Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Vacation

I haven't quit writing.
Written on Saturday in a vet's waiting room, posted Monday night from Oban, Scotland after many not-so-wee drams.

Things have been rough personally and I've had no respite at the office. Ripa's incredible incompetence, for example: my work was interrupted because, after eight years here, she still can't think to look in the "Associated Files" page of a technical document when a customer needs a patch specified by that particular document. Then there's the unbelievably extreme stupidity being foisted upon us which not even our competition would think to try and make us do. That sort of sheer, mindless fuckwittery can only come from within, the product of a warped middle manager's excuse for a mind. I'm still working on an analogy to describe this without clearly identifying myself and I don't think it's possible but I'll keep trying.

Mook Man continues his assault on our entire team's nerves and sanity, and he's brought in back-up, having colleagues even stupider than he submit tickets. I swear that if Man-cub was a hypochondriac he'd demand a fucking hysterectomy. No, you cannot run $SomeAIXProg on your fucking Windows server. No, not even with MS Unix tools installed. No, not even with cygwin. No, it is not a defect. No, we will not make a Windows version of a program which runs in UNIX to allow a Windows-based module to function correctly on AIX. Go ahead and file a bad survey on me. I don't give a shit at this point as long as you go away.

Down home fuckwit goodness is coming from every angle. Jill wants to upgrade her rusty old version 2.7.f to 2.7.h, This version was written almost seven years ago and we haven't changed jack shit since then. She can have the patch but she wants to know if all the single fixes from 2.7 through 2.7e are fixed in 2.7.h. She's been told by three different people that they're all rolled up and included in fucking 2.7.f which is why we have the fucking versioning to begin with. They already don't affect her because all the fixes are already installed. And no, this isn't a question about regression errors since 2.7.h is the absolute last, final, never-again-to-be-touched fixed roll-up. End of life version.

She keeps escalating the ticket so that one manager who doesn't actually read through the ticket after another bitches at some poor monkey who then has to slog back through it all and write back that the question was already answered and that Jill is a fuckwit. It's so bad that the managers actually agree and the latest one -- be still my heart -- actually wrote back to tell me I was right, no escalation, and she'd deal with Jill on Monday.

Whatever. I won't be there Monday. Or Tuesday. I will be elsewhere with a very nice glass of very rare whiskey in my hand, noting the leathery aspects of the nose and the old books and sea finish. After a very long time I'm taking three weeks of vacation to see some stuff I haven't seen before and see some friends I haven't seen for a while. I should be back in mid-November.

This vacation was forced on me; I can only take two weeks of built-up vacation with me into the new year and they have to be used in the first quarter. That's fine. I have plans.

But I may get some of these vacation days back, giving me even more of December free (taking at least half that month as well). It's good to be a specialist, and there are a couple things which only I can handle. Daylight Savings Time is coming to an end, and on two different weekends. I'm on call. Should there be a question that the weekend monkeys can't handle they have to call me. All it takes is one hour of my time to get me back a vacation day.

On top of that a couple Citrix issues are hotting back up and I'll definitely get a call for one of them. Sitting in a pub in Mallaig with a glass of Bruichladdich or Bowmore quarter-barrel cask strength is an amazingly good way to remain cool and calm on a conf call, especially when that call bought me another day out of the monkey cage. I'm no fuckwit.

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Friday, October 05, 2007

Font of Knowledge

There are many levels of stupidity. Drinking too much on a work night is just plain stupid. Drinking until 3:00a.m., then coming home, turning on all the lights, having another beer while playing computer games with the volume turned up to 11, waking up the guy who drank too much and has to go to work in the morning to pay the bills is really incredibly stupid. But there's a level of stupidity so mind-bogglingly high, so gobsmackingly, migraine-causing, teeth-gnashingly extreme that it makes Steve Martin's character in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels look like the Oracle of Delhi in comparison. I shall let Harish explain it for me in a ticket copied verbatim with only identifying bits munged.

Harish works for $BigBank. $BigBank decided that it would probably be a good idea if the Japanese customers could type in their native language. $BigBank got all Unicodified with the help of our guys on the scene. Huzzah! But then they left $BigBank to their own devices, said devices being sniveling, drooling incompetents who probably type with a pointer stick attached to their safety caps.

We're rolling out $YourBigApp to multiple countries (including Asian countries) and hence, there is a need to enable capability to enter and retrieve multi-lingual characters. To do so, we've made the required changes in all templates by mentioning 'Arial Unicode MS', wherever 'Arial' was specified as the font. It works and we're at UAT stage now.

However, we've observed a strange behavior wherein a few testers reported that they are not able to view the special language characters and instead viewed junk characters (Screen shot 1 attached).

On further investigation, we found that there is a font (Arial Unicode MS), which should be installed on tester's machines. It was installed on their machines, but we copied this font from other tester's machine, where language characters were appearing correctly. On doing so, testers, who reported the problem, were able to view the expected characters (Screen shot 2 attached).

However, to determine the root cause, now when we replace fonts to old fonts, the problem does not persist. We don't know that what has fixed the issue? Is it that when we copied the fonts first time, issue was fixed permanently? Now those testers see junk characters only when we 'Remove' the font altogether from their respective machines. What are your thoughts and what should we take into account while rolling out the application?

Please note that on a Windows 2000 machine, we're navigating to Start->Settings->Control Panel->Fonts to perform the font copy-paste operations.
I was too stunned to smash my head into my desk to relieve the pain. All I could think of was this bash quote. Why is this guy alive? How the fuck does this man remember to take the fork out of his mouth before chewing? How does he remember to breathe in?

If you missed it for all the words in there, let me highlight the important bit:
Is it that when we copied the fonts first time, issue was fixed permanently? Now those testers see junk characters only when we 'Remove' the font altogether from their respective machines.

He installed the font and everything worked. Then he deleted the font and it stopped working. And this surprises him, the "system administrator".

Perhaps this will stop the J'accuse comments about my intolerance. Enough's enough! Give me my fucking Root Cause: 17-Fuckwit already!

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Thursday, October 04, 2007

ATTENTION INDIAN INFIDELS

I will explain to you how to deal with your Western counterparts when dealing with technical problems. You're more social than us in some respects and this is the root of the problem. You like people or at least are expected to act as if you like them. We're allowed to be misanthropes. Polite misanthropes, but misanthropes just the same. Here's how to deal with us:

1) Just the facts, ma'am.
Do not go off on tangents. Talk about only the subject at hand. Do not wander into the realm of related questions which inevitably takes you into the world of tangents and improbabilities. Stick to the subject.

2) We only say "Yes" when we mean "Yes".
We Westerners do not say "Yes" when we mean "No". Not usually, anyway. You're often under pressure to say "Yes" but we're not; we're under pressure to be correct. All the fucking goodwill in the world isn't going to alleviate the mess made by giving a wrong answer. Do not try to pressure us into saying "Yes" to you the way you do amongst yourselves.

3) We don't like meetings.
As a rule we fucking hate meetings. Meetings are nothing but an ego-stroking method for talkative overlords to exercise one-way communication. Decisions have already been made before the meeting and will not be changed. Most of us realise this and just sit through it. Not you guys. You love meetings and will hold them for hours, talking until no one can talk anymore. Not us. In, listen, out, done.

4) Stop repeating everything.
In your culture I know that importance is shown by repetition and that "out of sight, out of mind" is how you do things. Not us. You tell us once and that should be the end of it. It's important when someone says, "It's important." Once. That's it. Repetition tells us you think we're stupid. Our revenge is that whatever it is that's important to you becomes that much more unimportant to us. The repetition is as insulting to us as my squicking a cow in the Ganges while eating a triple cheeseburger would be to you, except that when you repeat shit at me incessantly, it's a personal insult.

5) Do not keep calling us on the phone.
Go back and read #3 again. Every fucking minute wasted on the phone with you is another minute I'm not sorting out the other fuckwits' tickets, and they were there ahead of you. Go back and read #2. If we can make this go faster with a phone call, we will call you. This is unlikely because:

6) Shut the fuck up already!
Stop talking. We're not on the phone to discuss every possible fucking bit of minutiæ and trivia. Listen to our answers, ask only relevant questions if something we said wasn't clear, and do nothing else.

Example of how to do this correctly:
Sanjay How do we do $FileRepair
REC OK, first you go to $Directory, open two DOS windows, connect to the DB in console mode, run $FileRepair in the second window and confirm on the console.
Sanjay Is there only the console mode?
REC No, you can use the GUI tools but they suck. This is the fast and safe way.
Sanjay And how do we prevent this happening again?
REC Make Registry changes $foo, $bar and $baz. Patch your system or have your developers remove $Button to make sure users can't click it again.
Sanjay Thank you.
REC You're welcome.
Example of how to do this incorrectly:
Sanjay How do we do $FileRepair
REC OK, first you go to $Directory, open two DOS windows, connect to the DB in console mode, run $FileRepair in the second window and confirm on the console.
Sanjay You said to use the DOS window but perhaps you are unaware that DOS is no longer a part of the Microsoft® Corporation Windows® XP Professional operating system which is now built with NT technology and which has a shell command window known as "command".
REC I didn't mean to confuse you. Run two instances of command.
Sanjay Excuse me but there are two different command executables delivered with Microsoft® Corporation Windows® XP Professional operating system which are "cmd.exe" and "command.exe". Please do the needful and tell us which of these we need to be running.
REC Either one is fine.
Sanjay Why will you not tell us which of the executables we need to run? You are not being helpful!. ESCALATE!
REC Personally, I use cmd. My testing to confirm this solution works was done using cmd and I've checked the Start:Run list and confirmed that I have never typed command.exe into it.
Sanjay Our database expert would prefer to use command.exe. Is this acceptable?

The my-head-shaped-dent in front of my keyboard increases in depth.


REC
I told you before that it would be acceptable to use either one. It will work with command. It will work with cmd. It will work with third-party command shell utilities designed to be used with Windows XP.
Sanjay Is there any chance that we might accidentally damage the files if we used one instance of command and one of cmd?
And so on. Get the picture?

To summarise, be specific, don't repeat yourselves, don't go off on tangents and don't call every hour to show us something's important to you. My important tickets belong to people who allow me to do the work to resolve their problems.

Oh, and calling me a racist is like calling the pope an atheist. I find racism to be the lazy way out and so I strive to find something individual that allows me to hate each and every person for his own lack of merit. Noting cultural differences isn't racism, just observation and, in the case of India, frustration. Not necessarily "Indians"; those who grew up in the West don't have these problems, and experience my side of them even when they fucking talk in Hindu to the guy in Bangalore.

The Indians I know who grew up here in the West don't do this. The Raj & Raj team in a US office kick some serious technical knowledge ass. When I went to lunch with them last year at Naan-N Curry they complained more about you guys than I do because the reputation sticks to them.

You're in our field of business. Welcome. I personally have little problem with it. You're using our language. I realise this was more or less forced upon you some time in the past but it has been beneficial in the long run. But along with those classes on how to talk with a particular regional English accent I strongly suggest you take a course on our culture.

It wouldn't surprise me a bit if you had similar complaints about us and I'd be quite amused to read them.

Class dismissed.

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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.