minimal hassle.  If you don't you can but a generic book. They are often $0.01 on Amazon which is their real price :-).  Usage of bureaucratic jargon and obfuscation is the rule of the game. Try to learn the necessary bureaucratic jargon ;-).  For example "team players" usually means a person who sucks to his boss and often is used to crush any resistance to stupid projects or outsourcing initiatives.  All-in-all  the performance review is not a review, but a verdict read to you by the judge. The key is to try to minimize  psychological damage and first of all damage to self-esteem

To fight them you better study literature. For a start look at 

For some additional information see Mini-Microsoft- FAQ on reviews, promotions, job changes, and ...

Conflict and Politics in IT Environment

Like any politics office politics is about struggle for power. It is attempt to create alliances that help you to survive and prosper in the company and as such it is a parallel path distinct from purely technocratic activities. And it requires different abilities. Played reasonably well (and that first of all means "not too much zeal" ;-)  it can help you to survive and even advance career wise.  The problem with IT politics is that they are usually highly territorial, and as such petty, gossipy,  sociopathic and stifling for any real creativity.

You may not like it but please avoid criticizing such a behavior. all this water cooler discussion create an  informal power network that somewhat compensates utter powerlessness of staff in large corporations and if you need at least stay neutral if you want to benefit form it. You need to take into account its existence: many valuable initiatives proposed by new members of IT staff are killed simply because they are not liked by power brokers in informal alliances.  Just like in politics. decision-making can get plagued by indecisiveness, gridlock, incompetence and  compromises between power brokers that really are not helpful for anyone.  Attempts for power grab are not uncommon:

BrokenHalo: Re:Too many cooks...

... Back in the '90s, I worked at one outfit (an insurance company) where the vice-CEO demanded superuser privileges despite having no knowledge of system administration or any other computing background. He just wanted to act as overlord as to what staff had access to on their signons. I was very tempted to tell him to get f*ked, phrased in more professional terms...

My immediate boss was (wisely) more inclined to a diplomatic approach, however, so he persuaded me to install a dummy shell for him that was enough to convince him that he had what he wanted, without granting him any kind of command line access, or ability to change system configuration.

In a typical large corporate IT environment, there is a strict hierarchy in which managers and the top sysadmin earn much more than those at the bottom. In order to rise in this hierarchy one needs to be considered successful. Along with technical skills, social connections and people skills also are necessary and sometimes more important. Still often for an internal promotion you often need putting in years of  appreciated by management (but not necessary useful ;-) effort for which you get good performance reviews.  No wonder that many sysadmin prefer to jump the ship in order to get a promotion. You usually get the necessary qualification for higher position in other firm after two to three years on the job. Remember that changing companies too often slows your growth as a lot of effort need to be spend adapting to a new environment. That's an overhead that slows your growth.

At some point the next step may be joining management ranks. An important factor to understand that usually it's not easy to get back to system administration, even if one wants to: the loss of qualifications for the person promoted to the management is occurring really fast. This way IT is a natural environment for generating PHBs and they are much less benign then in Dilbert cartoons.

Sometimes despite general attitude toward initiatives there can be some similarities between the way small or medium datacenters and large datacenters operated when a big contract is in play. In such cases even a relatively junior person might have an influence on the bottom line of IT far beyond what the title suggests. You will be surprised to know how superficial evaluations of the most expensive parts of large corporate IT infrastructure: storage, databases and enterprise management software are in large companies. PHBs often are clueless as for real technical merits of the product and if they do not have personal preference some lower ranking person can easily determine the final result of the bidding. Higher ranks of  IT departments are often staffed with people dumped from other parts of organization and more often than now such people are notoriously poor managers.

But cases when lower ranked person has real influence of an choice of the system that datacenter will run are rare. The reality is that managers often do not need your advice and  a typical manager as an individual makes more money – and hence acquires higher status – the more complex and more expensive product the company acquires.  Often decisions to acquire the particular product are made at the top level of IT management and your opinion, even if you express one, will never influence the decision making (that's how many IBM products lend in large corporations).  Please understand that sometimes complex, obscure product will make your position more secure.  Be ready that as individual administrator you can experience some conflict of interests, especially acute if you prefer simpler more open products and participate in open source movement. 

"Penny Wise Pound Stupid" Syndrome

The other problem is that most IT departments those days are pinching pennies. I’ve worked for quite a few IT departments that were “penny wise and pound foolish” even before the current economic crisis.  The first thing they achieve is killing employee moral by micromanaging.

It is important to understand that there is a big difference between being cheap and being frugal. Example of frugal is learning to cook good meals at home and eating at restaurants only on  special occasions. An example of being cheap is eating out twice every weekend and stiffing the waiter on every occasion.  IT now is a shrinking business and that shows not only is spectrum of cheapness-frugality decisions (with prevalence of the former) but also in a types of bosses that you will encounter, types which  previously used to be found in department stores ;-). The utter short-sightedness in such IT departments, both public and private can be quite breathtaking for a newcomer. For example they can buy $20K Itanium server to run HP-UX when $5K Intel server with Linux or Solaris would be twice faster and 4 times cheaper and refuse to send you to a 4K training in the name of frugality. But this not frugal, that's simply cheap.  No matter how cynical you get, it’s impossible to keep up with stupidity of such examples.   Extreme, stupid, self-defeating cheapness can also be a distinct behavioral characteristic for some IT managers especially those without good tech background and who very slowly grow in their ranks in the company. For this type of people any type of waste is painful and any type of thrift and efficiency is pleasurable – regardless of rational cost/benefit analysis. There are also many managers who ideologically enjoy the flexing of power for its own sake (basically, bullies) that use frugality just as an excuse to exercise power.  IT in it’s core should  be driven by engineering and that means an open, flat, non-hierarchical kind of place with opportunities for training. If they don't provide that try to do it yourself and prepare to leave. At the end of the day, it is the ability to move to other company or the ability to successfully start a competitive company that constitutes  a decisive test whether or not you are mistreated in the current environment.  Remember that after 3-4 years you value is usually higher at the new company, then in old one, especially if you paid sufficient attention to raising your qualification.  Leaving company that provides "stupidly cheap" environment  is a small revenge, but it is still a revenge for mistreatment.  Here is one interesting comment:

I used to work for a company tried to have it both ways on this issue.

They wanted to be cheap with the money, but they wanted you to be generous with your time.

Capitalism is a two way street. If companies want to be cheap with money, they can’t expect to have their cake and eat it too. That only generates resentment from employees. It’s counterproductive to lecture people on values like hard work and loyalty, while you forget the virtue of generosity.

Some "stupidly cheap" companies provide ample opportunities for self-training.  I think that good IT department can’t afford to not spend money on things that really matters, like good desktops/laptops, medical insurance, tools and training, but it's OK if they avoid spending money on things that don’t matter, such as discounted tickets, club memberships, reserved packing spaces, internet feed at home and so on. If they do that, great; but in those non-essential matters if they don't, that's OK.

Just don't react too  emotionally on some incidents  in which your advice is ignored, decision that was made looks to you completely stupid and /or you feed that your contributions are ignored.  This issue is related to millennium old  philosophical issue: What is justice? It would be nice if everyone (and especially you ;-) is compensated a fair share of the value he/she creates. The problem is that such environment in impossible to create and maintain. There is always a lot of subjectivity in measuring somebody's contribution in IT.  That means that the idea to reward top performers with a bigger slice in practice, rarely work out that way. For the same reason "performance evaluations" in IT are usually a disaster. One reason is that few bosses can/want objectively evaluate qualification of their staff. What should matters for you is the general climate. 

Also you need to develop the ability to see the consequences of decisions in a long run. That's a real crucial ability for survival in modern IT. Please understand that often the adoption of the system that looks to you stupid and expensive proves to be not so stupid/expensive in a long run due to factors that you don't understand at the time of evaluation. And if this "stupid and expensive" system is an industry standard it provides you a valuable opportunity for training. Long term consequences is really critical framework of judging decision and future is unpredictable by definition. After all the useful life of IT systems is usually a decade of less and all of us are like the artists who create complex paintings on the beach sand. The next big wave and all is gone. In such cases your current fight, say,  to promote particular (and definitely better) software package might be not that essential if in two years this area is outsourced.

The importance of keeping focus on self-education

I think the most realistic way to preserver sanity in a large corporate IT environment is relentless work on improving you technical qualification. Please don't think that after graduation from the university you should stop study. That's the biggest mistake you can make.  Unix is a very interesting OS, the OS that actually has a philosophy behind it. Simplifying we can say that Unix favor rapid prototyping and pipes as component structuring mechanism. Learning it and how to apply it in one of the important tasks for each Unix sysadmin.  I mention some features of it in my (generally negative) 2004 review of Peter Salus book A Quarter Century of UNIX (Addison-Wesley, 1994)

In my humble opinion Salus lucks real understanding of the technical and social dynamics of Unix development, understanding that can be found, say, in chapter "Twenty Years of Berkeley Unix from AT&T-Owned to Freely Redistributable" in the book "Open Sources: Voices from the Open Source Revolution (O'Reilly, 1999)" (available online). The extended version of this chapter will be published in the second edition of "The Design and Implementation of the 4.4BSD Operating System (Unix and Open Systems Series)" which I highly recommend (I read a preprint at Usenix.)

In any case Kirk McKusick is a real insider, not a former Usenix bureaucrat like Salus. Salus was definitely close to the center of the events; but it is unclear to what extent he understood the events he was close to.

Unix history is a very interesting example how interests of military (DAPRA) shape modern technical projects (not always to the detriment of technical quality, quite opposite in case of Unix) and how DAPRA investment in Unix created completely unforeseen side effect: BSD Unix that later became the first free/open Unix ever (Net2 tape and then Free/Open/NetBSD distributions). Another interesting side of Unix history is that AT&T brass never understood what a jewel they have in hands.

Salus's Usenix position prevented him from touching many bitter conflicts that litter the first 25 years of Unix, including personal conflicts. The reader should be advised that the book represents "official" version of history, and that Salus is, in essence, a court historian, a person whose main task is to put gloss on the events, he is writing about. As far as I understand, Salus never strays from this very safe position.

Actually Unix created a new style of computing, a new way of thinking of how to attack a problem with a computer. This style was essentially the first successful component model in programming. As Frederick P. Brooks Jr (another computer pioneer who early recognized the importance of pipes) noted, the creators of Unix "...attacked the accidental difficulties that result from using individual programs together, by providing integrated libraries, unified file formats, and pipes and filters.". As a non-programmer, in no way Salus is in the position to touch this important side of Unix. The book contains standard and trivial praise for pipes, without understanding of full scope and limitations of this component programming model...

An interesting reading on the topic will be contrasting The Unix Hater's Handbook (available online) and Don Libes  Life With Unix. Both books explore Unix history and its philosophy from different angles.  Here is a good summary of principles that constitute Unix philosophy from Wikipedia:

McIlroy: A Quarter Century of Unix

Doug McIlroy, the inventor of Unix pipes and one of the founders of the Unix tradition, summarized the philosophy as follows:

This is the Unix philosophy: Write programs that do one thing and do it well. Write programs to work together. Write programs to handle text streams, because that is a universal interface.

This is usually abridged to "Write programs that do one thing and do it well".

Pike: Notes on Programming in C

Rob Pike offers the following five maxims of complexity in programming in Notes on Programming in C,[2] though they can be easily viewed as points of a Unix philosophy:[citation needed]

  1. You cannot tell where a program is going to spend its time. Bottlenecks occur in surprising places, so do not try to second guess and put in a speed hack until you've proven that's where the bottleneck is.
  2. Measure. Do not tune for speed until your performance analysis tool tells you which part of the code overwhelms the rest.
  3. Fancy algorithms tend to run more slowly on small data sets than simple algorithms. They tend to have a large constant factor in O(n) analysis, and n is usually small. So don't get fancy unless Rule 2 indicates that n is big enough.
  4. Simplify your algorithms and data structures wherever it makes sense because fancy algorithms are more difficult to implement without defects. The data structures in most programs can be built from array lists, linked lists, hash tables, and binary trees.
  5. Data dominates. If you have chosen the right data structures and organized things well, the algorithms will almost always be self-evident. Data structures, not algorithms, are central to programming.

Pike's rules 1 and 2 restate Donald Knuth's[3] famous maxim "Premature optimization is the root of all evil." Ken Thompson rephrased Pike's rules 3 and 4 as "When in doubt, use brute force." Rules 3 and 4 are instances of the design philosophy KISS. Rule 5 was previously stated by Fred Brooks in The Mythical Man-Month. Jon Bentley's Programming Pearls also has a chapter on the same design principle. Rule 5 is often shortened to "write stupid code that uses smart data", and is an instance of the guideline "If your data structures are good enough, the algorithm to manipulate them should be trivial."

Mike Gancarz: The UNIX Philosophy

In 1994 Mike Gancarz (a member of the team that designed the X Window System), drew on his own experience with Unix, as well as discussions with fellow programmers and people in other fields who depended on Unix, to produce The UNIX Philosophy which sums it up in 9 paramount precepts:

  1. Small is beautiful.
  2. Make each program do one thing well.
  3. Build a prototype as soon as possible.
  4. Choose portability over efficiency.
  5. Store data in flat text files.
  6. Use software leverage to your advantage.
  7. Use shell scripts to increase leverage and portability.
  8. Avoid captive user interfaces.
  9. Make every program a filter.

The 10 lesser tenets are not universally agreed upon as part of the Unix philosophy and, in some cases, are hotly debated such as Monolithic Kernels vs. Microkernels:

  1. Allow the user to tailor the environment.
  2. Make operating system kernels small and lightweight.
  3. Use lowercase and keep it short.
  4. Save trees.
  5. Silence is golden.
  6. Think parallel.
  7. The sum of the parts is greater than the whole.
  8. Look for the 90-percent solution.
  9. Worse is better.
  10. Think hierarchically.

Worse is better

Main article: Worse is better

Richard P. Gabriel suggests that a key advantage of Unix was that it embodied a design philosophy he termed "worse is better", in which simplicity of both the interface and the implementation are more important than any other attribute of the system—including correctness, consistency and completeness. Gabriel argues that this design style has key evolutionary advantages, though he questions the quality of some results.

Some issues are also covered in my article Solaris vs Linux

As for raising your qualification, Malcolm Gladwell, the author of the book Outliers  suggested an interesting hypothesis that 10,000 hours of study/experience as a young man/woman is a prerequisite for getting to the high level in almost any field. Roughly speaking that's just 1K day 10 hours a day or approximately three year. While you can take this with a grain of salt, I would agree with the thesis that opportunity and persistence in IT matters as much  as high IQ(or even more).  We can disagree about numbers (I think for sysadmin job his estimate is too low estimate and 20,000-30,000 hours  are required to achieve high level of qualification) we agree about the principle. And this is far from being some a new idea as proverb "practice makes perfect" suggests.

But there is important thing about Gladwell view. He suggests that the most successful people put first ten thousand of hours in a relatively young age, resulting in early head start.  That's why long hours, including working summer hours in school, fanatic dedication are really important.  That's what I tried for many years communicate to my students: if you want to be at the top (and not everybody wants that) you need work long, long hours to get a head start so that after university you can get better position. The weakness of such recommendation is that IT includes substantial social component and this component is not easily teachable, but can make or brake person career similarly to presence of absence  of programming abilities.

In "Outliers," Gladwell shows  how individuals who relentlessly work on improving their skills from young age, even if they have a humble start rise to prominence in their respective careers. There are also important external factors involved and the top achieved depends of arriving on the scene at the right time and on the ability to leverage relationships. As for timing it does not depends on you and here you need to be lucky like Bill Gates was. Also not everybody can leverage relationships (especially if born in a distant country and in family of modest means). Still relentless work in mastering the craft pays and the saying "practice makes perfect"  is very true in programming and system administration.  I often saw how students less able then top in the class achieved more due to being really fanatical in self-education after graduation.  In this sense having real interest in programming or system administration helps.

In a normal career, that level of commitment usually lead to achieving really high level of qualification in  six-ten years, but in some high intensity environments like game programming that "path to the top" can be crammed into 3–5 years.  Unfortunately this is not the case for Unix system administration. Unless you are a former programmer, getting to the mature level required quite a lot of work that can't be compressed in less then, say, 7-10 years. The problem is that with time Unixes become way more complex then they were in early 1990th and the services that they are running, for example LAMP stack, also became complex.  Virtualization also added complexity. With liberal access to vendor training (say four courses a year or more) it can be done faster, but still it's a lot of work that requires a lot of time.

In any case, there is a lot of  deep elegance in Unix, and a talented sysadmin like any talented craftsman is able to expose this hidden beauty of the masterful manipulation with complex symbolic objects  to the amazed observers. That part of sysadmin craft is often called the art of command line  Also you need to improvise on the job to get things done, create your own tools; you can't go just "by manual".  Unfortunately sometimes such an improvisation might have an unexpected side effect ;-). Feelings after, say, wiping /etc directory of an important production server in the middle of the day can be quite intense... 

Unix system administration are one of the last few truly multifunctional specializations in IT. It involves a lot of problem solving. My feeling is that programmers that were in the early day kings of IT, became too narrow specialized and system administration remains one of the few truly "encyclopedic" occupations.  Java programmers, for example,  seldom know Perl, bash, Sendmail, bind and apache. But good system administrators usually knows a lot about those areas in additional to substantial skills in programming (many Unix utilities were written by people who were employed as sysadmins, not as programmers).

In any case if you want to work as a system administrator, you need to know how to do installing a server, add and extend filesystem and so on. Entry level knowledge of shell is also required. On the second level you need to know scripting more in depth with at least shell (bash)  and Perl under the belt. As Java became modern Cobol, some knowledge of Java is also required. In additional databases became such an essential part of business datacenter that their knowledge is necessary even if database administrators exist in the organization. Bu first and foremost sysadmin needs to know how to troubleshoot the problems if something goes wrong. 

Watching how a Unix guru performs routine sysadmin tasks using command line tools often can teach you a lot more that you learned in particular shell programming class (including mine ;-).  Sometimes it's like watching professional piano player performing some classical piece. The current trend of downsizing of IT means that many "old school" system administrators with unmatched skills of command line usage are vanishing from IT and with them some important class of knowledge disappears. Please note that those people have a unique experience as they grow with the growth of Unix, often from the very humble beginnings on DEC machines. Some came to Unix administration from mainframes, as Unix was the OS that by-and-large replaced mainframes in datacenters in 90th. Knowing history is always important and that's how this generation acquired a unique perspective.  If you know such a person try to learn from him/her as this type of knowledge is rather difficult to acquire on your own.

The danger of psychopaths in IT workplace

On the surface, IT is an agreeable, non-confrontational place where sociability and networking are crucial. But under this surface there are often mean or sociopathic bosses absurd requirements and tight schedules and unpaid overtime. While elements of creativity are still present in modern sysadmin work, it is now much less craft and more a "regular job" - with all its unfairness and compromises.

That's why many sysadmins consider the profession to be quite stressful. Commonly cited sources of stress include having to deal with difficult users, difficult coworkers. But the main danger is psychopathic bosses -- the type of people who advance really well in a typical large corporate IT environment. Add to this stupidly designed, overly complex and often useless or harmful products that were bought by clueless PHBs out of plain vanilla stupidity or due to bribing by small perks like golf trips or couple of conferences in a really nice places. The responsibility for supporting brain damaged products with the parody on customer service instead of real tech support is probably far from what typical graduate thought about the workplace at the university.

Psychopathic managers came in several different flavors, each of which is richly represented in IT workplace.  The classic types are:

In such cases, which are more typical then most people outside of IT assume, the important thing is to learn to tread the fine line between self-interested cooperation and psychological surrender. Another important point is to strive to achieve mastery of the sysadmin craft, which in turn gives you a degree of freedom and an alternative self-worth scale, the scale that is not a subject to the whims of office politics.

Craftsman has inherent pride in this ability "to fix things", not just shuffle emails and call vendor tech support.  In this sense as long as sysadmin can at least partially be craftsman and exercise its own creativity, he/she is less susceptible to the depression inherent in the "office slave" positions and labor alienation syndrome of modem organizations.  The absurdities and injustices of the modern office are not immediately obvious but that does not mean that they are less demeaning, especially for talented young people out of college.  But in a way modern colleges prepares people well for such things, especially for office hypocrisy ;-).

Heavy doze of mismanagement leads to the alienating of system administrators, who start to hate their job (some times with strong negative passion, see Bastard Operator From Hell ) 

Outsourcing: the Sword of Damocles over sysadmin head

During weekends and holidays it's refreshing to not have to worry about your job. Unless you work in IT. Along with being on call, all the "server room monkeys"  do suffer from anxiety about their jobs being outsourced. Outsourcing remains fashionable and like Sword of Damocles hangs over any sysadmin head.

The level at which Unix sysadmin jobs were targeted by outsourcing is still pretty low, much less then programming jobs. But "the value of the sword is not that it fall, but rather, that it hangs" and threat of outsourcing is a powerful way to keep sysadmins in check in large companies. But prerequisites for outsourcing are in place: high speed connections to India, East Asia and Eastern Europe make corporate brass eager to consider saving money on sysadmin jobs. 

A powerful countervailing fact is that IT is already downsized and often total cost of IT including salaries is less the 1% of total expenses for a particular organization. So gains are small and risks are high. In an way this is another penny wide pound foolish approach.  See The incredible disappearing sysadmin.

Another countervailing factor is that outsourcing sysadmin jobs is more difficult and problems prone path then most PHBs (and not only PHBs) assume. See

Outsourcing and the reduction of the absolute numbers of workers due to more automation in Unix administration has powerful negative side effects that weakens organization as a whole. Technology is not neutral or independent of who controls it and in way IT is the nerve system of the company. Do you really want to outsource your nerve system? 

Still, while degradation of quality sysadmin work environment is less and more slow then say degradation of corporate programming jobs it is still pretty visible. Conflicts are common and can be pretty nasty (see for example typical management speak in Learn to resolve and avoid work conflicts ).

Still, there will always be demand for good Unix sysadmins. You can only do so much from 3000 miles away. Try coordinating something really complex with somebody in another country. The effects of destruction of  loyalty to the company are also huge.  If one is paid $15 an hour for a job that is paid $30 an hour elsewhere (the U.S. systems administrators make an average of $29 per hour.) why should one stay with the current company after acquiring (often at large expense) the necessary skills.

And absence of loyalty cost company money, sometimes much more than can be saved by outsourcing. I know several example when people who are about to be outsourced just avoided to provide their opinion about the particular (expensive) system and as a result company bought and deployed an expensive lemon which later took several years and several million dollars to replace. Sometimes such decision bring the company on the edge of disaster.   

"New Normal"

The classic idea of increasing productivity was that the labor that is freed up due to increased productivity will be used to produce new goods and services thereby increasing the quantity and variety of the nation's output. In a dynamic, growing economy, even though there's a delay before the new jobs appear (and hence a need to help workers through the transition), the new jobs are supposed to be even better than the old ones.

But as IT workers look forward, the fear is that that won't be the case. Sysadmins who have lost jobs face an uncertain future where, if they can get new jobs at all, they are unlikely be paid that well as in the past jobs or have the same level of benefits as the jobs they lost. New hires do not appear to have the same opportunities that those who were hired in, say 90th used to have, particularly sysadmins with just bachelor degree.  In a way bachelor degree became more like high school diploma in 1990th.

While previously workers could be assured that rising productivity would translate into better jobs, the last several decades of stagnant wages have undermined that promise. The brass still can pick up productivity-enhancing ideas from the rank and file workers, but reward only themselves with higher pay and perks as profits rise. That situation is often called "new normal" for IT.  The current theme seems to be:

"We are going to work you to death, and if you don't like it leave, there are ten people standing outside the gate waiting for your job."

That remind me a quote from the famous novel Jungle by Upton Sinclair "But I'm glad I'm not a pig!".

Overload and Stress

The idea of "incredibly shrinking IT" works until it don't. Then scapegoats are found, punished and new round starts. As a result of downsizing and a recession, on-the-job stress is at all time high for many jobs including sysadmin jobs. 

One of the recent tricks which became possible with the wide availability of smart phones and cheap laptops is saving money by  keeping sysadmin in salaried position on call 24x7. There is some rational in that, if calls are reasonably rare, but when sysadmin became weekend tech support teams that's not fun.  If such cases try to get ssh on your smarphone and/or wide area internet card for you laptop.

Stress from work induce some bad habits such as smoking, excessive consumption of caffeine, etc.  Even without acquired bad habits, chronic work stress effects are similar to those experienced by people who are smoking and not exercising. If someone feels like he/she is under constant pressure, you body reacts. your natural defenses are constantly on high alert. Stress hormones such as cortisone, are injected into bloodstream and such defensive reactions have a wear-and-tear effect. For example a high-pressure job doubles your risk of a heart attack.  Even working in a noisy office can cause stress hormones to rise to unhealthy levels.

Often sysadmins are putting in long hours, taking work home and giving up much-needed vacation time. Many of sysadmins feel so busy, that they either don't eat lunch or eat it at their desks. Many sysadmins belong to high achiever types, who think they can handle difficulties on their own. They often don't ask for help until their stress snowballs and turns physical — in the form of headaches, sleep disorders or heartburn.

What is really bad is that eventually chronic stress strips away your ability to enjoy time off: people who juggle large workloads and feel overly responsible are easily becoming "chained to the desk" and unable to enjoy typical recreational activities when they're out of the office.

For some people just the fact that they can be called produces a lot of anxiety and effects their well-being. That's especially true if you do not know the system all that well and vendor support is limited to 16 x 5.  The key here is that ability to say "No" and also offset time on call during weekends and holidays by late coming to work, extended lunches or days off.  The problem is that this often is not considered politically correct. Still that' the right thing to do.  To minimize social pressure simple email like "Was working Sunday 8am-1pm, will be at work Mn after lunch" is probably the best.

The other way of diminishing stress is spending sufficient time to learn the ropes.  Do it at your work time. Remember that if you are called Sunday morning and vendor support is only 24x5 you better know your staff really well.

Also periodically check that server hardware is under warranty yourself. Don't rely on your boss.  Set up server and systems monitoring so that you know when things are going wrong early. Mon is far from being perfect, but is free and simple to set up so it might be a good start.  Create baseline of a working system configuration management and use version control. Subversion or similar version control systems are preferable, but it looks for you as an overkill at least make backup of the configuration files before you make any (and I mean any) change.   

Actually making backups is what distinguish seasoned sysadmin from a novice. The former on their own experience understand the important of good, checked backups as reflected in this parody:

unknown source (well originally Paul McCartney :-)

Yesterday,
All those backups seemed a waste of pay.
Now my database has gone away.
Oh I believe in yesterday.

Use any problem as a training ground. Perform "post-mortem" analyses and create plan of actions for the next occurrence. That can help to relieve the stress if such situation happens again.   And usually it will. 

A lot of anxiety and stress can be self-inflicted, especially for novices. Many disasters happen because of sysadmin errors or blunders. Study experience of others. A good start might be Sysadmin Horror Stories

If possible, try to negotiate that before you start supporting a new systems they provide vendor training. Negotiate SAL if you can, but at least know them and discuss with your boss as if they are unrealistic you implicitly increase your level of stress.

Overload is a related problem. See Overload for more details.

But the key is still getting personal knowledge of all the infrastructure. In some type of problems occur on regular but pretty sparse intervals, create fire drills for yourself to keep your knowledge current.  inside out, take good backups, test your backups and have a DR plan with SLAs for each system and agree it with your business so that people can't turn around in an emergency and demand that you fix *their* system right now because they suddenly decided it was important.

Excessive diversity of environment is detrimental here. Try to limit the number of OSes you support to two so that you can concentrate on leaning them in depth. If you need to support more then three OSes that's a bad situation and you might want to think how to move yourself in better environment.

Try to relieve stress with exercise, not with alcohol or pot. Humor is a powerful tool for leveling stress and anxiety too. See

You will not be young forever

The number of programming and sysadmin jobs in the United States is stagnant or declining. Consolidation rules and outsourcing adds insult to injury. Many of the newly jobless sysadmins do have savings and severance, but others do not. Some have been living beyond their means and must face a frightening new financial reality. So many of the newly unemployed were fortunate to live “the dream”: they had nice homes, cars and clothes, ate at expensive restaurants and went on vacation at least once a year. They spoiled their children with computers and iPods. But with unemployment so high, these people often struggle to find a similar job, or any job — especially if they are over 50. The harsh reality is that when companies do hire sysadmins, they often choose to forgo the value of age and experience in favor of younger, cheaper neophytes. As a result, the jobless may find themselves unable to pay their mortgages and fear losing home. They may need to downsize to a degree that is almost paralyzing.

You need to prepare for such an emergency and have a sizable "survival fund" which covers at least two years of "downsized" living.  Unemployment can last more then a year in the current conditions and I know histories of pretty capable sysadmins who were out of work for more then two years.  For example after Bear Sterns collapse.   If the emergency funds run out you can still use your 401K for some time without penalty.  Return to school is also an option. At least you can get those scholarship funds.

All too often, as financial resources dwindle, family life and other relationships suffer, too — which can lead to isolation, depression and even suicidal thoughts. In this sense it is important to preserve a resemblance of usual life style and preserve the habit get out of  home in the morning, if only going to the library.

It is also important to pay additional attention to maintaining healthy lifestyle, including exercise. Paradoxically many unemployed sysadmin pursue more unhealthy lifestyle then when their were employed, stating most of the time at home and spending all their day on computer. Please remember that unemployed are usually more susceptible for various health conditions. But here comes the next problem: The  unemployed have often lost their health coverage as well as their jobs. It's important to get minimal (hospital and emergencies) coverage early on before six month since you previous health coverage ended. the cost is not outrageous and in many states is less then $200 per month.  Some state such as NY and NJ subside such an insurance and you can get it for slightly more then $100.

Personal Life

Gifted people often have problems finding and keeping friends, they usually suffer from envy and jealousy toward colleagues who are more talented or less talented, but more successful professionally.  And vice versa, they can despise those who are less talented or less trained. Attitude toward "losers" and associated folklore is part of the latter. 

People with exaggerated self-worth and narcissists (which is actually a type of sociopaths) typically  secure a sense of superiority in the face of another person's ability by using contempt to minimize the other person. In short, in many sysadmins there is a built-in competition drive and you should view all those "vanity fair" things philosophically or they can definitely poison your life.  Bertrand Russell said envy was one of the most potent causes of unhappiness.

There are additional problems in marriage due to high pressures from work which is nothing new and is common to many other specialties. People usually add "sysadmin wives" to the long list of suffering spouses who deal with a spouse with a high-demand profession.  So it's important to remember that a genuine interest in the profession is good but obsession with it is not.

See

Resistance is productive

It is not easy to preserve sanity in the crazy environment. But fighting for the ideas you consider valuable definitely helps. It would be nice to get rid of some "evil corporate gnomes" but they are replaceable and readily availble commodities. So cool down as for revenge. I do not have ready made recipes but recently I came across an interesting comment in Calculated Risk blog:

Stephane Hessel. 93 years old. Just published a short book in France. Cry Out! It's sold 600,000 copies in two months. His publisher has ordered another 200,000 printed.

Hessel, Jewish. Escaped a Nazi concentration camp in WWII and joined DeGaulle. Worked in French resistance.

The thesis of his book? Some quotes:

Just as he "cried out" against Nazism in the 1940s, he said, young people today should "cry out against the complicity between politicians and economic and financial powers" and "defend our democratic rights acquired over two centuries".

Dr. Nikolai Bezroukov


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"I appreciate Woody Allen's humor because one of my safety valves is an appreciation for life's absurdities. His message is that life isn't a funeral march to the grave. It's a polka."

-- Dennis Kusinich

[Jun 06, 2021] Sociopaths are not capable of loyalty-- they sell their services to whoever promotes them and undercut whoever is in their way

[Jun 03, 2021] The Minds of Psychopaths

[May 16, 2021] How to Stay Mentally Strong When You're Dealing With a Psychopath at Work

[May 16, 2021] Sociopaths lie with ease, because they don't have any of those things that makes people moral. For sociopaths truth is simply an annoyance. It pisses them off that they have to pretend to care

[May 15, 2021] Chaos Monkeys- Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley- Garcia Martinez, Antonio

[May 03, 2021] People in toxic relationship are ususally totally in denial that they are conned.

[Feb 21, 2021] The psychopaths are generally narcissistic, dangerous and haters of Life on Earth in general, probably in some perverted reaction to the fear of death, and despise the ocean of life that goes on, indifferent to the egotist's fate.

[Feb 03, 2021] Why are grandiose narcissists more effective at organizational politics?

[Jan 24, 2021] Big-Tech Elites and sociopathy

[Jan 17, 2021] An OrWELLSian Purge- Why H.G. Wells' -The Shape Of Things To Come- Has Arrived Today - ZeroHedge

[Jan 14, 2021] Nancy Pelosi has the gift of looking you directly in the eye and lying to you without even a blink

[Nov 22, 2020] The main characteristics of cold-blooded mental illness are numbness and indifference, poor behavioral control, and antisocial behavior such as fraud and manipulation of others. Cold-blooded psychopaths are not necessarily violent, but most do.

[Nov 22, 2020] MeToo excesses create a vast playing field for female sociopaths

[Nov 13, 2020] The psychopathic elite (Dems and Repubs) have gone all out: spying, leaking, ignoring executive orders, ignoring or slow-walking the release of documents, Russiagate, Mueller Report, Ukrainegate, impeachment, Kavanaugh, BLM, Antifa, and some even say they manufactured Covid.

[Oct 25, 2020] A Vaporware Executive- An Attitude, Not a President

[Oct 23, 2020] Do politicians have some traits common with psychopaths?

[Oct 21, 2020] Opinion -- Don't Vote for a Psychopath -- Tyranny at the Hands of a Psychopathic Government

[Oct 11, 2020] Is Donald Trump a Narcissist-

[Oct 11, 2020] Is Donald Trump a Narcissist- - Insidious Maladaptive Narcissism - YouTube

[Sep 29, 2020] Sociopaths are less likely to follow COVID-19 guidelines

[Aug 04, 2020] Sociopaths respect no limits on their power.

[Aug 03, 2020] Trashing- The Dark Side of Sisterhood

[Jul 24, 2020] July 24, 2020 at 7:31 am

[Jul 23, 2020] 5 most shocking claims in Mary Trump's tell-all book

[Jul 20, 2020] Human rights and sociopathic behaviour

[Jul 18, 2020] Narcissists, Psychopaths, Manipulators Are More Likely To Engage In -Virtuous Victim Signaling-, Study Finds -

[Jul 16, 2020] Per a popular psychology book "The Sociopath Next Door" sociopathic behavior is exhibited by 4% of the US population.

[Jul 04, 2020] Chill Out- Study Finds Easily-Triggered People Make Terrible Employees

[Jun 28, 2020] Biden is the intelligence services' ideal candidate -- an easily manipulated empty suit.

[Jun 09, 2020] 9 Pieces of Practical Advice About Bullying

[May 30, 2020] Low self-esteem, narcissism and belief in conspiracies are strongly linked

[May 23, 2020] Neoliberalism promised freedom instead it delivers stifling control

[May 21, 2020] In dealing with phychopaths and sociopath giving way, if necessary, to enemies, can be a form of tactical retreat and a means to survival

[Apr 18, 2020] Malignant sociopathic narcissist means by definition a person who has no empathy

[Apr 17, 2020] What is it about Western culture and values that favour the rise of these individuals?

[Apr 12, 2020] In a fiery speech announcing her decision, Collins ripped unsupported claims by Avenatti's client, Julie Swetnick, that Kavanaugh facilitated a Cosby-esque "gang rape" operation while in high school

[Apr 12, 2020] How to Defend Against Charges of Harassment in the Workplace

[Apr 12, 2020] We Are Living Nineteen Eighty-Four...

[Apr 12, 2020] False accusations are a very serious thing, and we are accepting them all too glibly

[Apr 12, 2020] Unintended consequences #MeToo movement causing 'gender segregation' on Wall Street

[Mar 10, 2020] Neoliberalism has brought out the worst in us

[Mar 10, 2020] The Bankruptcy of the American Left

[Mar 07, 2020] The Surprising and Sobering Science of How We Gain and Lose Influence

[Feb 23, 2020] Could there be such a thing as a human parasite?

[Feb 20, 2020] The shadow of hillary: Do most of Dem candidates have phychopatic tendencies

[Jan 28, 2020] Pompeo's Petty Despotism

[Jan 20, 2020] The type who would want a frightened little girl (someone like a Bill Clinton) is a much more devious character. They're into power. They crave fear.

[Jan 16, 2020] Trump's fits the pattern the Russians have used to depict the USA: "not agreement capable".

[Jan 16, 2020] Escalation is the easy road to hell. De-escalation and working for peace requires skill and intellegence

[Jan 15, 2020] Trump and the Mad Negotiator Approach

[Dec 21, 2019] Michael Brenner - The Linear Mindset In US Foreign Policy

[Dec 13, 2019] If propaganda is so easy and effective, remind me again why democracy is such a great idea?

[Dec 07, 2019] Corrupt sociopaths like Comey, Mueller, Holder, Lynch, Clintons, Schumer., Pelosi, Brookings swampers...... run by the 'owners'!

[Dec 02, 2019] The cost of militarism cannot be measured only in lost opportunities, lives and money. There will be a long hangover of shame

[Nov 30, 2019] The personality of an impostor

[Nov 27, 2019] 5 Ways to Recognize A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing

[Nov 08, 2019] England's ruling pathology; Boarding School Syndrome -- Crooked Timber

[Nov 03, 2019] Is Trump a sociaopath?

[Oct 23, 2019] The Pathocracy Of The Deep State Tyranny At The Hands Of A Psychopathic Government

[Oct 19, 2019] On Psychopathy Power

[Sep 22, 2019] We're All Zombies

[Sep 16, 2019] Incentives (And Sociopaths) Rule The World

[Sep 06, 2019] Narcissists the Compartmentalized Life

[Aug 25, 2019] That mixture of grandeur and victimhood has always reeked of sociopathy to me.

[Aug 06, 2019] Ultra-rich and sociopathy

[Jul 30, 2019] One side effect of Prozac is that the patient becomes "disconnected" -- loses his capacity for empathy

[Jul 25, 2019] The Epstein Case Is A Rare Opportunity To Focus On The Depraved Nature Of America s Elite

[Jul 20, 2019] Snakes and Ladders Economy

[Jul 10, 2019] Stolen FBI files

[Jun 27, 2019] Lack of self-discipline, bouts of uncontrollable anger as two important warning signs of toxic manager

[Jun 23, 2019] One of the things about psychopaths, is that because they have no real values, they are very good at using charm and disingenuous specious arguments to justify their agenda.

[Jun 23, 2019] Rand's philosophy is the philosophy of the psychopath, but you can see its appeal: it absolves her acolytes of the need to care.

[Jun 20, 2019] Narcissists Are Drawn to Power -- Some Societies Have Ways to Make Sure Dangerous People Never Wield It

[Jun 05, 2019] One tactic of a bully demonstrated by Trump is to sets conditions that the victim cannot or will not meet, and then seeks to penalize them for "failing"

[May 13, 2019] Sociopaths have only one goal: to enhance themselves, and that in pursuing their self-interest, they lack both normal human empathy for others and a normal human conscience. Cheating, conning, lying, stealing, threatening are all done with no remorse.

[May 13, 2019] one of the major reasons narcissistic sociopaths are dangerous is that they lack empathy for others

[May 09, 2019] Sen. Kamala Harris Reacts To Scolding By GOP Senators The 11th Hour MSNBC - YouTube

[May 08, 2019] Psychopaths will not feel embarrassment or humiliation, only rage and vengeance.

[Apr 17, 2019] Trey Gowdy Calls Hillary Clinton a Habitual Serial Liar

[Apr 15, 2019] Narcissism impairs the ability to see reality

[Mar 20, 2019] Bad Blood - Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou - Observations by Walrus.

[Mar 11, 2019] >Walrus on narcissistic leaders.

[Feb 24, 2019] When Your Child Is a Psychopath

[Feb 04, 2019] Amorality of the key feature of psychopaths

[Jan 22, 2019] Jesse's Caf Am ricain Snakes in Suits and Their Enablers - The Love of Most Will Grow Cold

[Jan 22, 2019] Snakes in Suits and Their Enablers - The Love of Most Will Grow Cold

[Jan 13, 2019] There was no mistaking what had just happened. Elizabeth wasn't merely asking him to get out of her office. She was telling him to leave the company -- immediately. Mosley had just been fired

[Jan 12, 2019] Bad Blood Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup

[Jan 06, 2019] With the exception of military tacticians acting in defense against an aggressor, con men are predominantly sociopaths

[Jan 05, 2019] The minister in charge, grayling, is a serial incompetent and genuine z grade genetic landfill. In a reasonably sane world he wouldn't be put in charge of running a bath.

[Dec 24, 2018] Phone in sick: its a small act of rebellion against wage slavery

[Dec 16, 2018] Exploitation of other people as a priority as well as lack on empathy and compassion are two components which make up a psychopathic personality

[Dec 16, 2018] Sociopaths Live Longer Survival Guide For A Culture In Decline

[Dec 10, 2018] An editorial on Trump's methods

[Nov 22, 2018] Political Ponerology (A Science on the Nature of Evil Adjusted for Political Purposes)

[Nov 19, 2018] Surviving The Woke Workplace

[Nov 17, 2018] Each Google performance review consists of a self-assessment, a set of peer reviews, and if you're applying for a promotion, reasons for why should be promoted to the next level

[Nov 17, 2018] How did you handle a bad annual performance review?

[Nov 17, 2018] Should I argue a negative performance review?

[Nov 17, 2018] A Googler's Critique of Google's Performance Management Reviews

[Nov 03, 2018] Neoliberal Measurement Mania

[Nov 03, 2018] The evaluation system in which there was ALWAYS a "top 10 percent" and a "bottom ten percent" is sociopathic in it's nature

[Oct 30, 2018] Arbitrators overwhelmingly favor employers

[Oct 30, 2018] I see the Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) problem as its nearly impossible to take the fact that we know PIP is a scam to court. IBM will say its an issue with you, your performance nose dived and your manager tried to fix that. You have to not only fight those simple statements, but prove that PIP is actually systematic worker abuse.

[Oct 30, 2018] The women who run large US companies are as shallow and ruthless as the sociopathic men.

[Oct 29, 2018] In the early 1980's President Regan fired the striking air traffic controllers. This sent the message to management around the USA that it was OK to abuse employees in the workplace.

[Oct 26, 2018] Cocain abuse cause metal symptoms that can be called "induced sociopathy"

[Oct 22, 2018] First off, the coercion "come back or else " flat out. The ruthlessness vis- -vis the victim, the complete disregard for that individual's life. The crassness of the methods applied. The carelessness concerning the risks and the half-assed way in which this exercise, by and large, was carried out. Followed by, of course, a sudden switch from ever-so-charming to furious rage

[Oct 05, 2018] Here's the truth about false accusations of sexual violence

[Oct 05, 2018] Alcohol, Memory, and the Hippocampus

[Oct 03, 2018] False accusations of rape are not uncommon. A few gain national attention. Most do not.

[Oct 02, 2018] VINDICATION

[Oct 02, 2018] Mitchell the "veteran prosecutor" also failed to ask Ford who hosted the party where the alleged assault took place

[Oct 02, 2018] The danger of false accusations from women who have a grudge or female sociopaths

[Oct 02, 2018] Female false accusers demonstrate some common patterns, too many smiles, attention seeking, stories that make no sense or too vague

[Oct 02, 2018] Narcissist, Psychopath, or Sociopath How to Spot the Differences - YouTube

[Oct 01, 2018] She even got caught red handed at my friends house by his girlfriend and locked herself in the bathroom. All she did was give it back and say lets go, she didn't care what they thought.

[Sep 30, 2018] Ability to remarkably walked back on allegations after facing with proof that they are bogus is a warning sign that you may deal with a female sociopath

[Sep 29, 2018] Always remember the equally lurid "recovered memories" of UFO abduction survivors

[Sep 29, 2018] Arthur Miller's "The Crucible" exemplifies very well how the hysteria of girls can be so dangerous that innocent men can be made to suffer terrible if not fatal consequences.

[Sep 29, 2018] False memory syndrome and witch hunts based on it

[Sep 29, 2018] Former Employer Sued Third Kavanaugh Accuser For Sexual Harassment Allegations

[Sep 27, 2018] Hiding in Plain Sight Why We Cannot See the System Destroying Us

[Sep 26, 2018] In several murder cases the perpetrators actually received direct orders from the woman

[Sep 25, 2018] Man freed in Maine after false conviction by a conspiracy of women

[Sep 15, 2018] The PC drones are rather mentally deficient. They respond to trigger phrases and not to concepts or principles.

[Sep 15, 2018] Another issue is that Williams deliberately puts on a tantrum and then claims the tantrum is normal emotional behaviour. On top of that, she tries to pass off this spoilt-brat outburst as characteristic of how strong, feminist women behave

[Sep 11, 2018] A Victim's Guide to Surviving a Narcissist-Sociopath

[Sep 11, 2018] 2018 US Open Highlights Serena Williams' dispute overshadows Naomi Osaka's final win ESPN

[Sep 11, 2018] Narcissists Tend to Become Leaders

[Sep 11, 2018] Have We Become a Nation of Narcissists

[Sep 11, 2018] It's not easy to call out a complete narcissist. They're highly manipulative in turning the tables and making themselves the victim leaving the righteous accuser or critic holding the bag

[Sep 11, 2018] The Entitled and Narcissistic Petulance of Serena Williams (THE SAAD TRUTH_720)

[Sep 07, 2018] Timothy Hagios

[Sep 01, 2018] NARCISSISTS DOMINATE WASHINGTON WITH A GOOD MANY SOCIOPATHS THROWN IN

[Aug 27, 2018] On a difference between ruthless ambition with psychopathy. They have similar features, but are not the same

[Aug 17, 2018] But if you have ever managed to think yourself into the criminal mind, you will understand that it is precisely the fact that he was NOT subject to any comeback that made the whole thing such fun

[Jul 30, 2018] Some Youtube video on psychopaths and toxic manager topics

[Jul 29, 2018] The maximizing shareholder value myth turns people into sociopath

[Jul 23, 2018] Neoliberalism has brought out the worst in us

[Jul 23, 2018] Sick of this market-driven world You should be George Monbiot Opinion The Guardian

[Jul 22, 2018] We Prefer Our Sociopaths Well Dressed and Spoken

[Jul 18, 2018] Psychoanalysing NATO Gaslighting Zero Hedge

[Jul 17, 2018] Doesn't the Universe work in such a way that *good* is constitutionally unable to successfully confront *evil*

[Jul 09, 2018] Most people are both repelled and intrigued by the images of cold-blooded, conscienceless murderers that increasingly populate our movies, television programs, and newspaper headlines.

[Jul 06, 2018] Pathological liars and a diplomacy lesson from a school principal

[Jul 06, 2018] Capitalism doesn't induce psychopathy, but it has tendency to select psychopaths for higher levels of hierarchy

[Jun 27, 2018] Holmes, Uncle Clunk, and and Epic Con Job, by Fred Reed - The Unz Review

[May 28, 2018] The Seven Pillars of the Matrix

[May 28, 2018] Sociopathy and politics

[May 16, 2018] Rex Tillerson Takes Shots at Donald Trump During Virginia Military Institute Commencement Speech

[May 16, 2018] Tillerson Delivers Loaded Speech, Warns of 'Growing Crisis'

[May 12, 2018] Neoliberal management and Zombies

[Apr 23, 2018] Cutting Capitalism Out of Our Relationships

[Mar 25, 2018] The West's Guilty Until Proven Innocent Mantra Is Wrecking Lives International Relations

[Mar 19, 2018] People are not human beings to a psychopath, they're instruments to be manipulated.

[Mar 17, 2018] Asshole: Narcissist, sociopath, liar, thief, murderer, often sadistic, "special."

[Mar 17, 2018] A possible role of psychopath in human society

[Mar 09, 2018] Chutzpah is NOT snobbishness. It is unbelievable gall. The classic example is the man who murdered his parents and pleaded for mercy from the court because he was an orphan

[Feb 25, 2018] It is not only managers, the whole workplace is becoming a toxic place

[Feb 25, 2018] Any hierarchic system can and will be exploited by intelligent sociopaths

[Feb 19, 2018] Any hierarchic system can and will be exploited by intelligent sociopaths

[Feb 07, 2018] Whole Foods Employees Miserable Seeing Someone Cry At Work Is Becoming Normal Zero Hedge

[Feb 03, 2018] Foremost for the NPD afflicted is the need to try to satisfy the never satisfied ego.

[Jan 10, 2018] Personality disorder is not mental illness. It's more like a disability - e.g. psychopaths don't have a conscience, narcissists can't help but think the whole world revolves around them.

[Nov 10, 2017] Coworkers From Hell!

[Nov 10, 2017] How to Deal With High-Maintenance People

[Nov 10, 2017] The (Unlucky) 13 Traits Of High-Maintenance People HuffPost

[Oct 22, 2017] Having a theory of mind is quite distinct from having empathy, and having empathy is quite distinct from using it pervasively to guide personal/social/political life.

[Sep 19, 2017] The idea of screening of persons in positions of power for excessive psychopathic, deceptive, and manipulative personalities.

[Sep 17, 2017] Colleagues Addicted to Tech

[Sep 11, 2017] Neoliberalism is creating loneliness. That's what is wrenching society apart

[Aug 28, 2017] Bombastic boss gave insane instructions to sensible sysadmin, with client on speakerphone

[Aug 25, 2017] Is Trump vanity not only narcissistic disorder but a part of American national character?

[Jul 10, 2017] G20 Is the West Governed by Psychopaths

[Jun 30, 2017] The present empty suit is proof that the POTU$ really doesnt matter

[Jun 28, 2017] Former Engineer Says Uber Is a Nightmare of Sexism; CEO Orders Urgent Investigation

[Jun 28, 2017] Sexial harrasement and corporate sociopaths

[Jun 24, 2017] Proliferation of psychopaths might be connected with two factors: less wars and more lax laws due to deregulation

[Jun 07, 2017] The Tools of Argument How the Best Lawyers Think, Argue, and Win

[May 31, 2017] Gaslighting State Mind Control and Abusive Narcissism

[May 24, 2017] Rank Incompetence

[May 24, 2017] A Condensation of Military Incompetence

[May 21, 2017] When Your Child Is a Psychopath

[Mar 31, 2017] Psychopathic Traits - The Sociopathic Style

[Mar 31, 2017] In the absence of generally accepted objective categories, the ICD/DCM deviancy descriptions skew heavily towards (or certainly smell of) lack of expected social conformance

[Mar 31, 2017] Capitalism itself is sociopathic

[Jan 24, 2017] Pedophilia may represent a special case or subcase of psychopathy

[Jan 12, 2017] To argue that social hierarchies are not natural is tantamount to arguing against societies at all.

[Jan 11, 2017] And All His Empty Promises

[Jan 01, 2017] When Evil Is a Pretty Face Narcissistic Females the Pathological Relationship Agenda - Kindle edition by Zari Ballard. Healt

[Dec 07, 2016] Puzzling People The Labyrinth of the Psychopath

[Dec 06, 2016] Life as a Nonviolent Psychopath

[Nov 25, 2016] EdwardBernays

[Nov 21, 2016] Belgiums Dutroux Pedophile, Child Rape Affair A Road Map for Deep-State Criminality

[Nov 12, 2016] Dealing with Your Incompetent Boss - Amy Gallo - Best Practices - Harvard Business Review

[Nov 12, 2016] Politics in a Programming Environment

[Nov 12, 2016] Tech managers arent doing a good job developing IT talent survey

[Nov 12, 2016] Why We Hate HR

[Nov 12, 2016] Check Your Attitude at the Door - No, Youre Not Crazy

[Nov 12, 2016] Educational films

[Nov 12, 2016] The Other One Percent: Corporate Psychopaths and the Global Financial Crisis

[Nov 03, 2016] If elected Hillary would have as much contempt for the electorate as she had for her staff.

[Oct 30, 2016] Former FBI Official Calls Bill, Hillary Clinton a Crime Family

[Oct 29, 2016] The Nuclear Option - Wikileaks Reveals Even Hillarys Own Staff Knows Truth Shes Psychotic

[Oct 15, 2016] Hillarys Public Vs. Private Positions - Deceit

[Oct 13, 2016] Anonymous - Hillary Clinton A Career Criminal

[Oct 12, 2016] Compare Clinton accusing Trump with schene from Basic Instinct when Sharon Stone just after passing a lie detector test said to Nick in reference to his killing civilians while on cocaine: You see Nick … were both innocent.

[Oct 12, 2016] The Case for a Two-Faced Hillary Clinton

[Oct 09, 2016] Litany of lies, corruption, deceit and infamy

[Oct 05, 2016] It reminds me of a string of wet sponges.

[Sep 26, 2016] Hillarys lies are always are well crafted, well designed, kind of lawyerly dissertations on misdirection and obfuscation.

[Sep 14, 2016] Hillary Clinton views almost everytbody outside of the top one percent as Basket of deplorables

[Sep 13, 2016] Is Hillary Clinton Dishonest

[Sep 10, 2016] Pathological Liar – Impulsive, Compulsive Lying, Self-Deception

[Sep 10, 2016] Meet the Malignant Narcissist

[Sep 09, 2016] Hillary clinton and huma abedin abuse secret service agents

[Sep 04, 2016] Under my definiton of sociopath , Hillary Clinton qualifies on just her laugh about death Muammar Gaddafi, who was sodomized with a bayonet

[Sep 03, 2016] The Clintons' political legacy of dishonesty

[Sep 03, 2016] Normal people mellow with age, sociopaths often harden

[Sep 02, 2016] Corruption and pathological lies

[Aug 30, 2016] So, Trump is crazy What about Hillary

[Aug 28, 2016] Hitchens on Hillarys Lies

[Aug 26, 2016] Rep. Gowdy Hillary Clinton is a 'habitual, serial liar'

[Aug 24, 2016] Hillary Clinton received a score of 152 on the Psychopathic Personality Inventory test, putting her in the top 20 percent.

[Aug 23, 2016] How Abusive Employers Combined With Job Insecurity Lead to Suicides

[Aug 22, 2016] Modern America The Empire of Lies

[Aug 14, 2016] The cry of management bullying reduces wholesale ownership to bad personal behaviour, something to be corrected by the schoolteacher or the next authority up.

[Aug 07, 2016] Is hillary a female phychopath

[Aug 01, 2016] Bullying Definition

[Jul 16, 2016] Female Sociopaths - different but just as dangerous!

[Jul 16, 2016] Confessions of a Sociopath A Life Spent Hiding in Plain Sight

[Jul 16, 2016] Are you a female sociopath - Telegraph

[Jul 16, 2016] Rethinking Female Sociopathy, Part One

[Jul 16, 2016] Female sociopaths display all the symptoms of a sociopath: lying, a parasitic lifestyle, the need for control, and the craving for excitement.

[Jul 15, 2016] The female sociopath

[Jul 15, 2016] Female Sociopaths - different but just as dangerous!

[May 18, 2016] Less Than Artful Choices Narcissistic Personality Disorder According to Donald Trump

[May 18, 2016] Barack Obama – Narcissist or Merely Narcissistic?

[May 18, 2016] 10 Signs That Youre in a Relationship with a Narcissist

[May 18, 2016] Obamas Malignant Narcissism

[May 18, 2016] Can Narcissists Change

[May 18, 2016] 5 Early Warning Signs Youre With a Narcissist

[May 18, 2016] Is Donald Trump Actually a Narcissist Therapists Weigh In!

[May 17, 2016] 6 Warning Signs Youre Dating a Narcissist

[May 17, 2016] Are You Dating a Narcissist

[May 17, 2016] 10 Signs Youre In Love With A Narcopath

[May 17, 2016] 7 Strategies for Dealing With the Narcissist You Love

[May 16, 2016] Stockholm Syndrome The Psychological Mystery of Loving an Abuser, Page 1

[May 16, 2016] https://www.reddit.com/r/raisedbynarcissists/comments/29dhay/good_movies_about_narcissistic/

[May 16, 2016] Barack Obama – Narcissist or Merely Narcissistic?

[May 16, 2016] Dr. Sam Vaknin - Barack Obama Is a Narcissist

[May 15, 2016] The Truth About Donald Trump's Narcissism

[May 15, 2016] 10 Great Self-Absorbed, Narcissistic Movie Assholes The Playlist

[May 15, 2016] Famous Narcissistic Movie Characters -

[Apr 21, 2016] For Mental Health, Bad Job Worse than No Job

[Apr 13, 2016] Gone Girl

[Apr 12, 2016] Mind Games Emotionally Manipulative Tactics Partners Use to Control Relationships and Force the Upper Hand

[Apr 12, 2016] Surviving Sara Marrying a narcissistic sociopath

[Apr 07, 2016] Characteristics Associated with Cultic Groups - Revised

[Apr 07, 2016] The Confidence Game Why We Fall for It

[Apr 04, 2016] THE TYRANNY OF TOXIC MANAGERS AN EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE APPROACH TO DEALING WITH DIFFICULT PERSONALITIES by Roy Lubit

March / April 2004. | Ivey Business Journal

Toxic managers dot the landscape in most organizations, making them seem, at times, like war zones. These managers can complicate your work, drain your energy, compromise your sanity, derail your projects and destroy your career. Your ability to deal with these corporate land mines will have a significant impact on your career. Those who are able to recognize toxic managers quickly and understand what makes them tick will be in the best position to protect themselves. Difficult managers are a fact of life and how they affect your life depends upon the skills you develop to deal with them.

The issue is not simply a matter of individual survival. Toxic managers divert people's energy from the real work of the organization, destroy morale, impair retention, and interfere with cooperation and information sharing. Their behaviour, like a rock thrown into a pond, can cause ripples distorting the organization's culture and affecting people far beyond the point of impact.

Senior management and HR can significantly improve an organization's culture and functioning by taking steps to find and contain those who are most destructive. Leadership can spare an organization serious damage by learning how to recognize problematic personality traits quickly, placing difficult managers in positions in which their behaviour will do the least harm, arranging for coaching for those who are able to grow, and knowing which managers are time bombs that need to be let go.

This article will help you learn how to avoid becoming a scapegoat, to survive aggressive managers' assaults, and to give narcissistic and rigid managers the things they need to be satisfied with you. It will also help senior management and HR to recognize toxic managers before they do serious damage. The basic theme of the article is that to deal effectively with toxic behavior you need to understand what lies underneath it, design an intervention to target those underlying factors, and have sufficient control of your own feelings and behaviour so that you can do what is most effective, rather than let your own anger or anxiety get the best of you. In other words, you need to develop your emotional intelligence.

... ... ...

Narcissistic managers

Preoccupied with their own importance, narcissistic managers are grandiose and arrogant. They devalue others, lack empathy for others and have little, if any, conscience. Feeling exempt from the normal rules of society, they exploit people without remorse. Narcissistic individuals are also very sensitive to anything that threatens their self-esteem. Challenges to their grandiose self image can lead to narcissistic rage that sees them lose all judgment and attack in ways that are destructive to themselves and their victims.

Arrogant with peers and subordinates, they may suddenly become submissive in the presence of a superior. Once the superior has left, they may well disparage her. They generally deprecate and exploit others, including former idols. They may, however, idealize powerful individuals who support them, though only for a short time.

Under the surface, narcissistic managers struggle with fragile self-esteem. They also have a sense of emptiness arising from their lack of true self-love and inability to care about other people or about abstract values such as honesty and integrity. Their grandiose fantasies are attempts to fill the emptiness and reinforce their fragile self-esteem.

The classic narcissistic manager is grandiose. Grandiose managers are legends in their own minds. Preoccupied with their exaggerated accomplishments and grandiose expectations for the future, they expect others to hold them in awe. Constantly boasting, they resemble peacocks strutting around with their tail feathers unfurled.

Some narcissistic managers are not effusive about their abilities and accomplishments. What stands out about them is a willingness to exploit others, a willingness to break the law, or a desire to control and dominate others.

Narcissistic managers are less likely to make major changes in their behaviour than are managers with other issues. They are also particularly likely to become outraged and vindictive if someone challenges their behaviour. Therefore, when you are dealing with a manager who is rigid or aggressive, it is important to know whether narcissism or other disorders lie underneath their destructive behaviour.

A milder variant of narcissistic managers are those with learned narcissism. They are not desperately trying to hide and shield fragile self-esteem arising from a troubled childhood. Rather, their success in some area has brought sufficient fame and fortune that they have been shielded from the normal consequences of behaving arrogantly and treating others poorly. Moreover, as people incessantly flatter them, they come to believe the glorifying compliments. Although somewhat grandiose and inconsiderate of others, these people have a conscience and can feel empathy for others; they simply do not realize the full impact of their behavior on others. People with learned narcissism are far more amenable to change than are those with narcissism resulting from problems early on in emotional development.

Coping with a narcissistic manager is very difficult for most people. You can't make it a fun experience, but there are things you can do to make yourself less vulnerable to them.

If you are subordinate to a narcissistic manager:

Superiors of narcissistic managers also need to be careful. If you supervise a narcissistic manager you should:

... ... ...

Case Study: Dealing with a Narcissistic VP

Bill was the vice president of a mid-sized company. His unit had grown rapidly and was profitable. He had special knowledge and skills that made him very valuable to the company. At the same time, the company's president was increasingly aware that the morale in Bill's unit was poor and that turnover was high. The president instructed Bill to obtain some coaching. He balked and the CEO relented. In time, however, things went from bad to worse. The CEO considered firing Bill. The cost of finding a replacement, and the inefficiencies suffered while the new person came up to speed, would be high. Nevertheless, he couldn't let the unit continue to bleed people. Faced with the possibility of being fired, Bill agreed to executive coaching.

Bill balked at 360 feedback but he agreed to let the coach speak with people and observe his ways of interacting. What people reported, and what the coach saw, was a driven person who lacked concern for others, focused on his own needs, was constantly snapping at people, rarely gave a pat on the back, and sometimes stole credit for others' work. He certainly fit the description of the narcissistic manager.

There was, however, another part of him. At times, he really seemed concerned about others. In individual discussions with the coach, Bill's insecurity and depression stood out more than his grandiosity. The coach determined that rather than having the core personality structure of a narcissistic individual, Bill had been so successful that he had been able to get away with stepping on people and was relatively clueless about how others felt and how his behavior affected their performance.

A major factor in Bill's behaviour was a mild chronic depression. He did not enjoy things that much and rarely smiled. A great deal of his irritability came from the mild depression. The coach convinced him to try an antidepressant. Bill's snapping at people declined in a few days. In a month he seemed like a different person. With his depression gone he not only felt much less irritable, but had the emotional energy to think about others' feelings and to begin to look at his own behaviour more than he had before. He had many bad habits in how he related to people, but he was now able to begin to look at them and gradually make changes.

... ... ...

[Apr 04, 2016] The toxic manager in the office

bullyonline.org

The toxic boss or toxic manager. We've all encountered them. Moody, aggressive, unpredictable, incompetent, always blaming other people. A compulsive liar with a Jekyll and Hyde nature, the individual, male or female, is always charming and plausible when management are around.

Toxic bosses and toxic managers prevent staff doing their jobs and prevent employees fulfilling their duties. They thrive in a toxic work environment. Unpredictable moods, conflicting demands, inconsistent orders, random decision-making, inability to plan strategically, inability and unwillingness to communicate and co-operate, obstructive ... the list goes on. If management suddenly appoint a toxic boss as your manager, you'll realise that toxic shock syndrome is not just a female condition. If you've got a toxic manager, your problems have just begun. And they won't get better.

When you tackle the toxic manager, you feel like you've gone 15 rounds with Mike Tyson. And everything will be your fault. You have a "negative attitude", you're a "poor performer", you're "not up to the job", and so on. If you get as far as alerting personnel or human resources management, it'll be a "personality clash". In truth, this is a projection of the bully's own negative attitude, poor performance, and incompetence.

How do you recognise a toxic boss?

To recognise a toxic boss from their behaviour profile, click here. To recognise toxic bosses from the effects of their behaviour, look for unusually high levels of the following in the immediate (and not so immediate) vicinity of the toxic manager concerned:

[Apr 04, 2016] Fatal Attraction

Fatal Attraction (1987) is a classic among films depicting violent BPD and female psychopath. It depicts well the details of borderline personality disorder: the self-delusion, the emotional coercion, the complete disintegration of logic and final loss of control. It was built up from a short film by screenwriter James Dearden. This is one of two Adrian Lyne sensual films, the other two are "Indecent Proposal" and Unfaithful. It is an educational movie though I prefer the original ending (available on special collector edition DVD), not the revised, way-over-the-top, grade B horror movies ending. Glenn Close's abrupt spiral into insanity and violence during the last third of Director Lyne's Fatal Attraction is the weakest part of the movie.

[Mar 24, 2016] DL Minors review of The Devil Wears Prada

[Mar 23, 2016] The Proposal

[Mar 22, 2016] 5 Things Real-Life Psychopaths Do

[Mar 22, 2016] The Vampire's Bite Victims of Narcissists Speak Out

[Mar 22, 2016] The Secret to Spotting Subtle Narcissists

[Mar 22, 2016] The 5 Most Dangerous Myths About Narcissism (Part 2)

[Mar 22, 2016] 9 Enlightening Quotes on Narcissists

[Mar 19, 2016] Are You High Maintenance -

[Feb 16, 2016] How to Identify a Psychopath (with Pictures)

[Jan 1, 2016] Toxic Manager Bulletin, 2015

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Psychological abuse - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Psychological abuse, also referred to as emotional abuse or mental abuse, is a form of abuse characterized by a person subjecting or exposing another to behavior that may result in psychological trauma, including anxiety, chronic depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder.[3] Such abuse is often associated with situations of power imbalance, such as abusive relationships, bullying, child abuse and abuse in the workplace.[3] There were "no consensus views about the definition of emotional abuse." As such, clinicians and researchers have offered sometimes divergent definitions of emotional abuse. However, the widely used Conflict Tactics Scale measures roughly twenty distinct acts of "psychological aggression" in three different categories:

  1. Verbal aggression (e.g., saying something that upsets or annoys someone else);
  2. Dominant behaviours (e.g., preventing someone to have contact with their family);
  3. Jealous behaviors (e.g., accusing a partner of maintaining other parallel relations).

Gaslighting - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ingrid Bergman in the 1944 film Gaslight

Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse in which false information is presented with the intent of making a victim doubt his or her own memory, perception and [1] Instances may range simply from the denial by an abuser that previous abusive incidents ever occurred, up to the staging of bizarre events by the abuser with the intention of disorienting the victim.

Psychologist Martha Stout states that sociopaths frequently use gaslighting tactics. Sociopaths consistently transgress social mores, break laws, and exploit others, but are also typically charming and convincing liars who consistently deny wrongdoing. Thus, some who have been victimized by sociopaths may doubt their perceptions.[6]

Jacobson and Gottman report that some physically abusive spouses may gaslight their partners, even flatly denying that they have been violent.[3]

Psychological manipulation - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Psychological manipulation is a type of social influence that aims to change the perception or behavior of others through underhanded, deceptive, or even [1] By advancing the interests of the manipulator, often at the other's expense, such methods could be considered exploitative, abusive, devious, and deceptive. Social influence is not necessarily negative. For example, doctors can try to persuade patients to change unhealthy habits. Social influence is generally perceived to be harmless when it respects the right of the influenced to accept or reject and is not unduly coercive. Depending on the context and motivations, social influence may constitute underhanded manipulation.

Searching for a Corporate Savior- The Irrational Quest for Charismatic CEOs Enron's Skilling offers a dramatic and instructive illustration of the perils of charismatic corporate leadership.

Fog of war - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The fog of war is a term used to describe the level of ambiguity in situational awareness experienced by participants in military operations.[1] The term seeks to capture the uncertainty regarding own capability, adversary capability, and adversary intent during an engagement, operation, or campaign. The term is ascribed to the Prussian military analyst Carl von Clausewitz, who wrote:

"The great uncertainty of all data in war is a peculiar difficulty, because all action must, to a certain extent, be planned in a mere twilight, which in addition not infrequently-like the effect of a fog or moonshine-gives to things exaggerated dimensions and unnatural appearance."[2]

The term may also be a reference to the use of black powder in warfare, which often produced clouds of thick "fog", obscuring the battlefield from observers.

Videos

▶ How To Spot A Psychopath (10 Signs) - YouTube

▶ Robert Hare - Psychopath-Sociopath - The Difference - YouTube

▶ Diagnosing A Sociopath - YouTube

▶ Understanding Narcissistic Personality Disorder - YouTube

▶ Narcissists & Sociopaths (ASPD) Are Dangerous! How to Keep Safe. Expert Rosenberg - YouTube

▶ Deep into the Mind of Narcissists & Sociopaths. Dealing with Covert Narcissism & Sociopathy Expert - YouTube

▶ How to Deal With a Psychopath - YouTube

▶ Why Narcissists devalue you - YouTube

▶ The Punking process of the Narcissist and other toxic persons to watch out for ! - YouTube

▶ The Psychopath - ABC - Catalyst (2012) - YouTube

▶ James Fallon - Psychopath - Insight - YouTube

▶ How to Deal With a Psychopath - YouTube

▶ How to Tell Who's a Real Psychopath with Dr. James Fallon - YouTube

▶ PSYCHOPATHS IDENTIFYING THEM BEFORE YOU GET INVOLVED - YouTube

▶ How To Identify And Protect Yourself From Psychopaths, Thomas Sheridan 7may2013 - YouTube

▶ Lifting The Veil Thomas Sheridan Psychopaths - YouTube

▶ Inside Cornell Analyzing the words of psychopaths - YouTube

▶ Financial Terrorism Exposed - Thomas Sheridan (Psychopaths in Public Life ) - YouTube

▶ The World Only Makes Sense to Psychopaths Thomas Sheridan Vinny Eastwood Show Feb 24 2012 - YouTube

▶ PSYCHOPATHS IDENTIFYING THEM BEFORE YOU GET INVOLVED - YouTube

▶ See Through People - Psychopaths Narcissists - YouTube

▶ DANGEROUS NARCISSISTS - YouTube

▶ Psychopathic Child AP Psychology - YouTube

Humor

Random Findings

[Oct 24, 2007] The Washington Monthly

Choosing the best presidential candidate among the 2008 contenders is a tough job. Picking the worst is easy. Rudy Giuliani is the guy you'd get if you put George Bush and Dick Cheney into a wine press and squeezed out their pure combined essence:

He is a disaster waiting to happen.

Entrez PubMed Overcome toxic management.

Ineffective, ill-tempered managers hurt employee morale and productivity. Learn what behaviors characterize toxic managers, how they damage an organization, and how to lessen their impact.



Etc

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Groupthink : Two Party System as Polyarchy : Corruption of Regulators : Bureaucracies : Understanding Micromanagers and Control Freaks : Toxic Managers :   Harvard Mafia : Diplomatic Communication : Surviving a Bad Performance Review : Insufficient Retirement Funds as Immanent Problem of Neoliberal Regime : PseudoScience : Who Rules America : Neoliberalism  : The Iron Law of Oligarchy : Libertarian Philosophy

Quotes

War and Peace : Skeptical Finance : John Kenneth Galbraith :Talleyrand : Oscar Wilde : Otto Von Bismarck : Keynes : George Carlin : Skeptics : Propaganda  : SE quotes : Language Design and Programming Quotes : Random IT-related quotesSomerset Maugham : Marcus Aurelius : Kurt Vonnegut : Eric Hoffer : Winston Churchill : Napoleon Bonaparte : Ambrose BierceBernard Shaw : Mark Twain Quotes

Bulletin:

Vol 25, No.12 (December, 2013) Rational Fools vs. Efficient Crooks The efficient markets hypothesis : Political Skeptic Bulletin, 2013 : Unemployment Bulletin, 2010 :  Vol 23, No.10 (October, 2011) An observation about corporate security departments : Slightly Skeptical Euromaydan Chronicles, June 2014 : Greenspan legacy bulletin, 2008 : Vol 25, No.10 (October, 2013) Cryptolocker Trojan (Win32/Crilock.A) : Vol 25, No.08 (August, 2013) Cloud providers as intelligence collection hubs : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2010 : Inequality Bulletin, 2009 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2008 : Copyleft Problems Bulletin, 2004 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2011 : Energy Bulletin, 2010 : Malware Protection Bulletin, 2010 : Vol 26, No.1 (January, 2013) Object-Oriented Cult : Political Skeptic Bulletin, 2011 : Vol 23, No.11 (November, 2011) Softpanorama classification of sysadmin horror stories : Vol 25, No.05 (May, 2013) Corporate bullshit as a communication method  : Vol 25, No.06 (June, 2013) A Note on the Relationship of Brooks Law and Conway Law

History:

Fifty glorious years (1950-2000): the triumph of the US computer engineering : Donald Knuth : TAoCP and its Influence of Computer Science : Richard Stallman : Linus Torvalds  : Larry Wall  : John K. Ousterhout : CTSS : Multix OS Unix History : Unix shell history : VI editor : History of pipes concept : Solaris : MS DOSProgramming Languages History : PL/1 : Simula 67 : C : History of GCC developmentScripting Languages : Perl history   : OS History : Mail : DNS : SSH : CPU Instruction Sets : SPARC systems 1987-2006 : Norton Commander : Norton Utilities : Norton Ghost : Frontpage history : Malware Defense History : GNU Screen : OSS early history

Classic books:

The Peter Principle : Parkinson Law : 1984 : The Mythical Man-MonthHow to Solve It by George Polya : The Art of Computer Programming : The Elements of Programming Style : The Unix Hater’s Handbook : The Jargon file : The True Believer : Programming Pearls : The Good Soldier Svejk : The Power Elite

Most popular humor pages:

Manifest of the Softpanorama IT Slacker Society : Ten Commandments of the IT Slackers Society : Computer Humor Collection : BSD Logo Story : The Cuckoo's Egg : IT Slang : C++ Humor : ARE YOU A BBS ADDICT? : The Perl Purity Test : Object oriented programmers of all nations : Financial Humor : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2008 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2010 : The Most Comprehensive Collection of Editor-related Humor : Programming Language Humor : Goldman Sachs related humor : Greenspan humor : C Humor : Scripting Humor : Real Programmers Humor : Web Humor : GPL-related Humor : OFM Humor : Politically Incorrect Humor : IDS Humor : "Linux Sucks" Humor : Russian Musical Humor : Best Russian Programmer Humor : Microsoft plans to buy Catholic Church : Richard Stallman Related Humor : Admin Humor : Perl-related Humor : Linus Torvalds Related humor : PseudoScience Related Humor : Networking Humor : Shell Humor : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2011 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2012 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2013 : Java Humor : Software Engineering Humor : Sun Solaris Related Humor : Education Humor : IBM Humor : Assembler-related Humor : VIM Humor : Computer Viruses Humor : Bright tomorrow is rescheduled to a day after tomorrow : Classic Computer Humor

The Last but not Least Technology is dominated by two types of people: those who understand what they do not manage and those who manage what they do not understand ~Archibald Putt. Ph.D


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Last updated: June 28, 2021

[Oct 25, 2020] A Vaporware Executive- An Attitude, Not a President

[Jun 28, 2020] Biden is the intelligence services' ideal candidate -- an easily manipulated empty suit.

[Dec 02, 2019] The cost of militarism cannot be measured only in lost opportunities, lives and money. There will be a long hangover of shame

[Mar 11, 2019] >Walrus on narcissistic leaders.

[Jan 05, 2019] The minister in charge, grayling, is a serial incompetent and genuine z grade genetic landfill. In a reasonably sane world he wouldn't be put in charge of running a bath.

[Aug 29, 2017] New York Police scrap 36,000 Windows smartphones

[Aug 28, 2017] Bombastic boss gave insane instructions to sensible sysadmin, with client on speakerphone

[Jun 30, 2017] The present empty suit is proof that the POTU$ really doesnt matter

[May 24, 2017] Rank Incompetence

[May 24, 2017] A Condensation of Military Incompetence

[Nov 12, 2016] Dealing with Your Incompetent Boss - Amy Gallo - Best Practices - Harvard Business Review

[Sep 03, 2016] Hillary Clinton Incompetent, Or Criminal

No Bozos Allowed!

The Bozo Explosion, so colorfully described by Guy Kawasaki, is a theory which states that "A" players hire "A+" players, but "B" players hire "C", "C" hire "D", which ultimately leads to a company full of bozos.

"I refined this slightly-my theory is that A players hire people even better than themselves. It's clear, though, that B players hire C players so they can feel superior to them, and C players hire D players. If you start hiring B players, expect what Steve called "the bozo explosion" to happen in your organization." – Guy Kawasaki

Most of us have met "bozos" before in our work and personal lives. If you're lucky, you've only seen them in the check-out aisle at the grocery store and quickly been able to divert your path away to a different lane - never to see them again.

If you're unlucky, you work for a "bozo" or near one.

There is nothing more soul-crushing than being constantly surrounded by bozos in your life. And there's nothing that kills a company faster that the rapid proliferation of bozos working for it (especially as CEO).

What is a bozo? It's a little like pornography, you know it when you see it. However, let me try to more precisely define one.

A bozo is someone who thinks they are much smarter and capable than they actually are. They constantly over-estimate their abilities and under-estimate the risks and threats around them. They typically don't keep an open-mind. They look instead for data that confirms a previously held bias. They also don't handle details well. They expect other people to clean up their messes when they happen, and so don't feel the need to obsess over the little things. Because they don't have a keen sense for the competitive market in which they operate, they typically don't have good judgment in key strategic decisions or when hiring top talent. Instead of hiring the smartest folks around them, bozos prefer to hire people who blow smoke, telling them how great they are, or for some non-obvious business reason such as sharing the same college or frat.

One of the first detailed discussions of the damage bozos can do to companies was in Walter Isaacson's recent biography on Steve Jobs at Apple (AAPL).

Here are some choice Jobs' quotes from the book on the subject:
Apple's Dynamic Duo- On John Sculley:
I began to realize this a month after he arrived. He didn't learn things very quickly, and the people he wanted to promote were usually bozos.

– From Atari's Al Alcorn:

Sculley believed in keeping people happy and worrying about relationships. Steve didn't give a shit about that. But he did care about the product in a way that Sculley never could, and he was able to avoid having too many bozos working at Apple by insulting anyone who wasn't an A player.

One Must Prevent a Bozo Explosion

– On getting rid of the bozos who worked at Apple after he sold NeXT to Apple: "I wanted to make sure the really good people who came in from NeXT didn't get knifed in the back by the less competent people who were then in senior jobs at Apple."

– When he was asked by an Apple director what he thought of then CEO Gil Amelio:

"I thought to myself, I either tell him the truth, that Gil is a bozo, or I lie by omission. He's on the board of Apple, I have a duty to tell him what I think; on the other hand, if I tell him, he will tell Gil, in which case Gil will never listen to me again, and he'll fuck the people I brought into Apple. All of this took place in my head in less than thirty seconds. I finally decided that I owed this guy the truth. I cared deeply about Apple. So I just let him have it. I said this guy is the worst CEO I've ever seen, I think if you needed a license to be a CEO he wouldn't get one. When I hung up the phone, I thought, I probably just did a really stupid thing."

– On how Amelio had no self-awareness that he was a bozo:

"He was just such a buffoon, and he took himself so seriously. He insisted that everyone call him Dr. Amelio. That's always a warning sign. For most things in life, the range between best and average is 30% or so. The best airplane flight, the best meal, they may be 30% better than your average one. What I saw with Woz was somebody who was 50 times better than the average engineer. He could have meetings in his head. The Mac team was an attempt to build a whole team like that, A players. People said that they wouldn't get along, they'd hate working with each other. But I realized that A players like to work with A players, they just didn't like working with C players. At Pixar, it was a whole company of A players. When I got back to Apple, that's what I decided to try to do. You need to have a collaborative hiring process. When we hire someone, even if they're going to be in marketing, I will have them talk to the design folks and the engineers.

My role model was J. Robert Oppenheimer. I read about the type of people he sought for the atom bomb project. I wasn't nearly as good as he was, but that's what I aspired to do."

So, what do you have to do to create a "no bozo" policy at your company? Here are 7 rules for how to implement one:

1. Never hire another bozo. If you are a hiring manager, you have the final say. Never let another bozo come in to your company. Sometimes we all have our blinders on because the candidate likes the same sports team as us. Therefore, get lots of input from others around you whose opinion you trust. Bozos are like cockroaches: you'll never get rid of them after bringing them into your home.

2. If you don't have a final say on hiring someone, tell the truth to your boss about what you think of a prospective bozo hire. You've got to tell the truth – even if there is a risk that you'll lose your job for speaking the truth. If your boss is going to hire a bozo, let's face it: you probably need to start looking for another job anyway. It's just a matter of time until they bring down your team and then your company. If you threaten to quit now, you'll probably get your boss to think twice before signing off on the bozo in question.

3. Get rid of any existing bozos already on the payroll. These folks might be pleasant and make good conversation in the lunch room, but they're a cancer. They need to be exorcised from the organization's body as soon as possible. If they're not rooted out, they will multiply. One new bozo will hire 4 more bozos in short order. Again, you've got to speak the truth to those who have the power to get rid of them. Even if it leads to a showdown between you and the bozo in front of your boss, you've got to fight for what you believe in. If you lose your job, it'll be a blessing.

4. Cut out the bozos at the root. Because bozos procreate so quickly, you've got to be surgically quick and precise in getting rid of them. Start at the root cause. The bozo from which all other bozos come. Many follow-on bozos will follow the chief bozo out the door when he or she departs. That's a good thing. Morale in the rest of the organization will noticeably rise overnight. A lightness and energy will return to the company.

5. Encourage active debate in order to serve your company's ultimate customer. It's a sad truth that some formerly great employees can turn into bozos over time. It happens. We all can lose interest and motivation over time. We might have been great basketball players in high school but not so much in our 30s. There might be a natural time when we all should leave a company. The recently ousted co-CEOs at Research In Motion (RIMM) – Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis - are a textbook case of that. Steve Jobs' ouster at Apple in the 1980s is another good example of how this can be even true for one of the greats. To keep everyone on their toes and fully engaged in the product and market dynamics, it's important to encourage active debate within a company. There should be no sacred cows. Mid-level managers shouldn't be afraid to call Steve Jobs - or some other senior executive who is seemingly always right - that he's being a bozo about a particular issue or decision. Jobs had lots of terrible ideas. His people didn't accept those terrible ideas and pushed back – and he eventually appreciated that even if he disagreed with them at first.

6. It's not personal, it's business. So many organizations fail under their own weight because people get caught managing up or worrying more about their own career path or organizational politics rather than ensuring the best decision gets made in the moment. Disagreements should never be personal - only focused on the best business decision.

7. You're never that important. Another way you can let yourself turn into a bozo over time is starting to believe you're brilliant. You've got to be self-confident, but you can't ever let yourself think you're too important to have lunch with your employees or meet with real customers. Calling yourself "Dr." Amelio was dumb because it signals to others that you think you're very important. Building yourself a fancy office - as John Thain did in his job at Merrill Lynch, even when the world was blowing up around him - is another sign that you're overly focused on insignificant priorities affecting your company. You might be in the top job as CEO, but you are always replaceable.

Never forget that.

[Nov 06, 2015] Bozo Bomber

Urban Dictionary
Someone who enables the Bozo Explosion, either intentionally or due to their inexperience and incompetence.

The Bozo Explosion was possibly coined by Steve Jobs at Apple:

"Actually, Steve believed that A players hire A players-that is people who are as good as they are. I refined this slightly-my theory is that A players hire people even better than themselves. It's clear, though, that B players hire C players so they can feel superior to them, and C players hire D players. If you start hiring B players, expect what Steve called "the bozo explosion" to happen in your organization." -- Guy Kawasaki
My manager is the lead Bozo Bomber at my company. He makes sure everyone in the business is as dumb as a caveman, then he can swoop in like Superman and save the day. Man, does it make him look good. Terrible for the business though.

by starfruitman December 06, 2011

[Jan 19, 2014] Power + Incompetence = a Bullying Boss

Here's some gratifying news for any employees out there who are feeling bullied by a tyrannical boss: That aggressive behavior may have little to do with you, and a lot to do with your boss's feelings of incompetence. A new study in Psychological Science found that when managers are made to feel insecure about their job performance, their aggressiveness skyrockets. "Power holders feel they need to be superior and competent. When they don't feel they can show that legitimately, they'll show it by taking people down a notch or two" [New Scientist], says study coauthor Nathanael Fast.

The researchers got 410 volunteers from various workplaces to fill out questionnaires about their position in the workplace hierarchy, how they felt about their job performance, and their aggressive tendencies. They also conducted a series experiments on the volunteers. In one, they manipulated the subjects' sense of power and self-worth by asking them to write about occasions when they felt either empowered or impotent and then either competent or incompetent. Previous research has suggested that such essays cause a short-term bump or drop in feelings of power and capability [New Scientist]. Next they asked the volunteers to set the level of punishment for (imaginary) university students who got wrong answers on a test. Those people who felt more powerful and more incompetent picked the harshest punishments, the study found.

So what's to be done with a bullying boss? Coauthor Serena Chen says a little ego stroking may make life easier for everyone. "Make them feel good about themselves in some way," Chen said, suggesting this might mean complimenting a hobby or nonwork activity provided it is "something plausible that doesn't sound like you're sucking up" [San Francisco Chronicle].

Related Content:
80beats: Teenage Bullies are Rewarded With Pleasure, Brain Scans Show
DISCOVER: So, You Want to Be the Boss?

[Nov 05, 2013] The 10 most INHUMAN bosses you'll encounter A Reg reader's guide • The Register

Your boss could well be a barely restrained psychopath. Indeed, it is probable that he is the living incarnation of Cthulhu himself. Or he may be a bumbling incompetent who'll sink your career along with his. You, the downtrodden techie, need to learn how to deal with him - and fast.

First, stop thinking of him as a person because it is making you too soft and disabling the parts of your brain that can effectively change his behaviour.

... ... ...

10: The moron

This is actually the easiest to deal with, just so long as you never ever let them think you've worked out that this is their bug.

A good measure of intelligence is the number of things you understand and the depth to which you grok them so lack of intelligence is worked around by keeping the number and depth lower.

This expresses itself in a way familiar to those of you who've done search engine optimisation. Identify their buzzwords to work out what I call "Business Correctness," the more lucrative sibling of the political kind. Despite their track record, Accenture get a lot of business by using words like "team" because managers like teams (defined as doing what they are told) and in your firm there will be terms like "risk reduction", "delivery" and "cost reduction". Some even still talk of "quality".

All you have to do is note these terms and use them more often; firstly to make you look like a "good team player" and secondly as decoration on anything you want to make look better or worse, though in general positive BC words work better.

There are of course more types of AntiManager than this and feel free to share them in the comments below, but the point I'd like you to take away and use is that you can model their behaviour using skills you already have to turn their documented features into something useful.

Power + Incompetence = a Bullying Boss

Here's some gratifying news for any employees out there who are feeling bullied by a tyrannical boss: That aggressive behavior may have little to do with you, and a lot to do with your boss's feelings of incompetence. A new study in Psychological Science found that when managers are made to feel insecure about their job performance, their aggressiveness skyrockets. "Power holders feel they need to be superior and competent. When they don't feel they can show that legitimately, they'll show it by taking people down a notch or two" [New Scientist], says study coauthor Nathanael Fast.

The researchers got 410 volunteers from various workplaces to fill out questionnaires about their position in the workplace hierarchy, how they felt about their job performance, and their aggressive tendencies. They also conducted a series experiments on the volunteers. In one, they manipulated the subjects' sense of power and self-worth by asking them to write about occasions when they felt either empowered or impotent and then either competent or incompetent. Previous research has suggested that such essays cause a short-term bump or drop in feelings of power and capability [New Scientist]. Next they asked the volunteers to set the level of punishment for (imaginary) university students who got wrong answers on a test. Those people who felt more powerful and more incompetent picked the harshest punishments, the study found.

So what's to be done with a bullying boss? Coauthor Serena Chen says a little ego stroking may make life easier for everyone. "Make them feel good about themselves in some way," Chen said, suggesting this might mean complimenting a hobby or nonwork activity provided it is "something plausible that doesn't sound like you're sucking up" [San Francisco Chronicle].

Related Content:
80beats: Teenage Bullies are Rewarded With Pleasure, Brain Scans Show
DISCOVER: So, You Want to Be the Boss?

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alexander bogan said:

Harms of Bullying
Bullying is a serious problem that harms not only the victim, but everyone that it touches. It can have a serious negative effect on the bully, witnesses, and the environment as a whole.
The most obvious harm occurs to the victim. It could be anything from physical injury to embarrassment, to harm to their self esteem and even potential for success in the future. Extreme bullying (particularly coupled with sexual harassment) may cause depression or even lead to suicide. Victims often display lowered self-esteem and lowered grades, anxiety, and decreased attentiveness. Being bullied may cause a child to shy away from other children as well, or even adults--or it may cause them to become clingy, fearing separation from adults. It really depends on the individual child, the situation, and the intensity of the bullying, but it is clear that the harm is very real.
However, while attention is usually focused on this harm to the victim, also be aware of the negative effects on the bully. Studies have shown* that bullies are more likely to drop out of school, and that forty percent are convicted of at least three crimes by the age of twenty-four. Elementary school bullies are five times more likely than non-bullies to have a criminal record by the age of thirty. They are more likely to be involved in domestic violence and to work jobs below their skill level. Moreover, a bully's children are more likely to be bullies themselves, resulting in a vicious cycle of abuse.
Even if other students are not directly involved in the bullying, it can also have a negative impact on witnesses and the educational environment as a whole. Other children may be anxious or afraid that it could happen to them as well. They may be confused about whether to tell someone, or alienated by friends who are bullied. Bullying leads to an imbalanced environment, and can cultivate a culture of fear at a very young age.
Because Cyberbullying is a relatively new phenomenon, we do not know enough about how some of the harms above may or may not apply--but we do know that it is leading to more and more bullies, which means more and more victims. The next articles in this series will examine more closely how cyberbullying differs from traditional bullying.


Read more: http://www.brighthub.com/education/k-12/articles/10833.aspx#ixzz0dwKvkjZPhfmyhrkjdghfkdh


3 years ago

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Shem said:

It sucks that we Live to work in the modern ages, The comment above by the "boss guy" regarding us moaning cos were not in chains @ our desk, well pal, thankfully we progressed a little beyond your slave driving ways. When they all agree its a 3 dayweek then we can spend more of our time with our loved ones more time being happy in life and not working for power greedy ego maniacs, studies on how to keep incompetent people out of positions with power is research thats needed....

after all the same guys are pressing the red buttons of war and making dumb ass choices for us "workers" and directing the course of our history.

Maybe in 500 yrs we work a 3 day week, now wouldnt that be cool!


3 years ago

Flag comment as inappropriate

Kathleen said:

Sucking up doesn't really work in the long run based on my work with both victims and perps. It's obvious and disempowers the target. Share real compliments, if possible. Focus on work requirements and look the bully in the eye, that helps them to back down. Study avoids focus on one real purpose of bullying-consolidation of power including and especially control and ownership of careers. They may feel powerless but sometimes they're consolidating power by destroying others.


3 years ago

Flag comment as inappropriate

Chad Cartwright said:

Employees have been coddled and cuddled too long in America. This decade has been seen thru the filter of television, popularising the poor office worker. Meanwhile office worker productivity has dwindled with the advent of the web and text messages.

I bet half of you whiny jokers are posting on the clock! Just be glad you aren't chained to your work space like your ancestors were. I slaved my way thru college while my employees were smoking pot and having babies before they could provide for them.


3 years ago

Flag comment as inappropriate

gold brick said:

Driver type incompetents usually have little patience. When my maroon of an employer asks me a question, I barrage him with (way) too much information. I try to keep his eye contact as well so he can't fake that he is listrning to me. He squirms like the eel that he is. Now when he sees me coming, he moves on to an easier target.


3 years ago

[Nov 22, 2012] Ten Habits of Incompetent Managers

[Nov 22, 2012] Ten Habits of Incompetent Managers by Fast Company Staff|

October 23, 2007 | Fast Company

So what hallmarks of incompetence have I learned to identify?

[Jun 05, 2011] Ten Signs of an Incompetent Leader by By Chris Ortiz

10/19/2004 | Badbossology.com

Poor leadership surrounds us, it's a fact of life and they seemingly find a way to keep their jobs. They are more focused on their personal needs and not of the professional needs of those below them. They have a hard time developing their employees because they lack the proper management techniques to do so. A leader is someone who you would follow to a place you would not go alone. Leadership is about action not status.

However, the question is, how do we know when we are dealing with these flaw ridden individuals. A lot of the time, a poor manager can make the perception that he/she is busy and organized. I have developed a small guideline that can help pinpoint these leaders.

Incompetent Leaders will:

1. Delegate work rather than balance work loads. This allows all attention to be diverted from them in case of failure. It may seem to them that are managing their people but in actuality they are creating work imbalances within the group. It can create unnecessary overtime for some and under utilization of others. A good manager is aware of the skill sets of all the people below them and should allocate work accordingly while trying to enhance the skills of everyone to be even more productive.

2. Reduce all answers to Yes or No rather than explaining their reasoning. This is an example of a crisis manager who can not think farther than a few hours ahead. A yes/no manager finds it a waste of time to find the real answer through intellectual thought. They are already thinking about the next crisis.

3. Not separate personal life from professional life. They will bring their personal problem to work. Working for these types of managers can be very dramatic. They are unable to separate their emotional imbalances while trying to manage people. They are less focused and will not give you the attention and direction you need for success.

4. Manage crisis. If you are a company that has crisis managers, then you can say goodbye to innovation and progression. Proactive thinking is critical to the success of any company. If you are not finding ways to stop or reduce the amount of crisis that has to be managed, then your competition will pass you by. Leaders have to think out of the box and make change.

5. Create an environment where mistakes are unacceptable. Being held accountable for wrong decisions is a fear for them. Making mistakes only helps you become a better person, manager, etc. I use the analogy of a basketball player that has no fouls. If they are not going for the ball and taking chances with their opponent, then they are trying hard enough. Take a chance and don't be scared.

6. Humiliate or reprimand an employee within a group. This is a clear and visible sign of a poor leader. A good leader takes employee problems away from a group setting to a more private setting. If you have a boss that does this, it is time for a visit to human resources.

7. Not stand behind subordinates when they fail. Never leave your people to hang out to dry. Always back them up, right, wrong, or indifferent. If an employee tries their best in a situation and they fail to come through. They should be commended on their effort and not punished for the failure

8. Encourage hard workers not smart workers. I am not impressed with hard workers. A hard worker is usually defined by hours. Smart workers are the ones that I hire and embrace. Smart workers understand the concept of time management and multi-tasking. Poor leaders miss this connection. Smart workers are methodical in their thinking and can generally be successful because of their abilities management projects and time. Hard workers may take twice as long to do the work. It is important to assign work accordingly to the skills and personalities

9. Judge people on hours not performance. This is similar to #8. Again, I am not impressed with overtime junkies. They have lost all perspective on a healthy family/balance. Bad managers will promote the employees that work the most hours and not look at the smart ones who work less……….meaning have better time management. Stop watching the lock.

10. Act differently in front of their leaders. This is an indication of low self-confidence. They have doubts about their own ability to lead and they will act like little children when authority is present. A confident person acts the same around everyone. Remember, have respect for them, but also have self-respect.

Chris Ortiz is also the author of : 40+ Overtime Under Poor Leadership

Book Available at: Authorhouse.com

[Jul 03, 2010] When the Boss Feels Inadequate

"Power holders who do not feel personally competent are more likely than those who feel competent to lash out against other people."
June 01, 2010 | Bullying of Academics in Higher Education

ABSTRACT

When and why do power holders seek to harm other people? The present research examined the idea that aggression among the powerful is often the result of a threatened ego. Four studies demonstrated that individuals with power become aggressive when they feel incompetent in the domain of power. Regardless of whether power was measured in the workplace (Studies 1 and 4), manipulated via role recall (Study 2), or assigned in the laboratory (Study 3), it was associated with heightened aggression when paired with a lack of self-perceived competence. As hypothesized, this aggression appeared to be driven by ego threat: Aggressiveness was eliminated among participants whose sense of self-worth was boosted (Studies 3 and 4). Taken together, these findings suggest that (a) power paired with self-perceived incompetence leads to aggression, and (b) this aggressive response is driven by feelings of ego defensiveness. Implications for research on power, competence, and aggression are discussed...

CONCLUSION

The present findings highlight the importance of perceiving personal competence when holding a position of power. Power holders who do not feel personally competent are more likely than those who feel competent to lash out against other people. Additionally, the finding that self-worth boosts assuage the aggressive tendencies of such power holders implies the effectiveness of a strategy commonly employed by underlings: excessive flattery. It is both interesting and ironic to note that such flattery, although perhaps affirming to the ego, may contribute to the incompetent power holder's ultimate demise-by causing the power holder to lose touch with reality.

Full paper at: http://www-rcf.usc.edu/~nathanaf/power_incompetence_and_aggresssion.pdf

So you want to be a corporate star - 12 tips to help you up the corporate ladder Essence - Find Articles

The first is important because, yes, believe it or not, many folks are still threatened by a Black face in corporate America. The last person you want threatened is your boss, who can either make it easy for you to pursue your vision or make life a day-to-day hell. Therefore, remembering tip number 5, you want your boss to seem as if he or she is the smartest person in the world for hiring you. To do that you have to give credit generously and publicly in front of clients or top management for the great guidance and direction your boss provides in conducting whatever project you are working on.

Simultaneously you also need to let those same people know that most of the good works they are seeing are your own original ideas come to life, and that without all the hard work you put into the project, there would be no project. You need to do this especially if your boss is not the type to be forthcoming with praise (a trait more typical of an empty suit than a power broker). Therefore, in casual conversations with your clients or others, let it be known how at 2:15 in the morning, when you were just going over the documents one last time, it hit you what the answer to the issue was.

Praise your boss in public forums; take credit in one-on-one conversations--but don't overdo it or appear to be showing off.

The Incompetent Boss Broadcast April 3, 2004

If you've been in the business world very long, it's likely you've run into a manager who just wasn't doing the job right. If that hasn't happened to you yet, it will probably happen sometime in your career. The question is how do you relate and react to the incompetent boss? You need to remember biblical principles in dealing with these people.

Someone once told me that you can learn as much from an incompetent or bad manager as you can from a good one, and I think that's probably true. But the learning is more difficult and painful!

Their "people skills" are usually sadly lacking, and they are not willing to accept suggestions or help from anyone else.

Well, there's no question that our relationships with those in authority over us are unique. While we recognize that a person's level or position does not make that person better than anyone else, we also know that we should respect those who are over us. That is a biblical principle.

Romans 13:1-2 says: "Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves."

Now, frankly, this is not an easy passage to either understand or accept. Our natural minds rebel against this statement that all authority comes from God, since we see so much evidence that many people in authority are neither godly nor competent. Can their authority be God-given? What about the Peter-principle; the person who has risen to his or her level of incompetency?

The Apostle Paul is teaching us that God has established authority as the order for the universe. We see it in every part of creation; some things have authority over others. And if it were not for the principle of authority, we would have nothing but chaos. You and I daily submit ourselves to all kinds of authority: red lights, stop signs, the law of gravity, taxes, police officers, etc. Without these authorities governing us, and everyone else, our world would be inhabitable and unmanageable.

The same is true in our business world. We require authority in order to operate a business of any kind. The buck has to stop somewhere. Therefore, the people in positions of authority are part of God's plan for authority. And as Christians, we are directed to submit ourselves to those people who have risen to those authority positions. To rebel against that is to rebel against God's order, and, Paul said, it will bring judgment on us.

Obviously there have been and are people in positions of authority who should never be there. But that was true when Paul wrote this letter to the Romans. The principle still holds true; we may not respect the people themselves, but we must respect their position.

This is contrary to the times. I remember a business training class I conducted where a woman said to me privately, "Mary, I'm older and I'm used to the old way of doing things. I treat my boss with lots of respect, do things for him that the other secretaries don't do. That's the way I was trained. But the other women in the office are angry at me for treating my boss like I do, and they keep telling me that it makes them look bad and I shouldn't do it. What do you think?"

She was taught to respect authority almost to the point of fear. But during the 60's and 70's we saw a backlash against all authority, when everyone over 30 was seen as suspicious, and that generation was taught to reject and challenge all authority. Neither extreme is right: We should not give respect to authority out of fear, but neither is it right to be disrespectful toward authority. We seem to have much difficulty with balanced and biblical attitudes, don't we?

Given the general disregard and disrespect we find in our culture for authority, this passage in Romans 13 which tells Christians to submit to authority doesn't sit well in our ears. That's not the way the world looks at it.

But as Christians in the marketplace, it is where we start. We have to make certain that in our hearts we accept this principle of authority and recognize that even though the authority over us may be incompetent or inadequate in some way, they are nonetheless in authority and therefore we respect their position.

First Peter 2:18 says that we must submit ourselves to our masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. An incompetent boss is harsh, difficult, unpleasant. But the principle of submitting and respecting their authority still applies. Now, if you're not willing to apply that biblical principle, you will invite trouble into your life.

Well, how do you apply it when you don't feel it? You do it by faith, not by feelings. You pray it into your life on a daily basis. You read those verses from Romans 13 often, and you ask God to change your attitude and change your thinking so that you can accept the authority that is over you.

First Timothy 2:1-2 tells us to offer requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving for everyone, for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. We are to pray for those in authority, and we are to pray for peaceful relationships. Now, if you're dealing with an incompetent boss, have you been praying for him or her regularly? How have you been praying for that person? This is where it starts, and until you begin to truly pray for them, you won't see much change in your attitude or in their behavior.

So, we begin by accepting God's principle of authority, respecting that incompetent boss, praying for them, praying that we will be able to get along with them in peace and display a godly attitude. Praying that they will improve in their job.

Smart employees understand that their job description includes making their boss look good. The world uses that principle as a manipulative tool, but we have other reasons to do it. First Corinthians 13 describes the kind of love we are to develop in our lives, a love that is like God's love. And that kind of love "does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."

As Christians we are to ever be seeking to have God's love fill us and overflow through us to everyone in our lives, including our incompetent bosses. Therefore, we should try to make them look good, not for manipulation purposes, but because God's love motivates us to protect others from bad exposure, to delight in the good things they do, not the bad things, to try to cover up their mistakes whenever we can.

Proverbs 17:9 says, "He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends." One of the typical things that happens when we encounter an incompetent boss is that we talk about that person in derogatory ways. It's easy to do. A friend was sharing with me that her boss is very difficult and no one agrees with the way her boss runs the department. She has no trouble gaining confirmation from her co-workers that her negative attitude toward her boss is justified; everyone feels the same way.

It's likely if you truly work for an incompetent boss that everyone else feels the same way you do, and therefore, at lunch and on breaks that's what you talk about. Instead of covering up the offense, you repeat the matter and make the situation much worse.

If you work for an incompetent or difficult boss, stop talking about him or her to other people. Pray for that boss; talk to the Lord; get counsel from respected Christians and others inside and outside the company. But don't be a part of the office gossip and character assassination which usually happens when you have this type of boss.

Now, when you've got those biblical principles in place in your life, then you can start to consider whether it is ever right to confront an incompetent boss, or to blow the whistle on them. And there aren't any black and white answers here because the circumstances would dictate what type of action to take. However, I believe confrontation or exposure should be the last thing we do, after other attempts have failed, and after much prayer.

Here are some guidelines to consider in deciding whether or not to confront your incompetent boss. First, is their incompetency truly affecting the quality of the product or service which the customer receives? Is their inability to manage truly causing unfair treatment for employees, others as well as yourself? Are they doing things which are contrary to your organization's stated standards and policies? In other words, is there a larger picture here than simply your own irritations and frustrations at having to work for an incompetent manager?

If you're convinced there is a larger picture, then confrontation may be advisable. But, again, this must be done with great respect for their authority. You look for ways to make suggestions for improvement without pointing the finger at them. You try to find a way to make it look like their idea to which you are contributing. You do everything you can not to undermine their own self-image as the boss.

An incompetent boss is likely to be very insecure. They are most probably quite aware of their shortcomings, though they may not be able to openly admit them or talk about them. Indeed, they may deny them. But underneath the facade, you can be fairly certain they are very uncertain and insecure about their performance. Therefore, they're going to be worried about someone else showing them up and exposing their shortcomings.

Sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness, as we read in Proverbs 16:21, and if we truly want to help our incompetent manager to improve, we have to make our suggestions with carefully chosen words. I am not suggesting we use flattery or deceit of any kind. But if we look long enough, we can find something good to say about them and to them, something positive to lead with, some way to confront without seeming confrontational.

It's not easy; I know. But let me tell you this. It's easier than doing it the other way. If you've been stewing and fretting over your incompetent boss; if you're constantly frustrated because you want to get rid of him or her or tell them off; if you've been angry at having to put up with their incompetency when you know you could do it better-tell me, has that been easy?

Of course not. It's a more natural reaction than following biblical principles, but it's not easier on you or anyone else. It's harder-takes a much greater mental and emotional toll on you.

Doesn't it make sense, then, to simply ask God to give you his perspective and his power to deal with your incompetent boss in a Christlike way? The good news is, because of Jesus we have the power to do it. But we have to be willing to allow Him to do it through us.


Mary's book, Getting Along with People @ Work, gives much good advice in dealing with difficult people. You can order by calling 1-800-292-1218 or online at www.christianworkingwoman.org

What to Do If Your Boss Is Incompetent - Work - Life Balance from Monster.com by Bob Weinstein

If it's any consolation, you're not alone if you're saddled with an incompetent boss.

Thousands of unqualified bosses somehow manage to hold onto their jobs. There are even inept CEOs who couldn't run a broom closet, let alone multimillion-dollar corporations.

How Do You Know If Your Boss Is Incompetent?

Don't berate yourself for not realizing your boss was a hopeless nincompoop before you took the job. How could you know what the future would hold back at the interview when you were totally focused on making a great impression? And your boss probably didn't have any opportunities to demonstrate incompetence while being on his best behavior.

But now that you've settled into your job, the signs of incompetence can be likened to headlights on a pitch-black night. They're unavoidable.

Common clues include:

Take Advantage Your situation looks far worse than it is. Don't be so quick to take the first new job you can find just to get away from your boss. Learning to adjust could be a career-enhancing experience. Incredible as it seems, your boss's ineptitude could be a blessing.

For example, you have the chance to stand out by becoming an asset to your boss. The more you do and accomplish, the better it looks on your resume. It also scores points with management and potential employers.

Try these strategies for turning unfortunate circumstances into an advantage:

Cover in a Crisis. If your boss is away on a business trip or vacation and an issue requiring instant decision-making arises, you have two choices: either turn the problem over to a senior manager or make the decision yourself. Calling in senior managers makes your boss look bad. If you're confident you can take over, you'd be wise to make the decision. Remember: Heroes are born in crisis situations.

Compensate for Deficiencies. It's to your advantage to discover your boss's weak spots and help him in those areas. You want to be part of a winning team, and your boss is this team's captain. You will get much further in a company if you can be associated with successful projects. For example, an incompetent boss will struggle with complex ventures. Guide him through it until everything is completed. You'll look good by making your team look good.

Beware. Watch what you say about your boss. It's very easy to complain and vent frustrations about your less-than-qualified boss to coworkers. Without realizing it, you could be talking to the boss's good friend or someone who wants to score points with him. Keep your opinions to yourself.

Dealing with Incompetent Leaders By Carole Nicolaides

As a mid-level employee, you've been working for the ACME Company, a manufacturing firm, for the past two years. Your job performance has been solid, and on occasion, even praiseworthy. However due to the current economic conditions – poor profit earnings, massive layoffs and company restructuring, you now find yourself working for a new boss. Ordinarily reporting to a new leader would not pose a real problem but this time it feels different -- management practices have changed. The team environment has been transformed from one of true collaboration, honest dialogue and a commitment to problem solving to one where backstabbing, finger pointing and plain fear are the norms. Congratulations – you are now under the control of an "incompetent" leader!

An "incompetent" leader by definition is someone whose action destroys camaraderie, instill gossip, encourage dishonesty, and prevent people from speaking freely. "Incompetent" leaders tend to use their own weapons to get noticed and promoted. They usually lack vision, interpersonal communication skills and confidence to resolve conflict.

You might think the term "incompetent" leaders should only be reserved for those in the company's upper echelon such as the Chief Executive Officer of Chief Financial Offer.

After all, aren't they the ones entrusted with setting the direction for the entire organization? While this may be true to a certain extent – CEOs do serve as the "compass" for the company, but many CEOs are not directly involved in the daily operations of their organizations. Those responsibilities fall on the shoulders of senior and middle managers. And, it is the "collective leadership" of those managers -- their style of execution, their effective ability to communicate, manage and motivate their teams that keep companies on course. If a leader lacks the competency to manage his or her team, then team morale diminishes, productivity and performance drops, and companies ultimately fail. What's worst is the fact that today we live in a heavy Information Economy where bad news about a company spreads instantly thereby allowing competitors to profit from your company's incompetent leadership.

In the quest to attain "better and cheaper staff," one would think that organizations had all the advantages needed to rid their companies of every single under-performing employee – managers included. However, nothing could be farthest from the truth. Unfortunately in many cases, it is the good, high-performing, mid-level employees who first are shown the door, while ineffective managers – the ones who really need to take a hike – remain.

For whatever reason these foul apples may have been left behind; the fact that they are present causes a lot of problems either through their actions or sometimes through their inactions. The tnt initiatives to detect and remove them before bringing irreparable harm to an organization.

So what can you do to protect yourself and survive working for an "incompetent" leader? Here are some quick tips:

1. Do not make it a personal matter. This is a hard one, simply because working for an incompetent boss is such a personal matter. Remember, that most of these leaders do not have a problem directly with you, but they too are frustrated and are shouting loud their own insecurities -- most likely mirroring to you things that they should be doing.

2. Observe Your Boss. It might sound funny, but notice what is going on around your boss. In case you've known or worked with your boss before and you observe a sudden change, then your next step should be to take action right away. The problem could be as simple as someone asking him something way out of his league, or someone talking to him about you and your team. Whatever the reason might be you need to act and confront your boss as soon as possible. If you do this at the beginning, you might be able to stop a snowball effect -- not only for you but also for the entire team. Confrontation does not come easy for most people, yet if you seek a constructive conversation, have an open mind, avoid turning it into a personal attack, you might be able to ease tensions with your boss and also improve his position.

3. Accumulate Facts. Nothing is irrelevant if you work in an unhealthy environment. You need to make sure that you accumulate all the things that matter for your career -- the good as well as the bad stuff. Good things that you've done, bad things that have happened to you, and things that you could have done better. The key here is to have nothing against you, nothing that will give people permission to talk about you and question your character.

4. Know Your Value. You might feel beaten down, overworked, under appreciated and doubtless about your true value. Grow up! Things happen and your value does not diminish simply because one cannot see your true value. If you are a professional, do a good job, and the people that work with you will see a direct contribution to the team's success. Then be sure that you have created your own evangelists – people who will tell others about your true value.

5. Expand Your Network. Now, more than ever, you need to think that working for a large company is not very different than working on your own. You need to learn to promote yourself. People need to know who you are, within your company and outside your company. Successful business owners never stop networking. There are so many things you can learn simply by networking. The key here is to find 2 or 3 networking initiatives that you feel comfortable doing and commit to them.

6. Seek For Comfort Outside Your Office. Many people often make this mistake. They work for an incompetent boss and they start complaining about her or him to a "good friend" who also works for the company. For whatever reason this might happen because you are seeking comfort or love. Sometimes you simply need a sounding board in order to release the pinned-up stress. Do it outside the office and avoid discussing your problems with others with whom you work.

Times have changed and even though it might seem hard to work for someone that you know is not suitable for his or her position, remember things and people appear to us to teach something. The sad reality is most "incompetent" leaders do not get fired; they just move on and reinvent themselves in new companies. The chance that you will either work with the same leaders or someone like them again before your career ends is great. However if you manage to stay calm and think about the lessons you've learned and how to counteract incompetent behavior, you will have all the wisdom needed in order to become a better leader yourself in future jobs.

Copyright ©2003, All Rights Reserved

Incorrect observation

Having worked for the old AT&T monopoly which had more levels of management than any other bureaucracy in the world, with an employee-management ration of 2:1, I can say that the Peter Principle is not based upon sound observation. Then having worked for the second largest employer in the USA, the Federal government, I also observed that the Peter Principle is unsound. No employee is ever promoted because that employee was competent or good at the position to which they were initially hired. No one is promoted up the hierarchy because of good job performance. Promotions are based solely upon sexual activity within the managerial group in control and nepotism. Problems are solved by contracting the issue with consultants who simply charge an arm and a leg to give back suggestions from the employees, which the management could have gotten for free if they ever bothered to talk with those employed within the problem area.

The Federal bureaucracy has a slightly different approach depending upon the agency/department. Competent persons are hired from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) register with a 12 month probationary period. The competent probationary employee then proceeds to resolve the problem and bring order to the chaos. However, when the work is done, usually before the end of the 12 month probationary period, the employee is then fired with the Federal agency alleging "poor job performance." The supervisor with the problem area keeps his/her job, which is no more than a prostitute on-call for their superior managers, and the probationary employee is stigmatized as a poor unproductive employee and their career is ended. Even where the lives of the public and employees are endanger from the company or Federal agency, this is how bureaucracy really works.

L. Peter must have been wearing rose-colored glasses when he made his observations.

The Peter Principle revisited

The Hindu Business Line

Incompetence, the word most dreaded by managers. Woe betides the manager who is declared incompetent by his superior and worse, by his subordinates. In the corporate world, it is certainly a state worse than death. The word itself is so potently disagreeable by virtue of its connotations that it is so sedulously avoided in the workplace. So much so that in a recent farewell function when a speaker stated that the retiree had not reached his level of incompetence, the audience thought a grave insult had been heaped on the poor man on the day of his superannuating.

The learned speaker was, in fact, complimenting the retiree on his capabilities, which had never been adequately challenged in the organisation. Some of the audience thought the retiree needed an extension to finish his alleged mission in the organisation, namely indulging in incompetence. This was largely due to the fact that most in the audience, in their late thirties and early forties, had never read the Peter Principle, a seminal work on incompetence.

Laurence J. Peter and Raymond Hull enunciated the Peter Principle in their eponymous book. Incompetence, according to Peter, was the level at which a man could no longer be equal to his work. Theoretically, all men and women are potentially incompetent; only that some fail only when called upon to play God!

Thus, incompetence is latent in some and blatant in most.

The Peter Principle states: "In a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence." And this occurs in an organisation by the vice, not virtue, of over promotion. The natural corollary is that over a period of time the entire organisation is manned by incompetent people. The efficiency of a hierarchy is inversely proportional to its Maturity quotient (MQ), where MQ=Sigma employees at level of incompetence multiplied by 100 and in turn divided by Sigma employees in the organisation.

Thus, when MQ reaches hundred no useful work will be accomplished.

Peter wrote his seminal work along with Raymond Hull in the late 1960s . People of my father's generation used to swear by it. But in recent times the Peter Principle is just an occasional brooch that adorns the lapel of a managerial suit. And worse, it is often misused and abused out of context. The number of young students from premier business schools who confess with alacrity their non-cognition of Peter's work finally galvanized me into writing this piece .

The Peter Principle spotlights the fact that every organization feels the overpowering compulsion to promote a person from one level in the hierarchy to the next higher level. The danger of this predilection is that often this is from a level of competence to a level of incompetence. Thus, a competent mechanic is promoted to become an incompetent foreman, a competent foreman is made into an incompetent superintendent, a competent teacher is made into an incompetent vice-principal and a competent soldier is promoted to become an incompetent Field Marshal. In all these cases, the employees had been promoted to a position that they were incompetent to fill. Or, in other words, they have been promoted from a position of competence to a position of incompetence.

Over a period of time, the organization tends to be filled with employees who are incompetent to operate their positions. In such a situation, one may well ask how does the work get done? Peter answers, "Work is accomplished by those employees who have not yet reached their level of incompetence." This explains how large bureaucracies and large public utilities turn out work in an even tenor. This is probably due to the fact that at the base of the pyramidal structure of the hierarchy there exists a large workforce who, by virtue of their intelligence and education, is still functioning at levels where they are superior to their job or in other words competent. This notwithstanding, organizations regularly indulge in over promotion. This results in a number of situations often catastrophic to organizational fortunes, but comic as a managerial spectacle.

Peter sums up such promotions as pseudo promotions; the `lateral arabesque' is nothing but a pseudo promotion consisting of a new title and an office in a remote part of the building. Peter cites the example of a competent office manager who, after promotion, found himself at the same salary working as coordinator of inter-departmental communications, supervising the filing of second copies of inter-office memos. The other pseudo promotion is the `free-floating apex', which is nothing but a point in an organization where there is no organization below the promoted employee. He has nothing to do and nobody to supervise. The concept of `percussive sublimation' is also similar wherein an incompetent manager is kicked upstairs to get him out of the way.

The moot question "Who defines competence" is answered by Peter: "His superior in the hierarchy determines the competence of an employee. If the superior is on the level of competence, he will evaluate his subordinate based on his output such as his productivity or his achievement of whatever goals he has been set." But a superior who has reached his level of incompetence is likely to evaluate on the basis of his inputs such as promptness, neatness, and courtesy to his superiors, internal paper work, conformity to rules and so on. Peter says that in such a situation, internal consistency is valued more highly than efficient service. This Peter calls as the `Peter's Inversion'. Sadly the `inverts' have the ability to procure more promotions in an organization.

Hierarchical exfoliation

Peter states that in any organization the distribution of super competent, competent, incompetent and super incompetent people occurs in the pattern of a bell curve, with super incompetent and super competent people being on the fringes of the curve , and the large majority of the competent people occurring on either side of the median. Super competence, Peter points out, is more hazardous than incompetence since super competence disrupts the hierarchy. Peter cites the example of E. Beaver, a probationary primary school teacher who put into practice what she had learnt in college about accommodating the individual differences of her pupils. As a consequence, the brighter among the pupils finished the three years' work in one year. Since she had disrupted the hierarchy, her contract was terminated. The process of an exfoliation of the extremes namely the super incompetence and the super competent, Peter calls `hierarchical exfoliation'. In the chapter `Follower and Leaders', Peter points out the hierarchiological fallacies. He cites the example of the mother of George Washington who, when asked how her son was so accomplished as a General, answered: "I taught him to obey." Peter asks how the ability to lead depends on the ability to follow, as though the ability to float depends on the ability to sink. Peter has classified incompetence into three categories: Physical incompetence where a man who had been promoted beyond his physical capabilities; social incompetence where a man is promoted to a step which is beyond his social capability; and emotional incompetence where a person is promoted to a level which is beyond his emotional capacity. Despite being incompetent, a number of candidates find themselves promoted to higher echelons in the hierarchy. This results in their suffering from symptoms which are generally associated with success. These are peptic ulcer, alcoholism, high blood pressure, skipped heartbeat and many more. Those who suffer from these, Peter describes as those who have reached the final placement syndrome (FPS). Peter lists one sign of FPS - `abnormal tabulology', which is an unusual and highly significant arrangement of his desk such as:

Phonophilia: In this, the incompetent manager masks his incompetence by keeping an array on telephones and communication devices with flashing lights, hot lines and so on.

Papyrophobia: The papyrophobe swears by a clean desk and keeps papers strictly out as each sheet reminds him of the work he is unable to do.

Papyromania: The exact opposite of the papyrophobe, he clutters his desk with papers and tries to give an impression that he has too much to do.

Fileophilia: An obsession with record keeping and filing in the correct manner as this keeps him from tackling the burning situation that needs to be addressed.

Tabulatory gigantism: A yen to have the largest desk in the office.

The psychological manifestations of FPS are self pity; denigration of the present and glorification of the past - Peter calls this the `Auld Lang Syne syndrome'; irrational prejudice similar to Julius Caesar's abhorrence of the "lean and hungry" looking Cassio or Napoleon's preference for men with long noses; rigor cartis which is an obsession with flow charts and pie charts; and compulsive alternation which is the inability to read a report and instead ask a brief of an executive summary from the subordinate. "Look I have no time to wade through all this garbage. Tell me about this in your own words and briefly," writes Peter. An extreme form of FPS is the `cachinatory inertia' in which the subject is more interested in telling jokes than getting on with the business.

I am sure that everyone sees something of himself in Peter's creative descriptions of the managerial maladies. Every young manager should make it a point to get hold of the Peter Principle and read it over and over again. If not anything, it is a safe bet for an afternoon of rib tickling laughter and a lingering sense of subtle edification.

by Rick Brenner

After the boss commits even a few enormous blunders, some of us conclude that he or she is just incompetent. We begin to worry whether our careers are safe, whether the company is safe, or whether to start looking for another job. Beyond worrying, what else can we do?

Let's say, hypothetically, that your latest project has just crashed in flames because your boss forgot to sign off on the extension for the 15 contractors who were staffing it, and they got reassigned. You can get them back in three weeks, but you'll never meet the deadline now. You've just about had it, and you've decided that your boss is totally incompetent.

All you really know is that your boss's performance has been pretty dismal. Incompetence is just one possible explanation. For instance, your boss might be distracted by problems at home - a sick parent or child, a death, a troubled marriage, substance abuse or identity theft, to name just a few possibilities.

As subordinates, we rarely have enough data to support any diagnosis of the causes of our bosses' poor performance. Without such data, attributing the cause of the problem to someone's character or lack of talent could be an example of a common mistake called the Fundamental Attribution Error.

[Oct 19, 2004]Ten Signs of an Incompetent Leader by Chris Ortiz

Chris Ortiz ia an author: 40+ Overtime Under Poor Leadership. The book Available at: Authorhouse.com

Poor leadership surrounds us, it's a fact of life and they seemingly find a way to keep their jobs. They are more focused on their personal needs and not of the professional needs of those below them. They have a hard time developing their employees because they lack the proper management techniques to do so. A leader is someone who you would follow to a place you would not go alone. Leadership is about action not status.

However, the question is, how do we know when we are dealing with these flaw ridden individuals. A lot of the time, a poor manager can make the perception that he/she is busy and organized. I have developed a small guideline that can help pinpoint these leaders.

Incompetent Leaders will:

1. Delegate work rather than balance work loads. This allows all attention to be diverted from them in case of failure. It may seem to them that are managing their people but in actuality they are creating work imbalances within the group. It can create unnecessary overtime for some and under utilization of others. A good manager is aware of the skill sets of all the people below them and should allocate work accordingly while trying to enhance the skills of everyone to be even more productive.

2. Reduce all answers to Yes or No rather than explaining their reasoning. This is an example of a crisis manager who can not think farther than a few hours ahead. A yes/no manager finds it a waste of time to find the real answer through intellectual thought. They are already thinking about the next crisis.

3. Not separate personal life from professional life. They will bring their personal problem to work. Working for these types of managers can be very dramatic. They are unable to separate their emotional imbalances while trying to manage people. They are less focused and will not give you the attention and direction you need for success.

4. Manage crisis. If you are a company that has crisis managers, then you can say goodbye to innovation and progression. Proactive thinking is critical to the success of any company. If you are not finding ways to stop or reduce the amount of crisis that has to be managed, then your competition will pass you by. Leaders have to think out of the box and make change.

5. Create an environment where mistakes are unacceptable. Being held accountable for wrong decisions is a fear for them. Making mistakes only helps you become a better person, manager, etc. I use the analogy of a basketball player that has no fouls. If they are not going for the ball and taking chances with their opponent, then they are trying hard enough. Take a chance and don't be scared.

6. Humiliate or reprimand an employee within a group. This is a clear and visible sign of a poor leader. A good leader takes employee problems away from a group setting to a more private setting. If you have a boss that does this, it is time for a visit to human resources.

7. Not stand behind subordinates when they fail. Never leave your people to hang out to dry. Always back them up, right, wrong, or indifferent. If an employee tries their best in a situation and they fail to come through. They should be commended on their effort and not punished for the failure

8. Encourage hard workers not smart workers. I am not impressed with hard workers. A hard worker is usually defined by hours. Smart workers are the ones that I hire and embrace. Smart workers understand the concept of time management and multi-tasking. Poor leaders miss this connection. Smart workers are methodical in their thinking and can generally be successful because of their abilities management projects and time. Hard workers may take twice as long to do the work. It is important to assign work accordingly to the skills and personalities

9. Judge people on hours not performance. This is similar to #8. Again, I am not impressed with overtime junkies. They have lost all perspective on a healthy family/balance. Bad managers will promote the employees that work the most hours and not look at the smart ones who work less……….meaning have better time management. Stop watching the lock.

10. Act differently in front of their leaders. This is an indication of low self-confidence. They have doubts about their own ability to lead and they will act like little children when authority is present. A confident person acts the same around everyone. Remember, have respect for them, but also have self-respect.

How to avoid recruiting the incompetent by Geoffrey King of Cambridge Recruitment Consultants.

Incompetent managers often make their subordinates' lives quite miserable and more senior managers are often too slow in recognising the symptoms. Lower down the pecking order, it is more transparent - as the incompetent manager is, surprisingly, willing to let down their guard.

Incompetence is something that is not picked up by conventional selection procedures and it is certainly not visible at an interview. So what can you do to ensure that you do not recruit the incompetent?

Well, the first thing is to put some rigour into your selection procedures. I am often astounded by the fact that, with monotonous frequency, new employers rehire so many people who have frankly failed in most of the roles they have assumed.

This has puzzled me for some time. Maybe the incompetent are attracted to fellow incompetents? This was my first take on the subject (and one I think still holds water!)

But then the penny dropped. The sole thing about my sample is that once, or possibly even twice, the incompetent person had worked for a very well known employer. They had then traded on this throughout their career.

This is in some ways a replaying of the well known 'halo effect' - the phenomenon where, because there appears to be one excellent thing about a person, everything else is equally excellent! Wish this were true!

Research by eminent psychologists has identified seven themes associated with managers who fail. These include:

  • The inability to delegate or prioritise
  • Adopting a reactive rather than proactive stance at work
  • Being poor at maintaining relationships and networks
  • Being poor at building teams
  • Demonstrating poor judgement
  • Being slow to learn new things
  • And they tend to have an overriding personality defect, which is often manifested by an individual being insensitive, arrogant, cold, aloof and generally only 'out for number one'.
  • They are also poor performers, tending not to reach set objectives ever.
  • They also tend to betray people with regularity.


    Geoffrey King is a Director of Cambridge Recruitment Consultants. Contact him on geoffrey@crcsearch.com

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    Wiley The Incompetent Manager

    A surprisingly large number of people claim to have worked for a manager who was clearly incompetent. Some people even believe, that in certain sectors, the incompetent outnumber the competent.

    This book looks at when, why and how managers become incompetent and what to do about it. It does so with both science and humour by reviewing what we know about competences, about personality theory and about various salient psychiatric disorders.

    So many management books are unrealistically optimistic. They portray management as a simple task once one has absorbed the magic silver bullet message of the book. But managing people is, and will remain difficult as any manager knows. Management is about ability and skills, attitude and values, knowledge and understanding, but also about personality and mental stability.

    This text investigates normal and abnormal incompetence. The former is where people have a poor fit between themselves (personality and ability) and the job. Through post selection, inadequate training, changes in the job or unwise promotion misfits occur which leads to incompetence.

    The longest chapter in the book looks at abnormal incompetence and what are called personality disorders. Well-known psychiatric disorders are described in detail and how to spot these in managers. Thus, the paranoid or sociopathic, narcissistic or passive-aggressive types are described in everyday language as well as how to deal with them. More importantly, the book considers how the pathologically incompetent managers influence organizations and groups to fulfil their often bizarre needs and wishes. The final section of the book attempts to help the reader correctly diagnose incompetence. It also offers various possible cures: the emphasis is that cure follows correct diagnoses. Some cures for incompetence actually accentuate it.

    The book is both serious and funny. The incompetent manager is no laughing matter for those managed by them. But the sort of thing some incompetent managers believe and do can be, at least for the onlooker, very funny indeed.

    Part I - Incompetence at Work.

    Chapter 1 Military and Management Incompetence.

    Chapter 2 The Nature of Incompetence.

    Chapter 3 Paradoxical Incompetence and Management Madness.

    Chapter 4 The Concept of Competence.

    Part II - The Causes of Incompetence.

    Chapter 5 The Causes of Incompetencies: Personality Traits.

    Chapter 6 Pathological Incompetence.

    Chapter 7 Teams and Team Managers.

    Part III - Curing the Problem.

    Chapter 8 Possible Cures of Management Incompetence.

    References.

    Terms and Definitions

    Urban Dictionary Pointy Haired Boss

    A sociopathic boss that is also the most inept, stupid human being alive.

    Refer's to Dilbert's boss, but also by association to all other mindbogglingly
    stupid bosses lacking foresight, technical knowledge, leadership skills,
    morality or tact.

    "I'll get next weekend off, but I'll have to work on the PHB."

    "My new job's ok, except there's a classic Pointy Haired Boss in my department."



    Etc

    Society

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    [Jul 18, 2013] Microsoft Has 1 Million Servers. So What

    Slashdot

    "The only thing that's noteworthy about Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer's recent disclosure that the company has one million servers in its data centers is that he decided to disclose it - most of the industry giants like to keep that information to themselves, says ITworld's Nancy Gohring.

    But jMicrosoft's one million servers what it means ITworldust for fun, Amazon Web Services engineer James Hamilton did the math: One million servers equals 15–30 data centers, a $4.25 billion capital expense, and power consumption of 2.6TWh annually, or the amount of power that would be used by 230,000 homes in the U.S. Whether this is high or low, good or bad is impossible to know without additional metrics."

    Anonymous Coward

    How much of that information is useful (Score:0)

    And how much power is being wasted simply to keep the lights on and the disks spinning? Amazon realized this and started AWS, but they're not off the hook either.

    UnknowingFool

    Re:How much of that information is useful (Score:5, Insightful)

    I would assume that most of the servers are probably doing web crawls for Bing so they are working most of the time. Now I don't know if MS has heavily optimized their hardware like Google did [cnet.com] for efficiency.

    dimeglio

    Re: How much of that information is useful (Score:2)

    Looks like Google has just as many servers [slashdot.org]. As you said, Google's are optimized.

    Anubis IV

    Re:How much of that information is useful (Score:2)

    They've already said that they'll have 300,000 servers backing the various services for the Xbox One. Having another 700,000 on stuff like Bing, Outlook.com (née Hotmail), and their various stores (music, video, apps, etc.) doesn't seem unreasonable, though it's hard to say if it's a good use of that many, since I have no sense of what's appropriate when we're talking about this sort of scale.

    amicusNYCL

    Re:How much of that information is useful (Score:2)

    I wonder about this:

    One million servers equals ... power consumption of 2.6TWh annually, or the amount of power that would be used by 230,000 homes in the U.S.

    So 1 home uses as much power as 4 servers? Are we talking about super high-powered servers, or really low-powered homes?

    -- "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."

    viperidaenz

    Re:How much of that information is useful (Score:3)

    That's around 30kWh per day. My house is currently consuming 40kWh, but its the middle of winter here and my wife and son probably have the heater on.

    NotQuiteReal

    Re:How much of that information is useful (Score:2)

    Cross-check:

    2.6E12 Wh / 230,000 = 11M Wh per house.

    11 Mwh = 11,000 KWh, and that is about 20 cents per, (actually tiered from 10-30c). Or $2200, or about $183 a month, which is a pretty fair estimate, for my bill.

    And, yes, a couple of years ago when I retired a (work related) server I no longer needed, my electric bill did go down by about $35/month - which is also in the ball park for "4-ish servers" = a household worth of electricity.

    [Jul 18, 2013] Microsoft's one million servers what it means ITworld

    Digging through the transcript of Microsoft's recent Worldwide Partner Conference, a number of people paused at CEO Steve Ballmer's comment that the company now has one million servers. As interesting is that he said that Google has more and Amazon fewer, while other big names like Facebook and Yahoo are in the 100,000 ballpark.

    Let's dissect what matters:

    --Does Ballmer know how Microsoft compares to his competitors? Probably not. As well-known Amazon Web Services engineer James Hamilton notes, Amazon has never released a server count. Neither has Google, although two years ago a Stanford professor deduced, based on official data about Google's data center energy output, that Google had around 900,000 servers.

    --What does the number mean about Microsoft data center efficiency? That's a tough one to answer. Microsoft's IaaS and PaaS services are dwarfed by AWS. Bing is dwarfed by Google. More than 300 million people use Outlook.com, but 100 million more use Gmail.

    Then there are Microsoft services, like Office 365 and other hosted enterprise software, that neither AWS or Google offer.

    Do all of Microsoft's flagging competitive services, like Azure and Bing, plus its enterprise services, add up to more workloads than AWS has? Or is Microsoft just really inefficient at running its data centers?

    These are questions posed by Roger, in the comments after Hamilton's blog post. He suggests we can't compare efficiency based on server numbers: "The numbers they should brag about are ratios – servers per system ops/admin person, annual power consumption per user, servers per user, etc." he wrote.

    --Regardless of the comparison, what more does the one million figure tell us about Microsoft's data center? Hamilton does the math for us. He figures that one million servers equals 15 – 30 data centers, a $4.25 billion capital expense, and power consumption of 2.6TWh annually, or the amount of power that would be used by 230,000 homes in the U.S.

    Those numbers are all huge, but plausible given Microsoft's size.

    --Should we care? Hamilton argues the number isn't useful "mostly because a single data point is open to a lot of misinterpretation by even skilled industry observers."

    That said, apparently there's significant interest throughout the industry. Data Center Knowledge said that its page that lists the best information about who has the most servers is one of its most popular.

    Take a look, it's very interesting to see the enormous differences in scale. Rackspace, for instance, has just 94,000 servers. In 2011, SoftLayer said it had 100,000. EBay has 54,000 servers, compared to Facebook's "hundreds of thousands."

    Ultimately, it's intriguing to find out how many servers Microsoft has, particularly because the giants in the industry are secretive about such data center metrics. But unless we have additional metrics, it's just too hard to draw any meaningful conclusions from the number.

    Read more of Nancy Gohring's "To the Cloud" blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Nancy on Twitter at @ngohring and on Google+. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

    [Jul 18, 2013] Nine traits of the veteran Unix admin By Paul Venezia

    Good point about regular expressions ... and " We generally assume the problem is with whomever is asking the question"
    Feb 14, 2012 | Infoworld

    Last week I briefly departed from reality, thanks to the inexplicable actions of the CRTC, but this week, I'm off the drugs and back on terra firma -- sort of. Anyway, to celebrate my return to the land of the sane, I thought I'd tick off a few hallmarks of veteran Unix admins, so you have a better chance of spotting these rare, beautiful creatures in the wild. Here is our song.

    ... ... ...

    Veteran Unix admin trait No. 3: We wield regular expressions like weapons
    To the uninitiated, even the most innocuous regex looks like the result of nauseous keyboard. To us, however, it's pure poetry. The power represented in the complexity of pcre (Perl Compatible Regular Expressions) cannot be matched by any other known tool. If you need to replace every third character in a 100,000-line file, except when it's followed by the numeral 4, regular expressions aren't just a tool for the job -- they're the only tool for the job. Those that shrink from learning regex do themselves and their colleagues a disservice on a daily basis. In just about every Unix shop of reasonable size, you'll find one or two guys regex savants. These poor folks constantly get string snippets in their email accompanied by plaintive requests for a regex to parse them, usually followed by a promise of a round of drinks that never materializes.

    Veteran Unix admin trait No. 4: We're inherently lazy
    When given a problem that appears to involve lots of manual, repetitive work, we old-school Unix types will always opt to write code to take care of it. This usually takes less time than the manual option, but not always. Regardless, we'd rather spend those minutes and hours constructing an effort that can be referenced or used later, rather than simply fixing the immediate problem. Usually, this comes back to us in spades when a few years later we encounter a similar problem and can yank a few hundred lines of Perl from a file in our home directory, solve the problem in a matter of minutes, and go back to analyzing other code for possible streamlining. Or playing Angry Birds.

    Veteran Unix admin trait No. 5: We prefer elegant solutions
    If there are several ways to fix a problem or achieve a goal, we'll opt to spend more time developing a solution that encompasses the actual problem and preventing future issues than simply whipping out a Band-Aid. This is related to the fact that we loathe revisiting a problem we've already marked "solved" in our minds. We figure that if we can eliminate future problems now by thinking a few steps ahead, we'll have less to do down the road. We're usually right.

    Veteran Unix admin trait No. 6: We generally assume the problem is with whomever is asking the question
    To reach a certain level of Unix enlightenment is to be extremely confident in your foundational knowledge. It also means we never think that a problem exists until we can see it for ourselves. Telling a veteran Unix admin that a file "vanished" will get you a snort of derision. Prove to him that it really happened and he'll dive into the problem tirelessly until a suitable, sensible cause and solution are found. Many think that this is a sign of hubris or arrogance. It definitely is -- but we've earned it.

    Veteran Unix admin trait No. 7: We have more in common with medical examiners than doctors
    When dealing with a massive problem, we'll spend far more time in the postmortem than the actual problem resolution. Unless the workload allows us absolutely no time to investigate, we need to know the absolute cause of the problem. There is no magic in the work of a hard-core Unix admin; every situation must stem from a logical point and be traceable along the proper lines. In short, there's a reason for everything, and we'll leave no stone unturned until we find it.

    To us, it's easy to stop the bleeding by HUPping a process or changing permissions on a file or directory to 777, but that's not the half of it. Why did the process need to be restarted? That shouldn't have been necessary, and we need to know why.

    Veteran Unix admin trait No. 8: We know more about Windows than we'll ever let on
    Though we may not run Windows on our personal machines or appear to care a whit about Windows servers, we're generally quite capable at diagnosing and fixing Windows problems. This is because we've had to deal with these problems when they bleed over into our territory. However, we do not like to acknowledge this fact, because most times Windows doesn't subscribe to the same deeply logical foundations as Unix, and that bothers us. See traits No. 5 and 6 above.

    This story, "Nine traits of the veteran Unix admin," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Paul Venezia's The Deep End blog at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

    [May 19, 2013] Faced With Overload, a Need to Find Focus by Tony Schwartz

    NYTimes.com

    For more than a decade, the most significant ritual in my work life has been to take on the most important task of the day as my first activity, for 90 minutes, without interruption, followed by a renewal break. I do so because mornings are when I have the highest energy and the fewest distractions.

    ... Far and away the biggest work challenges most of us now face are cognitive overload and difficulty focusing on one thing at a time.

    Whenever I singularly devote the first 90 minutes of my day to the most challenging or important task – they're often one and the same - I get a ton accomplished.

    Following a deliberate break – even just a few minutes - I feel refreshed and ready to face the rest of the day. When I don't start that way, my day is never quite as good, and I sometimes head home at night wondering what I actually did while I was so busy working.

    Performing at a sustainably high level in a world of relentlessly rising complexity requires that we manage not just our time but also our energy – not just how many hours we work, but when we work, on what and how we feel along the way.

    Fail to take control of your days - deliberately, consciously and purposefully - and you'll be swept along on a river of urgent but mostly unimportant demands.

    It's all too easy to rationalize that we're powerless victims in the face of expectation from others, but doing that is itself a poor use of energy. Far better to focus on what we can influence, even if there are times when it's at the margins.

    Small moves, it turns out, can make a significant difference.

    When it comes to doing the most important thing first each morning, for example, it's best to make that choice, along with your other top priorities, the night before.

    Plainly, there are going to be times that something gets in your way and it's beyond your control. If you can reschedule for later, even 30 minutes, or 45, do that. If you can't, so be it. Tomorrow is another day.

    If you're a night owl and you have more energy later in the day, consider scheduling your most important work then. But weigh the risk carefully, because as your day wears on, the number of pulls on your attention will almost surely have increased.

    Either way, it's better to work highly focused for short periods of time, with breaks in between, than to be partially focused for long periods of time. Think of it as a sprint, rather than a marathon. You can push yourself to your limits for short periods of time, so long as you have a clear stopping point. And after a rest, you can sprint again.

    How you're feeling at any given time profoundly influences how effectively you're capable of working, but most of us pay too little attention to these inner signals.

    Fatigue is the most basic drag on productivity, but negative emotions like frustration, irritability and anxiety are equally pernicious. A simple but powerful way to check in with yourself is to intermittently rate the quantity and quality of your energy - say at midmorning, and midafternoon - on a scale from 1 to 10.

    If you're a 5 or below on either one, the best thing you can do is take a break.

    Even just breathing deeply for as little as one minute – in to a count of three, out to a count of six – can quiet your mind, calm your emotions and clear your bloodstream of the stress hormone cortisol.

    Learn to manage your energy more skillfully, and you'll get more done, in less time, at a higher level of focus. You'll feel better - and better about yourself - at the end of the day.

    About the Author

    Tony Schwartz is the chief executive of the Energy Project and the author, most recently, of "Be Excellent at Anything: The Four Keys to Transforming the Way We Work and Live." Twitter: @tonyschwartz

    Anne-Marie Hislop, Chicago

    The key is figuring our when we are most productive and focused. Although a morning person, I need early time for my rituals - exercise, shower, coffee, and NYT online (along with pop-ins at other sites). Then, by time I get to work around 8AM I will have my most focused, productive hours.

    I also find that standing while I work on my computer, which I do more and more when I can (don't have a way to type extensively while standing) energizes me and helps me focus.

    John Lamont, Pennsylvania

    Frankly I think the core premise of the article, how to get more "done", needs to be questioned, especially in the context to which it speaks, the corporate environment. We would be far better served if Mr. Schwarz's audience spent that 1st 30 minutes of their day sitting back and thinking about what they do, who it's really for, what are the consequences of what they and their company do, and is it morally and ecologically ethical.

    In the grand scheme of things I don't doubt mankind is now better off than it was 2,000 or even 500 years ago, but in our relentless drive to produce, consume and sell we have developed, and continue to develop technologies and complex global social interactions that have a good chance of setting us back to the stone age.

    Let's not be in such a hurry getting wherever we think we're going and spend a bit more time pondering about where it is we actually want to be and who we want to be when we get there.

    Microsoft Has 1 Million Servers. So What -

    July 18, 2013

    Slashdot

    dbIII

    Since they do mail hosting (Score:2)

    Since they do mail hosting that's probably half right and a large proportion of them are mail servers. It probably works well most of the time, but I've only ever been exposed to that side of their business due to an utterly stupid fuckup that took them a week to resolve because that's how long the trouble ticket queue is - that's how little respect they had for their client with more than twenty thousand email accounts.

    I wasn't working for that client of theirs but instead trying to contact someone there while their Microsoft hosted email was down for a week.

    Decker-Mage

    Re:How do you calculate space and power... (Score:2)

    While running VMs is more flexible, is there too much overhead in the tradeoff? Especially with a million servers and all.

    Which does need some consideration. Supposedly, in a perfect virtualized environment you'd see about 2-3% knocked off, in a headless configuration (no preferred guest OS VM installed on top of the host) and with perfect loading. However it's an imperfect world and no matter how you automagically mix and match loads, assuming it's allowed for those guests (think HIPAA, etc.), you're going to see more inefficiency. How much? No one seems to be releasing real numbers that I know of. It's quite literally a billion dollar question for the host providers and perhaps a trillion dollar question for the world.

    -- "The most deadly words for an engineer. 'I have an idea.'"

    cusco

    Re:How do you calculate space and power... (Score:3)

    Not really. Microsoft's Quincy data center started virtualizing servers and they saved so much electricity that they didn't hit Bonneville Power Association's target energy usage to qualify for the huge discount they normally get.

    To make up the difference they opened all the vents in the middle of winter, turned the heaters on full blast, and burned $70,000 in electricity in a week. The renegotiated the next year's contract with the BPA so they haven't had to repeat that particular bit of foolishness.

    -- "Think about how stupid the average person is. Now, realise that half of them are dumber than that." - George Carlin

    Is the Information Technology Revolution Over

    June 4, 2013 | Economist's View

    Quick one, then I have to figure out how to get to Toulouse (missed connection, in Paris now ... but should be able to get there ... long day so far):

    Is the Information Technology Revolution Over?, by David M. Byrne, Stephen D. Oliner, and Daniel E. Sichel, FRB: Abstract: Given the slowdown in labor productivity growth in the mid-2000s, some have argued that the boost to labor productivity from IT may have run its course. This paper contributes three types of evidence to this debate. First, we show that since 2004, IT has continued to make a significant contribution to labor productivity growth in the United States, though it is no longer providing the boost it did during the productivity resurgence from 1995 to 2004. Second, we present evidence that semiconductor technology, a key ingredient of the IT revolution, has continued to advance at a rapid pace and that the BLS price index for microprocesssors may have substantially understated the rate of decline in prices in recent years. Finally, we develop projections of growth in trend labor productivity in the nonfarm business sector. The baseline projection of about 1¾ percent a year is better than recent history but is still below the long-run average of 2¼ percent. However, we see a reasonable prospect--particularly given the ongoing advance in semiconductors--that the pace of labor productivity growth could rise back up to or exceed the long-run average. While the evidence is far from conclusive, we judge that "No, the IT revolution is not over."

    Comments

    Darryl FKA Ron said...
    The pickup reflects ongoing advances in IT and an assumption that those gains and innovations in other sectors spur some improvement in multifactor productivity (MFP) growth outside of the IT sector relative to its tepid pace from 2004 to 2012.5 These developments feed through the economy to provide a modest boost to labor productivity growth.

    [Using technology to replace people or make them more productive, generally considered the same thing, is one form of productivity increasing technology integration. Automating accounting functions from producing bills to meter reading or selling your goods on the WWW were examples of the revolution of picking low hanging fruit. Using technology to manage systems in ways that people could not realistically accomplish is another way of increasing productivity. From running power production and distribution, traffic lights, and just in time manufacturing integrated with ERP accounting systems from order entry through to shipping and general ledger were other ways of increasing productivity. The green fields of labor replacement have largely been sewn. The green fields of automated systems management are without end. Economists have a limited lens into operations with metrics that often confuse value and price.]

    Darryl FKA Ron said in reply to Darryl FKA Ron...
    IOW, the MFP is underpriced because its marginal benefits get absorded by price competition.
    squidward said in reply to Darryl FKA Ron...
    Economists have a limited lens into operations with metrics that often confuse value and price.

    That can be very true when looking at it qualitatively. Google or Amazon could be loading your browser with cookies and data mining your online habits to maximize sales. Their increases in revenue don't help the average consumer much other than consume more. It's not quite the same brave new world we had with the advent of online banking, bill paying and 24 hr shopping with home delivery.

    I would have to agree that now marginal increases in productivity due to IT aren't giving the same marginal increases in value to the end consumer.

    john personna said...
    As I understand it, middle class incomes have fallen as productivity has risen. Doesn't that make a productivity centered view much less interesting to compassionate observers?
    reason said in reply to john personna...
    Not sure, but it makes redistribution more interesting.
    Fred C. Dobbs said...

    Yesterday I watched three techs work for two hours to get a laser printer going again that had been working fine Friday, but now was down due to 'network problems', so I would have to say, yeah, it could be over.

    Julio said in reply to Fred C. Dobbs...
    I watched the same scene twenty years ago, and it was a crappy dot-matrix printer that cost ten times as much.

    What does it all mean?

    john personna said in reply to Julio...
    I suspect that techs stretched out a ticket, then and now.
    Fred C. Dobbs said in reply to Fred C. Dobbs...

    Such problems, which are infrequent, seem to be invariably network-related. Network support techs
    are in short supply so 'everything else' is always tried first, even when that doesn't make much sense.

    KJMClark said...

    If economists at the FRB are still getting paid to ruminate on whether the IT revolution is over, then the IT revolution is not over. We'll know it's nearly over when we're replacing all but the top level of economists with intelligent software. (The top level will be helping the top-level software developers write the software.) We'll know it's completely over when the politicians decide we've had enough of the experiment of replacing people with machines. Or, rather, when we get the intelligent machines' responses to the politicians saying we're done.

    ezra abrams said...

    ya know, if u economist ever got outta yr offices, and did some real work...
    You would find that the gains yet to be realized from the IT revolution are IMMENSE
    People like myself, highly paid and educated PhDs, we can all be dispensed with
    or, how about an earpiece that in real time tells a trial lawyer, *while s/he is in court*, what ruling he needs to cite to rebut a just made oral argument...

    or CAD software that allows automotive design engineers to shave 10% of the weight of a car in an iteritve fashion (lower the weight of one component; therefore suspension can be less sturdy, in turn you then need less horsepower due to the lower wieght...)

    or software that can solve Navier stokes for non laminair flow at high reynolds number

    i mean, seriously, the it revolution is over ?
    I'm sure they said the same thing about RailRoads and the tansportation revolution in, say 1890

    jt said...

    Couldn't automation lead to declining gross productivity via underemployment of displaced workers into low productivity jobs (services)? In fact, one could argue that the dual mandate of monetary policy will produce exactly this outcome. Labor income distributions seem to confirm this split in the labor market. The more interesting comparison, is in industry that use a lot of IT, has their productivity improved?

    Michael Gamble:

    Computer technology with out software is just a paperweight. The technology revolution is stalled but not over. The problem as I see it and it seems to be everywhere is not nearly enough people paying for custom software development done in house.

    Every company any bigger than a few employees needs someone on staff who manages software purchases, installation and the creation of custom software to make the bridge between a lot of chimerical software, but no one wants to pay for it.

    I don't blame them mind you there has been a lot of over hyping going on by the big players in the industry for years. And looking around you would think your entire business could be run from your phone with all the advertising, technology and hype put in to mobile phones?

    Observer said in reply to Michael Gamble...
    I used to lead teams that built custom software for internal use. The ROI can be high under the right conditions, but Commercial Off The Shelf is often a better solution. It depends. My off the cuff guess is that custom is hard to justify for a small business, except in very special cases.

    Custom software that actually supports business critical processes tends to be quite expensive, with reason.

    Another reason to avoid custom software is risk mitigation. A business that relies on software built by one "someone on staff" is running a real risk if/when that someone leaves.

    Part of the unwillingness to pay is that people's expectations are influenced by consumer software price points, $0 to a few hundred dollars.

    Jerry said...
    A secondary inhibiter might be the growing mess in the software patent world. There seems to be an increasing reluctance to make an investment because of the patent toes that might get tweaked.
    squidward said in reply to Jerry...

    This is very true, the whole tech industry is a mess with antiquated patent law. You have to wonder how many products aren't being brought to market because a smaller company can't afford to get in a heavy weight patent brawl a la Samsung v. Apple.

    I'm no expert but I have always wondered why writing code isn't more analogous to copyrighting than inventing and patenting. If we could incentivize more open source we could have more innovation.

    Second Best said...

    For the US, much of the IT revolution was over after the major carriers killed the internet revolution in its tracks, and it ain't coming back anytime soon.

    See 'Captive Audience' by Susan Crawford.

    kievite said...

    Situation is enterprise datacenters definitely corresponds to definition of stagnation. We see a lot of cost cutting.

    Percentage of custom software is small and getting smaller as Observer already noted above. Programmers are disappearing from the enterprise IT departments.

    At the same time a new dangerous trend is in place. Some "of-the-shelf" packages on which enterprise depends are problematic with some subsystems close to junk or even harmful (SAP/R3, some IBM products, etc). Moreover there is now a new type of enterprise software vendors who are specializing in selling completely useless or even harmful software on the pure strength of marketing (plus fashion). Vendor which try to capitalize on ignorance of a typical IT management layer.

    Like Kolmogorov once said "You can't overestimate the level of ignorance of the audience". That was about different audience, but fully applicable here. So snake oil salesmen in IT are making good money, may be better than honest sailmen.

    But the problems with "off-the-shelf" packages are increasing due to their often unwarranted complexity (which serves mainly as barrier of entry for competitors), or just complexity for the sake of complexity.

    This and the fact that generally software is a the most complex artifact invented by mankind lead to the level of understanding of existing packages and operating systems that can be called dismal. Even people who "should know" often look like coming from the pages of "The Good Soldier Švejk" or "Catch 22". One Unix group manager in a large company that I used to know for example did not understand the fact that IBM Power servers and Intel servers are based on CPU with two different architectures. When at the meeting I realized that my jaw simply dropped.

    People who saw the software evolution from its humble beginning and can understand internals and nature of compromises taken in existing hardware and software are now close to retirement and in the new generation such people are exceedingly rare.

    That is true for operating systems such as Linux or Solaris, this is even more true for web-related software such as Apache, MediaWiki, Frontpage, etc. As a result a lot of things are "barely run" and a lot of system are bought just because people have no clue that already bought systems can perform the same functions.

    This is also true about Office, especially Excel. One think that I noticed that the level of knowledge of Excel is really dismal across the enterprise. I would agree with "squidward" that for office (but only for office) "I would have to agree that now marginal increases in productivity due to IT aren't giving the same marginal increases in value to the end consumer. ". But that's for office only. Cars, homes, etc are still "terrra incognita".

    But while internally everything looks rotten, externally situation looks different: there is unending assault of automation on existing jobs. So JT is on something when he asks the question "The more interesting comparison, is in industry that use a lot of IT, has their productivity improved?" Yes and to the extend that many workforce cuts are permanent and moreover cuts might continue.

    As for statement "For the US, much of the IT revolution is over" I doubt it. Computer will continue to eat jobs. The "cutting edge" simply moved elsewhere and one hot area are various robotic systems. Here is one example:

    "IBM is using robots based on iRobot Create, a customizable version of the Roomba vacuum cleaner, to measure temperature and humidity in data centers. The robot looks for cold zones (where cold air may be going to waste instead of being directed to the servers) and hotspots (where the air circulation may be breaking down. IBM is putting the robots to commercial use at partners - while EMC is at an early stage on a strikingly similar project."

    Both home and datacenter are huge application areas. Even in consumer electronics what we have is still very primitive in comparison with what is possible on the current hardware. That is true for smartphones, tablets and other mass gargets. And it is even more true for home. For example for older people a cutting edge computer technology can probably provide the level of service comparable with the level of service of nursing home. Automated cook who accepts a simple menu and deliver dishes is already feasible automation. Currently the cost will be high but gradually it will drop and quality of service improves.

    One interesting area is saving energy. How many people here have home network which integrates thermostat, outdoor and indoor lights, and security system. And probably nobody here has computer automated shades on windows.

    Autonomous datacenters with robot service are in my opinion an interesting development which in many cases can serve as "distributed cloud".

    Sunny Liu said in reply to kievite...

    I agree. That was a wonderfully informative post, and thank you for that. I also don't think it's even close to over not just because of robotics but also because of machine learning. The implications for data mining and big data are enormous, and the research being done in those fields are still yet to be fully utilized.

    Right now, machine learning and big data are advancing research in biology, but what about the optimizations possible in pharmaceuticals or manufacturing?

    geoff

    not sure if this qualifies as IT. Not even sure if that is a meaningful distinction, but as a distributor I can't help thinking that 3D printers will have a profound impact on both manufacturing and distribution.

    http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-05-16/bloomberg-view-why-3d-printing-can-make-the-world-a-better-place

    The issue now becomes whether the technology will transform manufacturing more broadly. At the moment, 3D printing is a small part of the economy. The printers are typically slow, and the material they use is expensive and inconsistent. As the industry advances, however, printing on demand could reduce assembly lines, shorten supply chains, and largely erase the need for warehouses for many companies. Cutting back on shipping and eliminating the waste and pollution of traditional manufacturing could be an environmental boon.

    Kaleberg

    The software revolution is over, just the same way the written word revolution ended in 1900.

    Tom Shillock:

    Does increased labor productivity increase living standards? What if the products are lower quality and either must be disposed of sooner than if they were of higher quality or incur greater lifecycle service costs than if they were of higher quality? If increased productivity degrades the natural environment (air, water, soil, food) are living standards increased? If productivity numbers increase because more people are unemployed or under employed or suffer stagnant or lower wages from globalization has the standard of living increased?

    Looking at aggregate data glosses losers and winners. For the last three decades the winners are relatively fewer in number but grabbing a greater share of GDP, while the loser are vastly greater in number and have fewer opportunities to be winners other than through random luck (marriage, inheritance, connections).

    Is IT innovation necessarily good or more productive? The increase in semiconductor performance (pick your metric) at a given price, or even lower price, will not increase productivity if you already have all the IT performance you can use. In some cases, it might reduce productivity. E.g., having larger hard drives means more data will be collected (data collects to fill the space available: Shillock's Second Law of Storage). Unless one has efficient methods to keep track of it all then searching for it will reduce productivity. Also, access and seek times have not improved linearly with capacity. Another hit to productivity from IT. This is why the Fed's incorporation of a "hedonic index" for microprocessors into its price index muddies the water (c.f. p. 8)

    What if some IT innovation gives a company a competitive edge such as happened in finance? Others are compelled to adopt it ASAP but that does not necessarily make the financial industry more productive. Indeed, it facilitated fraud on a massive scale that caused the Great Recession while leaving insiders vastly wealthier for it. It could be argued that IT innovations have facilitated the increasing and increasingly server financial crises over the past three decades, if only because they create the delusion among users that they know more than they do thereby feeding their hubris.

    The Dictatorship of Data http://www.technologyreview.com/news/514591/the-dictatorship-of-data/

    Most of the gains to productivity from IT are in two areas. First, is that large financial and reservation systems. These run on IBM mainframes. The second is the application of smaller computers to manufacturing to run tools. The vast amount of PC level IT probably reduces productivity because most people do not know how to use it. Word processors allow more people to take more time making their emails and interoffice memos grammatically better and with fewer spelling errors. Most people have little clue how to use spreadsheets, even Rinehart and Rogoff were challenged. PowerPoint and similar PC apps are great for enabling the incompetent and ignorant to appear otherwise, which accounts for their popularity. They are the lingua franca of IBM. So far Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. are a great waste of time for the neurotically self-conscious and self-important.

    Economics is a literary genre in which contestants focus only on the numbers and usually those they like then use their imaginations to spin stories about the numbers. Audiences then vote on which story they find most pleasing.

    Can You Say "Bubble"?

    April 30, 2013 by | 18 Comments By James Kwak

    Yesterday's Wall Street Journal had an article titled "Foosball over Finance" about how people in finance have been switching to technology startups, for all the predictable reasons: The long hours in finance. "Technology is collaborative. In finance, it's the opposite." "The prospect of 'building something new.'" Jeans. Foosball tables. Or, in the most un-self-conscious, over-engineered, revealing turn of phrase: "The opportunity of my generation did not seem to be in finance."

    We have seen this before. Remember Startup.com? That film documented the travails of a banker who left Goldman to start an online company that would revolutionize the delivery of local government services. It failed, but not before burning through tens of millions of dollars of funding. There was a time, right around 1999, when every second-year associate wanted to bail out of Wall Street and work for an Internet company.

    The things that differentiate technology from banking are always the same: the hours (they're not quite as bad), the work environment, "building something new," the dress code, and so on. They haven't changed in the last few years. The only thing that changes are the relative prospects of working in the two industries-or, more importantly, perceptions of those relative prospects.

    Wall Street has always attracted a particular kind of person: ambitious but unfocused, interested in success more than any achievements in particular, convinced (not entirely without reason) that they can do anything, and motivated by money largely as a signifier of personal distinction. If those people want to work for technology startups, that means two things.

    [Mar 27, 2013] Most IT Admins Have Considered Quitting Due To Stress

    Mar 27, 2013 | Slashdot

    Posted by Soulskill

    Orome1 writes

    "The number of IT professionals considering leaving their job due to workplace stress has jumped from 69% last year to 73%. One-third of those surveyed cited dealing with managers as their most stressful job requirement, particularly for IT staff in larger organizations. Handling end user support requests, budget squeeze and tight deadlines were also listed as the main causes of workplace stress for IT managers. Although users are not causing IT staff as much stress as they used to, it isn't stopping them from creating moments that make IT admins want to tear their hair out in frustration. Of great concern is the impact that work stress is having on health and relationships. While a total of 80% of participants revealed that their job had negatively impacted their personal life in some way, the survey discovered some significant personal impact: 18% have suffered stress-related health issues due to their work, and 28% have lost sleep due to work."

    Culture20:

    Re:IT admins are special (Score:5, Insightful)

    lots of jobs really suck, and lots of people are stressed to the point of health impacts and have considered quitting. Many of these jobs pay significantly less than IT wages.

    Whenever I get stressed out, I remember the jobs I did before/while I was in college, and I'm happy to be where I am. I can't imagine what today's grads do without any work experience at low-wage McJobs. Consider quitting I guess?

    datavirtue:

    Re:IT admins are special (Score:4, Insightful)

    Admin is just a step up from help desk, hang out too long and it will begin to suck badly. If you fail to increase your skills (most admins) and your ability to add value, then it will start to suck badly after a number of years--it's boring.

    How many servers can you provision or user accounts can you setup before pulling your fucking hair out?

    Learn to code, become a professional DBA, or acquire some more skills that makes you valuable, like perhaps getting involved with business intelligence.

    Admins are a commodity. Yes, it is easy to hang out and collect a paycheck, but don't whine when your value wanes and people direct you around like a monkey boy.

    i kan reed

    Re:IT admins are special (Score:5, Insightful)

    As an software engineer(and thus not an IT admin), IT admins have it much worse than most middle class office workers. They get shit on over the smallest thing, and are the only IT employees who are expected to deliver within minutes of being asked. I don't think it's a stretch to say their stress levels might be higher than yours.

    jedidiah

    Re:IT admins are special (Score:5, Interesting)

    In terms of certain job expectations they are. These include longer hours and working weekends and during the 3rd shift.

    A lot of mundanes don't understand this. They hear that you've got some office job and they don't understand why you would be working those kinds of hours.

    Clueless spouses can add to the stress level. Even spouses that are part of the workforce can be ignorant and unsympathetic.

    jellomizer

    Re:IT admins are special (Score:4, Funny)

    No your wife will not understand no matter what your job is. She will undoubtedly have worked more then you did, no matter what.

    h4rr4r:

    That is only $48k. That is terrible pay for sysadmin work.

    Shadow99_1

    Personally I was supporting Windows, Linux, and Apple... So no, not just windows. I also was not the only one, I worked with admins from a dozen companies from time to time and pay varied from $40k-55k. Those making $55k were in their 50's and had started (often at these companies) during the 70's or at most 80's...

    ZaMoose:

    Lying liars and the lies they lie about (Score:5, Informative)

    Only 73% have considered quitting? The other 27% are lying to you, probably because they're worried that the survey is being snooped on by the corporate Barracuda firewall.

    Spy Handler

    Rapid change in IT is the problem (Score:3)

    When IT and computer/internet field in general settle down and become mature, things will get better.

    Right now there's just too many new technolgies and buzzwords and platforms and architecture and paradigms popping up, and pointy-haired managers and VPs all want to implement this and that and oh by the way make it work with our legacy system and nothing better get lost or you're fired.

    Yold

    Re:Rapid change in IT is the problem (Score:5, Insightful)

    It's not a matter of maturity. Many organizations hide behind the disclaimer "we are not an I.T. company", despite having sizable I.T. departments. And despite having this sizable department, which offers mission-critical applications and infrastructure, zero effort is made towards working smarter. Problems are fixed with mandatory overtime, cutting staffing/costs, and "quick-and-dirty" fixes to long standing problems.

    I think some companies are starting to understand that their project management methodologies are flawed, but most cannot connect the concepts of "software debt" to decreasing marginal output in their I.T. efforts. An hour of work today is less effective than in the past because you are paying "interest" on your previous bad decisions.

    I think that the 27% is reflective of companies that can connect the longevity and cost-effectiveness of I.T. systems to proper project planning, management, and I.T. expertise. Whether or not this is an upper-bound remains to be seen, because a lot of organizations simply don't understand that inventing your own project management ideas dooms you to repeating the same failures that have happened over the last 50 years.

    meatspray

    Thats why your #1 priority in an interview is: (Score:5, Insightful)

    Picking your boss. If you're not up a creek looking for work, that interview is to let you meet your managers, talk to some workers about the managers.

    When I started working it was "If I can just get in the door"

    When I was in my 20's it was "What cool things will this job do for me"

    Now That i'm in my 30's its "Will I be able to work with these people"

    Midnight_Falcon

    It's about being "Always on" (Score:5, Insightful)

    I'm an IT professional and more than once I've thought about quitting, especially when I was doing high-stress consulting. Clients treat you like meat, like "the help." They have no problem waking you up at 5AM with nonsense problems. If you don't answer and do it politely, they call your boss and then your job/livelihood is in jeopardy.

    This isn't just a 9-5 thing where, when you leave the office, you're no longer on the hook -- it's always happening. Sometimes, you're at a bar at 10PM and you get an urgent call -- pick it up, and you in your tipsy state are now on the hook to resolve an important issue.

    The fear of getting these calls has made me stay home sometimes when I could have been being social, and not travel away on vacation when I knew some action was going on I'd be needed for. It creates a lot of stress to be depended on so much, and now with telecommuting, you're expected to be responsive at all times wherever you are.

    It's a lot of stress even in the best setup/most-redundant environments, and the job is not for everyone. And when projects come up that are difficult and highly user-facing, it's hard to avoid this type of a situation.

    mjr167

    Re:It's about being "Always on" (Score:2)

    How is that different from being... a doctor, a fireman, a nuclear plant operator, a plumber, or an electrical line repairman?

    Welcome to the world of essential services. When your job is to keep things working, you don't get to pick your hours cause shit happens.

    [Mar 26, 2013] Not your father's IBM - I, Cringely

    Another Ex-IBMer says:

    April 18, 2012 at 9:28 am

    The current level of EPS was reached by a combination of two things: (1) offshoring jobs and (2) killing the pension fund (IBM stopped contributing to its pension fund in 2007 – all subsequent benefit dollars have gone into 401k plans). Lots of other shenanigans too of course, documented well in the book "Retirement Heist: How Companies Plunder and Profit from the Nest Eggs of American Workers" by Ellen Schultz.

    Since (2) has already been done, to redouble EPS again to $20 per share will require an even greater rate of US job elimination than we have seen in the past.

    They have also done other little things. Yes, retirees can purchase health insurance through IBM, but retirees are placed into their own insurance pool rather than being co-insured with all employees. Result: (much) higher rates. Result of higher rates: retirees cannot afford health insurance ==> retirees die sooner ==> lower pension costs for IBM ==> higher EPS!

    How a Programmer Gets By On $16K-Yr He Moves to Malaysia - Slashdot

    Interview With A Digital Migrant Meet John Hunter - Unchartered Waters

    John Hunter

    "Move to low cost-of-living area of the world, set up shop working remote, work ten hours a week while building a huge nest egg."

    Whole books have been published on this model, along with terms like "The Nouveau Rich", people who get to earn wealth while enjoying the easy life.

    And yet …

    It seems to never actually happen.

    Or, at least, it doesn't seem to happen much. Often the people living the "Jimmy Buffett Life" are already millionaires living off interest. Often the person speaking is selling something (perhaps a dream) more than a reality. We can do better.

    Then I met John Hunter and learned about his technology business.

    John is not independently wealthy. He did not have a big IPO, and does not have have a revenue stream. Nor does he have a best-selling book on, say, how to live cheap.

    Instead, he was a practicing programmer and IT program manager who moved from Virginia to Malaysia, on the expectation of taking a year long "sabbatical," and, if he could find a way to make it work, to stay a bit longer.

    And Now. John has been in Malaysia for a bit over a year now, with no sign of returning anytime soon.

    I thought he was worth talking to, and sharing here.

    by Stiletto (12066) writes: on Monday March 18, @06:44PM (#43208399)

    It's not causal. Working long hours does not cause you to be highly paid or wealthy. If that were true, all a vegetable picker would have to do is work 120 hours a week and retire in comfort. A CEO does not make 800X what his average staff makes because he works 800 times as long.

    Sadly, on average, the most accurate predictor of someone's income is their father's income.

    Re:30 hours per week? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 18, @08:33PM (#43209445)

    It does if you count high school and college and grad school. Tell me, how hard do you think those vegetable pickers were working when they were 16? Were they staying late after school to learn Calculus, or were they cutting class to get high with their homies? Working hard and being smart actually matter. Anyone who says otherwise has never tried either working hard or being smart.

    They were probably too busy picking vegetables at 16. They probably study when they can. College? Grad School? With fruit pickin' parents? You really are disconnected from the real world down here aren't you.

    Funny, most business owners/CEO's I've met are decent with basic algebra but weak when it comes to calculus, trig, etc.

    A.) They know people. (usually part of a boys club at an expensive university)
    B.) Have rich fathers
    C.) Work hard.

    Pick any two of the above and it will fit most CEO's... they also have to be willing to make hard choices at the expense of others to further their agenda.... or perform some CYA.

    No, it's because what he knows is 800x as valuable. Not all work is equal. That's one of the many flaws in Marx's philosophy.

    So Carly Fiorina's contributions were worth more than a seasoned electronics engineer with 25 years of experience? I think not.

    A CEO is a corporate face undeserving of being put on a pedestal unless they built the company they are running with their bare hands in the beginning.

    Sadly, on average, the most accurate predictor of someone's income is their father's income.

    That's because income is dependent on intelligence and hard work. Intelligence is highly heritable and appreciation for hard work is handed down in successful families.

    Spoken like a true wannabe aristocrat. The possibility of being intelligent may be inherited, but actual intelligence isn't. Most trust fund babies I've ever met have been pretty useless except for office political gain. Breeding has nothing to do with being fit for the job.

    The hard work that's handed down is soaked in the blood of the people who actually worked for it that were desperate enough to allow themselves to be exploited.

    Re:30 hours per week? (Score:5, Funny)

    by ColdSam (884768) on Monday March 18, @08:55PM (#43209631)

    Ok let's test you theory:

    Nicely done. Your rigorous analysis sure proved him wrong.

    It takes skill, hard work, ruthless ambition and extreme good luck to get rich and stay there.

    Is it okay if we use your method on your own theory?

    Paris Hilton - nope

    George Bush - nope

    gordo3000 Re:30 hours per week? (Score:3)

    do you have any sources that say the majority of wealth in this country was inherited? A skimming the forbes richest list show quite a few people who didn't get there via just cashing an inheritance and others who did (walton's family, as the obvious top examples).

    I've generally found in 3rd world countries the amount that inheritance matters and who you know matters far more than in the US. In fact, I think the US is the most democratic on this (I've traveled quite a bit and lived abroad, but I've never done hard research, so I'm not saying this is research). But that is relative across countries, to speak towards working towards your wealth and inheriting in an absolute manner is a hard research question. here is what I mean:

    Most upper income people I know got there by hard work, but that is not saying parents didn't help them a lot and that those advantages can be passed down. I know doctors and lawyers (as two high income profession classes), all worked hard to get there, some had lots of family money getting them through, others didn't. What I have found is that having family money helps make up for lower qualifications, making upper income a sticky level to be at (though this doesn't speak to super rich families where children never need to work). A great example is poor performance in college. Upper income people can afford to have their children stay in college longer, pay more for tuition, or send them abroad for medical school to get them to being a doctor. Lower income people just have to fight it out onshore.

    Re:30 hours per week? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SpaceMonkies (2868125) on Monday March 18, @09:19PM (#43209821)

    If you can make $15/hr remotely, I'd suggest Montenegro. Find a place near the sea, you got it made. You might have to work at getting a really great broadband deal, but there are some to be had. If you're single, the women there are beautiful and have sexy accents, you've got the sea and off-season the tourists go away and you can really enjoy the good life. You're a short hop from shopping in Italy, skiing in the Alps and you're still not in the EU (yet). Learn to play tuba in a Balkan horn band. Drink lots of coffee and slivovitza. Go out in your backyard and pick fresh figs for breakfast. Even if swimming in crystal-blue seas is not your idea of fun, you can set yourself down in a sidewalk cafe and watch one Mila Jovovic after another walk by. And there's none of the snobbiness of Western Europe.

    Re:

    I know that a lot of janitors/custodial service as well as bus drivers that do that. Some people in retail and "health care"/assisted living places work that much too. White collar workers mostly have it "easier" because their jobs pay far more. 50 hours is a bit low, since many of them work weekends too.

    udachny

    Entrepreneurs!

    Entrepreneurs never stop working, off hours, weekends, holidays, those are just words, they don't mean anything when you run a business.

    ph1ll

    ... and I can't find a country called Malysia (please note, editors: it's Malaysia).

    I know Malaysia well (even though I live in the UK). I first went there in '97 and married a Malaysian-born woman. Some observations: They really like and respect white people. They don't particularly like Chinese people (my wife is half Chinese so I see rampant discrimination against this large minority - about 25% of Malaysia's population - all the time). The weather is great (although sometimes a little too humid).

    Kuala Lumpur is a very advanced city that can compare to anything in the West. Broadband speeds are so-so according to my cousin-in-law. There appears to be a demand for good engineers (according to another cousin-in-law, a Chinese who studied IT in England). So, assuming you can get a visa, getting some interesting work shouldn't be too hard. The political situation there is... interesting. But I get the impression that if you don't cause trouble you will be left alone - especially if you are white.

    HTH

    Re:What article (Score:5, Interesting)

    tlhIngan:

    I know Malaysia well (even though I live in the UK). I first went there in '97 and married a Malaysian-born woman. Some observations: They really like and respect white people. They don't particularly like Chinese people (my wife is half Chinese so I see rampant discrimination against this large minority - about 25% of Malaysia's population - all the time). The weather is great (although sometimes a little too humid). Kuala Lumpur is a very advanced city that can compare to anything in the West. Broadband speeds are so-so according to my cousin-in-law. There appears to be a demand for good engineers (according to another cousin-in-law, a Chinese who studied IT in England). So, assuming you can get a visa, getting some interesting work shouldn't be too hard. The political situation there is... interesting. But I get the impression that if you don't cause trouble you will be left alone - especially if you are white.

    HTH

    The reason is that after the war or so, the first people to start running businesses and such were Chinese (most likely chased out from Singapore by the Japanese), and they got very rich doing so.

    The government exploits the fact that a lot of Malaysians are jealous of the Chinese for being successful (which happens because they worked hard at building businesses and such) , so they put up huge campaigns of national identity and such to encourage hatred of the Chinese. However, they government doesn't really do anything about it (they can't - said Chinese businesses pay a good amount of tax and employ a lot of Malays). So basically the Chinese are demonized for being successful and "exploiting" Malays

    If you're white, you're usually a tourist or an investor, so you're treated well to get at your $$$. If you're a Chinese investor with $$$, everyone eyes you like you're going to enslave them.

    The government feeds off this sentiment and basically just fans the flames. There's no real democracy (there is voting, but the opposition is usually highly discredited, or even arrested if they have a chance of winning - being a Muslim state, there are plenty of "crimes" that one can accuse the Opposition of).

    Kagato

    That closes the loop on what I noticed about the Chinese in Singapore hating the Japanese. I actually witnessed a shop keeper play dumb with a Japanese trying to buy something using Engrish. Old Japanese guy stormed out in frustration. I go to buy something, no problem, he explained the other guy was Japanese.

    I don't know if I would choose Malaysia or Singapore though. Both are kind of strict countries if you run afoul of the local powers that be. Fun to visit, not so much on the living there. I'd hit up Belize. Nice locals, cheap and only 1 hour plane ride to Miami if the shit goes down.

    Dealing with Your Incompetent Boss - Amy Gallo - Best Practices - Harvard Business Review

    Think twice before ratting anyone out
    When you're working for someone who isn't getting the job done, it can be tempting to go to your boss's boss or another leader in the organization. First consider the consequences. "Hierarchy is alive and well. And this person has more power than you do. If you're going to expose them, you need to understand the political current in your organization," warns McKee. People at the top of an organization may feel threatened if they see someone trying to take down their peer and may be unwilling to help. Useem agrees. "It's hazardous to speak up in a very pragmatic sense. If it becomes known that it was you, who's going to be the first to go?" he says. So if you do decide to formally complain, he advises doing it carefully. Test the waters with someone you trust before going to HR or a superior.

    Both McKee and Useem emphasize that there are times when you are obligated to speak up. "In extreme circumstances, if the boss is involved in malfeasance, you have a duty to act," says Useem. In these cases, you need to go to HR and report what you have observed. Be ready to share evidence.

    Take care of yourself
    Working for an incompetent boss can be bad for your health. "There is a lot of research on the negative psychological effects," says McKee. She suggests creating psychological boundaries that protect you from the emotional damage. We have a tendency to point to a bad boss and say, "He is ruining my life." But, this ignores the fact that you have agency in the situation: you can decide whether to stay or not. "Once you become a victim, you cease to become a leader," she says. Focus on what makes you happy about your job, not miserable. "We can come to work every day and pay attention to this horrible boss or we can choose to pay attention to the people we are happy to see every day or the work we enjoy. We can choose which emotions we lean into," says McKee.

    Of course, if you aren't able to do that, you shouldn't suffer indefinitely. Consider looking for a transfer to a new boss or a new employer.

    Principles to Remember

    Do


    Don't

    [Nov 22, 2012] Local TV station's anchors quit on-air after evening news broadcast By Vignesh Ramachandran

    "There was a constant disrespecting and belittling of staff and we both felt there was a lack of knowledge from ownership and upper management in running a newsroom to the extent that I was not allowed to structure and direct them professionally,". I guess those two never worked in IT departments this this is a standard established practice;-)
    NBC

    Anyone who has been fed up with salary, management or other issues that have made a job unbearable has surely dreamed of a "take-this-job-and-shove-it" moment. For most, though, news of the moment likely wouldn't make it outside the workplace walls.

    That wasn't the case for a TV news anchor duo in Bangor, Maine, who quit their jobs in front of thousands of viewers at the end of Tuesday evening's newscast.

    Follow @NBCNewsUSIn what was reportedly inspired by a conflict with upper management, co-anchors Cindy Michaels and Tony Consiglio announced to viewers that it would be their last show, the Bangor Daily News reported.

    The news anchors shared more than 12 years of experience working for WVII and sister station WFVX, according to the Daily News.

    "Some recent developments have come to our attention ... and departing together is the best alternative we can take," Consiglio told viewers.

    "We wanted to be able to say a thoughtful, heartfelt good-bye to our viewers and to the many communities we served over the years," Michaels told NBC News in an email Wednesday. "We scripted something to keep from getting off-course and emotional."

    Michaels, 46, and Consiglio, 28, didn't tell anyone of their decision before the newscast, according to the Bangor Daily News. The newspaper reported the journalists were frustrated over the last four years with the way they were told to do their jobs. In her signoff, Michaels claimed the two were "the longest running news team in Bangor," with six years at the desk.

    "There was a constant disrespecting and belittling of staff and we both felt there was a lack of knowledge from ownership and upper management in running a newsroom to the extent that I was not allowed to structure and direct them professionally,"

    Michaels, who also served as the station's news director, told the Bangor Daily News. Her co-anchor, Consiglio, also served as executive producer for the station.

    "There was a regular undoing of decisions made by me, the news director," Michaels told NBC News, citing that politically-charged stories were sometimes not treated with an unbiased approach.

    Michaels' public LinkedIn profile indicates she has worked at the station since October 2006. Consiglio, who was first a sports anchor and reporter before moving over to the news anchor role, has worked at the station since April 2006, according to his public LinkedIn profile.

    Mike Palmer, the station's vice president and general manager, told the Bangor Daily News the incident was "unfortunate, but not unexpected." Palmer denied claims that upper management was involved in daily news production.

    But a 2006 New York Times' story indicates that may not be true. Following a broadcast segment about the showing of Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth," Palmer wrote to his staff that they should refrain from reporting on global warming until Bar Harbor is underwater.

    He explained: "a) we do local news, b) the issue evolved from hard science into hard politics and c) despite what you may have heard from the mainstream media, this science is far from conclusive."

    According to the Times' report, Palmer likened global to "global warming stories in the same category as 'the killer African bee scare' from the 1970s or, more recently, the Y2K scare when everyone's computer was going to self-destruct."

    As of Wednesday morning, WVII's employment page listed no open job opportunities, but the Bangor Daily News reported Palmer posted online job opening ads Tuesday night.

    The anchors are moving on: Michaels told viewers she will pursue freelance writing, while Consiglio said he'll continue his career "in another capacity."

    See the video of the co-anchors final sign-off on the Bangor Daily News website.

    Ask Slashdot How Did You Become a Linux Professional - Slashdot

    fahrbot-bot
    Just another tool in the box...

    August 26, 2012

    I've spent 1/2 my 25+ year career as a "Unix" (you know what I mean) system administrator and the other 1/2 as a Unix system programmer, sometimes application programmer, all with a little (sigh) DOS/Windows thrown in. I've worked on just about every flavor of Unix running on PC class to Cray-2 hardware, usually several at any one time. For most of that time, there were no books on the topics, just man pages and the compiler. Linux is just another tool in my toolbox.

    It seems almost universal that every prospective employer only sees the "other" half of my experience - We want a sysadmin, but you're a programmer. We want a programmer, but you're a sysadmin. I simply tell them I do both and I do both well. Resume and references speak for themselves.

    I got my first jobs at my university doing LISP research and working in the CS office. First real job because employer liked my school experience (did more than just took classes). It was small company and I did both system programming/admin (on 8 different versions of Unix). Second job, I bumped into professor from school and got job as both Unix system admin/programmer at NASA Langley (super computing network) and another contractor as sysadmin (100+ Sun/SGI workstations); then The New York Times for a few years as Unix sysadmin; now defense contractor (can't say who) for 11 years, because of friend from very first job. Now I work on primarily Solaris, Linux and (sigh, still) Windows systems as a system/application programmer - in about 10 different programming languages - and sysadmin when needed.

    All in all, you learn what you need to know and what interests you - sometimes the weirder the better. You never know where it will lead.

    There is one definitive: I hate Windows, especially Windows 7 - or as I call it "Windows for Dummies".

    CAIMLAS (41445) writes:
    it's a bag of tricks (Score:2)
    'Linux professional,' I mean anyone in a paid IT position who uses or administers Linux systems on a daily basis.

    Being a "Linux Professional" (or as people tend to more often call me, "Linux Guru", damn them) is more about a broad and deep level of experience than it is about 'knowing linux'. For instance, you're going to know the inner workings of how many protocols work; you're going to know how to build your own Linux distro (more or less), and you're going to know how hardware behaves properly. There are many 'professionals' who don't know this, but if you're specializing you've got to know pretty much everything.

    Think: RHCE or similar.

    Over the past five years, I've developed an affection for Linux, and use it every day as a freelance IT consultant. I've built a breadth of somewhat intermediate skills, using several distros for everything from everyday desktop use, to building servers from scratch, to performing data recovery. I'm interested in taking my skills to the next level - and making a career out of it - but I'm not sure how best to appeal to prospective employers, or even what to specialize in

    You'll become a generalist unless you become a "Postfix Administrator" or something like that. That's the most likely first step. You will pick up your specialty over the years, largely depending on which type of systems you're working on.

    (I refuse to believe the only option is 'sysadmin,' though I'm certainly not opposed to that).

    That's not the only option, but it's the main and first one you'll have to master. Being an architect or systems specialist (mail, dns, filesystems, whatever) is the next step up. It takes a while to get there, and usually requires either a specialized company dealing exclusively with something in that domain, a very large corporation, or contracting.

    Specifically, I'm interested in what practical steps I can take to build meaningful skills that an employer can verify, and will find valuable.

    This is sorta "LOL". You assume that your employer cares more than anything other than a stable work history and/or specifically applicable experience to what you will be doing on a day in and out basis. It is a rare IT manager who cares more about this, even. Being highly skilled and capable, in a field where your skillset is in demand, is entirely different than being employable doing said work.

    So, what do you do, and how did you get there? How did you conquer the catch-22 of needing experience to get the position that gives you the experience to get the position?

    You know the right people, or you luck out and get a job in the field right after school. Part of lucking out is knowing the right people.

    Every single IT job I've gotten has either been due to the employer being desperate because they have someone vacating a crucial position or expansive growth they can't manage, or through a friend. I've also not gotten jobs through friends, after failing interviews (not enough experience in such-and-such technology or the snap-judgement IT Director not liking me, or any number of other things.)

    Did you get certified, devour books and manpages, apprentice under an expert, some combination of the above, or something else entirely?"

    Everyone is different in this regard. I personally got a 4 year degree and spent many, many long hours devouring man pages, chatting on technical IRC, experimenting/pushing my envelope, and reading in general. That's the easy part. The hardest part of all of it is breaking into a linux-oriented job, IMO. If you're not in the right market, you've got to get yourself to that market before any of your experience even matters. Knowing the right people is, IMO, key. Personally, it took approximately 5 years of constant trying, experimentation with what works, etc. to get my first 'linux' job - and that was primarily a FreeBSD job, at that. Now I'm working primarily with AIX (just several years later). There is no golden bullet, here, and you will probably find it almost impossible to find your 'ideal' job. (Mine would be doing systems engineering/administration/management in an academic/scientific setting. I've done it for a year so far, and would love to get back to doing it again.)

    [Aug 15, 2012] 9 Reasons Why Application Developers Think Their Manager Is Clueless

    Business Technology Leadership

    "My manager is clueless." These are words you don't want to hear if you want to earn the respect of your application development professionals. So how do you avoid being a clueless manager? Steer clear of these behaviors:

    1. The manager is a control nut. If you want to be a Controller then get a job in the accounting department. Okay, so maybe you are not a certifiable control nut. Maybe it is just a strategy you are employing because your direct reports can't get the job done. If this is the case, then control is not the solution. Have the courage to replace those managers that aren't strong. Control won't work in the long run anyway.

    2. The manager is aloof. Stop thinking about your golf game. You may have a great team-strong individual managers and team chemistry-but your leadership is still necessary to keep things on course (not the golf course). Besides, no matter how much you practice, your golf game will still be mediocre, but you can be at the top of your game as manager if you work at it.

    3. The manager gulps vendor Kool-Aid. Did you know that there are more than 34,750 registered lobbyists in Washington, D.C., for just 435 representatives and 100 senators? That's 64 lobbyists for each congressperson. I wonder how many vendor account managers there are per manager. You are smart enough to know that vendors are trying to sell you and you won't be fooled wholesale. Yeah right. Their influence can eat away at you without you even realizing it. Be even more skeptical than you are now. Just say no.

    4. The manager is a technical dinosaur. Unless you are running for president of the United States, experience does matter. Technology has changed since you were writing RPG on the mainframe umpteen years ago. And for you younger guys who made your bones writing VB or Java Web apps, make sure you know why there is so much buzz about Ruby on Rails and multicore programming. Your ability to talk tech will go a long way to earning the respect of application development professionals.

    5. The manager thinks changes can happen overnight. Sorry to have to break this to you: You are not a wizard and your magic wand doesn't work.

    6. The manager doesn't know the difference between resources and talent. The fastest way to lose respect is to put clueless managers in charge. Clueless managers equal clueless managers. Can you ever imagine Doc Rivers, coach of the 2008 world champion Boston Celtics, talking about player resources like they were interchangeable? "I need two guard resources." "I need a center resource." No. Talent and teamwork make winning teams. Talent matters. Don't pay lip-service to talent. Find a way to locate and use the talent in your organization. You will only be as good as the team you assemble.

    7. The manager collaborates to death. Whether it is the character flaw of being indecisive or some middle-school notion of democracy, you are in charge. Collaboration is critical, but you also need to make the right decision at the right time. Collaborate like Captain Kirk. "Spock?" "Bones?" He gets opinions from his experts but there is never any question about who will make the final decision. And, if you never watched Star Trek then you shouldn't even be a manager.

    The real reason managers are clueless (Score:1)

    by roster238 (969495) on Tuesday July 01, @08:33PM (#24024329)

    The reason why managers are normally clueless is that you have to be competent to recognize incompetence. The folks who normally select senior IT managers are business people who have no understanding of technology whatsoever. The are in fact "technically" incompetent. They choose the person who scares them least.

    They want the person with whom that can communicate without being bogged down with any complexities or difficult concepts. They will stay far away from the most knowledgeable and experienced people in favor of someone who laughs and jokes with them about the big game, a television show, or anything else they can understand. They will reject someone with the capability to understand a system from the ground up as not seeing the "big picture". This is why senior IT managers are often unsure that they are getting the bang for the buck that an IT department should bring to the table. It's because they pick the least qualified person to lead based on their personality rather than ability.

    On the positive side the senior IT manager who wants to keep his job will find a few key people who really know what they doing and throw money at them to ensure that they don't leave. They are the folks who really run the department by proxy.

    [Aug 11, 2012] Jargon busters

    2005

    The obscenity that's corporate jargon is my pet hate. So imagine the response to Hewlett-Packard chief Mark Hurd's spin on the company's decision to lay off 14,500 workers, or one in 10 of its employees. ''The majority of the head-count reductions will be achieved trough involuntary actions," he said in a New York Times report. It was bad enough that sacking someone morphed into ''downsizing'' and ''rightsizing''. Now they're calling it ''involuntary action''.

    With his terrific anti-jargon book now hitting the American market, Paul Keating's former speech writer Don Watson has a web site asking people to send in weasel words.

    [Aug 10, 2012] Business Has Killed IT With Overspecialization by Charlie Schluting

    April 7, 2010 | Enterprise Networking Planet

    What happened to the old "sysadmin" of just a few years ago? We've split what used to be the sysadmin into application teams, server teams, storage teams, and network teams. There were often at least a few people, the holders of knowledge, who knew how everything worked, and I mean everything. Every application, every piece of network gear, and how every server was configured -- these people could save a business in times of disaster.

    Now look at what we've done. Knowledge is so decentralized we must invent new roles to act as liaisons between all the IT groups. Architects now hold much of the high-level "how it works" knowledge, but without knowing how any one piece actually does work. In organizations with more than a few hundred IT staff and developers, it becomes nearly impossible for one person to do and know everything. This movement toward specializing in individual areas seems almost natural. That, however, does not provide a free ticket for people to turn a blind eye.

    Specialization

    You know the story: Company installs new application, nobody understands it yet, so an expert is hired. Often, the person with a certification in using the new application only really knows how to run that application. Perhaps they aren't interested in learning anything else, because their skill is in high demand right now. And besides, everything else in the infrastructure is run by people who specialize in those elements. Everything is taken care of.

    Except, how do these teams communicate when changes need to take place? Are the storage administrators teaching the Windows administrators about storage multipathing; or worse logging in and setting it up because it's faster for the storage gurus to do it themselves? A fundamental level of knowledge is often lacking, which makes it very difficult for teams to brainstorm about new ways evolve IT services. The business environment has made it OK for IT staffers to specialize and only learn one thing.

    If you hire someone certified in the application, operating system, or network vendor you use, that is precisely what you get. Certifications may be a nice filter to quickly identify who has direct knowledge in the area you're hiring for, but often they indicate specialization or compensation for lack of experience.

    Resource Competition

    Does your IT department function as a unit? Even 20-person IT shops have turf wars, so the answer is very likely, "no." As teams are split into more and more distinct operating units, grouping occurs. One IT budget gets split between all these groups. Often each group will have a manager who pitches his needs to upper management in hopes they will realize how important the team is.

    The "us vs. them" mentality manifests itself at all levels, and it's reinforced by management having to define each team's worth in the form of a budget. One strategy is to illustrate a doomsday scenario. If you paint a bleak enough picture, you may get more funding. Only if you are careful enough to illustrate the failings are due to lack of capital resources, not management or people. A manager of another group may explain that they are not receiving the correct level of service, so they need to duplicate the efforts of another group and just implement something themselves. On and on, the arguments continue.

    Most often, I've seen competition between server groups result in horribly inefficient uses of hardware. For example, what happens in your organization when one team needs more server hardware? Assume that another team has five unused servers sitting in a blade chassis. Does the answer change? No, it does not. Even in test environments, sharing doesn't often happen between IT groups.

    With virtualization, some aspects of resource competition get better and some remain the same. When first implemented, most groups will be running their own type of virtualization for their platform. The next step, I've most often seen, is for test servers to get virtualized. If a new group is formed to manage the virtualization infrastructure, virtual machines can be allocated to various application and server teams from a central pool and everyone is now sharing. Or, they begin sharing and then demand their own physical hardware to be isolated from others' resource hungry utilization. This is nonetheless a step in the right direction. Auto migration and guaranteed resource policies can go a long way toward making shared infrastructure, even between competing groups, a viable option.

    Blamestorming

    The most damaging side effect of splitting into too many distinct IT groups is the reinforcement of an "us versus them" mentality. Aside from the notion that specialization creates a lack of knowledge, blamestorming is what this article is really about. When a project is delayed, it is all too easy to blame another group. The SAN people didn't allocate storage on time, so another team was delayed. That is the timeline of the project, so all work halted until that hiccup was restored. Having someone else to blame when things get delayed makes it all too easy to simply stop working for a while.

    More related to the initial points at the beginning of this article, perhaps, is the blamestorm that happens after a system outage.

    Say an ERP system becomes unresponsive a few times throughout the day. The application team says it's just slowing down, and they don't know why. The network team says everything is fine. The server team says the application is "blocking on IO," which means it's a SAN issue. The SAN team say there is nothing wrong, and other applications on the same devices are fine. You've ran through nearly every team, but without an answer still. The SAN people don't have access to the application servers to help diagnose the problem. The server team doesn't even know how the application runs.

    See the problem? Specialized teams are distinct and by nature adversarial. Specialized staffers often relegate themselves into a niche knowing that as long as they continue working at large enough companies, "someone else" will take care of all the other pieces.

    I unfortunately don't have an answer to this problem. Maybe rotating employees between departments will help. They gain knowledge and also get to know other people, which should lessen the propensity to view them as outsiders

    [Aug 08, 2012] MC MCSE Corporate Speak Dictionary for programmers.

    Even if you are in a technical position, you may still find yourself dealing with sales people and other corporate types. You may also discover that they speak a different language and use an arsenal of corny phrases that might just give you the hives. This article is a glossary of our 35 favorite terms and phrases.

    [Aug 08, 2012] Why We Hate HR

    In a knowledge economy, companies with the best talent win. And finding, nurturing, and developing that talent should be one of the most important tasks in a corporation. So why does human resources do such a bad job -- and how can we fix it?

    From: Issue 97 | August 2005 | Page 40 | By: Keith H. Hammonds | Illustrations by: Gary Baseman

    Because let's face it: After close to 20 years of hopeful rhetoric about becoming "strategic partners" with a "seat at the table" where the business decisions that matter are made, most human-resources professionals aren't nearly there. They have no seat, and the table is locked inside a conference room to which they have no key. HR people are, for most practical purposes, neither strategic nor leaders.

    I don't care for Las Vegas. And if it's not clear already, I don't like HR, either, which is why I'm here. The human-resources trade long ago proved itself, at best, a necessary evil -- and at worst, a dark bureaucratic force that blindly enforces nonsensical rules, resists creativity, and impedes constructive change. HR is the corporate function with the greatest potential -- the key driver, in theory, of business performance -- and also the one that most consistently underdelivers. And I am here to find out why.

    Why are annual performance appraisals so time-consuming -- and so routinely useless? Why is HR so often a henchman for the chief financial officer, finding ever-more ingenious ways to cut benefits and hack at payroll? Why do its communications -- when we can understand them at all -- so often flout reality? Why are so many people processes duplicative and wasteful, creating a forest of paperwork for every minor transaction? And why does HR insist on sameness as a proxy for equity?

    It's no wonder that we hate HR. In a 2005 survey by consultancy Hay Group, just 40% of employees commended their companies for retaining high-quality workers. Just 41% agreed that performance evaluations were fair. Only 58% rated their job training as favorable. Most said they had few opportunities for advancement -- and that they didn't know, in any case, what was required to move up. Most telling, only about half of workers below the manager level believed their companies took a genuine interest in their well-being.

    None of this is explained immediately in Vegas. These HR folks, from employers across the nation, are neither evil courtiers nor thoughtless automatons. They are mostly smart, engaging people who seem genuinely interested in doing their jobs better. They speak convincingly about employee development and cultural transformation. And, over drinks, they spin some pretty funny yarns of employee weirdness. (Like the one about the guy who threatened to sue his wife's company for "enabling" her affair with a coworker. Then there was the mentally disabled worker and the hooker -- well, no, never mind. . . .)

    But then the facade cracks. It happens at an afternoon presentation called "From Technicians to Consultants: How to Transform Your HR Staff into Strategic Business Partners." The speaker, Julie Muckler, is senior vice president of human resources at Wells Fargo Home Mortgage. She is an enthusiastic woman with a broad smile and 20 years of experience at companies such as Johnson & Johnson and General Tire. She has degrees in consumer economics and human resources and organizational development.

    And I have no idea what she's talking about. There is mention of "internal action learning" and "being more planful in my approach." PowerPoint slides outline Wells Fargo Home Mortgage's initiatives in performance management, organization design, and horizontal-solutions teams. Muckler describes leveraging internal resources and involving external resources -- and she leaves her audience dazed. That evening, even the human-resources pros confide they didn't understand much of it, either.

    This, friends, is the trouble with HR. In a knowledge economy, companies that have the best talent win. We all know that. Human resources execs should be making the most of our, well, human resources -- finding the best hires, nurturing the stars, fostering a productive work environment -- just as IT runs the computers and finance minds the capital. HR should be joined to business strategy at the hip.

    Instead, most HR organizations have ghettoized themselves literally to the brink of obsolescence. They are competent at the administrivia of pay, benefits, and retirement, but companies increasingly are farming those functions out to contractors who can handle such routine tasks at lower expense. What's left is the more important strategic role of raising the reputational and intellectual capital of the company -- but HR is, it turns out, uniquely unsuited for that.

    Here's why.

    1. HR people aren't the sharpest tacks in the box. We'll be blunt: If you are an ambitious young thing newly graduated from a top college or B-school with your eye on a rewarding career in business, your first instinct is not to join the human-resources dance. (At the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business, which arguably boasts the nation's top faculty for organizational issues, just 1.2% of 2004 grads did so.) Says a management professor at one leading school: "The best and the brightest don't go into HR."

    Who does? Intelligent people, sometimes -- but not businesspeople. "HR doesn't tend to hire a lot of independent thinkers or people who stand up as moral compasses," says Garold L. Markle, a longtime human-resources executive at Exxon and Shell Offshore who now runs his own consultancy. Some are exiles from the corporate mainstream: They've fared poorly in meatier roles -- but not poorly enough to be fired. For them, and for their employers, HR represents a relatively low-risk parking spot.

    Others enter the field by choice and with the best of intentions, but for the wrong reasons. They like working with people, and they want to be helpful -- noble motives that thoroughly tick off some HR thinkers. "When people have come to me and said, 'I want to work with people,' I say, 'Good, go be a social worker,' " says Arnold Kanarick, who has headed human resources at the Limited and, until recently, at Bear Stearns. "HR isn't about being a do-gooder. It's about how do you get the best and brightest people and raise the value of the firm."

    The really scary news is that the gulf between capabilities and job requirements appears to be widening. As business and legal demands on the function intensify, staffers' educational qualifications haven't kept pace. In fact, according to a survey by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), a considerably smaller proportion of HR professionals today have some education beyond a bachelor's degree than in 1990.

    And here's one more slice of telling SHRM data: When HR professionals were asked about the worth of various academic courses toward a "successful career in HR," 83% said that classes in interpersonal communications skills had "extremely high value." Employment law and business ethics followed, at 71% and 66%, respectively. Where was change management? At 35%. Strategic management? 32%. Finance? Um, that was just 2%.

    The truth? Most human-resources managers aren't particularly interested in, or equipped for, doing business. And in a business, that's sort of a problem. As guardians of a company's talent, HR has to understand how people serve corporate objectives. Instead, "business acumen is the single biggest factor that HR professionals in the U.S. lack today," says Anthony J. Rucci, executive vice president at Cardinal Health Inc., a big health-care supply distributor.

    Rucci is consistently mentioned by academics, consultants, and other HR leaders as an executive who actually does know business. At Baxter International, he ran both HR and corporate strategy. Before that, at Sears, he led a study of results at 800 stores over five years to assess the connection between employee commitment, customer loyalty, and profitability.

    As far as Rucci is concerned, there are three questions that any decent HR person in the world should be able to answer. First, who is your company's core customer? "Have you talked to one lately? Do you know what challenges they face?" Second, who is the competition? "What do they do well and not well?" And most important, who are we? "What is a realistic assessment of what we do well and not so well vis a vis the customer and the competition?"

    Does your HR pro know the answers?

    2. HR pursues efficiency in lieu of value. Why? Because it's easier -- and easier to measure. Dave Ulrich, a professor at the University of Michigan, recalls meeting with the chairman and top HR people from a big bank. "The training person said that 80% of employees have done at least 40 hours in classes. The chairman said, 'Congratulations.' I said, 'You're talking about the activities you're doing. The question is, What are you delivering?' "

    That sort of stuff drives Ulrich nuts. Over 20 years, he has become the HR trade's best-known guru (see "The Once and Future Consultant," page 48) and a leading proponent of the push to take on more-strategic roles within corporations. But human-resources managers, he acknowledges, typically undermine that effort by investing more importance in activities than in outcomes. "You're only effective if you add value," Ulrich says. "That means you're not measured by what you do but by what you deliver." By that, he refers not just to the value delivered to employees and line managers, but the benefits that accrue to investors and customers, as well.

    So here's a true story: A talented young marketing exec accepts a job offer with Time Warner out of business school. She interviews for openings in several departments -- then is told by HR that only one is interested in her. In fact, she learns later, they all had been. She had been railroaded into the job, under the supervision of a widely reviled manager, because no one inside the company would take it.

    You make the call: Did HR do its job? On the one hand, it filled the empty slot. "It did what was organizationally expedient," says the woman now. "Getting someone who wouldn't kick and scream about this role probably made sense to them. But I just felt angry." She left Time Warner after just a year. (A Time Warner spokesperson declined to comment on the incident.)

    Part of the problem is that Time Warner's metrics likely will never catch the real cost of its HR department's action. Human resources can readily provide the number of people it hired, the percentage of performance evaluations completed, and the extent to which employees are satisfied or not with their benefits. But only rarely does it link any of those metrics to business performance.

    John W. Boudreau, a professor at the University of Southern California's Center for Effective Organizations, likens the failing to shortcomings of the finance function before DuPont figured out how to calculate return on investment in 1912. In HR, he says, "we don't have anywhere near that kind of logical sophistication in the way of people or talent. So the decisions that get made about that resource are far less sophisticated, reliable, and consistent."

    Cardinal Health's Rucci is trying to fix that. Cardinal regularly asks its employees 12 questions designed to measure engagement. Among them: Do they understand the company's strategy? Do they see the connection between that and their jobs? Are they proud to tell people where they work? Rucci correlates the results to those of a survey of 2,000 customers, as well as monthly sales data and brand-awareness scores.

    "So I don't know if our HR processes are having an impact" per se, Rucci says. "But I know absolutely that employee-engagement scores have an impact on our business," accounting for between 1% and 10% of earnings, depending on the business and the employee's role. "Cardinal may not anytime soon get invited by the Conference Board to explain our world-class best practices in any area of HR -- and I couldn't care less. The real question is, Is the business effective and successful?"

    3. HR isn't working for you. Want to know why you go through that asinine performance appraisal every year, really? Markle, who admits to having administered countless numbers of them over the years, is pleased to confirm your suspicions. Companies, he says "are doing it to protect themselves against their own employees," he says. "They put a piece of paper between you and employees, so if you ever have a confrontation, you can go to the file and say, 'Here, I've documented this problem.' "

    There's a good reason for this defensive stance, of course. In the last two generations, government has created an immense thicket of labor regulations. Equal Employment Opportunity; Fair Labor Standards; Occupational Safety and Health; Family and Medical Leave; and the ever-popular ERISA. These are complex, serious issues requiring technical expertise, and HR has to apply reasonable caution.

    But "it's easy to get sucked down into that," says Mark Royal, a senior consultant with Hay Group. "There's a tension created by HR's role as protector of corporate assets -- making sure it doesn't run afoul of the rules. That puts you in the position of saying no a lot, of playing the bad cop. You have to step out of that, see the broad possibilities, and take a more open-minded approach. You need to understand where the exceptions to broad policies can be made."

    Typically, HR people can't, or won't. Instead, they pursue standardization and uniformity in the face of a workforce that is heterogeneous and complex. A manager at a large capital leasing company complains that corporate HR is trying to eliminate most vice-president titles there -- even though veeps are a dime a dozen in the finance industry. Why? Because in the company's commercial business, vice president is a rank reserved for the top officers. In its drive for bureaucratic "fairness," HR is actually threatening the reputation, and so the effectiveness, of the company's finance professionals.

    The urge for one-size-fits-all, says one professor who studies the field, "is partly about compliance, but mostly because it's just easier." Bureaucrats everywhere abhor exceptions -- not just because they open up the company to charges of bias but because they require more than rote solutions. They're time-consuming and expensive to manage. Make one exception, HR fears, and the floodgates will open.

    There's a contradiction here, of course: Making exceptions should be exactly what human resources does, all the time -- not because it's nice for employees, but because it drives the business. Employers keep their best people by acknowledging and rewarding their distinctive performance, not by treating them the same as everyone else. "If I'm running a business, I can tell you who's really helping to drive the business forward," says Dennis Ackley, an employee communication consultant. "HR should have the same view. We should send the message that we value our high-performing employees and we're focused on rewarding and retaining them."

    Instead, human-resources departments benchmark salaries, function by function and job by job, against industry standards, keeping pay -- even that of the stars -- within a narrow band determined by competitors. They bounce performance appraisals back to managers who rate their employees too highly, unwilling to acknowledge accomplishments that would merit much more than the 4% companywide increase.

    Human resources, in other words, forfeits long-term value for short-term cost efficiency. A simple test: Who does your company's vice president of human resources report to? If it's the CFO -- and chances are good it is -- then HR is headed in the wrong direction. "That's a model that cannot work," says one top HR exec who has been there. "A financial person is concerned with taking money out of the organization. HR should be concerned with putting investments in."

    4. The corner office doesn't get HR (and vice versa). I'm at another rockin' party: a few dozen midlevel human-resources managers at a hotel restaurant in Mahwah, New Jersey. It is not glam in any way. (I've got to get a better travel agent.) But it is telling, in a hopeful way. Hunter Douglas, a $2.1 billion manufacturer of window coverings, has brought its HR staff here from across the United States to celebrate their accomplishments.

    The company's top brass is on hand. Marvin B. Hopkins, president and CEO of North American operations, lays on the praise: "I feel fantastic about your achievements," he says. "Our business is about people. Hiring, training, and empathizing with employees is extremely important. When someone is fired or leaves, we've failed in some way. People have to feel they have a place at the company, a sense of ownership."

    So, yeah, it's corporate-speak in a drab exurban office park. But you know what? The human-resources managers from Tupelo and Dallas are totally pumped up. They've been flown into headquarters, they've had their picture taken with the boss, and they're seeing Mamma Mia on Broadway that afternoon on the company's dime.

    Can your HR department say it has the ear of top management? Probably not. "Sometimes," says Ulrich, "line managers just have this legacy of HR in their minds, and they can't get rid of it. I felt really badly for one HR guy. The chairman wanted someone to plan company picnics and manage the union, and every time this guy tried to be strategic, he got shot down."

    Say what? Execs don't think HR matters? What about all that happy talk about employees being their most important asset? Well, that turns out to have been a small misunderstanding. In the 1990s, a group of British academics examined the relationship between what companies (among them, the UK units of Hewlett-Packard and Citibank) said about their human assets and how they actually behaved. The results were, perhaps, inevitable.

    In their rhetoric, human-resources organizations embraced the language of a "soft" approach, speaking of training, development, and commitment. But "the underlying principle was invariably restricted to the improvements of bottom-line performance," the authors wrote in the resulting book, Strategic Human Resource Management (Oxford University Press, 1999). "Even if the rhetoric of HRM is soft, the reality is almost always 'hard,' with the interests of the organization prevailing over those of the individual."

    In the best of worlds, says London Business School professor Lynda Gratton, one of the study's authors, "the reality should be some combination of hard and soft." That's what's going on at Hunter Douglas. Human resources can address the needs of employees because it has proven its business mettle -- and vice versa. Betty Lou Smith, the company's vice president of corporate HR, began investigating the connection between employee turnover and product quality. Divisions with the highest turnover rates, she found, were also those with damaged-goods rates of 5% or higher. And extraordinarily, 70% of employees were leaving the company within six months of being hired.

    Smith's staffers learned that new employees were leaving for a variety of reasons: They didn't feel respected, they didn't have input in decisions, but mostly, they felt a lack of connection when they were first hired. "We gave them a 10-minute orientation, then they were out on the floor," Smith says. She addressed the weakness by creating a mentoring program that matched new hires with experienced workers. The latter were suspicious at first, but eventually, the mentor positions (with spiffy shirts and caps) came to be seen as prestigious. The six-month turnover rate dropped dramatically, to 16%. Attendance and productivity -- and the damaged-goods rate -- improved.

    "We don't wait to hear from top management," Smith says. "You can't just sit in the corner and look at benefits. We have to know what the issues in our business are. HR has to step up and assume responsibility, not wait for management to knock on our door."

    But most HR people do.

    Hunter Douglas gives us a glimmer of hope -- of the possibility that HR can be done right. And surely, even within ineffective human-resources organizations, there are great individual HR managers -- trustworthy, caring people with their ears to the ground, who are sensitive to cultural nuance yet also understand the business and how people fit in. Professionals who move voluntarily into HR from line positions can prove especially adroit, bringing a profit-and-loss sensibility and strong management skills.

    At Yahoo, Libby Sartain, chief people officer, is building a group that may prove to be the truly effective human-resources department that employees and executives imagine. In this, Sartain enjoys two advantages. First, she arrived with a reputation as a creative maverick, won in her 13 years running HR at Southwest Airlines. And second, she had license from the top to do whatever it took to create a world-class organization.

    Sartain doesn't just have a "seat at the table" at Yahoo; she actually helped build the table, instituting a weekly operations meeting that she coordinates with COO Dan Rosensweig. Talent is always at the top of the agenda -- and at the end of each meeting, the executive team mulls individual development decisions on key staffers.

    That meeting, Sartain says, "sends a strong message to everyone at Yahoo that we can't do anything without HR." It also signals to HR staffers that they're responsible for more than shuffling papers and getting in the way. "We view human resources as the caretaker of the largest investment of the company," Sartain says. "If you're not nurturing that investment and watching it grow, you're not doing your job."

    Yahoo, say some experts and peers at other organizations, is among a few companies -- among them Cardinal Health, Procter & Gamble, Pitney Bowes, Goldman Sachs, and General Electric -- that truly are bringing human resources into the realm of business strategy. But they are indeed the few. USC professor Edward E. Lawler III says that last year HR professionals reported spending 23% of their time "being a strategic business partner" -- no more than they reported in 1995. And line managers, he found, said HR is far less involved in strategy than HR thinks it is. "Despite great huffing and puffing about strategy," Lawler says, "there's still a long way to go." (Indeed. When I asked one midlevel HR person exactly how she was involved in business strategy for her division, she excitedly described organizing a monthly lunch for her vice president with employees.)

    What's driving the strategy disconnect? London Business School's Gratton spends a lot of time training human-resources professionals to create more impact. She sees two problems: Many HR people, she says, bring strong technical expertise to the party but no "point of view about the future and how organizations are going to change." And second, "it's very difficult to align HR strategy to business strategy, because business strategy changes very fast, and it's hard to fiddle around with a compensation strategy or benefits to keep up." More than simply understanding strategy, Gratton says, truly effective executives "need to be operating out of a set of principles and personal values." And few actually do.

    In the meantime, economic natural selection is, in a way, taking care of the problem for us. Some 94% of large employers surveyed this year by Hewitt Associates reported they were outsourcing at least one human-resources activity. By 2008, according to the survey, many plan to expand outsourcing to include activities such as learning and development, payroll, recruiting, health and welfare, and global mobility.

    Which is to say, they will farm out pretty much everything HR does. The happy rhetoric from the HR world says this is all for the best: Outsourcing the administrative minutiae, after all, would allow human-resources professionals to focus on more important stuff that's central to the business. You know, being strategic partners.

    The problem, if you're an HR person, is this: The tasks companies are outsourcing -- the administrivia -- tend to be what you're good at. And what's left isn't exactly your strong suit. Human resources is crippled by what Jay Jamrog, executive director of the Human Resource Institute, calls "educated incapacity: You're smart, and you know the way you're working today isn't going to hold 10 years from now. But you can't move to that level. You're stuck."

    That's where human resources is today. Stuck. "This is a unique organization in the company," says USC's Boudreau. "It discovers things about the business through the lens of people and talent. That's an opportunity for competitive advantage." In most companies, that opportunity is utterly wasted.

    And that's why I don't like HR.

    Keith H. Hammonds is Fast Company's deputy editor.

    [Jun 01, 2012] Tech managers aren't doing a good job developing IT talent survey

    A majority of IT professionals judge their current managers as graders (61%) versus teachers (26%), but it's more important to create a nurturing workplace than a pass/fail department, Silver said.

    "There will always be a need for some grading, but the emphasis should be on teaching. Tech professionals do their best work when it's a safe environment to try new solutions, explore alternatives and fail," Silver said. "Over time, wisdom gained equals fewer mistakes, cutting quickly to the best solution and increasing production. That's a pretty good payback."

    If tech employees don't feel valued, they're going to jump ship. Turnover has fallen below average for 41 months in a row, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, but tech managers can't count on a struggling economy and tight job market to keep their departments staffed. Good talent will flee, Silver says.

    "Frankly, companies haven't felt the repercussions of subpar workplaces in the last three years. But, the gap between the importance of the employee-manager relationship and the way it's developing is unacceptable. Both sides need to remember this is a lasting connection and one worth the effort."

    Darth Vader

    Tech managers always look to their vendor for guidance as to what to do with their tech people. Vendors, after all, compete with similar skills in techs since they build and sometimes even use the products and tools the client tech managers deal with on daily basis.

    When vendors like IBM have been treating their tech skills asset like dirt and call them "resources", it is a surprise that the client managers of those same skills don't do the same thing?

    Until the hypocrisy of calling tech people vital but treating them like "human resources" ends we will continue to have this management problem. If and when the economy turns around. the new rising young generation of cynical and self-centered tech employees which these management practices have created will come to roost to American business.

    [Apr 28, 2012] Lessons from Sheryl Sandberg Stop Working More Than 40 Hours a Week

    Inc.com

    You may think you're getting more accomplished by working longer hours. You're probably wrong.

    There's been a flurry of recent coverage praising Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook, for leaving the office every day at 5:30 p.m. to be with her kids. Apparently she's been doing this for years, but only recently "came out of the closet," as it were.

    What's insane is that Sandberg felt the need to hide the fact, since there's a century of research establishing the undeniable fact that working more than 40 hours per week actually decreases productivity.

    In the early 1900s, Ford Motor ran dozens of tests to discover the optimum work hours for worker productivity. They discovered that the "sweet spot" is 40 hours a week–and that, while adding another 20 hours provides a minor increase in productivity, that increase only lasts for three to four weeks, and then turns negative.

    Anyone who's spent time in a corporate environment knows that what was true of factory workers a hundred years ago is true of office workers today. People who put in a solid 40 hours a week get more done than those who regularly work 60 or more hours.

    The workaholics (and their profoundly misguided management) may think they're accomplishing more than the less fanatical worker, but in every case that I've personally observed, the long hours result in work that must be scrapped or redone.

    Accounting for Burnout What's more, people who consistently work long work weeks get burned out and inevitably start having personal problems that get in the way of getting things done.

    I remember a guy in one company I worked for who used the number of divorces in his group as a measure of its productivity. Believe it or not, his top management reportedly considered this a valid metric. What's ironic (but not surprising) is that the group itself accomplished next to nothing.

    In fact, now that I think about it, that's probably why he had to trot out such an absurd (and, let's face it, evil) metric.

    Proponents of long work weeks often point to the even longer average work weeks in countries like Thailand, Korea, and Pakistan–with the implication that the longer work weeks are creating a competitive advantage.

    Europe's Ban on 50-Hour Weeks.

    However, the facts don't bear this out. In six of the top 10 most competitive countries in the world (Sweden, Finland, Germany, Netherlands, Denmark, and the United Kingdom), it's illegal to demand more than a 48-hour work week. You simply don't see the 50-, 60-, and 70-hour work weeks that have become de rigeur in some parts of the U.S. business world.

    If U.S. managers were smart, they'd end this "if you don't come in on Saturday, don't bother coming to work on Sunday" idiocy. If you want employees (salaried or hourly) to get the most done–in the shortest amount of time and on a consistent basis–40 hours a week is just about right.

    In other words, nobody should be apologizing for leaving at work at a reasonable hour like 5:30 p.m. In fact, people should be apologizing if they're working too long each week–because it's probably making the team less effective overall.

    [Apr 02, 2012] Why I left Google

    JW on Tech

    Whittaker, who joined Google in 2009 and left last month, described a corporate culture clearly divided into two eras: "Before Google+," and "After."

    "After" is pretty terrible, in his view.

    Google (GOOG, Fortune 500) once gave its engineers the time and resources to be creative. That experimental approach yielded several home-run hits like Chrome and Gmail. But Google fell behind in one key area: competing with Facebook.

    That turned into corporate priority No. 1 when Larry Page took over as the company's CEO. "Social" became Google's battle cry, and anything that didn't support Google+ was viewed as a distraction.

    "Suddenly, 20% meant half-assed," wrote Whittaker, referring to Google's famous policy of letting employees spend a fifth of their time on projects other than their core job. "The trappings of entrepreneurship were dismantled."

    Whittaker is not the first ex-Googler to express that line of criticism. Several high-level employees have left after complaining that the "start-up spirit" of Google has been replaced by a more mature but staid culture focused on the bottom line.

    The interesting thing about Whittaker's take is that it was posted not on his personal blog, but on an official blog of Microsoft (MSFT, Fortune 500), Google's arch nemesis.

    Spokesmen from Microsoft and Google declined to comment.

    The battle between Microsoft and Google has heated up recently, as the Federal Trade Commission and the European Commission begin to investigate Google for potential antitrust violations. Microsoft, with its Bing search engine, has doubled its share of the search market since its June 2010 founding, but has been unsuccessful at taking market share away from Google.

    Microsoft is increasingly willing to call out Google for what it sees as illicit behavior. A year ago, the software company released a long list of gripes about Google's monopolistic actions, and last month it said Google was violating Internet Explorer users' privacy.

    Despite his misgivings about what Google cast aside to make Google+ a reality, Whittaker thinks that the social network was worth a shot. If it had worked -- if Google had dramatically changed the social Web for the better -- it would have been a heroic gamble.

    But it didn't. It's too early to write Google+ off, but the site is developing a reputation as a ghost town. Google says 90 million people have signed up, but analysts and anecdotal evidence show that fairly few have turned into heavy users.

    "Google was the rich kid who, after having discovered he wasn't invited to the party, built his own party in retaliation," Whittaker wrote. "The fact that no one came to Google's party became the elephant in the room." To top of page

    Ian Smith:

    Isn't it inevitable that Google will end up like Microsoft. A brain-dead dinosaur employing sycophantic middle class bores, who are simply working towards a safe haven of retirement. In the end Google will be passed by. It's not a design-led innovator like Apple: it's a boring, grey utilitarian, Soviet-like beast. Google Apps are cheap - but very nasty - Gmail is a terrible UI - and great designers will never work for this anti-design/pro-algorithms empire.

    Steve

    I have to be honest with you. All of Google's products are TERRIBLE except for Gmail, and even that is inferior to Outlook on the web now.

    I used Google Apps for years, and Google just doesn't listen to customers. The engineers that ran the company needed some corporate intervention. I just think Larry Page tried to turn Google into a different company, rather than just focusing the great ideas into actually great products.

    Matt:

    It seems the tech titans all have this pendulum thing going on. Google appears to be beginning its swing in the "evil" direction. Apple seems like they're nearing the peak of "evil". And Microsoft seems like they're back in the middle, trying to swing up to the "good" side. So, if you look at it from that perspective, Microsoft is the obvious choice.

    Good luck!

    VVR:

    The stark truth in this insightful piece is the stuff you have not written..

    Atleast you had a choice in leaving google. But we as users don't.

    I have years of email in Gmail and docs and youtube etc. I can't switch.

    "Creepy" is not the word that comes to mind when Ads for Sauna, online textbooks, etc suddenly begin to track you, no matter which website you visit.

    You know you have lost when this happens..

    David:

    A fascinating insight, I think this reflects what a lot of people are seeing of Google from the outside. It seems everybody but Page can see that Google+ is - whilst technically brilliant - totally superfluous; your daughter is on the money. Also apparent from the outside is the desperation that surrounds Google+ - Page needs to face facts, hold his hands up and walk away from Social before they loose more staff like you, more users and all the magic that made Google so great.

    Best of luck with your new career at Microsoft, I hope they foster and encourage you as the Google of old did.

    Raymond Traylor:

    I understand Facebook is a threat to Google search but beating Facebook at their core competency was doomed to fail. Just like Bing to Google. I was so disappointed in Google following Facebook's evil ways of wanting to know everything about me I've stopped using their services one at a time, starting with Android.

    I am willing to pay for a lot of Google's free service to avoid advertising and harvesting my private data.

    root

    You claim old Google empowered intelligent people to be innovative, with the belief their creations would prove viable in the marketplace. You then go on to name Gmail and Chrome as the accomplishments of that endeavour. Are you ****** serious? Re-branding web based email is no more innovative than purchasing users for your social networking site, like Facebook did. Same for Chrome, or would you argue Google acquiring VOIP companies to then provide a mediocre service called Google Voice was also innovative? When you arrived at Google it had already turned the internet into a giant spamsense depository with the majority of screen real estate consumed by Google's ads. The downhill spiral did not begin with Google+, but it may end there. On a lighter note, you are now free. Launch a start-up and fill the gaping hole which will be left by the fall of the former giant.

    RBLevin:

    Great post. Appreciate the insights the warning about what happens when bottom-up entrepreneurship loses out to top-down corporate dictums.

    Re: sharing, while I agree sharing isn't broken (heck, it worked when all we had was email), it certainly needs more improvement. I can't stand Facebook. Hate the UI, don't care for the culture. Twitter is too noisy and, also, the UI sucks. I'm one of those who actually thinks Google+ got 21st century BBSing right.

    But if that's at the cost of everything else that made Google great, then it's a high price to pay.

    BTW, you can say a lot of these same things about similar moves Microsoft has made over the years, where the top brass decided they knew better, and screwed over developers and their investments in mountains of code.

    So, whether it happens in an HR context or a customer context, it still sucks as a practice.

    bound2run:

    I have made a concerted effort to move away from Google products after their recent March 1st privacy policy change. I must say the Bing is working just fine for me. Gmail will be a bit tougher but I am making strides. Now I just need to dump my Android phone and I will be "creepy-free" ... for the time being.

    Phil Ashman:

    The ability to actually consume shared content in an efficient and productive manner is still as broken as ever. They never addressed the issue in Buzz and still haven't with G+ despite people ranting at them for this functionality forever.

    Funny that I should read your post today as I wrote the following comment on another persons post a couple days back over Vic's recent interview where someone brought up the lack of a G+ API:

    "But if it were a social network.......then they are doing a pretty piss poor job of managing the G+ interface and productive consumption of the stream. It would be nice if there was at least an API so some 3rd party clients could assist with the filtering of the noise, but in reality the issue is in the distribution of the stream. What really burns me is that it wouldn't be that hard for them to create something like subscribable circles.

    Unfortunately the reality is that they just don't care about whether the G+ stream is productive for you at the moment as their primary concern isn't for you to productively share and discuss your interests with the world, but to simply provide a way for you to tell Google what you like so they can target you with advertising. As a result, the social part of Google+ really isn't anything to shout about at the moment."

    You've just confirmed my fear about how the company's focus has changed.

    Alice Wonder:

    Thanks for this. I love many of the things Google has done. Summer of code, WebM, Google Earth, free web fonts, etc.

    I really was disappointed with Google+. I waited for an invite, and when I finally got one, I started to use it. Then the google main search page started to include google+ notifications, and the JS crashed my browser. Repeatedly. I had to clear my cache and delete my cookies just so google wouln't know it was me and crash search with a notification. They fixed that issue quickly but I did not understand why they would risk their flagship product (search) to promote google plus. The search page really should be a simple form.

    And google plus not allowing aliases? Do I want a company that is tracking everything I do centrally to have my real name with that tracking? No. Hence I do not use google+ anymore, and am switching to a different search engine and doing as little as I can with google.

    I really don't like to dislike google because of all they have done that was cool, it is really sad for me to see this happening.

    Mike Whitehead

    Sounds like Google have stopped focusing on what problem they're solving and moving onto trying to influence consumer behaviour - always a much more difficult trick to pull off. Great article - well done for sharing in such a humble and ethical manner. Best of luck for the future.

    jmacdonald 14 Mar 2012 4:07 AM great write-up

    personally i think that google and facebook have misread the sociological trend against the toleration of adverts, to such an extent that if indeed google are following the 'facebook know everything and we do too' route, i suspect both companies may enter into issues as the advertising CPMs fall and we're left with us wretched consumers who find ways around experiences that we don't want

    more on this stuff here: www.jonathanmacdonald.com

    and here: www.jonathanmacdonald.com

    for anyone that cares about that kinda angle

    Mahboob Ihsan:

    Google products are useful but probably they could have done more to improve the GUI, Standardization and Usability. You can continue to earn business in short term enjoying your strategic advantage as long as you don't have competitors. But as soon as you have just one competitor offering quality products at same cost, your strategic advantage is gone and you have to compete through technology, cost and quality. Google has been spreading its business wings to so many areas, probably with the single point focus of short term business gains. Google should have learnt from Apple that your every new offering should be better (in user's eye) than the previous one.

    Victor Ramirez:

    Thanks for the thoughtful blog post. Anybody who has objectively observed Google's behavior and activity over the past few years has known that Google is going in this direction. I think that people have to recognize that Google, while very technically smart, is an advertising company first and foremost. Their motto says the right things about being good and organizing the world's information, but we all know what Google is honestly interested in. The thing that Google is searching for, more than almost anything else, is about getting more data about people so they can get people better ads they'll be more likely to click on so they make more money. Right now, Google is facing what might be considered an existential threat from Facebook because they are the company that is best able to get social data right now. Facebook is getting so much social data that odds are that they're long-term vision is to some point seriously competing in search using this social data that they have. Between Facebook's huge user-base and momentum amongst businesses (just look at how many Super Bowl ads featured Facebook pages being promoted for instance, look at the sheer number of companies listed at www.buyfacebookfansreviews.com that do nothing other than promote Facebook business pages, and look at the biggest factor out there - the fact that Facebook's IPO is set to dominate 2012) I think that Facebook has the first legitimate shot of creating a combination of quality results and user experience to actually challenge Google's dominance, and that's pretty exciting to watch. The fact that Google is working on Google+ so much and making that such a centerpiece of their efforts only goes to illustrate how critical this all is and how seriously they take this challenge from Facebook into their core business. I think Facebook eventually enters the search market and really disrupts it and it will be interesting to see how Google eventually acts from a position of weakness.

    Keith Watanabe:

    they're just like any company that gets big. you end up losing visibility into things, believe that you require the middle management layer to coordinate, then start getting into the battlegrounds of turf wars because the people hired have hidden agendas and start bringing in their army of yes men to take control as they attempt to climb up the corporate ladder. however, the large war chest accumulated and the dominance in a market make such a company believe in their own invulnerability. but that's when you're the most vulnerable because you get sloppy, forget to stop and see the small things that slip through the cracks, forget your roots and lose your way and soul. humility is really your only constant savior.

    btw, more than likely Facebook will become the same way. And any other companies who grow big. People tend to forget about the days they were struggling and start focusing on why they are so great. You lose that hunger, that desire to do better because you don't have to worry about eating pinches of salt on a few nibbles of rice. This is how civilization just is. If you want to move beyond that, humans need to change this structure of massive growth -> vanity -> decadence -> back to poverty.

    Anon:

    This perceived shift of focus happens at every company when you go from being an idealistic student to becoming an adult that has to pay the bills. When you reach such a large scale with so much at stake, it is easy to stop innovating. It is easy to get a mix of people who don't share the same vision when you have to hire on a lot of staff. Stock prices put an emphasis on perpetual monetization. Let's keep in mind that Facebook only recently IPO'd and in the debate for personal privacy, all the players are potentially "evil" and none of them are being held to account by any public policy.

    The shutdown of Google Labs was a sad day. Later the shutdown of Google Health I thought was also sad as it was an example of a free service already in existence, akin to what Ontario has wasted over $1 billion on for E-Health. Surely these closures are a sign that the intellectual capital in the founders has been exhausted. They took their core competencies to the maximum level quickly, which means all the organic growth in those areas is mostly already realized.

    There needs to be some torch passing or greater empowerment in the lower ranks when things like this happen. Take a look at RIM. Take a look at many other workplaces. It isn't an isolated incident. There are constantly pressures between where you think your business should go, where investors tell you to go, and where the industry itself is actually headed. This guy is apparently very troubled that his name is attached to G+ development and he is trying to distance himself from his own failure. Probably the absence of Google Labs puts a particular emphasis on the failure of G+ as one of the only new service projects to be delivered recently.

    After so much time any company realizes that new ideas can only really come with new people or from outside influences. As an attempt to grow their business services via advertising, the idea that they needed to compete with Facebook to continue to grow wasn't entirely wrong. It was just poorly executed, too late, and at the expense of potentially focusing their efforts on doing something else under Google Labs that would have been more known as from them (Android was an acquisition, not organically grown internally). There is no revolution yet, because Facebook and Google have not replaced any of each others services with a better alternative

    The complaints in the final paragraph of the blog regarding privacy are all complaints about how much Google wants to be Facebook. Thing is that Google+ just like all the aforementioned services are opt-in services with a clear ToS declared when you do so, even if you already have a Google account for other services. The transparency of their privacy policy is on par if not better than most other competing service providers. The only time it draws criticism is when some changes have been made to say that if you use multiple services, they may have access to the same pool of information internally. It's a contract and it was forced to be acknowledged when it changed. When advertising does happen it is much more obvious to me that it is advertising via a Google service, than when Facebook decides to tell me who likes what. Not to give either the green light here; but the evolution is one of integrating your network into the suggestions, and again, it isn't isolated to any one agency.

    One way to raise and enforce objections to potential mishandling of information is to develop a blanket minimum-requirement on privacy policy to apply to all businesses, regarding the handling of customer information. We are blind if we think Google+ and Facebook are the only businesses using data in these ways. This blanket minimum requirement could be voluntarily adopted via 3rd party certification, or it could be government enforced; but the point is that someone other than the business itself would formulate it, and it must be openly available to debate and public scrutiny/revision. It is a sort of "User License Agreement" for information about us. If James Whittaker left to partake in something along these lines, it sure would make his blog entry more credible, unless Microsoft is focused so much more greatly on innovation than the profit motive.

    It is also important for customers and the general public not to get locked into any kind of brand loyalty. One problem is Facebook is a closed proprietary system with no way to forward or export the data contained within it to any comparable system. Google is a mish-mash of some open and some closed systems. In order for us as customers to be able to voice our opinions in a way that such service providers would hear, we must be provided alternatives and service portability.

    As an example of changing service providers, there has been an exodus of business customers away from using Google Maps as they began charging money to businesses that want to use the data to develop on top of it. I think that this is just the reality of a situation when you have operating costs for a service that you need to recoup; but there is a royalty-free alternative like Open Street Map (which Apple has recently ripped off by using Open Street Map data without attribution).

    Google won't see the same meteoric growth ever again. It probably is a less fun place for a social media development staffer to work at from 2010 to present, than it was from 2004 - 2010 (but I'm betting still preferable to FoxConn or anything anywhere near Balmer).

    Linda R. Tindall :

    Thank you for your honest comments Mr. Whittaker. And yes, Google is not like it was before..

    It is Scary, Google may destroy anyone online business overnight!

    Google penalize webmasters if they don't like a Website for any reason. They can put out anyone they want out of business. How does Google judge a webmaster's?

    Google's business isn't anymore the search engine. Google's business is selling and displaying ads.

    GOOGLE becomes now the Big Brother of the WWW. I think it is scary that Google has so much power. Just by making changes, they can ruin people's lives.

    [Apr 02, 2012] Why I left Google - JW on Tech - Site Home - MSDN Blogs by James Whittaker

    ... ... ...

    It wasn't an easy decision to leave Google. During my time there I became fairly passionate about the company. I keynoted four Google Developer Day events, two Google Test Automation Conferences and was a prolific contributor to the Google testing blog. Recruiters often asked me to help sell high priority candidates on the company. No one had to ask me twice to promote Google and no one was more surprised than me when I could no longer do so. In fact, my last three months working for Google was a whirlwind of desperation, trying in vain to get my passion back.

    The Google I was passionate about was a technology company that empowered its employees to innovate. The Google I left was an advertising company with a single corporate-mandated focus.

    Technically I suppose Google has always been an advertising company, but for the better part of the last three years, it didn't feel like one. Google was an ad company only in the sense that a good TV show is an ad company: having great content attracts advertisers.

    Under Eric Schmidt ads were always in the background. Google was run like an innovation factory, empowering employees to be entrepreneurial through founder's awards, peer bonuses and 20% time. Our advertising revenue gave us the headroom to think, innovate and create. Forums like App Engine, Google Labs and open source served as staging grounds for our inventions. The fact that all this was paid for by a cash machine stuffed full of advertising loot was lost on most of us. Maybe the engineers who actually worked on ads felt it, but the rest of us were convinced that Google was a technology company first and foremost; a company that hired smart people and placed a big bet on their ability to innovate.

    From this innovation machine came strategically important products like Gmail and Chrome, products that were the result of entrepreneurship at the lowest levels of the company. Of course, such runaway innovative spirit creates some duds, and Google has had their share of those, but Google has always known how to fail fast and learn from it.

    In such an environment you don't have to be part of some executive's inner circle to succeed. You don't have to get lucky and land on a sexy project to have a great career. Anyone with ideas or the skills to contribute could get involved. I had any number of opportunities to leave Google during this period, but it was hard to imagine a better place to work.

    But that was then, as the saying goes, and this is now.

    It turns out that there was one place where the Google innovation machine faltered and that one place mattered a lot: competing with Facebook. Informal efforts produced a couple of antisocial dogs in Wave and Buzz. Orkut never caught on outside Brazil. Like the proverbial hare confident enough in its lead to risk a brief nap, Google awoke from its social dreaming to find its front runner status in ads threatened.

    Google could still put ads in front of more people than Facebook, but Facebook knows so much more about those people. Advertisers and publishers cherish this kind of personal information, so much so that they are willing to put the Facebook brand before their own. Exhibit A: www.facebook.com/nike, a company with the power and clout of Nike putting their own brand after Facebook's? No company has ever done that for Google and Google took it personally.

    Larry Page himself assumed command to right this wrong. Social became state-owned, a corporate mandate called Google+. It was an ominous name invoking the feeling that Google alone wasn't enough. Search had to be social. Android had to be social. You Tube, once joyous in their independence, had to be … well, you get the point. Even worse was that innovation had to be social. Ideas that failed to put Google+ at the center of the universe were a distraction.

    Suddenly, 20% meant half-assed. Google Labs was shut down. App Engine fees were raised. APIs that had been free for years were deprecated or provided for a fee. As the trappings of entrepreneurship were dismantled, derisive talk of the "old Google" and its feeble attempts at competing with Facebook surfaced to justify a "new Google" that promised "more wood behind fewer arrows."

    The days of old Google hiring smart people and empowering them to invent the future was gone. The new Google knew beyond doubt what the future should look like. Employees had gotten it wrong and corporate intervention would set it right again.

    Officially, Google declared that "sharing is broken on the web" and nothing but the full force of our collective minds around Google+ could fix it. You have to admire a company willing to sacrifice sacred cows and rally its talent behind a threat to its business. Had Google been right, the effort would have been heroic and clearly many of us wanted to be part of that outcome. I bought into it. I worked on Google+ as a development director and shipped a bunch of code. But the world never changed; sharing never changed. It's arguable that we made Facebook better, but all I had to show for it was higher review scores.

    As it turned out, sharing was not broken. Sharing was working fine and dandy, Google just wasn't part of it. People were sharing all around us and seemed quite happy. A user exodus from Facebook never materialized. I couldn't even get my own teenage daughter to look at Google+ twice, "social isn't a product," she told me after I gave her a demo, "social is people and the people are on Facebook."

    Google was the rich kid who, after having discovered he wasn't invited to the party, built his own party in retaliation. The fact that no one came to Google's party became the elephant in the room.

    [Mar 22, 2012] Check Your Attitude at the Door - No, You're Not Crazy

    "...common sense is dead in the corporate world..."
    StateUniversity.com

    My department must hold the record for the company's fastest revolving door. In less than a year, we've been re-orged three times. I've had four different managers, and every new person who comes in wants to 'mark his territory.' Meanwhile, none of these people know as much about my area as I do, so their guidance is useless. Plus, I'm changing direction so much I never get anything done. What is it they say-same sh*t different day? If I have to be 'rah rah' at yet another welcome lunch, I think I'm going to explode.

    Robert, 27, Oregon

    If you're reading this chapter because you're struggling with someone's attitude problem at work, you're not alone, and your hostility is probably justified. I've spoken to dozens of twenty-somethings, and most have spent their fair share of time banging their heads against the wall and regretting the day they signed their offer letters.

    As much as I feel your pain, I don't believe it does much good to complain, because unless you're going to grad school or can successfully start your own business, you're in the corporate world to stay. We all have to deal with business-world insanity whether we love our jobs or not, so we might as well take the necessary steps to overcome the challenges. However, because this chapter is about your emotional well-being, we need to start by recognizing the things about work that drive us nuts. Most of these points will probably sound familiar, so read on and be comforted. Warning: Do not hang this list in your cube!

    Top 10 Annoying Things About the Corporate World

    1. Corporate Déjà Vu. It seems as though it's a requirement in corporate business that you spend huge amounts of time reporting the same information in a dozen different formats, attending status meetings where conversation from the week before is repeated word for word, and putting out the same fires, because your department doesn't learn from its mistakes.
    2. Invoking Syndrome. The invoking syndrome occurs when colleagues try to persuade you to do what they want by name-dropping someone higher up. Whether the executive manager was actually involved or not, invoking him is a manipulative tactic used to get you to bend to your colleagues' wishes (for example, "Really? Well, I spoke to the CEO last night, and he told me we have to do the event this way.")
    3. Egomania. When certain people reach a high level in a company, they think that they are better than everyone else and that they are entitled to be treated like a god. Regardless of the issue, they believe they are always right and that they can't possibly learn anything from someone lower on the chain.
    4. Hierarchies. In the corporate world, all men are not created equal, and sometimes you can actually get in trouble just by talking to someone higher up without going through the proper channels. Unless you happen to know the right people, you're invisible.
    5. Denigration. In some companies, it's an unspoken rule that the younger you are, the less respect you receive. Many senior managers are quick to call you on the carpet for situations that may or may not be your fault, but they say nothing when you've done superior work.
    6. Bureaucracy. How many departments does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Corporate business has a lengthy approval process for everything, and companies delight in changing those processes constantly so that you're never sure which 10 departments you need to consult before a decision can be made.
    7. Hypocrisy. Don't you just love the way some companies tout values such as quality, entrepreneurship, innovation, and integrity, when they would be perfectly happy if their employees just kept quiet and never strayed from their designated roles? If you've ever acted on your company's values and gotten burned for it, you are probably a victim of naked ambition (when doing what's best for the company leaves you out in the cold).
    8. Micromanagement. Twenty-somethings thrive on independence, yet some managers will bear down on you with critical eyes at every minuscule stage of a project. Gotta sneeze? Better make sure your manager knows about it.
    9. Uncommon Sense. I've read that common sense is dead in the corporate world. The author almost sounded proud of this. People might make a joke of it, but this dearth of logical thought in corporate business is kind of sad. It's also frustrating when the obviously correct way to do something is staring everyone right in the face, and no one sees it.
    10. Nonsensical Change. Every now and then, companies will decide to throw their departments up in the air and see where all the pieces land. Yes, it's the corporate reorganization (aka the dreaded re-org). Despite the fact that it results in mass confusion, greatly decreased productivity, and low employee morale, companies continue to do it year after year.

    [Mar 11, 2012] Educational films

    Think your boss is a horror? Some of these film honchos probably make him or her look like Mother Teresa.

    [Dec 02, 2011] The Other One Percent: Corporate Psychopaths and the Global Financial Crisis

    Anyone who has ever worked in a large corporation has seen the empty suits that seem to inexplicably rise to positions of power. They talk a great game, possessing extraordinary verbal acuity, and often with an amazing ability to rise quickly without significant accomplishments to positions of great personal power, and often using it ruthlessly once it is achieved. Their ruthless obsession with power and its visible rewards rises above the general level of narcissism and sycophancy that often plagues large organizations, especially those with an established franchise where performance is not as much of an issue as collecting their rents. And anyone who has been on the inside of the national political process knows this is certainly nothing exclusive to the corporate world.
    Dec 02, 2011 | Jesse's Café Américain

    Anyone who has ever worked in a large corporation has seen the empty suits that seem to inexplicably rise to positions of power. They talk a great game, possessing extraordinary verbal acuity, and often with an amazing ability to rise quickly without significant accomplishments to positions of great personal power, and often using it ruthlessly once it is achieved.

    Their ruthless obsession with power and its visible rewards rises above the general level of narcissism and sycophancy that often plagues large organizations, especially those with an established franchise where performance is not as much of an issue as collecting their rents.

    And anyone who has been on the inside of the national political process knows this is certainly nothing exclusive to the corporate world.

    Here is a paper recently published in the Journal of Business Ethics that hypothesizes along these lines. It is only a preliminary paper, lacking in full scholarship and a cycle of peer review.

    But it raises a very important subject. Organizational theories such as the efficient markets hypothesis that assume rational behavior on the part of market participants tends to fall apart in the presence of the irrational and selfish short term focus of a significant minority of people who seek power, much less the top one percent of the psychologically ruthless.

    Indeed, not only was previously unheard of behavior allowed, it became quite fashionable and desired in certain sections of American management where ruthless pursuit of profits at any cost was highly prized and rewarded. And if caught, well, only the little people must pay for their transgressions. The glass ceiling becomes a floor above which the ordinary rules do not apply.

    If you wish to determine the character of a generation or a people, look to their heroes, leaders, and role models.

    This is nothing new, but a lesson from history that has been unlearned. The entire system of checks and balances, of rule of law, of transparency in government, of accountability and personal honor, is based on the premise that one cannot always count on people to be naturally good and self-effacing. And further, that at times it seems that a relatively small group of corrupt people can rise to power, and harm the very fabric of a society.

    'When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.'

    Edmund Burke

    'And remember, where you have a concentration of power in a few hands, all too frequently men with the mentality of gangsters get control. History has proven that.'

    Lord Acton

    These things tend to go in cycles. It will be interesting to see how this line of analysis progresses. I am sure we all have a few candidates we would like to submit for testing. No one is perfect or even perfectly average. But systems that assume as much are more dangerous than standing armies, since like finds like, and dishonesty and fraud can become epidemic in an organization and a corporate culture, finally undermining the very law and principle of stewardship itself.
    'Our government...teaches the whole people by its example. If the government becomes the lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy.'

    Louis D. Brandeis

    MF Global, and the reaction to it thus far, is one of the better examples of shocking behaviour that lately seems to be tolerated, ignored, and all too often met with weak excuses and lame promises to do better next time, while continuing on as before.
    "These corporate collapses have gathered pace in recent years, especially in the western world, and have culminated in the Global Financial Crisis that we are now in.

    In watching these events unfold it often appears that the senior directors involved walk away with a clean conscience and huge amounts of money. Further, they seem to be unaffected by the corporate collapses they have created. They present themselves as glibly unbothered by the chaos around them, unconcerned about those who have lost their jobs, savings, and investments, and as lacking any regrets about what they have done.

    They cheerfully lie about their involvement in events are very persuasive in blaming others for what has happened and have no doubts about their own continued worth and value. They are happy to walk away from the economic disaster that they have managed to bring about, with huge payoffs and with new roles advising governments how to prevent such economic disasters.

    Many of these people display several of the characteristics of psychopaths and some of them are undoubtedly true psychopaths. Psychopaths are the 1% of people who have no conscience or empathy and who do not care for anyone other than themselves.

    Some psychopaths are violent and end up in jail, others forge careers in corporations. The latter group who forge successful corporate careers is called Corporate Psychopaths...

    Psychologists have argued that Corporate Psychopaths within organizations may be singled out for rapid promotion because of their polish, charm, and cool decisiveness. Expert commentators on the rise of Corporate Psychopaths within modern corporations have also hypothesized that they are more likely to be found at the top of current organisations than at the bottom.

    Further, that if this is the case, then this phenomenon will have dire consequences for the organisations concerned and for the societies in which those organisations are based. Since this prediction of dire consequences was made the Global Financial Crisis has come about.

    Research by Babiak and Hare in the USA, Board and Fritzon in the UK and in Australia has shown that psychopaths are indeed to be found at greater levels of incidence at senior levels of organisations than they are at junior levels (Boddy et al., 2010a). There is also some evidence that they may tend to join some types of organisations rather than others and that, for example, large financial organisations may be attractive to them because of the potential rewards on offer in these organizations."

    Clive R. Boddy, The Corporate Psychopaths Theory of the Global Financial Crisis, Journal of Business Ethics, 2011

    [Oct 12, 2011] AOL Creates Fully Automated Data Center

    October 11, 2011 | Slashdot

    miller60 writes with an except from a Data Center Knowledge article: "AOL has begun operations at a new data center that will be completely unmanned, with all monitoring and management being handled remotely. The new 'lights out' facility is part of a broader updating of AOL infrastructure that leverages virtualization and modular design to quickly deploy and manage server capacity. 'These changes have not been easy,' AOL's Mike Manos writes in a blog post about the new facility. 'It's always culturally tough being open to fundamentally changing business as usual.'" Mike Manos's weblog post provides a look into AOL's internal infrastructure. It's easy to forget that AOL had to tackle scaling to tens of thousands of servers over a decade before the term Cloud was even coined.

    johnlcallaway (165670)

    Wow ... we were doing this 10 years ago before virtual systems were commonplace, 'computers on a card' where just coming out. Data center was 90 miles away.

    All monitoring and managing was done remotely. The only time we ever went to physical data center was if a physical piece of hardware had to be swapped out. Multiple IP addresses were configured per server so any single server one one tier could act as a fail over for another one on the same tier.

    We used firewalls to automate failovers, hardware failures were too infrequent to spend money on other methods.

    We could rebuild Sun servers in 10 minutes from saved images. All software updates were scripted and automated. A separate maintenance network was maintained. Logins were not allowed except on the maintenance network, and all ports where shutdown except for ssh.

    A remote serial interface provided hard-console access to each machine if the networks to a system wasn't available.

    rubycodez:

    virtual systems were commonplace in the 1960s. But finally these bus-oriented microcomputers, and PC wintel type "servers" have gotten into it. Young 'uns.......

    ebunga:

    Eh, machines of that era required constant manual supervision, and uptime was measured in hours, not months or years. That doesn't negate the fact that many new tech fads are poor reimplementations of technology that died for very good reasons.

    timeOday:

    And other new tech fads are good reimplementations of ideas that didn't pan out in the past but are now feasible due to advances in technology. You really can't generalize without looking at specifics - "somebody tried that a long time ago and it wasn't worth it" doesn't necessarily prove anything.

    rednip:

    "somebody tried that a long time ago and it wasn't worth it" doesn't necessarily prove anything.

    Unless there is some change in technology or technique, past failures are a good indicator of continued inability.

    timeOday:

    The tradeoff between centralized and decentralized computing is a perfect example of a situation where the technology is constantly evolving at a rapid pace. Whether it's better to have a mainframe, a cluster, a distributed cluster (cloud), or fully decentralized (peer-to-peer) varies from application to application and from year-to-year. None of those options can be ruled in or out by making generalizations from the year 2000, let alone the 1960's.

    rickb928

    Two points

    [Jul 09, 2011] The Pathology of Elite Organizations

    July 8, 2011 | naked capitalism

    Up the Ante:

    The NYT,

    "Its ethos can be best summed up with the phrase "You are lucky to be here." "

    A large part of me suspects that phrase became the dark humor lesson of 9/11 at the Times. That part of me still wonders why one of the liners was not diverted at the last minute to inadvertently slam into NYT's HQ.

    [Jul 01, 2011] Alpha male e-mail fencing

    Some things just speak for themselves. Below you see an edited chain of e-mails that just reek of testosterone.

    The actors are VP1, VP2 and VP3 (plus the usual cc: audience). Guess which one is me.

    The subject concerns all three, but they head up different divisions. Note the use of cc: and the time. In real life everyone could see the e-mail history.

    From: VP1
    To: Team of VP1
    cc: VP2;VP3
    Subject: Something that concerns us
    Time: 11:20 pm

    Team, I just want to inform you that we now have the funding to go ahead with XYZ. Please go ahead and execute as planned.

    Regards,
    VP1

    Replies VP2 in a seemingly innocent tone:

    From: VP2
    To: VP1
    cc: Team of VP1;VP3
    Subject: Re: Something that concerns us
    Time: 11.30 pm

    VP1,

    Can you please share the details as you progress.

    Thanks,
    VP2

    Enters VP3:

    From: VP3
    To: VP1
    cc: Team of VP1;Team of VP2; CEO, CTO, CFO, CMO
    Subject: Re: Something that concerns us
    Time: 11.45 pm

    All,

    I don't approve of this. How come I was not informed. It's the wrong approach and is basically a waste of money. It's not planned properly and I ask you to stop all further activities!!!

    VP3 (From my Blackberry)

    Replies VP1 patiently:

    From: VP1
    To: VP3
    cc: VP2
    Subject: Re: Something that concerns us
    Time: 12 pm

    VP3,

    I'm surprised to hear that you haven't heard of this. It was in the plan document that we reviewed two months ago and which you approved.

    We're just executing that plan.

    If you have further questions don't hesitate to call me.

    Regards,
    VP1

    Replies VP3 going for the kill:

    From: VP3
    To: VP1
    cc: Team of VP1;Team of VP2; CEO, CTO, CFO, CMO
    Subject: Re: Something that concerns us
    Time: 12.15 pm

    VP1,
    it's not your call to decide on this. I have said that I don't approve and that's it. Stop further actions immediately.
    VP3

    Interacts VP2, making a reference to his earlier reply (50 minutes ago!), insinuating that VP1 hasn't delivered to his promise. And re-invents himself as a a player in the approval chain.

    From: VP2
    To: VP1, VP3
    cc: Team of VP1;Team of VP2; CEO, CTO, CFO, CMO
    Subject: Re: Something that concerns us
    Time: 12.17 pm

    I haven't received the details I asked for yet. Please send so I can have an informed view. I'm not going to approve until I know more.

    VP2

    So now VP1 is caught in a snag. The other two VPs who approved a plan just two months ago are now aiming for his throat.

    It continues for another couple of hours and it gets a lot nastier. I leave it up to you to do the analysis of the hidden agendas.

    This is not an atypical event in my daily routine.

    So who am I? Well, I'm not VP1.

    [May 05, 2011] Scripts OTN by Prashant Pilankar (Infosys)

    Sic transit gloria mundi ;-)
    Wikipedia: Sic transit gloria mundi is a Latin phrase that means "Thus passes the glory of the world." It has been interpreted as "Worldly things are fleeting." The phrase was used in the ritual of papal coronation ceremonies between 1409 (when it was used at the coronation of Alexander V)[1] and 1963. As the newly chosen pope proceeded from the sacristy of St. Peter's Basilica in his sedia gestatoria, the procession stopped three times. On each occasion a papal master of ceremonies would fall to his knees before the pope, holding a silver or brass reed, bearing a tow of smoldering flax. For three times in succession, as the cloth burned away, he would say in a loud and mournful voice, "Pater Sancte, sic transit gloria mundi!" ("Holy Father, so passes worldly glory!") These words, thus addressed to the pope, served as a reminder of the transitory nature of life and earthly honors. The stafflike instrument used in the aforementioned ceremony is known as a "sic transit gloria mundi", named for the master of ceremonies' words.[2][3][4] A form of the phrase appeared in Thomas à Kempis's 1418 work The Imitation of Christ: "O quam cito transit gloria mundi" ("How quickly the glory of the world passes away").[5][6]
    LinkedIn

    Recently had Submitted few of my Scripts on Oracle Technology Network Portal and SUN BIGADMIN.Sharing few of them

    SCRIPTS FOR SOLARIS ZFS ADMINISTRATION
    http://www.sun.com/bigadmin/content/submitted/zfsufs_admin.jsp

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Scripts for SOLARIS IPMP CONFIGURATION
    http://www.sun.com/bigadmin/content/submitted/config_ipmp.jsp
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Scripts for Administration of User and Group Accounts in Oracle Solaris

    https://codesamples.samplecode.oracle.com/servlets/tracking/id/S607

    Video : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fNx7HtDrnZQ
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Scripts for Administration of User and Group Accounts in Linux

    https://codesamples.samplecode.oracle.com/servlets/tracking/id/S610

    Video : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eeecv606BKw

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Script to Install Oracle 10g Software and Oracle Database in Solarisx86

    https://codesamples.samplecode.oracle.com/servlets/tracking/id/S594

    Video : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkiFKnEzbsY

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Scripts for Performing RAID-1 Tasks in an Oracle Solaris Volume Manager Environment

    https://codesamples.samplecode.oracle.com/servlets/tracking/id/S640
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Scripts for LINUX LVM ADMINISTRATION

    http://www.sun.com/bigadmin/content/submitted/lvm_admin.jsp
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Scripts OTN (Part1)

    Recently had Submitted few of my Scripts on Oracle Technology Network Portal.
    Sharing few of them.

    SCRIPT TO MIRROR ROOT DISK IN SOLARIS USING VERITAS VOLUME MANAGER:
    https://codesamples.samplecode.oracle.com/servlets/tracking/id/S638

    Video : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Ha4XbBLEZM

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    SCRIPT FOR ONLINE DISK REPLACEMENT IN VERITAS VXVM , SVM, ZFS :
    https://codesamples.samplecode.oracle.com/servlets/tracking?id=S575

    Video : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hM0pyawZhXY&feature=related
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    SCRIPT FOR ZONE CREATION AND ADMINISTRATION IN SOLARIS10:
    https://codesamples.samplecode.oracle.com/servlets/tracking/id/S591

    Video : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p42KECOdrYw
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Script for Enforcing Memory Cap on a Non Global Zone in Solaris 10:
    https://codesamples.samplecode.oracle.com/servlets/tracking?id=S584

    Script for Allocating CPU shares to Non Global zone in Solaris 10:
    https://codesamples.samplecode.oracle.com/servlets/tracking?id=S583

    Video : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSkHAuEJypU
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Scripts for Administration of Veritas Volume Manager in an Oracle Solaris Environment
    https://codesamples.samplecode.oracle.com/servlets/tracking/id/S597

    Video : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xw_1Jx-OR2E&feature=related

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Script for Mirroring the Root Disk in an Oracle Solaris Volume Manager

    https://codesamples.samplecode.oracle.com/servlets/tracking/id/S605

    Video : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yXyzaKLClz0&feature=related
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Solaris Jumpstart Server Configuration

    https://codesamples.samplecode.oracle.com/servlets/tracking/id/S586

    Video : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3HOydxvtZws
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Scripts for Administration of Solaris Volume Manager

    https://codesamples.samplecode.oracle.com/servlets/tracking/id/S607

    Video : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RIJnKKzDL9I
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Script for Creating a Link Aggregation in Solaris10

    https://codesamples.samplecode.oracle.com/servlets/tracking/id/S589

    Video : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PyzSePSMN5g&feature=related
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Script for Simple Apache Configuration in an Oracle Solaris 10 Environment

    https://codesamples.samplecode.oracle.com/servlets/tracking/id/S641

    Video : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aG8BV1xg83c
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Script for Simple Apache Configuration in a Linux Environment

    https://codesamples.samplecode.oracle.com/servlets/tracking/id/S646

    Video : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oG43biH5Dl0
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Script for Simple Samba configuration in Solaris10:

    https://codesamples.samplecode.oracle.com/servlets/tracking?id=S572

    Video : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NPY03wnWGxM
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Script for Simple Samba Configuration in a Linux Environment

    https://codesamples.samplecode.oracle.com/servlets/tracking/id/S653

    Video : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fOtEbSE77_w
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    [Feb 15, 2011] Nokia Shareholders Fight Back

    Slashdot

    noc007 (633443)

    On the topic of outsourcing, IMO it can be cheaper if done right. On paper it always seems like a great idea, but in practice it's not always the best idea financially and/or getting the same or better result in comparison to keeping it in-house. I've worked for companies where they have outsourced a particular department/function to companies where I am the one the job is outsourced to. My observation has been the success of getting projects done (e.g.: programing) or facilitating a role (e.g.: sys admin) rely on a few factors regardless of outsourcing or not.

    The first is a golden rule of sorts on doing anything:

    You can only pick two; NO exceptions. I've encountered so many upper management types that foolishly think they can get away with having all three. In my experience 9/10 of the time it turns out a lack of quality bites them in the butt sometime down the road when they assumed they somehow managed to achieve all three.

    The second is communication. Mostly everyone in at least the US has experienced the pain of being subjected to some company's outsourced customer service and/or tech support that can't effectively communicate with both parties on the same page of understanding one another. I really shouldn't need to explain why communication, understanding one another is so important. Sadly this is something I have to constantly explain to my current boss with events like today where my non-outsourced colleague rebooted a number of production critical servers when he was asked to reboot just one secondary server.

    Third is the employee's skill in doing the job. Again, another obvious one, but I've observed that it isn't always on the hiring menu. Additionally I've seen some people that interview well, but couldn't create a "Hello World" HTML page for a web developer position as an example. There's no point in hiring or keeping a hired individual to do a job that they lack the skill to do; even if it's an entry-level position with training, that person should be willing to put for the effort to learn and take notes. I accept that everyone has their own unique skills that can aide or hinder their ability to learn and be proficient with a particular task. However, I firmly believe anyone can learn to do anything as long as they put their mind to it. I barely have any artistic ability and my drawing skills are stick figures at best (XKCD is miles ahead of me); if I were to put forth the effort to learn how to draw and paint, I could become a good artist. I taught an A+ technician certification class at a tech school a while back and I had a retired Marine that served in the Vietnam War as one of my students. One could argue his best skill was killing and blowing stuff up. He worked hard and learned to be a technician and passed CompTIA's certification test without a problem. That leads me to the next point.

    Lastly is attitude of the end employee doing the actual work. It boggles my mind how so many managers loose the plot when it comes to employee morale and motivation. Productivity generally is improved when those two are improved and it usually doesn't have to involve spending a bunch of money. The employee's attitude should be getting the work done correctly in a reasonable amount of time. Demanding it is a poor approach. Poisoning an employee will result in poisoning the company in a small manner all the way up to the failure of the company. Employees should be encouraged through actual morale improvements, positive motivation, and incentives for doing more work at the same and/or better quality level.

    Outsourcing or keeping things in house can be successful and possibly economical if approached correctly with the appropriate support of upper management.

    Max Littlemore (1001285)

    How dramatic? Isn't outsourcing done (like it or not) to reduce costs?

    Outsourcing is done to reduce the projected costs that PHBs see. In reality, outsourcing can lead to increased costs and delays due to time zone differences and language/cultural barriers.

    I have seen it work reasonably well, but only when the extra effort and delays caused by the increased need for rework that comes from complex software projects. If you are working with others on software, it is so much quicker to produce quality software if the person who knows the business requirements is sitting right next to the person doing design and the person cutting code and the person doing the testing, etc, etc.

    If these people or groups are scattered around the world with different cultures and native languages, communication can suffer, increasing misunderstanding and reducing the quality. I have personally seen this lead to massive increase in code defects in a project that went from in house development to outsourced.

    Also, time zone differences cause problems. I have noticed that the further west people live, the less likely they are to take into account how far behind they are. Working with people who fail to realise that their Monday morning is the next day for someone else, or that by the time they are halfway through Friday, others are already on their weekend is not only frustrating, it leads to slow turn around of bug fixes, etc.

    Yeah, I'm told outsourcing keeps costs down, but I am yet to see conclusive evidence of that in the real world. At least in complex development. YMMV for support/call centre stuff.

    -- I don't therefore I'm not.

    [Feb 15, 2011] IT Turf Wars the Most Common Feuds In Tech -

    Slashdot

    jvonk: The cycle to hell

    I've got friends who work in hospital security who have a devil of a time with people leaving their passwords and usernames on sticky-notes everywhere. Building security has problems with assholes defeating the building's fire alarm so they can sneak out to a fire escape (or worse yet, a ground-floor alley) and smoke and get back in.

    You had me up until this point. While your cited cases might be reasonable, there is also the all-to-frequent case where "security" regulations induce this behavior.

    What does hospital security expect users to do when users are required to rotate passwords every two weeks, have a 12 character long mix of upper/lowercase alpha's and numerics, and then also be subject to a 7 password history non-reuse restriction? Security is cognizant that the result of these provisions will be that users write down their passwords on stickies, so how is this more secure than allowing people to pick a less complex password and retain it longer?

    The answer is that this presumes that everyone is playing the same game, with the goal to be the best possible security equilibrium state balanced against inconvenience/usability. Running counter to this is security's CYA factor: they experience no penalty for the insane password restrictions that reduce overall security, because if there is a security breach from the post-it passwords they can dump all the blame on the hapless user for violating the published security protocol that prohibits such actions. So, security has a payoff table that disrupts the equilibrium resulting in the paradoxical, reduced security steady state that is observed in these cases (ie. security is externalizing the costs of implementing the high-grade security practices).

    The answer is that this presumes that everyone is playing the same game, with the goal to be the best possible security equilibrium state balanced against inconvenience/usability. Running counter to this is security's CYA factor: they experience no penalty for the insane password restrictions that reduce overall security, because if there is a security breach from the post-it passwords they can dump all the blame on the hapless user for violating the published security protocol that prohibits such actions. So, security has a payoff table that disrupts the equilibrium resulting in the paradoxical, reduced security steady state that is observed in these cases (ie. security is externalizing the costs of implementing the high-grade security practices).

    PS. As for defeating the fire alarms, maybe they shouldn't have turned the entire hospital into a "tobacco-free campus", with the nearest "approved" smoking area located six blocks away. This is basic psychology. Normal people like to abide by the rules/laws even if they find them onerous, but there is a limit to their willingness to comply. This is essentially what happened to the entire US during the Prohibition. Again, as I said, your cited cases might be reasonable, but I have seen many that were not.

    DrgnDancer: The cycle to hell

    No offense (I'm an ops/security guy and I was nodding the whole time till I thought about it), but this is exactly what the article is talking about. Of course Marketing wants it shiny and iPhone enabled. It's marketing, it's supposed to catch the eye and cause people to pay attention. Of course management wants to save money.. Money saved here is money that can used elsewhere or go into someone's pocket (often management's of course, but in theory anyone's). Of course Dev wants to have access to the live servers, there's info they want/need on there and very rarely it actually is useful to make changes on the fly when the situation is serious enough (It shouldn't ever be, but we don't live in a perfect world). Of course you want reliable, stable secure code that changes as little as possible.

    The solution isn't "Make all these other guys understand that I'm right". It's to try to minimize the siloing so that everyone has a say in process from the ground up. So the dev guy can tell the marketing guy, "Hey you can't have iPhone *and* Flash. Do we want to find a shiny that doesn't use Flash, or accept that iPhones don't see our shiny?" Marketing can say to Ops "Ok that shiny I wanted was insecure, I get that, is there a secure way to do something similar?" Ops can say to Dev "I set you up a limited access account on the live servers to collect the usage data you need, please don't let it stack up." And Management can say to everyone "This is how much we really have to spend and the results if we break budget."

    That way everyone can be an adult. There'll still be conflicts of course, but if everyone knows that each group is legitimately trying to facilitate everyone else, they can become points of discussion and resolution instead of small scale wars that every side is trying to "win".

    nimbius : sysops being

    the layer between which management absolves its direct interaction with developers, and through which a SOX policy completely devoid of any comprehension of the developer or her work is enforced.

    devnullkac: DBA vs. SysAdmin

    DBAs always seem to want root for some reason or other... with apologies to A Few Good Men:
    SysAdmin: You want the authority?
    DBA: I think I'm entitled.
    SysAdmin: You want the authority?!
    DBA: I want the root!
    SysAdmin: You can't handle the root!

    ArhcAngel: Re:Network vs. Servers

    I worked for a rather large bank that was still using token ring in the building I worked (This was about 8 years ago). One of the PCs on the call center floor lost its network connectivity. I realized her leased address had expired and it didn't get renewed. We'd had problems with the ring hubs losing their IP Tables in the past so I called the sysadmins and spent 3 hours on the phone with a guy who insisted I didn't know what I was talking about. During this time several other PCs had gone dark. I finally jumped through all the hoops he insisted I try and he finally said..."hrmm...it must be the IP Tables on the router. I'm not allowed to do anything to those. Let me go get my boss."

    khasim: Define "the network"

    Must be something wrong with your servers.

    Remember that the network switches / hubs / routers are part of "the network".

    So when there REALLY is a problem on the network, the network admins usually hear about it because EVERYONE is having problems with ALL of their apps.

    If one workstation or one server is having a problem (but the others are working) then it probably isn't a problem with "the network".

    It may be that the network is not configured the way you'd like it to be for whatever you're trying to do ... but remember that the network admins have to keep the network configured to support all the OTHER items that were on it before yours.

    At least be able to tell them what you want to do protocol-wise.

    Anonymous Coward: Define "the network".

    A-fucking-men.

    I didn't completely understand why the networking team always seemed so irritable when they would get called until I started doing that job at another company.

    Anything where one user can't get to one website, one file share or their PC won't boot up is always suggested to be network related. After the other people claim to check the file server(s), VMWare(if it's a VDI client), etc., they come to me and it's up to me to prove that it's not the network. Invariably, I end up owning the issue and come to find that they locked out their AD account, they rearranged their desk and plugged into the wrong wall jack, their PC has a bad NIC (rare) or some other non-network related problem.

    On the firewall/proxy side, am I the only one who HATES gotomeeting.com?

    frog_strat: The biggest challenges in this field

    are not technical, they are interpersonal. Cognitive intelligence is enough to get one started in this field, but gradually developing knowledge our one's own mind, how to work with others, develop a commitment to encouragement, and gaining a think skin are a must. A lot of IT jobs are a disaster. But you can still find peace in the middle of it if you develop the strength.

    DarthVain: You can't do it, we must do it.

    I see this all the time in government. Various IT departments will make it impossible or difficult for others to do work, but limiting access to various things, restricting software, no allowing for permissions, and refusing to take responsibility for a role or function that might enable any of those things.

    ME: I would like to do X. I need to have access to Y in order to do X, may I have access please? IT Dept: A) No you cannot do it, but we would happy to do it for an exorbitant sum, but we don't have capacity now, so you will have to wait 6months. B) We are not responsible for granting that access but please speak with RandomITDept (who will immediately say its not their responsibility, and refer you back), however we would happy to do it for an exorbitant sum, but we don't have capacity now, so you will have to wait 6months.

    I understand the rational for limited access to certain things, but the sole purpose for most of this seems to be to secure work and thus positions for their particular IT department as well as the power base for those managers so that their staffing and budgets are justified.

    quietwalker: It's hard to miss when your target is big
    I've been at various times, a syadmin, a dba, sec/op, developer, manager and even took my turns at answering the phones at one point in time. Often, several of these roles at once. I've been on every side of this issue, and if you wanted to take a stab at a generic fix, it could be summed up simply: work on your communication skills.

    I hate to plug agile, but the focus on round table discussion among all stakeholders really seems to be the way to go. Aside from the criminal examples, the problems in the article all stem from lack of understanding or an inability to explain. Making the people who dream it (sales & marketing) sit with the people who make it (developers, dbas), the people that make it go (admins, security), and the people who say go or no-go (managers), is required if you're going to churn out products with as little strife as possible. Devs need requirements and tools, DBAs and Admins need hardware budgets and usage estimates, Security needs the policy followed or amended, Management needs to keep costs down and cycle time high, and so on. You need to communicate this to all members, not just via project managers.

    The article ends with a choice quote:

    "The top sources of conflict are the tech person's ego, poor management, a lack of proper leadership, and allowing technical people to make business decisions. The solution there is to know your role and let your talents shine where they should."

    No. This is just a quote to sell services to non-technical management. Paraphrased: "Those silly technical people have no social skills, or business acumen. It's their all their fault, pay us to tell you why" with a subtext of, 'use this to ensure your year-end bonus to the board, and why only the grunts should be fired'. Everything in there perpetuates the myth of the antisocial nerd, incapable of everything but a magic control over computers.

    As an aside, I think the devs get it the worst. Requirements always suck, always move, and often conflict, management always moves up dates, removes people, adds features, and rearranges priorities in the 11'th hour. Some companies don't allow devs to install local software, slowing development. Most hardware allocation requests have to come from them, instead of the product managers, so it's often one dev vs. dba/sec/admin- department. Operations crews don't want to learn new systems or introduce esoteric requirements only after software is gold, and so on.

    For some reason, no one has problems when security or admins say it will take 3 weeks for a badge or new hard drive, but expect developers to rewrite software in a day. I often wonder if it's just that the dev department never does a good job training their manager compared to the other groups.

    [Feb 14, 2011] IT turf wars The most common feuds in tech Adventures in IT

    InfoWorld

    IT turf war No. 2: Ops vs. dev

    One side of your IT department is laser-focused on keeping your systems up and your costs down. The other side wants to push the envelope until it bursts. Welcome to the war between your ops squad and your dev team.

    "The classic conflict is that IT is very often just managed as a cost center," says Ted Shelton, CEO of Open-First, a consultancy that helps Fortune 500 companies manage disruptive technologies. "They believe their job is to figure out how to do more with less. And when management is looking for places to cut costs, IT is one of the first to get squeezed."

    ... ... ...

    But it's not all the fault of ops. The development side also shoulders its portion of blame.

    "Let's start with the notion that app developers do not set out to build network-friendly applications," says Steve Shalita, vice president of marketing for NetScout Systems, which provides unified service delivery management services. "These apps aren't optimized to enable the network to run efficiently; they're built to do what they're supposed to do. So the dev guys create the application, throw it over the wall for the application implementation team to deploy it. The network guys just provide a connection. Neither side is working together to tune the app or optimize the environment."

    ... ... ...

    IT management vs. IT staff

    Most geeks wouldn't recognize a critical business process if it bit them on the nose. And though their boss may have "technology" or "information" in his job title, he appears to knows little about either. This is perhaps the most intractable battle in all of IT -- the war between the officer corps and the troops.

    "The biggest conflict is between IT management and IT staff," says Pratt. "For some reason, the companies I've worked for seem to hire or promote people who are not technologically literate. It's like that person lost a bet or the president of the company has a half-wit brother who needs a job. You have the IT guys in the field saying, 'You really need to do XYZ,' and the managers saying, 'We're not going to do that; it's going to cost too much money.' They're constantly blocking things that have to be done just because they can."

    ... ... ...

    And keep your head low, to avoid getting hit by friendly fire.

    Selected Comments

    genemang :

    Working as a senior software engineer, I once asked a manager during a review, if she had any programming experience or database experience. Her answer was, "I've been around [sic] databases"...haa! Lets face it, the corporate world is putting this layer of idiot middle managers in the middle simply to slave-drive the IT staff. Quite frankly, I found myself CONSTANTLY having to educate this woman about technical decisions that I should have been making in the first place.

    I'm glad for it though...because these large corporations can't get crap done. I left that corporate hell-hole and did some freelance work and work for a start-up...TOTALLY refreshing work! Thank you corporate America for being so stupid as to hire this middle layer of idiots so as to make under-capitalized startups competitive. Small companies don't hire useless people.

    It's so bad now that a lot of startups are actually composed of people leaving corporations to get real work done. It's becoming the new engine of innovation. It's the new business pattern.

    BUREACRACIES DON'T WORK. They only serve as fiefdoms for career-climbers who don't add any value to the business equation. Business decisions in corporate management center more now around securing power for middle management and c-level fiefdoms than providing innovation for the company.

    For talented IT individuals....get out of corporate America, you'll never regret it.

    [Jan 25, 2011] Study Says Software Engineers Have the Best US Jobs

    If Wall Street proves anything, it's that competence and compensation are in no way related. So why IT should be different ?
    January 07 | Slashdot

    Anonymous Coward: Job security

    Assuming you can actually find a Software Engineering job that will stay in the U.S., yeah, they're the "best."

    electrosoccertux: lol conflict of interest much?

    Do you think they, or monster.com, are going to publish a story with more realistic salaries? They want more people using their site for job searching.

    I have a mathematician friend from a top tier university who would be very interested to know that mathematicians make >$90k/yr. Heh. He's not the lame-weirdo type mathematician either, fyi.

    Maltheus:

    The 132k figure is not for mid-level engineers (although maybe it is in a big city). The actual quote from the article is "Most earn a typical mid-level income of about $87,000 and top out at $132,000". Makes me feel a little better and it's maybe the first time I RTFA in over a decade of visiting here.

    jmcbain: $132K is a bit low for top-tier engineers

    $132K as an upper bound sounds about right for mid-level engineers but is a bit low as an upper bound for senior software engineers at large corporations. Principal software engineers at Microsoft are paid at around $160K with fairly huge bonuses that push their yearly pay to nearly $200K.

    Staff software engineers at Google and others are in the neighborhood. Note that these are cream-of-the-crop engineers who have chosen to stay as ICs rather than go into management. Source: personal knowledge and glassdoor.com.

    Mean Variance: Stressful job, but not a bad one

    I have carried the title "Software Engineer" for 13 years. I'm of mixed opinion about how great the job is. It pays pretty well, but much of that is relative to what you're comparing to.

    There are worse jobs out there, no doubt, but we're not just coders at least in my experience and many people I know in Silicon Valley. You have to read a lot of boring documents. You have to know how to write. There are meetings. There are customers to talk with. For me what makes it "not the greatest job in the world" is that it's stressful in a way that people don't understand.

    Deadlines always loom, and they are always too short. A good SE has to constantly decide where to unit test, design, explain to management, or just hack to get it done. There's no worse feeling when management decides that a project is taking too long and asks "who can we add to the project?" like we and our code is just plug-n-play factory work.

    That is stressful and few people understand the kind of stress created on the job. I'm not asking for pity. It's a good gig overall, but sometimes I wish I would have stuck with my original, lower paying pursuit of teaching junior college mathematics.

    [Jan 05, 2011] Note to IT Stop whining IT Leadership

    In this sorry state of affairs, save for an occasional Dilbert cartoon, the world fails to acknowledge the trials and tribulations of the lone IT soldier.
    TechRepublic.com

    Spend a few minutes with an IT wonk, from the CIO down to the most junior programmer, and you will find a common and unfortunate fault: excessive whining. Your average IT worker can regale you with endless tales of woe: from lack of funding and the evils of outsourcing, to a dearth of acknowledgement for years of applying patches, caring for backups and fending off hordes of hackers and crackers bent on ransacking corporate infrastructure. In this sorry state of affairs, save for an occasional Dilbert cartoon, the world fails to acknowledge the trials and tribulations of the lone IT soldier.

    redux:

    Your reply is a perfect example of the original point

    That's "ALL" they have to do? Oh, brother, are you ever a perfect example of an IT whiner. Lack of appreciation for the responsibilities falling on others is a prime reason IT folks whine so much. I think you are making Gray's point for him.

    It sounds like Cinnester works for a great company, so he just may not understand, yet.

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    Last updated: June 03, 2021