* Posts by Erik4872

483 posts • joined 11 Jan 2011

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Lambda School, a coding bootcamp that takes a cut of your next tech salary, now takes a 30% cut in staff

Erik4872

ISAs weren't around back in 1999...

...but the bootcamp predatory education model sure was.

Anyone who lived through the first dotcom bubble and is trying to hire right now would be blind if they didn't see parallels between now and then. Back then, tons of training houses became bootcamps overnight and really preyed on people afraid of missing out or attracted by massive salaries. At least in the US, there were lots of shady places offering MCSEs in 2 weeks to people with no experience in computers, let alone system administration. This is the exact same thing..."Tired of being a truck driver or janitor? Join our bootcamp and learn hot new JavaScript skills in just 10 weeks!" These ISAs are even worse than tricking people into student loans because I'm sure these places are hooked up with sweatshop startups looking for entry-level JavaScripters they can abuse...and there's an incentive to stay somehere if you're forced to repay the "loan" and it will become a non-dischargeable obligation if you quit.

At least the 1999 bootcamps took your money one time. One group I remember them heavily targeting was recently separated military personnel. The US gives "GI Bill" education grants to partially pay for higher ed when you leave...so imagine being a slimy training outfit salivating at a guaranteed source of income. I'm also seeing "DevOps bootcamps" for traditional sysadmins who should know better, but are freaking out about automation and DevOps tools taking their jobs.

As the world turns to big names in cloud and IT to get through the pandemic, IBM still manages to shrink

Erik4872
Pint

NewCo indeed...

I'm willing to bet a round for the entire Reg staff that within 30 days of NewCo's formation, a "surprise takeover bid" will be submitted by Wipro, Infosys, Tata, Cognizant or HCL. Newish IBM has delusions of being a white-shoe management consultancy like McKinsey or BCG, and having "work-doers" or "thing makers" on staff would sully that image -- they only want thinkfluencers.

I'm shocked that DXC hasn't been completely parted out and the corpse sold to one of the Indian outsourcers yet...but I fully expect NewCo will just re-issue their employees' badges and complete moving all the work to the cheapest possible location. Both will likely end up just making one of the offshore outsourcers slightly larger...it's not like there was a ton of innovative talent left in either of these orgs after the multiple spinoffs and the redundancies.

Not on your Zoom, not on Teams, not Google Meet, not BlueJeans. WebEx, Skype and Houseparty make us itch. No, not FaceTime, not even Twitch

Erik4872

I've been trying not to use it

Most of us are doing audio-only, but we sometimes have to do video when talking to the extroverts among us who are in love with it. I agree it needs to die as a primary means of communication. People just aren't meant to be reduced to a head-sized rectangle in Zoom or Microsoft Teams.

Unfortunately I think we're too far down the track. I work in the airline industry and IMO video conferencing is an existential threat. At least here in the US, airlines make most of their money on last-minute business travel -- the people paying $3K for a same-day first class seat subsiidize all those paying $99 for the same flight. If all those useless last minute meetings disappear, then leisure travelers are going to have to pay what it actually costs the airline to get them to their destination. OK, maybe it's not an existential threat, but it will require conditioning customers that they're not going to get something for nothing anymore because a key source of revenue has dried up. Either that, or the capacity will shrivel up to nothing in an attempt to drive up prices.

Erik4872

Re: Yeecall, Big Blue Button, Face Flow, Talky, Nexmo, imo, Whereby, Tox, Linkello

I think it's to force people to remember them by having the silliest name possible. That, or they just use a business name generator. Or, they just cargo-cult the other startups and put an "ly" on the end of a common name, or use a ".io" or ".ai" domain name.

Stop worrying and learn to love COVID-driven digital transformation, says Gartner

Erik4872

Why you should pay attention to these jokers...

Gartner and their lot aren't exactly the best prognosticators. However, there's one reason to listen to them with half an ear...your CIO is listening with both ears, on the edge of their seats. Gartner is the 21st century equivalent of "no one got fired for buying IBM." If your technology choices are in the Magic Quadrant, you cannot be blamed for any failures of any kind.

I'm high enough in an IT organization to peer over the wall into the executive suite. While it is good that overall IT is being looked at as something other than a cost to minimize, keep in mind that this is only the "relationship" between the board and IT. If a new CIO comes in and promises a 50% savings by offshoring the entire IT department, that relationship will still be in place until something bad happens. The board doesn't care how anything works as long as it does, so I don't see how this translates to anything good for regular staff long-term. Especially when companies are SaaS-ifying and cloudifying everything, I'd think there'd be an even higher distaste for those pesky in-house employees with their salary and benefits and demands for time off.

Former Microsoft tester sent down for 9 years after $10m gift card fraud

Erik4872

He just got too greedy

Big company accounting rounds on 5 digit numbers for the most part. If something like this were carried out under the radar for years, it's very possible it would have slipped through the cracks. Showing up to work driving an insanely out-of-character car is probably the best way to get the forensic accountants on your scent. But especially in IT, and especially if you control both sides of an approval process, fraud can go undetected for years. There's tons of stories of regular old IT Joes stealing millions in equipment and eBaying it, all because no one was watching where the equipment went once bought.

Once you've tripped the fraud sensors, that's pretty much it. Those irregularities that would otherwise have gone through the system will start showing up everywhere and there's nothing an accountant/fraud investigator will stop at to hunt them all down.

Either be honest (best policy) or steal little, not big.

Trump H-1B visa crackdown hit with legal double whammy: Tech giants, Chamber of Commerce challenge rules

Erik4872

Just get rid of the second-class labor force

Although I'm sure the tech companies abuse the H-1B as well, getting super-expensive experts for way less than they'd have to pay domestically, my major concern is the "labor replacement" use of H-1B slots. These are the ones snapped up by IBM, Tata, Infosys, Accenture, Cognizant, Wipro, etc. and used to fill on-site positions. These body shops use their H-1B slots for one of two things:

1. Placing a staff-replacing person for a customer who absolutely demands someone on site instead of offshore. (I.e. swap a customer-employed DBA for a cheap outsourcing firm-employed DBA)

2. Rotating "train your replacement" staff between outsourcing customers - these are the people that collect all the procedures and credential from IT department workers before they're fired and replaced with the faceless 1000 person call center admins.

Especially in expensive markets like the Bay Area and NYC, the H-1B is an easy way for companies to pay way less than they would have to for a way more exploitable worker. Even if the visa is somewhat portable, companies know the holder needs to find a new company to sponsor them in 30 days. They also know that it's extremely easy to game the "labor certification" process and get an insanely good deal. That's what the focus of any reform should be...there's no reason companies should be allowed to have a second-class labor force.

Your IT department should behave like a jellyfish, says Gartner

Erik4872

Typical Gartner

I don't know what it is about Gartner and the other "trusted advisor" firms. I guarantee this will be making the rounds on LinkedIn, reposted by hundreds of middle managers with lots of hashtags like #itjellyfish and #dontgetstung. And there will be hundreds of comments from similar middle managers, "Oh, what a visionary you are! Can't wait to celebrate your success in operationalizing this!"

Gartner keynotes are like crack for a crack addicted IT middle manager or CIO. They give them all sorts of new things to talk about in strategy sessions, plus give them a scapegoat. They can easily say "but Vendor X was in the Magic Quadrant! I can't be blamed for this dismal implementation failure/cost overrun/shelfware!"

Uber drivers take ride biz to European court over 'Kafkaesque' algorithmic firings by Mastermind code

Erik4872

Too much faith in The Holy Algorithm

One issue with having computers make all the decisions with minimal-at-best human intervention is the edge cases. Given Uber is most likely trying to be the "tech company" it says it is, most of its employees are probably treating this the way they treat self-driving cars. Get rid of the pesky humans and you get rid of the edge cases.

What's interesting is that most people in the position to being forced to drive for Uber to make a living also vehemently oppose any sort of regulation that could protect them from summary dismissals. Here in the US, employment is "at will" in almost every state, where an employee can be fired for no reason. Employers don't even have to make up a reason - they can just say "you're gone, I don't like your shoes." This takes it a step further...banning drivers from their only way to make money, which will most likely get them banned from any ridesharing service or taxi company. Back before unions this was "blacklisting" where they would basically revoke your ability to make money industry-wide. I'm kind of surprised more tech companies haven't set up mutual blacklisting to deal with "problem employees" who might stir up pro-union sentiment or complain about 100 hour weeks.

Just wait until you're in a spot where you're unfairly accused of something and can't work as a result. This is why sexual harassment suits are settled in the millions; even if an employee bringing the suit was in the right, they're radioactive now and no employer will touch them with a 100m pole. People will find ways to game any system you put in front of them, which it sounds like the people in these suits may well have been doing. But taking away someone's right to seek employment is basically sentencing them to a life of crime here in the US since we don't have any social protections to speak of.

After Dutch bloke claims he hacked Trump's Twitter by guessing password, web biz says there's 'no evidence'

Erik4872

Interesting

If I were this guy, the first thing I'd do is DM the "fake news" outlets like the NY Times, Washington Post, etc. from the account to prove my hack worked. Even screenshots aren't enough when Twitter doesn't want the embarrassment and will sweep anything under the rug. What I wonder is what Twitter actually does for "famous people" accounts. MFA is too hard for most executives, celebrities, etc. so do they just lock it down to certain IPs/devices? Or do most celebrities have a whole social media department running their presence and they don't bother sending out random 3AM tweets themselves?

If I were this guy and a jerk, I would set myself up in the markets just so, then let out some crazy tirade about Europe or China and profit while the financial markets collapse.

Ed Snowden doesn’t need to worry about being turfed out of Russia any more

Erik4872

Re: Appealing options

"talented computer expert"

I thought he was basically a contract SharePoint admin who happened to have access to the systems storing the classified data, and he got it by tricking people into giving out their passwords. So I doubt he's a "l33t hax0r" type. Still, Russia must be very happy just having him as a trophy to wave in front of the NSA once in a while!

Finding remote working a bit of a grind? Microsoft staffers feel your pain

Erik4872

Re: In order from best to worst

Totally agree, except put a "work/home hybrid option" at the top of the list. Everyone hates cube farms, but have the people complaining about cubicles worked in an open-office plan sitting 3 feet from your neighbor at a cafeteria table? I need my privacy. I had an office with a door in my pre-COVID workplace but even a cubicle is better than being exposed to everyone and being stared at from the management offices like a zoo animal!

Erik4872

Re: PsyOps BS from MSFT

I live about 60 miles from NYC, and just accepted an offer for an NYC job with the promise that it's WFH until COVID is done, but NOT a 5-day week after that either. COVID gave me the opportunity to get a more interesting job than the local one I currently have. It's easily a 3-hour daily commute because trains here are slow. I did it when I had no kids, but now that I'm a family guy, no way. Flexibility is critical to me and I'm certainly capable of producing good work without being in the office. Other NYC employers I talked with basically said full time in-office after COVID is non-negotiable, so I can see where this is heading. Commerical real estate, restaurants, auto makers, Mens Wearhouse/Brooks Brothers, etc. must be secretly lobbying the executive class and whispering in their ear that their workers are wasting time and not doing anything at home.

Workers in Seattle, SF and SV must all have similar brain-rotting commutes. Who in their right mind is brainwashed into wanting to go back to that? Here in metro NY, the traffic is only marginally better with a good chunk of people still working at home. Is this Agile collaboration fantasy such a strong force that people would voluntarily sit in Seattle traffic for 2 hours each way? Or was the workplace perk arrangement so heavily built around living at the office that working anywhere else is "boring?"

Erik4872

I can see both sides

I really enjoy working from home, but I hate being forced to. Communication where I work wasn't great pre-pandemic, and now it's even harder. The last thing I want to go is go back to an open office and sit at a cafeteria table in the middle of an Agile collaboration preschool. But, to make WFH work you really need to have an unobtrusive way to get in contact with your colleagues. Back when I had a nice office with a door at work, I could easily get up and ask my colleagues what I needed to ask. Now it's a meeting request or Yet Another Teams Call.

Unfortunately I think we're too far down the management consultant rabbit hole to prevent open office plans from taking over all work locations. Microsoft was famous for having individual offices, similar to the arrangement university faculty have. IMO that shows trust that you've hired smart people and that they'll do the required reaching-out to collaborate on whatever it is they need. I know a couple of people at Microsoft who have said that all locations are now switching to the "team room" thing where they stuff you at tables so you can be distracted all day long.

I can see constant distractions being useful for junior developers who are being whipped along by Azure DevOps or Jira or whatever to crank out features features features, and they need help from colleagues constantly. However, once you get more senior and start having to look into longer-term directions for a product, this breaks down. Reading a 100 page highly technical document or learning a difficult concept takes focus and concentration and can't be done in 5-minute chunks interrupted by "Hey Bob, quick question".

VMware staff in Silicon Valley can leave a pandemic, wildfire-ridden zone – if they're willing to accept less pay

Erik4872

I'd do it if I were working there

I know Northern California has permanently nice weather, but $4500 a month renting in SF or millions to buy a house anywhere close to work in Silicon Valley is insane. This is coming from a New Yorker also, for reference. :-) California is on a whole other level compared to our already super-high cost of living.

I think this is just the beginning of tech companies figuring out they don't actually need to be in Silicon Valley, Seattle or NYC to find people. For decades there's been this mystique that all you need is the top 10% of the Stanford/MIT/UIUC computer science class, a pool of poachable experienced employees, exploitable offshore and work visa labor, and a preschool office space to ensure success. That preschool office space is less appealing now, since companies have figured out that most jobs can be done with only minimal in-person (or no) interaction. So, the cheap perks like 3 meals a day and a college campus workplace do less to hold employees at work for 80 hour weeks than they used to. At that point, why spend the money on the expensive office space when you can send them to some other part of the country and pay them less?

I even see this within markets. I'm about 60 miles from NYC, so train-commutable if I'm willing to throw away 3 hours a day. Employers are well aware of this. I work locally, but could easily be making 30-40% more if I were willing to do the commute pre-COVID. What remains to be seen is whether employers will demand physical presence in our new COVID world. People are already predicting grim horrible futures for NYC real estate (but the market is insane here already.) I understand liking the area you live in (I wouldn't be here otherwise...) but there has to be a point where even money-printing employers are less willing to pay whatever it takes to hire people.

Accenture dares to enter site of US Air Force mega ERP-project disaster

Erik4872

Pay me enough and I'd do it!

All of the consulting companies have a Teflon reputation. I don't know what it is, whether the partners let the CEOs they golf with win, or buy them the most expensive dinners (or after-dinner "entertainment"). But, what I do know is that they will continue to be hired regardless of how badly they screw things up. Part of this is being a professional scapegoat for the CEOs, but the only other thing I can attribute it to is old-boys-club networking, or the consultancies embedding former employees in customer companies as executives.

I feel bad for the 57,485 new graduates that are going to be put on airplanes week after week working on a doomed-to-fail project. Accenture's (and EY's, and McKinsey's...) entire business model revolves on hiring private school graduates with no work experience and indoctrinating them into the ways of the firm. Seriously, you have 25 year olds telling executives what to offshore/outsource, who to fire, etc. who've never done anything more than work at Starbucks for a couple summers. It's why Harvard charges $65K a year...jobs with these companies are well-paid and practically graduation presents.

Capgemini bags £40m to provide IT and dev support for the UK's Financial Services Compensation Scheme

Erik4872

This will end well

All core business functions, now also IT outsourced to different outsourcers. I'm sure they're going to be super Agile and DevOps-y and there will be zero communication issues. After all, outsourcers love working together....don't they?

Why do governments and companies keep getting tricked into outsourcing contracts?? Isn't there plenty of evidence that it's painful at best?

Unfortunately for SAP, major ERP upgrade projects are the last thing customers want to think about right now

Erik4872

I wonder if we'll see Oracle-style shakedowns instead

If SAP can't get new customers, it's always possible they'll just turn the licensing screws on the existing ones. Not enough to require a full upgrade, mind you...just enough to tip customers over to "SAP Cloud" or similar, removing support for key features that just happen to be re-supported in the next version, etc.

It works for Oracle...they have all but made it impossible to buy one-off software. Our company is a heavy PeopleSoft user and basically got strongarmed into PeopleSoft Cloud -- they're only willing to do licenses if you're willing to pay shipping containers full of money. It makes their "cloud" business look good too -- win win for everyone but the customers!

Containers to capture 15% of all enterprise apps across 75% of business by 2024

Erik4872

Magic Quadramt Strikes Again!

Gartner is the 2010s/2020s version of "no one ever got fired for buying IBM." Some of their "predictions" are paid for, and therefore are kind of made to happen. You can bet if there's some whizzy new Container As A Service tool in the Magic Quadrant, a good chunk of CIOs will buy it, use it and make the prediction come true.

They definitely have the "market to lazy business people" thing down...they hold themselves out as a bunch of thought leaders, thinkfluencers, whatever. Reality is that their "research" is just a bunch of copy-paste reports put together by a bunch of new grads who couldn't quite make it into McKinsey or one of the other management consultancues when they were done with school. Our company bought access to their whole research library for a year, and I never found anything worth the cost.

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses... but not your H-1B geeks, L-1 staffers nor J-1 students

Erik4872

This is a good move (for a change...)

If you're Google or Facebook and need to hire some world-class computer science Ph.D genius to get people to click on more ads, that's what H-1B is supposed to be for. It's not supposed to be a way for Cognizant or Mindtree or Tata to bring in the exact same IT worker to replace the transferred former FTE of their customer that they just fired after "train your replacement" happened. The outsourcers either use the H-1Bs on a revolving door basis for "knowledge transfer" moving them from customer to customer collecting runbooks and procedures -- or they just swap like for like while paying 30 or 40% less in the case that the customer needs someone on site.

I'm no Trump fan whatsoever, and I acknowledge that this is just him appealing to his xenophobic base. But, there's no denying that H-1B is used primarily by the offshore outsourcers to replace people that would otherwise make the prevailing wage. They make sure they're in the lottery on the first day it opens and tailor job descriptions exactly to the people they have in mind to replace. At the low end it's just a convenient way to get a subservient, lower-paid workforce in front of an outsourcing customer to improve margins. I say the program should stay, without the loopholes and the lobbying from tech firms. COVID is bound to be the excuse CIOs use to start calling their buddies at the outsourcers and getting rid of those expensive, pesky US citizens on the IT payroll. Not changing the H-1B rules ahead of this potential mass offshoring is just a giveaway to these companies so they can make more margin.

Wipro names new CEO: Former Capgemini COO Thierry Delaporte

Erik4872

Preparing for the post-COVID offshoring rush?

Unfortunately, I think COVID came too soon for the older-school companies in the middle of a force Digital Transformation brought on by their management consultants. Thank God I work for a European company in the US, because every single US company is ditching everyone they possibly can now that this has gone on for 3 months. Companies have been told for decades to not save and unload any assets they have, so they've got nothing to fall back on when their cash flow dries up. In house IT is going to get sacrificed so that the execs can keep their salaries, and it's going to undo a lot of the improvements that have happened in the 2010s.

I fully expect that the fall is going to bring about a massive resurgence of offshoring contracts, solely driven by the "we need to save IT costs" requirement. On an MBA's spreadsheet, you can be the smallest, Agileest, nimblest, most productive team, but if 500 people in a far flung location can do it for less than 10 of you, no company will ever pick the nimble slightly-more-expensive team. I'm high enough in the IT org now that I'm starting to see the Wipros and Infosys's of the world circling again...their sales pitches are a little different but it's the same game. All they did is add Agile and DevOps to their playbook of revolving-door lowest-bidder workers.

I'm hoping this pandemic has taught some companies the importance of having backup plans for when revenue isn't enough to cover expenses. Even the backward retail companies like JCPenney are probably going to make it out of bankruptcy because they have their real estate to make funny-money transfers on and borrow against. So many companies are just passthrough entities now...all their stuff is cloud services, they only hire contractors outside of management positions, etc. Maybe the MBA schools will start teaching new grads that you have to have something saved for the bad times....I'm hopeful but doubtful.

IBM's sacking spree reaches Australia – and as staff wait to exit, they're offered AU$4k to find new workers

Erik4872

Did Mr. Burns write the rules for this RA?

I'm not a big quoter-of-entertainment, but it fits perfectly.......

Mr. Burns: All right, let's make this sporting, Leonard. If you can tell me why I shouldn't fire you without using the letter "e," you can keep your job.

Lenny: Uh, okay. I'm a good... work... guy...

Mr. Burns: You're fired.

Lenny: But I didn't say it.

Mr. Burns: You will.

[He pulls a lever, dropping Lenny down a trapdoor]

Lenny: EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE.

Frontier: Yes, yes, we've filed for bankruptcy protection, but that's not stopping us giving key staff $38m in bonuses

Erik4872

Happens with all Chapter 11 bankruptcies

Every single recent Chapter 11 has had million in "retention bonuses" paid out just before the company walked away from all its debts. The retail bankruptcies (JCPenney, etc.) have been especially suspect considering their revenue slowed to a trickle in COVID-world.

Unfortunately modern bankruptcy allows companies to just wave goodbye to their creditors and continue operating as if nothing happened. The executives are still making their insane pay packages and nothing has to change...it's an incentive to load up a company with debt and then just say "So long, suckers!" when it gets too uncomfortable to repay.

Let's get digital... digital: Microsoft Ignite switches to online-only as 2020's tech calendar clears

Erik4872

No more massive conventions?

I wonder what's going to become of in-person events. They're so much more than the actual event for the place hosting them...they drive tons of hotel stays, expense account meals, bar tabs, certain..."service" industries, and air travel. The salesier they are, the more extracurricular activities, but all conventions bring in lots of tourist money.

Same thing goes for massive convention halls. Every time I go to any in-person event in these massive buildings, I'm reminded of how different things are now. Back in the day, the ONLY way to learn about WidgetCo's new line of valves and fittings would be to have your purchasing team attend ValveCon '83. WidgetCo's sales reps would give out free passes if you were a good enough customer. Once they had you on-site, their job was to lure you in with enough food, alcohol and fresh-from-school marketing graduates until you signed a contract for 100,000 valves. I can almost see the junior salesperson rushing down the cavernous hallways to FedEx his freshly-signed contract that would get him off the convention circuit and into the head office.

It's just a very different business climate now, pandemic aside. Now junior salespeople cold call IT folks and beg them to "jump on a quick call" so they can deliver the same webinar they've done 45 times that week and hopefully get a nibble. No expensive flights, hotels, or sexist trade show booth displays needed.

Kubernetes is 'still hard' so VMware has gone all-in on container-related tech with expanded Tanzu, vSphere 7

Erik4872

Re: Hyper-V

And every one of those Hyper-V customers is being encouraged to move everything to Azure, where they'll still be running Hyper-V under the covers. Microsoft has also obviously been working on features for Hyper-V that increase its usefulness in Azure and the on-prem product gets some of these.

Server 2016 and 2019 really improved the Hyper-V experience but since it's one component of a larger OS you do have to do work with it to get usable clusters (Storage Spaces Direct, or clustering/MPIO). You also need SCVMM (just like you need VCenter for "free" ESXi) unless you want to roll your own management environment or rely on PowerShell only once your deployment gets more complex. For smaller deployments, ESXi (to me) just seems more joined up and usable for its core task.

I guess VMWare is realizing they can't make it on hypervisor, NSX and VSAN alone anymore.

Alleged Vault 7 leaker trial finale: Want to know the CIA's password for its top-secret hacking tools? 123ABCdef

Erik4872

Why can't we have brilliant people without toxic personalities??

We don't deal with NSA-level codebreaking savant geniuses, but the explanation of that team's behaviour in the article seems like I've lived mini versions of it. It really is a spectrum (and I'm not talking about ASD...) between "total condescending borderline crazy jerk but brilliant" and "super-type-A gladhanding salesy type without a knack for anything technical." It's like there's a slider and dialing up one forces you to dial down the other except in rare cases.

It does seem that tech companies tolerate "brilliant jerks" much more than they should. NSA might be a special case altogether though...they might feel that just putting handlers in front of their most productive and least social people is worth it. I'm sure Microsoft and the FAANGs have a ton of people that they'll surround with a team as long as they keep cranking out work. I absolutely can't sell and would never be mistaken for a hyper-extroverted executive type, but one thing I've learned in 20+ years is that people who at least make an effort to fit in will have more success than those who don't. But that's probably because I'm not a super-genius...just competent at what I do (and willing to teach anyone who asks.) I did get into this field because I'm more comfortable solving problems and dealing with machines than navigating political fires, but developing a good overall likable personality helps a great deal! I'm not smart enough to fall in with the "hide them in the back room" crowd so I've had to adapt.

Microsoft's latest cloud innovation: Printing

Erik4872

"This is absolutely insane, so it is very typical of Microsoft. But what's the point?"

The point is to cater to "cloud first" businesses who already want everything running in the cloud. Allowing Azure AD to do more things without regular AD allows them to take servers off-prem, forcing you to subscribe to their service every month. Azure Site Recovery and OneDrive are amazing tools given the right use cases, but they have the same goal...remove anything that the end user can run by paying a license fee once.

Maersk prepares to lay off the Maidenhead staffers who rescued it from NotPetya super-pwnage

Erik4872

Re: Disappointing

IT is almost always an exception. Unless a company is a tech company, they consider it an outsourceable service. The best way to survive in a non-tech company is to end up "in IT" but attached to a business unit....or doing what I do, which is infrastructure engineering in a software product shop.

IT people who have business experience and aren't just closing pure tech tickets are still doing OK...but we're not immune to offshoring either.

The Ghost of Windows 10 Past shrinks back as Microsoft's axeman tiptoes ever closer

Erik4872

Re: Microssoft, PLEASE stop fiddling with .NET

Haven't you heard? .NET Framework is dead now -- they're doing everything on .NET Core now (the open source cross platform one.)

The actual .NET Framework might end up like IE 11 -- you'll get one last release that will see no feature updates ever, until they pull it and force your app onto Core.

UK contractors planning 'mass exodus' ahead of IR35 tax clampdown – survey

Erik4872

We have this issue in the US too

Employers LOVE to use contractors here in the US. Not only does the accounting put those costs in some magic OpEx bucket where they don't matter, but they get essentially an FTE. It drives me crazy to see contractors (or their body shops) billing 4x a full time salary and companies saying they're saving so much money by doing so. There are IRS rules saying you can't treat contractors like employees, but they're not enforced at all. Big tech companies have a majority contract staff for that reason...they don't have to pay their taxes and benefits, and can snap their fingers and have them gone in an hour.

It's a pretty sweet deal for the independent contractors who aren't having the majority of their earnings taken by an agency. Once you're your own company, the company is the one racking up the expenses and pulling in the income, not you...so there are massive tax advantages to go this way. Regular W-2 employees have almost none of the raft of deductions available to even pass-through business owners.

SF tech biz forks out $146m in fines, settlements after painkiller makers bribed it to design medical software that pushed opioids to patients

Erik4872

Is anyone in the US surprised?

Practice Fusion's new owner will be able to pay the fine out of the change in their couch cushions. That's what bugs me...it seems like anyone owning a large enough business is immune from anything the general population has to abide by...and when they do get caught they can just write a tiny check and admit no wrongdoing.

There are several US states that spend massive amounts of money policing illegal prescriptions and treating people for opioid addiction, and they're going to have a very hard time collecting anything. Parts of the US have been completely de-industrialized, leaving behind a lot of workers who have chronic pain and no way to earn a living anymore. Hence, the addition problem spurs on a huge circle of crime when people who need these drugs have no money or insurance, so can't get them legally, and a huge wave of medical costs to clean up the long-term damage. It's a very messy situation.

It's good to talk: Union says IBM failed to consult system support techies as Scottish Power contract nears end

Erik4872

Re: Outsourcing is a game for two

Total hands-off "give us your IT and we'll put half the population of India on it" outsourcing isn't playing as well as it did back in the 2000s. You still see it from time to time...financial institutions seem to be mired in an outsourcing mess they refuse to fix by in-housing. Most companies that have some sort of strategic advantage with their IT don't do this anymore. Non-IT companies, or those that are just using O365 and a few other commodity tools...it's on the wane but there are CIOs who will parachute in and promise millions in savings.

When companies just give over everything, you see the messes that are highly publicized. Margin pressure causes the outsourcer to hire cheaper and cheaper workers, reducing service quality and removing any hope that your problems will be their priority. It works great until they've cut just enough to avoid losing the contract, but so much that doing anything is impossibly hard now.

Rockstar dev debate reopens: Hero programmers do exist, do all the work, do chat a lot – and do need love and attention from project leaders

Erik4872

Re: A matter of context...

"... these immediately went on the "nope!" pile."

Unfortunately, managers seem to love the 10x/rockstar developer/IT person. In exchange for free food, ego stroking and/or wacky office furniture, they get someone with zero life outside of work. They can then hold this individual up to the rest of their team and say, :"Why can't you be more like our rockstar Bob?"

Tech startups are all the rage again, just like in 1999, and the environment is similar. Management is in FOMO mode and is convinced that hiring a bunch of prima donna geniuses will turn their stodgy insurance company into a FAANG or high-flying tech unicorn. It's going to take another recession to bring things back in line and get them to focus on doing a good solid job.

Judge snubs IT outsourcers' plea to Alt-F4 tougher H-1B visa rules: Bosses told to fill out the extra paperwork

Erik4872

You have a labor underclass, and don't want to jump through one more hoop for it??

I work for a very international company and we often bring people in on H-1B visas as well as others for the purposes the program was intended for. What I hate seeing is the body shops using them as cheap on-site labor for offshore outsourcing contracts. The authorities either don't understand that a low-level sysadmin you can easily get locally off the street isn't a hard-to-find globally scarce resource, or they just turn a blind eye and say, "Oh well, it's the law, someone paid for that law, etc."

These body shops have an amazing deal...they can pay their H-1Bs $60,001 in high-cost areas like SV/SF or NYC where local people will want almost double that because the minimum salary was never changed to reflect inflation or cost-of-living. And even though the visa is portable, it's a royal pain to get another company to re-sponsor you, so they might as well be a captive workforce. The H-1B reform amounts to additional paperwork; it changes nothing substantial...and these companies are still complaining.

If we could get rid of this underclass of explotable people and still maintain the ability to bring in people who really deserve to be brought in, I'd be all for this. But as it is now, all the Tatas and IBMs and Accentures and Cognizants of the world just have a huge loophole that they're not too grateful for apparently. Most people in IT in high-cost areas don't have to live 6 to a house or get guilted into working crazy hours...it sucks that some do.

If you never thought you'd hear a Microsoftie tell you to stop using Internet Explorer, lap it up: 'I beg you, let it retire to great bitbucket in the sky'

Erik4872

People aren't using it to "browse the web"

I do systems integration work, and IE is something we just can't kill. People aren't daily-driving it as a web browser for the most part these days. They're using it as the only thing that provides full backward compatibility for early-2000s web development. They're NOT going to re-implement ActiveX on Edge, even in a super-safe totally-offline can't-be-hacked sandbox mode. Why do you think Oracle is extracting money from companies in the form of Java EE licenses for ancient versions? Because there's still a demand for it.

One reality in this whole sordid story is that Microsoft are the kings of backwards compatibility on the desktop. IBM wins for the mainframe...but until recently, Microsoft has been very happy to let older stuff limp along. This is because outside of Silicon Valley and born-in-the-cloud startups, IT is delivered through a crazy patchwork of systems in most companies. These applications and systems they're the front end for don't get replaced daily like they do in Agile-land. In my short 20-year career, I've seen business processes responsible for millions a day being governed by Access 97 "applications" and FoxPro databases...in the 2010s. The world is full of vertical-market vendors who don't care one bit about updating their software, as well as "business unit apps" that are a tangle of Excel 5.0 macros and such cobbled together by an accounting intern in 1998 and processing $800M a year.

It does need to go, and it is slowly happening...but VERY slowly! Can't wait to see Adobe writing something similar about Flash, Air, ColdFusion, etc....

Co-Op Insurance and IBM play blame game over collapse of £175m megaproject

Erik4872

Re: Good news for...

IBM can keep this up for decades. They have a guaranteed money stream coming in from mainframe and quite honestly there are use cases that really still need mainframe-level processing. They also have enough multimillion dollar offshore outsourcing projects running, plus they now have Red Hat.

They've basically completed the transition to an Accenture or PWC or similar....just juggling massive outsourcing contracts and jumping from contract to contract without really producing a lot.

No backdoors needed: Apple ditched plans to fully encrypt iCloud backups after heavy pressure from FBI – claim

Erik4872

That would not have gone over well

Apple's whole campaign has been centered around how your private information on your private device is encrypted. I think this is probably about the most they can get away with, without attracting serious heat. It's easy for law enforcement to get at iCloud data, and most criminals who aren't masterminding some crazy scheme are probably not looking at every single scrap of data being sent to Apple's services. iOS and the built in apps make the phone pretty useless to use without access to iCloud. With that in mind, that should probably be enough to keep the pretense of total privacy up while keeping the FBI and friends happy they can at least catch the dumb criminals.

It's an interesting privacy question -- no one 200+ years ago could have dreamed of someone owning a device with other-worldly capabilities capable of storing the most sensitive personal data...and carrying that with them 24/7. Police have always had access to phone records and such, but the ability to have a completely encrypted, theoretically unbreakable copy of evidence on your person, and not have to give it up on demand, is new. What's the analog...a notepad written in code backed by a one-time pad that someone else has?

Remember when Netscout got so upset at 'challenger' label in Gartner Magic Quadrant, it sued? Well, top court just ended all those shenanigans

Erik4872

Maybe not, but they are professional scapegoats

Large-corporation IT is pretty much driven by who ends up in the Magic Quadrant. How they get there is in question, but what isn't is the fact that these research services are the current equivalent of "No one ever got fired for buying IBM."

Regardless of what's claimed, there's definitely some sort of quid pro quo. How can there not be? Getting your product top billing is almost complete assurance that some lazy CIO who won't hire a sufficiently technical staff capable of research will buy it. I've seen CIOs explicitly state in meetings, "We won't buy anything that isn't in the Magic Quadrant."

Our company subscribed to their service for a year or two. Their "research" was basically a bunch of new college grads cobbling together whitepapers and consulting company PowerPoint slides. I think they operate off the same business model as the consultancies...executives pay them to take the fall if something goes bad, or hold them up as proof of their brilliance for hiring them if things go well.

Someone needs to go back to school: Texas district fleeced for $2.3m after staff fall for devious phishing email

Erik4872

So what happens to the money?

I know we in the US personal banking world are in the Stone Age compared to Europe. Wire transfers here are for moving large amounts of money around (like funding brokerage accounts, shadowy secret-agent style payments, etc.) and generally don't get used for day to day banking. But as far as I know, a wire transfer is like handing a bag of cash to someone, it's semi-anonymous and you can't get the money back once it happens.

So, what happens to the money? Is it just gone forever? Does an insurance company just pay for the loss?

It's interesting because European countries use wire transfers heavily for personal banking. There have to be better protections in place than there seem to be here...otherwise people would be getting wiped out constantly.

It's your walkie-talkie Teams mate, over. 'You don't have to say Over, over'. Copy that. Stop making the static noise, over and out

Erik4872

Re: So what's the difference ...

"So what exactly is Microsoft adding to products that have been available for free for many years?"

The ability to add random conversation snippets to the dystopian nightmare of the Graph API. The latest selling points for O365 that they're trying to drive home to businesses are "productivity enhancers." This surfaces all the connections between people in a workplace and, while useful, could easily be abused by micromanagers competing with each other for who has the highest "department engagement score" or whatever.

The main goal isn't selling you Office licenses; it's allowing companies to collect and mine basically every scrap of electronic information trails workers leave behind.

It's Becoming Messy: Judge says IBM's request to shut down age-discrimination lawsuit should be rejected

Erik4872

Hope it goes to trial

If this superstar rainmaker salesperson settles for a replacement 401k (i.e. a few million) from IBM, then unfortunately the whole case will get swept under the rug like all the other settled ones. Here's hoping he and his attorneys are willing to go the distance.

Age discrimination is going to be a killer, especially as automation and AI or whatever starts killing knowledge work. We're already being expected to work longer and save more money...but if companies are still in love with the abusable new grads by the time we get laid off never to find work again, that's not good. I've seen lots of people laid off in their 50s, years from any ability to access their retirement money or social security, with zero interest from employers for even basic work. Extend that out to more and more people competing for fewer jobs -- allowing companies to have another reason to reject people won't be good.

What we need is an enforceable law, with real teeth, that can't be watered down or worked around by companies through surreptitious means. Settlements don't set legal precedent because companies can just "admit no wrongdoing."

Ministry of Justice bod jailed for stealing £1.7m with fake IT consulting contract

Erik4872

This is surprisingly easy until it blows up

Most large companies/agencies have so many POs and invoices flying around that it's easy to slip one in if you control both ends of the approval chain.

It's lucky someone decided to be honest after figuring out what was going on and report it. I wonder if the guy asked him to go in on it with him for a cut of the take.

Having trouble finding a job in your 40s? Study shows some bosses like job applicants... up until they see dates of birth

Erik4872

Re: Ageism is the single most important discrimination...

That's an interesting perspective, and I'm kind of in that "half a career left" boat too. Here in the US, you don't get Social Security until a minimum of 62 and you take a permanent hit on your monthly payment unless you wait until at least 67. For self-funded stuff (401K, IRA, etc.) you have to wait until you're 59.5. Anything you take out before that is taxed at your normal rate at the time, plus a 10% penalty to prevent not-smart uses of your retirement nest egg.

I don't think it's a great solution, but let's assume hiring managers will continue to prefer young, abusable candidates over "experienced" ones. We'd end up having careers like professional athletes, where we had better put away everything we're making during the few years we can do it. Lowering the withdrawal age might tip some people who had early career success over to the early retirement side. People start having the most problems in their later 40s, so why not 49.5? It would reduce the number of people who are chronically unemployed and years away from being able to access their retirement money.

There are plenty of older workers who want to continue working. They just might not want to spend 80 hours a week in a hipster office or take calls at 2 AM without compensation, simply because they've learned what that gets you in the long run.

Erik4872

"Most are fine, but there are still a large minority who think they can jump straight into senior management."

An MBA plus a stint at one of the management consultancies that runs on new MBAs' tears will get you to middle management, skipping the entire working phase of your career. I think the idea is similar to graduating from one of the service academies as an automatic commissioned officer. This, plus promoting a lot of good workers into management as their only career path choice, makes for a lot of bad management.

IT exec sets up fake biz, uses it to bill his bosses $6m for phantom gear, gets caught by Microsoft Word metadata

Erik4872

Greedy and careless

As others have pointed out, there are many ways to sanitize documents' metadata. I imagine someone was wise to this a while before he was caught and needed to set up a trap to get evidence that it really was him.

If he hadn't continued, and received much less than $6M, he would have likely gotten away with it. Big-company accounting rounds on 5-digit numbers for the most part. It takes a big purchase or something way out of line to even trigger someone batting an eyelash. The medium-ish company I work for routinely writes multi-million dollar checks to vendors and service providers, and small invoices could be slipped in between these without anyone saying anything.

The other very important thing to remember is this...forensic accountants live for this stuff. Once they get wind of something worth investigating, they will not let it go until they find the root cause. So, it would be possible for someone to get away with a scam like this for years, especially if he just set himself up as a reseller and skimmed profits off the real equipment being delivered. It's just not possible forever. It's more possible if you have someone on the inside in purchasing helping you (or in this case, if you get to approve invoice payments yourself.)

Sir John Redwood backs IR35 campaign, notes review would have to start 'immediately' before new off-payroll working rules kick in

Erik4872

Interesting discussion

If this is mainly about employers being denied the ability to have a permatemp disposable workforce, I'm all for it. Here in the US we have similar situations...you're not supposed to treat contractors as employees but it happens all the time. I have no problem with contractors parachuting in for a single task that the permanent staff doesn't have time or expertise to do, but when companies use this to create an underclass of employees with different rules, that's not good.

I've been told by many people that I'm better off contracting, but there are lots of risks that people don't consider. I have a spouse that works but I really don't want to be constantly hustling for my next job and like the stability of being paid, having vacations I'm not guilty about taking, etc. Contractors also have to deal with collections, more difficult tax filing, marketing/sales, etc. It just seems like even though I'd be paid more and have a more "flexible" work life, the added headaches of running a business while doing a mentally taxing job don't seem worth it. I'm horrible at selling and networking and it seems you would have to do that a lot going from gig to gig every few months.

JavaScript survey: Devs love a bit of React, but Angular and Cordova declining. And you're not alone... a chunk of pros also feel JS is 'overly complex'

Erik4872

Doesn't paint JavaScript in the best light...

Wind the clock back to the pre-framework era for a second. JS is being twisted into so many things it was never meant for. It used to be a simple language for controlling page elements dynamically.and was never designed to be a real "programming language" in the traditional sense.

What boggles my mind is that the entire tower of frameworks, libraries and abstractions is built on such a rickety base. Just because every browser understands it, developers assume it's the best thing to build their entire world around. The fact that a coder-bootcamp graduate can't really be productive unless they're using some massive framework is not a good advertisement for the suitability of JS for all the things it's being pressed to do.

If only Flash and Java weren't such security nightmares, web development might have been different. The web is littered with different tries at putting in something more suitable -- I wonder if anyone is going to try again, or if they're so scarred by Silverlight/Flash/Java that they're just going to keep heaping junk on top of JS.

GlaxoSmithKline ditches IR35 contractors: Go PAYE or go home

Erik4872

Re: Whats wrong with temporary staff?

"Why is/was the IT industry so wedded to self employed contracting?"

I think it's disposability and accounting.

Salaries go in a different bucket than contractor invoices and through the magic of accounting the invoice bucket is much better to be in than the salary one.

The other "advantage" is that there's even more ability for the employer to treat their contractors like disposable garbage. In the US we have at-will employment and no emplyment contracts or statutory redundancy outside of unions or executives negotiating their own deals. That means my boss can walk over to me, say "I don't like your shirt, you're fired" and I have zero recourse. Other countries might have slightly more protections...I know France has a big permatemp problem because their employees enjoy a lot more rights than the rest of the world.

Erik4872

Is this a cost thing or legal thing?

In the US, the IRS says that independent contractors have a special status, mainly revolving around the fact that employers can't treat them as FTEs. This is, of course, not adhered to anywhere I've ever worked, but the letter of the law says employers can get in a lot of trouble for not paying their FTEs the way a W-2 employee usually gets paid (i.e. Social Security/Medicare and income taxes withheld by the employer.) Basically they can't get away with a contractor workforce just to avoid paying a person's full cost.

Is this what the IR35 thing is all about? Or is it the UK cracking down on the other thing US contractors like to do...setting up a corporation through which they pass all their personal expenses to offset income? Buying private insurance costs an arm and a leg, but it's less of a burden if you're allowed to write the entire thing off against your already-high contractor hourly wage. Being able to drive your "company car" to work and work on your "company-owned laptop" isn't too far a leap from there, and since the US tax system outside of W-2 income is self-reporting, audits are less than 2%, and everyone's doing it...I'm not surprised it happens.

Tesla has a smashing weekend: Model 3 on Autopilot whacks cop cars, Elon's Cybertruck demolishes part of LA

Erik4872

Re: How come it only happens to Tesla?

"Do they market their systems differently, in such a way that causes overconfidence?"

(a) Most people equate "Autopilot" with full self-flying (altitude-keeping, heading lock, speed maintenance) and will assume the car will drive itself and they can go make a sandwich/play on their phone/whatever. Cadillac has a system they call "Super Cruise" that keeps the car in the lane on large highways and is much more insistent about keeping your attention -- it's basically cruise control with automatic steering. It's not called autopilot because it isn't!

(b) Even though the prices are coming down, a Tesla is still way above the average price for a new car. This ensures that there will be some...exclusivity...and very entitled drivers among the crowd. I can just see some of them basically saying their time and mental energy is much too precious to spend watching the road.

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