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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


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.


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.


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


  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