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Software Exorcism

timothy posted about 11 years ago | from the holy-somethin' dept.

Businesses 314

Mark Burroughs writes "Leave it to a SubGenius preacher to take normally mundane subjects, like software maintenance, and expose the unholy conspiracy behind them. I think the following quote from the introduction sums up the tone of the book nicely: 'Rather than shield your eyes from the sordid realities of the software industry, I am going to dust off my old 8mm films and let you take a good look at the uncensored truth for yourself. You may want to keep a paper bag handy in case you get sick.'" You know you want to read on for the rest of Burrough's review.

Reverend Blunden's sermons focus on things that the college professors, in their tweedy jackets, will never talk about. As such, this book should be required reading by computer science majors, who often have a number of misconceptions concerning the industry that they are about to enter.

I doubt very highly that your instructors will tell you how to handle all the nasty little things that can occur when humans work in groups: backstabbing, stonewalling, sabotage, etc. The sad truth is that the people who do actually learn about these tactics (under the guise of "organizational behavior") are MBAs, the people who end up being managers. Folks, the deck has been stacked: The MBAs have been given whips, and the CS majors have all been given saddles. It's called animal husbandry; ... now go look up the word "cull."

Glancing at the back cover of the book, Reverend Blunden looks like the type of subversive individual that the ATF would like to have a chat with. As such, he is not one to let the reader leave without a few useful weapons (some of which may be questionable from a legal standpoint ... but hey, business is war). For example, the book tells you construct a paper trail so that even the shiftiest weasel cannot switch sides if it's suddenly convenient. Reverend Blunden even goes so far to refer the reader to a vault purveyor in New York so that evidence can be stored securely at home (hint: it's sure as hell not safe at the office). Don't kid yourself; a solid paper trail can save you during a witch-hunt.

The book also looks at how to deal with legacy code in situations where internal competition has encouraged people to hoard information, or to escape responsibility via promotion (i.e. VPs have been known to develop amnesia about the code they worked on). It explains the forces that cause these shenanigans to occur and then describes how to flush the guilty party out into the open, where their slimy tactics won't work. As before, generating a trail of evidence and possessing a degree of intellectual humility go a long way.

Then there is privacy, an issue that employers will definitely try to skirt. Management types tend to be keen on metrics to measure productivity. In addition, software engineers typically have access to code, or algorithms, that may be considered proprietary secrets. This has led many companies to monitor their engineers in some way or another (i.e. key loggers, remote desktops, sniffers, TEMPEST, etc.). Reverend Blunden provides a couple of easy, but extremely effective, counter tactics that the reader can use to foil this kind of Big Brother antics.

At the end of the day, Reverend Blunden tells it like it is. He hasn't been bought off and he doesn't have an agenda. His only goal is to warn new hires about the various landmines that exist, buried under the polite exterior of the corporate landscape. You may not like what he has to say, but no one ever said that software engineering was a pretty job. If they did, they were telling you a lie. Praise Bob.


You can purchase Software Exorcism from bn.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

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Some demons you just can't shake (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7292034)

Internet Explorer is integrated into the OS, and short of removing Windows, it's just not gonna go.

Best first post EVAR! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7292074)

I really liked this one!

DRAIN MY FUCKING BALLS (-1)

Sexual Asspussy (453406) | about 11 years ago | (#7292036)

Re:DRAIN MY FUCKING BALLS (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7292080)

Wow. SA is back. Where've you been, dude?

Re:DRAIN MY FUCKING BALLS (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7292172)

seibetsu koneko!!!

Re:DRAIN MY FUCKING BALLS (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7292232)

i think u ment "seibetsu decchirineko"

Re:DRAIN MY FUCKING BALLS (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7292512)

So... are we beginning to suspect that Sexual Asspussy is really a lazy IT suit? Maybe he didn't like this book review because it may help his underling slide out from under his thumb? FUCK YOU SEXUAL ASSPUSSY!!!

First Post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7292041)

Great book. That speed-reading class makes it easy to get 1st post.

Re:First Post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7292087)

YOU FAIL IT.

Just like the fucking queen mother did. Then she died.

Tom Clancy (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7292061)

I love Tom Clancy's technothrillers!

When will he write a cracking book about the war on the towelheads?!?!?!

Re:Tom Clancy (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7292078)

When the U.S. decides to go to war, rather than start a campaign of genocide.

Genocide does not make interesting reading.

Re:Tom Clancy (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7292111)

What genocide? Freeing the oppressed masses and rebuilding nation even when the people are ungrateful bastards is genocide? Go pick up a dictionary, buddy.

Re:Tom Clancy (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7292215)

Liberals have their own dictionary.

Re:Tom Clancy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7292621)

When words lose their meaning, people lose their freedom.

-Confucius

towelheads (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7292139)

When will he write a cracking book about the war on the towelheads?!?!?!


Towels? I thought those things were diapers! And the people that wore them were shit heads.

Re:towelheads (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7292186)

Hahaha! Excellent joke. Gotta remember that.

How to handle all the nasty little things (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7292064)

I doubt very highly that your instructors will tell you how to handle all the nasty little things that can occur when humans work in groups: backstabbing, stonewalling, sabotage, etc.

Self-employment worked for me. The boss is still a jerk, but he's my kind of jerk.

first fucking post for Bob Dobbs (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7292065)

lick it you damn dirty fruits

$3.50 cheaper (-1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7292069)

Ref: Amazon has this book for $3.50 cheaper than bn [amazon.com]
Spend 50 cents more to get free shipping.

Re:$3.50 cheaper (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7292105)

Maybe you should try logging in as "Amazon_dot_com_fecal_troll".


Whaddya think?

Re:$3.50 cheaper (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7292154)

He should just log in under his real Slashdot handle, ih8apple [slashdot.org] .

Re:$3.50 cheaper (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7292427)

no, it's sir haxalot

Re:$3.50 cheaper (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7292483)

no, it's sir haxalot

Nice try, ih8apple [slashdot.org] , but you might want to update your profiles [ebay.com] before trying to pass yourself off as someone else. Hell, even hovering over the Amazon link on your homepage [ccats.com] gives you up.

Re:$3.50 cheaper (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7292538)

jackass, I've told you many times to stop advertising for him. Ignore him and he'll eventually get bored and go away like the other trolls.

Re:$3.50 cheaper (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7292557)

Yes, because he sure gave up for all those months before his identity was pointed out.

Advertising? Do you mean you're *buying* from this guy?

Maybe the editors should shove (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7292218)

Barnes and Noble affiliate sales up their asses.

Re:$3.50 cheaper (1)

vladkrupin (44145) | about 11 years ago | (#7292244)

Amazon has this book for $3.50 cheaper than bn

I'm still boycotting amazon because of their 1-click garbage, you, insensitive clod...

Re:$3.50 cheaper (1)

albalbo (33890) | about 11 years ago | (#7292254)

FFS. This is happening with _every_ book review.

Will the Editors wise up and BAN AFFILIATE LINKS?

Re:$3.50 cheaper (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7292372)

why should they?

why should the editors stop a method of making money in a nonobtrusive way.

get the fuck over it

Re:$3.50 cheaper (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7292426)

Awww, you're upset because you'll lose that crisp new dollar that Amazon gives you [slashdot.org] for flogging their patent-supported [gnu.org] wares?

To use your logic: why should people stop standing up for what they believe in? Get the fuck over it.

Re:$3.50 cheaper (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7292490)

no, it's sir haxalot...

Re:$3.50 cheaper (0)

slimdave (710334) | about 11 years ago | (#7292352)

Bookpool = $22.50

Re:$3.50 cheaper (2, Troll)

orthogonal (588627) | about 11 years ago | (#7292458)

Ref: Amazon has this book for $3.50 cheaper than bn

And soon, Amazon will have a patent on "$3.50 less" too.

Re:$3.50 cheaper (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7292514)

you're an idiot

Amazon exploits trivial patents (1)

renehollan (138013) | about 11 years ago | (#7292459)

I boycott Amazon.com (and favour Barnes & Noble [bn.com] ) because of stupid things like one click patents.

B&N has a "Readers Advantage" card that gets you a 10% discount and only costs US$25 a year -- worth it if you buy more than US$250 of books a year. I usually buy books in bursts, and have let my Readers Advantage card lapse, but they let you buy one at the same time as you make a purchase and let you apply it to that purchase (not that a "leave the store and reenter" hack wouldn't work, but they are being friendly and saving you the hassle).

Tweedy jackets? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7292077)

I can't remember the last time I saw a prof wearing long pants, let alone a tweedy jacket.

But what we really need.... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7292098)

are spells to cast spam out of our inboxes...until those are available, I can't see shelling out the $$$

The man (5, Insightful)

BWJones (18351) | about 11 years ago | (#7292100)

He hasn't been bought off and he doesn't have an agenda. His only goal is to warn new hires about the various landmines that exist, buried under the polite exterior of the corporate landscape. You may not like what he has to say, but no one ever said that software engineering was a pretty job. If they did, they were telling you a lie.

Ahhh, yes. Another treatise on how The Man is tapdancing on our heads.

Alternatively, we could read books on how to help create environments that are mutually advantageous, supportive positive experiences rather than focusing on heading off to another dreary color washed existence where we hate our bosses and hate our jobs.

Re:The man (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7292168)

and for more on the works of Karl Marx...

Re:The man (2, Funny)

ichimunki (194887) | about 11 years ago | (#7292173)

Got any suggestions? I agree that the best way to avoid all this negative stuff is to focus on positive stuff, but that's easier said than done, in many instances. It's not like corporate employers and the bosses one might encounter in those environments are going to be easily bribed by a box of donuts and a pamphlet on Pair Programming and the wonders of CVS.

So what are some good books about positive habits we need to have as programmers, first, and then how to be a successful programmer without signing up for The Program?

Re:The man (5, Informative)

Alrocket (191107) | about 11 years ago | (#7292464)

"The Pragmatic Programmer" [amazon.com] is a pretty good read for the technical side of things, and introduces good habits. I'd have a look at that if I were you.

Re:The man (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7292184)

Up until this job, I agreed.

Now I realize that in order for "mutually advantageous" environments to work, it has to be mutually supported. The guy above me in the food chain doesn't want to play that way -- so now I'm his worst enemy. :(

Re:The man (1)

princewally (699307) | about 11 years ago | (#7292324)

Sounds like you need to spend some time on WorkOrSpoon. [workorspoon.com]

And no, I'm not affiliated with the site.

Re:The man (3, Insightful)

ReTay (164994) | about 11 years ago | (#7292272)

"Ahhh, yes. Another treatise on how The Man is tapdancing on our heads."

I don't know about that. The only 'boogie man' I saw put up here is a MBA. And after dealing with two or three I happen to agree. If you are trying to "create environments that are mutually advantageous, supportive positive experiences "
You can't worry about getting a blade between the shoulder blades first. And office politics being what they are. And the general clueless ness of most geeks it is a really good idea to generate a good solid paper trail. That alone would make the book a good idea.

Re:The man (2, Insightful)

kfg (145172) | about 11 years ago | (#7292284)

But then you'll have to read "Up the Orginization" which describes and explains why building such is impossible, even for the company President, in existing orginizations.

Few, unfortunately, have the desire, let alone the fortitude, to simply take of themselves, let alone others.

KFG

Suuuuuuuure. Meanwhile, in the REAL world.... (2, Funny)

xeeno (313431) | about 11 years ago | (#7292395)

The Man will still be using your taint for a ball rest.

Re:The man (1)

nervous_twitch (579929) | about 11 years ago | (#7292565)

Alternatively, we could read books on how to help create environments that are mutually advantageous, supportive positive experiences...

Yes, because hope springs eternal.

If you are so lucky to find a work environment like that, let me know. I want to work there, too.

I don't get it ... (2, Informative)

obsidianpreacher (316585) | about 11 years ago | (#7292104)

So ... the book deals with the "seedier" side of computer science (things like privacy ... gasp!), and is required reading for people entering the field ...

Hell, just have them read /. !!! Same stuff, only it's free, has stories that are continuously duplic^H^H^H^H^H^Hupdated, and a lively and informative userbase ... why go for a book instead?

Re:I don't get it ... (2, Funny)

MooCows (718367) | about 11 years ago | (#7292129)

why go for a book instead?

You need a paper trail ....

Re:I don't get it ... (4, Funny)

Adolf Oliver Bush (716951) | about 11 years ago | (#7292156)

"Hell, just have them read /. !!! Same stuff, only it's free, has stories that are continuously duplic^H^H^H^H^H^Hupdated, and a lively and informative userbase ... why go for a book instead?"

Because with the book, you arent accidentally going to see the goatse guy.

I am forever scarred.

Re:I don't get it ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7292281)

What I'm looking for is a paper version of the BINDS page: click [binds.net] with discretion, or don't click at all.

Seriously, why? (3, Insightful)

YanceyAI (192279) | about 11 years ago | (#7292109)

I'm glad someone is pointing this stuff out to people new to the tech industry. When I was first starting out, I remember having to sign all sorts so draconian contracts--and we were just servicing the tech industry.

I thought the owner was insane, so I just ignored it. It would never surprise me now if I learned that she had spied on me. Of course, maybe that was brought on by the paranoia of reading something that, like this book, promotes paranoia.

Re:Seriously, why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7292150)

Of course, maybe that was brought on by the paranoia of reading something that, like this book, promotes paranoia.

Probably just a bunch of pop-under ads for X10.

Where is it ? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7292131)

Find the helicoidal fwibble before midnight!

Re:Where is it ? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7292179)

Oh wait, it was under my blueberry.

Re:Where is it ? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7292341)

Ah, I left it under my hairbrush.

Software Exorcism (4, Funny)

da3dAlus (20553) | about 11 years ago | (#7292157)

I need an old programmer and a young programmer.
The power of Christ compels you...to compile!

ah (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7292180)

i dont want to leave college...

Go academic (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7292227)

You don't have to. Go for a doctorate and a cushy government paid academic career. You don't have to really work for the rest of your life.

Be excellent to eachother (5, Insightful)

kneecarrot (646291) | about 11 years ago | (#7292207)

There are some things that you can control in the workplace and among these are your own attitude and approach. If you choose to get involved in backstabbing and power struggles and the like then that's your choice. You can also take a no-BS stance and do the following:

1. Tell the truth. 2. Stay out of other people's business. 3. Do the right thing.

Yes, there are some things that can't be avoided. If you are under attack by someone trying to get ahead or find a scapegoat, you have to defend yourself. But, even in these situations, there are choices.

Re:Be excellent to eachother (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7292274)

Yes...but sometimes you can be mired quite badly when simply defending yourself. Could be against a co-worker attempting to hijack your project, etc.

Cross accusations will fly, takes two to tango, etc. Before you can say C#, you'll be fighting it out on the carpet.

No way around it: as they say, in the jungle, no one is innocent.

Telling the truth, minding your own business and doing the right thing does nothing against people trying to do you in. Just makes you look like a pussy, as well.

Sorry.

Re:Be excellent to eachother (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7292496)

This is one of the most naive posts I've ever seen. Opinions such as yours cannot and do not hold true in a corporate environment.

fwibble (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7292257)

Find the golden fwibble before midnight!

Software Exorcism? (4, Funny)

batlock (116547) | about 11 years ago | (#7292258)

Is it something like this [gnu.org] ?

Do we need this? Preaching to the choir? (2, Interesting)

beacher (82033) | about 11 years ago | (#7292263)

This review makes it sound like "Tin Foil Hats for Dummies". Yes, I am a conspiracy theorist. Yes, HR has to reply to me via email, perticularly how they can justify working salaried employees past 40 hours a week while paying them less than $27/hour in direct violation of the FSLA. Yes I move all of my personal/HR emails offsite. Yes, I encrypt when necessary... but TEMPEST?
Cmon, TEMPEST shielding is like putting up a grounded copper cage around my cube. I don't necessarily trust my management to make sound IS/IT decisions, but some common sense will go a long way in covering your ass. No, I'm not new here, but I must have missed the memo that said Tues/Thurs is Feed The Trolls day ( TIFTD ?)
-B

Re:Do we need this? Preaching to the choir? (1)

kabocox (199019) | about 11 years ago | (#7292449)

No, I'm not new here, but I must have missed the memo that said Tues/Thurs is Feed The Trolls day ( TIFTD ?)

Hey, its been slow lately. After Apples I-Tunes hit Windows, their hasn't been much. We have't even been getting our daily SCO quota either. Has it been just me or has there been alot more gaming related articles lately too? I just seems percentage of game related news has gone up in the past 2 weeks.

Re:Do we need this? Preaching to the choir? (1)

TurtlesAllTheWayDown (688108) | about 11 years ago | (#7292493)

Here [slashdot.org] is the memo [slashdot.org] you missed: [slashdot.org]

Is this book really neccessary?? (4, Insightful)

Kaimelar (121741) | about 11 years ago | (#7292266)

His only goal is to warn new hires about the various landmines that exist, buried under the polite exterior of the corporate landscape. You may not like what he has to say, but no one ever said that software engineering was a pretty job. If they did, they were telling you a lie.

Is this really the "corporate landscape" for many software engineers? A job so bad where you feel compelled to check for keyloggers, keep paper trails locked in a home safe, etc.?

Granted, I've not been out of school that long, but every job I've had was in a friendly, cooperative environment w/ good people who wanted to write good software. We don't assign blame, we don't sabotage people's code -- we fix problems we find and give each other help when its needed. But then, I've always worked in scientific computing, so maybe I'm not in the "corporate landscape" as such.

So am I wearing rose-colored glasses and blinding myself to the cut-throat world of commercial software development, or is the author of this book simply over-reacting?

Also, if I were to find myself in a job where I felt a need to take the precautions suggested in this book, I'd be looking for a new job. I can't believe that any company could maintain such a draconian work environment and keep employees.

I now sit back and await all the posts telling me how naive I am. :-)

Re:Is this book really neccessary?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7292453)

I have found that the behavior described depends upon the money involved. I had few such problems in environments dealing with contracts worth $100,000 or less. These tactics become more prevalent in large organizations with large contracts, like places where the cost of a few dozen key loggers and a couple of people to review them does not present a significant cost relative to the contract value.

In such environments you get managers, directors, vice presidents, and presidents each involved in their own form of "empire building" where each such person is nominally supposed to be working with the others but have autonomy within the overall organization. Thus, you end up with competition between internal business units. Suddenly it is no longer in someone's best interest to help you succeed, even if it is their job.

What happens if your job depends upon winning a $1 million contract, but someone else's job depends on winning a $2 million dollar contract. Do you help the person get the bigger contract because it is better for the company?

Re:Is this book really neccessary?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7292465)

Granted, I've not been out of school that long, but every job I've had was in a friendly, cooperative environment w/ good people who wanted to write good software. We don't assign blame, we don't sabotage people's code -- we fix problems we find and give each other help when its needed. But then, I've always worked in scientific computing, so maybe I'm not in the "corporate landscape" as such.

People can behave very differently when the Layoff Bell starts tolling. Be sure that your personnel file has lots of positive stuff in it. Keep your own copies in case it goes missing. An up-to-date resume is never a mistake. But never, ever, print the cover letter that will accompany it to a competitor at work.

Re:Is this book really neccessary?? (3, Insightful)

love2hateMS (588764) | about 11 years ago | (#7292477)

You are living in a dreamworld, Neo. Most companies have politics. Politics for programmers are no different than politics for other types of careers. There are liars, backstabbers, lazy people that take credit for your work, lazy people that blame you for their failures, and just all around jerks.

Always cover your butt. Document everything. Save emails. This applies to any job, not just programming.

Oh, and HR is NOT there to help you. They work for the company, and their job is to protect the company-- never forget that.

Maybe just lucky (3, Interesting)

Migraineman (632203) | about 11 years ago | (#7292480)

I used to work in the backstabbing corporate machine. The place was real hell. I had a program pulled out from under me on the day before our populated circuit boards arrived. The Principal Engineer called a meeting with the CEO, the COO, head of sales, etc. and said "I don't know what they're doing, but I'd do it this other way." To call it a hatchet-job would be overly polite.

We produced meeting logs and design review documentation that was signed by the backstabbing PE, etc. It didn't help much, as the PE was the CEO's butt-boy.

Folks used to think we were overly paranoid because we made the managers physically sign all of our documentation. After "Black Thursday," folks had a different attitide.

I'm sure there are places to work where the office politics are pretty benign. Unfortunately, there are a lot of weasels out there, and they thrive on "improving" situations that already run well. Enjoy it while it lasts.

Re:Is this book really neccessary?? (1)

CommandNotFound (571326) | about 11 years ago | (#7292515)

Keep your job. ;)

Re:Is this book really neccessary?? (1)

PostConsumerRecycled (653177) | about 11 years ago | (#7292527)

Well, Ive worked in evil corporate environments and government writing software. I've never felt like I needed to watch my back as such. Not all MBAs and managers are PHB types and generally everyone knows who the bad people are (wheather they're management ot tech workers), they may get away with a few things at first, but it doesn't take long for them to be found out.

This has been my expereince, and I've been in the whole range of environments, from small companys to mega corporations and government. I've actually found the large corporations to value hard work, and less on backstabbing and politics, government being the worst for politics and finger pointing.

But, maybe my expereince has been different from the norm.

Re:Is this book really neccessary?? (1)

PostConsumerRecycled (653177) | about 11 years ago | (#7292606)

Actually I've been thinking aboutit, my expereince has been different, in the corporate world I had really good managers who didn't care for office politics and had a real the buck stops here attitude, so problems didn't bleed down, and if you made a mistake you just fixed it and everyone moved on. I wish more people had that attitude, I think we were more productive because of it, and I didn't have to put up with what seems to be the typical BS in corporte america. Several friends of mine have had quite different expereinces.

Lucky me.

Re:Is this book really neccessary?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7292582)

This kind of thing tends to happen more in tight labor markets in big cities. I'm not half as scared of management's deviousness as I am of their stupidity.

Re:Is this book really neccessary?? (2, Insightful)

baur (152437) | about 11 years ago | (#7292615)

So am I wearing rose-colored glasses and blinding myself to the cut-throat world of commercial software development, or is the author of this book simply over-reacting?

Call it both, or a little of each. I've often felt that people will find conspiricies where they look for them. I've worked with people in the past that seemed to have issues with all sorts of co-workers - sometimes the same ones that I cam work just fine with. In a few of those cases, they were the ones making everyone else edgy, so it became a self-fullfilling prophecy.

On the other hand, I'm not saying that a level of paranoia isn't apropriate. For myself, though, I agree with you, I see no reason to start keeping a paper trail of what I do at home in a vault. If I'm that insecure at my job, then I need to move to something else... for my own sanity, if nothing else. Fortunatly, I've never felt that way.

But we like our innocence... (3, Insightful)

metroid composite (710698) | about 11 years ago | (#7292275)

Reverend Blunden's sermons focus on things that the college professors, in their tweedy jackets, will never talk about. As such, this book should be required reading by computer science majors, who often have a number of misconceptions concerning the industry that they are about to enter.

Maybe not, but having taken a couple of grad courses in Comp-Sci, I can say that the day we all switch from PCs to 5-tuple one-tape Turing Machines I will so be set.

Joking asside, Universities aren't about practical education (barring Medicine and Law...and to some extent Engineering). You don't go to university to learn how to be Bill Gates (god forbid). You go there to learn how things really ought to be. Then again, despite how ideal Universities try to be, research ends up having its fair share of backstabbing and intellectual thievery.

Re:But we like our innocence... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7292391)

You don't go to university to learn how to be Bill Gates

That's because Bill Gates dropped out...

Sounds like a plan... (0, Offtopic)

SirASCII (694759) | about 11 years ago | (#7292280)

Hmm... I wonder if I can use the same tatics on my wife...

Re:Sounds like a plan... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7292360)

It doesn't help if you document everything on paper or tape.

Bring out the evidence and you'll be sleeping on the couch for the next month for having the audacity to disagree with her and collecting evidence in preparation. You should have said "yes, dear, you're right as always".

Book Prices (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7292286)

Before the morons start quoting prices from B&N vs. Amazon, let's remember there are more than those two online. Try shopping at AddAll [addall.com] . It's a shopping bot for books. Prices: Overstock: $21.99, BooksAMillion: $27.44, Amazon: $27.93. Switching to BestBookBuys [bestbookbuys.com] we get BookPool at $22.50, along with (click for the results, see Amazon in 5th place!: results [bestwebbuys.com] . And finally, we go to BookPool with a price of $22.50. Now, can we quit using B&N and Amazon ONLY? Jeez. http://www.bestwebbuys.com/books/search?isrc=b-hom e-search&q=1590592344&t=ISBN&x=16&y=13

Agreed (5, Informative)

nycsubway (79012) | about 11 years ago | (#7292300)

If the subject of the book is similar to the review, then I agree completely with the author. Computer Science in the corporate world is nothing like it is in the academic world. Something that is accurate and efficient in college is often not something that is done in a company.

The concept of politics is something that changes the meaning of the work you do at a company. In college, you are given an assignment to do. You do it, you are graded on it and you move on. At a company, you are asked what the customer wants in their software, and are not given specs. You are supposed to guess what they want. You are also never given a realistic timetable in which to do the project.

Some of those hindrences to doing a project are caused by outside forces, but most are caused by inside forces. Someone is trying to impress someone else in the company by promising something before it can be done. Or they may have their team develop a project and then release it to upper management only to find its not wanted.

Politics plays a huge role in what happens to the programmers at the bottom as well. Utimately everything that occurs to the programmer can be a result of politics. If someone cancels a project, it may be that they simply didn't like the person doing it.

At my company, we are in limbo over whether we will continue to develop a program to do something that we currently license software to do. To replace the functionality of the software will take a couple months and is nothing more than a couple of webpages and a database. We pay $250,000/yr for the outside software and can save all of that by doing it in house. The reason we are having trouble is politics. Certain people dont want the software inhouse.

Is it in the best interest of the company? No. But it's in the best interest of someone at the company. Thats a danger inside such large corporations, but it is how business gets done.

Melrose Place (4, Funny)

apoplectic (711437) | about 11 years ago | (#7292311)

Given the sordid aspects of working in an IT department, you'd think that this would make for a great cheesy, soap-opraesque TV show a la Melrose Place. Backstabbing, surreptitious monitoring, random sexual encounters...uh, was that mentioned in the book?

Proper instructions (4, Insightful)

bug-eyed monster (89534) | about 11 years ago | (#7292318)

"I doubt very highly that your instructors will tell you how to handle all the nasty little things that can occur when humans work in groups..."

That's the problem right there. Every student getting a degree in computers should take a mandatory class covering office politics, hiring legals, and how to deal with various peers, managers and devil^H^H^H^H^Hmarketing people.

Sure, we can read /., dilbert and userfriendly to get the same instructions, but usually we start reading these only after we've learned about this stuff the hard way.

Re:Proper instructions (1)

i.r.id10t (595143) | about 11 years ago | (#7292613)

Sure, we can read /., dilbert and userfriendly to get the same instructions

You forgot the BOFH [theregister.co.uk]

At the end of the day ... (3, Insightful)

BillsPetMonkey (654200) | about 11 years ago | (#7292327)

they pretend to pay us so we pretend to work. In the UK, developers salaries are cheaper than some hourly rates offered in India with outsouring companies ... but moving along ... it comes down to the fact that good programmers are rarely good at getting on with people.

If you can do your technical stuff well and be a nice person (even better a popular preson), a company will value you and you can rise above office political bullshit.

The books author sounds embittered by the fact that joining the software industry at the height of the tech boom didn't make them as rich as (Kill) Bill. Get over it and get along with people.

The real question is (3, Funny)

LNO (180595) | about 11 years ago | (#7292329)

Does he address how to surf Slashdot during business hours without being caught?

So far my best reaction is to begin shrieking like a schoolgirl and I don't think that's going to work out long-term.

Defense (2, Insightful)

yeoua (86835) | about 11 years ago | (#7292335)

People go out and learn martial arts to protect themselves just incase. (Well... most of them do) They don't just go out and learn it to take down the next person they meet on the street.

Just because this information is laid out as it is, doesn't mean you should use it just because and cause such a malicious environment.

Remember, it takes everyone to create that happy environment.. but just one person to create that malicious environment. This is for that time when that one guy (or guys if you are really unlucky) is on you and you need to protect yourself.

but, the "real" programmers" (1, Interesting)

mark_lybarger (199098) | about 11 years ago | (#7292354)

could care less about office politics, back stabbers, or what not. paper trails are for pansies who have a need to rectify their employment status when the going gets rough. the serious software developers are at work to cut out some serious code, and perhaps browser a little /. everynow and then. any types of office politics takes away from those two focused activities. time away from the crt is time spent refilling the caffiene container and or obtainning other chemical needs (damn smokers ;) ).

if you're working in a place that has others playing too many sophisticated political games, and the boss doesn't see the reality, then i say 'eff 'um and get the hell outta there (and back to some serious coding).

Tempted... (1)

MoeMoe (659154) | about 11 years ago | (#7292382)

I would make a joke about Microsoft and how they are pure evil, but I like the size of my genitals just the way they are...

In reality though, a book like this seems to deal with real situations around the cube farm... If you are new to the CS world and don't wanna be taken for a ride or sent to the goatse guy, this seems like a good read

I believe you have my stapler. (3, Funny)

Valar (167606) | about 11 years ago | (#7292388)

My preferred guide to software development is the corporate environment presented in a fine piece of cinema. You may have seen it. It is called "Office Space." So far the only thing I've found lacking in reality is Milton.

Re:I believe you have my stapler. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7292564)

We have plenty of Miltons where I work. Strangely enough, they're all in the mail room.

Software Exorcism - what like replacing Windows... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7292394)

...for Linux?

By the power brought onto me by the mighty FDISK, I command thy evil operating system... to go... go now at once I tell you.... go... go back to where you came from !

Sounds like a manual for pinkboys (1)

gwjc (181552) | about 11 years ago | (#7292415)

No real subgenii with any yetisense would need this book. I can see this book being useful for the unwary pinks trying to negotiate the slackless trapeze stretched over the black pit of mindless corporhoids of adversia. The subgenii needs this like he needs a fourth eye!
...still if it makes some money for the good Rev then so be it.

Sallack!

Sounds entertaining... but (5, Insightful)

tony clifton (134762) | about 11 years ago | (#7292533)

Here's a short version of what you need to know when you're working for someone.

Do you know the difference between a cost center and a profit center?

A cost center's something the business needs to do but doesn't make any money. Think accounting, or maintaining print servers -- the goal is to make its function as cheap as possible. One attractive way is to offshore it, provided things work out as cheaply as possible.

A profit center makes the business money. Like software development, or whatever it is that the business does: doing a good job will make the company money.

It's always better to work for the profit center.

theres another book about this. (-1)

mesmartyoudumb (471890) | about 11 years ago | (#7292535)

Called: The bastard operator from hell.
w00t

Entertaining... (4, Interesting)

apoplectic (711437) | about 11 years ago | (#7292540)

I'm sure it is an entertaining read with perhaps some salient points with regards to the IT industry. But, does this describe anything truly different or more dystopian that what an average non-IT worker puts up with in his own non-IT world with non-IT managers? I think we tend to make more of our own situations than is justified; work environments are similarly screwed up regardless of the industry.

Anyone remember alane? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7292584)

The KDE guy. The one who committed suicide some time after losing his job due to the weaselry of others, only a few months ago...

Maybe this book should have been dedicated to him.

why work there (1)

avandesande (143899) | about 11 years ago | (#7292595)

Yes, I do ask that people always repeat verbal requests through email (it forces the writer to really think about what they are asking for).

But other than that-- if I have to work with someone who wants to screw me that bad I will move on.
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