back to article An early crack at network management with an unfortunate logfile

Come with us on a journey back to the glory days of Visual Basic 6, misplaced enthusiasm and an unfortunate naming incident. Welcome to Who, Me? Today's tale comes from a reader Regomised as "Stephen", who was working in the IT department of a Royal Air Force base. "My duties were many," he told us, "from running daily backups …

  1. Joe W Silver badge

    And this, kids,

    is the reason to write clean language code and not include profanities even in test code. The stuff lingers on...

    Not that I ever did this, nor any name calling of colleagues who are too thick to grasp even the most basic concepts in statistics. "this is mathematically impossible, returns no meaningful results and will even give stupid and wrong answers" was usually twisted to "Joe is obstructive and does not want to do this". Glad he had to backtrack, as his idea produced stupid and wrong results out of the reasons I told him.

    Where was I? Oh, much like the BOFH writing "the Boss is a w*nker" in sharpie on the tape leads I included some comments in the code. At least those who will have to clean up the mess know why it is there and what is wrong...

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: And this, kids,

      I was working in one place, getting all the tasks allocated to me done when my boss suddenly started to get even weirder than normal. He started to make my life hell and demanding stupid and inconsistent conflicting rules and demanding code comments and documentation that was to his demands but always wrong. I eventually realised this was constructive dismissal in action - he was failing in his job so needed to use me as the fall guy. As I was his only employee and had to report directly to him ( he was a lifetime friend of the boss and had been given his own empire - me) and no-one else in the place was involved it was a lousy time. I ended up giving him the same document a week after he'd demanded a re-write and he said it was much improved but there were still these imaginary problems with it. So I fixed it by re-formatting it so most pages had 'Name of boss is a fucking wanker' as the starting characters on lines. Better but not good enough. So I repeated it in Capitals the next time. Again an improvement but...

      Then my mum got very ill so I legged it to see her and she died and while I was away I was informed I was fired and would be sued if I talked to anyone in the organisation!!! As I drank with a few of them I enjoyed hearing about his gradual self destruction over a year or so until he was finally chucked and sued by the company owner for fraud though I was disappointed not to be called as a witness.

      1. keithpeter Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: And this, kids,

        &Tom 7

        "I was disappointed not to be called as a witness"

        I think you were lucky being well away from the proceedings. Outside any potential blast radius.

        Sounds dreadful. One wonders what happened. Marching powder habit out of control or slow decline?

      2. jake Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: And this, kids,

        "while I was away I was informed I was fired"

        Here in the US, if I were fired while on bereavement leave, my lawyer (brother) would make sure I owned the entire company in question. Doing such a foul thing is a big no-no in civilized countries.

        Condolences. To yer mum.

        1. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

          Re: And this, kids,

          Being of a not-litigious nature, I would have done ... nothing. Once the constructive dismissal has commenced, plans for new employment would be made, and the only remaining question is timing. Will they dismiss me first, or will I give notice first? Probably they will dismiss me first, because if I haven't given my notice already then I have made it into a game.

          I think the mention of the funeral and timing was not "oh the grief", but more an example of just how low-down the manager was. Sounds as low as they get.

        2. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

          Re: And this, kids,

          US correspondents tell me that in most states you can be fired instantly because your boss has indigestion and you have no remedy. (For the firing, I don't mean the indigestion.) Some are pleased to see the faction that legislated this principle copping it themselves. A few are oddly proud of it.

          You just can't be legally fired for reason of what they call race, but there would be proving it.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: And this, kids,

            And the fired employee is free to take said employer to court for wrongful termination. There are freely available legal mechanisms in place for people who don't have a handy lawyer in their hip pocket.

            If the former employee has a case, the former employer will usually make a buy-out offer to keep it out of court. This is what usually happens if the former Boss is an asshole, USUALLY because the lazy bastard doesn't have the back-trail to justify his position.

            Sometimes the former employee just moves on, thinking (perhaps rightly) that it's just not worth it.

            Either way, the former employee is better off out of there ... working for an asshole isn't conducive to long-term growth.

            And of course, sometimes the employee just plain needs firing. As an employer, I like to have the option available. I try to hire so it never becomes an issue, though.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: And this, kids,

        Had something like that when developing an Amstrad Infomaster database for a shop (high fashion, imported from South America). Kept getting complaints, reports of stock not being logged correctly, etc. Turned out the manageress was also importing other products common to South America, paid for by defrauding the shop through various schemes for which not having an accurate stock control system were quite important...

      4. Stuart Castle Silver badge

        Re: And this, kids,

        I've had a couple of bosses like that. The first one was the wife of the owner of a small accountancy firm I did some admin work for (I'd not long left school). The job was fairly mundane, but I got on well with the staff. Except the boss's wife. I never found out what I'd done, but I got a phone call one morning, just as I was leaving for work asking me not to go in again.

        The second one was worse. I was doing essentially credit control in a local hospital catering department. My job was to clear the invoices for payment, and also maintain an incredibly complicated excel workbook that contained everything we were charging the other departments for. I sent it to finance monthly, and they used it to transfer money to our budgets.. It was worth around £60k a month (this was back in the early 90s) to us, so it was important it was correct.

        I had to collate the figures from other staff, check them and put them on the sheet. One department consistently put incorrect figures down. I tackled the manager about it, but he just saw me as a lowly admin assistant and essentially ignored me. We shared the same boss, so I reported it to her. This carried on month after month, with me reporting the problem to her, and her seeming doing fuck all.

        One month, she had obviously had a meeting with her boss, and was in a foul mood. I had been explaining to her yet again that my figures were wrong because the base data I'd been given was incomplete, and I had no power to force the staff to give me complete data.

        At some point, I needed to photocopy some invoices, so went to the print room. I was happily copying invoices, when she followed me in. She walked up behind me, slapped me around the back of the head.

        Unfortunately for her, one of our directors (who was a lovely Texan lady who at one point lived next door to Gary Lineker and successfully sued the Mail over something they published mentioning her) was standing behind her waiting to do some copying.

        She dragged my boss out of the copying room to her office, where they had a quick meeting. Then my boss came back to the office and cleared out her stuff, and I got a call to go see the director. We had a little chat, during which she said if I wanted to press charges, she would be a witness. I said no. I later heard a rumour that the manager had been told to resign, or be sacked. Worked out well for me though. Gave me the kick I needed to look at doing a degree, and I ended up with a career I thoroughly enjoy.

  2. b0llchit Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Safely raising eyebrows

    I raise you and assert that no code is Safe For WorkTM.

    Any code written will be looked upon with raised eyebrows in X years. Code survival is not measured in years but by how many raised eyebrows it collects during its lifetime. All software is replaced once a certain diffuse threshold is reached or when the eyebrow reaches the back of your head.

    1. UCAP Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Safely raising eyebrows

      All software is replaced once a certain diffuse threshold is reached or when the eyebrow reaches the back of your head.

      Funny you should say that; I was reviewing some not-so-old code the other day that resulted in my eyebrows passing the back of head, heading down my neck and back, finally ending up whimpering in fear at around foot level.

      1. NXM Bronze badge

        Re: Safely raising eyebrows

        I'm reminded of this Irn Bru advert:

        https://www.smithandjonesfilms.net/clips/irn-bru-hair-do/

      2. TFL

        Re: Safely raising eyebrows

        The proper measurement is, "WTFs per minute". Per https://www.osnews.com/story/19266/wtfsm/

      3. Cederic Silver badge

        Re: Safely raising eyebrows

        I think we've all been there. I know I have.

        While reading my own legacy code..

    2. DJV Silver badge

      Re: Any code written will be looked upon with raised eyebrows in X years

      Yes, and I do that to my own code that was written X years ago (and as for the code written X*2 years ago... well... words are not enough!)

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Safely raising eyebrows

      So true. I had the joys of fixing an access database written 2 years early to run a self bill billing cycle. Create the invoices/remits and other files to be loaded into the main billing system. I never seen such sloppy hard to read code in my life. Variable names were useless, Object and table names baffling and the final piece of icing on the cake was that there was no logical order to it so would jump round all the macros and then back and forth to VBA code. It took me a week to fix it. I offered to rebuild it into something useful but it would have to be overtime as I already had a full time job in another department. Obviously they refused and it broke 3 or so more times over the next few years before I left. I pity the poor bastard that has to go and fix that. I tried cleaning it up a bit and leaving some hints and cheats but it was a complete mess. Taught me a little about my coding/building approach to be fair as at that time I was pretty much just self taught. I have come across a few fuckit routine and function names. 9 times out of 10 they work for some reason.

    4. jake Silver badge

      Re: Safely raising eyebrows

      Not too long ago, I was reading some PDP11 machine code for the first time since I wrote it 40-odd years ago, and scratching my head. I couldn't figure out WTF I did what I did ... clearly it worked, but it was also clearly wrong. I'd been going over the (seemingly) simple code for eight or ten hours and was getting increasingly frustrated, which is rare for me. I wrote the shit, why couldn't I figure it out? My wife (ever the wise one) suggested I sleep on it. So I took a nap.

      I woke an hour or so later with two words on my mind: DEC Tape.

      Now, I seriously doubt that even that pile of steam-powered, smoke-belching, carved from solid rock back in the age of Wizards and Grues will ever need anything as weird of DEC Tape again ... So I should excise that block of code (and the others like it, throughout). I should streamline things, make it more efficient, right?

      Should I fuck. It fucking works. Is has worked for over four decades. I ain't touching it. I have been called in far too many times to "fix" projects that started like that, "just one, small tweak" to fall for that one ... I HAVE, however, added comments ("notes to my future self") that I should have added in the first place but didn't, because "it's obvious, innit?".

      1. J.G.Harston Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Safely raising eyebrows

        For another PDP11 programmer --->

        1. jake Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: Safely raising eyebrows

          Ta. There are a lot of us around here, I'll get in the next round.

  3. 45RPM Silver badge

    Not quite the same, but back in the day when we had to write copious documentation for all the software that we wrote, sometimes running to hundreds of pages, I became convinced that no one ever read it.

    With hindsight, writing “and they all lived happily ever after” as the very last sentence probably wasn’t the most discreet way of testing this theory. Especially since it lead them to actually read the rest of the document very carefully indeed. And, whilst the document was usable (it contained everything that it needed to), it also had a few, ahem, extra words and deliberate misspellings.

    Some of the reviewers thought it was funny. On balance though, the scales of corporate justice were tipped against me. The shit hit the fan.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I recall, when working for a well-known aero engine manufacturer in the 1970's, there was a document circulating that had four sections, each with a list of ten words or short phrases. The idea was to pick one, at random, from each section and string them together - the end result would sound good but be totally meaningless. I, too, was convinced my boss didn't actually read my reports, so I included one of these nonsense sentences in one. Well, ****er me, he actually read it - and wasn't too impressed. It was rev 2 that went on up the food chain :)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        The IgNobel guys (improbable.com) once tried to launch a meaningless management-speak phrase to see how far it would spread (possibly after Not The Nine O'Clock News and their claim that flange is the collective name for a bunch of baboons)

        Sod's Law, I can't find a trace of it...

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "I became convinced that no one ever read it"

      Always assume that in X months/weeks/days (and it's always sooner than you anticipate) you will be confronted with this piece of code to fix or amend and you won't even remember which idiot wrote it. What would you want in the way of documentation and can there be too much of it?

      1. Paul Kinsler Silver badge

        and you won't even remember which idiot wrote it

        I think a lot of the problem is that - having just written it - it is transparently obvious what it does, and why, and so it is difficult to actually work out what might need to be explained about something so (apparently) straightforward.

        Really, I suppose, you should instead show it to someone else, and ask them to explain it ... at which time the relevant point to document might become clearer.

        1. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Re: and you won't even remember which idiot wrote it

          Right, this is not just a problem with programme coding. Almost any set of instructions, even human language ones, can suffer from the "obvious to me" problem. It's a skill in itself to be aware of sections of instructions/explanations/code/reporting/etc that are only comprehensible in the context of something you have stored inside your own head.

    3. dak

      I sometimes include a joke in long technical documents and tell the prospective readers that it is there, somewhere. That tends to lead to more careful reading.

      Sometimes I don't include the joke.

    4. ShadowSystems Silver badge

      At 45RPM, re: documentation.

      Back when I was still in school, my BioDad did freelance work as a technical writer for various large ThreeLetterAgencies whom shall remain nameless lest they come after me.

      Anyway, I often used the family computer to type up my homework, especially ((Foreshadowing alert! Foreshadowing alert!)) my English reports. I'd been given a report to write about hummingbirds & had dutifully typed it up, formatted it, & made it look all pretty for my teacher as she preferred. Then I saved it to my "homework" floppy, ejected said floppy, & put it in my personal disk keeper.

      BioDad comes home & starts typing up his own "homework". Finishes, goes to save it, can't find a blank disk, & reaches for my disk keeper because he knows I've got some blanks. ((Can you see where this is going?))

      I get to school the next day, go to the computer lab to use their printer, and pull out my disk keeper. Except my homework disk isn't in it. I promptly panic. I *know* I put it in there, I made sure of that fact so I wouldn't forget the disk & leave it at home. I've got a report (rough draft, but still) due later that afternoon, but no disk upon which said report has been saved. I use my lunch break to *sprint* home, ransack the computer room to try & find my homework disk, & find it atop my BioDad's work folder. I don't care, think nothing of that fact, snatch it, & sprint back to school.

      Back in the lab, disk in drive, take a directory... What are all these strange file names on MY disk? GAH! It's not my homework. It's my homework disk, but not *my* homework! I put the disk back in the keeper, promise my teacher that I'll bring her the rough draft as soon as I fix the issue with the disk drive at home, & she lets me off the hook.

      Get home after school & go through each & every loose floppy on the computer desk to try & find where my file might be. I finally find a temp copy of my report, clean it up, update it, finish it, & save it not only to my homework disk, but to a backup floppy marked "DO. NOT. ERASE!" in big, bold, all caps, neon Sharpie marker to make sure nobody messes with it. I then store the homework disk in my keeper & "hide" the spare in my English book.

      BioDad comes home & heads for the computer to do some more work. "Son, where is the disk labeled home work? I left it right here on the desk."

      Ah HA! So you did steal my disk, you fat arsed bastard. "That was my English Homework disk. It has my English homework on it. Homework I did *not* have in my keeper when I arrived at school today, even though the report saved to it was due today. Do you mean THAT disk?"

      BioDad at least has the decency to look sheepish, but he still needs the disk back so he can pull his stuff off of it. I hand it over & stand there with my hand out waiting to get it back. He is not pleased. I don't care.

      I should have looked at the specific files he copied off the disk. Not that he erased them afterwards, but...

      Fast forword a month & he comes home confused & a bit frustrated. It seems he had printed out the report he'd written about some hot-shit tech he'd been contracted to write about, but embedded in his report was "some wierd shit about Hummingbirds. I couldn't figure out WTF!"

      I nearly laughed myself sick when I realized that dingbat had somehow managed to include my English report on birds in his tech document about hot shit TLA tech.

      Moral of the story: please be careful where you save your work, it can mean the difference between impressing your employer & coming across as an idiot. =-D

      1. keithpeter Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: At 45RPM, re: documentation.

        I'm now searching for the description of the declassified HMGBRD protocol. Big in the 70s.

      2. Benegesserict Cumbersomberbatch

        Re: At 45RPM, re: documentation.

        And here was me expecting your English teacher to ask you why you can write so authoritatively about inciting coups d'état in Central America...

      3. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

        Re: At 45RPM, re: documentation.

        "Dad, you do weird things when drunk... Why don't you stop it?"

  4. Giles C Silver badge

    Never quite done that - networking tends to not have that many comments in it. Closest I got was to one difficult link which happened to use clan 666 to refer to the supplier…

    Now as to server naming a colleague make the following server (follow the capitals)

    Blackberry

    Enterprise

    Server

    EXCHANGE

    01

    Yes he named the server besexchange01 when we pointed it out he said at least it will be memorable - it lasted about 5 years

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Expert Sex Change

      Springs to mind.

      A site that I spent several years explicitly excluding from web searches. I never did figure out why Google thought it was so good.

      1. Glen 1

        Re: Expert Sex Change

        Ah yes, like a paid-for version of stack overflow.

        Except for a while their paywall was merely "cover the answer with a signup sheet if not logged in", so you could still get to the info if you deleted the element from the dom.

        I think the idea was that google could index the answer, thus thinking it was a good result, but hiding it from the user.

        They eventually "fixed" that workaround. Thus making the site utterly useless.

        1. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
          Big Brother

          Re: Expert Sex Change

          You could still use the google cache / text-only version. I can't remember what shenanigans they used to give the answer to the crawler but not interested users, but the fact that they had shown it to the crawler was enough.

      2. tiggity Silver badge

        Re: Expert Sex Change

        Similar memorable url with the site Pen Island

        Url had no hyphen, dots etc so looked very NSFW

        1. Korev Silver badge
    2. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
      Pint

      I'm sure I've seen that server name too, seems some people follow the same thought process.

    3. Korev Silver badge
      Pirate

      Never quite done that - networking tends to not have that many comments in it. Closest I got was to one difficult link which happened to use clan 666 to refer to the supplier…

      In a previous I had the less competent of our network team create a new VLAN for me which for some reason was rather hard as it involved some weird switch configuration. It turns out he numbered it 666...

  5. DJV Silver badge

    FFS!

    I make a lot of use of a great file sync program called FreeFileSync and I use it enough to have bunged the developer some ££ on occasion. One option is to make shortcuts to commonly used settings on the desktop - the file names it generates for these always amuse me as they have the format: Name.ffs_gui

  6. Arthur the cat Silver badge

    A perfectly natural mistake …

    … made by many. As an example, I present this 1969 SF novel by Jack Vance.

    1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

      Re: A perfectly natural mistake …

      Or this Captain America comic panel.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: A perfectly natural mistake …

      I remember that. I must've got the original imported or UK version because I remember giggling at the word (I was still at school then, probably 12 or 13 years old)

    3. Martin
      Happy

      Re: A perfectly natural mistake …

      Yes, US people not knowing UK slang can cause endless amusement. This is from Peter Bradshaw's review of The Last Airbender.

      At the cinema showing I attended, the British crowd reacted derisively at key dialogue moments. One wise old lady says solemnly to a young man: "I could tell at once that you were a bender, and that you would realise your destiny." One character tells another wonderingly: "There are some really powerful benders in the Northern Water Zone." Another whispers tensely: "We want to minimise their bender sources." A key figure is taken away by brutal soldiers, one of whom shouts cruelly: "It's… a bender." And so on, for almost two hours.

      I mean, how are you NOT going to giggle like a kid?

  7. MiguelC Silver badge

    I know what you did.txt

    Was the name of the logfile on one piece of SW I wrote.

    I later had to change it as one user panicked thinking someone was spying on his machine and got the boss involved. He wasn't mad, just didn't want any more (than the regular ones) Waste Of Time tickets being opened.

  8. I Am Spartacus
    Facepalm

    I inherited one

    It was an employee training record system, called Training Information Tracking System. Can you see where this is going. I came in late to the project, to take it from a VB6 incarnation to a fully fledged mainstream app on SQL Server. But I was sitting with the team, getting their user stories, when one of the ladies on the desk found a record that wasn't it the database. She went to tell the boss (male) who promptly shouted out "Well get it on your TITS then".

    Just as his boss walked by. Big boss WAS NOT AT ALL AMUSED, said so, and asked who was responsible, to which they all looked at me.

    That caused me no end of grief with HR getting involved for "my gross profanity" until the IT director had the decency to say I had taken over the project, and it was the now ex-contractor who was responsible.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I inherited one

      I always thought that twitter was the sound that tits make.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Nope - you are thinking of "titter". As in "titter ye not" (c) Frankie Howerd

        "Twitter" is the sound that twits make, as any fule kno.

        1. MrBanana Silver badge

          You are Nigel Molesworth and I claim my 5 pounds.

    2. roytrubshaw
      Childcatcher

      Re: I inherited one

      In the 70s Essex university had the Internal Telephone System or ITS.

      The extension of ITS to add a phone to every floor of the student accommodation on campus (the infamous tower blocks - of which there were 6) was named ... you guessed it, the Towers Internal Telephone System or TITS.

      Much innocent enjoyment was had at University Radio Essex inviting listeners to 'phone in requests on TITS nnnn

      Simpler times!

    3. Benegesserict Cumbersomberbatch

      Re: I inherited one

      Renamed to the System Hosting Information Training.

  9. simongh

    Quality Issue Management System

    We had to explain to American colleagues why this was a bad name.

    But then we also had Envelope Free Access Provisioning and The Web Access Tool, so maybe we were just children

    1. vogon00

      Re: Quality Issue Management System

      Not IT related, but I found myself in a rural pub for Easter Sunday lunch with my mother, owned by someone with an ...unusual... approach to decor in the back room, e.g. one framed picture is Queen Victoria, next door to a similarly dressed David Bowie.

      One largeish picture just had the words 'See you next tuesday' on it....and my rather elderly mum was very eager to find out what that meant.. That was a fun and cautious explanation!

      Good food, good beer, interesting decor throughout including the restrooms. It's the Queen's Head in Foulsham, Norfolk if you're passing.

    2. Hazmoid

      Re: Quality Issue Management System

      There was a training company here called IFAP, Last time I went past their site I noticed that the name had changed.

  10. MrXonTR

    This one's unintentional

    Just as how SQL is spoken like "sequel", TCL is often spoken like "tickle". A common script file might be "test.tcl".

    1. Mast1

      Re: This one's unintentional

      Met regularly with in 8.3 file-naming conventions.

      Back in the mists, I programmed a (VERY) rudimentary "statistics analysis" package in Fortran on a VAX 11/750.

      So to be concise and succinct I shortened both words to four letters each, and then concatenated to the required 8 letters, and, like OP, with no intention of crudity.... until I handed it over to a human tester to find the bugs. He just lengthened the pronunciation of the first /a/ of the second word and raised an eyebrow.

      Filename changed pretty quickly.

  11. tip pc Silver badge

    Wide Area Network Knowledgebase Error Recording System

    He obviously took shortcuts in his naming backcronym.

    Lucky it was just windows admin systems he worked on.

  12. Sequin

    Microsoft's Critical Update Notification Tool anyone?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      As opposed to that Bluetooth enabled sex toy with the appropriately named Clitoral Update Notification Tool.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In a previous role; a utility network map that I had some influence over offered opportunities for fun. The system in question used 4-letter names for all nodes. HARD and SLAP next to each other was an easy one to get to appear (Hardwick and Slapton respectively).

    There is also another node called BOGS; relating to a Biogas facility; and not at all a reference to the godawful toilet of a town in it's in.

    Honest.

  14. Stuart Castle Silver badge

    Can't say I have been caught like this..

    While I've written a lot of utilities that include various insults and swear words in various messages in the program, I've been boringly good at removing them. Not that I am perfect. Oh no. I left a function in an application I wrote as a sort of control panel for a server I maintained (it automated a lot of the maintenance), I left in a bulk import function that, if run without shutting some of the services down properly on the server, would cause those services to consume 100% of available CPU time until the machine was hard booted. An impressive feat considering the machine in question was a fairly beefy (for the time) dual Pentium Pro machine, running (IIRC) Windows server 2003.

    While it was fun to do that, I didn't want to be held accountable for downing a production server, so I quickly updated the application so it shutdown the relevant services first, did the import then restarted them. I also made sure I only ever ran the import function in our designated "At Risk" period.

  15. Man inna barrel Bronze badge

    Tim's mode firmware

    I worked on a nice embedded project, where the product did moderately clever things over a regular telephone line. There was an installation procedure, to establish communication with a server back at base, that involved a few stages before the kit was ready for action. My colleague and I worked out a procedure, using a single LED to communicate to the installer, to show progress, and make sure the kit was working before the installer left the site. The marketing guy, Tim, would have none of this. It was not our job to make life easier for installers. They do what they are told, and do not make any decisions on site, because they are all knuckle dragging morons. They have to phone up the support line back at base, to check that the installation was completed successfully. Other than that, morons or not, they could do no more than hope for the best.

    Suffice to say, my colleague and I considered this blind installation procedure to be less effective than our own system, with on site diagnostics. So we kept all our own procedure, and plumbed in the blind installation mode, using some #defines, so we could quickly switch back to some form of sanity, should political wisdom prevail. The new code was called "Tim's mode". That went in the comments. There were no profanities. Not even "Tim is an ignorant plonker, which is the reason for this code". Luckily, I don't think Tim had any idea how to read C code.

    I experienced what Tim's mode was like when my colleague and I went to a site where the installation would not work, which turned out to be due to a local exchange blocking external calls. It took hours running through the procedure Tim had devised, which involved multiple phone calls back to base. Trouble is, back at base meant Aidan, whose main job was IT, and getting through was difficult at times.

    One take home from this is that if you treat your site engineers as knuckle dragging morons, then that is how they will behave. People are generally eager to please.

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