Muirhead fax machine - MfK Bern

Gus had been working at his new job for a month. Most of his tickets had been for front-end work, making it easier and more efficient to manage the various vendors that the company did business with. These were important flags like "company does not accept UPS deliveries" or "company does not accept paper POs". The flags had been previously set via an aging web-based UI that only worked in Internet Explorer 6, but now they were migrating one at a time into the shiny new HTML5 app. It was tiring work, but rewarding.

Unfortunately, as is so often the case, Gus quickly became pigeonholed as "the flag guy". Whenever it came time in the project to add new flags, there was no question who'd get the ticket. Gus could think of nothing he looked forward to less than touching the Oracle-based backend to the product, but unfortunately, it was his burden to bear.

Adding flags to the database involved going through a special Database Committee. This was separate from the usual change request process. The committee was formed from all 6 of the company's database experts, and they personally reviewed every change. Worse, they were stodgy as all get-out. Any small error would get the change thrown out and the requestor berated for "wasting my time", along with a good helping of grumbling about "kids these days" and "narcissistic millennials" to boot.

Gus submitted his change request asking for a new field 2 weeks ahead of when it was slated to go live, just in case. Submissions were due by Monday and were discussed on Thursday, with the results posted first thing Friday morning on the bulletin board outside the breakroom. Gus filled in every field carefully, checking the whole thing twice—all but the title, which he'd written as "New Database Feild". On Tuesday, he realized his typo. He quietly edited the form, saved it, then crossed his fingers.

Friday rolled around and his change wasn't on the list, neither accepted nor rejected. Chewing his lip, Gus pulled up the change system and skimmed for his change.

It was marked auto-rejected.

"What did you do?" demanded Chuck, the senior developer who'd been mentoring him.

"I don't know!" Gus replied. "Do you think it was the typo? But I fixed it on Tuesday!"

Chuck slapped his forehead with his palm. "You changed the form? Don't ever change the form after it's submitted! That's grounds for automatic rejection!"

"It's okay," Gus said weakly. "We still have another week."

Chuck just looked at him, shaking his head as he walked away.

Gus spent the rest of the day focusing on the tedious form. There were dozens of fields, each with vague instructions, many demanding long explanations. Gus wouldn't be at the meeting to explain his change; he had to convince the committee it was necessary through the form alone. Worse, when he submitted it, it routed through an approval process that required him to chase down no less than 6 individuals to fill out their parts of the form.

"Yes, it's the same one as last week. Just put the same thing you did then. No, sorry, I don't know why it was rejected," he lied. "Can you just sign?"

Monday came and went without another auto-rejection. Gus checked compulsively every day at lunchtime, waiting for the other shoe to drop, but his request made it to Thursday without incident. Finally, Friday came, and he made the trek to the breakroom to check the list.

His change had been rejected.

He didn't know why. He didn't care why. The application needed to be up and running for the first of the month—the following Tuesday. There was no time to try again. Gus walked over to Chuck's cube, his mind whirling. "What do you know about data hiding?"

Chuck's face fell. He rubbed his face with one hand. "Dammit, this is why I try to pull front-end tickets."

"You gotta help me, dude. I'm dying here!"

"Okay, okay, let me think. I've heard about some guys slipping an extra so-called check-digit into integer fields. You have to mask it out before the code gets to it, but ..."

Gus grimaced. "I'd never get all the spots, I barely know the app."

"You're sure you can't push back on the deadline?"

"Yeah. Can't we find a field that's unused or something?" Gus begged.

An hour and dozens of SELECT statements later, they did just that. The Fax field wasn't populated in the old system; not a single vendor had a fax number worth recording. The new system hadn't bothered porting it over at all. Gus and Chuck hooked the flag up to the existing field. No muss, no fuss, and no database review.

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