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Masters of Doom

Chronicles the life of id software.

Wow, great book!  I couldn't put it down... read the whole thing yesterday...

Reminded me of the excitement that programming can offer... and that game programmers are often very odd people...

Kenny
Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Programmers in general are odd... and engineers too!  :)

odd
Tuesday, August 10, 2004

On the other hand, businesspeople are even, which explains how their positions can shift so easily.

Kalani
Tuesday, August 10, 2004

I'm about 2/3 of the way through it.  It's certainly interesting, but some of the things they did (using another company's computer systems and "on the clock" time to program their own game, for instance) struck me as just wrong.  I guess I can forgive them since they were barely 20 at the time.

saberworks
Tuesday, August 10, 2004

+++I'm about 2/3 of the way through it.  It's certainly interesting, but some of the things they did (using another company's computer systems and "on the clock" time to program their own game, for instance) struck me as just wrong.  I guess I can forgive them since they were barely 20 at the time.+++

Give me a freaking break.  This impacts you, how?  Clearly their employers felt they got value from them as employees or they'd have been out of there.

muppet
Tuesday, August 10, 2004

"Give me a freaking break.  This impacts you, how?  Clearly their employers felt they got value from them as employees or they'd have been out of there. "

So your argument is that fraud is morally and ethically acceptable as long as you don't get caught? After all, if you're not caught then noone will know, so how could it possibly be wrong? What an interesting argument - I'm glad you don't work for me.

fraud is good? anything you say.
Tuesday, August 10, 2004

+++I'm about 2/3 of the way through it.  It's certainly interesting, but some of the things they did (using another company's computer systems and "on the clock" time to program their own game, for instance) struck me as just wrong.  I guess I can forgive them since they were barely 20 at the time. +++

i think it had to do with their rebelliousness.  they weren't your typical nerdy programmers (do you know anybody who throws their keyboards at walls while working?).  i think the enjoyed the clandestine aspect of it. 

also, they had a driving "do whatever it takes" attitude which was a necessary ingredient of their success.

Kenny
Tuesday, August 10, 2004

It's been a few weeks since I read it, but they *did* get caught and the owner was pretty ticked off, but despite threatening to sue them it didn't come to that (there wasn't much to sue yet -- that's why they couldn't afford their own computers), he instead got them to agree to write more games for his company.

But, yeah, it was totally unethical.  The owner should've demanded 1% of future profits.  Doh!

profound insights galore
Tuesday, August 10, 2004

+++I'm about 2/3 of the way through it.  It's certainly interesting, but some of the things they did (using another company's computer systems and "on the clock" time to program their own game, for instance) struck me as just wrong.  I guess I can forgive them since they were barely 20 at the time.+++

You should read a book about Larry Ellison and Oracle. No
one can beat him and people working with him. He lied, used
other people's computers and was knowingly selling a
product that was not performing anything useful for a very
long time.

At least, that is what I found in a book titled: The Difference
Between God and Larry Ellison (God Doesn't Think He's Larry Ellison).

VPC
Tuesday, August 10, 2004

+++So your argument is that fraud is morally and ethically acceptable as long as you don't get caught? After all, if you're not caught then noone will know, so how could it possibly be wrong? What an interesting argument - I'm glad you don't work for me.+++

How is this fraud, exactly?  If you hire me to work N hours and expect X amount of work for Y salary, and I provide you X work , receive Y pay, but finish in less than N and use the remaining time for myself, how have you been cheated?  If I'm more efficient than your average developer, then you should pay me according to my abilities or my expected throughput, not expect me to give you free additional productivity.  THAT is what I think is criminal, that expectation. 

muppet
Tuesday, August 10, 2004

"f I'm more efficient than your average developer, then you should pay me according to my abilities or my expected throughput, not expect me to give you free additional productivity"

How about this:

If I'm being paid for a set amount of work and I'm so efficient that I really deserve to be paid more, I'll just take whatever property or money I can get to, in order to make up the value that I think I deserve.

Or this, perhaps:

If I'm not being paid enough, I'll act like a mature and responsible adult and either demand a raise, or go work somewhere else. I'll remember that when I agreed to perform a certain amount of work in exchange for a certain amount of money that I don't get the right to redefine the contract whenever I feel like it.

You see, muppet, you may well deserve more money because you're so brilliant but you're probably not actually allowed to, for example, dip into the company bank account and take whatever you think is owed to you, so why do you think you're allowed to slack off just because you don't think your contract is worded the way you now want it to be?

You're not being asked for additional free work - you're being asked to do what you actually promised to do when you signed the contract. If this bothers you, either continue to defraud your employer, or find an employer who'll pay you what you're worth (whether you take that pay as more money or as less hours working.)

No? You'ld rather carry on living in a world where you can redefine your contract and pay rates without informing your employer? That's cool, too.

you're my hero
Tuesday, August 10, 2004

+++How about this:

If I'm being paid for a set amount of work and I'm so efficient that I really deserve to be paid more, I'll just take whatever property or money I can get to, in order to make up the value that I think I deserve.+++


Clearly this would be theft.  If you equate not tripling my effort  and stress in a ridiculous attempt to give you three times what you're paying me for to stealing from you, then you've got serious mental problems. 

Redefining my contract?  I am paid to meet objectives, which are clearly defined at the outset of each project.  I have milestones, testing gates, etc.  All with deadlines and expectations for completion.  I'm meeting them.  Why am I obligated to exceed them if I can, simply because I can?  If I meet the goals that you set for me, regardless of how much effort I put into it (perhaps 3 hours a day instead of 8), then I have fulfilled my contractual obligation to you.  Period.  I'm all done.

If you are suffering from some archaic notion that because I work for you, you own 8 hours of my time each day, then I'm very sorry.  Rather than provide me with milestones and gateways, you should include in my contract "Employee will keep his fingers on his keyboard and his nose in his monitor 480 minutes per day, regardless of whether milestones and expected productivity have been reached."

See how many developers you get.

muppet
Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Muppet, stop trying to rationalize working on your own projects on company time. If there's nothing wrong with it, why don't you have the balls to tell your boss what you're doing?

Bob
Tuesday, August 10, 2004

I'm not rationalizing a thing.

Clearly, I don't talk to my boss about it because people DO still have archaic manufacturing-job-rules-apply-to-everything ideas and I have a family to feed.

I'm sorry you get in such a knot about this Bob.  Are you a project manager?  I bet your employees and/or coworkers are doing all SORTS of personal shit on "the company's" time.

muppet
Tuesday, August 10, 2004

muppet,
1. you're not giving a good example to your kid(s).
2. you ARE rationalizing.

Not Muppet
Wednesday, August 11, 2004

I love this book. Best computer related real-life stories book beside The Soul of the New Machine (still the best after all these years), Takedown.

Handri
Wednesday, August 11, 2004

++ If you are suffering from some archaic notion that because I work for you, you own 8 hours of my time each day, then I'm very sorry.  Rather than provide me with milestones and gateways, you should include in my contract "Employee will keep his fingers on his keyboard and his nose in his monitor 480 minutes per day, regardless of whether milestones and expected productivity have been reached. ++

eh?  not sure if its an archaic notion... if you wanted a contract where you were paid for each job, then that's what you would have negotiated. 

you current contract probably stipulates that any intellectual property created while working for the company (during those 8 hrs a day you spend there) is owned by them...

so, in effect, you're breaking the contract, and should you get caught, you'll be liable for the appropriate consequences.

note: you're not likely to get caught, and you're not stealing anything from the company (since you could just stare blankly at the screen and not break the contract if you so wanted to), so the only wrong you're committing is being somewhat deceitful.  its the equivalent of taking home some office supplies...

now, if you were working for a pure R&D division which depended on your intellectual property for its success, then yeah, that would be downright stealing...

Kenny
Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Kenny,

absolutely.  If I worked in R&D and my innovative abilities were my bread and butter, then I'd be stealing.  But they're not and I'm not.  :)

As I work for a not-for-profit, I'm pretty sure there's no "we own what you do" clause in my employment contract.  Actually the contract I'm under is remarkably similiar to the ones the maids are under, at this place, it's all the same.

I don't see it as more than perhaps mildly deceitful, but that's a necessary evil.  You're right, I could just as well stare at my monitor.  When my milestones are met and I'm waiting for other people to sign off so that I can continue, what else is there for me to do?

muppet
Wednesday, August 11, 2004

++As I work for a not-for-profit, I'm pretty sure there's no "we own what you do" clause in my employment contract.  Actually the contract I'm under is remarkably similiar to the ones the maids are under, at this place, it's all the same.++

serious??  then yeah, you're 100% free to do what you want as long as you get your job done.  its like if a maid was to bump into a fashion photographer while changing towels, and he decided to hire her for some photos, your company would have no right to those photos.

ok, i was under the assumption your contract was similar to mine.  mine's pretty clear about stating that everything i create here is theirs.  maybe that's why i spend my spare time surfing the web instead of making my own stuff... (hehe, yeah right)

Kenny
Wednesday, August 11, 2004

In a perfect world Muppet would be wrong, but the world we live in means many employers will screw people at the drop of a hat - in this climate Muppets behavior is pragmatic and sensible, so long as he doesn't get caught  :)

Chris Peacock
Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Back when I worked as an employee, there was never 'projects' that 'were assigned' at the beginning of each day and could be completed in 3 hrs instead of the 8 allocated.

Last time I was in that sort of a situation was elementary school.

Dennis Atkins
Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Dennis, my boy.  You seem to be old and experienced.  You know that projects aren't completed in a single gulp.  There are milestones,  testing gates, sign offs, etc.  Sometimes it seems like you're waiting for the business to sign off more often than you're writing code.  Then something is caught in acceptance testing, and off you go to fix it, then wait for a sign off yet again.

There is plenty of opportunity for waiting, with little to do for the developer.  Obviously the 3 out of 8 hours is a generalization, and not a daily occurance.  Of course, people who like to impose a manufacturing rationale on software development usually like to grossly oversimplify things.  One wonders if it's the only way they can comprehend most issues.

muppet
Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Sorry my comment attracted a troll to this thread :(

saberworks
Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Who's trolling?  I remarked on your comment, and as usual, I'm getting set upon for it.  :)

Either I am more efficient than all other software engineers on the planet, or they simply don't like it when people reveal that most of us goof off 50% or more of the time.

muppet
Wednesday, August 11, 2004

I definitely agree that creative jobs need some downtime. I just am trying to clarify the apparent idea that engineering is about tasks given that are completed in a set amount of time, as if it was building a brick wall or fixing a transmission.

My personal style is I'll take breaks when I am stuck much more often that when there is 'nothing to do'. When stuck, it's good to take a break and get away from the problem. But reading news or joel or whatever is not really a tech break, requires going fishing or flying or such, something in a really new environment.

When there is downtime because someone else is behind, then I move forward with what I can, or I reorganize things, or I build new tools. There has never been a single time in my career when there was genuinely nothing to do. Even when it seemed there was nothing to do, I could find something that had been long forgotten and fix it.

Dennis Atkins
Wednesday, August 11, 2004

When there is geniunely nothing to do, I work on my own tools or projects.  I'm not being paid to handle problems outside of my scope.  If I did that enough times, it would become part of my job description and it's unlikely that the implcit increase of responsibility would come with a companion increase of pay.  That's a nice fantasy but it's just not what happens.  :)

muppet
Wednesday, August 11, 2004

++When there is downtime because someone else is behind, then I move forward with what I can, or I reorganize things, or I build new tools. There has never been a single time in my career when there was genuinely nothing to do. Even when it seemed there was nothing to do, I could find something that had been long forgotten and fix it. ++

ah, i wish i worked for a company that encouraged/supported this kind of behaviour...

Kenny
Wednesday, August 11, 2004

I don't recall that any company has particularly supported or encouraged it. It's just what you do.

Dennis Atkins
Wednesday, August 11, 2004

It's what *you* do.

muppet
Wednesday, August 11, 2004

I am probably not following you guys. This may be due to different life experiences providing different contextual frameworks. My own experience has been that no one can stop you from making good use of your time and contributing productively. My experience has also been that, although not every contribution is appreciated by others in life, on the whole, contributing yields benefits over time. It's sort of like investing in the stock market. You'll make some investments that are duds. But if you invest consistently, you will retire very wealthy.

Dennis Atkins
Thursday, August 12, 2004

++I don't recall that any company has particularly supported or encouraged it. It's just what you do. ++

++My experience has also been that, although not every contribution is appreciated by others in life, on the whole, contributing yields benefits over time++

ah, when i mean "support", i also mean "appreciated".

Kenny
Thursday, August 12, 2004

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