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Current Events Editorial

Twitter side-effect #3: Unintentional indentured servitude

The uncertainty of the H1B visa wife (even before Trump swung into action)

A lot of tech workers — and according to some estimates, 25% of Twitter’s workforce — are people from other countries working on an H-1B visa. This temporary non-immigrant visa lets employers hire non-U.S.-citizen/non-U.S.-resident-alien professionals to work in “specialty occupations” that require at least a bachelor’s degree or the equivalent.

(My parents, both doctors, worked in the U.S. and thus had H-1B visas. I was already around when this took place, hence my “American” accent.)

The choice that Twitter employees had to make yesterday — quit or work at “Twitter 2.0” under a “hardcore”, random, capricious, ill-thought-out, workaholic leadership — wasn’t much of a choice for the ones on an H-1B visa. H-1Bs are tied to a specific employer, and quitting that employer means that you have 60 days to find a new employer to sponsor a new H-1B tied to the new employer, change your status, or leave the U.S..

For examples, see:

Under normal circumstances, that’s tricky. Under the current circumstances, with layoffs all over the tech sector, high inflation, and the threat of a recession, it’s much, much worse. The only choice for many H-1B holders at Twitter might be to stay and hope that life under new management — a.k.a. “Space Karen” — isn’t as hellish as many people predict. The problem is that so far, it’s been a total clown show.

Also not helping: racist nationalist toolbags like this guy:

If you know any H-1B holders working at Twitter or under Twitter-like circumstances, support them as best you can.

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Current Events Editorial

Twitter side-effect #2: If you’re trying to get a doctor, dentist, or eye appointment…

Ticket Dispenser Isolated Stock Photo - Download Image Now - Number  Dispenser, Machinery, Number - iStock

With the various layoffs in the San Francisco Bay Area (I have to specify, since I live in “The Other Bay Area”), it’s going to be difficult to book a doctor, dentist, or eye appointment for any time earlier than weeks into the new year — people are trying to see their doctors and dentists while their insurance is still in effect. Still, book your appointments now, unless you want to wait even longer.

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Current Events Editorial

Twitter side-effect #1: If you use Twitter to log into other software, sites, or systems…

If you use Twitter to log into non-Twitter software, sites, or systems, do this as soon as possible: Sign into that software, site, or systems and set up an alternate way to log in — whether via another service, such as Google, Facebook, or your Apple ID, or via good old-fashioned username and password.

As one techie at Twitter put it, “Entire teams representing critical infrastructure are voluntarily departing the company.” If accurate, it means that it would be a very bad idea to rely on Twitter as your only means of logging in.

Check your accounts!

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Current Events Editorial Humor

The current contender for “Most pathetic Tweet of the day” (so far)

Two-panel meme.

Panel 1: Michael Guimarin’s tweet: “Elon, there's a bunch of us in SV who will come up tonight to help on the infra side to keep the site up.”

Panel 2: Captioned scene from “King of the Hill”: “You know what’s not cool, Booby? Simping for billionaires on the internet.”
Tap to view at full size.

Here’s the tweet:

I’m sure he imagines himself as a hero gathering a rag-tag team to save a village being attacked by monsters and not, as one astute tweeter put it:

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Current Events Editorial

A brutally awful article about Elon’s management style

Tap to view the bad idea at full size.

Elon Musk’s Brutally Honest Management Style reminded me of a line from this think piece from way back:

“…soft and sentimental people– particularly the chair-bound geek variant– often idolize brutality.

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Current Events Editorial The Street Finds Its Own Uses For Things

“Star Wars” speech or call to action for the remaining people at Twitter?

The inspirational speech that Kino Loy (played by Andy Serkis) at the end of episode 10 of Star Wars: Andor was meant to inspire the prisoners to break out of the Narkina 5 prison labor camp. However, with only a few changes, it could easily be an inspirational message that someone could send on the Twitter company Slack to the remaining employees.

With the news that Twitter has slashed its contractor workforce by about 80% to 1,000 people, there are now about 5,000 people working at Twitter, which is the same as the number prisoners on Narkina 5. This additional coincidence should make the speech even more applicable.

🚨 Spoiler warning for those of you who haven’t yet seen episode 10 of Star Wars: Andor!

“My name is Kino Loy. I’m the day shift manager on Level Five. I’m speaking to you from the command center on Level Eight. We are, at this moment, in control of the facility.”

“How long we hang on, how far we get, how many of us make it out, all of that is now up to us. We have deactivated every floor in the facility. All floors are cold.”

“Wherever you are right now, get up, stop the work. Get out of your cells, take charge, and start climbing. They don’t have enough guards and they know it. If we wait until they figure that out, it’ll be too late. We will never have a better chance than this and I would rather die trying to take them down than giving them what they want.”

“We know they fried a hundred men on Level Two. We know that they are making up our sentences as we go along. We know that no one outside here knows what’s happening. And now we know, that when they say we are being released, we are being transferred to some other prison to go and die…and that ends today! There is one way out. Right now, the building is ours. You need to run, climb, kill!”

“You need to help each other. You see someone who’s confused, someone who is lost, you get them moving and you keep them moving until we put this place behind us. There are 5,000 of us. If we can fight half as hard as we’ve been working, we will be home in no time. One way out! One way out! One way out!”

Categories
Current Events Editorial

Elon Musk is Twitter’s Thanos

“I. Am. Inevitable.”

It must be unnerving to be a Twitter employee right now. I had to look it up, and was shocked to see that his acquisition completed on October 27 — that’s only a week ago! With the news that they will now eliminate 50% of the positions at Twitter, Elon Musk has turned into Twitter’s Thanos, from the plan to stretch resources by eliminating half of all people to inexplicably having a fan club:

Bathroom graffiti from a scene in the Hawkeye mini-series.

The third layoff estimate in two weeks

That 50% figure isn’t the first layoff percentage to be thrown around. In fact, it’s just the midpoint between two other numbers that appeared in the news — it was 75% on October 20th, and then down to 25% on Monday.

Whiplash

Anyone working at Twitter right now must be feeling whiplash from the rapid changes, which seem like Elon’s just throwing ideas against the wall and seeing what sticks.

Consider the remote work policy. What a difference six months makes:

Of course, the end of remote work Twitter shouldn’t come as a surprise. Elon’s take on remote work is well-known.

There’s also the recent story about Twitter developers being asked to print out their recent code for review, a request that could only be topped in bizarreness by the next request: Oh wait, that’s a security risk. Shred what you printed.

The printout exercise is futile — unless the goal was to have an easy-to-see physical representation of how much code each developer has produced, even when shredded. Printout is a pretty poor code review medium. As the Jargon File sums it up so succinctly: You can’t grep dead trees.

You should also keep in mind what it looks like from the points of view of the developers at Twitter, whose code was being reviewed by a team of Tesla developers, who build entirely different software (you know, the software that has a tendency to runs over kids — well, simulated kids, at least). They’re probably developing in different languages too — with the AI and embedded systems, the Tesla developers are likely using C++ and Python, while Twitter is known to use Scala on the back end, and this photo that Twitter coder Leah Culver posted shows that she’s working on the iOS app natively in Swift:

Me with sheets of printed code
Leah Culver tweeted this photo on October 28, 2022 with the caption “Happy Friday all.”

And finally, there’s the investigation into reviving Vine, which I wrote about a couple of days ago. The timeframe seems short, especially since people are being asked to review code that’s anywhere from 6 to 10 years old:

This could be the “ready, fire, aim” philosophy of management in action, or it could just be Elon flexing like Homer Simpson when he was crowned the Stonecutters’ Chosen One (which itself was a tribute to a scene from the 1987 film The Last Emperor):

Endgame (or: What to do)

If you’re a Twitter employee, you would do well to check out Collective Action in Tech’s A Layoff Guide: Tips for Tweeps by Tweeps to be shared in secure DMs between colleagues — and on a personal device, not a work one!

At the very least, read the What to Expect section, which has these points:

  • Don’t rely on fair or reasonable treatment from the company. Hope for the best but plan for the worst.
  • You will likely lose access to all company systems before being notified that you are terminated. 
  • Assume everything you do on work accounts and work devices is traceable and monitored. 
  • Your manager is obligated and incentivized to follow instructions from leadership. Do not assume your manager will be willing or able to help you, even if they want to. 

Good luck, Twitter people.