Missing the wooden table



  • Yesterday I was called into a phone conference to debug why an application I wrote (but did not configure/install at the customers site) was not collecting data. First thing I found out was that the app had not been working for over 4 weeks, and the last successful dates in the log files corresponded to when the computer with the installed app was in our company office during a Factory Acceptance Test (FAT) for the customer. So whoever took the computer back to the customer site did no more than drop it off, and maybe turn it on - no verification of the system working. Eventually I discovered the failure was due to a service that had not been set to autostart (which was probably my fault - I had configured the original system but I had not been part of the FAT).

    After that was cleared up, we needed to walk the customer through making some configuration changes to support some additional equipment connected to the system. Due to the cheap nature of the project no training was provided to the customer (other than watching the FAT!), and there is no documentation - or budget to write any. So it was painful to try and guide him through the steps in order to open this form, add that value, open a different application and make sure that the values matched etc. Doing a remote access would have saved a lot of pain, but the system is on a factory floor buried behind physical firewalls and paranoid corporate policy.

    After an hour of screwing around like this I suggested that maybe the customer should send us some screen shots of the data they were trying to configure and I could look over them and make some better suggestions on what values to use. Well this morning I received 12 emails that were forward to me from the project engineer who was the customers contact. Each email had a single attachment. Each attachment was a Word document in rtf format. Each Word document only contained a single screen capture. After receiving all those emails I could almost see the wooden table underlying it all. Personally I can't blame the customer for this as his job is to keep the production line running and not worry about the most efficient way to make and send screen shots. Still I had to go WTF!

    As an aside, some people may be familiar with the The Joel Test: 12 Steps to Better Code. You may or may not like the guy, but the test is an interesting way to gauge the quality of who you work for and the tools you get use. After taking a look at that test I can say that this company I am doing work for actually rates a zero on this test. Fortunately as a contractor working mainly off site I have implemented my own policies that raise me well above zero, but I still feel like I am being dragged down all the time the people I work with



  •  I rate 9 out of 12.

    I guess that's not too shabby.



  • @dhromed said:

    Filed
    under: I want my woman to fit 9 inches out of 12
    <input name="ctl00$ctl00$bcr$bcr$ctl00$PostList$ctl03$ctl23$ctl01" id="ctl00_ctl00_bcr_bcr_ctl00_PostList_ctl03_ctl23_ctl01_State" value="value:Filed%20under%3A%20%3Ca%20href%3D%22%2Ftags%2Ffruit%2Fdefault.aspx%22%20rel%3D%22tag%22%3Efruit%3C%2Fa%3E%2C%20%3Ca%20href%3D%22%2Ftags%2Fsteak%2Fdefault.aspx%22%20rel%3D%22tag%22%3Esteak%3C%2Fa%3E%2C%20%3Ca%20href%3D%22%2Ftags%2Fphone%2Bbooth%2Fdefault.aspx%22%20rel%3D%22tag%22%3Ephone%20booth%3C%2Fa%3E%2C%20%3Ca%20href%3D%22%2Ftags%2FI%2Bwant%2Bmy%2Bwoman%2Bto%2Bfit%2B9%2Binches%2Bout%2Bof%2B12%2Fdefault.aspx%22%20rel%3D%22tag%22%3EI%20want%20my%20woman%20to%20fit%209%20inches%20out%20of%2012%3C%2Fa%3E" type="hidden">

    Aww, I'm flattered that you were thinking of my comfort when picking out ladies.



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    Aww, I'm flattered that you were thinking of my comfort when picking out ladies.
     

    I just want you to have plenty, plenty, plenty of room.



  • @OzPeter said:

    Well this morning I received 12 emails that were forward to me from the project engineer who was the customers contact. Each email had a single attachment. Each attachment was a Word document in rtf format. Each Word document only contained a single screen capture.
    My coworkers do this ALL THE TIME.  What's worse is that it's usually all for a small error dialog box that could be either copypasted directly or at least alt+printscreened.  It's not unusual at all to receive a 12 MB bitmap of a screenshot embedded in empty Excel documents. Sometimes it's even for trivially copyable text from terminals or SAP screens. I want to know who's teaching these folks that Office products make for good file containers.  It boggles my mind. And fills my inbox.



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    @dhromed said:

    Filed
    under: I want my woman to fit 9 inches out of 12

    Aww, I'm flattered that you were thinking of my comfort when picking out ladies.

    Nine inches is not the same as half an inch 18 times.



  • @Xyro said:

    @OzPeter said:

    Well this morning I received 12 emails that were forward to me from the project engineer who was the customers contact. Each email had a single attachment. Each attachment was a Word document in rtf format. Each Word document only contained a single screen capture.
    My coworkers do this ALL THE TIME.  What's worse is that it's usually all for a small error dialog box that could be either copypasted directly or at least alt+printscreened.  It's not unusual at all to receive a 12 MB bitmap of a screenshot embedded in empty Excel documents. Sometimes it's even for trivially copyable text from terminals or SAP screens. I want to know who's teaching these folks that Office products make for good file containers.  It boggles my mind. And fills my inbox.

     

     It kind of makes sense if you think about it from the perspective of a computer novice. First, they have no idea what part of the screen is important for you to see in order to get their problem fixed, so they send you all of it just to be safe. Second, they have taken the "document"/"file" analogy a bit literally, and haven't quite grasped the idea that they can send someone a "document" or "file" that isn't something that appears on screen to them as if it were a piece of paper (a word doc or a spreadsheet).

     Now, while I said it is understandable for a novice, anyone who has been working in an office anytime within the last fifteen years has probably been using a computer every single weekday for a large part of what they are paid money to do, and so has no excuse for choosing to remain a novice for that long.



  • @bstorer said:

    @morbiuswilters said:

    @dhromed said:

    Filed
    under: I want my woman to fit 9 inches out of 12

    Aww, I'm flattered that you were thinking of my comfort when picking out ladies.

    Nine inches is not the same as half an inch 18 times.

    [citation needed]



  • @Tyler said:

    It kind of makes sense if you think about it from the perspective of a computer novice.
    Oh, I should add: these coworkers have more years experience in IT than I have years around the sun.   :(



  • @Xyro said:

    @Tyler said:

    It kind of makes sense if you think about it from the perspective of a computer novice.
    Oh, I should add: these coworkers have more years experience in IT than I have years around the sun.   :(

    Years ago I heard some sage advice:

    Ignorance can be cured with education.

    Stupidity can only be cured with a hand-gun.



  • Better that than business analysts who think they know what part of the screen you want to see, and spend more time giving you their bullshit theory about what's wrong that explaining how the fuck to reproduce the problem.



  • @Xyro said:

    My coworkers do this ALL THE TIME.  What's worse is that it's usually all for a small error dialog box that could be either copypasted directly or at least alt+printscreened.  It's not unusual at all to receive a 12 MB bitmap of a screenshot embedded in empty Excel documents. Sometimes it's even for trivially copyable text from terminals or SAP screens.
     

     My personal favourite was the coworker who insisted on sending giant screenshots of an Internet Explorer window.  With a text error message from a web application in it. 

     Or even better yet, half of a text error message in it because the font size was set too large and everything after "Fatal error in SQL statement 'SELECT F" was cut off.

     No matter how often I explained what scroll bars were and how it would be much easier to just mark and copy the text from the screen, I kept receiving the same bitmap-filled emails and had to walk over to the other side of the building to say "Okay, show me again where this error came from".

     Calling for support isn't meant to be a cure for being bored and lonely at work.

     



  • @sys said:

    Better that than business analysts who think they know what part of the screen you want to see, and spend more time giving you their bullshit theory about what's wrong that explaining how the fuck to reproduce the problem.


    This is my pet hate. Being told "some low-level problem" is happening, only to find out (after spending far too long taking their word for it) that it's something entirely different. One day I'll learn to ignore the diagnosis from people (read:graphics/js guy and project manager in a small software company) who can't tell the difference between an array dump and an array message.

    Oh, and "I need this small thing done, it should only take a couple of minutes". Yes, a couple of minutes to add an input and spit out the value. A little bit longer to actually make that value have the actual meaning and make the connections you want it to!

    (Sorry - bad day at crap company I thought was great...)



  • Yesterday, I had to explain how to create a shortcut to a guy who has been using a computer to sell computer training for at least fifteen years.  It was a very painful conversation.  The same guy has no problem finding and installing every piece of software that could possibly get him free music-infested spyware.



  • @DCRoss said:

    had to walk over to the other side of the building to say "Okay, show me again where this error came from".
     

    And then you demonstrated the copypaste feature, right? And said that this is not only handier for him but also handier for you, right? And you confirmed that he got the message, right?



  •  Some years ago, I was on a project where Outlook on a colleague's PC stopped opening attachments of .doc files, because, as it turned out, it ran out of Doc1..Doc999 filenames in the Temp folder. Users just kept sending Doc1.doc files (with screenshots in them, yes).

    But the crowning jewel I won't soon forget was...

    Me: So you want to exclude certain accounts from a report?

    User: Oh, yes. Which ones?.. Well, I'll send you a list. sends .doc with several screenshots of IE, in which there is an .xls file opened... with a text list of ~50 accounts in a column

    But this one ended well. I noticed the address bar on the screenshots - the file was on the LAN, easily accessible. Moreover, it was stated in the file that all the accounts in question belonged to two clients. Till this day, I'm not sure why the user - high-ranking, pretty intelligent person - wouldn't have just said: "Accounts of XXX and YYY is what you need."



  • Man, you're so lucky that you have no conception of the WTFitude out there.

     Today, my colleague was helping someone with a log-in issue. "It won't accept my password" complained the user. Following a reset, my colleague emailed the new password. Within seconds, the user was back on the phone: "It still doesn't work, you must have sent me the wrong password". After quickly verifying that the password in the email was in fact correct - and working - my colleague advised the user to copy-and-paste it into the password box to preclude transcription errors. On being informed that it was *still* not working, my colleague asked the user to paste into an instance of Notepad so we could see what was being copied:

     Dear User, 

    Your new password is: XXXXXXXX

     Regards,

    Support

     

     



  • @davedavenotdavemaybedave said:

    On being informed that it was still not working, my colleague asked the user to paste into an instance of Notepad so we could see what was being copied:
     

    It's a passphrase!



  • @dhromed said:

    And then you demonstrated the copypaste feature, right? And said that this is not only handier for him but also handier for you, right?
     

    "Ohhh, yeah.  I remember that from the last month.  Do you want me to do the same thing again?  Wait, what's that with the right mouse button?  It can copy?  Wow!  That's pretty good."

    It's like talking to goldfish some times.  I think I would have preferred "Dave's not here, man!" because at least then I could see what the source of the confusion was.

     


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @DCRoss said:

    "Ohhh, yeah.  I remember that from the last month.  Do you want me to do the same thing again?  Wait, what's that with the right mouse button?  It can copy?  Wow!  That's pretty good."

    It's like talking to goldfish some times

    There's a goldfish on the phone, and he'd like an apology



  • @PJH said:

    There's a goldfish on the phone, and he'd like an apology
     

    Nonsense.

    I provided our phone number at least 4 months ago.

    I'm not sure why.

    I do remember tasty brownies!


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