Comment On Papering Over the Problem

There are certain baselines that telecom companies care about. If, for example, your company is responsible for a set of network devices at the local airport, detecting and correcting failures quickly was very important. [expand full text]
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Re: Papering Over the Problem

2012-05-24 11:09 • by Steve The Cynic
OK, so a non-obvious functional requirement ("Printing of alerts must be audible") wasn't specified. Life sucks sometimes.

However, Miguel is partly to blame for his predicament, as he could have done the boss demo before footling around buying a funky high-end printer.

Re: Papering Over the Problem

2012-05-24 11:11 • by Wyrm (unregistered)
A perfect case of the client asking for A (printed reports) because he thinks he wants B (the printer being an alarm) when he actually wants C (an audio alarm).
Don't just ask what the client wants, always ask about the context.

Re: Papering Over the Problem

2012-05-24 11:12 • by toshir0
Well, this was your first project. We all make mistakes.
That's so fucking retarded.

So... basically the article is stating that people waiting for others to follow this kind of never-spoke-of-nor-recorded-anywhere specifications are everywhere.... ? That's what I feared.

Someone hit that guy hard. Please.

Re: Papering Over the Problem

2012-05-24 11:14 • by callcopse
Wow, this must be from a while back. Even crappy monitoring stuff gets big screens showing web sites with things that go red and green and so forth, AFAIK, these days. Personally I would have attempted to persuade the boss to let me get a bat signal some place, as well as a groovy siren.

Re: Papering Over the Problem

2012-05-24 11:14 • by Shishire
So why didn't he just add a $5 pair of speakers next to the printer and configure them to play a sound when an alarm prints?

Re: Papering Over the Problem

2012-05-24 11:17 • by wolrah
381816 in reply to 381811
Steve The Cynic:
However, Miguel is partly to blame for his predicament, as he could have done the boss demo before footling around buying a funky high-end printer.


But then had the boss liked it, he would have seen a working implementation with whatever random printer he used for the demo, and this would have been "critical" to get in to production as-is immediately. We'll replace it with the better model "eventually" (never). From Miguel's perspective, not knowing of the desire for the printer to be an audible alarm, doing a demo before ordering the nifty new hardware is a fine way to not get the nifty new hardware.

toshir0:
So... basically the article is stating that people waiting for others to follow this kind of never-spoke-of-nor-recorded-anywhere specifications are everywhere.... ? That's what I feared.


Yup. They're everywhere. One will probably be your boss at some point. Enjoy.

Re: Papering Over the Problem

2012-05-24 11:17 • by uns (unregistered)
"if they can't here the printer?"

Righting is not your strongest skill, innit? ;-)

Re: Papering Over the Problem

2012-05-24 11:23 • by toshir0
381818 in reply to 381816
wolrah:
toshir0:
So... basically the article is stating that people waiting for others to follow this kind of never-spoke-of-nor-recorded-anywhere specifications are everywhere.... ? That's what I feared.


Yup. They're everywhere. One is your boss at some point right fucking now. Suffer.
FTFY. *sigh*

Re: Papering Over the Problem

2012-05-24 11:24 • by Dev King (unregistered)
This is why we had a bell on the teletype machine and a character to ring it. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bell_character

Re: Papering Over the Problem

2012-05-24 11:28 • by dogmatic (unregistered)
TRWTF is he couldn't 'here' the printer.

Re: Papering Over the Problem

2012-05-24 11:33 • by Your Name (unregistered)
> "How are the technicians going
to know to log into the superviser program and
check the alerts if they can't here the printer?"

Here a printer, there a printer,
Everywhere a printer
Old McRemy had a farm, E-I-E-I-O

Re: Papering Over the Problem

2012-05-24 11:36 • by Not sure if Fry or just Philip (unregistered)
Maybe they can't locate the printer.

Re: Papering Over the Problem

2012-05-24 11:38 • by dogmatic (unregistered)
Seriously though, this is why you don't ask a client what they want done and just do what they tell you, you ask them what they want to accomplish, find out their ultimate goals, and then offer solutions to achieve those goals. Clients rarely come up with the best solution to a problem on their own. I consider that part of my job.

Re: Papering Over the Problem

2012-05-24 11:39 • by Poor Suffering Bastard (unregistered)
381825 in reply to 381816
One has been my boss for TEN YEARS.

KMN

Re: Papering Over the Problem

2012-05-24 11:40 • by pitchingchris
381826 in reply to 381823
Man, I got a hereing problem.

Re: Papering Over the Problem

2012-05-24 11:41 • by Kevin Thorpe (unregistered)
I know, give them an old Ricoh daisywheel. When it prints an alert everyone will instinctively duck because that bugger sounds like gunfire.

Re: Papering Over the Problem

2012-05-24 11:42 • by concerned citizen (unregistered)
TRWTF is that all the pedants point out "here" but not "monitory." monitory != monitoring

Re: Papering Over the Problem

2012-05-24 11:44 • by ctd (unregistered)
Sometimes the problem isn't the lack of articulated requirements, it's the lack of viable blame.

Re: Papering Over the Problem

2012-05-24 11:45 • by operagost
I would install a small piece of plastic to drag on the roller in the feed mechanism for the output tray. The rattle should be pretty audible.

Re: Papering Over the Problem

2012-05-24 11:47 • by Don (unregistered)
381831 in reply to 381817
uns:
"if they can't here the printer?"

Righting is not your strongest skill, innit? ;-)

And yet, amazingly, you understood the context and intent. Damn pedant Nazi's

Re: Papering Over the Problem

2012-05-24 11:49 • by English Man
381832 in reply to 381812
Wyrm:
A perfect case of the client asking for A (printed reports) because he thinks he wants B (the printer being an alarm) when he actually wants C (an audio alarm).
Don't just ask what the client wants, always ask about the context.
No he wants an alarm to tell him about the report.

If he still had budget left over, he should have got some little alarm put together with a serial/parallel port connection that would sound when the printer was printing.

Re: Papering Over the Problem

2012-05-24 11:50 • by toshir0
381833 in reply to 381824
dogmatic:
Seriously though, this is why you don't ask a client what they want done and just do what they tell you, you ask them what they want to accomplish, find out their ultimate goals, and then offer solutions to achieve those goals. Clients rarely come up with the best solution to a problem on their own. I consider that part of my job.
OK with that part.

Except here it seems not to be the case : if the client you're speaking of (or even a manager/boss like in the context of the article) is the kind of person who 'knows' the solution and just want automated hands (meaning "you") to just actually ACT... you're fucked. Because ANY explanation or advice from you will be preemptively seen as some way to chit-chat your slacking way out*.

---
* I strongly apologize for this last sentence, totally pulled from my french-talking ass. Might be awfully wrong.

Re: Papering Over the Problem

2012-05-24 11:51 • by Nagesh
Buy tape recorder. Record printer sounds. Train monkey to press tape recorder play button every time it see paper come out of printer. Give him peanuts.

Re: Papering Over the Problem

2012-05-24 11:56 • by dkallen (unregistered)
381835 in reply to 381833
toshir0:

Except *hear* it seems not to be the case...


BTFY...

Re: Papering Over the Problem

2012-05-24 11:57 • by linepro (unregistered)
381837 in reply to 381815
Shishire:
So why didn't he just add a $5 pair of speakers next to the printer and configure them to play a sound when an alarm prints?


Maybe it wasn't a WTF at all. Boss wanted the new printer and hived off the sh*t one on the client.....

Re: Papering Over the Problem

2012-05-24 12:01 • by Mountain Banjo (unregistered)
If he still had budget left over, he should have got some little alarm put together with a serial/parallel port connection that would sound when the printer was printing.


120V rotating "police light:" $16.59 on Amazon.
120V Buzzer: $7.00 on Amazon.
USB-controlled AC outlet: $36.83 on Amaozn.

Adding all that would be less than the project's Aspirin budget.

Re: Papering Over the Problem

2012-05-24 12:01 • by JJ (unregistered)
Here? Monitory? Psshh. You want real pedantry, I've got it. Let's talk about how Miguel "setup a demo."

You don't "setup a demo," you "set up a demo." If it were the first case and someone asked, "What are you doing?" you'd have to reply, "I'm setupping a demo." But you don't; you say, "I'm setting up a demo." Therefore "set up" (verb) is two words. Only when it's a noun is it one word: "Let's check the current setup."

And yes, it is exactly the same with "log on/off/in/out."

Re: Papering Over the Problem

2012-05-24 12:02 • by Ryan (unregistered)
This could have been avoided by a further discussion of requirements or actually demoing the software to the customer (boss in this case). I think its inevitable that something will get lost in translation with requirements and requirements change.

Adapting to these changes is critical.

I wouldn't have splurged on hardware. I would have returned the money and asked for a piece of the money saved as a bonus.

Re: Papering Over the Problem

2012-05-24 12:05 • by snoofle
One could use a motion detector to see the paper coming out of the printer to trigger an audio file. Lots of choices once those come into play (imagine a Darth Vader-ish voice: There is a disturbance in the....)

Re: Papering Over the Problem

2012-05-24 12:06 • by Bub (unregistered)
That boss needs to hear some banjos in the shower

Re: Papering Over the Problem

2012-05-24 12:06 • by Doctor_of_Ineptitude (unregistered)
381843 in reply to 381837
linepro:
Shishire:
So why didn't he just add a $5 pair of speakers next to the printer and configure them to play a sound when an alarm prints?


Maybe it wasn't a WTF at all. Boss wanted the new printer and hived off the sh*t one on the client.....


This boss has the ability to become BOFH. In one move he got rid of his old printer, got a brand new printer, that too also on Miguel budget, and also showed the new new comer his place in the on the fishing pole. And the Boss was right, not only is Miguel naive, he failed to even learn from the experience. And that is the Real WTF.

Re: Papering Over the Problem

2012-05-24 12:08 • by Bananas (unregistered)
381844 in reply to 381838
Mountain Banjo:
If he still had budget left over, he should have got some little alarm put together with a serial/parallel port connection that would sound when the printer was printing.


120V rotating "police light:" $16.59 on Amazon.
120V Buzzer: $7.00 on Amazon.
USB-controlled AC outlet: $36.83 on Amaozn.

Adding all that would be less than the project's Aspirin budget.
And quite a BOOOORRRRRRing solution. For real geek cred, figure out how to get the speaker inside the printer to play an audio file of a dot matrix printer spitting out a page of text. That ultra high-end printer does have a speaker inside, right?

Captcha: aliquam: You show me your problems, aliquam for you .

Re: Papering Over the Problem

2012-05-24 12:14 • by C-Derb (unregistered)
This reminds me of the project manager at a friend's company who was complaining that, after interviewing 10+ candidates, he couldn't find a developer that would answer his trick question correctly.

He said, "I have a barn that needs a window. How would you build it?" Never mind that he is interviewing software developers and not carpenters. Each developer would then ask questions about how big he wants it or which side of the barn he wanted it on. The question he wanted to be asked was "Why do you want a window?" so that he could answer "Because it gets hot and I want to keep the barn cool." Maybe building a window isn't the solution to the problem you're trying to solve.

Fine. Point taken. This manager basically said, "The main qualification for working here is to assume I'm a dipshit."

Re: Papering Over the Problem

2012-05-24 12:17 • by Remy Porter
381847 in reply to 381845
Isn't that the general assumption when dealing with managers? All managers have pointy hair until proven otherwise.

//My boss has decidedly unpointy hair. I like my organization, even if they are a source of WTFs from time to time.

Re: Papering Over the Problem

2012-05-24 12:18 • by Bananas (unregistered)
381848 in reply to 381845
C-Derb:
This reminds me of the project manager at a friend's company who was complaining that, after interviewing 10+ candidates, he couldn't find a developer that would answer his trick question correctly.

He said, "I have a barn that needs a window. How would you build it?" Never mind that he is interviewing software developers and not carpenters. Each developer would then ask questions about how big he wants it or which side of the barn he wanted it on. The question he wanted to be asked was "Why do you want a window?" so that he could answer "Because it gets hot and I want to keep the barn cool." Maybe building a window isn't the solution to the problem you're trying to solve.

Fine. Point taken. This manager basically said, "The main qualification for working here is to assume I'm a dipshit."
Ah, so we need to drill down to the root requirements:
"Why do you need it to be cool?"
"Why do you need a barn?"
"Why are you even here?"

Once we get the answer to that last question we can get down to work.

Re: Papering Over the Problem

2012-05-24 12:19 • by ¯\(°_o)/¯ I DUNNO LOL (unregistered)
381849 in reply to 381819
Dev King:
This is why we had a bell on the teletype machine and a character to ring it. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bell_character
...then there was that minor plot point in The Andromeda Strain where shreds of paper got in between the bell and its hammer, thus preventing an important message from being read until too late.

Sounds like what was really needed was a voice synthesizer with a Centronics interface. It would save on paper, too.

So is a 'monitory' where the high priests of the mainframe live?

Re: Papering Over the Problem

2012-05-24 12:20 • by Peter (unregistered)
Simple solution. Teletype(r) Model 35 RO printer. No maintenance needed. Ever. Makes PLENTY of noise. Includes a bell.

Re: Papering Over the Problem

2012-05-24 12:21 • by Zylon
381851 in reply to 381813
toshir0:
Well, this was your first project. We all make mistakes.
That's so fucking retarded.

Probably because it sounds exactly like the sort of hyperbolically exaggerated fake dialog that Remy is always making up. I won't believe that was actually said until the original submitter steps up.

Re: Papering Over the Problem

2012-05-24 12:27 • by Matt Westwood
Reminds me of the story on the news recently about the electric car.

Seems that when they rolled out the electric car recently into the consumer jungle that is Britain, it was banned from sale as being "unsafe". Unsafe how? Well, because it was pretty damn near silent, people who are short in the paying-attention department are likely to step off the pavement in front of them without looking.

The solution? To put a noisemaker in them to go "brrm, brrm" like a traditional noise-monster.

What a load of fucking shit. Like, maybe the design would be to email the technicians with the error file? Even if this was 20 or 30 years ago, the technology existed for electronic communication (and in those days it was a fun and challenging intellectual exercise to do). Methinks this boss was probably a bit of a cunt.

Re: Papering Over the Problem

2012-05-24 12:30 • by d (unregistered)
381853 in reply to 381848
At the end of this path of thought lies the question to which the answer is 42.

Re: Papering Over the Problem

2012-05-24 12:31 • by Seriously (unregistered)
why the heck are you printing an alert? What is this, 1980? send the alert to the tech's email so your AOL can tell you that you've got mail.

Re: Papering Over the Problem

2012-05-24 12:37 • by Matt Westwood
381855 in reply to 381845
C-Derb:
This reminds me of the project manager at a friend's company who was complaining that, after interviewing 10+ candidates, he couldn't find a developer that would answer his trick question correctly.

He said, "I have a barn that needs a window. How would you build it?" Never mind that he is interviewing software developers and not carpenters. Each developer would then ask questions about how big he wants it or which side of the barn he wanted it on. The question he wanted to be asked was "Why do you want a window?" so that he could answer "Because it gets hot and I want to keep the barn cool." Maybe building a window isn't the solution to the problem you're trying to solve.

Fine. Point taken. This manager basically said, "The main qualification for working here is to assume I'm a dipshit."


But he said "The barn needs a window", not "I want a window in the barn". Hang on, the boss isn't a woman, is it? Because in that case you need to translate womanese: "we need" is womanese for "I want".

Re: Papering Over the Problem

2012-05-24 12:39 • by Ben There (unregistered)
381856 in reply to 381812
Wyrm:
A perfect case of the client asking for A (printed reports) because he thinks he wants B (the printer being an alarm) when he actually wants C (an audio alarm).
Don't just ask what the client wants, always ask about the context.
Never let the client specify the solution. It can be very difficult tactfully telling them they're too stupid to design stuff, but make them tell you what is the problem they're trying to solve.

Re: Papering Over the Problem

2012-05-24 12:42 • by D-Coder
381857 in reply to 381845
C-Derb:
This reminds me of the project manager at a friend's company who was complaining that, after interviewing 10+ candidates, he couldn't find a developer that would answer his trick question correctly.

He said, "I have a barn that needs a window. How would you build it?" Never mind that he is interviewing software developers and not carpenters. Each developer would then ask questions about how big he wants it or which side of the barn he wanted it on. The question he wanted to be asked was "Why do you want a window?" so that he could answer "Because it gets hot and I want to keep the barn cool." Maybe building a window isn't the solution to the problem you're trying to solve.

Fine. Point taken. This manager basically said, "The main qualification for working here is to assume I'm a dipshit."
Well, yes. But smarter than the average dipshit: he knew he had to interview for people who could deal with a dipshit.

Re: Papering Over the Problem

2012-05-24 12:44 • by Captcha: secundum (unregistered)
381858 in reply to 381827
Kevin Thorpe:
I know, give them an old Ricoh daisywheel. When it prints an alert everyone will instinctively duck because that bugger sounds like gunfire.


I have a (modern) cheap HP Deskjet printer. The first time I set the printing speed to "Fast" I ducked too. The cartridge moves so fast that it "hits" the sides of the printer with enough force to make the table wobble, and it literally throws the paper to you it has finished.

It sounds like "WANNA PRINT BITCH? GIVE ME THE FUCKING PAPER ALREADY! HERE YOU HAVE YOUR FUCKING PRINTED PAGE, ASSHOLE!" every time.

Re: Papering Over the Problem

2012-05-24 12:45 • by Zylon
381859 in reply to 381852
Matt Westwood:
The solution? To put a noisemaker in them to go "brrm, brrm" like a traditional noise-monster.

What a load of fucking shit.

You're an idiot. Expecting to be able to hear a high-speed death machine, often operated by semi-sentient morons, is entirely reasonable. This sort of engineering is quite common. Ever wondered why turn signals still make an audible clicking sound? Or why residental natural gas stinks? It's all deliberate.

Re: Papering Over the Problem

2012-05-24 12:46 • by Brogrammer (unregistered)
381860 in reply to 381853
Miguel rubbed off a fake alert, and a moment later the printer spit out a nice report announcing the error.


So close to rubbed out...

Re: Papering Over the Problem

2012-05-24 12:49 • by Agention (unregistered)
381861 in reply to 381843
Doctor_of_Ineptitude:
...his place in the on the fishing pole...


I don't think that's a thing.

Re: Papering Over the Problem

2012-05-24 12:58 • by C-Derb (unregistered)
381862 in reply to 381859
Zylon:
Matt Westwood:
The solution? To put a noisemaker in them to go "brrm, brrm" like a traditional noise-monster.

What a load of fucking shit.

You're an idiot. Expecting to be able to hear a high-speed death machine, often operated by semi-sentient morons, is entirely reasonable. This sort of engineering is quite common. Ever wondered why turn signals still make an audible clicking sound? Or why residental natural gas stinks? It's all deliberate.


Turn signals make a clicking noise to try to get people to turn them off after changing lanes. (Fail)

If cars making noise is a "reasonable" requirement to prevent people from stepping into traffic, why are there deaf people who live past the age of 10?

Re: Papering Over the Problem

2012-05-24 12:58 • by Mainframe Web Dev (unregistered)
381863 in reply to 381848
C-Derb:
This reminds me of the project manager at a friend's company who was complaining that, after interviewing 10+ candidates, he couldn't find a developer that would answer his trick question correctly.

He said, "I have a barn that needs a window. How would you build it?" Never mind that he is interviewing software developers and not carpenters. Each developer would then ask questions about how big he wants it or which side of the barn he wanted it on. The question he wanted to be asked was "Why do you want a window?" so that he could answer "Because it gets hot and I want to keep the barn cool." Maybe building a window isn't the solution to the problem you're trying to solve.

Fine. Point taken. This manager basically said, "The main qualification for working here is to assume I'm a dipshit."


That got me. I would have answered "With a Saw-Saw."
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