#operationfreefood Day 4

Today, I secured my own provisions. To be frank, those provisions were better than any free food that I could have acquired at the office.

I had forgotten about the healthy rations (fruit cart) that were set up yesterday. The bananas were the first to disappear. That’s just as well, because they are usually overripe these days. They always came green in the winter time. Only a few bruised plums and apples are left, along with some sickly looking oranges.

I did discover, however, that a lone leftover bagel (plain) had been left behind by an unannounced offering of free food. Possibly due to the low reward vs. high personnel risk of injury that comes with announcing the free food.

Still a demoralizing day on the free food front, but a lone bagel represents hope.

#operationfreefood Day 3

Complete failure.

I managed with leftovers from Costco.

How can an office grunt get by if other teams aren’t ordering too much food for lunch?

This is day 2 of the free food drought.

 

#operationfreefood Day 2

Brought leftover rations from our trip into town this weekend. Hoping not to have to use them, but still waiting on word from Leftover Intelligence that food is available. Our late morning drills were fairly light, and we’ve actually had time for ample coffee drinking, so I may be able to reserve my rations for tougher times.

One thing about the coffee: I know that it is better than the standard issue coffee, but, it’s just that… I’ve been drinking it every day, and it just tastes awful now. Is it a product of the resentment of these conditions I find myself in, or is the coffee really that awful?

Update:

I tried to hold out but couldn’t. My rations had to be eaten.

‪#‎operationfreefood‬ Day 1

Waited around too long and ended up getting stuck behind a soldier with no sense of urgency or traffic laws. Fortunately, cheap sub sandwiches were plentiful. Had to search for last mayo packet, and the bags of chips were all gone. It wasn’t pretty, but I got in and got out. No casualties, except for three sandwich portions.

Afternoon update:

There was a second raid conducted on a higher fortress. Barbecue supplies were still available, but rapidly dwindling. I took advantage of the lack of attention given to the buttermilk pie station and away with a tasty slice. Unfortunately, the company mess has awful coffee.

What PR vs. Management vs. the Front Line Worker says

Inevitably, in a large organization, front line workers’ pressure to perform and/or apathy results in a public relations nightmare.

What PR Says:

  • Our values are above such behavior.
  • Our employees have a much higher standards than this behavior.
  • Such behavior is repugnant to all of our employees.
  • These is a rare bad apple that will be sought out and dealt with.

What Management Says:

  • We have goals to hit.
  • You are prohibited from doing the 1,002 things on this list.
  • To prevent you from doing the above 1,002 things, you must follow these 37 procedures for everything you do.
  • If anyone screws up due to being in a rush, we will add an extra 4 hours of annual training on this and add it to the mandatory weekly meeting agenda.

What the Front Line Worker Says:

  • You pay me a fixed or minimum wage. As Chris Rock said, if you could pay me less, you would.
  • You cap my pay at a wage that prevents anyone competent enough to do a good job from actually staying around to do it.
  • In your interest in getting rid of a worthless employee that you didn’t have the guts to deal with individually, you also fired two workers who knew what they were doing.
  • Breaking the rules as a last resort becomes a more common occurrence with every layer of ass-covering bureaucracy you add and every shred of competence you take away.
  • The only way you’d last one *shift* in the field is if you hid in the manager’s office for the duration.
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Features in Microsoft Outlook that would do some *good*.

(Outlook client and Exchange server are lumped together here.)

“Reply to all” goggles.

Test Mail Goggles
Test Mail Goggles (Photo credit: tchuntfr)

GMail once offered “mail googles” in Google Labs that would require you to solve 5 basic arithmetic problems in a certain amount of time in order to send a late night email. You were able to preset the difficulty and hours that it was active.

In an Outlook version, the mail server administrator could set the difficulty and type of problems required and possibility a minimum threshold of participants before it was required, so that a team of 3 people could “Reply to All”, but someone couldn’t reply to everyone on an email about health benefits with a question about their preexisting condition without at least jumping through a few hoops first.

Automatic large image converter and scaler.

Does Outlook still by default embed images from Windows as .bmp files? Being able to email screenshots is nice, but 1024×768 bitmaps will quickly eat up a stingy mail quota. The more tech-savvy users can quickly figure out how to emails as a web page and images as a lighter weight image format, but the users sending you screenshots of something that “isn’t working” aren’t as likely to be Outlook power users.

Split large attachments in Calendar invites into a separate mail message.

How often do you receive party or big event invitations that have an embedded 8.5″x11″ bitmap file that was exported from a PowerPoint slide in which the invitation was drawn? Isn’t it lovely that *everyone’s calendars* by default have that 3+ MB file in their Calendar, and when you look in Outlook folders for the messages that are eating up your [ridiculously small] mail quota, you can’t find them because they’re in your calendar?

At the expense of adding duplicate emails to my inbox, I’d rather have the message with attachment split off as a separate email that I could send immediately to my trash than a Calendar invite that I have to modify to save space.

Out-of-office replies only to original sender on an email chain

Out-of-office replies only get sent one time to a sender, but nothing is more annoying than having to reply-to-all on an email chain, only to get blasted by “out-of-office” replies.

“Unsubscribe” for email chains.

Imagine that someone included you on a email about a topic because they thought you were a stakeholder, or maybe that people are replying to all on an email list that has wide distribution and are committing all sorts of faux pas as part of their replies. Wouldn’t it be nice to just be able to reply with “unsubscribe” like you could do with listserv and magically have the email replies stop appearing in your inbox?

“Me too” for email chains.

Seems like 80% of an email chain’s replies are saying the exact same thing that someone else said two replies ago. Wouldn’t it be nice if Outlook could figure out that those were “me too” replies and tally them up for the original sender like the poll functionality can do and leave everyone else’s email clean?

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Here’s an Email to Justify My Existence…

“Stay tuned for another email on this topic!”

Nuvola-like mail internet
Nuvola-like mail internet (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you ever find yourself thinking, “Gee, I don’t get enough email these days.” Me neither. Yet, it seems as though any time someone wants you to pay attention to something that they’re doing, they send out not only emails telling you about it, but also emails notifying you about upcoming emails.

I tune into TV series if I want additional suspense in my life. How many of those do I actually watch? Approximately zero, unless I’m coerced by someone else into watching them.

Regardless, I don’t want extra emails in my inbox, especially if they’re emails notifying me of upcoming emails. At some point, you’re going to make me train my spam filter to throw away all emails. Oops. Too late.

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Requirements Confusion, the Last Refuge of a Developer Slacker

Imagine that you, as a developer, are at some stage of the project cycle in a large corporation in which you find yourself not “on time” with your planned “project deliverables.”

You find yourself in a project meeting, and everyone is giving their updates. Then, just like a freak snowstorm for a kid who didn’t study for a big test at school, key project stakeholders get into a heated discussion about a key project requirement.

All of a sudden, you are now able to justify, if only to yourself, that your inability to get to project milestones downstream from this contentious requirement was actually a saving grace of the project. You didn’t burn yourself out on a piece of the puzzle that was going to ultimately be made useless. YOU CAN GO OUT AND PLAY IN THE SNOW BECAUSE SCHOOL IS CANCELED!

But wait…  You still have that test you didn’t study for, or back in the real world, new project requirements that are to be made downstream from the updated requirements being discussed, and the ultimate release date still won’t budge.

Congratulations. You’ll now have to work 80 hours/week to make up for the major requirements shift. At least you didn’t waste any effort on the original requirements, right?

 

Time Bullshitting

Are you in charge of budgeting and/or balance sheet management?

Has the thought ever occurred to you, that if your knowledge workers just tracked the time they spent on projects, you could capitalize projects and get a better feel for return on investment?

Well, stop.

The primary things that disrupt my “working” activities are anything related to entering my time on a timesheet.

I bitch about the time spent entering my time.

I bitch about the 100 project codes I have to choose from. I doubt you have any clue how any of these projects remotely affect the bottom line.

I bitch about the fact that I have to find a 5 year old Windows machine with only IE 6/Flash/etc. installed on it because Gates forbid you ever purchase a solution that runs on a modern machine, doesn’t look like malware, and wasn’t written by the dropout nephews of a bunch of CEOs.

I bitch about the subclassification of every one of these project codes. How can you figure out what the “work type” means when we’ve established that you don’t know how the project itself hurt…  I mean helps the company’s bottom line. What’s the “work type” for “that website that I need for my work is blocked because our web filtering software classifies it as a ‘personal blog'”?

Ultimately, I bitch about the fact that there’s no relation between what I actually do for a job, how much time I spent doing it and what I enter on the timesheet.