Corporate policies



  • We are owned by a large conglomerate, complete with all sorts of rules, regulations and policies to which we must adhere. As part of the acquisition, our systems are slowly being migrated to comply with the rules of our overlord.

    We use vnc-server (think Linux/PC version of X-windows) to access our Linux boxes from our PCs.

    It turns out that there is a policy expressly prohibiting use of vnc-server, so the powers that be added a check to the login startup script to look for, and uninstall vnc-server.

    Since we have no other way of accessing our Linux boxes, this proved somewhat destructive as we couldn't work. My solution was to add an automated install of vnc-server to the user-login script that runs after the system login script. Annoying, but it is a very fast install, and more importantly, it worked.

    Then another corporate team decided that some teams (including ours) actually need to use the tool, and so they are officially installing vnc-server (a formally prohibited tool) under a different path, where the login script won't find it.

    $Deity, I love corporate life!

     



  • You post so many WTFs that in this case I'd say just quit fighting it and watch the fireworks. When someone complains that you guys aren't doing your job inform them that corporate policies prevent you from doing your job. It would be worth it to watch a company so burdened down by WTFs just implode.

    Of course, then you're out of a job.



  •  ?

    Don't you need the client, and not the server?



  • @dhromed said:

     ?

    Don't you need the client, and not the server?

    Yes, but that's what they're uninstalling. The installer gives you the option of installing both, either or neither (don't get me started).



  •  An installer that lets you install absolutely nothing? Wow, what a revolutionary concept!

    I suppose it might be useful though, if checking "install nothing" when you already had something installed actually UNinstalled everything... I think some Visual Studio installers work that way...



  • @mott555 said:

    You post so many WTFs that in this case I'd say just quit fighting it and watch the fireworks. When someone complains that you guys aren't doing your job inform them that corporate policies prevent you from doing your job. It would be worth it to watch a company so burdened down by WTFs just implode.

    Of course, then you're out of a job.

    There's another huge one coming. There's this major graft-on of our product that's been scheduled for about a year. It's due by Nov 30. We were supposed to have requirements last June and start coding last July. We still don't have requirements, but the formal announcement has been made that in spite of the lack of requirements, the delivery date can not slip as it's been promised to our customers. Also, due to budget constraints, we won't be hiring any temp help (I'm considered a permanent temporary consultant - whatever TF that is). I can't wait!



  • @snoofle said:

    There's another huge one coming. There's this major graft-on of our product that's been scheduled for about a year. It's due by Nov 30. We were supposed to have requirements last June and start coding last July. We still don't have requirements, but the formal announcement has been made that in spite of the lack of requirements, the delivery date can not slip as it's been promised to our customers. Also, due to budget constraints, we won't be hiring any temp help (I'm considered a permanent temporary consultant - whatever TF that is). I can't wait!

    That is awesome. Do you know what exactly is holding up the requirement gathering?



  • @snoofle said:

    (I'm considered a permanent temporary consultant - whatever TF that is)

    Sounds like a tax fraud that benefits your employer at your expense, to my cynical ears.

     

     



  • @Xyro said:

    That is awesome. Do you know what exactly is holding up the requirement gathering?
     

    Yes: the users/customers aren't sure what they want the feature to do or how it should work. The managers at 3 levels aren't sure what to implement for the requirements they think they might have to honor. The really sad thing is that there's really only a couple of ways to do this, regardless of the GUI, and they are very similar in terms of implementation, so we could actually build most of the framework without knowing all the details, and fill it in later. Unfortunately, senior management (top 2 of 3 levels) decided we shouldn't start until we know what we have to do.

    Ordinarily I'd applaud that, but given the immovable deadline and short staff conditions, I'm thinking of just doing the underpinnings and not checking it in until we get the go-ahead. Not so much for them, but just so I can go home at a normal hour while everyone else is scrambling.

    @DaveK: The company pays the agency who pays my company which pays me. I report everything I deposit (it's all checks) so I'm clean. Any games the company is playing is with the agency.

     



  • Let me say snoofle that I love your posts because:

    1. It has convinced me that in 2012 the world is going to end and your company is one of the signs of the incomming apocalypse
    2. Makes the things I encounter in my current job trifle by comparison and I'm talking about a peculiar mix of Oracle, a software that was top notch in the days of win95, ASP.Net (perhaps the only sane part if this was implemented correctly), custom hardware and critical 24/7 operations (we also get security notification using a custom software made in Java... the irony).  Sadly I can't talk about this...

     


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @DaveK said:

    @snoofle said:

    (I'm considered a permanent temporary consultant - whatever TF that is)

    Sounds like a tax fraud that benefits your employer at your expense, to my cynical ears.

     

     

    Not necessarily: if Snoofle's working as a W-2 employee for a contracting house, and he's getting benefits, he's probably in a great place: getting paid consulting rates for employee-type work. Everybody wins but the conglomerate, and that's their choice to not make him a job offer. I've been in exactly that situation and it's great. The only drawback was that my employer had a health care plan that was managed by retarded chimpanzees.



  • @FrostCat said:

    The only drawback was that my employer had a health care plan that was managed by retarded chimpanzees.
    This wasn't Wellpath, was it? That's the retarded-chimpanzee insurance I have, and man it blow goats! When my wife and I switched to them, our dentist told us that they would not accept their claims and that we would have to go to them to get reimbursed ourselves. I went to the dentist yesterday, and all of a sudden now they are accepting the dentist's claims directly. Granted, this WTF worked out in our favor, since we don't have to wait through the reimbursement process (which takes FOR-EV-ER), but it's still a WTF.



  • @FrostCat said:

    The only drawback was that my employer had a health care plan that was managed by retarded chimpanzees.

    In America at least, the Retarded Chimpanzee Health Care Union has pretty much full control over health care plan management, sorry to say. You'll be able to find health care NOT managed by retarded chimpanzees about as easily as you can find an honest politician. It's a sad state of affairs. I mean to say, the politicians are having affairs with retarded chimpanzees. But hey, jobs!



  • @FrostCat said:

    Not necessarily: if Snoofle's working as a W-2 employee for a contracting house, and he's getting benefits, he's probably in a great place

    No longer legal in Washington State.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    @FrostCat said:
    Not necessarily: if Snoofle's working as a W-2 employee for a contracting house, and he's getting benefits, he's probably in a great place

    No longer legal in Washington State.

    Does that mean they've banned consulting? What a crazy state.



  • @DaveK said:

    @snoofle said:

    (I'm considered a permanent temporary consultant - whatever TF that is)

    Sounds like a tax fraud that benefits your employer at your expense, to my cynical ears.

     

     

    It's just accounting wizardry; comes out of one bucket instead of another. for example, it comes out of operational expenses instead of the salaries pool. I want to so that there's accounting magic to make one a deduction versus the other, but I've not read tax law in a while. I want to say that operational expenses are deductable up to a certain percentage, and capital expenses have to be depreciated over 5 years, and something about salaries being... something special because the employees then get taxed on their earnings.



  • @boomzilla said:

    @blakeyrat said:
    @FrostCat said:
    Not necessarily: if Snoofle's working as a W-2 employee for a contracting house, and he's getting benefits, he's probably in a great place

    No longer legal in Washington State.

    Does that mean they've banned consulting? What a crazy state.

    No, the limited the amount of time you can do it to 9 months. Because Microsoft was "abusing" it. "Abusing" means, "the uber-liberal bleeding hearts thought it was abusive even though it was completely voluntary for both parties".

    The time span resets each year, though, so what MS ends up doing is hiring consultants for 9 months a year, then "laying them off" the other 3 months. Some of these consultants then go on unemployment for the 3 months they are "laid off", which means this idiotic legislation undoubtedly ended up costing the State much more than it ever cost Microsoft.



  • @snoofle said:

    Then another corporate team decided that some teams (including ours) actually need to use the tool, and so they are officially installing vnc-server (a formally prohibited tool) under a different path, where the login script won't find it.

     

     under no circumstances should you inform them of the java vnc-client.

     



  • @blakeyrat said:

    @boomzilla said:
    @blakeyrat said:
    @FrostCat said:
    Not necessarily: if Snoofle's working as a W-2 employee for a contracting house, and he's getting benefits, he's probably in a great place

    No longer legal in Washington State.

    Does that mean they've banned consulting? What a crazy state.

    No, the limited the amount of time you can do it to 9 months. Because Microsoft was "abusing" it. "Abusing" means, "the uber-liberal bleeding hearts thought it was abusive even though it was completely voluntary for both parties".

    The time span resets each year, though, so what MS ends up doing is hiring consultants for 9 months a year, then "laying them off" the other 3 months. Some of these consultants then go on unemployment for the 3 months they are "laid off", which means this idiotic legislation undoubtedly ended up costing the State much more than it ever cost Microsoft.

    Ah, that makes more sense. Really stupid law has unintended consequences. Film at 11.



  • @snoofle said:

    @DaveK: The company pays the agency who pays my company which pays me. I report everything I deposit (it's all checks) so I'm clean. Any games the company is playing is with the agency.

    I'm not up on the differences between UK and US employment law, but over here it was quite a common trick for firms to take on people as 'contractors' for years on end. While as a self-employed contractor you get some slight tax advantages, you also lose out on all kinds of employment rights, and in particular it benefits the employer because they no longer have to contribute the National Insurance payments that they are obliged to pay for permanent employees.  The consequence is that the contractor gets a pretty bad deal; no sick pay, no holidays, no protection against unfair dismissal, and loses out by having to pay their own NI (or not qualify for unemployment benefit and full state pension on retirement), in exchange for a slightly reduced tax bill, while the employer gets a much better side of the deal in terms of the savings by not providing the same benefits that a full-time employee would need nor paying the appropriate tax due.

    Thus the government tried to create a set of rules, called IR35, that attempted to define whether someone was really a contractor, or if they were in effect a disguised full-time permanent employee of one employer.  If you regularly take short contracts and change employer, and if you were using your own tools and equipment for the job, or working at home, these sorts of factors would be considered evidence that you were a genuine contractor, but if you turn up at the same office every day for the same hours as all the permies and are working on the same tools provided by the same employer and in other words doing everything one of the regular employees does in the exact same way as they do it, they would tend to consider it evidence that the contracting arrangement was a bogus form of disguised permanent employment status, and could prosecute it as tax evasion.

    After a lot of protest they had to backpedal, because the measures they implemented weren't really very well targeted and had a much broader scope than the pure 9-to-5-disguised-as-a-contract that they had originally been meant to attack.  However the point I was trying to make was that being a "permanent contractor" can be a swindle that works out very much better for the employer than the employee.

    (The Washington state rules that people have mentioned in subsequent threads sound quite similar at least in spirit to the UK's IR35.)

     

     



  • @boomzilla said:

    Ah, that makes more sense. Really stupid law has unintended consequences. Film at 11.

    The part I never figured out, back when this was on the ballot and now, is how a deal between two consenting adults with clear terms was considered "wrong".

    Look, we get it, you've worked "at" Microsoft for 5 years and you don't get benefits because technically you're a "temporary" worker-- but guess what? You signed the fucking contract. You fucking signed the renewal of the contract each of those 5 years. We're a right-to-work state so you can walk at any moment. How does this "problem" involve legislation?

    / The Daily Political WTF



  • @blakeyrat said:

    @boomzilla said:
    Ah, that makes more sense. Really stupid law has unintended consequences. Film at 11.

    The part I never figured out, back when this was on the ballot and now, is how a deal between two consenting adults with clear terms was considered "wrong".

    Look, we get it, you've worked "at" Microsoft for 5 years and you don't get benefits because technically you're a "temporary" worker-- but guess what? You signed the fucking contract. You fucking signed the renewal of the contract each of those 5 years. We're a right-to-work state so you can walk at any moment. How does this "problem" involve legislation?

    / The Daily Political WTF

    Yeah, it's part of the whole, "They don't know what's good for them, but we do. And anyways, even if they did, they're being taken advantage of, and we can't have that." Nevermind that some people prefer those arrangements, and if they could find something better, they'd take it. Much easier to keep getting elected by demagoguing against the evil corporations and their victimized workers.



  • @boomzilla said:

    @blakeyrat said:
    @boomzilla said:
    Ah, that makes more sense. Really stupid law has unintended consequences. Film at 11.

    The part I never figured out, back when this was on the ballot and now, is how a deal between two consenting adults with clear terms was considered "wrong".

    Look, we get it, you've worked "at" Microsoft for 5 years and you don't get benefits because technically you're a "temporary" worker-- but guess what? You signed the fucking contract. You fucking signed the renewal of the contract each of those 5 years. We're a right-to-work state so you can walk at any moment. How does this "problem" involve legislation?

    / The Daily Political WTF

    Yeah, it's part of the whole, "They don't know what's good for them, but we do. And anyways, even if they did, they're being taken advantage of, and we can't have that." Nevermind that some people prefer those arrangements, and if they could find something better, they'd take it. Much easier to keep getting elected by demagoguing against the evil corporations and their victimized workers.

    I always chalk sh*t like this up to the government feeling like they are losing out on potential tax revenue, and not because they even fractionally care about their constituents and their well being. Maybe I'm just too cynical... nah. It's a money thing.



  • @dohpaz42 said:

    I always chalk sh*t like this up to the government feeling like they are losing out on potential tax revenue, and not because they even fractionally care about their constituents and their well being. Maybe I'm just too cynical... nah. It's a money thing.

    That doesn't make sense. If they just wanted the money, they'd let the people keep working and pay taxes. Really, they think they know better than the people and the company how they should behave. And they don't anticipate retarded outcomes like taking unemployment for 25% of the year. Probably also due to unions trying to keep out non-union labor. Right to Work FTW!



  • Do the overlords have any problem with x forwarding? I've got putty configured to forward X and run xming on my local PC.  Works like a charm



  • @boomzilla said:

    Ah, that makes more sense. Really stupid law has unintended consequences. Film at 11.
     

    I wonder if it would be possible to get legislation passed that says any new legislation must go through a technical analysis (like those to which safety-critical control systems are typically subject) for a change impact analysis and unintended consequences analysis.

    Or that if you "approve" legislation that has bad side effects you lose your legislative, judiciary, or executive powers (like you can lose your PE, bar, or medical licenses).



  • @too_many_usernames said:

    I wonder if it would be possible to get legislation passed that says any new legislation must go through a technical analysis (like those to which safety-critical control systems are typically subject) for a change impact analysis and unintended consequences analysis.

    Or that if you "approve" legislation that has bad side effects you lose your legislative, judiciary, or executive powers (like you can lose your PE, bar, or medical licenses).

    A better idea is the requirement that the first version of new legislation has an expiration date < 5 years. If it's good, and gets renewed, it can become permanent. If not, it goes away.



  • @too_many_usernames said:

    @boomzilla said:
    Ah, that makes more sense. Really stupid law has unintended consequences. Film at 11.

    I wonder if it would be possible to get legislation passed that says any new legislation must go through a technical analysis (like those to which safety-critical control systems are typically subject) for a change impact analysis and unintended consequences analysis.

    Or that if you "approve" legislation that has bad side effects you lose your legislative, judiciary, or executive powers (like you can lose your PE, bar, or medical licenses).

    You could pass a law like that, but it doesn't mean that the conclusions will be followed, or that the analyses will be done honestly, or even if they are, that they'll be correct. Eventually you get back to Hayek's Knowledge Problem.

    For instance, with respect to recent US health insurance legislation (AKA Obamacare), the Congressional Budget Office (which operates under some relatively screwy rules, but is about as nonpartisan as anything), estimated that about 7% of businesses would drop health insurance for their employees and pay the fine / tax for putting their employees into the new exchanges. Recent polls say that something more like 30% of businesses plan to drop insurance.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    A better idea is the requirement that the first version of new legislation has an expiration date
     

    We have a winner, IMO.



  • Wow, I had no idea that so many of you enjoyed being exploited by your employers.



  • @DaveK said:

    Thus the government tried to create a set of rules, called IR35, that attempted to define whether someone was really a contractor, or if they were in effect a disguised full-time permanent employee of one employer.
    In the U.S. it's very simple.  If you are subject to detailed direction and control by the principal in how you perform your tasks, then you are an employee.  If you aren't, you're a contractor.

    Case in point.  If I hire someone to grout and tile my kitchen floor, they're probably a contractor.  If I have the right to make them take out the dogs, fetch the newspaper, make me coffee, etc, then they are an employee. 

    The IRS, DOL, SSA, and the state government might come after me if I try to call that employee a "contractor", since I'd be missing out on paying payroll taxes (SSA) and qualified retirement plan benefits (DOL), which would affect my personal and corporate deductions (IRS).  The state versions of these agencies would come after me for their counterpart reasons (workman's comp and unemployment insurance premiums, tax deductions both personal and corporate due to the retirement plan thing) and, being the state government as opposed to the federal, would have virtually unlimited power to destroy me.  If I got caught.



  • @boomzilla said:

    I wonder if it would be possible to get legislation passed that says any new legislation must go through a technical analysis
    Maybe as a constitutional amendment.  Statutes cannot regulate future statutes, because future statutes by default cancel any prior-existing statutes that conflict with them, to the extent that they conflict.  So you say "All future laws must [blah]."  I then pass a law that doesn't [blah].  By the very act of passing that law in violation of the prior law, I have overriden the prior statute - at least insofar as it conflicts with the newer one.



  • @hoodaticus said:

    @boomzilla said:
    I wonder if it would be possible to get legislation passed that says any new legislation must go through a technical analysis

    Maybe as a constitutional amendment.  Statutes cannot regulate future statutes, because future statutes by default cancel any prior-existing statutes that conflict with them, to the extent that they conflict.  So you say "All future laws must [blah]."  I then pass a law that doesn't [blah].  By the very act of passing that law in violation of the prior law, I have overriden the prior statute - at least insofar as it conflicts with the newer one.

    Well, I wasn't the one who proposed that. However, in some states, laws passed via ballot initiatives can take precedence over what the elected legislature may do.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    A better idea is the requirement that the first version of new legislation has an expiration date

    Like the Uniting (and) Strengthening America (by) Providing Appropriate Tools Required (to) Intercept (and) Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001 ?



  • Blakey, you're talking out of your ass, as usual, and your ass is woefully ignorant. Microsoft was sued by some temps, settled it, and instituted an internal policy against retaining temporary workers for too long. That was Vizcaino v. Microsoft. Corporate civil settlements do not have the force of law.

    MS got in trouble with the IRS, in a separate but similar matter, but it has nothing at all to do with Washington State (the IRS is a federal agency, not state).



  • @alm said:

    Blakey, you're talking out of your ass, as usual, and your ass is woefully ignorant. Microsoft was sued by some temps, settled it, and instituted an internal policy against retaining temporary workers for too long. That was Vizcaino v. Microsoft. Corporate civil settlements do not have the force of law.

    You're right; I am confused. The law only applies to public employers: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=49.44.170. Microsoft's time limit is indeed voluntary.

    That law was passed in 2002, right after the MS case was settled. Immediately after it was passed, King County employees sued the state, citing the new law.



  • Ugh, this is why we need to drop income and payroll taxes and place more emphasis on a pure consumption tax. It would simplify so many things and would get the IRS out of the business of defining unclear categories for everything. Consumption taxes are more fair, as well. They'd also naturally tax the wealthy more, as so long as the wealthy buy crap (which they do). It may complicate international business a bit, since now you have to protect the tax with tariffs, but that's nothing we're not already doing. But whatever, the ideal will never come to pass. I welcome your rebuttals, insight, or comments on unintended consequences of shifting from earnings taxes to consumption taxes. This way, the topic derails faster!



  • @Xyro said:

    Ugh, this is why we need to drop income and payroll taxes and place more emphasis on a pure consumption tax. It would simplify so many things and would get the IRS out of the business of defining unclear categories for everything. Consumption taxes are more fair, as well. They'd also naturally tax the wealthy more, as so long as the wealthy buy crap (which they do). It may complicate international business a bit, since now you have to protect the tax with tariffs, but that's nothing we're not already doing. But whatever, the ideal will never come to pass. I welcome your rebuttals, insight, or comments on unintended consequences of shifting from earnings taxes to consumption taxes. This way, the topic derails faster!

    :: cough :: http://www.fairtax.org/site/PageServer :: cough ::

    I personally am all for it.



  •  In case the Powers That Be crack down on either of your workarounds: 

     Cygwin has a free X-windows client (and server) for Windows.  

     http://x.cygwin.com/

     I last used this many years ago, so can't tell you if it's any good now, but it worked then, and was much faster than VNC.



  • TightVNC has a standalone viewer -- just download the exe and run it.



  •  @hoodaticus said:

    In the U.S. it's very simple.  If you are subject to detailed direction and control by the principal in how you perform your tasks, then you are an employee.  If you aren't, you're a contractor.

    Case in point.  If I hire someone to grout and tile my kitchen floor, they're probably a contractor.  If I have the right to make them take out the dogs, fetch the newspaper, make me coffee, etc, then they are an employee.

    I worked as a developer for several years for a defense contractor working for a defense contractor working for the Air Force. I was an employee of the first contractor, and a sub-contractor of the second. My contracting firm seemed only exist as a useless buerocratic middleman to fulfill the prime contractor's mandated requirement of 15% subcontractors. And the prime could never offer me a position due to the contract they signed with my employer, and I can never work for another defense contractor due to the contract I signed with my employer. None of us subcontractors got what could be considered "consultant rates," since the subcontracting company typically took 20% or more from the rate the prime billed, and we stayed on the same projects for years at a time, basically temporary permanent employees. We also took all of our direction from the prime contractor, and rarely spoke to anyone at our subcontrating firm.

    This matroyshka doll-like arrangement is a side-effect created by a rule the Air Force has that requires all contracts to have at least 15% sub-contractors, in order to "help small business."

    Needless to say, I work in a different industry now, as a real employee.

     



  • @zipfruder said:

    under no circumstances should you inform them of the java vnc-client.
    ...or of TightVNC, TigerVNC, UltraVNC...



  • @snoofle said:

    It turns out that there is a policy expressly prohibiting use of vnc-server, so the powers that be added a check to the login startup script to look for, and uninstall vnc-server.

    Since we have no other way of accessing our Linux boxes, this proved somewhat destructive as we couldn't work.

    You don't have SSH available to connect to the Linux boxes?  SSH isn't VNC, but it is a means of connecting to a Linux server.  I hope you at least have a version of VNC that supports encryption?

    I'd recommend getting ssh connectivity if you can, because it can be a much lighter way to get into the server to do a few command-line tasks quickly.  Depending on your network topology/reliability, it can also be useful to couple that with screen(1) (on the server side, of course.  Running screen from within Cygwin on your PC is more kinds of pointless than I want to think about.)

    Of course, if what you meant was, "We have ssh access, which we use to tunnel our VNC connections for security, but since the stuff we develop have GUIs, we absolutely need VNC to be able to actually test things." then I'll point out that ssh can also tunnel X traffic directly, so long as you have an SSH client that can handle it and it is not disabled on the server side - but then you'd point out that the large conglomerate has also banned X window servers.  That's not a very helpful response to your post, but it is a response.



  • @tgape said:

    Running screen from within Cygwin on your PC is more kinds of pointless than I want to think about.
     

    Beautifully put.

     


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