Vision of the future



  • Over the last few years I have worked on again off again on a computer vision system for a company that likes to pretend that this is an actual product but funds all development work for it by selling it and then scrambling to produce the features that the salesmen sold for that iteration. As a result of my initial work being under huge time constraints the "product" barely does its job but has huge deficiencies in terms of its operation. And no - I am not proud of what I produced

    For example the code is compiled against some 3rd party commercial libraries of a nominal revision. Because this company hasn't bought the libraries themselves, the only way to get them onto the computer is to install the end user vision application that comes "free" with the camera (ie spend a shitload on an intelligent camera and get the app for free). So either the system ends up having two versions of the app installed on the computer (one for my product and one that the end users actually uses) or I have to keep compiling my product against what ever version of the application came with the camera that the end user bought. Another lack is that there is no Install method - so I have to manually hand build each system as it is purchased. With no development budget there is no way to clean these "features" up, and as I am a contractor I don't have any free time in which I can just "play around" with the code base and slowly improve things.

    The biggest screw up is that when my system talks to the camera it takes over and blocks out the end user application that comes with the camera. When I created the monster this was an OK design decision based on the original customer that was buying the then non-existant system. Since that time there have been several occasions where this design choice has screwed us over and lost sales.

    In mid 2008 I spent 1 day doing some tests that explored alternative methods of operation which would have cleaned up a lot of the WTFs and produced a more flexible system. At the time I estimated the man hours needed to fix things up and sent my report to the relevant people. Then in mid 2009 the same question arose, so I dug my report up and sent it off again to the relevant people. The late last year the question came up again, so I sent my report off again.

    And today the question arose yet again. So tomorrow I will send off my report for the 4th fricking time. Still with the same man hour estimate to do the work. But I already know what the reply will be. I originally estimated 1 to 2 man weeks to clean up everything and test and get ready to deploy. I have been told that there is maybe $1500 total in the budget to work on the code. So they are going to ask me "can you reduce your estimate?"

    The sound you can hear is me banging my head against my desk



  • You should shoot yourself to put an end to the cycle like they did in Star Trek.



  • @OzPeter said:

    So they are going to ask me "can you reduce your estimate?"

    Answer: Sure, I can easily reduce my estimate.  But it will still take 1 to 2 man weeks to code it.



  • @OzPeter said:

    So tomorrow I will send off my report for the 4th fricking fucking time.

    FTFY



  • @tgape said:

    @OzPeter said:
    So they are going to ask me "can you reduce your estimate?"

    Answer: Sure, I can easily reduce my estimate.  But it will still take 1 to 2 man weeks to code it.

    Also late last year me and another contractor had a phone conference with the guy that doles out our work, quotes the clients the $$ amount of jobs and approves our invoices. He wanted to let us know that the last 3 or 4 jobs were not profitable for the company, and if that keeps happening then the big boss will pull out of this particular sector of industry and there will be no more work for us and hence no money for us at all. He kept saying how he wanted us to make sure we didn't go over budget. All this time I kept remembering the times he wanted me to reduce my estimates or allowed scope creep. I wanted to scream down the phone at him:

    "Listen fuckface, the reason it cost you too much for us to do the work is because you kept quoting the client an amount that was too cheap because you were scared they wouldn't want to pay a realistic price. Use your brains .. if you want X% profit then ensure that 100% = X% profit + Y% cost to do the work".

    This week I also saw another side to his quoting. There is some specific work that the client needs doing. 2-4 man hours tops, but I needed to get a PO from the client to do it. 3 weeks ago I spoke with the client and they were anxious to get the work done and had the PO almost prepped to go - they just needed the $$ amount. They knew it was 2-4 hours work. I had to email my company handler twice to get him to send the official $$ estimate for the job to the client. Since then I haven't heard from the client about the PO. Then yesterday when I asked my handler about it, he thought it was strange too, but then went on to mention how he had suggested to the client that they should pony up 1 to 2 man *days* to cover any other incidentals that we might need to do.



  • Sorry, I kept clicking "Report Abuse", because both you and the end-customer are obviously being abused. . . . .Maybe you and the end customer need to start bypassing the handler.  Or perhaps, instead of bypassing, bury under a bypass.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @Medezark said:

    Sorry, I kept clicking "Report Abuse", because both you and the end-customer are
    obviously being abused.
    So funny. Really. Bwah-hah-hah sorta funny.



    Sadly I rather suspect none of them actually made it to any of the mods. Do you try that joke on every board you're on?



  • @PJH said:

    Sadly I rather suspect none of them actually made it to any of the mods. Do you try that joke on every board you're on?
    Not that it really matters, but that's been confirmed.



  • @OzPeter said:

    I am not proud of what I produced

     

     

     

     If you are not proud of what you produced, then fix it, and stop trying to get someone else to pay for the repair.



  • @AndyCanfield said:

    @OzPeter said:
    I am not proud of what I produced
    If you are not proud of what you produced, then fix it, and stop trying to get someone else to pay for the repair.

    I don't own the software and I have no financial stake in it - I only wrote it. So why should I work for free to improve it? Do you go around doing work for free for other people? If so then perhaps you can fix it.



  • @OzPeter said:

    I don't own the software and I have no financial stake in it - I only wrote it. So why should I work for free to improve it? Do you go around doing work for free for other people? If so then perhaps you can fix it.
     

    I don't own software, even the stuff I write; none of my software is copyrighted. "Steal This Book".

    I have a major stake in any software I write, but it's not a financial stake. It is a matter of pride and self-respect and reputation. My new "boss" contacts one of my old customers and says "Is this guy any good?" What's the answer? That's reputation, and you can't buy that with money in the bank.

    Lots of times I do work for free. As long as there's time and housing and food for my family and me, why should I be stingy? Cast your bread upon the waters, and it will come back a hundredfold. Soggy and moldy, maybe, but multiplied.

    You can't buy self-respect, you can't buy pride, you can't buy reputation, and it sounds like in this case all three are suffering.



  •  Which overweight, bearded, disgusting Unix idol is that in your icon?



  • @blakeyrat said:

     Which overweight, bearded, disgusting Unix idol is that in your icon?

     

    Andy Canfield, or Jerry Garcia, or perhaps Moses. 



  • @AndyCanfield said:

    @blakeyrat said:

     Which overweight, bearded, disgusting Unix idol is that in your icon?

     

    Andy Canfield, or Jerry Garcia, or perhaps Moses.

    Hey!  At least one of those guys is dead.



  • @AndyCanfield said:

    Lots of times I do work for free. As long as there's time and housing and food for my family and me, why should I be stingy? Cast your bread upon the waters, and it will come back a hundredfold. Soggy and moldy, maybe, but multiplied.

    You can't buy self-respect, you can't buy pride, you can't buy reputation, and it sounds like in this case all three are suffering.

    I know what you are saying, but I feel your entire answer is predicated on the people you deal with treating you with respect. And as such, your advice doesn't seem to encompass the loss of self respect in the case where you do the work for free and they treat you like a doormat.

    I do various bits of work for free, and spend a bunch of time keeping up to date (for free) with the technologies that I generally have to work with. In this case I am making a value judgement and trading tangible $$ now for potential (but unlikely) reputation in the future. In the manufacturing industry this is a common tradeoff.


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