I am tired, I am weary
-- Lou Reed, The Velvet Underground Venus in Furs
10-29-03 - I should probably point out that I stopped working for AOL in February. I now work somewhere else almost as screwed, but the charm of bitching about it has gone. Maybe someday I'll resurrect this diary, but I doubt it.
01-31-03 - So many things are understood without my beating them to death. Netscape is dead. Our government is being run by a twelve-year-old bent on war. My stock options are worthless. AOL Time Warner (and particularly AOL) is without leadership or vision. So much so that AOL Time Warner has just announed that it lost $100 Billion in 2002. Yes, that's right. $100 Billion. With a "B." That just happens to be a little more than the $93 Billion that Congress recently estimated it'll cost to bomb the hell out of Iraq.
02-06-02 - I used to be proud to work for Netscape. Yes, we were doomed. We also brought about a change in the way the world works. Before Netscape the Internet (or "Information Super-Highway" as the public knew it) was a play thing for an elite few. For better or worse, Netscape is the company that brought URLs to the masses. It was exciting to be a part of that.
When AOL bought us many of the higher minded (and higher strung) Netscape employees chose to leave. There was much hand wringing and pontification about how "Netscape is dead" and that the only thing remaining was "a husk and a logo." There was certainly a fair amount of truth to that, but at the same time we were able to continue making products that we could be proud of. For nearly two years I was proud to help make a product that met our customer's needs, that received positive press reviews, and that I used for my own needs on a daily basis.
So I used to be proud. Now my life exists of continual reorganizations, bi-monthly moves, lack of direction and rumors of yet more layoffs. I am tired of being a number. I am tired of being an inconsequential cog in a huge media corporation. I wish that my future success was not tied to Adam Sandler movies. I miss our "changing the world but doomed anyway" doom to our current "numbers on a ledger" doom. I used to be able to tell myself that I was fighting the good fight.
10-02-01 - We continue to receive faux Ra! Ra! email from our executive staff. "We have to pull together." "AOL is a family, and we can survive this." "Obey, consume, prosletize AOL properties to your friends and family."
09-15-01 - My pet product, Netscape Enterprise Server/iPlanet Web Server, has been acknowledged as "a jewel of a product" by our current management. They just won't let us work on it any more. They have our whole team (what's left of it) working on an email server. But we're still being given delivery dates, revenue commitments, etc.
I hate everybody.
09-11-01 - I feel sick. I'm sure it goes without saying that, for the time being, all pettiness about the work place is forgotten.
09-05-01 - Back from vacation and checking on things. At least two of my boxes got "lost" in the move. My management and the movers have said, distinctly, "So what?" I've also had RAM stolen from one machine, a camera is missing, my recordable CDs have walked away, my Palm Pilot dock is gone, etc. I hate moves.
08-21-01 - All of my AOL coworkers (from the Web Server group) were pulled back into AOL/NSCP. The execptions were one of our Product Managers and one (yes, one) sustaining engineer. How fucked up is that?
We had two all-hand's meetings. One at 09:00. Only some people were invited to this one. People at this meeting were given the speech about valuable contributions, blah blah blah. In their termination envelopes, snuggled in with all the usefull stuff, was an AOL v6.0 CD.
Those of us envited to the meeting at 14:00 were told that we're part of the "go-forward" team. What this apparantly translates into is "you'll be expected to continue the products that you've been making with all those other AOL and Sun people, only without those AOL and Sun people." They also told us that we will have boxes to pack our offices into by tomorrow morning, and that we're being moved back to Mountain View on Saturday.
I'm leaving for a week-and-a-half of vacation tomorrow. It couldn't be coming at a better or a worse time.
08-20-01 - Three of my coworkers, Sun employees, were "redeployed" today. This is about 10% of my product's group. "Redeployed" apparantly means "you're no longer needed here. If you can find someone else willing to hire you, better take it."
I think people deserve better than this - I hate that corporations are so evil. I hate that I don't know how I would make things better if I were given the opportunity.
I honestly don't care what the legitimate business reasons may be for doing this. I don't care if AOL is re-absorbing us, I don't care if we're getting laid off or handed over to Sun. This is a shitty way to treat people.
Lest I be accused of being snively and not appreciating the suffering that others have gone through - I know this is nothing. I'm well paid, my employer gives me a great deal of personal freedom in my daily activity, etc. Yet there's a certain dignity that people - any people in any job - are entitled to, and every soulless corporation wants nothing more than to deny this dignity and respect to its people.
We all deserve better than this.
07-03-01 - Tell me again exactly why Microsoft isn't evil? I'm having trouble seeing them as anything else.
02-24-01 - There's an interesting story on SlashDot.org about online journals. There's a great deal of discussion about who writes them and why. There's a few voices defending the community/therapy/touchy-feely-feel-good aspects of online journals, and there's many comments regarding the narcisistic/demigogeury/self-pity motivations behind most. This got me to thinking about why I keep this journal.
If I am to be honest I'll have to admit that there are two reasons this journal lives: I dislike the shrowded cone of silence that surrounds corporate life (nearly everyone is miserable in one capacity or another and we all know it, but few people are comfortable publicly discussing what they dislike about their corporate existence), and I enjoy the feedback (such as it is) that I receive from it. Were I to make that a shorter statement it would have to be "I'm a whiner and I like attention."
What a sucky revelation.
01-23-01 - I never thought I'd become numb to layoffs, but after having been through four of them in three years (I was laid off from Verity in October, 1997, and then survived layoffs at Netscape in January 1998, March 1999, and finally January 2001) I've got to the point where I simply watch them come and go. It no longer drags down my morale (and no it's not because my morale is so low that it couldn't get worse - I'm actually pretty happy in my job these days). I no longer feel oppressed by the lack of employer/employee loyalty. In short - I've been beaten into submission.
To those of you that lost your jobs I extend my sympathies.
01-14-01 - I feel so average. All my whinging and whining are just run-of-the-mill complaints that anyone might have. Things could be so much worse; I could be a "Packager for DogDoo.com."
01-09-01 - File this under Why I Hate Corporations.
Our facilities on the Sun campus are rather nice - we have offices instead of cubicles, a lovely campus in a park-like setting, and all the buildings are color coordinated. That's all dandy. To afford myself a little visual privacy, however, I've added some Venetian blinds to my glass door (see photo at right).
Sun's Facilities Group has decided to be rather obsessive about maintaining the purity of the work spaces and have decided that my blinds have both "damaged Sun's property" (the screws in the wall to hang the blinds) and "fostered an environment of mistrust" by obscuring people's view into my workspace.
Do these people really have nothing better to do with their time than worry about how we bad, bad people have modified our work environments?
01-07-01 - Sometimes Judge Jackson just makes me laugh.
In other news, the FTC has made AOL send a note to all employees regarding the AOL Time Warner combination. I can feel myself becoming more evil every day.
12-14-00 - It has happened. Here's a note from our malevolent overlord regarding it:
11-05-00 - Chaos. Cats and dogs living together. Morale sinking and reorganizations happening.
Why are so many executives and managers convinced that they're not doing their jobs unless they're changing things? And why are there so many managers that only know their people are working if they have them file "weekly status reports?"
I'm not saying that these people are bad managers, or that their efforts are doomed to failure, etc. Sometimes things really do need to be changed, and sometimes things are so chaotic that a manager really doesn't know what you do unless you write it down and provide pretty graphs. I see no need to make people do these things if everything is already working.
I hate it when things are done simply because someone feels like they have to make their mark.
10-27-00 - Sometimes the universe just hands you candy on a platter. While I know some really wonderful people that work for Microsoft ("Howdy" to Suzanne and Brent), this kind of thing just makes me all giddy inside.
10-23-00 - Why are grown, professional people so utterly incapable of interacting with human society in a responsible way? Why is it that I can go into a rest-room on the campus of a well funded software company and find feces drying in the edge of one toilet and urine splashed liberally on the other toilet & stall? It seems that most people are capable of learning not to do this sometime between 24 months and 48 months of age. Whose gods did I anger to become unfortunate enough to work with so many people (at company after company) that have not learned this basic lesson?
HATE. Hate hate hate.
10-21-00 - There are times when I fancy AOL and/or Sun to be oppressive, intolerant places to work. I nearly seem to enjoy getting worked up about silly reorganizations, inept coworkers, and arbitrary "security" decisions (i.e. the blocking of outgoing data on port 25 for "security purposes"). Then I talk to friends whose companies will not allow them to install any software, IT forbids any PC to have a sound card, and HR makes sweeps through the office telling people what they can or can not have hanging in their workspaces (one person has printed the "You're Not Paid to Think" from the front page of this server and hung it on their wall - they tell me they were officially reprimanded by their employer and told that they would be fired if the graphic was not removed). I also stumble across articles like this one highlighting IT directors stating that anyone choosing to run Linux instead of an approved Windows variant should "have their hard drives reformatted and the employee should be summarily dismissed."
I love my employer. I love that Netscape, then AOL/Sun, are tolerant enough of my preferences to let me run my operating system of choice. And yet I'm also ashamed. There's way too much pathos in being made to love my employer simply because they allow me to make a decision about what flavor of tool to use during the twelve hours a day I work in their buildings. Still, I love my employer. At least they won't fire me for not using Windows.
I will never understand why many employers feel that they have ownership of your soul for the length of the work day. Employees are people, are usually responsible adults, and deserve to have their dignity. By agreeing to work for a company an individual does not implicitly agree to give up their individuality, their opinions, their dignity, or their humanity. If employers would realize this and behave toward their employees with respect they might be surprised to find that most employees will still do their jobs, and will be much happier doing them.
10-08-00 - It's come to my attention that I haven't added anything to this diary since late June, and that everything here is petty. Lest I leave you thinking that I've nothing to say or, even worse, that I am filled with only hate and anger, I give you my view of the Netscape/ AOL/ Sun|Netscape Alliance/ iPlanet world from early October, 2000:
Things are, as a whole, quite dandy right now. As with any company there are little annoyances, but they are really very minor and petty. The group that I'm in has settled down; the people in it are all very smart & talented; I've come to accept the fact that, yes, our cafeteria is better than cafeteria at the Mountain View Netscape campus; our cubes are still restricted to three live network drops, but a quick trip to Fry's (shudder) gets an 8-port switch - problem solved.
So what's left to gripe about? There's always something. There's security fire-drills that stem from people not understanding how "web technologies" work (Why is it so very difficult for people to understand how a browser, a server, and applications that run behind a server all work?). There's uncertainty about the Time/Warner acquisition (Will it get approved? Will it help or destroy our stock? Will there be layoffs?). There's the knowledge that the Sun|Netscape Alliance/iPlanet contract was for three years and we're already through half of that - what happens when the contract expires? Do we shake hands and say it was fun? Do we all get laid off? Does the contract get extended?
There's so many things left to complain about, but right now none are worth complaining about. Maybe later.
06-23-00 - A few weeks ago Judge Jackson ordered the breakup of Microsoft. It's strange. The rest of the world still cares: reporters stalked the Netscape campus (amusing since there's only a few hundred people there that were with the company when all this started) looking for celebrations. For some reason I can't put my finger on, none of us really seem to care any more. For me I think it has to do with having been acquired by AOL, more-or-less spun off to Sun, and the events of today. Today the shareholders of AOL and Time Warner voted overwhelmingly to approve the merger of the two companies and, while it still has to pass muster in Washington and Europe, it looks as though the company that writes my paychecks will soon be nearly as big a behemoth as Microsoft. I used to be joking when I called us "the other evil empire."
Here's an email sent by Steve Case to the company today:
At least I won't feel guilty about stealing HBO once we own it.
04-03-00 - Judge Penfield Jackson today issued his Conclusions of Law and Final Order. The verdict? Microsoft abused its monopoly power under the Sherman Act (see this for analysis). I can honestly say that I feel really good to have been with Netscape from the beginning of this trial through the end (ok, almost the end - there's still a butt-load of appeals etc). I've lasted longer than many.
03-12-00 - The much ballyhooed "culture clash" between AOL and Netscape never, in my opinion materialized (at least not for the divisions that actually make products - Netcenter has apparently been totally screwed by a bizarre mixture of Netscape and AOL mentalities). Sure, we got new executives. Sure, the new executives had no idea how to manage us, or how to guide us. Still, for the most part there was no real noticeable difference in day-to-day life once the acquisition completed. Morale has still been in the dumper, talented people still got hired and quit in droves, and people still use their sabbaticals as an opportunity to spend six weeks looking for a new job while still being paid by the old one.
So will this culture clash ever happen? Yes. When? Very, very soon. And I don't think it's be a clash between Netscape and AOL.
What's going to happen is a clash between Netscape and Sun. Most of the Netscape Server people (iPlanet) are being moved to a new Sun campus (the old Agnews hospital if you're familiar with the South Bay). While AOL was happy to let us keep our perks, Sun is actively trying to deny us our perks in the new location. In addition to the superfluous ones mentioned below (dogs, soda, facilities), they're also trying to restrict how we work - they're limiting each cubicle to three network drops (I don't know what it's like at other companies, but I personally actively use six network drops in my current cube) and one static IP address (I use four static addresses).
The clash that I sense brewing is Sun being unwilling to bend to our work methods once we move to Agnews. My department has already refused to move unless Sun relented on the IP addresses, and we're planning on making a mass run to a local 'puter store to buy everyone hubs. I know that Sun IS isn't going to like this and may try to force us to bend to their evil rules.
I see ever darker clouds on the horizon. And amusingly, I already see many engineers dropping out of iPlanet (i.e. servers) and going to work directly for AOL (i.e. Netcenter and Mozilla/Client). I never thought I'd see people consider AOL the beacon of light in these dark clouds.
02-29-00 - I'm not positive this qualifies as an AOL rant or a rant about life in general. Whichever it is, I'm not happy about it.
I've busted my hump for almost two-and-a-half years to make it into engineering. And now that I'm here? I'm just thrilled to report that the people I've wanted to work with have left (Mike Belshe, Vishy, Christian Kaiser, Ruslan Belkin, Howard Palmer, The McCool Brothers, Robin Maxwell, etc). While I have nothing but respect for those that are remaining, the team that I wanted to work with is completely gutted. OK, I knew this going into it (some of these people left the group more than a year-and-a-half ago), but it doesn't make me any happier. It's my only hope that those that are left will stay for a while.
02-22-00 - From briefing.com, this is one of the reasons that I so desperately dislike AOL. And it's not so much (their|our) marketing per se, it's that (they|we)'re so big that (they|we) can get away with this and that (their|our) users don't realize what AOL has done to "the Internet." In the text below look for the completely frightening phrase "for most of the 21 million customers that AOL has, AOL is the internet." Just to help drive home how scary that is, that's 21 million people. 21 followed by six zeroes. 2.1e7. A whole bunch.
02-14-00 - As time passes we (iPlanet, the server side of Netscape) are slowly becoming increasingly entwined with Sun. Many departments are soon to be moved to the Sun Agnews campus (in Santa Clara, CA). To help us Netscape/AOL people feel really at home we're being told that we will not be allowed to bring our dogs to the office any longer, we won't have access to the Sun Fitness Center, and we will need to start carrying Sun badges. We will, however, have access to the cafeteria! Woo-hoo!
The part of this that is really galling is that iPlanet employees that work for Sun (as opposed to the iPlanet employees that work for AOL) will have full access to all the facilities on the new campus.
They're slowly stripping away the benefits for which many of us came to work for Netscape - We're now just a division of a huge company; we're in a partnership with a "old" computer company that's completely paralyzed in bureaucracy and delusions of adequacy, we can't bring our dogs any longer, etc. All we really need now is for another VP to get in front of the remaining employees and say, for the second time, "We give you stock options. Buy your own damn soda." Is it any wonder we're having trouble retaining anyone with a clue?
01-13-00 - Ewwwww. Is it wrong that this makes me feel cheap and used? Yet more annoying proof that Netscape is a brand now.
01-10-00 - Holy Shit. What a way to wake up: "AOL, Time Warner Agree to World's Biggest Merger." Who needs coffee to wake up?
In exactly five years I've gone from a company with 150 people (White Pine), 400 people (Verity), 2,500 people (Netscape), 12,000 people (AOL), to the 80,000+ Goliath known as AOL Time Warner, with a market cap in excess of $300 Billion. Yeah, with a "B." Holy shit.
'Course, this doesn't change the fact that my employer can blow me.
01-06-00 - Welp, the Y2K non-event has come and gone. I gave up all of Netscape's scheduled holidays in the week leading up to Y2K (three days), worked NYEve for 14 hours, and snuck out just in time to go to a party. I was then on call for the rest of the weekend with the commitment to be available to come into the office within a half hour of being paged.
I really think that what made this onerous were the plethora of email sent out by our executive staff encouraging "everyone at AOL" to take off the two work days in that week and "spend time with family and friends; not worrying about what may be happening at the office."
Still, it could have been worse. See this for someone else's rants about how crappy his evening was.
There's a quote in there:
"I wasn't here to see man land on the moon, or JFK's assassination. I don't really remember Nixon's resignation or the hostage crisis. This is undoubtedly the most important and memorable moment of our lifetime, and I'm trapped at my desk. It's just not worth it."
Then I start wondering about other things that this person does remember: The explosion of the "Information Economy," the fall of Russian Communism, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Chinese crackdown on protesting students, the discovery of planets orbiting other stars (instead of just theories), the meteoric increase in computing power with the simultaneous drop in the cost of hardware, the explosion of Challenger, the locating and exploring of the Titanic, etc.
I'm sorry that we had to get screwed out of a holiday, and a milestone one at that. When you think about it, though, it's just another day. Nothing actually happened beyond the Time Odometer rolling from 1999 to 2000. All things considered, it's not that big a deal.
Grow up you pansy.
12-07-99 - Bleah! Just when you thought Netcenter couldn't get any more ugly or useless, they unveil this piece of crap.
If I could delude myself and say that I didn't work for AOL before, this definitely crushes that illusion. There's only one way to put a positive spin on this abortion of a re-design: It's no worse than the crap we came up with on our own.
11-05-99 - So... Today Judge Penfield Jackson released his Findings of Fact. The verdict? Microsoft is a monopoly that has clearly used its status to limit innovation and to crush competitors. Of particular note is how Microsoft diluted and/or damaged Sun's Java technology, used dominant products to force Apple to halt development of competitive technologies, and closed off all major distribution channels available to Netscape for the distribution of our web browser.
This is all well and good, and makes for some entertaining reading. But what's even more amusing (if you can really call it that) is the press reporting on it. The most painful passage I've seen so far is:
...Netscape -- once the dominant browser maker -- has become an inconsequential division of America Online... (from the Red Herring)
04-01-99 - The unthinkable:
dzm 61 > ypcat passwd | grep jwz
Jamie Zawinski left Netscape and mozilla.org today. He's an arrogant prick, but I have a great deal of respect for him and am sorry to see him go. I do wish he could have left without kicking the rest of us in the ribs (exhibit 1 and 2) though.
It seems as though there's enough of you that don't know who Jamie is that a small explanation is justified: Jamie Zawinski was one of the first employees of Netscape (number 23 believe). He is largely responsible for the Mail and News features in the Client (starting in Navigator 3.x), and was in charge of the Mozilla OpenSource project for its first year of existence. For more information about Jamie, visit his web page at www.jwz.org and, if you're using a Netscape browser, the about:jwz easter egg.
03-31-99 - Netscape suffers its second ever round of layoffs. I survived the first round (January of 1998) and I survived the second round. Approximately 300-400 others did not. Netscape lost some good people. But looked at another way, we culled some of the stupid and dimwitted from the herd. If we'd cut more of the Stupid and kept more of the Good I'd say it worked out for the best. Unfortunately this layoff remained true to form: It mostly cut the wrong people.
03-17-99 - Netscape (and our stock ticker, NSCP) ceases to exist as an independently traded stock on the open market. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Depends on your perspective.
I am nauseated that a company like America Online was able to raise (without much effort) enough money to buy a company like Netscape. Despite our warts, we changed the world. We made Microsoft realize that the Desktop is only valuable as an immediate manifestation of computing, but that the true value of computing is the network. We made http://www.[foo].com common enough that it's now as common as phone numbers on ads, billboards, and magazine advertisements. We made "home page" a household phrase and kick-started a "new economy" by providing the first nearly commercial quality tools (based on Open Standards, not proprietary closed standards) that made it possible. AOL on the other hand has never innovated. AOL has never pushed an envelope. AOL has never done anything besides try to make money. ... 'Course AOL has also more than quadrupled the value of what was once Netscape stock, so I guess I shouldn't bitch too loudly.
11-24-98 - On Tuesday, November 24, 1998 (The one-year anniversary of my beginning employment) Netscape agreed to be acquired by America Online (AOL). See my comments above if you care about my feelings on the matter. To see one of my (now laid off) illustrious coworker's thoughts about the merger, read this. You can also read Jamie Zawinski's thoughts on the whole affair here and here.
Disclaimer: Everything that lives on this server is my personal responsibility. You shouldn't mistake my ramblings as the views of my employer (or anyone else for that matter).