AboutExtremely private greybeard.
Joined devRant on 1/20/2017
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Brilliant rant from Redditor OK6502 in a thread about a "tech screen" being used to get free labor:
Usually when something like this uses the words complex tech stack it means you're going to have to deal with shitty server code distributed over a mix of Azure and AWS nodes and a lone Linux server running under someone's desk, an infuriating configuration hell with no safeguards for keeping dev and prod isolated, a hodge podge of different scripting languages (why not make scripts in pero that call power shell which then calls more perl? Should work right?) and random but critical shit checked into 3 different SVN, stuff stashed on people's shares that will never be checked even though you can't do your homework b without it, usually copied from someone else's share who left the company 3 years ago, no QA process to speak of (while claiming to be agile, somehow) and a front end that is maintained by one exhausted junior dev who inherited a mess of 20 different js frameworks that all load at the same time with every single click, somehow.
The full thread is really worth reading:
One step through the door my wife whips around, a look so disgusted she barely seems human. "What's that smell?" she cries. "It's you! You smell like...like bad code!"
Indeed, I am covered with the scent of the forbidden love child of a man who read half a chapter on if-then statements and then pushed out into the world, earthworm-like, a mangled misshapened gelatinous mass that my employer gave the title of line-of-business application purely out of pity.
For more days than I'd like to count I have been porting a ColdFusion 5 application to .NET. Initially written in 2000 and last touched in 2006, it has a data architecture comparable to Dresden after the second world war. It features a table solely comprised of seven columns of IDs so that joins can be made between other tables lacking a common key. Columns that should be contained within a single table spread out among multiple tables. Single columns containing data that should be multiple columns (with handy flags to separate the subsets). A view with 14 joins that playfully displays unintended results. And so much more spread out over almost 200 stored procedures, views, triggers, and tables on the SQL server, and dozens of additional ADO-like SQL statements within the ColdFusion itself. Fortunately, the application overcomes these issues by having absolutely no data validation while allowing nulls pretty much everywhere.
When I am done this will be a very nice ASP.NET MVC app with at least 150 less stored procs, views, and tables. Auto-generated duplicate entries will be a thing of the past. Pop-up windows that inexplicably refresh the underlying screen to display a different part of the program than the one the user wants will be eliminated. And a UI based on the colors of a Rubik's Cube with usability that Mr. Rubik would find challenging will disappear with only the trauma of using it left behind.
Sadly, this is not my worse legacy code experience. Just the most recent. Just the most recent stench added to a lifetime of bathing in code rot.3
About 18 months ago my non-technical Manager of Applications Development asked me to do the technical interviews for a .NET web developer position that needed to be filled. Because I don't believe in white board interviewing (that's another rant), but I do need to see if the prospective dev can actually code, for the initial interview I prepare a couple of coding problems on paper and ask that they solve them using any language or pseudo code they want. I tell them that after they're done we'll discuss their thought process. While they work the other interviewing dev and I silently do our own stuff.
About half way through the first round of technical interviews the aforementioned manager insisted we interview a dev from his previous company. This guy was top notch. Excellent. Will fit right in.
The manager's applicant comes in to interview and after some initial questions about his resume and experience I give him the first programming problem: a straightforward fizzbuzz (http://wiki.c2.com/?FizzBuzzTest). He looked as if the gamesters of Triskelion had dropped him into the arena. He demurs. Comments on the unexpectedness of the request. Explains that he has a little book he usually refers to to help him with such problems (can't make this stuff up). I again offer that he could use any language or pseudo code. We just want to see how he thinks. He decides he will do the fizzbuzz problem in SQL. My co-interviewer and I are surprised at this choice, but recover quickly and tell him to go ahead. Twenty minutes later he hands me a blank piece of paper. Of the 18 or so candidates we interview, he is the only one who cannot write a single line of code or pseudo code.
I receive an email from this applicant a couple of weeks after his interview. He has given the fizzbuzz problem some more thought. He writes that it occurs to him that the code could be placed into a function. That is the culmination of his cogitation over two weeks. We shake our heads and shortly thereafter attend the scheduled meeting to discuss the applicants.
At the meeting the manager asks about his former co-worker. I inartfully, though accurately, tell him that his candidate does not know how to code. He calls me irrational. After the requisite shocked silence of five people not knowing how to respond to this outburst we all sing Kumbaya and elect to hire someone else.
Interviews are fraught for both sides of the table. I use Fizzbuzz because if the applicant knows how to code it's an early win in the process and we all need that. And if the applicant can't solve it, cut bait and go home.
Fizzbuzz. Best. Interview. Question. Ever.6
The only thing more dangerous than an alcoholic short-term-memory-challenged non-technical throw-you-under-the-bus IT director with self-esteem issues that are sporadically punctuated by delusions of superiority is one who fears for his job. Submitted for your inspection: a besotted mass of near-human brain function who not only has a 50 person IT department to run, but has also been questioned by the business owners as to what he actually does. So he has decided to show them. He has purchased a vendor product to replace a core in-house developed application used to facilitate creating the product the business sells. The purchased software only covers about 40 percent of the in-house application's functionality, so he is contracting with the vendor to perform custom development on the purchased product (at a cost likely to be just shy of six-figures) so that about 90 percent of existing functionality will be covered. He has asked one of his developers (me) to scale down the existing software to cover the functionality gaps the purchased software creates. There is no deployment plan that will allow the business to transition from the current software to the new vendor-supplied one without significantly hurting the ability of the business to function. When anyone raises this issue he dismisses it with sage musings such as, "I know it will be painful, but we'll just have to give the users really good support." Because he has no idea what any of his staff actually does, he is expecting one of his developers (again, unfortunately, me) to work with the vendor so that the Frankensoftware will perform as effectively as the current software (essentially as a project manager since there will be no in-house coding involved). Lastly, he refuses to assign someone to be responsible for the software: taking care of maintenance, configuration, and issue resolutions after it has been rolled out. When I pointedly tell him I will not be doing that (because this is purchased software and I am not a system admin or desktop engineer) he tells me, "Let me think about this." The worst part is that this is only one of four software replacement initiatives he is injecting himself into so he can prove his worth to the business owners. And by doing so he is systematically making every software development initiative akin to living in Dante's Eighth Circle. I am at the point where I want to burn my eye out with a hot poker, pour salt into the wound, and howl to the heavens in unbearable agony for a month, so when these projects come to fruition, and I am suffering the wrath of the business owners, I can look back on that moment I lost my eye and think "good times."4
I have seen it. They say it doesn't exist; just a story we tell our children so that their innocence does not lead them down into a nightmarish adulthood from which there is no salvation. But the evil lives. So vile that were you to look inside its soul, all you would find is a terrible desperation for suffering. To cause it. To revel in it. To bathe in the tears of those it considers less than human and feed off the emotional detritus.
It was 2009. The financial crisis. I was one of the lucky, having found refuge in a large company right before the jobs dried up. General IT: system administration, documentation, project management, telephony, software training, second level help desk. No software development, but with a two-year-old at home and Ph.D.s lining up outside the local Olive Garden whenever a help wanted sign was posted, I grabbed the health insurance and entered into darkness.
The Thing did not need to hunt it's prey. A manager title with 21 reports brought it new opportunities for fresh meat by the hour. But I was special. I resisted. I needed to know my place.
My first mistake was incomprehension. I did not understand the Thing's lust to be right at all costs. I was reviewing some documentation it had brought forth from its bowels. I mentioned that two spaces were being used between sentences. That proportional type made that unnecessary. It insisted, I was wrong. It insisted that Microsoft itself, the purveyor of all good technical writing, required two spaces. I opened the Microsoft Manual of Style for Technical Publications that it demanded its staff use and showed it that the spec was one space. It was livid. I was a problem.
From that point on my work life became exponentially more wretched. I was given three Outlook calendars to maintain: one with my schedule, one with the team's schedule and one with the Thing's schedule. Every time I had an appointment, I was to triple schedule it. If I was going to be away from my desk for more than 15 minutes triple schedule. Triple schedule my lunch, vacations, phone conferences.
Whenever it held a meeting, I and a colleague would be taken off mission critical IT projects to set tables with name tents and to serve as greeters as attendees arrived.
I was called into its crypt to be told never to say anything in a meeting unless I told the Thing beforehand what I was going to say. Naive, I mentioned that I often don't know what I will say as it is often in reply to someone else. Of course the response was that I should not say anything.
I would get emails 10-20 times a day asking about a single project. I would regularly complete work that was needed to be completed ASAP, only to have the Thing rake me over the coals for not completing it a week later. And upon resending the emails proving I notified it of the work being competed, disparaged at length a second time for not sending repeated notifications of the competed work.
I would have to sit in two-hour meetings to watch it type. Literally watch it try to create cogent thoughts. In silence.
I received horrendous annual reviews. At one, it created a development plan that stated a colleague would begin giving me lessons on the proper ways to socially interact with personnel. I pointed out to HR that this violated privacy concerns and would make the business liable in many areas, not least of which would be placing a help desk person in the role of defining proper business practice. HR made the Thing remove this from my review. She started planning to remove me.
I had given a short technical training to a group of personnel months earlier. Called into its tomb I was informed that feedback surveys on my talk were disturbing. One person stated that they did not think I was funny. Another wrote that I made an offensive statement. That person did not say what the offensive statement was. Just that I had said something he or she didn't like.
The Thing interviewed the training attendees. Gathered facts. Held three inquest-like meetings where multiple directors peppered me with questions trying to get me to confess to my offensiveness. In the end the request to fire me was brought to the man who ran the business at the time. The statement on high: "Humor is a subjective thing. Please tell This to be sensitive to that."
The Thing had failed, but would no doubt redouble its efforts. I had to find a new job. I sent hundreds of resumes. Talked to dozens of recruiters. But there were no jobs. And I had a family. And the wolf was at the door.
So I didn't say a word to the creature. For six months. Silence. At one group meeting it shrieked at me "what are you smirking at? If you've got something to say then say it!" I just shrugged. For my salvation was revealed. The Thing could not stand to be ignored. And at the end of my penance I was transferred to another group: Software Development.
I am one with the Force. The Force is with me. I am one with the Force. The Force is with me.4
The man who runs my IT department. The man who is in charge of all things and people that are technical: IT management software development, infrastructure, training, help desk, system administration, etc. A man with a staff of fifty plus. If you were to peel back the flesh on this man's head and crack open his skull you would find dung beetles feasting on the feces that power his thoughts and motor functions. Underneath this foul membrane, if you could push past the maggots; the meal worms; his undying love for hourly binges of Johnny Walker Black on any day of the week with a name that contains a vowel; his fascination with shiny objects and his endless internal monologue wondering when they would hatch rainbow ponies that fly; his desire whenever he enters a paint store to open all the cans of paint and taste the different colors; if you could push past all of the vile crap that exists where Thomas Aquinas once theorized there was a soul, you would find a colony of paramecia at the end of their short lives laughing hysterically at how much smarter they were than the host they lived in.
This man was in charge of hiring the Manager of Software Development. The manager I report to. After seven months of ignoring this chore; after interviewing the sum total of four candidates; after making a point to tell myself and a colleague that there was no one qualified to fill this position within our company (an opinion that is both untrue and, when spoken, runs afoul of internal hiring policies) this man hired a soulless cretin with no experience in software development or with running a software development group. A man who regularly confuses web servers and SQL servers. A man who asked me how my previous manager reviewed my work, was told by me that said previous manager read my code, and then replied in his capacity as the manager of software development that "looking at code is a compete waste of time for a manager." A man so without any humanity or reason for being that he will sit silently, creepily, in conference rooms with the lights off waiting for meetings to begin. Meetings he has scheduled. That have no reason for being in the first place. Just like himself.
Shortly before the man in charge offered the Dev Manager job to the simulacrum of human flesh that is my manager, he met with me and others who had been involved in the interview process. When I informed him that hiring someone with no technical knowledge for a very technical position would be a mistake that he would suffer through for years, he replied in reference to his future hire that "his managerial experience makes up for his lack of technical knowledge."
Best. Prank. Ever. Worst prank ever too. Fuck.6