Office Politics

October 4, 2007

Back in Computer Science 101 I was promoted to Assistant for the Networking Staff at Kemp High School, in the tiny town where I grew up. The networking staff consisted of exactly two people: a brilliant Pascal programmer with a penchant for networks and a veteran of the mainframe days, who would happily lean back and tell old war stories about 130 column chain printers and tape drives.

One thing I noticed upon entering their office was the strong smell of coffee in the air. Indeed, they had a large pot of coffee on perpetual brew. And these two techies would drink it down as if it were water from the river of life.

Fast forward 5 years. I'm now one of those techies, but I never got quite a taste for coffee. My coworkers, however, live off the stuff. That's when disaster struck.

Now, if you've not been in an office environment for a while, or you haven't worked in IT, the enormity of this disaster might be lost on you.

The office supply company has stopped producing SoftLayer's preferred blend!

Shockwaves rolled through the company, as the news was blasted from email to email. A democratic process was set up to choose a new blend from those that are left.

Votes have been cast left and right. Active campaigns for specific coffee blends can be heard in the aisles of the company. Some are moved to poetry on one blend or another. One vote for a specific blend reads like this:

How does this affect me?
Will this make me a better person? These and other such questions must be asked when sampling a new coffee.As the day goes by a fall back onto a sure thing is essential. Sipping this flavour of coffee is not unlike slipping into a pair of your most favourite and comfortable slippers after a long day af the office. It does indeed lift the spirit.

Dare I say that Kenya AA gives us another reason to love life and love living it. The spirit soars until it becomes unbeatable. We cannot combat this or even hope to understand this cosmic handshake. This coffee is a reflection on a productive lifestyle.

It has a hallowed place in our break room. It also smells better than the other coffees.
- Klaude

It looks like the leadup to the 2007 SoftLayer Office Coffee Blend Election will be quite the hot topic for weeks to come.

A consensus is starting to build, and soon these harsh days will be behind us, and work will proceed as usual.

However, there are some (and I am in this camp), who see this as a bigger issue. Yes, we have successfully saved the day by switching blends of coffee. And like some hard changes, it looks like this change might be for the better. But as everyone knows in IT, the cycle of obsolescence is a fact of life. Some fear that this is just the start of a long, trying cycle of acceptance and rejection; there's a low level tension that the choice being made right now must be made right, lest the coffee industry decide that our newly selected blend should also fade away into the night. Is there no solution? No solid ground? Some demand that we get approval of a blend from a standards body, such as the IEEE, to make sure that various vendor's competing blends are compatible with our tastes. Is this the solution to our problems?

This has caused me to worry about the future of IT. Will technology be dictated by the whims of the coffee industry?

Here are the originals. [1, and 2 (ghost writer?)]

-Zoey

Comments

October 4th, 2007 at 11:34am

Number two was indeed written by someone else. Sales, I'm looking at you! :P Besides everyone knows that Klingons prefer Raktajino.

Onto the topic at hand though, I think technology is indirectly driven by all sorts of associated industries. I recall seeing a 25% drop in overall internet usage on the day the last episode of Star Trek:TNG aired. Why not add coffee into the mix? Make a bad pot of coffee and productivity for the whole office goes down.

October 4th, 2007 at 11:56am

I agree with Kevin's comment about the bad coffee. A similar thing happened at a previous job when someone accidentally ordered a case of decaf. The whole company almost went under.

Also, to expand on Shawn's article, I would like to point everyone to ISO Standard 3103: "Tea -- Preparation of liquor for use in sensory tests"

The ISO standard is modeled after the British Standard BS6008: "Preparation of a liquor of tea for use in sensory tests"

(As a hilarious side note, all British Standards documents begin with the prefix "BS")

As far as I can tell, there is no official ISO standard for a cup of coffee, but I did find many references to a "NATO standard" cup of coffee. Apparently this was more of a social commentary than an actual standard, but it did require six ounces of water, two tablespoons of coffee, cream, and two sugars. Since that's how I take my coffee, I'm declaring it the official standard.

October 7th, 2007 at 7:55am

You guys are doing this all wrong. Changing your coffee? Tut, tut! You should be changing your office supply company :)

I used to drink a good couple of jugs worth of strong coffee a day (on my own), but I'm drinking more green tea and seeing some of my fellow techies switching to green tea: has SL tried it? (Hot green tea that is - cold stuff is yuk to my Western tastes).

October 9th, 2007 at 10:44am

Ever since Jacob turned me onto http://www.stokexpress.com/ I dont care what flavor the coffee is. Down on of these in your coffee and complete a full days work by 9:00am.

October 10th, 2007 at 2:24pm

Oh, that's only 40 mg caffeine in a shot of Stok. That's about as much as my morning can of Diet Dr. Pepper. A can of Monster has 4x the caffeine of Stok. I guess if you really want to buzz, grab a Grande (16 oz) of Starbucks. It's worth about 9 shots of Stok. Check out the caffeine contents of all these and more here: http://www.energyfiend.com/the-caffeine-database/

October 25th, 2007 at 12:01am

The second one's handwriting is different. See the ds and the es. :D

I don't regularly drink coffee, occationally I drink tea. I ussually wake up fairly fast due to my alarm clock though: My cat clawing on my hand.

I love the long-winded reviews klaude wrote.

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Comments

October 4th, 2007 at 11:34am

Number two was indeed written by someone else. Sales, I'm looking at you! :P Besides everyone knows that Klingons prefer Raktajino.

Onto the topic at hand though, I think technology is indirectly driven by all sorts of associated industries. I recall seeing a 25% drop in overall internet usage on the day the last episode of Star Trek:TNG aired. Why not add coffee into the mix? Make a bad pot of coffee and productivity for the whole office goes down.

October 4th, 2007 at 11:56am

I agree with Kevin's comment about the bad coffee. A similar thing happened at a previous job when someone accidentally ordered a case of decaf. The whole company almost went under.

Also, to expand on Shawn's article, I would like to point everyone to ISO Standard 3103: "Tea -- Preparation of liquor for use in sensory tests"

The ISO standard is modeled after the British Standard BS6008: "Preparation of a liquor of tea for use in sensory tests"

(As a hilarious side note, all British Standards documents begin with the prefix "BS")

As far as I can tell, there is no official ISO standard for a cup of coffee, but I did find many references to a "NATO standard" cup of coffee. Apparently this was more of a social commentary than an actual standard, but it did require six ounces of water, two tablespoons of coffee, cream, and two sugars. Since that's how I take my coffee, I'm declaring it the official standard.

October 7th, 2007 at 7:55am

You guys are doing this all wrong. Changing your coffee? Tut, tut! You should be changing your office supply company :)

I used to drink a good couple of jugs worth of strong coffee a day (on my own), but I'm drinking more green tea and seeing some of my fellow techies switching to green tea: has SL tried it? (Hot green tea that is - cold stuff is yuk to my Western tastes).

October 9th, 2007 at 10:44am

Ever since Jacob turned me onto http://www.stokexpress.com/ I dont care what flavor the coffee is. Down on of these in your coffee and complete a full days work by 9:00am.

October 10th, 2007 at 2:24pm

Oh, that's only 40 mg caffeine in a shot of Stok. That's about as much as my morning can of Diet Dr. Pepper. A can of Monster has 4x the caffeine of Stok. I guess if you really want to buzz, grab a Grande (16 oz) of Starbucks. It's worth about 9 shots of Stok. Check out the caffeine contents of all these and more here: http://www.energyfiend.com/the-caffeine-database/

October 25th, 2007 at 12:01am

The second one's handwriting is different. See the ds and the es. :D

I don't regularly drink coffee, occationally I drink tea. I ussually wake up fairly fast due to my alarm clock though: My cat clawing on my hand.

I love the long-winded reviews klaude wrote.

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