Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Non-Compete Agreements - Let's get real

Non-Compete Agreements - Let's get real

“I had a friend of mine recently show me a non-compete employment agreement that was absolutely ludicrous. It stated that he basically could not do his job anywhere in the world for 2 years post employment and any idea he thought of within 7 years of termination belonged to his current employer. To top it off the agreement also stated that by signing this he acknowledges that this agreement will not hurt his future chances of employment and he waves the right to a jury trial. I don't know about you but that just makes my skin crawl and my blood start to boil.”

I have to sound of on this one as well. Our society is moving so fast nowadays, there are so many concerns with terrorism, the economy, our daily lives and interests and through it all, every single legal document (which includes EULAs) that comes out further erode the rights and good nature of any agreement… The nature of an agreement is (supposed to be) a two-sided barter to come up with an acceptable agreement that both parties can live by. Today, that process is only one-sided… Have you ever tried to say, “Umm, I am not comfortable with this agreement, can we work on this?” What was the result? 98% of the time, it is… “Oh, you don’t like this, then get lost!”

Another one that rankles me is that IMO a salaried employee is salaried for 40 hours a week, which includes reasonable overtime. Yes, you have project due you are salaried you stay late to get the job done. No overtime pay for you! However many, many companies are now of the mind that a salaried employee is 100% working all the time for them, no matter what… but what is worse, everyone follows suit.

I know people who currently work 60-70 hours a week, on the norm, on top of that they are on call 24/7 and are called or paged by systems they support nearly 24/7… but the funny thing is this, they all take it in stride. No complaints and when I question them on it, they look at me funny.

Next as is pointed out in the quote above and on Tim’s blog every EULA, legal agreement, or document today, is requiring you to waive your right to a jury trial couple that with the non-compete agreements that are popping up everywhere. I have to state that I agree fully with Tim on his Chimp, but in reality, that is only the tip of the iceberg on a much greater list of erosions.

However, the greatest enemy here is the individual who just says, “OK” and moreover, signs away those rights and continues to work over excessive amounts of overtime including uncompensated on-call work. Many people have forgotten the pains and sacrifices of those who came before to give us what some of these people are casually throwing away.

I urge everyone to take a few moments and research some of the history of workers rights and the labor. I have seen some interesting articles and productions about the actual costs some of these people bore when standing up to question and change the system. I am actually amazed that data to those references is not more readily available, those changes and revolutions were not bloodless, despite some of the following quick references,

Saturday, June 25, 2005

BF2 and Folder Redirection

Technology is a pain in the ass! Just when I get off my ass and fix many small problems that have been plaguing me for a while, some developers go and do something that causes me more problems.

More Battlefield 2. I finally got off my ass and enabled folder redirection on my home network. Great. My files are now centralized and on a redundant storage array. (Whew!). Using my machines this afternoon, was great. Click on my documents and all my machines had access to the same data. (As it should be). Okay, evening rolls around. Time to relax and play some Battlefield 2.

Simple, it worked before, why should it not now… Well why, is because the developers of Battlefield 2 decided to dump all the user settings into the my documents folder. Great right? Well no.

The game would not load at all. Okay. I know they were being stupid, so I uninstall the game and reinstall. This properly caches the proper file locations in flat files and perhaps the registry. The game menu now loads; I can reset-up all my customizations to the interface, video settings, etc. I’m breathing easier now, because the game menu loaded the game should load right? WRONG!

Loading the game state for a map, the game crashes to the desktop. Looking the folder structure, they also cached the shader information for the game in the My Documents folder.

Not great and not smart for any developer to do… Why?

Folder redirection. This is a folder that can be redirected to another computer or server. This is by design for document access (and has been around since Windows 2000); this is a folder that has multiple data entries, could be redirected by a network administrator or an end user and they are dumping critical (temporary) files into this directory. (Hello!? Earth to programmers?)

So the game is no longer playable while I have folder redirection enabled by group policy, because I cannot redirect where they store this temporary data. User settings, sure, but shader information. Comon!

My hope is that I can create a local user account on the CPU, which will not get the folder redirection policies, and use that to play BF2, however this step should not be necessary. They should be able to handle folder redirection, and under no circumstances whatsoever should they be storing temporary data in the My Documents folder.

Okay. Local account cleared up the issue, and I can play again. Time to pretend I'm playing with some of the programmers of BF2!

Friday, June 24, 2005

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Amazon CS Update

Seems that Amazon was being proactive. I just recieved an email from a CS representative who apologized and stated the issues was being corrected.

This is even better than the fast customer service idea. Proactive service. They screwed up, Admited it, fixed it, and moved on. Good enough for me.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Customer Service

Today Electronic Arts (EA) released Battlefield2, a much anticipated game for the PC. Pre-order sales have been strong, and I anticipated this game enough to pre-order it as well with a gift certificate I received for my birthday back in March. They also had a nice promotion to receive a free headset/microphone as this product support integrated VOIP.

I ordered mine from They tend to get a decent amount of business from me. I know at the time I pre-ordered this product with the “bonus” materials there were no special hoops to jump through… Well at least they did not publish the ones, which were needed.

You see my order shipped on Friday. (Great I may actually get the game on the release date (today)). Well the package did arrive. However, upon opening it, it is just the headset. Okay, maybe they cannot ship the product until today, so I check email to see if there are any status updates.

None, Hmm…

I head to the site check the order. It is completed. No mention of another shipment, no mention the “game product”. Okay, now this a little bit irritating. I click on the link to look at the product I ordered; now I see some text stating,

“This product is the pre-order bonus free Logitech headset only and does not contain the game. This bonus product must be added to your Shopping Cart in addition to the game. See the Special Offer details on this page to find out how to get the game and this free, bonus headset.”

This text clearly was not present before. Okay, time to dig in and contact customer support… And that was not easy navigating through the pure maze of links. All I want to do is email a customer service representative with the pertinent details so they can track down what happened. After about 10 minutes of searching, reading, and clicking links, I finally get to what appears to be the correct area. (Yay!).

Email sent. Now to wait until tomorrow or something. Wait… A few moments later there is an email in my box. Now at this point I do not know if this was a pre-emptive move by Amazon, who noticed they made an error, or a fast-track response from customer service… time will tell if I get an email tomorrow from a customer service representative if this was preemptive.

Either way, it is good. Fast service or better yet positive service, they requested that the order be replaced, and had created a gift certificate to cover the amount of the order including 2-day shipping. As long as there are no shipping delays, I should have the product by Friday. (Alright, so I should have had it today in a perfect world, but we all know this place is far from perfect).

I have chosen to look at the silver lining and say, wow, good customer service from Amazon. Yay! I know of many others companies, who would not have done anything at all in explain what happened or attempt to make it right.

BTW: The demo for this game is Great. If you like first person shooters and have not seen this game yet, check it out. You can download the demo from many places. Or if you still need to order the game you can from here… Battlefield2 DVD

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Georgia Navigator :: Cameras

Georgia Navigator :: Cameras

Speaking of traffic problems, today is a wondeful day. A Tractor trailor lost control hit a sign and all southbound lanes of GA 400 are closed (with a detour in effect) until approx 10:20PM today.

However, the GA DOT does have some nifty cameras online if you want to check out some of the Atlanta traffic. (Just be happy you are not here ;))

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Road Enhancements

One of the problems with the Atlanta metro area is the traffic. Anyone can and will tell you about it. (Hell you want an earful just ask me). Well in my neighborhood, they are working on some proposed road improvements. Namely converting a two lane road into a four lane. This is something so desperately needed in this area and the entire metro area it is not funny… Well it appears that some people are standing up to say no. (This is the reason the traffic situation already is so bad) Well in this great country we have the ability to free speech and to express our thoughts and desires. That is our right!

There are well over a 50,000 people in this area (EDIT: Link to census numbers Ack! 650,000+). However, these 22 people have organized and are planning a campaign to stop this enhancement project. Okay, they have that right. However, the elected officials are listening to them, and actually proposing alternates (That will only make the problem worse because there is a clear right and wrong way to fix this problem) or scratching the system all together… In this situation I am of the mind the needs of the many out weight the needs of the few.

If 22 people have a complaint about this upgrade project, fine, state your option. However when 22 people can actually impact the lives of well over 50,000 other people who are not speaking out on this issue then there are some serious issues in play here. That is the reason we have elected officials to think about the needs of the many (including those who do not and cannot speak out for themselves)… not to listen to the clear minority. If there are efforts to turn out the vote or campaign for or against, and those against win the battle. Fine, I will accept that, however I will reserve the right to bitch about how everyone is a moron!

A member of the subdivision I live in has passed out a leaflet outlining the issue. Great care was taken to present the facts of the issue, without attempting to influence anyone’s thoughts on the subject and has asked those who are concerned for or against to speak up on the matter. I can state that I will be speaking up on this matter, and I can also publicly share, I will be for the efforts. For if we fail to do what is needed now, we will pay the price later, whether in lost time or in lost tax payer money to go back and fix it later a much greater cost.

Hell, despite all the news of how the economy is lackluster in this area if you look around you see nothing but construction. New subdivisions, apartments, business offices, retail establishments. There are not any (none-what so ever) road enhancements (other than beatification projects). There is the interesting issue of Wal-Mart turning up to build yet another super center in the area. The only interesting thing at this point is that there already is a Wal-Mart Super center less than 4 miles down the road. Two massive super centers within 4 miles… What gives!?

Perhaps, the folks at Wal-Mart have the correct thought-lines and are thinking ahead for when this area is fully built up. (Let’s say the next 7-10 years at the current pace). Hell they can always turn one of them into a Sam’s Club (which they have stated in the press they have no intentions of doing).

All I can say, is there should no dissent to road enhancements, failure to enhance the road infrastructure in our area, the greater Atlanta area, or any urban area in the U.S. is foolhardy and will cost us all time and money. If you want more time to spend with your friends and family you need to support these enhancements, otherwise you will be sitting in a line of cars 50-60 or more in length waiting to go through a four-way stop sign on a two lane road, in a major urban area.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Product or Process?

Wow… Another week runs by. Just when you get used to the daily grind and you don’t think it can get busier… Well it does. My current employers a medium sized organization, which has grown rapidly, through both acquisitions and business growth.

They are currently struggling with the operational and managerial framework that is required to shift from a small time IT environment to a large scale enterprise environment. Progress is made, however there is still a lot of room for growth.

Topics such as desktop administration, asset management, domain administration, delegation, and locked down workstations, licensing controls, SOX Compliance (Sarbanes-Oxley), and others are coming to the forefront in additional to the daily tasks that have already existed in the organization.

One of the current realizations this organization is undergoing is that of, Product vs. Process. Most small and some medium sized companies are able to solve problems with a single item called a product, you have a need for a service or function you buy a product install it and then use said product.

Many larger organizations have already realized that you often need to replace the word product with process. Desktop administration is a process. This process can be made easier with a number of products, but the larger the organization the harder it is to find a product to single handedly resolve the pain in an area.

The following products are some that are viewed as solution by some medium and larger organizations when they also should be looking at the process that needs to be wrapped around those products.

Desktop Deployment
Managed and Locked Down Workstations
SMS 2003
Patch Management

You can find many products, which will advertise they can solve the pain points associated with these areas of IT management, however, if they are not wrapped in a solid process the root problem will only be marginally mitigated or only covered up to rear its ugly head again later. (At the much greater expense)

If you have installed products and they are largely underused, misunderstood or failing in the implementation it may not be the product itself (although it could be) it may be a failure in the process surrounding the product or the lack of any coherent process in the first place.

Friday, June 3, 2005

Mark Rein On Next-Gen, Rising Costs, and More

"Every year, there seems to be an article on the "death" of the PC gaming market..."

Mark Rein On Next-Gen, Rising Costs, and More

There is always the talk of a death knell for the PC gaming industry. I always was on the opposite side of that thought line as the PC is still central to everything (including console development), I was stunned with the advances on the next generation consoles and started to consider that PC gaming could soon fail, but as Mark Rein states in this article the PCs will still be central around console gaming development, and with further hardware integration the PC gaming side of the industry could see a growth spurt.

Entirely possible. Time will tell.

Thursday, June 2, 2005

XChange - BellSouth Completes Contracts for Next-Gen Network

XChange - BellSouth Completes Contracts for Next-Gen Network

Oohh! Even more news on the planned upgrades for BellSouth's Broadband network. Yay!

Just Say No!

"He said that he would sell me the bed frame without collecting any information, and that I was in the 1% of people that was not willing to give him their drivers license number or personally identifiable information. I didn't doubt this information, as it was probably the first truth that came out of his mouth."
From JD's Blog on MyItForum

I am sure this is too true, when someone asks for your personal and indentifing information, Just say no, or if they persist, just ask them for their credit card number. That will shut them up.

Wednesday, June 1, 2005

Reply To All: Syndrome

Most people who work in a larger organization (e.g. anything over a few hundred employees) have more than likely encountered this situation. Internal company SPAM emails. What is this?

It is email that is sent from an internal user of the company to multiple other employees of the company. Most of whom have no idea what they hell they are talking about or no abilities or responsibilities to correct the issue they have, yet this clueless, hopelessly flustered person thinks that the entire (internal)world needs to know about their problem.

I just call it internal SPAM. Before you hit the send button make sure all people who are included on the email need to actually read it. Otherwise… DO NOT CLICK THE SEND BUTTON!

As an additional thought, if your organization uses internal mailing lists and you do not know who will receive the message? DO NOT CLICK THE SEND BUTTON!

Those who wonder about proper email etiquette, here is an link to email etiquette…

Note, you can also Google: Email, Etiquette

If you know someone who suffers from excessive CC: syndrome, Reply To All: Syndrome, or any other please email some of these links to them!