• Samo (unregistered)

    &First!

  • T-Biscuit (unregistered)

    See, this is exactly why no one should ever upgrade, ever.

  • snoofle (cs)

    Ahh, so he discovers that common sense and budgeting have absolutely no correlation in reality..

    Welcome to the real world!

  • DOA (cs) in reply to T-Biscuit
    T-Biscuit:
    See, this is exactly why no one should ever upgrade, ever.
    Finally, the voice of reason.
  • Grumpyc0d3r (unregistered)

    TRWTF is the phrase "cutting-edge the-future-has-arrived VB6". Even when VB6 was new, it was "the-future-has-passed-us-by".

  • Someone You Know (cs)
    Jake Vinson:
    The tab order was so bizarre and random that Joe had to either use his mouse or remember "ok, five tabs from here, then shift+tab twice, then three tabs" for the thirty-odd controls on the form, or click through with his mouse (making the process much slower than necessary).

    ${nitpicking}

  • Kevin Dean (unregistered)

    Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt, but with a lot more success.

    My first year university summer job was as an engineering student at our local electrical utility. Now, by "engineering", they really meant "clerical". My first assignment was to retype 60 pages of names and addresses, one per line, into the mainframe (running a spreadsheet, no less).

    To add insult to injury, clerical students were paid more than engineering students.

    The original data was on an old Olivetti, the new mainframe was IBM, and the terminal I was using to enter the data was a relatively newfangled device called a PC (this was 1987).

    The PC could share files with the mainframe but the Olivetti couldn't share with anyone. I asked around and learned that there was a company two doors down from us that could copy files on the 8" Olivetti disks to 5 1/4" PC disks.

    In order for any external work to be done, though, quotes had to provided by three different vendors. The odds of finding two other vendors with Olivetti-to-PC transfer ability were slim to none.

    The stars were now aligned for the perfect WTF: naive university student with delusions of grandeur, a legacy utility company not known for innovation, and financial processes designed to stymie any attempt to actually save money.

    Alas, the WTF was not to be. My boss approved the $30 expense and got the finance manager to pay and then bury the invoice. I took the files from the PC disk, uploaded them to the mainframe, and spent a couple days writing macros to load and parse the files and write the resulting spreadsheet to the mainframe file system. The whole thing was done in less than a week, which left me the rest of the summer to farm myself out to one department after another, writing PC programs and developing spreadsheets to automate multiple manual processes. I had a great time. (P.S. Paula, I still think of you from time to time.)

    I did learn, though, that spreadsheets on multi-user systems were a really bad idea. After testing my load and parse macro on a small set of files, I ran it against the complete set and walked away. I came back half an hour later just as the job finished and found this on my screen:

    MSG FROM OPERATOR: WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?!!!

    Apparently, the macro was so efficient and demanding that I had 99% of the CPU all to myself, suspending mainframe operations company-wide for the duration of the import.

  • durnurd (cs)

    I gotta say, the title combined with the first paragraph, along with the knowledge of what website it was on, was all anybody needed to see exactly where this was going.

  • TB3 (unregistered)

    I can do this one better. I had a short stay at an advertising company that built the web site for a car manufacturer.

    Every year they'd do a refresh of the site to promote the new models. And every year they'd hire a bunch of temps whose job it was to take the copy in MS Word format, and copy-and-paste it into XML documents.

    Then they'd take the XML documents and run them through a parser (which took ages, and only happened once per day) to generate the HTML output.

    When I asked why they didn't use a CMS I got a number of interesting answers. Like, "Our contract doesn't allow us to run a database", and "You'd put the temps out of work".

    Needless to say, I wasn't there very long.

  • valerion (cs)

    This is what he should have done:

    1 - Written the script to import say, a fiftieth of the data in one go and not tell the boss: 2 - Arrange with the data-entry guys that he gets 10% of their pay, and in return all they have to do is pitch up at work and play Doom (replace with other game if I've got the era wrong). 3 - Run script every day, collect cash from co-workers, play Doom.

  • someguy (unregistered)

    I never understand this whole concept of "asking permission" before doing something that would take less than a lunchbreak.

    Hint: do it on your lunch break. I've yet to see someone turn down a perl script that saves them six months if it appears with no explanation in front of them. If you're being forced into the role of data-entry-monkey, just go over everyone's head, straight to the highest authority: actually getting things done.

    There are two benefits:

    • You get to start writing code again, which is what you wanted to be doing anyway (right?)
    • The next time something like this comes along, they're more likely to ask a programmer to fix it than to spend so much time and resources doing it the stupid way.

    More programming all around, more programming means programmers are more valued, and that's better for everybody.

  • Anonymous (unregistered) in reply to someguy
    someguy:
    I never understand this whole concept of "asking permission" before doing something that would take less than a lunchbreak.

    Hint: do it on your lunch break. I've yet to see someone turn down a perl script that saves them six months if it appears with no explanation in front of them. If you're being forced into the role of data-entry-monkey, just go over everyone's head, straight to the highest authority: actually getting things done.

    There are two benefits:

    • You get to start writing code again, which is what you wanted to be doing anyway (right?)
    • The next time something like this comes along, they're more likely to ask a programmer to fix it than to spend so much time and resources doing it the stupid way.

    More programming all around, more programming means programmers are more valued, and that's better for everybody.

    These are valid points but you clearly underestimate the stupidity of management. And if you've never seen management turn down good work that just "appears in front of them" then you haven't been doing this job for long enough.

  • seditious (cs) in reply to Someone You Know
    Someone You Know:
    Jake Vinson:
    The tab order was so bizarre and random that Joe had to either use his mouse or remember "ok, five tabs from here, then shift+tab twice, then three tabs" for the thirty-odd controls on the form, or click through with his mouse (making the process much slower than necessary).

    ${nitpicking}

    zitpopping

  • Aaron (unregistered)

    I hate to be "that guy"....

    but a parsec is a unit of distance, not time. :P

  • JamesQMurphy (cs) in reply to Grumpyc0d3r
    Grumpyc0d3r:
    TRWTF is the phrase "cutting-edge the-future-has-arrived VB6". Even when VB6 was new, it was "the-future-has-passed-us-by".

    And CraigsList came out a decade after VB6.

    But it all makes sense when you see the line "QuantumLeaps per Parsec." It was really Sam Beckett who suggested the automated approach to Garrett, after Al gave him the idea. After Garrett gave his response, he went home, realized how silly his response was, made up with his wife, and things were put right once again. Then Sam leapt into an orangutan.

  • iToad (unregistered)

    This story points out why most technical types are failures as managers.

    Your average programmer or engineer is a member of the reality-based community. They tend to develop solutions to technical problems based on logic and reason. On the other hand, management is mostly politics, and politics is not always rational.

    If you move from a technical specialty to management, you have to reset your brain. A lot of techies can't do that.

  • Charles400 (cs)

    Wait, there's a VB6? VB4 isn't the latest...?

  • Samo (unregistered) in reply to Aaron
    Aaron:
    I hate to be "that guy"....

    but a parsec is a unit of distance, not time. :P

    Ah, yes. However, you are forgetting that the kessel run is a route travelling dangerously close to several black holes. The typical kessel run is 18 parsecs because slow ships have to travel farther away from the black holes so as not to be gobbled up, whereas Solo's ship is faster. It's relative horizon is decreased, and it can travel closer to the singularities, thereby decreasing the total distance travelled to 12 parsecs.

    Ergo, parsecs are implicitly also a measure of time.

    And I don't even like star wars.

  • Voodoo Coder (cs) in reply to Aaron
    Aaron:
    I hate to be "that guy"....

    but a parsec is a unit of distance, not time. :P

    You don't hate it.

    You just wanted to point out something that makes you look smart...in reality, you either learned it from watching/reading something that picks apart the flaws in star wars, or you saw the family guy episode in which they parody Star Wars, and point out what a parsec is.

    Truth of the matter is, in the statement "5 quantumleaps a parsec", pretty much every word has abandoned its original meaning.

    And yet, I rolled my eyes the second I saw the word "parsec" in this article, and prepared myself for a comment like yours.

  • Great link for WTF source material buried in this article (unregistered) in reply to Aaron
    Comment held for moderation.
  • Somebody (unregistered) in reply to Samo
    Samo:
    Aaron:
    I hate to be "that guy"....

    but a parsec is a unit of distance, not time. :P

    Ah, yes. However, you are forgetting that the kessel run is a route travelling dangerously close to several black holes. The typical kessel run is 18 parsecs because slow ships have to travel farther away from the black holes so as not to be gobbled up, whereas Solo's ship is faster. It's relative horizon is decreased, and it can travel closer to the singularities, thereby decreasing the total distance travelled to 12 parsecs.

    Ergo, parsecs are implicitly also a measure of time.

    And I don't even like star wars.

    Everybody knows that!

  • SomeCoder (unregistered) in reply to JamesQMurphy
    JamesQMurphy:
    And CraigsList came out a decade after VB6.

    But it all makes sense when you see the line "QuantumLeaps per Parsec." It was really Sam Beckett who suggested the automated approach to Garrett, after Al gave him the idea. After Garrett gave his response, he went home, realized how silly his response was, made up with his wife, and things were put right once again. Then Sam leapt into an orangutan.

    WIN

  • Anonymous Coward (unregistered)

    "After seeing a lot of late-night commercials that made data entry sound pretty lucrative..."

    Maybe I'm missing a joke, or maybe this occurred before my time, but WTF is this? When I graduated HS/Started college (circa 2000), the one bit of advise I was given from all sides while looking for PT work was to avoid data-entry like the plague. Were/are there really commercials attempting to make it seem like anything better than an absolute last-resort sub-entry-level hellhole of a job?

  • jimlangrunner (cs) in reply to Samo
    Samo:
    &First!
    Dammit, I had a mouth full of soda when I read that!
  • chikinpotpi (cs) in reply to Charles400
    Charles400:
    Wait, there's a VB6? VB4 isn't the latest...?

    wait, there's a Vb now? i'm still on the Q variety... darn you QBasic....

  • Peter (unregistered) in reply to Somebody
    Somebody:
    Samo:
    Ergo, parsecs are implicitly also a measure of time. And I don't even like star wars.
    Everybody knows that!
    Not true, I didn't know that Samo doesn't like star wars!
  • KattMan (cs)

    So in the battle of attrition between Tom and the mountain of paperwork, the paperwork won?

  • Jay (unregistered) in reply to Aaron
    Aaron:
    but a parsec is a unit of distance, not time. :P

    Who says the writer is using "parsec" as a unit of time? If I say there are "5 rest stops per hundred miles", that's a perfectly rational statement, even though the mile is, of course, not a unit of time.

    Oh, okay, they do refer to "quantum leaps a parsec" as a "transmission speed". But are we to take "quantum leap" as a unit of distance? Sounds more like an action to me. And are we to take "a" as a synonym for "per"?

    Perhaps the writer meant that transmissions were going so so fast that they were making five quantum leaps every parsec. (I'm not sure if that's a high number or a small one.) Like saying, "He was talking so fast he only stopped to breath once every five paragraphs." Paragraph, of course, is not a unit of time, but the sentence is logically coherent.

    I think you're way over-analyzing the writer's statement.

    Of course, I just way over-analyzed your response. :-(

  • c.eq.1 (unregistered) in reply to Aaron
    Comment held for moderation.
  • DougBot (unregistered)

    I did something very similar to this once, that contractor must have gotten around. Only in our case was transferring data from an Access database to Oracle.

    Given that our Oracle input form was coded in much the same way as the one in the story, the number of database errors that were introduced during the transfer must have been amazing. I'm sure by now they're back to the Access database, since at least that had some data integrity.

  • Jay (unregistered) in reply to someguy
    someguy:
    I never understand this whole concept of "asking permission" before doing something that would take less than a lunchbreak.

    Hint: do it on your lunch break. I've yet to see someone turn down a perl script that saves them six months if it appears with no explanation in front of them. If you're being forced into the role of data-entry-monkey, just go over everyone's head, straight to the highest authority: actually getting things done.

    ...

    Apparently you've never worked for the government. I had numerous occasions on which I got in trouble for solving a problem without first getting the proper authorization. The fact that I did it over my lunch hour or a weekend and that it worked, while the authorized solution had already cost millions of dollars and did not work, was not considered relevant. Half the time the people in charge refused to even look at my solution because they knew it was impossible for one person to solve a problem in a few hours that a team of people spending millions of dollars had spent months or years failing to solve. The other half of the time they explained that I had Broken The Rules and they made abundantly clear that if I did this sort of thing again I could lose my job. In one case I was told that I could be subject to criminal prosecution because I had installed software on a government computer without authorization. The security department was actually called in to investigate my actions. Despite the fact that the software in question was software that I had written myself and that I was hired specifically to be a software developer. (Lest you wonder, the security folks concluded that no harm was done and the matter should be dropped. I WAS ordered to delete all copies of the program, including source code.)

    This is among the reasons why I no longer work for the government.

  • JamesQMurphy (cs) in reply to Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward:
    "After seeing a lot of late-night commercials that made data entry sound pretty lucrative..."

    Maybe I'm missing a joke, or maybe this occurred before my time, but WTF is this? When I graduated HS/Started college (circa 2000), the one bit of advise I was given from all sides while looking for PT work was to avoid data-entry like the plague. Were/are there really commercials attempting to make it seem like anything better than an absolute last-resort sub-entry-level hellhole of a job?

    There were commercials that advertised trade schools, where they usually listed these types of "degrees":

    • Legal Assistant
    • HVAC Technician
    • Medical Transcriptionist
    • Engine Maintenance
    • Data Entry
    • High School or GES-equivalent

    Some schools promised a "free set of tools" with the more mechanically-inclined jobs (like HVAC maintenance). I doubt a degree in Data Entry would come with such a bonus. Maybe finger cots from slugging the Enter key?

  • Code Dependent (cs) in reply to Grumpyc0d3r
    Grumpyc0d3r:
    TRWTF is the phrase "cutting-edge the-future-has-arrived VB6". Even when VB6 was new, it was "the-future-has-passed-us-by".
    Ah, but in which direction? Or was that VB4 your time?
  • ContraCorners (cs) in reply to Aaron
    Aaron:
    I hate to be "that guy"....

    but a parsec is a unit of distance, not time. :P

    Thank you, Han.

  • Bappi (cs)

    This reminds me of my first job out of university. A few months into it, management came up with a "skills survey," which would result in a grand database of every employee and their skillset. This was a consulting company, so this database would make it much easier to allocate people to projects.

    It was very, very urgent that we all fill it out and send it in, because it was the basis for a very, very valuable management tool that was going to save us a lot of money and give us an important competitive advantage. The skills survey had five possible values for every skill, so that you could indicate whether you didn't know something, had read about it, were familiar with it, had worked with it, or were an expert in it. We all spent a lot of time making sure we got the skill level just right, because it was important.

    Six months later, I was on the bench, and I was asked to help with entering the data from the skills survey into a computer. Not only had the very, very important survey been languishing for half a year, but the data entry program allowed for only three values for every skill. Oh, and this data entry task was very, very urgent because it was the basis for a very, very valuable management tool that was going to save us a lot of money and give us an important competitive advantage.

    Yeah, right.

  • Code Dependent (cs) in reply to JamesQMurphy
    JamesQMurphy:
    There were commercials that advertised trade schools, where they usually listed these types of "degrees":
    • Legal Assistant
    • HVAC Technician
    • Medical Transcriptionist
    • Engine Maintenance
    • Data Entry
    • High School or GES-equivalent
    Don't forget the classic line by Sally Struthers: "Or, get your degree!" Note that type of degree goes unspecified.
  • Zeal_ (unregistered) in reply to Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward:
    "After seeing a lot of late-night commercials that made data entry sound pretty lucrative..."

    Maybe I'm missing a joke, or maybe this occurred before my time, but WTF is this? When I graduated HS/Started college (circa 2000), the one bit of advise I was given from all sides while looking for PT work was to avoid data-entry like the plague. Were/are there really commercials attempting to make it seem like anything better than an absolute last-resort sub-entry-level hellhole of a job?

    That might very well be a failed reference to any of the vast amount of data entry themed porn movies with all the late night data entry personnel bangin' away. It is pretty much like the ones with the cleaners, maids or nurses.

    Apparently, work is sexy.

    Half joking.

  • dpm (cs) in reply to Jay
    Jay:
    Apparently you've never worked for the government. {...} they made abundantly clear that if I did this sort of thing again I could lose my job. In one case I was told that I could be subject to criminal prosecution because I had installed software on a government computer without authorization. The security department was actually called in to investigate my actions.

    I snort derisively at anyone naive enough to disbelieve Jay, because I've personally seen everything he said. It was part of NOAA (NSOF, to be precise) but of course it's at every government agency to some degree. Recognize the truth.

  • dpm (cs) in reply to Code Dependent
    Code Dependent:
    Don't forget the classic line by Sally Struthers: "Or, get your degree!" Note that type of degree goes unspecified.
    Yep. Right up there with the line I've seen so often in spam: "Our Diplomas are from Prestigious non-accredited universities." Now _there's_ an oxymoron.
  • Rush (unregistered) in reply to Jay
    Jay:
    someguy:
    I never understand this whole concept of "asking permission" before doing something that would take less than a lunchbreak.

    ...

    Apparently you've never worked for the government. I had numerous occasions on which I got in trouble for solving a problem without first getting the proper authorization. The fact that I did it over my lunch hour or a weekend and that it worked, while the authorized solution had already cost millions of dollars and did not work, was not considered relevant.

    ...

    One more possibility, on non-government jobs, but sometimes keeping people employed and drawing things out unnecessarily can be beneficial or lucrative.

    A friend of mine told me about how he was indirectly fired for automating a task. His boss wanted to hire seven contractors for eight months to perform a tedious task which would involve going through hundreds of text documents line-by-line and then fixing something which could be caught easily with a regex. My friend mentions casually to his boss, who was sitting in front of his boss, that this could be accomplished in fifteen minutes with a script and some regex. Friend's bosses' boss says do it, and friend gets chewed out by friend's boss. Friend's boss then fires him the following Monday for coming in to work two minutes late.

    Turns out friend's boss was in cahoots with the recruiter and was receiving kickbacks for employing contractors unnecessarily. Friend fucked that up for him. Just as well, he hated that job.

    Another thing I've heard happening is keeping people employed to eat up some of your budget, because if you don't use most of your budget then you won't get as much money next year.

  • DangerMouse9 (cs)

    40th!!!

    This guy almost cost 8 others their jobs. If a company wants to waste money, I say let them. None of what would be saved would go in my pocket. :)

  • DevilsAdvocate (unregistered)

    I'm not saying that you should continue to pay people to do something slowly which can be done quickly and easily through automation, but I can't say I don't see a point when the boss in this story doesn't want to do things the right way because he doesn't want to put some other people out of a job.

    Has anyone here ever been in the position where you automated someone else out of a job? How did that make you feel? What if it happened today (and in today's economy) and they're now out of a job because you did your job?

  • St Mary's Hospital for the Mighty Ships (unregistered)

    For my MSc thesis I only have typed 180 hours worth of questionnaires into a database.

    But... wow...

  • rumpelstiltskin (unregistered) in reply to Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward:
    "After seeing a lot of late-night commercials that made data entry sound pretty lucrative..."

    Maybe I'm missing a joke, or maybe this occurred before my time, but WTF is this? When I graduated HS/Started college (circa 2000), the one bit of advise I was given from all sides while looking for PT work was to avoid data-entry like the plague. Were/are there really commercials attempting to make it seem like anything better than an absolute last-resort sub-entry-level hellhole of a job?

    We don't call it data entry any more. We call it "analysis", and it requires a BA in business or finance. My favorite time of the year is when all the bright-eyed new grads come in as "analysts", ready to show the world their powers of analysis, and then they learn they are data entry monkeys. You have to have a heart of stone not to burst out laughing every time you pass one of them.

  • KattMan (cs)

    Wow, I feel bad being a programmer. Every piece of code I write has the purpose of automating something. Automate enough things and someone gets laid off or fired. I think I'll sit here and do nothing, that's my contribution to our national stimulus plan.

    Or perhaps we could forget about guilt and automate the hell out of things and make business run smoother, requiring less cost to provide services making those services cheaper so other companies can afford to either pay more or hire more. Those that would have been put out of work, find other tedious jobs to do until those are automated. Eventually, the tedious worker retires, or learns enough about the business they are in to make themselves valuable to the company, and since the companies costs are lower they don't get fired. Those people with no personal drive, get what they deserve.

  • Somebody (unregistered) in reply to DevilsAdvocate
    DevilsAdvocate:
    Has anyone here ever been in the position where you automated someone else out of a job? How did that make you feel? What if it happened today (and in today's economy) and they're now out of a job because you did your job?

    The unabomber would say that is just the technological organism living, breathing, and consuming as it shows little regard for the individual relative to the broader scope of the technosocial industrial complex. We have tried to warn you.

  • m0ffx (cs)

    [quote]the 6 processing people... you'd be putting them all out of a job![/quote]That's the key point. If management had approved it, Joe would have had his 6 former colleagues baying for his blood. Not good. He'd also have possibly put HIMSELF out of work.

    [quote=Rush]Another thing I've heard happening is keeping people employed to eat up some of your budget, because if you don't use most of your budget then you won't get as much money next year.[/quote]Grrrr. This pisses me off. BUDGETS. SHOULD. ROLL. OVER. That's the only way to incentive saving money. When unspent money is lost, or worse, results in less next year, the result is spending the budget needlessly. I've seen it happen in the NHS - painting walls that were painted last year, to 'use up the budget'. :-@ Only if a surplus accumulates for a few years should the budget be re-evaluated, and even then I'd say the excess should be used for some capital expenditure. If all government organizations worked like that we could have the Holy Grail of tax cuts AND better public services.

  • mitzoe (unregistered) in reply to DevilsAdvocate

    I've done this. Unfortunately, one time, it was my wife. I'd gotten her the job because I was chummy with my client, but the automated system I wrote for them eliminated her position about two months after rollout. Relations have been frosty since.

  • Jay Jay (unregistered)

    Bappi - you worked for Computer Aid, Inc., didn't you? I remember those skill inventory surveys. My manager kept insisting that I put technologies that I barely knew and had no intentions of ever doing on there, just so I'd be more "marketable". She also insisted that I check "Willing to travel", though I was vehemently opposed to travel. Because of her insistence, I was sent out-of-state for a six week assignment. Still ticked at her.

    Anyhow, that was several jobs ago...

  • vt_mruhlin (cs)

    In situations like this, you write the script, run the script every morning, collect a paycheck for 8 hours of work.

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