back to article Sysadmin trained his offshore replacements, sat back, watched ex-employer's world burn

Why look at the calendar – it's Friday! Which can mean only one thing, namely the return of On-Call, your weekly instalment of tech support drama from El Reg's dear readers. This week, "Luke" tells us of the time he was able to wallow in schadenfreude after being laid off in favour of outsourced tech support. Luke's story …

  1. defiler Silver badge

    Not in IT...

    ...but my wife's team at a construction company (no names) had to train their replacements before getting the boot. Then most of the replacements left because another big company opened up offices nearby. Then the company pretty-much fell apart. Like share-price-halved-in-the-next-year sort of fell apart.

    The fun of losing institutional knowledge.

    1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      Re: Not in IT...

      In such cases one wonders what would happen if the affected workforce simply downed computers and briefed an HR lawyer to look into the legality of the whole thing. If a function is being outsourced it is still needed.

      Perhaps the company fell apart because of management incompetence pure and simple.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not in IT...

        "In such cases one wonders what would happen if the affected workforce simply downed computers and briefed an HR lawyer to look into the legality of the whole thing. If a function is being outsourced it is still needed."

        Same thing happened to a friend who worked in HR for a large, multinational company - they were all issued with redundancy notices, and then made to train their replacements, who were located in a cheaper part of the world.

      2. pɹɐʍoɔ snoɯʎuouɐ

        Re: Not in IT...

        "briefed an HR lawyer to look into the legality of the whole thing"

        The little slime balls in HR usually worm a line into the employment contract about training new staff and how you are compelled to..

        1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
          Trollface

          Re: Not in IT...

          But usually nowhere does it say that they need to be trained competently, correctly or completely.

          Or to be taught all the little tricks and secrets like the precise locations that the machines need to be struck for percussive maintenance to make things better rather than worse...

          1. Giovani Tapini Silver badge

            Re: Not in IT...

            Call it what you like, Corporate knowledge, institutional experience it is invaluable when wrangling multiple services to work together.

            Once you have outsourced your knowledge you are both unable to hold the supplier to account (because you have no idea what they should be doing), and unable to replace suppliers as the existing supplier then has to hand over, to a competitor(which they will either refuse or make extraordinarily expensive. Outsource capacity not capability!

            Many firms rely on at least some home-brewed IT services to be competitive or some unique capability to stand out. Any more than none, will require some embedded wrangler experience and is outsourced at the peril of the corporate boss that thinks its a good idea.

            In my experience outsourcing has generally not been a net cost saving once you tot it up. It only provides buffers against volatile demand or fills in hard-to-find specific skills.

            1. tfb Silver badge

              Re: Not in IT...

              I think the mistake is that companies often don't understand what they do, and end up outsourcing everything that makes them interesting. If your business is part of what people call 'the service industry' and if the date is after about 1990 then there's a very higj chance that what your business is about is shuffling data around on computers. If you outsource that then there's not much left of your company but a shell which will live on for a while until people realise that it no longer serves any purpose.

            2. Wensleydale Cheese

              Re: Not in IT...

              "In my experience outsourcing has generally not been a net cost saving once you tot it up. It only provides buffers against volatile demand or fills in hard-to-find specific skills."

              Or in some case, completely fails to find those hard-to-find specific skills.

              I heard of one case where a particular outsourcing company couldn't find anyone out of a staff of 100,000 who had the necessary skills for a "legacy" product.

              1. ROC

                Re: Not in IT... Legacy Skills

                "Legacy skills/software" has increasingly come to mean that it is older than the young techies who are taking the jobs away from the older ones who grew old with the skill/software. It will only get worse...

          2. phuzz Silver badge

            Re: Not in IT...

            But usually nowhere does it say that they need to be trained competently, correctly or completely.

            No, but as happened to a friend of mine last year, they will be pretty explicit that your redundancy pay (almost twelve months in his case), does depend on you training your replacements well.

            So you can half-arse it, and have to scramble for a new job because you have no other money, or you can do it properly, then sit on your bum for a year before scrambling for a job...

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Not in IT...

              You can do it partially properly (I speak from experience), just miss out some minor key details here and there....

              Nothing too much, but, in such a way as to affect the companies bottom line savings from outsourcing.

              ....also, you can only train some folks well, I remember this Indian guy I had to train (as a customer of mine rather than a future employee), really nice guy, used to be quite knowledgable - but as India call centres and outsourced IT departments are treated the same (i.e. all written procedures and no chance for them to actually use their brains).

              The guy could not understand the concept of a linked library only put in one location once on each system deployment and then for each version of the application a symlink to the library in the application home directory....

              He kept wanting to copy the lib directly each time and couldnt understand why he didnt have permissions to do so (it was root owned and after initial box install, they didnt get root).

              So, theres only so much you can do too.....

              1. FIA

                Re: Not in IT...

                The guy could not understand the concept of a linked library only put in one location once on each system deployment and then for each version of the application a symlink to the library in the application home directory....

                Okay, I'm probably missing the subtle reason for this, but surely you could just configure the linker to look in that location?

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Not in IT...

                  The application I was supporting at the time was a bespoke finance app that didnt use a linker in that sort of way - particularly when there was more than one version of the application running on the same physical system - it was written in a language that needs a licence per physical deployment, so in essence this was a fudge allowing more than one installation of the application to run per application server.

                2. Adam 1 Silver badge

                  Re: Not in IT...

                  > surely you could just configure the linker to look in that location

                  Why yes you could, however that isn't the problem being solved by a library. A linker is a compile time process. It's the thing that grabs all the compiled objects and bundles them into an executable or library.

                  A library is something that allows you to load a library at runtime. As long as the interfaces are compatible, it means you can upgrade or replace one component without touching anything else. Symlinks allow you to install side by side versions of the same library without "DLL hell". (Different applications on a given system may require different versions of the same libraries to function. This often happens when you have a legacy application linked to an older version of a third party library together with a newer version which uses some bells and whistles not available in the old version.)

              2. Wensleydale Cheese

                Re: Not in IT...

                "I remember this Indian guy I had to train (as a customer of mine rather than a future employee), really nice guy, used to be quite knowledgable - but as India call centres and outsourced IT departments are treated the same (i.e. all written procedures and no chance for them to actually use their brains)."

                A problem I've come across with training up the bright guys is that they are likely to get promoted to management or recruited by someone else, and therefore don't stay on the job you trained them for.

              3. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

                Re: Not in IT...

                @AC "(i.e. all written procedures and no chance for them to actually use their brains)."

                I saw exactly that, we trained our guys in Bangalore to follow the script, procedures drummed into them,... except of course the script could never accommodate all eventualities, so when they ran out of options, they just gave up. It didn't help with the security and compliance work, the policy was created in the USA, the parts that could be automated scripted into TSCM in the UK, and then the 'Gap Check' document, that detailed parts that could not be automated (creating a list of checks we had to perform manually on each server), created in Poland. By someone who wasn't that technical, reading a technical document, not written in their first language. So we got such howlers as statements which provided context to the questions in the section, being turned into questions themselves. So howlers like 'The following section only applies to servers which do not come under <insert name of regulation, like FDA, etc> regulation' having 'is this the case?' added, and being added to the manual checklist. Our offshore counterparts would earnestly try to answer these howlers, instead of engaging with the security team, and pointing out the questions were idiotic, and weren't really questions in the first place.

                1. AK565

                  Re: Not in IT...

                  Having worked in a large bureaucracy in a position that required fluency in several languages, I can see how those howlers could cause serious problems. However, the admins to whom one must explain this are usually monolingual English speakers who have no knowledge of language interplay and no knowledge of the topic of the document in question.

                  There's no hope of getting through. One must work around them.

            2. Terje

              Re: Not in IT...

              So how are they to prove that you deliberately didn't train them well? being a good teacher is usually not something that is required for most jobs... and completely, so they want to retain you as a consultant training the replacement for eternity? In my optinion most of those clauses should be easily torn apart by even a half decent lawyer.

            3. Wzrd1

              Re: Not in IT...

              "No, but as happened to a friend of mine last year, they will be pretty explicit that your redundancy pay (almost twelve months in his case), does depend on you training your replacements well."

              Well, there is well, as in a reasonable person would consider it well and properly, which would require competence in the first place and absent that, it's a lost cause.

            4. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Not in IT...

              No, but as happened to a friend of mine last year, they will be pretty explicit that your redundancy pay (almost twelve months in his case), does depend on you training your replacements well.

              BS, I was lauded by the manglement at the other company, however, my manglement considered I was not up-to-scratch and halved my redundancy pay.

            5. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              How to train your replacement

              "But usually nowhere does it say that they need to be trained competently, correctly or completely."

              Exactly. Train your replacement to cookbook normal operations, load them down with the boilerplate documentation and the company standard practice manuals, the more the better. Carefully document what you give them or discuss with them. Go for volume, avoid content. Show your boss with how much you are doing to get your replacement to speed. But never, ever, mention any esoteric corner cases or hidden hacks, anything that lurks in the technical debt.

              You have documented best efforts to train to avoid the inevitable train wreck, your redundancy pay is secure.

          3. EarthDog

            Re: Not in IT...

            And/or make big assumptions on their skill and training levels. "He was hired to run Oracle so I assumed he knew the difference between SYS, SYSTEM, SYSOPER, and sysdba, ".

          4. Lilolefrostback

            Re: Not in IT...

            Nothing in my CV indicates that I am a (competent) trainer. I can do a decent handover to a similarly qualified person. But I am not competent to train someone several steps below me to do my job, although, if need be, I'll do my best.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Not in IT...

          And most HR departments pretend they care for the employees but they don't. They are their for the company and that's it.

          1. herman Silver badge

            Re: Not in IT...

            I think it is obvious that when a Personnel Office gets renamed to Human Remains office, that things will be going down hill.

            1. EarthDog

              Re: Not in IT...

              That's "Residual Human Resources"

            2. Mark 65

              Re: Not in IT...

              I think it is obvious that when a Personnel Office gets renamed to Human Remains office, that things will be going down hill.

              In the words of Dirt Harry "Personnel? Personnel's for ass-holes."

          2. pop_corn

            Re: Not in IT...

            > "And most HR departments pretend they care for the employees but they don't. They are their for the company and that's it."

            The hint's in the name. When "Personnel" departments became "Human Resources" departments, humans just became resources to exploit.

            1. pɹɐʍoɔ snoɯʎuouɐ

              Re: Not in IT...

              "When "Personnel" departments became "Human Resources" departments, humans just became resources to exploit."

              as said in a previous post, my wife was a HR manager, she was at the company before they changed from personnel to HR... The change involved not much more than new name on the door and a pay rise...

          3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Not in IT...

            "And most HR departments pretend they care for the employees but they don't. They are their for the company and that's it."

            During and in the aftermath of a merger/takeover, it's my experience that the rationalisation which follows to cut staff and merge departments always seems to result in a number of job adverts for additional HR staff.

            I think I may be in the wrong profession for job security.

            1. David Roberts Silver badge
              Windows

              Re: Not in IT...

              "During and in the aftermath of a merger/takeover, it's my experience that the rationalisation which follows to cut staff and merge departments always seems to result in a number of job adverts for additional HR staff."

              I must speak out in support of one HR department at {cough}. They were pretty good anyway, and when a redundancy exercise was looming they discreetly mentioned this to people about to resign. Two reasons at least; it helped them meet their targets for volunteers, and they had also worked out that they were due for the chop once they had "right sized" the work force.

              Still, not like the good old days when you had a local Personnel unit who knew you and went that extra mile for you if you made a point of always being nice to them. Getting massive travel and subsistence claims processed swiftly made life a lot easier.

          4. Trollslayer Silver badge
            Flame

            Re: Not in IT...

            HR means humans as resources.

            Think of The Matrix, organic batteries.

            1. earl grey Silver badge
              Trollface

              Re: Not in IT...

              Think of The Matrix, organic batteries.

              Think of The Matrix, organic batteries, and soylent green. .

          5. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Not in IT...

            "And most HR departments pretend and that's it." TFTFY

          6. Mark 65

            Re: Not in IT...

            And most HR departments pretend they care for the employees but they don't. They are their for the company and that's it.

            HR are there to see that you are disciplined and fired/made redundant legally. They are absolutely not there for your benefit. Ever.

        3. macjules Silver badge

          Re: Not in IT...

          Totally agree. My contract has a specific about 'training you or your staff members' replacement(s) as or when required".

        4. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

          Re: Not in IT...

          The little slime balls in HR usually worm a line into the employment contract about training new staff and how you are compelled to..

          In my time I've known a few HR bods who were complete oxygen thieves but because they knew the nitty gritty of employment law, it was virtually impossible for management to get rid of them.

          1. pɹɐʍoɔ snoɯʎuouɐ

            Re: Not in IT...

            The little slime balls in HR usually worm a line into the employment contract about training new staff and how you are compelled to..

            In my time I've known a few HR bods who were complete oxygen thieves but because they knew the nitty gritty of employment law, it was virtually impossible for management to get rid of them.

            ironically, my wife was a HR manager... her last job was to close down a factory, make most of the staff redundant and move the remainder of the staff to another site... Staff that she made redundant included her brother. The last person to be let go was herself, including writing her own redundancy package.

            Like you said, they know the employment laws inside out and they make it their job to keep up with the latest changes in law, She never lost a case when anyone claimed wrongful dismissal and knew how to get rid of "problematic" employees...

        5. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Not in IT...

          It says that you need to train them to carry out the tasks but not that you have to train them on what to do when the process doesn't work. Nor can it say that you have to train them to have the underlying skills and experience. I can train a person to follow a list of instructions but unless you have hired a person with my level of knowledge and experience they will never be more then remote hands..

          Saying that your redundancy payment relies on you doing the training needs to have a set of conditions under which success will be measured. If they were to try and specify "the transition will be successful and nothing will go wrong" then they would get laughed out of court ;)

        6. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Not in IT...

          "The little slime balls in HR usually worm a line into the employment contract about training new staff and how you are compelled to..

          Well, if you see the pink slips being handed out and you suspect you will be asked to train your replacement, maybe you should put in notice. If you can stay on good terms with a supervisor that will be remaining, you may be able to pick up some "consulting" work. If the redundancy payments are needed to keep the mortgage paid, learn to teach in a monotone voice and in sentences that are as dry as the Sahara. If the replacements are in another country, use as much jargon as possible. Perhaps you will be asked back in short order if the replacements mess up really bad.

      3. Wzrd1

        Re: Not in IT...

        "...one wonders what would happen if the affected workforce simply downed computers..."

        In the US, that would result, regardless of notification, in a lengthy prison sentence.

        In the US, throwing one's wooden shoes into the works is illegal.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not in IT...

        When the nice chaps arrived on ICTs to replace us I wrote to my MP. I received a standard letter back assuring me all was in order and it was just friendly competition paying my replacements £10k a year.

        Apparently they too helped the share price downwards with a long (days) system outage.

    2. JimboSmith Silver badge

      Re: Not in IT...

      I used to do a regulatory function as part of a job I had. I had to report items (and I'm being deliberately vague because I might identify myself) to a certain external body every month. One day I was told that I was about to become surplus to requirements and at risk of redundancy. And low it came to pass that I was made redundant. Suddenly they realised that I did a specialised job as part of my work and was asked to help. Could I train a senior manager and a cocky kid who had just graduated from university (in Classics) ? Not wanting to make waves I agreed to do two sessions of training for them. This was far less than they needed but I explained how to map and merge two sets of data from two different pieces of software/databases and generate the report. All you had to do then was chase the missing data which the report highlighted as not being there.

      A month after I left I had a call from the university grad now panicking and much less cocky. She couldn't understand anything she'd written in notes taken in the training. I said she should talk to the manager but he couldn't remember anything apparently. I said I would charge to do more training or to come in and fix it at which point they were less interested. I believe they were fined far more than the cost of hiring me back for a day. They then hired a firm to produce an automated software method of doing this. That took a long time to iron out all the bugs and I understand more fines were issued. Turns out the manager had only been there to check that I was actually doing the training.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not in IT...

        A month after I left I had a call from the university grad now panicking and much less cocky. She couldn't understand anything she'd written in notes taken in the training. I said she should talk to the manager but he couldn't remember anything apparently. I said I would charge to do more training or to come in and fix it at which point they were less interested.

        A couple months after being fired from a job, the owner called me up asking some various technical questions on some issue. I gave intentionally vague and noncommital answers, then sent them a bill for my time. While they never paid it, I had made my point, they never called me again.

        1. RancidOrange

          Re: Not in IT...

          You should have agreed a consultancy fee before agreeing to answer any questions.

    3. SVV Silver badge

      Re: Not in IT...

      "Call it what you like, Corporate knowledge, institutional experience it is invaluable"

      Indeed, you thought you had just reduced a\ wage bill, but you actually threw away valuable capital that you have invested a lot of money in (that knowledge and experience)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not in IT...

        Indeed, you thought you had just reduced a\ wage bill, but you actually threw away valuable capital that you have invested a lot of money in (that knowledge and experience)

        Classic quote comes to mind, something like "Cost of everything and value of nothing!"

        1. FuzzyWuzzys Silver badge

          Re: Not in IT...

          Classic quote comes to mind, something like "Cost of everything and value of nothing!"

          My personal favourite was told to me by a Swiss colleague, "We must save money, and it must be done at any cost!". Sums up every IT cost cutting venture I've ever had to be involved in!

      2. AlbertH

        Re: Not in IT...

        Indeed, you thought you had just reduced a\ wage bill, but you actually threw away valuable capital that you have invested a lot of money in (that knowledge and experience)

        This is exactly what a Big Broadcasting Concern that I used to work for found out when they tried to outsource their engineering functions. The "make do and mend" that had gone on for years simply couldn't be supported by the new sub-contractors, and suddenly everything - equipment, software, spares, consumables - cost several times their previous prices, because the "support" that was now being provided was mostly inept. The sub-contractors tried to hire many of us ex-engineering types, but we'd moved on to better things.

        Fast forward twelve years.... I received a plea from someone very high up in the Concern, begging for some support on a "consultancy" basis. I've told them that I'll turn up - from my semi-retirement next to the Mediterranean Sea - for nothing less than £3600 per 8-hour day ( I like the look of the hourly rate - it's roughly what I was paid per week before the redundancy! ).

        I start work in a couple of weeks' time!

        1. EarthDog

          Re: Not in IT...

          Hooray for the good guys!

      3. Robert Brockway

        Re: Not in IT...

        "Indeed, you thought you had just reduced a\ wage bill, but you actually threw away valuable capital that you have invested a lot of money in (that knowledge and experience)"

        Precisely. The fact that this seems to be common knowledge in IT circles but unknown to management in so many companies is worrying.

    4. Fatman Silver badge

      Re: Not in IT...

      <quote>The fun of losing institutional knowledge.</quote>

      Coupled with the stupidity of Manglement.

      1. vistisen

        Re: Not in IT...

        I love the typo, as in Danish 'mangle' means to need something, or something missing/lacking. Så 'manglement' is a lovely way of describing most mangement

        1. Lilolefrostback

          Re: Not in IT...

          After working with a few MBAs, I find it hard not to assume "MBA" stands for "Mostly Braindead Arse". Maybe my dataset is too small? I hope?

    5. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Not in IT...

      The value of Institutional Knowledge doesn't seem to be taught at MBA school. I've been talked to for having spent too much time documenting my work. The reason that I was doing it was that nobody had done it before me and it drove me nuts to have to troubleshoot or modify something with no freakin' documentation. This was hardware (electronics) and having to trace out every pin on multiple connectors was slow and tedious. If there were even penciled notes, work would have been much faster.

      One of the huge things that institutional knowledge is good for is things that were tried and didn't work since there isn't much point in maintaining documentation on stuff that didn't work and wasn't finished.

      1. DeathSquid

        Re: Not in IT...

        They sure do teach this in real MBA school. It's called tacit knowledge. I understand that the world is full of idiot managers and also-ran MBA degrees, but a real MBA is just as rigorous as a science degree. I'm in a position to know.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not in IT...

      The Only reason departments get outsourced is so the Directors can get a nice fat back-handler thank you very much.

      1. kyndair

        Re: Not in IT...

        It's not the backhander it's the bonus for the supposed savings, they then quickly move onto the next victim shouting loudly of the savings they made at all their previous jobs leaving a trail of devastation in their wake.

    7. Wzrd1

      Re: Not in IT...

      In IT, I've had the opportunity and utilized it, to purchase my old desk for pennies on the hundred dollar mark.

      Exchanging desks as the outsourced job was outsourced and the company failed.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Logic bombs

    Did someone leave a carefully crafted script labelled "In case of emergency" lying around the place?

    1. Popsi
      Mushroom

      Logic bombs are unprofessional

      Implementing logic bombs is unprofessional and can get you into problems.

      However oversights in documenting procedures are for your ISO-9000 or ISO-14000 compliance people to handle.

      Also, if temporary measures not documented in the operational manual are taken, make sure they don't become a regular part of your operation, always put a time limit on them so they disable themselves when not needed any more or after they *should* have been reviewed. Extend those times at your discretion.

      So please, don't be unprofessional and create code to wilfully damage your employers systems. Just follow procedures as documented. That's creates just as much chaos and is a lot harder to repair.

      The nuclear explosion for obvious reasons as nothing is a destructive as strictly following procedures.

      1. Shadow Systems Silver badge

        Re: Logic bombs are unprofessional

        At mostly Popsi but to everyone in general...

        I agree with Popsi that a logic bomb isn't the answer where merely enforcing the rules can be much more destructive. One employer I used to work for told me I was no longer needed & wanted to escort me from the office, I told them I needed to uninstall some personal software from my station first, they refused & frog marched me from the building. That personal software was an automation suite that I had purchased to make doing my job easier, but since I no longer worked there *they* didn't have the right to leave it installed. So I called up the software company, told them that my former employer was illegally using *my* copy of the software, & asked what I could do about it. The solution was I got a fresh copy of the software & a new license key, the software company promptly deactivated the old & now illegal copy. I can only imagine the "fun" my ex employer must have had when all the automation scripts I'd set up to help me do my job suddenly stopped working & my old station started screaming "I'm running illegal software! Register me! Register me NOW!" Theoreticly my ex employer SHOULD have reformatted my station to a pristine state before reloading it with approved software & reissuing it to a new employee, but knowing the penny pinching nature of said bastards & how much they loved to scrimp everywhere they could, they probably didn't do any of that before putting a new person down at the machine. I was told later by an old coworker that I was correct in the guess that manglement hadn't scrubbed the system & shit their knickers when all my scripts stopped working. "It was chaos. Utter fekkin' chaos. It was almost as if you had PLANNED it!" He laughed himself sick when I told him what I had done & how the company had essentially shot themselves in the foot.

        So don't drop a logic bomb in hopes of destroying expensive stuff, simply enforce the rules - especially the ones most likely to bite them the hardest on the arse at the worst possible moment.

        *Evil gleeful cackle*

        1. Lee D Silver badge

          Re: Logic bombs are unprofessional

          Sorry, but that you were using your own personal licence to run business functions reflects worse on you, but reflects badly on them whether or not they throw you out.

          My first question would be: Who audited licences, was it included in the licence list, and why did nobody notice that the company hadn't paid for it?

          And, no, I wouldn't have let you "uninstall" it, either. I'd have just disconnected and/or wiped the machine. If you don't understand why, you've probably never had to sack someone.

          1. Tinslave_the_Barelegged

            Re: Logic bombs are unprofessional

            >Sorry, but that you were using your own personal licence

            >to run business functions reflects worse on you, but reflects

            > badly on them whether or not they throw you out.

            As a generality, I'd agree with you, but some employment circumstances are utterly bizarre, and maintaining one's sanity does not always mean following ideal ways of working. There are some truly dreadful employers out there, and some truly knobheaded PHBs believing the world is something it is not. It may not always be possible to maintain one's own standards and remain sane if unfortunate enough to find your self in those straits.

            1. ma1010 Silver badge

              Re: Logic bombs are unprofessional

              @ Tinslave_the_Barelegged

              What you said, many, many times! Where I work, if I didn't automate some repetitive and incredibly time-wasting processes, I would have been institutionalized for my own safety.

              Also, a few years ago, I got laid off from a company where I was the general IT monkey (hardware/network/software-including writing the company's accounting software). After I was gone, the Sonicwall firewall burned out, and the "con-sultants" my former boss hired to replace me told him not to worry about it because the new little router they had installed (SOHOpeless variety) had a firewall, so he was all safe and protected.

              After a few months, they noticed that every afternoon their network slowed to a crawl - they could hardly get anything done! Finally, his outsourced IT figured out that some Chinese hackers had penetrated the firewall (which had default passwords) and converted the company's main file server into a spam server and were using his accounts. Time for popcorn and schadenfreude!

            2. Martin-73 Silver badge

              Re: Logic bombs are unprofessional

              @tinslave_the_barelegged.

              Same in my sphere of employment. (Commercial/residential electrician). I am forbidden by law to interfere with power company gear, and forbidden by elfin safety law to work 'live'.. The power company charge enormous amounts to do a disconnect/same day reconnect and can't guarantee it. So if you ask the power co guy nicely, and don't look too much like someone who's likely to grow certain green plants, they'll give you seals and tell you to be careful.

              All hell would break loose if the messing with the power company's main service head blew up on you, from a legal liability P.O.V and from pure physics. But we're careful.

              Ideally the rules work. But the world ain't ideal

          2. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

            Re: Logic bombs are unprofessional

            I think Lee, your primary mistaken assumption is likely to be that there is anyone doing a proper licence audit at all..

            I've never used personal software as an essential part of any business process, but free/personal/decidedly non ideal products have been used in the past, usually because the company refuse to pay for a proper infrastructure or bureaucracy is so much of a pain it saps at your will to live.

            I'm happy to say that my current employer is making considerable improvements in those areas, most things are as they should be, and the addition of new systems in no longer an exercise in pain.

          3. Mark 85 Silver badge

            Re: Logic bombs are unprofessional

            And, no, I wouldn't have let you "uninstall" it, either. I'd have just disconnected and/or wiped the machine. If you don't understand why, you've probably never had to sack someone.

            Most places I've worked in would take the PC from the desk the day after termination, label it, and put it in storage for at least 30 days. It gives them access to your stuff in case of law suits and also as in this case, non-company software running things. If something illegal was being on the computer, then it was usually sealed and signed by the tech picking it up and stored in a special place for "chain of evidence" purposes.

            Just reimaging is bad, sitting someone down at a former employee's PC is beyond stupid, yet some companies do this all the time.

      2. Giovani Tapini Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: Logic bombs are unprofessional

        Some companies create their own logic bombs by following procedure.

        I seem to recall a large beverage company going offline after discovering that their DNS name was being paid on an individuals expenses credit card. Person leaves or is "downsized" then no one pays the bill then watch the entire organisation go dark until someone can work out how to deal with it.

        I don't advocate non-process initiated logic bombs though. As said elsewhere, that can indeed get you into a lot of trouble.

        1. razorfishsl

          Re: Logic bombs are unprofessional

          At one place i instigated a common account for ALL IT related items.

          So that IT staff leaving, would not cause such problems.

          After leaving due to poor treatment, I noticed that the DNS is back under staff names.

          Once staff who left... his DNS payment runs out in about 2 weeks for multiple domains of a major international company.

          So..... it's gonna be an interesting August for one company.....

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Logic bombs are unprofessional

          Not just companies, in Academia it's fairly normal for some academics or research groups to do their own things without speaking to the IT staff. Especially when it's so much easier to go to the likes of go daddy to register domain names rather than go through officical channels. Of course grants come to an end but research papers and urls last forever, especially when a porn site takes over the domain.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Logic bombs are unprofessional

        I totally agree and would never do such a thing. That's why the post was in the form of a query.

        However, there is a difference between a logic bomb - deliberate malware introduced into a system, a criminal activity, and somebody creating a potentially destructive script, for whatever reason, and leaving it lying around. If someone were to find and execute such a script, with it not being part of documented operational procedures, there would be at least shared responsibility.

        The situation is very slightly like the extremely sad case in Amesbury. The guy who picked up the bottle had presumably missed all the police warnings and the general rule that you don't put stuff from discarded bottles on you; without even considering Novichok there may be a reason something was discarded. The Russian who disposed of it so carelessly is someone I would cheerfully consign to a scorpion pit, but the guy who picked it up was irresponsible.

        It's also possible with scripts that one written years ago for some management purpose might be destructive if run today. When I left my last job I must have left behind many, many scripts and stored procedures written for test purposes that should never, ever be run on a production system. (like Mr. Robert drop tables). Should I have deleted them all, thus wiping property of the employer? And don't say "notify them to management" because they don't want to know.

      4. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        Re: Logic bombs are unprofessional

        However oversights in documenting procedures are for your ISO-9000 or ISO-14000 compliance people to handle.

        However, there can be a glaring oversight by the ISO- compliance people. So they write compliant procedures. Compliance checkers check those comply, and award ISO plaques. Websites and bid templates are updated, and all is well at C-level.

        Then comes cost savings. So the business has spent thousands, sometimes millions on a fully stocked procedure library. Outsourcing, or just hiring cheaper staff becomes simple, because those newbies can simply follow procedures. In expectation of new bonuses, strategy is implemented and axes swung.

        At which point, the business may notice that there's often a fundamental disconnect between how stuff is done vs the procedure library.. But by which point, the employees capable of working around procedures to get stuff done are long gone.

      5. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: Logic bombs are unprofessional

        Just follow procedures as documented. That's creates just as much chaos and is a lot harder to repair.

        and this---> as nothing is a destructive as strictly following procedures

        The surest way to get a boss and possibly the whole company into trouble is do exactly what he requests. Nothing more, nothing less. No need for logic bombs, or fiddling with expiration dates.

        I'll add this: Once you have the notice of termination and are training, document everything and have the trainee sign a copy. Keep said copy in the usual place with the usual signage about "leopards" at home or a bank's security box.

        1. J. Cook Silver badge

          Re: Logic bombs are unprofessional

          The surest way to get a boss and possibly the whole company into trouble is do exactly what he requests. Nothing more, nothing less. No need for logic bombs, or fiddling with expiration dates.

          I had to do something very similar to that two bosses ago- I'm pretty sure the CIO got tired of seeing my name appear in his email inbox as I CC'd him on something my direct report was trying to force me to do that would have been exceptionally detrimental to the company on a while and I was trying to explain why I was not going to do it, verging right on the point of insubordination.

          Those were dark, dark days.

        2. Twanky
          Meh

          Re: Logic bombs are unprofessional

          'The surest way to get a boss and possibly the whole company into trouble is do exactly what he requests. Nothing more, nothing less. No need for logic bombs, or fiddling with expiration dates.'

          I became surplus to requirements shortly after the IT team I was in was expanded with additional capacity/members elsewhere in the world. I was a long-term employee (lifer) and was *very* interested in making sure that my absence would not get the company into trouble - I owned some of its shares. As for the 'manager' who decided that I was redundant - meh.

          I ended up fielding a few calls from former colleagues asking 'how does this work?' despite my genuine efforts to transfer as much institutional knowledge as possible during the 'consultation' period. The trouble was that the 'manager' managed to achieve rather low loyalty and retention rates with the rest of the team.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Logic bombs

      That's just lame, and anyway it's more fun watching them implode (from a safe distance) because of their own stupidity. They can't touch you for that.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Logic bombs

      Once I was tasked to find a logic bomb in a compiled DLL (it was a reverse engineering task, obviously). I found it, and it was presented as an evidence in the suit against the perpetrator... and wilfully damaging a system could be a criminal act, depending on where you live.

      1. razorfishsl

        Re: Logic bombs

        Been there ...... done that.

        A system admin who had scripts in an MSql database to erase tables several months after he left.

        Stupid company let him back in the building for a meeting , and he promptly erased all their backups over multiple sites.

        1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

          Re: Logic bombs @razorfish

          Not the end of the world. Reload your offline backups that are stored in a remote location.

          Remember, online copies are *not* backups, for exactly the reason you specify!

  3. Kevin Johnston

    Timing is everything

    In a former permie role I was one a 'team-building', touchie-feelie, make the employees feel wanted, type away day and after a lot of primary school type activities where we were busy working in small groups we were all gathered back together so we could speak about the day. One chap was asked how he would do things differently when he got back to his desk and his reply?

    'Once back at my desk I will finish training a guy in Asia who is taking my job away from me so I can be let go'....A very long silence fell until one of the presenters announced the day was over and we could all go.

    No more sessions were held.

    1. Symon Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Timing is everything

      A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, we had a few of those days out, mainly to keep the "Investor in people" sign up in reception. When we went on one 'teamwork' edition, I made sure that I was in the same group as my fellow engineer, let's call him 'Dave'. Anyway, we were set a series of tasks. Dave and I agreed to take turns distracting the group of H.R. people, accountants, sales guys and telephone sanitisers, while the other one of us solved the problem. E.g. while Dave chatted to the group, I rescued a teddy bear from inside a (supposedly electrified) 10 metre diameter circle by making a dog catcher out of a scaffold bar and some rope. Whole task took about two minutes, breaking the previous record by about 40 minutes.

      Anyway, the whole day's missions were finished up in less than an hour. We didn't learn very much about working as a team on the course, but the rest of the day in the country house hotel bar made up for it. The H.R. lot never invited engineers to their away days after that.

      We didn't get laid off though. That came c.10 years later when an American firm bought us out. I got a H1 visa and went to California to put one of them out of a job as revenge.

      1. Evil Auditor Silver badge

        Re: Timing is everything

        Symon, excellent teamwork! That reminds me of a job interview I once had. The line manager gave me a "problem" to solve: you have two sandglasses, one with five and the other with three minutes - how do you measure four minutes? (It was a wee bit more complicated than this, something with three hourglasses.)

        I thought for a few seconds and gave my answer.

        The manager was not amused. He proudly mentioned that this is a test they use at Google and it is to see how an applicant communicates in problem solving.

        Needless to say, I wasn't interested in getting this job and, presumably, neither was he very eager to hire me. Anyway, if someone wants to see my problem solving communication skills they better give me a problem that I cannot easily and infallibly solve on my own.

        As a side note: my answer wasn't what was in his paper and grudgingly (I'd like to believe) he had to admit that it was also correct.

        1. Symon Silver badge
          Paris Hilton

          Re: Timing is everything

          Was the solution to go to the nearest kitchen and say to the chef, if I give you these two fine egg-timers, can I borrow your wristwatch?

          c.f. How to use a barometer to measure the height of a building.

          p.s.

          1) 3 5

          2) 0 2

          3) 2 0

          4) 3 4 Q.E.D.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Timing is everything

            "How to use a barometer to measure the height of a building."

            Are you also allowed to use a stop watch?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              "How to use a barometer to measure the height of a building."

              1) mark the outside of the building in barometer tick marks. Height of building = no. Marks x barometer height.

              2) find the building maintenance manager and say "I'll give you this nice barometer if you tell me how tall the building is."

              3) (with stopwatch) swing barometer from top on a rope - time periodicity

              4) (with stopwatch) drop barometer - Newton is your friend.

              5) use barometer as a gnomon and scale the length of shadow up to extract height of building from it's shadow.

              6) measure air pressure differential between ground and top of building.

              1. Joe 37

                Re: "How to use a barometer to measure the height of a building."

                4) (with stopwatch) drop barometer - Newton is your friend.

                Famously, James Clerk Maxwell opted for 4 in an oral exam at Edinburgh University. He never did graduate from there. Then got the chair of physics at Marischal College in Aberdeen where he was made redundant when it merged with Aberdeen University.

                He and Scottish universities never got on.

                1. PerlyKing
                  Boffin

                  Re: James Clerk Maxwell

                  I hadn't heard that story about James Clerk Maxwell not graduating from Edinburgh University. I guess that either they didn't bear a grudge or were toadying when they named the James Clerk Maxwell Building. Happy days....

                2. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

                  Re: "How to use a barometer to measure the height of a building."

                  "He and Scottish universities never got on."

                  Indeed, Maxwell fell upwards from Edinburgh to Cambridge and after being laid off in Edinburgh fell upwards to the chair at KCL. The Wikipedia article suggests that the course at Edinburgh wasn't very demanding, so he then went to Cambridge and emerged as Second Wrangler.

                  It's a good example of how a career move or two can be beneficial.

                  1. TRT Silver badge

                    Re: "How to use a barometer to measure the height of a building."

                    KCL also named a building after him. It is precisely 27.3m high to the roof parapet, not including any additional aerials or rooftop services.

                3. Rich 11 Silver badge

                  Re: "How to use a barometer to measure the height of a building."

                  4) (with stopwatch) drop barometer - Newton is your friend.

                  A barometer's rate of fall is too prone to influence from air resistance and updrafts. There are two objects which can be used reliably:

                  A) A steel girder (dropped pointy end first, naturally)

                  B) A human body (everyone knows the terminal velocity of an unconscious person is 120mph)

                  Whichever one you choose, be careful where you're standing with the stopwatch. Also, if you choose B, make sure no-one ever knows you were on the roof.

                  1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

                    Re: "How to use a barometer to measure the height of a building."

                    @Rich11:

                    During the 1960s the History of Science mob at Cambridge, IIRC, actually tried Galileo's thought experiment though with a local tall building, not the Tower at Pisa.

                    They were unable to determine exactly when the balls hit the ground because they were moving too fast.

                    Thus use a barometer, use a girder, probably doesn't matter.

                    Use a bit of girder on the end of a string as a pendulum would probably be quite accurate enough.

                    The barometer on my phone is sufficiently good for me to distinguish which way I went into town (one way being all downhill but the other has a bump) so using a mercury barometer should be quite accurate provided you have a calibration chart.

              2. Schultz
                Boffin

                Re: "How to use a barometer to measure the height of a building."

                Those little sensors you have in your phone actually do an excellent job. We did some quick-and-dirty soldering to track temperature and air pressure in the lab (https://www.bosch-sensortec.com/bst/products/all_products/bmp180) and could measure height differences of some 15 cm with a little bit of averaging.

                Gotta love those integrated electronics and sensors!

              3. Joe Werner

                Re: "How to use a barometer to measure the height of a building."

                ... 7) use a 1 m long pendulum with the barometer as the mass. Measure the frequency on top of the building and at ground level. Yes, you have to be very precise in measuring the frequency...

                1. hplasm Silver badge
                  Happy

                  Re: "How to use a barometer to measure the height of a building."

                  *) Tie barometer to a rope and dangle down to ground. Pull up rope and measure it.

              4. DavCrav Silver badge

                Re: "How to use a barometer to measure the height of a building."

                "5) use barometer as a gnomon and scale the length of shadow up to extract height of building from it's shadow."

                Even better, hold the barometer in front of you and move away from the building until the two are the same size (the Father Ted approach). This works even on cloudy days.

              5. Jtom Bronze badge

                Re: "How to use a barometer to measure the height of a building."

                7. Tie the barometer to the end of a sufficiently long tape measure and drop it over the side.

              6. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                Re: "How to use a barometer to measure the height of a building."

                "3) (with stopwatch) swing barometer from top on a rope - time periodicity"

                Not so easy. With a tall building the mass of the rope might exceed that of the barometer.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              ""How to use a barometer to measure the height of a building."

              Just like an airplane measures its altitude? You just need enough precision for the two readings, though.

            3. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

              Re: Timing is everything - "How to use a barometer to measure the height of a building."

              Step 1. Approach building with barometer.

              Step 2. Locate smartass.

              Step 3. Wait until smartass says "I bet you're going to try to measure the height of the building with that barometer. It won't work. Let me show you how to do it."

              Giving that answer qualifies you as a manager.

          2. Martin-73 Silver badge

            Re: Timing is everything

            @symon

            Ignore the proffered glasses, and use the timer on your phone.

        2. My-Handle

          Re: Timing is everything

          Yeah, I remember a similar "used by Google" test question. It went along the lines of:

          "You have been shrunk to 3 inches tall and are in a blender. How do you escape?"

          I thought for a minute and then answered "pray", which didn't impress. Apparently the correct answer was "jump", on the basis that muscle power scales according to mass, so regardless of how tall you are you should be able to jump the same height if all other factors are the same. When this was explained to me, I pointed out that A: Most people use a blender with the lid -on- and B: If someone has the power to shrink me to 1/24th my size, catch me and then stick me in a blender then I don't think a quick jump is going to solve that particular problem (lid or not).

          I have very little patience for trying to find "correct" answers to blatantly contrived scenarios.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Timing is everything

            And that's why I am rubbish at being interviewed too!

          2. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

            Re: Timing is everything

            I think muscle power goes by two-dimensional cross-section, but I may have to look into that. On the other hand, some superheroes who can shrink to 3 inches or smaller don't lose any of their mass. Presumably they don't lose any strength either. But technically this isn't science... C. B. Fry was supposed to be able to jump onto an ordinary mantelpiece; so can a cat. Not every person can do it; not every cat can...

          3. A. N. Onymouse

            Re: Timing is everything

            I had the same question during an interview. My reply was that I would not bother.

            If shrunk to 3 inches high then my lungs would be unable to absorb the relatively enormous oxygen molecules. As I was now about 1/20 of my height then my metabolism would have to increase greatly to counter the energy lost to atmosphere as my surface area to volume ratio changes. I estimated a couple of seconds before I used up the air in my lungs and passed out and that I would rather make my peace than try to jump out of a blender.

            Didn't go well. The HR rep was very unhappy but the engineering rep was stifling a laugh. I was accused of not taking things seriously, I pointed out that she started it.

            1. hplasm Silver badge
              Unhappy

              Re: Timing is everything

              "I had the same question during an interview. My reply was that I would not bother."

              If I was shrunk to 3" tall and in a blender, why would I want to live?

            2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

              Re: Timing is everything

              If shrunk to 3 inches high then my lungs would be unable to absorb the relatively enormous oxygen molecules. As I was now about 1/20 of my height then my metabolism would have to increase greatly to counter the energy lost to atmosphere as my surface area to volume ratio changes. I estimated a couple of seconds before I used up the air in my lungs and passed out and that I would rather make my peace than try to jump out of a blender.

              Also worth noting that if you were shrunk to 3 inches (approx 1:24 scale) then your surface area to mass ratio goes up on the same scale (a 1 inch cube has a ratio of 1:6, a 1/2 inch cube has a ratio of 1:12 on the same scale), so either your body would lose heat 24 times faster than you could generate it, or your metabolism would need to go up by the same factor, your resting pulse would be 1440 bpm, and your heart would fail instantly.

              1. Clarecats

                Re: Timing is everything

                Shrunk to three inches - so maybe you have actually been turned into a shrew, which is about that size and does have a fast enough heart rate to cope with heat loss.

                In which case, wriggle your bristly nose and scuttle up out of the blender.

                Or a gecko, about the same size, which has a reptilian heart and can Velcro itself to hard surfaces like blenders because its pads sink into the molecules of the surface.

                Life beckons.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Timing is everything - hourglasses question

          I was once in an interview shown a circuit by the head of department and asked what it did and what it was for. I looked at it and said "I have not the slightest idea."

          "It's a voltage regulator"

          (Thinking this was a test) "No, it isn't. you see the diode voltage drop isn't temperature compensated, and the transistor Hfe is also temperature variable in the same direction, so if anything it's a rather nonlinear thermometer."

          "It is a voltage regulator. I invented that circuit!"

          I didn't for some reason get the job, but it did remind me of the old saying: "What's a fudnik? A fudnik is a nudnik with a PhD."

          1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
            Happy

            Re: Timing is everything - hourglasses question

            A 5V1 zener diode is your friend. I seem to recall the avalanche and zener coefficients tend to cancel at that point.

            1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

              Re: Timing is everything - hourglasses question

              "A 5V1 zener diode is your friend. I seem to recall the avalanche and zener coefficients tend to cancel at that point."

              While this is true it is not terribly good for getting a 1.2V reference from a 4-5 volt rail.

            2. Martin-73 Silver badge

              Re: Timing is everything - hourglasses question

              Is the correspondence with the 5v logic standard just coincidence?

              1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

                Re: Timing is everything - hourglasses question

                "Is the correspondence with the 5v logic standard just coincidence?"

                Probably yes. Other logic voltages were 10V and 12V (used with CMOS) and even 15V with a short lived industrial noise tolerant logic system. 5V didn't last all that long, either. Once HCMOS came along voltages started to drop fast.

                I think it had more to do with being the lowest voltage that gave a good power/speed tradeoff with ttl.

        4. Captain Obvious

          Re: Timing is everything

          Well turn them both over and when both hit 50% you are at four minutes. Was that the easy answer they wanted?

      2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Timing is everything

        We didn't get laid off though.

        I did - from a company that produced RTOS'es, later aquired by Intel. I was the EU network and Solaris admin and worked with my counterpart in California to keep things running.

        One day in 2001/2002 (can't remember the exact date) I rode into work and saw that my boss[1] was sitting in the HR office[2]. At that point I knew that either myself or my Windows-side colleage were surplus to requirements[3].

        It turned out to be me - on the basis that "my colleague in the US" would look after the EU stuff.

        Amusingly, he quit about a month after I was made redundant.. Apparently, things went a bit haywire for a while since no-one knew anything much about the network[4] and how to herd YP to add new users.

        [1] A thoroughly nice bloke, usually resident in Paris. Which meant that I got to go there at regular intervals to meet him. Not the worst job in the world :-)

        [2] He had always promised that, were any of us to be made redundant, that he would always come in person to give us the bad news and he stuck to his promises. That guy taught me more than anyone else how to be a good manager. He was also happy for me to tidy stuff up off my desktop and not have me marched off-site immediately since he trusted us.

        [3] Our regular HR person was away at the time so the finicky details (money and the like) were all handled by HR in Germany. When she got back, she blew a fuse and changed things so that I ended up with several thousand more in redundancy pay, all tax-free. She might have been about as non-technical as you could be, but she was one of the (very few) good and compassionate HR people I've ever known. That was a good company to work for, except for the brief period when it was run by the usual MBA-psychopath types.

        [4] Good old packet-switched stuff. I think we had a 10Mbit Frame-Relay PVC over to our EU headquarters and several shadow-PVCs that could come in if we needed more bandwidth or the main one fell over. One month our bandwidth usage shot up and we discovered that one of the programmers had started listening to BBC Radio 1 over the Internet. Given that we paid by the MB, it was costing us a fortune. Since I had a Packeteer to manage bandwidth, after my first request for him to stop was ignored, the bandwidth allocated to Internet streaming media 'accidentally' got reduced to a max of 500 bytes/sec. Just enough to give some sound but very, very long skips and pauses. He got the hint.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Timing is everything

          > she was one of the (very few) good and compassionate HR people I've ever known

          I've only know 3 like this - all at the same company, who were moved on when we were acquired.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Timing is everything

            I had a good HR lady only once. She also had a good sense of humor but you would not know it because at first glance she seem void of all emotions perfect for HR. One days she came down and walk of to this temp. He was told he was going to be made permanent staff. She walked over to him and with a straight face and said oh you are still here I thought fired you and need you to come with me. Then she said just kidding I have papers for you to sign now that you permanent staff.

            What i really loved about her is she went on the war path to get one manger fired Lets call her Jenny. This manger was rude And would send nasty e-mails in all caps and in red cussing at you . One day a client came in ( this is rare since this was a call center ) and she cussed a co work out in front of the client. When the HR lady herd she came down and got her . Jenny said you can't do any thing to me I'm a manger . HR lady said hmm, unprofessional conduct, threatening an employee or creating a hostile work place . HR lady got rid of her but sadly that cost her . She was let go.

        2. Adrian 4 Silver badge

          Re: Timing is everything

          "I did - from a company that produced RTOS'es, later aquired by Intel. I was the EU network and Solaris admin and worked with my counterpart in California to keep things running."

          Sounds like Windriver.

      3. Charlie van Becelaere

        Re: Timing is everything

        "We didn't get laid off though. That came c.10 years later when an American firm bought us out. I got a H1 visa and went to California to put one of them out of a job as revenge."

        One assumes the single downvote is said injured Californian.

      4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Timing is everything

        "We didn't learn very much about working as a team on the course,"

        Well, to be fair, you and "Dave" did learn something about team activities. Keep the weak team members away from the task at hand and things will go a lot more smoothly, especially the downing of the whiskies in the extra time gained :-)

    2. JimboSmith Silver badge

      Re: Timing is everything

      I had homework set one night for Chemistry where we were supposed to read two chapters of our textbook. There was to be a quiz the next day and we would be tested on our newly acquired knowledge. You handed your answers when completed to your neighbour and to mark them he would ask people what was written on the sheet in front of them. One of the first questions was regarding testing the PH in soil and asked for easiest way to do this. He asks my neighbour what my answer was and she tells him. I had written down to use an electric PH meter which whilst correct, wasn't using the chemical that we were supposed to have learned about in the text. I was told to stand up and explain the other method which I did. This involved adding chemical plus soil plus universal indicator and water. After the lesson I was taken to task for suggesting using a PH meter when I had clearly read the material concerned. I just said that adding a load of things to the soil wasn't as easy as pushing a meter into the soil which was what the question had asked.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Timing is everything

        I once had an interview where I was asked how you'd create a text file in DOS if EDIT wasn't available.

        The stock answer was to redirect TTY>C:\filename.txt and used ctrl-Z to end,

        I said "well I'd use DEBUG and write raw hex to disk". Which the *technical manager* said out loud "Oh, I hadn't thought of that."

        I got the job. Although (sadly) not his.

        1. ma1010 Silver badge

          Re: Timing is everything

          I once had an interview where I was asked how you'd create a text file in DOS if EDIT wasn't available.

          The stock answer was to redirect TTY>C:\filename.txt and used ctrl-Z to end,

          Or you could use COPY CON which was the main alternative to EDLIN before EDIT finally came along.

        2. DropBear Silver badge
          Trollface

          Re: Timing is everything

          You just use Norton Commander instead. Simples! Well, okay, Volkov Commander is fine too. Yes, X-Tree Gold if we must. No...? Look, what kind of shady fly-by-night outfit are you operating here?!?

          1. Bent Metal

            Re: Timing is everything

            X-Tree Gold... why that takes me back...</nostalgia>

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Timing is everything

      In a former permie role I was one a 'team-building', touchie-feelie, make the employees feel wanted, type away day and after a lot of primary school type activities where we were busy working in small groups we were all gathered back together so we could speak about the day.

      Yeah, I hate all that touchy-feely new-age bullcrap. In the words of Londo Molarri: "touch *these*!!!"

    4. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Timing is everything

      In a former permie role I was one a 'team-building', touchie-feelie, make the employees feel wanted, type away day and after a lot of primary school type activities where we were busy working in small groups we were all gathered back together so we could speak about the day.

      This "training" isn't considered valid unless you have lock arms and sing "Kum ba yah". or so the trainers were told at one session I went to. Funny thing.. last of that training we ever had.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One move and we shoot

    I work for a highly profitable section of a loss-making European subsidiary of an under-performing global corporation. Our profitability is based on being the sole providers of old but effective technology that we work hard to keep viable enough to make it uneconomic for our customers to migrate. When their code has been bedded down for 30 years it is good argument to maintain stability.

    We have watched while huge swathes of other business lines have been shipped off to low wage economies around us and it wasn’t a huge surprise when rumours floated around that we might be asked to train our colleagues in Pune how to do our jobs. We made assumptions about what would happen next. What did surprise our management was the large number of emails from the staff pointing out the number of people with the knowledge they needed who would simply retire before passing on their knowledge, leaving them with a skeleton staff and big pile of manuals. The rumours stopped, nothing more happened. We took on a lot more local PFYs.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: One move and we shoot

      Makes me curious there wasn't a counter-e-mail from HR hinting at investigations of insubordination (justification for termination with prejudice, aka sacking, meaning retirement benefits are void).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: One move and we shoot

        Which pension benefits do you think they could void? HR would then have hinted themselves into all the experience and knowledge walking out the door anyway, just with a little more steel in their hearts.

        1. Lee D Silver badge

          Re: One move and we shoot

          As someone pointed out above:

          Being asked to train your replacements isn't compatible with "being made redundant". You're redundant if the role substantially changes or no longer exists. Not if they just decided they'd like someone else to do it. That you're being asked to document or train people in how to do your entire job probably means your role isn't redundant.

          No different to saying "Hey, John, get out, I found a kid who can do your job for £10 less". Sure, you can do that. But you can't just do it blindly and unquestioningly and without attracting a LOT of unwanted attention on your HR processes.

          "Insubordination" doesn't cover "I object, and I've voiced my objections, and I believe others around me will voice theirs, and by the way general feeling in this company is against these plans".

          HR are not the sole determination of what's right and wrong, no matter what they might think.

          1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

            Re: One move and we shoot

            But you can't just do it blindly and unquestioningly and without attracting a LOT of unwanted attention on your HR processes.

            And being sued into a small hole in the ground by people who have been made 'redundant'.

            BTW - making people redundant is the single hardest and most stressful thing I've ever done in my career. I hated it - even though it was a case of "if we don't make people redundant, the company is going to go under"

            (It was a small manufacturing company, operating on razor-thin margins and a declining customer base. Even though we were doing things to turn that around, we sismply didn't have the cash-flow to even make payroll in about three months time if we didn't do something. Fortunately, the guy who ended up being made redundant was actually better off - he came back a month or so later 1-2 days a week as a consultant for the year or so left before he retired. He was happy with the situation..

            1. Kevin Johnston

              Re: One move and we shoot

              Back in my apprentice days I worked on the Isle of Wight and a local sailmaker loft was going through hard times. They needed to lose one headcount to keep going and after a lot of investigation the Manager confirmed he was the only person who fit the bill as every other person was critical to the business. He was retained on a very part time/acting unpaid basis for a number of months until enough orders had come in to take him back full time.

              Amazingly, he got absolute loyalty from the rest of the company

          2. Giovani Tapini Silver badge

            Re: One move and we shoot

            They can get you with the role is moving more that (IIRC) 10 miles away and you can relocate or be voluntarily redundant.

            Generally they will find a way to change the job names to make the sufficiently different to try to dodge the bullet.

            And of course its handover not training. Its all about toying with the words to keep it legal, not necessarily the reality you see around you...

            I'm not sure if there are any other provisions (or get out of jail cards) for employers simply wishing to outsource stuff

          3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: One move and we shoot

            "Being asked to train your replacements isn't compatible with "being made redundant". You're redundant if the role substantially changes or no longer exists. Not if they just decided they'd like someone else to do it. That you're being asked to document or train people in how to do your entire job probably means your role isn't redundant."

            "We're moving your job/team role(s) to India. Who want's to emigrate?"

            1. gnasher729 Silver badge

              Re: One move and we shoot

              "We're moving your job/team role(s) to India. Who want's to emigrate?"

              I had a colleague once who had done that. On his UK salary.

            2. Cpt Blue Bear

              Re: One move and we shoot

              "We're moving your job/team role(s) to India. Who want's to emigrate?"

              The correct response goes:

              "Excellent - I always wanted to go there. You'll be paying relocation I presume."

              "What?!"

              "Well, you've made me an offer. Now we are negotiating terms."

              Check and mate.

      2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: One move and we shoot

        aka sacking, meaning retirement benefits are void

        In a civilised society, that can't happen except for gross indecency or criminality..

        1. not.known@this.address Bronze badge

          Re: One move and we shoot

          Quote:

          aka sacking, meaning retirement benefits are void

          In a civilised society, that can't happen except for gross indecency or criminality..

          (end quote)

          It's amazing how one person's "extremely serious misuse of corporate IT facilities" is another person's "nothing to see here, move along" when They decide They want to get rid of you... and when They have a ££££s/hr lawyer and you have yourself it's quite likely the outcome will NOT be in your favour.

          Industrial tribunals aren't any help when They define "Gross Misconduct" as "ever used any computer at your place of work for anything at all not directly work related" when They know the Client site you worked at specifically allowed such use outside of working hours, and that you *and all your colleagues* did so... Strangely, none of my ex-colleagues were dismissed, even those who had been downloading American movies and TV shows before their European release date or who had large amounts of, um, dubiously-sourced music on their work PC... "That will be investigated separately and has no bearing on your case", I was told. By said ££££s/hr lawyer.

          But then none of my colleagues had been TUPE'd across from the same original employer, and my Ts&Cs (and salary) where somewhat better than theirs... although I never did figure out quite how they found that out.

          1. Cpt Blue Bear

            Re: One move and we shoot

            "It's amazing how one person's "extremely serious misuse of corporate IT facilities" is another person's "nothing to see here, move along" when They decide "

            When they say "civilised society" I think they mean with real labour laws. Generally they spell civilised with an s.

            Here in Oz* your "gorss misconduct" argument fails a simple test: is your definition of "gross misconduct" consistent with both the rest of the industry and historical example within the company? If not, then please sign this cheque with A Very Large Number(tm) written on it and we will go away and never bother you again.

        2. Mark 85 Silver badge

          Re: One move and we shoot

          aka sacking, meaning retirement benefits are void

          In a civilised society, that can't happen except for gross indecency or criminality..

          I see your point but it's based on a obsolete assumption.. "civilized society". I'm sure corporates are not a part of "civilized society" as they are being only profit and bonus driven from the top. More like sharks smelling blood in the water maybe.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: One move and we shoot

            And we're talking you versus legal teams specifically hired to get firms off the hook. Sprinkle in a friend or two in high places and they can really put you over a barrel if they want.

  5. Steve Button

    This smells like BS.

    Really when has anyone worked at a data centre where they shut down the servers and switch to DR site, so that an electrician could PAT test the servers (or the equivalent).

    Also, how the fuck can you "shut down every data centre in every location in the world"

    This seems like wishful thinking and someone living in fantasy land.

    Having said that, I have seen outsourced contracts making a complete hash of things many many times!

    1. caffeine addict Silver badge

      Re: This smells like BS.

      Shutting down every data centre sounds a touch far fetched, I agree.

      But, I can see the benefits of occasionally taking a data centre offline, then doing various hard shutdown tests to see what comes back up properly.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This smells like BS.

      Really when has anyone worked at a data centre where they shut down the servers and switch to DR site, so that an electrician could PAT test the servers (or the equivalent).

      A significant part of our workload is failing over customers' processing to alternate data centres to allow for major hardware implementations. So that's me, my colleagues, and the staff on the ground at several large UK and European customers.

      1. Steve Button

        Re: This smells like BS.

        yeah, granted.

        But "large-scale PAT testing" smells wrong.

        1. short a sandwich

          Re: This smells like BS.

          Its proper name is electrical installation testing, but the principle is very similar to PAT.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: This smells like BS.

          But "large-scale PAT testing" smells wrong.

          Most of the time when a company gets a sparky in to do PAT testing the PAT tester is being paid per device, and PAT tests everything down to desk lamps without a lightbulb in. (giving an instant fail) I have yet to see a small scale PAT test, so i'd say that it's a perfectly reasonable term.

          By the by, if your ever faced with this sort of PAT testing insanity and "But, Elf & Safety Executive requires it!" then counter with this:-

          http://www.hse.gov.uk/myth/july.htm

          And get your self a few rolls of "visual inspection pass" stickers. The HSE is actually surprisingly sensible on this stuff. If your in a low risk enviroment (ie, an office) then you probably don't need to PAT test everything yearly. You can do visual checks once every 4 years for sufficently boring stuff that's not portable. (like most static IT equipment, for instance)

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: This smells like BS.

            "Most of the time when a company gets a sparky in to do PAT testing the PAT tester is being paid per device, and PAT tests everything down to desk lamps without a lightbulb in. (giving an instant fail) I have yet to see a small scale PAT test, so i'd say that it's a perfectly reasonable term.""

            I did that once for a short while. The per unit price is less than the cost of the time it takes to the job properly. We were doing the entire London HQ of an international courier company and quickly discovered that each desk had a single plug into the wall and everything on the desk was powered from the built-in strips. It was most cost effective to plug the entire desk into the tester, and only visually inspect all the plugs (check fuse colour through the window on moulded plugs, open up those with screw in). Only if the PAT tester box reported a fail did we then test the individual items. Not ideal, but there was no other way to complete the job without losing money. As a legally required test, no one is prepared to pay what it really costs and the companies providing the test are cut-throat when it comes to pricing. I'd not be surprised in the least to find dangerous kit that has "passed" PAT testing.

          2. Ditto

            Re: This smells like BS.

            Unfortunately Portable appliance Testing usually falls under the control of a facilities team who have no technical understanding just a profound belief that they always did it at the last place they worked and no evidence showing them to be mistaken can be acknowledged. When they do hire a firm to do the testing they come in at the weekend test a few desk fans and put stickers on everything else. It is just another area where companies like to abdicate responsibility in order that they can point the finger somewhere else if an accident happens.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This smells like BS.

      Hahahaha cough.

      If you've ever had the dubious pleasure of using Bladelogic, particularly when implemented in a very large supplier of managed hosting services, you'll know what shouldn't be possible sadly is.

      One poor admin working for a single client followed the documented script to execute a job on a portion of his client's estate. The script was a battle-hardened "sudo killall java; shutdown -r now" designed to force everything down quickly, and written in nsh to work across Windows and *nix.

      Unfortunately Bladelogic didn't highlight what you've selected in the tree - in this case "Global" rather than "Client X, Datacenter 1", and in a cost-cutting American tradition nobody had bothered to configure it to restrict admins to only be able to effect change on their permitted systems.

      He realised quickly, but not before c.200k machines went kerplunk. Total service penalty costs in the region of 8 figures I believe.

      AC obviously.

    4. Putters

      Re: This smells like BS.

      Sounds like the 'Operation Bismarck' that London Underground had to do every year when I worked for them.

      Literally take the power off - traction, signalling, comms, the lot. See what dies, what doesn't reboot etc. Used to take ages afterwards going round replacing cctv monitors, resetting clocks etc.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: This smells like BS.

        "Literally take the power off - traction, signalling, comms, the lot. See what dies, what doesn't reboot etc. Used to take ages afterwards going round replacing cctv monitors, resetting clocks etc."

        Maybe not as bad as the lightning strike that just hit the NE mainline signalling/control centre in York yesterday and took out the entire system, affecting trains and the entire line from London to Edinburgh.

    5. not.known@this.address Bronze badge

      Re: This smells like BS.

      Steve Button,

      I have. Especially after we had a large number of calls from one of the buildings we looked after where a large number of PCs were suddenly crashing and some were not rebooting.

      It turned out that two of "our" onsite engineers were doing PAT testing and hadn't thought about all the possible effects of pulling the plugs without shutting the machines down first. After that, we made sure to shut everything down before letting them loose - even after their Manager gave them a rather stern talking-to.

    6. geascian

      Re: This smells like BS.

      "Also, how the fuck can you "shut down every data centre in every location in the world""

      dsh shutdown -F

      Not every data center in the world, but if you have messed up the setup then certainly all your data centers

    7. nerdbert
      Mushroom

      Re: This smells like BS.

      Also, how the fuck can you "shut down every data centre in every location in the world"

      I work for a large chip company. We use a certain company's software to manage versioning in our chip databases. My company is also notoriously cheap. A decade back or so the team managing the software was reduced to one person (call him 'Chip'). One of the chip designers (call him 'Dave') was a very senior designer and a big proponent of that crappy piece of software given the role of helping out when Chip went on holiday.

      Now Chip was a nice enough guy and a wizard at the versioning software, but he wasn't too knowledgeable on remote protocols, and we were using the software on multiple sites under multiple OSes (HPUX, Solaris, Linux, etc) even though it wasn't designed to be networked (think something like rcs vs. git). I'm a chip designer, but I've also had IT administrator experience, so I had written a whole bunch of scripts that Chip used to mirror commands across the company, but having an intense dislike for our crappy commercial versioning software I never learned most of the more dangerous administrative commands and had no checks in the scripts. I had merely handled the networking aspects of the software and told Chip that he was responsible for any checking other than to see that the remote command worked since I had no idea what he needed to do, and he'd never done that since he was too busy doing the work that had been done by six people to implement checks.

      Of course, Chip went off on holiday and Dave took over. Dave innocently went to completely reset a private library in the versioning software (delete the old private library and all past versions and recreate a blank one). Only what he thought was his own private library was not only wildcarded, he was doing it with the networked command environment, and included all the production libraries for that silicon generation. And of course he did this at midnight before going to bed since even for his smaller private library the procedure would take some time (I told you it was crappy software).

      By early morning, about 800 chip designers all around the globe were howling about being unable to work because the all the production databases had disappeared or were in the process of disappearing. Of course, the Unix backups were only performed at one site because of the sheer volume of data (remember that I said the company was cheap?). And of course, being cheap, backups had not been tested during all the downsizing and they weren't working. All told, the cutting had gone beyond the meat and well into the bone, and now the cost was a company's worth of highly paid designers being idle for two weeks as the databases were recovered. In my case I wasn't affected too much since I wasn't following official procedure and had been working in unmanaged private libraries anyway (remember I said I hated that piece of software?).

      I rather suspect that that incident was why Chip was given two guys to help him, and Dave was removed from the administer's group on the software.

      So yes, I've seen entire companies' sites all go down at once because someone did something with tools he didn't understand completely.

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This smells like BS.

      I dunno, I've worked in a uni department where the internet connection was shut down for an hour or so once per year for the router to be PAT tested (and we had a weekend year where all the servers were PAT-tested).

      I've also worked in another department where for three years running the service engineer testing the diesel generator managed to kill power to the server room becaause of an incorrectly installed relay. I guess they finally got it installed right after the third time.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Naturally...

    Alas, either due to our lacklustre training, or a fat-fingered operative, an unfortunate sysadmin managed to issue a simultaneous, and instantaneous, shutdown to every data centre in every location around the world,

    This can't happen with everything in the cloud now can it?

    PHB's of the world... On second thoughts just go back to reading Golf Weekly.

    Posting AC as I have to deal with the aftermaths of this sort of thing on a regular basis. Gotta keep the dosh rolling in until I retire now haven't I eh?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Naturally...

      Alas, either due to our lacklustre training, or a fat-fingered operative, an unfortunate sysadmin managed to issue a simultaneous, and instantaneous, shutdown to every data centre in every location around the world,

      This can't happen with everything in the cloud now can it?

      ----

      Of course it can - in fact it is a LOT easier - assuming you are using best practice DevOps approaches and have a useless admin with global privileges.

      There are plenty of examples of people not just shutting down cloud services accidentally but actually totally deleting them! Get the architecture wrong and it would be easy to do that across every service and location.

  7. 27escape
    Facepalm

    was it for RBS

    Sounds like it

    1. Steve Button

      Re: was it for RBS

      Is that RBS the "substantial publishing company" ?

      1. Admiral Grace Hopper

        Re: was it for RBS

        RBS published enough press releases after that clusterflump to qualify as a publishing company with a banking arm.

      2. defiler Silver badge

        Re: was it for RBS

        Is that RBS the "substantial publishing company" ?

        I've seen many of their works - quite samey though, and always seem to start "I promise to pay the bearer on demand..."

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: was it for RBS

      No as they do not/did not have global data centres.

      However the three major incidents that reached the press and affected the public within 1 (?) year of most IT being off-shored to India most certainly was down to the Indian IT staff.

      Anonymous for obvious reasons,

  8. james_smith

    Only been made redundant once thankfully, but it did come with a nice slice of schadenfreude.

    The CEO decided, against the advice of the CTO, that all future development of applications could be done by the off shored developers. Only one UK based developer would be retained to work on the framework that underpinned these applications. The rest of us UK based developers - who had been complaining about the poor quality of the off shored work since day one - were let go.

    Two months later an article appeared in El Reg about a certain ecommerce website and automated phone ordering system that was billing customers for the wrong orders and losing other orders. This was what I had anticipated, since the off shored developers had kept on putting state into stateless framework components. They'd only test with a single transaction rather than many concurrent ones, and were then clueless when that inadvertently shared state (including payment card details) fskced everything up in production.

    1. Symon Silver badge
      Pint

      "Only been made redundant once thankfully,"

      Me too, but remember, the job is redundant, not you!

  9. Chris G Silver badge

    Retired

    I retired at the end of May, in April with not much time left, the HR twonk came to ask me to train my successor and I said no.

    Be said 'You have to' so I explained that I came to the company with my knowledge and that they paid me to use it, if I had to pass in on to anyone else it was my IP so they would have to pay for it and pay me a different rate for training.

    The twonk asked how much and I replied with a large number so he walked away muttering.

    If they get stuck they can ask me back at a consultant rate.

    1. GlenP Silver badge

      Re: Retired

      Not retired but made redundant. They did pay me the large number!

      1. Alien8n Silver badge

        Re: Retired

        Similar to me. Company decided to change the job descriptions and put myself and the other configuration analyst guy on notice. He stayed, I got pushed (surprise surprise, he was earning about 3k less than me. That extra 3k? I was the only one who could write Crystal Reports).

        It very rapidly became clear that the "new roles" were actually exactly the same as the old roles, I have no idea if they ever managed to replace me. But I did get to go back for a few days when they called me up a week after being let go. Turns out they needed some Crystal Reports rewriting, and no one else there knew how to do it. I gave them a figure that was exactly double my previous salary. You could hear the shock at the figure over the phone followed by, "but...". My response? That's what you paid me as an employee, now you pay contractor rates for a Crystal Reports Developer. That was very satisfying when they got back to me an hour later and agreed to pay what I asked.

      2. Putters

        Re: Retired

        Me too ... that's why I'm sitting here in the Yorkshire Dales in the sunshine as opposed to looking at a crappy commute home on Thameslink !

        1. Chris G Silver badge

          Re: Retired

          The Yorkshire Dales are beautiful all year round and slightly better than working in London, more good pubs than you can shake a stick at and nice people. I used to visit relly's in Ripon quite often, a pity they have e passed away. I'm near Valencia, equally as nice but a tad too hot this year.

    2. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: Retired

      I left a workplace under some very hostile conditions after they shock-audited me, hated that I passed with flying colours, but yet failed to implement even a single detail from the audit reports that fell against them (one of which was literally "decided who should be on this IT committee" - six month later, they hadn't been arsed to even come up with a list of random names).

      My systems are always documented. But documentation is NOT there to teach a random idiot how to do my job. It's there to guide an equivalent professional through the peculiarities and quirks of the system.

      They got my documentation. Obviously. There's no way I would refuse that. But they wanted handover. By this point, I was well-prepared and they'd made the mistake of allowing me to accumulate so many holiday days, rolled-over holidays that I missed, days in lieu etc. that they covered my notice period perfectly. So the answer was, basically, no.

      And they expected me to hand over an IT system to a guy whose only previous career was managing a BMX track. I kid you not. He was supplied with the documentation, as per their request (because nobody else understood it either!), there was a one-day "handover" (which consisted of my saying to BMX-guy: "You're going to disable all my access, remove my cards, change all the critical passwords, and then sign-off that I've done so and have no further access to the system") and then I walked.

      Within a month all the senior team had left. Most of the staff had changed. Everything from the website to the access control was re-done (presumably because they just didn't know how to do anything, and I was friends with the access control guys so they still used to gossip about what was going on there after I'd left). They must have spent £50k+ replacing systems they didn't understand, or couldn't work (because they were slightly technical and had things like CLIs, and not just click-and-drag things that cost a bomb to do a worse job).

      But I know that I had a book of information, that anyone with the slightest IT knowledge could have just rolled open and got everything they needed in seconds, and none of that would have been necessary. And I handed it over. And they were too dumb to realise that they'd lost more money replacing me with BMX guy that they also have to pay than if they'd just kept me on and made even a token gesture towards compliance with their own (£10k!) audit.

      It's a really expensive way to lose an employee of many years. And five people sued them for unfair dismissal that year. And they were investigated by government departments because of multiple whistleblowers.

  10. Popsi
    Coat

    Been there

    As a team we decided to train our replacements from the Indian subcontinent very, very conscientiously. We spent 3 month dragging out operational manual we ever had and impressed on them how important following those guidelines exactly is.

    We even let them do small practice tasks, sometimes aiding them a little like a fairy would do in the background to smooth over parts where reality dared to defy the prescribed operational procedure. The new offshore team had a good feeling and we documented meticulously our efforts and how many percent of our task were handed over. We even got the severance bonus.

    As you all can imagine, things got entertaining when the fairies in the background had their last day and the newly trained offshore team tried to do some real work following those official guidelines.

    Chaos without end, as most guidelines were totally disjointed from reality and many crucial tasks never made it into the operational manuals. Many of these magic task made certain the billing system, the ordering system and inventory management system involved made sure those systems exchanged data.

    The perfect irony of it was, we even had an official task to make sure the operational procedures matched the manuals. We usually resolved discrepancies by having the trainees remove stuff not documented.

    The company never recovered from this outsourcing exercise.

    The coat, because we took them when we left.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Been there

      White mutiny is the most satisfying kind. It even has its own paper trail.

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Been there

      The part that gets me is that you spend all this time training the off-shore replacement and then in few months or a year, the off-shore guy leaves for green pastures and his replacement hasn't a clue and wasn't trained. I've seen at least one company I know of that did panic phonecalls to former employees begging for help at any cost. None would help as by then they were all employed elsewhere. Que up a one more bankrupted company.

  11. smilerbaker

    years ago I was doing a contract for a large uk insurance co. they decided to outsource all the db dev and dba work to one of the usual suspects, all the local staff where 'let go'.

    Fast forward 7 or so months and everything was going titsup, the outsources where less then useless having given all the work to fresh out of uni grads who didn't know their arse from their elbows, prime example being setting date fields to character fields on a date tracked system.

    Company then went cap in had back to the team they had let go, they all came back as very very expensive contractors.

  12. Gordon Pryra

    I have been the poor sod on the other side of Lukes story.

    I accepted a contract for basic "application discovery" down in Bournemouth.

    I only found out on the first day that the contract was not quite as described.

    For one thing, the company name outside the office I reported too was different from the one I was working for...

    Seems a bank had brought a building society, binned off all the staff then realised that 90% of their applications were in-house developed.

    My job was to talk to the developers during their last week of work in order to get their custom applications working on the new owners systems.

    Didnt go well.....

  13. Chris King Silver badge

    Not quite redundancy...

    ...but a cautionary tale surrounding fixed-term contracts.

    It you have two employees approaching the end of such contracts and you only have funding to extend one contract, make sure you remember to complete the paperwork for the one you want to keep...

    Early on in my career, I found myself in that situation - I had hit the top of my pay scale and the post would have to be re-graded to keep me on, the other person was one point off the top of the scale so they just could extend her contract for a year. Simple financial decision, bye Chris.

    I found myself another gig and moved on, but about a month later $EX_EMPLOYER rings up asking for help. Seems that they had forgotten to do the paperwork for the other person, and she found another job during her notice period.

    Apparently she had cleared her desk on her final day, and walked out as though nothing was wrong. They only realised what had happened when she phoned in the following Monday morning to say that she wouldn't be in work that day - or ever again - because she had a new job.

    Did I mention that this was a three-person team before I departed, and (my now former) boss was on holiday at the time ?

  14. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    Schadenfreude indeed...

    Had overall Ops, Management, Environments, Release and BAU support outsourced from my SAP team to an offshore "partner". We were told to let them drive the scope and agenda for the required KT sessions as they were supposedly the experts. It didn't go well - and by that point we'd lost interest in helping fill in the gaps in even their basic knowledge.

    For example, I mean... who knew that failure to do proper analysis and performance testing of changes to internal and external overnight batch could wreak such havoc at an enterprise level ;-)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Schadenfreude indeed...

      That's not basic. Basic is when you walk put the desk of a colleague who's working with an offshore team member, in platform engineering, and you hear "so now type ls -ls and press carriage return". That's basic.

      Followed up by a slightly different chat "I'm sorry, but as he doesn't even know how to use vi it's not going to work"...

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
        Trollface

        Re: Schadenfreude indeed...

        But vi is rubbish. He must have just used Emacs?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Schadenfreude indeed...

          vi ... its only half EviL :-)

  15. no user left unlocked

    Obvious outcomes.

    At one of the biggie UK retailers a bunch of us got redundancy and had to train our replacements from India. They had come over to the UK for training and were clearly excited. When they realised they were our replacements they were so shocked and embarressed.

    We had to explain that they were still very welcome and we'd do our best to bring them up to speed and have them able to cope. Also that we were in no way upset about them being there. A team with average service length of 20 years and a reasonably generous redundancy package will have that effect. Also we were professional and no way wanted the blame for any issues laid at our feet.

    Anyways we left and the team we trained were fine but now they had some good skills so were sought after and of course moved on. The people hired in their wake.... no so good. Last I heard the head count had trebled, the service delivery was awful and wage parity was eroding even the mathematical benefits of offshoring.

    Another team that had been offshored a year earlier had one hire who managed to delete the entire UK domain in AD and in panic deleted logs/backups to try and hide what had happened. Once we saw management accept this and not backtrack we all knew it was time to get out.

    1. Denarius Silver badge

      Re: Obvious outcomes.

      Some stories familiar. Reminds me of John Ralston Saul in (IIRC ) The Unconcious Civilisation that modern elites are so out of touch or besotted by process that they are no longer able to panic. Panic at least means you _know_ something has gone badly wrong. Unlike PHBs who just blunder on trusting spreadsheets and BS

      1. Disk0
        Pint

        Re: Obvious outcomes.

        I think the inability to generate common human emotions is referred to as "Sociopathy".

      2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: Obvious outcomes.

        When an emergency hits, a lot of skill (and wisdom) lies in the knowing the gap between acting quickly, to prevent further damage, and not acting, to prevent further damage.

  16. Saruman the White

    Many years ago (just before the 21st century) I was doing some work as a contractor to a company that was building a major new satellite communications system. The employees of this company were outnumbered by contractors; in fact I think about 60% of the company was made up of contractors at this time.

    Things did not precisely go according to plan, and having blown $5 billion in 3 years and not achieved anything the decision was made by the very senior PHBs to get rid of all of the contractors. This decision was actioned the following Monday when all of the contractors were given 1 weeks notice.

    The company made two basic mistakes. Firstly the forgot that several of their most specialised and expensive contractors were also on long-duration contracts (one had just signed a 12-month contract with no get-out clauses). As I understand it the company was sued by at least 30 of their former contractors the following week, and ultimately lost each and every case. The second mistake was even more basic - they failed to ask for a hand-over to the remaining staff who did not have a clue what the contractors actually did.

    You can probably visualise what happened the following two weeks, and also the reactions of the company's management when they tried to ask the contractors to come back for a few days for free to perform a belated hand-over.

    One year later it was completely bankrupt.

  17. Tinslave_the_Barelegged

    Other side of the coin

    I resigned from one job, on a 3 month notice period. They found a replacement within a month, and the usual "handover" discussion started. . Instead, I said to my boss "It's really not fair on the new guy if I'm hanging around al the time; it'll cramp his style terribly. How about I, you, know, not show up?" They fell for it and I had a couple of months of rather well paid garden tending, and my boss thought I was being rather kind.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I unfortunately had my job role (software development + other stuff) out sourced to India.

    After 10 months, my lack of "presence" is still being felt. The business was used to getting applications/reports quickly instead of months just talking about it.

    Projects taking too long to complete or not done/started at all.

    Projects I completed but not released yet due time ran out were passed over to the guys in India to do, still not released. Much to the dismay of one of the guys at the business.

    Preparing systems for year end so the new financial year rolled over smoothly, not done. Heard it took them a day or two to sort out.

    If may save them personnel costs in the short term, but it cost them more in the long term especially when they let people with the knowledge on how the systems work walk out the door.

    Afterall, who is more invested in the company, the employee or some outsourcing person many miles away on another continent who will move onto other things within a few months and has to train their replacement?

    1. LDS Silver badge

      "If may save them personnel costs in the short term, but it cost them more in the long term"

      It's fine. Executives will rake their bonuses because they "streamlined the business, and reduced costs", and will be easier to hide those costs in the balance sheets. They also have easy scapegoats in the outsourced people. Rarely they will be made accountable for the issues, which will mostly fell on underlings.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A decade or so ago...

    I was a permie in a company which was looking to cut costs. One of the ways of accomplishing this was to swap out contractors for permies, so when my CV popped up in the internal HR system as available, the manager of a team with a contractor on it saw an opportunity to meet one of his annual performance goals.

    So, we had a nice little telephone interview and he arranged all the HR paperwork, etc.

    However, he didn't actually get around to informing the contractor until the day that I physically arrived in the office. And the contractor had been with the team for the best part of a decade!

    As a result, the contractor felt stitched up; he did two weeks handover and then dropped out of sight, and I was essentially left as the team pariah.

    I don't particularly blame the team or the contractor - and to be fair to the manager who triggered all of this, he was a reasonably good manager for the year that I stayed in that role before deciding that I'd had enough.

    I just really wish he'd had the courage to talk to the team and contractor at some point during the month before I started the role!

  20. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge
    Meh

    before i went straight...

    I had a banking job and had to constantly explain why i had poor credit card and mortgage sales. Something along the lines of people being offered it... couldn't afford it.

    That turned out reeeeal nice (and the general fallout cost me my next job since the market dried up). Still... 15 years later and i'm on about 6-7 times the wage i was on then so not all bad.

  21. Miss Lincolnshire
    Meh

    Pictures or....

    ....it didn't happen. Sounds like a bit of a fantasy apocryphal tale to me.

    Alastair Campbell at least got you to the vinegar strokes with a bit of panache when he wrote for Forum

    1. Killfalcon Silver badge

      Re: Pictures or....

      The point of ON-CALL is not to be true. It's to farm upvotes in the comments.

      1. Killfalcon Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Pictures or....

        ...fair, I deserve those downvotes.

        (Coat because I should go to the pub and stop trying to be clever on the internet)

      2. Giovani Tapini Silver badge

        Re: Pictures or....

        Well I for one think many of the stories pass the plausibility test.

        In my experience you don't have to make up stories, you just need the motivation to tell them.

        Anyway farming donvotes isuch easier and you can doing that just by mentioning Linux...

        1. Chris King Silver badge

          Re: Pictures or....

          "Anyway farming donvotes isuch easier and you can doing that just by mentioning Linux..."

          Either that, or have a contrarian view about Doctor Who. Worst downvoting I ever got !

          1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

            Re: Pictures or....

            Classic or New?

            1. Chris King Silver badge
              WTF?

              Re: Pictures or....

              "Classic or New?"

              New. 12 downvotes for wailing on Rufus Hound and bad scripts !

  22. Just An Engineer

    Karma can be tough

    Working for a large Financial Services firm via a well known Professional Services firm in the early 2000's. My jobs was to keep the Solaris systems running and ensuring the replication to the DR center was running and up to date, with limited back log.

    Since I was a contractor and being paid by the hour, I did not care if I had to go to the Office once every 6 months, so the DR could be tested on a Saturday.

    For the next 14 months This was done and duly documented. Then the S&%T hit the fan. There was a new Service Delivery Manager put in place, who frankly did not know his Arse from a hole in the ground, and he wanted his "own" people on the contract.

    Since my contract only had another month to run I was shown the door at the end. He was "smart" enough to wait until after the bi-annual test. Test went smoothly and everyone was happy.

    Then a mere 6 weeks after I was shunted out the door, a real disaster occurred. Apparently a contractor managed to dig up the networking cable to the building where the DC was located, and they assumed the fail over would occur automagically. It didn't since the clustering SW in use at the time did not have the intelligence to perform that act.

    So my phone rings on a Wednesday night and it is the new SDM, and he is begging me to drive into the city and help restore the services. I politely decline the offer. My replacement was supposed to be fully certified in this particular SW and should have been a no brainer. Turns out that was BS as well (no one ever checked the certifications).

    Since I had already accepted a new position and was awaiting my start date, and since I had tee times for the rest of the week I felt absolutely no guilt watching from afar the CF that was this disaster.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Karma can be tough

      "I politely decline the offer."

      Without even quoting a figure?

  23. zyzyx159
    Mushroom

    I didn’t get to watch the company burn, but that was a good thing

    Longer ago than I care to recall I was slowly outsourced. It started with a company announcement of the fact. Seeing the writing on the wall my supervisor quickly found another job. I was hoping for a promotion and better odds of surviving the cut. Ah, to be young a foolish again. Instead I got to train my new boss. I managed to get him mostly up to speed before the outsourcing company decided it would be less paperwork to replace me than to hire me. I had a week left with the company and needed the money, so I did what I could to train my replacement.

    The twist on my story is that while I worked IT I was not in an office, but an oil refinery. For those of you who have never visited an oil refinery I think its best described as an active construction zone with chemical hazards. A place where oversized, six-wheel, extended cab trucks and chemical resistant coveralls are as normal a breathing. But really set the mood I would like to recall my safety trainer: “If there is an incident and we don’t know where to find you, we will leave you to die” and “this oil is under so much heat and pressure it doesn’t need a spark, it’s just looking for air”. Great way to set the tone for my first day of work; I still don’t leave the office without telling someone where I am.

    Most sane people would be glad to leave such a job behind, but like all my stories, it gets worse.

    You see with the IT shake up cubes were moved and computer were refreshed. When the head of the pipe line inspection got a new computer, she needed her safety systems set up again. In any oil refinery there are hundreds of miles of pipe pumping everything from crude oil to jet fuel. Pipes that must be inspected on a regular basis for weaknesses. One hair line fracture in any of those pipes could cause an explosion that would not only level the plant but cause an earth quake that would be felt up to 500 miles (805 kilometers) away. The problem was that the system was a weird combination of a local install of the safety system and a Citrix virtual install. Before we were outsourced there were only two people in the company who understood how it worked, both were let go.

    I spent my last week, while not training my replacement, arguing with the offshore helpdesk that I was not trained to fix it. I had to leave before they worked that out, but as I never felt the earth quake I’m pretty sure it got fixed.

  24. ColinPa

    Team building

    The comments about team building reminded me when we had 2 day team building at a nice hotel. Lots of games etc. My department were there, including John a team leader. Cross project teams had to do a 5 minute presentation on a given topic.

    The "team working" group gave two presentations. One from John on his own, and one from the rest of the team.

    He didn't see the irony of this.

  25. JJKing Silver badge
    WTF?

    WTF?

    Another team that had been offshored a year earlier had one hire who managed to delete the entire UK domain in AD

    How incompetent does one have to be to do that? Since reading that post I have been trying to figure out how to do that without know that I was doing it. I am either smarter or not as stupid as I thought I was.

    1. Chris Jasper

      Re: WTF?

      Had the dubious pleasure of recovering from one of the service desk guys doing this to the IT ou (in the days before you could protect objects from accidental deletion, small company so sd had more rights than absolutely necessary), it was a very long time spent hoping my miraculously still logged in pc didn't lose power.

      People are that stupid.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: WTF?

      JJKing you run script you found off the net or you dl some half ass tool d from cnet and it goes poof .

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: WTF?

      JJKing i worked for a company that did 3rd party testing of software for bugs. Group A was filled with brilliant . Group B was fresh grad kids and half ass want a be techies that could not find boobs in a whore house. Guess which group broke more things. It was like how is that possible that software does even do that.

      Think of the episode were homer Simpson made a test simulator go critical. They were like but but it didn't even have any plutonium in it .

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Always have a "backup" plan...

    Anon for obvs reasons

    A startup-ish organisation I worked for was acquired by a US outfit that none of us wanted to work for, so we all quit. The value of the organisation was mostly in the people, so we were offered a years salary as a bonus if we stayed for a year to help the new gig understand and port code from our system to their system. We stalled for months, had to be trained in the new system several times, and rebuild the old system several times, usual developer bs that the pointy haired boss would believe. Well the code got ported alright.. to our super secret highly secure datacentre (someone's garage). We didn't get our bonuses, until pointing out that there was no code and there wouldn't be until our bonuses were paid. Yay bonus! (A bit more convoluted and more HR and corporate pressure but we got what we were promised and they got what they were promised, just a massive waste of everyone's time as usual).

  27. geascian

    ""shut down every data centre in every location in the world"

    dsh shutdown -F

    Not every data center in the world, but all of yours if you have it set up dsh that way.

  28. This post has been deleted by its author

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    redundancy quality of life

    AC obv

    A place I worked had various rounds of redundancy after a takeover

    We had a good manager and, first redundancy was not picked by HR, but by the manager as just one person required.

    So the manager picked longest served employee, he had worked there many years, who only had a year until retirement & was counting down the days as his health was not great, as the redundancy terms were good the employee got far more in redundancy payments (plus had "gardening leave" for notice period) than he would have earned in a year and it boosted his pension pot considerably (by far the most expensive redundancy possible out of all the staff! Cost the take over company quite a lot!)

    Sadly the employee died a couple of years later, but he really got to enjoy (with his wife and family with lots of holidays / shared activities with all the extra cash) -given his unfortunate early death, his wife & family really appreciated that extra year together due to the redundancy, so the manager made a great decision.

    RIP <redacted>

    1. ShortLegs

      Re: redundancy quality of life

      > A place I worked had various rounds of redundancy after a takeover

      >

      > We had a good manager and, first redundancy was not picked by HR, but by the manager

      > as just one person required.

      That wouldn't happen to have been a telco, would it, and the person worked in the NW UK?

  30. Marty McFly
    Facepalm

    Employee to consultant...

    Good friend of mine did corporate events. The following week was a major customer facing event. Tuesday before he was RIF'd. He handed in his properly wiped (but secretly backed-up) laptop. On Thursday he got the call, "How quickly can you incorporate and give us a bid to run the event next week?"

    After about two years of being incorporated and having one customer who paid a lot of money for the 'outsourcing', the company came to their wits and asked if they would like to simply come back on-staff.

    That lasted a dozen years, and now the current management has outsourced events staff again.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Employee to consultant...

      "the company came to their wits and asked if they would like to simply come back on-staff."

      And he didn't come to his wits & say no? If this was the UK going back on contract to an ex-employer would be IR35 bait. Going back permie with the same client even more so.

  31. Andrew Moore Silver badge

    Kinda similar...

    The company I work for lost a lucrative service contract. No handover (fortunately), and then I heard most of the techs quit from the company that won the contract because they could wrap their heads around the system within the time-frame required. So the other company then tried to hire us to do the work. Queue much laughter.

    We got the service contract back a year later.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I got replaced 20 years ago

    Our UK owners shut down my office in the US with the three of us providing technical support for their customers in the US. They were opening a new office in California ...

    After a couple of months they had replaced my three staff with 18 people and a year later they fired the new US manager after they had too many complaints from customers about his attempts to get them into bed. He counter sued them and they had to pay him to go away. The company now has the worst customer service record in the industry.

  33. VinceLortho
    FAIL

    Management Fail

    I have seen several times. By the responses, so have many others.

    IT companies are complex rascals requiring many hands with many skills. Most of these skills are simply experience. A few, unique ability. Management, typically, has none of these.

    If an IT firm has a fully documented system, an ITIL of policy and procedure covering all aspects of the system and a training system to utilize it, all is well. Any single employee is no longer indispensable and training can be done by any competent instructor.

    This rarely happens. Documentation is costly, time consuming, and none wish to do it. A firm that is trying to squeeze every denari from the stone that is IT will never devote treasure to that which is of not immediate profit.

    Middle management usually has no concept as to how to create an encyclopedia of operations and could see it as a way to eliminate or weaken their position in the firm. The MM's also have very little idea how daily ops are carried out although hubris convinces them otherwise.

    Blood, this they, the C level muckety-mucks, the lovers of coin, have a passion for spilling. How they get the idea that people are costs and not creators of profit is beyond my capacity.

    Anyway, nice to see ignorance, greed, and basic head up your backside stupidity punished. For once.

    1. Giovani Tapini Silver badge

      Re: Management Fail

      The documentation is a lie... like the cake,

      1. DryBones
        Trollface

        Re: Management Fail

        The cake is a pie (at least if it's pineapple upside down...).

  34. Cynic_999 Silver badge

    On the other side of the coin ...

    I've known employees who attempt to make themselves irreplaceable by deliberately obfuscating and hiding data. One guy had been responsible for carrying out most of the data wiring in the building when we moved the main server/telecom room. Each cable and outlet was clearly marked - with a completely different number at each end! Only he had a translation table, so if a network or phone line needed to be re-patched to a different location, he was the only guy who could do it. Until we needed something done while he was on vacation so I spent an entire long weekend tracing, swapping, re-lacing and re-labelling all the cables so they were in a logical order with the same reference number at both ends.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I Been Mangled

    Obligatory IBM stories (because they're the masters of downsizing/offshoring)

    One test group had a networking expert who had been in the group for *ages*, knew all the ins & outs of the system, and was the 3rd level network support. He was retiring (yes, actually "retired", not "resourced") and trained his replacement 3rd-level support guy as thoroughly as he could. Come the next round of "redundancies" after the guy's retirement, they laid off the replacement 3rd level network guy, and handed his job off to the *first* level support guy. So if 1st-level (let's call him "A") couldn't fix something, he'd hand it off to 2nd level ("B") support. If *he* couldn't fix it, who does it go to next? Yep, "A".

    Then there was the internal Lotus Notes development team. They had also been handling support calls for *internal* Notes issues, and someone was actually smart enough to realize this was a bad use of resources. They got a team in Toronto to take on the support role, freeing the developers to actually do development. Then someone decided to move support to Brazil as a cost-saving measure. So they flew in folks from Toronto and Brazil to Poughkeepsie to do training. The Toronto folks, well aware of what was up, proceeded to quickly find new jobs in Toronto well before the training was done (jobs actually being possible to find in Toronto, unlike in "New Detroit", AKA Poughkeepsie NY). So now when internal Notes admins had to call for support, they had to either call external support (at external prices) or pay the dev team at *dev team prices*. Ended up costing way more than they thought they'd save.

  36. Chris Jasper

    Booby traps not necessary

    The majority of places I've worked where this kind of thing happened, (including my current one) don't really require leaving nasty surprises behind, the environments are usually so complex and full of legacy equipment and systems that you just can't do knowledge transfer in enough detail without literally downloading your head to the net.

    Takes years to acquire all that local knowledge, can't be transferred in 3 Skype sessions....

  37. Mrkitty

    I once installed a system for a client with their vendor. At the time I thought it was ok, but had a reservation about it being based on an older system and maybe we should go with newer software from a bigger company and not a small company with a couple of employees and no other products. I was over ruled, so I installed it, documented everything and gave the documentation to both the client and we kept a copy for just in case.

    Fast forward 6 years to when the system failed. Turns out the client wasn't doing maintenance on the system and my old company wasn't either because it wasn't in the contract and the client didn't want to pay extra. The vendor has since gone out of business and I had left the company I was with at the time the previous year. The client "lost" all documentation of the product and my old company decided to get rid of my old department and purged all files. The client reached out asking for help, I said I would be happy to, but I would need to be paid, they said that their contract with my old company dictates that they cannot hire any of their staff or former staff for "x" amount of years. They reached out to my old company about them hiring me back on contract with they paying the contract plus markup but my company refused because they have a policy of not re-hiring former employees who left on their own for "x" number of years and that included contract and piecemeal work. Last I heard, people were fired over this at the client's side and it cost them a lot of money to their data exported and into a new system ASAP.

  38. james7byrne

    just quit

    I have worked at companies where they think they can save a dime with offshore help. I always just quit when they say "we need to you to train these offshore people". I put my resume out and in a couple of months I have a new job. Have some common sense people, if the ship is sinking be the first one to get out. Don't be an idiot trying to find a job when a ton people get laid off and are looking for work at the same time!

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: just quit

      I agree. Ditch them ASAP. The writing is on the wall at that point and nobody should ever have to fuck themselves over. But it's really not that easy to find another job quickly.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Having been 'only a f'kin contractor' with idiot bloody management I'd had experience of 'mercan company management, so when the very English company I was working for got bought up by a 'mercan competitor I could see the usual downsizing and IP transfer coming. First thing they did was to restricted our access to our system/36, then having brought in their (in)Human Resources team we had to go through several cycles of psychometric testing, followed by their accountants bean counting. Being one of the more recent staff in my then current job I got called into the plant managers office to be given the redundancy notice by the mercan director, only 18 months in post no cost to them they thought, until our personnel manager pointed out I'd actually moved to the service department from the production team, where I'd been for several years, so I wasn't going to be cost free... I'd suspected it was coming so all the specialist tools I'd created in my own time to help me do my job were locked in my personal toolbox, so when they escorted me back to my work station to remove my personal effects I just picked it up and walked out. The following week the redundancy cheque arrived, along with the requisite pay in lieu of notice. Met the service team leader, who'd replaced the too 'expensive' service manager, a few months later, seems the department was making a loss as they couldn't do the repairs I'd been able to do for a good profit with my skills and tools. 5 years later the then very much reduced UK branch was closed and everything had to be supported from the US. The service department still runs at a loss.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Go

    Easter Egg

    Thirty odd years ago, in another world, I found myself in a job that really didn't suit me. The work basically seemed pointless: the client was the MoD, and could just hear the military chaps complaining of "backroom boys who know nothing". They'd be right if they were talking about us.

    Anyway, no hard feelings: the employer wasn't abusive or unpleasant. But it did mean I moved on rather quickly: I was there less than a year. My contract said that if I left within two years I'd have to refund relocation costs: not huge, but enough to cause pain. I thought I could haggle them into not enforcing that clause (we were parting without ill-feeling), but a bit of insurance seemed prudent.

    As it happened, one of my last tasks was hacking up demo software for an event where the company was exhibiting (they acquired a couple of Unix boxes, and I was the only one with any Unix experience). Since I knew the dates of the event, it was trivial to insert a little easter egg that would check the date and display a message that would embarrass the company. And also trivial to make it a one-minute task to completely remove the easter-egg.

    On the final day, I met the big boss, and got what I wanted: they wouldn't chase me for those relocation costs, and we would part on good terms. So I made for the 'puter to remove the easter egg leaving them the nice clean demo they wanted. This aroused suspicion, so I eventually had to explain, and $sysop sat with me as I did what was needed. Funnily enough, noone was shocked nor surprised: there was a general "I'd've done the same" feeling around the place.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I would like to point out that not all of us MBA types are money first and people last types - what I normally see are people promoted past their point of competence - aka Ms.Fiorina or Donald Trump.

    I am trained as an analyst and at one point wrote a business plan for company expansion based on a specific location - only to be told by the owner that he had decided to save a bit of money in rent by selecting a different site. At which point I told him that he would only get half the business that I had forecast, and my forecast was what he was basing his financing and sales projections on.

    Sure enough, I nailed it right on the nose, and was out of a job within the year because sales were so bad and someone had to take the blame, and that location was closed within a few more years. Give the guy credit, he knew his product well, but he was not very good outside that narrow bit of bandwidth.

  42. Sanguma

    Elementary, dear Whasisname

    Look at it this way - when you boil it down to the essentials, bosses are paid what they are paid over and above the wages of those who actually earn the company the money, because of a superstition that being at the top of the heap, they can see what is happening, and can foresee the likely results of events, decisions, whatever.

    Now you have a boss or group of bosses firing staff willy-nilly, and failing to understand their own businesses to the extent that this happens and their companies go under.

    They haven't been paying attention. They have shown zero foresight. They have been paid on false pretenses. They have been guilty of fraud.

    Maybe if this sort of argument was more widely understood, people would be more cautious ... but I doubt it.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But offshoring is cheap!

    Last year my employer decided (likely by way of comparing nothing more than 2 day rate numbers) that we should immediately and without review move our expensive London development more to the offshore facility. After spending a lot of money to set the offshore team up and train them, it became apparent that they were operating at only around 40% of the efficiency of the team they replaced due to low skill/experience levels and poor code quality having to be reviewed or reworked on shore.

    Company subsequently realised we were breaching huge numbers of contracts because use of the development servers potentially gave the off shore team access to certain data that was not permitted to be processed outside Europe. Solution? This team have now been flown to London where they are currently living in hotels so they can do their jobs without breaching the contracts until we can segregate the data sets (at significant expense) in a way that allows them to return home and work.

    Estimated *additional* cost of this venture to date, compared with not bothering to offshore at all is somewhere North of £200k probably rising to £300k before the day rate savings even start to compensate for the loss of efficiency. In 10 or 15 years it could even out. Maybe.

    Senior finance manager responsible for this insanity was promoted, obviously, because as it turns out it was our fault for not managing the offshoring properly.

    1. Outski

      Re: But offshoring is cheap!

      Sounds like it was you DPO's fault for allowing the data to be offshored, and CIO's fault for not ensuring separation of prod & dev data prior to offshoring.

    2. Lilolefrostback

      Re: But offshoring is cheap!

      My first job out of UNI was in defence industry. The charge to the customers for my time was known as "burdened rate", which was about 3 times my actual salary. Had to cover payroll taxes, pension plan, health plan, office space I used, profit, etc.

      In that job, I also learned the value of institutional memory.

      Any management weenie who thinks that outsourcing anything but the most menial of tasks saves money deserves the trouble he gets by outsourcing.

  44. elvisimprsntr

    My job (and many others) were getting relocated to another state. While they were offering a relocation package, it did not come with any cost of living adjustments. If invited, we were required to sign a contract. If you signed to go and subsequently left, you would not get any severance. If you sign you were leaving, you had to train your replacement with no guaranteed date or advance notice.

    I found out the name of the recruiting company they hired, sanitized my resume, and applied for my own job. During the course of the recruiter interview, I was able to find out how much they would pay my replacement. It was a lot more than I was currently making. I had to spill the beans when the recruiter picked up on several awards I received from my employer I forgot to sanitize.

    The funny part of the story is my sanitized resume still made in the file boxes of resumes management went through. Most of the resumes were junk. One manager picked up my resume, skipped over the name and started reading my experience. Once he realized who's it was, he exclaimed to the other managers in the room, " This is {name withheld} resume!" Which someone else in the room replied, "Now you know he is looking." Disgusted with the quality of the other resumes the recruiting company brought in, the first manager held up my resume and said to the recruiters, "This is the type of person we are looking for!"

    I signed I was going to secure my job. The severance package was not very good anyway. I also knew it would be near impossible to time my end date with the start of a new job. I ended up taking a job with a 35% pay increase, signing bonus, paid OT, and full relocation package. I didn't burn any bridges though. After a 200% turn over in the organization, they begged me to come back. I told them my new price, which they met with a relocation package. It wasn't in the most pleasant part of the country, but knew with time I could transfer back to the paradise where I started.

  45. Paul

    I failed to train my replacement

    I was leaving a company which was cutting nearly half its staff as it was running out of money.

    I showed the putative replacement the web control panel for the firewall whilst his boss observed. I made no attempt to explain in detail, just quickly shipped showed the key configurations like the vpn tunnels to explain which was which. There was a look of panic, and they asked whether all that was voodoo magic, but I said it was just everyday stuff, anyone should be able to do it.

    They went off into a huddle. For the first time, the management realised my job wasn't trivial and maybe they couldn't find a cheap graduate to do it.

  46. Bloognoo
    Facepalm

    They were lucky I'm nice

    After being made redundant by an ex-employer of mine, I organised a time when I could come in and copy personal data off my work box; wasn't much, mainly minecraft saves and the like. What blew my tiny mind was that as my account has been disabled as I was no longer an employee, they logged in on my PC as domain admin and left me to get on. They're lucky I was disappointed rather than angry about the redundancy

  47. W4YBO

    The Replacements...

    New owners operations manager essentially told me I wouldn't have a job in a couple of weeks, and that he'd make my life hell until then. His best buddy was taking my position, and I needed to go push-mow the six acre tower field in the meantime. I'd already been looking, and had a couple of possibilities, so I said goodbye with the anticipation of a short vacation while interviewing.

    FNG (the New Guy, you guess what the F stands for) decided he was so happy with his new job that he hadn't shown up for yet, and that he'd celebrate with a bottle. Then hurricane Hugo hit. Old oak tree came down on the outer guy point, and snapped the 400 foot tower like a twig. FNG gets bagged for drunk driving before he got out of his home state. Never did make it to his new job.

  48. OzBob

    Four into one

    I had the dubious honour of working for a Government Department who shifted from a proprietary software package to SAP, so I got re-trained coding in ABAP, and another crew (all 4 fresh out of the local community college) doing Basis Support. Roll on two years and all 4 of the Basis team walk out wanting better money from other companies (this was in the 90s when SAP experience was gold). The department para-dropped me into the situation (solo) with 4 weeks left to get a handover (I was a Unix sysadmin by then) and I spent 3 weeks fixing all the bugs in their Unix system that had created enough work for 3 of them. If their managers had talked to my managers, I could have saved them a fortune in time and effort.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Four into one

      "shifted from a proprietary software package to SAP"

      SAP is open source? Who knew?

  49. garethm

    Scapegoated!

    I used to work for a small, schools IT company in that there capital, and after 9/10 months, I decided that actually, I wanted to move back up North, for the main reason as it was as far away from my ex as I could get!

    I quadrupled my notice period to give them as much time as I could to get people to shadow me in my schools, to pre-warn everyone, and to make sure that everything was tied off - I had utmost respect for the rest of my team, and I absolutely adored working with them - so I wanted them to be able to work as well as they could. Week or so went by, and no more was said... I ended up chasing up, asking when people were going to shadow me in the school every other day, to me told "We've not been told to do anything yet" by the lovely administration team.

    Week 3 of 4, I start really growling - as wk 4 was school holiday, and we were all due to be on a huge installation. STILL no shadowing! In fact, the schools hadn't even been told I was leaving! By this point, I start raging to the CTO (a very good mate of mine) - asking him basically, what the hell. Turns out the CEO was the one who had to make the decision, and he was just head in the sand.

    Week 4 turns up, and I start getting emails via our CRM system (any emails that got sent to my schools, I was automatically copied in on...) - and it turns out that I was being blamed for giving little notice! I'd already told all of my schools as I didn't want them to be surprised into it, and I received quite a few presents as thank you/goodbye! But apparently, it was all my fault for them not organising anyone to cover with me.

    I honestly think they lost contracts over that. I knew my schools VERY well, and safe to say, they were not happy about having the blame placed solely on my door... thinking I wouldn't notice!

    (The company no longer exists...)

  50. Charles Smith

    Errm do you know where the document were stored..?

    So, the development teams had done good work and software testing was on schedule. However to run the new system, we'd need a new fault tolerant "mainframe", so my boss and I hegotiated a good deal on price and delivery date. Shortly after the deal was signed, the Finance Director walks into my office and "sadly" announces that the IT Director (my boss) has left the company with immediate effect, but not too worry because they had a shortlist of propective candidate. A mysterious hand materialised behind his head and started to write on my office whiteboard. "... it won't be you..."

    Being a professional I warned my deputy that my life expectancy in my role was limited and started to tidy my paperwork so he wouldn't be left in the lurch. Part of the tidying was to pass the mainframe contract negotiation paperwork to the FD's deputy at his request. About four weeks later the new IT Director had arrived and I was gone two weeks later. The new boy made it very plain I was not wanted and handed over a departure package.

    Four months later I had a grovelling call from the IT Director; "Did I know where the contract documentation for the mainframe had gone?" This discount was worth about four times my departure package. My reply: "I gave you the keys to the files cabinet at my departure interview, but you could talk to Finance." I understand, in the absence of documentary proof, the eventual terms from the manufacturer were far less generous.

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ad hock

    A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away..

    Worked for an ad agency with a little over $2b in annual sales. Structured rather oddly, it was run by the 7 regional CFOs all reporting to the head CFO who then reported to the CEO. The CIO was a reasonable chap with a can-do attitude but he was generally loathed by the regional CFOs - they felt threatened by the fact he actually knew a few things about computers.

    The IT environment was a solid UNIX one (7 regional offices, nearly a thousand desktops and about 2 dozen servers of various kinds) and ran smoothly with desktops being a mix of Apple and NeXT. It was managed centrally by 3 people.

    As things heated up politically, our management (CEO and CFOs) started pushing the upcoming Windows 95 OS as "inevitable" and even hired a consulting firm to rubber stamp the decisions they were going to force on the CIO. The CIO and his 3 IT staff got wind of this and made a stand, telling management that cutting over to an new/unproven and sketchy (do you *remember* Win 95?) OS was suicide. We were told our input was not required and that they were going to go Win 95 with or without us and the changeover would happen within a week (this was May 1995).

    In rapid succession, 3 things occurred: 1) The entire IT staff quit cold turkey, 2) the existing systems were turned off (literally unplugged, database machines, email servers - the lot) by the remaining secretaries and other phone sanitizers, and 3) within less than an hour the CEO was on the phone to the head CFO and his 7 dwarves asking why the company could no longer book media time (where the real money comes from in an ad agency) or send a simple email. Chaos. Schadenfreude indeed.

  52. ps2os2

    Not exactly offshore (but we were). In the early 70's I was in the Army and was doing technical support for 7 days (12 hours) 7 days off. I was coming to the end of my tour (Army promised 6 months early out). I took it. The Army did not have a replacement for me in Europe. The army tried to have the 6 months early out revoked. Unknown to the Army I was aware of the shenanigans and I got a new set of orders cut with the previous dates. The Army stuck me with a mail clerk to train in 7 days. He did not know a computer if he saw one. I was used to having pressure on me to resolve issues so production could get out. I tried to tell the major that the guy couldn't do a mail clerks job let alone debug a dump. The day before I left they took another swing at me to stay. I looked the recruiter in the face and told him I would be making 7 times what I was making in the Army and I didn't have to salute people I didn't respect. The next morning a friend drove me to Frankfurt. I kept in touch with some friends to hear what happened. The place was in havoc, they had to fly a person in from the states to take my place. I laughed at all the money I was making and not saluting people anymore.

  53. ecofeco Silver badge

    HA!

    I've been through this TWICE! No wait. 3 times! No wait. 4 times!* And each time exactly the same thing happened. Pain was felt and the vendor was eventually kicked to the curb.

    But it's MY work ethic that's wrong, innit?

    Idiots.

    * I'm surprised I'd forgotten most of them!

  54. Ashto5

    IP is all you have why give it away?

    Your IP is all you have NEVER train your replacement.

    A company i worked for as feelance no longer required mine and 2 others services as "they dont need us anymore" they now employ 19 permies to do the work and they are failing

    , they also use offshore and thats not working either.

    If you think a professional is expensive, try using an amateur

    1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Re: IP is all you have why give it away?

      I worry about the amount of stuff in my corner of the network that only I know about. If something happened to me... But no one else is interested, management or colleagues. And it would be their problem, not mine, if I'm not there for whichever reason. By the way, this also applies to me "wasting" time writing proper documentation: they don't like that either. This paragraph doesn't count......

  55. johnmc

    Worked for a telco, but long since retired. We had the contract to support the US Navy's telecom requirements on Ford Island, Hawaii. Big bucks.

    The technical manager was told his services were no longer required. He punched out full retirement. A month later the company was in a panic. The contract required a specific set of technical expertise that could not be found elsewhere. Bottom line -- He came back with a 30% boost in pay, He got to keep his lump sum payout and they set the close on years of service to the date of severance forcing the company to pay him yet again in the future.

    Ka Ching!

  56. Giovani Tapini Silver badge

    Bit late now

    but all these stories have a theme, that employees can be ASSETS to the company. Albeit most places also employ a chocolate teapot... The value of these assets is infrequently and ineffectively measured, only the headline cost...

  57. Tarjia477

    Institutionalised Revolving Doors

    I worked for the NHS at a Hospital in 1991 that was one of the first Hospitals to become a "Trust". Not a day passed whereby the staff were all threatened with the consequences if any of us spoke to the press about it not working, we would loose our jobs. Perhaps if someone had managed to get their head above the pulpit things to do with the NHS would be quite different now

  58. Peak2Peaks

    Peak2Peaks

    I have been made redundant before.

    I took my redundancy gracefully and did not for one moment consider a vendetta against my previous employer. So why is that? Perhaps, during my tenure, they treated me better than the example given above? Or maybe, for some of us, whatever hits us, we have a sense of morality? Perhaps the company given above should have sought to communicate better with the grieving staff?

    Surely in any relationship, whether: co-habiting partners, parents and children, best friends, employer and employee, etc. there should surely be multiple levels of communication before "all out war"?

  59. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Its a laugh isn't it

    My previous company was swallowed by a Huge Multinational, apparently, they liked our time to market and ethos. Of course, we will want you to work the way we work and here is a load of managers over you and procedure manuals to read.

    Have a paltry retention bonus tied to 2 Years - repayable in full anytime before the end (with me repaying the Tax obviously).

    So the inevitable happens and time to market flattens and all the joy left the company and group's offshore developers are circling to help/hinder etc and I have the conversation with the PFY, that went like this. "I'm leaving and this is how much I'm on, make sure you at least double what you're on (he didn't have a retention bonus) and ask for this as well - good luck".

    So my notice goes in 1.5 years after the takeover and they put me on garden leave for 2 of the 3 months notice period - because my documentation was that good? , they then don't pay me for the final two months while they recoup the retention bonus (told you it was a paltry retention bonus) and i laughed like a madman.

    I started my new job 2 days after the last possible day anyone could have thought I still owed them any time and my new company presented me with signing on bonus that paid off my "retention bonus" with something nice to spare (this time on a 2 year proportionally earned clause).

    My PFY is still there and we enjoy our updates, he did very well out of it and enjoys regaling me with stories of the offshore developers missing targets as he is currently on legacy projects while doing pluralsight training. My old department is now managed by a contractor even though it's against the parent companies rules for contractors to be in charge of permanents.

    The multinational is "too big to fail", but my old companies trading website hasn't been updated since I left except for a new privacy policy, I can get in as a customer!.

  60. A. N. Onymouse

    ... and sometimes make a lot of money fixing it

    My contract with a large company was coming to an end and my replacement was a 'young whizz kid' with computers (I'm in my 50s). I had to train him to maintain a multi-user database I had brought up to date from a single user text front end to a multi user, concurrent, graphical Java-based front end (worth noting that I was not allowed to touch the underlying database structure, just build a front end)

    Turns out that Whizz-Kid means a cheap graduate with a great looking CV but no real life experience. I handed over my notes, procedures etc, did the training handover and moved on to another contract.

    Just over 3 months later it all went wrong and I got the panic call. Recent graduate had changed the code then left and left everything in a mess. It turns out that he didn't understand a lot of stuff like threading, locks and synchronization.

    Or back ups.

    Rather than admit it he hid the problems until they became too big to hide and then bolted.

    I boosted my hourly rate to eye-watering levels and spend a couple of months fixing the mess and ended up with a regular contact to do a health check.

  61. andyL71

    We got the heads up when we found our IT manager, who had previously never given a fudge, "taking notes" in the server room. As soon as he was away, we removed the labels from 8 racks of servers. This made it very difficult for him to put together any kind of documentation to go to outsource bidders, without involving us in the process. Which put us in the position of exposing the weaknesses in the tenders, and surfacing the real costs.

    IT manager got punted a few months later.

  62. PeterM42
    Thumb Up

    Best I ever did after being made redundant...

    ......was to take on some work for the old company on a group of their customers and promptly gave some of the work to my old companies service engineers and to a friend of mine (who got paid!). Nice little profit, though!

  63. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I was working at a sweat shop whose mgr was a asshole to me .. On my last day I managed to erase boot partitions on many of the front end Linux servers knowing if a reboot was done they would never come back up and no one knew how to recover without hours of re-installations. I logged in from vms that I later destroyed to erase evidence trail.

    don't fuck with software developers. We own you bitches .

    1. gnasher729 Silver badge

      If anyone from your old company reads this, they know who you are. What you did was major criminal damage to their systems. You shouldn't be surprised if they asked someone to do major criminal damage to your knee caps. Obviously not know, may one or two years from now so there is no visible connection.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019