Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board




IT is being moved to the 5th Floor

I've just recieved word that our department is to be moved from our dimly-lit  tech enclave of engineering, tech support, and QA, to the blarinlgy lit, noisy 5th floor, shared by accounting, marketing, and suits of all sizes and colors and shapes.

I must admit this is making me a bit unhappy.  I avoid going down there whenever possible.  I just took this job a few months back,  and a part of my decision was based on the work environment- one which is radically changing.

What to do?

Matt
Friday, November 21, 2003


While I feel your pain, at some level, these "woe is me" posts are getting a bit tiresome.

I would have thought your choices were clear: quit, suck it up, or get involved and try to build the environment you think is best for the group.

Note that whining about it on a technical web board isn't among the choices.

It's all about you
Friday, November 21, 2003

Forgive me.  Whining was not my intention, rather to start a conversation of working conditions and arbitrary changes to them.  I see now that I am petulant and a whiner.  Thanks for your help.

Matt
Friday, November 21, 2003

Now you're whining, sarcastically.

It's all about you
Friday, November 21, 2003

Man must cease attributing his problems to his environment, and learn again to exercise his will -- his personal responsibility.
-- Albert Schweitzer 

A strong, successful man is not the victim of his environment. He creates favorable conditions. His own inherent force and energy compel things to turn out as he desires.
-- Orison Swett Marden

Tapiwa
Friday, November 21, 2003

I'm boring, unsupportive, and argumentative! Look at me! LOOK AT ME!

It's all about ME
Friday, November 21, 2003

I can beat that.

Our university contracts with a local hospital (which used to belong to us, but is now entirely a separate entity) to run our e-mail.  Said hospital is switching to a new e-mail system which, among other things, requires a SSN from each person with a mailbox.  So after deliberation and consultation with the legal department, our business manager and our department head submitted all our SSNs to them.  No consent from any of us; not even any notification to any of us.  I only found out about it by accident.

So...how would you respond to that?

Kyralessa
Friday, November 21, 2003

No, using fake SSNs is not an option; they already tried, and this hospital's system spit them back out as invalid.

Kyralessa
Friday, November 21, 2003

We used to live in a hole in the ground. Then we got tossed out and had to go live in the lake.

It's all about you
Friday, November 21, 2003

I've never heard of such an email system.  Who makes it?  And what do hospitals know about running email, anyway.  How bizarre.

WTF
Friday, November 21, 2003

WTF... I hear you... What the fcuk??

So this email is only for use by americans huh? Rest of the world does not do SSNs!!

Tapiwa
Friday, November 21, 2003

They gave your SSN to some random e-mail admin without your permission?!

Nate Silva
Friday, November 21, 2003

University students are now being identified by their SSN and it's printed on their ID card. Lose your ID card and someone has your name and SSN.

Actually, I think this was a big news item a few years ago.

www.MarkTAW.com
Friday, November 21, 2003

At least in Connecticut there's a state law requiring that organizations CANNOT use your SSN in a way that can be traced back to you. Drove the University of Connecticut nuts for a while.

Considering it's a hospital you're dealing with, I wonder if you could sue under HIPAA?

Chris Tavares
Friday, November 21, 2003

What a strange design decision. There are lots of Americans who do not have SSNs, as I learned to my dismay when implementing a medical billing system many years back. Plus lots of resident non-citizens without work authorization, such as students.

John C.
Friday, November 21, 2003

"Making a 9-digit number up at random is a bad idea, as it may coincide with someone's real number and cause them some amount of grief. It's better to use a number like 078-05-1120, which was printed on "sample" cards inserted in thousands of new wallets sold in the 40's and 50's. It's been used so widely that both the IRS and SSA recognize it immediately as bogus, while most clerks haven't heard of it. There were at least 40 different people in the Selective Service database at one point who gave this number as their SSN. The Social Security Administration recommends that people showing Social Security cards in advertisements use numbers in the range 987-65-4320 through 987-65-4329."

It's scary, when I was trying to find this information on Google, ALL of the ads were how to a) find someone through their SSN or b) find someone's SSN.

www.MarkTAW.com
Friday, November 21, 2003

It is possible that the Hospital is using the SSN to uniquely identify the recipient of the email for HIPAA reasons.  As for being able to sue under HIPAA, they would have to disclose your SSN to someone outside of the organization for it to be a problem.  There may be a valid reason for these HIPAA partners to be doing this (though I can see the cause for concern).

And do note that federal regulations coming down next year will require SSN to stop being used as an identification mechanism.  It is causing quite a headache.

Lou
Friday, November 21, 2003

There is some logic to the format of SSNs. The first three digits depend on the state.

pdq
Friday, November 21, 2003

Kyralessa, tell the ACLU.

Oh my
Friday, November 21, 2003

not the ACLU. Just ask the legal department if they now assume all liability for identity theft, since they gave out your identifying information without asking.

mb
Friday, November 21, 2003

Matt, I was once in a situation such as you describe. After we moved, it was almost impossible to do the thinking work we needed to do because of the raucous noise and backslapping that used to on around us.

One day I was trying to work something out while a bunch of business guys and managers were standing nearby waiting to enter a meeting room, yacking on and on, and I walked over to them and told them to shut up. They did.

Until then, they had thought we were quiet because we were so impressed with their exciting lives.

Our work involved mathematical financial software for trading.

Oh my
Friday, November 21, 2003

"All about you", you're lucky, at least you've got a lake.


Friday, November 21, 2003

Currently I'm working on obtaining, from our university legal department, a written justification of why they advised our staff that it was perfectly OK to disclose all these SSNs without any consent or notification.  I expect to know more on Monday.

(Note that the hospital to whom the SSNs were disclosed is a separate business from us.  But I don't think this falls under HIPAA because the numbers were disclosed TO the hospital FROM the university.  I haven't ruled HIPAA out yet.  But I suspect that, like the ADA, it's only enforceable by private or public lawsuit; anybody know?)

And meanwhile I am updating my resume.

Kyralessa
Friday, November 21, 2003

>I'm boring, unsupportive, and argumentative! Look at me! LOOK AT ME!

true irony relies on _contrast_
repetitive bleating of brittle snoidisms exponentially degrades the humour

> It's all about ME

quite

Darcy Horrocks
Friday, November 21, 2003

"Note that the hospital to whom the SSNs were disclosed is a separate business from us.  But I don't think this falls under HIPAA because the numbers were disclosed TO the hospital FROM the university.  I haven't ruled HIPAA out yet."

You can go ahead and rule HIPAA out.  It doesn't apply here.  The university did not acquire your SSN by providing health care to you.  Your SSN is not Protected Health Information in this context and the information disclosure is not governed by HIPAA.

I am not a lawyer.  This is not legal advice.

Matt Latourette
Friday, November 21, 2003

Burn down the building -- but don't forget to take your red swingline stapler with you before you go.

Mr. Fancypants
Friday, November 21, 2003

Some here seem to consider this frivolous. I went through this exact same thing with my current employer. When I started, the MIS department was on the 3rd floor. We had a cluster of offices to ourselves, which tended to make the "group consciousness" (yes, I see you back there rolling your eyes) more cohesive.

After my first year we were moved to the 4th floor (with analysts, marketing/sales,etc).  It **completely** changed everything.

Physical location *does* make a difference. No, I didn't quit. I like the company and the job. But it did change things substantially.

Bill K Ramsey
Saturday, November 22, 2003

I used to work in environments where people would have noisy group meetings nearby. I started, eventually, joining in. Of course along the way I'd have to get them starting to explain all the background to the meeting...

People do get the message after a while...

Katie Lucas
Saturday, November 22, 2003

I've really gotten over the whole work enviroment issue, I once wrote a consignment system for a trucking company where the IT team were housed in the truck weighing station. Every ten minutes a 40 ton (ton not tonne) truck would roll onto the scales and our screens and chairs would rattle while the weighing was done, not to mention the roar of noisy 8-10 litre diesel engines as it roared off.

Impossible to work in, No. Difficult, Yes.

After working for 8 months (team of 3) on this software the week we finished UAT the company got sold and our software ended up gathering dust on a CD softwhere in somebodies top draw.

Maybe this is what happens to companies that put developers in a truck weighing station!

Realist
Saturday, November 22, 2003

Realist,

How complex was the software that took 24 man-months to write in the weigh-station? Do you think they would have saved money renting a decent quiet office for $500/month and putting 2 guys in there for 3 months to accomplish the same?

Dennis Atkins
Sunday, November 23, 2003

Dennis,

Yes, there were times when concentrating was so difficult that if you had something "hard" to do you would simply go home, coming in early was not an option as the trucks would start at 5am.

Personally I'd guess that the poor location was a 20% drain on productivity - that's just finger in the air statistics.

Realist
Monday, November 24, 2003

{that's just finger in the air statistics}

Er, which finger would that be?

Crap, it's Monday again
Monday, November 24, 2003

I will share with you a little secret for noisy environments... shhh, don't tell anyone else:

the toilet-paper earplugs

instructions: take three panels of standard single-ply toilet paper.  Wet in sink with warm water, gently.  Tear in half, yielding two 1 1/2 panel wet squares.  Fold to approximately 3/4 inch, then roll tightly.  Repeat for second panel.

You now have two earplugs that will work beautifully if you gently insert them into your ears by "screwing" them in.

[Standard liability disclaimer:  Do not attempt if you have inured ears, are uncoordinated, have nerve damage, have medical problems of any type, have bouts of coughing or boils, have been exposed to radioactivity or microwaves, have ever broken any bones, or use a cellphone]

D Ross - BadBlue com
Monday, November 24, 2003

Ear plugs are all very well. But what happens when your boss, who's accustomed to yelling at you from the far corner of the building, suddenly can't get a response anymore?

Answer: he throws things to attract your attention.

Been there
Monday, November 24, 2003

Dude, then just throw them right back and if your boss yells at you, tell him you just mean to pick up the thrown object but were immediately overcome by a muscle spasm resulting in you throwing said thrown object back to its place of origin.

We now return you to our regularly scheduled programming.

Done That
Monday, November 24, 2003

realist,

why didn't you just wear noise-canceling headphones or ear plugs?

all the systems administrators I know that spend a lot of time in data centers wear them. they are under $200, and are also useful for mowing the lawn and going to the gun range.

_
Monday, November 24, 2003

"they are under $200"

Why buy the relatively expensive and bulky noise-cancelling headphones when you can get either the reusable, washable foam earplug headsets or a whole box of the disposable foam earplug inserts for far less money?

Matt Latourette
Monday, November 24, 2003

"Currently I'm working on obtaining, from our university legal department, a written justification of why they advised our staff that it was perfectly OK to disclose all these SSNs without any consent or notification."


Not surprisingly, the response from the legal department to this request boiled down to

*makes rude gesture*

It is time to leave this place.

Kyralessa
Tuesday, November 25, 2003

"Why buy the relatively expensive and bulky noise-cancelling headphones when you can get either the reusable, washable foam earplug headsets or a whole box of the disposable foam earplug inserts for far less money?"

because they just cancel out the noise. you can still carry out a conversation with someone whilst wearing the headphones.

_
Wednesday, November 26, 2003

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home