June 13, 2008

Life in Big Business

Buon giorno. I should have Neil write this because it's his story, but he's too busy trying to make money to pay the bills. As for me, I'm in a better mood because some money has come to me that I've been waiting a long time to have.

Neil works for a major American corporation. It's very big, and has international holdings. They complained that in their last quarter, they did not make as many tens of millions of dollars as they expected. Poor darlings! Neil says that this company is too big and too impersonal. I agree. The problem is, that's the way most of them get.

His company does not care about its employees. They make a pretense at benefits because they could not get anyone to work there if they did not offer them (and their health benefits are laughable; many employees rely on their spouses for health coverage). They cut out the overtime that many employees relied on to survive. Instead, they will have to learn the hard way that there is too much work, too little time to do it and it will lead to the company having to pay many large fines.

There are many irritations that show that this company does not care about the people that make it wealthy. An incident yesterday really set Neil off. One of his co-workers who has been there for over a decade was removed. (Well, they said "laid off". That's different from being terminated. Termination indicates that you are bad. A layoff is a nice way of saying, "Get lost, we don't need you anymore".) There were two others that were laid off, but they were in another office and he did not know them.

Now, this lady had been a good worker and learned many facets of the organization. So, she must have been making a halfway decent wage. When the company decided to do cutbacks, they not only eliminated the overtime, but eliminated jobs as well. She was caught in a "business decision".

Frankly, they've learned poorly from the Mafia (let's pretend that they really do exist). The half-assed ruthlessness of "nothing personal, it's only business" is coupled with incompetence. Organized crime does not accept incompetence. I've heard it said that the "business decision" and "nothing personal" line is crapola. When you lose your job, it's very personal. They're playing fast and loose with people's lives.

I detest the term, "Human Resources". What is a resource? Something that you use up, squeeze dry, throw away and find another. And now we have departments set up to officially drain you dry.

The cazzo bean counters in accounting don't care about the effects on people. They are only interested in making the fastest grotzits possible, and are unaware of long-term effects. Neil has already met people that are angry about the unjust removal of employees. They do not accept the "business decisions", and are less willing to work as hard because, frankly, hard work and loyalty are not rewarded. Well, sometimes they are, but it's just window dressing.

Businesses like this give Capitalism a bad name.

Let's end this comedy with an un-funny and actually somewhat touching moment from the end of National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. Mr. Shirley, the boss, suspended Christmas bonuses and did not tell anyone. Then he had to look the Griswolds in the eye. He said, "Sometimes things look good on paper, but lose their luster when you see how it affects real folks. I guess a healthy bottom line doesn't mean much, if to get it you have to hurt the ones you depend on. It's people that make the difference."

I'd like that carved into the concrete of every business.

There are successful businesses that are good to their employees, so it's not just a "business decision". These companies know the realities of having people work for them. Neil's company is a Fortune 500 business, but it's not in the top 100 "best companies to work for" lists.

Let me leave you with another quote: "If you give your employees your best, they'll give you their best." — Lee Iacocca

June 9, 2008

Obnoxious Fox

Buon giorno. You're traveling through a realm of annoyance. It is a realm that lies at the summit of man's irritation or the pit of his tolerance. It is a journey through a land of both ego and pride, of stupidity and ignorance. Arrogance is paramount. Introspection is rare. There's a signpost up ahead. Your next stop: The Obnoxious Zone.

OK, enough of the bad Twilight Zone introduction re-write. But I had to blow off some steam. Very rough weekend, especially with the brutal heatwave. Tommy the Knocker has put dry ice in front of his fan, it's so bad. Maybe if it didn't hit six weeks before the usual time, it would be easier to tolerate.

Yours truly has had to do some self-examination. Do I trash something that I like because of the people associated with it? That's what it comes down to. You see, I'm more than fed up with the "Spread Firefox" community. Basically, it's full of virgin geeks doing their "Yeah! Firefox rocks, dude!" rhetoric. And those kinds of cheer leading squads do not accept anything less than total agreement and encouragement.

I was a member of that community, but various responses to questions that I had asked, and others had asked, were sorely lacking. Did you notice the lack of "Get Firefox" buttons to click? I took them down because I was so angry at that crowd. The final straw was when a post I had made there about being intrusive (and linking to this post) mysteriously disappeared. Not that there was anything wrong with it, they had it up for a month or so, but it vanished. And posts before and after it were still there. Can't stand for anything less than enthusiastic agreement, Fox Fans?

The anger was so intense that I was about to delete Firefox itself. That's when I had to remember to practice what I preach: the representatives of an organization, movement, religion or whatever do not necessarily mean that the thing is bad in and of itself. I know people who hate Christianity because of bad Christians. No, the Bible is true and Christ has risen. Joe Superchristian is a phony, sure. He's also human and makes mistakes. But that's no reason to disbelieve in God, for instance. And I had to remember that I like Firefox better than the alternatives, not to delete it because of its fan geeks.

Maybe some of them will see this post. But I hope that the problems that I illustrate here will help show examples of how not to act. The first lesson is that you won't learn much from people that agree with you! And cowardly deleting postings in a public forum that pretends to encourage discussion will not accomplish anything. Except, perhaps, of having people like me delete their accounts and ceasing to aggressively spread "the word".

By the way. Fans of the Opera browser have done some very sneaky and underhanded things to promote their favorite software. So don't you guys get all excited about this post. Your time may still come.

Now I'm going to comment on some of the "Quick Wins"  (this is gone after a site overhaul) that were posted (and my comments were deleted after a month, as I said before). There are some good ones in there, so I won't mention those. And this time, I'm not going to be as gentile as I was in their forum, because this is my Weblog. Capice?

Go to a local computer store such as Best Buy, CompUSA or Fry’s. Open Notepad on one of the display machines and leave a short advertisement for Firefox. Is it just me, or would that be annoying and make people unwilling to try Firefox?

Earn yourself 10 affiliate points today. Send a letter to your local or campus newspaper about Firefox. They've always been dodgy about how to get the points, who assigns them, or whatever. Besides, they're only for "bragging rights", and, therefore, worthless.

Leave a post-it note on the desk of a random person in your office that you don’t know that says “getfirefox.com”. Don’t sign it. How tacky is this?

Leave a note in your mailbox telling your mailman about Firefox. Too bad people don't know that postal carriers are (theoretically) supposed to remove things from mailboxes that are not mail. Also, the carrier is there to deliver mail. I really don't think that she's all that interested in her next browser.

Eat out tonight. When you pay the bill, leave the waiter a monetary tip and a handwritten tip to the tune of “getfirefox.com”. As above, the server isn't interested in Internet stuff. This one isn't quite as bad, especially if there is indeed a monetary tip involved.

Print out three copies of this Firefox datasheet and pin it to three bulletin boards in your town. Think: community centers, gyms, workplaces, Jamba Juice… Is that effective, or is it just littering? After all, again, you have to be selective in where you put things. You decide.

There is no urgency. Lives are not at stake. Firefox is a great browser and thrives on people spreading its word. I'll still do it, but I will no longer be involved in the Spread Firefox "community".

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to reorder my Stormbringer Productions brochures. You see I have to edit out that part about "member of Spread Firefox". Arrivederci.

Addendum 6-10-2008: There are some serious people at Spread Firefox that are trying to make that community thing work, and I have been contacted by a couple of them, assuring me that my posts have not been deleted or targeted. It's a bug in the system.

Addendum 6-15-2008: I'm certain that I've ruffled a few Firefox feathers. If this fox wants to be fair and balanced, fans should do a search in the box at the top of the page for my positive references to Firefox.

Subscribe in a reader