The Mother of all Interfaces

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  • rdrunner 2008-04-24 10:02
    Second!
  • Pawel 2008-04-24 10:10
    LOL, enterprisy folks still know how to get the money from the client.
  • Someone You Know 2008-04-24 10:17
    The Real WTF is that they're using the same room as both a coat room and a broom closet.
  • Andy Goth 2008-04-24 10:21
    Someone You Know:
    they're using the same room as both a coat room and a broom closet.
    Hell, I keep all my network junk (firewall/server, switch, modem, wireless access point, etc.) on a shelf above the coat rack in my front closet. And there are a couple vacuum cleaners in there too; I guess you could call those electric brooms. :^)
  • Asiago Chow 2008-04-24 10:22
    And the moral of the story is: If you want all-expenses-paid trips to Canada and raised floors you've got to come out of the closet.
  • GregP 2008-04-24 10:23
    This reminds me of how my college changed the housing request process.

    Originally, the first year I was there, everyone was scheduled to physically walk in and sign up with a new dorm. This involved talking to a real human being and having them fill things into the arcane system. They had the knowledge and training to understand the quirks which would be incomprehensible to everyone else.

    The next year, they created a new website to sign up, and by "created" I mean revealed the crusty old system in web page format. Not only was it constantly crashing from the load, but even if you could get on you'd have to sit there for a while to figure out what everything meant, and how it related the printed housing numbers. It was a harrowing experience, and no one I knew actually got the place they wanted. Surprisingly my friends and I still mananged to all be in the same building, which was still good even if it wasn't the building we wanted.

    I heard the year after that they fixed up the system, but by that point I didn't care and sought housing off campus.

    There were similar problems with the registration system, until one of my friends figured out the old phone registration system still worked. So we all had exactly the classes we wanted, while everyone else was sitting at their computers hours later refreshing their browser in the hope that they wouldn't get an error page.
  • conservajerk 2008-04-24 10:23
    Hmmmm... I just looked at jobs on the certain 3 letter company's website. They seem to think an intermediate/senior java developer in Victoria, B.C. needs only a minimum of 2 years java experience and 3 years it experience. This is senior? WTF?
  • snoofle 2008-04-24 10:32
    conservajerk:
    Hmmmm... I just looked at jobs on the certain 3 letter company's website. They seem to think an intermediate/senior java developer in Victoria, B.C. needs only a minimum of 2 years java experience and 3 years it experience. This is senior? WTF?
    Sadly, it's not just them. Scan Dice/HotJobs/Monster, and you'll see countless ads for "senior developers" with 3 years of experience.

    I found one today that wanted 3 years of Java and 2 years of programming experience. (no, that's not a misprint).
  • jtl 2008-04-24 10:32
    At my college the kids who knew how to ssh directly into the registration server were the ones who at least had a chance to get the schedule they wanted. The 'web portal' was always the least likely option.
  • NewbiusMaximus 2008-04-24 10:39
    Developers at XXX Corp claimed that this was impossible, as they had thoroughly load-tested Mother, but eventually agreed to investigate their testing code.

    Yeah, I've been on the other side of that "thoroughly load-tested" statement. Every time some customer was told that, it meant they sat down one tester with (maybe) two client computers and (if you're really lucky) some kind of automated or scripted testing software that they might know how to use.

    Which, of course, gives you spectacular, catastrophic failure when more than 4 people try to use the application simultaneously. Hilarity ensues.

    Note to self: get in on the wine-and-dine, "get-a-big-bonus when your shitty $4 million Rube Goldbergian system is finally cobbled together" side of the game instead of the "make things work on a reasonable budget" side of the game.
  • Fred 2008-04-24 10:49
    They were surprised that college kids were up at 3 A.M? WTF!!! That's prime time in college time.
  • conservajerk 2008-04-24 10:52
    snoofle:
    conservajerk:
    Hmmmm... I just looked at jobs on the certain 3 letter company's website. They seem to think an intermediate/senior java developer in Victoria, B.C. needs only a minimum of 2 years java experience and 3 years it experience. This is senior? WTF?
    Sadly, it's not just them. Scan Dice/HotJobs/Monster, and you'll see countless ads for "senior developers" with 3 years of experience.

    I found one today that wanted 3 years of Java and 2 years of programming experience. (no, that's not a misprint).


    LOL - I think I want to work there. If they can't even get the job ad right then what can they possibly expect from me?
  • Shriike 2008-04-24 10:53
    So, this is a really good explanation for why college is so expensive, "a few mil for a new registration system? Sure!"
  • SNF 2008-04-24 11:01
    Goddamn that makes me angry.
  • Joe Mason 2008-04-24 11:02
    This sounds remarkably like the University of Waterloo, except that I thought the "dinky old CGI PC" was built and maintained by a CS prof in his office, and rather than interfacing with the "real" registration system, it just printed up official course selection sheets (normally filled out by hand) and the prof would have his grad students gather up the printouts and hand them over in batches rather than having every student stand in line separately.

    And when they phased in the new super-duper web based system that didn't work and needed everyone to sign up only during their assigned block of time, the old CS-only system went away because they stopped using the old forms entirely.

    If it turns out that this IS the same story, and the old system was actually on-line the whole time and I just never heard about it, I'm going to be PISSED.


    Ed: Based on your description ("U of Waterloo", "Professor"), it's certainly a different place...
  • fluffy777 2008-04-24 11:06
    When I was at UCSC, we had similar things going:

    Scheduled times to register for classes (which doubled as a way to let seniors could get priority registration).

    Old, telephone based backend interface, with small cgi frontend.

    New, horrible web monstrosity replaces old telephone based backend. (not from a three letter company, but it did have a three letter name).

    Maybe UCSC was one of the consulted.
  • Skaven 2008-04-24 11:22
    I smell BS. It sounds like they are trotting out the IT David and Goliath story - especially when it gets to the big bonuses and windowed office for all the App Dev IT people. Like any administration reward developers for anything. ;)

  • Sa 2008-04-24 11:24
    NewbiusMaximus:
    Note to self: get in on the wine-and-dine, "get-a-big-bonus when your shitty $4 million Rube Goldbergian system is finally cobbled together" side of the game instead of the "make things work on a reasonable budget" side of the game.

    Well, it's about time. For a while there I was afraid that you would never see the light. You're too late for the Boca trip, but I'm looking forward to seeing you in Maui next month. We'll be discussing the the new mega-site development project aboard the 45 foot schooner that the company leased for the trip.

    Now that you've decided to come over to the "dark side" (yuck yuck) have your people get in touch with my people and we'll get together and discuss "old times in IT hell". We can even lay back in the Jacuzzi and read TheDailyWTF (or whatever its name is this week), drink scotch, and laugh about the old developer days.

    I'll let Jack know that you've finally decided to join us later. It appears that right now he's inside the Bungalow with some lady walking on his back.

    If you hurry, you can try some of these crab cake finger thingies that Jeeves is carrying around on a silver tray. Janet has Slashdot up on the 52 plasma.
  • Scott 2008-04-24 11:24
    <clip>.. rewarded the folks in ADU with big bonuses and new offices with real windows ..<clip>.. As for GRG and his fellow programmer, they stayed in their small coat-room office and got a 2.3% raise at the end of that year.

    This bothers me that the 2 developers didn't get anything of a reward when their system worked so well. I'm on GRG's side!

    Also, I still believe that 2 developers that work well together can get more done than a large team, it's about working well together and forming a relationship with one-another so you can accomplish things.
  • A Nonny Mouse 2008-04-24 11:26
    Asiago Chow:
    And the moral of the story is: If you want all-expenses-paid trips to Canada and raised floors you've got to come out of the closet.


    :)
  • Ie 2008-04-24 11:30
    That's the most depressing WTF in a while. :(
  • Joshua Ochs 2008-04-24 11:34
    Yup, same thing at Northwestern University, although the culprit there was PeopleSoft. They delivered CAESAR (Course Application ..... Registration - I don't recall it all now). It similarly crashed under a few users when it went live. Took a couple years to get working at even a basic level - we took to calling it "Seizure" instead.

    These universities DO have a huge talent pool willing to work for a couple extra credits; why don't they ever take advantage of that?
  • fmobus 2008-04-24 11:36
    In my university in Brazil, we had a similar, albeit successful, path.

    (20 years ago) in person, time-slices by seniority and grades, cross-department allocations were sent from department to department by teletype or phone.

    (15 years ago) same thing, but the registration attendants had a telnet terminal to the central server to register people in real time and solve cross-department allocations. Students had the opportunity to change their plans if their desired classes were full.

    (5 years ago) web-based registration. Every student sets 3 "registration plans" during a 10 day period. After that, according to the student seniority, the "filling" of each plan was evaluated. The best plan for the student (most mandatory classes, most classes, etc) was selected. Failures, special requests, etc were handled in person during the following week.

    (3 years ago) same system, but the student was allowed to make adjustments or special requests online.

    Right now, the way it is, 99% of the registrations are solved online; this is specially good for students living out of town, for previously they had less vacation time. The only WTF on this system is the clumsy interface. Other than that, is reliable and fast.
  • NewbiusMaximus 2008-04-24 11:45
    These universities DO have a huge talent pool willing to work for a couple extra credits; why don't they ever take advantage of that?

    Well, at *some* universities, it's because they really don't have a huge talent pool. At mine, for example, a prof told me that he was chatting with someone around the time they were graduating, who admitted that he'd never actually got any code to compile in his 4 years there. People outside the university weren't totally ignorant of this state of affairs, which is partly the reason I chose to get a degree in a different subject, from a different department. :P

    Yeah, in general, it's stupid to not take some grad students and give them credit for building something instead of paying consultants large sums of money. I think most people who have worked in software development know that, on the average, you're going to get the same shitty product either way. But hey, the decision makers have other priorities, like getting to go on the wine/dine trips.
  • spacix 2008-04-24 11:48
    I think I used to work for the University that has been described in these WTF postings. I too worked for one in the area which jumps from freezing cold to burning hot day to day (aka the Midwest) if not then there be striking similarities between his school and mine...

    Making note of the old tree next to the building hosing the data center, which was on the 3rd floor of a building in a server room with a raised floor when I worked there, but it was moved from the "basement" of another building 7 to 10 years prior. When I left a year ago there was still Enrollment IT people in the basement area we called the "closet" because it wasn't fully finished/furnished.
  • sf 2008-04-24 11:50
    Well, with one year wiping tables at Starbucks and 2 years programming, you can apply.
  • NaN 2008-04-24 11:56
    NewbiusMaximus:
    These universities DO have a huge talent pool willing to work for a couple extra credits; why don't they ever take advantage of that?

    Well, at *some* universities, it's because they really don't have a huge talent pool. At mine, for example, a prof told me that he was chatting with someone around the time they were graduating, who admitted that he'd never actually got any code to compile in his 4 years there. People outside the university weren't totally ignorant of this state of affairs, which is partly the reason I chose to get a degree in a different subject, from a different department. :P

    Yeah, in general, it's stupid to not take some grad students and give them credit for building something instead of paying consultants large sums of money. I think most people who have worked in software development know that, on the average, you're going to get the same shitty product either way. But hey, the decision makers have other priorities, like getting to go on the wine/dine trips.


    Not even HelloWorld? I want to cry.
  • Gamma 2008-04-24 12:05
    Right now, the way it is, 99% of the registrations are solved online; this is specially good for students living out of town, for previously they had less vacation time. The only WTF on this system is the clumsy interface. Other than that, is reliable and fast.


    Obviously, your university did not have the wherewithal to employ any three letter consultants.
  • AMerrickanGirl 2008-04-24 12:05
    The real WTF is that most colleges of any size use one of several standard student information systems, such as Banner, and these systems have an online component for course registrations.

    Why are they reinventing the wheel? Adapt an existing product.
  • steved 2008-04-24 12:14
    I don't see the WTF. Perhaps i'm jaded but it sounds like par for the course. Go Go Enterprisee!

  • Tachyon 2008-04-24 12:15
    And how come they almost always suck?
  • FredSaw 2008-04-24 12:19
    spacix:
    Making note of the old tree next to the building hosing the data center
    Yes, data centers will get hosed from time to time.
  • BobB 2008-04-24 12:23
    Was I the only one who found the story very depressing?

    Captcha: saluto - How you greeted Mussolini
  • SomeCoder 2008-04-24 12:24
    AMerrickanGirl:
    The real WTF is that most colleges of any size use one of several standard student information systems, such as Banner, and these systems have an online component for course registrations.

    Why are they reinventing the wheel? Adapt an existing product.



    Gah! Banner sucks, hard; cluttered interface that is impossible to find your way around, completely breaks the back button in your browser and is incredibly slow to boot.

    Though admittedly, it's better than the horror that was the previous system my school used: A Java applet that not only required you to install Java but also tended to only work on one particular version of Java which meant that I had to head down to the school to use their computers anyway.

    There are some major horrors in online stuff for universities. Anyone here used Blackboard? That's gotta be the worst system to ever be designed by man.
  • NewbiusMaximus 2008-04-24 12:31
    SomeCoder:
    Anyone here used Blackboard? That's gotta be the worst system to ever be designed by man.

    Yeah, it struck me as having been poorly thought out. Fortunately, 99% of the profs had the same opinion, and chose to use other avenues for communication. I wonder how much my university paid for it to sit there unused?
  • Crabs 2008-04-24 12:33
    My school uses banner. Searching for classes is a pain (omg..why would they make the back button useless?), but the rest of it is fine, for the most part. I always seem to register for my classes on time with no problems.

    We also used to use blackboard, up until the end of this semester. Blackboard is a piece. The fact that it's not integrated with the registration system at all bothers me. My teachers tried to use it the first year we got it, but then basically abandoned it. The problem was it wasn't integrated at all. Each student had to sign themselves up for blackboard, and sign themselves up for each class separately.

    We are now getting a much more integrated system starting in the fall. Too bad that's my last semester, I'd like to see how it turns out.
  • Sam 2008-04-24 12:33
    TRWTF? XXX = ADU
  • Jay 2008-04-24 12:34
    I have fond memories of the day that a Previous Employer had a review of our department, and they gave awards to two projects: One that had built a system that crashed several times a day, was awkward to use when it was running, and was full of security holes; and another to a team that spent $60 million and never actually deployed anything because the system crashed at about 3 users and repeatedly gave incorrect results with 1 or 2. But ... they had filled out all the paperwork correctly, so they got awards for excellence! Yes, that was the criteria for the awards: Did you fill out the paperwork correctly.
  • Anonymous User 2008-04-24 12:34
    jtl:
    At my college the kids who knew how to ssh directly into the registration server were the ones who at least had a chance to get the schedule they wanted. The 'web portal' was always the least likely option.


    Sounds like RIT's registration system...

    Even then, if you SSH'd into the registration server, there was still a "waiting period" between trying to login (if you got dumped back out, you couldn't try to log in again for 1 minute). Unless, of course, you knew the code to erase that restriction...then you could just pummel the server until it let you in or crashed.

    Ahhh...good times.
  • Alin 2008-04-24 12:37
    FredSaw:
    spacix:
    Making note of the old tree next to the building hosing the data center
    Yes, data centers will get hosed from time to time.


    Depends IF someone pushes the Big Red Button!
  • chikinpotpi 2008-04-24 12:42
    That. Was. Bleak.
  • Scurvy 2008-04-24 12:48
    Anonymous User:

    Sounds like RIT's registration system...

    Even then, if you SSH'd into the registration server, there was still a "waiting period" between trying to login (if you got dumped back out, you couldn't try to log in again for 1 minute). Unless, of course, you knew the code to erase that restriction...then you could just pummel the server until it let you in or crashed.

    Ahhh...good times.


    It also helped to know A) the people who wrote the software and/or B) the people who had admin access to the system. I don't think I ever didn't get into a class I wanted in my *ahem* 7 years there.
  • Steve 2008-04-24 12:51
    "handled 85,000 registrations each semester and brought in about $400 Million a year"

    That's nearly $5,000 per registration... WTF?!
  • anonymous 2008-04-24 12:55
    Steve:
    "handled 85,000 registrations each semester and brought in about $400 Million a year"

    That's nearly $5,000 per registration... WTF?!


    Actually, it's only about $2400 per registration.

    Hint: Semesters... there are two of them! (more, if you count summer registrations!)
  • ServZero 2008-04-24 12:56
    Shriike:
    So, this is a really good explanation for why college is so expensive, "a few mil for a new registration system? Sure!"


    You have no idea how much colleges waste on over-priced consultants and "made for academia" software solutions. My college just dropped $20,000 on a content management system for its new website when Joomla or Drupal would have done the same thing for free.

    There's also a search engine optimization effort for our graduate program. Currently their cost per conversion for a filled out "request for information" form is around $600.00. They're also paying thousands of dollars for a fancy-schmancy consultant to manage their $22,000 per year AdWords budget..
  • akatherder 2008-04-24 12:58
    I went to a small private university (about 2300 undergrads) that specializes in technology and even they couldn't put up a decent scheduling web interface that could handle the load.
  • random_garbage 2008-04-24 13:09
    Skaven:
    I smell BS. It sounds like they are trotting out the IT David and Goliath story - especially when it gets to the big bonuses and windowed office for all the App Dev IT people. Like any administration reward developers for anything. ;)


    Well, you might be right, except for the half-dozen people who chimed in with "Hey - that happened at my school too"...
  • Peter Amstutz 2008-04-24 13:11
    Something similar happened when I was a student at the University of Massachusetts. The first couple years I was there (late 90s), the standard registration system for classes was touch-tone phone based. It was clunky, annoying, and tended to get overloaded during peak hours, but at least it did work.

    Then somebody got the bright idea to build an online registration system. However, instead of building or adopting a system designed for the needs of a large university, they decided to adopt -- wait for it -- PeopleSoft.

    Since PeopleSoft is an "enterprisy" HR system, students were now "employees", courses were now "work groups" and semesters were now "fiscal years". There was no integration of the actual course descriptions into the system, so you still needed to refer to a completely different web site (or get the phonebook-sized course guide) to figure out what classes to sign up for.

    Needless to say, the system was a disaster when it deployed: totally unable to handle the load, there was an outcry from students who were unable to sign up for classes due to never actually being able to log in to the system. The user interface was slow and cryptic, and the service got badly confused when users use exotic web technologies such as the "back" button...

    A couple more years of work and several million dollars later, the system was almost as good as the crappy telephone system it had replaced.
  • Orclev 2008-04-24 13:12
    Joshua Ochs:
    These universities DO have a huge talent pool willing to work for a couple extra credits; why don't they ever take advantage of that?


    What, and trust students with something? Students aren't real people, you can't trust them to do something important!
  • Annie Mouse 2008-04-24 13:15
    Sounds almost like Gov't...

    If it doesn't work, throw more hardware at it. Doesn't matter the cost... just keep throwing hardware at it until it works.
  • Chaz 2008-04-24 13:22
    CTOs/CIOs should be required to read this site on a daily basis.
  • cavemanf16 2008-04-24 13:30
    Oh yes, I've "used" Blackboard for all of five minutes with one of my classes before. Truly the most wretched piece of fancy pants software I've ever seen in an academic setting...

    ... except for my alma mater's huge failure of a registration/grading/class standing/information system that was almost entirely an out-of-the-box Oracle system for what appeared to be some sort of system intended for HR departments. (but it wasn't PeopleSoft) The Oracle logo was even plastered all over the thing for goodness sake!

    Each new semester's registration involved me signing up for one class online, and then registering for the rest with an "advisor" (a poorly paid administrative assistant, basically) because the system ALWAYS complained that I didn't meet the pre-req's for courses when I clearly did.

    BTW, was this story about Ohio State's registration system from the mid to late 90's? OSU's system was just as horrific then as the one described in this story.
  • vt_mruhlin 2008-04-24 13:35
    Someone You Know:
    The Real WTF is that they're using the same room as both a coat room and a broom closet.


    Read the article again. The primary server was in the coat room and the backup was in the broom closet. That's what I call "off-site backup".
  • san 2008-04-24 13:41
    Crabs:
    (omg..why would they make the back button useless?),


    Because they're making an application, not a web application. It only happens to run in a browser....
  • Andrew 2008-04-24 14:14
    Steve:
    "handled 85,000 registrations each semester and brought in about $400 Million a year"

    That's nearly $5,000 per registration... WTF?!


    Many universities cost more than $5,000 per semester. It cost me more from 1990-1994, and U.S. tuition has increased dramatically since then.
  • Christophe 2008-04-24 14:22
    Someone You Know:
    The Real WTF is that they're using the same room as both a coat room and a broom closet.


    Polymorphism in action!!!
  • Franz Kafka 2008-04-24 14:39
    NewbiusMaximus:
    Developers at XXX Corp claimed that this was impossible, as they had thoroughly load-tested Mother, but eventually agreed to investigate their testing code.

    Yeah, I've been on the other side of that "thoroughly load-tested" statement. Every time some customer was told that, it meant they sat down one tester with (maybe) two client computers and (if you're really lucky) some kind of automated or scripted testing software that they might know how to use.

    Which, of course, gives you spectacular, catastrophic failure when more than 4 people try to use the application simultaneously. Hilarity ensues.

    Note to self: get in on the wine-and-dine, "get-a-big-bonus when your shitty $4 million Rube Goldbergian system is finally cobbled together" side of the game instead of the "make things work on a reasonable budget" side of the game.


    I'd just offer to expand my working system to what they wanted for a bargain price of $2M.
  • Mr. Php Newb 2008-04-24 14:57
    I'm curious about "breaking the back button"... when "developing" how do I avoid the message that's something like "your request has expired post data" or whatever when clicking back?

    I'd like to just clear $_POST but that didn't work. Perhaps I can just use $_GET?

    Love my newb status! And yes I put "WebMaster" on my resume :-p
  • Crabs 2008-04-24 15:05
    Right, I've got "your message has expired post data" as well. I also like "Your changes have already been submitted.".

    I get this banner message when I go to search for classes to add. I get a list, hit the back button, and try to perform another search. You're not allowed to go back without scrolling all the way to the bottom of the list and clicking the "Class Search" button. Annoying, to say the least.
  • Franz Kafka 2008-04-24 15:05
    Mr. Php Newb:
    I'm curious about "breaking the back button"... when "developing" how do I avoid the message that's something like "your request has expired post data" or whatever when clicking back?

    I'd like to just clear $_POST but that didn't work. Perhaps I can just use $_GET?

    Love my newb status! And yes I put "WebMaster" on my resume :-p


    Simple: your post requests can redirect to get pages that are display only. This avoids the post request problem.
  • Dunkelschub 2008-04-24 15:13
    All the smart kids just telneted into the VAX servers rather than SSH or the Website which would boot you off, we also figured out that if you write a script to pummel the server from 6 different machines you'll get in fairly quickly.
  • morry 2008-04-24 15:17
    If that was me, I'd get no raise and a performance evaluation saying "needs to exhibit more initiative".
  • rettigcd 2008-04-24 15:18
    I smell BS too.
  • Nitehawk 2008-04-24 15:56
    I am with the people calling BS on this article.

    Server threw a Java Stack dump in the early 90's? Very interesting considering Java's first public version was in 1995. I am pretty sure the servlet spec was in 1997 or 1998.
  • Bryan K 2008-04-24 15:57
    Thread over, thanks for playing....

    Make sure to tip your waitress on the way out
  • George Nacht 2008-04-24 16:10
    This must be very close to reality (i.e. - possibly true).
    Everyone here is so pissed off by this or similar story, that no one yet posted the most obvious quotation:

    ,,Mother, how do we kill it?"

    DOES NOT COMPUTE

    ,,Mother, what are our chances?"

    DOES NOT COMPUTE.
  • Anon E. Muss 2008-04-24 16:16
    Joshua Ochs:

    These universities DO have a huge talent pool willing to work for a couple extra credits; why don't they ever take advantage of that?



    Well...

    It could have to do with the fact that most of that talent pool is extremely transitory. I work in a university and see it happen often. Somebody needs a database to do such and such or a small program to do this and that. A student works great... Until they graduate and you get another one who says "X languagage/tool is terrible, I'll write it in Y". So they start all over every couple years. Typically, the most qualified students are seniors. So you train them to have them leave before the training really pays off? The transient nature of the student talent pool makes it a lot more difficult than it sounds at first glance.
  • Andy Goth 2008-04-24 16:17
    My cat's name is Mother.
  • Jon J 2008-04-24 16:24
    AHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHA!!!!!

    Banner at a University???? VSU in southside VA is still trying to get that dog to walk... Students cant get transcripts.. Scheduling is broken. Who knows what the deal is with email.

    HOWEVER the old working system needed to go as they needed to burn up some budget money.

  • Jon J 2008-04-24 16:33

    It also helped to know A) the people who wrote the software and/or B) the people who had admin access to the system. I don't think I ever didn't get into a class I wanted in my *ahem* 7 years there.[/quote]

    Hey even better, When I graduated I ended up teaching at a 'career school'. They have an awesome system that they spent millions on and it was supposed to provide email to students and all kinds of cool record keeping.

    But due to turnover only a few people actually know how to use it and the email system doesnt work as its applet based on an appliance. (no outlook support so useless for office class)

    Here is the best part: The password for EVERY DEPARTMENT IS THE SAME WORD!!!!! You can basically do anything in the system if you just change your login name! Trust me the login names were not hard to figure out since email accounts tended to match the department.

    What a sad joke.
    Sadder is that the school has changed names and is still open.

  • Jeff 2008-04-24 16:33
    Steve:
    "handled 85,000 registrations each semester and brought in about $400 Million a year"

    That's nearly $5,000 per registration... WTF?!


    Furthermore, how should/could a registration system "bring in" any money? I thought students were paying to attend classes, not sign up for them?
  • Jeff 2008-04-24 16:37
    Joshua Ochs:

    These universities DO have a huge talent pool willing to work for a couple extra credits; why don't they ever take advantage of that?


    Because then they couldn't hand out a $100 million contract to the president's nephew's consulting company (or senator's in the case of a state school). Ahem: https://apps.uillinois.edu/selfservice/
  • Hiredman 2008-04-24 16:41
    I found one today that wanted 3 years of Java and 2 years of programming experience.

    Maybe they meant they wanted: 3 years of Java and 2 years of real programming experience.

    I KEED, I KEED!

    One of my favorite ads was in around 2002 and they wanted someone with "10 years experience in streaming video". Good luck with that.

    =tkk
  • FredSaw 2008-04-24 16:49
    Hiredman:
    One of my favorite ads was in around 2002 and they wanted someone with "10 years experience in streaming video". Good luck with that.
    Sounds like an applicant whose resume was passed around for my team members' comments. He had "five years' experience in .Net technologies" -- in 2002.
  • SomeCoder 2008-04-24 17:12
    George Nacht:
    This must be very close to reality (i.e. - possibly true).
    Everyone here is so pissed off by this or similar story, that no one yet posted the most obvious quotation:

    ,,Mother, how do we kill it?"

    DOES NOT COMPUTE

    ,,Mother, what are our chances?"

    DOES NOT COMPUTE.


    For the record, I did think of that. I just didn't post it :)


    Bring back life form. Priority One. All other priorities rescinded.
  • brazzy 2008-04-24 17:18
    Scott:

    This bothers me that the 2 developers didn't get anything of a reward when their system worked so well. I'm on GRG's side!

    Why would anyone not be?

    Scott:
    Also, I still believe that 2 developers that work well together can get more done than a large team, it's about working well together and forming a relationship with one-another so you can accomplish things.

    One skilled developer is even better... if the job is small enough or the deadline far enough away that a single developer can get it done, there's no way to beat a single developer when it comes to efficiency.

    The simple fact is that as soon as there's more than a single developer, communication becomes an important part of the job as the code of different people needs to be compatible. As team size grows, communication becomes increasingly inefficient and you also need good architecture and management. This is what development processes are all about.

    But if you have a decent process and management, a large team most certainly can beat a 2-man team.
  • tmountjr 2008-04-24 17:41
    So my University developed their registration system in-house in two years for probably half a mil and it was a smashing success from Day 2 (Day 1 was...hectic). It handles course registration, academic adviser approvals, scheduling for work, private lessons, etc., and allows for changing a schedule at any point in the semester. Work supervisors can log on and view student schedules. Advisers can handle all email communication via the web app, and a student's entire academic history (GPA, schedules, etc.) is stored for as long as the student is enrolled. At rollout it was considered one of the most advanced and efficient online course registration systems in the US. This replaced the "stand in line for three hours in four different buildings before being told you were missing one signature and had to go secure the signature on the other side of campus (assuming the guy who needed to sign was in his office) then come back and do it all over again" method. Know how some cities riot when their sports teams do well? We almost had a student riot for joy the year the system went live.

    I don't brag much, but I definitely give praise every year that our CIO is pretty smart about what what we can do in-house and who we should hire.

    The last place I worked, however, spent four years developing a quality-control solution *in Access* with the aide of an HPC. Hilarity ensued when we upgraded from one version of Office to the next (not 2007...crap, that's gonna kill them). Further hilarity ensued when they realized that Access' limitations wouldn't get them what they needed and, halfway through the project, they needed to switch to SQL Server.

    Moral of both stories - right tool for the right job.
  • Hay Blue 2008-04-24 17:43
    Why not identify the university and the programming company? Whassamatta?
  • real_aardvark 2008-04-24 19:12
    Jeff:
    Joshua Ochs:

    These universities DO have a huge talent pool willing to work for a couple extra credits; why don't they ever take advantage of that?


    Because then they couldn't hand out a $100 million contract to the president's nephew's consulting company (or senator's in the case of a state school). Ahem: https://apps.uillinois.edu/selfservice/
    O ye cynic.

    More to the point, if I were a, I believe you call it a "college" over there, unless it's prepended with the word "state," in which case it's obviously a university -- why on earth would I give anybody a "couple extra credits" for dinking around with production software? Particularly since they're, by definition, going to leave in three years if they're already uninformed (ie a Freshman) or in one year if they've got some faint clue about what they're doing (ie a Senior)?

    Would you give a theological student "a couple extra credits" for walking around the campus explaining the Pelagian heresy to engineers and cute blondes? (Not that I'm saying that engineers can't be cute and/or blonde, just in case we get into that whole Asberger's thing again.)

    What's a credit worth, anyhow? And is it balanced with a debit? If not, there's no justice in the American version of the academic world.
  • NewbiusMaximus 2008-04-24 23:22
    Jeff:
    Steve:
    "handled 85,000 registrations each semester and brought in about $400 Million a year"

    That's nearly $5,000 per registration... WTF?!


    Furthermore, how should/could a registration system "bring in" any money? I thought students were paying to attend classes, not sign up for them?

    My thought exactly. It seems to me that such a claim would only be made by someone that needs to feel their contribution is significant (or who stands to gain if the bonus-givers buy their claim).
  • boston_guy 2008-04-24 23:34
    Boston University.

    I've seen its horrors.
  • iNFiNiTyLoOp 2008-04-24 23:42
    SomeCoder:
    ...Anyone here used Blackboard? That's gotta be the worst system to ever be designed by man.


    BlackBoard looks good compared to WebCT Vista, the bastard child of WebCT and BlackBoard. 700kb is downloaded every time you log in, excluding pictures. Complains about invalid security certificates. Complains about your java not working even though it works. Any files you turn in have to first be uploaded to this virtual filesystem tree. They didn't bother to implement delete or move, so it gets super cluttered. Judging by the way the coursework is arranged, this also applies to the profs. It's the worst thing I ever intentionally aimed a browser at.
  • Russ 2008-04-24 23:47
    Andrew:
    Steve:
    "handled 85,000 registrations each semester and brought in about $400 Million a year"

    That's nearly $5,000 per registration... WTF?!


    Many universities cost more than $5,000 per semester. It cost me more from 1990-1994, and U.S. tuition has increased dramatically since then.


    If you guys are bitching about $5000 per semester, that explains the wtf's on this site, and also why none of you course registration systems worked.

    My school was around $20k per year (although I got most of that in scholarship), and although our system looked like crap, I think it worked fine. I believe they used peoplesoft. Blackboard also worked fine, although we didn't use it heavily. I think the real wtf is people expecting their schools to be perfect when they pay less then $5k per semester.
  • Melbourne Uni Student 2008-04-25 01:07
    When I was studying at the University of Melbourne, we were given a case study on a similarly botched system. Our lecturers could hardly contain their glee when they revealed the case study was on RMIT, a competitor university down the road that lost thousands of students due to their PeopleSoft enrollment system collapsing.

    We were actually studying its failure while RMIT was still defending it as 'working'. The RMIT vice-chancellor made a classic comment that explained the problem: "We all thought that this project was actually going OK"
  • Zachary Pruckowski 2008-04-25 01:50
    Furthermore, how should/could a registration system "bring in" any money? I thought students were paying to attend classes, not sign up for them?


    For 95% of the classes, I could just walk in and pretend to be a student. Heck, most professors could be bluffed into believing someone who showed up for office hours with a legit question is a student, even while looking at the enrollment sheet.

    Students are paying to get a transcript and a degree. Without being registered, you don't get a grade, and you don't get a transcript, and you don't get a pretty piece of sheepskin, and you don't get to use the University's name on your resume. While it is a stretch to say that the registration system "brings in" the money, it is a crucial component in the administrative/financial side of the university. If you're not registered for classes, the University can't send a bill home.

    (And while this story may not be 100% true in the particulars, this sort of scenario has definitely played out at my college - they're spending millions of dollars on a system that's two years late and will require them to rename and renumber all the courses. The current system is so bad that there's a very low limit on students allowed to sign in. It's such a limitation that a few students closing their browser windows without logging off the system can leave it hopelessly tied up.)
  • Greg van Paassen 2008-04-25 02:27
    Ie:
    That's the most depressing WTF in a while. :(


    Yeah, it illustrates why I left development.

    It got depressing seeing, erm, "managers" with the reasoning skills of drunken jellyfish remove solid, reliable, well built systems, replace them at vast and unnecessary expense with Rube Goldberg (or Heath Robinson, if you're English) contraptions that ... almost ... work, on a good day, and get bonuses for it.

    I saw this not just once. Not twice. I guess I'm a slow learner, but after the fifth repetition I reluctantly accepted there was a pattern.

    I have too much self respect to join one the three-letter consultant or its ilk and aid the construction of one of those "better" systems. I find I have too much self respect to work for incompetents, too.

    I'm gonna go work where what I do is valued - probably, boil cow hides at the local meat works.
  • yuumei 2008-04-25 04:55
    Peter Amstutz:
    Then somebody got the bright idea to build an online registration system. However, instead of building or adopting a system designed for the needs of a large university, they decided to adopt -- wait for it -- PeopleSoft.


    Oh god... Our university has that system. The only difference is that it is hacked together with a million other equally un-usable systems that were made by someone who seemed to like creating websites, but never got round to the usability part of it.
  • M. D. 2008-04-25 05:06
    Student self-administration systems seem to be this kind of stuff everywhere.

    In a certain post-communist Central European country (state) universities have an obligatory choice of two systems. Both require a monstrous server farm, both can't handle the load when it's really important (course registration week, exam registration month, etc - the times when people actually use it), and both were developed by completely unknown companies (with only these systems in their portfolio) for loads of money (taxpayers' money). And both have bugs and WTF-s of the kind that everyone writes while learning some new technologies or programming language.
  • JimM 2008-04-25 06:34
    ServZero:
    My college just dropped $20,000 on a content management system for its new website when Joomla or Drupal would have done the same thing for free.

    That's nothing, I'm contracting for a healthcare provider who just dropped over £50,000 ($100,000) on a proprietary CMS that doesn't work properly and doesn't have half the features they need. As far as I can tell, they did it because one of their specifications was "must be developed in .Net and use MS SQL Server - no MySQL". Yes, "no MySQL" was written into the procurement docs.

    Of course, for the same money they could have installed Joomla and employed a web devleoper for 2 years to do all the design and customisation work...
  • biziclop 2008-04-25 06:56
    SNF:
    Goddamn that makes me angry.


    Me too. I simply can't get myself to laugh or even smile.
  • biziclop 2008-04-25 06:58
    M. D.:
    Student self-administration systems seem to be this kind of stuff everywhere.

    In a certain post-communist Central European country (state) universities have an obligatory choice of two systems. Both require a monstrous server farm, both can't handle the load when it's really important (course registration week, exam registration month, etc - the times when people actually use it), and both were developed by completely unknown companies (with only these systems in their portfolio) for loads of money (taxpayers' money). And both have bugs and WTF-s of the kind that everyone writes while learning some new technologies or programming language.


    Is one of them named after an Ancient Greek god? :)
  • RMITted 2008-04-25 07:57
    RMIT university in Melbourne, Australia had similar success with installing Peoplesoft. They ended up scrapping the project after spending $47m and making life hard for a lot of students. From memory they had similar problems of the system not handling the load, and pretty much just not working.

    http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2003/02/27/1046064164879.html
  • Risky 2008-04-25 08:04
    This story could be repeated in any sector but translating it into banking-speak this would be a existing "Tactical" solution in Access and the replacement would be a "Stategic" system in ASP.Net + SQLServer/Oracle and would take two or three years and rather more millions and untimately fail to cover all the functionality and then after implementation require another tactical system to do the stuff they'd left out.

    However the architecture diagrams would look very good in powerpoint and there would have been enough BA paperwork to cover the enire trading floor to a depth of several feet.
  • Liam Clark 2008-04-25 08:35
    Peter Amstutz:
    Since PeopleSoft is an "enterprisy" HR system, students were now "employees", courses were now "work groups" and semesters were now "fiscal years". There was no integration of the actual course descriptions into the system, so you still needed to refer to a completely different web site (or get the phonebook-sized course guide) to figure out what classes to sign up for.


    You know, I'd always wondered why SPIRE had such a poor interface and broke so many conventions, and now I know.
  • zero 2008-04-25 08:41
    Oh god this entire story sounds like I wrote it, except my system has been running for twelve years (even though we were warned it would soon be replaced even when I started it) and I never got a raise (I was an undergrad casual-wage "lab assistant").
  • stevil 2008-04-25 08:53
    Anyone else sick of reading pathetic comments beginning "the real WTF is...".
    If you think using a room to house a computer and hang coats is worse than wasting nearly a million dollars on a half arsed system then you dont belong in the engineering community.
  • KenW 2008-04-25 08:58
    Fred:
    They were surprised that college kids were up at 3 A.M? WTF!!! That's prime time in college time.


    Nah. They were surprised that at 3AM the kids were still sober enough to want to register for classes. <g>
  • Raiko 2008-04-25 09:01
    If I remember correctly, our renewal license cost was about $20,000 or so.

    We use it though. I'm building the software to link our Student Information System to Blackboard currently. We don't use one of the directly supported systems, so I have to build the bridge.

    Good times...
  • Raiko 2008-04-25 09:03
    Raiko:
    If I remember correctly, our renewal license cost was about $20,000 or so.

    We use it though. I'm building the software to link our Student Information System to Blackboard currently. We don't use one of the directly supported systems, so I have to build the bridge.

    Good times...


    Oops.. didn't quote the original. It was in response to this post



    SomeCoder:
    Anyone here used Blackboard? That's gotta be the worst system to ever be designed by man.



    Yeah, it struck me as having been poorly thought out. Fortunately, 99% of the profs had the same opinion, and chose to use other avenues for communication. I wonder how much my university paid for it to sit there unused?
  • fetch 2008-04-25 09:06
    snoofle:
    conservajerk:
    Hmmmm... I just looked at jobs on the certain 3 letter company's website. They seem to think an intermediate/senior java developer in Victoria, B.C. needs only a minimum of 2 years java experience and 3 years it experience. This is senior? WTF?
    Sadly, it's not just them. Scan Dice/HotJobs/Monster, and you'll see countless ads for "senior developers" with 3 years of experience.

    I found one today that wanted 3 years of Java and 2 years of programming experience. (no, that's not a misprint).


    Well, if the most senior developer you have only has 1 year of experience, a 3-year person would, then be your senior developer.
  • cod3_complete 2008-04-25 09:34
    This just illustrates why tuition continues to increase at local universities and colleges every other semester. GROSS INCOMPETENCE and mismanagement of finances and resources. Every year I see a new report about how the university officials were low on cash its probably just that they BLEW ALL THE CASH! I could laugh a little bit at this story BUT IT MOSTLY PISSED ME OFF. Now I know why everything was so expensive during my college years.Geez.
  • Edward Royce 2008-04-25 10:00
    Hmmmm.

    1. This is depressing.

    2. I assure everyone that no matter how inefficient and wasteful colleges are, American public schools are far far worse.

    I know a guy who, as a kid, was his school's systems administrator. Evidently his school got a $1 million grant to upgrade their computers & network. So they decided to spend it adding memory to their Intel 286 PCs (when Intel 486 was the standard). After wasting a bucket of money doing that they finally figured out that they needed to upgrade the CPUs. So they bought some bastardized Intel 486 systems, but with minimum specs. So then they had to spend even more money upgrading these new Intel 486s.

    Makes me want to climb a tree and fling poo at someone.
  • tech 2008-04-25 12:57



    I really miss irish girl.
  • John Stracke 2008-04-25 13:01
    UMass still has that Peoplesoft system (called IRIS). The good news is that they do have course descriptions in the system now. The bad news is that they're completely separate from the UI to register for a course: you have to go into the search interface, find your courses, write down the "course number" (which is not the same as the number of the course, such as 91.503 for Fundamentals of Computer Science), and then go to the registration interface and fill in the course number.

    Oh, but first, to search for courses for the term you want, you have to give it the "term number". There's *another* search interface for terms, which basically doesn't work; you can search by Long Description or Short Description, but, last time I tried it, I wasn't able to find any keywords that matched Fall 2008. So I left the search form blank, which gave me a list of *all* terms, and read through it by hand.

    And I'm pretty sure the Back button is still broken; Peoplesoft has its state that knows what page you're Supposed to be on. This is also why you can't just open up the search page and the registration page side-by-side.
  • Devin Kennedy 2008-04-25 13:32
    For what it's worth, Peoplesoft is still at it. We just switched over to a Peoplesoft-based system this year at my university (an Ivy-League institution, no less). The really shocking thing is that it's apparently no better than it was in the late 90s -- broken back buttons (every request you send is a POST), Javascript alerts about COBOL errors, load problems bringing University-critical systems to a crawl on the first day of enrollment ... ugh. I'd be happier enrolling by telephone.
  • salisbury.edu student 2008-04-25 13:43
    John Stracke:
    UMass still has that Peoplesoft system (called IRIS).
    (snip)

    It's used here at salisbury.edu also, and it blows. Everything you wrote about it is accurate.
  • Sam 2008-04-25 17:00
    UC Berkeley has a web interface to a touch-tone phone system for registration. You can still get “All lines are busy” errors on the web server.
  • TakeASeatOverThere 2008-04-26 03:58
    Ahh, Java, the wannabe-emo kid of computer languages. If you personified it, it would only lack those thick-rimmed glasses and skin tight stripped shirt. Add those and you have Ruby.

    I'm feeling so hip and edgy.
  • joutsa 2008-04-26 11:37
    This thread reminds me so much of my old university. Fortunately I had finished all courses just before the latest and most enterprisey version came out.

    I'd be sure the story was from there if not for three differences:

    - The old, working command line system was originally done as a programming course assignment. According to some stories, at least.

    - The new version did not run on a mainframe but a cluster of PCs.

    - Load tests were originally required but later dropped because of the costs.

    The only funny part was that name of the company who implemented this monstrosity was not entirely unlike a verb for showing one's behind.
  • COP 2008-04-26 21:00
    Columbia University still allocates time-slots (at the beginning of a semester) to students for class registration - i never understood why.. may be this is us..
  • AdT 2008-04-27 14:40
    Christophe:
    Polymorphism in action!!!


    Actually, it's more like multiple inheritance in action.
  • Rakan 2008-04-28 11:46
    I fail to see the WTF. I thought that would be no other way to do that.
  • Aaron 2008-04-28 17:50
    I remember hearing this story before (or at least something incredibly similar). It's killing me now that I can't think of what university it was.
  • Marshall 2008-04-29 04:55
    Pre-PC?

    Many years ago there was a brand new Community College in Edmonton Canada. There were about 2000 students spread across multiple campuses, which made for an interesting problem in timetabling – another story. The IT Department had an administrative head (with no technical knowledge), his secretary, a card punch operator and a programmer (me). Running a program required driving across town to another college (who actually had their own computer) and feeding in the box of punched cards.

    On the recommendation of the (non-technical) IT Head, the guidelines were set that registration details had to be in the post to students no more than 24 hours after the registration day and results posted to the students no more than 24 hours after the department received them from the teaching staff.

    So the system was designed around the highest technology available – punched cards.

    The student records were built up as the applications came in. For registration the computer punched back out one card per applicant with their name and id number. As well it punched out one card per available class place.

    Every class was given their pack of pre-punched cards.

    When the student came through the door s/he first collected her pre-punched card then wandered around deciding what classes to take and negotiating with the relevant staff member. For each class into which s/he was accepted, s/he was given a pre-punched card for that class.

    When s/he had finished registering, s/he handed over the packet of cards with their id-pre-punched card on the front and the classes in which they were to be registered following.

    The registration card then just read the boxes of cards in the form of student1/class/class/student2/class/class etc. Since we were using another college's computer we worked outside hours to get fast turnaround and so usually finished by early morning (around 3am). The student printouts were in the mail and the class lists at the college admin office by 9am.

    Results we did in reverse – a card was pre-punched with the student/class details and sent in batches by class to the teaching staff member. S/he marked the result in Texta on the card and returned them to us. We loaded them into a pre-programmed key punch that auto loaded each card and stopped it directly in front of the operator who then had only to hit a single key matching what had been scrawled on the card to add this information to the pre-punched card. The keypunch then auto-loaded the next card.

    The computer then simply had to read and resort into student/class order then apply.

    I don't know what they are using currently but I'd be willing to bet it isn't any faster or more accurate and it will have cost many thousands of times as much to build and run as the card system.

  • travisowens 2008-04-29 10:18
    Reading this smells to classic of IBM and big biz bs.

    In the 90s I was working as the Internet Developer at a company and I had a website for a newspaper the company owned. This was before CMS was a common concept so the articles were hand pasted into a .html file, with a header & footer in them. We needed to be able to search the site, so my boss (before talking to me) wanted to sound big & bad and got IBM to come in for a consulting session (iirc we had to pay them $3k just to get them to come talk to us). All the search needed to do was search all the .html files and return the pages. IBM recommended writing the search from scratch at a cost of $90k. I quickly discovered a free tool called ksearch and told my boss I could do it in 4-6hrs (to figure out the tool, set it up, test it, customize the UI for it on the website). Fortunately sanity took over (because of IBM's outrageous price) and our site was running a great search the next business day. (PS: a year later I wrote a CMS, custom search engine, dynamic bio pages for authors that had a link to every article they wrote on the site and it stood for 3yrs, it was a work of art... until I left and they outsourced web dev to a firm who rewrote the site in ColdFusion with only half the features.)

    Then that same year, the company wanted to hook up more employees (eventually all) to the internet, so we needed a firewall setup. IBM came in and recommended a solution using an AS/400 (not cheap!), after reading the white paper, I found the box had a x86 emulating card to run Linux and a publicly available firewall app. After I outed this solution, we ended up going for a hardware base firewall router that cost pennies on IBM's dollar.

    So yes, this is classic IBM. So next time you hear an outrageous story involving IBM, it's more like true than not.
  • travisowens 2008-04-29 13:30
    For what it's worth, Peoplesoft is still at it. We just switched over to a Peoplesoft-based system this year at my university (an Ivy-League institution, no less).

    Ahh, you must be at Cornell
  • John Stracke 2008-04-30 14:21
    Joshua Ochs:
    Yup, same thing at Northwestern University,


    Y'know, I remember NU's old paper-based system, and it really wasn't that bad, from the students' point of view. A few minutes picking out courses from the catalog, a few minutes of chaos in the registration room, and you were done. Of course, there was always the stress over whether you'd get the courses you wanted; but a computer system doesn't avoid that.

    I suppose the administration wanted to reduce labor costs; preparing for that chaos in the registration room must've taken a lot of time. But the computer system would have to be really good to be worth it from the students' point of view.
  • Dan D. 2008-05-01 19:07
    Until this spring, course registration at my university (which shall remain nameless so as not to encourage ridicule) was done via a web-based Flash-like player (called Opal) that interfaced via telnet to an ancient mainframe. How ancient? They had to turn it off at night to save wear and tear on the machine.

    It was a common joke in the Object-Oriented Programming class that every year there would be a project, such as my own, to replace it, and of course, none were ever adopted, despite the fact that they worked better, looked better, scaled better, and most importantly, could eliminate the registration time holds designed to ensure low load.

    What was it replaced with? A PeopleSoft CRM which was not edited to be more university-friendly beyond changing a few strings. :facepalm:

  • hollywoodb 2008-05-04 18:03
    The North Dakota university system (at least NDSU and UND) currently use PeopleSoft (with an ugly "ConnectND" theme/skin on the web interface) for this very task. All students have an "EMPLID". I can't produce tears at a high enough rate to use it very often.
  • Jhon 2008-05-14 17:28
    Java ... that explains everything.

    By the time you finish drawing up fancy diagrams, writing abstract classes, and defining interfaces, you've completely forgotten what all of it was supposed to do!
  • Volker Grabsch 2008-05-17 08:17
    This story reminds me of the Parable of the Two Programmers.
  • Tactical is the new kludge 2008-06-13 16:38
    Risky:
    This story could be repeated in any sector but translating it into banking-speak this would be a existing "Tactical" solution in Access and the replacement would be a "Stategic" system...


    Thanks, reminds me of some "bank job".
    Tactical: otherwise known as a small kludge, dirty hack

    Strategic: A Behemoth of specifications, that were conceived in endless meetings, sessions and buscuit consulting and finally, went through the Vogonian process and got a sign-off. In the next "phase", a crowd of consulkers has to implement this to the letter - or be fed to the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal. So, they are going to implement a distributed, enterprise collaborative cluster made of kludges.
    And because it's "strategic", management will throw money at it, until it either runs or something else becomes the new strategic.
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