• Anon (unregistered)

    This comment was bridged together using a .NET server.

  • Crabs (unregistered)

    Why didn't they just set up connected sensors around town in the water mains to do all these tests, and hard wire them to the internet to send the data automatically to the central server? That saves hundreds of thousands of dollars per year on Field Workers. You'd go from needing 10+ to needing 1-2 to go around and fix the sensors if they stopped responding.

    You'd probably need the same amount of Lab Techs, but their job would just be going over the data and making sure it's consistent, and telling the system which sensors may be broken (automatically deploying a CR for the Field Worker to go fix it).

    You could also just have the report created automatically. It's not like we need elegant prose in these reports, they look the same from year to year. Have one person create the template one time, then just populate the data and print once a year.

    Tons of ways to make this system better. None of it has to do with .NET.

  • az (unregistered)
    the robustness of Excel
    Greetings from Bizarroworld. WTF?
  • DoctorFriday (cs)

    .NET? Puh-leeze. The consultants should have just created a GUI using Visual Basic. That would have worked.

  • cklam (cs) in reply to Crabs
    Crabs:
    Why didn't they just set up connected sensors around town in the water mains to do all these tests, and hard wire them to the internet to send the data automatically to the central server? That saves hundreds of thousands of dollars per year on Field Workers. You'd go from needing 10+ to needing 1-2 to go around and fix the sensors if they stopped responding.

    You'd probably need the same amount of Lab Techs, but their job would just be going over the data and making sure it's consistent, and telling the system which sensors may be broken (automatically deploying a CR for the Field Worker to go fix it).

    You could also just have the report created automatically. It's not like we need elegant prose in these reports, they look the same from year to year. Have one person create the template one time, then just populate the data and print once a year.

    Tons of ways to make this system better. None of it has to do with .NET.

    You forgot the Google Maps interface with real time colour-coded display of water quality.

  • JJ (unregistered) in reply to DoctorFriday
    DoctorFriday:
    .NET? Puh-leeze. The consultants should have just created a GUI using Visual Basic. That would have worked.

    To track an IP address?

  • zip (unregistered) in reply to az
    az:
    the robustness of Excel
    Greetings from Bizarroworld. WTF?

    Excel is ridiculously robust from an end-user perspective. Maybe the programmability isn't so "robust" but shit, even my mom can manage data and make graphs and reports with Excel. That's freaking robust.

  • virgil (unregistered)

    Actually, if the "expensive consultants" just did the implementation - they did not necessarily do a very bad job... it was the spec that was severely broken. If "The city" provided the requirements, it's their fault that they haven't figured out what they actually needed.

  • A water lab chemist (unregistered) in reply to Crabs
    Why didn't they just set up connected sensors around town in the water mains to do all these tests, and hard wire them to the internet to send the data automatically to the central server?

    Because some of the instruments cost a heavy fraction of a million quid? Specifically, an ICP AAS machine for elemental analysis.

    For the cases where you can get a simple, cheap, sensor, sure. Sadly, there's a great number of tests where there isn't one.

    Also, a key part of analysing reservoir health is visual and olfactory. If it stinks, needs looked at.

  • Squeezey McFeelpants (unregistered) in reply to zip
    zip:
    az:
    the robustness of Excel
    Greetings from Bizarroworld. WTF?

    Excel is ridiculously robust from an end-user perspective. Maybe the programmability isn't so "robust" but shit, even my mom can manage data and make graphs and reports with Excel. That's freaking robust.

    If your mom using it is how you define robust, then let me inform you sir, I am the most robust man alive.

    Not Your Dad

  • merreborn (cs) in reply to Crabs
    Why didn't they just set up connected sensors around town in the water mains to do all these tests, and hard wire them to the internet to send the data automatically to the central server?
    Many of these sites were out far enough that they didn't get wireless reception. Who knows how far away the nearest net connection would be...

    You may be underestimating the cost of installing, maintaining, and connecting these hypothetical sensors. As well as over estimating the cost of field workers.

    They need, what, a few dozen man-hours of field work, once a year?

  • shenanigans (unregistered) in reply to zip

    Interestingly, the search phrase "freaking robust" returns nine results, of which one is related to drinking water (without being this article).

  • JD (unregistered)

    No WTF here, this is just your classic enterprise solution - back to square one but hundreds of thousands of dollars poorer. Great job, team!

  • Squiggle (cs)
    1. If it ain't broke don't fix it.

    2. Just because you can doesn't mean you should.

  • Code Dependent (cs)

    This comment has a heavy dose of VBA.

    Reports -- including the monstrous, 100-plus-page water survey --
    Since when is 100 pages a "monstrous" report?

  • Zecc (cs) in reply to JD
    JD:
    No WTF here, this is just your classic enterprise solution - back to square one but hundreds of thousands of dollars poorer. Great job, team!
    It's a Worse Than Failure!
  • Claxon (cs)

    The Real WTF is that they went to all that trouble at all... Just create a Word template that uses VBA to randomly generate good figures for the 100 page report, then spend the rest of your life in The City drinking bottled water. That way you can spend the project budget on as many wooden tables, cameras and scanners as you could possibly need (as they will obviously be required for you to send the report anywhere).

  • Kerin (unregistered) in reply to Zecc
    Zecc:
    JD:
    No WTF here, this is just your classic enterprise solution - back to square one but hundreds of thousands of dollars poorer. Great job, team!
    It's a Worse Than Failure!

    Alex is spinning in his grave.

  • DWalker59 (cs) in reply to Squeezey McFeelpants
    Squeezey McFeelpants:
    zip:
    az:
    the robustness of Excel
    Greetings from Bizarroworld. WTF?

    Excel is ridiculously robust from an end-user perspective. Maybe the programmability isn't so "robust" but shit, even my mom can manage data and make graphs and reports with Excel. That's freaking robust.

    If your mom using it is how you define robust, then let me inform you sir, I am the most robust man alive.

    Not Your Dad

    If my Mom can use a piece of software to make graphs from data and enter formulas, then YES, the software is robust.

    Let me see YOU write something as complex and user-accessible as Excel is.

  • RiF (unregistered) in reply to Kerin
    Kerin:
    Alex is spinning in his grave.
    Is that a euphemism?
  • Sarah Palin (unregistered)

    I said thanks but no thanks to the .NET Bridge to Nowhere wink

  • Ketchikan Resident (unregistered) in reply to Sarah Palin

    Ketchikan is not nowhere, dammit! I used to believe in you Sarah!

  • g0ats3 (unregistered)

    i have to poo

  • luptatum (unregistered)

    I can't shake the feeling I've read this before...

  • g0ats3 (unregistered) in reply to luptatum

    i can't shake the feeling that i have to poo.

  • Mike (unregistered) in reply to g0ats3

    May I recommend a trip to the toilet?

  • Water Boy (unregistered) in reply to Claxon
    Claxon:
    Just create a Word template that uses VBA to randomly generate good figures for the 100 page report, then spend the rest of your life in The City drinking bottled water.

    Google "Walkerton Tragedy"

  • John Christensen (unregistered)

    This is, actually not quite a WTF. The requirements gathering is definitely a WTF, and they relied a bit too much on wiz-bang new tools that would instantly replace everything.

    But look at what they ended up with - in every one of the cases where the consultants replaced their whiz-bang with "the same thing as before", it wasn't. In every single case it involved putting the data onto a central server, or pulling data back from a central server.

    Okay, so they didn't revolutionize the entire process (and, really, few software projects ever actually do that, regardless of the big hopes they had when they launched). But they did make the storage of data more central and less spread out through many, many different documents.

    So, as a WTF, I give this a 25%. :P

  • rumpelstiltskin (unregistered) in reply to DWalker59

    TRWTF is that some consultants worked for three years and only billed "hundreds of thousands of dollars." Even if it was just one guy, he would be a piker. Are these the guys you look for outside of Best Buy, who can't get real jobs because they don't know the meaning of the word "robust"?

  • carrot (unregistered) in reply to luptatum

    You did, but that solution required a neural network.

  • Nerf Herder (unregistered)

    Hmmm....FBI Virtual Case system anyone?

    The Government blew over $100 million of tax payers money on a state of the art system called Virtual Case that was supposed to replace old paper-based and mainframe systems and bring it into the 21st century. In the end they completely scrapped the project before anything came to fruition.

    The end result? Yup they went back to using paper - the exact reason they tried getting the system in place to begin with.

    Job well done!

  • Kiss me I'm Polish (cs) in reply to Kerin
    Kerin:
    Zecc:
    JD:
    No WTF here, this is just your classic enterprise solution - back to square one but hundreds of thousands of dollars poorer. Great job, team!
    It's a Worse Than Failure!

    Alex is spinning in his grave.

    I can't stop laughing. You'll make me lose my job.

  • ShatteredArm (unregistered)

    A spreadsheet that can be used to create animations using each cell as a pixel is indeed robust. Excel can even be used as a three-dimensional programming paradigm.

    Excel might be the single most robust desktop application ever created.

  • GMo' (unregistered) in reply to Nerf Herder
    Nerf Herder:
    Hmmm....FBI Virtual Case system anyone?

    The Government blew over $100 million of tax payers money on a state of the art system called Virtual Case that was supposed to replace old paper-based and mainframe systems and bring it into the 21st century. In the end they completely scrapped the project before anything came to fruition.

    The end result? Yup they went back to using paper - the exact reason they tried getting the system in place to begin with.

    Job well done!

    string amount = "$700 billion"; string project = "a bank bailout"; string need = "restore confidence in the economy"; string flaw = "missed the point that the availability of credit was the problem"; string result = "passed a watered down bill full or pork"; string comment = "No wonder Congress' approval rating is lower than the President's."; string adulation = "Yaaayyyy";

    Console.WriteLine("The Government blew {0} of tax payers money on {1} that was supposed to {2}. In the end they completely {3}.\n The end result? Yup they {4}. {5}\n {6}!", amount, project, need, flaw, result, comment, adulation);

  • robustoman (unregistered)

    If my Mom can use a piece of software to make graphs

    That is the definition of idiot proof. Not the same as robust.

  • Frenchier than thou (unregistered) in reply to virgil
    virgil:
    Actually, if the "expensive consultants" just did the implementation - they did not necessarily do a very bad job... it was the spec that was severely broken. If "The city" provided the requirements, it's their fault that they haven't figured out what they actually needed.
    You MUST be a highly-paid consultant, or my sarcasm detector has still not recovered from the last story...
  • hans12 (unregistered)

    one .NET to rule them all...

  • Glow-in-the-dark (unregistered) in reply to robustoman
    robustoman:
    > If my Mom can use a piece of software to make graphs

    That is the definition of idiot proof. Not the same as robust.

    Your use of the word "idiot" in relation to "Mom" indicates you're positively not the son.

  • jDeepBeep (unregistered)

    Their use of XML was genius, and VERY enterprisey. Well done.

  • wee (cs) in reply to rumpelstiltskin
    rumpelstiltskin:
    TRWTF is that some consultants worked for three years and only billed "hundreds of thousands of dollars." Even if it was just one guy, he would be a piker. Are these the guys you look for outside of Best Buy, who can't get real jobs because they don't know the meaning of the word "robust"?

    Nothing in the article said they billed 40 hours each week during the three year period.

  • Franz_Kafka (cs) in reply to merreborn
    merreborn:
    Many of these sites were out far enough that they didn't get wireless reception. Who knows how far away the nearest net connection would be...

    You may be underestimating the cost of installing, maintaining, and connecting these hypothetical sensors. As well as over estimating the cost of field workers.

    They need, what, a few dozen man-hours of field work, once a year?

    What bugs me is why they didn't spec PDAs that a: could cope with not being connected and b: had fairly good number input (a keypad). Then, they could just record the result (and GPS location, I suppose) and transmit it when they get a signal.

  • Pony Gumbo (unregistered)

    I'm sure the municipality collaborated with the field operators on a comprehensive set of requirements that were provided to the developers before the project was signed off on. Because that's just how city governments work.

  • Sigivald (unregistered)

    So, uh, what does .NET (in any of its senses) have to do with the problem of

    A) Crappy PDAs

    B) Crappy Excel exports and kludgy VBA scripts

    C) More VBA kludge?

    Maybe the problem was not enough .NET and a crappy architecture?

  • foxyshadis (unregistered) in reply to Sigivald
    Sigivald:
    So, uh, what does .NET (in any of its senses) have to do with the problem of

    A) Crappy PDAs

    B) Crappy Excel exports and kludgy VBA scripts

    C) More VBA kludge?

    Maybe the problem was not enough .NET and a crappy architecture?

    It was likely crappy .Net programming on the (Windows Mobile) PDAs that would lock them up when attempting to use the initial input offline.
  • xtremezone (cs)

    (1) Automated sensors that would be carried with the field workers and store the data results on a PDA device. (2) The data would be uploaded when the field workers returned to the "lab". (3) Reports are based on templates and are generated automatically. (4) ??? (5) Profit.

  • 5|i(3_x (unregistered) in reply to DoctorFriday
    DoctorFriday:
    .NET? Puh-leeze. The consultants should have just created a GUI using Visual Basic. That would have worked.

    Sure, if you're trying to track down the IP address of a dangerous criminal but this is water quality we're talking about here.

  • ogilmor (cs)

    Surprised nobody commented on this WTF. How many of you have heard this prediction? "It will all be web based" "No need for client heavy apps any more."

    Once at an airline I saw a web based monstrosity. Somebody had decided that browser based apps were the thing, so these folks got a demo. When asked what sorts of keyboard shortcuts would be provided, the developers responded "It is browser. No keyboard."

    And like many web based apps it tended to get amnesia when it came to data, forget which window it was focused on, navigate away from unsaved data in the same window (oops, there goes 30 minutes of work!) and other quirks.

    The heavy client isnt' going away. Even the best web based apps, a la google, have some way to go. As they increase in features, they will still use hard disk space to store and install them, and they will be able to do this because fatter pipes are getting more ubiquitous (love that word!)

  • ogilmor (cs) in reply to John Christensen
    John Christensen:
    This is, actually not *quite* a WTF. The requirements gathering is definitely a WTF, and they relied a bit too much on wiz-bang new tools that would instantly replace everything.

    But look at what they ended up with - in every one of the cases where the consultants replaced their whiz-bang with "the same thing as before", it wasn't. In every single case it involved putting the data onto a central server, or pulling data back from a central server.

    Okay, so they didn't revolutionize the entire process (and, really, few software projects ever actually do that, regardless of the big hopes they had when they launched). But they did make the storage of data more central and less spread out through many, many different documents.

    So, as a WTF, I give this a 25%. :P

    It is a WTF not because of the method of data storage, but because they waffled between PDA's and laptop, web based and full client, and spent a lot of money that wasn't necessary to spend in the process, because they didn't do adequate up front work with the users, or user testing.

    If you think this is only a 25% WTF you're probably in The City government.

    This is AT LEAST a 75% WTF

  • Keith (unregistered)

    Q: Why did the government spend hundreds of thousands of dollars over 3 years on a project that effectively accomplished nothing?

    A: Every day we have hundreds of thousands of government employees spending hundreds of billions in tax dollars, overpaying for hundreds of thousands of projects that accomplish nothing. What's one more?!

  • Migala (unregistered) in reply to Code Dependent
    Code Dependent:
    This comment has a heavy dose of VBA.
    Reports -- including the monstrous, 100-plus-page water survey --
    Since when is 100 pages a "monstrous" report?

    Let me guess... you work for the government?

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