UPDATE: Please take the time to read my followup post, Fifteen Minutes of Fame, for my thoughts on what happened after I posted the picture, why it happened — and most importantly, why I don’t blame Microsoft for their actions. Thanks!


The day started like any other day — get up, dink around for a bit, bus into work, and start working through the stack of jobs. Just shy of an hour after I got in, my manager came in and asked me to step into his office when I had a chance. Sure, no biggie, and I headed over as soon as I finished the job I was setting up.

“Okay, here’s the first question. Is this page,” and here he turned his monitor towards me, letting me see my “Even Microsoft wants G5s” post from last Thursday, “hosted on any Microsoft computer? Or is it on your own?”

“It’s on mine. Well, it’s on a hosted site that I pay for, but no, it’s not on anything of Microsoft’s.”

“Good. That means that as it’s your site on your own server, you have the right to say anything you want. Unfortunately, Microsoft has the right to decide that because of what you said, you’re no longer welcome on the Microsoft campus.”

And that simply, as of about 2pm today, I once again joined the ranks of the unemployed.

It seems that my post is seen by Microsoft Security as being a security violation. The picture itself might have been permissible, but because I also mentioned that I worked at the MSCopy print shop, and which building it was in, it pushed me over the line. Merely removing the post was also not an option — I offered, and my manager said that he had asked the same thing — but the only option afforded me was to collect any personal belongings I had at my workstation and be escorted out the door. They were at least kind enough to let me be escorted out by one of my co-workers, rather than sending security over to usher me out, but the end result is the same.

More frustrating for me is that, having read stories here and there on the ‘net about people who had for one reason or another lost their jobs due to something on their weblogs, I thought that I had done what I could to avoid that possibility. To my mind, it’s an innocuous post. The presence of Macs on the Microsoft campus isn’t a secret (for everything from graphic design work to the Mac Business Unit), and when I took the picture, I made sure to stand with my back to the building so that nothing other than the computers and the truck would be shown — no building features, no security measures, and no Microsoft personnel. However, it obviously wasn’t enough.

So, I’m unemployed. I am somewhat lucky in that I’m not technically unemployed — I am still on the roster for my temp agency, who has been very good to me so far (and hopefully will continue to be), but as their ability to place me anywhere does depend on the current job market, it’s not a foolproof guarantee of employment coming in quickly. I’ve put a call into them and let them know of the situation and that I’m available and willing for whatever can be found, so with any luck, they’ll be able to find a placement for me. However, it appears that it’s also time for me to start hitting the streets and shopping my resume around again.

Wish me luck.

369 thoughts on “Of blogging and unemployment

  1. Reading your comments about Microsoft firing a person where he talks about Mac ? i consider this an act of stupidity of the microsoft team.. Did they forget that late 86, Microsofts best products were on Macintosh too.. remember XL, Word… and others.. the time of Mac SE, and Mac 2 ?… or has Micro a fulltime contract with Intel Only ????? They were initially working on Intel and Motorola platforms… and i believe now too… so… WHY THE HELL DID YOU FIRE THIS PERSON ??? I DON’T SEE A REASON !!!!!!

  2. Another reason to boycott Microsoft products!!!

    I am in the process of moving my server from W2K to red Hat, and I’ve just given up with entourage on my Mac.

    Good luck for you search.

  3. Why does it seem 90% of the commenters miss an important point… this fellow was (if I understand correctly) NOT a M$ employee, nor was he under contract to M$. It looks to me like he’s working for a temp agency that fills a slot at some other company that happens to be located on the M$ campus. The only questions are: was there a legal, binding contract between the individual and M$, AND, if not, what is the legality of M$ coercing the third party into dismissing him?

    (BTW, this live comment interface blows major chunks — can’t keep up & drops characters!)

  4. I agree with microsoft, taking even one picture is one too many, it,s a security breach and everyone can see that, why dont we all do it and put on the web what is in the store at work, without forgetting the name of the firm as well, grow up kid , im sure your will find another job , let it be a lesson to you dont tell what is in other peoples place and they wont tell what in yours,

  5. A very similiar thing occured to me a year ago Halloween. A private bulletin board was hosting an employment discussion and Age Discrimination came into it. I posted my two cents. A month later, I was called in and “removed” from the project based on the client company’s decision I was speaking of them (I was not; my experience had been with a company in Virginia). These days, companies are looking for ANY excuse to let people go. Good luck, man. I wound up opening my own business (which I had been working toward anyway, just was forced to do it 10 months before I was ready) and am doing okay. But the smell and stink of the excuses still burns in the nostrils. Don’t feel all alone; it’s happening all over the place.

  6. I am Beginning to think that Microsoft has this Sneeky Plan to Have everyone Move to Mac’s and Unix based systems. They can’t Fix there own OS to be secure and dependable SO if we All Go MAc then they will try to push there way into those systems and Screw that up as well. Why are all these LARGE Bullies picking on the Little People? I thought that went out with high school. And what ever happen to FREE SPEECH, Especailly since you were a TEMP. I’ve been on a Ms based system For about 3 years now and finally i have been looking into Linux Only Because Microsoft Seems to be trying to become a (what is that phrase) monopoly ( Oh that’s Right the Courts ruled on that, didn’t they). Hey maybe i’ll get fired for Posting this comment. i REALLY LOVE America, Never a Dull Moment. Marriage is a Roller coaster, Jobs are becoming the same, And for the Big Money Makers, Too Many T-Rex in a Confined Area and we all DIE.
    Good Luck to You and Your Job Search.

  7. Its a bunch of Macs being delivered, and he takes a picture of them. I’ve been on the Microsoft campus a number of times even though I’m not employed there (even inside the buildings w0w). And They have more then enuff security. And I just don’t see the security violation. And if microsoft has some EULA for their workers, then they can go blow a horse. I doubt this would put any project in the line of danger (the biggest thing they have to worry about is piracy when they release the software). Just look at the picture and the discription, it’s nothing you couldn’t figure out, Just by doing some homework. This is just a sad attempt for old white dudes to control what ever they have left over, like their privacy, their mangina, and their balls (if they have any left).

  8. Looking for a job is no fun…
    But anything is better than working for MS. Getting fired by them should be considered an honnor man. Life can only get better from there!

  9. Coupla things to keep in mind:

    1. Those Macs aren’t going to the Mac Business Unit.

    2. X-Box 2 is using an IBM processor. “Things that make you go Hmmmm…” See http://tinyurl.com/th70

    3. Theft has been a problem in the past. The basic m.o. is someone on the inside tells someone on the outside “the loot is at building 237, and there’s no one guarding it”. Then the guy on the outside says “Gotcha. Picked up the loot.” This is why the mention of the building location is what pushed you over the edge.

  10. So basically what you are saying is that you did some pre-emptive firing.

    Hey, that’s like pre-emptive strikes against Iraq!

    Fire people BEFORE they do anything, that’s a good strategy. (If you are a dumbass).

  11. It’s like being Anglican gay bishop in US.
    It’s not scandal to be gay in for 16 years.
    It’s not scandal to be a high priest and to live with the same same-sex person happily for 16 years.
    It IS a scandal to be the same one, became a bishop, and NOT denie these facts in the moment of inauguration….

  12. This sucks. I hope you get a job that makes the M$ money look like pigeon feed. God forbid any one who works in their facility has a free thinking notion and the balls to post it. Lord knows this is not what our society needs. M$ management….what a bunch of dorks.

    Hang in there dude, you’ll manage to do better.

    (Question: Is it ok to use the image u posted in my blog, within the post concerning this fiasco?)

  13. I’m so sorry to hear that, it seems that Microsoft gives no leniency and no care for it’s employees. Now because they fired you, everyone and their uncle knows about the Macs on the Microsoft campus. How ironic.

  14. Haha, taking pictures of the microsoft campus is a security issue? So if I went around the microsoft building taking several 360 pictures I can get in serious trouble from microsoft? Sounds funny… yet interesting

  15. We Need a Mixed Economy: A landlord who invites enterprises to build is the municipality, also of affordable housing; more worker owned enterprises, now at 11,500; the government as the employer of last resort. Okay. Instead of trading all capital but owning some of the biggest collectively, investment becomes a more open field. That’s jobs! In our theory joblessness is slammed when society counts capital once as a free good (surplus) since the workers produce it over time without receiving an equivalent in return. This involves a workers party driven government that can spend its budget mostly on people it hires if some of its capital supplies comes profit free (i.e., from departments that already belong to it) to produce more capital for all the enterprises to use next. This is why we should nationalize some industries to make others cheaper as healthcare would be without the insurance middleman: cheaper also because the single bureaucracy in the government’s administration of its provision would be smaller than the health insurance industry itself. So, as universal healthcare, it would save more than, for example, the cost of steel to allow auto companies’ contribution to go into lower priced output instead. GM’s CEO feels like they are a healthcare company that also makes cars. To more than pay its cost with no new taxes we can make all energy sources, utilities, and infrastructure the nationally socialized part of the capital goods sector, along with the natural capital (crude oil, ores, some other real estate too). While consuming with more personal income demand instead of military spending demand, let us not forget about the effect of frivolous consumption on the ecology.

  16. I think Microsoft had every right to do what they did. It was obviously listed in Microsoft policy somewhere that employee’s, and/or IC’s cannot take pictures of the campus and post them to public websites, or blogs. And thats exactly what this guy did. Follow directions – no, got fired – yes.

  17. A similar thing happened to myself, the only differences been that it wasn’t for microsh**te, and actually went out of my way to leave the firm I was working for. It seems odd in these days of job insecurity, that I should actively invite getting the push, but the job I was in had changed, the style of management had become pushy (alas getting older I was finding the pace of late night working too much to bear, even been single), the company had been taken over by an American firm – with the “we are all family, we are all part of the same team” bullshit – pushed down our throats 24/7. So in a way, the ease at which you can leave firms, can also work to your favour. Took myself about 6 months to get a line of work I liked, a better work/life balance by doing an assortment of odd programming jobs wherever I could find them (sounds gimmicky, but it is extremely important). I Probably would never work for a traditional firm again, nor would I ever want too. People say looking for work is difficult. I dont actually think that is the problem, knowing what you want to do is the real key, and remaining flexible. It tooks me ages to understand that.

    Best Regards.

  18. My daughter just got fired from whataburger because,
    she was trying to better herself and they found she had
    a record from when she was 18 and she now 26, the only
    thing is she had already been working there since last
    year. So now her and her two girls have to suffer because they fired her over that. It was only a misdemeanor. she has children now and she has changed,
    because of those two little girls.

  19. Honestly mate that really sucks.
    I work for the British MOD in one form or another,
    Would happily wipe the whole lot of the top dogs at MS for you! Hope you are sorted soon mate!

  20. The neatest thing about Microsoft is that they’re their own worst enemy. They are opportunists in the land of soon come. Now that a lot of justice dept. and other worldwide criminal investigative agencies have turned their attention on them, the stock is flat and they can’t shake the stigma of being greedy, arrogant, and thinking they’re above the law.
    Since they hired all the 1980s IBM losers for upper management, and now they’ve hired the ex Wal-Mart dude, they are so over as far as any competitive advantage or real vision.
    They hire clueless Indian programmers who can’t produce any innovation, but can spout verbatim pages from a textbook.
    Microsoft is a third world company that uses third world labor to extend a brand whose products were stolen from other companies over 20 years ago. The only reason that they are still in business is that they’ve stiffeled competition to the point that no one could afford to offer an alternative. The situation is changing, M$ is circling the drain.

  21. I’ve more or less been doing nothing worth mentioning, but eh. My life’s been really bland today. I don’t care. I’ve just been letting everything happen without me these days. That’s how it is.

  22. I was fired today from my position at a bank (that I was just promoted in 3 days ago) for having a blog on Myspace that wasn’t “professional” to my superiors. If you ask me, this is a violation of my freedom of speech, and I let my former employer know that. I didn’t mention any names or identifying information on said blog or anywhere else on the site for that matter. My record with that employer has been exemplary. Never been late or called in sick, the sales goals met for the office, increaed workload and responsibilities…ect. ect. ect. Its crap. Just thought I would let you know that you aren’t the last! Good Luck!

  23. I feel really bad for you and I know how you feel. I’m about to get fired for posting something about my company on my myspace blog. I googled “people who get fired over blogs” and your site came up.

  24. I was fired from work for the same stupid thing. And potentially I can still sue. I just have to find a lawyer I can afford. It ws over my Sunday sweet sundy, post on my website, which quoted a customer that said that Dr. Whitaker at teh Whitaker Wellness Center hadn’t paid attention to his own place in years, which was true, but it was someone elses words, and I used that comment as an example of the types of things people say that I wasn’t looking forward to encountering on a monday, after a beautiful hike on saturday. It’s pretty weak, but I guess when you’re a multi millionaire, you have to fill that place money used to satisfy with something else, tyranny and opression.

    They’re such assholes in the admin at that place it’s not even funny. It really sucks too because all the rest of the staf there is terrific, and he and his wife are great too. It’s just the middle management chicks that sholud all be toppled fast before their sickness of conceit spreads….

    What bullshit.

  25. i got fired because i “did not fit the organization’s goal”. In retrospect, i got fired (partly) because i was online too often even though i finished my work promptly and perfectly.
    Most of all, i got fired because the manager need to show the VPs what a crappy employee i am for all the mistakes he made are 99% because of me(which was not even 1% true).

    After few days of pondering, i came to realize that people get fired for a lot of unbelievable reasons and had nothing to do with their job performances. We may have stepped on someone’s fox tails unknowingly or that we simply are the scapegoat of unforgivable mistakes made by our managers and supervisors. I know i’d made both of those mentioned mistakes but whatever it is, i have learned a real valuable lesson.
    Good luck in job hunting.

  26. I was released from my job as well. Stupid as it is I figure ir was the best thing to happen to me. I’m scared shitless that I may loose something I’ve worked so hard for. I DO in fact have faith that she will ROT IN HELL!

    Ok, I’m better now that I got that off my chest.

    You are going to be fine. These are learning lessons. Some times they are costly sometimes they are not.

    Head up!
    Donna

  27. S is so lousy, they issue an security update which cause problem , y don’t they check before i’m quite up set , get their update and also need to search for fix to solve problem , Bill yiu get Billion of dollar but y don’t carefull about your product, lousy IE7 always hang, should spend more time to ensure that your product is good enough for user to use.

    _uck u man

  28. Pah…this is a load of crap. This is sympathy for a person with a temporary lapse in common sense. Your caption was provocative. Add the pictures and you probably created an exposive tinderbox.

    Anyway, I think a slap on the wrist was all that was needed – bummer. However, I’m sure you learnt your lesson. Simply put if you want to blog work about your work publicly, work on open source, sanitize your content or blog about the technical content of your work that’s allowble.

    Sorry dude.

  29. What I want to know is if I can make suggestions about work in general. For instance, I’m a teacher and want to talk about doing a better teacher inservice day. I would be criticizing them, yes, but I would also be offering positive suggestions. Is that grounds for being fired? Telling the truth?

    The only thing I can think of here is to create a nameless new blog with no discernible link to yourself and don’t use any specific names or places…

  30. If you got fired after working only 3 days after you have signed a 2 years contract, are you obligate in any lawsuit issues? can you sue your boss? or can your boss not pay you? there is a 90 days probation period, so am I safe? Thanks~

  31. Incredible… I’m unemployed too, but for own decision (I wanted to stand up my own hardware design company).
    Hope you find some job out there…and soon!

    Good Luck!

  32. I also think that is crap how they can fire you so easily. I am also a contract worker for a fortune 500 company, so I understand how easy it would be for my company to fire me (one phone call to my agency). This is what motivated me to do a study on the subject.

    I am currently doing a Direct Research Project study on the workplace attitudes of
    workers (permanent/contract/leased/temporary). Here are two short paragraphs from the study.

    The way that U.S. workplaces are organized today is different than U.S. workplaces were organized some 30 years ago. The traditional employment model that once was modeled on a relationship between the employees and the employers is no longer valid. It has been replaced by a more flexible model where the employer is rewarded for cutting cost and avoiding employment risk. Employers are avoiding employment risk by utilizing leasing agencies to provide them workers to do jobs that permanent employees once did.

    Today more and more companies are making the decision to use leased/contract workers without considering how leased/contract workers will feel about their work and work environment. The way that workers perceive their work affects their attitudes and their attitudes affect their motivation, and productivity. The attitudes and personal needs of leased/contract workers today are even more important than the attitudes of workers some 15 years ago, because today’s leased/contract workers are not just doing routine office work; some of these workers are doing the work of highly skilled technicians, designers, engineers, and other highly skilled jobs.

    I would like to invite you all to take part in my study. The data that you would provide would only be used in my Directed Research Project (DRP). Your name would not be placed on the questionnaire and it is not needed. All responses will be kept confidential and anonymous.

    Here is the link for the 5-8 minutes questionnaire below:

    http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=1YMjjY7iEMM4Z_2fQkYUd1vQ_3d_3d

    Thanks in advance to all of you for your support. The data gathering part of this study will be done in about 3 weeks, so hurry

  33. I am a software engineer who has been unemployed for the last 2 years and has not been able to find work anywhere inside or outside of field. BEE + MSCS + 12 years work experience on everything from device drivers to GUI’s. Contact i_am_useful@yahoo.com, I am slowly dying from boredom.

  34. Sue them for freedom of speech violations ( civil rights violations)

    Remember a jury decides not microsoft

    you have a winner

  35. If you like me & in any way feel like fxxxxxx your unemployment, you’re hereby welcome to receive any of my further & most relevant labour info, pls., so that I can at least & long last more easily than up till now(!)of course tell & help you & e.g. myself realize, what future exists ahead of us, also which 1 it is, greet’s, Joram,
    a.respectlife70@gmail.com.

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