Charles Robinson

Charles Robinson has done a little bit of everything in the IT world since getting an internship at age 16. He currently holds a position as a release engineer at a bank in Wisconsin. He has maintained comedic writing as a hobby throughout, writing for various websites, blogs, and now The Daily WTF. When not breaking computers or writing, he enjoys drinking beer, gaming, and playing bass guitar.

The Hardcode to Success

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Rodrigo was but a simple software development intern eager to prove himself. He would always volunteer for the menial tasks that nobody else wanted to do. "Nobody else" mainly consisted of Justin, Rodrigo's supervisor. Justin wasn't a big fan of doing stuff so he was glad to have an intern that was ready and willing.

Justin got a request from the network administrators to create a system status application to interface with their servers. They wanted to receive alert emails every hour on the hour if anything on the servers had a conniption. If everything was ok, maintain radio silence. To do this, a simple app would need to be created to pass system health check results to Pushbullet, which would take care of sending the alerts. Rodrigo didn't even wait for Justin to finish. "I'll do it!"


SLA-p the Salesman

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A Service-Level Agreement (SLA) is meant to ensure customer issues receive the attention they deserve based on severity. It also protects the support company from having customers breathing down their neck for frivolous issues. All of the parameters are agreed upon in writing ahead of time and both sides know the expectations. That is, until a salesman starts to meddle and mess things up, as happened at the place Dominick worked for.

Dominick was a simple remote support tech who fixed things for clients well ahead of the SLA. On the rare occasion there was a priority 1 issue - something stopping anyone in the company from doing work - they had 24 hours to fix it before large monetary penalties would start to rack up. One Friday a priority 4 issue (5 business day SLA) came in from the CFO of a new client. The ticket was assigned to Dominick, who had higher priority work to do for other clients, so he decided it could wait until the following week.

Canon ir2270

Old Lennart

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Gustav's tech support job became a whole lot easier when remote support technology took off. Instead of having to slowly describe the remedy for a problem to a computer-illiterate twit, he could connect to their PC and fix it himself. The magical application known as TeamViewer was his new best friend.

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The New Guy (Part II): Database Boogaloo

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When we last left our hero Jesse, he was wading through a quagmire of undocumented bad systems while trying to solve an FTP issue. Several months later, Jesse had things figured out a little better and was starting to feel comfortable in his "System Admin" role. He helped the company join the rest of the world by dumping Windows NT 4.0 and XP. The users whose DNS settings he bungled were now happily utilizing Windows 10 workstations. His web servers were running Windows Server 2016, and the SQL boxes were up to SQL 2016. Plus his nemesis Ralph had since retired. Or died. Nobody knew for sure. But things were good.

Despite all these efforts, there were still several systems that relied on Access 97 haunting him every day. Jesse spent tens of dollars of his own money on well-worn Access 97 programming books to help plug holes in the leaky dike. The A97 Finance system in particular was a complete mess to deal with. There were no clear naming guidelines and table locations were haphazard at best. Stored procedures and functions were scattered between the A97 VBS and the SQL DB. Many views/functions were nested with some going as far as eight layers while others would form temporary tables in A97 then continue to nest.


The New Guy (Part I)

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After working mind-numbing warehouse jobs for several years, Jesse was ready for a fresh start in Information Technology. The year 2015 brought him a newly-minted Computer and Networking Systems degree from Totally Legit Technical Institute. It would surely help him find gainful employment, all he had to do was find the right opportunity.

DNS hierarchy Seeking the right opportunity soon turned in to any opportunity. Jesse came across a posting for an IT Systems Administrator that piqued his interest but the requirements and responsibilities left a lot to be desired. They sought someone with C++ and Microsoft Office experience who would perform "General IT Admin Work" and "Other Duties as assigned". None of those things seemed to fit together, but he applied anyway.


Daylight Losing Time

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The second Sunday of March has come to pass, which means if you're a North American reader, you're getting this an hour earlier than normal. What a bonus! That's right, we all got to experience the mandatory clock-changing event known as Daylight Saving Time. While the sun, farm animals, toddlers, etc. don't care about an arbitrary changing of the clock, computers definitely do.

Early in my QA career, I had the great (dis)pleasure of fully regression testing electronic punch clocks on every possible software version every time a DST change was looming. It was every bit as miserable as it sounds but was necessary because if punches were an hour off for thousands of employees, it would wreak havoc on our clients' payroll processing.


Budget Cuts

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Xavier was the head of a 100+ person development team. Like many enterprise teams, they had to support a variety of vendor-specific platforms, each with their own vendor-specific development environment and its own licensing costs. All the licensing costs were budgeted for at year’s end, when Xavier would submit the costs to the CTO. The approval was a mere formality, ensuring his team would have everything they needed for another year.

Unfortunately, that CTO left to pursue another opportunity. Enter Greg, a new CTO who joined the company from the financial sector. Greg was a penny-pincher on a level that would make the novelty coin-smasher you find at zoos and highway rest-stops jealous. Greg started cutting costs left and right immediately. When the time came for budgeting development tool licensing, Greg threw down the gauntlet on Xavier’s “wild” spending.

Alan Rickman, in Galaxy Quest, delivering the line, 'By Grabthar's Hammer, what a savings' while looking like his soul is dying forever. "By Grabthar's Hammer, what a savings."

2017: With the Router, In the Conference Room

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This particular article originally ran in two parts, giving us a surprise twist ending (the surprise being… well, just read it!) -- Remy

One of the most important aspects of software QA is establishing a good working relationship with developers. If you want to get them to take your bug reports seriously, you have to approach them with the right attitude. If your bugs imply that their work is shoddy, they are likely to fight back on anything you submit. If you continuously submit trivial “bugs”, they will probably be returned right away with a “not an issue” or “works as designed” status. If you treat any bug like it’s a critical showstopper, they will think you’re crying wolf and not immediately jump on issues that actually are critical.

Then there’s people like Mr. Green, a former coworker of submitter Darren A., that give QA a bad name. The Mr. Greens of the QA world are so incompetent that their stupidity can cause project delays, rack up thousands of dollars in support costs, and cause a crapstorm between managers. Mr. Green once ran afoul of Darren’s subordinate Cathy, lead developer on the project Mr. Green was testing.

A shot from the film Clue, where Mrs. White holds a gun in front of Col. Mustard

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