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Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Dr. Flywheel "Wisdom on The Fly"
On The 7th Rule of Successful Consulting

The 7th Rule of Successful Consulting
"The Early Bird Gets The Worm; However, The Second Mouse Gets the Cheese"

During my long and diverse consulting career, I learned that my ability to produce good and effective results for my clients increased by a long shot, if my predecessor on the job was fired for lack of perceived meaningful progress. "Lack of progress" was of course, always presented from the client's point of view.

However, my own post-mortem analysis of the situation indicated that almost without exception, the client was at fault for hiring my predecessor on the basis of low hourly rate, rather than on the basis of their qualifications and match for the required job outcome. In the real world, you typically get what you pay for.

--Dr. Flywheel

References:

Monday, July 22, 2019

OSCON 2019 - A Quick Trip Report

OSCON 2019 - A Quick Trip Report 



Have to applaud any conference that highlights the two most obviously important local PDX Software landmarks: Powell’s and Voodoo!



Prelude: I have been trying to get to OSCON ever since it started! What with work and life schedules plus bosses more reluctant over the years to pay for any conference it just never worked out. Finally this year I was lucky to get a free Expo only EPP pass, which is good for the last two days and only for the vendor expo, keynotes and a few sessions*. Glad I did, and glad I went.

*On the last days, an EPP badge can get you a special pass from the registration desk to any one of the main sessions. So, find one you like and just ask!

Putting on my SW Developer and DevOps hats, here we go with my personal view.

SUMMARY: 


Clouds. Kubernetes. Web micro services. AI + ML(machine learning). Obviously the main focus points on SW Dev are so web based these days.  Serverless was a new buzzword too, with many meanings but really just means to most developing locally. Got to be an engine or service somewhere to develop/test your apps.

There were a large and diverse topics presented. No papers, but overall in general good slides and talks, at least the ones I attended.

Microsoft, Google, Amazon had big presences here. Surprising ones too like Home Depot!

The show is all I expected and kind of what we'd hoped to evolve PNSQC into when I used to volunteer and attend that.

I hope to go again next year, even just as EPP if necessary.

SPECIFIC NOTES

O'Reilly Learning Center: https://learning.oreilly.com/accounts/login/
One of the offers was to get a 90-day free subscription to their Learning Center. It is not tied to the show, so sign up anytime if you are interested.


Non-Profits were there, including FreeGeek and PDXWIT. I'm intrigued by PDXWIT and will be checking it out further. Group that lets you ask for or be mentors to others.  Nice to have a variety of non-profits, including PLUG, Python, Usenix and other open source related groups.


Vendors with some interesting ideas and products.


A guy from Ping had an interesting talk. I was interested in the identity validation for some of my projects, and they seem to have an interesting product. And he basically outlined in his talk what I've come to view as the standard processes of SW Dev, Deployment and App Architectures.  He has some good demos online to get started.





BTW, he demo'd this Windows 95...running in Electron (JavaScript). Code is on GitHub at https://github.com/felixrieseberg/windows95.  Cool, silly, fun and practical.



Another session covered some of the details of calling Vault to do identity logins.  That is what I really liked about the best sessions.  Covering high level for general knowledge, but then the deep dives into real code. With pointers to follow up later beyond the short time for presenting.  Like this one!



Some more resources becoming available in the AI realm. Lots of warnings too about learning biases, and the current limits of AI.








Conference floor was busy between sessions. Small but good SWAG! (-:


Test your cmdline skills against a collection of games, on an Arcade console.  BTW, I ranked #4 for Bash. My mind blanked a bit, probably because it was just the cmds and you couldn't do args and pipes! Like t='du -a -k | sort -rn  | more' and a=pushd, b=popd  -- being aliases I quickly put into a new .bashrc.  Mind just >/dev/null! 

You also got extra points for ones that were common to any of bash, Python and Javascript. Like true, false, dir, if, then, else, return, continue, etc.


Again, Serverless buzzword comes up. A session focused more on testing but covered dev tools and setting up.









Lastly, the fun Techtris display in the lobby. Take the appropriate colored stickers on the table for your role (the rows), and apply to the different columns (the tasks). What you do most of the day (4 dot bar),  should do more of (4 square) and want to do more of (4 L).


Rows are colored for Developer/Engineer, Architect, Manager, SW Engineer, Project Manager, etc.

Columns are things like Code/Arch Review, Project Documentation, Coding, Planning, Open Source Contributions, etc.






Saturday, July 13, 2019

Armed Guards Were Used to Coerce Laid-off
Intel Corp. Employees in 2016

Forcing employees to quit on their own or in some cases, take forced retirement under terms, unilaterally dictated to benefit the corporation, seems to be standard practice in the corporate world. 

PDX-TIE.ORG interviewed a number of people who testified that uniformed armed guards hired by Intel Corp. management, were in full view, as part of a psychological move by the company to coerce laid off employees to sign the separation agreement that was laid on the table in front of them, during the 2016 major employee layoff period.

According to these witnesses, employees were, unexpectedly called, one-by-one, to a room where they were notified that their employment with Intel Corp. is terminated immediately. Most people were immediately stripped off of their company ID badge and their laptops were confiscated during the same session. Following the termination statement subject employees were given an explicit choice to either get out of the door with minimal severance pay or sign the severance agreement that was laid out on the table in front of them. Some witnesses, claimed that they were so shocked by the circumstances and particularly by the full view of armed guards in the vicinity of the "execution" rooms that they felt like hostages and actually experienced a "Stockholm Syndrome".

Many laid-off employees claimed, after the fact, that they signed the separation agreement without being able to comprehend the document content in sound mind, due to the psychological pressure that they experienced during the reign of Brian Krzanich as CEO of Intel Corp. Some ex-employees claim that the presence of armed guards a few feet away from them, during the firing session, in addition to the psychological shock of suddenly losing their job, drove them into deep personal depression and continued insecurity for a long time, after their last day of employment.

Apparently psychological coercion of employees is a common method used by corporations to get rid of employees with minimal backlash to corporate management. A recent court trial in France, involving Orange S.A. (formerly French Telecom) reveals that corporate management came up with an "innovative way" to reduce their workforce while minimizing public backlash to the company due to major layoffs. As Fortune Magazine reports:

In 2008 and 2009, dozens of employees of France Telecom took their own lives or attempted suicide amid a massive restructuring at the company. A 52-year-old technician who killed himself in July 2009 described the situation as “management by terror” in his suicide note. Starting this week, six former executives, one current exec, and the company itself—now known as Orange SA (ORAN)—are in court to face a devastating question: What role did they play in 35 employee suicides?

In a previous article we discussed the manner in which Intel Corp., under the leadership of Brian Krzanich as CEO, marked the personnel files of about 1300 laid-off employees as THIEVES, in order to prevent them from being rehired by the company for the rest of their lifetime. We know that Intel Corp. has chosen to mark such a large group of employees as THIEVES for nefarious reason that served the narrow interests of the CEO, the Board and a few company executives. We do not contest the right of companies to lay off their employees within the boundaries of the law and for sound business reasons. However, when the official records of the 2015 and 2016 layoff rounds clearly demonstrated disproportionate age-based discrimination, we expect the Federal and State governments to step in vigorously and enforce the relevant workers civil rights laws.

With the additional recent revelations regarding the coercive tactics that Intel Corp. executives used to implement the layoffs, including the threatening deployment of armed guards and marking personnel files with false information in order to block people from being rehired by the company, the American Public must pay close attention to the severe deterioration in corporate behavior.

The question remains, how long can corporations continue to use dubious unethical tactics to serve the narrow interests of a few executives and in addition, continue practicing age-discrimination at large, without any penalties imposed upon such behavior.

Blocking the rehiring of former employees by a company represents a practice that is completely incompatible with the  "Equal Employment Opportunity" laws of the U.S. This practice is particularly insidious when such employees are labeled as THIEVES, without proven legal cause.

It is the responsibility of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to take corporate systemic violations of this kind very seriously. They must prosecute law violators to the utmost degree possible, before tragic and violent circumstances, like the ones associated with the France Telecom case become news of the day in the U.S.

--Dr. Flywheel

References:

  1. Intel Corp. Marked Employees as Thieves to Prevent Their Rehiring
  2. France Asks a Devastating Question: What Role Did Telecom Executives Play in 35 Employee Suicides?
  3. France Telecom suicides: Prosecutor calls for bullying trial
  4. Stockholm syndrome

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Intel Corp. Marked Employees as Thieves
to Prevent Their Rehiring

Back in July 2015 Intel Corp. laid off about 1300 employees. Information gathered from the Federal Government mandated OWBPA Report, associated with this layoff, revealed that employees over 40 years of age were targeted for this layoff in a disproportionate way. At the time of the layoff the OregonLive web site produced an analysis demonstrating this fact, as shown in the chart below.

(click on image to enlarge detail)


However, under the discretion of Brian Krzanich, Intel CEO at the time, the HR department was directed to prevent any possibility of Intel Corp. managers, rehiring any of the 1300 laid off employees. Consequently, the employee records of each one of the laid-off employees, in the HR database were marked with a special code, declaring them as THIEVES.

By marking an employee record with the THIEVE code, a warning would be issued through the Intel Corp. HR database system, to any hiring manager who would examine the eligibility of an ex-employee to be re-hired. This warning would block the potential re-employment of such person, permanently. Note that the rehiring ban applied to all categories of employment: Regular Employee (Blue Badge), Contract Employee (Green Badge), Full Time, or Part Time.

We were able to interview a number of people who worked, at the relevant time, in various capacities at Intel Corp. HR and other departments. These witnesses confirmed to us that all 1300 laid-off employee records were marked with the special THIEF code, within the company's Employee Data Archive database.

Note that Intel Corp. is the largest payroll employer in Oregon and a major employer in several other states. By marking laid-off employees as THIEVES, Intel Corp. essentially wiped out a potential source of income for a significant number of people. This capricious corporate edict would persist for the rest of these affected ex-employees lifetime, unless Intel Corp. is brought to justice and the policy is consequently, reversed.

There is an open question whether a company can be disparaging a group of laid-off employees as THIEVES and get by without legal scrutiny. Clearly, such behavior is discriminatory action all by itself and a strong argument can be made that such action is intentional and criminal in nature.

We are hereby calling upon the U.S. Government, the State of Oregon Government, our U.S. Congressional delegation, the EEOC and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to inspect and seriously review the relevant Intel Corp. Employee Records and databases in order to investigate the facts stated above.

--Dr. Flywheel

Update July 13, 2019

We interviewed a number of people who testified that uniformed armed guards hired by Intel Corp. management, were in full view, as part of a psychological move by the company to coerce laid off employees to sign the separation agreement that was laid of in front of them, on the spot.

Apparently psychological coercion of employees is a common method used by corporations to get rid of employees with minimal backlash to corporate management. A recent court trial in France, involving Orange S.A. (formerly French Telecom) reveals that corporate management came up with an "innovative way" to reduce their workforce while minimizing public backlash to the company due to major layoffs. As Fortune Magazine reports:

In 2008 and 2009, dozens of employees of France Telecom took their own lives or attempted suicide amid a massive restructuring at the company. A 52-year-old technician who killed himself in July 2009 described the situation as “management by terror” in his suicide note. Starting this week, six former executives, one current exec, and the company itself—now known as Orange SA (ORAN)—are in court to face a devastating question: What role did they play in 35 employee suicides?

See reference #5 in the notes below.

Notes:
  1. Can you sue an Oregon employer for defamation based on a reference?
  2. If my boss recorded false statements in my personnel file, is this libel?

  3.  Flawed Separation Agreement Does Not Bar ADEA Claims :
    Every separation agreement for an employee who is age 40 or older should include an ADEA waiver and the protections required by the OWBPA. Failure to include these provisions does not necessarily make the entire agreement invalid or create a separate legal claim, but the employee will have the ability to proceed with ADEA claims against the employer despite the payment he or she has received.
  4. Wells Fargo Faces Scrutiny for Black Marks on Ex-Employee Files
  5. France Asks a Devastating Question: What Role Did Telecom Executives Play in 35 Employee Suicides?

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Eliminati meetups - May 7,8,9

Inviting both the new 2019 class, as well as older members to help mentor.

Meetups are a place to process our group experiences with leaving Intel.  We have captured many lessons on our https://pdx-tie.org website from such talks.  Come join us for a session.

May 7 - 1:00pm
Ava Roasteria - Timberland
In the Cedar Hills Market of Choice shopping center

May 8 - 6:30pm 
Hillsboro Brookwood Library
Upstairs in the conference room area

May 9 - 2:00pm
Hop Cycle Brewery, Banks Oregon
Extra parking along street or by the HW Store
(Hop Cycle is a business started by an Intel retiree)

Eliminati members in other geographies are asked to just organize and host meetups as well.  

Friday, March 29, 2019

Message To all Intel Corp. Employees
Who Will be Losing Their Jobs Soon

As reported in the OregonianLive article entitled Intel lays off hundreds of tech administrators, It is apparent that hundreds of Intel Corp. employees are about to loose their job.

Note that signing a severance waver with your employer, does not negate you legal rights to file a discrimination complaints with the EEOC. If you are 40 years old or older Intel Corp. must provide you with a copy of the OWBPA report, indicating the job functions and ages of all laid off employees.

The OWBPA, which is part of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), safeguards older workers' employee benefits from age discrimination. Among other things, this means that employers must take certain precautions when seeking a release from older workers that waives rights under the ADEA

Please also refer to this article on our web site:

UNDERSTANDING WAIVERS OF DISCRIMINATION CLAIMS IN EMPLOYEE SEVERANCE AGREEMENTS

Protect your civil rights if you know that you have been a victim of discrimination in the workplace.
OWBPA reports are mandated to be distributed to affected employees who are of age 40+, by Federal laws and therefore, are not considered company confidential for that reason.

If you received a OWBPA report please consider sharing the content with the editors of PDX-TIE.ORG.

Also consider joining our internal mailing list, by following this link:http://www.pdx-tie.org/2016/05/how-to-join-pdx-tiegooglegroupscom.html

--Dr.Flywheel




Saturday, February 16, 2019

Bipartisan Bill Protecting Older Workers From Age Discrimination is Announced in U.S. Congress


Two days ago we received an official press release, stating that a bipartisan group of House members are introducing a new bill that will correct the distortions in current age-discrimination laws. This is a small step forward towards leveling the playing field, for enforcement of fair employment practices in the U.S. labor market.

As you may already know, particularly if you are a regular reader of this web site, we have been pushing and advocating for revisions in civil rights protection and enforcement laws, associated with age discrimination, for the last three and a half years. Our specific emphasis is on effective enforcement and fair monetary recovery for victims of age discrimination -- issues that are very poorly defined in current laws and were never revised to match today's job market demographics. We have been working with members of Congress and Senate and their staff by providing education and support materials that we made available to them over the last three years.

Note that law changes relevant to age discrimination have been blocked in both the U.S Congress and the U.S. Senate for over a decade, chiefly due to political gridlock. With the new bi-partisan support for the new bill, the chances of seeing the final bill turning into law are better than ever.

See summary sheet at: Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act

All the best,

--Dr. Flywheel

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                     
February 14, 2019

Contact:
Democratic Press Office, 202-226-0853                                                                                                        

Scott, Sensenbrenner Lead Bipartisan Group of House Members to Introduce Bill Protecting Older Workers from Age Discrimination

WASHINGTON – Today, Representatives Bobby Scott (VA-03), chairman of the Committee on Education and Labor, and Jim Sensenbrenner (WI-05) introduced the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act (POWADA), a proposal to strengthen anti-discrimination protections for older workers. They were joined by Representatives Alma Adams (NC-12), Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), Mark Takano (CA-41), Will Hurd (TX-23), John Katko (NY-24), and Glenn Grothman (WI-06). The bipartisan legislation is a companion to a Senate bill of the same name introduced by Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Patrick Leahy (D-VT).

In 2009, the Supreme Court’s decision in Gross v. FBL Financial Services, Inc. weakened protections against age discrimination under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). Under Gross, plaintiffs seeking to prove age discrimination in employment are required to demonstrate that age was the sole motivating factor for the employer’s adverse action. POWADA returns legal standards to the pre-2009 evidentiary threshold to ensure all claims of discrimination are adjudicated fairly.

“Discrimination shuts too many people out of good paying jobs. All Americans – regardless of their age – should be able to go to work every day knowing that they are protected from discrimination. The Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act would ensure there are no additional barriers for older Americans when making a discrimination claim compared to any other protected class. This legislation is a step toward restoring the rights of older workers,” said Chairman Bobby Scott (VA-03), Committee on Education and Labor.

“Older Americans should be valued because of their experiences, not viewed as a liability due to their age. This bipartisan legislation will restore fairness in the workplace for our more seasoned workers, providing them the peace of mind that they will not be unfairly fired from their job because of age discrimination. I’m proud to reintroduce this bill with my friend, Congressman Bobby Scott, and am grateful for his continued leadership on this effort,” said Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (WI-05).

“Americans are living and working longer, and we must do all we can to make sure they are protected from age discrimination. Oregon’s population is one of the most rapidly aging in the country, and I have heard from workers who believe they have been dismissed or denied employment because of their age. We cannot allow employers to violate the civil rights of older workers who are striving to provide for themselves and their families. The bipartisan Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act is an important step to protect older workers from discrimination in the workplace,” said Chairwoman Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Human Services.

“Discrimination based on age, race or gender has no place in today’s workplace. I am proud to join my colleagues to introduce this bipartisan bill that ensures equitable standards for fighting unlawful employment practices based on discrimination, so all of our nation’s workers can continue to support their families and help our businesses and economy thrive,” said Congressman Will Hurd (TX-23), a strong voice for South and West Texas seniors in Congress.

“Congress must stand strongly against all forms of discrimination, including against older Americans. The Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act (POWADA) will ensure that older workers will be fairly treated in the job market, returning the legal standard for proving discrimination back to its original intent. I look forward to working with my colleagues to ensure that the law once again makes clear that there is no place for disparate treatment based on age in the workforce,” said Chairwoman Alma Adams (NC-12), Subcommittee on Workforce Protections.

“Older Americans are entitled to the right to work and should not be subjected to discrimination during the hiring process. This legislation strengthens protections against the discrimination of older workers in the hiring process, giving them the safeguards, they deserve. I will continue to advocate for the rights of American workers and am proud to support this initiative this Congress,” said Congressman John Katko (NY-24).

“We commend these lawmakers for sponsoring this crucial legislation. Too many older workers have been victims of unfair age discrimination and are denied a fair shake in our justice system. The time for Congress to act is now,” said Nancy LeaMond, AARP Executive Vice President and Chief Advocacy & Engagement Officer.

The Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act amends four laws—the Americans with Disabilities Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and theRehabilitation Act. It was previously introduced during the 115th Congress.

For the full text of H.R.1230, the Protecting Older Workers against Discrimination Act, click here.

For a fact sheet on the Protecting Older Workers against Discrimination Act, click here.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Ageism in the Workplace Affects Multiple Generations
-- Time to Sound the Alarm Bells --


The Millennials' Trap

By taking workers who are older than 40 but younger than retirement age (67) out of the workforce, or even by just forcing their income to be significantly reduced, the major burden of maintaining the economy for the general population, over the next few decades, will fall on the "millennial" generation.

It looks like age discrimination in the workplace is finally getting more public exposure. The video clip below, taken from the CBS "This Morning" program, provides a glimpse to this incredibly important issue, currently affecting mostly workers who are 40 years old or older. Seemingly, only older workers are being directly affected at the present time; however as we examine the facts more closely, we can see that the dire side effects of age discrimination are going to dominate the economy of all generations of Americans equally badly. In addition, let us not forget that everyone gets older day-by-day and the process of aging is irreversible. It is clear that employers lay off older workers in order to reduce the cost of labor and not because such workers do not bring great value to the business.



(Click on the above image to play the embedded video clip in your browser)

Studies of company layoffs, conducted over that last few years indicate that among workers older than 40 years, women are further affected than men as they get laid off at an earlier age. The most insidious aspect of age-based layoffs is the skewed statistics of executive layoffs. While most workers as well as low and mid-level managers are subject to age-based layoffs, the "executive class" in most companies enjoys great on-the-job longevity and even reaps benefits from employee layoffs. Such executive benefits are realized in the form "efficiency bonuses" that executives receive, due to their initiation of "head cutting" actions...

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which is the Federal agency, in charge of enforcing anti-discrimination laws in employment, seems to be very weak in pursuing age-based discrimination cases. However, the real culprit is the U.S. Congress, controlled by highly paid "special interest" lobbyists who insured that laws protecting age-based discrimination would remain weak and very difficult to enforce. Though there were several attempts to revise the laws and update the compensation that can be awarded to proven victims of age-discrimination, a long succession of proposed Bills to revise the applicable laws have met their silent death in the U.S. Senate. The latest of these proposed Bills in Congress is H.R.6811 - Age Discrimination in Employment Parity Act of 2018. A similar U.S. Senate Bill S.443 - Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act remains buried in committee...

Among other things, the compensation levels awarded to age-discrimination victims remained unchanged since 1967. Due to the significant inflation that the U.S. economy underwent since 1967, the compensation amounts set for victims by the existing laws look completely ridiculous by today's standards and have never been indexed or revised. Consequently, very few employment attorneys are willing to take on the case of age-discrimination victims, since the litigation costs would typically exceed the monetary recovery expected after successful litigation. The outcome of keeping the current laws very weak, outdated and unchanged, results in employers firing older employees en-mass and with almost complete impunity. Legal challenges are very rare and Government enforcement of the laws through the EEOC is a long and convoluted process. Without a "sheriff" in town, employers are left unchecked to violate civil rights of older workers at will.

World Leading Economies 2030 GDP Projections
(click on image to expand detail)

Considering the demographic trends of the U.S. population over the next 20 years, we are going to see tremendous unemployment and poverty replacing the relative prosperity that we see today. As more older employees are forced out of the workforce or delegated to take significantly lower paying jobs, the U.S. economy, which is predominantly controlled by consumer spending (see table below), is bound to sink to levels never seen before. Considering that there are credible predictions for China (and very likely, also India) replacing the U.S. as the world leading economies by 2030, we have very little time to prepare for the future.

(click on image to expand detail)

You do not need to be an economist to understand that unemployed or low-paid workers may not have extra money to spend and consequently consumer spending will be sharply curtailed. This growing portion of the population will also not be able to contribute much to government revenue in the form of tax payments to finance necessary public services. Consequently, it is not hard to predict that a regenerative process of sinking of the U.S. economy is bound to happen sooner or later, if employment policies that utilize age discrimination are going to be left unchecked due to legislative neglect. Demographic trends cannot be waved off or ignored in the same manner as climate change, obviously they are mankind made...

(click on image to expand detail)

By taking workers who are older than 40 but younger than retirement age (67) out of the workforce, or even by just forcing their income to be significantly reduced, the major burden of maintaining the economy for the general population, over the next few decades, will fall on the "millennial" generation.


(click on image to expand detail)

Millennials currently form about 35% of the U.S. workforce and many of them are already heavily burdened by student debt. Expecting millennials to pay the tax money required to support the needs of a significantly growing older population is not only an unfair concept, but it also works against the common sense of enabling older workers to continue earning money to cover their needs on their own, all while paying taxes on their earned income.

Age discrimination in employment is therefore a corrosive practice that affects not only older workers; it affects younger workers and their economic future prospects, just as much.

It is time to break the glass and push the alarm button now, before a major crisis is hitting us in the face. Call your U.S. representatives and tell them that the time has come to install fairness and common sense into the U.S. labor policies and protect our civil rights.

--Dr. Flywheel

Additional References: