Expect the unexpected



  • Got an interesting email lately. We've been doing some minor changes, and the people on the support mailing list got a short summary, which ended with:

    "It has worked for our testing although it may be that there are unexpected problems with some [list of things] [...]"

     To which we got a reply from one of the sales managers:

    "What sort of unexpected problems are we thinking might happen ?"

     Yeah...........

     



  • How's that low litteracy rate working out for you guys?



  • I run into this all the time when ever I quote an amount of time that includes contingencies.



  • @viraptor said:

    "What sort of unexpected problems are we thinking might happen ?"
    "The unpredictable kind."



  • Hope for the best, expect the worst.



  • @viraptor said:

    "What sort of unexpected problems are we thinking might happen ?"
    "Wolf attack."

    "You thing we're going to be attacked by wolves?!"

    "Well, I don't expect it."



  • @bstorer said:

    These puppies are Nazis. They aren't being obvious about it, but I can tell.

    That right-most puppy sure looks suspicious.



  • @bstorer said:

    @viraptor said:

    "What sort of unexpected problems are we thinking might happen ?"
    "Wolf attack."

    "You thing we're going to be attacked by wolves?!"

    "Well, I don't expect it."

     

    +1 funny



  • @viraptor said:

    "What sort of unexpected problems are we thinking might happen ?"

    Meteor strike

    Velociraptor attack

    Glitch in the Matrix

    Sharks with friggin lasers on their heads

    Triffids

     

     

    and they wonder why I look down on people...

     

     



  • @DOA said:

    @viraptor said:

    "What sort of
    unexpected problems are we thinking might happen ?"

    Meteor
    strike

    Velociraptor attack

    Glitch in the Matrix

    Sharks
    with friggin lasers on their heads

    Triffids


     or anything else you might find on the BOFH excuse generator.



  • @powerlord said:

     or anything else you might find on the BOFH excuse generator.

     

    Solar flares? Static build-up? The Model Three problems?



  • @Zemm said:

    @powerlord said:

     or anything else you might find on the BOFH excuse generator.

     

    Solar flares? Static build-up? The Model Three problems?

     The second coming of Christ Jesus? (But that's one I expect.)



  • @viraptor said:

    Got an interesting email lately. We've been doing some minor changes, and the people on the support mailing list got a short summary, which ended with:



    "It has worked for our testing although it may be that there are unexpected problems with some [list of things] [...]"

    To which we got a reply from one of the sales managers:



    "What sort of unexpected problems are we thinking might happen ?"

    Yeah...........


    Not seeing the WTF myself. Is it that you didn't give him the (slightly poorly requested) additional information regarding what might be affected?



    I'm assuming that the upgrade is to some system that doesn't actually affect everything else in the office - basic desktop functionality, email, the air-con and phone systems, for example. That's what the user is asking. Maybe it would be nice for everyone everywhere to be techy enough to know that upgrading the, say, booking software will not affect the email system. We often lose sight of the fact that whilst having knowledge may make a certain question stupid, if you don't have that knowledge, it's often stupid not to be asking.



    In this case, the poor bloke is obviously asking for some bracketing as to the kind of problems that might crop up. You get this kind of thing all the time with users, and it's a WTF that people don't allow for it. It's like when someone calls me up to say 'the email's not working'. 'Ah yes,' I say, 'looks like the mailserver's down. Let me investigate.' The next question is usually 'OK, how long will it take to fix?' Obviously, I don't yet know, because I don't yet know what's wrong. I could say that, but it's not the information my client is after. What he wants to hear is something like: 'I've only just started investigating, so I'll need about 15 minutes just to have a first look. If it's something simple, we should be back up and running within about half an hour. If it's something a bit more complicated, it might take a little longer. Worst case scenario, we have to take the server down, rebuild from backups, and get it back up and running again - would take a few hours. Absolute worst case, the problem is with a third party, in which case it's subject to their SLAs, in which case it might be a day or two before they get it sorted.'



    In the original situation, the correct answer to the question is presumably along the lines of 'The only issues we are expecting to see in this context would be within X application itself' or some such, so the sales guy knows not to worry about, say, his emails.



    Fixed ur shit<br />'s --Ling



  • @davedavenotdavemaybedave said:

    Obviously, I don't yet know, because I don't yet know what's wrong. I could say that, but it's not the information my client is after. What he wants to hear is something like: 'I've only just started investigating, so I'll need about 15 minutes just to have a first look. If it's something simple, we should be back up and running within about half an hour. If it's something a bit more complicated, it might take a little longer. Worst case scenario, we have to take the server down, rebuild from backups, and get it back up and running again - would take a few hours. Absolute worst case, the problem is with a third party, in which case it's subject to their SLAs, in which case it might be a day or two before they get it sorted.'

    Yeah, but then you've just listing a bunch of problems one can expect, therefore they're no longer unexpected problems. Then you're going to get shit for not anticipating that logging into the server would cause a 23-story wormhole to the depths of Eris' wardrobe closet releasing the Killer Rabbit. So you've got a server that could open a portal unleashing a horrible wrath upon all humanity, or not, once you login to it, and you have to fix something on that server. Now what?



  • You're still missing the point (unless that was just for humorous effect). This is like Donald Rumsfeld's widely ridiculed, but actually very sensible 'unknown unknowns'. If you've upgraded the mailserver, you may not know what problems you will get, but the chances are high that any problems that do crop up will be with the mail system.

    One of the main differences between techies and users is that they treat words like 'mailserver' as jargon, not subject to analysis, and so, rather than thinking 'ooh, a mailserver, that must serve mail, I guess that's related to providing email', it's just a proper noun. You might as well be telling them that you're rebooting Freddie.

    Telling them that you've upgraded the mailserver doesn't tell them that unexpected problems are expected to be connected to email.

    If you get a totally unexpected wormhole-killer-rabbit type scenario, that is when you use a form of words like 'related, but not directly connected'. Or possibly a variant, such as 'aargh, aaargh run run save yoursellaaaaarrgh.'

    I don't know why I'm WTFing here, really. I essentially get paid for translating between techies and users, but I've never quite been able to believe that my presence is necessary.

     

    mod: la la la line breaks -dh



  • @davedavenotdavemaybedave said:

    Fixed ur shit<br />'s --Ling
    Is it a problem with Chrome, my PC, me, or CS? I seem to be required to write a strange blend of forum tags, HTML, and something else - Volapuk? - for posts to actually display the way I intend.



  • @davedavenotdavemaybedave said:

    Not seeing the WTF myself. Is it that you didn't give him the (slightly poorly requested) additional information regarding what might be affected?



    I'm assuming that the upgrade is to some system that doesn't actually affect everything else in the office - basic desktop functionality, email, the air-con and phone systems, for example. In this case, the poor bloke is obviously asking for some bracketing as
    to the kind of problems that might crop up.

    I see what you mean, but a) the name of the system is something everyone in our office knows about ; b) the list mentioned potentially affected elements ; c) this actually was a "I can tell you when it happens, most likely it will stop working in some way" situation.

    @davedavenotdavemaybedave said:

    In the original situation, the correct answer to the question is presumably along the lines of 'The only issues we are expecting to see in this context would be within X application itself' or some such, so the sales guy knows not to worry about, say, his emails.

    He basically got an answer along the lines of "[some elements (listed above)]  will stop working in some way"



  • @viraptor said:

    @davedavenotdavemaybedave said:

    Not seeing the WTF myself. Is it that you didn't give him the (slightly poorly requested) additional information regarding what might be affected?



    I'm assuming that the upgrade is to some system that doesn't actually affect everything else in the office - basic desktop functionality, email, the air-con and phone systems, for example. In this case, the poor bloke is obviously asking for some bracketing as
    to the kind of problems that might crop up.

    I see what you mean, but a) the name of the system is something everyone in our office knows about ; b) the list mentioned potentially affected elements ; c) this actually was a "I can tell you when it happens, most likely it will stop working in some way" situation.

    @davedavenotdavemaybedave said:

    In the original situation, the correct answer to the question is presumably along the lines of 'The only issues we are expecting to see in this context would be within X application itself' or some such, so the sales guy knows not to worry about, say, his emails.

    He basically got an answer along the lines of "[some elements (listed above)]  will stop working in some way"

    Shush, don't mess up my point with inconvenient facts :)

    More seriously, I don't know the exact details, but you can ask yourself the question of what the original email writer would say if you pointed the WTF out. Would he laugh/facepalm at his own stupid, or would he chuckle at the poor phrasing and then say 'but what I really wanted to know was...'? If it's the latter, then the WTF is about how people can have a conversation, both thinking they understand what's been said, and both having a totally different idea of what information was imparted. For me, that's a continual marvel.



  • @davedavenotdavemaybedave said:

    Is it a problem with Chrome, my PC, me, or CS?
     

    CS's+TinyMCE doesn't support Chrome.



  • @dhromed said:

    @davedavenotdavemaybedave said:

    Is it a problem with Chrome, my PC, me, or CS?
     

    CS's+TinyMCE doesn't support Chrome.

    I learnt a useful trick for dealing with situations like this, last place I worked. What you do is to turn things around. So, I think you'll find, it's Chrome that doesn't support CS properly...



  • @davedavenotdavemaybedave said:

    Is it a problem with Chrome, my PC, me, or CS?
     

    When in doubt, blame CS, then Canada. Or both. You might also try blaming French.



  • @viraptor said:

    "What sort of unexpected problems are we thinking might happen ?"

     

    Nobody has mentioned cosmic rays yet ...



  • @cklam said:

    Nobody has mentioned cosmic rays yet ...

     

    Eh, cosmic rays are expected.

    Submarine rays, though, are an entirely different story.

    And the Spanish Inquisition, of course.



  • @too_many_usernames said:

    And the Spanish Inquisition, of course.
     

    ... that was unexpected.


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