205 posts • joined 15 Nov 2011
You try talking about IT governance for two hours in there...
Salaries are political
Pay is a result of a political process in any outfit.
To be fair it is hard to know exactly the "going rate" for a skill set in a given location and so it can be rational to start low and work up.
The problem is that to get more money, the boss of the group has to go to his boss or HR or the client and ask for more and sometimes he can't get it.
So a persistent low ball offer tends to mean that your immediate boss is politically weak, which in my experience is a good predictor of your job being crap.
I have had one skill which meant that for one very specialist role I was pretty much the only person in the country who could do it and had proven in the interview that the people doing it already were flatly lying.
Short version: They were using s/w I'd helped develop and the suppliers claim that "it had been in service" since before we'd ever released any version of it
This was the Docklands Light Railway, a non-trivial project and the agent who put me forward was quite smug that he'd found me and he had earned that smugness.
The DLR offered rather less than half the going rate and an expenses deal (I would have to travel often to Canada) which would have left me on shelf filler money.
I declined and the DLR kept saying "we pay X" where X was this silly little number and it was in a good market, so I was far from desperate.
I heard later they'd hired some guy who bullshitted that he'd had the skill and as you may recall the DLR has had quite a few s/w problems.
The core problem was that never spoke to anyone that actually cared.
The management level that interviewed me had financial limits and as long as they paid people according to policy they had an easy life. Their management were "Management", they neither knew nor cared how stuff worked or even if it did as they spent money at the right rate.
Even the agent didn't care, his cut was pathetic and he knew as a recruiter that if you place someone far below market rate some combination of these N things will happen
1) They will quit suddenly once they realise they are underpriced
2) Their resentment will cause them to do a bad job, somertimes a *very* bad job
3) They are fairly priced, they are only worth what you are paying and are likely to be incompetent
4) They have some non-trivial personalty defect
To Nasty Nick
Yes, it is "giving to those who have already", if by that you mean we are helping to make smarter people smarter
As for poor kids...
You find me one poor kid who can't afford to go to the MasterClasses and I will personally make sure they *can* go, if need be with my own money, this is on record, it is so.
"Missing semcolon" is far too correct about the middle class dirty secret, back in the day my dad asked "Dave's boy is doing O levels, are you going to do them ?"
The answer was of course "No, I'm soon off to Queen Mary College to do Maths & CompSci"
The way you deal with working class lack of aspiration is to shout at them and show them your fucking car. I don't own a flash car, I have never owned a car, there exist people who buy cars for me, presumably they do the insurance and other shit like maintenance, occasionally I sign things. That's because I have money, I got that through hard work and aspiration, I'm bright enough but no one who knows me thinks the money was because I'm the smartest person they've met.
CompSci means I can now afford for my sons to go to private school and already the 13 yo is asking hard questions about the relative merits of Cambridge and Imperial (but not of course Reading "university"). I also met my wife at IBM's labs, so this is all part of me giving something back.
I'm talking to a Free School about me sharing my "soft skills" with working class (as in free school meals) with kids, or more accurately imparting the necessary arrogance that has served me so well.
As for the less able kids, if you Google long and hard enough you will find the work that I'm doing for the "other third".
Yes it is CompSci
Yes it is *CompSci* hence the "Cruel and Unusual Logic" thing as well as algos, data structures etc, that's what call real CompSci, what do you call CS ?
An underlord speaks...
El Reg writes about what is happening, or at least the subset it hears about.
Cloud is a trendy buzzword, new products, shows, etc.
Re: "I liked VB6"
If you think that being a City Headhunter could have any less credibility in the comparison of languages you are sadly mistaken.
Re: Please explain to me
Money, sanity, keeping your job.
Re: I hadn't noticed Dominic's idiosyncratic habit before. (one of them anyway.)
Although I'm a City headhunter, most of my life has been writing C++ code and before that, C. Thus what you read started off in my head as a mix of #define's and VC++ v4 expanded template code, as a CompSci grad I also thought in terms of closures before C++ supported them
Thus the highly personal use of brackets serves several purposes, but most commonly coercion where the semantics of a code fragment / sentence is wantonly changed from one type to another.
An apology from the writer of this article
This damned article hit 4,500 words, far more than it was supposed to be and had to be viciously chopped to fit, so several types of AntiManager were missed out, but I'm sure some of you can add to my list.
Re: Not a BOFH's guide
I did not make any mention of the BOFH for that very reason, although by day I am a famous headhunter n global financial markets, as a Reg Freelancer I am less than nothing and my text can be altered by editors, sub-editors and people editors meet in pubs.
Re: So fix it!
The NC for Computer Science contains as much CS are there is "real fruit" in Fanta.
Cheap hardware does not do much about the fact that the vast majority of Computing teachers have no qualification in the subject, a good % can't program in *any* language.
It gets better
They sent me a phone that only uses Spanish, with a few screens in Finnish.
Being a Windows Phone you can't change the language.
Getting a refund required me to get heavy with Simply Electronics payment processors citing the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, financial firms really don't like that bit of the law on their plate and Simply Electronics were on the phone really very quickly.
Scammed by Simply Electronics
Embarrassing to say, I sent them money for a phone, phone never arrived, no refund.
They tried stalling tactics and if you try to phone their "Customer Support" on their premium rate line, you just get cut off.
Emails are ignored.
I'd like to write this up for the Reg, who else has been scammed ?
Re: Maybe they'll start reading CVs, too ...
I'm sorry, what in all that was the fault of the agent ?
You do know that agents don't set pay rates don't you ?
Sometimes people do take crap money because their careers have gone a bit titsup and they need refocusing. I recall in one job, I was running a team and a guy came in with a complete bullshit CV but it quickly transpired that not was his CV true, he could not only do the job, he probably could do mine better than I did.
I explained the pretty mediocre money on offer was beyond my power to increase, but he was really just so chuffed that I'd offered him a job.
He was missing a couple of critical buzzwords from his CV and found it hard to even get an interview in his specialty, he wanted to do 6 months with me to get the buzzwords. Even though I paid him disgracefully he regarded me has having done him a major favour.
The point of that is they a pimp has to try, you have complete discretion to say no, but even though you have obviously never found yourself in his position, the life of an ITpro means it might well fall on you and taking shit money for a CV upgrade can be a very good deal.
Obviously I'd tell a client that 16 or 20 or whatever is inadequate but they are free to ignore me, imagine that I was that agent, please tell me frankly and realistically what I could have done to make things better ?
Re: Lots of IT jobs in London...
Well thank you Steve, glad to see my efforts are appreciated.
You are right that you should never give out referee names to agents on spec, they are looking for people to sell to and it is not unknown for you name to come up in the conversation which is not good at all.
I'll check if I've ut this in an article and will put it in if not.
The "UCL researcher" is a new one to me, thanks, it may get used in an article.
Re: Impossible conditions
Yes it happens, clients do ask for stupid things, I like to think I can spot the worst of them and respin them but there are >500 distinct technical skills out there, do you know the current version of all of them ?
You missed the real problem which is that "5 years" is not a meaningful measure of expertise, I interview hardcore techies and the correlation between time and understanding is quite poor.
Re: Lots of IT jobs in London...
Shagbag, if you are registered with my firm, could could you drop me a line with your real name so that I may have you deleted from our database as you are clearly too aggressively stupid for me to recommend you to a client.
Actually Shagbag VBA/C++ is in demand at banks, most analytics at banks are written in C++ and a lot are interfaced to Excel, often tactical developers and traders use them as a base for risk and trading using VBA as glue.
This isn't trivial and I am paid to teach it to people who want to do the more mathy parts of programming at investment banks. For your information, some of the very best paid IT people in the City do VBA&C++, some of whom are my students.
Also you are wrong about "C#/C++ desirable" meaning it is not a real job, many firms have both and for instance a job that is mainly in Perl,SQL or Matlab may require you to meddle with some C++ or C# or at least interface to or read. Also there is a prejudice that if you can do one of the "harder" languages then it means you are a better VB (or whatever) programmer, I follow their logic but it is questionable.
50K is a bit cheap for 5 years C#, well here's some news for you, some jobs are crap, I've written articles on the Reg explaining this, did you not read them ?
CV fishing is indeed an issue, I don't imagine it will ever go away, the best I can say is that if a pimp pays money to say "I want GPU developers with strong CUDA and decent maths" then that is probably true even if they don't have the job the claim. You got any idea how to stop this ?
No, nor do I.
Give us your bloody money
Recently my son's mentor, a 6th former soon off to study medicine collapsed and died. Her heart failed on a catastrophic scale and there was nothing anyone could do.
Apparently this is "Sudden Death Syndrome", a condition so poorly understood t hasn't even got a proper name. There's a small charity called CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young) who are trying to establish screening programs and identify risk factors and so my 12 year old is soon walking a marathon along the Essex way (yes, that a real place) to raise funds for them.
Nothing can be done when this happens, you can do something to help stop it before.
A few broken promises
I like the way that a grotesquely overpaid executive at Capita makes light of having broken promises to its staff.
How do I know he's overpaid, because he's paid at all. Capita's record of "breaking promises" to clients and staff may be unique, as is the level of misery of those who are forced to use its services.
Be clear that Capita preys on the weak, disabled and poor through outsourcing of services which it flatly does not deliver. They make light of failing to pay benefits to people who can't afford to buy food.
The real villains however aren't Capita management, it is local authorities with whom it has "excellent personal relationships" and (surprise) whose decision making staff entirely coincidentally just happen to get well paid jobs later at Capita, what's the betting these are in the chunk of Capita who do get pay rises ?
If someone working for me awarded a contract to Capita, I'd fire them, why doesn't this happen when LA's outsource to fimr that understands "delivery£ about as well as Klingon understands veganism ?
Are you some sort of educational charity ?
If so, you might want to join CAS, where we help schools etc with IT issues
Re: Turn these into a book NOW.
Thank you Joe, the problem I face is that the market is flooded with touchy feely, "Careers" books with titles like
How the power of positivity can tubocharge your career
Unleash the superman within you
Why you are man of destiny
How any fool can be as rich as Bill Gates
To ensure that readers knew what they were getting I'd need a title like:
How to stop your career going tits up
The Antifragile Career
Shut the fuck up and code
Politics for programmers
The last one is actually a lecture I occasionally give...
My current favourite title is "Memoirs of a Mediocre Programmer", since the best (sort of ) careers book I know is "My life as a Quant" which is about bankers.
Wiley have offered to publish a book of mine, just so long as they get to keep >80% of the cash which is both standard and unacceptable.
That means it would have to hit sales of 30,000 to be remotely feasilble, Your kind words imply that I might hit that, but 99.9% of books do not and however arrogant my tone on The Register, I'd be naive to just assume that I could be the 1/1000
I could self publish and keep a bigger %, circa 60-70% of the cover price which means the number I'd need to sell would be a lot lower, but that would mean I had to do all the marketing and that can be a time vampire.
Oh yes and I'd have to write it as well.
Up market is where IT companies go to die
I agree this move is rational, but for MS execs, not MS itself.
MS is abandoning the fight to get small firms and although they aren't each very lucrative there are a lot of them and some are the big firms of tomorrow. If you look at the Top 100 or Top 1,000 or top whatever list of firms today you see as relevant then look at the list 10 years ago you see quite a difference.
So in the short term something that pushes up margins a little reduces costs ever so slightly looks good this year and next and when the executive share options pay out.
But we are already seeing many firms start up using little or no MS S/W, do you think they'll move to SQL Server ? Why ?
Remember most firms aren't in IT, they provide some service or make something and take the path of least resistance, as long as the IT works the management don't know or care whether the server runs Linux or Windows. So if the IT guy says "I can get Linux doing what we want in a week, but for Windows we need to have a meeting with one of their partners to discuss our business needs, then work out exactly how many users we will need and and tell them so that we can negotiate prices *then* do the installation etc", which one will they pick.
You could stop MS selling to every company under 5 meg turnover and not even be able to measure the impact on their profits, they might even go up.
A few years later you have a momentum that is unstoppable, but Balmer and his cronies will be gone, in fact they will have left on a high and be interviewed saying "it all went to pot after I left"
Re: safety margins on the grid
I'll be honest and say I know nothing about modern road traffic management systems, if anyone would like to enlighten me, feel free.
Re: 'my errant mate'
This reminds me of the debate about the death penalty, the dimwit could have a quick clean execution, or he could be made to linger for years being tormented, which would be better punishment ?
Just got an email from UK Power Networks
...who didn't get what I was saying. The dear little thing thinks The Register is *my* blog, basic PR professionalism would have stopped her looking so foolish.
This building has been warm for (I believe) about 20 years, so I don't see it as a risk and yes I do rather think I understand some of the physics of transformers, in fact I was using the heat to illustrate how serious the power usage was.
The other point I was making about the location is that this critical bit of IT infrastructure can be found simply by walking around the City on a cold day because although the absolute temperature isn't all that high, a large wall radiating heat are quite noticeable to a bad person with teenage physics.
It's also not near the Stock Exchange I said " near where Stock Exchange servers live ", not the Stock itself which not only is visible but has a small TV studio in it to make sure you know where it is.
That''s why I explicitly didn't mention the location, note the name of the article is "How City IT Is under Attack", since that info might be useful to the bad guys. It is a sensitive enough location that friends of mine have flatly refused to confirm or deny it from my own research. Since they're competent (and irritatingly loyal), I assume that the servers have multiple power feeds as well as generators so screwing with this building wouldn't affect them, but still would be messy.
I was also illustrating that the City uses serious amounts of power, not just as large office blocks but having grids and clouds on a serious scale together with the aircon to cool them down.
I would have explained this to the arrogant "Media Relations Manager" at UK Power Networks who seemed to be under the impression that her words would be so wise that I'd make a premium rate phone call to hear them from her.
Note to PRs, if you want me to call you, give either a land line or a mobile, I'm not paying 0.50 a minute , ever. There are no variables in this equation, the best you can hope for is
a) Me mocking you in an open forum
b) The following email response, if you can't be bothered to work out my direct email address (it's not hard, yes it is what you think it might be and yes your second and third guesses are right as well, I'm famously easy to contact)
to: UK Power networks media relations
Thanks for that, I'd call you but as policy I never speak to people who require that I use premium rate lines to do so.
You will note that I do not include my phone number in this message, take that as a hint.
Re: @goats in pyjamas
Actually, the thing that is clear to me about 9/11 is that very few if anyone understands it.
Feel free to insert your own conspiracy theory, but to me the most interesting part is that the systems didn't work and their failure is too wide for a conspiracy because a conspiracy that powerful wouldn't need to conspire.
Critical parts of NY's emergency response control were under a tower which which known from previous attacks to be a target.
Helicopters which were supposed to rescue people weren't sent, most banks DR was itself a disaster, there was a major risk managers conference in a tower that day (one I might have been at), the fire department bravely rushed up the stairs because the NYFD has no proper plan for dealing with skyscrapers in a city that has more than any other.
The US secret service didn't take proper care of Bush, instead of bundling him to somewhere safe they left him exposed in a widely known place. He then hid in a cave for a while, such was the chaos at the top of the US administration that Chelsea Clinton who was at that time a student found herself acting as a spokesman and doing a pretty good job.
If you want a good conspiracy, you have one to make her President.
The the US did nothing.
Despite knowing who had done it and where they were, they asked a hostile regime politely if they could please hand them over and not only was the Afghan regism not American friends, recall that in Islamic culture you have a strong obligation to defend your guests.
So the US let the commanders of their enemies get away.
The search of the WTC ruins looked more like the courageous incompetence you see in Pakistan or Bangladesh after a disaster and the utter disregard for hazardous materials like asbestos dust for both the rescuers and citizens of NY looks like it will kill more people than the attacks themselves.
That's fighting talk ;)
I agree there is no quick fix, its a long term management issue, but RBS may not make it to the long term.
Re: Diesel Bug
I'm told there is water in biodiesel, space didn't permit a full discussion of the subject, but it is going to come as a nasty shock to some people.
Are mainframe *people* more reliable ?
The RBS clusterfuck seems to have been mostly human error, if your hardware is solid and your software holds up then human error is going to be your biggest source of problems.
Actually, I'd expect the 25 to be 25 out of 26 or 27, ie nearly all of them.
As the article says, it is insanely difficult to replace these things and even where they aren't the spine of the firm they do run some critical bits.
Also the biggest banks grew by sticking bits of smaller banks on, so even if the "main" bit of the bank didn't use mainframes, some other part will often have it.
Re: Said it before, will say it again
My pieces *may* turn into some sort of book at some point, the question is how many would pay for my words as opposed to getting them free on the Reg ?
Re: I just woke the office up, laughing.
Have you got a link for that ?
Would love to use it in an article
Re: Caveat Emptor
It's interesting to talk to HR and hear what they are told their job is, quite different from what staff believe.
"protecting management from the staff" is how one senior HR described it to me.
Because poeple listen to it
. As a headhunter I know that during career transitions most people feel vulnerable which is why on the web there is a huge bulk of fluffy kitten careers advice, all touchy feely and written to make you feel warm inside when reading it.
Certainly when I deal personally with people I am softer than I write here because we are working together to get them where they should be.
Getting careers advice *after* things have happened is not exactly ideal and because you may be stressed you may not even process properly the advice you get during an issue.
At any given time most Reg readers don't need much careers advice, you're doing your jobs with varying degrees of competence for firms of varying degrees of benevolence. That means I must get the message across in a form that sticks in your mind for when you actually need it and since most Reg readers are in cruise mode I'm not upping your stress level at a bad time by in effect shouting at you.
So I fully understand why some commentards are so negative about my articles, since I'm telling them things they don't feel they need to know.
"Yet" is the important word here.
I don't actually care if you agree with what I write, I define "success" for an article as causing Reg readers to think through their career issues and disagreeing with me is a good way of getting things clear in your mind.
Re: Long notice period
Making it hard to get another role is of course one reason why firms sometimes go for long notice periods.
The best approach is first to spin this, being on 6 months means they value you and it is worth remembering that the interview process is hardly rich in objective data, so that is a mark in your favour, even if it is awkward.
It depends on how rational your employer is and their reason for 6 months.
If it's simple fear of losing then the best approach is to treat this as a straight business negotiation.
Part of 6 month notice is that they have to pay you after you resign and that is a lump of money paying you for work that your motivation has left since your sights are set elsewhere.
So the gold standard here is to look at your current projects and say to your boss "I will complete X,Y,Z", write a good handover document and get Joe up to speed on my stuff then move on".
A rational manager would far rather have a motivated guy for 6 weeks than someone hanging around lowering morale and achieving very little. I don't doubt you will be professional in your exit phase, but it is not unknown for leavers to cause mischief.
So they might go for gardening leave, but that's paying you to hang around, so if there is a deal to be struck that is not only good for your boss, but something he can demonstrate to his bosses as a properly managed process, everyone gets out clean.
Be aware that for some managers, this is an emotional event and that another negotiation may need to be made after they've calmed down.
Also be aware that you are under no obligation to tell them where you are going to.
Re: Not my job to be liked
Actually the Reg politburo and I are discussing a sort of "Reg Careers Live and unplugged" at a secret City pub this July, maybe we do a debate or dissing by rap ?
Re: My opinion......This author comes off as a spoiled teenager, because its everyone elses fault.
Actually 'm a spoiled 51 year old, been a *long* time since I was a spoiled teenager.
Yes it is all negative, that's how I write, people like it this way , however you can imagine that my kids school don't like it when I help my kids write their essays. The bit where my son referred to "The causes of World War One" as "What happens when you promote people based on who their grannies fucked", didn't go down well at all.
Thank you for your plug for another site, given that in a good month, there's upwards of a million clicks on stuff I write, maybe you can appreciate that I fear it not.
Re: HR's hidden Agenda
At that GermanBank I had to explain to their outsourced HR (Resource Solutions) the nature of the CompSci PhD that my candidate had. Try to imagine the conversation, a recruiter with a CompSci degree, a PhD in AI and a clueless Resource Solutions strag, with the strag claiming that the PhD was not what it seemed.
Can you imagine what it "seemed" to her ?
Being an artsgrad is a state of mind, not a qualification
Being an artsgrad is a state of mind, not a qualification, or in this case a generic term of abuse for shallow thinking and self importance.
Not my job to be liked
My job is to tell it like it is.
I could try harder to be liked, maybe you'd like my next piece to have fluffy kittens ?
There's plenty of happy clappy advice out there, feel free to read it in the dole queue.
Re: Does anybody know ...?
High flying ?
Nope, I don't recall making such a claim, if you'd read more of my articles you'd see that the ambition of the series is to get you guys a better career than mine. Judge my writing on whether it helps you think of ways to get ahead in your work and no other basis, f I fail on that I apologise.
Also a "high flying" recruiter of any kind is an interesting, if implausible idea.
I know something about the recruitment of entry level programmers because
a) I've been one
b) I've hired them
Re: Can somebody clarify...
I agree there is evidence that women do settle for less money.
But they also cluster in the jobs that pay less.
Re: Reading Uni
Fancypants, I was sharing my thought processes and used short words to point out that my views might not be kosher, obviously though, the words weren't short enough for you, for which I apologise.
Actually I'd a director of the firm, so I don't have one of these "boss" things
Re: Does anybody know ...?
I am man of mystery, OK not a very interesting mystery, but a mystery nevertheless.
Re: Classic, just classic!
Many thanks kind sir, I do recall that at some point in the 1980s you trashed my machine ?
Re: Is it ever worth going back for a degree? (UK)
Some employers are very fixated on degrees, typically the larger noes, you might want to look at Birkbeck for a part time / evening degree that has some credibility.
Re: Bad article
You haven't done badly, well done for you, but you're not in HFT are you ?
You're not in general trading either ,else you'd have said.
So that puts you in the B+ stream, nothing to be ashamed of but hardly a top job is it ?
As for me being a bad headhunter, that may indeed be true, maybe you ought to have googled my name before trying to look like you're first rate.
10 quid is not 10 quid if it is from Capita
Capita may be "guaranteeing" 2 years for those who fall into its clutches, but there's lots of ways to trim the cost.
What *exactly* is the guarantee ?
Given that Capita have repeatedly failed to deliver when there are enforceable contracts with clients what makes anyone think they can be held to a vague bit of arm waving ?
I don't see any mention of holiday pay, easy for Capita to lose a few days there.
They can hassle people over toilet breaks, or say you only get paid when you reach your desk, not when you arrive on site. "Flexible" working, ie putting the 10 quid an hour people on unpleasant shifts in pregerence to the cheaper ones.
Managers can be quietly "incentivised" to lean more on the expensive people and let natural wastage get rid of the more expensive people. Easy for Capita to set "targets" for performance and hassle / fire the more expensive people.
Capita aren't good people, I'd only work for them if there was no alternative at all.
Re: re: persecution
I sometimes think that the most valuable course I did at school was Drama.
Re: Contracting seems to be working here...
The QNX/Embedded/bare metal market does seem nicely stable.
I think that's because it has a decent barrier to entry, you can get started with most environments on your PC, hardware has a bigger first step.
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