Print Story Unemployment looms on the horizon.
Working life
By NoMoreNicksLeft (Wed Mar 15, 2006 at 04:31:53 PM EST) work, layoff, termination, software, pcAnywhere (all tags)
At the end of December, having gotten tossed out by my now ex-girlfriend, I moved to Baltimore. The calculus of migration was simple... anything farther than about 200 miles away was unfeasible. There were only a few cities within that range, and of all of them, I managed to get a bite on a temp job in the asscrack* of America, beautiful Baltimore.

* The hole itself being DC, of course.

The job wasn't a great one. Would only last 4 months, only $16 an hour. It was graveyard shift.

My first impression? Of the ten people there, only three including myself spoke english without an accent. Five had started a month earlier, and it was hard to get to know them, they all left early for second(first?) jobs.

It was for a software company that markets vertical market stuff to retail locations. These retail locations, close to 2000 of them, were all getting an upgrade, as part of their service contract. In other words, the company I work for was getting no profit out of this. That is never a good thing.

Sending people out to 2000 retail locations to do a complex software upgrade was out of the question. The customer insisted that we use pcAnywhere, software that I've written about before. Under the best of circumstances, this was a Bad Idea™.

They were not the best of circumstances. Many of the computer installations had been botched. Minimal connectivity to them across the two interconnected WANs. Many managers at the retail locations were downright uncooperative.

Many installations had absurd windows firewalls that blocked any attempt to remotely connect, and the people with the passwords to these firewalls would be at home asleep with the one person who had them. Just last night, I had one lock me out with their software in an unusable state, because the 60 minutes the manager had unlocked it for had expired. Another phone call leads to the discovery that he had went home afterward, thinking he was no longer needed.

Those locations that are not quite so pathologically unupgradeable have their own problems too. Most glaring of all, there are 900-1100ms ping times between my workstation and the remote location. At first, I thought these were the locations that were using DirecWay satellite connections, but apparently that is not the case... we've not even tried those locations yet. This is just the two corporate WANs linked together. Almost as bad, is listening to my wingnut coworkers talk about it being a "bandwidth" problem. We can download and upload files fairly quickly, we're suffering from latency you retards! Aaaaaagh.

So, often an upgrade will be pushed back by the location managers who resist the upgrade, and then pcAnywhere causes a 1 hour process to take anywhere from 5 to 9 hours. No overtime allowed. Quite naturally, retail location computers were not up and running in the morning when they needed to be. My supervisor, a likable guy, had to bring in more people. Instead of 10, at one point there may have been 20 or more, some working the morning shift.

Well, the likable supervisor was fired last week. Goodbye T, it was nice knowing you. Hope you find a better place to work than this shithole.

The temp agency representative was there sunday night, asking me if I was putting in 40 hours a week or not (I haven't been). If I get the upgrade going at 5am, and it's going to take more than 3 hours before it's finished ticking away it's little progress bar, I figure that if they don't want us doing overtime, then they don't want me sitting there playing solataire for 3 hours. I figured wrong.

You see, the customer (I've not figured this one out either) says that they're paying for us to be there 40 hours a week, and goddammit, they want what they pay for. What that really means, since they aren't paying for it at all, and the company I temp for is, is that they aren't seeing miraculously good results, and it can only be because myself and the other slackers are leaving early.

Mind you, I need the cash, so 40 hours is better... but I'd rather have eeked by and see the project last longer too. But I'm not a dumb little teenager anymore either, if they're doing this now, then next week, I'm going to be forbidden from playing solataire or surfing the web, or bringing in a book to read. I consider this inevitable. I also think they'll not look kindly when I fall asleep because I'm sitting there in front of a computer being hypnotized by the worlds worst progress bar implementation. The damn thing jumps back and forth, and the state that it is in when the upgrade is complete is completely random. I've seen it anywhere from 1% to 97%, and it hits every mark at least twice while still ticking... non-sequentially.

Last night, I finish my work at about 5am. One upgrade is still cooking, but the retail location is huge, and the new database schema is at least 4 hours away from finishing... nothing to do in the meantime. Tony's replacement is out of the room, and the guy who had served as our assistant supervisor for the past few weeks is in it. He's salaried too (one of the extras brought in after things started going badly). I ask him what the deal is. I may have used the wrong tone of voice, but I swear I didn't, more likely it was misinterpreted.

The assistant supervisor M, is a bald little pudgy guy, around 40 years old. He's never came right out and said it, but his voice and mannerisms are such that he can't be anything other than gay.

He goes apeshit, or at least what the mild, PG-13 version of apeshit would be, once the director has cut out everything in a frustrated attempt to get the MPAA to accept it.

John, you know there's a good reason T isn't here anymore. And E is probably going to be a real hardass about it. If you can't stay, then tell E, and he'll make his decision.

A coworker from accross the room chimes in "Yeh, he'll tell you to not bothering to come in again!".

So E returns, and M pipes up "E, John needs something to do!".


I get to take over someone else's upgrade, from one of the few who still leaves early and yet hasn't been shitcanned. His upgrade is a mess, the connections worse than usual, and within 15 minutes, I can't finish it. This is the one the firewall has locked me out of. M calls them back, but alas, too late, no one there til 8am PST to open it again. Haha.

I go back to my own workstation, and play solataire. This cannot last.

Do you think some asshole upper-middle manager gets a secret thrill out of tormenting working class folks, or do they just not understand the technical problems that they're unwilling to deal with?

< I'm taking my toys and going home | BBC White season: 'Rivers of Blood' >
Unemployment looms on the horizon. | 12 comments (12 topical, 0 hidden)
The upper management syndrome by Forbidden (2.00 / 0) #1 Wed Mar 15, 2006 at 06:41:39 PM EST
When I push this button, money pops out of this hole. I just keep pushing the button, and stuff happens. I don't know why. It just does.

You once was.
On the bright side-- by ammoniacal (4.00 / 1) #2 Wed Mar 15, 2006 at 06:52:20 PM EST
the Baltimore music scene is coming around again.

Also, though it would seem unlikely for me to say this, it appears that you're a homophobe.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

Dude, totally sucks. by Weapon of Pack Destruction (2.00 / 0) #3 Wed Mar 15, 2006 at 07:12:14 PM EST
OTOH, Amazon is hiring.  A friend of mine just got an offer letter.  Full relocation and a signing bonus!

How are your full-stack web slinging skilz?

Hah. by NoMoreNicksLeft (2.00 / 0) #4 Wed Mar 15, 2006 at 07:29:52 PM EST
There's a reason I'm doing lowly pc tech work at age 31.

My javascript skills are improving, as far as I know, I'm the first to actually render 3d via it. That's gotta count for something?

PHP and perl cgi is ok, postgres and mysql though I prefer the former. My css is getting there, and my html is starting to look honed.
Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.

[ Parent ]
Definitely counts by Weapon of Pack Destruction (2.00 / 0) #5 Wed Mar 15, 2006 at 08:15:10 PM EST
Javascript is a first class language.  If you understand closures, how to use it as a functional language, and prototyping, you're in the top 1% of JS haxx0rs.  The big thing is understanding how to manipulate the DOM, and by DOM I mean the clusterfuck that is IE/Gecko/KHTML/Webkit/Opera.

The other thing is, understanding how to write decoupled web applications, MVC style.  Learning something like Struts or Spring goes a long ways to making yourself marketable.

[ Parent ]
Ignoring IE... by NoMoreNicksLeft (2.00 / 0) #6 Wed Mar 15, 2006 at 08:31:59 PM EST
The DOM is pretty simple. Everything I've written so far works with the exception of IE. Even the khtml/konq problems I'm having, is because it doesn't like my <![CDATA[... I'm having to serve it as text/html to Konq, and nothing seems to like those in plain old html. I'll probably fix that in the morning though.
Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.
[ Parent ]
English without an accent by nebbish (2.00 / 0) #7 Thu Mar 16, 2006 at 01:26:13 AM EST
What does that sound like?

It's political correctness gone mad!

Charm City: Heroin Capital of USia by wiredog (2.00 / 0) #8 Thu Mar 16, 2006 at 03:09:09 AM EST
If you're a techie there's lots of work down the Parkway here in DCia.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

A very marginal techie. by NoMoreNicksLeft (2.00 / 0) #9 Thu Mar 16, 2006 at 03:56:21 AM EST
I sent in resumes for quite a few jobs in that area, but never got a real bite. Too many want security clearances...
Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.
[ Parent ]
I know how that goes by wiredog (2.00 / 0) #10 Thu Mar 16, 2006 at 04:25:32 AM EST
I spent a year and a half unemployed because I didn't (at the time) have a clearance.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

[ Parent ]
Baltimore by aric17103 (2.00 / 0) #11 Thu Mar 16, 2006 at 04:26:57 AM EST
I grew up an hour or so south of Charm city and lived there know what is fun to do in Baltimore?  Sign up at a Methadone clinic, try it, there are plenty of them in the city...don't tell them you have a job and the state will even pay for your meds!

I don't even use aspirin. by NoMoreNicksLeft (2.00 / 0) #12 Thu Mar 16, 2006 at 04:35:37 AM EST
I think I'd do better just blowing my brains out. Though, the last time I was in Walmart, the shotgun display case was suspicisouly empty. Would hate to have to use a knife or something.
Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.
[ Parent ]
Unemployment looms on the horizon. | 12 comments (12 topical, 0 hidden)