The Process that Never Failed

« Return to Article
  • Anonymouse 2012-08-15 08:06
    As a statistics fan, I would be devastated if some e-commerce site wouldn't let me browse my order history for orders older than 25 years.
  • Quicksilver 2012-08-15 08:07
    Where is the wtf?
  • Smug Unix User 2012-08-15 08:13
    It is using PHP. 25+ year old records show the stability of your company. I for one prefer utilizing a system with some stability.
  • rosko 2012-08-15 08:18
    Crikey, I'd forgotten about Sculptor. Around about the time I started forgetting about QNX and DOS... you still out there, Brad?

    And now with mobile!

    The Sculptor client is available for handheld computers such as PDA's and Mobile phones running versions of the Windows Mobile (Windows CE). Sculptor programs on these devices work in client/server mode to a Sculptor server on Windows or Unix over a LAN or the Internet.
  • Some Jerk 2012-08-15 08:22
    I guess the WTF is how things too often seem more important by virtue of loss, regardless of the value of what is being lost.

    I have to say though, someone needs to hurry up and find or make some rediculously silly code fast... or I might have to start making my own WTFs just to get my fix.
  • Some Jerk 2012-08-15 08:24
    Smug Unix User:
    It is using PHP. 25+ year old records show the stability of your company. I for one prefer utilizing a system with some stability.


    I guess they wanted something to boast about in commercials. Hope they didn't already pay to have them aired.
  • Sebastian Buchannon 2012-08-15 08:25
    "Well, stammered before looking as though a cinder block had been dropped on his head."

    So suddenly blood bursted from his crushed eye sockets and bits of brain dribbled down his chin? That's the real WTF for that to happen during a 7am meeting.
  • Sebastian Buchannon 2012-08-15 08:26
    Some Jerk:
    I guess the WTF is how things too often seem more important by virtue of loss, regardless of the value of what is being lost.

    I have to say though, someone needs to hurry up and find or make some rediculously silly code fast... or I might have to start making my own WTFs just to get my fix.


    the guid thing from yesterday
  • Mark Donoghue 2012-08-15 08:28
    Warehouse Historical Order Retrieval E-System = WHORE

    Surely a made up name?
  • arh 2012-08-15 08:29
    This isn't a WTF. It's more like chicken soup for the "perfectly understaffed" developer's soul.

    Btw did he end up buying donuts for the staff after all?
  • Some Jerk 2012-08-15 08:29
    Much like Richard, I also learn much about work tasks by wikipeding them.
  • Yaos 2012-08-15 08:31
    Here it would be, "they just do!" After it's done you check the logs and not a single person has ever used it.
  • Some Jerk 2012-08-15 08:33
    Sebastian Buchannon:

    the guid thing from yesterday
    ... was pretty friggin boring.
  • Cbuttius 2012-08-15 08:33
    In August 1987:

    - I got my first car. On 6th August to be precise, which is why, to this day, that remains my insurance-renewal date.

    - I was working for an awful life insurance company called General Portfolio. I came in as a Maths graduate but was treated lesser than a kid with nothing but poor CSEs because his dad was more important to the company than mine.

    - Michael Jackson topped the UK chart with "I Just Can't Stop Loving You", a duet with Seidah Garrett. This was the lead single off his new album "Bad". It replaced "La Bamba" by Los Lobos at number one.

    - The Hungerford massacre - this happened on 19 August 1987 so next Monday will be 25 years exactly.
  • brazzy 2012-08-15 08:37
    I don't get it... If nobody ever accessed that data, how did they notice the system was gone in the first place?
  • Anon 2012-08-15 08:53
    'Jim had just recently passed away after 35 years of dedicated service'

    That's the most depressing think I've ever read.
  • Jockamo 2012-08-15 08:56
    brazzy:
    I don't get it... If nobody ever accessed that data, how did they notice the system was gone in the first place?


    this.
  • QJo 2012-08-15 09:00
    Cbuttius:
    In August 1987:

    - I got my first car. On 6th August to be precise, which is why, to this day, that remains my insurance-renewal date.

    - I was working for an awful life insurance company called General Portfolio. I came in as a Maths graduate but was treated lesser than a kid with nothing but poor CSEs because his dad was more important to the company than mine.

    - Michael Jackson topped the UK chart with "I Just Can't Stop Loving You", a duet with Seidah Garrett. This was the lead single off his new album "Bad". It replaced "La Bamba" by Los Lobos at number one.

    - The Hungerford massacre - this happened on 19 August 1987 so next Monday will be 25 years exactly.


    Interesting - was just reminiscing about August 1987 with an old friend.

    That was the month when, instead of doing the usual thing of going to Reading Rock festival, I went to an SF convention in Brighton where (also instead of playing at Reading Rock) Hawkwind performed. Ah, happy days.
  • ComputerChip 2012-08-15 09:04
    "Warehouse Historical Order Retrieval E-System" Seriously? I'm calling BS.
  • schmitter 2012-08-15 09:04
    Cbuttius:
    In August 1987:

    - I got my first car. On 6th August to be precise, which is why, to this day, that remains my insurance-renewal date.

    - I was working for an awful life insurance company called General Portfolio. I came in as a Maths graduate but was treated lesser than a kid with nothing but poor CSEs because his dad was more important to the company than mine.

    - Michael Jackson topped the UK chart with "I Just Can't Stop Loving You", a duet with Seidah Garrett. This was the lead single off his new album "Bad". It replaced "La Bamba" by Los Lobos at number one.

    - The Hungerford massacre - this happened on 19 August 1987 so next Monday will be 25 years exactly.


    But does anyone or any company really give a crap that they bought 1000 model 2 widgets, 1500 model 3 widgets and 5000 of the original widgets, 25 years ago? If they did, then the PURCHASER should have kept better records.
  • Zemm 2012-08-15 09:14
    Mark Donoghue:
    Warehouse Historical Order Retrieval E-System = WHORE

    Surely a made up name?


    http://forums.thedailywtf.com/forums/t/26543.aspx

    It was him!
  • Cbuttius 2012-08-15 09:21
    The real WTF is that the business people are making development decisions (PHP will be a language of choice, etc. who decided that?) and it takes a developer to make the business decision (this project has no business benefit).

  • Cbuttius 2012-08-15 09:25
    and come on, that last comment of mine was brilliant, you must feature it...
  • Don 2012-08-15 09:27
    Warehouse Historical Order Retrieval E-System
    Not the first time WHORES stopped production...
  • Your Name 2012-08-15 09:28
    Sebastian Buchannon:
    "Well, stammered before looking as though a cinder block had been dropped on his head."

    So suddenly blood bursted from his crushed eye sockets and bits of brain dribbled down his chin? That's the real WTF for that to happen during a 7am meeting.


    Truefax: after ten or twelve espresso doubleshots, your head esplodes. 7 AM meetings are dangerous.
  • Mark Bowytz 2012-08-15 09:28
    Cbuttius:
    The real WTF is that the business people are making development decisions (PHP will be a language of choice, etc. who decided that?) and it takes a developer to make the business decision (this project has no business benefit).

    Cbuttius:
    and come on, that last comment of mine was brilliant, you must feature it...

    No.
  • Some Jerk 2012-08-15 09:37
    Mark Bowytz:
    Cbuttius:
    The real WTF is that the business people are making development decisions (PHP will be a language of choice, etc. who decided that?) and it takes a developer to make the business decision (this project has no business benefit).

    Cbuttius:
    and come on, that last comment of mine was brilliant, you must feature it...

    No.

    You happy now? Your featured :p
  • Primo 2012-08-15 09:38
    Nah, Hawkwind at the Brighton SF Convention was April 1984.

  • Silverwizard 2012-08-15 09:43
    Actually - the Documentation required the PHP code. Which - presumably - was written by the Dear Departed.
  • Mike 2012-08-15 09:47
    Anon:
    'Jim had just recently passed away after 35 years of dedicated service'

    That's the most depressing think I've ever read.


    Thank you, that was my first thought as well. I truly hope that is never said about me.
  • Richard 2012-08-15 09:54
    I'm probably going to get murdered by Alex for this, but I think its well accepted (and admitted by himself) that he "fictionalises" accounts to make them more entertaining and to protect the submitter.

    I am the submitter of this particular WTF, and I think I need to clear up a few things - the only non-fiction part of the story is the step by step process for data transfer.

    There was no failure, there was no Jim, there was no meeting.

    I submitted this because the real WTF was that this entire process *never* failed - despite its horrific nature, it was rock stonking solid for the decade I worked at the company, and it still goes right now.

    Prior to this system being put in place (by myself, a quick hack at the start of 2000 designed to be a stop gap for a quick sign up form), the previous developer had PHP just doing a passthru() to the Sculptor server - and the Sculptor server outputted the entire HTML page.

    I have since moved on from PHP and Sculptor, and have become an accomplished .Net developer. But those days still haunt me :)

    Just goes to show that sometimes the WTF is that it works, and works well. That was the intention of the submission.
  • unixcorn 2012-08-15 09:55
    Warehouse Historical Order Retrieval E-System or WHORE for short.....
  • Mr Keith 2012-08-15 09:56
    To quote Robert Browning on "How they Brought the Good News from Ghent to Aix"... huh, a Victorian poet could actually forsee the sheer amount of busywork in middleware and communications layer to AIX:

    I SPRANG to the stirrup, and Joris, and he;
    I gallop’d, Dirck gallop’d, we gallop’d all three;
    “Good speed !” cried the watch, as the gate-bolts undrew;
    “Speed!” echoed the wall to us galloping through;
    Behind shut the postern, the lights sank to rest,
    And into the midnight we gallop’d abreast.

    Not a word to each other; we kept the great pace
    Neck by neck, stride by stride, never changing our place;
    I turn’d in my saddle and made its girths tight,
    Then shorten’d each stirrup, and set the pique right, Rebuckled the cheek-strap, chain’d slacker the bit,
    Nor gallop’d less steadily Roland a whit.

    ’T was moonset at starting; but while we drew near
    Lokeren, the cocks crew and twilight dawn’d clear;
    At Boom, a great yellow star came out to see;
    At Düffeld, ’t was morning as plain as could be;
    And from Mechelm church-steeple we heard the half chime,
    So, Joris broke silence with, “Yet there is time!”

    At Aershot, up leap’d of a sudden the sun,
    And against him the cattle stood black every one, To state thro’ the mist at us galloping past,
    And I saw my stout galloper Roland at last,
    With resolute shoulders, each butting away
    The haze, as some bluff river headland its spray:

    And his low head and crest, just one sharp ear bent back For my voice, and the other prick’d out on his track;
    And one eye’s black intelligence,—ever that glance
    O’er its white edge at me, his own master, askance!
    And the thick heavy spume-flakes which aye and anon
    His fierce lips shook upwards in galloping on.

    By Hasselt, Dirck groan’d; and cried Joris “Stay spur!
    Your Roos gallop’d bravely, the fault’s not in her,
    We ’ll remember at Aix”—for one heard the quick wheeze
    Of her chest, saw the stretch’d neck and staggering knees,
    And sunk tail, and horrible heave of the flank,
    As down on her haunches she shudder’d and sank.

    So, we were left galloping, Joris and I,
    Past Looz and past Tongres, no cloud in the sky;
    The broad sun above laugh’d a pitiless laugh,
    ’Neath our feet broke the brittle bright stubble like chaff; Till over by Dalhem a dome-spire sprang white,
    And “Gallop,” gasped Joris, “for Aix is in sight!

    “How they ’ll greet us!”—and all in a moment his roan
    Roll’d neck and croup over, lay dead as a stone;
    And there was my Roland to bear the whole weight
    Of the news which alone could save Aix from her fate,
    With his nostrils like pits full of blood to the brim,
    And with circles of red for his eye-sockets’ rim.

    Then I cast loose my buffcoat, each holster let fall,
    Shook off both my jack-boots, let go belt and all,
    Stood up in the stirrup, lean’d, patted his ear,
    Call’d my Roland his pet name, my horse without peer;
    Clapp’d my hands, laugh’d and sang, any noise, bad or good,
    Till at length into Aix Roland gallop’d and stood.

    And all I remember is, friends flocking round
    As I sat with his head ’twixt my knees on the ground;
    And no voice but was praising this Roland of mine,
    As I pour’d down his throat our last measure of wine,
    Which (the burgesses voted by common consent)
    Was no more than his due who brought good news from Ghent.
  • C-Derb 2012-08-15 10:08
    Cbuttius:
    and come on, that last comment of mine was brilliant, you must feature it...

    I'm pretty sure I know who the real WHORE is.
  • Recursive Reclusive 2012-08-15 10:36
    Mike:
    Anon:
    'Jim had just recently passed away after 35 years of dedicated service'

    That's the most depressing think I've ever read.


    Thank you, that was my first thought as well. I truly hope that is never said about me.

    "Mike had just recently passed away after 35 years of doing fuck all". Better?
  • ¯\(°_o)/¯ I DUNNO LOL 2012-08-15 10:37
    Mark Donoghue:
    Warehouse Historical Order Retrieval E-System = WHORE

    Surely a made up name?

    That's the back-end to the Business Information Technology Historical E-System.

    Also, AIX is properly pronounced "aches".
  • bob goatse 2012-08-15 10:38
    where is irish girl? i miss irish girl!
  • PiisAWheeL 2012-08-15 10:41
    brazzy:
    I don't get it... If nobody ever accessed that data, how did they notice the system was gone in the first place?
    It probably went down 10 years ago and they are just figuring it out.

    Also, Why the hell would somebody bother reimaging a 25 year old server for use? The artical should read "Somebody decided to throw it out the window and that lead to the discovery that their 25 year old records were no longer available because it landed on the ceo's car." or some other such nonsense.

    Also, Everybody misses the irish girl.
  • Rootbeer 2012-08-15 10:44
    Richard:
    I submitted this because the real WTF was that this entire process *never* failed


    Ah, so that explains why the title of this story is "The Process that Never Failed".

  • Richard 2012-08-15 10:46
    That was all fictionalised - there is no "WHORE", it's not an ecommerce platform, the server wasn't reimaged and there was no hurried remplementation.

    See my last post.
  • Ben Jammin 2012-08-15 10:55
    Richard:
    I'm probably going to get murdered by Alex for this, but I think its well accepted (and admitted by himself) that he "fictionalises" accounts to make them more entertaining and to protect the submitter.

    I am the submitter of this particular WTF, and I think I need to clear up a few things - the only non-fiction part of the story is the step by step process for data transfer.

    There was no failure, there was no Jim, there was no meeting.

    I submitted this because the real WTF was that this entire process *never* failed - despite its horrific nature, it was rock stonking solid for the decade I worked at the company, and it still goes right now.

    Prior to this system being put in place (by myself, a quick hack at the start of 2000 designed to be a stop gap for a quick sign up form), the previous developer had PHP just doing a passthru() to the Sculptor server - and the Sculptor server outputted the entire HTML page.

    I have since moved on from PHP and Sculptor, and have become an accomplished .Net developer. But those days still haunt me :)

    Just goes to show that sometimes the WTF is that it works, and works well. That was the intention of the submission.


    I was much more interested in Alex's story than this comment
  • Director 2012-08-15 11:15
    ComputerChip:
    "Warehouse Historical Order Retrieval E-System" Seriously? I'm calling BS.


    Mark Donoghue:
    Warehouse Historical Order Retrieval E-System = WHORE

    Surely a made up name?


    First, It's WHORES[/s]. See the capitol "S"?

    Second, welcome n00b5. This is the daily WTF where people submit examples of [b]your
    code for us all to laugh at. However, they make up names of places, people, products and companies to protect the guilty.

    Thank you and we hope you enjoy your experience here.

    Juliambo the Embiggener,
    Director,
    Dedicated Omni-Universal Client High-End Banking Analysis Group
  • Cbuttius 2012-08-15 11:18
    Mark Bowytz:
    Cbuttius:
    The real WTF is that the business people are making development decisions (PHP will be a language of choice, etc. who decided that?) and it takes a developer to make the business decision (this project has no business benefit).

    Cbuttius:
    and come on, that last comment of mine was brilliant, you must feature it...

    No.


    featuring your own comments is the first sign of WTF-ery.

    From Mark: Ok, self moderated. But, you get what you get when you *ASK* to be featured. ;-)
  • Harrow 2012-08-15 11:18
    Sebastian Buchannon:
    ...bits of brain dribbled down his chin?
    Not this guy -- he's management.

    -Harrow.
  • Cbuttius 2012-08-15 11:18
    Some Jerk:
    Mark Bowytz:
    Cbuttius:
    The real WTF is that the business people are making development decisions (PHP will be a language of choice, etc. who decided that?) and it takes a developer to make the business decision (this project has no business benefit).

    Cbuttius:
    and come on, that last comment of mine was brilliant, you must feature it...

    No.

    You happy now? Your featured :p

    Not really, he featured his own response, not my comment, albeit that it was quoted.
  • Cbuttius 2012-08-15 11:25
    Richard:
    I'm probably going to get murdered by Alex for this, but I think its well accepted (and admitted by himself) that he "fictionalises" accounts to make them more entertaining and to protect the submitter.

    I am the submitter of this particular WTF, and I think I need to clear up a few things - the only non-fiction part of the story is the step by step process for data transfer.

    There was no failure, there was no Jim, there was no meeting.

    I submitted this because the real WTF was that this entire process *never* failed - despite its horrific nature, it was rock stonking solid for the decade I worked at the company, and it still goes right now.

    Prior to this system being put in place (by myself, a quick hack at the start of 2000 designed to be a stop gap for a quick sign up form), the previous developer had PHP just doing a passthru() to the Sculptor server - and the Sculptor server outputted the entire HTML page.

    I have since moved on from PHP and Sculptor, and have become an accomplished .Net developer. But those days still haunt me :)

    Just goes to show that sometimes the WTF is that it works, and works well. That was the intention of the submission.


    Unfortunately that biggest WTF in software development is that poorly written software works. Yes, it can be a nightmare to maintain, not extensible etc. but it gets the job done. And therefore business managers continue to hire poor developers but their software works anyway.

    Beautifully written software, where the developer unfortunately wasn't able to decipher the complex specification, on the other hand, doesn't work the way the business wanted.

    So often, rather than clarify the spec, the person with the business knowledge will just code it all themselves. Only later do they hand it to the developers, often without a spec that makes any sense at all, and with a lot of "look at the code and see what it does".

  • da Doctah 2012-08-15 11:30
    PiisAWheeL:
    Also, Why the hell would somebody bother reimaging a 25 year old server for use? The artical should read "Somebody decided to throw it out the window and that lead to the discovery that their 25 year old records were no longer available because it landed on the ceo's car." or some other such nonsense.


    What it takes to get something new added to the workplace: a single chance randomly-fired neuron in the brain of some marketing guy.

    What it takes to get something old and unused removed from the workplace: a complete reversal of the Earth's axis. If you're lucky.

    Also, I thought we were going to learn that for the last 25 of those 35 dedicated years, Jim had been running an illegal bookmaking business out of his cubicle using the company's critical server.
  • F 2012-08-15 11:45
    Harrow:
    Sebastian Buchannon:
    ...bits of brain dribbled down his chin?
    Not this guy -- he's management.



    ... and therefore has neither?
  • Some Jerk 2012-08-15 11:46
    bob goatse:
    where is irish girl? i miss irish girl!
    She is still in my bedroom after a rough night.
  • Some Jerk 2012-08-15 11:49
    Cbuttius:

    featuring your own comments is the first sign of WTF-ery.

    Unless there is (perhaps) some deep and illusive meaning behind the one-word comment and featuring it. After all... who would feature just the word "No."... unless there is a hidden message in there that I just can't figure out... :P
  • Richard 2012-08-15 11:55
    I think the best lesson I took away from this entire system was that no matter how well placed your intentions *now*, decisions taken when you were still a baby will do their best to screw you over.

    The problem with Sculptor was that it was an excellent green screen, centralised data entry and reporting system - it was quick to develop in, it was fast on the right hardware and it worked.

    Unfortunately, that was in 1985, when the company was in its infancy - but sure, it worked for the next 25 years, and it worked as originally intended.

    The downside was that Sculptor (the company) went from being an active entity with dozens of developers to essentially a single person releasing maintenance releases every now and then.

    The bigger downside was that it was never designed to talk to anything else - hence the kludge described above. So moving from Sculptor became a harder and harder problem the more you used it - but I'm going to guess that the same could be said for any one of dozens of other 1980s RAD systems out there that are still in use today.

  • Coyne 2012-08-15 12:04
    Shades of XKCD #763.

    When will we ever reach a state such that people stop using such Rube Goldberg kluges as this to move data around, and use sensible approaches?
  • The Bytemaster 2012-08-15 12:08
    TRWTF is that the IT department did not make a back-up of the PC before they reimaged it.

    Seriously. The employee was here for 35 years and suddenly passes away without a chance to hand anything over, and you don't take a snapshot/image of the system before reimaging it just in case? You never know what "mission critical" stuff people store on a PC.

    When I was running the show at a previous employer, I put down a policy to ALWAYS take an image of the machine before reimaging. Many considered it overkill, but at the small-to-medium sized companies I have been at it really saves you in the long run, especially when the other/previous IT had very loose control over workstations. You would not believe how many times that "mission critical" worksheet was stored in some obscure place (office temp files) that you do not normally back-up and restore.

    The amount of time and money it saved us made it a worthwhile process.
  • dc 2012-08-15 12:13
    ¯\(°_o)/¯ I DUNNO LOL:

    That's the back-end to the Business Information Technology Historical E-System.


    A BITH huh? Must be what you choke down after taking a bite?
  • Nagesh 2012-08-15 12:28
    I having noticed that I ain't commented on this code still.
  • operagost 2012-08-15 12:44
    brazzy:
    I don't get it... If nobody ever accessed that data, how did they notice the system was gone in the first place?

    They started hearing the incessant clacking of the CD-ROM drive on ITAPPMONROBOT.

    Seriously, it could have just been an SNMP trap; although I would have been really surprised they would bother trapping alerts from a PC that wasn't even important enough to put in the data center.
  • Rover 2012-08-15 12:48
    1. User visits website
    2. PHP takes required parameters
    3. PHP formats parameters into a command line structure
    4. PHP calls rsh with the command line structure as a parameter to a shell script
    5. rsh connects to the AIX server and runs the given command
    ...
    If anything, this process is over-documented. Once you know that PHP is building a command line, the rest is pretty obvious. As is TRWTF. Did anyone know how to properly handle web form parameters passed to commands back then? For that matter, did PHP even exist 25 years ago?
  • Jack 2012-08-15 12:50
    We laugh at the IT guy who reimaged a computer without knowing what it was doing, but just a couple days ago we had an IT guy who closed a browser window without knowing what it was doing either. Same error, just on a different scale.

    Oh yeah, he should be laughed at too.

    Carry on.
  • jay 2012-08-15 12:56
    Mark Donoghue:
    Warehouse Historical Order Retrieval E-System = WHORE

    Surely a made up name?


    Ummm ... yes.

    All the names in these stories are changed.

    Next baffling mystery: Why is it that so many people whose dead bodies are found with no identification are named "John Doe" or "Jane Doe"? Is there something wrong with the Doe family?
  • jay 2012-08-15 12:57
    Coyne:
    Shades of XKCD #763.

    When will we ever reach a state such that people stop using such Rube Goldberg kluges as this to move data around, and use sensible approaches?


    This will probably happen at about the same time that "sensible" approaches can be implemented more quickly and more cheaply than kludges.
  • jay 2012-08-15 13:09
    Just from a dramatic/story-telling point of view, a serious flaw to this story is that the fact that all the orders on the system are 25 years old is never mentioned until the hero points this out as the key to the solution. For good story-telling, you should give the reader SOME clue to the solution before suddenly revealing it.

    This would be like writing a murder mystery where at the climax the brilliant detective reveals that he knew Mr Brimmer was the killer when he observed that the design on his ring matched the oddly-shaped scar on the victim's face, and that the reason why he went through the odd show of telling Mr Brimmer's fortune by reading his palm was so he could examine the ring ... but never before this in the story did you mention the scar or the ring and you never had a scene where the detective read Mr Brimmer's palm.
  • bored_again 2012-08-15 13:23
    Mark Donoghue:
    Warehouse Historical Order Retrieval E-System = WHORE

    Surely a made up name?


    No it's not, stop calling me Shirley!
  • Comrade Aachen 2012-08-15 13:38
    Sorry, Stan Kelly-Bootle used that pun about 1990 in Unix Review...

    captcha: wisi, as in widi, winki
  • Some Jerk 2012-08-15 13:39
    that is funnier heard than read
  • PiisAWheeL 2012-08-15 13:50
    da Doctah:
    PiisAWheeL:
    Also, Why the hell would somebody bother reimaging a 25 year old server for use? The artical should read "Somebody decided to throw it out the window and that lead to the discovery that their 25 year old records were no longer available because it landed on the ceo's car." or some other such nonsense.


    What it takes to get something new added to the workplace: a single chance randomly-fired neuron in the brain of some marketing guy.

    What it takes to get something old and unused removed from the workplace: a complete reversal of the Earth's axis. If you're lucky.

    Also, I thought we were going to learn that for the last 25 of those 35 dedicated years, Jim had been running an illegal bookmaking business out of his cubicle using the company's critical server.

    The oldest computer I own is a 700mhz pentium something or other (I have a small web cluster, but that one is my email box). I'm sure if you asked anybody if they wanted to donate an old box to a project, you could probably find one. I can understand being lazy and letting what is working just continue to work, but anything from 25 years ago is gonna be so ancient I don't know what you would actually do with it.

    As for point 2, I throw things out around here all the time. I can understand if its useful, but this server doesnt sound like it is.

    If jim was running and illegal bookmaking business, the evidence was lost when it was reimaged.

    And I would like the namebrand of that hard drive that sat there quietly and did its job for 25 years, and then went on to be reimaged. They don't build em like that anymore.
  • ¯\(°_o)/¯ I DUNNO LOL 2012-08-15 13:57
    dc:
    ¯\(°_o)/¯ I DUNNO LOL:

    That's the back-end to the Business Information Clearinghouse Technology Historical E-System.
    A BITH huh? Must be what you choke down after taking a bite?
    Oops, sorry about that. Those responsible have been stacked.
  • PiisAWheeL 2012-08-15 13:57
    operagost:
    Seriously, it could have just been an SNMP trap; although I would have been really surprised they would bother trapping alerts from a PC that wasn't even important enough to put in the data center.
    It was in the data center. It was just in a dark corner somewhere in it. Maybe a basement, or possibly, it had a few more pcs and some wood stacked on it to make a makeshift table for jims late night gambling operations.
  • Some Jerk 2012-08-15 14:31
    Some Jerk:
    that is funnier heard than read
    You're funnier anything other than read.
  • Zylon 2012-08-15 14:48
    jay:
    Just from a dramatic/story-telling point of view, a serious flaw to this story is that the fact that all the orders on the system are 25 years old is never mentioned until the hero points this out as the key to the solution.

    The most serious flaw is that 90% of this story is complete and utter fiction. Hey, Alex, you do comprehend that the draw of sites like this is that they feature TRUE stories, yes?
  • C-Derb 2012-08-15 15:03
    Zylon:

    The most serious flaw is that 90% of this story is complete and utter fiction.

    A curious perversion, indeed!
  • Zylon 2012-08-15 15:18
    Zylon:
    jay:
    Just from a dramatic/story-telling point of view, a serious flaw to this story is that the fact that all the orders on the system are 25 years old is never mentioned until the hero points this out as the key to the solution.

    The most serious flaw is that 90% of this story is complete and utter fiction. Hey, Alex, you do comprehend that the draw of sites like this is that they feature TRUE stories, yes?
    Nice observation, b00b the perpetual n00b.
  • Wonk 2012-08-15 15:34
    ¯\(°_o)/¯ I DUNNO LOL:
    dc:
    ¯\(°_o)/¯ I DUNNO LOL:

    That's the back-end to the Business Information Clearinghouse Technology Historical E-System.
    A BITH huh? Must be what you choke down after taking a bite?
    Oops, sorry about that. Those responsible have been stacked.


    Ah, yes. Of course....The BICTHES system.
  • herby 2012-08-15 16:03
    Acronyms (there are so many)...

    Florine Uranium Carbon Potassium

    Well sort of!
  • Some Jerk 2012-08-15 16:12
    herby:
    Acronyms (there are so many)...

    Florine Uranium Carbon Potassium

    Well sort of!

    Frequent Use Can Kickoff Emergency Reboot
  • gfhfdhrdudyuinyr 2012-08-15 16:13
    Hey guys, has anyone pointed out yet that the name spells WHORES? Let me know.
  • Some Jerk 2012-08-15 16:18
    yes... several times
  • YR 2012-08-15 16:26
    gfhfdhrdudyuinyr:
    Hey guys, has anyone pointed out yet that the name spells WHORES? Let me know.


    Rescue Environment Auxiliary Documenting the Central Omniscient Master Mega E-Neuron Troubleshooting Server
  • s73v3r 2012-08-15 16:34
    jay:
    Coyne:
    Shades of XKCD #763.

    When will we ever reach a state such that people stop using such Rube Goldberg kluges as this to move data around, and use sensible approaches?


    This will probably happen at about the same time that "sensible" approaches can be implemented more quickly and more cheaply than kludges.


    Or when those who dictate the implementation of the cheap kludges are the ones who actually have to deal with the consequences of their actions.
  • C-Derb 2012-08-15 16:34
    Wonk:
    ¯\(°_o)/¯ I DUNNO LOL:
    dc:
    ¯\(°_o)/¯ I DUNNO LOL:

    That's the back-end to the Business Information Clearinghouse Technology Historical E-System.
    A BITH huh? Must be what you choke down after taking a bite?
    Oops, sorry about that. Those responsible have been stacked.


    Ah, yes. Of course....The BICTHES system.
    This is gaining humor the more he screws it up.
  • PiisAWheeL 2012-08-15 16:57
    YR:
    gfhfdhrdudyuinyr:
    Hey guys, has anyone pointed out yet that the name spells WHORES? Let me know.


    Rescue Environment Auxiliary Documenting the Central Omniscient Master Mega E-Neuron Troubleshooting Server
    +1 I like it.
  • lrucker 2012-08-15 18:16

    I'm probably going to get murdered by Alex for this, but I think its well accepted (and admitted by himself) that he "fictionalises" accounts to

    boost the comment count as everyone piles on about how unbelievable it is.
  • Jimbles 2012-08-15 18:49
    Richard:
    That was all fictionalised - there is no "WHORE", it's not an ecommerce platform, the server wasn't reimaged and there was no hurried remplementation.

    See my last post.
    Hmm....how do you know that this is YOUR submission, if the story is totally different? Perhaps the list is a coinky-dink
  • Only in America 2012-08-15 18:57
    jay:
    Mark Donoghue:
    Warehouse Historical Order Retrieval E-System = WHORE

    Surely a made up name?


    Ummm ... yes.

    All the names in these stories are changed.

    Next baffling mystery: Why is it that so many people whose dead bodies are found with no identification are named "John Doe" or "Jane Doe"? Is there something wrong with the Doe family?

    wikipedia:

    Origin

    The name "John Doe", often spelled "Doo," along with "Richard Roe" or "Roo" were regularly invoked in English legal instruments to satisfy technical requirements governing standing and jurisdiction, beginning perhaps as early as the reign of England's King Edward III (1312–1377).[5]

    Other fictitious names for a person involved in litigation under English law were John-a-Noakes, or John Noakes/Nokes and John-a-Stiles/John Stiles.[6]

    The Oxford English Dictionary states that John Doe is "the name given to the fictitious lessee of the plaintiff, in the (now obsolete in the UK) mixed action of ejectment, the fictitious defendant being called Richard Roe".

    This particular use became obsolete in the UK in 1852:

    As is well known, the device of involving real people as notional lessees and ejectors was used to enable freeholders to sue the real ejectors. These were then replaced by the fictional characters John Doe and Richard Roe. Eventually the medieval remedies were (mostly) abolished by the Real Property Limitation Act of 1833; the fictional characters of John Doe and Richard Roe by the Common Law Procedure Act 1852; and the forms of action themselves by the Judicature Acts 1873-75."
    Secretary of State for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (Respondent) v Meier and another(FC) (Appellant) and others and another (FC)(Appellant) and another (2009).[7]

    The term 'John Doe Injunction' (or John Doe Order)[8] is used in the UK to describe an injunction sought against someone whose identity is not known at the time it is issued:

    "8.02 If an unknown person has possession of the confidential personal information and is threatening to disclose it, a 'John Doe' injunction may be sought against that person. The first time this form of injunction was used since 1852 in the United Kingdom was in 2005 when lawyers acting for JK Rowling and her publishers obtained an interim order against an unidentified person who had offered to sell chapters of a stolen copy of an unpublished Harry Potter novel to the media".[9]

    Unlike in the United States the name (John) Doe does not actually appear in the formal name of the case, for example: X & Y v Persons Unknown [2007] HRLR 4.[10]

    It's amazing what Wikipedia comes up with.....or not
  • nonpartisan 2012-08-15 20:42
    Cbuttius:
    and come on, that last comment of mine was brilliant, you must feature it...

    Confucius say: man who begs for features has no features.
  • Dirk 2012-08-16 02:09
    PiisAWheeL:
    "Somebody decided to throw it out the window and that lead to the discovery that their 25 year old records were no longer available because it landed on the ceo's car."

    That's funny.
  • Endurion 2012-08-16 02:09
    As sad as it seems, that process description beats everything I've seen in the last years in clearness and conciseness.
  • Dirk 2012-08-16 02:18
    Endurion:
    As sad as it seems, that process description beats everything I've seen in the last years in clearness and conciseness.

    1. Do something

    This is even more clear and concise, however, not very helpfull.
  • Randy Snicker 2012-08-16 04:15
    brazzy:
    I don't get it... If nobody ever accessed that data, how did they notice the system was gone in the first place?

    I have a feeling they also actively added to that data - i.e. the old server essentially ran the company.
  • Watson 2012-08-16 04:57
    The Bytemaster:
    Seriously. The employee was here for 35 years and suddenly passes away without a chance to hand anything over, and you don't take a snapshot/image of the system before reimaging it just in case?

    Although it is not explicitly mentioned, the two events were causally linked. Just not in the direction most people assume.
  • QJo 2012-08-16 05:20
    Richard:
    I think the best lesson I took away from this entire system was that no matter how well placed your intentions *now*, decisions taken when you were still a baby will do their best to screw you over.

    The problem with Sculptor was that it was an excellent green screen, centralised data entry and reporting system - it was quick to develop in, it was fast on the right hardware and it worked.

    Unfortunately, that was in 1985, when the company was in its infancy - but sure, it worked for the next 25 years, and it worked as originally intended.

    The downside was that Sculptor (the company) went from being an active entity with dozens of developers to essentially a single person releasing maintenance releases every now and then.

    The bigger downside was that it was never designed to talk to anything else - hence the kludge described above. So moving from Sculptor became a harder and harder problem the more you used it - but I'm going to guess that the same could be said for any one of dozens of other 1980s RAD systems out there that are still in use today.



    So: the real WTF is programs, processes and applications which are so good and work so well, they need next-to-no maintenance, and so when they fail, it's because the hardware they run on has deteriorated to such an extent that it will no longer support them?

    It appears to be a truism, therefore, that it pays to write shoddy, crashy, high-maintenance applications which constantly alert you (by failure) to their presence, ensuring that you never forget to guide them by the arm as they stagger decrepitly across the rickety gang-plank of Upgrade.
  • QJo 2012-08-16 05:27
    jay:
    Just from a dramatic/story-telling point of view, a serious flaw to this story is that the fact that all the orders on the system are 25 years old is never mentioned until the hero points this out as the key to the solution. For good story-telling, you should give the reader SOME clue to the solution before suddenly revealing it.

    This would be like writing a murder mystery where at the climax the brilliant detective reveals that he knew Mr Brimmer was the killer when he observed that the design on his ring matched the oddly-shaped scar on the victim's face, and that the reason why he went through the odd show of telling Mr Brimmer's fortune by reading his palm was so he could examine the ring ... but never before this in the story did you mention the scar or the ring and you never had a scene where the detective read Mr Brimmer's palm.


    Won't work. If he's examining his palm, then, assuming the scar is caused by the perp hitting him in the face with a clenched fist, he's not going to be able to see the design on the ring, as this will then be face down towards the table. Think again ...
  • Cbuttius 2012-08-16 05:37
    This site is becoming a WTF.

    There is no WTF at all in the fact that someone wrote a system that worked perfectly at the time in 1985 with the technology that was available to them, and was good enough to keep going for 25 years or so.

    Most WTFs that I have experienced are not really that funny. And WTF code on the systems of any company I work is private / copyrighted to the company no matter how bad it is, and cannot be published on the internet.

    Some of it is badly written, other stuff, whilst looking valid is plain inefficient, and I have encountered much code that is both without being so WTF'y to make you laugh, i.e. it needs a moderate amount of expertise to see what is wrong with it, and possibly some explanation for the less intuitive.

    My own personal WTF in the workplace is I so often feel I am being misplaced, wasting a lot of time waiting around, not being given the projects / work I would be most effective doing with managerial views that we are paid by the line and thus they can cut costs by not authorising projects that involve writing code whilst still retaining our services to fix bugs or make small enhancements.
  • QJo 2012-08-16 05:58
    Watson:
    The Bytemaster:
    Seriously. The employee was here for 35 years and suddenly passes away without a chance to hand anything over, and you don't take a snapshot/image of the system before reimaging it just in case?

    Although it is not explicitly mentioned, the two events were causally linked. Just not in the direction most people assume.


    Perhaps the real WTF is that some people can not afford to retire, e.g. because their pensions have been the victims of corporate raiding / embezzlement, etc., or because the governmental / financial infrastructure has no provision for care of the elderly and all that pinko commie rubbish, and so people have to work till they drop dead. While I was seconded for a year or two to the US office of the last company I worked for this happened twice: once it was an old girl in her mid-80s who worked in a data input department, and the second time was a Vietnam vet in poor health who had a heart-attack in the office. IMO this sort of attitude is unhealthy.
  • oheso 2012-08-16 07:16
    QJo:
    stagger decrepitly across the rickety gang-plank of Upgrade.


    Woah! I think I'm in love!
  • PedanticCurmudgeon 2012-08-16 08:21
    Cbuttius:
    This site is becoming a WTF.

    (Long rant snipped.)

    You're just mad because you'll never get a featured comment.
  • nonpartisan 2012-08-16 09:47
    Cbuttius:

    There is no WTF at all in the fact that someone wrote a system that worked perfectly at the time in 1985 with the technology that was available to them, and was good enough to keep going for 25 years or so.

    The "WTF" in this case is simply the tendency that "well-designed" systems don't usually last 25 years, but that systems put together with baling wire and duct tape, the systems that should barely even work in the first place by proper design standards, are the systems that persist for years to come -- usually without problems.

    Cbuttius:

    Most WTFs that I have experienced are not really that funny. And WTF code on the systems of any company I work is private / copyrighted to the company no matter how bad it is, and cannot be published on the internet.

    I'm guessing this is the same for most companies. That said, most of what gets posted here can be sufficiently anonymized while illustrating the problem. I'd be hard-pressed to believe that every single line of code you consider to be a WTF in your business is so unique that it would immediately identify your company and its industry. Flip side of that is, if your code is that unique that it's creating new categories of bad coding practices, they're unique enough that no one else will have enough information to be able to identify it back to your company.

    Cbuttius:

    Some of it is badly written, other stuff, whilst looking valid is plain inefficient, and I have encountered much code that is both without being so WTF'y to make you laugh, i.e. it needs a moderate amount of expertise to see what is wrong with it, and possibly some explanation for the less intuitive.

    There are posts all the time here where someone needs to provide background or explanation. I'm not seeing the problem. As a person who does programming every so often but not regularly (my primary job is a network engineer), I appreciate the explanations. Sometimes I understand the problem on my own; sometimes I need background. I understand Java and C++ concepts but have never written application-grade programs in them. I've never written anything C# but I get the gist of what's going on in the code snippets. The site says "Curious Perversions in Information Technology", not "Curious Perversions in Programming." So there are people here who need background.

    If I tell you I had a spanning-tree loop for years because of an incorrect VLAN ID on an encapsulation dot1Q statement on a Cisco AP, you may go "Huh?" Whereas someone else would go "Oh hell yeah, I had a problem like that too that drove me to Hellenback!" (It was an AP that was already up and running when I joined the networking team; the core router's routing protocol would complain about two potential neighbors not being on the same subnet. That was my clue there were two VLANs being bridged somewhere along the line.)

    Cbuttius:

    My own personal WTF in the workplace is I so often feel I am being misplaced, wasting a lot of time waiting around, not being given the projects / work I would be most effective doing with managerial views that we are paid by the line and thus they can cut costs by not authorising projects that involve writing code whilst still retaining our services to fix bugs or make small enhancements.

    Sounds like many of the stories here. Writing about it can be cathartic. Why do you think people like Snoofle submit so many stories? They've got to get it off their chests or they'll explode.

    For me, I have a story I'll be posting soon to the Side Bar that made me storm out of the conference room the other day shaking my head. Four hours of my life I'll never get back, not to mention four hours that I could've been doing something much more productive.

    If you think the stories are weak, go back through the archives. I found I really enjoy Tales From the Interview and have gone back through many of those. CodeSOD is my least favorite, simply because coding is not what I do every day.

    This site is supposed to be fun. It's supposed to be a relief. If it's not doing that for you, well, maybe you should take a break from it. If what is supposed to be relief is just adding to your frustrations, then you need to find another outlet.
  • Some Jerk 2012-08-16 11:16
    nonpartisan:

    This site is supposed to be fun. It's supposed to be a relief. If it's not doing that for you, well, maybe you should take a break from it. If what is supposed to be relief is just adding to your frustrations, then you need to find another outlet.

    +1
  • Dman 2012-08-16 12:34
    Don:
    Warehouse Historical Order Retrieval E-System
    Not the first time WHORES stopped production...


    more appropriate: Not the first time the WHORE went down
  • Some Jerk 2012-08-16 12:38
    Dman:
    Don:
    Warehouse Historical Order Retrieval E-System
    Not the first time WHORES stopped production...


    more appropriate: Not the first time the WHORE went down
    They may not be producing... but it is a safe bet that they are reproducing.
  • Clean Developer 2012-08-16 13:05
    Story would have been better without the curse word; it was unnecessary.
  • bad_management 2012-08-16 13:09
    PiisAWheeL:

    And I would like the namebrand of that hard drive that sat there quietly and did its job for 25 years, and then went on to be reimaged. They don't build em like that anymore.


    If I were to guess, I would say that the AIX system was the one that lasted 25 years. The PC bucket under the desk was probably added within the past 5 years to interface with the AIX system. It's not unusual for legacy UNIX systems to last that long. I've been working for a company for 15 years now, and they have legacy UNIX systems (AIX, HP-UX, Solaris and IRIX) that were here before I was hired and they are still running today. No mission critical apps are on them anymore, but they still hum along happily everyday. I also have systems that old at home in my collection and they still boot fine today. That's the beauty of the UNIX systems made back then. They Just Worked(TM). But they also cost 10 times more than the cheapo PC bucket commodity hardware does. Part of that extra cost was overinflated prices that eventually killed UNIX, but the other part of that was the fact that the hardware was engineered well and was designed NOT to be disposable like current hardware is nowadays. Things change so fast now. The hardware and the software is disposable these days. You get an error, simply restage the instance or spin up a new VM. Nobody thinks twice. Very few know what it's like to have hardware and software that actually survives 25 years. And even if it did survive, you could never put it anywhere near the internet (and good luck interfacing it with a modern application).
  • Nato 2012-08-16 13:24
    Anon:
    'Jim had just recently passed away after 35 years of dedicated service'

    That's the most depressing think I've ever read.

    I was wondering if passing away "just recently" is more recent than "recently"?
  • Silverhill 2012-08-16 17:17
    Clean Developer:
    Story would have been better without the curse word; it was unnecessary.
    If one occurrence of the word "sh*t" [redacted for the sake of the overly sensitive] can upset you that much, you'll be well advised to stay the f*ck [redacted for the sake of the overly sensitive] away from this site....

    Foghorn Leghorn:
    "That's a joke--I say, that's a joke, son!"
  • warwick 2012-08-17 01:24
    Well, I found scultpor in here.
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a7/Universe_Reference_Map_%28Location%29_001.jpeg
  • JJ 2012-08-17 17:18
    Clean Developer:
    Story would have been better without the curse word; it was unnecessary.

    "Foul mouthed? Fuck you." -- Eddie Murphy, Beverly Hills Cop
  • Daniel 2012-08-19 22:02
    You know, it's sad, but stuff like this just happen to exist more than they should. Our Human Resources application talks to a MUMPS legacy system (that holds lots of vital and updated data) in the exact same way. Well, not "exactly", as some of those MUMPS programs return actual HTML code directly to the browser...
    Fortunatelly, we're aware of the system and it's role in the whole thing.