Capn's Blog

Friday, November 11, 2005

The Job Now Sucks[tm], starting today

After the dramas I had in 2001 of being owed a shedload of money, and being out of work for nearly a year, I developed a metric of how well I'm going in a particular job.

In essence, the first day you start, you should be able to say "The Job Doesn't Suck Yet". And hopefully, that will continue each day thereafter. If you can't say it, it's time to start thinking about your options.

In part it borrows from a theory someone (Ken) told me at HP: When you start a job, you get an imaginary jar of jellybeans. The jar can't be refilled, and every time something crap happens, you take out a jellybean. When the jar is empty, your time in that job is over.

I guess both "Doesn't Suck Yet" and "can't be refilled" are acknowledgements that there's a use-by date on every job. Jobs for life are gone forever, and the biggest non-financial difference between a contract position and a permanent one is that you know the end date on a contract ahead of time.

The previous job, I could honestly say it Didn't Suck Yet until that fateful day when the axings happened. Hmm, not a bad way to go.

This job? Well then. Until yesterday, I could say it Didn't Suck Yet. Starting from now on, I'm fairly sure we've reached that watershed moment when the job sucks.

I was hired not just as a software engineer, but as an expert in open source and free software. At the time, the phrase on the lips of management was that we would "establish an Open Source Centre of Excellence". Linux was seen as suitable software for our products, we'd use it to make a platform others would want to do value-adds for, and we'd get cred for being a savvy company.

At every step of the way, I have tried to clue management into what OS&F software means: It's not just software falling free out of the sky, but a legal obligation to pass it on. If you can wear that, fine. If not, don't use it!!

Well, now we have software products in the market that mgmt has known since the beginning has open source software inside it. And that source hasn't been published, nor have we made an offer to make it available on request.

Up until now, I have been more or less happy to continue on the basis of:

  • Management can't be expected to make good decisions with bad information, and
  • We've been too busy to look at compliance so far.

Well now the time has come. And mgmt have been told what they have to do (it's not that hard). But after hearing it, mgmt have said "we're not going to do it, we'll hide behind lawyers".


The GPL works on copyright. Not complying is a clear breach of copyright laws. What that means is that this company's business model is (in terms of IP) no different to a bunch of guys who illegally copy DVDs to sell at the market.

How dodgy is that!

If I wanted to work for a company that was unethical, I could have gone to work for Tattersalls. Lucky me, now I get to work for a company that is knowingly doing things both unethical and illegal.

One thing I've really enjoyed is working as part of a first rate team. My three colleagues simply excel. And mgmt knows it. We're their darlings because we just get on with it and deliver.
And we're being given more and more responsibility outside of development as a tacit admission that the other sections of the company are disfunctional and unfixable. Hah, easier just to shove stuff off to those trojans in the embedded team!

So, the frightening developments in IP and the increasingly disfunctional nature of the organisation means that The Job Now Sucks[tm].



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