John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

I'm Just Biding My Time Here Until I Can Quit and Study Whale Feces Full Time

whaleflat.jpgGiven the chance, how would you alter the course of your career? Well, if you worked at Microsoft’s Security Response Center, you might consider taking a job as an Olympic drug tester, a gravity research subject, or a “whale-feces researcher”–vocations that all rank as improvements over a position at MSRC on Popular Science magazine’s 2007 list of the absolute worst jobs in science:

Do you flinch when your inbox dings? The people manning secure@microsoft.com receive approximately 100,000 dings a year, each one a message that something in the Microsoft empire may have gone terribly wrong. Teams of Microsoft Security Response Center employees toil 365 days a year to fix the kinks in Windows, Internet Explorer, Office and all the behemoth’s other products. It’s tedious work. Each product can have multiple versions in multiple languages, and each needs its own repairs (by one estimate, Explorer alone has 300 different configurations). Plus, to most hackers, crippling Microsoft is the geek equivalent of taking down the Death Star, so the assault is relentless.”

Sounds awful, yeah? Perhaps not quite as bad as inhaling formaldehyde fumes as a biological-supply preparer, but bad. “It’s one of those classic jobs, which isn’t gross or dangerous in any way, but the overwhelmingness of the task at hand makes it so daunting that only the most intrepid would venture there,” PopSci executive editor Michael Moyer told IDG. “We did rate the Microsoft security researcher as less-bad than the people who prepare the carcasses for dissection in biology laboratories.”

But sadly, quite a bit worse than working as a whale feces researcher.

“Whale feces or working at Microsoft? I would probably be the whale feces researcher,” said Moyer. “Salt air and whale flatulence; what could go wrong?”


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