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Defusing the Threat of Disgruntled IT Workers 401

Posted by timothy
from the don't-let-them-buy-fuse-at-all dept.
snydeq writes "According to computer forensics expert witness Keith Jones, for every logic bomb on the network or Terry Childs case that makes it into the press, there are 98 other incidents of disgruntled IT pros damaging company assets that you never hear about. And though most IT workers are too professional to take out their grievances on the systems they've worked so hard to maintain, unless management takes note of the growing discontent in the IT workplace, it may fall victim to the unspoken 'ticking time bomb' lurking within its call for IT to do more with less, InfoWorld reports. Drastically understaffed, battered by interminable hours and impossible demands, many IT folks are being pushed to the brink by management that neither trusts nor supports them."
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Defusing the Threat of Disgruntled IT Workers

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 22, 2008 @07:44PM (#25113221)

    We hired three times as many people, and only 1/3 is ever really working in IT. The other 2/3 work in a mysterious shadow IT whose work is never actually used or relied on. No one knows which group they're in, but they also know their work probably doesn't matter, so it keeps them on their toes.

  • by forgoil (104808) on Monday September 22, 2008 @07:45PM (#25113229) Homepage

    Works wonders! If you are decent to the people you employ and/or manage, they will most often be really nice back. Not rocket science! Social science I guess though.

    I'd like to know about the working conditions at the places were someone went haywire, my guess is that there is a very telling correlation. Guess that wouldn't be as newsworthy though :(

  • Why?? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DaMattster (977781) on Monday September 22, 2008 @07:46PM (#25113237)
    I can understand where a lot of people's frustration comes from. Speaking from experience, management has a tendency to keep wanting to do more with less and keep lumping responsibility on top of us to the point where the salary paid becomes far from comensurate with the job expectations. Now go ahead and mod this down. I am sure managers will be so inclined. But remember, IT is what keeps the business in business.
    • Re:Why?? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Bacon Bits (926911) on Monday September 22, 2008 @08:41PM (#25113785)

      Part of the problem is that if IT is done right then it's invisible. Nothing breaks, there are no downtimes, no service outages, requests are completed in a timely and efficient manner, etc. You know good IT when you no longer have to think about the technology. You wouldn't not even know your company has an IT department. Everything just works.

      Then the problem is that bean-counters come in and say "Do we really need to be spending all this money for IT? We don't have any problems with technology that would require an annual budget this size. Let's outsource it and save money. We don't need new versions because what we have clearly works just fine." That line of thinking will quickly get you into a position where nothing at all works and you're absolutely certain your company hasn't got an IT department because you can't get anything fixed.

      Seriously, how often do you think about the service lines running to homes and businesses? Never unless there's a problem, and then you realize how big of a problem it is. Electricity is plug and play, flick a switch. Gas, water and sewer are totally invisible. IT is the same. It's either invisible or there's a problem.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by bogidu (300637)

        Everything just works . . . . . except users that lock their accounts or forget their passwords. Then they're pissed at not being able to find a site person to fix it RIGHT DAMNED NOW!

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by AB3A (192265)

        The pressure to do more at a lower cost never does go away for any business. The question is whether managers understand the investments required to make this happen.

        You can't squeeze blood from a stone, we all know that much. However, there is another way and it is quite evil. A perpetrator can trash the infrastructure while things keep moving ahead with deferred maintenance. However, by the time anyone discovers the missing maintenance, the perpetrators will have been through several promotions for th

  • Same OLD story (Score:2, Interesting)

    by partowel (469956)

    [ Authority Figure ] pisses off [ slave figure ].

    [ slave figure ] takes [ action ].

    Management thinks they are untouchable.

    IT workers know otherwise.

    Respect is a two way street.

    Disrespect is also a two way street.

  • by HangingChad (677530) on Monday September 22, 2008 @08:04PM (#25113455) Homepage

    I left a ticking code bomb on my last job, here's how it happened:

    Me: The rest of today I thought we'd go over the end of year maintenance and reports, they're a little involved.

    My replacement: I think I got it.

    Me: You sure? It's pretty complicated. Two hours really isn't enough of a hand off for an app this complicated.

    My replacement: I'm good. I've got to take my kid to the doctor this afternoon (turns to leave).

    Me: Okay then.

    End of FY ends in about two weeks. Guess they'll find out how ready he really was.

    • by ColaMan (37550) on Monday September 22, 2008 @08:10PM (#25113515) Homepage Journal

      I have to wonder if the "99 other" incidents was where something just fell over after the "evil" IT guy left and Management just assumes it was malice.

      • by barzok (26681)

        The overwhelming majority of them.

        I've been there, done that. Last place I left, management didn't even attempt to find someone for me to do turnover with until 3 days before I left.

    • by PPH (736903) on Monday September 22, 2008 @08:33PM (#25113725)

      Management (particularly the paranoid ones) have an odd idea about what constitutes a 'logic bomb'.

      I left a job about 5 years ago in which I was responsible for maintaining half a dozen servers. To make my job a little easier, I had set up a watchdog system which would check the health of the system periodically and page me in the event a server went down. I had it set to page me and e-mail me both at work as well as my home address.

      When I was leaving, I gave my replacement instructions on what to do, including which file to edit to replace my e-mail addresses with his. To date, I still receive the occasional 'server down/server up' e-mail at home. When I ran into a fellow engineer (still with the company), I told him about the situation (in the context of how screwed up the company still is). He got a concerned look on his face and told me I should contact their IT people immediately to get the situation remedied. Or they might run across one of these messages and figure it was a part of some hack. I replied that the only thing it demonstrated was the companie's inability to follow written instructions.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 22, 2008 @08:52PM (#25113967)

      We were contracted to a small company to provide all IT support. Several years later, our contract was terminated. The replacement was a salaried employee for the company. By the company's decision, we were not allowed to tell him what he should do. We could only answer questions. (They wanted a "clean" separation from past procedures.) He never asked the right questions.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Dude! You never told me the FY ends in two weeks! Damn. I could've had my wife pick up the kid! Tell me what to do!!!!

  • It seems to me that this article is simultaneously drawing attention to an issue, while fueling the flames of the issue. I.e. "There is this huge problem of employees doing bad things because they are untrusted".

    Yeah, OK. Thanks again slashdot editors. Like accountants whose job gives them the ability to hide wreckless risk-taking to beef up their current performance at the expense of the collapse that will happen after they have taken their bonuses and left the company, aren't a bigger threat to the bus

  • by operand (15312) on Monday September 22, 2008 @08:11PM (#25113529)

    I knew a former employee that left a piece of code in an app that when a user entered a certain search string, it would give Chuck Norris facts. Leave your employer laughing, not disgruntled.

    • by syousef (465911)

      I knew a former employee that left a piece of code in an app that when a user entered a certain search string, it would give Chuck Norris facts. Leave your employer laughing, not disgruntled.

      I've seen code that recites silly conversations between Kirk and Spock and for an April fools day joke tells the user their hard disk is being wiped. NOT funny.

      How funny do you think any of this is when someone's literally paid millions for the piece of code in question?

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        That was me.
        And I assure you - it was pretty fucking funny.

  • This is news? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PenguinX (18932) on Monday September 22, 2008 @08:12PM (#25113535) Homepage

    This surprises me, I hate to use these sort of universal qualifiers, but in a LOT of companies Systems Admins and Systems engineers are overworked. So many that it seems like "duh, everyone knows this". What's worse is that its accepted and people (managers) don't seem bothered about it in the slightest bit.

    My personal experience is that I worked as a Systems Administrator and then Systems Engineer for about 9 years. I left the field because it is an exceedingly frustrating career path that invaded any sort of personal life that I may desire to have. It was normal to work much more than I should. We're raised to believe that 40-60 hours a week is reasonable along with occasional peaks. However it was normal for me to work 60-80, hours a week, I remember a 3-4 month period where I literally only went home to shower and sleep for 4 hour intervals. This sort of treatment isn't just a few companies here-or-there, but this was my experience in working at 3 different places.

    I would have left the profession long ago, but as it was I found myself stifled by this statement "You need more experience" or perhaps "you need a degree". What I found was that the sheer magnitude of work that had been put on my plate was so much that it was impossible for me to get "more" experience let alone a degree.

    As an aside, before you go on with the "you should have known better and had a degree before you started this line of work" rhetoric, I grew up poor, and after I graduated high school my parents still didn't have the cash to help me in college. An entry level IT job in the late 90's paid crap, so I could barely pony up rent, food, car insurance, and other basic expenses - let alone get a degree. Too bad I was a fast learner, I quickly found myself with more responsibility and not much extra money.

    What I've described is not limited to my own experience, I have met countless people who have had the exact same experience. Basically it goes something like this:

    1. Was planning on going to college, but couldn't
    2. Left home, got an IT job
    3. Learned fast, got lots of responsibility
    4. Got too much responsibility, can't leave work
    5. Want out, but can't because "you need more experience" or "you need a degree"

    I count it a miracle that I was able to transition from one career (SE work) to another (Developer) AND work on getting both experience and a degree at the same time, but I really don't see any other way to get out of this sort of trap.

    Anyone else's experiences?
    -b

    • Re:This is news? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by HornWumpus (783565) on Monday September 22, 2008 @08:35PM (#25113733)

      You were shooting yourself in the foot being so efficient.

      The trick is to triage the work and simply blow off anything that would put unreasonable demands on your time (Don't blow off backups.) Continue to claim the old hours, put in face time if you have to, but don't do the fucking work.

      Only when the work is not getting done will 'they' think of adding staff.

      The fuckers certainly won't fire you and if they do who cares anyhow?

      The simple fact is that after four or five 60 hour plus weeks you are getting less done then you used to do in 40. Performance degrades during death marches. Just degrade yours BEFORE it affects the rest of your life. It's not your schedule, it's your managers. If you miss deadlines does it really affect YOU? Remember they won't generally give you anything for the extra responsibility anyhow.

      This isn't just true in IT. I followed a similar path and it's even more true in development, still more true in commercial software development.

      You simply have to 'Manage your manager'. They are generally too stupid to get anything right without lots of help. No fear.

  • by Simonetta (207550) on Monday September 22, 2008 @08:18PM (#25113585)

    Firing someone? For goodness sake's be sure to do it in a way that allows them to get unemployment payments. I'm been fired from several jobs over the past twenty years. I'm not a bad worker. But this industry (electronics/computers/high tech) goes through employees like rubbers in a 5 dollar whorehouse and then tosses them away like used Kleenex when they've served their purpose.

        Let's see. I got fired from Hewlett-Packard for having a picture of Claudia Schiffer in a evening gown (not nude) on my PC. 'Creating an environment conducive to sexual harassment' even though I was the only person working in the room.

        Hmm... I got fired from a small medical equipment company in silicon valley when my boss overheard me say that 'white smocks are for white schmucks'. The boss decided that all employees had to wear white coats to work; blue jeans and button down shirts were no longer allowed. I actually got an unemployment check when I told the hearing judge that 'forcing Asian workers to wear white smocks was an insult because in VietNam and China only corpses were wrapped in white. The boss was telling the workers that they were nothing more than dead meat."

        Oh and I got fired from Tektronix when I got blasted right in the eye with melted wax from a printer. No one noticed that the drain on eye-wash safety-station directed water directly onto a power strip. Of course it was all my fault. As always.

        I got fired from the German milling machine company where I had worked for six years when I demanded that the American employees get the same stock-option package as the German employees when the company went public. Since the USA branch was a subsidiary, wholly-owned by the German parent. The German manager claimed that he felt threatened and intimidated: he was six foot-eight inches and I'm five-foot seven. Ja-Ja.

        My point is that in a non-unionized cowboy industry like electronics people get fired constantly for practically nothing. If it hasn't happened to you, then it will sooner or later.

        If you want to seriously decrease the possibility that someone will 'go postal' when you fire them, then you must do in a way that enables them to get unemployment insurance. Believe me the weekly checks go a long way to 'smooth out the transition process'. It's a no-brainer and it doesn't cost the company any money. I can't understand why managers would pride themselves on firing someone in a way that makes it impossible to get unemployment. But they do.

    • by RoboRay (735839) on Monday September 22, 2008 @08:26PM (#25113649)

      Yeah, I keep getting fired all the time, too, and it's never my fault. Something's horribly wrong with the world, but I'm golden.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It sounds more like they were looking for anything possible to fire you over. It costs a lot of money for a company to find, hire, and fire someone, so they're not going to axe you over a Claudia Schiffer wallpaper.

      More than likely you're bad at what you do or have a horrible personality that they didn't like and whatever convenient excuse came up to avoid telling you the real reason they let you go was used.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by karnal (22275)

      1. It's work, don't put pics of ladies on your desktop. Keep that crap at home.
      2. You pissed off someone higher up than you. Glad to hear you got compensation tho.
      3. What happened to the printer when you got ink in your eye? ouch.
      4. You pissed off someone higher up than you.

      The ONLY way to stay alive in a company (and you've highlighted it twice here) is to be in what I call the "good ole boys club" - If someone higher than you doesn't like you (or you let stuff slip that may go against the grain) th

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by bogidu (300637)

        Good ole boys club? Sorry, I actually have self respect.

        Last place I worked at ran this way, good ole boys club spent all their time learning from the people who actually made the place run and spent the rest of the time at happy hour regurgitating it to the higher ups all the while sticking knives in the backs of the people who had the misfortune of actually enjoying working with technology and spending less time schmoozing.

        Yea, having a good ole boys club makes for a "Great Place to Work" for everyone el

    • by religious freak (1005821) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @01:44AM (#25116581)
      Honestly, it sounds like you're kind of a pain in the ass.

      I've worked with a few geniuses that couldn't hold a conversation and were general pains in the ass. Work on your social skills and you'll probably have better luck... especially if you're one of those technically brilliant but interpersonally retarded people.

      I'm just saying...
  • This has nothing to do with IT, per se, but everything to do with just a plain old disgruntled employee. Any employ can toss a few monkey wrenched in the gears on the way out the door. Plug a sink and let the water run, leave some doors unlocked, publish you emails, whatever. If this has become such a big deal with IT employees than perhaps it is a problem with IT employees? You think IT folks have it bad, try being the janitor!
  • by Chris Snook (872473) on Monday September 22, 2008 @08:28PM (#25113673)

    I bet that for every malicious logic bomb, there are a hundred cases where a leaving employee takes with them the exclusive knowledge required to maintain some component of a critical system. What might have taken an hour to document will take their replacement a man-week to figure out, possibly with production services impacted, and there's no malice involved.

    I suspect that properly resourcing and managing IT organizations to avoid *this* problem would prevent most of the frustration that leads to logic bombs.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      What might have taken an hour to document... ...would have taken away an hour I needed to so some other vital task. And even if I tried, it's pretty hard to concentrate on doing thorough documentation when the phone is ringing/pager is going off/emails are flowing in/tickets are being submitted.

      And if you think I'm going to give up my personal time to do it at night or on the weekend, all I have to say is "HA!"

  • Not just IT... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by p51d007 (656414)
    I work in a business that supports photocopiers, printers, fax machines etc. We are factory trained for brand X & brand Y. The the stupid sales genius idiots will go out and get new business, and then tell them "oh yeah, we'll wrap your brand Z machine into the contract with the new machine for servicing. Of course, do we have the parts, manuals and training on these brand Z machines? Hell no.
  • Which jobs are the ones where they don't push you to do more with less? Downsizing, mass layoffs, reorganization, poor equipment that is maintained at the bare minimum, penny pinchers and minute monitors, these are not limited only to IT.
  • by stonewolf (234392) on Monday September 22, 2008 @09:01PM (#25114101) Homepage

    One of my many ex brothers-in-law is an MBA. 30 years ago I was talking to him over beer about *exactly* the same problem that this article is about. No respect. No compensation for work done. No upward path in the company...

    His response? Yeah, in business school they teach us that engineers are stupid. If you were a business major you would know what to do. When the boss says "do it" the correct response is "what's in it for me?" And if they don't answer with what you want you don't do the extra work.

    Work 75 hours a week for a fixed salary? He thought that was just too cool. He loved the idea of getting nearly two peoples worth of work for the cost of one. So what if it ruins your health. They are planning to get rid of you before your bad health starts to raise their costs.

    So... about a month later my boss told our group we were going on mandatory 60 hour weeks and we would be required to work Saturdays. Don't like it? To bad. In an open meeting I asked why I should do it. He said if you don't you'll be fired. I said "OK." If you fire all of us you won't get the project done. The rest of the staff caught on to the fact that we had the power. A couple of hours later we were told we would get 50% extra pay for working 50% extra hours.

    Sounds great... I was fired within a month of the end of the project.

    I learned the lesson. Management loves screwing employees. They get off on it the same we techies get off on learning and making things work. The techies have the real power and the managers know it. They love the fact that we won't use our power. If you want to be treated well by management you have to organize and be willing to shut the company down.

    You want to be treated fairly? Quit your bitchin' and organize. Of course, we're so tough and love that libertarian fighter jock image so we don't organize... And the managers laugh and laugh and laugh at us all the way to the bank. And we keep being treated like the idiots we are.

    When I was a technical director in the game business my manager called his business plan "burning babies". You hire an out of school power fool and work them until they can't take it any more. Then they quit. You don't even have to fire them.

    Stonewolf

    • by Todd Fisher (680265) on Monday September 22, 2008 @09:48PM (#25114691) Homepage
      At my former company one of the clueless head managers pulled all the developers into a conference and gave us the same "mandatory 60 hour weeks are now required" speech. One of the senior developers said "Only 60 hours? That's great!"
    • by OneIfByLan (1341287) on Monday September 22, 2008 @10:06PM (#25114903)

      I can intellectually understand your post, but I can't wrap my head around it.

      I read your description of the MBA thought process, and it comes across like those sad bastards who throw bowling balls into traffic from overpass bridges and giggle. Maybe it's the way I was raised.

      I was brought up by farmers, mechanics, builders and engineers. I was taught that "You WILL go the extra mile on this brake job, 'cause you don't want it to fail and kill somebody. You will wire this correctly, 'cause you don't want it to fail and kill somebody. You will do this the right way, 'cause you don't want it to kill somebody."

      "'Cause you don't want it to kill somebody," were words of power, God's Holy Truth. I was taught that when I had power over someone, I was responsible for them. I was taught that older should look out for younger.

      I was raised to believe that what I did Mattered. Drive like an idiot and there will be some mother crying at a funeral. Pay attention, because that radial saw would be just as happy to cut through bone as wood.

      I read your description of an MBA, and I know you're right. I've seen it with my own eyes a million times.

      What I don't know is how these men sleep at night. How do they live with themselves? I don't know. Maybe they don't get it. Maybe they think it's all a game. Maybe they don't realize that other people aren't just sprites on a videogame screen. I've heard more than one psychology professor claim that psycho-and scoiopaths line our boardrooms. Maybe they're right.

      Maybe it's time to bring back some of the old ideas like "blood money."

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by gobbo (567674)

        What I don't know is how these men sleep at night. How do they live with themselves? I don't know. Maybe they don't get it. Maybe they think it's all a game. Maybe they don't realize that other people aren't just sprites on a videogame screen. I've heard more than one psychology professor claim that psycho-and scoiopaths line our boardrooms. Maybe they're right.

        I often wonder this too, then smack myself in the head with the clue stick... because while it feels unnatural when I mentally try to walk in those moccasins, I've seen it enough, both in family and work, to know something of how sociopathy works. The fact is that bullies are everywhere, in varying degrees. Many of them sleep at night through an elaborate system of denial, but some of them just feel good being cruel.

        It helps to remember being young, and somewhat amoral, or at least fascinated by pain. If yo

      • What I don't know is how these men sleep at night. How do they live with themselves?

        They sleep and live very well. To such people, such actions are no different than choosing to step forward first with the left foot rather than the right.

        I used to spend hours trying to rationalise it, fit it into my worldview, figure out how they stop the guilt and shame gnawing away at them. There is no internal struggle. There is no guilt and shame. That is how they do it.

      • by hab136 (30884)

        I've heard more than one psychology professor claim that psycho-and scoiopaths line our boardrooms. Maybe they're right.

        While there are sadistic persons, I think most "evil" people aren't trying specifically to hurt people; they simply don't care, which can be worse.

        The concepts of universal good and universal evil are not that old - or universal. I believe Zoroastrianism was the first to widely spread the idea of some universally good actions and universally evil actions. The alternative way of thinking

      • by jollyreaper (513215) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @10:53AM (#25121633)

        I read your description of an MBA, and I know you're right. I've seen it with my own eyes a million times.

        What I don't know is how these men sleep at night. How do they live with themselves? I don't know. Maybe they don't get it. Maybe they think it's all a game. Maybe they don't realize that other people aren't just sprites on a videogame screen. I've heard more than one psychology professor claim that psycho-and scoiopaths line our boardrooms. Maybe they're right.

        It's simple sociopathy. We've also had plenty of documented evidence that outright bastardry is always more successful than being the nice guy. More successful, mind you: nice guys can succeed at times but they'll never succeed as big as the bastards. The part about being able to sleep at night is why nice guys are happy with reasonable success.

        I always see red when someone says "you have to pay top dollar for top talent" when justifying executive pay. What, are you saying that people you pay less are lesser people? Yes. Even though they're doing the work and the executard is just overseeing it, most of the time poorly, they're better people: they make more money than you do, you stupid sap, you fucking dickless wonder. Those obnoxious rants in the movies like Wall Street, Glenngarry Glenn Ross, "Always be Closing!" and shit? They love that. Normal people look at poisonous weasels like that and want to hit them with something but the sociopaths see role models. I saw this when I was at a brokerage.

        The system self-selects for these kinds of individuals. Who do you see working the kill-floor at a slaughterhouse? People who don't mind the sight of blood, seeing animals in pain, don't get spooked by the smell of blood and shit. Anyone who couldn't hack it is gone the first day. So is it any wonder you find desensitized individuals on the kill-floor? The modern boardroom is the same way. Anyone with morals, with a conscience, he's not capable of stepping up to the task. This is about making money, fuck all those other fucks! Look at those Enron traders laughing about stealing from grandmothers.

        I think the first thing we need to do to fix this Wall Street crisis is lock up the failed banks and fumigate the buildings, preferably before the management leaves.

      • by jafac (1449)

        Yes; it is true.

        There ARE people out there, who simply have no conscience. The true Sociopaths. I have met one or two, in my time. One guy, it took me about 20 minutes of talking with him, to figure out that he just did not have any sense of ethics or morals to him, and later, he would scoff at people who do. I was very unfortunate to have had to know this person, and do business with him for 2 years. Of course, he begged for help at one point, and I gave it to him, and of course he stabbed me in the ba

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by scamper_22 (1073470)

      forget organizing, just grow some balls.

      I learned from another worker... just say no. Sometimes I just say yeah and then don't do it. Don't do it. Now he didn't get all the right promotions and I don't expect to either. Nonetheless. he didn't get fired and so far I haven't either.

      Either that, or get into management :P

  • All of this talk of the oppressed worker is really just a clever way of catering to self serving and paranoid managers. These security people in computers are just drumming up all sorts of fear in order to sell their so-called "services."

  • by PinchDuck (199974)

    will go a lot to keep your programmers honest.

  • If your ISO standard management type sees an article about the zOMG disgruntled engineer menace!!! his response will be, rather than attempting to re-gruntle the engineers, hire the services of some creepy security outfit to protect the company(and himself, primarily) from the disgruntled.

    In the end, more money will be spent on pinkertons [ci-pinkerton.com] than on improving conditions, so people will still be disgruntled, as well as surveiled, all at great expense.
  • by mkcmkc (197982) on Monday September 22, 2008 @10:22PM (#25115097)

    ...I've got some really bad news for you. Chefs sometimes spit in the pizza. Babysitters slap kids. CEOs steal money that could be used to save dozens of lives. There's good and bad everywhere.

    Be reasonable, but not hysterical.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by steelfood (895457)

      Chefs sometimes spit in the pizza.

      What, do you think that extra tang comes from nowhere?

  • Uhhh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wdr1 (31310) * <wdr1@pobox.TWAINcom minus author> on Monday September 22, 2008 @11:49PM (#25115871) Homepage Journal

    "According to computer forensics expert witness Keith Jones, for every logic bomb on the network or Terry Childs case that makes it into the press, there are 98 other incidents of disgruntled IT pros damaging company assets that you never hear about."

    Soooo, not that many?

    Frankly, I think it's best to create an atmosphere of trust & openness. I don't know 100% of what happened yet in the Terry Childs case (I don't think anyone does), but it's fairly clear his bosses were a bunch of political asshats.

    -Bill

  • by jc42 (318812) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @09:44AM (#25120421) Homepage Journal

    ... many IT folks are being pushed to the brink by management that neither trusts nor supports them."

    I've seen a lot of evidence that the lack of trust and support is often due to a more basic lack of understanding. Management and IT speak very different languages and have a great deal of difficulty communicating. And usually, they can't admit this in public.

    A minor example from a project a few years back: I was working on a bunch of stuff that ran on a server, and spent most of my time in the lab coding and debugging. During one meeting, I made an offhand comment that, since some people were starting to actually use the lab machine because the stuff on it was useful, I really should be running a second copy of the server. I didn't see much reaction, until a few weeks later, a manager came to me with help filling out purchasing forms for another server. I was startled by this, but I quickly figured out the problem.

    To the manager(s), the term "server" meant a chunk of hardware. So I quietly explained that I hadn't been talking about hardware. The lab server machine (as I called it) had plenty of power to run several servers processes. I had simply configured a couple more that ran on nonstandard ports, and I was using them for most of my testing. This was better than two machines for my purposes, because being on one machine made regression testing easier. I got across the idea that to us software guys, a "server" was a program, not a machine, and we routinely ran many servers on a single machine.

    That incident worked out without problems, because he had come to me in time to stop the acquisition process. It would have been a waste if they'd ordered and delivered a machine that I really didn't need, and I managed to turn it into a minor "learning opportunity". But all too often, language difficulties like this can lead to major misunderstandings and wrong actions on the part of both management and IT.

    I'm not sure how to fix this. The obvious solution is to make sure that management includes people who understand IT jargon. But in many (maybe most) companies, this isn't possible. And in any case, it's not something that us IT types can impose on the management types. So the misunderstanding will continue to lead to mistrust and poor support, even when people think they're doing what the other side needs and wants.

  • by srobert (4099) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @01:09PM (#25124253)

    Not just in IT, but in labor-management relations generally, when managers start talking about "disgruntled" employees my bias detector starts ringing. The term is usually used by managers and it always seems to me to imply that the employee(s)have no valid grievances. That is, the employee is unhappy because he has some sort of fundamental character flaw. The idea that the employee is being treated unfairly seems beyond the consideration of managers who speak in terms of his being "disgruntled". Whether through union representation, or some in-house mechanism, employees should have channels through which grievances can be addressed.

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