Mama needs a new phone
I upgraded to a 13 two years ago so that I could pass the XR to my Mum so that she could stop using the 6 that I gave her before that.
984 publicly visible posts • joined 7 Oct 2008
Even proper training is sometimes not enough. Let us rewind to the 1980s ....
A mainframe system had been developed which replaced a hitherto manual writing and stored-paper based workflow. This was a major culture change for a workforce that has Always Done Things This Way so off site training was arranged to introduce all the staff to the new way of working. Hotels and booze were always a good way to inculcate a positive feeling about the new terminals and the death of pen on paper
All went well and the workforce whizzed through work like a hot knife through butter. We were delighted that the system performed well against all metrics, including a sub-second response time which was a metric that was always smashed, except in one office, where the response times were truly dismal.
This office sat at the end of a CO3 line which should have been more than adequate. Stats were gathered, traces were put in place. All the underlying figures looked good but the traffic was unexpectedly spiky. A visit was planned to the office to check out the local installation of the comms kit. Back came our comms guy with a huge smile on his face.
All the staff had been on the same training course. As they sat in the class room they would fill in the TP screen with data, then, on the instruction of the trainer, hit the "Enter" button at the same time. This was what they trained to do and this is what they took back to the office with them. As the worked they would fill their screen then check with all their colleagues to see if they has a screen-full too - "Are you ready Carol? Brian? Kate? Colin?" - and when they all had a screen full, and only then, they all hit "Enter" at the same time.
The CO3 line which had been polling with no return for several minutes was now flooded with data and did what it could but didn't do it very quickly.
"But it's how we did it in training ...".
Response times soon normalised and an anecdote was born.
It matters. If you can't get the simple stuff right then I won't assume that you can do the difficult things.
I once rejected a CV with the entry:
Marital Status: British
While that might have been exactly what they meant to write, it made me wonder what their SQL would look like but unwilling to find out in our own codebase.
We were due to be moved to a new, purpose-built office, designed for the modern Data Processing* development practices of the early 1990s. Rather than a regular office full of desks with terminals and PCs on, this was to be a development space. There was a presentation in which we were introduced to the ideas that drove the design - flow! flexible partitioning with Nightingale boards! communal spaces! break-out rooms! configurable powerpoints and networking! smoking rooms! (it was the 90s). Much was made of the lighting. There were no ceiling lights, rather, "the use of a coffered ceiling and uplighters releases us from the fenestrated perimeter and allows flexible provision of general and task lighting". What this meant was that outside of the lit corridors everyone wandered around in semi-gloom like confused mole rats.
* IT hadn't fully become IT yet, it was still DP, but not for long
While scouring the data centre for kit that could be taken off charge I came across a machine, still powered up, of great antiquity with dust on its keyboard. It turned out that it held data for a now-obsolete system that needed to be retained for 12 years for legal reasons. The software which used the data was so tightly bound to the NT4 OS it was still running that it hadn't been possible to dump it onto a VM so here it was, spinning away in case the machine didn't reboot if it was restarted. It wasn't on any network (not even a network card) and there was another 4 years to go until it could be wiped with no legal blowback. I found a couple of hard drives that matched the ones in that box, cloned the machine onto them and stacked them next to the holy relic and left it to live out the rest of its life in peace.
If you spent £$ Several Million developing a system back in the 80s that still does the job then it can be an entirely sensible thing to keep that running, albeit on an emulated version of the original OS because the original machines have long since been rendered down for their gold and tin. It's sobering to see systems you worked on that used to occupy a room full of mainframe nodes and storage drives running in a small corner of a modern linux box.
Back in the 80s while working for a Large Government Department, bomb threats were taken very seriously as the IRA had demonstrated motivation and effectiveness on several occasions. One afternoon a large parcel arrived addressed to the director of data processing (as they were known in the way-back-when). It was a heavy parcel, there was no return address, no indication of the sender and it wasn't an expected delivery. The post room followed procedure and called it in. The office was evacuated and the bomb disposal squad were round in a flash - they were based a couple of miles down the road. After assorted jiggery-pokery the package was declared safe and opened. It contained a consignment of leaflets describing the current procedure for handling suspicious parcels.
In my team there has been widespread acceptance that one day a week in the office has been of benefit for team relations, but when management try to push this up to more days in the office the whole team turns into Brett and Parker from the USCSS Nostromo.
I personally can live with a 90 mile round trip once a week, while my colleagues on the South Coast and in Chennai are unlikely to put in an appearance any time soon.
Time taken for a senior manager to formulate and execute plan for an impromptu DC failover using the Big Red Button? Microseconds.
Time taken to get everything back up and working, failed boards replaced, systems restarted, rogue LAN cables replaced, comms balanced? 39 hours.
Size of boot applied to arse of senior manager by Very Senior Manager? <-------------------- This Big -------------------->
Likewise. I have started to link to the last time I commented on a similar story rather than typing it out again. Just as there are seven basic plots, there are a limited number of ways in which we can press a button, lose a backup or insert a thing the wrong way up. Or maybe I'm just too old and have seen too many things.
I had a Vauxhall. Dealer serviced throughout. Two months after the 50000 service the cam belt snapped and I discovered that it had an interference engine. Since the last service Vauxhall had dropped the replacement mileage for the cam belt from 70000 miles to 40000 miles. The dealer chased this up with the manufacturer and they stumped up for the entire top-end rebuild. I too praised their customer service for a long time afterwards (if not their reliability engineering).
When I was young I was taught the art of spanner wielding by a kindly neighbour who had picked up his mechanic skills working on aircraft for the RAF during his National Service. Two of them were assigned the task of performing routine maintenance on a huge pile of transfer boxes (for what I do not know). This involved replacing worn washers, bearings and so forth, checking tolerances, lubricating and moving to the Done pile.
At the end of the day, my man cleaned his work station (he was meticulous in these matters) and looked over to his workmate. He had a pile of washers, springs and other bits and bobs, both new and used on his bench. He cried, "Spares!', then picked them up and threw into the bins of new parts.
My neighbour learned a lot about how far to trust the workmanship of others from that and was keen that I learned from his experience.
The built-in keyboard is for travelling. When you're travelling you use your Travel Scrabble set, when you're in a more stable environment you use the full-size, "proper", Scrabble set. I use the same principle with keyboards (Keychron K8, Gateron Brown switches).
In the early days of SQL Server 6 (when it was much the same as Sybase 4.2) we sent in a question to MS that must have been better than we suspected as within two days we had a stinking god of programming sent over from Seattle to see what we were doing. I pity his neighbours on the aeroplane, his physical hygiene really was deficient.
I was surprised at the difficulty of the problem as we weren't trying to do anything complicated - we couldn't, it was our first time playing with relational databases and we were still bashing the rocks together.
After three days staring at the screen, grunting occasionally and honking out the office, there was a particularly loud grunt, a flurry of typing and he said, "Got it. I'm going back".
Three days later we had a patch and all was well with our database.
A management type had a rude introduction to his when he was a trying to find a pony club where his daughter could learn to ride a pony. He immediately called to explain what he'd clicked on, why he'd clicked on the link and why this was definitely not what he was looking for in his lunch hour on a work machine.
If you're really lucky, there's a member of the board handy when you find something interesting.
I always enjoyed explaining access and audit logs to people hitherto unaware of their role or indeed their existence.
I once had a very effective visit to the end users as we diagnosed a problem that was only manifesting itself in the wild (described here). We did good work and made many friends, only to see it all undone by a field tech two days later. I've seen things you people would find all too easy to believe.