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Dirty IT jobs: Grime and punishment

Dan Tynan | April 17, 2012
Flame wars, leakage, nasty Polish texting -- six more tales of dirty duty in IT

Dirty IT job No. 3: Sexy games producerYou spend all day staring at pictures of naked women and talking dirty in three languages. Sounds like dream job, right?

Not exactly, says Patryk Bukowiecki, a game producer and manager who worked for a maker of "sexy" J2ME mobile games in the late 2000s. There he produced games like Lessons of Passion Blackjack, in which game players engaged in simulated sex talk with scantily clad models. Bukowiecki's job was to comb through 300 explicit photos of each model, pick eight of them to use in the game, write "sexy" chat for each girl, then translate it from English into Polish and German.

"I had to make sure the girls talked dirty enough so that guys would play as long as possible and then buy other editions of the same game," he says. "The texting part was actually pretty fun."

But those hot models? More sad than sexy, says Bukowiecki, especially after you've seen their passport photos, which each model had to provide to prove she wasn't underage and was doing this of her own free will.

"I had to approach my job kind of like I was an ob-gyn," he says. "You have to get some distance on these things or you will go mad with all the ideas running through your head. You might be tempted to try and find these girls and save them. Don't do it."

The dirtiest part of this job? Telling people what you do for a living.

"You sit in an open space in the office looking at these pictures on your computer surrounded by 20 people," he says. "They're all passing by your desk, sneaking peeks at what you're doing. Then you get home and your wife or girlfriend asks, 'What did you do at work today, dear?'"

Dirty IT job No. 4: Tech forum flame wardenTugging on Superman's cape. Spitting into the wind. Pulling the mask off the Lone Ranger. None of those tempt fate like becoming the moderator of an online tech forum.

Bill Horne discovered this when he naively volunteered to take on the job of moderating The Telecom Digest, the oldest continuously published mailing list and Usenet forum on the Internet, back in 2007.

Horne is no stranger to dirty jobs, having done stints as an IT mortician ("Even dirtier IT jobs: The muck stops here") and network sherpa ("The dirt locker: Dirty duty on the front lines of IT"). But this post tested even his mettle.

"I discovered that the Digest was running on a 1980s-era computer and outdated software," he says. "I thought upgrading the hardware and software would be the most difficult part of the process. But those issues paled in comparison to the people problems. I often feel like I've taken on a job that calls for Henry Kissinger's negotiation skills, Stalin's ruthlessness, and Roosevelt's charisma."


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