austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

They said my friends were just an unruly mob

Now for the specifics of the worst day I've had at work.

About 9 am, an hour before our pre-meeting meeting was set, I got a phone call from the owner asking how everything was going. I said it was all fixed; the databases were up to the most current pieces we had, the images were appearing as good as they could and with reasonable widths, and everything we'd talked about was solved. ``Really?'' he asked. ``Yup, all's well'' I said. He said something to the effect of he'd see me in an hour and I didn't think anything particular about that. Over the course of that coming hour, the other guy whose code sometimes pops into mine reported a glitch in one of the ways to get into my pages (not ironically, created in part because he tweaked my code to add something he wanted but hadn't discussed with me, and this got really screwed up because he changed things on the server instead of on my computer where I keep the code-I'm-developing, so part of the problem was re-created what he'd changed because it got clobbered when I tinkered with other things).

As I was working on that, the computer blue-screened-of-death, and it was starting the slow process of rebooting when the boss came in, holding a sheet of paper and demanding to know if everything was fixed. He showed it to me and asked if it looked fixed to me. The printout was of the page which displays some information and a scanned image, but it looked like what I had been programming. I didn't see what he was upset about. He demanded I start a search, and was I taking this seriously, and it was real world time, and did I find this funny?

Next he started demanding, ``Is this intuitive? Are you intuitive? Grab a person off the street! Show this to him, would he think you were intuitive? Would he be intuitive?'' By now the computer had rebooted and I was logged back in, and got the page up. He had me pick a name, go to the `Page 1' view where he pointed out the panel on the left was filled with information about the document, then go back to view things through an alternate method, that allows for downloading the scanned images as PDFs. Going through it this way, that panel didn't have all the information on it; it just had the minimum information needed to get the image.

The office manager and the other guy working on my programs came in and were witness to this --- it even ranked closing the door to my office, which I didn't think it would close completely --- and then more asking whether I found this funny, and it was real world stuff, and had I ever had to sleep on the floor.  (Since he asked the other programmer about when's the last time he pulled an all-nighter to get something done I believe he was asking when I ever stayed overnight hard at work, rather than do I ever nap during the day.)

The office manager tried calming down the owner at this point, asking me if I thought this would be a difficult problem to solve. I didn't think it would be. (In fact, it amounted to adding four lines of code, and was done in under two minutes.) The office manager asked if I'd be ready if we held the pre-meeting at 1 pm; I thought we would. The owner asked, like you were ready for the meeting now? Like you were for the meeting yesterday? Like you were for the demonstration two weeks ago? The office manager and the other programmer told him, this was just a little bug, it would be fixed, we'll tell him when it's ready, why don't we go out to lunch?

The whole scene lasted maybe a half-hour, and the owner went off to talk with other people and didn't reappear that I saw even after I fixed the bug and went looking to report it was fixed --- I had the idea that it would salvage some of my pride after a half-hour of being chewed out to have the problem fixed instantly --- but couldn't find him again. With some consultation with the other programmer we got the fresh-discovered bugs sorted out too, and we had a meeting at 1:00 with everyone going up that assured us we were ready for Monday.

I had never seen the owner in that state. Admittedly I don't see him in many states, but this was horrible, uncomfortable, and weird. The other programmer suggested that he might be drunk; I couldn't say. And at noon my brother called, trying to find out what was going on because the owner had called him and left a rambling voice message about did I understand I was in the real world and did I think this was funny and on in a swirling vortex of that theme.

Trivia: In attempting to salvage the production quality of the Edsel car line --- which was done by Ford and Mercury divisions of the company rather than the Edsel division and suffered accordingly --- Robert McNamara instituted a tally system in which defects were numerically analyzed: a chip in the paintwork would be 0.1 points; a missing part would be 20 points, and so on. If a sampling of a half-dozen cars in a batch averaged more than 35 points per car the entire batch would be withheld from delivery until repaired. Source: Ford: The Men And The Machine, Robert Lacey. (I am curious whether all parts were weighted equally; a bad dashboard clock seems like it should be fewer points than a missing transmission, for example. So, yes, I'd actually like more detail of a failed scheme to save the Edsel by not allowing an average of two important car parts be left off every vehicle.)

Currently Reading: A History of The Middle Ages, 284 - 1500, Sidney Painter.

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