Tag Archives: sony

Corporate Pitfalls for IT Staff

We noticed this little zinger on Twitter’s help pages while trying to help out a client:

Due to resource constraints, not every Tweet can be indexed in Twitter Search.
Our engineers are always working to index more updates, but we can’t force individual, missing Tweets into search.

In other words, what you see in Twitter feeds are a supposedly random subset of actual posts and for some reason their “engineers” think this is reasonable?

We began investigating for a user that was Tweeting about an upcoming conference but searching every combination of keywords and hash-tags resulted in NOTHING. The conference is only a few days out and our mashup is streaming the related feeds to the client’s home page, only their own posts were not showing! Not randomly, but none of them. Registrants talking about the conference were showing up fine, but the actual conference information is missing. Contacting Twitter resulted in no joy either. They just referred us to the randomness of their search. So what next? Well, we had to manually parse the search feed and inject the missing posts.

Somehow it seems very unlikely that Charlie Sheen’s tweets are getting “missed” at random by their search, so hiding behind “resource limitations” is a pretty shallow excuse. So Twitter becomes yet another internet company that is assigning values to individuals and widening the gap between the “popular” and the “obscure”  under their control.

Richard Stallman might seem a bit in left field, but there are some bad moons rising in the world of technology, and if the Free Speech people don’t take control of the internet via legislation Google, Twitter, and Facebook will with “resource limitations”. We saw Wikipedia president Jimmy Wales cave in to porn peddler pressure about a year ago when he attempted to “clean up” the graphic images, and to this day, there are still blatantly pornographic images on Wikipedia while Wikipedia remains the top result on most Google searches, despite the site being pornographic.

This is a fascinating time to witness, but also as a tech company we need to be sly and aware. If you want to get publicity without shooting anyone you’ll need these guys’ help and to get it you’ll need to play by their rules, no matter what they are. It doesn’t mean we can’t be clever and work around them. Just be careful not to make them angry.

A final newsworthy quote on “corpcorrupt” culture: “Engineers who simply staked out one component in the codebase, and rejected patches so they could maintain complete control over design and implementation details had much greater rewards.” Caught my attention on Dhanji R. Prasanna’s blog about why he left Google.

We have warned often both directly and indirectly about poor management decisions especially among the “big guys” and this is further evidence. Underneath Twitter’s absurdly implemented search and “resource limitations” undoubtedly lies more excuses, territorialism, and bureaucracy.  In fact, Dhanji is precisely the kind of developer we mentioned that we’d like to know, because big pay checks and cushy couches aren’t enough to keep them happy. He wants to do good work. He is precisely that guy we mentioned that would have left Sony long before their poor standards became public knowledge. I strongly suggest you read his blog as he mentions a few hints about Google’s poor standards. Many of these developers are not as talented as they might seem. Sure they have “Google” on their resume, but they were in the right place at the right time. Talent is what Dhanji had: “working on Search, APIs, UI, performance, scalability and getting each one of those pieces across the line by any means necessary” but he also went on to point out that it “is actually bad for your career.” He goes on to say that he is a “hacker at heart”, the guy that makes things happen after all of the talk. That’s something to be proud of.

Quality Assurance

As the cost of Sony’s failure to recognize a dysfunctional development team reaches estimates of over $4 billion we hope that corporations all over the planet are taking note. Among the the other winners of the most dysfunctional quality assurance processes Amazon’s cloud is also near the top. Amazon’s low standards are evident at just a glance, however ugly doesn’t always mean insecure. Then there are Apple developers who are being sued for using Apple’s toolkit. Doing it the way Apple told them to now makes them liable to monetary damages? Brilliant.

Being positioned the way we are VeraciTek regularly gets calls from recruiters. Most of them Asian, and many of them quite confused about what we do here. So the phone rings an average of 3 times a day with job offers from corporations using head hunter agencies to supplement their workforce. It has proven quite revealing. Not only are these folks confused, but they are in mass production mode. We decided to make the most of these calls to try to gauge some details about what process these corporations think will provide them with quality services. The result has been astounding.

Firstly, as we already mentioned, these “recruiters” are in mass production mode. They talk fast, and they are looking for keywords. Without exception they fail to answer correctly even the most simple IT questions, and often have requirements that are impossible. When was the last time you met someone with 15 years of .NET programming experience?

Secondly, almost without exception, these corporations reject the possibility of telecommuting. They want a warm body in a cube. Despite the indisputable fact that the office environment is counterproductive in almost every way for highly skilled programmers. I suppose if they don’t know what you’re doing they can at least watch you doing it. We exhausted this angle because we thought there may be potential of injecting our services in place of such a role, however this is not an option in what claims to be a “tech savvy” environment. At least not yet.

Finally, the projects usually range from 4-12 months but they call them “full time” positions. We are stumped as to how they have come to the conclusion that if they just hire a programmer that in 4-12 months their project will be done. Who exactly made that estimate? We did get asked to be on a team of 5 meant to conquer a request in 3 months. The titles of each of these members were very specific too. “Web Designer, with CSS experience.”, “Senior C# .NET programmer with experience in the health care industry.”, “2 Junior C# .NET programmers”, and the cornerstone role, “.NET Business Analyst”. What is a .NET Business Analyst?

Now back to Sony. Where did they get their “talent”? How many of those developers where actually capable of the keywords they put on their resumes? Again, where is the brilliant young guy who told them months or even years ago that the process was not working? Wherever you are we’d like to meet you. You’re just the kind of developer we want working with us. As for the rest of that team happily averaging a line of code per week through the BNDP (bureaucratic nightmare development process), wonder where they are? Hopefully not building your company’s next killer app.