• Lsat (unregistered)

    Lsat

  • Quite (unregistered)

    Oh yes, the good old "We haven't got the few hours / days to fix a problem that takes man-weeks of manual effort to fix."

    We had automatic data entry in place on a system I worked on some 20 years ago which I remember like it was only yesterday. The system gathered data from thousands of clients, and collated it into a composite, once every month. There were three third-party suppliers of the automatic data entry system, and each one of them sent the form with (consistent) errors in it (boxes not totted up correctly, certain data put into the wrong place, and so on). And so, every day, our customer-service consultant (a highly-educated, conscientious and effective staff member) had to spend hours correcting the forms. She could do it by sheer muscle-memory (if that's a real thing). But it stressed her to tears.

    Unlike every other bu66er in the office at that time, I was distressed to see a grown woman weeping over her workstation, so I approached management and asked whether it would be a good idea to bodge a bit of code that would automatically fix the forms for her, as a preprocessing step. After all, we had the hook available in the data entry integration software. Nope, we can't spare the time, I was told. But it makes [her name] cry every day. "Ah well, we're all used to that by now."

    I never told them this, I don't know whether they ever actually found the code, but I went to this person during a down-time once and asked her to write down for me the precise conditions under which she could tell which of the three bugs in the 3rd-party entry forms was in effect on any given form, and what she specifically had to do to fix it. This she did. It was a remarkably simple fix to do, and I think it took me a couple of hours. Banged it in, and (after I think one or two iterations to nail down a small detail) she declared it fit for purpose, and she (or anyone else whose thankless task it was to manage this system) never had to worry about these bIoody input forms ever again.

  • Hasseman (unregistered)

    Sounds like the Big Bank I working for now.

  • djingis1 (unregistered)

    frouth

  • Chris (unregistered) in reply to Quite

    And you kind person, are the developers every company truly need. The irony is so beyond an understatement, but only for someone other than such a manager described in this article and yours at that time that really wouldn't understand.

    What I find particularly funny is that those few hours it usually takes to tune something and help someone greatly I frequently find gaps in between (usually waiting for testing/feedback/endless other things I cannot control) work that would be perfectly suited for just such improvements.

  • Dave (unregistered)

    I once did a support job where a significant chunk of time was taken up copying details from one CRM system to another for each ticket opened. Took me less time to write an automatic processor than to input a few hour's worth of case details - and without transcription errors. Of course I used it, and as each other person on the support desk noticed in turn that I seemed very quick at that part of the job, they each got a copy too. Then manglement found out and banned it.

    But that was the same bunch of idiots who took me on at competitive contract rates for a few weeks, kept me on for months, and then when they offered me less than half as much to work there permanently seemed surprised that I wasn't interested. They kept me on at the original rate for months afterwards, too.

    They demonstrated definitively that it doesn't matter how rubbish you are at running a small business as long as you have a good salesman bringing in new work the whole time.

  • MiserableOldGit (unregistered) in reply to Dave
    But that was the same bunch of idiots who took me on at competitive contract rates for a few weeks, kept me on for months, and then when they offered me less than half as much to work there permanently seemed surprised that I wasn't interested. They kept me on at the original rate for months afterwards, too.

    That happened to me three contracts in a row ... at one of them they even expected me to commute an extra hour as the office was relocating. "But you'll get job security, blah, blah, blah". I'm not sure much of their business really survived the move in the end, but I went down the road and got a nice new contract on more money.

  • Derp (unregistered)

    Comment held for moderation.

  • Carl Witthoft (google)

    Moderation held for comment. Management says moderation is too expensive so work around it.

  • Bruce W (unregistered)

    I'll pile on - I worked for a bank that wanted to switch from a paper form for requesting additional debit cards to an online form. A key problem was the back-end banking system's web service API required the debit card number in order to handle such a request. Adding the debit card number to the front end would introduce massive PCI scope. We asked for a file-based (without card number) batch program to be written in the back-end system. The vendor's cost estimate was a little high but the bigger problem was the vendor couldn't work the development into their schedule for 9 months.

    So a decision was made: add the additional card request form to the web site but store the requests for later manual entry on the back end - just like the paper form process. Of course no one thought about the impact of having an easy to use web form right in front of the customers. Or the impact of adding a big "Request Additional Debits Cards" button on the main landing page. We went from one person spending about two hours a day handling the paper forms to 5 people full time transcribing the web form requests.

  • Brian (unregistered)

    "While researching the project history, he found that much of the data on the paper forms wasn’t required, and the decision was made to print those boxes in a different, very specific color. During processing, their custom OCR software would ignore that color, blanking out the box and removing the extraneous information before it was unnecessarily entered into the system."

    Ah, government bureaucracy at its finest. Nobody stopped to question why these forms had so many ignored fields, which wasted taxpayer money to print and taxpayer time to fill out just to be thrown away? TRWTF right there.

  • Dave (unregistered) in reply to MiserableOldGit

    You just reminded me that the main reason they wanted to make me permanent was to get me into their regular shift-pattern. Which included weekends and evenings, and an unpaid lunch hour, where I'd been doing 8 hour normal-hours shifts with a paid lunch hour, overtime for the odd weekend I volunteered to do.

  • fbmac (unregistered)

    This post is deleted

  • fbmac (unregistered) in reply to fbmac

    Or so I thought it would be

  • Super Genius (unregistered)

    TRWTF, as always, is the fact that creators of this website, such amazing coders who decided they don't need no stinkin' proper CMS and will write their own (undoubtedly containing sql injections in several places), on top of making that discourse thing which messes up and completely misses the point how a proper (*bb, SMF, vBulletin, IPB and number of others) forum system should be organized and makes navigation a mess, they're so smart and amazing.

    And they still wasn't able to do one thing any sanely configured forum or CMS system can do... and that's prevent spam comments from appearing.

    For instance, WTF is there ability to post friggin links in the comments? Was it ever used legitimately? Because I see only spambots posting links.

    Or why there is ability to guestpost at all? I may not like it if I'd need to register, but at least it would cut down on spam and make spambots able to be banned and all content associated with their accounts removed.

    TRWTF is TDWTF itself.

  • Boot (unregistered)

    My turn

    As an office temp (typing, filing, etc.) in the 90s, I worked in the equivalent of a typing pool of a brewery. The monthly figures came in on a one-foot-high stack of fanfold, the boss gave the permie ladies in the pool the stack, they split it up between themselves, got their rulers and pencils out, and marked column and row lines on every damn sheet.

    A few hours in Lotus-123, grab the stack off one of the nearest ladies, feed it into the tractor feed dot-matrix next to me and press print.....

    Saved weeks of tedious manual labour and earned me kudos and 4 cases of beer :-)

  • dkf (nodebb) in reply to Super Genius

    And they still wasn't able to do one thing any sanely configured forum or CMS system can do... and that's prevent spam comments from appearing.

    It seems to be succeeding at that now. Or at least at keeping them from being actually displayed until someone reviews them. Which will do.

  • Friendly_Reminder (unregistered)

    Reminds me a bit of a small programm I once wrote. I had one person calling me from time to time to check bank transactions. This was always really tedious, as I had to pull up SQL Studio, type in the query, getting the bank account details and the time span in wich the transaction occured and so on and so on (we had serveral databases which stored bank transactions, and of course each was a bit differently designed because every vendor wants to use his own format).

    On one slow day I typed up a program, really nothing special. Just chose what kind of transaction you are looking for (to select the correct database in the connection string), type in some numbers and you are good to go.

    A few days after releasing and installing it on one PC, I got a "thank you" mail from a whole different departement, saying that this program saves them HOURS each day (yes, they could install programs we developed in house themselves, maybe that's a WTF of it's own? But I'm a software developer, not an admin ;) ). I was like "WTF?" because really... if you spent HOURS each day doing the same thing over and over again, why don't you ask in the IT departement if there isn't anything they can do about it? If it's a repititive task, there's a good chance they can help.

  • jkshapiro (nodebb) in reply to Super Genius

    WTF is there ability to post friggin links in the comments? Was it ever used legitimately?

    Oh, I like the ability to post links. Every now and again someone posts a link to MDN or stackoverflow or something, and I learn something new.

  • EvilSnack (unregistered)

    TRWTF is that the system went live with inadequate testing.

  • Medinoc (nodebb)

    "For now, just cobble something together so the original scan stays with the record."

    That was the something cobbled together. The true solution would have been not to print all these forms with the number grayed.

  • Dave (unregistered) in reply to Super Genius

    It's deliberate. This is TDWTF, it's part of the joke.

  • A typo in the story (unregistered)

    prrinted printed

  • siciac (unregistered)

    if you spent HOURS each day doing the same thing over and over again, why don't you ask in the IT departement if there isn't anything they can do about it?

    LOL, you've never asked IT for anything, have you...

  • SK (unregistered)

    I worked for a data entry firm for years - the proper way would be to scan and import all of the fields, then on the back end, decide what data to dump. We also paid data entry people because OCR really means "Occasional Character Recognition." When a number is important, and a zero with a slash through it looked like an eight, and that field represented hundreds of thousands of dollars, "Occasional Character Recognition" simply is not good enough.

    In short, two skilled typists could type all of the numbers on the form, and if they both typed the number identically, the form was validated. Anything else would be escalated to a review team. By the time all of that typing happened, the high expense of OCR could easily be washed by stay-at-home-moms with good typing skills.

    Sorry folks, not everything should be automated.

  • Zenith (unregistered) in reply to Friendly_Reminder

    They don't ask the IT department because in many places the IT department is an obstacle even if some people in the department really do what to help.

    Also...if moderation is supposed to stop the spam, letting the bots display a user name is a clear failure.

  • masterX244179 (nodebb) in reply to Zenith

    Time to rebuild my userscript to "zap" those comments from rendering.

  • Anonymous (unregistered)

    Giving a bunch of forms with SSNs to an offshore team. What can possibly go wrong...

  • urkerab (nodebb) in reply to SK

    Or just outsource to ReCaptcha?

  • Zztri (unregistered)

    Wow.. It's oh SO common...

    I was consulting a digital arhive/3D GIS project for a large municipality in my country. There were some bigtiff files, map sections that were metres long and with hefty uncompressed sizes in the gigabytes. Of course they were unprepared to process such huge files. So I told them; "All right, I'll make a change and use Gdal (a famous library for C++ to work on tiff files) to cut them properly. It'll take a day of mine. While at it, I'll compress all map sections and make overviews so [famous GIS application] won't freeze for ten seconds every time the user pans or changes the zoom level."

    Of course they responded; "No, your time's important. We'll rather use three competent GIS engineers' time, then still waste your time so you can force sections cut from the main map section back into the system."

    It took a month of mine to persuade them.

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