Tuesday, February 14, 2006

A bit of a rant...

Warning – a bit of a RANT, but the article closes on a high note! I worry about the future. I really do sometimes. I’m often emailed and asked (sometimes, frankly, demanded) to do homework for someone.

Today, I got a really outstanding example of this. I’ve removed the specific example from this email and all identifying information. (I do not believe this falls outside of my “I won’t post your email on the web” statement previously, this is a representative – but 100% unidentifiable - email text, I have many many more like it). Anyway, it starts:

i read one of the articles authored by jonathan gennick titled "find answers faster" in an archived issue of oraclemag and was deeply impreessed on the little piece he did on Analytic functions. consequently, i'd be delighted if u cud hlp with a lil prob of
mine in passing a correct SQL query to retrieve the following from a SQL server 2000 .

Ok, let us forget for a moment the author of this email is writing to my business email address (which believe it or not indicates 1) I’m at work, this is a business type email and 2) I’m at work at Oracle, the @oracle.com gives it away). I’m sure capitalization isn’t really relevant in “business 2.0” communication today. We’ll skip that. I do like the use of “u”, “cud”, “hlp”, “lil prob” (is that “lil abner’s” relative?) and the like.

But how do you get from
  1. I read articles by this other guy, Jonathan (whose email address is actually included in the article they read!)

  2. I see you work at Oracle, makers of the Oracle Relational Database

  3. Therefore, you can write my SQL Server query

Ok, I missed that logic leap (used the same logic machine as this guy). Now, just so a teacher/whatever won’t see their problem posted here, I’ll skip the problem statement (actually, it was “not specified very well” so I doubt the teacher would actually recognize it. It did include lots of capitalization though, that was nice).

It closed with:

i'd be delighted if u cud help me out as it's pending my academic project.

Ouch. They just had to rub it in didn’t they.

But then, right after that, a really good thing happened. I started reading through my RSS feed of blogs and ran across this one. That was so cool – I hope he writes more stuff. You have to laugh at the use of Latin – nice touch. I did not agree with it 100%, but for the most part I did (a little harsh on the DBA crowd, I don't think the DBA job is the easiest thing to get, there are the good, the bad and the ugly in the DBA crowd - but same is true of "anything" in general)

Life – a bunch of ups and downs – those were mine this morning during coffee.

I do worry about the future sometimes. I often wonder what motivates people to write to strangers with their homework, and not even bother to – well, use full words. I have actually received unsolicited resumes that included the same "instant message" speak (u, cud, and so on...). I do feel obliged to write them back - not out of interest in their resume, but to help them understand what they've done.

Surprisingly - they typically don't appreciate it (even though I do it politely - honestly, I really am trying to give them advice to help them in the future).
POST A COMMENT

65 Comments:

Blogger Bill S. said....

Tom Kyte said....
I have actually received unsolicited resumes that included the same "instant message" speak (u, cud, and so on...).


As a hiring manager I once received a resume for an open computer operator position. This particular fellow had 6 prior jobs listed of which he claimed religious persecution at every one. I thought, "Gee what are the chances that he might like this place?" and promptly added the resume to my circular file.

As a hint folks, your resume is supposed to be your first impression. You had better make sure your spelling is impeccable, your grammar is perfect, and your acronyms are understood. IMSpeak is unacceptable, as is whinging about your previous employer. It does not make you look attractive to a company. The circular file awaits.....:-D

Tue Feb 14, 02:26:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

"One of the biggest problems developers and designers face in this area is that most DBA's suck. At least half I've met are functionally retarded. It's not their fault, a DBA job is one of the easiest jobs in IT to get; maybe 2 out of 10 companies know how to interview for a DBA. And half of those that do give the decision to the "Senior Database Administrator" who doesn't want anyone who will threaten them. If you can find a good database expert, grab her, hold on to her and give her a junior or two to teach her voodoo to. Don't be too stupid to bring in an outside consultant to help you find the right candidate, it's worth a couple of grand."

I would take this one step farther. Most technical people in general are incompetent. It's not just the DBA's. However, I have never met a technical person(and I have been on several projects) who does not want to hire someone because they are afraid the person is better than they are. I have met plenty who throw fits and refuse to double check whether they are right when they get into an argument with someone better than them. I have met plenty of know it alls. Plenty of people with attitude problems.

I think the biggest problem with team cohesion is that DBA's know databases and developers know the application. Both sides are too lazy to atleast learn a little bit about the others technology. Most Oracle developers I have worked with refuse to even turn the application to see what it does and then complain about how little the application developers know about the database.

I also find that technical people tend to believe the best way to do something is in the technology they are most familiar with. I have been on teams where there is one oracle developer and 10 java developers and the oracle person wanted all the work in the database. This person did not care that we did not have the staff to do this. He did not care about other issues(namely the rest of the application does not work this way and we have to make it talk to this part of the application). It's just what this person knows.

Get a book. Learn something knew. You are not beholden to one technology. Specialization is good, over specialization makes you useless.

Tue Feb 14, 02:34:00 PM EST  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

Anonymous said...

"One of the biggest problems developers and


After that comment came over, I updated the entry. I want to be on record as not really in total support of that comment. I don't have to agree with something 100% to like it.

Specifically I added:

I did not agree with it 100%, but for the most part I did (a little harsh on the DBA crowd, I don't think the DBA job is the easiest thing to get, there are the good, the bad and the ugly in the DBA crowd - but same is true of "anything" in general)

Tue Feb 14, 02:39:00 PM EST  

Blogger Robert Vollman said....

Allow me to opine on a few points.

First of all, it has been my experience that very few people appreciate criticism, regardless of how respectfully or discretely it is done. Plus, if the very author of the email himself were reading your post, I doubt he would even recognise that you were talking about him. I'm not saying that so you will avoid doing so, but instead to adjust the expectations so that you won't get discouraged by the low percentage rate.

Secondly, in a sense I'm PLEASED that there are so many lazy people trying to succeed in our field. I think that makes the employers appreciate us that much more when they find us. What would be so special about taking the initiative if so few people did it?

Finally, my word of advice to people who genuinely want to avoid leaving people (like Tom) with the wrong impression when asking for help. Try to narrow down your problem to something very specific. If your question must be broad, ask for a pointer to documentation, NOT to a solution. If you can, demonstrate (briefly and concisely) how you have already done your work and you just need some help to get "unstuck."

Personally, I prefer posting such questions to forums or newsgroups rather than to a specific person (who may or may not have the time or knowledge to help).

If your question really is urgent and time-sensitive, and you don't know what you're doing, I think the solution is obvious: PAY $$$. Get a professional consultant to help you. I know a number of people that will be glad to email you your answers, same day, along with an invoice for a couple hour's work. If it's not urgent enough to make it worth a few $$$ to you, what makes you think it will be worth it to someone like Tom to scramble you an answer for free?

Tue Feb 14, 02:51:00 PM EST  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

Secondly, in a sense I'm PLEASED that there are so many lazy people trying to succeed in our field.

Sorry, I don't buy into that at all. They are impediments to success. I don't think the truly good need the terribly awful to make them look better. The truly good are truly good.

Tue Feb 14, 03:05:00 PM EST  

Blogger Bill S. said....

Thomas Kyte said....

Anonymous said...

"One of the biggest problems developers and

After that comment came over, I updated the entry. I want to be on record as not really in total support of that comment. I don't have to agree with something 100% to like it.


I read that one paragraph and replaced "DBA" with "DEVELOPER", then with "MANAGER". It is way too broad a statement to brush a particular position with. I think a lot of that mentality depends on where you work. I have encountered outstanding DBAs, lousy DBAs, and mediocre DBAs. I have also encountered the same for: computer operators, programmers, I/T middle management, I/T management, h/r.... the list goes on and on. I also didn't really get why the phrase "functionally retarded" needed to be there either, but that's just me.

word verification (approriately) : yvatcyr (Why - What's Here?).

Tue Feb 14, 03:41:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Michael Norbert said....

Tom, you're a bit of a celebrity in the oracle world. You can't speak in upteen cities all over the world, blog daily, have a website that has definitely made me a better DBA without having people solicit you. It has to come with the territory. I'm not saying it's right or should be condoned but not unexpected.
My favourite is posting answers to usergroups and then being bombarded by emails from people asking questions offline.
By the way. Have you ever been approached by someone in a mall/restaurant/public place who peppers you with questions when you thought you were in your own private space?

Tue Feb 14, 04:03:00 PM EST  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

Michael Norbert said...

Oh, I understand that - I get lots of unsolicited emails.

The ones that

present themselves professionally,

use real words (some of the best written ones I get end with "excuse my english, it is not my first language" - yet I re-read them and they are almost perfect),

don't demand things (that really gets me),

show some good faith attempt at trying to get the answer some other way (or at least demonstrate they tried really hard themselves) -

I try to help out many times. If I am too busy, I have a standard .signature file I attach (says I cannot answer all of the email, but many times includes a partial answer at least).

Those, no problem.

Ones like this though. Ouch, that is all I can say. Ouch. Homework to boot.

I worry about the future.


By the way. Have you ever been approached by someone in a mall/restaurant/public

Nope, sunglasses and a hat help. Kidding - no, not really.

Tue Feb 14, 04:19:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Thomas Kyte said....

I worry about the future.

Well, you should. You should worry that the homework were about SQL Server and not about Oracle … :)

Maybe Oracle XE will help change that.

Tue Feb 14, 04:58:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

quote "I would take this one step farther. Most technical people in general are incompetent. It's not just the DBA's"

technical people are trained stupid just like everybody else.

Believe it or not... your a user to somebody someplace.

Even me.

Tue Feb 14, 05:32:00 PM EST  

Blogger DaPi said....

bill s. has a point when he wishes to permutate DBA/Developer/Manager - to which we can add User too. Lex I speaks of "corpus" which could be any of the above.

(Just in case nayone cares, the other two Leges are here.)

Tue Feb 14, 05:32:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Eric Peterson said....

cud?

Isn't that what cows keep regurgitate and chew all day long? ;)

It's amazing the quality of people we meet in this business. The range of personalities and capabilities is astonishing.

Tue Feb 14, 05:36:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

I once received an application form - for a post on a help desk team - which had lots of empty answer boxes followed by a simple note scrawled at the end saying "Full details will be presented at interview". Needless to say the hoped for interview did not materialise for the somewhat self-deluded applicant.

Tue Feb 14, 05:42:00 PM EST  

Blogger Howard J. Rogers said....

I've given up being surprised at what people will mail me to say. As my last blog entry has it, people write to me all the time asking for me to send them material they think I have withheld from the website.

I just can't fathom that line of reasoning: if I *had* been withholding the material, why would a personal appeal by email make me change my mind? And if I hadn't been withholding the material, why isn't it available for general download? The lack of elementary logic amongst those claiming to want to work in the IT field is just bizarre. As is their persistent refusal to read anything before plunging in with both feet in their mouth.

The inability to string words together in a vaguely coherent fashion that mostly follows the rules of English spelling and grammar is also, I'm afraid, a sign of the times, and I gave up being astonished at it a long time ago. I think for us to be puzzled by it marks us out as extremely old fogeys!

Face it: a lot of people are lazy, stupid or lazy *and* stupid.

Tue Feb 14, 06:39:00 PM EST  

Blogger 3360 said....

Tom Kyte said....
But then, right after that, a really good thing happened. I started reading through my RSS feed of blogs and ran across this one. That was so cool – I hope he writes more stuff.

He does, you might like this, same caveats.


You even get a mention

Tue Feb 14, 10:34:00 PM EST  

Blogger Mark J. Bobak said....

Hehe...all the talk about the level of (in)competence you can find in the workforce reminded me of this (true) story:

This was several years ago, I was working at a well-known American auto manufacturer who shall remain nameless (but their founder is well known for his groundbreaking work in using the assembly line in the manufacturing process). This person, who was in the college graduate program there, was asking questions about input data to a cooling system computer model. Various things like area of the grill opening on a vehicle, volume of the radiator, etc. And when we got to the grill opening parameter, a DEGREED mechanical engineer asked me, "What's the difference between an inch and a square inch?" How do you respond to that? Can anyone tell me? How do you (tactfully) respond to that? ;-) Fortunately, there was someone else there, and I think he saw the look on my face. He jumped in with "I'm not sure that's the question you wanted to ask...."

Wow, scary, isn't it?

Wed Feb 15, 01:09:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Here's another about incompetent folks:

We had to import some data onto production and one of our DBAs was doing this. After the thing was done, I asked him to run some simple validation in SQL with a condition roughly like "where x between 100 and 200" - he typed "where x between 200 and 100" and told me no rows returned.

Luckily I heard the mistake on the phone (now THAT was lucky ;) - else I would have ended going to office and doing the thing myself.

Meanwhile, this DBA got promoted recently ....the mysteries of life.

Wed Feb 15, 02:12:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Too many here focus on "there so many incompetent out there". But from what Tom wrote I think he was more discouraged by the lack of logic and laziness. I don't mind talking to ignorant people as long as they want to learn. Why is it so obvious that 'select count(*) from dba_objects where object_id between 1000 and 500;' returns 0 rows? Because we are used to the ordering of numbers. London is between New York and Moscow, and London is between Moscow and New York, there is no ordering there. Now, I would not look down on a person forgetting/being ignorant about the implicit logical assumption in the query.

A research some years ago showed that IT-staff generally score lower on emotional intelligence than the average citizen. The only exception was people working for support. Personally I would measure you on how you deal with different people. Show them the fun with oracle, and you might end up with an interested and increasingly smarter DBA or developer. If he doesn't care you can ask him "Do you like airplanes? They need more staff at the airport" :)

Wed Feb 15, 04:49:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

what bites me sometimes is
when someone wants to ask me a question about writing SQL statements , why do they have to tell me to write it for SQL SERVER. I guess they dont know that i m not going to give them a code. what i m going to give them is an algorithm to process that sql.
it also hurts when you have to do the thinking for them to tell them what they want.
and check this out,
i once got a resume, liked it, and called the person for an interview.
the resume said that he/she had worked on "XYZ" database for more than 18 months. In answer to my first question about XYZ, i got "I was around people who used it, i have seen the interface and am familiar with it, but i cant write programs (i said "programs?" he said "i mean 'those query things'")

Wed Feb 15, 09:03:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

I like this one myself:

http://asktom.oracle.com/pls/ask/f?p=4950:8:::::F4950_P8_DISPLAYID:7913917986287#53743083816601

Not even about databases. At least the mySql person was talking databases ;)

Wed Feb 15, 09:11:00 AM EST  

Blogger mattypenny said....

Doesn't T9 make 'Text speak' redundant anyway? Maybe its not on all phones yet....

Wed Feb 15, 09:40:00 AM EST  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

T9?

(asked by someone that uses a treo palm with a full keyboard - since he could never get the knack of typing on a numeric keypad)

Wed Feb 15, 09:44:00 AM EST  

Blogger Joel Garry said....

(but their founder is well known for his groundbreaking work in using the assembly line in the manufacturing process)

"My great-grandfather once said that if he had asked his customers what they wanted before he built his first car, they would have said they wanted a faster horse." - Bill Ford

Regarding demanding emails with IMspeak: At the risk of being villified for pointing out the obvious - are many of the worst from India?

If you can find a good database expert, grab her, hold on to her and give her a junior or two to teach her voodoo to. Don't be too stupid to bring in an outside consultant to help you find the right candidate, it's worth a couple of grand.

I once innocently asked a visiting vendor engineer a tough DBA question that pointed out some serious stupidity in his product, in front of several managers, and he grabbed me in a bear hug and said something like "hang onto this one and don't let go."

Consultants - well, let's just say their quality may vary too.

Most seniors know how to do something, but it's amazing how many can't articulate why they are doing it. Unless you can articulate why, keep your sippy cup close by. You're not grown up yet and you are limiting yourself.

I think this is wrong. With experience comes intuition, the distillation of knowledge into rules of thumb. This is not the opposite of scientific proof, but rather a way of choosing starting points for making proof. Some people may be able to articulate why they intuit, some may not. Concluding that lack of articulation is the same as ignorance is wrong, wrong, wrong. (See split-brain and speech center damage studies for extreme examples where, for example, people can't say what something is but can point to a picture of it). Concluding that ability to articulate is necessarily going to emit correct information is wrong as well. Haven't we all seen people spout nonsensical buzzwords?

Wed Feb 15, 10:26:00 AM EST  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

Regarding demanding emails with IMspeak

No, those are for the most part well written actually. If I had to lay the blame, most of it seems to be in the US actually :(

It seems to be the people that have mastered English that are most prone to doing it. Those that are not 100% comfortable with the language don't know how to use IM speak in english.

So, even though one or two people have said I'm bashing non-english speakers unfairly - the opposite is quite true. It is exactly those that speak the language natively that most often mangle it beyond recognition.

Wed Feb 15, 10:33:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Mark said....

Tom Kyte said...
I do worry about the future sometimes. I often wonder what motivates people to write to strangers with their homework, and not even bother to – well, use full words.


I totally agree. When I graduated from college in the mid-80's one of the many things I learned was "How to solve problems". Granted I was an engineering student but I've used that knowledge every day of my life. Mr Kyte might not remember me but I asked him a question during the last Oracle World. It was about a database system I "inherited" at my new company. He was very polite, asked some questions about the database and suggested a different way to approach the issue. He wasn't solving the issue for me but nudging me down a path. The rest was up to me and from that point I was able to learn more able Oracle and the database.

It is very frustrating when DBA's don't have the "drive" to learn more about their databases and Oracle. It seems a lot of younger DBA's want a quick solution. I've seen this in many resumes and interviews lately.

Wed Feb 15, 10:40:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Yes Joel you are correct, they are mostly from India. I think there's a big difference between being lazy and typing "ur" instead of "your", and not being able to speak english fluently and trying to communicate to the best of their ability.

Whether or not Tom makes an effort to distinguish between them is another question. But I have a feeling he'll stay away from a subject like that with a ten foot pole (Incoherent people from India.)

-Alex

Wed Feb 15, 10:45:00 AM EST  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

Alex -

I'd have to say that my experiences differ from yours.

While I cannot say the requests from people living in India *never* contain IM speak, I can say I receive the large majority of the IM speak stuff during my normal working hours (east coast, US time).

Wed Feb 15, 10:47:00 AM EST  

Blogger Bill S. said....

Alex said......

Yes Joel you are correct, they are mostly from India.


Not so sure about that. If you go to AskTom and type " ur " in the search box (minus the quotes of course) you'll get a slew of threads containing that exact abbreviation. Yes there are some from India, but also from UAE, Singapore, the U.S. and lots of other places too. It is not something (IMHO) endemic to people of Indian descent, I think it is more of a technological cultural norm (can I say that? ;-D). You wouldn't find that from someone, say, my age - but I'll bet it is widespread in the communications of my kids (at least the ones I DON'T see - I correct them if I see it).

word - zeygsjjd. Bless you.

Wed Feb 15, 10:59:00 AM EST  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

Anonymous said...

I like this one myself:

http://asktom.oracle.com/pls/ask/f?p=4950:8:::::F4950_P8_DISPLAYID:7913917986287#53743083816601

Not even about databases.


I can beat that one, just got this one right now:

I would like to put the output to a standard file like

man ls >File_Ls

But File_Ls sould have only readable chars.

Wed Feb 15, 11:45:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

The problem is that many do not realize the difference between SQL and Microsoft SQL Server. Many times I am approached by recruiters who want someone "equally proficient in Oracle and SQL Server tuning". I ask them where did they see SQL Server in my resume? They always say "you have written SQL tuning. Isn't it the same as SQL Server?" At this point I politely explain to them that Oracle and SQL Server are two very different products from two very different companies. This has happened to me at least 5 times during last year. Maybe the sender of e-mail thought that SQL and SQL Server are same !!

Wed Feb 15, 12:03:00 PM EST  

Blogger DBA King said....

"My great-grandfather once said that if he had asked his customers ..........

Today's answer from your customer would be get me anything you can get for less than $20 an hour.

Alex said......

Yes Joel you are correct, they are mostly from India.


I disagree.. Shows that you have not worked with the other markets that provide offshore support. Communication of Indian resources is above average compared to other markets. French, German, Chinese, Hungarian, Mexican, Canadian(;-).. I can name many other countries that have a problem speaking or writing what you see as proper english

"We once had a Senior DBA that submitted a project proposal to analyze the cost implications of moving oracle ERP to DB2"..

Wed Feb 15, 12:22:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Dratz said....

I appreciate you mentioning my blog, tons of hits, tones of complaints. I softened the harsh tones about the DBA's, but as one (in a former life anyway), I have lot of issues with lazy DBA's.

I am very happy that a couple of your commentators caught on to the plug-and-play aspect of the term DBA (and corpus). In the U.S., DBA means Database Administrator to technologists and Doing Business As to business people.

By functionally retarded, I usually mean they know the what but not the why. That's fine when you only encounter issues covered in the training manual, but in the real world weird things happen and you can't always find the answer on page 206 or get Tom to fix it for you. Yes, it's a strong term, but so is "professional."

Wed Feb 15, 01:36:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

I would like to put the output to a standard file like

man ls >File_Ls

But File_Ls sould have only readable chars.


man ls|strings>File_Ls

Wed Feb 15, 02:19:00 PM EST  

Blogger Bill S. said....

Dratz said....
By functionally retarded, I usually mean they know the what but not the why. ..... Yes, it's a strong term, but so is "professional."


Dude, that is not a "strong term" it is a totally uncalled-for term. Functionally illiterate would be ok with me. Technologically challenged even. "Retarded" has so many negative connotations and is just plain inappropriate. Sorry, but there's a vast dictionary of phrases you could have used to make your point, none of which would have even approached the use of that particular one in terms of offense.
You've got be careful with what you write - on the Net, you are bound to wind up having several hundred people reading your stuff that have at least ONE family member or friend who is mentally disabled. And they WILL find your use of that phrase offensive, and it MAY very well turn them off to your article. You don't need the shock value to make a point if the point is worth making. :-D

word - laknnbu (Lackin Newbies You?)

Wed Feb 15, 02:24:00 PM EST  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

man ls|strings>File_Ls

google this:
man page redirected file

very first hit, very very first hit (and that was my first search) shows


man chmod | col -bx > chmod.man

which is better than strings as the formatting is preserved.


google rocks

Wed Feb 15, 02:27:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Geoffrey Gowan said....

I don't think you really need to worry about the future. I think that people like this have always been there. It's just that you/we have been more isolated from them in the past. There are still just as many good people in the new generation as there were before. The cheaters and lazy people will get the same results if not worse in the future as they have in the past.

Wed Feb 15, 02:39:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

<< are many of the worst from India >>

Stop right there, Joel.My tons of respect for you dropped by as many now . Don't just make a case in point. You may have to have a 'full' vision before you step up to making comments...

For every English Word that you know, an average Indian can translate the word in atleast 3 different languages. ( I myself can do it in 5).

For a quarter of the resources and education system that you get in life here, an average Indian can get to the same level that you are in now.

If in India, you don't complete your education by 20, you are unfit for life, while in USA, people takes ages to finish the degree,, just the degree.... you know what that means.

Different regions, different perspectives...

I only count you a miscellaneous item

Wed Feb 15, 03:35:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Dratz said....

Ugh, bill, I hate it when you're right (if it means I'm wrong).

But there is no "value add" to that sentence. I just took it out. Thanks for the feedback.

And thanks for letting me leech off your site, Tom (bill started it).

uR2kul!

Wed Feb 15, 03:43:00 PM EST  

Blogger Bill S. said....

Dratz said...
But there is no "value add" to that sentence. I just took it out. Thanks for the feedback.


No problem. I have had many FIM situations (Foot In Mouth) where I wished I hadn't written things, sometimes in forums where I could not just go back and edit it out. Always had to follow those up with an "Sorry, not REALLY how I meant to put that!" but it's hard when you have that phrase staring at you in black and white for Internity (that's an Internet Eternity, usually as long as sites like the WayBack Machine and Google Archives keep your stuff around). Nice thing about having an edit button (IF you don't overdo it). Overall, I thought it was an interesting piece. I would read something you wrote again.

Wed Feb 15, 03:57:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....


Anonymous said...
For every English Word that you know, an average Indian can trh or any language. It is etiquette that is been questioned hereanslate the word in atleast 3 different languages

That is somewhat true. I myself can respond in atleast 3 languages.
can IM language be the 4th?
If i understand correctly, we are not talking about proficiency in English or any language. It is etiquette that is been questioned here.

Wed Feb 15, 04:51:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Mahesh Rajendran said....


Anonymous said...
For every English Word that you know, an average Indian can trh or any language. It is etiquette that is been questioned hereanslate the word in atleast 3 different languages

That is somewhat true. I myself can respond in atleast 3 languages.
can IM language be the 4th?
If i understand correctly, we are not talking about proficiency in English or any language. It is etiquette that is been questioned here.

Wed Feb 15, 04:52:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

>> It is etiquette that is been questioned here

I understand that. But pointing to just folks from India or,for that matter, any country in specific is not really well-mannered.Or so I think. Sometimes, you have to let go with it. It is not Queen's English all the time.

Makes me ask, table name 'emp' as is select * from emp , 'dept' as select * from dept
Aren't those IM speaks?

Had Joel not be freaky enough, I would never have talked for other people here.

Although I hate IM speaks much as anyone in this group does, I still get around it thinking them as 'pointers' to the actual words.

If it were telegraphic language before, tt is IM speak now,, get the point. Nothing to do with guys from a specific country... I should have put it this way... It 'doesn't have nothing' to do with a country in general.

Wed Feb 15, 05:25:00 PM EST  

Blogger Tom said....

I love your blog Tom!

Another good one is Steven Feuerstein's Click Here

A good blog if you haven't read it.

Wed Feb 15, 05:47:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Anonymous wrote:
>>Makes me ask, table name 'emp' as is select * from emp , 'dept' as select * from dept
>>Aren't those IM speaks?
I fail to understand or relate your analogy.

>>I still get around it thinking them as 'pointers' to the actual words.
Not everyone are gifted as such. My literacy with languages (specifically English) is very limited.
But for giggles (taking your own example), if we all start to use IMSQL(IM standard SQL. Not ANSI SQL), this is what happens.
Whatever the person intends to tell, becomes balderdash.

SQL > slct * frm emp;
SP2-0734: unknown command beginning "slct * frm..." - rest of line ignored.

Wed Feb 15, 07:10:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Mahesh Rajendran said....

Apologies for double posting.
I seem to forget to add the Name
Anonymous wrote:
>>Makes me ask, table name 'emp' as is select * from emp , 'dept' as select * from dept
>>Aren't those IM speaks?
I fail to understand or relate your analogy.

>>I still get around it thinking them as 'pointers' to the actual words.
Not everyone are gifted as such. My literacy with languages (specifically English) is very limited.
But for giggles (taking your own example), if we all start to use IMSQL(IM standard SQL. Not ANSI SQL), this is what happens.
Whatever the person intends to tell, becomes balderdash.

SQL > slct * frm emp;
SP2-0734: unknown command beginning "slct * frm..." - rest of line ignored.

Mahesh Rajendran

Wed Feb 15, 07:13:00 PM EST  

Blogger Bob B said....

From www.m-w.com, retarded means:
"sometimes offensive : slow or limited in intellectual or emotional development or academic progress"

I love the use of "functionally retarded". Using some interpretive license, I take it to mean that the person is slow or limited at doing their job ("function"). To me, it connotes that this person is actively preventing the company from performing that function. That the company would be more likely to perform that function if the person was not there.

From my experience, "retarded" is only offensive if you use it to classify people with low IQs. By saying we should never use "retarded" because it can be offensive in some situations is just ... linguistically retarded.

/rant_over

Thu Feb 16, 09:21:00 AM EST  

Blogger Joel Garry said....

Had Joel not be freaky enough, I would never have talked for other people here.

I asked because over the past few years it seemed on some online fora there have been a number of posts that appeared to fit the pushy and IMspeak criteria. Also, and more skewing from my viewpoint, I get a lot of unsolicited headhunter emails, and the worst seem to be from... well, you get the picture. Tom has responded that he has observed differently, and that's fine - it tells me my experience is skewed.

I have no problem with people from India, the singular ones I have worked with have been fine. The groups of H1-B's, well, I would like to ascribe their behavior to the H1-B program constraints, which I consider abusive to people. That is becoming more difficult as I see the above mentioned posts and emails, and let's not get started on outsourced support. Sorry if you lose respect for me as a result of asking a politically incorrect question. Much as I would like to pretend I don't care, I do.

Here's a funny new site about word mis-usage, with an interesting use of a blog as a database.

Thu Feb 16, 10:12:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Tom,

I do think you'll be get less "IMSpeak" questions now at the risk of becoming blog material ;)

It's like taking the "If you do this I will make fun of you..." approach a step further.

-Alex

Thu Feb 16, 10:25:00 AM EST  

Blogger Bill S. said....

Bob B said.....
From www.m-w.com, retarded means:
"sometimes offensive : slow or limited in intellectual or emotional development or academic progress"


OK, but -
http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=retarded

re·tard·ed Audio pronunciation of "retarded" ( P ) Pronunciation Key (r-tärdd)
adj.

1. Often Offensive. Affected with mental retardation.
2. Occurring or developing later than desired or expected; delayed.


(Note the "often offensive")

Bob B said....
From my experience, "retarded" is only offensive if you use it to classify people with low IQs. By saying we should never use "retarded" because it can be offensive in some situations is just ... linguistically retarded.


I didn't say you should NEVER use it - I said it was totally uncalled for in the context it was used.
Retarded USED to be taken at face value as referring to someone who was merely slow. But it has taken on
the meaning of mentally challenged and has become another euphamism for mentally disabled in our culture.
If you want to say that you retarded the spark plug, I'm ok with that. Using it to refer to other people
(IMHO, BOCTAOE) is just unnecessary when there are so many other phrases that could be used.

That's all I meant, that's all I said. And you'll please note that Dratz even agreed that the phrase
had no value-add in the paragraph. It just wasn't necessary there and detracted from the piece. IMHO, of course.

Tom, so sorry to have dragged this so far off-topic. Mea Culpa.

Thu Feb 16, 10:37:00 AM EST  

Blogger kevin loney said....

I feel your pain. I get the same thing. I even posted a FAQ about it - back in 1999! - when it got out of control. People were sending me the whole assignment requirements, like those 10-page fake interviews you use as the basis for an E-R model exercise. Tell them you'll ask your consulting sales rep to contact them to set up a consulting engagement at the prevailing senior consulting rate and they'll get the message. There's a difference between chipping in on a problem and doing the work someone else is getting paid for/getting graded on.

Thu Feb 16, 11:39:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Krous said....

Sorry if you lose respect for me as a result of asking a politically incorrect question. Much as I would like to pretend I don't care, I do.
So then was your comment "Regarding demanding emails with IMspeak <...> from India?" based on your sentiments on the H1-b program?
Much as I appreciate your apprehension on the H1B program, I would ask you to keep from making offensive statements which are discrimanatory to many who hail from India.

For my take on the excess of IM speak and "HW questions", I would blame the sudden but dramatic growth in the market, influx of younger generation interested/enamored with the abundance of Oracle opportunities (esp Oracle Apps - a far simpler environment then a custom App site with its ready Metalink support staff) along with the genuine lack of experienced IT who are ready to mentor them.

Thu Feb 16, 01:24:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

>>I get a lot of unsolicited headhunter emails, and the worst seem to be from... well, you get the picture.

I don't get the picture. The more I read about it, the more I feel pathetic about you and your disconcerting opinion. I don't care sending emails to you with IM speak as long as I don't send it in my own handwriting. So long as emails are considered an unofficial document by federal regulations, I would continue to post emails with IM speak to you because that tells me I don't care a damn about you even if you friggin don't consider it. You stirred a nest or two when you bring in your personal opinion that doesn't even hold water to the actual discussion.IM speak is not just limited to non G-7 countries,, it is out everywhere that Coke is available.
You chose the wrong platform to raise your opinion when infact you should have done that at alt.talk.stupidism you moderate unofficially.

Thu Feb 16, 02:38:00 PM EST  

Blogger jimk said....

The whole IM "speak" thing makes me cringe. It is confusing "cool" or "trendy" teenager type talk with effective business communication. While we all know it has its roots in the instant messaging/cell phone use, it really is teenagers wanting to have a different set of jargon from their elders. In my day we called those elders 'rents (parents)
but the principal is the same. (for those of us over 30 try listening to RAP and try to understand what they are saying. Even if you see the words typed out it takes some translation. I have had Japanese exchange students who like American Rap ask me to tell them what the "singer" is saying. It is a challenge and I am a native English speaker. - okay American speaker for those with a command of the Queen's English.)

It is possible that this trend is more prevelent from our Indian bretheren. I don't view it as a cultural difference or as a lack of intelligence, but rather that a greaater percentage of them are young. (meant as a fact not as a slight) They are used to text messaging each other with such "language".

I hope our IM messaging collegues learn that there is a time and a place for everything. Certain places and times are not appropros for IM message "speak". Email to a stranger asking for help isn't one of them.

Tom is a cool guy, but polite effective clear communication will get you a much more valuable response than saving a few keystrokes by using with a teen slang.

Thu Feb 16, 02:41:00 PM EST  

Blogger Andrew Allen said....

These IM-speak typests are amatures. If you want to see the real thing (my theory is that it all started with the children's book), go here.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0671666894/ref=pd_sl_aw_alx-jeb-9-1_book_4522930_2/104-3601435-7244743?n=283155

The book begins, IIRC;
C D B. D B S A B-Z B.

and goes on with
D C-L S N D C.

Now that is real IM speak ;-)

Thu Feb 16, 04:42:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

i guess it is because of nitty-pickers like these that spell-check came into existence...

I won't be surprised if there is a development team working on IM-check in the mails. If it really is,,listen, you heard it here from me :-)(expression to indicate laughter,, not included in Webster's, by the way)

Thu Feb 16, 05:34:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Dave R. said....

Tom -

I don't disagree with your concern. When you retire from Oracle I think you'd make a great college professor. You could improve the future!

Thu Feb 16, 10:44:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Good comment from JimK - really explains the origins of IMSpeak (by the way, what does IM stand for?).

I am an Indian, and I will admit I have received IMSpeak only from Indians - never from Americans. But hey, I have never dealt with an American who was less than 30 years old (and thank God, I would be uncomfortable dealing with young Americans ;). On the other hand, I have mostly worked with young folks from India - and I can even recall otherwise VERY GOOD communicators slipping in a bit of "IMSpeak" here and there.

Fri Feb 17, 02:37:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

>>I have never dealt with an American who was less than 30 years old (and thank God, I would be uncomfortable dealing with young Americans ;)

You probably deal us with all the time and don't even know it. And some of us are a lot better than you may think.

I think the point some seem to be missing is that it is just not a healthy idea to generalize people.

-LC

Fri Feb 17, 04:28:00 AM EST  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

by the way, what does IM stand for?

Laughing out loud... Oh the irony.

Instant Message Speak - IM Speak

Fri Feb 17, 07:25:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Paul said....

Tom - 'what does IM stand for?'
I've wondered that for months and now I know. Thanks for that.

I did subscribe to Jonathan's newsletter, but it never arrived. Perhaps Jonathan's too busy to help anybody these days and that's why this 'learner' came to you.

Fri Feb 17, 08:49:00 AM EST  

Blogger Joel Garry said....

So long as emails are considered an unofficial document by federal regulations

Eh? Guess you missed the memo about "do not even tell people to clean up their emails, as one guy went to jail for impeding government investigations, doing just that."

Email is often used in both civil and criminal cases. I don't really know what you mean by "unofficial document." The general rule is, don't put anything in an email that you wouldn't want on the front page of your parent's newspaper captioning a picture of you in the back of a police car.

Many ISP's make backups, you know. And there isn't much to keep anyone from monitoring internet traffic.

Fri Feb 17, 10:11:00 AM EST  

Anonymous darcy said....

A while ago I spoke with an IT SQL Server type who graduated 6 years ago from the same tech school I graduated from 16 years ago. I asked her how she liked her career so far. She said she didn't like it much. The short version of her explanation is: she's not making the money she expected to.

How many people are attracted to our industry because it has been 6 out of "The Top 10 Jobs to Have In The Next Five Years!!!" for x number of years?

Are we being done in in some respects by 'media hype' that focuses on the salaries but glosses over the fact that we are a profession? Are we forgetting or neglecting to impart on our IT juniors that it IS a profession?

And how much of the ratty behaviour us oldbies decry is due to these newbies growing up with chip-based technology? Maybe they don't revere it the same way we do because it was effortless for them to acquire. Do they come into the industry and expect the same plug'n'play results environment at work?

Maybe the way we present the curricula in our universities and tech schools has to change, 'cause the young-uns certainly have. :)

Fri Feb 17, 05:23:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

"The groups of H1-B's, well, I would like to ascribe their behavior to the H1-B program constraints"

Thank you for telling it in public. I work as a consultant in USA and I am on H1. Pretty much in every consulting assignment I undertake many co workers display a very condescending attitude towards me and towards my kind in general. This is even *before* knowing what kind of person I am, even before starting to interact with me. I am not even going to go into the details on the problems I face as a result of that type of attitude, especially among people at work place who do not have much knowledge on the type of work I do.

I found out that one of the reasons is because they think in lines similar to yours.

This comes from Joel who has very good technical expertise and logical thinking ability and other skills.

Sun Feb 19, 10:25:00 PM EST  

Blogger Dan Loomis said....

Speaking of gross generalizations, anyone catch "The Office" episode where Michael Scott sees the "IT Tech Guy" coming to his first day of work? If you haven't seen it, spend the $1.99 on the "Email Surveillance" episode (available at iTunes Music Store)...the first 2 minutes are priceless. And very relevant to this conversation.

Mon Feb 20, 02:23:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Lol. Technos worrying about etiquette in techno-speak... That's a first.

Thu Feb 23, 04:44:00 AM EST  

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