back to article Sign off my IT project or I’ll PHONE your MUM

When you have to go, you have to go. And when you do, don’t rush it otherwise you can end up with damp socks… as my father-in-law discovered during a hurried slash-and-dash in a not-so-lonely lay-by one night. I might revisit that particular anecdote later. For the moment, I invite you to consider what the computer has brought …

  1. jake Silver badge

    Basically, Dabbs says:

    Piss on UAT. I concur.

  2. Novex

    Re UAT: Been there. Done that. Users just don't realise it's their jobs that will (in theory) be made 'easier' with their new system, so it's up to them to check it does what they asked for it to do.

    Now, who was this musical entertainer? ;)

    1. Alistair Dabbs

      >> Now, who was this musical entertainer?

      His name is given in the main text of this week's column but you might have to work it out. Do you know what an 'acrostic' is?

      1. Frankee Llonnygog

        Re: >> Now, who was this musical entertainer?

        Well! I am ... shocked!

      2. Andrew 59

        Re: >> Now, who was this musical entertainer?

        Indeed you do, sir.

        Best laugh I've had all week. Have a pint on me.

      3. Novex

        Re: >> Now, who was this musical entertainer?

        Note the ;) in my comment...

    2. Martin Budden Bronze badge

      The Governator did one too, it is well worth a look:

  3. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Re-read the klingon software development guide

    I have left the more important points, special attention to: 14, 18 and 19

    3. I have challenged the entire ISO-9000 review team to a round of Bat-Leth practice on the holodeck. They will not concern us again.

    5. Defensive programming? Never! Klingon programs are always offensive. Yes, offensive programming is what we do best.

    6. Klingon programs don't do accountancy. For that, you need a Ferengi programmer.

    7. Klingon function calls do not have 'parameters' - they have 'arguments' - and they ALWAYS WIN THEM.

    9. By filing this bug you have questioned my family honour. Prepare to die!

    10. I am without children are without honour... My father coded at the Battle of Kittimer...and...and...he... HE ALLOWED HIMSELF TO BE MICROMANAGED. <Shudder>

    11. You question the worthiness of my code?! I should kill you where you stand!

    13. Specs are for the weak and timid!

    14. Klingons do not believe in indentation - except perhaps in the skulls of their project managers.

    16. Klingons do not "release" software. Klingon software escapes, leaving a bloody trail of design engineers and quality assurance testers in its wake.

    17. Debugging? Klingons do not debug. Bugs are good for building up character in the user!

    18. As for project orders (requirements, goals): Klingons do not deliver; we EXECUTE. For the glory of the empire!

    19. Perhaps it IS a good day to die! I say we ship it!

    And the result is:

    Qapla [also Kapla from the Klingon language: meaning "success" (or sometimes "absence of failure")]

    1. Arctic fox
      Thumb Up

      Re: Re-read the klingon software development guide

      Highly entertaining - see icon.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Re-read the klingon software development guide

      Priceless! You literally made my day. And apparently set of a search storm as I hardly had to type in the title words.

    3. frank ly

      Re: klingon software development: memo

      You have made many enquiries about User Acceptance Testing. There will, of course, be User Acceptance Testing. When the software is ready and it has escaped from the development team, it will find you and it will test you, mercilessly. If it finds that you are worthy and acceptable, it will install itself on your computers. Do NOT try to interfere with that process, unless you wish to suffer serioius injury and possibly death.

    4. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Re-read the klingon software development guide

      OK, that was funny!


    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Re-read the klingon software development guide

      Is this some sort of leaked Q-A document from Microsoft? Sounds awfully like what happened with Windows ME.

    6. DanDanDan

      Re: Re-read the klingon software development guide

      Is it just me, or does Klingon software development model remind anyone else of a certain Linux-related developer?

  4. Mike Bell

    Top drawer article, Alistair. Great read.

    1. Bloodbeastterror

      Top drawer agreed...

      Always great to read a well-written grammatical piece with a lot of humour and unafraid to include the occasional foul-mouthed rant... :-)

      (I'll skip over this sentence, though - "roll out a system that doesn’t properly" - "properly" isn't a verb. :-) )

      1. Anonymous C0ward

        doesn't properly

        They accidentally the WHOLE user acceptance testing.

      2. Nuke

        @Bloodbeastterror - Re: Top drawer agreed...

        Wrote := I'll skip over this sentence, though - "roll out a system that doesn’t properly"

        I assumed that something got left off a cut-and-paste there.

  5. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    The right question is not if you should call her mom

    The right question is:

    I can see that you are resource constrained and do not have enough resources for your current project workload. Would you like me to escalate it so you can get some additional resource?

    It sounds polite, it looks innocuous and at the same time it is clear that the escalation may be "she is incapable of doing her job due to overload, remove some of her responsibilities". She also cannot take you to the task for threatening her as it does not look like you are. You can also smile appropriately just to make sure she got your point.

    1. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: The right question is not if you should call her mom

      Why should I call her mom? She's not my mom.

      1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

        Re: The right question is not if you should call her mom

        Because {cue appropriate Monty Python voice}

        "You have been a very naughy boy/girl."



        Then you can crucify said person in fron of their peers with impunity.

  6. chivo243 Silver badge

    Plastic bottles shheesh

    When I as a kid, where I grew up, that is why we gravel roads between the corn fields.

    A pint because that was usually the cause!

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: Plastic bottles shheesh

      Gravel Roads? That were luxury!

      We had t'piss in fields of nettles, and woe betide any lad who cried at his stung todger!

  7. TheOldGuy

    "gently trying to persuade my newborn daughter to shut the fuck up."

    Ahhh, that brings back sooo many memories. Now she has reached the age of telling me to shut the fuck up.

    1. DJV Silver badge

      "Now she has reached the age of telling me to shut the fuck up."

      Ah right, going by my partner's daughter, that will be 5 years old then!

  8. Chad H.

    coming from the users side here, I'd love to see some UAT rather than just the crap that gets foisted onto us.

    For you developers though, seems like the solution is easy, sign here to accept you refused the opportunity to feed back on the project, and any futrther changes that could have been picked up will be paid for (at a markup) by the users.

  9. ukgnome


    it takes a special type of person to carry out UAT.

    I've yet to meet one.

    1. frank ly

      Re: Special

      I've performed numerous UATs in formal circumstances on behalf of the user. On one side you get the supplier trying to pull the wool over your eyes and whispering to your higher level management that you're not up to the job or, even worse, you're being 'unreasonable'. On the other side, you get your own higher management blaming you if it doesn't pass because of 'minor and easily fixed' shortfalls. All this with a printed and agreed UAT procedure that has been available for weeks. Your immediate manager is sympathetic to you but he is under pressure too and so he slides the blame onto you - in a kind and regretful way.

      It's not a job for anyone with a heart or a soul.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: Special

        Who does the UAT and also when? That's the question.

        A few years back a great chunk of my time was spent sitting with the manager who had done the UAT work on a major data sharing system that we were all meant to be using, because it was pretty well unusable.Trying to show her how it should have been set up to work. So that she could then go back to the developers to get it sorted out. It was a clumsy design, poorly implemented and mostly unusable. Things like, if the user paused for even a few seconds the screen they were working on closed ( for security) and the data was lost. Or navigating to different parts was a bit like playing Myst. ( But without the graphics).

        The thing is, she'd headed up the team that briefed the system designers and tried the system out, but had never approached any ordinary users. let alone the external client groups who'd be providing the bulk of the information. God knows what the designers thought they were meant to be doing and how much of the mess was theirs and how much was hers. But as a clue, the system only worked with IE 6 - already obsolete by then.

        1. peter_dtm

          Re: Special @terry 6

          that must have been the SAP CRM system at work !

        2. Nuke

          @Terry6 - Re: Special

          Wrote:- "[the manager] headed up the team that briefed the system designers and tried the system out, but had never approached any ordinary users

          and:- Trying to show [the manager] how it should have been set up to work. So that she could then go back to the developers to get it sorted out"

          We had a similar thing. Our manager and IT dept gave a spec for a paper-flow system to a contractor without consulting us users. We were strictly forbidden to say anything more than "Good morning" to the contractor who was working on our site for two months, and returning afterwards to the contractor to address the glaring shortcomings or even to debug was totally out of the question.

          The reason given by management is that every time one of us were to open our mouths about how it should be done, the contractor would have added another £n000 to the bill as a "varation".

          The saddest part was that we previously had a perfectly good working system using Paradox and WordPerfect, created by someone (a civil engineer, not an IT guy) in our own branch. Him being just there also had the advantage that he would implement any changes needed as time went on. But we had to ditch it because management wanted an all-Microsoft shop, and moreover wanted to ban any in-house coding on the assumption that it could not be any good.

      3. Anonymous Coward

        Re: Special

        "Your immediate manager is sympathetic to you but he is under pressure too and so he slides the blame onto you - in a kind and regretful way." That's a dangerous way to live. You may end up with a sudden transfer to Antarctica and an appointment with the lowest quality dentist, cost cutting don'tcha know, to have all your mental fillings replaced forthwith as you'll be 'wintering over.' (Don't mess with the best.)

        Strange but I always liked spending a week with the users tweaking the design in. They're the people that'll be using it and, in my mind (a truly scary place) improves buy-in. They 'own' it. Cuts down on support calls but you make that up in feature requests.

      4. veti Silver badge

        Re: Special

        On one side you get the supplier trying to pull the wool over your eyes and whispering to your higher level management that you're not up to the job or, even worse, you're being 'unreasonable'. On the other side, you get your own higher management blaming you if it doesn't pass because of 'minor and easily fixed' shortfalls

        It's a game. A nasty, brutal, sociopathic game, but a game nonetheless.

        Wherever you fit in the hierarchy, your job is to regulate pressure. You need to apply pressure downwards, into your own workload (and your underlings, if you're lucky enough to have any). But more importantly, you also need to apply it upwards to your own managers. If you don't tell them that the job is impossible and you need more something, they'll assume everything is fine. And if you don't tell them this on a daily basis, they'll assume that whatever you were complaining about yesterday is all sorted and they don't have to worry about it any more.

        If your management is going to "blame" you for failing the software based on "minor and easily fixed shortfalls", then you don't really have signoff authority, and you need to explicitly delegate that authority (always upwards). Present your manager - daily, or weekly, whatever they'll tolerate - with a summary of all outstanding and resolved defects. (If you're feeling helpful, you could do some mathematical modelling and predict how long it will take to get the software into a state that meets the predefined UAT criteria, but that's risky, 'cuz you'll be held responsible for it.) But make it clear that you are prepared to continue testing at this rate until (a) your retirement, (b) the end of the world, or (c) the UAT criteria are fulfilled, whichever happens first, unless s/he - your manager - tells you to stop.

        And when she does tell you to stop (or gives you another assignment, which is the same thing) - bingo, there's your signoff.

    2. king of foo

      Re: Special

      It's not always the UATers being lazy/busy.

      I've been on the wrong end of too many UAT's that appear to have completely skipped all the previous testing that's supposed to happen. I.e. I spot an issue in 10 seconds then have to waste an hour documenting it and speaking to the devs on the phone. All this without any UAT process/documentation to hand. Oh, you don't need to do any of that, just send us an email saying it's OK. Er, NO, this is EXACTLY why the last 5 releases went to shit. You need your begrudging testers to follow a step by step test process with multiple scenarios because, as mr dabbs says, they don't give a toss; not spend 5 mins tinkering then go sod it, I'm off home "it's fine". It isn't.

      I'd guesstimate that a good 70% of UAT is done by people who will never actually use what they are testing, don't bother doing any testing and just sign it off. Of the 30% that do, because they are given no guidance they do a crap job and miss problems.

  10. Dr_N Silver badge

    Toilet breaks?

    With all the lovely mobile gadgets we now have, aren't you now expected to work during toilet breaks?

    You can easily bring up your Citrix desktop on your company issue smartphone and also answer a few emails whilst answering the call of nature.....

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: Toilet breaks?

      Just don't forget to disable the video call feature.

      1. Jess--

        Re: Toilet breaks?

        or enable it to ensure a lower number of calls in the future (well in my case anyway)

      2. gotes

        Re: Toilet breaks?

        Let's hope that [your favourite smartphone brand] aren't developing "smellophone" for the next [flagship product name].

    2. king of foo

      Re: Toilet breaks?

      The last time I, er, shed some weight at work, the bloke in the stall next to me's phone rang - and he answered it.

      Queue a raft of deafening farts, coughs, grunts, newspaper ruffling, spits and flushing from the various stalls so it was more than obvious where he was taking the call.

      What's that expression? Hive mind?

  11. Leeroy Silver badge

    Small company similar issue

    I thought I had written a rather good call logging system to use for our service department. I thought I would know the most important information that should be logged so that I could assign the correct engineers to deal with the customers faults. I though the MD would be happy that I saved us over 6K plus ongoing costs by not purchasing an off the shelf system. I thought I ran the department ?

    Engineers have been using it for several weeks, just for addresses to start with now they can close calls with a customer signature on their phones...... so whats wrong with it ? Turns out that I hadn't argued enough for the budget and he would have signed it off if I had kept pestering him grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

    Ever have that feeling that using initiative is sometimes not worth the effort ? He doesn't even have to use the bloody thing but apparently it's not pretty enough ffs

    Awesome article, Yours are some of the best that I read on the reg.

    1. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: Small company similar issue

      >>Awesome article, Yours are some of the best that I read on the reg.

      You're all very flattering this weekend. Whatever happened to the "I want The Reg to refund the lost 10 minutes of my life reading that crap" brigade?

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: Small company similar issue

        I demand a refund!

        There, is that better?

      2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

        Re: Small company similar issue

        10 minutes?

        Just think of those Sunderland fans who made the long trip to Southampton and had to endure 90mins of hell in that 8-0 thrashing. Then they had a 300 mile journey home. Poor sods.

        1. Alistair Dabbs

          Re: Small company similar issue

          AND when they got home, they'd be in Sunderland.

  12. Mr Templedene

    We had them taken out and shot

    Had this problem from both sides, it's always management gets in the way

  13. ecofeco Silver badge

    Another humorous and entertaining article, but...

    ...if you expect me to believe that software is ever tested on end users before shipping, welI, I wasn't born yesterday you know!

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Many years ago I was pressed into service by the development team to get a customer to sign off an overdue UAT. A train to almost Land's End for an overnight stay. Early morning taxi to the customer in the middle of a cold and wet nowhere. Several cups of coffee with much patient waiting for the customer to get themselves organised. Finally a few minutes successfully running the acceptance test. Then taxi and trains back to home by the evening.

    Two days later a repeat performance - this time an overnight stay in Scotland but fortunately not John O'Groats. At least there was the compensation of buying a bottle of Tormore single malt at Glasgow station while changing trains on the return leg.

    It could have been worse - the project manager wanted me to use a hire car rather than trains and taxis.

  15. Tim 11


    If your users aren't motivated to get their hands on the software and try it out, maybe you're making the same mistake 95% of IT operations do. It's your job to supply what the user wants so that it will make his job easier, not try to foist stuff on him just because it suits your own purposes.

  16. Tim99 Silver badge


    Do you remember the prediction in the late-1970s that by the turn of the century we will have entered a push-button age? Apparently, computers and robots would take over all our hard work and society would be struggling to deal with all the leisure time with which we’d be left to endure.

    Leisure time? I don’t think so. Even by Tomorrow’s World standards, this prediction turned out to be a real turkey.

    Alistair, I was helping this stuff happen back then. We just used the wrong words like "leisure time". The correct ones were "necessary structural unemployment", or "labour is too expensive, even when it comes from low-cost countries". The exception is for people with the required skills who we will work even harder.

    Have you noticed that C18th capitalism is making a return? The idea seems to be that businesses should have fungibility of their workforces - If they can't be automated.

    1. 4ecks

      Re: Nomenclature

      "Fungibility" - (def.) the ability to treat staff like mushrooms, kept in the dark and fed on bs.

    2. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: Nomenclature


      Between the 1970s and the 1990s the accountants took over the world. And to them staff are just bits of machinery. SO if they can be made more productive with real machinery you just get rid of a few, you certainly don't reduce their hours.

      And yes, the attitude is essentially 18th C mill owner, but with a fancy certificate.

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