Monday, October 30, 2006

Being "Back Doored" At Work

"Joe" sends in the following email:

I experienced rather unprofessional communications from "Sally" the other day in regard to an issue she was having with a computer system I manage. Having a zero tolerance policy for unprofessionalism, I subsequently contacted her manager, "John," in confidence, via email. The reply amazed me.

First, John's response was canned and did not address my concern at all. Second, and most surprisingly, John copied Sally on the response, effectively allowing Sally to see what I had sent to John about her bad behavior!

Why the hell would someone do something like this, other than to intentionally throw someone under the bus? He completely undermined my trust in him and will surely have created animosity between his employee and me. Anyways, I thought you would have some experience with these types of issues.

Wow - did you get back-doored. There are two ways to look at this:

1. Giving the Manager the Benefit of the Doubt - By copying Sally and sending you boilerplate, he is letting her know that he got a message about her unprofessionalism, but isn't doing anything about it at this time. The manager is hoping that Sally sees this and takes it as a warning.

This is not the right way to do management, and would be employed by someone incompetent or unwilling to confront employee problems directly. If you interpret it this way, the manager is being naive rather than evil, and he isn't taking in account the secondary effects between you and her.

2. Not Giving BOD - In this scenario, he doesn't really care what she did, what you think, or anything else. He is protecting his employee against you, essentially, and he is letting you know this by copying her on the email and sending you a "no big deal" response.

Either way, you are going to have to be very careful how you deal with this pair in the future.

What I would probably do is somehow communicate the situation with your management before John or Sally has the opportunity to do it for you. Don't bring it up as a problem or something your manager needs to get involved in, but just let him know the situation and what happened. This way you get to frame the situation before anyone else gets to. Basically CYA.

As for John and Sally, you will just have to be careful with both in the future. I wouldn't change how you work or act around them, but you are going to have to be circumspect how you handle future issues. If you get another nastygram from Sally, you know it was scenario 2 that you are facing, and in this case you may be forced to get your management involved.

Either way, don't expect a Christmas card from Sally this year.

Anybody else have any comments?

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Revenge Against Telemarketers

Dutch Driver sends in the following audio link, which is quite hilarious: Telemarketer Nightmare

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Definitely Not Celebrating the 300 Million Milestone

I found this headline ironic:

300 Millionth U.S. Citizen Stirs Confusion (AP) The nation's population officially hit 300 million at 7:46 a.m. EDT today. But there weren't any wild celebrations. Why?

Easy answer: higher population density sucks. We have crowded roads, crowded stores and crowded airports. Even vacation locations are crowded with people: crowded beaches, crowded parks, crowded slopes. Even people who want to go camping these days have to "reserve" camping spots. And as the U.S. population continues to expand it is going to get worse.

People who say "there is plenty of open land in the U.S." really don't understand that all that open land is where no one wants to live. I flew over miles and miles of open desert for three hours flying from Texas to California last week, seeing all that open land that will still be empty 100 years from now. All these new people are going to live in the same areas people are already in today, which means that density is going to continue to climb until the U.S. resembles the human ant hills of present day Asia.

When people ask me where I want to retire, I usually tell them that I am looking for one of those countries that are supposedly going to be devoid of population in the next few decades. And the areas that will experience the largest population drop by 2025 will be Eastern and Southern Europe. I think I will start building my dacha now.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Stuck on a Plane Short Story

A lost child. A failed business. A lost love. Meredeth heard the pain.

Every person she passed carried a weight. Carried a secret. And somehow they went on about their business. Lived their life. But Meredeth couldn't live her life. So many Voices. So much pain.

She hurried down the sidewalk. My wife cheats. She turned the corner. My mother has cancer. She hurried into her building past the ground apartment. My husband beats me. She rushed into her apartment, trying again to shut out the Voices, shut out the pain.

She hurried to the liquor cabinet, pouring solace. I didn't get the promotion. It didn't so much quiet as dim the voices. We lost our medical insurance. She poured another glass, dimming the Voices. As the outer Voices lowered, her inner voice became clearer. And she remembered.

Perspicacious. It was a word her freshman high school teacher had written on the board. Every day they came in and sat in Mrs. Frame's class and found dozens of words meticulously written on the chalk board. They must have taken forever to write. They were an "H" class. Honors. Those destined for college. The SAT was half English, most of that verbal, so words and words of vocabulary were drilled into their heads. The first day of class they found "abash", "abdicate", "admonish", dozens of "a" words in Mrs. Frame's concise writing. By November it was "parsimonious", "perdition", "perspicacious"...

Meredith saw that word and didn't know its definition, but she felt what it meant. She felt it in her bones.

She had already stopped reading the paper, stopped watching the news. Wars. Floods. Car crashes. She cried over every story, feeling the pain of those who suffered, the loss of those left behind. That worked for a little while. Then the Voices started.

It was only a whisper at first, a faint echo. Smiling happy people blithely chatting about their day, but underneath, the whisper of loss. Of pain. Of mourning. She dismissed it as her imagination, but as she got older the whispers became louder, turning into the Voices.

And there was no escape from it. In college she hoped to find happy people, people without pain. But everywhere she found it. The richest. The prettiest. The most successful. They all had the Voice. Some were louder than others, but it was there. She couldn't escape it.

We can't have children. She poured another glass, trying to quiet the Voices further. And she remembered the one time she heard something different.

It was 1999. She saw a flier on a bulletin board by the liquor store. Someone who might quiet the voices was coming to the U.S. Two cities. One of them Los Angeles, her city. Thousands would be there. She wasn't sure if she could brave the crowds with all the Voices, but maybe. Maybe there would be silence. Maybe there would be peace.

She didn't drink before going. No, she had to know if what she felt, if anything, was real or not. She moved her way into the crowd of thousands and thousands of Voices, silently calling out in pain, verbally shouting out in excitement. All calling out to the man who hobbled up to the platform and spoke in an accent. He was old. He was stooped. Meredeth pushed her way into the crowd hoping to get closer to him. She had to know.

She was stll pushing her way through the crowd, getting lost in the Voices when the man was finished and whisked off the platform into a car. She was going to miss him. Men starting pushing people aside to make way for the car, and Meredeth found herself next to a makeshift road parted in the sea of people. The car starting passing by and she found herself looking directly into man's eyes.

For that brief moment Meredeth wasn't exactly silence. The pain of the world still existed, that could never stop, but looking into this man's eyes she felt all the pain acknowledged and understood. She knew in that brief moment the Voices were only one part of a chorus that people carry. She heard the pain while ignoring the joy, she saw the sorrow while overlooking hope.

The man nodded at her and his car moved forward through the crowd. Meredeth tried running after the car, but was caught up as hundreds more tried to do the same thing. The feeling she felt starting fading. The whispers of hope and joy that were mixed in with the cries of pain started to recede. Like the newspapers she used to read, only the dread, the fear, and the despair remained.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

David vs. Goliath in an IP Dispute

Transmeta Sues Intel Over Patent Infringement

This will be interesting watch. Transmeta will likely run out of money before they get to the end, but whole companies have been established on less.

Monday, October 09, 2006

The HP Fiasco - A Lesson in Office Politics

The WSJ has a great article today (paid link only) on the HP "pretexting" fiasco. The article covers the background and timeline of the events, but reading between the lines I think one thing is clear: this was an example of office politics played at the highest level.

Board Member Tom Perkins used his influence to point Chairman Dunn down the path of squashing board leaks. Once the hook was in, he worked to set it in deeper by tacitly encouraging it, leading Dunn to believe that it would settle internal board strife. Once Dunn ran out a good length of line overextending herself, he reeled in the catch by exposing the breadth of the investigation, not only forcing Dunn off the board, but ruining her reputation and getting her indicted.

Dunn is ultimately responsible for her own actions, but Perkins was behind the scene, setting up the stage for Dunn's self-immolation. This episode will probably be turned into a book on business ethics, but what it should be is a case study in Machiavellian plotting.

Do MBOs Have Force Majeure Clauses?

About a third of my MBOs involve companies in South Korea, so headlines like this make me cringe more than usual:

North Korea Conducts Nuclear Test

Shots Fired in DMZ

No word on what happens if a shooting war breaks out, but my guess is that I wouldn't be off the hook. The mark of a good salesman is the ability to close no matter what the situation may be.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Three Years. Time to Retire?

October 1, 2003:

Welcome to my blog. Commentary on anything that catches my eye.

Three years and 1167 posts later, here I am.

The nature of my blogging has changed a lot during that time. It basically went from anonymous ranting and navel gazing to a more limited fare of wry work commentary and other non-explosive issues. This change is largely a function to the fact that this blog is no longer anonymous: my wife, mother, mother-in-law, co-workers, my wife's co-workers, and associated other "real" people from my life read my posts from time to time. So serious complaints about family are off limits, as are political screeds, digs on other religions, and any of my deeper, darker thoughts. I pretty much have to keep the same facade on this blog as I do at my average dinner party.

Dinner party chit-chat is okay, but it takes someone a lot more clever than me to keep a constant stream of source material. Which is one reason my posting frequency has gone down.

I don't think I will be giving up this blog, but I do think I will start a separate, truly anonymous blog (and obviously not linked to this blog or anyone else I know) to exorcise those deep, dark thoughts that are fighting to come up to the surface.