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In 8 months at Microsoft, I learned these things (ahmetalpbalkan.com)
548 points by philk10 308 days ago | comments


rmah 308 days ago | link

I'm not sure where to start. This is a person at his first job out of college and he's been there for less than a year (two if we're being generous). And yet he has the audacity to say "I learned that one will see this sort of problems in all large scale companies."? Really? This is absurd. I can't wrap my head around the sort of arrogance and myopia that makes a 21 or 22 yr old think that he can describe an entire world from such limited experience.

I've been working for over 20+ years now. During that time, I've worked at half a dozen large corps, a few medium sized ones, and a few startups. I've seen both great teams with great practices and bad teams with poor practices. One thing that I can say though: the size of the company didn't seem to have much to do with it. Even with my experience, I don't think I've seen much more than a thin slice of the variance in practices that is out there.

Note, I'm not saying that this guy didn't experience what he wrote about at Microsoft. But at a corporation that size, you'll likely find that different groups have different practices. This was certainly true at the large companies I've been at. Some teams were super-sharp, others were sloppy beyond words. Even if all teams at MS suck (which I doubt, but I will admit it's possible), this says nothing about how other companies operate and very little about how large corporations operate.

Word of advice: don't mistake the worlds you extrapolate inside your head for reality.

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coldtea 308 days ago | link

>This is a person at his first job out of college and he's been there for less than a year. And yet he has the audacity to say "I learned that one will see this sort of problems in all large scale companies."? Really? This is absurd.

Can you just learn from his experience that he describes, and get over an inconsequential phrase at a tiny part of the post?

Even if it's not applicable "everywhere", it's a nice description of what he found in his parts of Microsoft.

Not to mention that as a senior engineer that's seen several companies (and had done contract work for others), it's pretty much spot on in general.

>Even with my experience, I don't think I've seen much more than a thin slice of the variance in practices that is out there.

Which is besides the point. What he describes it pretty normal stuff, going on all around:

1) companies not having much internal documentation for lots of their stuff,

2) not everyone being overly enthusiastic for coding,

3) code fixes that doesn't have business value are not very welcome,

4) people can mostly squeeze 3-4 hours of good coding a day, etc.

That's not some obscure practices, or some arcane rituals that only happen on a small slice of companies. Those are pretty much the norm all around.

Some companies might do better or worse in some aspects, but it's not like there are some alien practices or some novel ways to deal with software that are out there in companies and you have to explore very hard to find them... Even if they were, they would be so little spread that it won't matter.

>I can't wrap my head around the sort of arrogance and myopia that makes a 21 or 22 yr old think that he can describe an entire world from such limited experience.

Are you fucking kidding me? That's what 21 year olds do. Make strong statements and have strong opinions on their limited experience.

It's the myopia of not knowing this very basic fact, that I cannot wrap my head around.

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dap 308 days ago | link

> Can you just learn from his experience that he describes, and get over an inconsequential phrase at a tiny part of the post?

Actually, no. The post wasn't phrased as "here was my experience", and rightly so: there are lots of terrible engineering organizations, and many readers wouldn't hugely care about yet another such horror story. Rather, the post reads as advice that new grads learn early to be resigned to what they might otherwise perceive to be dysfunctional engineering. I think there's too much of that already, and it's frustrating to see a post advocating that.

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katbyte 308 days ago | link

> Are you fucking kidding me? That's what 21 year olds do.

Not all, i have the pleasure of working with some 20-22 year olds who would be very unlikely to make such a statement.

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cgag 308 days ago | link

Is thinking these problems are likely common across all gigantic companies really so egregious?

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coldtea 308 days ago | link

Sure, not all.

That goes without saying as the intended meaning for every* use of "everybody", "nobody", "every", "all" etc in normal conversation. Those are statistical qualifiers, not absolutes.

(*well, almost every -- which reinforces my point).

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katbyte 307 days ago | link

Thats why i personally try to not used absolutes conversation, because some people do think like that where of every X is Y.

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NotOscarWilde 307 days ago | link

As long as you don't remind anyone that uses it implicitly that he is wrong, feel free to use it as you wish.

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alpb 308 days ago | link

Hey there, author of the post here. I thought I may justify what I said.

I have friends in almost all big companies and I discuss them about these issues a lot. Almost all of them agree that they are in a similar situation.

I know that even Microsoft is a huge world and NOT all organizations are the same. All organizations have their own culture so there's no common culture in the company I can describe. In a way this is good.

So the statement "Even if all teams at MS suck" would be really wrong. In addition to this, organizations get better and develop culture over time. Thanks for the comment.

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dap 308 days ago | link

> I have friends in almost all big companies and I discuss them about these issues a lot. Almost all of them agree that they are in a similar situation.

Really? You have friends in almost all big companies?

There's a lot of truth in the points you mention, but even in my limited experience (six years at two companies, one very large and one pretty small), it's much more complex than you suggest. Many of these things were flat out not the case at both companies (e.g., the points about "the world outside"), some of them were absolutely true of both (2-3 hours of coding per day is common), and some were worse at the small company (e.g., documentation).

I'm with the parent: these issues have little to do with company size, but they do reflect the quality of an organization. In both environments I've worked in, to the extent that these issues were present, they were considered problems to be fixed, not something to be resigned about.

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bproctor 308 days ago | link

I pretty sure he meant most of his friends work at big companies.

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foobarbazqux 308 days ago | link

Also there aren't that many tech companies as big as Microsoft, in terms of either market cap or number of employees. Seems pretty easy to have friends at all of them if you were friends with a lot of people in a CS department at college.

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dap 308 days ago | link

Yeah, that's a more plausible reading. Thanks.

But that undermines the original point about big companies even more. Having friends at mostly big companies is not only not enough to generalize about big companies, but it provides no information about whether other companies struggle with these issues too.

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aaronbrethorst 308 days ago | link

Good luck. I don't really envy you for the next 1:1 you'll have with your manager.

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gtirloni 308 days ago | link

Good point. Utterly unprofessional of him to post something so specific for a company instead of discussing it privately. Even then, he should probably work on providing some suggestions instead of engaging in the blame game alone.

I was reading this post as if he was not working for M$ anymore. Also, he might be safeguarding a future for him in small startup with the same attitude... if he is fine limiting his options so much, good luck.

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bkurtz13 308 days ago | link

I am at the same point in my career as you. My first job out of college was at HP. I must say that everything you mentioned was the case for me too.

Now I'm at a smaller company, and my quality of life has improved tremendously.

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mlwarren 308 days ago | link

Ex IBMer here. Spent some time there when I was OPs age and my experience was similar. I'm at a mid-size company and it's better but still not perfect! Nothing is, at least all the time, I assume.

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runfaster2000 308 days ago | link

Some teams at Microsoft do have internal documentation. We decided about 10 years ago, before our product got away from us, to start documenting the architecture. This is something that our management completely supported (they may have even suggested it), and we added this effort to our schedule, not as a "slack time" thing. Turns out that forcing yourself to document the architecture also helps keep the architecture sane because it really hurts to document something ugly.

We also have a ton of specs, archived off over the last 15 years. Those can sometimes be quite useful.

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wdr1 307 days ago | link

> I have friends in almost all big companies and I discuss them about these issues a lot. Almost all of them agree that they are in a similar situation.

As you get older, you'll find there's a stark difference between first & second-hand experience.

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windexh8er 308 days ago | link

The thing is, he's (mostly) right. I've consulted/worked for over a dozen of the F100 and have run across varying degrees of everything described (some better, some worse) over 10 years.

This isnt to say you can't make change. You just have to play work as a very strategic game of chess and, often, take risks most others won't/don't. I've done it and that is one of the only reasons I still play the game. I'm genuinely interested in making things better and pushing out the cruft.

The downside is that it wears on you. I generally get burnt out or bored after a couple years and look for something new to reset and challenge myself on. And as bad as this reads for Microsoft (really - were you surprised?) I don't think there's any other factual data to support Azure being a market leading product and these sort of indicators only solidify that position (garbage in/garbage out).

These types of perspectives are good for those who are considering the reality of working for these size organizations. Not because it's a guarantee that things will surely mirror what's been outlined, however it lends candidates a tool to ask questions which would be indicators of the reality of the work environment.

Kudos to the author.

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grannyg00se 308 days ago | link

"I learned that one will see this sort of problems in all large scale companies. "

The way that reads in the paragraph makes it seem as though it was thrown in as an afterthought and that it applies as a separate statement on its own - unrelated from the 8 months. It's the only line that says anything about other companies. Maybe someone read his post, and said "hey, you know it's like that everywhere right?" Or, "Hey you know higher ups might not like you hating on us like that." And so he throws in a sentence to solidify the fact that he's not trying to single out Microsoft.

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biot 308 days ago | link

I read it as "An Ironic, Passive-Aggressive Retrospective on Microsoft's Wonderful Practices".

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kristianc 308 days ago | link

>This is a person at his first job out of college and he's been there for less than a year. And yet he has the audacity to say "I learned that one will see this sort of problems in all large scale companies."? Really? This is absurd.

Fwiw, I read it as a way of (plausibly) covering his ass if he was ever hauled in front of management about the post, not a way of overstating his experience. YMMV.

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joefarish 308 days ago | link

It's not absurd. Perhaps he shared his experiences at Microsoft with friends and relatives who work at other large companies and they told him they had the same experience?

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mmmelissa 308 days ago | link

He probably got fed that idea day in and day out while there.

I have worked for a few different large organizations and have often faced the size excuse for being unorganized and ineffective. I personally feel it is a cop out, and self fulfilling prophesy once it becomes an accepted perspective, because then people stop trying to be better.

I have also worked in big organizations on kick-ass teams who are willing to fight uphill battles against "we are too big to change" attitude. Thats what made them awesome teams.

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bodegajed 308 days ago | link

> I can't wrap my head around the sort of arrogance and myopia that makes a 21 or 22 yr old think that he can describe an entire world from such limited experience.

I like him already, If were Microsoft I _will_ hire him asap. He's the type of person who wants to make things better.

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allenu 308 days ago | link

Wanting to make things better really isn't enough. You need to be able to make it happen. Writing a blog post to the world from your limited experience that a particular company has problems is cute and probably feels good, but not really helpful to fixing the problem. If he actually explained what he would do to make things better, that would be a start.

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adamconroy 308 days ago | link

Yeh, he is still young enough to change the world.

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dnautics 308 days ago | link

Not knowing anything about large team programming (I'm doing a biology startup) I took it to mean "you well see at least one of these problems at any given large scale company [fill in the rest]."

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benched 308 days ago | link

I was at Microsoft for 5 years, in a completely different group from the OP. My experience matched his exactly, in character and specifics.

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bencxr 308 days ago | link

one of the things i liked about Microsoft is that you can move teams (pretty) easily. i myself have had different experiences/practices in both the teams i was a part of.

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benched 308 days ago | link

I didn't think having to maneuver around passive aggression and outright blocking by current management, or having to pass full interview loops for each new position, were particularly fluid. Perhaps in a culture of hyper-competitiveness, some find those circumstances exciting. I found them good reasons to leave the company.

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venomsnake 308 days ago | link

Publishing something that HR/PR can consider slander under your real name while being junior developer is not a recipe for stable employment. These guys tend to freak out over minor stuff like that.

Lets hope it does not have negative consequences.

Otherwise familiar - these companies are like supertankers - move slowly and few people are empowered to make meaningful decisions and contributions. Worked for a few years in a telecom ... it was meetings, meetings, meetings, signing contracts with delivery dates before the day they we signed, absurd promises, turf war and NIMBY.

From now on - 20-50 person companies for me only, unless I am at the very top.

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ngoel36 308 days ago | link

I spent two summers interning as a Program Manager at Microsoft (Xbox and Office), and his statements are nearly 100% accurate:

- Literally any piece of documentation was always 1+ years out of date. Setting up a dev environment could take days when it should have only taken hours.

- A lot of my coworkers were over 35. Starkly different from my experience later at Google. Working past 6 was considered absurd, and a lot of people were perfectly happy just riding the Microsoft wave. There were plenty of engineers who had been at the company 12-18 years with only a single promotion or two.

- I actually was able to do some open source work with Codeplex

- Not a single person I worked with read HN or Reddit, that I knew of.

It's a bit depressing reading the post, but at the end of the day Microsoft was and is still an amazing place to work. I was paid well, the engineers are well taken care of, and the consumer offerings are still fun and exciting.

Although things were done differently than they are done in Silicon Valley, the difference is not necessarily bad, perhaps more eye-opening. This is how MOST computer science majors spend their careers. Not mastering MongoDB, collaborating on Google Spreadsheets, or posting things to HN, but using Windows XP, Visual Studio, and Microsoft Word 2003 on a 2008 Lenovo laptop. And MS is perfectly happy taking their money.

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jmduke 308 days ago | link

Although things were done differently than they are done in Silicon Valley, the difference is not necessarily bad, perhaps more eye-opening. This is how MOST computer science majors spend their careers. Not mastering MongoDB, collaborating on Google Spreadsheets, or posting things to HN, but using Windows XP, Visual Studio, and Microsoft Word 2003 on a 2008 Lenovo laptop. And MS is perfectly happy taking their money.

I think this is a dangerous line of logic that leads to equating 'new' with 'important.' I think once you get to the point where you judge someone for the tools they use or the sites they browse you go down a pretty negative path. It's shockingly easy to forget how much of the world runs on J2EE and ASP.net.

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ownagefool 308 days ago | link

There's a ton of wrong with that statements tone, not that I think the author meant it that way, but I'll point it out regardless:

#1 - The majority of HN seems to involve typical latests web crud app fads. It's probably also not that interesting to *nix system developers either, though many might read it for the apps being created as opposed to the how.

#2 - Having MongoDB on your CV generally means you're developing for your CV. Occasionally it means you had a valid usecase, but if you tried to sell me on that for a typical app, I'd never hire you.

#3 - The bleeding edge is called that for a reason. Sometimes you'll bleed and theres very good reasons to stick with tried and tested.

#4 - It's easier to make it simple to get up and running when you have that from the start or early on, and working with techs that make that easy. Not so much when you're inherited a lot of legacy, some of it you don't even understand.

For what it's worth, MS make some decent products, so it's hard to entirely slate them but I imagine the GPs opinion that they could be doing things a lot better is also true, just some of the points were kinda off base imo. If anything.

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JonFish85 308 days ago | link

Microsoft is the complete opposite of Facebook's "Move fast and break things". And that's a good thing, in a lot of ways. When entire companies (industries?) are dependent on you: slow & steady to get it right is much, much better than moving quickly to integrate the newest technology.

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pm 308 days ago | link

Sure, it's "move slow and break things". As judged by my experiences with most Microsoft products over the last twenty years, and reinforced by my current experience with Windows Azure's bizarre engineering choices and instability issues (the team to which the OP was assigned).

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lostlogin 308 days ago | link

I drive an MRI scanner or 2 that are built on windows 2000. It's so very painful that modern scanners use such old OSs. The OS is masked from the user, but as soon as you try to do something complex (real complex, like getting images onto a memory stick) you have to use a series of crude hacks to get an explorer window up, then work around the disabled functions to get data off the scanner without using the network port.

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pm 308 days ago | link

Heh, that reminds me of all the bad scanner software I've ever dealt with in my time, and wondering how dead inside that person truly must be to have had to write it in the first place.

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infinitone 308 days ago | link

How is Microsoft slow and steady when he just told you they have poor code quality, no docs, etc.

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JonFish85 308 days ago | link

Granted I don't work at Microsoft so I don't see their internal code. I have worked a bit with their .NET and older Visual Studio suites, and found that their documentation there was probably some of the best I've ever seen (better than Analog Devices, which I've used as a hardware documentation standard for a while). MSDN is a fantastic resource, and is extremely well organized (or was 10 years ago, I imagine it hasn't changed a ton since then).

And I more meant that they have to stick with technologies that they know work for two reasons: legacy & reliability. If Microsoft changes something within their legacy code, that could cause absolutely massive problems around the globe. If reliable features in their code breaks, same problem.

[Edited to fix redundant sentence].

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dclusin 308 days ago | link

Internal documentation of functionality/features/whatever and documentation of externalized API's & protocols meant to be consumed by any johnny come lately are two separate beasts. If the QA/validation process that is applied to external documentation was also imposed as a requirement on internal documentation then nothing would get done.

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cobrausn 308 days ago | link

Where did he mention poor code quality? Out of date documentation is all I see mentioned.

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myko 308 days ago | link

He mentioned copy/pasting code and skipping reviews were popular things to do. The first one is definitely a sign of poor code quality, and the second isn't as definite but is surely a practice that makes room for poor code quality.

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Draiken 308 days ago | link

I'd say that's implicit, if code that doesn't deliver business value (refactoring, documenting, etc.) is wasted, people won't do it.

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seanmcdirmid 308 days ago | link

I don't think code quality and documentation quality are strongly correlated, they are just complementary.

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Draiken 307 days ago | link

I'd say without documentation any code loses quality.

I'm not talking about giving a manual for every piece of code you write, but any code that will be used by others (specially in big companies) should be well documented.

If good code is not documented, it will probably cause the same amount of trouble for people using it, than a bad piece of code.

People often forget that their code normally ends up outliving them.

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seanmcdirmid 307 days ago | link

People also often forget that a lot of code doesn't survive the week, which is common in an agile setting. Documenting code is something you do when you know it can live for awhile.

Also, if the focus is on maintainability, the person documenting the code shouldn't be the same person who wrote it, who already has biases on what is obvious or not. Rather, it should be someone with access to the author(s) who can ask questions and document what they didn't get right away.

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jussij 308 days ago | link

> no docs

I suggest the OP just fire up the MSDN.

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martydill 308 days ago | link

Interestingly, many companies including mine are dependent on Facebook and their APIs. They do move fast and break things, and we feel the pain of it practically every day.

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vacri 308 days ago | link

All these things are fine, except for the suggested Microsoft culture of not knowing what's out there, what the competition is doing. If you don't at least keep one eye on what's going on, then you're not going to see other people's mistakes and learn from them.

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nealabq 308 days ago | link

It's curiosity that's important, not new stuff. We read HN because we're curious, and we don't want to miss anything. We don't get stuck on old inferior tools (at least not at home) because we like to tinker and explore. You can judge people, to some extent, based on their reading, their tools, how informed they are about the competition. Programming is like surfing a tidal wave of information and change; you don't improve by sticking your head in the sand.

(Yeah, that last sentence is a tidal wave of mixed metaphore tossed like a salad.)

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ownagefool 308 days ago | link

Programming is more like surfing an infinite amount of tidal waves of information change. Every wave is different, but ultimately they're all just waves regardless of how much people argue which is superior to the other.

Point being, when you're 35 and an expert in your field, you probably need to spend less time learning what the cool kids are up to as opposed to when you're 23 and learning your field and everything you learn is new.

That doesn't mean that you can let yourself not be current, but if your future plans are to work 12 hours per day then go home and read HN at night, I pity your wife and family prospects. :p

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cobrausn 308 days ago | link

'Inferior' is often a matter of perspective.

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weavie 307 days ago | link

Yes. And it's not just learning new stuff. It's important to just keep learning stuff.

It's shocking how many of my team mates haven't even heard about Scheme, let alone tried to learn it. And yet learning that language (I'm still working on it) is revolutionising the quality of my code. There's a lot of important stuff that was developed years ago that's just as important as stuff that's coming out today.

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silverbax88 308 days ago | link

This is a very accurate statement. Only developers with several years of battle-tested, crunch-time experience know the dangers and headaches of trying to fix something that was implemented because it was 'new' and 'cool'. Sometimes new stuff is awesome. Most of the time, it's just new.

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mmmelissa 308 days ago | link

I agree.

I like to avoid being an early adopter for anything business or work related because it is so much easier to use things when there is an already established user community who has found and fixed/worked around most the major bugs.

Time is money.

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jimmaswell 308 days ago | link

I didn't know ASP.NET was considered something in the same level of winxp or word 2003 at the point - maybe the original ASP. Unless that's not what you were implying.

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cmbaus 308 days ago | link

Referring to comments as dangerous is dangerous.

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jgh 308 days ago | link

Working past 6 should be considered absurd unless you start at 10 or 11..

There's a world out there for you to enjoy, and many people fought hard for workers rights so we don't have kill ourselves over work.

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kryten 308 days ago | link

This. Joy to the European work ethic. I haven't worked past 5 for the last 10 years. I refuse to do unpaid work and overtime. Would your employer bill you out for free? Nope.

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DrJokepu 308 days ago | link

Actually yes, it's called a bonus.

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kryten 308 days ago | link

I get a hefty one of them as well. What's your point?

I don't expect one. My basic salary is what I expect.

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DrJokepu 308 days ago | link

Employers hand out bonuses to incentivise enployees to stay. Employees do unpaid overtime to incentivise employers to keep them. My point is that they are fundamentally similar concepts. It's great that you're in a position where your employer wants to incentivise you to stay around by giving you bonuses yet you don't need to do overtime to keep your job. I'm also in a similar position. Some people aren't, and this has nothing to do with European work culture or work ethics. It's supply and demand.

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kryten 308 days ago | link

Not being disposable or fungible is their incentive for keeping me.

The things that make me stay at a company isn't the carrot dangled in front of me like some circus animal who needs to do their performance.

People are too grateful for jobs. Employers use this to enforce servitude on people under terrible terms and people just lap it up every time.

I'd rather sleep on the street than sell my soul.

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inafield 308 days ago | link

What's a bonus? I'm a top employee for my employer but I've never had this phantom thing.

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marssaxman 308 days ago | link

Not worth it.

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sinkasapa 308 days ago | link

I agree if you're working in some drone farm. Without a personal stake, why do people feel enthusiastic about following orders that keep them locked up at work all day? I understand that there may be coercion, like the threat of being fired, but if you're just writing software for your company, where does the enthusiasm for long hours come in? I'm freelance, and I love working on my projects. I often work long hours. I hardly stop. But I have a 100% stake in what I do and generally choose projects I believe in, like endangered language preservation or stuff that I find intellectually stimulating. Why would someone want to work at Microsoft or Google past 6pm? Why do people give their souls to hives?

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potatolicious 308 days ago | link

There is more to life than your profession.

Or, more generally, there is more to life than one single thing. Some people let a single thing (or a very, very small number of things) define themselves, and it's a bad idea.

Think critically - how are you defined? If you asked the 5 people closest to you, how would they describe you? If they can't get much further than "good software guy", be careful.

Life is way too short to be one-dimensional.

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kfk 308 days ago | link

Life is way too short to be one-dimensional

Hi, if you don't mind, I am going to use this citation a lot.

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jgh 308 days ago | link

Even if you're not working at some drone farm you should probably take time to yourself to relax and spend time with your friends/family. I understand if you're freelance and you have deadlines and whatnot you'll need to work long/odd hours, but honestly you shouldn't have to kill yourself with work. I enjoy what I do and have a large equity stake in it, but I'm not going to burn myself out because "I love what I'm doing." It's not good for me, it's not good for my family, and it's not good for my work. If there is a tight, important deadline sure I'll work longer hours, but in most cases it's almost certainly unnecessary and definitely negative.

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thisisnotatest 308 days ago | link

Sometimes I work noon-10pm at Google. Because I feel like it. What's the problem? :-)

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newsreader 307 days ago | link

You can work 24x7 as far as I'm concerned. Just don't expect others to do the same.

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robryan 308 days ago | link

Without some drive and enthusiasm about what you are doing those 9-5s could end up being a lot worse than the alternative of putting in some extra effort because you are really enthusiastic about what you are doing.

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vbv 308 days ago | link

I totally agree. I only work past 6 if I came in late. Otherwise there are plenty of hobbies to catch up with. Mine is making a nice dinner for myself at the end of the day. In that way you also get more time to work on your personal/side projects or even contribute to open source.

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nealabq 308 days ago | link

Not if you love what you're doing.

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kayoone 308 days ago | link

I totally love what im doing, but forgive me, i love my family more.

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enjo 308 days ago | link

I love my family, my health, and life more. Work, while important to me, isn't even near the top of my priority list. I work so that I can do the things and be around the people I truly care about.

My only real life regret is that I didn't realize it a bit sooner.

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Paul_D_Santana 308 days ago | link

Wow, incredibly profound. THANK YOU. Upvoted.

It is an extremely difficult thing to accept that one should not think of one's identity and aim in life by their employment, isn't it?

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jarek 308 days ago | link

> It is an extremely difficult thing to accept that one should not think of one's identity and aim in life by their employment, isn't it?

It really isn't. Why would you even begin to think in that in the first place?

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porker 308 days ago | link

Plenty of reasons. Firstly, look at how society interacts. "What do you do?" is a frequent conversation starter with new people, and already pigeon holes us by our employment. That starts to build a sense of identity with our work.

Then there's the vicious reward cycle. Do something right with work and you're rewarded with praise, with positive feedback, with kudos. Do something wrong and... well you see where it's going. It's more subtle than how I train my dog, but not much.

And then the tech world is in awe to entrepreneurs and startups, where long hours and being defined by passion for what you do and it being the sole calling in life are the norm. You or I, older now I suspect (I certainly am) may look at it and shake our heads and think of the failed relationships we've seen (the same in any high-powered area of work), but for people without that view it's not easy. I had the same way of thinking as the OP, and even now I still get jealous of those who achieve much by having their work as their identity and aim in life.

And finally society again. There seems to be a growing expectation this is the norm and the right way, like the acceptance that single parent families are normal and a good way for children to be brought up (don't argue with the subject, think about how long that's been an accepted view). For ambitious, maybe insecure graduates starting out in work, that's a huge sense of competing to 'get to the top'. Why they're not sure, but it sure gives one an identity... or does it?

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wisty 308 days ago | link

I also love debugging the code I wrote yesterday (or last month) without wondering what could possibly have made me do something so damn stupid.

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squidbot 308 days ago | link

Amen

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mhurron 308 days ago | link

I work to live. I don't live to work.

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nealabq 308 days ago | link

Sorry if I've offended, I didn't phrase that very well. I didn't mean you have to work late if you like your job. I meant it's a trade-off, and sometimes working late and giving up other things is worth it.

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jes5199 308 days ago | link

> A lot of my coworkers were over 35. ... Working past 6 was considered absurd

It is absurd. Experience teaches you that.

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ngoel36 308 days ago | link

I agree. I do think, however, that a 10am-8pm work day (or later) is not at all uncommon in Silicon Valley

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guyzero 308 days ago | link

COWORKERS OVER 35??

I'm shocked they hadn't been "renewed" by "Carrousel". Or were they runners?

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rlu 308 days ago | link

On the other hand, I had different experiences both times when interning at Microsoft.

Anyone that works or has worked at Microsoft should all end any "my experience" post with one sentence: your mileage may vary.

Microsoft is a gigantic company where team culture varies widely. Some may consider this a good thing, others a bad thing. I don't really care. I just call it a fact and as such "my experience at MS" posts are usually pretty meh unless the author him/herself realizes that their team's culture is probably extremely different (for better or for worse) from other teams' culture.

I think it's a pretty important footnote to include, that's all.

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scld 308 days ago | link

Well, honestly, working past 6 all the time should be considered absurd (assuming you are arriving at work between 7 and 8).

I understand the benefit of hard work but I see too much youth wasted on free labor given to corporations.

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marssaxman 308 days ago | link

Arriving at work between 7 and 8? Are you crazy? I don't even get out of bed that early.

...on the other hand, I think 10 AM - 6 PM is a pretty reasonable work day.

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greyboy 307 days ago | link

Different strokes for different folks, right?

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marssaxman 306 days ago | link

Pretty much :-)

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dham 307 days ago | link

What planet do you live on? In the USA 8-5 or 6 is the norm.

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marssaxman 307 days ago | link

I know what the corporate norm is, but I do not care, because I live on planet hacker. My brain does nothing of any value before around eleven AM and its peak productivity kicks in around 2-3 pm. An 8-5 schedule would be a great way to waste my time and my employer's money.

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dham 307 days ago | link

Yea true. I'm just saying there are tons of things to be done even if it's not coding. I agree with you on the coding productivity but if you walked into a company the first day and said "Oh I'm just working 11 to 2 every day", they probably wouldn't like that too much.

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alpb 308 days ago | link

Hey there, author of the post here. Thanks for supporting me, that feels good and I agree your points 100%.

I organized a "hackathon event" in The Garage for 2011 summer interns, maybe you have heard of it. I still push these sort of events and seminars that we all can more learn the outside world beyond the individual efforts.

Thanks for comment!

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davidong 308 days ago | link

> I actually was able to do some open source work with Codeplex

Nice, I guess people in your area had done this before and nobody was scared of sharing code. My experience wasn't so good.

I wrote some BizTalk VS-LoadTest extensions while contracting at Microsoft UK and battled for the best part of 3 months to get permission to share them on CodePlex.

While everyone agreed it was good for the company and the products and an all-round good idea to open source the code, nobody would put their neck on the line and give me written permission to do so. So it didn't happen.

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sliverstorm 308 days ago | link

This is how MOST computer science majors spend their careers.

And I'm thankful they do. Most of the very large projects that act on an extremely large scale require that sort of day-to-day grind. The spark is important too, but great things are 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration.

Just look at the code studies. Open-source projects of great accomplishment like the Linux kernel have just as many hours (those hours are just distributed a bit more)

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thornkin 308 days ago | link

How, after 2 summers as an intern, do you know how many times people were promoted? Microsoft doesn't let people sit around for 12-18 years.

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coldtea 308 days ago | link

>Publishing something that HR/PR can consider slander under your real name while being junior developer is not a recipe for stable employment. These guys tend to freak out over minor stuff like that.

That's to me the equivalent of saying: "sitting on the front of the bus, as a black person, is a recipe for trouble".

Not in the sense that it's racist, of course.

But that it trivialises a problematic situation, and asks for caution from the (potential) victim.

It's not what he did that's problematic, it's the very notion that a company would consider firing someone over sharing something as innocent and truthful as this.

And that we should somehow "accept it" and just "be cautious" not to have this happen to us.

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venomsnake 308 days ago | link

Okay - I will elaborate a bit. Fortune 500 companies tend to be trigger happy lately and not backing their employees. You saw what happened with the #dealwithit guy. And that was for sentiment the whole company backs because it just happened to be true.

If Snowden did not leave the US so fast we would all agree that this would have been stupid. Not the leak but not taking the basic precautions.

Also he is not having personal issues or being harassed from what I read - so the situation is not a civil or worker's right problem that would require that kind of whistleblowing.

It is a rant with proper place on thedailywtf with good privacy protection.

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hammock 308 days ago | link

> Fortune 500 companies tend to be trigger happy lately and not backing their employees.

All the more reason to speak his mind rather than try and feign some sort of loyalty to the man, which will never be returned.

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genwin 308 days ago | link

Better to speak one's mind anonymously to avoid becoming unemployable in the process.

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andrewflnr 308 days ago | link

Even if someone is going to be brave and try to change things, it's good if they know what they're getting into, rather than just blunder into it. Although, blundering might have it's positive points in this scenario.

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sliverstorm 308 days ago | link

I think your parent is just suggesting something like publishing under a pseudonym, which doesn't sound like trivializing the problem.

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mbell 308 days ago | link

> Publishing something that HR/PR can consider slander

The truth can not under any reasonable definition be considered slander.

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venomsnake 308 days ago | link

And HR and PR departments in any company have always been the pinnacle of reasonableness

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wololo 308 days ago | link

http://injury.findlaw.com/torts-and-personal-injuries/defens...

"truth serves as an affirmative defense to an action for libel or slander"

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yuhong 308 days ago | link

I still remember this: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/philipsu/archive/2006/06/14/631438.a...

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robbiea 308 days ago | link

| Publishing something that HR/PR can consider slander under your real name while being junior developer is not a recipe for stable employment. These guys tend to freak out over minor stuff like that.

Agreed. This is not something you write publicly WHILE working for the company. I know his intentions weren't to slander the company that is paying him, but it will most likely have bad consequences within his team.

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yuhong 308 days ago | link

Also: http://www.proudlyserving.com/archives/2005/09/an_open_lette...

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joesb 308 days ago | link

I do think there's a different between opinion of a manager who's been working for ten years and a new-grad who's just had his first job for eight months.

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driverdan 308 days ago | link

Getting fired from a job that sounds as miserable as his description depicts seems like a good thing to me. It's not like he'll have trouble finding a new one.

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genwin 308 days ago | link

A prospective future employer will likely be concerned he'll openly write about that employer too. Thus, passed over.

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fallenpegasus 304 days ago | link

I wouldn't not hire him for it.

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ragsagar 308 days ago | link

He might be sure that his HR/PR will never look into his blog or read HN or Reddit.

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