Tag "Musings"

A mam­moth sur­vey that com­piled the rat­ings of some 27,000 users to pro­file "Linux users".

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Rob Cring­ley reports that IBM Global Ser­vices (includ­ing them unlucky souls from Price­wa­ter­house­C­oop­ers) will go in for mas­sive lay­offs, to the tune of 150,000. Rea­son? Cost effi­cien­cies from off­shoring to India. Which, of course, is bollocks.

Rob Cring­ley reports that IBM Global Ser­vices (includ­ing them unlucky souls from Price­wa­ter­house­C­oop­ers) will go in for mas­sive lay­offs, to the tune of 150,000. Rea­son? The usual. Cost effi­cien­cies from off­shoring to India.

I hate to prick the bal­loon but that can­not, and should not, be the rea­son for such a whop­ping round of lay­offs. I have worked with PwC on the tech­nol­ogy strat­egy side, the "man­age­ment con­sult­ing" bit. This unit of the audit­ing mono­lith was later famously acquired by IBM (after being called "Mon­day" for about a cou­ple of weeks – I bet Wolff Olins, the brand con­sul­tancy, must have made pants of money on that fun lit­tle vaca­tion of imag­i­na­tion). I have since worked in sev­eral dig­i­tal and inter­ac­tive out­fits, more from a marketing/media per­spec­tive, but only gained a bet­ter under­stand­ing of what makes technology-centric com­pa­nies tick. Which is why this announce­ment is a bit dif­fi­cult to comprehend.

What a Tech­nol­ogy Man­ager Should Think Before Outsourcing

Let's say you've got small project. This project has 5 or 6 guys work­ing on it. They've been at it for years, have writ­ten a good bit of the core under­ly­ing plat­form, and as such, know every­thing about it and can gen­er­ally tell you exactly where the prob­lem is if you call them with a problem.

Now you fire all those guys and hire a bunch of guys from some Bal­akam­bas­tan at 1/6 the orig­i­nal team's salary. Even if the orig­i­nal team hangs around to train the new guys, the new guys have to ramp up from scratch. And you can rest assured, these kinds of han­dovers are sel­dom whole-hearted. Even if this new breed of cheap pro­gram­mers is excel­lent, it's going to take the team a good 6 months to a year to get com­fort­able with any decent sized code, regard­less of how stun­ning the doc­u­men­ta­tion is. Dur­ing that time the over­all appli­ca­tion design will get slightly worse as they try to imple­ment new fea­tures in ways that don't fit in with the orig­i­nal appli­ca­tion design.

In the mean time you've got 150 other tech com­pa­nies real­iz­ing that peo­ple in the rapidly grow­ing mar­ket of Bal­akam­bas­tan will work for peanuts and they'll all move in to the coun­try. Now your new team of pro­gram­mers are real­iz­ing that they can get more peanuts if they do the same sort of job hop­ping that was preva­lent in the 90s dot­com hey­days to get more peanuts. So over the course of the next year your new team is replaced by even newer peo­ple, whom you have to pay a lot more money, and who are com­pletely unfa­mil­iar with your code base again.

So now you're pay­ing your lat­est bunch of Bal­akam­bas­ta­nis as much as you were pay­ing your orig­i­nal pro­gram­ming team, but these new guys have lit­tle to no expe­ri­ence with your code base. Well done!

The truth is — you can only save money in this man­ner if you buy into the delu­sion that peo­ple are plug­gable resources, or that expe­ri­ence counts for noth­ing (yes, I have also seen peo­ple with 30 years of use­less expe­ri­ence, but I speak of actual, good qual­ity expe­ri­ence here). To peo­ple who believe that in the­ory you can get as much done with a sum­mer intern as you can with some­one with 20 years of tech­ni­cal expe­ri­ence, my sim­ple advice: give it a shot. One of my favorite quotes:

If you think edu­ca­tion is expen­sive, try igno­rance. — Derek Bok

Out­sourc­ing is great and all, but done en masse, and with such stu­por, it only reflects the sense­less mis­man­age­ment of a giant cor­po­ra­tion. Stop by ibmem­ployee and you will see wherein lies the real malaise of a giant blun­der of this nature. A pic­ture is worth a thou­sand words:

The real issue with IBM
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First they called it Video on Demand. Then they called it broad­band video. Next, youtube and User Cre­ated Con­tent. Now, IPTV and the promise of Joost. Conan O' Brien gets it right.

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Remem­ber the Win­dows error report­ing screen? Appar­ently, it's suc­cess has prompted Microsoft to adopt a whole new qual­ity man­age­ment pro­gram designed to allow its Win­dows pro­gram­mers to share users' pains. Hence the "We Share Your Pain" or WSYP program.

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NYT is run­ning a mis­lead­ing (to put it politely) arti­cle titled "Cor­rupted PC's Find New Home In the Dump­ster" which basi­cally advo­cates throw­ing out your old PC and get­ting a new one if you get infected by worms or viruses. Yeah right and so forth

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Robert Cring­ley of PBS isn't happy with merely a tech col­umn. He wants his own TV show, down­load­able from the PBS web­site of course in true geek spirit.

Can't get enough nerdi­ness on Slash­dot and Kuro5hin? Start­ing Sept. 6, PBS will broad­cast a Web-exclusive down­load­able series fea­tur­ing the best of the nerd lot.

Dubbed NerdTVâ„¢ ?, the series of 13 one-hour shows will be hosted by tech­nol­ogy colum­nist and indus­try insider Robert X. Cringely.

Cringely, author of "Acci­den­tal Empires: How the Boys of Sil­i­con Val­ley Make Their Mil­lions, Bat­tle For­eign Com­pe­ti­tion, and Still Can't Get a Date," will inter­view such nerd nota­bles as Pay-Pal co-founder Max Levchin, orig­i­nal Mac­in­tosh pro­gram­mer Andy Hertzfeld and Bill Joy, father of Berke­ley UNIX.

In a col­umn on last week, Cringely offered a bunch of nerd-friendly pro­duc­tion and for­mat specs for the series and stressed that NerdTV will be dis­trib­uted under a Cre­ative Com­mons license, which means view­ers can redis­trib­ute the shows at will. Which is an inter­est­ing devel­op­ment, the CC license is begin­ning to be her­alded among music cir­cles as well, because it affords an artist the abil­ity to remix and mash licensed songs as they see fit for non-commercial pur­poses. Per­son­ally, I can't wait to make my own 'remixed' ver­sions of Cringely's show for my own nefar­i­ous purposes.

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If, like me, you're tired of run­ning into loads of spam on Tech­no­rati and Feed­ster these days, you know how excit­ing the prospect of blog-only search­ing by the two big tyke search engines is. Well Yahoo's mak­ing over­tures (no pun intended).

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Inter­est­ing solu­tion.

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Pit­ting Google, Yahoo, MSN against the more focused engines like and

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Accept pay­ments on your site with­out redi­rect­ing through Paypal's interface.

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