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My imperfect world

I'd like to mention that I've been reading Joel's weblog only recently but I happen to like them more than all that I've read till today - Christopher Duncan's (Guerilla Tactics), Steve McConnell, Steve Macguire, all the other authors I forget. When one of my colleagues recommended joelonsoftware for reading, I got hooked. I forgot to eat, didn't bother the sleeplessness these pages caused because I was glued to them, forgot even my sickness in bed. I work as a programmer basically deploying Visual Basic for work and I am very much in love with what I do and at the risk of sounding modest, I am good at it.

With that introdcution, I wish to seek advice from Joel about a particular problem I am facing. I've been appreciated for my work by my employer so much so that my boss, who's a complete tosser, has begun expending his precious energies in trying to embarass me by hacking into personal email accounts and saving snapshots of my most private mail. I work like mad hell and off late, ever since I discovered what he has been doing for the last few days, I have not been able to work without worrying about what he was doing next. What pissed me off was that he was digging into my privacy and my person when I devoted every single waking moment of my life for work. This is all one bullet-sized version of a series of dreadly experiences I have had at my workplace in the last couple of weeks. How do I deal with this?

Sathyaish Chakravarthy
Monday, September 01, 2003

Resign - life is too short to "bark up the wrong tree"

Ram Dass
Monday, September 01, 2003

of course, what you should do is set up a fake free emailaccount at yahoo.

name this account "hotstud90383@yahoo.com".  send yourself some email from this account that says:

"hi sathiash, it has been a long time since we lathered up the meat together. maybe next time in town we could get together for some drinks and some hot turkey basting action?

Yours,
Kevin


what you then do is reply to this email from "Kevin" regarding how you can't possibly garden the sausages with him any more, because you are in lust with another man, this man being your tosser boss. go into steamy details about your boss's trousers, his armpits, and his dreamy eyes. include some details about lewd acts you are dreaming of performing with him.

when your tosser boss snapshots this email, he will probably be very suprised. you will either be asked to leave your post, or you will be asked over for dinner, and a night you will never forget, possibly a promotion the next week.

either way, the end result will provide you with a more interesting life than spending all your waking moments working on visual basic programmes. let us know how this works out.

rz
Monday, September 01, 2003

<quote>
trying to embarass me by hacking into personal email accounts and saving snapshots of my most private mail
</quote>

Assert yourself and tell him that it is unacceptable for him to do this to you. He may think it is a laugh, and be doing it for fun. MOST people, when you tell them you are uncomfortable with them doing something, will stop. Your boss may actually be trying to cause pain, but statistically, thats unlikely.

I will suggest the rest of the responses will spout off great ways to stick it to your boss and get back at him. Ignore them. Start with straight communication of your displeasure. It usually works, and is best for everyone involved.

Matthew
Monday, September 01, 2003

I can't afford to resign at this point. I've just been promoted only today with my salary almost doubled. And that is pinching my guy all the more. When I wanted to resign two months back, he was the guy who pulled me back. He got a raise two months back because of a project I was working on alone and because it was delivered on time. He wanted me back because without me, he knew he was dead. And with me in, he dies every day.

Sathyaish Chakravarthy
Monday, September 01, 2003

Get some really nasty pornography sent to the office addressed to him.

Damian
Monday, September 01, 2003

I like the rz method.  What a riot!

scarecrow
Monday, September 01, 2003

Thanks for your suggestions, guys. I did talk to him the day I discovered. Can I say I am a straight-forward guy with no religion or politics in my brain cells. But like a meak goose, he blatantly denied and started to sympathize with my plight. His Recent folder reveals the documents he had been reading in between the snapshots of my mails, the documents that were to be delivered with the installation setup EXEs on the date. There was no one who could access his system for he never let out his password and had been changing it on a daily basis for that week. He'd also tied up with a few networking guys to protect his system from being accessed by anyone else on the network.

Sathyaish Chakravarthy
Monday, September 01, 2003

I really cannot elaborate the kind of working hours I spend here. I do not go home for days together and there's no place to sleep in the office. I have to stay awake and working with only short naps in between on my desk. After all this!

Sathyaish Chakravarthy
Monday, September 01, 2003

You know at times like these, when I am unfair with the amount of time I give to my parent, or rather do not, and spend it all here, you tend to feel downy and drained. I know I am going to live through it. I also know that probably till sometime I will be staying here and these guys, however crooked are still going to be like family. Even Joel mentions in one of his articles that we spend a major part of the day in the office and so we are emotionally tied to the place. I spend over 30 hours out of every 48 hours here. But may be some magical words, something therapeutic is needed just to bring you back on track, to give you the reassurance you need, to settle yourself back. I was wondering if Joel ever reads these pages.

Sathyaish Chakravarthy
Monday, September 01, 2003

I don’t understand.  You say that your boss acknowledges that you are an important factor in making him look good to his superiors, yet he is making an extraordinary effort to embarrass you and make you feel uncomfortable?

This is either the world’s stupidest manager or your story is pure fiction.

Either way, my advice to someone in this situation (if they really wanted to keep the job) would be to refrain from sending personal email at work.

Guy Incognito
Monday, September 01, 2003

LMAO.  rz made that sound more interesting than the VB job.

Brian R.
Monday, September 01, 2003

No. My story isn't fiction.

It is not an unpredictable response to want control over something you feel is slipping through your fingers. He hired me, always backed me. Somewhere down the line, when his boss recognized my talent and gave me a wider sprectrum of responsibilities, like interacting with the client (who I need mention now is also happy with my style of reporting which includes more transparency, technical detail, daily bug fixes/feature updates and a daily status report), conducting interviews, and a significant hike that crosses over my immediate boss's pay, he probably started feeling uneasy not knowing what to do. Ever since, he's usually searching the resume database. He's been here for a very long time with a few other oldies with the same tenure, many of them who are unproductive. I have also time and again pointed out the presence of those people in my team as the reasons for time lags in between for small tasks. I usually never delegate work because I know these guys aren't worth anything. He has a soft corner for them for the longevity of their association. This was one more issue that started playing in between us.

I've changed my email account password and also stopped using it from the office. He basically stripped out snapshots of my mails I had exchanged on a very intimate basis with my girl friend.

Sathyaish Chakravarthy
Monday, September 01, 2003

Was he actually showing this stuff to other people?

Aussie Chick
Monday, September 01, 2003

I cannot be sure and I do not know. But I do know that he had stored these BMPs and TXTs in a folder on his desktop and named it "Interesting". There's this gang of oldies who are bum chums and they usually hang about with him. I wouldn't know if he's showed it to them.

Sathyaish Chakravarthy
Monday, September 01, 2003

Sathyaish, would you be describing workforce management in an Indian outsourcer company? If you are, my man, leak some details to the American media. From home.


Monday, September 01, 2003

All I am asking for is guidance on how I must handle the situation.

Sathyaish Chakravarthy
Monday, September 01, 2003

the phrase "he might be old, but i believe he is hung like a hippopotamus" will be bound to grab his attention.

rz
Monday, September 01, 2003

I didn't get that.

Sathyaish Chakravarthy
Monday, September 01, 2003

Is this the sub-continent version of Nigerian 419?

HeWhoMustBeConfused
Monday, September 01, 2003

Sathyaish, just stop using your email account. Set up a new account at hotmail.

Opera freak
Monday, September 01, 2003

As I see it you have a number of options:

- Ignore it
- Confront him to his face
- Indirectly confront him in your emails
- Gather some evidence if possible, and take the matter to senior staff

It would depend alot on the personalities of all involvedas to what way to go.

Aussie Chick
Tuesday, September 02, 2003

YOU ARE BURNED OUT FROM WORKING 15 HOUR DAYS AND ARE SEEING THINGS.

AND SCRAP VB, IT IS JUST A BIG BLOATED MFC APP.

Sathyaish's Boss
Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Ha..haa..a! That's just not hypocritic enough to be his tone. Thank you guys for all your help. A few words in a voice make all the difference. Thanks again.

Sathyaish Chakravarthy
Tuesday, September 02, 2003

If you are doing it in work time using work resources it is by definotion /not/ private. If you can't deal with the fact then wait until you get home and do it there.


Tuesday, September 02, 2003

I beg to differ with the opinion expressed in the previous post. How many of us check emails from our personal email accounts while at the office? How many of us would not mind if someone at the office opened one of your personal accounts and took snapshots of your personal email. I have taken precaution now not to check my email while in the office at all. This would mean I do not get to check my mail for over a week sometimes. I re-iterate, I have been working insane hours and have stayed at the office for days together, without my choice. Under such circumstances, I do not think opening my personal mail would look like using company time and company resources.

Sathyaish Chakravarthy
Tuesday, September 02, 2003

"I have been working insane hours and have stayed at the office for days together, without my choice."

You *ALWAYS* have a choice. Always.

Andrew Lighten
Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Anonymous coward,

You obviously haven't been reading.  The Guy isn't going home.

If an employer wants that clear divide between work and home, then the divide is clear.  When the clock pushes past 5:30pm (or whenever) its down tools and go home.

As soon as an employee starts putting in the extra effort and hours to make things work, the divide is gone. 

An employer cannot have it both ways.

Ged Byrne
Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Choice is an illusion.

You can make decisions, you can never make choices, except perhaps which chocolate to eat next.

Sliver Gump

Simon Lucy
Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Your work email and the contents of your work computer are not your own, they are assets of the company.  Some states require that the employer make this fact known to you in writing, others do not, but all states acknowledge that this is the case.

If you choose to use your work email, knowing that it can/will be monitored, for personal purposes such as exchanging personal information with a significant other, then you must assume that it will be read or recorded somewhere.

That your employer does not acknowledge that this action is occuring is irrelevant, it is a work machine/account and thus the properly of your employer to monitor as they see fit.

You can either choose to redirect that personal traffic to another account, or you can continue with your current path (if it is coming in through a company server assume it is being monitored regardless of where you check it (presuming its IMAP and not a hosted POP3 account). 

It sounds like you need to start making wiser decisions regarding work.  Your day is full of choices, exercize some influence over your environment.

Lou
Tuesday, September 02, 2003

I can't figure out if your boss wants you around or not, and I'm not sure how it is you know that he is reading your e-mail, but one thing is certain: you can get perfectly good e-mail accounts from Yahoo or HotMail for free.  Get one.

Foolish Jordan
Tuesday, September 02, 2003

You know, I saw "perfectly good" and "hotmail" in the same sentence and my mind started to play tricks with me :-)

Leonardo Herrera
Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Dude, firstly you gotta stop using your real name when posting to these forums unless you want your boss to find your post. Or haven't you heard of Google, search engines, and indexing?

Secondly, stop using your company account for personal mail. I can't believe that you think intimate mail to your girlfriend is best sent from your company account. If your boss weren't spying on your mail, the sysadmin probably is. Get an account at any of a few thousand free email providers and use that.

Lastly, have a good long chat with your company management about the burnout you're suffering and tell them you can't keep going at this pace for long.

Karl Max
Tuesday, September 02, 2003

--- --- Techie question:
Can u detect when he logs in your computer and take the bitmaps?
Can it be canceled?
Can it be canceled by any express software you can have installed?

--- --- More stuff:
As it was said here: stop using e-mail from work for intimate content.

--- --- Evil stuff part I:
So he is so "smart" he can take your mails and files... u see? you can manage for got his Pc infected by a program/virus.

It has to be made slowly and it has to look real.
Just speak to an imaginary friend. Send some e-mails. Some day yout friend send to you a funny exe r something. Ok. Days passes... More funny jokes are arriving. Ok. One day arrives a funny exe: it is your Trojan Horse, but it looks just a funny animation or something. Of course, next exes are arriving next days, keep it realistic: your friend is sending funny things every week.

How about a logger of keys pressed, saving it encrypted to a shared folder in the network?
How about a ripper of your boss mails (outlook macro?)? More evil ideas?

BUT now you are very tired. You need time and resting to think about the whole thing.

--- --- Evil stuff part II:
I bet his e-mail box is going to be more 'interesting' than yours'. When you get all that information, sure you'll get some ideas from the future. Save it safely at home.

--- --- Quit:
If you are so good at your work, feel confident and try to get other similar job. Working 30 of 48 hrs? You are going to die soon, boy, if following that way. Your manager is a moron/master and you are his slave. Get a better life.

--- --- Justice:
Sooner or later that moron has to know he can not act that way. Tell him before quitting, or tell him after quitting, or do not quit and tell him anyway.

Ross
Tuesday, September 02, 2003

"...  I've just been promoted only today with my salary almost doubled ..."

Gee. Don't we have other problems to discuss?

Still Unemployed
Tuesday, September 02, 2003

When using a company email account, assume it is being read by other people in the company, because they can.

Even using a web-based email service doesn't provide a guarantee that they aren't reading your stuff, because their firewall or proxy servers could be logging packets (although this would make extracting readable messages a lot more difficult).

To be safe you'd have to use a web-based service that communicates via SSL.

T. Norman
Wednesday, September 03, 2003

>How many of us check emails from our personal
>email accounts while at the office?

What difference does that make?  *You* are the one who's privacy is being violated.

Matt Foley
Wednesday, September 03, 2003

The guy had been hacking my personal email account at a free server (like Hotmail and Yahoo!) and not my company email account. I wonder how he got to know my password for that account. He could have seen my typing perhaps. Perhaps another way.

I am a highly motivated guy who wants to do much for his employer and I do not mean to come out sounding like a disgruntled viper. I had to deal with this problem. I must thank you all for your valuable suggestions. I know, at the end of the day, we are all going to live and work together like family, despite whatever differences that we have. I did talk to the management about my working hours and they gave me the increment. I have made it a point not to access my personal email from my personal accounts from office.

Thank you, all friends, for your suggestions.

Sathyaish Chakravarthy
Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Special thanks to you, Ged Byrne, for your understanding. That was much of what I needed.

Sathyaish Chakravarthy
Wednesday, September 03, 2003

He might have installed a key logger... check your services and startup folder, a Run= line in your Win.ini, and HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run 

Rick
Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Got cut off... it should be CurrentVersion/Run

Rick
Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Thanks, Rick. Although this stuff happened on his machine, I nevertheless heeded to your advice in checking the registry hive, which I am sure he does not have knowledge of. I ofen use that hive, in fact, in many of my programs that need to place in the auto run mode on start up. And he's fairly non-technical a guy to write even

cout<<"Hello World<<endl;

let alone calling SetWindowsHookEx. I am sure he knows nothing about hooks. I myself slogged into writing an application-wide keyboard hook for Internet Explorer a few months ago with only little success. I cannot expect of him, a global hook for my system. He probably must've garnered partnership from an oldie in the Networking Department, or perhaps the AutoFill feature on his machine might have been on while I was checking my mail on his system on one early occassion when I was very pally with him.

Sathyaish Chakravarthy
Wednesday, September 03, 2003

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