For many developers in a large company, visiting a department outside of I.T. is a rare treat. The people there are friendlier and, instead of the stolid I.T. grunt-nod, actually greet one another with a smile and words like “hello” and “how are you.” Not only that, but these departments often have donuts and other goodies in their break room past 9:03 AM! Apparently, without a horde of voracious programmers, such things can survive for more than three minutes.

Not too long ago, Devin was summoned to the Records Administration Department to see an issue that a user was experiencing first hand that couldn’t be remotely diagnosed. After wolfing down a handful of donuts from their break room, Devin stopped by to took a look. It was a pretty simple problem to fix: for whatever reason, the application’s registry entries were missing, so Devin added them and started up the application.

As he clicked through to make sure it was working, Devin tried his hand at some small talk with the lady whose desk he was working at. “You guys sure like it cold down here, eh?”

That, apparently, was the wrong thing to say. She immediately launched into a tale of woe of and suffering. About a month ago, things started to get a bit chilly, so they adjusted the thermostat and forgot about it. The next day, however, it had gotten even colder, so they adjusted the thermostat yet again. Still, nothing. They pushed it all the way up to eighty degrees (which was as high as the large-scale HVAC system allowed), and it still made no noticeable difference.

They argued back and forth with the building’s engineering department, but there was nothing they would do. Three different maintenance guys verified that the thermostat was communicating with central control, and another two workers ensured them that the ductwork was in good order. Some areas of the building, so the engineering department said, just get cooler than others.

With no other options, the department had just dug in for the “winter.” Just about everyone was wearing sweaters, many had a space heater under their desks, and a few even huddled around a fire made from paper scraps and old report binders. Devin was feeling a bit chilly himself, so he excused himself with the classic “another meeting” excuse.

On his way out, Devin noticed something across the office. As part of the initial application project, Devin’s team had installed a dedicated imaging computer with a huge (for the time) 25" CRT monitor. The system had originally been installed on a small desk in the corner, but someone had moved the desk over a few feet to allow for a large potted plant to sit in the corner instead. As a result of the move, the computer and its large, heat-producing monitor now sat directly under the thermostat.

Devin walked over to the corner, moved the computer back where it was supposed to be, grabbed a donut for the road (well, elevator ride), and left. And after that, everything was just fine.

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