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January 16, 2013 8:30 AM   Subscribe

(BBC) A security check on a US company has reportedly revealed one of its staff was outsourcing his work to China.

"The software developer, in his 40s, is thought to have spent his workdays surfing the web, watching cat videos on YouTube and browsing Reddit and eBay. He reportedly paid just a fifth of his six-figure salary to a company based in Shenyang to do his job."

The Register gives a timetable of "Bob's" day, while geek.com has more details. v3 reports that:

"The developer in question had quarter after quarter been rated as the best in the firm..."

...while Tim Stanley in the Daily Telegraph opinions that "This is capitalism at its best".
posted by Wordshore (86 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
I sent this around to my team yesterday; a colleague responded "!@#($*!@#$ damn Chinese ! They outsourced it to me for $50/month."
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 8:33 AM on January 16, 2013 [13 favorites]


This man is management material.
posted by jimmythefish at 8:35 AM on January 16, 2013 [48 favorites]


I'm not sure I actually believe this story, but if it is true, surely the worst part about work is going to and actually having to be at work part, not the work itself. He's doing this all wrong
posted by dng at 8:37 AM on January 16, 2013 [28 favorites]


Joke's on him, I do all that at work anyway.
posted by kmz at 8:37 AM on January 16, 2013 [15 favorites]


When a company does it, it's business as usual. When an individual does it, it's a gross violation of the employment relationship.
posted by blue_beetle at 8:37 AM on January 16, 2013 [116 favorites]


"This is capitalism at its best"
posted by Huck500 at 8:38 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, this is why I work from home.
posted by blue_beetle at 8:38 AM on January 16, 2013


Yeah he's doing it wrong. If he were smart, he'd have started a consultancy, outsourced everything and worked a few hours per week from home (which in this case would be QA and finding clients).
posted by 2bucksplus at 8:39 AM on January 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm sure he'll be picked up as an outsourcing specialist by one management consultancy or another. Item one on the agenda on his first day:

"So, want to walk us through you actually successfully outsourced something?"
posted by Happy Dave at 8:40 AM on January 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


"Evidence even suggested he had the same scam going across multiple companies in the area."

How is this a scam? Who is the victim? The work got done, didn't it?
posted by griphus at 8:40 AM on January 16, 2013 [44 favorites]


Isn't this the whole premise of The 4-Hour Workweek?
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:40 AM on January 16, 2013 [28 favorites]


There plenty of people who are doing their own work at a sub-par level who stay on the payroll, but this fellow subbed out to people who were smarter than him. It is a violation of the employment agreement for sure, but ultimately the company was getting what it was paying for.

Unfortunately, the news of this will create doubt about programmers who work remotely and many bean counters are going to think they could replace their domestic programmers with offshore groups. Offshoring can really work but it takes a very good manager to make it work because they need to have a strong foot in the subject domain and the programming techniques.
posted by dgran at 8:42 AM on January 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


(I mean, it's a security violation, sure, but it's not a scam.)
posted by griphus at 8:42 AM on January 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


I worry that this is becoming more common. Rush Limbaugh certainly has been lauding Hu Jintao's Socialist Harmonious Society more than he used to
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:43 AM on January 16, 2013 [18 favorites]


Surely we can agree that this man was perpetrating a fraud by passing someone else's work off as his own?
posted by trunk muffins at 8:45 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


How is this a scam? Who is the victim? The work got done, didn't it?

Because he violated the space-time continuum by being in multiple offices 9-5, 5 days a week. There are enough versions of this link on the front page of Reddit that it almost has to be an urban legend.
posted by yerfatma at 8:47 AM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm thinking about doing this myself by outsourcing to China the "walking of the dog", the "feeding of the cats", and the "going fishing" aspects of my current "employment". Although I've worked out a vpn into the automatic cat feeding system, I'm running into huge logistical issues with the length of the dog leash and fishing line.
posted by HuronBob at 8:47 AM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Surely we can agree that this man was perpetrating a fraud by passing someone else's work off as his own?

The technical term is subcontracting.
posted by dortmunder at 8:48 AM on January 16, 2013 [25 favorites]


Because he violated the space-time continuum by being in multiple offices 9-5, 5 days a week

Just last week we had a similar situation here in Michigan where the Administrator for Public Safety in Flint (a full time job) had also been working as the head of security for the Detroit Water Department (also a full time job), unbeknownst to either employer.

Perhaps he was outsourcing one of those jobs to China?
posted by HuronBob at 8:51 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


On the internet, nobody knows you don't work like a dog.
posted by MuffinMan at 8:51 AM on January 16, 2013 [21 favorites]


There are enough versions of this link on the front page of Reddit that it almost has to be an urban legend.

Waaaait a second

"The software developer poor shoemaker, in his 40s, is thought to have spent his workdays nights surfing the web, watching cat videos on YouTube and browsing Reddit and eBay sleeping. He reportedly paid just a fifth of his six-figure salary made tiny clothes for to a company gnomes based in Shenyang Tír na nÓg to do his job."
posted by griphus at 8:53 AM on January 16, 2013 [14 favorites]


Surely we can agree that this man was perpetrating a fraud by passing someone else's work off as his own?

No more or less so than when the Gap slaps its label on a pair of jeans made by a subcontractor of a subcontractor of a subcontractor.
posted by enn at 8:55 AM on January 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


The employee no longer worked at the firm, Mr Valentine said.

Mr. Valentine, it doesn't look as if he ever did...
posted by Skeptic at 8:58 AM on January 16, 2013 [9 favorites]


Wait, he outsourced his coding but kept his meetings? Buddy, you're doing it wrong...

Also, this explains why he always referred to himself using the royal "we."
posted by mosk at 9:03 AM on January 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


我这人支付很少作出评论。
posted by orme at 9:04 AM on January 16, 2013 [14 favorites]


That is great. I've seen contractors do exactly this but never a full time employee. I'd do it myself but communicating requirements, doing code reviews, and talking offshore developers through even simple changes takes longer than doing it myself. Kinda ironic that doing my own work leaves me more time for cat videos and MetaFilter.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:04 AM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Kadin2048: "Isn't this the whole premise of The 4-Hour Workweek?"

You beat me to it. That was my first thought as well. His mistake was doing it from the office, rather than acting as a cut-out contractor.

I worked alongside another guy years ago who I long suspected of something similar. His work was pretty sub-par for weeks. He was evasive during meetings when questioned about it, etc. The he started spending entire days on the phone, mumbling to someone (we shared a cube). Overnight, his work was magnificent. Volumes of QA docs were suddenly appearing. It was incredible. A little too incredible, but whatever.
posted by jquinby at 9:06 AM on January 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


When a company does it, it's business as usual. When an individual does it, it's a gross violation of the employment relationship.

That's because companies are people, with rights and the opportunity to seek better profits. Individuals aren't.
posted by qcubed at 9:06 AM on January 16, 2013 [39 favorites]


Surely we can agree that this man was perpetrating a fraud by passing someone else's work off as his own?

The technical term is subcontracting.


Yeah, sorry, aside from the whole OMG CHINA mishegoss I'm not really seeing how this is dramatically different from upper management "delegating" stuff they don't feel like doing to middle management and then taking all the credit as per usual.

bastards
posted by elizardbits at 9:09 AM on January 16, 2013


"Scam" to me implies not giving value for value. The only way this is a scam is if the "value" he was providing the company was his appearance of actually doing work. This was probably both a contract violation and security violation, but it was not a scam.
posted by contrarian at 9:10 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


communicating requirements, doing code reviews, and talking offshore developers through even simple changes takes longer than doing it myself

Oh, God, yes. If I outsourced my work, I'd have to work much longer hours. Doing the work isn't rocket science at all. It's knowing what work needs to be done that I get paid for.
posted by tyllwin at 9:12 AM on January 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


I've seen contractors do exactly this but never a full time employee.

One relative of me worked for an IT consultancy which was a subcontractor for a "more prestigious" IT company, which of course didn't tell their client about that. He worked in the premises of the "posher" consultancy, and one of the toughest aspects of his work was talking his way out of explaining visiting employees of the client why he couldn't go with them to "his own" staff restaurant.

He quit, of course.
posted by Skeptic at 9:13 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I wonder if he is one of those people who needs an Internet connection in order to answer interview questions.
posted by ceribus peribus at 9:14 AM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Here you go, boss, the biweekly reports are finished and I've submitted the latest project update."
"Well, this looks pretty good. Wait a second. Did you copy this off your friend in Shenyang?"
"No! I swear!"
"Don't lie to me! I know when you're lying."
"Okay, I copied off him during lunch. Was that so wrong?"
"Yes, it is! ...wait, hang on, is this Thomas Jefferson Junior High School?"
"No, sir."
"Well, then I don't give a shit. Good work."
posted by griphus at 9:16 AM on January 16, 2013 [11 favorites]


meow
posted by growabrain at 9:17 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


What sort of job is it where it's lazier and or easier to manage contractors in another time zone, in another country, while still clocking in 9-5 and while knowing the code well enough you can discuss it with your peers without looking like a moron?

Because each one of those becomes work itself.
posted by zippy at 9:19 AM on January 16, 2013 [12 favorites]


I had a conversation, on an airplane, with an electrical engineer who had taken on "5 times the amount of work I can handle. I have 4 engineers in China who work at a quarter of my salary and do the work." Wonder if he had an NDA with them? Ah, the modern world....
posted by zerobyproxy at 9:21 AM on January 16, 2013


Because each one of those becomes work itself.

Yes but with the added benefit that it does free up (apparently copious amounts of) time to watch cat videos and read reddit.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:23 AM on January 16, 2013


Yes but with the added benefit that it does free up (apparently copious amounts of) time to watch cat videos and read reddit.

If so, then the work has to be incredibly stupid and repetitive, and the Chinese guy probably automated it and laughs at the dumb UK guy for paying him to push a button and run a script.
posted by tyllwin at 9:27 AM on January 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


The software developer, in his 40s, is thought to have spent his workdays surfing the web, watching cat videos on YouTube and browsing Reddit and eBay

Reddit may be mistaken for Stack Overflow to a co-worker taking a casual glance at your screen from six feet away, but how do you watch cat videos and not get caught? I would really like to know, for science.

Now that I think about it, posting your most challenging problems to Stack Overflow and similar forums to get solutions you didn't come up with...
posted by fatehunter at 9:28 AM on January 16, 2013


A competent outsourcing company is the real news here.
posted by Space Coyote at 9:30 AM on January 16, 2013 [26 favorites]


I've done this, on a much smaller scale, not for an entire job, but for a specific project. It was worth it to me to hire a developer who knew a particular codebase in order to meet project deadlines. I'm still responsible for the work. I don't see what the issue is.
posted by odinsdream at 9:36 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


...and like zippy said, it's not like there isn't management and oversight involved in outsourcing, even on a small level. Someone still needs to implement and explain things.
posted by odinsdream at 9:37 AM on January 16, 2013


I'm still responsible for the work. I don't see what the issue is.

To be serious a moment, the issue is that possibly confidential information is being handled in God knows what way and sold to God knows who by a 3rd party that the employer knows nothing about and exercises no control over. Doing this may have opened the employer up to huge fines, or huge lawsuits for mishandling data depending on the work.
posted by tyllwin at 9:41 AM on January 16, 2013 [12 favorites]


Doing this may have opened the employer up to huge fines, or huge lawsuits for mishandling data depending on the work.

Too true. In the same gig I described above, there were certain systems and project details that were expressly segmented off from foreign nationals. This was in the energy sector, for whatever that matters.
posted by jquinby at 9:48 AM on January 16, 2013


This man is management material.

True enough. Who's that guy asleep in the corner office? A manager who's doing a helluva job.
posted by philip-random at 9:50 AM on January 16, 2013


the "typical Timetable of Bob's Day" actually came directly verbatim, as I recall, from an official blog post about this case study on a Verizon corporate blog (see http://securityblog.verizonbusiness.com/2013/01/14/case-study-pro-active-log-review-might-be-a-good-idea/ (down for me at time of posting)
posted by Bwithh at 9:53 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


A Slashdot commenter claimed to have done this back in 2004. Wired wrote an article about it, treating it as a possible urban legend.
posted by mbrubeck at 9:55 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Amateur... a Pro would have leased a VPS in a datacenter in the same city, have the Chinese person VPN into that, then VPN into his job.
posted by wcfields at 10:07 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


...I'm not really seeing how this is dramatically different from upper management "delegating" stuff they don't feel like doing to middle management and then taking all the credit as per usual.

Every level of management does this. It's the underlying flaw in the basic system of work most of us spend our days enduring. Nobody talks about it, because then people would start wondering what justifies the pay structure as it is. I've had a boss who actually worked harder than his subordinates did, but that's extremely rare.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:10 AM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


I hear a thousand years of Zen masters going "So so so so so."

I choose a lazy person to do a hard job. Because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it. - Bill Gates
posted by Twang at 10:15 AM on January 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


Yeah, shipping his RSA token to some random in China probably goes against procedure.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:18 AM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


I had a conversation, on an airplane, with an electrical engineer who had taken on "5 times the amount of work I can handle. I have 4 engineers in China who work at a quarter of my salary and do the work." Wonder if he had an NDA with them? Ah, the modern world....

4 engineers in China, 1/4 of the salary. Sounds like he should have had a mathematician or a financial planner in China. Although I guess paying out his entire salary to engineers would preclude that.
posted by Lemurrhea at 10:22 AM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


If I found out that a parts fabricator was outsourcing my contracts to China without notifying me, that would be a huge deal. In fact, I know of a company that was prosecuted by the government for doing just that. Our company would almost certainly sue for releasing business-confidential information.

The 'problem' is not in the outsourcing itself. The problem is that "Bob" didn't tell anyone about it, for obvious reasons.
posted by muddgirl at 10:22 AM on January 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


I have 4 engineers in China who work at a quarter of my salary and do the work.

I think that's four engineers who -- combined -- will be paid a quarter of the man's salary. So each Chinese engineer gets 1/16th of his salary.
posted by nushustu at 10:24 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I hear a thousand years of Zen masters going "So so so so so."

I hear a Zen master saying "Get Hu on the phone. What was I supposed to say at this point?"
posted by jaduncan at 10:24 AM on January 16, 2013


Jobs that required an RSA token for their VPN would have fired me for letting my wife log in, let alone some asshole in China.

This guy was fired long before anyone got to the "paying someone else to do my job" part of the story.
posted by sideshow at 10:25 AM on January 16, 2013 [8 favorites]


Google cache of the original post on the Verizon Security blog.
posted by w0mbat at 10:31 AM on January 16, 2013


Yes but with the added benefit that it does free up (apparently copious amounts of) time to watch cat videos and read reddit.

That's the saddest part of this story. That's the best thing he could think to do?

Anyway, the problem here was the whole "ship secure token off to China and allow privileged access to our network" thing.

An actual subcontractor would also have had contractual obligations as to who could see particular bits of data and code.
posted by atrazine at 10:33 AM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Is it wrong that this guy is my new hero?
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:34 AM on January 16, 2013


Which just goes to show that the whole ideology of outsourcing is that its benefits must never, ever be enjoyed by workers. Only the owners.
posted by WPW at 10:36 AM on January 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


"Now that I think about it, posting your most challenging problems to Stack Overflow and similar forums to get solutions you didn't come up with..."

Thats assuming you can get an answer to a challenging problem on StackOverflow. The userbase there seems more interested in answering homework questions the fastest.
posted by lkc at 10:38 AM on January 16, 2013


I have 4 engineers in China who work at a quarter of my salary and do the work.

I think that's four engineers who -- combined -- will be paid a quarter of the man's salary. So each Chinese engineer gets 1/16th of his salary.


It may work out to the same thing, but I took it as the guy takes on 5x the work he can do (so, quantify that as "5 workloads"), finds 4 guys in China who will do one workload a piece and earn 1/4 of the pay he gets for each workload. So, he's still handling one full workload and getting 3/4 of the pay for the others, meaning that in the end he gets paid 4x as much as he would just taking on his own workload limit. And yeah, I guess that he ends up making 16x what his Chinese subcontractors make.
posted by LionIndex at 10:39 AM on January 16, 2013


I love how 'Watching Cat Videos on YouTube' is now a universally understood synonym for goofing off in offices, even on the BBC News website. This story wouldn't be half as popular without it.
posted by colie at 10:41 AM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


I love this story (even though it's probably an urban legend). And this guy--fictional or not--is my hero. Because the story is hilarious. But that's when its just a story.

I wonder how many people would think it marvelously clever if the nanny you carefully screened and selected to care for your kids farmed the work out for a fraction of her salary to an off-the-books immigrant you'd never met and spent her days surfing the net while your children were in the hands of someone you'd never even met, let alone vetted.

Our intellectual "children" are obviously not as precious as our actual children, but the same principle applies.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:47 AM on January 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


Which just goes to show that the whole ideology of outsourcing is that its benefits must never, ever be enjoyed by workers. Only the owners.

Yes, welcome to the wonderful world of capitalism. The benefits of labor are enjoyed by owners.
posted by muddgirl at 10:55 AM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


On a more-serious note, it's long annoyed me that, while labor can be outsourced, the process of physically relocating yourself to a different country is onerous at best, impossible most of the time.

I mean, given that companies can hire people wherever they like, it seems like it'd only be fair if governments let people live wherever the hell they wanted to. I mean yeah, it'd suck for the Bay area and any other region where software is the main industry -- I'd imagine with the influx of cheap labor, our salaries would decline precipitously -- but it would be cool if I could just, say, relocate to Buenos Aires for a couple years just for the hell of it. It may even be worth making (a lot) less money.
posted by Afroblanco at 11:06 AM on January 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


If someone figures out how to outsource sitting at my desk, I will gladly do all the work of my job.
posted by stoneweaver at 11:16 AM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


The joke's on him. Those cats had outsourced their video performances to Chinese cats as well.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:20 AM on January 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


On a more-serious note, it's long annoyed me that, while labor can be outsourced, the process of physically relocating yourself to a different country is onerous at best, impossible most of the time.

I mean, given that companies can hire people wherever they like, it seems like it'd only be fair if governments let people live wherever the hell they wanted to. I mean yeah, it'd suck for the Bay area and any other region where software is the main industry -- I'd imagine with the influx of cheap labor, our salaries would decline...


This has been tried. A bunch of countries in Europe decided that freedom of movement of workers was as important as free capital.

As far as I can see, salaries are still really high in the UK and the cost of living is much cheaper in many Southern European countries.
posted by vacapinta at 11:27 AM on January 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


Takeaway: Have them log in remotely to a workstation in your home and THEN VPN into work.
posted by Napierzaza at 11:30 AM on January 16, 2013


As usual, the Onion did it first.
posted by pahalial at 11:54 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


There are actually tons of legal problems with what happened here.

There's no direct control by the company over what the subcontractor agreed to, including who would own any copyright in the programming. That means that potentially, under copyright law, all the work supposedly performed by this individual is actually owned by someone else, and there are real risks that the subcontractor took some or all of their code from unauthorized sources. That means that the code, even if owned by the company as between the company and the subcontractor, may actually belong to someone else in the first place or be subject to licensing terms unacceptable to the company's business.

Information placed in the hands of the employee, and then into the hands of the subcontractor, may have been subject to contract terms with third parties, such as confidentiality and access control that may have been blown through and put the company at risk. This is on top of any number of privacy and data protection laws that may have been violated, and the company many now have an enormous breach notification duty or potential liability on its hands, depending again on the data and code access given to unauthorized individuals.

Tax law, employment and benefits law, and insurance liability issues all may be in play. The man was essentially not working but got paid as an employee and subcontracted out work. It's hard to know exactly what proper tax and benefit treatment the employee that didn't work should be entitled to, but you can bet that corporate insurance will not want to cover any liabilities related to what this guy did.

On top of all that are the security and code quality issues, not to mention the ripple impact on other employees. The company is almost certainly eating a fair amount of attorney time managing this issue, not to mention the cost of the audit it spawned and any cost related to fixing issues.
posted by Muddler at 11:54 AM on January 16, 2013 [9 favorites]


Thats assuming you can get an answer to a challenging problem on StackOverflow.

And that you possess the skill level to assess the quality of the answer and to implement it effectively, which for coding problems above a first-year level of difficulty, pretty much requires as much ability as coming up with it in the first place.

You certainly can't trust the community assessment; as often as not the most upvoted answer there is seriously bad but persuasively described because the poster had fewer coding skills than social ones.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:55 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


A competent outsourcing company is the real news here.
posted by Space Coyote at 9:30 AM on January 16


Yep. I've yet to see work from an offshore firm that I'd be willing to pass off as my own. I understand that it's possible to get good work that way, but your employer has to be willing to pay for a higher tier with good retention, and since these decisions are made at home by executives for whom quality really is just a slogan and who are only looking to score points with the shareholders by cutting costs, that NEVER happens.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:04 PM on January 16, 2013


A failure of personal ethics, or the American education system?
posted by Cranberry at 12:17 PM on January 16, 2013


This has been tried. A bunch of countries in Europe decided that freedom of movement of workers was as important as free capital.

As far as I can see, salaries are still really high in the UK and the cost of living is much cheaper in many Southern European countries.


While that is a cool aspect of the EU, I think the difference in wages and cost of living between the UK and Italy is nowhere near as great as the differences between the US and India.

I don't see the EU welcoming a massive influx of Pakistani laborers any time soon.
posted by Afroblanco at 12:21 PM on January 16, 2013


If he shipped his RSA key generator to China, how did he log in himself?
posted by Devonian at 12:23 PM on January 16, 2013


There's various tax breaks and regulations for those that actually do hire in-country workers and if the company was benefiting from them, well, that might cause some legal problems.

Really though, for all the other programmers out there who aren't outsourcing their job to three people in China, don't you feel cheated? Or do you feel more foolish that you didn't think of it first? I can't help but think that some of the times it was difficult to find employment as a programmer was because so many jobs had already been indiscreetly outsourced like this. It also makes me doubt the authorship of all coders everywhere.

I worked with a Nigerian programmer who was most likely outsourcing everything he did. Any time we tried to discuss coding issues he complained that his eyes could not see but that he was due to get eye surgery very soon. Any time there was an emergency -- server load, code errors on production -- he really couldn't help at all.
posted by destro at 12:33 PM on January 16, 2013


If he shipped his RSA key generator to China, how did he log in himself?


So it turns out most places will let you be issued two tokens for a variety of reasons (soft token and hard token, two soft tokens, etc).

It also turns out that most places *don't* require you to log in to the corporate side of things with your two factor credentials, just the production systems.

Besides, it's sort of trivial to call your minions to get them to rattle off the number on the token at any given time.
posted by iamabot at 1:00 PM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Really though, for all the other programmers out there who aren't outsourcing their job to three people in China, don't you feel cheated?

We (partnership) get a fair few emails from (mostly Indian) companies offering to subcontract our work, the only problem for us is that they charge more than we make for the same work (admittedly we are self-employed and probably aren't even making UK minimum wage when all's said and done), it may have been worth it a decade ago, but outsourcing costs do seem to level out.

From my point of view anyone who isn't us is outsource, where they live isn't a factor (and I worry far less about the Chinese and Indians than those damn Londoners with their fancy hair and wristwatches).
posted by titus-g at 1:06 PM on January 16, 2013


If he shipped his RSA key generator to China, how did he log in himself?

He logged in at the office, not using the VPN.
posted by pompomtom at 2:14 PM on January 16, 2013


If I was living the 4 hour work week lifestyle, I'd be on a mountain somewhere, not surfing cat videos all the time (fun though they are).

I wouldn't be surprised if he was litigated against for this, due to the risk he exposed the company to for all the reasons outlined in other comments.
posted by arcticseal at 3:08 PM on January 16, 2013


The software work I do is so fast-paced that there is no way I could pull something like this off. Requests typically must be met in hours, not days. Answers to questions must be provided instantly. In our case, I'm pretty sure the benefit of having capable programmers in the office is the entire reason everything *isn't* outsourced to China/India.

Plus, the best part of being a software engineer is the joy I get from the act of creation. Having all the stress of deadlines without that creative payoff would not be worth it (I guess I'll have to get over that if I ever want to move into management).
posted by mantecol at 9:35 PM on January 16, 2013


We (partnership) get a fair few emails from (mostly Indian) companies offering to subcontract our work, the only problem for us is that they charge more than we make for the same work (admittedly we are self-employed and probably aren't even making UK minimum wage when all's said and done), it may have been worth it a decade ago, but outsourcing costs do seem to level out.

Same here. Not self-employed, but the "super" deals they offer still don't seem to be all that "super", when one does the sums. Plus there's the fact that almost all of the work we do is strictly confidential and clients wouldn't be very happy about their information being shared with some outsourcing company in India. And the fact that many of those cold-calling outsourcing companies seem to be fly-by-night operations with only a very limited grasp of the job they are offering to do.

As for those who appear to think that an NDA would magically solve all those confidentiality issues: have you ever tried to enforce an NDA in Bangalore or Shenyang against some guy you've never met? Good luck with that!
posted by Skeptic at 2:41 AM on January 17, 2013


atrazine: "An actual subcontractor would also have had contractual obligations as to who could see particular bits of data and code."

But don't you understand? Defining and enforcing those requirements would've really cut into this guy's bottom line. This was a much better way to do it; the real problem here is the onerous regulatory burden that has been placed upon him.
posted by Riki tiki at 10:13 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


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