Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Quick Googler Updates

I'm hurting from a surprisingly small amount of alcohol last night. I'm getting nothing done today which may be for the better. Here are some more search referrals which ended up landing people here, none of whom actually posted a comment explaining what exactly they wanted to know.

canine slavegirl
I don't want to know. I really don't.


I hate Citrix

Me too, but CTRX stock looks like it might be on an uptrend (although it's down almost 50% from seven months ago). If it drops below $30 I might buy some.


"String data, right truncated" Oracle xp
Your buffer's too small for the data or message you're pulling.


STAGE LIFE OF COW
Pretty much limited to pantomime. Despite the appearance of live bovines in the Muppet Show episode with Julie Andrews and a few seasons of Green Acres, there's surprisingly little opportunity for LIVEBEEF in the entertainment industry, and not a single reference to stageplays calling for actual moo-cows. Sorry. You could always try a 4-H show.


BILL CLINTON'S LATEST GIRLFRIEND
Hillary. And yes, her balls are bigger.


filemon what is fastio_write
HOW DOES FASTIO_WRITE WORK
what is fastio_write
what does FASTIO_WRITE do
filemon FASTIO_WRITE FAIL IRP_MJ_WRITE SUCCESS

All very good questions, all about FileMon and Process Monitor, and answered nowhere on the fucking Intarweb's tubes. Until now. All of you "Expert's Exchange" cut-and-paste scum better give me fucking credit for this answer.

FastIO is a simple extension for normal IRP-packet queues. When some part of the code wants to read data it creates an IRP packet. This packet is then passed to the IO manager which determines which device will receive this IRP request. Unfortunately IRP requests are slow since they need to wake internal subsystems. If FastIO is called, it throws driver objects directly. IRP (Interrupt Process) is device-level and FastIO is driver-level. If a file operation is requested and that operation had already been completed recently, the file system can perform its operations faster by a direct call to allocated buffers.

FastIO will always be called for disk reads and writes first. If it fails for whatever reason, the
IRP call comes right behind it and is normally successful. If it isn't, there's your problem.

If you see a FASTIO_WRITE which fails followed by a retry in the interrupt routine IRP_MJ_WRITE which succeeds, and the the offset and length are the same, everything is fine.


they are all out to get me
Sure feels like it sometimes, huh?

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Monday, January 29, 2007

Give me a Break!

If you're a programmer and you use an editor which helpfully makes long lines more readable by automatically wrapping text, make sure you turn off that feature before you check in your fucking code.
bc_lpService = this; //hive the THIS pointer;
}
// FIXLIST: Finalize and move to the right module, not SYSCORE.DLL
Initialize(NULL);

ASSERT(bc_lpServiceName);
The FIXIT comment was never removed despite having, in fact, been fixed. The initialize command never took place because there was no line feed between the end of the goddamned comment and the command so the module couldn't initialise. It took three months to track this one down.

In other news, $BigAssTelco is having the same Citrix problem that everyone else using Presentation Server 4 has had. Apparently Citrix and Microsoft have short memories. Citrix told $BigAssTelco that it was Microsoft's fault and the Microsoft guy said we'd come up with a fix for other customers. Not quite.

It should be a 17. Normally I'd make it a Root Cause: 13-Unsupported/Third Party but since I need to up my defect stats it's going down as a Root Cause: 1-Defect since we have a defect associated with this behaviour.

I still have to fill out my semi-annual self-evaluation. It's the 29th and Vera's screaming for it. Unfortunately I had to change all my passwords and couldn't get into our self-eval app last week. The site on which it's done is currently down for planned maintenance. This matters not to Vera. There's no point to filling it out; whatever I write is ignored, whatever I've done is forgotten, and on a scale of 1-5 I'll inevitably be given 3s across the board, so why bother?

x-posted from HuSi, where there's a poll.

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Cow-orkers X: Diaper Rash

Not three minutes after returning to the CubeDesk of Hate from having a cigarette I had to leave quickly for another. Tony, who sits across from me, had picked up the phone. When he does this it's to call his wife and kid. You might think, "What a good father!" Yeah, well... Tony talks to his kid with a high, lispy, baby-talk voice, one which makes the rest of us cringe while looking for sharp objects to stick in our ears, sharp knives for dealing with Tony having been removed from the floor long before I arrived in this office. Tony, like my neighbour Joey, also tries to talk to his kid in English despite his lack of mastery and incredibly bad pronunciation.

And once he's done talking to his kid he talks to his wife. In the same damned baby-talk voice. He does this at least three times a day. He has, on occasion, started speaking to customers the same way if they call within a couple minutes of these exchanges.

Joey, meanwhile, finally has his nose bent back into shape. He got rather angry because I closed all the fucking windows he'd opened when it was -5°C outside. I was depriving him of his badly needed oxygen and because I was the only one to protest his attempts to make the place comfortable for Emperor penguins out loud, I became the target of his ire, a special anger that seemed to have been fermenting for months as everyone else on the floor (save for Tony) kept closing all the fucking windows he kept opening.

I further smooth things by showing him the book I'm now reading, Fänger und Gefangene, by Landolf Scherzer. It's the story of a journalist who went aboard the "Hans Fallada" in the early '80s, an East German fishing and processing ship which ran 100-day tours of duty. Showing any knowledge and interest in anything DDR is a guaranteed way to calm even the harshest Ossi.

Now that we're on speaking terms again it's back to talking about various areas of SQL knowledge and proofreading PowerPoint presentations and distribution mail for him. This saves both colleagues on those lists and our Thai students from having to read an English presentation written and given by a German which include such gems as "Multiple rows becomes inserted" and "Teh join statements having to be for coming after the nesting SELECT in order that he can decide the choices of subdata". And this is how he's teaching his kid to talk.

And on the fuckwit front? Since November I've been dealing with "Gary" and his file server problem. He changed the machine it was mounted on but didn't change the pointers to it. Not surprisingly, no one was able to access files. He finally broke down and agreed to send logs after rounds of insisting it was our software fucking up. The logs showed otherwise.

In only one machine had he changed a single local reference pointer but not any system preference, which meant he also didn't change any other server's preferences and pointers. Still it wasn't working.

Gary was calling me five times a day trying to get me to talk. Nuh-uh. I don't talk to the clueless. He agreed to send logs again and this time I had to explain how to share a directory and write a fully qualified domain name because he figured every machine in his room ought to know that "FileServer/directory" meant "//machine/FileServerShare". Did I mention this is an AIX administrator?

Yet fixing the FQDN in each reference still wasn't enough. We checked permissions. We checked computer names. The file server machine was pingable but he'd still get read and write errors when trying to access any files.

Then I got that one little piece of information that was so unimportant there was no reason to even mention it. The file server was actually an NFS share. Which they forgot to mount.

A Root Cause: 17-Fuckwit could eliminate half the incidents which our programmers need to sift through.
x-posted from HuSi.

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Error: An Error of Type "ERROR" Has Occurred

My knee hurts. Maybe it's the weather, maybe it's excessive strain, maybe I bashed it into something when I was ratted last Thursday. It's probably a combination of all of these.

My back hurts. Carrying oversized packing boxes home each night ain't helping. Nor is dismantling the humongous IKEA-style furniture

My brain hurts. I'm dealing with Microsoft error messages.



Mini-me (a.k.a. Paul, the guy in Bulgrohungria I'm mentoring) started on me before I could even finish my first cup of coffay. Admittedly I have a huge fucking 3/4 liter mug but still, it's the principle that matters. I took a look at the ticket:
You said in order to fix our problem with ActiveX that we had to download Patchset G. We did. We patched the servers. We patched the handlers. And when we went to patch the Web servers, we got the error message, "setup can only be run on Windows". What's the problem here?
Strange. I'm looking at the profile and the company runs AIX on their servers. What the fuck is he doing? Running "./setup.exe"? Fuckwit.
Hi Dummy,

You need to run setup.aix, not setup.exe.
Mini-Me copypasta'd my actual response and sent it out. Half an hour later the guy's back. It's a Windows Web server, not AIX. Now I'm thinking "fuckwit" for a completely different reason, but then the error message makes no sense.

Until...

I checked his version of $OurBigApp. It's 3.c. He must be trying to install it on Windows 2003 and that'll work about as well as trying to run it on AIX or Solaris or SuSE or even an Atari 800. Instead of telling the guy flat out what the problem was, I reminded Mini-Me to add some eggs and milk. "Ask him what the server OS is, which SP level, which updates have been installed, have him send the msinfo file, etc." Which Paul did. An hour later we had confirmation of Windows 2003 not only in the lists of crap we asked for but also in some additional screenshots he'd thoughtfully sent. If only he'd sent that initially; the icons are the give-away.

Closed with a Root Cause: 6-Unsupported Architecture.

Today's 17 goes to the boneheads at Microsoft who write error messages like "This program is only designed to be run on Windows" which come up when you try to install something on Windows. If it's a versioning problem, tell me so, you fuckwits!

x-posted frum HuSi where there's a poll and probably more comments because no one ever comments here.

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Rock Me Like a Hurricane

Leaving early! Going home! A massive hurricane is headed our way and we're expecting winds at least 120km/h (that's about 75 Soviet miles per hour). Schools are closing early and so are businesses. I don't even have anything to do on any of my tickets.

Time to go home and pack. I'm moving at the end of the month.

Except...

Before I go I have to submit my evaluation and objectives. Fuck. In order to do this I have to use our Single Sign-On system which requires you sign in to Every Single Fucking Page you go to, using your full fucking E-Mail address (no copypasta allowed) and your password. The system is so hosed that I have four different passwords, and while I was able to sign into the first three fucking screens, the evaluation center decided that it didn't like any of my four passwords.

Vera's furious because she has to have this in tomorrow but I can't do a fucking thing about it. I can't contact IT to get it fixed because the system, after four tries, decided I no longer exist despite still being able to log in to the other sections... none of which allow me to fix anything.

After an hour of screwing around and following IT directions which didn't work, I finally got onto some other application which remembered me and didn't require me to enter a SSO password. That's good, except that from here I can change any and all of my passwords without any challenge. Security by fuckwits.

Each page takes at least two minutes to load and I'm required to check boxes and click OK on no fewer than three different pages. Why don't they have all possible choices on a single page? Because they're fuckwits. Half page submits fail through time-outs or 505 errors. I'm guessing the server is a wounded Atari 1040ST with 64KB RAM.

After a full wasted hour I finally have my password reset. Now I get to write exactly the same stupid appraisal and objective shit that I wrote three months ago. Exactly the same. Pointless fucking busywork, utterly useless, completely unnecessary, demanded by fuckwits.

x-posted from HuSi

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Monday, January 15, 2007

Miksi aina juuri minä?

By now almost everyone's seen the Helsinki Complaints Choir video. I'm pretty sure the popularity started with a mention in Neil Gaiman's blog a couple months ago. The Birmingham and Hamburg copycats have replied with poor responses so save yourself the trouble.

I speak quite a few languages including Nordic ones, but Finnish is a totally different animal. It's not even Indo-European. That video gave me more than a laugh; it's given me a chance at better communication with customers which I've been able to employ recently. Someone at $FinnCo is doing a Berti, ignoring the answers laid out in front of him and explained in painful detail. FinnGuy keeps coming back asking more pointless questions for no reason I can ascertain.

Miksi toiset eivät ole1?

Dear REC,

All new files are getting corrupted. We have only 1,3 million files and 150/450GB free on the RAID. $Well-KnownSymptom is not occurring.

This corruption appeared to start on early Monday morning, Nov 27. No changes made at that time.
I see it already. If you've been playing along this past year you probably see it, too. "No changes made at that time." Which means they, in fact, did make a change and decided not to write the "except for" phrase.

Dear FinnGuy,
Which nothing was it that you changed?

Love,
REC

Came the answer: "Only the load balancing." He didn't think to send the logs so I had to ask for them as well.


ATTENTION LOAD-BALANCING INFIDELS:
Servers which are load-balanced all need to be set up in the same way The only non-hardware differences between the servers should be their names and IP addresses. Software configurations need to be the same. Otherwise it doesn't work. that's kind of the point of load-balancing.

Once that was sorted we came across a different problem. It seems by enabling load-balancing, a long-running headache of a file system problem appeared. There are ways around it but no fixes yet. I added this new finding about reproducibility to our Defect Ticket and passed on the way to make things work.

Berti$FinnGuy wrote back and sent in more FileMon logs. And server logs. I explained again that yes, those weird errors we're seeing there are indeed indicative of the known problem, and enumerated the litany of errors that FileMon will show. Most FASTIO_WRITEs will fail. The system will then drop down to the IRP_MJ_WRITE method and succeed. The solution is to store files in this manner, not that one, otherwise $SpecialDirectory will be b0rked and you won't be able to write anything.

After the weekend $FinnGuy was back. He'd run even more tests and amazingly he was seeing loads of FASTIO_WRITE failures! Even more incredibly, $SpecialDirectory was b0rked and now no files could be saved!

I gave him directions on how to fix $SpecialDirectory, gave him explicit instructions again on how to save (use the ATTACH_FILE button, not the NEW_FILE button which should be disabled in the UI), and that should've been it.

i have added a new FileMon log file from our File system drive. I made two tests while running FileMon. A .zip file which was succesfully opened, and .log file which was opened as HTML (error) message. Both seems to have FAILURE and BUFFER OVERLOAD. Can you see anything else, which is different?

Nope. I can't see a goddamned thing that's different here. You keep using the NEW_FILE button and it will keep causing the same fucking failure Every. Fucking. Time.

It's not just insanity; fuckwittedness is also doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results (quote attributed to, among others, Einstein, Kipling and Brown).

Today $FinnGuy wants a phone conference. He wants to show me this in action. Never mind the fact that I've not only seen it, I was the one who tracked it down for hours with a different customer so we could finally make it occur at will and show the programmers. Even the most angelic and patient of toilet-training parents get tired of seeing the new poops junior made.

He deserves a Root Cause: 17-Fuckwit.

Instead the ticket's being closed with a Root Cause: 01-Defect for the Defect because I need to up my RC-01 numbers. Cops go through this, having to list one crime as another completely different crime so that the LoweringCrimePromiseOfTheWeek can be satisfied.

For $MegaCorp, it's defects again. Management sent a memo around saying that there's not enough defect reporting, not enough tickets are being closed due to defects, and that we need to get those reported defect numbers up. Never mind that doing so completely distorts any picture we have about why the hell we're getting all these tickets to begin with, the reason for bothering to write a Root Cause to begin with. And too, never mind that a secondary Root Cause explanation code was added to our system to further enlighten us. Now we're pissing in the pool. Fuckwits.

1 "Why doesn't anyone agree with me?!" The title of the post is "Why always me?"

x-posted from HuSi, where there's a poll.

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Friday, January 12, 2007

Make Room for Daddy

It's Friday. It's almost time for me to go home. There wasn't going to be an entry today but then...

Ticket# 20070112-ACC22:
YOU GUYS SUCK! OUR SYSTEM IS DOWN!!! PRIO-1! PRIO-1!!! FIX IT NOW!!!

Nothing's being written. All transactions are failing. But they can read everything...


SQLError Statement 0 2007-01-12 04:16:51 UPDATE dbo.APP_REQUEST
SET
STATUS = ?,
ACTL_START_DT = ?,
LAST_UPD_BY = ?,
LAST_UPD = ?
WHERE ROW_ID = ? AND STATUS = 'QUEUED'

GenericLog GenericError 1 2007-01-12 04:16:51 [Microsoft][ODBC SQL Server Driver][SQL Server]The log file for database 'ixsblpr' is full. Back up the transaction log for the database to free up some log space.

GenericLog GenericError 1 2007-01-12 04:16:51 Message: Error: An ODBC error occurred,
Additional Message: pfNativeError: 9002; szSQLState: 37000;
szErrorMsg: [Microsoft][ODBC SQL Server Driver][SQL Server]The log file for database 'ixsblpr' is full. Back up the transaction log for the database to free up some log space.


Over and over and over. A few hundred megs of our server logs filled with the same message.

They have no more space on their database hard drives (or at least in the transaction logs), but we're the suck-meisters.

A Prio-1 has been resolved and closed inside 15 minutes.
Root Cause 17:Fuckwit.

x-posted from HuSi.

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Thursday, January 11, 2007

$CompCorp Update: Narrowing Down the Suspects

Some time back I figured out what $CompCorp's creative admin had done and told them the solution, which required $$$Custom$$$ $$$Programming$$$ $$$Group$$$ because of the mess they'd made of their database. They got lucky: I had an idea which I passed on to $$$CPG$$$ to pull a little switcheroo on the database and make it think it was in Arabic all along so that the data could be correctly migrated. Setting this up took a couple hours but saved days of scripting and testing, which in turn saved $CompCorp thousands in custom programming charges and tens of thousands in lost time.

$CompCorp was happy to get a quick and cheaper fix, upper management gave me a tip of the hat for it, but no good deed goes unpunished. Upper Upper Management saw my solution as an "unconsidered revenue-reduction activity" and "detrimental to support division future earnings projections" which they told Upper Management. Shit runs downhill.

$CompCorp came back today screaming. Again they're seeing seeing corruptions. And boxes. And somehow, despite knowing that I fixed what they fucked up, they're sure it's all my fault, not even $OurBigApp's.

I found the problem quickly enough: their CSS templates were wrong. And the reason they were wrong is that one of their admins -- quite possibly the same clever dick who caused the initial problem -- had a clever idea.

Arial, scourge that it is, is ubiquitous. Almost every damned computer in the world has it or can display it, substituting Helvetica if Arial isn't installed. But Arial is only a simple codepage 1252 set of 222 glyphs. Worse, it's not Unicode-compliant. When a character which isn't in the set is specified, for instance a "Latin Capital Schwa" (Ə -- U+018F), a box will be drawn. The proper behaviour is to get the operating system to find a font which does have that letter. A font like "MS Arial Unicode" which is only available from Microsoft when you purchase Office.

Most systems with Arial also have Arial Narrow and Arial Black. Not one of these three is Unicode-compliant. There is only one MS Arial Unicode and it has no variants other than the stretching and compressing tricks most graphical word processing programs can now do.

$CompCorp had been using Arial Narrow for all Western characters because it looked best in conjunction with the Arabic font they used. But since they're now using Unicode they had to change the font in their CSS sheets to "MS Arial Unicode". Which they did. Almost.

They'd made changes but the screenshots were such exercises in ugliness that even the most experimental modern art museum director would cringe. The pages were next to impossible to read. The text was bloated, it was clipped, it pushed the Arabic characters out of the way. I took a look at the CSS files.

Clever Dick figured since "Arial Narrow" had been specified before, "Arial Unicode MS Narrow" made perfect sense. Since there's no such font the operating system went to its look-up and substitution lists and settled on Arabic Transparent since the display characters it needed were in there.

I explained it all and sent back corrected CSS files. Again, not even a thank-you.

Specifying a font which doesn't exist: Root Cause: 17-Fuckwits

x-posted from HuSi, where you can vote in a typeface poll.

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

No, nein, non, nei, niet, नहीं, нет, いいえ, 无, 아니다

September 29:
We are in the process of upgrading the Hardware and Software Environment for the Windows operating system, not $YourBigApp.

Well that sounds easy enough. Everything you need to know is in the Supported Systems guide. And you're too fucking lazy to look at it or your grasp of English and ability to look at simple tables is so tenuous you need your hand held. But dammit, when I give you the answer, quit asking me the same fucking question!




So heres what we want to be doing:

Current Setup:
Windows 2000 Advance Server SP4
SQL Server 2000 SP3
IIS5

Proposed Setup:
Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition (32-Bit)
SQL Server 2000 SP4
IIS6

I do have reviewed the Supported Systems guide but I could not specifically find out the proposed setup? I am getting the following error during installation: "This setup can only be run on windows".
September 29:
Sure, Champ. Windows 2003 ain’t supported. The Supported Systems guide only lists what we support. We don’t list everything that we don’t support or we’d have to add a few hundred pieces of software a day.

September 29:
Three notes that the customer called to talk to me. He’s an Indian, in India. No fucking way. Been there, done that.

September 29 (still):
Thanks for your update. Could you please refer to Ticket A42-331B which I have created earlier? It’s mentioned that 7.5.3 is supported with Windows 2003 Server.

Uh-oh. A n00b had answered the ticket and apparently gave him bad information. I fired a note off to her, doing my best to maintain my calm and not get upper management’s attention.

On Monday I had her response: “In that ticket he wanted to know what OS can their Database Server can run on.” I had a look. Sure enough, that’s what she wrote. I sent her back a quick note letting her know she has to make such distinctions painfully clear to customers asking dumb questions about crap already in the Supported Systems guide.

October 02:
Raj,
The ticket you mentioned was specifically about your database platform. We don’t care about that so long as the vendor supports it, but $OurBigApp woun’t run on Windows 2003.

Windows 2003 isn't supported prior to version 3.L. It may work in compatibility mode, but we don’t support it. All our documentation is clear about this.
October 04:
Thanks for your update. Below is the configuration information which we planned to upgrade from

Current Setup:
Windows 2000 Advance Server SP4
SQL Server 2000 SP3
IIS5

to

Proposed Setup:

Web Server:
Win 2003 Srvr SP1
IIS 6
$YourBigApp components

Application Servers:
Win 2003 Srvr SP1
$YourBigApp
MDAC 2.8
Microsoft Office 2000
SQL Server 2005 Client Tools 32 bit

Database Server:
Win 2003 Srvr Standard/Enterprise Edition (32-bit or 64-bit)
SQL Server 2005 32-bit and 64-bit with full compatibility mode

Could you please let me know you suggestion if any of those incompatible?

I’ve written twice already that Windows 2003 ain’t supported for $OurBigApp and that it is supported for MS SQL Server. I wrote back and told him a third time. Unhappy with the answer he then looked up the requirements for version 3.L.x since Windows 2003 is unsupported for version 3.C. He sent the same massive spec list again on Thursday, asking for confirmation and adding a lot of questions about third-party products, none of which we support.

The following Monday (10OCT) I wrote the same damned answers again.

October 10:
REC, Thanks for your update.

I have a question related to the Ticket AE4-1RR3. Just want to get a confirmation. It mentioned as for the “64-bit platform, it's only supported as of version 3.L”.

Below the configuration for SQL Server {removed – seen it already}:

Q1. You have mentioned as it’s supported. Just want to get confirmation if $YourBigApp is compatible with the above configuration?

Q2. If not, could you please confirm below configuration {also removed} for SQL Server. I did not find any related information in Chapter F
I arrived Tuesday morning to find three more messages about his attempts to call again. I wrote back:

October 11:
Raj,

Q1: It clearly states this is SUPPORTED in the Supported System guide, version 3.K, Rev. 12, Table 3, page C-12: "Microsoft SQL Server 2000, Enterprise Edition (64-bit)"

It LIKEWISE states that “SQL Server 2005” is supported "on all Windows platforms" in the same table. ALL versions of SQL Server 2005 are supported on ALL Windows versions which Microsoft support.

Q2: That's because Database support is enumerated in Chapter C
October 11:
REC, Thanks for your update.

Could you please let me know which SQL Server edition (SQL Server 2005 32-bit Enterprise Edition or SQL Server 2005 64-bit Enterprise Edition) is compatible with $YourBigApp?

Sorry, I could not find out the specific information in the Specification document.
The my-head-shaped-dent in front of my keyboard grew a little deeper.

October 11:
Raj,

Which part of "ALL PLATFORMS" still isn't clear? The Supported Systems guide states that SQL Server 2005 is supported "on all Windows platforms" in Table 3. "ALL" would necessarily include any 32-bit and 64- bit platform which Microsoft supports for SQL Server 2005.
He made a couple attempts to call again but never updated his ticket until finally:

November 13:
REC, Thanks for your update. You may close the ticket.

And that should’ve been the end of it. But when I checked my queue this morning, up popped something old and stinky, flagged due to its age (over 60 days)
I want to confirm if SQL Server 32-bit Enterprise Edition and SQL Server 2005 64-bit Enterprise Edition is now compatible with $YourBigApp if we run SQL Server and $YourBigApp version 3.C on the same Windows 2003 machine instead of different ones.. The latest Supported Systems guide doesn’t show any new configurations but this should work, right?

He got a one-word response and I re-closed the ticket, desperate for my Root Cause: 17-Fuckwit.

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Thursday, January 04, 2007

Cow-Orkers IX: No Time Like the Present

Most people don't give time a lot of thought. If you log into an application and enter some data, you can look at your watch and that's the time you did it. It could be a lot more complicated inside the system architecture though, and I've become $MegaCorp's expert on the subject. I've had to write a couple documents and issue two edicts, one of which is basically translated as either, "Just give me any ticket that references time," or "Take any ticket about time and then take credit by getting me to resolve it for you playing Chinese Whispers."

Carla's supposedly at my seniority level. My mentoree Paul has been with us for about six weeks now and is considerably more competent than she. He proves this Every. Single. Fucking. Day.

Also, a glimmer of hope.


Carla writes:
I have this ticket which I am currently working on and I would greatly in need of your expertise.

The discrepany is between the timestamp on ID Record vs the timestamp on the database for a similar record. This record was created external and synchronized.

On the Record ID = Created On = 12-Dec-2006 02:56:20PM
On the database = Created = 12/12/2006 1:56:20PM

The following are the settings:

On the Local :
$OurBigApp = (GMT-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada); Tijuana
Control Panel > Date&Time = (GMT-05:00) Eastern Time (US & Canada)

On the server :
Default Time Zone = (GMT-05:00) Eastern Time (US & Canada)
Control Panel > Date&Time = (GMT-05:00) Eastern Time (US & Canada)
DBTIME = -04:00

Based on the above, I am not able to get the "1-hr" difference ( 1:56:20PM vs 02:56:20PM).

You don't have to work with databases to notice that almost everything is on Eastern time (GMT-5) but the database is on Atlantic (GMT-4). It's right there. Still, anyone can overlook the obvious and I've done before so I didn't go ballistic.
Carla,

Control Panel > Date&Time = (GMT-05:00) Eastern Time (US & Canada)
DBTIME = -04:00

It looks like the DB is set to Atlantic time (or Daylight Savings +1), an hour ahead of the servers.

Love,
REC

And that should've been it. If it had been I'd be ranting about the colleague who calls his toddler three times a day and insists on using baby-talk, continuing to do so even after his wife takes the phone back. Drives me up a fucking wall. Instead I got this response not 15 minutes later:
Does this constitute a "1-hr" difference? Should the Timestamp on RecordID show "5-hr" difference" since the System Preference Default TimeZone and Control Panel > Date&Time is GMT-5?

She's Eastern Asian so "blonde" is out. She has no idea about how time zones work in real life much less in software and yet she took the ticket. My forehead probes the depths of the my-head-shaped-dent in front of my keyboard.

Later this morning I bumped into Vera in the hallway and asked about Bulgrohungria where our new offices are, just sort of making conversation and trying to get a little closer to what passes for her "good side". She comes from Bulgrohungria so my apparent interest couldn't hurt. I asked about the distance from the office to the city, the costs of hotels, that sort of thing. I figured it'd be dirt cheap. No such luck -- hotels in the city are around €100-150/night and even outside the city, finding something under €60 is difficult.

But maybe you could go there officially as a part of work...

Hells yeah! Send my ass there for a couple weeks and pay my way! I've mentored an entire office before and I could give a bunch of stupid presentations while I'm there, too. That would stop management bitching about having sent me to HQ for a week with little noticeable return on their investment. Most of the return has been terribly intangible but led to huge tangible results about which I have to constantly remind them.

I should know in February. I'll get at most two weeks' notice and it'll most likely overlap my planned vacation weeks. Two weeks in the Eastern Bloc on $MegaCorp's dime... what could possibly go wrong?

x-posted to HuSi with a poll.

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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Cow-orkers VIII: Sour Stuff

Germans need lots of "oxygen". They're always complaining, Ich kriege keinen Sauerstoff ("I'm not getting any oxygen"). If only. At the same time they also complain about drafts being terribly unhealthy and even have a special belt for motorcyclists to "protect their kidneys" from all that cold air rushing by. German bikers even wear it in summer.

Twenty below 0°C isn't uncommon in winter here. And yet there are a lot of Germans who will insist on opening the window all the way despite gale force winds, dropping the temperature 30 degrees in as many seconds. Because they "need some oxygen".

Berti is one of these people. Luckily I don't sit anywhere near Berti anymore. He's in a different wing and we're separated by a couple doors.

Unfortunately my neighbour Joe is also one of these people. He gets in around 6:00a.m. and opens Every. Single. Window. We're not talking much these days. He's angry that I come in and close the windows. He then waits for me to go get coffee or a smoke and tilts half of them back open, including the ones right next to me so that I get a nice breeze.

But back to Berti. He has the uncanny ability to ask the stupidest questions and keep carrying on, following up with further questions into the most niggling details no matter how improbable, taking any conversation on so many "But what if?" tangents of impossibility that you've long forgotten what it was you were talking about.

Berti doesn't save this talent just for meetings. One would think, what with Berti being a non-smoking health nut, that I might get away from him by going outside for a nicotine fix, a killer sudoku in hand to pass the time. One would be wrong.

"So what is that?"
"It's a puzzle. All the numbers 1-9 in every row, in every column, and in every box."
He studied it and looked confused so I showed him again.
"Ah okay. But you have a mistake here then," pointing to a couple 3s sitting diagonally from each other.
"No, diagonals have nothing to do with it."
"But they have to."
"No, Berti, they don't. The diagonals have nothing to do with it."
"But..."
"Look! You can't do diagonals because only the diagonals between the corners have 9 boxes!"
And that's where I should've stopped. But I didn't. I continued, asking him,
"How he hell could you get the numbers 1-9 in this diagonal which only has 5 boxes?"

He's one of those people who doesn't understand the concept of a rhetorical question. Berti took this as in invitation to brainstorm. His grasp of the hypothetical is unparalleled.

He looked at the puzzle again and started making shit up, explaining how you could connect this diagonal with that one and get a total of nine. And therefore the numbers have to fit according to the same rules because they could, since he'd just figured out a way to make diagonals count. Forget the fact that sudoku puzzles have been around for quite some time and the rules have long been agreed upon.

"No! The diagonals have nothing to do with the damned puzzle."
"But they could."
"No, they couldn't. They don't. That's not how the puzzle works," I explained again, stubbing out my cigarette.
"But it would be possible to do it."

I went back inside and he followed me up the stairs continuing his explanation of how it must be possible to follow every potential diagonal wrap-around and ensure they're all unique. I started to take off my jacket as I went to talk to one of his neighbours about a problem but he'd already opened the window again and the temperature was dropping rapidly. I went back to the CubeDesk of Hate only to find Joe was already treating our section to some fresh, -5°C oxygen.

The my-head-shaped-dent in front of my keyboard is getting deep enough to offer some shelter from the wind.

x-posted from HuSi.

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In compliance with $MegaCorp's general policies as well as my desire to
continue living under a roof and not the sky or a bus shelter, I add this:

DISCLAIMER:
The views expressed on this blog are my own and
do not necessarily reflect the views of $MegaCorp, even if every
single one of my cow-orkers who has discovered this blog agrees with me
and would also like to see the implementation of Root Cause: 17-Fuckwit.