back to article CIOs, what does your nightmare before Christmas look like?

We gathered 14 of the UK’s finest IT leaders in a secure bunker (elegant room in the Soho Hotel -Ed.) for the last Register Round Table of 2015 to hear their tales of when good IT goes bad. The short version is the thing they fear most is you, dear reader, your screw-ups, your documentation, your thefts, your dodgy code, your …

  1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

    So, time to polish up your english, then...

    1. Peter2 Silver badge

      This example was absurd.

      Who seriously weighs documentation rather than reading it? Who appointed the manager who allowed this, and what review process was in place for the code and documentation? Obviously none, because so much as a cursory glance at it to make sure that you'd got the information to support it would have revealed that neither the code or documentation was written in English!

      It appears that the problem there was entirely attributable to a complete lack of any competent management, a failing which should be laid entirely at the CTO's door.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "entirely attributable to a complete lack of any competent management"

        Not entirely. You've got to attribute some responsibility to whoever wrote it.

        1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

          As a yoof of 17, 35 years ago or so, I spent a summer very lucratively designing, writing and training a small company to use, a stock control system (I learnt more from the latter exercise). I coded using a star-trek themed variables, sub routines and documentation methodology. I am confident that none read the docs or code for at least fifteen years - the point at which it was replaced by a commercial system. I got a call at that point (I was in the US, the code, still running on five Pets - the owner bought several old machines for spares, was in the UK. They only tracked me down because the retiring owner was a friend of my parents. Half a days work on a simulator (they couriered out a printout) pro bono, and they had a working export function. Happy days.

        2. Peter2 Silver badge

          "entirely attributable to a complete lack of any competent management"

          Not entirely. You've got to attribute some responsibility to whoever wrote it.

          I don't agree.

          Whomever hired him for the job was problem number #1. They didn't specify that they wanted the code and documentation in English when they hired a presumably polish developer.

          The manager who totally failed to provide any oversight or supervision and then didn't even glance at the documentation handed in is problem #2.

          The manager who agreed the code and documentation was of acceptable quality and then allowed the program to go live is problem #3.

          If at any point the code or documentation had have been glanced at then it would have noticed that it wasn't in English. While they still had the developer, a few hours work with find and replace with the presumably multi lingual developer could have translated the variable names to English making it much more supportable and they could have asked for an English set of documentation.

          One of the core principles of management is delegation. This manager has not delegated at all. He's utterly abdicated responsibility, a problem has occurred as a result and he's then trying to shift blame onto the developer. This is inexcusable and unacceptable management incompetence.

          If you don't have time to supervise yourself to an acceptable standard because you've got to many staff then you create junior managers, also known as foremen/team leaders who you get to supervise their staff so you only have to keep an eye on a few people. You don't just cross your fingers and hope everything will work out ok!

      2. Dan 55 Silver badge

        What review process was in place for the code and documentation?

        None as usual, it's just that this time they were in Polish so it looks a thousand times worse.

  2. Winters

    This is not the BOFH you are looking for...

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    or try to pretend that the web doesn’t exist

    "or try to pretend that the web doesn’t exist as we heard last month and the cracks will be all over the place."

    Conversely; so wrapped up in the web and, screaming "digitize, digitize, digitize", they disappear up their own fundamentals.

    Anon 'cos I work for a company doing that and pleased as punch with it, despite having one of the shittiest and least helpful websites I can think of.

  4. Ken 16 Silver badge

    hard dangerous things are done by people with superficial understanding

    Who else would willingly do hard dangerous things?

    *on the SQL select all, I've never seen that but have seen UI designers read all records from a very very large table indeed using the same select statement used to retrieve a single record, but using it sequentially many times.

    1. tiggity Silver badge

      Re: hard dangerous things are done by people with superficial understanding

      That (UI bods SQL) is poor design / project management example poar excellence, the UI people should not be rolling their own SQL code but coding against an API "layer", separation of concerns helps a lot and means you can easily switch UI, DB backend (e.g. v. useful when you have to switch backend from internal database to a cloudy solution)

  5. foxbatgb

    "We learned of one firm where the ‘design oriented’ UX designers didn’t understand SQL well and a single delete from the front end actually was a delete all. Wasn’t pretty."

    I that what you learned was that no UI should EVER EVER be crafting SQL to send to a backend.

    1. Chris King

      Halle-bloody-llujah !

      Someone actually gets it. Now, can we also get someone to teach the ikkle firsties in Comp Sci that:

      (a) Embedding your credentials into something that you subsequently stick on PasteBin is a BAD idea, and

      (b) The slumbering DBA inside me wants to hurt anyone who uses "SELECT * FROM ..." in production systems.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Halle-bloody-llujah !

        A CRM that I use at work hits a hard limit on the number of tables in a join if you have enough custom fields on your contacts, and then try to use mail merge tokens.

  6. This post has been deleted by its author

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why is it...

    All I could picture was Dilberts PHB, Bill Lumbergh, Michael Scott, Andy Bernard and David Brent sitting around and totally clueless about what IT actually does?

    We are currently looking at a new EMM solution because our current provider has decided to go End of Sale on 1/2016 and End of Support 1/2017 with no plans to replace the product.

    My fear is that the manglement will think that because they "bought" the licenses that they can run it indefinitely. Well they can't because the product requires a certificate from the vendor that is renewed annually (and just was) for it to work. I will probably have to beat them over the head with a bat until they understand that and not wait until the beginning of Q4 to look at replacements.

    But I really don't care as my plan is to not be here by the end of Q2 anyway...

  8. streaky

    Brick Lane

    This got ugly when a big ISP’s Brick Lane centre

    There aint no DCs on Brick Lane, just one extremely close and it services the Finance industry and others.

    Chatham House rules well out the window on this one :)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Brick Lane

      Don't talk about Chatham House!

    2. streaky

      Re: Brick Lane

      I take it back apparently Easynet aka Interoute have a DC on Brick Lane - I always thought it was just offices but apparently I was mistaken, guess it's not Interxion but those guys after all - my comment about Chatham House rules still applies though :)

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Industry pay averages

    About ten years ago I helped a client I was consulting for interview for a couple open EMC storage admin positions. They had determined the average salary for that position in Boston where they were located based on some information from a couple headhunter type firms they were working with to help them find people.

    Problem was, they assumed they could get them for that salary - because like all companies they believe they're a great place to work and have awesome benefits so they don't need to pay people more. As usual the job ad said "salary commensurate with experience" so applicants don't really have any idea going in whether the job they are applying for is something they'd even consider.

    The company got lucky with getting several really strong candidates, but made them offers based on that "average" salary. I told them that these people were well above average in qualification and experience and would command salaries above that industry average but they didn't listen, and insisted on making an initial offer at that level. These people will be managing the storage arrays that run a worldwide business worth billions, so this isn't like saving a few bucks on less helpful deskside guys who aren't going to cost you millions if they screw up.

    Of course all three top candidates turned them down flat without even a counteroffer. They went down the list and were forced to make higher offers to the less qualified (but both still pretty good, EMC headquarters are nearby after all) candidates they eventually hired than they did the first three.

    Guess I should have thought of explaining it as "hiring people half the market doesn't want" :)

  10. Herby

    Further tales of woe...


    It is the anti-pattern of a BOFH. Some people never learn!

  11. OzBob

    I sat an exam to get into the local polytech

    it was an IBM computer theory based one. Can we introduce one for management, which permits them to speak on technical matters?

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