EppsNet Archive: Dot-Com Era

Silicon Valley Jobless Quit Tech

SUNNYVALE, Calif. — Jobless workers in Silicon Valley are giving up on the region’s dominant technology industry and trying to switch to other fields, as the area’s unemployment rate spikes above the national and state average. Silicon Valley’s unemployment rate — which was below California’s average and largely tracked the national average last year — has soared, surpassing the state average in May. By June, the area’s unadjusted unemployment rate was 11.8%, worse than California’s 11.6% and the national rate of 9.7%, according to the latest figures from California’s Employment Development Department. Many of the jobless techies are targeting new gigs in the clean-energy or health-care industries . . . Some are shifting even further afield, looking for jobs in teaching or financial consulting. People are leaving tech as “more tech companies are offshoring and some are shrinking, plus people are burned out and tired from having been there and… Read more →

Things That Pop Up and Poke You in the Eye

We’re discussing whether our organization will use a popup user survey on our web site . . . “I propose doing the survey without the popups,” I say. “That’s why browsers have popup blockers, because people don’t like popups. A popup is like a poke in the eye. I don’t like it when things pop up unexpectedly and poke me in the eye. Whenever that happens, I make sure not to go back to that place anymore.” Unfortunately, no one picks up on the “popped up and poked me in the eye” motif because I was then going to chide them for their junior high school mentality. “I had a teacher who used to say that,” a young woman says. “‘It’s better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.’” I say, “I used to work with a guy who said, ‘You can’t beat that with a sharp… Read more →

Got a Job

After three months on the dole, I got a job offer from the IT director of a local non-profit healthcare association here in Orange County. I start next week. As Gerald Ford used to say, “Our long national nightmare is over.” It’s a small IT group — 8 people, including the director. I’ve got to admit I’m a little burned out on big corporate IT shops. I got out of hands-on programming and into leadership roles because I thought I could do a better job than the people I saw doing it. I wanted to develop teams that got things done using their skills and their collective intelligence, but in practice, you typically get locked into some corporate process standard. A process may be good for delivering consistent results, but they may not be consistently good results. Like at McDonald’s, every Big Mac is just like every other Big Mac… Read more →

Why I Got Into Management

My first 10 years in the software business, I had great managers. They did the management thing and I did the programming thing and we got great results together. Then, after the dot-com boom torpedoed industry hiring standards, I got tired of working for managers who should not have been allowed anywhere near a software project, people who were not fit to direct a professional software developer to a table at the Olive Garden, much less direct their activities on a complex project. I couldn’t possibly have continued to work for people like that — it just made a mockery of all the work I’d done over the years to actually learn something — but I still miss being a developer . . . Thus spoke The Programmer. Read more →

Warren Buffett Gets the Last Laugh

Warren Buffett published his annual letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders this week: Our gain in net worth during 2003 was $13.6 billion, which increased the per-share book value of both our Class A and Class B stock by 21%. Over the last 39 years (that is, since present management took over) per-share book value has grown from $19 to $50,498, a rate of 22.2% compounded annually. Read more →

Laid Off

I guess I should have seen this coming when they eliminated free bagels on Fridays. Or when we stopped printing things on plotter paper because the paper vendor stopped coming around shortly after we stopped paying him. The retention list was heavily weighted toward young women with big tits and the managers’ poker buddies. Two of the laid-off developers had to be hired back within 30 minutes of being let go, when someone in authority belatedly realized they were working on the company’s only billable project. None of us will be retiring on our severance package, since there wasn’t one. We’re now faced with the one thing we all feared enough to stay with this company so long in the first place: trying to find another job in the worst tech market in 20 years. Thus spoke The Programmer. Read more →

After the Gold Rush

Best one-sentence explanation of how the dot-com boom killed professional practice in the software business: Improving operational efficiency is not a priority during gold rushes. — Steve McConnell Read more →

ArsDigita, Vita Brevis

I was a big fan of the original vision of this company . . . ArsDigita: From Start-Up to Bust-Up Diary of a Start-Up Goodbye ArsDigita The Dot-com Deadpool: ArsDigita Read more →

Why Is Everybody So Happy?

This is a story about customer satisfaction in the Internet age. Today’s Good Morning Silicon Valley brings this provocative item: Problems with Webvan? Mercury News reporter Joelle Tessler would like to talk to former Webvan customers dissatisfied with the company’s service. If that’s you, please drop her an e-mail at jtessler@sjmercury.com Is this for real?! Well, there’s one way to find out . . . From: Paul Epps Sent: Thursday, September 20, 2001 2:35 PM To: jtessler@sjmercury.com Subject: webvan Are you preparing an article on dissatisfied Webvan customers? How do you know they’re dissatisfied before you’ve talked to them? Who can the *satisfied* Webvan customers talk to? I’m in no way affiliated with Webvan, nor was I a customer, but this doesn’t seem fair. Apologies in advance if I’ve misread your intentions.   From: Tessler, Joelle Sent: Thursday, September 20, 2001 2:39 PM To: Paul Epps Subject: RE: webvan I… Read more →