Friday, March 31, 2006

All Hands, No Content

Sorry for the length, skip it if you like as it won't be on the test.

I came in late today and saw a 9:00 email for a 9:20 "all hands" meeting (I'm glad our execs know how to plan ahead). Since it was 9:30 I took it as an opportunity to skip a useless meeting. Around 9:45 someone tried to round up any stragglers that were skipping the meeting. Reluctantly, I attended.

Fortunately, I missed most of the early rah rah and came in during the "let's go around the room and say what we're working on" portion. Whether or not I deserve to be, I am confident that I do what I do well. I don't feel the need to use a status report to artificially inflate my importance or justify my job. If you want details, ask and I'll give them. If you decide my job isn't worth keeping around I don't particularly give a shit. The same can't be said of the other people in there.

When I first got to this company we had a daily scrum (targeted at 10 minutes) that was taking 45 minutes to get through. Almost everyone else in that meeting had to tell you everything they worked on yesterday and had to go down on everyone that made it possible. "Oh, and Ted, thanks for all your help yesterday. It really helped me for you to help me out like that and I just wanted to say 'thanks.' So, thank you." I'm all for giving credit but the 15 minute "you're special" monologues make my wiener hurt.

Given my poor attitude, in today's meeting I just said something like, "I'm still working on the such and such. It's going well." This elicited a few muttered, semi-sarcastic remarks that my summary was too brief.

Look, pissant, when the conquistadors came to this continent, they didn't try to explain the chemical composition of gunpowder, exactly how a musket works, or its military significance. No, it's enough that you cower before my boomstick!!! That or taste the rainbow when I drop my particular brand of terror upon you. So cower, jizz-bitch. I'm supposed to explain what I'm doing to people that can't code their way out of a wet paper bag? Compared to them I look like the kind of developer you drop out of plane in the middle of nowhere with nothing but a dry erase board and expect to see shippable, revenue generating software in 3 months. Suck it.

There I go again. I'm not like this with competent people. I'm the epitome of humility when given the opportunity. These people have got my ego on steroids. Their goody goody attitudes and need to feel like someone valuable could turn any normal person into rage filled monkey swinging a bag of hammers. Someone actually used the word "synergize" in the meeting. Come on!

One of the other developers filled me in on the early goings on that I missed. It boiled down to 1) there's a lot of opportunity to sell a lot of our stuff, 2) given the amount of opportunity we're going to go ahead and overestimate our future success, thus ensuring we fall short again, 3) this means a lot of money for the execs and the sales guys, and 4) this means a heavier workload for the developers.

It's comforting to see that other people here are annoyed by these meetings. Oddly there is a direct correlation between my view of their competency, their disdain for these meetings, and whether or not I like working with them. Go figure. As for the other people, I just want to throw hot coffee in their faces.

Estimated total runtime for the meeting 1 1/2 hours.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Impressive, Most Impressive

I have a copy of Design Patterns at work. Today I loaned it to one of the good co-workers. Now, in my opinion it's not the best work on patterns out there, but it is certainly still useful and is one of the (if not the) first serious books on the subject. The guy I loaned it to took it to the break room and one of the other "programmers" saw it. He says, "Interesting book, but there's really nothing new in it." Brilliant! It reminds me of when people say they don't like Shakespeare because it's too full of cliches and hackneyed plots. It's typical that the nutbags around here make some effort to sound intelligent and fail miserably.

Isn't That Precious?

We had an IT guy that got laid off, then hired back as a contractor for a couple of weeks once the powers that be realized they were fucked when he left. Now, this could be a discussion about being careful not to foster a culture where people can make themselves indispensable. You know, follow procedures, document things, have some transparency, etc. But unfortunately it's not.

This guy just got a new job. I know this because my co-workers thought it'd be cute to call him up, put him on speaker phone, and then sing "Happy New Job to You" to him (to the tune of Happy Birthday obviously). After this they all giggled (yes, they fucking giggled like little girls) and formed a big circle jerk where they reminisced on how good their idea was. Lucky me, I had just gotten back from lunch and didn't have my headphones on yet.

What kind of sick world is this? Their minute worth of syrupy cuteness has inevitably scarred me for years to come. Can I sue?

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

In a Family Way

One of my co-workers let this one fly earlier:
"I don't know about you guys, but I think our little department has become a family."
That just makes my skin crawl on so many levels. However, in my case it may be accurate. I'm not particularly wild about most of my family members--just like I'm not too fond of my current group of co-workers.

I've always been disturbed by employees that feel some overdeveloped sense of attachment to their workplace (just as I'm suspicious of companies that try to instill a familial since of loyalty in their people). It's all well and good to like your co-workers (I have in the past) but I think putting the family moniker on it is a bit strong. But if you must, then sure. We're one big family. I'm the bitter disillusioned black sheep son and you people are my retarded cousins. When I "move out" you can bet your ass this is one set of family re-unions I won't be attending.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The Saga Ends

I mentioned in another post that I had been trying to get access to an internal system of a partner company. It took 2 weeks, 52 emails, 4 help tickets, and involvement from approximately 6 people but I now have access. Who says big companies are inefficient?

Monday, March 20, 2006

Intelligent Until Proven Otherwise

I'm working with another company and during the course of my day, I have to connect to their network and use their intranet systems to get things done. Inevitably, my credentials don't work for a few of their systems, despite the fact that I'm supposed to have access.

After emailing my contact at the other company, I get helpful emails like, "did you try typing in the correct password" followed by "well, I guess try it again and let me know if it doesn't work." My problem with these emails is that they assume I'm retarded. Oh, I have to use the right login in combination with the right password? I had no fucking idea.

Her advice was that I should enter a help ticket in their system. BUT THAT'S ONE OF THE SYSTEMS I CAN'T GET ACCESS TO!!!! "Did you try logging in with your username and password?" Why yes, I did. I know that I don't have a user in the help system because you get a different error message when you try logging in with a valid username (but the wrong password). "Did you try your original password when the account was created?" Have you ever had a foot in your ass?

It reminds me of the Prisoner's dilemma. In this version, if we both assume the other is intelligent until betrayed by their overpowering stupidity, we stand to get more done than if we start out each assuming the other is an idiot (I also firmly believe that only idiots or arrogant / insecure ass clowns routinely assume others are idiots). Now, of course, if one of us is actually an idiot then my version of this Prisoner's dilemma breaks down. Do I think that one of us (not me) is approaching idiot status? Does the Pope shit in the woods?

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Blogs, Captive Audiences, and One Way Conversations

The CEO of our little company has his own internal blog. I guess he started it because blogs are "way cool" these days. I love it when people try to do the right thing but don't understand the underlying reasons for doing it. It always seems to lead to some oddly inconsistent behavior in relation to the "right way" of doing it.

For example, he sends out an email telling everyone in the company to go read his latest blog entry. This is essentially the same as if he had just emailed the text to everyone. What's the point of putting it in a blog post? It's an internal blog, so no one else can subscribe to it. His theoretical maximum of people that give a shit (actual number far lower) is exactly equal to the number of employees at the company--all of which he just emailed and told to go read his blog. The blog does actually have an RSS feed, but what's the point if he's going to email me every time he updates it?

I went to his blog like a good little drone and read what he had to say. It boiled down to "A-B-C. A-always, B-be, C-closing. Always be closing! Always be closing!!" Well, I'm not in sales and have exactly zero customer interaction at the moment. Am I supposed to be closing something? No? Then why the fuck did you include me in your little email blast? Ass.

If I were incredibly stupid I could leave a comment to that effect on his blog. Oh, wait. There's no section for leaving comments. They're not just turned off for this post, they're completely unsupported on this "blog." I realize that a lot of public blogs don't allow comments for whatever reason, but I think most of the valid reasons don't apply here. If he intends to use his blog for something other than a persistent record of his email blasts, I would think he would enable comments. Maybe start a dialog (you know, a conversation) with your employees like the blog gods intended.

Now if only there were a way I could get away with emailing him to come read my latest blog post...

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Miles Above You

Today I found myself the recipient of an email sent to a group of people in the company. Apparently one of the higher ups will be visiting the office next week and has scheduled a bunch of meetings for the various people on the distribution list.

The email came from the guy's administrative assistant. In its body it says "please mark your calendars", etc. Everyone that needs to mark their calendar is included in the email list. Her job description is administrative assistant. She took the time to get the list of everyone to send it to, put it in a table in the email, and then tells me I need to enter the meeting? I didn't ask for a fucking meeting. Shouldn't the responsibility of scheduling the meetings in the shared calendaring system we use be on her. Did the exec even look at everyone's' calendar to determine if they were free for that time period, or is he just assuming his hour long bullshit session takes precedence over everything else in my day?

I starting "having issues" when people have an overly self-important attitude and think that the rules of courtesy that everyone else chooses to observe don't apply to them. I'm sure whichever conference room he grabs for these little meetings won't be scheduled in the system either. If someone has the room scheduled, they should probably just fuck off because he's a goddamn executive. Suck it.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Brown Bagging

One of the guys on another team just announced that he was going to be doing a brown bag training session on something (how they can better teabag each other or somesuch). I dare say there is a palpable sense of excitement among them. I don't particularly care to attend as I'm really not interested in the topic and I doubt that anyone in that group could teach me anything other than how to engage the "bear defense" as my career slowly dies. Great bunch of guys.

My real, bitter point in all of this is that brown bag sessions suck. Employees give up their lunch hour to learn something on their own time that is presumably relevant to their job. Nevermind that these guys pick irrelevant topics in an ill fitting technology on a dying product. If they really think what they're learning about is important, why is there a need for them to do this on their own time? No, if it has to do with my job I'll go ahead and learn about it on company time--I'm not writing their products for my own amusement. Brown bags should be saved for things that are 1) orthogonal to work in general but still fun or interesting, 2) things that are helpful to my career but not my job, or 3) something so earth-shatteringly powerful and enriching that I'll gladly take one for the team to learn about it.

These guys should be spending that lunch hour either getting even fatter or learning a language more appropriate to building software and better design skills so they can wind up somewhere other than the state.