Making ends meet while attending college is tough. Tuition is ridiculously expensive, books are ridiculously expensive, and food is ridiculously... reasonable, generally. Still, it's hard to afford everything. You could work a crappy part-time job, sell your bone marrow, sign a waiver and let the med students have their way with you, or improvise to make money. Jesse's friend who we'll call "Giuseppe" chose improvisation.

Now, by "improvisation," I don't mean he got on stage to talk about how white people tie their shoes versus how black people tie their shoes (what's the deal with that, anyway? Heyoo!). No, he found himself a client! He could use all the skills he'd gleaned from his few years in college and make some money on the side.

Giuseppe's client knew that he hadn't been in school too long, had done no professional development yet, and that he was generally irresponsible. They also knew that Giuseppe used to be such a nice young boy, loved Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and ran crying from a clown at his fifth birthday. This is because the client was good friends with Giuseppe's parents, and it played no small part in scoring the job for him.

Giuseppe was hammering away at his VB.NET/Access application, and had a working system to design print-outs, like flyers and ads and stuff. The client was impressed and happy, and ready to report to Giuseppe's parents that he did an adorably great job. The one problem, though, is that they couldn't print. Yeah, you heard that right; this software was built for designing ads and flyers, but it couldn't print.

Giuseppe didn't know what to do. He tried to figure out how to have his application print, but he wasn't getting anywhere. Desperately, he called Jesse for help, offering $300 for a working prototype. Jesse didn't want to do it, but he had a rent check to write and ramen noodles to buy. He accepted, and after an hour or two of googling and hacking, Jesse had a working prototype. He let Giuseppe know that he had something working, but that his printing code was hacky and should be changed. Of course, this was ignored, and Jesse's hacky prototype code became hacky production code.

While Jesse was adding his printing module, he perused the existing UI and codebase and found nothing but horror, including:

  • The application ran from one form with several layers of tab controls.
  • Over a thousand controls on the form, so load time was nearly 30 seconds.
  • Queries to the Access database for over 100 combo boxes. No views, just SQL statements that were copied over and over.
  • The application used a second Access database. This one consisted of one table, two columns, with only one row. The columns were an ID (autonumbered) and a boolean "Online" value.
  • "Online" signified whether the app was connected to the company's network. It was toggled by a menu item. If (actually, let's be honest, "when") the application crashed in online mode, the "Online" value would have to be manually changed by the user.
  • If the user tried loading it with "Online" set to true when offline, it'd try to connect an infinite amount of times, each time displaying a messagebox warning that the connection failed. This would continue until the application crashed.
  • The code was full of GOTOs. When Jesse told Giuseppe that GOTOs were "deprecated," he smiled because he thought "deprecation" was a Good Thing. Also, Jesse showed him What Is Truth?, to which Giuseppe responded "wow, File_Not_Found would be pretty useful in my application!"

When choosing a name for his application, Giuseppe needed something that conveyed a mutually advantageous conjunction or compatibility of distinct business participants or elements. He was delighted to find that this was the exact Merriam-Webster definition for "synergy." Plus, using a business buzzword allowed him to bill $20,000 for the software.

Ultimately, Giuseppe was dumped by his client, so Jesse tried to swoop in and be the hero. Sadly, the client was now fearful of any IT work and declined. Well, you know what they say, "opportunity knocks but once, then Giuseppe comes back." Yes, they eventually hired Giuseppe for more work. Sounds to me like this is less "synergy" and more "Stockholm syndrome."