Chaz had a pretty sweet gig as a software architect at a tech-based toy company. Being able to play around with computers AND toys all day wasn't terrible, but the pot got even sweeter when his company licensed a cool robotic product from a certain Danish toy company that specializes in small, colorful bricks. Chaz was happy to become the lead platform architect for this exciting new initiative.

The intended outcome was to make the robots consumer-programmable via an interface with a smartphone app. Chaz had grand ideas for how he wanted to build the app and backend from the ground up with stability, performance, and security as the main pillars. That dream was dashed by Stellan, the CFO-turned-CTO, who insisted they develop against the same in-house platform they'd been using for over a decade. Chaz argued with Stellan until he was blue in the face, but Stellan scoffed at him, "I don't care if smartphones didn't even exist when our platform was designed. The cost of building a whole new one would be astronomical. We want a quick turnaround and high profit margin on these robots!" Stellan clearly showed he was far more qualified to be a CFO than CTO.

Chaz and the development team slogged for six months to make the robot toys and the smartphone app work with their antiquated platform. By late July, they were prepared for their targeted launch at the end of August. Chaz was tasked with leading a demo for Stellan and other C-level executives. "Stellan, how to you like your coffee?" Chaz queried, his custom robot proudly displayed on the conference room table. Stellan informed him he took three sugars, two creamers. Chaz punched in a couple things on his smartphone then set it down. The executives stared in amazement as Chaz's robot grabbed a coffee cup, dispensed coffee from the carafe, then added what Stellan requested and gave it a good stir before delivering it to him.

"That's amazing!" Stellan shouted, looking down at the robot like it just performed a biblical miracle. "What else can it do??"

"Well, this is all I programmed it to do for our demo. But for anyone with an imagination and a smartphone, there are boundless possibilities," Chaz assured them.

"Brilliant!" Stellan added. "This gives me an idea!" The grin Chaz had from the successful demo suddenly faded. "I think we would be foolish to not collect data on how consumers are using these robots. We could use it to help improve and know what people look for in our product!"

"It's a good thought. Anonymous usage data can be beneficial in future product upgrades," Chaz agreed while hiding his skepticism.

"Future upgrades?" Stellan questioned, looking above the rim of his glasses at Chaz. "The future is now, Chaz my man. We need this data tracking in time for launch next month!" Unwilling to go on a rant in front of all the big-shots, Chaz saved his reservations for a more appropriate time. It didn't matter. Stellan's idea had to be put in. Fast.

Chaz and the devs worked long hours over the next month to bang out the activity tracking and log upload functionality. The absurd timeline forced Chaz to approve a lot of corner cutting. The app was set to collect activity data from the robot every 23 seconds. Any higher frequency would cause the app to crash. From there, it would transmit the data back to a shoddy web service that Chaz also had to quickly produce. This gave Stellan the usage data he greatly desired.

He gave another demo the week before launch but cautioned everyone that it hadn't been tested nearly as thoroughly as it should be. But it was too late to turn back. The programmable robots created a lot of buzz and there were nearly a million pre-orders by launch day. Chaz and his warnings didn't matter one bit.

Launch day came with long lines of fans in cities across the globe eagerly waiting to get their hands on the product Chaz didn't trust. The thrill of all those sales eventually turned into panic as the modest support call center was flooded with calls about "robots gone mad."

Chaz got a report from the support manager with a common problem consumers were having. Their robots would be working fine, then every so often, about 23 seconds or so, they would freeze up. Eventually the robots would become unresponsive. Some time later, they would "go crazy" and start doing all sorts of actions without input.

Chaz checked the web and database servers. Both were flooded with activity and couldn't keep up. Chaz didn't need to check any logs to know what was happening - the activity tracking functionality couldn't handle to load that the logs a million launch day robots were generating. As for the phycho robots, that was caused by the inputs of users frantically tapping the app when their robots froze up. They would queue up on the smartphone and when the app got back to a point it could send commands to the robots, they all came in at once - giving the appearance of "robots gone mad".

In a post-mortem meeting the following week, Chaz took the wrath of Stellan and the other executives. Obviously, it was his fault for arcitecting a bad product. Chaz pleaded with them to let him fix it the right way to make sure it didn't happen again. "Oh, this won't happen again," Stellan rebuffed. "We only had one launch day, there will never be that much activity again. What we have should be able to handle a slower trickle of robots coming online. As for you, Chaz, start packing up your desk. You're done here."

Chaz was disappointed to be leaving what had been a cool job. But getting his bonus tied to the number of robot sales as a severance made it more palatable. On the way out, he actually wished he could be around to see Stellan's face after another million or so robots came online Christmas Day. Any angry letters to Santa about faulty robots should be redirected to Stellan by the North Pole post office.

[Advertisement] Continuously monitor your servers for configuration changes, and report when there's configuration drift. Get started with Otter today!