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Cube Farm [Anglais] [Broché]

Bill Blunden

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Description de l'ouvrage

1 août 2004
While most readers chuckle at Dilbert, there are fiefdoms in the software industry that deviate only slightly from the madness of a comic strip. Truth is stranger than fiction, especially when it comes to the workplace. In Cube Farm, Bill Blunden describes his three years in Minnesota, performing research and development for Lawson Software. It is a story riddled with intrigue, duplicity, and collusion. From his trench-level view, Blunden provides a droll examination of a company in the throes of internal rivalry and suffering from a long string of failed projects. It is a hilarious story that will appeal to anyone who has ever suffered at the hands of an incompetent manager or toiled in a dysfunctional environment. This is the book for every fan of the movie Office Space. Containing similar woodcuts to those seen in Software Excorcism, this book is a great continuation on the thoughts of Blunden.

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Biographie de l'auteur

Reverend Blunden began his journey into the software industry when he discovered the DOS debug utility in 1983. Ten years later, Reverend Blunden found himself implementing actuarial tools at an insurance exchange in Cleveland. Along the way, he received an undergraduate degree in Physics from Cornell University and a Master of Science degree in Operations Research from Case Western Reserve. During the subsequent ten-year period, Reverend Bill traveled around the United States, performing R&D for a middleware vendor and working with embedded security devices. Reverend Blunden has authored a number of books on system level software, including Message Passing System Internals. He is currently at large in the bay area. Reverend Blunden is the author of Software Exorcism (Apress, 2003, 234-4), and the forthcoming Offshoring IT: What Can Go Wrong and Why (Apress, 2004).

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Couverture | Copyright | Table des matières | Extrait | Index
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Amazon.com: 4.4 étoiles sur 5  11 commentaires
13 internautes sur 15 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Dog EAT Dog! Woof! Woof! 15 septembre 2004
Par W Boudville - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
If you're in IT and have chortled knowingly at Dilbert, then Blunden might take you to the next level of cynicism. He describes his travails in his first real programming job.

During the ascent of the dot coms, he ended up at Lawson, a mid ranking purveyor of business tools and technology consulting. He found himself in the tool making part of the company. A very disillusioning foray into coporate computing. Months of intense effort on his part, but no deliverable at the end. Apparently, this was scarcely unique in the firm. He describes others having spent years there, just performing office politics and backstabbing, as opposed to producing a tangible product, to actually benefit the company and its shareholders and customers.

Perhaps the funniest passage is his Y2K experience. He wonders aloud if Mr Y2K, Ed Yourdon, was peddling moonshine and hysteria. Many of us might agree.

Be warned that Blunden is a Reverend in the notorious subversive organisation called the Church of the SubGenius. One day, Donald Rumsfeld and the Department of Homeland Security will catch up with these blokes. Then, it's a one way trip to Gitmo.
12 internautes sur 14 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Glad this isn't *my* corporate experience... :-) 27 août 2004
Par Thomas Duff - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
If you want to feel better about your job (or confirm your fears that corporate life is horrible), you might want to read Cube Farm by Bill Blunden (Apress). It's a quirky little book about a person's foray from college into a corporate environment of a major Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software vendor.

Blunden went to Cornell and got a degree in physics. But in Cleveland, that and a couple of bucks will get you coffee at Starbucks. It might even get you a job at Starbucks. After a stint in food service, he got another degree in Management Science and ended up eventually securing a job in IT working for Lawson Software in Minnesota. In his time there, he was part of a grossly dysfunctional company that had most of their software projects die before seeing a shipment to market. The people, given code names in the book to "protect the guilty", are a rogue's gallery of misfits and psychopaths who will make you hope you never have a boss or coworkers like that. The story ends when he decides to leave because he doesn't like what he's becoming.

The book is touted as "a reality check for anyone preparing to enter the work force, and a survival guide for those entangled in their own personal version of Office Space." While I have no doubt these work environments exist, I've never seen all these personality types in a single place in my over 25 years of IT. For a first IT job, this guy had a horrible experience. His "lessons" at the end of each chapter are short one liners about corporate life, but they are largely based on an extremely cynical view of corporate life. If I had his experience at Lawson, I'd probably feel the same. But I'm not sure I'd buy this book as anything more than one person's hard luck story of life in IT as well as an entertaining read by a talented writer. Using it as a guide to surviving in the office place might cause you problems if you work in a more normal company...
5 internautes sur 5 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 The ultimate bad job book 7 novembre 2004
Par Jack D. Herrington - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
This book is an in-depth expose into the life of a software engineer during the tech bubble. From the interview, through the various projects and failures and into the eventual layoffs. It's filled with great insights and cutting humor. Each chapter covers a particular phase of his work experience and wraps up with some key takeaways.

Anyone who has been in the software industry for a while will find a lot to laugh and cringe about in this book. Personally I found the anecdotes informative and the condensed takeaways at the end very appropriate.

Behind all of the comedy Bill preaches the core principles of respect for yourself and your profession, and emphasizes professionalism. That's something we could all use.
10 internautes sur 12 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Entertaining Horror Stories about Lawson Software 19 octobre 2004
Par Donald Mitchell - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
The subtitle for this book could be "how not to pursue a career in programming." The author studied physics at Cornell, which proved to be a problem when he sought employment in Cleveland. Soon, he was waiting on tables for three years. After adding a little more education (this time in operations research), he was able to attract three job offers. Naturally, he chose the one with the highest salary and the sexiest programming language opportunity. Was that a good decision? Wrong!

Lawson Software is described as a software disaster waiting to happen in the ERP space. In order to speed up transaction times and throughput, the founders had decided to eliminate all internal documentation notes in the software. That meant that only a few people who had originally worked on developing the software had any idea of how to make fixes to and upgrades on the code. There was essentially no written documentation either.

That made it all but impossible for anyone to make progress on programming projects for the existing software unless someone who knew the code well would help. The knowledgeable software developers had their own axes to grind, which didn't coincide very much with the needs of customers or profits for the company.

As a result, Reverend Blunden describes a continuing series of fiascos in which people were launched against impossible targets and naturally failed. The situation was so bad that some chose to not even try, seeing their time there as a paid sabbatical.

At the end of each chapter, the author shares his takeaways from these experiences. If you are in a real dog-eat-dog software-based company, these takeaways are appropriate. If you are in a normally functioning company, the takeaways are a little too skeptical and cynical. It's like reading Dilbert.

To give you a sense of how bad the working environment was, the author reports being pleased when he lost his private office to be put into the cube farm.

If you want to feel better about your own company and job, definitely read this book. The author has an entertaining style with the kind of slight exaggeration suggested that makes a story work better.

On the other hand, I found myself recognizing a number of personality types from companies with which I had worked. So the potential to create massive harm is probably always there. Let the employee beware!
4 internautes sur 4 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Doesn't matter if everyone's onboard if the ship is sinking 7 décembre 2004
Par Daniel Jolley - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
It's funny because it's true. Well, it's really not that funny if it happens to you, and that's why you need to learn the lessons Bill Blunden learned the hard way over the course of three woeful years of cubicle hell so that you can avoid suffering the same soul-destroying fate. Blunden's workplace warnings go out specifically to high-minded computer programmers sashaying across stages with pointy hats atop their heads, but the lessons imparted in this book can be applied by anyone to innumerable aspects of life. Life is not going to reward your collegiate efforts by dropping a fantastic job in your lap. Just finding a job may be tough, and the chances are good that you will never find a truly satisfying way to pay the bills. If you are extremely unlucky, you may find yourself trapped in a highly dysfunctional workplace such as the one described in this book, and you will look desperately for any port in a storm. Whatever happens, you will certainly encounter some of the personality types and managerial handlers described so effectively in these pages, and having prior knowledge of the danger zones ahead and the types of coworkers to look out before can be of tremendous help to you, your career, and your sanity. That is why Cube Farm is an important book.

Bill Blunden worked hard to earn a degree in physics from Cornell. Justifiably proud of his academic achievements, he sauntered into real life thinking the world was his oyster; he found out that the world is indeed a big oyster, but it has a habit of swallowing you whole when you reach in and begin searching for your own personal pearl. After waiting tables for three years, he went back to school and got a degree in operations research; job offers finally began to come in, and he chose to accept a position at Lawson Software in Minnesota. Thus began three years of hell. He had embellished his resume somewhat to claim he was a Java expert, and now he was a full-fledged software engineer. He was eager and determined to learn and contribute to the company, but he soon found out that the company was not eager to train him to do the job. This was in part due to the fact that only a handful of people still understood Lawson's clunky, leviathan-like code in the first place, but it was also due to bad management. His co-workers were little help, as the company environment led to intense competition within the ranks. Everyone wanted the best project for himself, time and money were wasted by having two teams basically competing for the same prize, and self-interest alongside the need to provide for a family led to knowledge hoarding. This was not the atmosphere of collegial teamwork Blunden had expected to find.

Blunden worked on one failed project after another. These were projects that seemed destined to fail; everyone knew it, especially the programmers, but the managers at Lawson basically ignored problems and left their teams hanging in the wind on a daily basis. A couple of good souls helped Blunden along the way, but by and large his work experience was shaped by characters easily defined by the names he assigns to them in the book: Long John Silver, Mad Dawg, the Shill, the Godfather, the Last Mohican, the Wax Artist, the Puppet Master, and others. Work became a horrible chore to Blunden, disillusionment set in, frustration rose, and then things got even worse. The stories he tells here seem extreme, but anyone who has ever worked in a cubicle or been assigned an oar to row a captainless ship going nowhere but down into a deep, dark, watery grave, knows just what he is talking about. Few experiences are as ridiculously awful as his, but even the best and the brightest encounter similar experiences to some degree.

This book is meant to help those to come, to warn them of the dangers ahead, but I'm not sure how helpful the book is in terms of overcoming such problems. Certainly, Blunden met with virtually no success in terms of coping to professional life in his own twisted environment. To Blunden's credit, he does commiserate with individuals who do what they have to do in order to care for their families. Management, however, is viciously hoisted on its own petard - and seemingly justifiably so.

Knowledge is power, and one can clearly seek a destination much more efficiently when the blinders of naiveté and ignorance are removed. In order to tell his own story, Blunden does take the time to explain a few technical matters involving programming, but he does a great job of conveying such necessary information in terms a layman can understand. Some would say that Blunden is far too cynical, but who can blame him given his horrifying experiences? Others would blame him for his own lack of success, and maybe there's a grain of truth to that. Clearly, though, he faced challenges deeply embedded in the managerial infrastructure, and I feel he has done a great service to all workers, especially cubicle dwellers, by pointing the harsh light of truth on problems systemic in too many workplace environments.
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