Monday, January 18, 2010

Motivational Tools

Here are some winning motivational strategies by total tools. The net effect is a major backfire. Some people can have multiples of these. Worst of all-- these people are calling the shots. How did they get to run the asylum?

The Camel Nose - Whenever a camel pokes their nose into a tent, the whole camel will follow. In IT land, the Camel Nose will ask for a small chunk of work. What will follow is a cascade of additional tasks as the camel trots deeper into the tent. It starts with something as basic as a "Login" link-- you tell them that the site doesn't have user management, they cajole you into just making the link with a placeholder page. Then, they call back and say that you need to make a login form-- just the form. Again, you're cajoled into that and say that you really need to add in the user management aspect. They put that off (no time, no money, no need-- maybe you get the sampler of excuses). They call back and need you do just store the form input; on second thought-- better do a user sign-up form too; you know, maybe you should link them. You explain that this is what the user management system will handle. No time. No money-- just the forms, please. Next day, an explosion as this user login form-thing is taking off-- people are wondering where the privacy policy and terms-and-conditions is. You say they need to draft one-- they say there's no time. Something else is up that needs your attention now!

Mr. Square Peg - This guy will take anything and make it fit. Usually Square Pegs find jobs as IT recruiters. They will fire you job opportunities and suggest ways you can alter your resume to make it a glove fit for their prospect. If they get to place you, they can collect thousands of dollars for getting an IT professionals into the right career. I once had my resume seriously worked over:
Recruiter: "You've used a Microsoft OS?"
Me: "Yes." (recruiter fills in "ActiveX" on his form).
Recruiter: "And Mac? OS X?"
Me: "Yes." (recruiter fills in "Objective C" on his form.)
Then you get to the interview stage for one of these jobs and they employer asks you to about your iPhone app developement experience. You can't BS them in the interview on the offhand chance that you can score the job and learn the skillset over a weekend, so the interview fizzles. Or-- you lie through your face and help build a bug-ridden project. Now that's paying it forward! I went through one of these Square Peg engineered interviews that was so bad that I hit a couple points where my only answer was "I can't even fathom an answer."

The Dandelion - They talk you into pulling a small problem, but the more you weed, the deeper and more intractable the problem. The opening volley: "Cut down the dandelion." A few weeks later, "The dandelion came back. Can you get to the root?" You start to exhume chunks of the lawn as to get to the root; they ask, "Are you sure you need to do all that?" They get you to stop prematurely. A few weeks later, "The dandelion came back. Can you get to the root?" They will simultaneously get you to dig into the problem and stop you so that the problem can re-emerge.

The Ostrich - If you don't believe it's a problem, you can make it go away. You say that they need to buy a certificate to secure the site. You get a more eloquent spin on "Nah-nah-nah-- I can't hear you! Nah-nah-nah." Another example: you come to them with a problem: "Everyone is direct linking to your JPEGs and scamming your bandwidth." As soon as the problem is unavoidable, they will demand to know why they were never told about this before. Even if you show them the paper trail and all of the times you told them, they will want to know why nothing was done about this.

The Moocher
- You find this guy at a mixer. He can't even cut-and-paste, but he has lots of tech connections. He may even have lots of work he can send your way. I've met guys who are sitting on a $1 million project that he landed from the government, but no people to carry it out. What government stooge didn't notice that the winning bidder couldn't do the work? Usually, these guys never seem to give you any work. There are two types of moochers: the struggling project moocher and the high dollar project moocher:
Struggling Project Moocher - Have you ever had a dumb idea that could make like $200/yr. in Adsense revenue if only you threw 500 hrs. of development at it? Maybe you did your idea as a labour of love. This moocher tries to get his labour of love onto your plate-- for your free labour. There's no money, but if there is ever any money, you're the first in line. No thanks, I'm waiting for a unicorn.
High Dollar Moocher
- This moocher usually phones you do work up a costs and some blurbs for a project. He's probably a project manager for a rinky-dink outfit. His job is to come up with costs-- he offloads that to you, then pads your bid so that he can make some cash. By offloading the bid prep to you, a project that doesn't come through will take him 10 minutes; you may be tied up for the whole morning. With one guy, I dodged his Skypes, so he phoned. I dodged his calls, so he showed up at my door. It was Summer and my front door was open. In retrospect, I should have slammed the door.
Combo Moocher - Hey, uh, buddy? Can you just, uh, check out this third kind of moocher? This is the worst kind of moocher-- he gets you to do the loser freebie projects because they will prove your worth, then you can take on one of the high dollar projects should one of them come through. Eventually, your time or your patience will wear out and you won't land the high dollar jobs-- it's your fault because you ditched too soon, guy!

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Nag Timer - An Egg Timer for Time Sucks

Do you want to keep to those New Years promises to be more productive? If so, you should try the "Nag Timer" to limit the amount of time you lose to Facebook, Fail Blog, ThereIFixedIt.com and other spots on the Interwebs.
Enjoy! And get to WORK!