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What color are you?

By Signal 11 in Op-Ed
Sat Aug 25, 2001 at 10:49:14 AM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)

Most of the geeks I know are blue right now. Several people I chat with regularily online are dealing with bouts of depression. The job market has disintegrated, many of us are out of a job, or engaged in temporary employment, trying to make ends meet. The tech sector has been one of the hardest hit by the recession, and is tightly tied to the volatile NASDAQ stock market - which has been moving downward since spring of this year. What is happening to us?

My own story - in february, I was laid off from a dot com - the entire operation crashed, the 'burn rate' was too high. My attempts to find new employment have thus far failed - I was temporarily employed doing helpdesk work for just over two months before the under-staffing crunch and high stress forced me to walk off the job. Since then, I have remained unemployed. I have given up on computers as a career choice for now, and am exploring alternatives with the help of my family and friends. It's been a long haul, and the lack of money, and focus in my life has dragged on me enormously. My geek friends aren't alone... one of my friends hit rock bottom about four months ago; I heard he was nearly ready to break down and cry a few times. Now he is slowly digging himself out of his "rut". He's still pretty low-key, and doesn't have the energy to maintain either his computers or his living space. He worries about his job, and I can't blame him. I've sent out hundreds of resumes, to date - nothing. His skillset is comparable to my own - 5+ years in the industry, with a solid background in technical support and networking. A year ago, recruiters were calling us; today, we don't even get a return phone call.

On IRC, where I frequent #kuro5hin, I have seen several people remark at the depths of their depression - programmers who can't get into the mood to code and instead surf the 'net all day, or idle on IRC, friends of mine who have online diaries that detail their fall from grace, and one aquaintance I know online who, in a fit of anger, smashed their keyboard to pieces - the resulting logfile contained a string of 'ddddddddddFF$$$T' ... followed by a timeout error. I haven't heard from him since.

I don't know what's going on - is this widespread? I hear stories from my friends still 'on the frontline' of a mass exodus from California where the job market has completely collapsed - geeks are moving east. Economic indicators for the tech sector continue to push lower - Exodus just reported filing for bankrupcy, according to a CNN report I watched on TV yesterday. Major ISPs are also on the brink - even the 'baby bells' are starting to feel the heat, and are searching desperately for ways to remain profitable.

Is the geek community entering its own Great Depression?

I don't feel it is an isolated case... I think a lot of us are feeling depressed, or angry, disillusioned, and just negative about life in general. Browsing Kuro5hin's own diaries, I see a lot of stories of people who are stressed about losing their job, or have already, amongst many other personal problems. Is it a trend? I don't know, I'm putting this article out as a call for more information... where is our community at? Scotty, what's left?


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Display: Sort:
What color are you? | 148 comments (148 topical, editorial, 0 hidden)
*Takes a good look* (3.91 / 12) (#1)
by caine on Fri Aug 24, 2001 at 09:46:57 PM EST

Kinda pinkish I have to say.


Crying? (3.33 / 6) (#2)
by johnjtrammell on Fri Aug 24, 2001 at 09:55:35 PM EST

My geek friends aren't alone... one of my friends hit rock bottom about four months ago; I heard he was nearly ready to break down and cry a few times. Now he is slowly digging himself out of his "rut".
You and your friend are probably going through something like mourning for your lost jobs. A good cry would do you both some good -- why hold it in?

Crying isn't for everyone... (2.50 / 2) (#4)
by seebs on Fri Aug 24, 2001 at 10:08:55 PM EST

Not all people grieve best in the same way. Most people who don't want to cry will be happier, in the long run, if they don't.

[ Parent ]
Humor is a great defense mechanism... (4.00 / 1) (#64)
by Duke Machesne on Sat Aug 25, 2001 at 07:02:32 PM EST

for those so inclined, of which I happen to be one. When in doubt, write that fucker off and grin! Now, for the less sarcastic crowd, all this crying business may be a very tender healing experience, but if your way of easing the pressure is by stepping back and laughing, sitting around sobbing for an hour or two makes you feel real warm and cuddly until you realize you're rendered utterly defenseless. Uh-oh.

Now, I've tried all the latest greatest hippie-dippie psychology-- let it all out & climb back into mummie's womb for a bit, but it doesn't work for Zen Buddhists or Dodgey Fuckers.


(by the way, anyone can tell a snake from a dragon, but you cannot fool a Zen monk)

[ Parent ]

HAHAHAHAHA (4.33 / 24) (#3)
by DesiredUsername on Fri Aug 24, 2001 at 10:01:04 PM EST

*wipes eyes*

Recession? Depression? "Geeks hit hard"? Tell it to Katz.

Better yet, tell it to anybody not in the tech industry. Or somebody who was in the tech industry prior to 1997. They'll tell you that a slim margin of reality has returned, not that the world has crashed down around us. $100K/yr for "web designers" their first year out of college? $200K/yr for 22 year-old "consultants" who wouldn't know IP from IPX without checking their notes from last years "Networking 101" college course?

Welcome back to the real world, my naive friend.

Play 囲碁
Production bitches.... (4.50 / 4) (#9)
by regeya on Fri Aug 24, 2001 at 10:51:31 PM EST

...They'll tell you that a slim margin of reality has returned, not that the world has crashed down around us. $100K/yr for "web designers" their first year out of college?

Heh, no shit. Most "web designers" I've run into that make that kinda dough don't have 1/100th the skill the folks running kuro5hin have (hell, I've seen some $30k/page sites that were 100% static HTML...no joke...and at that, were put together with nifty HTML editors). To tell you the truth, I've met people who are little more than "production bitches" (thanks for the term, Skippy :-) doing production work on Web pages for ridiculous sums of money.

Then there's guys like me, making $8/hour to do more work than they do. Damn people realizing the value of for-print production! :-) Maybe I'm bitter because I've had the 10,000th argument explaining why, no, you can't use The GIMP for serious preprint work. :-)

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
[ Parent ]

Funny how nothing changes (4.66 / 3) (#22)
by pmacko on Sat Aug 25, 2001 at 02:43:49 AM EST

Maybe I'm bitter because I've had the 10,000th argument explaining why, no, you can't use The GIMP for serious preprint work

In another time, in another life ('93, working as a prepress artist) I remember what a waste of time it was to convince customers and management that Corel Draw and MS Publisher were not viable tools to create art destined for high-quality printing. Usually it was easier to just refactor the artwork in a real tool.

[ Parent ]
I used to get so pissed (4.66 / 3) (#29)
by Skippy on Sat Aug 25, 2001 at 09:27:58 AM EST

about the MS Publisher crowd. What really frosts me is that MS sells publisher as a serious DTP tool and people believe it. Then they take their Publisher file to a pre-press/press or hell, even Kinko's, and they get told its not. They get pissed and shitty and the poor person who's just doing their job gets all kind of crap.

I don't know if it will help anyone but it is possible to print an MS Publisher file on anything that accepts CMYK Postscript but they are shit outta luck (or were the last time I checked) if they wanted separations. They can load the Adobe PS printer driver and obtain the ppd for the closest thing to their final output they can. They can then use the special output to service provider (or something like that) to generate a PS file which you can usually get to print on most CMYK machines, although usually with abysmal results. YMMV.

# I am now finished talking out my ass about things that I am not qualified to discuss. #
[ Parent ]

Heh. (none / 0) (#70)
by regeya on Sat Aug 25, 2001 at 09:47:50 PM EST

We have a customer who not only does her own work in Word, but runs out 4-color stuff on a 600dpi inkjet printer. And she's determined that she's supplied "camera-ready" work. Except, of course, that she's made changes since the last time she printed, and she's too lazy to change them herself on the computer. Just poke a coupla buttons and you have it fixed, right? So then we re-set everything she's done, and she has a fit because she's supplied "camera-ready" stuff. So then we use her stuff. And she bitches because it "looks like shit!!!" And there's no convincing her that she's not helping matters by bringing her piss-poor-quality printout.


It's true; nothing changes.

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
[ Parent ]

No problem (4.00 / 1) (#28)
by Skippy on Sat Aug 25, 2001 at 09:15:56 AM EST

Glad I could bring some joy to your day :-) I don't even really do design anymore and it pisses me off when I see someone who spent 10 minutes with the Frontpage manual actually making money doing shitty static pages. What's even worse is when one of their clients asks me what I think of their page. I have yet to find a nice way of saying you got ripped off BADLY.

BTW, just visited Linuxdrivel. Why do want to do all that without an SQL server? Just curious.

# I am now finished talking out my ass about things that I am not qualified to discuss. #
[ Parent ]

Prior to 1997... (4.40 / 5) (#31)
by ucblockhead on Sat Aug 25, 2001 at 10:52:13 AM EST

Yep. I entered the tech industry in 1987. This is not the worst tech employee recession I've personally seen. That was in around '90 or so, when the shrinking defense industry flooded the market with programmers.

This is no depression. It is just normality. The tech employment market was in a bubble because of two things, Y2K and the "new economy". Well, Y2K has come and gone, and the "new economy" turned out to be just like the old one.

I do feel for the kids who entered the workforce in the late nineties, and think that that was the way it was supposed to be, with bidding wars over employees and jobs far the asking. It was a whole different deal when I graduated from college. Jobhunting was hard, frustrating work, you sent out hundreds of resumes, and saw them ignored. and then when you finally got a job, it was for low-end wages.
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]

Sheesh, you must be employed. (3.50 / 2) (#49)
by EriKZ on Sat Aug 25, 2001 at 03:38:46 PM EST

Yeah, although I didn't expect to be making 60k out of college, I DID expect to be able to find a job. I went back to college after my stint in the AF and finished my degree. I've been using computers since the TRS-80 (Which I learned C on) and now....


I'm working in a warehouse for 7 bucks an hour because I don't qualify for "Entry level" jobs. Very few computer jobs are entry level to begin with. All of them want some amount of previous work experience and some of them want 4+ years in the skill they're looking for! In an entry-level position!

This is normal you're saying!? I can open the paper and find 20+ jobs for a Registered Nurse. All you need is the degree. The single computer oriented add wants "Oracle experience, PDA programming experience, client server experience, C++, JAVA..."

So screw you buddy. I can do any real entry-level job, from programming to hardware to data entry. How many months do you think a person can survive without a job after getting out of college?

It took me two weeks before I could even get a temp job, it wasn't because I wanted at least 8$ an hour (To prevent me from using my credit cards for food), it was because there was nothing there for them to give me.


I'm not depressed though. I'm sure I'll find something to live off of. Then I can work on things I'm interested in. My identity isn't wrapped up in my ability to work with computers or how much money I make. Which I believe is a problem with some of the people here.

[ Parent ]
Perfectly normal (3.00 / 2) (#54)
by DesiredUsername on Sat Aug 25, 2001 at 04:17:00 PM EST

"I'm working in a warehouse for 7 bucks an hour because I don't qualify for "Entry level" jobs. Very few computer jobs are entry level to begin with. All of them want some amount of previous work experience and some of them want 4+ years in the skill they're looking for! In an entry-level position!

This is normal you're saying!?"

That's exactly what I'm saying. When I moved to Bellingham, WA (a college town) in 1995 there were people with Master's degrees (in useful topics like business) weeding in a greenhouse. My first job out of college was in my field (essentially because I didn't leave school until I landed one). What was the salary? $22,000/yr (which is about $12/hr). On the low end of the entry level programmer back then, but not by much (I remember a "lucky" classmate who started out at $25k). I was laid off from that 9 months later and was unemployed for about 1 month. I started at something like $37.5k at the next one--and we were paid just below industry average. When I left in 1999 I was getting $45k. Now I'm up to $55k--which is doing VERY well for someone my age in any other industry.

How do I know $55k is doing well? Because I'm only 28, have a wife and two kids, bought a (reasonably-sized) house, have two cars and still have money for pizza, movies and books. On one salary.

As for "minimum requirements"--try applying anyway. The people who write those things are idiots. I know, I've been on both sides.

Play 囲碁
[ Parent ]
$55k/yr (4.85 / 7) (#59)
by ucblockhead on Sat Aug 25, 2001 at 06:09:06 PM EST

Let's just make sure that everyone here is cognizant of the fact that the average family (not person, family) in the US pulls in $44k/yr

I think a lot of young white single males need to bear that in mind when spinning woe-is-me tales.
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]

$60k? Geez... (4.50 / 2) (#57)
by ucblockhead on Sat Aug 25, 2001 at 06:03:55 PM EST

You know, my first "real" job was for only $25k (in Southern California, too, not someplace "cheap to live"), and it took over a year after getting my degree to land that. In the meantime, I was stuck scrounging together cash from parttime contracting work, mostly from an asshole who didn't pay on time.

That was in 1988. Damn kids don't know how good they've got it today.
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]

Color? Gray. (4.16 / 6) (#5)
by danceswithcrows on Fri Aug 24, 2001 at 10:15:01 PM EST

Personally, I'm depressed. That's been the case since... oh, 1987 or so. You get used to it after a while. However, I have a job doing geek things, and I don't think I will be fired anytime soon. (I have enough money to live on for ~3.5 months readily accessible, of course.) The small company I work for has had a net gain of 1 full-time programmer, 1 manager, one tech writer/junior coder/PFY/JOAT, and one sysadmin in the last year. And somehow, we bring in enough money to keep the thing afloat.

Of course, in the same time frame, we fired one programmer since he was doing nothing but slacking off all day, and one manager quit because of job stress and personality conflicts. Pretty normal, I guess.

The company is privately owned, so there are no hordes of mooing, panicky stockholders to satisfy. I'm sure that if we had gone public, the NASDAQ panic would've led to a number of really silly decisions being made, like "Fire $PERSON! He works really weird hours and always wears T-shirts!" when said person is the best VC++ person we have. I think the search for vulture capital/public ownership that so many dot-bombs went through actually crippled some viable/nifty business plans because of the herd mentality among investors. (There's probably an article in that, but I don't have the energy to go do research right now.)

Things are going all right in the job market for me and the other 7 geek-types who work at the company. Things are going all right for several other geeks I know, who do sysadmin stuff for a bank and a university. That's all I can say for sure. I guess my experience is the exception to the rule, or possibly Michigan has a different economic climate than California right now....

Matt G (aka Dances With Crows) There is no Darkness in Eternity/But only Light too dim for us to see

not really an excuse. (4.40 / 10) (#6)
by Defect on Fri Aug 24, 2001 at 10:23:44 PM EST

A lot of 'geeks' (don't bitch about the terminology) seem to get in a job where they can immediately apply their skills and then everything else they know falls through the cracks over time. Tech is a ridiculously fast paced field, and if you don't keep up then you're old news and you get replaced as soon as possible.

I'm just reporting on what i see, and with the people i've known, they don't seem to realize that almost every tech job is inherently temporary unless they keep learning a lot. You are really forced to not only work with computers for your job, but also use them as a hobby just to dip into new technology as it comes about. The way i see it, the only people who will stay on top in the tech field are the hardcore geeks who are passionate about computers and keep on soaking in information.

I'm young, and i haven't experienced this gigantic, all encompassing layoff yet, but i'm fairly confident i won't have a problem when it happens (shit. no wood to knock on). I've focused on an immense amount of effort on learning as much as i possibly can in a fairly wide area (web development), from server adminstration, to backend programming with databases, to the graphics and client side scripting on the other end. I would have been out of a job 8 months ago if i hadn't taken it upon myself to become familiar with xml terminology and its various uses, but since i did, i was able to bullshit my way through meeting after meeting and eventually became lead developer of a huge web integration project. Will it even use xml? Probably not, i see absolutely no need for it, but knowing what all the (dilbert-esque) higher ups are talking about makes it easier to know what you should be feeding them.

Hell, it's like giving candy to babies. Rich, stupid babies who like very shiny candy.

As for the depression side of it, it's really not surprising. When you sit online almost every waking moment of the day, your social skills suffer a tiny bit. There is so much to get pissed about when using computers that it's almost mind boggling that the entire geek community hasn't slit their wrists yet. Is there a compromise between being passionate enough about computers to keep jobs and having a worthwhile life? Probably, but fuck if i know what it is.
defect - jso - joseth || a link
Drinking Jack, Jacking Off (4.50 / 8) (#7)
by localroger on Fri Aug 24, 2001 at 10:24:15 PM EST

...and wondering what all the fuss is about. My company can't seem to find enough people and the people we have are run ragged as a result. Of course, it's a blue collar company, a regional distributor of products produced by manufacturers all over the world. "Customer service" in our case often involves jacks, cranes, and a 55,000 lb test truck. It also involves electronics and data collection, which is how I got here. And bidness isn't slow. Bidness is better than ever.

My base salary looks crappy compared to what 22yo web designers were earning at the height of the Dot Bomb Boom, but I am a blue collar employee which means I get overtime for work after 40 hours a week and double time on Sundays and holidays. If I worked the hours a lot of programmers worked, I'd be making $100K+ a year too. But in Louisiana, or many other places in the southern US, $40K a year goes further than $150K would in Los Angeles. For one thing rent or a mortgate is likely to be US$600-1000 for a modest single-family abode rather than the $1500-$3000 per month in some of the busier tech centers. And that's not even to get into groceries, or good take-out food.

In fact, I hardly noticed the dot-bomb. I'm busier than ever and pulling down more overtime and mileage than I have in my 16 years working in this industry. Lots of that is due to the backlog from unnecessary but synchronized Y2K-inspired upgrades. I have also managed to bring a whiff of innovation to this stagnant backwater industry which is causing some other stuff to bust loose. At work I'm the proverbial one-legged guy in a butt kicking contest and I'm holding my own against five two-legged opponents. My color is green -- light green, perhaps, but much greener than blue.

I can haz blog!

I Use to Wonder Why I Hung Out on K5 (2.00 / 2) (#81)
by snowlion on Sun Aug 26, 2001 at 04:10:23 AM EST

Now I know.

"At work I'm the proverbial one-legged guy in a butt kicking contest and I'm holding my own against five two-legged opponents."

The Black Knight Always Triumphs!

Map Your Thoughts
[ Parent ]
Not doing too bad here. (2.80 / 5) (#8)
by RangerBob on Fri Aug 24, 2001 at 10:36:49 PM EST

I dunno, aside from the dotcom busts, I can scan Monster or regional papers and still see quite a bit of want ads for tech workers. Hell, I still get a lot of job offers even though I'm listed as prefering a root canal to database work. Just still seems to be work out there from what I can see. Then again, I might also look in different markets since I look at research work or project manager/senior software engineer.

Now, the people who I think should worry now are those with the paper certifications with no real experience. I have friends who do the hiring for several companies. They tend to avoid these like the plague, because it's mainly egos. A friend of mine just hired one who apparently was trained to believe that Microsoft's TechNet is the only source for information in the world. I think it's similar to the glut of MBA's that are out there. Companies know that a MBA is a dime a dozen anymore, there are just too many people out there.

Blue and green. (4.16 / 6) (#10)
by xj479 on Fri Aug 24, 2001 at 11:03:12 PM EST

Disillusioned with my entry level tech job of maintaining a computer lab containing a mess of NT 5.0 workstations (demo version circa July 2000) with few cisco routers (fresh out of highschool with a ccna I was promised the world), I joined the Army. After it became apparent how little certification meant without experience, an army recruiter called me during an extended lapse of judgement and told me I could be a computer analyst for the Army, where I was "needed".

I've been in a for a year now and have worked on computers for an aggregate sum of about 20 hours, but I've learned much more about human relations and bureaucracy than I ever could have learned in the private sector. It's a good distraction from depression, but it still does not provide purpose (moderate my submission!) in my life.

I really doubt that our color has anything to do with employment though. Will we ever be satisfied with our current situation? Maybe, but if we were, it wouldn't ruminate like dissatisfaction does. Hence no comments.

State of affairs (3.00 / 3) (#11)
by strlen on Fri Aug 24, 2001 at 11:10:06 PM EST

(Wow, I thought this was going to be another political correctness story!). Well I'm still employed in the IT industry, but I understand what you're talking about. I happen to reside in Sillicon Valley, and saw the effects. My friend recently moved away for instance to East Coast for a job, traveling on a broken down moving truck with his car hitched on a trailer (he couldnt afford to have it fixed), and at various points did contracts for hardware as payment for instance. And I've seem similar effects much closer to home, but that relative who shall remain anonymous has already found dream employment again. And there's nothing wrong to going out of the industry, you can always be a computer geek at home. Sig, you'd probably make a good journalist/feature writer for a magazine, for a dead-tree publication (perhaps the technology section).

[T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.
well... (2.75 / 20) (#12)
by mmcc on Fri Aug 24, 2001 at 11:31:39 PM EST

Your own well being starts and ends with you.

You're depressed? Get over it.

I've found that when i'm depressed, spending more time around computers only makes me more depressed. (Yes, i am a programmer.)

Stop whining and get out there (outside) away from your computer and do something useful.

re: well... (3.44 / 9) (#16)
by danceswithcrows on Sat Aug 25, 2001 at 12:02:19 AM EST

You're depressed? Get over it.

Sorry. *WHAP* When a person is well and truly depressed, they can't "get over it"; they frequently lack the energy to even get out of bed, or even the energy to pick up a 9mm and eat a bullet. It really does get that bad; I suggest you read some literature before spouting off about a topic you may not know much about. I can only guess that you've never been in the throes of full-blown clinical depression, or never known someone who has been.

I'd have to say "AOL!" to your comment in general, but you may want to find a better way to phrase it. And "you're" != "your".

Matt G (aka Dances With Crows) There is no Darkness in Eternity/But only Light too dim for us to see
[ Parent ]

Depression... (3.60 / 5) (#19)
by Signal 11 on Sat Aug 25, 2001 at 12:19:12 AM EST

I just rated him a 1... I didn't have the energy to respond. :)

Society needs therapy. It's having
trouble accepting itself.
[ Parent ]
hey, if you want to be nitpicky... (5.00 / 2) (#33)
by jt on Sat Aug 25, 2001 at 11:26:59 AM EST

...at least get it right:

And "you're" != "your".

He used both "your" and "you're" correctly. :P

[ Parent ]
your Grammar (none / 0) (#72)
by mmcc on Sat Aug 25, 2001 at 10:33:48 PM EST

Well, i think you're wrong, and i don't know where you learned your grammar from.

You're == you are

your == 2nd person possessive

And my colour is not important.

[ Parent ]

Nope, you're wrong (none / 0) (#87)
by smagruder on Sun Aug 26, 2001 at 02:55:39 PM EST

The poster in question did indeed use "you're" and "your" correctly. He used "you're" for "you are" and "your" as the second person possessive. If he didn't get it right, please educate us on the (i.e., your) "correct" way to do it.

Steve Magruder
True Democracy = True Freedom
[ Parent ]

d-pression (4.20 / 5) (#51)
by plastik55 on Sat Aug 25, 2001 at 03:45:59 PM EST

When a person is well and truly depressed, they can't "get over it"; they frequently lack the energy to even get out of bed, or even the energy to pick up a 9mm and eat a bullet.

I've been there. it's not pretty.

But if Signal 11 was well enough to write this article, then that means he's got enough energy to get over it. The first step in overcoming my depression was to realize that things are NOT going to get better until I started being fucking PROACTIVE about them.

There's Depression, and there "depression..." A Depressed person is in serious trouble and needs professional help and perhaps medication. A "depressed" person definitely has all the energy and willpower to get out of bed, but once she's out of bed, she wastes all of her remaining energy on complaining abot how depressed she is. The second type is far more common and is most easily dealt with by a good *WHAP* and some physical exercise (I recommend taking up a martial art.)
[ Parent ]

Chemical too (4.33 / 3) (#18)
by Jebediah on Sat Aug 25, 2001 at 12:09:24 AM EST

Going outside doesn't help everybody. I used to go outside and every time I did I just got worse. No matter how blue the sky was it was always an ash grey.

Computers, comics, games, and books helped. That was the only way I could leave my wretched reality behing. I am on Celexa now, and haven't been this good in years.

I am worried about the Tech Industry, but I also think it will get better. There are still startups here (NoCal) that are making money. Once some of the stupider companies die tech will rebound. And if it doesn't? I can write, be a bartender, be a cashier, etc, etc. People seem to be forgetting that you can work jobs that don't involve computers. Being a cashier and eating is better than being unemployed and starving.

Siggy: The Minneapolis suburbs are getting pricey. Watch out.

[ Parent ]
sure, not everybody (3.00 / 2) (#20)
by mmcc on Sat Aug 25, 2001 at 12:26:46 AM EST

But if you're claiming to be depressed, and you have enough energy to have a whine about it on K5 then i think you can do something about it.

[ Parent ]

Hard to say (none / 0) (#67)
by Jebediah on Sat Aug 25, 2001 at 08:07:19 PM EST

I think for the most part you are right: people who whine about being depressed CAN do something about it. The problem is whether they WILL do something about it. Depression can cause other behaviours that can influence this. Paranoia would be one. I believe that is why depression tends to remain so widespread (of course the church doesn't help much either).

[ Parent ]
Look at it as a good experience... (3.80 / 5) (#13)
by crcerror on Fri Aug 24, 2001 at 11:53:45 PM EST

I try my best to look at this from the angle that this is an amazing experience personally and it generally keeps me less blue than most people I know.

I grew up in this very middle class family that had it's fair share of economic troubles. At one point homeless, living in a family friends basement eating soup every day. We got out of the trouble long before I ever started working in the tech industry, but needless to say when the boom hit I was living the life and kind of making up for lost time. Partying all the time, working short hours and getting paid large amounts. It was great. Christmas bonus time would roll around and I'd jaunt off to NYC with my girlfriend for four days staying in some snooty french hotel and live it up there. I have some great memories from that and now... well, I struggle to pay bills after my large pay cut and since I'm still going to college, I'm getting this feeling that my resume get's thrown to the bottom of the piles when I send it out.

If I think about it too much it does get kind of depressing. I'm not going to get laid off, I've been assured by my company that won't happen but on the other hand, we may be closing doors in a few weeks so it doesn't matter whether or not they want to keep me: we all may be gone. My roommate is going through the same thing and he's totally depressed. Constantly whining about how broke he is and how much life sucks. But it's not over, we're in hiatus. Sure, the dotcom boom is over but the tech industry is far from dead and in the meantime, I try to remember how much fun I had during the time where I lived like a king off dotcom money. I'm only 20 but for a year and a half: I did what I wanted, when I wanted and where I wanted. It was a great experience, just as is this. This is kind of humbling, I'm remembering what it's like to worry about bills and live off cheap meals while trying to save money incase my job situation goes to crap in a month or two.

I can understand those in the community who have families worrying more than I am right now because they have other people to worry about but I've made it through worse, I've seen people go through worse and I'm sure eventually we'll all be back where we were. This is just my experience and God knows I'm still young and naive, maybe I'm being to optimistic about this all bit it helps me get by. :-)

Just my thoughts on it all.

And when you have money... (4.83 / 6) (#53)
by netmouse on Sat Aug 25, 2001 at 04:14:49 PM EST

put it away somewhere.

This post reminds me of a point about spending, saving, and debt.

The U.S. is a country that leads other countries in domestic debt. We also follow most other countries in domestic saving. This comment doesn't really help people that are at a low ebb right now, but other people have posted that they're fine. Good. Now reduce your spending by 2 CDs and 2 Movies or meals out a month and save yourself $50 a month, which adds up to $600.00 a year and that's maybe enough the ride on for rent for a month while you're in transition.

Leave it in a CD for 5% interest compounded quarterly and it's not exciting but it's also low-risk and the interest will add up quickly. If you don't want it that much out of reach, do some research and find yourself a savings account that pays good interest, or even a checking account. With a large initial deposit some banks have checking accounts that pay significant dough. (Ann Arbor Commerce Bank for instance - 4% interest annually for months that your ballance is above $1000.)

Definitely don't pay fees for checking accounts, don't pay any annual fees for credit cards, and don't pay interest on credit cards if you can help it. it's just a waste of your money.

Banks are making a lot of money off of our willingness to throw money at existing debt and our unwillingness to save.

there is a lot of amazing travel and partying you can do while still putting away money for the future. If you can, autodeposit your paycheck into the bank and have the bank automatically send some into a savings plan. It's painless: If you're not hurting for money, your spending habits will expand to fit what's available. Avoid the lifestyle push and save your money for things you really want or need. You'll thank yourself later.

This lecture was brought to you by netmouse, who remembers when people thought 17% interest was loan-sharking but notes that many credit card companies charge more than that today.

[ Parent ]

A valid defense ;-) (none / 0) (#79)
by crcerror on Sun Aug 26, 2001 at 12:33:18 AM EST

I did all that for the most part.

I got a college checking account to avoid fee's with on online bank that gave me 6% interest.

I got two credit cards (only two) that didn't have any annual fee's and kept them relatively clear.

And I did save a little from every pay check (disclaimer: not as much as I would if it happened again), however this was my fatal flaw: I invested it in the stock market. Not that it was a bad move for the long term. I didn't invest in dotcoms but still, it doesn't do me much good now. In a year or two the market will be stable again and it'll be worth something but right now when I need it, I'm kind of savingless. I don't feel it's even worth it to take it out. It's worth less now than when I put it in by a substantial amount. The smart thing would have been to put it away in a CD or just a normal savings account but live and learn I suppose. I'm not starving, so I'm not complaining.

I also don't regret spending the majority of my money. I can't say I'd do it again if I fell into another great position of making buttloads of cash tomorrow but like I said in the original post, I had a fsckin' blast being a nut and spending all my money the first time. ;-)

All of your points are quite valid though, I just wanted to post and convey the point that though I was insane and burned through a lot of money, I was at least semi-responsible while doing it. ;-)

PS: Do most banks offer the option to autoforward a set amount of cash into a savings account? I've never heard of that but it sounds like a great idea!

[ Parent ]
PS- autosavings (none / 0) (#85)
by netmouse on Sun Aug 26, 2001 at 10:59:16 AM EST

PS: Do most banks offer the option to autoforward a set amount of cash into a savings account? I've never heard of that but it sounds like a great idea!

I don't know if most banks do. Our bank in Canada does but they also do automated billing and lots of other cool things. I heard someone say recently that Canadian banks seem to be ahead of U.S. banks on computerized and networked functions, and that may be true.

If your bank doesn't offer this service, go in and suggest it. If they have a programmer in the company (and they probably do) they might consider adding that functionality. Automated processes are something computers are very good at, after all, and within the bank your money is basically numbers in the computer.

(programmers note: if you're suggesting this, you might as well point out that any such function should require a minimum ballance in the checking account money is being taken out of in order to execute.)

I hear you about the stock market. I invested in Ballard Power (BLDP) because I like their technology and wanted a long-term investment in R&D, and watched the price skyrocket the year we moved here and I didn't want to sell and risk paying short-term Canadian taxes (very high!) so I held on to see the price dip down this year with the rest of the tech sector to where it's below the price I bought it at. It's frustrating for me watching the stock analysts affect the price of that and other stocks, when the companies they're "downgrading" are still just as strong and on top of their technology as back when the market was booming.


[ Parent ]

It's not that stock prices are bad... (none / 0) (#108)
by dennis on Mon Aug 27, 2001 at 04:09:33 PM EST

...it's just that they got unreasonably high for a while. Ballard right now has a market cap over two billion dollars - not as high as the ten billion they used to have, but not bad for a development company with negative earnings!

[ Parent ]
maybe (none / 0) (#124)
by core10k on Mon Aug 27, 2001 at 11:03:34 PM EST

But definately not Scotiabank - stay far, far away from Scotiabank. Notice the ads for internet banking with them played recently? That's something entirely new for them. A good, oh, 3 years after banks with a clue started their internet services. Ugh. They're awful.

[ Parent ]
I think of myself as a muted ... (3.33 / 6) (#14)
by joegee on Sat Aug 25, 2001 at 12:01:33 AM EST

pastel paisley, with little gold flecks ...

<sig>I always learn something on K5, sometimes in spite of myself.</sig>
OK here but could be better (3.80 / 5) (#15)
by MSBob on Sat Aug 25, 2001 at 12:02:00 AM EST

I'm currently employed and even learning new things on the job. That's the good part. The bad part is that what I'm learning turns out to be less exciting than I anticipated. I think the employment situation is OK right now. Can't honestly see the difference between what we have now versus what was there when I started my career (Sept. 1996). If anything it's probably easier to get a job now. Even though there has been nearly a million layoffs this year in the US alone the number of jobs that grew since 1996 has been far more than 1 million.

I live in Canada where all the ups and downs never really reach the same amplitude as in the US so I must say I'm not that worried. I can code. I can add tangible value. As long as I'm confident that my work is useful and solves real business problems I think I've nothing to worry about. Even with all these layoffs do you believe that this world is all of a sudden going to stop using fucking computers? They are everywhere, ticket bookings, cash dispensers, superstore checkouts. It's all computers running the show these days. It's employment for life as far as I'm concerned. This fear mongering amongst professionals that the media practices together with stupid investors is obviously causing havoc but things will stabilise once those cunts realise just how much they need software. And we'll be ready to serve... At a cost.

It's not all roses for me though. My wife has recently received her Masters and is looking for her first real job. And she is into financial services which was also hit hard in this shakeout. She's got problems even getting interviews that's true. But then again she has literally zero experience in her chosen field.

Don't despair but learn some concrete skills. Being an "all round computer guy" doesn't cut it anymore. Just because you can replace a network card won't make you an attractive employee. Someone here suggested jurnalism. I think you should try since you seem to enjoy writing. If you really want a nerd's job try learning to program. It's much harder than pluggin in PCs but ultimately it's much more rewarding. Just tell yourself that you can do whatever you put your mind to. As Nike says: Just Do It. Grab gcc and find an online tutorial and start coding. What else have you got to do other than sit on your bum and complain and get more and more desperate?

I don't mind paying taxes, they buy me civilization.

An old Buddhist story... (4.36 / 22) (#17)
by Paradocis on Sat Aug 25, 2001 at 12:03:36 AM EST

There was once a farmer, who like everyone had problems in his life, and thought that the Buddha could help him find the solutions.

While the Buddha waited patiently and listened, the man explained how much he liked farming, but it sometimes it doesn't rain enough, and how last year he almost starved. The farmer went on, mentioning his wife, who he loved dearly but felt she nagged him overmuch, and his children, who didn't show him enough respect.

After he finished telling the Buddha of all his myriad problems he waited for a reponse.

"I can not help you," said the Buddha, and the man asked him what he meant, after all, the Buddha was known far an wide for his wisdom.

The Buddha continued, "Everyone has problems, in fact, everyone has 83 problems, and there's nothing we can do about it. If you work very hard on one, you might be able to fix it, but another one will only come in its place. For example, everyone will eventually lose loved ones, and eventually will themselves die. That's a problem that neither you, nor I, nor anyone else can do anything about."

The man became very angry and disappointed at the Buddha, shouting "I thought you could help me! What good is your teaching then!?"

The Buddha replied, "Well, I *can* help you with the 84th problem: You want to not have any problems."


Perhaps a lot of people seem blue... (4.28 / 7) (#21)
by Logan on Sat Aug 25, 2001 at 01:16:44 AM EST

Because unhappy people tend to be louder and better received than happy people. In fact, the happy people are probably too busy being happy to bother announcing the fact to you on IRC.

Life is great (for no particular reason right now, except I just slept really well).


unhappy people tend to be louder and better rcvd (none / 0) (#61)
by smerdyakov on Sat Aug 25, 2001 at 06:36:00 PM EST

Unhappy people who want to find some kind of solace in their depression may be better inclined receive the rants of other unhappy individuals. Happy people who have been through the same may be so inclined as well.

But I fail to see a "tendancy" per se or rather, I could justify exactly the same statement in the opposite direction. For instance, were not the writings of Jesus Christ, Buddah and Ghandi, the statements of supremely optimistic individuals? Can one argue that these "optimists", were not well received?

[ Parent ]

Irrelevant (none / 0) (#69)
by Logan on Sat Aug 25, 2001 at 09:45:06 PM EST

I don't believe that Siggy has been speaking to Jesus Christ or Buddha lately. He spoke of the complaints and trials and tribulations of people he sees online, most notably on IRC. I'm simply pointing out that online discussions tend to be a very popular place to vent frustrations, so basing one's perception of the quality of life of others on such a narrow medium is bound to produce skewed results.


[ Parent ]

Not just any blue... (4.00 / 4) (#23)
by xriso on Sat Aug 25, 2001 at 02:51:31 AM EST

A super-intelligent shade of the color blue is what I am! (or perhaps it is the color that I have)
*** Quits: xriso:#kuro5hin (Forever)
Indeed (none / 0) (#146)
by ixache on Sun Sep 02, 2001 at 06:58:56 AM EST

Wouldn't that be Screen of Death blue? I wonder...


[ Parent ]

late for the party (3.50 / 4) (#24)
by dr k on Sat Aug 25, 2001 at 03:05:57 AM EST

Damn it, here you guys are having a pity party and I was busy doing other things.

To address some of the points of this article: despite the wishes of the 45 eastern United States, there is no Californian exodus. There may be high turnover, but there are more people moving in than out. And mathematics teaches us that if we were to ever experience negative growth, we'd have to pass through a point of zero growth first.

Second, stop confusing corporate funeral wreaths with some kind of financial holocaust. Being concerned about corporate profit is something few of us can really justify. Yes, you should have some understanding of how a company makes money if you plan to take a job there. That is because that business is relevant to your life - the failure of Exodus is not.

If you really are worried about the future, hope for some bad natural disasters. Nothing like an earthquake or hurricane to create jobs and boost the economy.
Destroy all trusted users!

I'm pretty Pink right now (3.85 / 7) (#25)
by DrWiggy on Sat Aug 25, 2001 at 06:51:34 AM EST

In the UK, the IT market is still relatively healthy providing you're not in hardware retail. We're growing nicely, the UK Government will throw money at tech companies in the form of SMART awards for new product development, and our customer base are exclusively non-IT themselves, so have money to spend with us.

I suspect I'm just lucky. However, I've just had a 33% pay rise and we're about to move to new larger offices. I hope you guys over there get back on track soon, and if you're sitting around waiting for the market to come back up, living off redundancy, just remember - open source needs you.

Multi-colored :) (4.53 / 13) (#26)
by baptiste on Sat Aug 25, 2001 at 07:00:39 AM EST

It depends on the day...

Its nice to see the folks with jobs telling you to cheer up and get over it - must be nice. Or 'you should have trained more' or 'Its your own fault'

Thats all bullshit. You have a job - thank your lucky stars. I don't care HOW qualified you are. IN todays world it DOESN'T matter. You think "No problem - I get laid off, I'll have a job in a week because I'm a coding God" I hope you never have to test that theory.

The economy DOES suck. Top notch people ARE being laid off. The job market is AWFUL. The jobs are NOT there. HR departments are so innundated with applications you get NO reply from applications. NONE. You MIGHT on the rare occasion. I've seen people with top notch credentials apply to HUNDREDS of jobs and get a handful of rejections and maybe one interview. How can they apply to hundreds of jobs if there aren't any - cause they've been unemployed for MONTHs not weeks. And they are appying for anything. Entry level programmer earning 50% of what they used to make - no problem.

It IS depressing. My saga is going on its 8th month right now. The good news for me is its just about over as a job I applied for in NOVEMBER is about to come through and its a dream job for me - but I got very lucky. But those 8 months have seen me go from optomistic to super depressed. Up and down week after week. I received the highest annual review rating at my old company for 5 years in a row. I was on top, advancing quickly, and under tons of stress. I left to run a small company that lasted about a year but couldn't make it once the economy turned south - so I decided to reenter the workforce in Nov 2000.

You start out enthusiastic. You've got great skills, great resume. No problem. You apply to all sorts of jobs only to get ignored. You wonder why - You revise your resume for hte 20th time. Tweak those cover letters. Leave more voice mail with HR folks. Nothing. You get the occasional - oh that job was filled already. Or the job is on hold/frozen. My favorites are the recruiters who lead you on when they have NO jobs just to keep tabs on teh talent pool.

We are in a funk. Too bad that many folks still employed can't see it. It reall ydoes suck out here. Most of the time when folks land jobs its after a min 4 month search and often for less $$$ than they were making. I've lost count of the # of friends who have decided to explore different fields outside of technology - which to me makes no sense. If you can't get a job with all your experieince, how will you get a job in another field with no experience?

I think we'll pull out of the funk. But its going to be brutal. Unemployment continues to rise and economonic recovery or not, layoffs continue. And for those of you that are the top dogs - sure you may have nothign to worry about, but you never know. I worked at NORTEL (the company that lost 19 BILLION last quarter) and know of many friends who got axed. And they are NOT bottom feeders - we're talking top notch folks who got caught in cutting edge programs that got axed to save money - they couldn't transfer internally - no jobs. So they're on the street. I know other friends who thought they were safe (worked for a big company) till their company shut down their entire local operation and closed the office down to consolidate things. Bang. Like that.

My only advice is be prepared for LOTS of up and downs. The smallest thing will set you on a downward spiral. A bounced check, a snotty HR person, whatever. But it will get better at some point. I finally came to peace with teh fact that we'd probably lose everything. But I figured if I still had my health, family, and one laptop :) I'd be OK. I skirted the edge of the cliff - a month away from forclosure when the job offer finally came in. So I'll survive. My credit rating is trashed, but I don't expect to be needed mroe credit in teh future. My past has taught me that you can get carried away and it'll bite you in teh ass severely. I'm happy with what I've got so I'm gonna work on keeping it and paying it all off ;)

So for all of you browsing the web and passing time - more power to ya - keep the chin up and keep looking. Its sucks, big time. But in teh end something will come up. You may be set back years but then you'll just have to start over. I know my family finances are setback a good 5 years. But at some point they will recover.

Finally - the only way to stay sane - is to concentrate on teh good things with all you can muster. Its way too easy to feel worthless, like a loser that nobody wants. But don't forget - times are really tough - the downturn hit a LOT of quality people. Good times will come again. You may be in a smaller house, older car, whatever. But if your healthly and alive - so what. I'd rather be alive and in a shack than dead in a mansion :)
Top Substitutions For 'Under God' In The Pledge Of Allegiance

Getting a job in a different field... (5.00 / 2) (#90)
by chipuni on Sun Aug 26, 2001 at 09:15:13 PM EST

Congratulations on getting your job, after so many months of trying. It's horrid out there.

I have to disagree with you about the impossibility of getting a job in a different field. I've just done it: I moved from computer science to biology.


I showed employers how my experience in computer science would profit them immensely in their field.

I now have a title of 'Senior Bioinformatics Specialist' at a major pharmaceutical firm. I'm writing internal software for their research staff, to handle the gigabytes and terabytes of data that they're handling. They'll be paying for me to go back to graduate school. And... I'm loving it.

Don't be afraid to apply your talents to entirely new fields!
Perfection is not reached when nothing more can be added, but only when nothing more can be taken away.
Wisdom for short attention spans.
[ Parent ]

Career change (3.00 / 1) (#106)
by Mario on Mon Aug 27, 2001 at 02:41:45 PM EST

I know I'm lucky to have a job still, it's a decent one with an ISP that's still in business and actually making money. I have a good salary. My goal is to save up the money required to either take helicopter flight training (something I've always wanted to do) or start a business making parts for drag race cars (something I've been involved with for a long time). I am good at what I do (sun admin/architecture) but it's not what I want to do. I'm willing to take a 66% pay cut to get a job I'd really enjoy.

[ Parent ]
Trippy, Prismatic Colors, Man... (3.50 / 2) (#27)
by Anatta on Sat Aug 25, 2001 at 08:57:19 AM EST

Like some here, I'm also currently jobless... which is less than fun... I'm living at home, don't have to pay rent, have quite managable bills, and don't have to pay for food, so I can't complain.

I spend much of my days (when not on K5) going through the jobsites, shooting off resumes, calling to bother innocent HR people, etc. It's pretty depressing, but something's bound to catch eventually.

I'm also spending time attempting to get better at some skills, going through the free online tutorials or digging through books for languages I don't understand very well, and working on getting better with Linux. I try to reserve a couple hours a day for learning something... I figure when I do get a job, I won't have enough time for that kinda stuff.

Finally, I write electronic music... I was doing more dancey, "typical" stuff, but now that I'm living with my parents, I have my stuff set up at a friend's place and we've been doing experimental improvisational music... we basically just turn on our instruments, write a few sequences to start out, and then just see what happens. It's completely spontaneous and organic... It's very liberating, and very fun.

So, while I'd much rather be gainfully employed with a cool place and lots of cash to play around with, I can't complain.

On a side note, I think K5 should change its tag from "Technology and Culture from the Trenches" to "Savior of the Unemployed, Everywhere"...
My Music

Little bit tanned today (3.75 / 4) (#30)
by Sawzall on Sat Aug 25, 2001 at 10:27:50 AM EST

Since the sun was shining and I walked to/from an appointment.

Perhaps it is because I am a decade or two older than what the average seems around here, or that I already have had three totally different job paths, or that I grew up in Houston that goes through a boom/bust cycle every ten years anyhow, but whatever the reason: Everything will work out if you let it.

Cut while the hay is high cause it won't be that way forever. You are now learning this lesson. I hope. If not, you will repeat it again in another few years in a totally different job path. I am safe in my job for the moment - project is fully funded and has to be done. Couple of years from now, I might be out looking again. I am still working on skills building, even though I have a job.

Meanwhile, I have been looking to hire a couple of people. Took me months. I needed two things - intelligence and the attitude of that "I can do it". That means put up with all kinds of crap, be forced to learn new things as we make them up, and still come to work with a smile on your face and be determined to have fun doing it. A 45 hour a week job. For this, I would pay you 40K a year in the Washington DC area.

I tell you it was damn hard to find these two people. Dreams of fat paychecks and other dotbomb drivel are over - that was a temporary thing that is likely never to be repeated.

My brother is still looking for a Project Manager. He is willing to pay over 80K a year. Nice money... but up front he will tell you that you will have to work like a dog, will have to totally relearn everything you know since his industry is in total change over, and he would like you to have social skills to interact with the customer. Zippo luck on his part.

So job hunters - as an employer, someone who is interviewing, it is all about attitude. Your resume should show that you are able to learn and think. After that, show me you have social skills and I might be very interested.

(Other big tip I guess: figure out a way to get around the HR people as often as possible. They are just in the way. Even we don't like them, but are forced into dealing with them. If you get someone interested in you, they still have to get through that fight. Help them do that, and you will get the job more often than not..)

About those HR people, and suggetions... (none / 0) (#134)
by Elkor on Tue Aug 28, 2001 at 02:01:00 PM EST

I agree with you on that.

More often than not, the HR person has no idea what your abilities actually mean. They tend to look at things like certifications, diplomas and previous job titles. They seem to feel that if your previous title doesn't match what they are looking for you can't possibly have the experience they need.


"I won't tell you how to love God if you don't tell me how to love myself."
-Margo Eve
[ Parent ]
I'm fucking red (3.42 / 7) (#32)
by exa on Sat Aug 25, 2001 at 11:21:04 AM EST

I don't think I'm depressed.

I'm angry like a bull. I'm pissed off at all the people who undervalue my work. The previous job I had to quit because they didn't pay well, and god they did not understand a shit. The people there would write a custom protocol over RS232 to make a stupid touch-screen interface with a video capture box. They did not even know that they could set up TCP/IP on a serial link.

Whatever, yesterday I was going to proudly demonstrate that I was getting great speedups with the parallel program I wrote for my master's thesis. And my advisor told me that the theory wasn't very good, like it was only my idea. And I suppose if the theory was elegant then the speedup would be awful and he'd then tell me to improve the efficiency. That's some highly non-trivial load of C++/MPI/.. code and it's supposed to go ashtray. Well.

I'd pretty much want to turn into some extremely vicious "cyberspace cowboy".

Indeed that is more or less what I'm becoming. I haven't been programming since 11 yrs old for nothing. Anger. Got to show them what we're made of.
exa a.k.a Eray Ozkural
There is no perfect circle.

this isn't bad... (4.25 / 4) (#34)
by The Mayor on Sat Aug 25, 2001 at 11:45:40 AM EST

I work as a software developer in the oil and gas industry. I have seen how "bad" things have been in the IT world. Let me tell you, this is easy going. Six months since your last steady job? Lots of little jobs in between? Wow, if only some of the geologists and engineers in the oil industry could have been so lucky.

Starting in 1986, the oil industry saw major layoffs, to the tune of 50+% of staff. Then, in 1989, they did it again (OK, this time it was closer to 20%). Then they did it again in 1993. Then they did it again in 1997. Now, they're faced with a shortage of qualified labor. So everyone is working insane hours, but they're not getting (admittably worthless) stock options, and they can't come to work in sandals.

If you think this is bad, brace yourself. The IT world will likely suffer far worse. And even then, you can count yourself lucky that you don't work in the oil industry.

definately. (4.00 / 1) (#46)
by rebelcool on Sat Aug 25, 2001 at 02:36:08 PM EST

My father designs drill motors for a living...the 80s in Houston were a time of great decline.

Especially in 30-40 years the need for the oil industry (funded primarily by the necessity of fuels for automobiles and other vehicles) will dramatically decline with fuel cells and what not.

Hopefully, the oil companies will probably be flexible enough to get into that business (hence the change from 'oil' to simple 'energy' names these days).

But I still wouldnt want to get a degree in petro-engineering.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site
[ Parent ]

Find a new industry (none / 0) (#95)
by malcolm on Sun Aug 26, 2001 at 11:31:59 PM EST

I don't want to sound harsh, but if an industry goes downhill there's not much that can be done about it.

The IT sector certainly isn't dying, but it was definately overstocked with people, particularly the overenthusiastic types who didn't really know what they were doing and were only there for the hype and quick cash. Those flashy websites and applications may have been cool, but they weren't essential and eventually the businessmen realised this. The result is lots of unemployed IT workers, which the suits move on to another area.

I work in the power industry, my job is stable and I have excellent prospects if I have to leave. It doesn't stop me from wanting to work in AI research, but it's certainly nice. My job isn't so exciting, but the possibility of the industry disappearing out from under me is close to zero.

Switching industries is hard, but not impossible. You may be lucky enough to be able to find another niche, perhaps another industry that needs programmers (or whatever you are) and is willing to train people. Plenty of people switched to IT in the 80s and 90s, there's no reason you can't switch too if you're reasonably intelligent and determined.

I suggest looking for stable areas, not just high growth sectors like biotech, industries like finance and infrastructure. Your job won't be so exciting but you'll get a paycheck every week, and maybe you'll feel like you're really accomplishing something rather than creating the latest buzzword-compliant website.

[ Parent ]
Random thoughts (4.00 / 2) (#35)
by Wondertoad on Sat Aug 25, 2001 at 12:00:08 PM EST

The different kinds of comments here are so very interesting!

Some people want to blame the victim or simply show no concern whatsoever. In general, their comments include some note that "they've got theirs", which probably says they have yet to learn the lesson of humility. From what I've seen, no-one is spared this lesson, and it's one of the things that turns the vanity of youth into the wisdom of age.

On the other end of the scale are those who enjoy being the victim. Who enjoy the tidbits of sympathy a little too much and who might even fish for them. The only nice thing about depression is that you can get people to actually stop and indicate their concern and/or love for you, which is rare enough in this world. Don't blow it by coming to *expect* that reaction, and don't become dependent on it.

I am independent-minded, individualist, and utterly non-spritual as they come, yet even with my thick head I can see that we are all connected. The sadness of many others affects us all. The Internet has actually done its job, too, and connected us more deeply. You can almost feel the energy drain in people's words, here and elsewhere. If you feel you are not affected, maybe you aren't listening closely enough.

And in tech, it's harder for sure. We were told that we were the future, the revolutionaries, the heroes, the ones who would change the world. Now it appears as if the world has dismissed us like yesterday's doughnuts. You can't help but be a little affected if you're human.

Sharing these kinds of thoughts is something we should feel free to do. It is clarifying and refreshing. Thanks Sig11 for starting the conversation.

Things are getting better for me... (4.62 / 8) (#36)
by DJBongHit on Sat Aug 25, 2001 at 12:07:32 PM EST

I got laid off in January and wasn't able to find tech work for a few months, so in early June I got a job at a chili place working the grill - and I gotta say, that turned things around for me. It got me out of the house and socializing with people, and if it weren't for the fact that I couldn't even afford food and rent on the money I was making there, I never would have left.

Anyway, I got offered this programming job in Knoxville near the end of the summer, so I moved here, and things have gotten a lot better since then. Might be starting a new company, too, which would be interesting.

But damn, the months from February through May were pretty rough, and if it weren't for my rorommate, I wouldn't have been able to afford food or rent. But the mistake I made, and the mistake I see a lot of other people making, is sitting around waiting for a tech job. Don't! Go out and get any old job in the meantime... it'll get you out and about, help fend off depression, let you meet some new people, and keep yourself from racking up $3000 in debt to your roommate :P


GNU GPL: Free as in herpes.

green (2.50 / 2) (#37)
by shoalcrestlabs on Sat Aug 25, 2001 at 12:23:13 PM EST

Stay green! It keeps the blue away ...

But.... (2.50 / 2) (#43)
by The Solitaire on Sat Aug 25, 2001 at 01:48:33 PM EST

It's not easy being green.... At least according to Kermit.

I need a new sig.
[ Parent ]
One possible answer... (4.00 / 2) (#38)
by skim123 on Sat Aug 25, 2001 at 12:44:39 PM EST

Go back to school. That's what I'm doing, be starting grad school (computer science, have no idea where I'd like to focus in on...) here in a couple of weeks. The school pays tuition and ~$1,600/month for me TAing. Not a lot, I know, but that plus some other side jobs will be enough to pay the bills.

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum

Doing fine.. (4.00 / 1) (#39)
by seebs on Sat Aug 25, 2001 at 12:57:58 PM EST

I know a few people out of work. One of them is considering pursuing grad school. Another is going to pick up Oracle and C++ training. Another is looking for work and trying to decide what he wants to do.

Still, this isn't because there's no work; of the people I know out of work, the only ones looking for work and not finding it have decided to only accept jobs that fit their planned carreer path. I say, take anything you can do reasonably well that pays enough to earn a living, and look for a "better" job from a position of power.

Light Blue (3.50 / 2) (#40)
by grynn on Sat Aug 25, 2001 at 01:25:29 PM EST

I am a student (comp. sci) in the UK. My course is about to end and I've been looking for jobs from the past few weeks. Actually I haven't been looking as hard as I could or sending out hundreds of resumes -- but I haven't sitting on my fanny either. I've finally landed a job which I am due to start in the next couple of weeks. What is intersting is just how difficult the whole search has been -- I have 2 years of rock solid perl / c++ experience but that kind of job has nearly disappeared! The jobs that exist pay really really low salaries. However I am told that the average starting sal. in the UK is quite a bit lower than the average starting salary in the United States. It's still not quite as bad as the american scene is sounding. I have a friend who was recently laid off from a job in the states and has now gone back to India. He's recd a few offers for short term contract work in the states but no permanent work. I;d say he's pretty blu-ish too. He's working right now -- in India and at a reasonable (by Indian standards) salary -- but hes not particulary pleased. Everytime I call frnds in the IT field in the states they're talking about lay offs and lay off parties and listing on fuckedcompany.com. Hmmm. Maybe I should be blue after all.

Keep in mind cost of living (4.50 / 2) (#52)
by netmouse on Sat Aug 25, 2001 at 03:49:40 PM EST

We tend to compare salaries from Country to Country according to the exchange rate, but that doesn't really work for getting an idea of comfort of life. In some cities you can earn a modestly impressive salary and not be able to afford an apartment.

Besides, the exchange rates are determined by the market and not your ability to buy goods. If you take enough money to buy a burger in Canada and change it into US $ you will not have enough money to buy a burger in Ann Arbor, MI. You can, however, get yourself a nice lunch for that much cash in Grinnell Iowa. It's all very variable.

[ Parent ]

No wonder I rub you folks the wrong way (3.60 / 5) (#41)
by Wah on Sat Aug 25, 2001 at 01:29:42 PM EST

I don't think I've ever been happier. It's a beautiful day outside, I'm spending great time with my girlfriend, I haven't read the news in days, and well, stuffs just o.k.

Anyone who wants some help just ask. Good moods are like good software. I can share it with you and I don't lose a thing. Unfortunately depression is the same way. Focus on the nothing and that's how you feel. Get over it.

Obligatory, Siggy quit whining comment. ;)
Information wants to be free, wouldn't you? |

Beyond Blue (3.88 / 9) (#42)
by rossz on Sat Aug 25, 2001 at 01:36:55 PM EST

I've been unemployed since May. I have sent out hundreds of resumes resulting in only two interviews, but no job. My specialty, configuration management (build-release/installations) is not something people fresh out of college seek out. Age-ism is probably a factor. When interviewed, I have to impress a group of twenty-something pups whose computer illiterate parents are about my age.

I'm 42 and have a wife and daughter. How many of you have had to tell an eleven year old that she can't go shopping for back to school clothes? I have had to borrow money from family to pay the rent. Next I will be selling off the few shares of stock I set aside as my daughter's college fund. I don't like raiding her future, but I don't have a choice.

When I was working, once a week we would go to a nice restaurant, now a luxury is a trip to In-N-Out for burgers.

To top everything off, our cat, who travelled all the way from Europe with my wife and grew up with my daughter, was ran over and killed by a car two nights ago.

Just when you think it can't get anyworse, fate rears its ugly head and slaps you.

Always try to see the light side (2.03 / 26) (#44)
by untrusted user on Sat Aug 25, 2001 at 02:06:24 PM EST

At least you don't have to feed your cat anymore.

[ Parent ]
The idea can be extended (3.00 / 7) (#45)
by Ballot stuffer on Sat Aug 25, 2001 at 02:21:16 PM EST

Perhaps he should have his daughter run over, too.

[ Parent ]
ow, guys! (4.33 / 3) (#50)
by netmouse on Sat Aug 25, 2001 at 03:45:01 PM EST

now my head hurts.

it's doing backflips between real sympathy for the guy and appreciation of dark humor.

ow, ow.

stop that.

[ Parent ]

See my previous reply (1.00 / 2) (#56)
by rossz on Sat Aug 25, 2001 at 05:43:26 PM EST

Except I would prefer to shoot you.

[ Parent ]
give him a break (none / 0) (#86)
by Nick Ives on Sun Aug 26, 2001 at 02:45:08 PM EST

I think he was highlighting the nastiness in the post he was replying to, not advocating that you get your daughter run over. "screw you" would perhaps have been a better and more direct response, but, well, differnet people have different ways of dealing with people/things.

Hope you find a new cat that you can love as much as your old one btw, we lost our very old and continually ill cat a year or so ago and a few months back we got two new ones. They came as a pair and were supposed to be friends, but they never get on. The smaller, originally quite timid, one turned out to be a right vicious b*tch when she got her confidence. You can look outside one of our windows most nights and see her beating the the other neighbourhood cats. Then she comes inside and expects to be loved, and really makes herself known if you try to avoid her.

Cats, you gotta love them, or else they rip your eyes out.

[ Parent ]

Go fuck yourself (3.25 / 4) (#55)
by rossz on Sat Aug 25, 2001 at 05:41:14 PM EST

I don't find it humorous

[ Parent ]
Why I rated you a 0 (3.11 / 9) (#58)
by slaytanic killer on Sat Aug 25, 2001 at 06:07:48 PM EST

Because... that was a pathetic post. Seems dumb people are scaling the walls of Kuro5hin, and ditching anonymous posting isn't keeping them out anymore.

Whatever. Too bad I don't know who you are in real-life, wherever you may be. Because unlike most intellectual posers on this site, this intellectual poser is not too high to beat little children like you.

And to rossz. Something similar happened at Slashdot when Richard Stevens died, resulting in meta-moderation. Perhaps you can accept these sorts of random comments, but if you can't, don't talk about personal tragedies here. There are shits in the world, and in a fairly open place like this, they get through. So fuck 'em.

[ Parent ]
Yeah, let's all hug each other (2.36 / 11) (#62)
by untrusted user on Sat Aug 25, 2001 at 06:46:52 PM EST

No negative thought shall be allowed to enter our circle.

Think your life is a Disney cartoon, or what?

[ Parent ]

so (2.33 / 3) (#71)
by yesterdays children on Sat Aug 25, 2001 at 10:18:16 PM EST

How many friends do you have in real life?

[ Parent ]
You know what... (3.50 / 2) (#83)
by slaytanic killer on Sun Aug 26, 2001 at 08:35:25 AM EST

... I don't have any beef with you. You wrote a comment I didn't like, and I responded to it.

If you think the world is so bad, then maybe your life has been treating you like shit for a while. Life /isn't/ like a Disney cartoon, but that doesn't mean that we can't be strong and better than the world.

So whatever. I have no real problem with you, except for that one post, and I've already responded. If you have a problem with me, then maybe your problem is with the world. Gonna have to solve that problem somehow.

[ Parent ]
Politeness and civility. (2.00 / 1) (#88)
by Tezcatlipoca on Sun Aug 26, 2001 at 05:56:41 PM EST

Those Sir or Madam, are values in the real world, not stuff that happens in "Disney Cartoons".

If in spite of the rightful comments of others and the rating of your initial distasteful attempt of joke you don't get it, I guess you never will.

"They only think of me as a Mexican,
an Indian or a Mafia don"
Mexican born actor Anthony Quinn on
[ Parent ]
An appropriate quote (2.50 / 2) (#96)
by Legolas on Mon Aug 27, 2001 at 12:56:25 AM EST

God.. "I'm just not happy. I'm just not happy. I'm just not happy because my life didn't turn out the way I thought it would." Hey! Join the fucking club, ok!? I thought I was going to be the starting center fielder for the Boston Red Socks. Life sucks, get a fucking helmet, allright?!

--Denis Leary (from No Cure to Cancer)

Life does suck. My dad, after working for our local power utility for something in the order of 25 yrs, was laid off last summer. His new job pays less then the old one. At my job this summer, I'm only making $6.20 CDN/hour

OH WELL! Our family takes it with good humour, and now my dad able to come home for supper more. If you can't take on life's challenges with a sense of humour, what's the point?

(I gave untrusted user's comment a 5 because, quite frankly, it was brilliantly appropriate and I almost pee'ed myself laughing.)

[ Parent ]
Now that I've taken a break and come back... (4.00 / 3) (#75)
by netmouse on Sat Aug 25, 2001 at 11:20:51 PM EST

Age-ism may be a factor but your reception might also be related to age-correlated other factors. You have a family. You probably want decent benefits and specific hours. If you had a good feeling in either of your interviews, you might want to call the person back and ask for feedback on how you presented yourself. It seems from other posts here that being too specialized can be a serious problem. If you're willing to branch out or have evidence you can learn quickly, focus on that.

If you're trying to get a job at the product development end, now might not be a good time for that. If you're not alreayd doing this, look for a not-very-dotcom-sector establishment that needs someone to handle the selection, configuration and install of network products they purchase. Your skills will probably transfer very well into that area.

How many of you have had to tell an eleven year old that she can't go shopping for back to school clothes?

well, when I was eleven years old I couldn't go shopping for back-to-school clothes. certainly not new ones. it sucked, all right, that's true. But there's a whole wardrobe of clothes for her out in secondhand stores that costs as a whole less than one of your "In-N-Out" luxury meals for the whole family. Also, if your daughter is eleven, she's old enough to get an after-school job and earn her own money for clothes. I had a paper route at her age and never had to depend on my parents for spending money from then on.

If you have time on your hands and the family is missing those dinners out, try exploring cooking. There are tons of wonderful and easy recipes out here on the web, and cooking from scratch is much less expensive than eating prepared foods. I don't remember eating out much at all as a child except when relatives were paying, but I didn't feel poor in that regard 'cause my parents are such good cooks. After my dad finished school and got well-established as an engineer we had a lot more free cash, but we never went out to eat on a weekly basis. There just isn't that much of a draw when you can make good food at home.

Next I will be selling off the few shares of stock I set aside as my daughter's college fund. I don't like raiding her future, but I don't have a choice.

What kind of return are you seeing on that investment? If it's high, consider borrowing money from a bank instead. Got to consider those opportunity costs. Ever considered working for the government? A few months ago I was out browsing and surprized to find a few IT jobs posted for prisons and universities that really pay quite well.

Best of luck,


[ Parent ]

PS (2.66 / 3) (#77)
by netmouse on Sat Aug 25, 2001 at 11:31:03 PM EST

sorry to hear about your cat.

I was a young girl, a little older than your daughter's age when my cat got hit by a car. My parents let me take the whole day off from school, I was grieving so.

That cat's son, the last of the cats I grew up with, died last month of old age. It's hard to let go no matter what the circumstances.

I once wrote a poem in memory of two cats, Sam and Orpheus, who belonged to us and our neighbor and died about a year apart. It's on this page if you're interested.

Take care,


[ Parent ]

Do something (4.62 / 8) (#47)
by finial on Sat Aug 25, 2001 at 02:37:02 PM EST

I haven't seen anyone say they are working on anything. A pet project. You've got a computer, you've got a compiler, you've got an editor. Edit, compile and compute something. Certainly, there's a piece of software you wish you had on your last job that you couldn't find. Write it. What's your long suit? What do you understand best and what tools would you like to have? Write it. If you want it, chances are someone else will to.

Hunting for a job is a lot of work, but it's not full time. It's usually lots and lots of work followed by extended periods of idleness. Use the idleness to create TNBT (The Next Big Thing).

On those rare occasions when I'm between contracts, or if I'm just tired of what I'm doing, I take a break and work on my next killer app. They take a long time to do, and I've never sold one (they come with me as a package deal when you hire my services), but if there came the time when I didn't want to do contracting work anymore and go get a place in Ogunquit or something, I'd sell them. Either as a product or (more likely) the development project.

Because you're not getting paid does not mean you can't work. And anything you do create belongs to you and not to anyone else.

Re: Do something (4.60 / 5) (#65)
by mlinksva on Sat Aug 25, 2001 at 07:09:51 PM EST

Amen. Some suggestions:
  • Contribute to a free software project. You'll grow your skills, and who knows, just might end up getting paid for those skills, doing something you care about instead of only cranking out code or maintaining IIS servers for the man. :)
  • Start a garden. You'll save money, learn stuff, eat healthier, and some say gain spiritual benefits.
  • Start a business. If you do have some savings, or just gumption, it's a great time to start a business. Two of your biggest expenses, space and people, are cheap and available now.
And next time you do have a job, save some of that cash.

FWIW I voluntarily left an internet-related proprietary software company last fall and have been working on a free software friendly business since.
imagoodbitizen adobe unisys badcitizens
[ Parent ]

crying (4.66 / 9) (#48)
by tunesmith on Sat Aug 25, 2001 at 02:39:29 PM EST

Just couldn't get past one comment - "breaking down crying" does not mean "hitting rock bottom". We aren't talking about medical depression here, we're talking about situational depression. And refusing to give your emotions a good physical exercise is a great way to lead to the medical sort. The situation sucks and we're SUPPOSED to feel like we need to break down and cry once in a while.

If there was anything positive about my layoff experience, it was that it helped me to have a closer relationship with my own emotions. In general I've learned that if you need to break down and cry even if you don't totally know the conscious reason, it's better to just do it (assuming you aren't in the same room as some moron who thinks it means you should be in a psych ward). You tend to feel clearer about things afterward. Same goes for getting mad - go ahead and punch or kick something (something that won't physically hurt you or someone/something else). It's usually best to do these sorts of things alone unless you're with someone who truly understands.

For those who believe it doesn't help, the real truth is that it helps even less to be walking around with all this frustration and anxiety bubbling just below the surface. People pick up on it, and it's been known to explode at very inappropritae times when you stifle it. Or it "ferments" into "medical" depression. And despite most people's fears, letting go of the control a bit here and there definitely doesn't hurt. (Again, unless you're in the same room as that moron who thinks it means you should be in a psych ward.)

Yes, I have a blog.

My Story (3.50 / 2) (#60)
by EvilGwyn on Sat Aug 25, 2001 at 06:10:46 PM EST

My story is completely different. I was working for about six months at a local company, a startup while I finished the papers I needed to get my degree (I graduate next may). Unfortunately they were not in a position to offer me fulltime work which sucked because I really liked working there. I have just taken on a position with another company. My new job is awesome, I'm earning more money than ever before, I learn new things every day, my computer kicks ass, free internet and I like everyone that I work with. I just wanted to point out that not everyone is experiencing the same things that you are. I hope things pan out okay for you, it sounds like you have a lot of experience in the field (which counts for a lot) so I think if you just keep trying things will pick up.

I've been there (4.50 / 6) (#63)
by fluffy grue on Sat Aug 25, 2001 at 06:52:04 PM EST

My one foray into the tech sector went something like this. When I was nearing college graduation (back in summer of 1999), I knew I wanted to go into graphics programming (researchy-type stuff, not spec-filling). I looked and looked and looked for jobs. I couldn't find one. Finally, just days before the last day of class I finally got a single offer as an OpenGL programmer for some .com in the DC area. It all seemed really cool and such.

They treated me like total shit. My health suffered. My wrists gave out on me again. I eventually had to quit.

I couldn't find any other graphics programming jobs. I couldn't even find any other programming jobs in the area I'd moved to (I just saw a lot of DB admin stuff). I got really depressed. Nobody wanted someone with hardcore OpenGL and 3D graphics experience - everyone wanted SQL or ODBC. The only offers I got were on jobs doing entry-level Access "programming." Ugh.

Keep in mind that this was before the tech bubble burst - my problem was overspecialization.

I was incredibly depressed. I was living off of savings (and had a couple of leeches mooching off of me at the time as well, which did not help matters at all). I didn't even have the energy to do my laundry; all I could manage to do was browse the web and heat up TV dinners. Even though I was right next to Washington DC and there were a lot of sights I wanted to see (such as the Smithsonian) I just couldn't bring myself to do it. I didn't feel that I deserved to have any sort of fun. I felt worthless. I didn't even feel worthy of jumping off my balcony, since then it'd be trouble for other people who were actually worth something.

Fortunately for me, my mom convinced me to come back to New Mexico (which I didn't want to do, as that would be admitting defeat) and to go back to NMSU for grad school. I get paid shit wages, but Las Cruces is a pretty cheap city and it's enough to buy all the things I want (including my house). I get to research whatever I want (and these days I'm working on a lot more than just graphics - abstracted user interfaces, self-learning control systems, and other Keen Shit), I get "free" (paid for on my fellowship) health insurance, supplies, equipment, books, conference travel, etc., and I have the pleasure of both learning and teaching at the same time.

I was back in grad school when the tech bubble burst. I had no regrets about leaving the tech sector at that point.

Grad school isn't for everyone. Also, now that there's a lot of unemployed tech people, it's probably even harder to get into grad school. I don't know what I'm going to do after I get my PhD (probably become a professor or something, since I like teaching).

If I weren't in grad school, I don't know what I'd be doing. I'd probably be going into a different career path. Probably advertising or some other traditional "creative sell-out" job. I know I wouldn't be working a tech job though. I still find absolutely no appeal in 99.99% of the programming jobs out there, and the other .01 are either taken or at shaky, dying .coms.

I can't give any advice to people who are in the tech sector funk right now, except that maybe you could try swallowing your pride, calling your mom and asking her for advice.

Oh, and my color is, as usual, magenta.
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]

Holy Shit! (4.77 / 9) (#66)
by Duke Machesne on Sat Aug 25, 2001 at 07:26:47 PM EST

....programmers who can't get into the mood to code and instead surf the 'net all day....

Why, holy fuckers, Batman, It's me.

I think I've done about 3 days worth of work in as many months now, and I thought I was just getting lazy or lethargic or mono, and here I come to see it's a Wave of Mutilation washing over the Cerebral Sectarians like an astral projection or a silica-pheromonal stew.

The craziest thing is that as much as I try to think about it, I just can't quite wrap myself around an answer, mates, it's like I've lost the ability to think of anything as important. The weeks are flying by like I'm not even here for them (and it certainly wouldn't make much difference if I were).

All of my ordinary work-a-day friends just keep living their lives like there's nothing wrong at all, as if there weren't an incredible Holy Mission out there waiting to be discovered and joined into, as though it were okay to slide through life with no purpose.

Wrap your mind around this: When we all started this thing, tracking packets and suddenly throwing signals through space as if time had never mattered at all, I got the sense that we were all doing something extraordinarily significant but I couldn't figure out what or why. With the big market boom that employed us all, the whole world seemed to be confirming in no uncertain terms that we'd been right all along, that we'd founded a new religion bearing truths as inescapable as life and death. But somehow in all the excitement, we didn't notice the bait had been switched. It wasn't a sexy religious lifestyle to become completely absorbed in and an automatic path to transcendance of all the asinine bullshit foisted on our parents and grandparents, it was... well, a job.

Now that the world has managed to return stasis to it's most recent chaotic red-headed stepchild (that's us, lovers), there's no room for a booming market built on faith like there were in those early days, because the fervor has been purchased from us for a couple thousand dollars a month. When your flashy new mysticism has been bought out from under you, What the hell is motivation and where do you buy it?

arts schoolsweight loss

hehe (4.00 / 1) (#84)
by Wah on Sun Aug 26, 2001 at 10:36:14 AM EST

What the hell is motivation and where do you buy it?

Well, if you've given in to buying it with money, then you've already lost because you've accepted someone else's rules. If you want to buy it with the only thing you have, your time and energy, you're on the right track.

The problem is that automatic part, it means nothing if you have the world of knowledge at your fingertips and do nothing with it. You must work that information, gettin it is the easy part, using it is a bastard.

as if there weren't an incredible Holy Mission out there waiting to be discovered and joined into, as though it were okay to slide through life with no purpose.

ROTFLMAO. Sorry, that just hit me as damn funny. Come visit my diary if you want to see where the rabbit hole goes next.

once you've remembered, you'll never forget.

Damn straight on that. But if you try really hard, you can always go crazy.
Information wants to be free, wouldn't you? | Parent ]

At the risk of 'me, too' (none / 0) (#118)
by weirdling on Mon Aug 27, 2001 at 07:20:29 PM EST

I guess you've got the best explanation yet. About six weeks ago, I just quit coding. I've got plenty to do and my company is stable, I'm just bored as heck. Maybe it *is* because this whole thing isn't a religion anymore and is getting way too much like work...

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
maybe this will discourage the moneygrubbers (4.00 / 1) (#68)
by klash on Sat Aug 25, 2001 at 09:05:18 PM EST

I have the most sincere sympathy for those of you feeling the effects of the job crunch. I'll finish my bachelor's in 3 years, and I'm afraid at the thought of having to face the market I'm reading about (all the more reason to stay in school and get more degrees, which is what I really want to do anyway).

If anything good can come of this though, I hope that this discourages the newts who are pursuing a CS degree with dollar signs in their eyes. Just do a business major, guys -- they'd be happy to have you.

no particular color for me (4.00 / 2) (#73)
by yesterdays children on Sat Aug 25, 2001 at 10:35:42 PM EST

maybe burnt color, but thats about it, thats the way I feel, burnt by my last job. Ultimately no matter how much I try to blame others, it still comes back to me not managing my life. I'm lucky that I've got folks that'll pitch in and get me going again, so whatever color you are when you learn important lessons, thats mine.

My color (4.00 / 2) (#74)
by quartz on Sat Aug 25, 2001 at 11:01:11 PM EST

My color has got to be black. I am caucasian, but most of the things I own are black (from clothes and personal items to car, computer, appliances etc.) I am negative, pessimistic and rather apathetic, but that's just the way I am, it has nothing to do with my job. I've only heard about the tech sector downturn, I don't feel it, as I don't work in the tech sector, even though I code for a living. In the financial sector where I work, things are pretty much OK - last time I changed jobs I could afford to pick and choose my job from several offers, and I got the job I wanted despite the fact that I have zero social skills and I don't even bother to hide it. And I'm no programming god either - I'm only fluent in several "hot" languages, I feel at home in UNIX environments and I can write clean code in Perl. :-) That pretty much sums up my resume.

So, not much information regarding career-related depression from me, sorry. But reading through the other posts in this thread I can't help but wonder why do people consider the pessimistic, negative attitude a bad thing. I've been this way all my life and I find it rather enjoyable. Even a bit of depression every now and then is welcome. It certainly helps me to better understand and enjoy certain works of certain writers or composers, like Dostoevski, Cioran, Beethoven, Nietzsche and others. I don't feel like I enjoy them as much when I'm in one of my rare cheerful moods. I know I probably sound like a member of the Addams family, but I feel quite good about being negative. It does not prevent me at all from functioning normally - I can work, read, play, think etc. just fine (with the added bonus that I'm always prepared for the worst). The only thing I can't do is form close relationships with humans, but that's only because I have no desire for such relationships.

So, what's really wrong with being an introvert with a negative attitude? I always hear people saying things like "you need to get out more", "you need to socialize", "you need to have more fun", "you need some friends" etc., and every geek has probably heard them at least once. But the fact is I don't need those things. I've even tried them, just to make sure - especially in the beginning, when I was kind of scared of who I was, having been programmed, like most of us, to think that positive is desirable. And all I got from trying them was a reinforced conviction that I really don't need them. Who knows, maybe if people weren't so deeply socialized into positivity and outgoingness, geeks would have better self esteem. :)

Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke, and fuck 'em even if they can.
You must be gothic... (none / 0) (#76)
by sasseriansection on Sat Aug 25, 2001 at 11:21:55 PM EST

Do you listen to Bauhaus and Sisters of Mercy? Maybe a little Apoptygma Berzerk, VNV Nation, or Covenant?:)
------------ ------------
[ Parent ]
Not necessarily social conditioning (none / 0) (#97)
by SwingGeek on Mon Aug 27, 2001 at 04:00:31 AM EST

Well I don't know about you, but from personal experience, I know that I enjoy myself better when I take a positive view about things and just try to generally be happy with the way things are. I used to be somewhat introverted when I was younger, but I noticed that the people who seemed the happiest were the ones who were the most outgoing and friendly. I've tried to do that myself, and all I can say is that most of the time, the world treats you how you're treating it. If you are positive then you will feel better about life in general and people will react better towards you.

This also greatly increases your chance of contact with the opposite (or same, whatever!) sex. This can lead to you getting to *have* sex which is almost guaranteed to make you feel better.



[ Parent ]
Another data point (4.00 / 2) (#78)
by antizeus on Sun Aug 26, 2001 at 12:07:30 AM EST

Well, since you asked...

As far as the job thing goes, I'm doing all right. I'm getting paid pretty good money to do stuff that lets me exercise my creative and analytical muscles. Probably the only way I'd get laid off is if the company shut my entire department down, and that's not really too feasible given certain business relationships the company has, and the fact that it's healthy enough to at least survive for quite a while longer. I'm still getting bugged by the odd recruiter despite the meltdown in the high-tech world.

Hell, I'm so confident that I recently submitted a letter of resignation, with the intention of taking some time off to relax and deal with some personal issues. I ended up retracting my resignation (much to the relief of management), but it wasn't out of fear of being unemployed (I've been saving up lots of money instead of buying fast cars and fancy toys, and can handle a significant amount of downtime as a result).

Sure, I have problems, and occasionally suffer minor bouts of depression, but that's not really job-related (at least not directly). Overall I'd say that life's been pretty good. Like that other guy said, a bunch of people venting on an IRC channel probably isn't a good sample.

the useless drag of another day... (3.00 / 1) (#80)
by mattx on Sun Aug 26, 2001 at 12:45:03 AM EST

Why *do* I get out of bed? I suppose it's part because I'm late for work, or because it's 11am and I should get up if I want to accomplish anything that day.
Seriously though...I have a 3 year old I have to support (who I rarely get to see but that's a whole other story). I have a new car I just bought. I have to keep up with all the tech shitzat because it moves so damn fast. Because I want to learn how to play the guitar. Because I want to save enough money for that european backpacking trip. So I can have a place to live and a bite to eat.
But some days I wonder why I have to go work for someone else to get what I want. Someday I want to work for myself. Or just not at all.
I should have bought a PowerBall ticket.

-- i fear that i am ordinary, just like everyone

My color palette (3.50 / 2) (#82)
by WWWWolf on Sun Aug 26, 2001 at 08:25:21 AM EST

Okay, I'm an artist, so I suppose I can use a lot of colors. (Well, this was just a randomly stupid comment. Sorry.)

I'm an emotional creature - I feel my life would be rather pointless if I wouldn't be allowed to be happy or sad or whatever I'm feeling of the situation. I don't long for happiness alone - I think it's good for me to feel at all.

Often, I'm not especially happy or sad. I'm happy when I get to do cool things. I'm sad if I don't get to do what I want to do or when I'm too lonely. That's all.

The single most depressing thing I have is that all of the really cool people I know are geographically far away (that is, living elsewhere in the country or outside the country) and I only get to talk to them over the 'net or other means, sometimes very rarely. (Just today I had a reply from a friend of mine, about first time for the whole summer. I'm a lot happier right now =) I often wish the Earth would be flat; that way, there would be only two time zones, and that would make it easier for me to find them online, too. =)

I guess I suffer from darkness depression. During the looong and dark Finnish winter, I'm happy in the day and strangely depressed in the night... so dark, sad and cold time =/

(Well, I've been happy in the winter too when I could code in the night. Like Linus said a few days ago, one of the reasons Finland is one of the leading IT countries is that during the dark winter, the only things left to do are drinking, sex and programming =)

(Diagnosis: I'm insane and dangerous?)

-- Weyfour WWWWolf, a lupine technomancer from the cold north...

It's not the industry, it's not the jobs (3.33 / 3) (#89)
by a life in hell on Sun Aug 26, 2001 at 07:01:21 PM EST

There are a lot of people in the geek community who were already depressed. Having $100k a year and working for 20 hours a day, however, is a real good way to ignore it for a while. It's not the lack of said cash that's making people depressed, it's just making it harder to mask away the *other* real things that people are depressed about

Might as well join in... (3.00 / 1) (#91)
by Dirac Tesseract on Sun Aug 26, 2001 at 09:15:24 PM EST

My color is pretty damn blue, I suppose. I was working two part time jobs as a Linux admin for a couple of labs last semester in college. I was in the English Major because my math isn't good enough to handle the calculus crap that one must deal with in the process of the Comp Sci. major. Well, turns out that although I found English very easy and basically a breeze, I hated every bloody minute of it. I didn't realize that my old bout with clinical depression had reared its ugly head until I found that I hadn't been awake during the day for a month - always sleeping during the day, unless I had to go to work.

Getting a medical leave from the school was pretty easy at this point... I could go back after a semester with no questions asked and no penalties incurred, but I don't know if I really can. Since the end of last semester (late May) I have been looking for a job in UNIX/Linux Administration, at the Junior or Mid Level... and I have come up all but empty for my efforts (and I have made significant efforts). It would seem that if you do not have a Bachelor's, you aren't very likely to get an Administration job in the industry, especially in these dark days.

I do have a couple of possibilities brewing, but I am afraid to hope. Trying to find a job while seeing a psychologist and sucking down happy pills isn't exactly an experience I'd recommend to others.

Sendmail may be safely run set-user-id to root. -- Eric Allman, "Sendmail Installation Guide"
Color (3.00 / 2) (#92)
by char on Sun Aug 26, 2001 at 09:48:39 PM EST

I'm pinkinsh-yellowish-gray.

Get/Set yourself a goal (4.00 / 2) (#93)
by cvou on Sun Aug 26, 2001 at 10:03:53 PM EST

I used to be like that. Its funny, because i'm Australian and come from the land of .. well, the shops are closed on Sundays.

In short I got myself a goal, and it has a nice set of hips. Because of this goal i've picked up and done stuff I NEVER would have considered doing before.. i've resigned my old job (without feeling bad/sad/can't be bothered handing in notice), i've packed my bags and moved *overseas*, got a new job here, etc etc. But before she came along I'd have trouble making myself do ANYTHING except buy takeout and slouch in my comfy chair i'd set up infront of my overly expensive computer. I used to be a very deep shade of grey - because I couldn't be bothered painting myself.

I'm not quite sure of how this is applicable to anyone, but for god's sake find yourselves a goal. One that goes beyond "living". Soon my "move to Canada with girlfriend" reason is going to run out, and I suspect i'll require some more direction (perhaps she'll give it to me, I don't know, or maybe with her i'll never run out of it).. but for those of you who are working in "a job", find something outside your job. Me, I figure a job is what keeps you from getting bored with your time off. Get something outside your work; your job shouldn't be your life, maybe only a part of it that makes the rest happen.


I guess my color, right now, would be a healthy pink.

I'm blue, well, my fingers are (4.00 / 1) (#94)
by georgeha on Sun Aug 26, 2001 at 11:10:52 PM EST

from tie-dying yesterday.

I'm not as blue about the recession, as this is my second as a working adult (I was a bit depressed during the 1990-91 one). I'm a lot more marketable now, I'm hired direct for a Fortune 100 company, and I have some major achievements on my resume (A few books).

If you are having trouble finding a job, this would be a good time to solidify your education. I remember a discussion on the other site a few years back about the advisibility of staying in school for a degree versus leaving for the quick bucks. The pessisimists said "Get the degree, in a recession, the HR departments will toss all resumes without a B.S." Sad but true, I think.

Just my $0.02... (4.00 / 1) (#98)
by Sventek on Mon Aug 27, 2001 at 07:33:50 AM EST

I believe that this 'recession' in IT is serving to 'trim the fat' from the ranks. I personally know of a number of people that were not ever in IT that jumped on the bandwagon after reading a couple of books or taking a class, passing a Microsoft exam and bluffing their way into a job. People were hiring just about anyone that could regurgitate the proper buzzwords. I saw it back then (my company at that time even hired a number of these types of people), and now I see them departing. Well, many of them. Some came in pretty green, but applied themselves and have come out to be great admins/developers/whathaveyou.

Yet, here I am. I have a couple of vendor certifications but no degree. I have an uncanny ability to get along with just about everyone. I also can pick up any new technology or tasking and run with it in short order. The guys that didn't cut it were unable to or didn't understand that. They bitched and whined when asked to do something new or unfamiliar.

I remain pretty confident in my (current) company and my job. I also feel pretty lucky! Some of my friends have been out of work since March - one of which just dumped his developer skills in favor of real estate!

I believe that if I can ride out this current ebb in the industry, it'll turn back around (or at least stabilize) in the next 12-18 months.

My lack of degree is a thorn in my side right now... I really have no fallback at this moment. I've pondered returning to school, but with a family and bills to pay, it's not really a viable option at this time, unfortunately.

I'm far from depressed but still cautious. No job or company is immune to the current market conditions. I just hope that I'm able to move on before being asked, if necessary. :-)

"To alcohol! The cause of, AND solution to, all of life's problems." - Homer J
Life is no respector of skills (5.00 / 1) (#100)
by 42 on Mon Aug 27, 2001 at 10:28:50 AM EST

You should feel lucky.

My previous boss used to be a second-line manager at IBM. During the layoffs in the '90s, he was given orders to cull the herd. There was a guy in his department without a college degree, four kids and he suffered from MS. My former boss told me that he felt like scum when he gave this guy his walking papers.

There but for the grace of God.....

[ Parent ]
According to a digital photo: #D49E7A ... (4.00 / 1) (#99)
by Karmakaze on Mon Aug 27, 2001 at 09:28:36 AM EST

It's not just the technical job market that sucks. I spent a good long time this summer trying to parlay my decade of secretarial skills into a job. Secretaries of my caliber are never out of work. Admittedly, I have a transportation handicap in a state with abysmal mass transit, but I had to settle for a job where I'm even more overqualified and underpaid than usual.

I tried to move into the technical field last year (yeah, I know, lousy timing) and got caught in the slump this spring. I'd actually been working as a recruiter. I was "downsized" when we didn't have enough working contractors to justify the number of recruiters. Knowing how bad the market was, and using my leftover contacts from the HR position, I still couldn't get a techie job.

So, I figured, I can hit my old fallback. And for the first time in ten years, there weren't jobs flying out of the woodwork. In the early 90's recession, when I had barely any experience, I had an easier time finding work than I am having now.

I came very close to pulling out fallback #2 and trying to find work as a massage therapist (that's why I got the certification in the first place - so I'd always have a marketable job skill). I found an assignment by flinging myself on the mercy of my old agency and taking an insulting pay rate. Hey, it's work.

I'm now in the publishing industry (or on it's edges) and the company I work for has been laying folks so severely they had to close the building for bomb threats last week.

It's a recession, kids, and it's going to get worse before it gets better.


I suppose (4.85 / 7) (#101)
by jabber on Mon Aug 27, 2001 at 11:19:22 AM EST

I suppse that now would not be the best time to remind all those 'high-on-the-hog' geeks of their derision of degrees, this time last year. Or would it?

So the bubble has burst, the dot-coms have gone the way of the Dodo, and the major players in the IT industry are reporting quarterly losses and bleeding money from the anus. Just lovely.

Now, all those folks who were riding scooters through the orange-carpet hallways of startups with no business plan are out looking for discarded soda cans in an effort to pay their broadband bill. All those techie cowboys who got Certs in Cisco or Bay router programming, Oracle administration, or better yet, called themselves 'Data Modelling Synergy Engineers' and drew diagrams on napkins over 3 martini lunches, are out bagging groceries. Why?

Well, when a company like General Datacomm hits $0.09 per share, that doesn't inspire confidence in their customers. They switch their switch manufacturer, for fear of losing future support - and the GD Switch expert they had on staff is suddenly not worth the price of electricity it takes to keep their workstation running.. Especially in California.

One the other side of the recession are the degree-holding professionals who did not try to ride the wave to wealth and riches, and whose credentials could get them in the door of companies with reputations and a proven track records. No, they did not get stock options (to mature after 2 years - what are they worth now??) or even major signing bonuses, but they did get pension plans, insurance, benefits, and paid-for training. They did not buy new Bimmers when their company went IPO (You listening Taco?) but instead they invested their 401k's into diversified portfolios.

Their education, now more than ever, proves that they are intellectually flexible, willing to work for their rewards, and capable of seeing new technologies as tools, not Silver Bullets.

Am I being an ass? You're damn right!

A year ago, I touted the personal and economic benefits of a degree, and had all sorts of fresh-out-of-school punks shout me down because they were pulling down salaries comparable to mine. Yeah, it did kinda hurt at the time, but guess what? Now they're moving back in with their parents, and getting friendly with the button side of a cash register.

To be fair, a degree is not 'leather armor +2' that will protect you against tough times. Not by a long shot. But if you EARNED your degree, you've done more than demonstrate the ability to do some singular, in-demand job, or obscure skill. There are brilliant, non-degreed, people out there, and they are suffering unfairly right now. There are bright, self-taught people out there who could not afford the time or money for getting a formal education - to these, I am sorry. I wish I were in a position to help. Rest assured that soon the tide will turn and you will find stable work where your skill will be rewarded.

There are also degreed vegetables with seniority who do more damage than good, and without whom companies would be better off. These people are the ones riding high today.

A degree doesn't make the world black and white, but it does slant the odds a little more in your favor. So, if you dropped out of school to pursue professional opportunities, and you now find yourself living once again in your parent's basement, consider going back to University, before those old credits begin to expire. Your work experience will make the academics easier, and your perspective will give you the impetus to secure your future, not just your next shopping spree.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"

Degrees still suck (4.20 / 5) (#102)
by ubu on Mon Aug 27, 2001 at 11:52:39 AM EST

High-minded derision of degrees is still valid if you continue to espouse the same principles as those of yesteryear, i.e., hard work and an inquisitive character count for more than a diploma.

The tech depression has hit hardest against support personnel and those who built a career out of "wearing many hats". I don't mean to say that those people are less useful in an empirical sense, but I would have counselled them to find solid, marketable skills without fuzzy names. If anyone in tech has neglected to learn a simple development skill -- such as Perl, Visual Basic, or even Cold Fusion -- then it really points to complacency.

The market had demonstrated, long before the stock market crash, that "hard" skills were in the greatest demand and yielded the greatest stability and credibility. It is not difficult to find a development-related job right now; it is merely difficult to find a development-related job with low barriers to entry. Credentials and experience are critical to job-finding, and anyone who sat back lazily to enjoy the fat years of 1998-2000 really needs to change their evil ways during the next boom.


As good old software hats say - "You are in very safe hands, if you are using CVS !!!"
[ Parent ]
But of course (4.50 / 2) (#103)
by jabber on Mon Aug 27, 2001 at 12:16:23 PM EST

hard work and an inquisitive character count for more than a diploma

Absolutely. Who ever said that these were mutually exclusive?? My point is that, all other things being equal, and often they are, having a diploma is better (mostly for having gone through the long process of getting it, not just having it) than not having one, and instead brandishing a skill-specific certification.

Further, a title that comes with a diploma, such as 'Engineer', is significantly more meaningful than if that title is self-assigned, based on limited experience or a job description, simply because such a title is earned against established and reviewed standards.

Reading a "C++ in 21 days" book in under two weeks, and then claiming to be a Professional Software Engineer, does not mean you have a strong work ethic, are a hard worker, and have an inquisitive mind.

Conversely, riding through a curriculum on minimal effort, and getting a degree with a 2.3 GPA doesn't make you a hot commodity either.

Too many people, especially those without a higher education, assume that such an education is a replacement for hard work, talent and perseverence. This is simply not true. Just because someone chose the 'guided tour towards enlightenment' rather than wandering aimlessly and betting on serendipity, does not make them less competent or unable to learn/do on their own..

There is a little too much blind faith put into the 'road less traveled by', which shows that all too many people have completely missed the point of the poem, and refuse 'traditional' learning simply to be contrary. My money is on laziness and fear of a 4 year commitment. :)

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

Still not on the same page (4.66 / 3) (#104)
by ubu on Mon Aug 27, 2001 at 02:05:45 PM EST

Absolutely. Who ever said that these were mutually exclusive??

In many cases they are, practically speaking. I found I simply could not sit through computer science lectures on Automata Theory (what self-respecting geek autodidact didn't learn Turing in high school?) and maintain my sense of self-respect.

I'm an older but wiser man today, and I will earn my degree a couple years from now. There are plenty of good reasons to do it, and from my current perspective it's a ludicrously easy thing to do. I've realized that my main mistake was believing the degree actually meant something; I'm switching my major to economics so that I can enjoy myself and earn an easy diploma.

Further, a title that comes with a diploma, such as 'Engineer', is significantly more meaningful than if that title is self-assigned, based on limited experience or a job description, simply because such a title is earned against established and reviewed standards.

I don't buy this. Sure, I know all the PEs get so pissed off when hackers call themselves "engineers". After all, they swallowed their pride and jumped through all the ridiculous hoops just so they could rise beyond "dirt cheap" on the pay scale. But I, for one, do not applaud the completely fucked-up reasoning behind this idiotic system that scoffs at merit for the sake of conformity.

Reading a "C++ in 21 days" book in under two weeks, and then claiming to be a Professional Software Engineer, does not mean you have a strong work ethic, are a hard worker, and have an inquisitive mind.

Nor does neglecting your marriage and your children for the sake of poring over a huge pile of civil engineering texts in the hope that some obscure morsel of fact will stick in your mind for long enough to pass a standardized test. All in the hopes that someday your jackass boss will grant you a pay raise and maybe an invitation over for dinner.

Conversely, riding through a curriculum on minimal effort, and getting a degree with a 2.3 GPA doesn't make you a hot commodity either.

The bottom line is that you sell yourself. If your degree says something to an HR goon somewhere, have a party. All the jobs I apply for say "BA/BS or equivalent experience", which means when I go into an interview I don't have to talk about this cool group project we did in operating systems class. I talk about the multi-million-line coding projects I've helped engineer. Devil take your beardless college grad millstones.

There is a little too much blind faith put into the 'road less traveled by', which shows that all too many people have completely missed the point of the poem, and refuse 'traditional' learning simply to be contrary. My money is on laziness and fear of a 4 year commitment. :)

Of course some people will use "the road less traveled" as a belated excuse for laziness and lack of direction. They can go fuck themselves, they don't have anything in common with genuine autodidacts who never asked mom and dad's college money to buy a job or a satisfying work ethic.


As good old software hats say - "You are in very safe hands, if you are using CVS !!!"
[ Parent ]
Missing the point? (4.00 / 1) (#109)
by jabber on Mon Aug 27, 2001 at 04:16:29 PM EST

I must apologise. I have apparently failed to make my point clearly enough. Allow me to try again, Cliff-Notes style:

  • The value of a degree is not in the parchment, but in the process of earning it.
  • Yes, we learned it ourselves, which is why when the course-work brings up Turing, we're not only already there, we're pushing even further ahead. While my classmates were trying to grasp the concept of Finite Automata, I was happily implementing one in Java - just because I thought the language might come in handy someday.
  • One-trick ponies are put out to pasture once the trick stops being amusing.
  • Degreed people tend to know how to learn new things. A degree is worth 2x years of experience to HR cronies.
  • Getting a degree in a field you will not pursue, for the sake of the degree, is exactly buying into the myth that a piece of paper opens doors. Except for a security clearance, (and a $20 at the local night club) this is simply not true.
  • It's not balck and white. You seem to very aggressively resist the idea that education is actually good for something. I suspect you've not had very good instructors. It's not your fault, Will.. It's not your fault.
  • A degree is not more likely to get you invited for dinner than being self-taught. Doing a good job is, if you're into that sort of thing. Being self-taught in a skill will get you put into a high-responsibility position pertaining to that task. A degree will get you on steering committees, on overseas trips, etc.. Then again, Gates and Jobs both quit school.
  • You can't argue with raw experience, and a million lines of code beats a few toy projects any day.. But, you lose years to that experience, and you cost the company more as a result. What an experienced person can do for $45k/annum, a fresh grad can do almost as well for $30k... And the grad doesn't have 'habits' from their previous experience.
  • Some people out there worked their way through school, at jobs that built experience in parallel to earning their education. Mom and Dad gave me a home, I paid for my school.. I sold software, I administered networks, I worked a help desk, I ported 20 year old Fortran into C++, I sliced, I diced, I even did y2k work on nuclear plant monitoring systems - all the while going to school, having relationships, taking vacations and building my Slashdot Karma into the 300+ range.

    Maybe my sampling rate is just higher than average, maybe I'm using 20% of my brain as opposed to the average 10. Maybe I am the second coming, or maybe I just got lucky and my work opportunities complimented my education, and my social context supported this. My friends have had similar experiences to mine. Maybe it's regional, but then again, I do not live in a hot-bed of brilliance either.

    I've done enough to know that some people, degreed or not, are simply not cut out for doing what I do - just as I am not cut out for being a mechanic (I've tried that too, and learned that I would rather bust my brain than my arse), or a captain of industry, or a stock broker...

    Too many people seem intent on banging their head against a wall, until either their head, or the wall, gives way. Education will show that there are better tools for the job. And that, to me, is the value of a degree.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

Got your point right here (5.00 / 1) (#112)
by ubu on Mon Aug 27, 2001 at 05:06:21 PM EST

Getting a degree in a field you will not pursue, for the sake of the degree, is exactly buying into the myth that a piece of paper opens doors. Except for a security clearance, (and a $20 at the local night club) this is simply not true.

This hardly seems consistent with:

Degreed people tend to know how to learn new things. A degree is worth 2x years of experience to HR cronies.

Empirically speaking, if "the value of a degree is not in the parchment, but in the process of earning it" then it should not be necessary to specifically earn a degree in the first place. I suspect that to most people the value of a degree is, in fact, in the parchment. With regard to our own disagreement, I think that you put too much faith in what the degree represents, and I think that you do that as a response to other more meaningless symbols -- like having read Program in C++ in 21 Days.

It's not balck and white. You seem to very aggressively resist the idea that education is actually good for something. I suspect you've not had very good instructors.

That's a possibility. I can only reason deductively on this issue. Nevertheless I remain firmly convinced that the quality of collegiate education is almost never superior to the quality of a self-taught education, particularly in the tech field. We both agree that college is no substitute for motivation and inquisitiveness; therefore we must disagree on whether these are sufficient for a good education. I think that they are. The tech field has such abundant resources for the self-educator, and I, myself, have sat through 6 semesters of formal Computer Science training that seemingly taught me nothing.

Then again, Gates and Jobs both quit school.

Gates and Jobs are both assholes. I wouldn't invite either man to dinner. Then again, I'm not much of a respecter of persons. I respect merit and character; accolades and diplomas mean jack shit. Fortunately, in the tech field this is still a widespread attitude. Stock market crash or no stock market crash.

What an experienced person can do for $45k/annum, a fresh grad can do almost as well for $30k

You're living in fantasy-land. A fresh grad is 99% useless. He doesn't know how to use a timesheet, for crying out loud. He's never had to budget his time. His new co-workers do not like him because he doesn't spend time at the watercooler. Etc, etc, etc, ad nauseum.

That doesn't even begin to touch the fact that his college professors probably drooled vapidly for whole semesters over functional programming languages, the like of which he will never encounter in his workplace. And the fact that unlike a self-taught individual, he will infer that functional programming is therefore useless, instead of reasonably concluding that principles of language design can be learned and applied no matter what your situation, as long as you do not insist on dogmatic adherence to any single approach.

Which is a lesson college professor will never and can never teach.

Maybe my sampling rate is just higher than average, maybe I'm using 20% of my brain as opposed to the average 10. Maybe I am the second coming, or maybe I just got lucky and my work opportunities complimented my education, and my social context supported this. My friends have had similar experiences to mine. Maybe it's regional, but then again, I do not live in a hot-bed of brilliance either.

My experience wasn't dissimilar, but I quit school before I graduated. As an incremental investment it was far less valuable than devoting myself to work. I worked full-time during my entire collegiate experience and as far as I was concerned I learned more in 8 hours at work on any given day than during an entire semester of digital logic with a bunch of white-bread idiots.

Even that, I think, wasn't bad enough. The straw that broke the camel's back, for me, was the core curriculum of "I'm OK, You're OK" and "Introduction to Women's Studies". After 3 years of that shit I was done. D-O-N-E.

Too many people seem intent on banging their head against a wall, until either their head, or the wall, gives way. Education will show that there are better tools for the job. And that, to me, is the value of a degree.

That's just completely wacked. I'll tell you where I learned to stop banging my head against the wall: the Perl Camel book. TMTOWTDI. Shit like that. You learn from real teachers, that way. You learn real lessons. As if I need some dumbass professor telling me how to curry a function, when Tom Christiansen is happy to explain a whole career's worth of insights to anyone who will listen.


As good old software hats say - "You are in very safe hands, if you are using CVS !!!"
[ Parent ]
Oh please. (5.00 / 2) (#116)
by glothar on Mon Aug 27, 2001 at 06:31:06 PM EST

Nevertheless I remain firmly convinced that the quality of collegiate education is almost never superior to the quality of a self-taught education, particularly in the tech field.

You still don't get it. Do you think that I went to school for four year spending all my time going to class and drinking? Or do you just think that no one else is as good as you? Yes, I learned more at my job than I did in class. Yes, I taught myself Perl, and Java, and OS level programming in Linux. But my classes taught me how to write code that was correct and elegant, so long as I was willing and able to learn.

You're living in fantasy-land. A fresh grad is 99% useless.

Please. I know how to use a timesheet. I spent my entire college career budgeting time between school, fun, a girlfriend on occasion, work and learning to code in my spare time (which should be a shock to you, since it is apparently against some law where you live to work and learn at the same time).

That doesn't even begin to touch the fact that his college professors probably drooled vapidly for whole semesters over functional programming languages...

Funny. I learned C++ in school. My professors taught me to use whatever language suited the job. Often that meant C++ or C. My professors taught me how all languages worked, with both theoretical proofs and real world examples.

Which is a lesson college professor will never and can never teach.

So I was dreaming when we discussed which languages were best for particular problems in class? Perhaps I hallucinated the day when we went over the reasons why functional programming languages were so seldom used. I apparently dont know as much as you.

The straw that broke the camel's back, for me, was the core curriculum of "I'm OK, You're OK" and "Introduction to Women's Studies". After 3 years of that shit I was done.

And there is the proof. You effectively say:

I refuse to do any tasks that I do not find enjoyable. Despite the fact that superiors may have different plans from me, I feel that only I have the intelligence to fully see the purpose of everything in life.
College taught me that I can even do well at things I don't want to do. I dont need instant gratification for my duties. I never liked Calculus. I found it annoying. My professor was very difficult. I could have transfered, or dropped out (like successful people do, apparently), but instead I just worked harder. Got an A. That must mean I am stupider than most grads. Now, perhaps you dont want your co-workers to have that kind of work ethic. Instead you should tailor all projects so that you completely avoid grunt work. Good luck.

You learn from real teachers, that way

Yeah. I know. I read that book too. Except I got to discuss it with professors who also read it. But they probably didn't understand it as well as you. 'Cuz you're smarter than anyone who graduated from college.

Your message seems laced with contempt for degreed tech people. Almost as if you hate them for doing something you cant. Until I hear different, I will assume that you and I went through similar experiences, except that you quit when it got tough, and I finished and got my degree.

Getting back on topic, I had no problem finding a job. In my office, not a single person failed to get their degree. All of them are self-educated so far as the requirements of work go.

So, how about you show me a nice algorithm for this:

token: a piece of data holding a type
requirement: a leaf of the tree requiring a specific token type
element: a value based on whether a requirement is matched by a token
expression: boolean string of elements
tree: a tree structure of requirements. Any requirement leaf, can be matched by a corresponding token matching that requirement or any requirement children it has.

Find an optimal, generalized way to solve the epression. No false accepts or rejects allowed, now.

And yes, we had to do this.

[ Parent ]

It is to laugh (5.00 / 1) (#131)
by ubu on Tue Aug 28, 2001 at 11:46:53 AM EST

Catching on to two separate strains, I'd like to point out that Yes, I am smarter than you. You got that part right, tiger.

As for the other:

I refuse to do any tasks that I do not find enjoyable. Despite the fact that superiors may have different plans from me, I feel that only I have the intelligence to fully see the purpose of everything in life.

To you, apparently, nonconformity means rebellion against "superiors". Aw, why didn't you just say "parents", little guy? We all see your Oedipus Complex, let's be honest with each other. It must be a real slap in the face for someone like me to pooh-pooh your tender affection for a diploma. Mommy and Daddy paid good money for this!!

I dont need instant gratification for my duties. I never liked Calculus. I found it annoying. My professor was very difficult. I could have transfered, or dropped out (like successful people do, apparently), but instead I just worked harder. Got an A.

Aw, that's great! Don't mind me, I preach a voluntary work ethic. That's not your thing, you'd probably do better in a sheltered environment where your tasks and boundaries are clearly defined. You will work well within a system.

To you, people like me will always be "those people". You know, the "contractors" and loose cannon of questionable background. You know how to take orders from superiors.

Yeah. I know. I read that book too. Except I got to discuss it with professors who also read it.

Oh Lordy! The Rosetta Stone!

Your message seems laced with contempt for degreed tech people.

No, but you're getting on that side of me.

So, how about you show me a nice algorithm for this:

Oh hell, tiger. I couldn't simplify a friggin' DFA at this point. We might wish that the workplace were so paint-by-number.


As good old software hats say - "You are in very safe hands, if you are using CVS !!!"
[ Parent ]
Yeah. You really don't get it. (5.00 / 1) (#139)
by glothar on Wed Aug 29, 2001 at 08:59:01 AM EST

Now I see your prejudice. Its really sad.

To you, apparently, nonconformity means rebellion against "superiors". Aw, why didn't you just say "parents", little guy? We all see your Oedipus Complex, let's be honest with each other. It must be a real slap in the face for someone like me to pooh-pooh your tender affection for a diploma.

Did you even read what I wrote? This isn't about rebelling. Where did you even get that from? You hated taking classes that you felt were purposeless. At times, my supervisor tells me to do things that I think are purposeless. I can deal with this, and actually do a good job. Can you?

And, this might come as a shock to you, but I actually have respect for you. You have more experience in the corporate workspace than I do. I respect that experience, and I don't doubt that you are just as skilled as I am. I dont think my dimploma is some great thing, its actually stacked under pop cans on the floor. But it proves that when I am faced with difficulties, I can perservere and succeed.

It also seems apparent that you cannot actually hold a logical discussion without trying to insult the person you are talking with. That's very mature of you. I had hoped you were a bit more intelligent than that.

Mommy and Daddy paid good money for this!!

You are just full of prejudices, arent you? Is that it? You see degreed people as privelidged kids, who sponged off their parents so they could find a job where they could afford the repairs on their BMW? From what I have heard from you before, you sponged off your parents much more than I have. I paid my own way through college. But you don't really care about that. You are going to think I am spoiled little boy anyways. Because you wont allow yourself to see me outside your predefined image. And you seem to think of me as the structured one.

Aw, that's great! Don't mind me, I preach a voluntary work ethic. That's not your thing, you'd probably do better in a sheltered environment where your tasks and boundaries are clearly defined. You will work well within a system.

You seem to have trouble comprehending what I am saying. Or are you actually saying that you think people should work hard only when they feel like it? I work hard because I have a drive to succeed. That doesn't fit with what you do? And again, here you try to imply that I require structure, from a comment I made about working hard when you didn't like what you were doing? Do the programmers where you work refuse to do tasks that they don't find "fun"? That would be a scary place.

    Your message seems laced with contempt for degreed tech people.
No, but you're getting on that side of me.

Really? So where did you get the information that my parents paid my way through college? I know of few people who dont pay at least part of their college expenses? Where did you get the idea that I was young, and inexperienced? Where did you get the idea that I was a conformist? You obviously have no data about me to make this decision. Perhaps you met a degreed IT person, perhaps more than one, and they annoyed you. They probably were incompetant, there are plenty of people with degrees that have all those characteristics that you feel must be present in me.

The question is why do you feel this? You've never met me. But you have already decided that you know what I am like. You even declared that you know that you are smarter than I am. I am willing to admit that might be true, but it is just as probable that I am smarter than you, and you refuse to believe that a coddled, spoiled kid who requires structure to accomplish anything could ever be as talented as you. You have classified me, and now refuse to see anything but that. Apparently you would also feel fine classifying me if I was black, or if I was gay, or if I came from a single parent family, or was dating someone from a different race. Is this they way you live your life?

I know very little about you. I respect that you are self taught. However, you forget that I am also self taught. You decided to work instead of finishing your degree, well, I was working also. But for some reason, you feel that because I did all of that while getting a degree, that it lessens the things I have learned and done. It is as illogical as me saying you are less competant because you sculpt in your spare time.

As I said before: I have heard nothing that you have done that I havent also done. Yet you feel that I am a lesser person simply because I received my degree. Hell, I only went to college one more year than you. Was I somehow changed in that one extra year of school? How did you escape being tainted after 3 years?

And as for that problem, I don't know what you do for a living. However, where I work, we actually have to code solutions to problems like that. Remember CFGs and finate state machines? We do those all the time. Perhaps that is the difference between you and I. We simply do different things for a living.

But you cannot respect me for that. You insult me and try to portray me as a child. I was shocked. You would never work where I do. We would prefer to have a less experienced coder to someone who holds such strong prejudices.

In the end. I feel sorry for you. You will never get to know or respect a degreed IT person. There are plenty of hard working, and very talented people with degrees. You refuse to respect any of them

Or perhaps you just don't respect me because I disagree with you. I don't think this is true, but that would be the only other explanation. I truly don't understand why you feel this way.

[ Parent ]

About Me && The purpose of degrees (5.00 / 1) (#140)
by glothar on Wed Aug 29, 2001 at 10:32:37 AM EST

If you want to stereotype me, fine. But at least get some facts about me to base those stereotypes on:

I lived in a suck-ass small town in North Dakota. My mom was a single parent with three kids. She worked as an elementary school teacher. For those who do not understand these implications, that means that we were just barely living above the poverty line. Its not like I was going hungry, or didn't have presentable clothes, but we lived with very few luxuries.

In 3rd and 4th grade I started teaching myself BASIC. Few 4th grade teachers go over this in class, so I learned by looking at the games and crappy educational software we used at school. I had to use the computer that my mom had in her classroom. It broke her heart, because she knew that she simply did not have the money to buy a computer. I of course, didn't care.

By Junior High and High school I was actually in a few classes whose sole purpose was to teach me to use computers. By then, there was little they could teach me while still being fair to the rest of the class. I spent my time teaching myself as much as I could after I finished my work in class.

Starting my sophomore year in high school, I was spending one period of my school day fixing teachers computer and writing web pages. I taught myself how to replace computer hardware, and install new hardware, all thanks to a very trusting tech coordinator. My mom tried to come up with enough money to buy a used computer I could use, but she had use all of her extra money trying to pay my sister's college bills. To this day she feels bad that she could not help me learn more.

But I had found my way out. Someone recognized that I was smart. I spent a summer at NDSU conducting research on the genetics of soil bacteria. While doing that, I started teaching myself the workings of BSD and the bash shell. As soon as I got that worked out, I started teaching myself C. All I had were some manuals I downloaded, and the system man pages. By my senior year I had chosen Computer Science over Microbiology as my chosen profession. I had only basic knowledge of C, but that doesn't matter, since there are very few places in North Dakota to get a programming job. So I went the only place I could to get the experience I needed to get out of the state.

My mom didn't have the money to buy a computer, much less a college education for me. However, my knowledge of BSD/Linux/UNIX, Windows, and MacOS got me a job at the University immediately. I used the money from this job to pay the amount of money that the state said my mom should have available to pay for my school (about $300) and I paid to buy my first computer. Late one night at work, one of the guys taught the new guys how to build a computer completely from components. When the parts arrived, I assembled my own computer.

By then I was learning C++ in school. I was busy learning installation and maintenance of Linux at home. By my sophomore year, I was learning Assembly in school. I never found a use for it, but it taught me how to optimize code. In my spare time, I experimenting with building libraries for Linux and Windows to do various tasks. While I learning about computer architecture in school, I taught myself Perl at night. We learned about Berkeley sockets in LAN class, but I applied that knowledge to Winsock also.

My last year was annoying. The only computer related class I took was Algorithm Analysis. But in my spare time I was writing administrative software and dynamic firewalls. I wrote a bash shell replacement for some of my friends. When it came time to get a job, there was no problem finding people who wanted to hire me.

I got a degree because I had no other choice. There are no places for me to go and get experience. No one would hire a high school grad who had never owned a computer. I didn't have money to move anywhere. My mom couldn't afford to send me anywhere. She couldn't even afford to let me use a car, but she took out loans to cover the insurance on a 20 year old car anyways. After graduating from school, I effectively lost access to computers. There was no way for me to learn any more. I'm sure you would agree that without practical use of computers to accompany it, reading computer books is useless. What was I supposed to do? Or should I just give up and farm? I don't seem to live such a priviledged life anymore do I?

Now I have $20,000 in loans to pay off. But every last dollar of that is worth it. My degree doesn't mean that I am better than people who don't have it. My degree means that I do have experience.

I spent four years in college, but in those four years I learned more than I think I could in four years of working and self-teaching. I taught myself many languages, but Dr. Juell taught me how to recognize the advantages and shortcomings of all of them. I taught myself how to use a few GUI toolkits, but Dr. Slator taught me how to make a UI that will be easy to use. I taught myself advanced C/C++, but Dr. Erickson showed me more elegant and correct ways of doing things. I inherently understood logic and its implications on programming, but Dr. Martin showed me rigor and correctness in applying that logic.

Even the general ed classes had an effect. Sociology showed me a few aspects of people I hadn't thought of before, and how I could use them to understand people. Geology taught me respect for disciplines other than my own. Wellness taught me about prejudice. Speech taught me patience.

There is nothing that I learned in college that I could not have taught myself. But I learned it faster. And I learned it in a place where I had access to all the information I wanted in order to teach myself. I talked to professors about projects I was working on outside class. They helped me find solutions that it would have taken me twice as long to find. They showed me how to analyze problems and find the best solution. How to think of things in different terms.

What I am curious about is this: Where did you self-teach yourself? Or are you no better than you expect of me? Did you scrounge all of your allowance to buy an obsolete computer so you could teach yourself in the solitude of your own room? Did you refuse advice from people experienced in the field, knowing that that would be no different than most professors? Its entirely possible that you faced the same hardships I did, in which case you and I aren't all that different. Or perhaps you learned on a computer your parent(s) bought for you. Did you have a job where they taught you things you needed to know? How come I get the feeling you had many more people helping you learn than I ever did. Yet you judge me.

Now, perhaps you are saying, "Wait a second, if your sister would have taught herself, you would have had enough money for a computer, or enough to move to a place where you had more opportunity." My sister had a dream, and she followed it. She is a neonatal intensive care nurse in Indiana. Sure. She could have taught herself. But a funny thing happens. As soon as it is your child lying in a plastic case the size of a shoebox struggling to breathe, people tend to get touchy about that. They want proof that the person taking care of their child has been trained to do it.

Now there is a difference here. But that is what a degree is: Proof. It doesn't mean I am better than you, it means that even though I don't have the experience that you do, I am not an idiot. I have been educated. I have the ability to teach myself, to be assigned work and finish it, to follow through.

Perhaps you think that I would be better off if I was completely self taught. Explain to me how I should have done that. Until you do, you are nothing but prejudicial talk.

[ Parent ]

reply (none / 0) (#141)
by ubu on Wed Aug 29, 2001 at 10:53:46 AM EST

You should be proud of your degree; after all, you earned it and the credit is yours to whatever extent it's a valuable thing.

I don't hate, despise, resent, or envy degree-holders. I plan to be an undergrad degree holder within a few years. My argument is not motivated by alienation from degree holders.

I think you jumped into a discussion that didn't bear much on your personal achievement. Being an auto-didact who eschews an undergrad degree on a cost-efficiency basis is a valid approach to the tech sector, and my postings were intended to reflect that in the face of criticism that says, effectively, without a degree you are an underachiever.

I do affirm and will always affirm the validity and strength of the independent approach. I do condemn and will always condemn the abysmal lack of quality in most undergraduate studies programs. Somewhere in the middle of all that, feelings will get hurt and egos offended; that is unfortunate, unnecessary, and irrelevant.


As good old software hats say - "You are in very safe hands, if you are using CVS !!!"
[ Parent ]
Reply to Reply (aka: Resolution) (5.00 / 1) (#144)
by glothar on Wed Aug 29, 2001 at 01:36:12 PM EST

You and I have much the same opinion. I wish I had the choice to get the experience you got instead of the degree.

My degree serves one purpose: To get me a job I like. It has served my purpose. Without the degree, I would have been stuck in North Dakota for years until I could get enough experience to get a better job.

However, it would be best for you to remember that not all degreed IT personnel are the types who only chose to get CS degrees because they thought it would be easy to get a job. When you say that 99% of all degreed people are "useless", and then immediately figure that I just sailed through college to get a degree so I could feel important, it makes me feel rather disrespected.

There are some very nice universities that turn out well educated and experienced students. Your average community college, does not.

Either way, post-on fellow k5er. May your posts be intelligent, informative, and opinionated! (Just don't get angry if my opinions differ)

[ Parent ]

Professional Engineers (none / 0) (#129)
by Merk00 on Tue Aug 28, 2001 at 10:28:01 AM EST

There's a reason for certifying professional engineers which is a completely different issue than the reason for a degree. The PE certification exists to guarantee public safety. Any time a bridge is designed, a PE has to sign off on the project that it is safe. They also have to sign off on issues such as run-off and other environmental concerns. There is also a requirement to have 3 years (I believe 3 years) experience working under other PE's. The PE certification is very important and completely unrelated to getting a degree.

"At FIRST we see a world where science and technology are celebrated, where kids think science is cool and dream of becoming science and technology heroes."
- FIRST Mission
[ Parent ]

PE Certification (none / 0) (#136)
by ubu on Tue Aug 28, 2001 at 02:52:31 PM EST

The PE certification exists to guarantee public safety.

If that were true, I might well agree that

The PE certification is very important and completely unrelated to getting a degree.

In reality, the professional engineering culture was created to house a modern-day guild, no more and no less. The fact that it has regulatory strings attached is circumstantial. PE certification was enshrined in law for the sake of enforcing the status quo, not for the sake of "saving lives".


As good old software hats say - "You are in very safe hands, if you are using CVS !!!"
[ Parent ]
Heh (5.00 / 5) (#111)
by trhurler on Mon Aug 27, 2001 at 04:50:03 PM EST

Well, with regard to tech people, there are two separate issues you're confusing and also a problem you're not admitting.

There is a distinction between merit and the appearance of merit. You are confusing the two; a degree can give you the appearance of merit, but only intelligence and effort can give you merit itself - and you can have it with or without a degree. Whether you are easily employable is another matter.

The problem you're not admitting is that CS and related degrees have almost nothing to do with 99.9% of tech jobs out there. In other words, the degree is pretty much worthless to almost everyone who gets it. I've got mine. You know what? I'll probably never use most of that stuff again. What little I will, I can and/or did easily learn on my own.

Explain to me why I need some old Fortran programmer's opinion of how an interrupt handler should work, given that he doesn't actually know anything about any CPU made since about 1975 and doesn't care to learn? Explain to me why I took a class(a semester!) in compilers, and learned less than I picked up in three days of screwing around one weekend on my own with a book and a computer? Why did I pay thousands of dollars for that?

Worse yet, explain any of this to a system administrator, or a facilities designer, or a build manager, or any of the other highly skilled people who use precisely none of what they spent all that money to learn.

You talk about a 2.3 gpa. I had a 2.4. You know what? Nobody will ever ask about that again. Instead, what they're going to do is, they're going to say "He has a degree. Nice. He's been kicking ass and taking names ever since he graduated. Nicer. Much nicer." And then I'm going to get the job. Period.

Look at my GPA covering only the courses I gave a damn about. More like a 3.8 or so. Look at it covering everything else. Probably barely a 2.0, if that. Look at what I spent my free time doing(learning useful skills.) There's a reason I'm still eminently employable(and employed) while all the degreeless Red Hat monkeys can't find a job sweeping shithouses. I don't need the degree - all it does is get me past the HR drone and into an interview. Nice, but not necessary, since I have friends. On the other hand, guess where I'd be without the skills, the need to learn more, and a track record of using it effectively?

The key is, you can get by with solid skills and no degree, but it is harder. You can't get by for long with a degree and no skills, or with no degree and no skills. The latter two groups are the ones mainly feeling the pinch. Sorry, but "ability to run Linux" is not skills. Neither is "ability to configure sendmail." The people who told you otherwise are full of shit. If you can't program, you're a commodity. If you can't do a sysadmin job, you're a commodity. If you can't design, you're in danger of being a commodity. That's the bar. If you can't clear it, learn to be a commodity, because there are too many people out there with few or no skills who want jobs.

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Not quite (5.00 / 2) (#113)
by jabber on Mon Aug 27, 2001 at 05:25:03 PM EST

I am not confusing merit and the appearance thereof, and I said so in a previous post where I explicitly mentioned degreed people who do more harm than they would be by doing nothing. I've had the misfortune of working with such individuals, who had held their positions longer than I'd been alive, whose 'experience' made them immune to attrition, and whose 'business sense' (in actuallity FEAR of the NEW) caused management to cripple projects before they ever got off the ground. Been there, done that, got a few resume bullets and moved on.

You are correct in saying that 99.9% of tech jobs out there have precious little to do with CS.. They are IT/MIS jobs, and warrant that type of degree. There is room for maybe one competent CS person in a score of IT people, and this person should be the project lead/systems architect or have some such guidance responsibility. Beyond that, the CS theory is about as applicable as quantum physics is to Mechanical Engineering.

Admittedly, few aircraft designers need to worry about quantum effects or the probability of the plane spontaneously disappearing, but there should be a few people on staff to add depth of thought to the design process. And while the quantum level is pretty much irrelevant to Boeing, you can be damn sure that all their ME's have had to take Physics at some point, not just engineering, even though they don't ever do free-body diagrams in the course of their work.

Point here being that while you're not learning immediately applicable skills in the process of getting a CS degree, you are causing your mind to work in certain ways, and classify and disassemble problems in a particular manner - which you are then also trained to address. In learning compiler theory you surely learned BNF, parsing, lexical analysis, logic optimization, register vs stack storage, assembly, yadda-yadda... If you never write a compiler in your life, the consideration of the issues raised in the process of learning how one works resonates throughout your professional effort, and suggests solutions that an MIS/IT degree holder is not likely to consider.

Who in their right mind would look to graph spanning algorithms when dealing with network analysis? Who lacking a CS education would stumble across state machines as a means of modelling a problem? Does not the knowledge of Computational Theory help optimize a firewall ruleset for speed? Why should a VB programmer care about DeMorgan's Law?

Could we even have this conversation if we didn't have a common language?

As for the rest of your post, I agree completely - but it is you that is missing a nuance. You're talking from the perspective of an innately talented person. A talented person will often be held back by formal education, mainly because such an education is geared for the more 'average' student. Talented people do best with mentors, with experienced and talented guides who can relate to the student's mind in a more responsive fashion than a curriculum aimed at a 100+ students at once.

You compared your GPA in classes you cared about versus those you did not care about. Would you have derrived any benefit out of the 'uninteresting' material if it were not required? Would you have even approached it? Did it add no value at all? Or did a few of the force-fed bits actually round out your experience enough to have been warranted?

There's plenty of classes I needed to take that I did not care for at the time. They seemed a waste of time at the time, but in retrospect, they've added depth to the range of subjects I can discuss, or at least comprehend discussions of.

Here we get a little more subtle about the value of education - well-roundedness. Being too finely specialized, even through formal education, is dangerous. Say you burn out, or get bored, and decide to change fields.. It's a good thing to know at least a little about your alternatives - even if you choose to pursue something completely new. Education adds choices.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

Hmm... (4.00 / 1) (#115)
by trhurler on Mon Aug 27, 2001 at 06:18:50 PM EST

There is room for maybe one competent CS person in a score of IT people, and this person should be the project lead/systems architect or have some such guidance responsibility.
Why should the guy with the least practical skills and experience be in charge? That's flat out dangerous.
Point here being that while you're not learning immediately applicable skills in the process of getting a CS degree, you are causing your mind to work in certain ways, and classify and disassemble problems in a particular manner - which you are then also trained to address.
Actually, I learned that process by "programming," which I have been doing since I was a small child. By the time I got to college, my ability to solve problems was not in question.
In learning compiler theory you surely learned BNF, parsing, lexical analysis, logic optimization, register vs stack storage, assembly, yadda-yadda...
Yes, but I could have covered all that in a couple of weeks on my own(and did, in fact, since the course coverage was a bit weak,) without spending thousands of dollars. The point is, you don't need school to learn something useful.

By the way, people who learn assembly for use in compilers are usually incompetent at it. Much better to learn it with your computer architecture stuff and use it to write programs directly for awhile, then move on. You get a much better idea of what it is for and how it works. The "learn it for your compilers" attitude is probably responsible for most of the shitty code generators out there.
Who lacking a CS education would stumble across state machines as a means of modelling a problem?
Me, at around the age of nine or ten. I didn't know the name or the math behind it, but that's what I was doing.
Does not the knowledge of Computational Theory help optimize a firewall ruleset for speed?
Maybe. Maybe not. Depends on the firewall.
Or did a few of the force-fed bits actually round out your experience enough to have been warranted?
Actually, there were non-CS classes in which I excelled. I didn't say I just liked the CS stuff. The point is, I should have been choosing. Sure, I'd have missed out on that scintillating class in how to write MLA format papers, the ever-useful early American literature course, and so on - but in exchange, I'd have had time to pack in more philosophy, economics, advanced CS electives, and other things that I actually care enough about to be any good at. Frankly, if reading the journal of an early colonist who wrote about the difficulties of primitive farming on the east coast is what is meant by being "well rounded," then I'd be quite happy out of round.
Here we get a little more subtle about the value of education - well-roundedness. Being too finely specialized, even through formal education, is dangerous. Say you burn out, or get bored, and decide to change fields.. It's a good thing to know at least a little about your alternatives - even if you choose to pursue something completely new. Education adds choices.
I've got enough natural interests to last me a lifetime if I burned out every five years. I don't need some bureaucratic weasel trying to conjure up more of them for me.

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Of alright then.. (5.00 / 1) (#117)
by jabber on Mon Aug 27, 2001 at 07:10:37 PM EST

So what you're saying is that you're better than everyone else? Ok, I'll buy that. :)

Why should the guy with the least practical skills and experience be in charge?

Not 'in charge', in lead. There's a big difference, and I know that you know this and are just being contrary. You don't need to know how to swing a shovel to architect a building. You also don't need to know Perl to design an accounting system. Note, I am not saying that it would not help to know it. But the level of abstraction at which the bigger picture is formed does not need the burden of low-level detail. It's nice if it takes it into consideration, and is open to revision if the details required prove unworkable, but I think you get my point.

How many CEO's are concerned about where in the stockroom the staples are placed? As long as they're there, cheap and available, it's not the CEO's problem.

By the time I got to college, my ability to solve problems was not in question

Which is exactly why I said you were speaking from the perspective of a talented individual. Most kids lack whatever it is that makes the few able to seek out and apply knowledge for themselves. You're talking specifics, I'm talking generalities. With that exception, I think we're in agreement.

I didn't know the name or the math behind it, but that's what I was doing.

Fine, but without knowing the name or the math, you could only go as far as your own inbred ability would take you. The name and math make it possible to amplify knowledge through a common language with other people. Granted, there are geniuses who exceed all their available peers, but even those who fit this mold would hesitate to declare themselves as such.

how to write MLA format papers

And should you ever do something remarkable and worthy of publication, would you just hand it off to an intern to write up? Sure, one can abhor and avoid the obscure academic circles, but when there, writing a clean paper is as important as proper grammar and good spelling. And you know as well as I what sort of frustration comes out of less than perfection in those two items even on K5.. I'm not saying that's how it should be, just how it is.

early American literature

I don't know about that one. Melville, Hawthorne, Toreau.. Their writing is a cultural staple, and well worth considering. I agree, I care little for the plight of the colonial farmer, but then again, never did I have to read about it. And if I did, I certainly hope I would find at least a few parallels to my own efforts, which would surely change my perspective on the 'daily grind'..

I'm not advocating complete mindless surrender to the educational institution. Not at all. The interests of the individual should certainly govern their educational experience. I do think, however, that there is quite a bit of experience in the Ivory Tower vis a vis how learning ought to be structured and what turns out to be 'of value' over a lifetime, and that this experience should not be dismissed lightly.

A student in the middle of the learning process can not judge it's applicability to the whole of their life any more than a flea can size up a dog. This is not to say that a stuffed shirt can do a better job. The student should, IMHO, consider the process in good faith, and assume that they themselves may not have all the answers just yet - lest they wake up 10 years later and blame 'the educational system' for their own bad decisions..

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

Ah (5.00 / 1) (#119)
by trhurler on Mon Aug 27, 2001 at 07:28:44 PM EST

Finally, someone who admits my innate superiority:)

I really think we'd be better off if more architects could swing shovels, and more designers could write code. I'm not saying they should DO those things in the course of their present jobs, but to never have developed those skills calls into question whether you really have any business directing people who have.

In any case, we may be largely in agreement, but what I don't understand is, why is there no real path available to people who don't suck ass at what they do? For all the talk, it just doesn't add up; sure, little kids might have special classes, but you go to college, and whether you go to Bumblefuck State or some prestigious private school, the curriculum is guaranteed to be dumbed down for the criminally stupid and/or lazy.

I took three semesters of calculus. I learned more math in high school. You see, this was "engineering calc," by which they mean they make you do problem drills over and over again, rather than actually teach you any math. The test is just another problem drill, only longer. You're taught nothing useful - even to engineers - but since more people can memorize methods of manipulating symbols than can learn math, that's what they teach. I took all kinds of crap I didn't care about, and never will - which I have already forgotten for just that reason. I was forced to jump through all manner of hoops designed to trip up the lazy without actually selecting for competence in any way whatsoever. School was, unquestionably, the most horrendous waste of time and money I will ever engage in. Granted it didn't have to be, in principle, but there's no place where it isn't for a guy like me.

When you can justify that, I want to hear about the value of degrees. Til then, a degree is, in my mind, a requirement imposed by stupid people on the assumption that everyone else is like them, and is of little benefit relative to its cost for those of us who are not stupid. I don't presume that I'm the only one with functioning frontal lobes - but I do know that most people seem to lack them, and the modern university was created for those idiots.

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Simple (5.00 / 1) (#122)
by jabber on Mon Aug 27, 2001 at 10:31:38 PM EST

why is there no real path available to people who don't suck ass at what they do?

Because that would be elitist.. It's perfectly fine to keep up with the Joneses materially, but God help anyone who is a 'superior person'...

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

Whoa... (2.50 / 4) (#105)
by DangerGrrl on Mon Aug 27, 2001 at 02:41:17 PM EST

I was going to come back with some witty reply about how incompetent those we rely on to give us our degrees are. Case in point: THIS is the painful home page of my C++ teacher. Take a browse around, if your sense of aesthetics aren't completly offended from the first page.
And I never took another Comp-sci class again.

Then again, I never bothered to learn from C++ in 21 days and try to pass myself off as an expert either.

However - this post left me speachless. Litteraly, my jaw dropped. Between this and your reply to my diary, I am convinced you have the biggest set of balls in existance.
Did your advanced degree come with a wheelbarrow for those things?

At any rate - bravo. That was beautiful.

[ Parent ]
Give your techer a break (none / 0) (#130)
by sisyfus on Tue Aug 28, 2001 at 10:35:43 AM EST

Come on.

The site was written in '96! God, I look back on what I wrote back then with absolute, utter horror. Granted he should maybe update it (at least get out of frame hell) but hey, there's lots worse out there.

Hell, there are some quite useful links.


[ Parent ]
Oh really... (3.75 / 4) (#107)
by Knight on Mon Aug 27, 2001 at 03:05:38 PM EST

I agree about the personal benefits of the process of earning a degree, but professionally, all it says to me is that you weren't motivated enough to learn the information on your own. In the engineering organizations I've helped put together over the years, I've learned one thing, there's nothing more useless than a fresh, college-educated programmer. They know plenty about programming, but nothing about _engineering_.

Not one of seven members of my team graduated college, and while most of us attended at one point or another, few of us were pursuing a CS degree. I suppose I can't prove it to you, but the truth is that my team consists of the most creative and intelligent engineers I've ever worked with.

The problem with a college CS program is that while it does a good job of teaching the basics, it does little to foster the creative problem solving that makes an programmer truly good.

[ Parent ]
Well DUH! (5.00 / 2) (#110)
by jabber on Mon Aug 27, 2001 at 04:34:50 PM EST

Alright, so how much more useful is someone who just walked in off the street?

Of course a fresh grad has no experience, especially when compared to someone who does. But then, how much experience did THAT person have at their first job? Someone had to bite the bullet there, so the person w/o a degree could get that experience. I'm willing to bet that it is much easier to bring the frosh up to speed than it is to make use of the uneducated clod..

Why do people assume that college grads are mindless fucks, while the alternative is brimming with intellect? There are just as many geniuses in college as outside of it - if not more. And even the mediocre mind, once educated, can be used to solve problems, whereas an untrained and average mind is, at best, capable of menial physical labor for which a machine has not yet been developed by some bright grad school drop out.. ;)

Here's the thing that everyone seems incapable of accepting: College does not prevent you from learning things on your own! Sheesh! I think it was Mark Twain who said: "Never let school interfere with your education" - How this ever got twisted to mean that you should avoid school, I'll never know.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

what the hell (none / 0) (#138)
by zhermit on Tue Aug 28, 2001 at 03:32:38 PM EST

And when someone like you has a prejudice like yours, those freshly graduated cs majors have no shot of learning creative problem solving.

All it takes is experience - how can you get that when every job expects 5 years of experience? Most end up at a crap job like me, where no one cares a bit about how to solve the problem, and all the bad habits we learned in college reenforce themselves.


I have a sig?
[ Parent ]
you know Jabber (2.66 / 3) (#120)
by core10k on Mon Aug 27, 2001 at 07:34:25 PM EST

You've really been making the rounds with this stuff, haven't you. Who is this venom directed at, and why? If HR is really doing it for you, then why do you feel the need to lift yourself up? What type of degree are you talking about? CS? CE? EE? BCom in marketting? administration? English? Social Sciences? Women's Studies? Any degree? What's your motive, dude?

[ Parent ]
Venom? (4.66 / 3) (#123)
by jabber on Mon Aug 27, 2001 at 10:50:21 PM EST

Hey, I'm propping up a formal education for the improvement of humanity. I'm not forcing it on anyone. If you don't want a degree, it's more job security for me. :)

I'm advocating any degree in a person's field of choice. I think that a structured education is a Good Thing - not on it's own, but along side self-study (going after one's own interests).

I do have resentment however, since when the market was good, I saw people literally dropping out of high-school thinking that they were set for life because they knew HTML.. You know, it's just painful seeing someone set themselves up like that.

The difference between arrogance and confidence is the ability to back up the claim of ability. These kids were being arrogant, and now they've learned a hard lesson. One that could have been avoided with patience, temperance and not grabbing greedily at the fast buck. So yes, I'm a bit raw, since I think I was over-cautious when they were giving free Ferraris for just sending in a resume. :)

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

hmm (none / 0) (#125)
by core10k on Mon Aug 27, 2001 at 11:32:18 PM EST

You *are* the guy that wrote this post on Slashdot, right?

[ Parent ]
Nope (none / 0) (#126)
by jabber on Mon Aug 27, 2001 at 11:50:56 PM EST

I've hardly been to /. in months..

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

ah (none / 0) (#127)
by core10k on Tue Aug 28, 2001 at 12:00:41 AM EST

It just seems there's been a rash of comments like that lately, so I naturally assumed they were all the result of one person. My bad.

[ Parent ]
Going on 3 months (none / 0) (#114)
by nfnnmidata on Mon Aug 27, 2001 at 05:49:09 PM EST

At this point I barely bother to look anymore, there's just not anything out there for me. The only interview I had was set up because I know someone (result unknown). Thank god for unemployment insurance. Hopefully the next time I hear PC mfrs are slashing jobs, I will (provided I have a job) take the hint and start Saving Money for the Impending Market Collapse.

Still employed (none / 0) (#121)
by weirdling on Mon Aug 27, 2001 at 07:39:34 PM EST

Knock on wood. If this thing gets much worse, I'm off to join the military and then back to school. That's my fallback plan.

I have to say that the slump I've been in is lightening some; it's funny that so many people I'm acquainted with in the tech industry hit this at the same time. It seems to me that after the euphoria of the dot-coms, everyone is in a down cycle.

Well, I'm starting my own dot-com, too. There's nothing like crowding into a hopelessly crowded market, but I intend to make the thing run on pennies, ie eBay-purchased used servers and open-source software. Here's hoping I won't be a wage-slave for long...

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
I'm not worried... (none / 0) (#128)
by moeffju on Tue Aug 28, 2001 at 09:21:38 AM EST

I'm self-employed and also in various cooperation contracts with other companies. So, by this alone I could be content with my life. But I also have a nice girlfriend since over one year, everything is well, and I found the meaning of life in living.

I don't think there's much that could still go wrong, and even if it all perishes one day to another, I would just live on.

Most depressions aren't worth even thinking about getting them, really.

Sell Yourself (none / 0) (#132)
by Hefty on Tue Aug 28, 2001 at 11:47:17 AM EST

I would recommend becoming a salesman of some sorts. Try selling anything: cars, computers, stereos, even underwear. Once you become expert at making someone believe they absolutely must have this 19.99 cordless phone with built in speakerphone then selling yourself to a potential employer in the computer market is a peice of cake. I found that you usually want to apply for a job that compliments all your experiences. For instance, besides working on computers since I was 7 years old, I have: worked in retail sales for many years, worked as a car mechanic, and I've done data entry. My first computer related job was with Clubcorp International which owns a number of golf courses around the world. My position was head of support for a retail POS system they were intergrating into their Golf Pro shops. It was the fact that I was a natural computer person that also had many years of knowledge about how a retail business operated. This experience made me a natural support person for a retail POS software under development. After working at Clubcorp for several months my boss admitted to me that he had several resumes of people that had degrees in computer science and programming applying for that position. But what stood out on my resume was the retail experience I showed. To them the fact that I was slinging it out on the retail store front for five years made me a better candidate. If my resume had just been all about computers, computers, and more computers then I wasn't really going to stand out from the rest of the crowd. All I'm saying I guess is don't be embarrased to put on your resume that 6 months worth of work you did at a Mcdonalds or a Sears & Roebuck. Some employers like to see that stuff because it gives substance to your resume and shows them what you are made of.

Pure GOLD <nt> (none / 0) (#133)
by CodeWright on Tue Aug 28, 2001 at 12:00:17 PM EST

A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

Think outside the box... (none / 0) (#135)
by Elkor on Tue Aug 28, 2001 at 02:08:01 PM EST

HR people look at certificates and diplomas to pick candidates. If your previous job title doesn't match what their job title says, you can't possibly have the experience they need, right?

As someone else said, to have a good chance, you should get a hold of the supervisor that has the open position. Pitch directly to him/her. If you can convince them, they can go to their manager and then tell the HR person to hire you.

Heck, if you are resourceful, cold call supervisors of companies that HAVEN'T posted job openings. Look for Engineering Companies or Engineering divisions of larger companies in your area. Pitch yourself to the manager as a development programmer to write custom development software or databases for whatever they design/manufacture.

Learn QS9000 and develop databases to manage quality assurance.

You may end up being the only programmer in a company in an industry you don't understand.

But it might just work out for you.

It did for my company when we hired a programmer to work in the Optics Development group of an Automotive Manufacturer.

Or, for a change of pace, learn to bartend. It tends to be a night job (which I notice a fair number of geeks enjoy), the pay can be good, and it is a good way to meet people. If you later find a job in your field, it is someone to fall back on.


"I won't tell you how to love God if you don't tell me how to love myself."
-Margo Eve
it's getting ridiculous (none / 0) (#137)
by zhermit on Tue Aug 28, 2001 at 03:12:33 PM EST

Almost everyone i know seems to be in a rut as well. Only one of them works in the computer industry; the rest are teachers, or students, or in sales, or retail. In fact, the only ones doing ok are the teachers.

This is California, where the economy has been shrinking for a year. More specifically, this is Southern California, in a vaguely remote area (Inland Empire) where all the jobs pay shit and have never heard of benefits. The only job I can find around here, as a web/database programmer with 3 years experience and a degree, pays 20k/yr without benefits. I'm doing good.

All the projects though - I run a magazine in my spare time - get pushed off. I can't concentrate at work, I can't bring myself to sit down and write, or edit, or layout pages. Last weekend, my computer went down, and I've had no real interest in fixing it - all very unlike me.

I believe this depression is very widespread. The impending recession is going to be worse than the last Bush's - we've been riding a false high (in all industries, not just computers) for too long, and everything is crashing around our ears - or, in my case (and everyone I know), already has.

I have a sig?
Statistics? (none / 0) (#147)
by aphrael on Tue Sep 04, 2001 at 06:05:10 PM EST

This is California, where the economy has been shrinking for a year

Could you provide some statistics for that? This is totally at odds with my experience --- of course, you're probably from the most depressed region of the state, and i'm from the least, so that is (perhaps) only to be expected. :)

in a vaguely remote area (Inland Empire) where all the jobs pay

Aaah. that's probably part of the problem. Where you are living is probably the *least* pleasant part of the state. It's not that bad elsewhere, at least not yet.

[ Parent ]

Well... (none / 0) (#142)
by k5er on Wed Aug 29, 2001 at 12:51:30 PM EST

I was depressed for a long time. It became really bad with daily anxiety attacks. Of course that is over, but I still have my bad days. This is a problem that usually affects people of higher intelligence.. explaining why the "geek" community is always depressed. All I can say is that you have to concentrate on the NOW, don't let things from the past haunt you, and don't worry obsessivly about the future. Try working on building your confidence and take pride in what you do well, it'll make you feel better... and I guarantee that whatever you choose to do, you'll excel at it. We got something most people don't, and that is an extremely high intellect...relative to the rest of the population, so don't let others get you down.
Long live k5, down with CNN.
Well, now my day is a little better (none / 0) (#143)
by westgeof on Wed Aug 29, 2001 at 01:16:30 PM EST

(If I wasn't fighting the flu, that is)
From skimming through the comments, it looks like most of the troubles are coming from the California area, especially for the "dot-com" folks. Things are looking a lot better down my way, on the East coast. Our group at work alone just hired 5 people in the last year, all making over $40k, and from what I hear they've expanded quite a bit in the other groups too.

I work with a defense contracter, which is the way to go for job security. We had a commercial business come in last year and a lot of people jumped ship to work there for more money, but now at least 75% of them are quietly making inquiries, to see if they can get their old jobs back. You just have to take your chances in the commercial world. I'm more than happy with what I've got, so I'll stick with the secure job rather than the higher salary.

I happen to love my job, the work is boring (99% of it is fixing legacy code), but the people I work with, including my supervisor, are all pretty good friends now, it's rarely stressfull, the pay is good, and we have little reason to worry about losing a job. If we were still hiring, I'd reccomend some of y'all to come on over.

As a child, I wanted to know everything. Now I miss my ignorance
aw, hell, i may as well add my sob-story (none / 0) (#145)
by missgreen on Wed Aug 29, 2001 at 11:29:09 PM EST

i have been pretty depressed since i lost my job-- but then again, i probably don't deserve to cry as much as most other geeks. i've only been programming (perl) for a little over a year, after messing around with html for several years. i was still in college a year ago when my then-boyfriend got me a sweet internship doing perl and misc. stuff at the place he worked. fifteen bucks an hour; after one week and one company softball game i thought i had the coolest job ever. shortly thereafter, though, people started to leave. slowly, at first (starting with a fellow programmer), then quicker (the CTO, friendly salespeople), and then, as a programmer who only stayed with us for a few days quipped, "like rats leaving a sinking ship". by may of this year, only a few of the same people that were there when i was hired remained. management was bad and morale was low.

before i graduated in early may, i was hired there as a full-time programmer, making 55k/year. i would've been ecstatic with 40k, considering my relatively small amount of experience. about a week before everything really started going to hell with the economy, i signed a lease for an apartment based on that 55k/year budget. my share of the rent was to be $1000/month, decent for the area, although significantly higher than what i was paying at my previous apartment. It was nice, though, and about a half an hour closer to my job, so i was flying high.

then, in early may, the company turned off the direct deposit payroll and started paying us the old-fashioned way, with checks. other employees got the picture; i did not. then, the first paycheck i was to receive as a full-time, salaried employee did not come. it was promised the following week, so i stuck around. to make a long story short, it never came, nor did the one following it, nor the one following IT. the company strung us along for two weeks, promising us paychecks and bonuses, until the second paycheck was due and they produced nothing. they gave us a choice of taking a lay-off letter or sticking around, and almost all of us took the letter. to this date, i am still owed over $12,000 by this company (in wages, bonuses, vacation time, and late penalties imposed by the state), as are the rest of my co-workers. there is bitterness amongst us towards webvan employees who whined about not getting severence. bah.

since i "got laid off" at the end of june, i, like many others, have sent off my resume to numerous possible employers. after a month of not getting a single call-back, i gave up. i now work at a pet store for $9 an hour, which is good for working at a pet store i guess. when i was hired, i was told they gave me an extra dollar per hour because i'm a college graduate. the work is depressing: retail hours suck; most of what i do is sell feeder mice, feeder fish, and feeder crickets; my wages won't even cover my rent... at least my co-workers are cool. i'm kind of numb now, but when i first started, i was crying almost every day...

one time i had to ring up a customer who was wearing an obviously dot-com shirt. a wave of bitterness rushed over me, the immensity of which i hadn't expected. as i was waiting for his credit card to go through, i spaced out, imagining all the cynical quips i could make to him if i wanted to lose my job. i missed the fact that his card had gone through. after a few seconds i realized i'd made him wait, so i made some comment about how i'd spaced out and how weird that was. "machine's too fast for you, huh?" he said. *RAGE*!!! fortunately, i have pretty good anger management skills.

well, that's my story. i know it could've been a lot worse-- i could've had a family and a mortgage to pay; i could have had no other skills than programming, etc. but i thought i'd share it with you anyway. good luck, everyone. i know i'm going to need it.


tan (none / 0) (#148)
by anonymous cowerd on Fri Sep 07, 2001 at 04:05:36 PM EST

I'm tan, man. Looking at the financial absurdities that were out there (at one point Yahoo! had a higher stock valuation than General Motors, wtf?!), looking at Microsoft's plans to transform small business IT jobs into utter Hell on Earth (betcha can't wait to support a whole office full of XP machines, that every now and again spontaneously decide to disable themselves, in order to preempt you, you felon you, from violating MS's all-important IP rights), and looking at the cop crackdown on anything related to hacking (seems having a hex editor on your PC is a prima facie violation of the DMCA) I concluded the year before last that, as far as the computer biz was concerned, the shit was getting ready to hit the fan real soon.

I sat around in a funk for a year, then I decided to jump ship before all the other rats and go back in the field in my previous job, which was land survey party chief. Damn, it's hot out there.

When Scalia & Co. appointed that illiterate placeholder as President, I assumed that the Natural Rate of Unemployment school of fiscal policy - NRU theory assumes that no less than a 6.5% unemployment rate is acceptable - was coming back. Ya'll scoffed, right? Today's newspaper reports that unemployment is up a whole percentage point, from the low of 3.9% to this month's 4.9%, in less than a year. The so-called "geeks" are getting bitchslapped hard, fast and first, but believe me, you won't get tromped alone. The economic royalists won't have put us lowly workies in our places until they jack the unemployment rate up to at least six and a half.

Don't worry though, guys! The benevolent "invisible hand" that is the fundamental thesis of free-market acolytes, is gently cradling you. Even though those fingers are curling even as we watch, you have nothing to fear.

Yours WDK - WKiernan@concentric.net

The one thing that really disturbs me about America is that people don't like to read. - Keith Richards

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