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Competance and Chicanery

In this article:

someone says:

"There are a lot of people who considered  themselves IT professionals in the 1990s who will never work in the industry again."

I agree with this and think of my old college chum Joe. Joe was always asking my for help with his homework. He didn't get pointers, he couldn't code, he thought Pascal was C, Joe was really a sad case. Even his HTML code was bad. He couldn't make it through any of the filtering classes and eventually dropped out of college. From time to time, he would unexpectedly stop by my apartment to 'crash' while 'in town on business' and would tell me about big contracts he'd 'nabbed', his latest position as VP somewhere, and rub my nose in the outlandish salaries and stock options he was 'scoring'. Meanwhile, I toiled away day to day working on projects. Joe could never really coherently describe any of the big prjects he was managing but would tell me about all these conflicts he was having with the 'incompetent code monkeys' that worked for him who 'were intellectually incapable of understanding' the profound pearls of design window he was directing them with.

Interestingly, he would tell me the name of some big name company where he was the new VP of this and that, and a few months later he'd have a new job somewhere else and the previous company would be reported in the trade press as having financial problems.

Anyway. Joe was a Big Talker. He'd 'work the magic' as he said and 'network' and all that and in all the years of his career, no team under him ever delivered a single project and more than half the companies he became associated with failed.

Joe now lives in a big house in a nice neighborhood but is having trouble making ends meet. His last job was a part time position welding chicken cages. I feel more sorry for his clients and coworkers than I do for Joe. But don't worry about him. He's got some new projects he's working on through his contacts.

X. J. Scott
Monday, January 27, 2003

To paraphrase an old saying:

Those that can, do; those that can't, become VP's.

Monday, January 27, 2003

Linda Nesheim, 50, has been in the industry for 26 years, consulting for the last 19 of these as a mainframe programmer. When she got started, no one who was her current age, she says, was working as a programmer. And she doesn't think US citizens will be doing so 10 years from now. "Because of the H-1B and offshoring, I don't believe my job will be around," she says.

Customers definitely don't want to see the developers face to face - nah.  Or speak the same language (properly), or be able to understand each other's culture. 

Ok, fine, retail software may go to the other side of the Pacific.  But I don't see developer/consultants' roles going anywhere.  How many of us here write retail/shrink-wrapped software that requires no consulting work to implement at a customer site? 

Monday, January 27, 2003

This might be a good time to ask this question:
"What ever happened to all those people who were laid off from IBM in '93".

Some folks around from that time?

Prakash S
Monday, January 27, 2003

So true, so true...  "work the magic".  I like that.

Nat Ersoz
Monday, January 27, 2003

Looks like those chickens in the cages that Joe was welding are soon going to be free range chickens, so at least something good came out of it all.

Been There
Monday, January 27, 2003

>> "What ever happened to all those people who were laid off from IBM in '93".

That's really interesting that this came up in conjunction with a discussion about the late 90s high tech wind-down.

I contracted at that company in the late 1980s and I knew some people who took the staff reduction buyout there when it came about.

IBM's internal culture up to that point seemed to be almost like a mini-society that hardly acknowledged the outside world. The company was hugely featherbedded with many incompetent dolts working alongside some really sharp, world class people. IBM seemed to be an employer of last recourse for those with good GPAs from large state universities, at least in the tech realm.  It seemed to help a candidates's chances if they were non threatening and were able to able professional during the interview.

The internal culture seemed problematic to me, but the people that were groomed into fitting in there believed that only IBM products and internal creations were relevant. You absolutely couldn't discuss something you saw in the marketplace except in an IBM context. Kind of like a technology "Stepford Wives" if you remember that old SF movie. Everyone wore a happy face even as a project we worked on collapsed into ignominy.
IMO, it had to end if that company were to survive. It sounded like they weeded the right people, at least in the division I worked at.
I think the big difference between then and now is that if you wanted a job or wanted to keep your job back in the early 90's you usually could - if you had talent and you could perform. Today, you can have a laundry list of all the relevant achievements in the world and not be considered at all for anything, unless you hit it exactly right with timing, luck and/or rapport with an interviewer.

Tuesday, January 28, 2003

thanks, Curmudgeon

Prakash S
Tuesday, January 28, 2003

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