Date: Fri, 7 May 1999 16:16:33 -0600
Reply-To: Jack Hamilton <JackHamilton@FIRSTHEALTH.COM>
Sender: "SAS(r) Discussion" <SAS-L@UGA.CC.UGA.EDU>
From: Jack Hamilton <JackHamilton@FIRSTHEALTH.COM>
Subject: Re: SAS Institute - Sanity vs. Insanity
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii
"Tim Churches" <tchur@BIGPOND.COM> wrote:
>Yes, in many ways SAS sounds like an admirable place to work, although
>having spent the last few days coding Y2K work-arounds in 6.12 which would
>have been so much easier with the long variable and dataset names available
>in V7/8 if only all those very relaxed Cary employees had only managed to
>get a production-quality release of V7/8 out the door in time for Y2K
>remediation efforts (which are now in their final phases in most
>organisations), I wish that they could have knocked off work at 5:30pm
>instead of 5pm (as described in the article to which Faith refers).
It's hard to say that longer working hours will produce software more quickly. In the short run, it will, yes, but at the risk of employee burnout. The end result will be lower quality software produced more slowly. I have heard of (but not seen) studies in Europe which show that reduced work time actually results in more productive workers - not that many US employers subscribe to such a heretical notion. SAS Institute may be one of the few to do the right thing.
I know many people at SAS Institute who have gone out of their way to provide top-notch support. Some of those people are also developers. It's not fair to accuse them of being slackers on the basis of a magazine article. Large-scale software development is complex and difficult to predict. There's no reason to think that version 7 or version 8 would have been out sooner if they'd just worked a little longer.
>There are also persistent rumours that SAS is a bit of a gilded cage and
>although long hair and no socks are tolerated, any hint of political views
>contrary to Dr Jim's (right wing) beliefs or any disagreement with the top
>dogs' business strategies and you'll be shown the door (or portcullis
>perhaps). I was told a story (probably apocryphal) by an ex-SAS Australia
>employee who heard it from a Cary employee that someone once dared to
>suggest that it seemed like a good idea if the government were to provide
>some of the benefits which SAS employees enjoy (like decent health care and
>child care) to non-SAS employees through a curious mechanism called tax. He
>was warned not to say that sort of thing again.
It's no secret that Dr. Goodnight provides heavy financial support to right-wing political candidates (look him up at <http://www.tray.com/fecinfo/indiv.htm>), but I haven't heard of people being fired for disagreeing with him. It would be foolish of him to do so - bad publicity and wrongful discharge lawsuits could result - and he's not a fool. In any case, it would be impractical to keep track of the political beliefs of SAS Institute's thousands of employees. There must be more to the story than your anecdote suggests.
Development Manager, METRICS
First Health, West Sacramento, California USA