The case of the do-nothing programmers



  • It was January of 2011, and I'd just been hired by "Yoyo Enterprisey Systems" (not their real name), a large IT consulting firm based in India. (I am American, by the way. Why would an Indian company outsource to America? Heck if I know!) Apparently the local YES office was having a big hiring push that year, as I found myself in a group of about 20 new hires. I also found that YES was big into professional development. As in, REALLY big. We were all put into a six-week training program, where we were to get a crash course in all the skills we'd need for our new jobs.

    You see, out of the 20 of us, I was the only one who had any actual programming experience. The rest of them were all fresh out of college - and some of them weren't even CS or IT majors! We had at least one electrical engineering major, and one guy who was going for his MBA.

    So as you'd expect, I breezed through the training. Until about the second or third week, when the training just sort of... stopped. You see, the instructors for the training courses were unavailable because they had to engage with their clients, and the director of training, "Dwight" (I'll call him that because he looked like Dwight from "The Office"), had had a misunderstanding with the director of operations, "Apu" (he was Indian, so sue me), leading to neither of them really having any sort of backup plan.

    So what did all of us 20 new hires do at that point? We hung out in the training room and surfed the web, of course! (No, we had not been assigned cubicles yet!) We often left at 2:30, with the permission of Dwight (though Apu gave him some flak for this). Of course some jokers got the bright idea to bring up Youtube videos of... well, I don't know, I didn't watch them, but whatever it was, it sounded gross! Eventually Youtube was blocked by the corporate web filter, though, so we had to find other ways to entertain ourselves.

    We also heard horror stories from the team we were supposed to be joining once we completed our "training". Apparently the team lead worked 60-hour weeks nonstop, and the rest of the team did so during crunch time, which was almost the same as nonstop anyway. The client was located in Virginia and it was very hush-hush; I was afraid I'd get in trouble for mentioning the name of the client to even my family, even though I had not personally been asked to sign an NDA.

    Eventually we did get cubicles, and they were in a special area of the building reserved for people on this client's projects. Technically we should not have been given cubicles there, since we had not been asked to sign any NDA, but apparently the client was too slow in providing NDA's for us to sign. Not that this meant we actually had any work to do, though - while other people worked frantically around us, we weren't allowed to touch anything, either because of the NDA issue or because it wasn't the right "phase of the moon" to bring on more developers, or something. It was actually worse (in a way) than being in the training room, as it was more isolating.

    I never wound up working on that project, though. After several months (yes, months) of sitting on that project doing nothing, I got transferred to another project in another part of the building. I think the project I was on got cancelled, though I'm not entirely sure. I'm not working at YES anymore - I kind of blew up and got myself fired, despite Dwight telling me that the only way to get fired from YES was to basically walk out of the office carrying a company PC, while loudly shouting that you are stealing it. But my time at YES is something I'll probably never forget...



  • @ekolis said:

    It was January of 2011, and I'd just been hired by "Yoyo Enterprisey Systems" (not their real name), a large IT consulting firm based in India. (I am American, by the way. Why would an Indian company outsource to America? Heck if I know!) Apparently the local YES office was having a big hiring push that year, as I found myself in a group of about 20 new hires. I also found that YES was big into professional development. As in, REALLY big. We were all put into a six-week training program, where we were to get a crash course in all the skills we'd need for our new jobs.

    You see, out of the 20 of us, I was the only one who had any actual programming experience. The rest of them were all fresh out of college - and some of them weren't even CS or IT majors! We had at least one electrical engineering major, and one guy who was going for his MBA.

    So as you'd expect, I breezed through the training. Until about the second or third week, when the training just sort of... stopped.

    Aside from the stoppage, it sounds exactly like my consultancy training (though I was one of the fresh college grads, not the person with actual experience). Must be an industry standard.



  •  Yeah, mine was the same way.  Out of a training class of about 25-30 people, only three or four of us were CS or IT grads and no one had any previous real-world industry experience.  Some of the previous professions for the other people in the class: painter, prison guard, psychologist, and sports medicine/trainer.  After I blew six weeks of my life at that training (which was VERY boring, as it taught skills that I had learned in CS 101), I got back to my home office to find out that it was a mistake that I had been sent to that training course.  My only pay for the entire six weeks was a daily stipend of $25.  I sat through boring lectures, created pointless and trivial programs in COBOL, and was stuck in a location across the state from my residence, and it was all a mistake by the company.  They then proceeded to put me and two others (both of whom were fellow CS grads) into another training class for four weeks.  At least that one was at full pay...



  • After my first 2-3 jobs, I learned to say something like this in interviews: "If you've got real development-related work you need me to do, I'll fit right in and do a great job. But if you're just looking for someone to fill a cubicle, please look elsewhere." The interviewer always laughs and says "don't worry, we've got PLENTY of work here." But about 50% of the time, it's a lie; or, at least, management is too goddamned impotent to actually let the work get done. It's easier to just blame Sarbanes/Oxley (or HIPAA, or some misinterpretation of company policy...)



  • Well, guess it's a good thing I decided not to frontpage this story after one of the site admins asked me to literally fabricate dialogue to make it more inteeresting... I'd just be getting "THIS STORY SUCKS, IT'S NOT A WTF" left and right...



  • @ekolis said:

    Well, guess it's a good thing I decided not to frontpage this story after one of the site admins asked me to literally fabricate dialogue to make it more inteeresting... I'd just be getting "THIS STORY SUCKS, IT'S NOT A WTF" left and right...

    As long as you leave the sick president's daughter out of it, you would have been fine.



  • @boomzilla said:

    As long as you leave the sick president's daughter out of it, you would have been fine.

    Explain yourself.



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    @boomzilla said:
    As long as you leave the sick president's daughter out of it, you would have been fine.

    Explain yourself.


    He's referring to this article from during the period where you ceased to exist.



  • @ekolis said:

    Well, guess it's a good thing I decided not to frontpage this story after one of the site admins asked me to literally fabricate dialogue to make it more inteeresting...
    Some people may not know this, but that's how the front page works.  Stories are submitted and they are given to various people to be "edited", which includes throwing in some extra dialog to "make things more interesting".  I did one for them a few months ago.  And got paid $60 for it.



  • @El_Heffe said:

    @ekolis said:

    Well, guess it's a good thing I decided not to frontpage this story after one of the site admins asked me to literally fabricate dialogue to make it more inteeresting...
    Some people may not know this, but that's how the front page works.  Stories are submitted and they are given to various people to be "edited", which includes throwing in some extra dialog to "make things more interesting".  I did one for them a few months ago.  And got paid $60 for it.

    Great, now we they're going to ask me to kill El Heffe just to keep this silent.



  • @aihtdikh said:

    @morbiuswilters said:
    @boomzilla said:
    As long as you leave the sick president's daughter out of it, you would have been fine.

    Explain yourself.


    He's referring to this article from during the period where you ceased to exist.

    That is.. bizarre.

    I haven't read the front page in years. At least since the Gene Wirchenko days.



  • @El_Heffe said:

    Stories are submitted and they are given to various people to be "edited", which includes throwing in some extra dialog to "make things more interesting".
     

    I do not endorse this policy.



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    At least since the Gene Wirchenko days.

    I miss Richard Nixon. I always hoped he'd have a sequel to mayonnaise.



  • @dhromed said:

    I do not endorse this policy.

    You mean, the narrative/storytelling approach that's been a mainstay since 2006?



  • @Alex Papadimoulis said:

    @dhromed said:

    I do not endorse this policy.

    You mean, the narrative/storytelling approach that's been a mainstay since 2006?

    Yes, that.  Obviously it's not working, as you can tell by this site having nobody on it.

    But seriously, I like the front page articles, and I like the Sidebar articles.



  • @Alex Papadimoulis said:

    @dhromed said:

    I do not endorse this policy.

    You mean, the narrative/storytelling approach that's been a mainstay since 2006?

     

    Things like "one of the site admins asked me to literally fabricate dialogue to make it more interesting".

    You can't copy and paste submissions verbatim, obviously, but there's a limit to how much embellishment one should do. I think WTFs should be able to stand on their own as much as possible.

     



  • @Sutherlands said:

    Yes, that.

    No, the storytelling approach is good, and some editing is always required. Nobody here reads the front page because, I believe, there's too much storytelling going on.



  • @dhromed said:

    @Alex Papadimoulis said:

    @dhromed said:

    I do not endorse this policy.

    You mean, the narrative/storytelling approach that's been a mainstay since 2006?

     

    Things like "one of the site admins asked me to literally fabricate dialogue to make it more interesting".

    You can't copy and paste submissions verbatim, obviously, but there's a limit to how much embellishment one should do. I think WTFs should be able to stand on their own as much as possible.

    All that means is "Can you add some dialogue?" 


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @dhromed said:

    @Alex Papadimoulis said:

    @dhromed said:

    I do not endorse this policy.

    You mean, the narrative/storytelling approach that's been a mainstay since 2006?

     

    Things like "one of the site admins asked me to literally fabricate dialogue to make it more interesting".

    You can't copy and paste submissions verbatim, obviously, but there's a limit to how much embellishment one should do. I think WTFs should be able to stand on their own as much as possible.

     

    My problem with it is that it leaves you wondering how much is fabricated. Sometimes it seems so fake that the core WTF is called into doubt. Sometimes auxiliary WTFs are inadvertently introduced. Usually it seems like one or more of the characters are TRWTF.



  •  Have a nice day.

     

    Sincerely, 

    Gene Wirchenko



  • Actually, in many cases, we have to [i]remove[/i] details. The act of writing a WTF starts with reading through a submission to find the "core WTF". The goal from that point forward is to communicate that core WTF, using supporting details from the original submission, as well as stealing details from our own IT experience. I won't lie and say that we're always 100% successful in communicating a story that's true to the submission. Then again, I've written stories that were 100% accurate recountings of things that happened to me, and commenters have piled on about how "fake" that was, so "success" has to be measured on a sliding scale.



    Submissions rarely include dialogue, but narrative fiction should. So we try and take the facts of the story and express them through conversation when we can. Submissions rarely describe the physical space where the story happens, so we will often fabricate details about things being "down the hall".



    What we don't fabricate is the core WTF. If the story is about a roach-infested server, we might add some details to make the story grosser, but there really was a roach-infested server. If the story is about an incompetent manager making bad decisions, then we may invent some dialogue where the incompetent manager says stupid things to support their stupid decisions. Again, there really was an incompetent manager who made bad decisions.



    If you're wondering how the characters eat and breathe, or other science facts, repeat to yourself "it's just a story, I should really just relax."



    Oh, and no, I won't tell you which stories actually happened to me.



  • Since we're talking about it, I'd like to see more op-ed type articles on the front page, or (and I don't know how adverse you are to getting sued by some idiot software developer) even some "software expose" articles.

    Basically like when someone finds a huge flaw, have someone go through the process of discovering the bug, other bugs, talking with devs, etc. I find that entertaining as shit, of course I've done it myself so. You could have a weekly column based on Lotus Notes *alone*.

    Bring back a web comic content. There has to be a dozen comics who produce decent IT-related material, make a deal with one of their authors. Hit up Scott Adams to see if he'll let you republish Dilberts. Or something.



  • @Remy Porter said:

    If you're wondering how the characters eat and breathe, or other science facts, repeat to yourself "it's just a story, I should really just relax."

    I think you've wandered into the wrong forum.



  • @boomzilla said:

    @Remy Porter said:
    If you're wondering how the characters eat and breathe, or other science facts, repeat to yourself "it's just a story, I should really just relax."

    I think you've wandered into the wrong forum.

     

    He's new here. Look at his post count!



  • @dhromed said:

    He's new here. Look at his post count!
    Where are the rainbows and unicorns?



  • @blakeyrat said:

    Bring back a web comic content.

    I miss MFD.


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @morbiuswilters said:

    @blakeyrat said:
    Bring back a web comic content.

    I miss MFD.

    I hated MFD but I loved the user-edited versions in the comments. Make sure the only comments allowed are images.



  • @joe.edwards said:

    @morbiuswilters said:
    @blakeyrat said:
    Bring back a web comic content.

    I miss MFD.

    I hated MFD but I loved the user-edited versions in the comments. Make sure the only comments allowed are images.

    Oh, it was terrible, that's why I loved it. There was something beautiful about TDWTF hosting what is literally the worst comic ever made.



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    TDWTF hosting what is literally the worst comic ever made.
     

    You're not very familiar with the webcomic landscape, I see.

    There is so much worse out there.


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    OK, I'm sold on the idea. Bring back the web comics, and the OMGWTF contest while we're at it.



  • @dhromed said:

    You're not very familiar with the webcomic landscape, I see.

    There is so much worse out there.

    This is the worst.



  • @dhromed said:

    There is so much worse out there.

    [citation needed]



  •  @morbiuswilters said:

    @dhromed said:
    There is so much worse out there.

    [citation needed]

    @blakeyrat said:

    This is the worst.
     



  • @blakeyrat said:

    This is the worst.

     

    I think I want to delete it from my history.

     



  • @dhromed said:

    @blakeyrat said:

    This is the worst.

     

    I think I want to delete it from my history.

    I dunno, that seems on-par with what I remember of MFD.

    Hey, at least none of them are xkcd.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    @dhromed said:
    You're not very familiar with the webcomic landscape, I see.

    There is so much worse out there.

    This is the worst.



    The really impressive part is he went 9 years before giving up and (presumably) committing suicide in his fur suit.





  • @joe.edwards said:

    OK, I'm sold on the idea. Bring back the web comics, and the OMGWTF contest while we're at it.

    YES! Bring back the OMGWTF contest! I was never any good at C, so I can't take part in the Obfuscated C Contest. I've waited years to put my shitty programming skills to the test, but we never had another contest... :(



  • @morbiuswilters said:


    I haven't read the front page in years. At least since the Gene Wirchenko days.

    He's back:

    Sincerely ...

     



  • @ochrist said:

    @morbiuswilters said:


    I haven't read the front page in years. At least since the Gene Wirchenko days.

    He's back:

    Sincerely ...

     

    OMG.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    Since we're talking about it, I'd like to see more op-ed type articles on the front page
     

    Sounds like a good idea, in moderation. I enjoy "Alex's Soapbox", but as a rare, insightful treat. A constant stream of "advice" columns would dilute their overall value, and leave the advisor scrambling for anything good or useful to write. I think we all could name enough blogs that fit that description.



  • @joe.edwards said:

    @morbiuswilters said:
    @blakeyrat said:
    Bring back a web comic content.

    I miss MFD.

    I hated MFD but I loved the user-edited versions in the comments. Make sure the only comments allowed are images.

     

    I like MFD. The art wasn't bad, and it had its moments. The user-editable versions were amazing. I submitted one that won me a bunch of TDWTF stickers. 

    Bah and suck! I'd hosted it on my now dead college account. I put it together at work (a couple jobs back), so I don't know if I have a backup of it anywhere. A vital piece of Internet history, gone.

    http://thedailywtf.com/Comments/222-A-Budget-Line-Item.aspx#217157

    Back to point: I personally thing MFD was hitting its stride when it got cancelled by Fox. I personally would have taken a longer story from the slush pile, adapted it, plotted it out over a good 20-30 comics. Do as much joke-a-day as stuff as possible, but with an overall plot. 

     



  • While I don't mind SOME embellishment, I think too much and you deviate away from pointing and laughing at bad code/stupid managers/lousy developers and into the realm of BOFH-style fiction.  The stories should be kept mostly true to form so we can relate to them (and I firmly believe these companies should be outed; after all it's not libel nor slander if it's true) without having to wonder if the stupid reason the boss says for using a desktop in a closet as a server is real or added by the editor.  The site ought to be like the tech support from hell stories but with all types of IT work, not half made up embellishments to add meat to a story to the point were the original story is lost.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @ObiWayneKenobi said:

    and I firmly believe these companies should be outed; after all it's not libel nor slander if it's true
    And therein lies the problem. If the veracity of the situations submitted is difficult to ascertain, you're potentially left open to legal action.



  • @ObiWayneKenobi said:

    The site ought to be like the tech support from hell stories but with all types of IT work, not half made up embellishments to add meat to a story to the point were the original story is lost.
     

    Except, it's not. It's The Daily WTF. Having talked with lots of people who've submitted WTF's, the general response is "you changed more than I would have thought, and yet somehow this feels more like how it actually happened then the way I submitted it."

    As Remy said, we remove a lot of details and add a lot color. If the story is about a blown-up UPS, it doesn't matter that the protagonist actually had two bosses. What matters is catching the tension/anxiety/gravity/etc of the moment, not recounting facts.

    I think I shifted to this because I loved Vital Signs (which allows readers to enjoy stories from a domain they don't understand), and also because it was an outlet for writing, which I also enjoy. And since this is all our hobby, we do what we want... and hope people enjoy reading it.


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @PJH said:

    @ObiWayneKenobi said:
    and I firmly believe these companies should be outed; after all it's not libel nor slander if it's true
    And therein lies the problem. If the veracity of the situations submitted is difficult to ascertain, you're potentially left open to legal action.

    You could probably imply who it is without naming a real company name.

    Bill, who worked for a company that rhymes with Mewlett Backard...

    Tony had just finished a long day at Sicromoft,

    Jim Bob, a first level support rep for TA&A



  • @Alex Papadimoulis said:

    I loved Vital Signs 
     

    It's House!



  • @dhromed said:

    @Alex Papadimoulis said:

    I loved Vital Signs 
     

    It's House!

    YES. They totally pre-stole the medical drama aspect from House.



  • @joe.edwards said:

    You could probably imply who it is without naming a real company name.

    Bill, who worked for a company that rhymes with Mewlett Backard...

    Tony had just finished a long day at Sicromoft,

    Jim Bob, a first level support rep for TA&A

    The real company / real people are almost always an irrelevant fact. This isn't the Consumerist where we "out" companies because Someone Got Pissed. We tell stories that are based on real events, entertaining, and sometimes even educational.


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    Hey, Alex! Slummin' it in the sidebar with us proles? You should stop by more often.


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