What's the significance of a draft

Subject: What's the significance of a draft
From: Emily Berk <emily -at- armadillosoft -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 09 Sep 2002 11:19:50 -0700

I had a situation at a large, prestigious company, whose name you would probably recognize, where once in a while the MIS guy would come in, remove my PC from my desk and "give" it to others for use as their desktop. Usually the recipient of my computer would know it was mine and would let me know where it was and would not remove the files I was working on. But sometimes they wouldn't and I would then spend hours or days trying to track the computer down and reinstalling software.

The same MIS guy would also periodically survey my system and uninstall software he claimed was unlicensed. Such as FrameMaker. Which HE had installed on the system at the written request of my manager. I had to fill out lots of paperwork to get it re-installed, of course. And I billed for the time it took me to do that as well.

After the first time my computer disappeared, I began to think of my office as a company resource and routinely assumed that anything I left in my office or on my PC was subject to search, removal or seizure. So, for example, I replaced my coffee cup with one that said "Emily" in glaze. And, I never left pens I cared about there.

This did not make for a pleasant work environment and my productivity was not high while I was in search of my software or my computer, but I did bill for the time I spent re-installing and backing up in preparation for the next disappearance of my system. And, I did make my home system my primary system, so I did not have to rely on data stored on my office PC.

In my experience, contractors do not get much respect from MIS and IT support staff, even when we do have great relationships with SMEs and programmers. At best, support seems to look upon contractors as supply cabinets, sources of spare parts, rather than as clients. (Not true everywhere, but in general, contractors are low on the hierarchy, and contracting tech writers are lower in the hierarchy than contracting programmers.)

In the current economic environment, competition for resources, jobs, etc. has escalated tensions so high in many companies that instances of this kind of petty foolishness can be expected to increase. Directing threats of any kind towards MIS staff is unlikely to make them more helpful to you. My advice would be to work through the programmers or your manager, if your manager is supportive. However, if your manager is the rifling through your desk, then my advice would be to consider your office to not be YOUR office, but just a temporary workplace, like a desk in the library. Don't leave your personal belongings there, don't assume you have any privacy there. I would leave a box of tissues, my personalized cup (to which I was not overly attached), a sweater (women's size SMALL -- unlikely to fit most MIS guys), my jar of medicinal chocolates, and company-issued PC, monitor, phone, etc. And, each time, before I unlocked the door, I made sure I was prepared for the possibility that any or all of these might be gone when I walked in. (So, if I was there for a meeting, I printed out all materials I'd need for the meeting the night before and brought them home with me and then back to the office the next day.)

It's DANGEROUS out there. Sigh.


On Sun, 8 Sep 2002 15:16:36 -0700, "Chris Knight" <cknight -at- attcanada -dot- ca> wrote:
>... I would say that a more fundamental problem is the behavior of the
>other writer who is messing with your files. She should not do this. Request
>her to stop. Threaten dire consequences should she not. ... If all else fails, the client's IT department can probably help you exclude the interloper.
>I have never endured a situation like this in 16 years free-lancing.

~ Emily Berk ~
~ Looking for challenging, new projects ~
~ www.armadillosoft.com *** Armadillo Associates, Inc. ~
~ Internet and non-Internet application development, ~
~ project management, developer relations and ~
~ extremely-technical technical documentation that ~
~ developers find useful. ~

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