RE: What a predicament!

Subject: RE: What a predicament!
From: "Tom Johnson" <johnsont -at- starcutter -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 4 Mar 2002 16:33:57 -0500

I was going to stay out of this, but a recent reply kind of set me off.

I've been in a situation where I felt my boss was asking me to do something
that crossed my moral boundaries. It rubbed me raw and I got to the point
where I had a very hard time functioning in that role.

My job was to test payphones to see if I could make fraudulent calls. I had
to keep up with the latest phone scams and see if I could pull them off on
our company's pay telephones. These were attempts to make free calls. None
of them involved charging calls to individual phone customers or taking
their money. The only consequence was to my company's long distance charges.
It was surprising how many times I was able to complete calls. When that
happened, we could call the carriers to make sure they instituted certain
screens. So, in a way, it was a legitimate test to make sure crooks couldn't
rip off our phones. On the other hand, I felt terrible lying to operators.
Even though my actions were justifiable, it was quite unpleasant. I suppose
executioners experience the same kind of problem. It is called a conscience.
People should pay more attention to what theirs is telling them.

In my situation, I took some time off, without pay, and made up my mind I
was going to find a different job.

What anonymous is feeling is very real, to her. It may be misplaced angst,
but it is very real to anonymous. What anonymous needs is coaching not
berating. Let's make our replies to this person constructive to get over it.

My suggestion to anonymous is to really look at the work that you were asked
to do. How many cars do you see driving down the road with a multitude of
similarities. They all follow the same general idea: four wheels, a chassis,
seats, body and a steering wheel. They have more in common than they have
differences. Software is the same thing. There is nothing wrong with taking
something that works well and adapting those things to your own application.
I'm not advocating plagiarism, but trying to say there is a middle ground
between all original material and out-and-out plagiarism.

My other suggestion is to look at the relationship between you and your boss
to make sure there is not some underlying source of friction. I've been in
that situation before. If you can work it out, you may end up with a
wonderful friend.

Lastly, I meant what I said about conscience. Our conscience is a good
thing. It pays to listen to it and we should be careful about dulling that
faculty. However, there are some cases where there is too much legalism and
not enough context*.

Tom Johnson
231-264-5661 voice
231-264-5663 fax

Work johnsont -at- starcutter -dot- com
Personal tjohnson -at- i2k -dot- com

*Normally kids are told not to run in school. But, if a kid gets hit by a
car, somebody needs to run inside to the principal's office to call 911.
That's what I mean about context.

Now's a great time to buy RoboHelp! You'll get SnagIt screen capture
software and a $200 onsite training voucher FREE when you buy RoboHelp
Office or RoboHelp Enterprise. Hurry, this offer expires February 28, 2002.

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