The Database Manager



  • Well, yipeah-ai-yoo for me. I just (last week) got a job. The position was for a "Database Manager". Curious, I called to ask what that meand exactly. The response was something like this.

    "Well sir, our organisation has a database with all of its laptops, computers, servers and hardware in general. We need someone to manage it and clean it up. We estimate the project can be done in about 6 weeks."

    Interested, I went for an interview. Turns out they used an web-based application I'll call "MAXbureau" and they didn't only use it to manager hardware, but pretty much anything that is managable (employees, support contracts). The problem was that until a year ago users had to enter had to enter their hardware information themselfs. Since the organisation has about 15000 employees this resulted in about 15000 different ways the information was formatted on the 20000 computers.

    It ranged from pretty innocent things like a brand "Compaq" and type "Compaq D510 SFF" to pretty inconvenient things like missing MAC-adresses or serial numbers. Or the, in my opinion avoidable, error of entering the MAC with stripes (-) instead of double points (:).

    The most sirious thing however, is the Divison and Directory ID (DDD). Due to reorganisations and the users there are about 700 divisions in the system while there really are 23. Imagine things like "Child0_", "Child1_", "_Child", "CHILD", "Childeren", "CHILDEREN" and the mysterious "300CH" for the "Child" department.

    After creating a list of things that had to change, I asked for database access and the SQL structure, so I could run queries to replace those things. The answer was plain and simple: "You can't get it if you aren't here for at least 3 months. Besides it wouldn't get you anything, we tried that but it messed up the whole system". A little bit out of the field, I asked: "How do you expect me to correct the database then". "You'll have to use MAXbureau".

    After learning MAXbureau and going trough the manual, I returned to the DBA. "I've looked into MAXbureau, but there doesn't seem to be any find and replace function or something in the likes". "Ofcourse, I could've told you that, you'll have to go trough them manually".

    Even more baffled than before, I returned to my desk and tried it out. Opening the editor and closing takes 8,9 seconds. If I edit one field 6,4 second add to that (thanks to the fact that after the editor has loaded you have to wait 3 seconds, because after three seconds a javascript runs that puts the focus on the first field). Two fields take 10,1 seconds, three 14,0 seconds. A mac has to be looked up and is very hard to acces, so one adds a stunning [b]85 seconds[/b].

    After using the software's report function I got this:

    9000 records need one field updated. 4000 two fields and 750 three field. That includes the 12000 MAC's that need to be updated. In case you didn't get your calculator yet: that's about 1.250.000 seconds or 350 hours of clicking, clicking, clicking again and finally clicking.

    Currently I've contacted the manifacturer to request either a method of find&replace (either within the application or on SQL) or either the database-schema, so I can figure out how the fields should and can be updated. You can't make me believe it isn't possible. If a stupid web-based program can do it so can I, certainly if I've got 350 payed-hours to figure it out.

    [b][i]To be continued....[/i][/b]



  • Oh, and "MAXbureau" is a whole epic WTF by itself. If you want to guess what the softwares name really is: its really written like XXXxxxxxx. The XXX is a somewhat-synonim for "MAX" and the xxxxxx part is a somewhat-synonim for "bureau", but more in the British/Dutch definition of it.



  • Ok, so congratulations and welcome to the real world.

     I can almost guess where this story will be going... You create a tool that does the same automatically in just a bit of the original 350 hrs. You test it and it works like a charm. You show it to your boss. Boss happy. Bigger boss finds out and demands you do it by hand, because it's too risky to use your tool. You almost get kicked for your tempering with their "mission-critical enterprise solution". Ah the joy...

     

    EDIT: Yeah, I sound bitter, I know. But changing an organisation that is used to doing fucking up stuff by hand can be frustrating...



  • TOPdesk!! 

    I too live in the Netherlands and actually went to an interview for a job at TOPdesk, they were just about to create their "own version" of java or so they explained it to me.

    I didn't get called back after the second interview which basicly consisted of 2 developers asking "given the spec X how would you write software for it", I guess I didn't do it enterpricy enough. 



  • TOPdesk?



  • @dtech said:

    The position was for a "Database Manager".

    [...] I asked for database access and the SQL structure, [...]"You can't get it if you aren't here for at least 3 months.

    And you haven't left yet?  Or at least pointed them in the direction of your job description and what "database manager" means (assuming it translates as I hope it would?)

     

    I have a feeling this is going to be a tad gory.... 



  • @bobday said:

    ...they were just about to create their "own version" of java or so they explained it to me.

     

    Holy, f*-ing, s*! If I heard that, I would literally jump up and run out of the interview. Then again, I used to work at the company that created a new language, Neon (object oriented FORTH - seriously), just to write the Mac version of Typing Tutor. So I've heard some horror stories.



  • @bobday said:

    I too live in the Netherlands and actually went to an interview for a job at TOPdesk, they were just about to create their "own version" of java or so they explained it to me.
    What's the big deal? Microsoft did it...



  •  This is simply an issue of miscommunication. They call it "Database Manager" but what they really mean is "trained monkey".



  • @DOA said:

     This is simply an issue of miscommunication. They call it "Database Manager" but what they really mean is "trained monkey".

     

     I've been thinking about replacing me with 3 mail-order Indian employees at 1/4th of my salary. You think anyone will notice?



  • @dtech said:

    (...)
    "Well sir, our organisation has a database with all of its laptops, computers, servers and hardware in general. We need someone to manage it and clean it up. We estimate the project can be done in about 6 weeks."
    (...)
    9000 records need one field updated. 4000 two fields and 750 three field. That includes the 12000 MAC's that need to be updated. In case you didn't get your calculator yet: that's about 1.250.000 seconds or 350 hours of clicking, clicking, clicking again and finally clicking.
    (...)
     

    Well? What are you complaining about? You can do it easily within those 6 weeks, if you work 12 hours per day.



  • [b]Part 2[/b]

    Just got called by their service desk. They said the main problem (the different DDD's) should be solvable. It would require about 20 queries on 8 tables and one day of advice (of which I don't know the price yet.

    sigh What happended to "UPDATE hardware SET DDD='CHILD' WHERE DDD='_Child0'"

     [b][i]To be continued...[/i][/b] (and I sure hope it doesn't end with me not posting anymore because my fingers are cramped after 8 hours a day clicking)



  • @dtech said:

    ... I asked for database access and the SQL structure... The answer was plain and simple: "You can't get it if you aren't here for at least 3 months.

     

    I know that lines have to be drawn somewhere, but I just love the (lack of) logic behind rules like that.  "Once a person works for us for 3 months, they magically come to love the company so much that they would never do anything to sabotage our data."



  • @dtech said:

    Part 2

    Just got called by their service desk. They said the main problem (the different DDD's) should be solvable. It would require about 20 queries on 8 tables and one day of advice (of which I don't know the price yet.

    *sigh* What happended to "UPDATE hardware SET DDD='CHILD' WHERE DDD='_Child0'"

     To be continued... (and I sure hope it doesn't end with me not posting anymore because my fingers are cramped after 8 hours a day clicking)

    DROP DATABASE

    COMMIT

    -- Now is the time when you run for the hills!!!!



  • @ Adbove to posts

    There are backups at 1 PM (when everyone is lunching) and at 3 AM, so both actions would nolt lead to anything, expect a few hours of lost work.



  • @dtech said:

    After creating a list of things that had to change, I asked for database access and the SQL structure, so I could run queries to replace those things. The answer was plain and simple: "You can't get it if you aren't here for at least 3 months. Besides it wouldn't get you anything, we tried that but it messed up the whole system". A little bit out of the field, I asked: "How do you expect me to correct the database then". "You'll have to use MAXbureau".

     

    I was imagining myself in this scenario, and right here is where I imagined myself looking for my hat, my coat, and the door. 



  • @Kefer said:

    Ok, so congratulations and welcome to the real world.

     I can almost guess where this story will be going... You create a tool that does the same automatically in just a bit of the original 350 hrs. You test it and it works like a charm. You show it to your boss. Boss happy. Bigger boss finds out and demands you do it by hand, because it's too risky to use your tool. You almost get kicked for your tempering with their "mission-critical enterprise solution". Ah the joy...

     

    EDIT: Yeah, I sound bitter, I know. But changing an organisation that is used to doing fucking up stuff by hand can be frustrating...

    Or: you inform them how long the process will take manually. If they don't care, then you create said tool and let it do a day's worth of work in the background while you play games or something all day, without them knowing it exists.


  •  [b]Part 3[/b]

    Well, seems like my own options is to manually edit trough MAXbureau. If I believe my superiors and its helpdesk at least.

    Well, thats not what I'm going to do. Not in 1000 years. Welcome to: Greasemonkey.

    I've spent the whole morning figuring out how the edit form worked. Greasemonkey autocompletes pretty much everything important now. If I can think of a way to make 20.000 ID to MAC records available to javascript I'm done. (I've got them in a few different data sources. I think I'm going to write a little PHP script that reads them out of a .csv file and that greasemonkey can access with AJAX, unless someone has a better idea)

    Now the only remaining thing is to automatically open the records (and close them, but thats fairly easy). On my quest to discover that I've discovered another beautifull representative line:

    [code]Columns.altEditUrls = ['javascript: GridActions.openSelectedEditable();', 'javascript: GridActions.openSelectedEditable();',
    , 'javascript: GridActions.openSelectedEditable();',
    [i][96x omitted][/i],'javascript: GridActions.openSelectedEditable();'];[/code]

     No kidding. You can find it in "scripts/grids/columns.js" if you don't believe me.

    [b][i]To be continued[/i][/b] 

     



  • [b]Part 3.5[/b]

    My boss asked how it was going and I risked showing him what I was doing. His comments were "neat, neat. So if you can reach that it automatically opens records you can do it fully automatic. Go on with this. I see we got the right man on the job."

    Luckily my boss his boss is the head of the organisation. He is much to busy richening himself and yelling at the board of directors, so Kefer's scenario probally wont become reality. Well, but the rest of the profecy did.... I'm getting scared.

    [b][i]Still going to be continued[/i][/b] 



  • @dtech said:

    <SNIP>

    Well, but the rest of the profecy did.... I'm getting scared.

     Well, every rule has its exceptions.

     

     

     

    They say.


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