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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Linux Contractor Fired for Using Firefox/Linux




This is a complicated story but one that must be told. I'm not sure there is anything that can be done about it except rage at the moon...

But it needs to be told none the less.

Did I mention it gets complicated? It does, but it does so for a reason. Let's introduce the starting lineup.







The Players:

*Our Principal - In the US.

*An Indian Contracting Company

*A large computer/server company with three letters in their name.

*A large credit card company with four letters in their name.

*A friend of The Principal

The Principal is a guy who works with Linux Servers for a living. He was contacted by the Indian Contracting Company and asked to apply for a project position through the large company with three letters in their name. The contract was to patch the 1000+ linux servers with some proprietary SAN access software

With me so far?

Ok...so our Principal went through a grueling month-long process of applying for employment to be awarded this contract...a lucrative contract at that.

Of course, when you've been unemployed for any period of time, the term lucrative becomes relative.

He jumped through all the hoops...ran the gauntlet so to speak, and came to the very last step...a simple competency test to be taken online. He was given the URL and instructed to complete the test and notify the Project Manager at the computer company with three letters in their name when finished. He dutifully logged into the website and hit enter.

The page would not render.

At all.

Our Principal called the Project Manager and told her of the problem. It was soon deduced that our Linux Server Guy was using Linux on the Desktop with Firefox.

Now, I'm going to ask you to remember that he was dealing with a Project Manager that is employed by a huge computer/server company with three letters in their name. She was in charge of switching a large credit card company with four letters in their name over to Linux Servers. It isn't completely out of our realm of understanding that she didn't know what Linux on the desktop is. I will give her that. But I cannot let slide her next inquiry:

"What's this Foxfire thing?"

You've got to be kidding me...

No really.

But wait...it gets better, or worse...depending on where you sit.

The Project Manager mentioned that she would ship our Principal a laptop with Windows/Internet Explorer to him so he could finish the process and begin work. He was going to need it anyway to access MS Windows VPN only...it was how they would access the large credit card company with four letters in their name network. That was the setup for the project.

Not ideal, but it facilitated getting the job.

While waiting for his laptop to be over-nighted, our Principal decided that he might be able to contact someone who was in charge of the Windows/Internet Explorer site only, and see if there was something he could do at his end. IE4Linux had not worked and neither did trying to fool it into thinking Firefox was IE. He called them and asked for tech support.

They did not have a tech support but did take his number down and assured him he would receive a call back.

Turns out this probably wasn't the wisest move.

But who knew?

The company that ran the testing website ended up calling the Project Manager at a large computer/server company with three letters in their name and relayed the information they had received from our Principal.

Within a couple of hours, our Principal received a phone call from the Indian Contracting Company and was informed the project had been canceled. His services would no longer be required.

It stunk...it stunk of high suspicion if not outright lies.

Our Principal had spent a month of his time securing this contract and rightfully suspicious, he called his friend...the friend who had gotten him on the list for the project in the first place.

His friend made a couple calls. His friend called him back within the hour.

The Project had not been canceled. He had been fired. The reason?

The project manager reported that the Principal "refused to use Windows and Internet Explorer".

Which was not true.

Not only was the Principal taken off the project list...

It is reported that he has been blackballed from any future projects funded by this large computer/server company with three letters in their name.

So now let ME rage at the moon.

Because that's all I can do...

The irony? The "compentency test" was a Security & Privacy test from the four letter credit card company that HAD to be taken on MS Windows with IE?

I'll let you be the ones to point out the obvious...the fact that this large computer/server company with three letters in their name is reportedly a "friend to Linux". I'll let you talk about how a Linux Professional who uses Linux as their desktop environment was denied access to employment. Employment that was based on his knowledge of Linux. Yeah, the server side...but still...

Now let's brag about how much ground Linux has made...

And a Linux Project Manager for said company asking the question:

"What's this Foxfire thing?"

125 comments:

Anonymous said...

Virtual Box and windows? I understand the reasons for not and I have yet to find a site that I cannot browse with Linux and Firefox, even Sharepoint works. Outlook Web is wrecked, but at least I can use it.

3-letter company, YE SUCK.

Blog of helios said...

this comment was moderated...not because I don't agree with the sentiment...we simply cannot allow language like that.

Sorry.

But yes, you did win the cigar for guessing the three letter company that makes computers/servers.

h

Anonymous said...

But is it *really* that much of a surprise?

This is how Linux gets its bad rap...

What's going to happen is that a Windows shop is going to get the contract. They're going to run up cost overages and then either conclude "It's not possible, you should use Windows" or deliver a broken solution that needs endless support.

We celebrate whenever we hear that schools, the military or some branch of the government is migrating to Linux but we forget that 90% of the IT "expertise" out there is lazy Windows based thinking. The municipalities / universities / pentagon are going to hire the *worst* possible candidates to do the job and they're going to end up reverting back to Windows.

And Linux will get the blame for the failure.

Kyin said...

At what point did he refuse to use Windows or IE? IIRC he agreed to use a laptop with just these things installed to finish what he needed to do.

You would think that there should be some way he can fight this. Don't most companies record their calls? Can't he prove that he was willing to work with their requirement?

If they expected him to wipe Linux and install Windows then that is too far. Also, how can a project manager for an IT project not know what Firefox is?

Why, when everyone else can do it, can these people not make a site compatible with Firefox? If you ask me, they fired the wrong person.

Gavin said...

Eight years ago, if you had asked me if I would ever reconsider employment with a company based on technical ideologies, I would have said no. Now? It is a HUGE factor for me!

Back in the day, what were the issues? Mac vs PC, Intel vs AMD (and others, if you are old enough), nVidia vs ATI (and the others, again), vi vs emacs, etc, etc. And the choice of platform was very defined: it nearly represented an investment! Not the noncommittal whim that interoperability has allowed us to have today. But these issues were largely compartmentalized in the past. Now the colors are bleeding in very bad ways.

These problems were always there, of course, in varying degrees of tolerability, but I keep seeing more and more examples like this on the intolerable end of the spectrum. I guess this is what happens when some platforms reach out to others. Growing pains? I hope so. I would hate to think that this trend is not a trend at all.

Eight years ago... Perhaps I should have seen this coming...

- Gavin

Anonymous said...

Why is it that every other month you have some completely unbelieveable story, where the names of the supposedly involved parties are _always_ omitted, and yet _no_ other site even knows about, and is able to first report, none of these unbelieveable stories, much less can corroborate them?

I strongly suspect your blog is mostly a work of fiction. There has been just one too many of these mysterious, uncorroborated whoppers for me to extend you any further credibility. Is this site an extension of Boycott Novell?

uC said...

HMMM Three Letters....

HAL 9000?

Derrek Cooper said...

very sad at the small mindedness of many.
I will spare my rant on that linux on the desktop should be encouraged for those working on linux servers. However, if you want to use win, that should be fine too.

not sure why there is such resistance to change.. sad

Blog of helios said...

Why is it that every other month you have some completely unbelieveable story

Tell you what pal. I have your ip address. If you email me and I can confirm that your comment and your email come from the same computer, I will provide you privately with the name of the person who is involved. But...

You have to publicly identify yourself and come out from behind the keyboard. Little girls often taunt and chide from behind mother's skirts.

If you are going to accuse, grow the stones to let me see your face.

I get the distinct impression that isn't going to happen.

Now go dress your Barbie...

h

Anonymous said...

Pretty sad.

And, for next time, the word is "principal," not "principle." Look it up.

Michelle Minkin said...

"There has been just one too many of these mysterious, uncorroborated whoppers for me to extend you any further credibility."

OH NO HELIOS! WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO???

An anonymous coward isn't going to extent you any credibility!!!

little girl indeed.

Chelle

Anonymous said...

WINE is a four-letter word.

Anonymous said...

helios, don't let anonymous jerks get to you. They post in hiding because if you do get permission to publish the name or the person comes forward, they cannot be publicly humiliated.

Let me address the non-thinking anonymous poster for a moment. Did you read this at all with any retention? There is a friend involved, a friend that could lose his job if things were a little more defined. It was the friend that let the guy know he had been lied to. Would you let a friend of yours get fired for helping you?

I am guessing you would.

I will be glad to provide reading retention classes to you for a nominal fee.

Jackson DeWitt

Blog of helios said...

WINE is a four-letter word.

Unfortunately, WINE doesn't work on many government websites to render IE. I've had this problem in the past. The only real answer I've found is Vbox with XP.

Fred said...

IBM has never been known for its acute project managers. Most project managers care only about their Microsoft Project files and headcount allocation. Regardless of what they deal with, project managers care only about who, what, when. As it, name, task number, date. The nature of the task is not their concern. And most of them are not technical. So I don't doubt this story for a second.

Tucanae Services said...

Fred,

I concur on your assessment of Project Managers. Fact the whole PM field is a sham in some ways. When the PMI website fosters the idea that any PM could run any project, I question that --

PM: How long to turn up that bank of servers over there?
IT (lying thru his teeth): Oh about a month?
PM: For how much % applied?
IT: 100%.

The guy has it turned up in a day using cloning and virtualization.

A PM who knows not the tech is a lamb preparing to be sheared. What's funny is that way too many firms think PMI is hot stuff.

Greg Charland said...

I agree that it stinks but I think you're running with the wrong lesson here.

The story you told isn't about a guy getting fired for using linux, it's a contractor getting dumped for making a bad PM look bad.

Having worked for a different very large, three-letter company myself I can attest to the games, politics and ways some of our employees and contractors were abused to make PMs and management look better.

New contractors need to be especially cautious until they learn who the various players and egos are.

I suspect the outcome would have been the same if the principal was trying to press the issue running Safari or Opera as well.

It still sucks though.

PV said...

Thankfully, I haven't really run into people with this sort of ignorance. (I'm almost out of high school.) Even some of my friends (yes, I do have friends with whom I frequently spar (in a friendly manner)) who are self-avowed Softies (i.e. Microsoft apologists) know what Firefox (and not "Foxfire") is, though they prefer IE. Furthermore, I use OpenOffice.Org from my flash drive at school (MS Office 2007 is an incredible PITA), and when I explained to my physics teacher (who saw me using it instead of MS Excel 2007) what it is when he asked, he seemed quite receptive to it. (I also got support in my explanation from a classmate who is a fellow Free Software enthusiast.)
I think this level of ignorance is on par with the ignorance of the schoolteacher who confiscated the student's; it may be more because a schoolteacher shouldn't be expected to know about Linux, yet a company that has hired a person for Linux servers surely should know about desktop Linux and Firefox.

Amenditman said...

helios

I came across a Firefox extension which supposedly allows it to use a tab to open IE only sites.

I have not tried it, but it is called IE Tab.

Too late to help your friend, but at least we can get it a little publicity.

Hope it really works, a lot of sites are very badly written and don't work on anything but IE.

It was funny when they dropped legacy support for older IE versions in IE 8 and a bunch of IE only websites were 'broken'.

That should teach a few companies to use web standards the next time.

amenditman

PV said...

One more thing: I made my own blog post about it.
http://dasublogbyprashanth.blogspot.com/2009/11/firefox-den-einai-xenos.html
I also linked to this post as reference. I basically had the same reactions as you, but I put more emphasis on the ignorance of Firefox.

PV said...

Sorry about the multitude of posts, but just one last (and less related) thing:
I managed to get my younger cousin to switch to Linux (Ubuntu 9.04). She was enamored by the ease of which I managed to make my Linux Mint 7 system look like a bona fide Mac OS X Leopard system, and wanted hers to look the same. Except for iTunes (the new iPod Touches don't work with other programs AFAIK), she doesn't use Windows (XP) at all. That's a success for me.
I also tried to convert my friend to using Linux. The problem is, he got a Windows 7 upgrade. After using Vista for a while and being positively disgusted by it, he was contented enough with Windows 7 that while Linux looked intriguing with its security, stability, speed, and freedom (of use and charge), he saw no outstanding reason to use it over something he had paid for. Furthermore, he wasn't really taken by the GUI of PCLinuxOS 2009.2, and Linux Mint 7's screen resolution was messing up (defaulting to a maximum 800x600). That's a failure for me.
Another friend has expressed a similar interest in Linux; thankfully, he has not gotten Windows 7 and is stuck with a rather buggy and crash-prone XP laptop. Do you have any advice for me to avoid a debacle like the previous incident?
Thanks for all the help.

Amenditman said...

@PV

You nearly never go wrong with Mint, Mepis, or Mandriva.

I find that Mint is particularly good for laptops because almost all of the specialty keys will just work.

helios really like Ultimate Edition because it contains everything including the kitchen sink.

Good luck.

amenditman

punkwalrus said...

I wonder about this guy who calls you out in your own blog. Psychologically, it's kind of quirky.

I have read blogs that I have thought the person was full of crap. I just stop reading and move on. But this person ha expressed that:

- They read your blog
- They have read it as regular habit
- They care enough about your blog to "see patterns," thus think about it and make comparisons
- They feel the need to express these patterns they have discovered
- They are expressing it in hostile posture as a confrontation

So this person has a very high opinion of you. While they would never admit this, you hold a high position in their world. You speak as a voice of authority, and somehow this was a threat. Thus, they need to discredit you AND express it publicly. BUT they do so anonymously, which means they are sort of aborting his own success.

Now, I don't know you. Maybe you made this story up. I mean, I don't know. But I will assume it's true because the very fact I don't know you or who you are, and thus, your story is credible enough to pass muster. I can't tell you how many people make stuff like this up because I know only a few hundred people, and if they are lying, how would I know, right?

Life is too short to try and discredit people I don't even know for stories they take the time to publish.

Anonymous said...

So you're saying, because he asked if there was a work around to use a site that was poorly written and only allowed MSIE to function with it he was low balled by IBM and VISA despite that fact that they wanted a linux expert? Sounds fantastically retarded, but in a world of retarded management staff, not surprising and entirely plausible.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to be insensitive but, this person lost the contract because they were a nuisance - a huge red flag for an employer. Maybe next time, he'll borrow his wife's laptop and do the test and keep quiet. It's easy to be self-righteous about this and dig in on your principles but if you do that, the lesson will be lost on you and that's kind of sad.

Be easy to work with.

Anonymous said...

What was the malfunctioning site? Trust-something-or-other? Was the credit card company FDMS? FNMS?

hdragomir said...

Oh yes, most online banking apps are still tailored to be used with MSIE, on Windows, obviously.

It's frustrating, especially when you're managing a student starter account, which clearly says you have little money, and they presume you should be able to afford Windows because you have a bank account.

It's only natural that piracy still thrives, though it's a sad reality.

cbemerine said...

After 25+ Years in IT, this year for the first time I have refused projects / opportunities that are Microsoft Windows ONLY. I have been Microsoft FREE at home for over 3 years now and actively used the latest greatest Windows products for a contract last year...never again.

A mixed shop: Microsoft, MacIntosh, Unix and Linux is fine. But if the shop/company is Microsoft Windows ONLY I just politely decline and look for a better company to work for.

The reason is because of dimwits like the Project Manager that this unfortunate consultant wasted time on. There are too many Managers that are scared to improve their company's IT infrastructure...and usually for the wrong reasons. You think the companies would fire those Managers for wasting company money.

Fortunately there are plenty of progressive companies out there that have seen the light and no longer use the "Microsoft" or "Internet Explorer" ONLY labels anymore.

Do yourself a favor, only purchase hardware from a vendor like ZaReason (I see they advertise on your site...great Colorado company) that know and do Linux. You can always run Windows if you want too. You avoid the hardware vendor lock-in hassles by taking this advice.

And only go to work for companies that are not AFRAID to step outside their self-imposed and built box of Windows only. You will be glad you did.

I know I am.

Chris Simmons said...

I used to work as a contractor (through Kelly Services) for IBM a few years ago, and I can attest to the fact that the training for some of the "Team Leaders" and other managerial positions leave a lot to be desired when it comes to actual technical know-how.

There is an abundance of good, brainy and intelligent people that work in all facets and levels throughout the company but there seems to also be a significantly higher than normal percentage of those that fall quite short, in both IQ, discipline, humour, and most importantly, common sense.

Since 2005 there there seems to have been a steady decline in overall competence and a marked shift towards outsourcing the solutions for their clients, away and out of the hands of those that could better benefit in a local economy.

The example cited by helios is but one of thousands that have taken place over the years, and it will not be the last, sadly.

Just wanted to get this off my chest. I'm not entirely bitter for my own experience(s), as it has taught me valuable lessons, to be sure. Please do understand that there are many people who say nothing, but see everything that does go on in the IT community, large and small.

Anonymous said...

"A large computer/server company with three letters in their name.
A large credit card company with four letters in their name."

Senseless obfuscation like this makes your article harder to read. Either say the name of the company, or to preserve their anonymity call them "Credit Card Company" and "Computer Company".

Anonymous said...

I think the PM did the right thing. It would have been unwise for the PM to spend resources trying to get the web app to work with Firefox for the contracter. That adds no value to the project. The PM was wise to move to a contracter with access to the needed web client.

Anonymous said...

if the page was coded to standards it would not have been a problem, regardless of browser used.

todd said...

what respectable computer tech doesnt have access to a windows machine, or can't even just install winXP or something in a VM on their desktop - only takes 20 minutes, it just needs to be online with ie, doesn't need to be customized or setup.

Shoe said...

sounds like you are having a pretty rough time. unemployed, then a contract comes along, which you then loose.

IMHO you shouldn't have phoned the company direct, and just kept your head down and used IE.

obiously people should always quote verbatim, but it doesn't always go down like that.

If it was a simple mis-understanding couldn't you phone up and correct it, still?

Its a shame that things are going this way for you and I hope they get better soon.

cantormath said...

You got screwed. I would check the resume of this project manager, then cross reference it with the truth. Report any inconsistency in said resume with relevant parties as you see fit. People with these ethics tend to BS their credentials. Maybe nothing, maybe something.....

Anonymous said...

The recruitment section of the Staples website (office supplies company in the UK) is a flash applet that refuses to work in Linux or OS X.
There is a requirement list that literally lists Windows 2k-Vista as requirements for browsing.

Don Birdsall said...

@PV

The 800X600 resolution bug encountered by PV in Mint is not uncommon in Ubuntu or its derivatives. It can be fixed with the tutorial at https://wiki.ubuntu.com/X/Config/Resolution. More details can be found in the post titled 'Konstipated Koala' at http://bytesandsuch.com.

Anonymous said...

Hey there.

I worked as a software developer at the 4 letter company and worked with a lot of contractors from the 3 letter company. I can confirm their reliance on Windows and that god damn VPN. When I started I asked if I could use Linux instead of Windows. "Sure, sure you can" Then I was issued a laptop with Windows XP, locked down, key fob VPN access etc. None of the tools we were using were windows only except for the anti-virus software. They would not allow me to rebuilt it with Linux.

We were deploying to servers made by a different 3 letter company running an OS that us sometimes referred to by its common 4 letter (all caps) name.

Anyhow, I left and now work deploying Linux solutions. Never looked back.

Anonymous said...

Hi Helios!

As far as your blog being a work of fiction, that's just ridiculous: for every story you tell of linux-adoption troubles, I could tell a dozen I have personally witnessed.

No need to fabricate anything. People are a bit lazy and entrenched. Many just looking for an excuse to scuttle change. The maddening thing is these people will often screw the future of the company they work for simply for the sake of their own laziness. No creative-writing needed.

Every success story is more akin to a fairy-tale for me because it happens so rarely.

Keep fighting the good fight, know that many are behind you.

J

Anonymous said...

Your article title is disingenuous at best and intentionally misleading at worst. If we are to take your hearsay as truth and not believe that your friend engaged in some anti-Microsoft ranting to one or more parties involved, then at worst your friend was fired for not having the necessary tools to do the job at hand.

Yes, the job market is tough right now but talented people still are having no difficulty finding jobs. Your friend's inability to recognize that, love it or hate it, Microsoft is a necessary reality for doing business.

JunkmanJim said...

I guess if he can't figure out how to log in from a computer with MS OS they probably figure the guy is a boat anchor. If I needed the job, I go down to Kinkos and get it done.

Kevin (aka Padma) said...

@Gavin: I'm glad to say I got my current position because of my Linux knowledge. Most of what I do is on *nix servers (old IBM AIX systems, and newer RHEL boxes), and the fact that I have been using Linux at home for years, and dabbling in Unix on the job for even longer, made it a good fit, both for me and for my employer. I was offered a slightly better-paying job elsewhere, but it was Windows-only, among other problems. I had no qualms turning it down.

I do still run into a few problems, because, while everything we do for our customers runs on *nix servers, our 'corporate desktop' is Windows (XP). I, along with others, was able to get 'corporate' to accept Firefox as an alternate, approved browser. But recently, I had to take an online, internal training course on what to do in case of an influenza epidemic. To get credit, I had to click a button to send an email to the training dept. Everything worked fine, but when I clicked the button, nothing happened. I tried again, and finally called the training department to complain. They said that everybody using FF had complained, but didn't understand why it wasn't working. I pulled up the page source code, and pointed out where they were using IE-specific calls, but I don't really expect anything to change.

Anonymous said...

I have been a victim too. not with Linux but with firefox. Most of my company websites work only on IE browsers just because they depend on some MS server side infrastructure. This is BS. I feel bad when one of the biggest software exporter do this at their own organization.

Anonymous said...

Another fine example of what you get when people who don't know technology are making decisions about what technology to use.

That BIG company that is switching everything to Linux... WHY would you choose a Windows based VPN system?

Because the decision makers didn't understand what they were buying, and couldn't keep track of the BIG picture.

Actually brings up a good question, and thought...

What VPN hardware has IPSEC or SSL clients that run on Linux?

And if Microsoft can make Server 2008 R2 with Windows 7 do away with the need of VPN... where does that leave Linux clients that need to connect to such a setup?

Admin said...

I was in a similar situation - unemployed for 4 months, found a position doing C++ development in a Linux environment. They sent me a URL for a proficiency test they wanted me to take, and you guessed it, only Windows/IE could access the test. I explained it to the recruiter, who contacted the hiring manager, who basically said that anyone who didn't know how to use Windows/IE was probably not suited for the position, but thanks anyway.

Wolfguru said...

Taken entirely from a Linux is the Best point of view, this makes perfect sense as the erstwhile support technician describes it.

Taken from the point of view of a company trying to support a huge multinational employee base with the same limited resources applied by most companies faced with the current economic situation, their reaction makes sense.

The project manager is not familiar with desktop linux, and proposes a solution which will resolve the issue. Problem solved. Intrepid potential support technician assumes the company procedures do not apply to him, and attempts to sidestep them, from project manager's point of view. Potential employee portrays himself as a potential loose canon, and project manager, responsible for getting the project complete to specification, reacts from their assigned task requirements.

Is liux on the desktop a viable tool - most certainly. Is it the only approach to getting this job done - no.

The "free" environment is often blind to the real costs of supporting the end user, whether they are experienced and capable with the linux approach or not. Applications that identify and manage the VPN security, access policy and monitoring applications, and even coding for the web based applications all must be engineered to support the desktop before it becomes viable as a tool, and this is what our erstwhile support tech did not see from the company's perspective.

I am certain it feels unfair and unreasonable. The truth is that the author expected the company to support his choices, rather than use the tools provided, and demonstrated that preference to the company, which is not well known for supporting individuality among its employees. The reaction was predictable and justifiable from the project manager's responsibilities - find someone that can perform the task we need and work with our systems and tools to do so.

Tyler said...

Why didn't he just find a windows machine?

James Cain said...

Apparently we can take away two things here:

1) No good deed goes unpunished

and

2) Perception is everything

Unbelievable.

WE ARE *NIXED! said...

For those who insist on arguing that what the project manager did made sense, consider this: Why didn't they simply tell the individual in question that they were fired instead of outright lying to them? Why the dishonesty? To those who just say, "Just use Windows/IE just this once..." please! If the job is supposed to be for a certain type of operating system, then the proficiency test shouldn't be tied to another platform entirely. That's just bogus!

Anonymous said...

I have problems with a two letter company that supports and uses Linux. I can't place parts orders for their printer lines through linux/firefox. I have to place them through windows/IE. Funny how these open source and linux promoting companies haven't caught up with their own policies.

Gabriel said...

If its the 3 letter company I'm thinking about. A 3letter IT company that makes a lot of noise about using Linux then it doesn't surprise me. I work for a VAR and may of their internal spreadsheets and documents are not even compatible with the OpenOffice fork they themselves distribute.
The tool used to configure Aix servers to ask for price requieres the Microsoft JVM.
Its really annoying that even their websites require Explorer:
http://picasaweb.google.com/gabriel.pagan/PublicAlbum#5351301184261757778
http://picasaweb.google.com/gabriel.pagan/PublicAlbum#5353521953792369106

http://picasaweb.google.com/gabriel.pagan/PublicAlbum#5367057797236230274

Anonymous said...

It sucks,
But again,
Managers suck too.

Anonymous said...

The reason why this should happen this is pretty obvious. What seems to have happened is that a system Windows system/web administrator in the web hosting site fearful of losing his/her job because of the Linux dimension of the contract made a false representation to his/her superiors to try and get the Linux guy kicked off the contract.

This sort of thing happens all the time, and as Linux usage and awareness increases, it will happen more often.

The best strategy to deal with this type of action by incompetent IT staff trying to protect their own jobs in the face of change is for the public to highlight the incompetence as much as possible.

For example several years ago, I found that the UK government's charity commission website was blocking Firefox and Linux for no apparent reason - the html was W3C compliant. I emailed the organisation complaining that the site seemed to be blocking Firefox/Linux for no apparent reason because the html seemed to be W3C standards compliant, stating that this practice is primarily due to incompetent or lazy web authors who either do not have the ability to produce standards compliant html, or else lazy web administrators who cannot be bothered to test the web page on standards compliant browsers. I added that producing a standards (W3C) compliant website that can be accessed by any browser or operating system is fairly straightforward, and that I could recommend several competent web page authoring companies who would be able to do this. I didn't get a reply and I expect too much, but I found that after a week, the site was no longer blocking Firefox or Linux.

It pays for customers to complain as much as possible about incompetent IT staff or IT decisions.

Anonymous said...

Get used to it! When a WEB site doesn't work with Firefox try IE!
And GENERAL RULE: Use always a Windows system with IE when you take any test on internet.

Anonymous said...

Guys,

Let's be realistic. Three letter company or not. This is BUSINESS!!! They have rules. They have money and they CAN choose. So if you want the work comply with the rules and don't make that much noise about the browser.

Scott M. said...

In this case, I think it's a tad unfair to blame it on the company known by a 3-letter acronym. Much of what they do these days is provide "solutions", which means they are working for customers within each customer's contractual requirements. If a client uses a VPN that only runs on M$ Windows, then that's what is required.

I can't help but think there's more to the story than this. But even at face value, it's not too surprising this happened. Whatever the guy said to the people who ran the "competency test" website belabored a trivial issue that the project manager had resolved (by sending a laptop), in such a way that she continued to hear about it.

The PM might just live in a M$-dominated cave as far as technology goes. It would be nice if everyone had a clue. But the PM's job is to keep the project on-track. They're the general contractors of the tech world. They have to schedule various tasks, hire and coordinate subcontractors, locate and coordinate vendors, and make sure all of the above are doing what they're supposed to be doing when they're supposed to be doing it. They're rarely experts in everything, and typically have a lot of blind spots. Their job is to know enough about the project to coordinate everyone involved.

I've dropped vendors and fired subcontractors for similar nonsense. If they're going to bug me (or anyone else in the project) about something that isn't their job and is not directly relevant to the project, they're through (or at the very least, I won't consider them for future jobs). That's just the way it is, attention to the right details is something I adore in employees and contractors; being easily distracted by stuff that can't even be considered peripheral to the project just wastes everyone's time, and time is money. Continuing to work on problems that have been solved or worked-around in a satisfactory way also wastes time.

Unfortunately for him, this guy just gave the PM a good example of undesirable behavior before he was completely hired. The subject for this entry was needlessly sensational, and while there are plenty of good examples of people being persecuted over their choice of OS, this is simply not one of them...

--Scott

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to say but that is a classic example of White Privilege. I worked for a company where with a business and IT degree they promoted a sales person to be head of my department. I Quit the next day. told them to get their sales person to do what I do...

Anonymous said...

Surely if he was such a wiz he would / should have access to IE (the browser with 65% market share).

You're FIRED.

Fallen said...

IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM IBM SUCKS!

Anonymous said...

I thought three-letter company was big with Linux? At least that's what their advertising used to say... "THE SERVERS! THE SERVERS! THEY STOLE ALL OUR SERVERS!"

OTOH what kind of tech guy, getting projects from 3 and 4 letter name companies, doesn't have multiple OS's available for testing? I mean, I'm just a sysadmin and I have RHEL, Ubuntu, Windows 98, Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows 7 RC, Mac OS 8.5, 9 and X all available at a moments notice.

SmartAssProducts said...

Amazing. And appalling. :(

Considering IBM (oops! are we supposed to mention the company whose name has three letters by name?) runs on AIX (UNIX), it's insane that a situation like the one described could even happen. It's more insane that ANYONE would insist on the use of windoze and IE for anything remotely secure.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, HAL can be stupid. PMs generally are non-technical bean counters. But if it was a matter of getting paid, I would have found a PC with IE. Even if I had to go to the local library.

seriouslycgi said...

"educated" people get paid _alot_ to do the simple tasks and really arent that educated. i wish i was getting paid the money she is to do her job, atleast i would know what firefox and linux are. what a goofball. what a waste of time.

WE ARE *NIXED! said...

"And GENERAL RULE: Use always a Windows system with IE when you take any test on internet."

Why???!!!!!

Anonymous said...

The online testing Co. looks like the culprit here, not the N-lettered mega corps. Those testing Cos. are a dime a dozen, they are hired on results, not methodology. They fill the 94% of desktops space and are blithely unaware that that power users on Linux or Mac don't have Active-X or IE-with-quirks. Yeah, we get contractors like that into our corporate systems too :-(

Hiebo said...

IBM stands for Imensa Bola de Mierda - which in spanish translates loosely to big ball of crap.

Mike said...

I have to say (as others here already have) that your friend brought this upon himself to a large degree.

For start, he wasn't fired; he just wasn't hired. Big difference.

No matter how dumb the PM and the hiring company is, they're the ones holding all the cards during the hiring process. You do whatever you need to do to make them happy. Remember, you're trying to present yourself as a solution, not as a problem. You can espouse all the principles you want, once you've got your feet under the table, and not before.

I mean, he was quite happy to have them courier out a Windows machine to him? WTF was he thinking?

If it had been me, I wouldn't have even called them if it hadn't worked with Firefox/Linux. I'd have begged, borrowed or even bought a copy of Windows and finished the application, asap. For the sake of a couple of hundred dollars, your friend lost a "lucrative contract".

Sorry, but he blew it.

Josh said...

Amenditman: IE tab uses the Internet explorer "engine" to render the page, that being said IE MUST be installed on the computer, thus IE tab ONLY works on windows computers.

Furthermore has this "Linux Guru" never heard of V-Box? or any visualization for that matter?
Also if the company had out right told him that he HAD to use windows 95 for the job then that is there choice, GRANTED that is not what happened here but some of the comments made it sound like it would have been ridiculous for them to make him use Microsoft, I support linux but that being said this "three letter company" showed MUCH more patience than I would have by sending him a laptop, he should have waited and none of this would have happened

Anonymous said...

Question: He only needed IE to pass the test, correct? i.e. He could then proceed to execute the work in the manner every reasonable person would have expected? Local library with Windows? For a couple hours. Get on with his day? Moral of story seems to be Don't try to fix or understand it. Keep your mouth shut and your nose clean. Do what, and as and how, they say. Very sad.

Anonymous said...

hes blackballed by the company... so, it was me... I'd keep the laptop they overnighted. Claim it was sent back, standard mail... ha.

Smokezz said...

Amenditman: IE Tab only works on a Windows machine with Internet Explorer installed. (Handy extension though)

Anonymous said...

The large three-letter company is very large indeed, and to say that they are a friend to Linux does not mean very much. There are people in there who do Linux development and then there are people who do something else entirely.

It's the same with MS and even Intel. Intel arguably develops the graphics driver for Linux in the open, but at the same time the hardware people and the Windows driver people are not communicating with the Linux developers. MS has some people contributing GPL code into the kernel and some people trying to undermine Linux in every way they can.

Anonymous said...

I doubt that he called the site's support desk to see if there was anything he could do to make the site work in firefox. He's not that stupid. Obviously most help desks are going to reread over and over again the part in the script that says it's only going to work in IE. He probably called and acted like a typical holier-than-thou luser and told them about how stupid they were to not support open standards, etc. Then probably got escalated to a member of management with his attitude until someone made a phone call to his new employer (which he probably stupidly identified for some idiotic reason).

That scenario makes a lot more sense than what's outlined above. I'm sure if the conversation was recorded, you wouldn't want to hear it.

Only a freetard like this guy would do something this stupid.

Anonymous said...

Two words: (which are likely spelled wrong) Prommisary Enstoppel. Sue for an enstoppel action.

Alan W said...

I work for a large computer computer company with more than 2 letters in its name. My desktop has Firefox and our STANDARD browser across the company is Firefox, not IE.
Plenty of people I work with have a linux desktop as well.
This is an interesting anecdote told from the point of view of a disgruntled person who didn't get a job. Let's avoid hysteria.

Anonymous said...

A lot of AC posts say, "He shudda found a Windows Machine." What a great idea, use a virus infested public Windoze box. What better way to start a job than to send your passwords, credentials and email address straight to spammers and other criminals. I'm not sure you can even find Windows on public terminals anymore - it's a money loser for everyone involved. Anyone who does PC repair knows that your neighbor's box is also a sewer.

mark said...

Sorry something smells a bit off, The big three letter company you mention has Firefox as their standard browser shipped on all their laptops to employees or contractors.

As for the Bank they may have their own security and change management controls that approve how "their" key word their system gets accessed. It's not that they don't like Linux desktop or Firefox but the Bank has tested their system and approved how their system will be accessed.

How should I know? I am doing a contract for the Big three letter company right now for an insurance company and it can be very frustrating at times but it is the Clients, let me say that one more time "the clients" call on how things go.

I tried other ways and had the clients internal security system flag the access and had to do a lot of explaining to clear things up.

If you don't like the rules the Client or the person paying you the $$ you better find a different way to make money it's not and ideal world and not always logical but if your not paying the $$ then your not the one calling the shots

Stevie said...

So many of the posts are missing the point. Windows is kind of like some "party loyalty" test that is used to filter out free software people and techies who expect any control of how they do their job.

I've been to interviews where veiled questions are asked to identify this kind of techie. Many are honest and will start arguing the merits of the best approach (as they see it) and fail to see this is self-defeating. Managers just want minions who do as they are told and whose intelligence is exercised only as directed.

I won't work for such people and I got out of IT to work in academia. At least there the "best tool for the job" could actually be the best and not simply the result of some brain-dead "policy".

Clint Brothers said...

IBM??? I can't believe it, after all the LINUX loving they claim and they hate microsoft. This is too crazy.

Anonymous said...

My skill set is desktop, server and software build and support. My experience in mainly in the financial services realm. My services are not cheap, but they are also not nearly the most expensive out there. Recently I had a contract for a large life insurance company who was taking over the tech support of one of their subsidiaries. They needed me for a "bridge contract" because they had foolishly fired everyone who knew what the hell they were doing and hired a bunch of young call center people, NOT techs. What can I say, I needed the money and it was six figures. Anyway, my boss was formerly the manager of a call center and DID NOT EVEN KNOW HOW TO TURN HER LAPTOP ON!

Just one example: They screwed up their email migration to exchange, even getting blacklisted by some ISPs because their server was hacked to send out spam. I swear I aged years in the six months on that contract.

Even though my contract simply ended, this lady tried to make it look like I had been fired. I guess she was embarrassed I witnessed all the idiocy and that they always ended up doing what I had suggested originally. Incompetence is everywher.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, he is an IT professional and didn't have a dual boot or secondary laptop with Win7 ..?

Sounds like a lost soul to me...

Anonymous said...

Why didn't the Principal just use Windows/IE? He didn't have one? What, he just went to the site, and when it wouldn't render, he just said "Duh?" and didn't try it on other browsers or OS? I mean, cmon, Windows/IE is STILL the defacto standard and platform, so I think it's WORTH A TRY to run it on that platform first before running to the Project Manager, no less, about his problem.

If you can't do a simple task such as fill-up a survey, and have to ask tech support, etc, then they have every right to remove you from the project.

If I were unemployed and was trying to land this gig, I would do virtually anything to do it, and not be a pest about it. Oh, yeah, that includes using Windows/IE, no matter how "insecure" it is.

C'mon... the Principal was fired because he was being a pain, not because he used Firefox/Linux. Do you really think the PM cared what he used as long as he got the job done?

Eddie Wilson said...

Come on people. I read of ones who support the PM and those who support the victim. THE PROJECT MANAGER DID NOT KNOW WHAT FIREFOX IS. We are not talking about the general public here. Where do they dig up these idiots. It doesn't matter if the PM was right or wrong. The point is the PM is stupid. It doesn't matter if the PM knows how to do their job. The PM is stupid and the PM doesn't want to think that there is anybody who is smarter then they are. Using MSIE would have been no problem. But none of this worked out. Why? Because the PM is stupid.

Anonymous said...

a) he wasn't fired unless he had a signed contract.

b) being "difficult" is a valid reason to not work with someone.

c) at big companies, use of provided tools is a requirement. Period. There are a number of reasons for this attitude, especially a well known companies who strive to be completely legal in software use. If you are outside the home country, the hiring company needs to be extremely careful since child labor and software piracy must be actively avoided elsewhere.

zelrik said...

Dont feel bad if somebody fires you because they are incompetent. It just means they dont deserve your skills.

For me, this kind of story is the very reason Linux will grow and takeover. People smart enough to make use of it when it makes sense will survive, the others will sink.

There is too much awareness already (look at what's going on in the smartphone industry...), if you neglect Linux, you are shooting yourself in the foot.

Glen said...

Probably true. I have worked for a company like that. The project managers are more concerned about your myers briggs score than the actual technology. That's what you are for to explain the technical so a monkey can understand it..guess who is the monkey...but to be honest the guy should have just gotten to a win box with IE. More likely he was one of those Linux know it alls who figured he would make it right and ended up raising a red flag. The moral of the story is - the next time someone says "hey we will send you a laptop to use with the os and software we want you to use.." wait for the laptop rather than calling the company and try to tell people who already work there what their problems are...

Robomarkov said...

I think there may be legal recourse here. Look for something called "expectation of continued employment". Look for violation to the contract.

Anonymous said...

My experience has been that not every project manager is technical in the least. I suppose the expectation is they're managing the people who are technical that do the work. But often it comes up that you have to know something technical otherwise you'd not realize your being given a line of bull, from a subcontractor, a vendor, an employee or whatever.
But yeah, it does happen.
Stinks that you got a bad deal on that. They made the call that you would be too difficult to deal with over something really trivial.

A said...

This is utter prejudice against Linux and the folks who work with it for living(which i happen to do).
Too bad for India(they act like robots there, no independent thought), too bad for the executive, who is clueless about Firefox(if i was her boss, i would fire her at once) too bad for IBM, acting with a two sided attitude towards Linux, and not so bad for the Principal.
There are lots of oportunities for Linux. Perhaps he should look elsewhere. Perhaps Canada. I have a friend(who was my Linux mentor) and he's been working in Canada for 3 years now.
Good luck Principal. We are all rooting for you. Best Regards.

Anonymous said...

I am and always have been Unix. And I have grey hair. That should tell you I have been around a long time.

I did work at TLA (Three Letter Acronym) company. They do use a lot of Linux. I worked there thru IBCC (Indian Based Consulting Company not the real company name BTW. But I do know which one it is). I WILL NEVER MAKE THAT MISTAKE AGAIN!

The only time I heard from the IBBC manager is if I forgot to put in my weekly time sheet. The pittance I got paid, hardly made it worth the effort. But after 3 months no salary, anything was better than nothing.

Being in a linux support group, I too was suprised how little Linux was supported. However, TLA (again, not the real name.) did endorse Linux over Vista internally.

I think this is a case of one clueless PM. And an inept most probably 3rd party web designer who, like the TLA PM does not even know there *is* anything but IE. Idiots seem to clump.

I am now at a smaller but significant competitor of TLA getting paid what a veteran *NIX admin should.

Posted anonymously to protect current employer.

PS. And what is it with F5 anyway that they can't support *any* browser on *any* OS?

Scott M. said...

I think a lot of geeks, especially Linux geeks, fall into the trap of seeing other people as "stupid" because they're not "in the know". It's unhelpful, at best.

Consider that most PMs are not necessarily tech people. More than likely, a PM on a server migration project is not going to have a CS degree, he or she is going to have a business degree. Consider that a lot of Windows users don't even know what "Internet Explorer" is...they often know it as "the internet", or in some cases, as "the network". Yes, really.

With that level of understanding, it doesn't surprise me that many don't know what Firefox is (even though it's on our image and is therefore in the start menu of every computer). A good number of my end users have advanced degrees in whatever their field is, and they don't know what Firefox is. Sometimes that can lead to a teachable moment, but that's contingent on someone being willing to learn. If someone doesn't want to learn, failure to drop it can lead to something like, "This one time my network broke, the IT guy babbled on an on about things called 'browsers' and 'Foxfire' and 'Linux' and he just wouldn't shut-up. Man what an IDIOT!". Who really wants to come across as THAT kind of IT guy or Linux geek?

It does take some sensitivity and a bit of compassion to get people interested in broadening their horizons. Some people are thrilled to learn that Firefox is an alternative to IE, or that they can try out a LiveCD without any risk to their computer if they're frustrated with M$ Vista. Most people, however, are not so thrilled to hear about solutions to things that they don't consider to be problems. If you force the issue or even come close to being condescending, congratulations-- you and your crazy solutions become the problem, game over. It's no unlike when that JW missionary who knocked on your door a bit too early on a Saturday morning (who hasn't this happened to?); you couldn't have cared less in the first place, and now you're really annoyed.

WE ARE *NIXED! said...

@Scott M: Understandable as your point may be, there is still no excuse for outright lying to the person in question by saying that the project was "cancelled." They should have told them that they were not going to be a part of the project any longer, and left it at that. True professionals do not lie to people they are about to terminate. They tell them that they are being terminated, and in some cases, will give a reason why they are being terminated. I have yet to see that point addressed.

Anonymous said...

I worked at IBM and can personally vouch for the idiocy of some of the managers. Mine was completely and totally clueless as to who/what was being done. The only time I heard from him was to yell at me for working late - a mistake I didn't make again.

Anonymous said...

It's not about Linux, it's about the interaction between the PM and the dude. The PM told the guy to sit tight and they would send out a laptop. Dude decides to ignore instruction and start making calls. PM losses confidence in the resource and decides to cut the resource loose.

It's a bit of an over-reaction, but it has nothing to with Linux itself. It has to do with the ability to follow instructions.

aikiwolfie said...

There are three things people need to understand here.

1) Any commercial enterprise that is a "friend" to Linux is only a friend because they have something to gain. IBM, Google, Intel, Dell. They've all made good contributions to Linux. But they've also made profits off the backs of their efforts and cut costs because they chose open source collaboration.

2)"Project Mamagers" aren't always the brightest of people and are rarely technically minded though anally related to accountants.

3)If someone has "Manager" in their job title they tend to be locked in an office out of the way most of the time.

Anonymous said...

i did a summer job a few years ago at a big german industry giant (sorry no letter count) and guess what their standard supported browser was? IE6
However it would get periodic patches and nobody would stop me from installing and using opera, which i did.
The laptop they gave came attached with clear instructions regarding dual-booting (i would have to justify why i need another os, obviously linux) so i didn't install anything alongside the ms xp it came with, to avoid getting into trouble.
corporate feeds corporate

Unmindfulawe said...

A manager that is oblivious to the content that they manage? It's exactly what's wrong with todays business; businesses fail from their own ignorance. Just as a manager that works at Circuit City that knows nothing of electronics.... or I mean used to work at Circuit City. That project manager gets a big FAIL.

Anonymous said...

This is hilarious. You've turned it into a linux vs MS thing and attack the PM for not knowing Firefox. But the reality is if this COMPUTER EXPERT could not figure out how to overcome the browser problem, he does not deserve ANY computer support position!

Anonymous said...

i didn't know 3M was a large computer/server company.

kozmcrae said...

A three letter acronym company who employs a Project Manager who doesn't know what Fox Fire is should look out for a company named Hat Red. They "get it"!

Anonymous said...

An anonymous commenter said "...this person lost the contract because they were a nuisance"?

Since when is being eager to get the job done a nuisance? The principal called the testing company to see what the principal could do on his end. Is this not a desire on the part of the principal to innovate?

Aren't "successful candidates", for want of a better description of people in a corporate culture, supposed to be motivated (eager), and innovators?

So "Anonymous" is telling me that going along to get along, like a dead fish floating with the currents, is more valuable than technical ability, eagerness, and innovation? Why then should I buy anything from the three-lettered company? Their products will reflect what they see as important.

Way I see it, the calls from the testing company to the PM threatened to make the PM look bad to the PM's bosses, perhaps even to expose the PM as unqualified for the technical work. Ergo, PM CYA was needed, and somebody else, the principal, had to be blamed for the PM's technical incompetence.

While technically incompetent, the PM no doubt has very good skills with smoke and mirrors which make the PM look very very good to people further up the organization chain. No doubt being of like mind, the people above the PM surely see the smoke and mirrors as a Good Thing. Yet again, the three lettered company will put what they value, smoke and mirrors, into their product.

I never met the principal, and don't know much about him, but from what I see, I'd sooner work with him, or even for him, than work for the three lettered company.

Anonymous said...

My broker does not allow direct trading access for any Microsoft OS for security reasons.

Anybody doing any non-trivial work on Windows is just begging to be hacked.

Anonymous said...

"I concur on your assessment of Project Managers. Fact the whole PM field is a sham in some ways. When the PMI website fosters the idea that any PM could run any project, I question that --"

I agree. I looked into the PMP route a while back; seemed like a logical path after having successfully managed IT projects for going on 20 years. It seemed to me to be nothing more than a thinly veiled pyramid scheme to make more people take the courses and the exams. After receiving your cert, you're expected to promote the whole PMP idea, teach in-house courses extolling the virtues of the PMP cert, etc., as part of the way to stay certified. I've met more PMP-certified folks that haven't the slighted idea of how to manage IT projects it isn't even funny. Frankly, the PMP is giving project management a bad name.

Manuel said...

I'm the bad guy, I am a project manager. The fact that I hate using MS products for very good reasons is completely irrelevant but true.

I have been managing IT projects for more than 20 years, including development projects and software factories but I am not, never will be, an IT professional.

One of the most difficult challenges I have faced once and again is to make a particular type of very competent IT professional understand the difficult balance between technical excellence and commercial sense.

Let me trying again to explain what others before me have tried to do. What I see here is a PM that went beyond what I would have done to help someone through an assessment process (I'd have stopped at a point where an IT would be contractor tells me that he can't access the website, never ever would send a laptop to an uncontracted supplier). And then, after I had agreed a way forward, the problem comes to me by a different route. That's it, I probably have a dozen other candidates that they have already passed the assessment. This one is finished.

And then, how do you tell some one that you are not hiring him. I would have most probably told some one to tell him (lest expensive choice) forget about it and keep focused on my project.

And then I see on this blogs so many comments that forget the fact that a different linux expert, that did not have any issues to pass the assessment (and thus proved multiskilled) got the job.

I agree no need to not tell the truth, but also, no real obligation to tell the exact motivation for the decision (and lots of legal risk). And remember, you want to be employed by a big company, you need to play by their rules, that's how they make money.

Yes is a tough world and linux, firefox, open source are damaged greatly by attitudes as the ones shown here. They are not professional, they are not respectful, they are ....

Scott M. said...

@WE ARE *NIXED!--

Yes, that is incredibly unprofessional. Sounds like someone who is very insecure and unable to handle confrontations, and would rather lie to make it seem like the circumstances are beyond her control when they're actually not.

@Anon 11/18 8:30--

Sounds just like MCP/MCSE certs. I must be behind the times, I figured people who did project management usually had some formal business school degrees, not pathetic vocational certs. This explains much. You can give a useless, incompetent person a piece of paper because they crammed for a multiple-choice test, but you still can't make them remotely competent or imbue them with good sense. All they become is a pompous idiot with a piece of paper.

Admin said...

All of the people that are frying the 'principal' guy for 'not knowing how to use IE' are either missing the point or give themselves too much credit for their own intelligence. The point to the story was that this project was geared towards using Linux. This guy was the Linux consultant, so he tried to get a jump on things by beginning to tell them which way to go in order to make the project successful.

Technically, he did make IBM look bad by jumping the gun and contacting them directly with a request that he thought was harmless. This company thought they were hiring IBM's brainpower, not that of an offshore contracting company.

The end message here is that he bucked 'the system'. 'The system' is lazy, self-serving and run by people who only look for ways to do less work while making themselves look better and make more money. I realize most of this readership are young idealists eager to make the World a better place. I was once one myself. Still am, but it took a few years to realize that you can't change 'the system' overnight, simply because there are too many of them. This is just another example of what happens in 'the real world'. It can be a lot like High School at times.

Never give up, though. That's what being young is for. ;)

James and Onalisa said...

Why do so many companies require MS windows and IE or OS X and Safari why can't they allow Linux to be the one to do the job especially when it is so mainstream anymore? I have to reboot to watch netflix and other silly things.

Anonymous said...

IDIOTIC
BUSINESS
MEN?
:)

Anonymous said...

how can a project manager for an IT project not know what Firefox is?

Since when have management anywhere known anything? ;-p

As to the person that was fired, there is a legal system in place to stop wrongful terminations, which this clearly is, I suggest she use it.

Van' said...

"The company I am legally not allowed to mention any more due to them firing my ass 4 years ago." (HAL) has a habit of doing this.

Internally they're all "Use SmartSuite" and "We're moving to RedHat" with cute little Linux fesability study projects and such running.

But don't you dare, EVEN TRY AND USE IT. You WILL use MS Office. You WILL use Internet Explorer and the company sanction build of Windows. Deviation from this is frowned upon.

And yes, HAL will black ball people from the whole company globally for no reason at all. In fact, if a black ball reappears via another 3rd party (i.e. is an employee of a service provider) contracts get cancelled. If you are outsourced they black ball you as well.

It makes, former HALers tricky to employ if you plan on courting the single red eye in the furture.

kozmcrae said...

It only took me about a week for it to sink in, but your one-picture-describes-a-thousand-rants photo is a view from behind the 8 ball. Good one Ken.

Nyarnon said...

Ehhrmmm.... what is this window thing?

Dr Strangelove said...

Hundreds of years ago, if you tried to connect to God using your own religion, as opposed to the one of the people in power, you'd get burned alive.

Nowadays in our Web fearing/loving society, using a different browser than the one used by the people in power can cost you your job.

There is hope though, we don't burn people because of their religion any more.
So maybe, one day...

Anonymous said...

I'm stuck working the dark side of tech support, Geek Squad. While I hate what i do, gotta pay the bills, and IT jobs where i live are like supermodel rocket scientists, not exactly common. So i totally understand how stupid a manager can be. I worked at Circuit City was well, and WOW. The people who companies put above technicians usually have no earthly idea what it is we do, and while that can be fun (it's great to be able to tech-talk out of anything) it sucks when the unit you speant 3 days digigng around in to remove the trojan WITHOUT setting it off walks out the door unpaid for because of a manager's decision.

Tom said...

A lot like trying to teach a pig to sing...
Not only is it a waste of time.
But it simply annoys the pig ...

Anonymous said...

It is better off not working for that three letter company. From the story, you can tell the project manager know NOTHING about computing and have NO FREAKING idea what he/she doing. I don't think the project manager will be comfortable to have someone A LOT smarter because she know better how much she doesn't know.

All the best,
G

Proud to be a Linux User

Krams said...

Well, technically if you are taking a comeptency test, you are not yet hired. And you cannot be fired if you have not been hired yet.

candidate needed to take a test. Had Linux. Could not take test (blame the testing company). Employer - not getting test results did not hire said contractor. Would you hire someone if they did not pass your tests?

Anonymous said...

No, Krams, I wouldn't. But that's not what happened here.

See, the project manager lied like a dawg. That principal *was* willing to use MS Windows and Internet Explorer on the computer the project manager was going to ship him. While waiting for said computer to arrive, he had simply asked the testing company about Firefox trying to make things better all around. The project manager, upon firing him (that's really what this was), no longer gave him the chance to even take the test, which, again, he was willing to do! Whoops....

So, unfortunately, your comments totally misrepresent the situation. He did nothing wrong here. And she was a bad PM if she had to resort to lying about him like that.

--SYG

Anonymous said...

Its easy to jump on the side of the IT guy or the PM, but both were wrong in this story.

First of all, as many have pointed out the IT guy should have had access to a windows machine or VM. Its just as inexcusable for him not to have access to a working copy of IE as it is for the PM not to know about Firefox. That said, it is also inexcusable, that he would even need to call the PM and then the web testing company for support on such a trivial issue.

Of course its ridiculous that a company hiring a Linux tech would not support Linux as a platform for supporting their platform. That's a messed up situation... but it is also ill advised to make noise about it and point out how messed up it is when you need the job and you aren't even hired yet. Do the Job. Get paid. Do not call for tech support because the competency testing doesn't support your browser/OS. How stupid can you be? Sure complain all you want to web sites that don't support W3C standards but not to your prospective employer. If you are on the way out the door and never intend to work for them again you can even bring it up as a parting jab. But use a little common sense for Pete's sake.

Now for the project manager... to those that say she was right to get rid of the IT guy for being a bit of a loose cannon, I say a PMs job is to manage the project and that means the people on the project. She's ignorant if she has never heard of Linux or Firefox but that has nothing to do with her competency to manage the project. But not being able to manage one IT guy who wanted/expected to be able to take the test with his platform/browser of choice was her failure as a manager To not be able to do what a manager is supposed to do... manage personell proves her incompetence as a manager. It is inexcusable that the end result was a lie about the project being canceled. How very unprofessional.

As an independent consultant, I can say from personal experience that you may as well expect this sort of thing. But in order to be successful as a consultant you have to be able to handle problems without bothering anybody higher up on the ladder than necessary. That means, if the URL produces a page that won't render, figure out why yourself before reporting it as a problem. If that means you have to use IE then do it without expecting them to conform to you. Dual boot, a VM running Windows, whatever. Or even... wait for thatlaptop they are so generously sending you... and be nervous as hell while you wait that you might be the only tech they hired that they had to send a laptop to.

A good consultant is a problem solver. This IT guy/consultant showed his incompetence by not being able to solve on his own the problem of logging in to a competency testing website. How ironic is that?

Wight13

kroon78 said...

I'm so mad at this story I want to punch a cat!

Amenditman said...

Leave the poor kitty in peace, punch Steve Ballmer.

Anonymous said...

There are a bunch of idiots that have posted on here, they obviously don't have the ability to comprehend written English.

At no point did the person refuse to use Windows and or IE.

They rang the testing company to see if there was a different/less expensive solution to the problem.

They did this in their own time to facilitate the testing/hiring process.

If they had come to me for a job, and shown that sort of initiative I would have offered them more money.

In my experience most of the people who, as suggested by the same morons who obviously can't comprehend written English, keep their heads down, invariably show little initiative at work, are clock watchers, and their work is almost always substandard. The only thing they seem to be really good at is hiding just how bad they are until they have left. Then someone with real nous has to pick up the pieces.

tracyanne

Anonymous said...

I run Firefox on my WindowsXP machine at work, no issues. I take my laptop which runs Ubuntu 9.04 and hook it directly onto the company network without issue. It's pretty lax here, which is cool.

creativesumant said...

Your article title is disingenuous at best and intentionally misleading at worst. If we are to take your hearsay as truth and not believe that your friend engaged in some anti-Microsoft ranting to one or more parties involved, then at worst your friend was fired for not having the necessary tools to do the job at hand.

Recently I just came across a good article on "100 Linux Tips and Tricks"
Here is its link.

Anonymous said...

Is there such a thing as too much anti-microsoft ranting? Those who want to reach out and sing camp fire songs with Redmond will draw back a bloody stub for their troubles.

Going along to get along is weak.