back to article This Christmas, demand the right to a silent night

A few months back I spied a rare, spare week in my schedule and decided to turn it into a fortnight’s ‘staycation’. I’d stick around the house, but do no work whatsoever. I had no idea that would make people so angry. I didn’t simply disappear. After ensuring everything would keep ticking over in my absence, I activated the …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yes !!!!!

    "In some significant ways our incredible tech advances have infantilized us"

    I cannot agree more !

    6 a.m. - After one hour of lullabies I have just managed to lull back to quiescence a vociferating toddler - err sorry - a vociferating manager on a business trip to India because he couldn't get access to his bl**dy personal video streaming service from his smart phone ! (duh no 4G mate)

    Now trying to lull myself back to sleep

    1. Lusty Silver badge

      Re: Yes !!!!!

      And you think he's at fault? It is your job to stop that kind of nonsense, if you allow it to continue then it's your own fault. The correct response is that it's not something you support and therefore there will be no call logged - the conversation should be less than one minute. Managers are grownups believe it or not, and they will understand if you talk to them as such. If you treat them like toddlers why wouldn't they continue to interrupt your sleep when they need something - they know you'll answer them!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Yes !!!!!

        Ah! Would you be a manager by any chance :-) Because it seems that like most self important (sorry - grown up!) managers you totally miss the point.

        The point being that in today's world of instant gratification and instant communication we seem to have forgotten that there are human beings with their own constraints at the other end of the line.

        We seem to have forgotten that having a mobile phone does not mean you are available 24/7 to answer the phone !

        Are you saying it is the job of an underpaid PA or techie to teach basic manners to an overpaid manager? Ahem....

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Yes !!!!!

          Is it your job or not? If so then stop whinging or find another job. If not then that's what the off button is for.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Yes !!!!!

            Sounds like he needs to find another job, period. Not because "it is his job", but that his job is spilling into and taking over his personal life. He did the right thing, he made sure everything was a go before leaving, and made it clear that he would not be available during his personal time. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this.

            The problem comes in when:

            The person in charge is too ignorant or impatient to wait, or simply feel they are are so important that they can disturb anyone, anytime, anywhere, for whatever reason.

            Or the person handling the work is either incompetent or creates various situations where nothing can be done without them, thus creating a false sense of importance for themselves.

            I see both in my work place, the first, people bothering me during my personal time, was put a stop to. don't call me unless it's absolutely critical. period. I will not be coming in for something idiotic or that I feel can wait. I have a life, you should get one too. I wasn't fired, demoted, they got the point, I stood up for myself because I was right.

            The other point, we have some morons running our IT department, no clue, and it constantly has issues where we need them, I think it's part stupidity and part "I'm so important and an ass-kisser that I want to show that it cant be done without me'.

            If it's done correct, it should work. Period. No need to call someone in the middle of the night to "fix" an issue.

            Stop babysitting. Man up, stand up, shut up, accept it, or move on. simple.

          2. JLV Silver badge


            Is it his job?

            What part of "personal video streaming service" do you not understand?

            Now, since you clearly need some detailed explaining, verrrry detailed, I refer you to the other posters who warn of the risks to one's career when telling off sufficiently elevated higher ups to take long walk off a short pier in piranha country because "it's not your job".

            Point is, it may not be his job and I hope he was on call at least, but there would be little upside to telling the little dictator to buzz off. The only forgivable thing about the I-will-bug-folk @ 6 AM for non emergency is that, from India, timezone differences to some parts of the world (I'm @ UTC-8) pretty much _always_ screws someone, one of the many endearing traits of dealing with it.

            Should I type just a little slower for you?

        2. Lusty Silver badge

          Re: Yes !!!!!

          No, I'm not a manager. I am, however, a techie who has understood the business side of the equation and knows what the managers want.

          From the managers perspective, you have the support phone which is connected to the support number that IT gave him. He calls the support number expecting one of two scenarios:

          1. Answering machine message saying it's out of hours and to leave a message.

          2. Someone answers in which case the support line is open for business. He logs a call and gets help.

          If you answer the phone, the support line is open - this is your fault if you answer out of agreed SLA hours, not his. If you don't have an SLA then this is either your fault or your bosses fault and you should work to fix it - again this is not the fault of the manager and certainly doesn't make him rude for calling the number you gave him.

          Since you are therefore being paid to answer the phone, then yes it certainly is your job to convey information as to what is and is not supported by your support line. If the manager, the CEO, or $DEITY calls up and asks for a burger you tell them you don't do burgers and the educated person on the other end of the line will likely never ask you for a burger again. If they ask for help with something you support then log a ticket first and then help them to the best of your ability or escalate it.

          Because you logged a ticket first, the business can see how busy and overworked you are, so next time you ask for a pay review or extra staff they will listen because you have the numbers. If you fail to log a ticket each and every time you answer the telephone, guess whose fault it is that your career isn't going how you'd hoped?

          I'm not sure how you have translated that into managers having bad manners, or being childish. They are using a service that their business pays for so they can use it. If I ask the canteen for lobster they don't freak out because all they do is chips and peas...

          1. elip
            Thumb Down

            Re: Yes !!!!!

            > "Because you logged a ticket first, the business can see how busy and overworked you are..."

            you gave yourself away with that one.

          2. lucki bstard

            Re: Yes !!!!!


            It sounds like you have just swallowed an ITIL handbook and been on a motivational course. Do you really have a clue about the real world? Are you really that naive? Have you ever worked in IT out of SOHO, maybe small SME >200 ??

            'If I ask the canteen for lobster they don't freak out because all they do is chips and peas...' - Maybe you ought to realise that some of us like our jobs (and need them to pay bills) and get annoyed when we cannot resolve an issue. Especially when that issue is unresolvable at that point in time and the person who has raised that doesn't comprehend that and becomes irritated.

            I admire your ethics, but your naivety is outstanding

            1. Lusty Silver badge

              Re: Yes !!!!!

              "Do you really have a clue about the real world?"

              Yes, I've been promoted many times in the real world for exactly this attitude. I spent many years on support in one form or another. Working as a consultant I've visited hundreds of different companies and have seen what does and does not work. I've also spoken to the managers and the helpdesk staff of these companies.

              Although I understand ITIL, I'm not overly bothered whether it's used but logging tickets to show how busy you are is really basic stuff, and the negativity on this thread really highlights why this and SLAs are so important. If IT people acted in a more businesslike manner they'd be treated a lot better. As it stands, many CxO level people are pushing for public cloud services in an effort to clear out the negative IT staff who generally start the conversation with "it can't be done".

              1. James 51 Silver badge

                Re: Yes !!!!!

                "in an effort to clear out the negative IT staff who generally start the conversation with "it can't be done"."

                The missing part at the end of that sentence is 'for the price you want it at.'

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Yes !!!!!

                  Another great piece of nativity... they're not looking at cloud solutions because they think they can see a way to get a better service they're doing it because they've read about it in the press and all the other cool kids have got one!!!!

                2. dan1980

                  Re: Yes !!!!!

                  @James 51

                  Okay - MASSIVELY late on this but El Reg does cycle stale articles in the pages . . .

                  There is one more thing missing:

                  ". . . and adhering to existing company security policies.

      2. James 51 Silver badge

        Re: Yes !!!!!

        Yes, antagonise the person who controls your appraisal which determines your pay rise (ha) and possibility of promotion. It only takes a ‘doesn’t give his all’ or ‘unhelp and obstructive’ to put the brakes on your career. You’d be right if all managers were professional but a lot, far too many obviously are not.

  2. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Morlocks and the Eloi?

    HG Wells "The Time Machine" puts IT and the rest of the world in perspective. We're the Morlocks... the only difference is we don't come up from our lairs and grab one of those twits periodically.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Morlocks and the Eloi?

      This is what management think of your attitude...

    2. Vimes

      Re: Morlocks and the Eloi?

  3. king of foo

    sometimes...'s OK to give shit "service".

    It's my weapon against the "disrespectfully disorganised". You know, that senior manager that needs X by 6pm, and only bothers to call you at 5pm, even though it's been one of their "actions" from a meeting that took place 2 months ago.

    These mofos guilt trip you into giving up your free time to help them, then proceed to use you as a patsy to explain away any delays or problems that could not be resolved in their miniscule timeframe.

    Their disrespect injures not only you, but the service you are able to provide for those respectful enough to give you realistic deadlines.

    Their success is fueled their own incompetence. The more you break your back to help them, the worse they get.

    Back in the good old days we recognised these people for what they were and "managed" them.

    Now we have to worry about kpi's and other such nonsense.

    My beautiful, organised chaos doesn't work in an environment populated by the disrespectfully disorganised. It falls over. I myself appear disorganised and disrespectful.

    I don't blame our dependence upon technology for this, I blame poor judgement on behalf of HR and recruitment agencies; filling our senior management ranks with narcissistic wankers who in turn give their ignorant friends and family jobs...

    Wow, I guess my bad mood from yesterday hasn't improved!!!

    1. The Vociferous Time Waster

      Re: sometimes...

      Narcissistic wankers are exactly what a company needs to get the most work out of the little drones like you.

      1. Canopus

        Re: sometimes...

        Hello Narcissistic Wanker ! I thought I recognised your style :-)

    2. Lusty Silver badge

      Re: sometimes...

      "'s OK to give shit "service".

      It's my weapon against the "disrespectfully disorganised". You know, that senior manager that needs X by 6pm, and only bothers to call you at 5pm, even though it's been one of their "actions" from a meeting that took place 2 months ago."

      No, it's not OK to give shit service, that just makes you shit at your job. Your job is to help the person with their IT. If you don't have SLAs in place to point at as the reason you can't help them in under an hour that is not their fault - you have essentially advertised an unlimited service to your users and they are using it. Why would they play within an imaginary set of rules they know nothing about?

      1. a cynic writes...

        Re: sometimes...

        You're assuming they are sensible mature people and haven't got a personality disorder. Unfortunately that isn't always the case...

        1. Lusty Silver badge

          Re: sometimes...

          I would assume that the majority of people in management positions are educated people, yes, and that they got there by understanding how to play well with others. The ones with the personality disorder are usually in the basement under fluorescent lights dealing with IT issues rather than in the penthouse office looking at the view and calling IT...

          1. king of foo

            Re: sometimes...

            Lusty, I know this is completely unrelated to the above, but are you an Argonian maid, perchance?

          2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

            Re: sometimes...

            "I would assume that the majority of people in management positions are educated people, yes, and that they got there by understanding how to play well with others. "

            And when you get home, do you spend your time assuming unicorns exist? Managers are managers thanks to cronyism. There is no other reason.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: sometimes...

              "And when you get home, do you spend your time assuming unicorns exist? Managers are managers thanks to cronyism. There is no other reason."

              Passed over for promotion again Trevor? It's not cronyism, they're just keeping out the negative people like yourself who don't get along with them.

              1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

                Re: sometimes...

                How do you get promoted beyond "co-owner of the company/dude who runs the thing?" I'm curious.

          3. lucki bstard

            Re: sometimes...

            'I would assume' - Well there is your problem, you assume rather than you know. Which comes across as complete bull$%^& when compared to 'Working as a consultant I've visited hundreds of different companies and have seen what does and does not work. I've also spoken to the managers and the helpdesk staff of these companies.'

            If you have knowledge you wouldn't need to assume.

            If you are going to be a whiny g*t then at least keep the story consistent.

  4. LaeMing Silver badge

    I have separate phones for work and home

    The work one stays at work (to charge overnight).

    The home one stays at home (to charge over the day)

    I don't take personal calls at work because I am there to work.

    I don't take work calls at home because I am there to ... home?

    The only private-life person who has my work number is my mum (who is vocally peeved by people who constantly take private calls at work instead of doing their job, so won't call me unless it is a genuine emergency). Oh, my real-estate agent also has my work number, but they aren't in the business of calling me unless it is important.

    The only work person who has my home number is my immediate manager (who is happy with me doing my phones like that, and I trust to only call me for a genuine emergency).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I have separate phones for work and home

      What you describe is the policy I introduced when my people started using mobile phones. I did it because I believe that people should have a life of their own when they are away from work.

      I am the only person that has, officially, everyone's home number - if they give out their number to others as a social statement that is OK with me. I have only used that knowledge once and that was when a client had a fire that took out the network and needed to be back up as fast as possible.

      Why some organisations take advantage of their employees by having them on call 24/7 and why those employees don't log all the extra time they are giving to the organisation - and hand in a bill for the overtime - is beyond my understanding. In fact I doubt that anyone actually adds up the number of free hours they give to the company they work for and use that to calculate what the true hourly rate of pay is - if they did they would be in for a shock ( have a friend that worked out that he was giving 18 hour days and getting paid for 8 - that has now changed).

  5. Jack of Shadows Silver badge

    Fitness for purpose

    This is no longer an essentially technical question, but one that touches on psychology, anthropology, and cultural understanding. These tools that shape us determine the shape of our societies. Designs needs to be carefully considered in light of their long-term effects.

    That's the way I've always worked. When designing a system I spend more time interviewing everyone I can lay my hands on to get a handle on all the social sciences fuzzy stuff. It helped that Mom's got a Ph.D. in anthropology and I went out into the field with her. [Yep, same Mom that's a wizard with electronic/electrical engineering.] It just made sense. Hell, if what I handed off to the operators wasn't what they would work with, why go to all the effort into doing the project in the first damn place. They won't use it, or screw it up so much that they may as well not have it all. It's one of those constraints to which I'd pay attention.

    As for the instant gratification, I'll give it a best effort. If I'm off the clock, well send me an email and I might get back to you. Word for word what I'd tell everyone, Mom included ;-).

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Machines may never err,

    ...but to really mess things up does need a computer.

    The bane of my life is apparently intelligent people who insist that something must be true - "because the manual/book/computer says so". Just because it is stated somewhere doesn't override reality. The human mind has to recognise and solve the paradoxes - and that doesn't appear to be a common ability.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    My favourite response...

    (best to sound that you're in a foul mood). I can't help you know . I've just got the kids to sleep,and you've just woken them up, thanks. <hang up>

    Seriously it works all the time, even if it's 3am and it's a top director.

  8. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge


    ... the old crumpled crisp packet next to the mouthpiece ("I'm sorry, you're breaking up") still works?

  9. sandman

    Evasion Tactics

    I used to work for a company where the senior management were proud to never be off call and never take a real vacation, ever. Unfortunately they expected the entire workforce to behave the same way. My answer to the holiday problem was to take my Blackberry with me and lock it in the nice, metal, hotel safe. When asked on return why I hadn't responded to all the calls/emails/IMs/etc, I'd just say there was no phone coverage in the mountains of Crete/Sardinia/wherever. Being US based, they believed me.

    1. A K Stiles

      Re: Evasion Tactics

      Encountered that senior management argument once, to which the appropriate response was more along the lines of "When I get paid the same money as you, I'll be available when you are." Otherwise, it was a paid call-out rota, and anti-social hours rate overtime, but only when it absolutely couldn't happen in standard hours.

  10. silent_count

    The magic of silence

    I'd like to help y'all out. There's a little automation app called Tasker in the google store. It can be made to do many things but here's my favourite.

    When my phone comes into range of my home's WiFi, the ringer and notification volumes are silenced*. When I leave my home's WiFi, they're both switched on again.

    As a result, nobody disturbs my family time and nobody disturbs my sleep.

    * There are exceptions for my girlfriend and my parents so they would be able to contact me in an emergency.

    1. Kristian Walsh Silver badge

      Re: The magic of silence

      In the same spirit, on iOS phones, you can use the settings under "Settings > Notifications > Do Not Disturb".

      Similarly, for Windows Phones that have Cortana, look under "Settings > quiet hours".

      Both of these are time-based (WinPhone's version can also activate based on your calendar appointments) but time-based switching is usually good enough to guarantee some time away from callers. Both also allow selected callers to bypass the block.

  11. Individual #6/42

    Generation X.2 can use the off switch...

    As my offspring reach an age where they can have mobile devices I find that, for the majority of the time they turn off the wifi and the cellphone capabilities. This is partly because they don't want to be tracked but also they have no desire to be emailed or texted constantly. They might play minecraft but their messages pile up and they drop by each other's houses to talk and gossip.

    Grumbling " I don't understand kids these days..."

  12. jake Silver badge

    Humanity needs to realize something very important ...

    TehIntrawebTubes runs over TCP/IP ... which is a store & forward protocol.

    In other words, it's not an instantaneous communications medium. Nor is it a guaranteed delivery system (read the relevant RFCs, if you don't believe me).

    There is no law that says you have to answer your land-line phone. Why do you think that you have to answer your Internet contacts immediately? More important, why the fuck do you think that you absolutely HAVE to not only read, but also answer, Great Aunt Maud's twit within fifteen seconds of receiving it, 24 hours a day, 365.25 days per year?

    Relax, twits. Put down your Cell and get outside. Ignore your connectivity for a day or two occasionally. You'll be happier overall. Seriously. You (and I!) are not important enough to require 24/7 connectivity. It's not worth the headspace.

  13. WylieCoyoteUK

    Poor coverage is sometimes a blessing

    I often holiday at my daughter's house in a village in Cornwall, where the only mobile phones that work are on Orange.

    My company phone is on Vodaphone, so it stays in the glove compartment of the car, and I use a PAYG Orange phone for personal use. Needless to say only one trusted colleague has that number.

    He has never called me on it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Poor coverage is sometimes a blessing

      I'll be spending Christmas with my parents, who live in the middle of nowhere, just off Dartmoor. The mobile reception is non-existent and their internet is about 128kbps, when it works, so I'll be entirely uncontactable all week. Bliss! :-)

    2. Cipher

      Re: Poor coverage is sometimes a blessing

      Go outside?

      I tried that the other day. The construct was shaky, character development weak, but the graphics were awesome. I may have to this more often...

  14. Pete 2 Silver badge

    More for the spam filter

    > I found an angry set of demands for my time and attention. Nothing serious, certainly nothing that could qualify as an emergency

    Sounds like you have some more people to cut ties with. Either can them or throw together an autoresponder that says: "Have you tried switching it off and on again?".

  15. Jim 59

    Good article

    In future, designers will need to take into account how interacting with a given system makes us feel. For example, the designers of Snapchat noticed that various features of existing social media are unsatisfying and disquieting to use. Eg., notifications that say your friend is online - the implication being they are online but have made no effort to talk to you. And delayed typing in chat windows - destroys the fluidity of an interaction. I don't want an argument on the merits of Snapchat, just making a point about the design of systems that interact with humans.

    There needs to be another level between the user and the various systems, like cushions on a settee. For example, we should probably have only 1 notification interface, not 5 or 6. And it should be sweetened and humanized somehow.

    Also, in the vein of acting more human, we should probably say "Christmas" instead of "holiday season". "Happy holidays" is a greeting I would expect to receive from a cold cold Sun T4 server.

    1. Vinyl-Junkie

      Re: Good article

      "Also, in the vein of acting more human, we should probably say "Christmas" instead of "holiday season". "Happy holidays" is a greeting I would expect to receive from a cold cold Sun T4 server."

      That depends on whether you are greeting someone you know to be a Christian, or at least an embracer of the secular Xmas, or whether you are sending a generic greeting. So I wish most of my friends (overtly Christian or otherwise) "Happy Christmas"; my Jewish friends I wish a "happy Hanukkah"; my pagan friends get a "joyous Yule" and my Muslim friends a normal hello or goodbye, as there is no significant Muslim festival over the same period. If however I was sending a generic message and I was uncertain of the religious sensitivities of the recipients (or at least aware that they were diverse) then I would use "Happy Holidays" to be polite as I am not trying to impose my belief system on someone else.

      I would expect similar consideration from others so it is only right that I show the same consideration to them.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Good article

        I do not believe that pretending it is not Christmas, or whatever, is being considerate. What business have you got wishing somebody "Happy Hanukah" if you are not Jewish?

        If the recipient is too ignorant to know that, Christian, Muslim, athiest or whatever, he is living in a country that does have a <xyz> holiday then that person needs to get out a bit. Or are you one of those who would not have any Christmas decoration visible from outside the house in case some sensitive soul is disturbed as it passes by?

        Respect is respecting the traditions of the country - it must be a rare non-christian in Britain, for example, who steadfastly ignores Christmas altogether, returns all cards to the sender with a snotty message, closes ears and eyes and eschews even a sniff of Christmas pudding. Similarly, in an Arab country, I did not ignore every Muslim festival or custom - life is too precious for that.

        Anyway, the spelling, "Xmas", is offensive to many, degrading it to a Christmas shopping advertising slogan.

        No, presumably, whether they believe or not, you wish them some pleasure, so be confident in your culture and be what you are, not some pusillanimous obeyer of some odd limits. I seem to recall that many Muslim and Jewish "leaders" have stated very clearly that they accept what is the local way and do not expect others to genuflect before perceived sensitivities.

        Or do you also follow the requirements of Ramadan, just to be sure you do not offend observant Muslims in your work place or street?

        Do you carefully kill the smell of a bacon sandwich or even avoid one altogether?

        Fortunately, most non-Christians are much more grown up and aware than you are.

        1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: Good article

          "I do not believe that pretending it is not Christmas, or whatever, is being considerate."

          And I believe your beliefs make you an asshole. And that your religion is stupid*. Happy holidays.

          *For the record, I have negative respect for your religion, for any country that attempts to make a given religion the "state religion" (officially or unofficially) or for people who believe that everyone around them should behave as though $_religion is to be the default. If you want to worship a sky fairy, go forth and do so on your own time. But by His Noodly Appendage, I'll not let some religious nutter treat me like I should be one of them. I'm not. I will never be. And I find the suggestion that I should be, would want to be, or should pretend that I am overwhlemingly offensive.

          Adjust yourself to my lifestyle, if you wish. I'll not be adjusting to yours.

          1. JLV Silver badge

            Re: Good article

            >And I believe your beliefs make you an asshole.

            Speaking as an agnostic with definite atheist tendencies, I think the whole "holidays vs Christmas" thing is kinda silly, from both ends of the spectrum.

            Like another form of PC-speak, where someone is "vertically challenged", rather than "short".

            The holidays around Dec 25 are time off holidays for most workers. They happen to be originally motivated by something that might or might not have happened 2000 years ago. That's besides the point, for me, but they are important enough, on most folks' schedule, for work or family reasons, to warrant easy identification during communication. "Christmas" seems to be the natural choice and easily understood.

            Otherwise, if we successfully wiped out Xmas as a designation you'd end up with "the holidays in Dec" and the "holidays in April" (Easter). A bit silly, innit?

            "Joe, please make sure the program identifies the correct non-work days around the April holidays."

            And Halloween being All Saints Eve originally? Surely another candidate for "the October 31st Holiday"?

            Myself, I find the "sky fairy" terminology a bit over the top. A bit in-your-face to believers and I am relaxed enough in my non-belief not to impose it onto others. But at least it has the shock value to remind people that one person's belief is another's superstition.

            Insisting on re-labeling a public holiday's convenient and generally accepted designation because of its, fairly tenuous (because of lack of actual observance by most), link to Christianity seems rather pointless however. Let alone caring overmuch about not offending other religion's followers, when you can be fairly sure they would feel no compunction not to label their own holidays naturally and probably don't care either way (traditional Muslim doctrine rates Atheists rather lower than Christians).

            Just as pointless as the folks stridently insisting on "Christmas" in fact.

            Happy Holidays, or Merry Christmas, y'all. Whatever floats your boat. Live and let live ;-)

            p.s. now, if only my the cafe I am in would turn off their @*%$& Holiday carolsl!!!

            1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

              Re: Good article

              @JLV, I've no problem with someone saying christmas. Go hard. If that's your holiday, that's your holiday. But I've quite a bit of issue with someone telling me not to say "Happy Holidays". Where does anyone get off telling me I cannot choose to be inclusive?

              This time of year doesn't belong to any one religion.

              Personally, I won't call it "christmas" because I choose not to acknowledge one group over another, especially one group that - not to put to fine a point on it - have more than enough well funded and obnoxious sociopaths trying to run it for everyone else already.

              Maybe once people like Westboro have been ostracized, banished and dismantled by the other believers in their particular sky fairy I'll do that particular group the honour of acknowledging their holiday. Until then, they're just one amongst many...and the least of the bunch.

              Happy Holidays!

      2. jake Silver badge

        Re: Good article

        Whatever, Vinyl-Junkie.

        Religious folks don't give any consideration to anyone who haven't sampled their particular brand of cool-aid. Why should I give any consideration to them?

        That said, sensible people celebrate Solstice. Not for religious reasons, mind, but rather because the hours of daylight (and thus the planting & animal breeding schedule) have tipped over for the second time in the current twelve months.

        Religious folks, follow your bliss. Just don't try to involve me in it.

    2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Good article

      "Also, in the vein of acting more human, we should probably say "Christmas" instead of "holiday season"."


  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Other people's pressures/expectations

    Real life example. Early one morning. Phone rings. Exec at airport, waiting in lounge.

    Exec: There's something wrong. I've been here an hour and no email's come through. There must be something wrong.

    QL: Get a life <CLICK>

    (And no, there was nothing wrong with the email system or his phone, but the pressure he felt he was under always to be accessed and accessible meant it was a genuine concern of his, poor sop.)

    1. Phil_Evans

      Re: Other people's pressures/expectations a perfect example of the deeper issue.

      That guy felt neglected. He was uncomfortable with neglect / had ADHD. And it personifies someone so unfamiliar with the reality around him that he is unable to deal with it.

      My mobiles/devices are either off or ignored when it's my downtime. Even when it's my 'up-time', quality and priority of communication needs to be more important than quantity. I'm sure it won't be long now until we have a Top-Gear style bragging board in the office to see who 'has the most email in their inbox'. It's a badge of honour/envy for any youngster to aspire to...'LOOK at how busy/popular/important I am!'.

      Lest we forget, the purpose of social media (to bring my argument into this century) is to promote exactly as many conversations as can be consumed. I don't know that anyone has been any more deterministic in its design than that, really.

      Just hit the power button - it's your time - use it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Other people's pressures/expectations

        >That guy felt neglected. He was uncomfortable with neglect / had ADHD.

        >And it personifies someone so unfamiliar with the reality around him that

        >he is unable to deal with it.

        He's now CEO, so you're right on all counts ;-)

  17. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Keep it down will you!

    Beer - if not on call (from either office or family) drink beer so any call can truly be answered with 'sorry I've had a couple of beers and am more likely to screw things up than help - come and join me!'

    If your not paying me I'm not necessarily available.

    Having said that I did have a boss who used to call me in the office from the pub and demand my presence there - which sounds nice but sometimes the only way to get the work done was for him not to be there.

  18. heyrick Silver badge

    When I'm at home, my mobile is in WiFi only mode, like a little tablet. If people want me urgently, they can email, otherwise leave a message. My home phone? That is on silent ring, it is there for my convenience, not anybody else's.

    I am not paid for being on call and I'm not the poor bloke in charge of the RBS's computers, so there is nothing that can't wait until tomorrow...

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Frank Herbert Saw This

    In Dune there were no machines " the likeness of a human mind..." due to how they conditioned people to treat each other - suspiciously like mentioned in this article.

    So will we end up with the Butlerian Jihad and mentats?

    A Guild Steersman in his anti-grav tank would be great...not to keen on the Sardauker though.

  20. RyokuMas Silver badge

    This is why...

    ... my personal gear and accounts are sacrosanct - strictly off-limits for work purposes.

  21. UberMunchkin

    Here's the thing. To a certain degree we can control when and where we can be contacted. I have a work mobile, provided to me by my employer, that mobile is turned on when I'm at work and turned off at 18:00.

    I have a personal mobile but that phone number is not available to my employer as I am not prepared to take work related calls when I am not at work.

    I've been asked several times why I don't take calls from work in the evening or at the weekends and in each case my response has simply been that I'm busy and not available for work. Mostly this has been fine, some managers at a higher level who think they are entitled to constant assistance whenever they want have been extremely difficult about this but for the most part the response has just been 'fine'.

  22. ecofeco Silver badge

    This is why...

    ... I work strictly hourly.

    You want after hours service? No problem, just pay the rate. Don't want to? See you tomorrow during regular hours.

    I'm on vacation, sick, earned personal day? Fuck right off.

    Yes, I've been fired and demoted for that. Fuck 'em double. I can count on one hand the number of times I've been rewarded after providing exceptional service. The lesson learned it that I was being screwed.

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: This is why...

      "I can count on one hand the number of times I've been rewarded after providing exceptional service."

      Bingo. Nobody rewards excellence. But they absolutely hold you to it as the new standard, and punish you when you can't maintain it.

  23. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Hourly pay is amazing thing...

    The company at one point had all of IT on salary and we were expected to be on call 24/7. For those true emergencies, we went in, the company bought dinner/midnight nosh, etc. Then.. the state took a look at things and determined we (the techs) should all have hourly from the beginning and thus, we were owed back OT pay from date of hire. Long story short, very few got anything because we never logged OT except when told to. Now that we're all hourly, the phone never rings after work hours unless it's a true emergency such as fire, flood, or general mayhem. Ah... it's peaceful this way.

  24. Florida1920 Silver badge

    Back in the day

    As a writer I was pretty thrilled when word processors came out. Oh, that lovely WordStar, it let you copy and paste and move stuff around and you didn't need correction fluid.... But, unlike the typewriter, you never reached the end of a piece of paper. The screen just kept going and going and going.... I was working on a book one night, looked at my watch and saw it was almost 10 pm. "I'll just write a little more...." As I never had to put in another piece of paper I never looked at my watch. Finally, back aching and feeling groggy, I took a look. 1 a.m.!

    Let's face it: Technology is too reliable. We need more power outages (during the day, please, so we can find our way around), server crashes, self-destructing HDs.... anything to give us an excuse to just stop for a while, get up, walk around, look out the window, and talk to people face-to-face. Or go out with the mates for a beer.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Take up a hobby that involves disappearing in to areas with a piss poor or zero coverage. I can highly recommend outdoor nature photography or rambling, to name just two. Nothing like heading into an area, getting out the car and realising that a) you will soon be completely enveloped in your own creativity with no other distractions and better still b) there are zero bars on your mobile phone!

    1. lucki bstard

      I once had the shock off my life, there I was on the top of Prairie Mountain, ( 7,000 ft up and my phone not only gets a signal but it goes off and its my IT director calling me....

      lesson learnt, the phone now just gets turned off when I go hiking

    2. Stevie Silver badge

      Take up a hobby

      Or, just tell everyone you have and turn off your cell phone.

      Then go down the pub like you always do.

  26. Stevie Silver badge


    I was being lectured on this by a Clever Young Thing who had noted my lack of electronic oomph for the job I had and used the clichéd "Oh to be so lucky. My [smart] phone is ringing night and day!" response.

    "That's why we have "off" buttons and voicemail" I replied.

    "But these are vital things that must get done" he responded.

    "Kinda makes you wonder how we did exactly the same job for years with only a beeper and a landline" I fired back with a smile. "No-one is going to die if you wait until your commute is over to call them back."

    Of course, the issue isn't that people's jobs are so important and vital that split-second response is vital (at least, most of them aren't), it is that the people doing the phoning know full well that the person at the other end links their availability on their cell phone to their importance to the enterprise. If they don't respond before anyone else can, they are somehow less of a [whatever] than they were before their cell phone rang.

    Pick up any book on "habits of effective management" and you'll find, right in the opening chapters, the advice to stop responding to e-mail in real time. Getting people to do this is more a fight against their own self-image than anything else.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Holidays over christmas

    We're being forced to take two weeks off over Christmas. Whether full-time or contractor. Normally the service is considered to be 24/7/365 and because it isn't yet live and handed over to the support teams we would be expected to help (and indeed last year we were effectively forced to provide on-call cover).

    One of my colleagues summed it up succinctly - "Fine. We're off. But guess what - we're off so if anything goes wrong it can burn. I will NOT be contactable."

    His language was a bit more choice than that and he validly points out that forcing contractors to take two weeks of unpaid leave with less than a weeks notice is hardly fair for their planning.

    I'm sure some of the contractor-hating lot will take some pleasure out of it but turn it around - if you were suddenly faced with being forced to use two weeks (roughly half) of your paid holidays with less than a weeks' notice, how would you feel?

    I'm sure when we all return on the 5th of January there will be some choice emails waiting. C'est la vies.

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