Friday, March 21, 2008

IRCing Wat Ur Doing

After four hours of conf calls with people so stupid the only reason that they don't check the level of gasoline in their cars with a lighter is that flicking a Bic without a 14-page PowerPoint explanation is beyond their feeble mentalities, I finally got home. In trying to relax I hopped on #husi at slashnet and got into a chat with others facing the same sorts of hell that I do. Thanks to aph for sparring with me and making me laugh in a moment when all I wanted to do was deepen the my-head-shaped-dent in front of the keyboards.

The sad thing is that it's nearly impossible to tell this "conversation" apart from real internal communications. Only the lack of useless managerial buzzwords -- "synergy" and "paradigm"come to mind -- prove this wasn't cut and pasted from internal mails.
[00:06 aphrael] dear developers: the problem QA is reporting is critical and must by its description be something low-level. the minor fixes you are throwing at them with "this ought to fix it" without actually bothering to investigate the problem are ... useless.
[00:06 aphrael] please stop wasting their time and mine. thank you, integration.
[00:07 REC] Dear QA, please to be writing accurate reports of EXACTLY what the problem is. Please to be providing images of the test beds and the logs, monitors and dumps we need to fix it. Love, Eng.
[00:08 aphrael] engineering: the problem is that the software does not print. at all. this should be trivial to reproduce. love, integration.
[00:09 REC] Dear Sales, please to stop fucking telling customers about all the great print features which Eng hasn't worked out and QA can't certify before you sell the product, leaving US to come up with a fucking solution. Love, Support
[00:09 aphrael] Dear Support: our product is a printer. Love, Management.
[00:10 REC] Dear Management, please to be providing some fucking ink already. Love, Support.
[00:11 aphrael] Dear Support, Sales, QA and Management, Ink? I think we've found the problem. Love, Eng.
[00:11 REC] Dear Integration, Please to write specs for ink. Love, Eng.
[00:12 aphrael] Dear Eng, Project Management provided this spec for ink three years ago. Why haven't you implemented it yet? Love, Integration.
[00:14 REC] Dear Integration, PM inserted said spec in an Excel sheet which was copied over as a WMF file into Word. This Metafile was dropped into a PowerPoint presentation. Our department uses HP-UX. Please to be sending text files. Love, Eng.
[00:15 aphrael] eng: aah! i see the problem. you deviated from the spec in this fashion, while the other engineering department deviated in this other fashion, and the two outcomes don't work together. please resolve.
[00:16 REC] Dear Integration, Please note that each Engineering department works independently. If integration between the two is necessary, I think we know which department needs to pick up some slack.
Love, Eng (Division 1A)
[00:17 aphrael] see, this is the joy of integration. all responsibility with no authority!
I was never much of a Dilbert fan and now I live that fucking cartoon. Somebody kill me please.


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Thursday, March 20, 2008

I Luv Teh Webs

Hi b3tans and b3tards. Yes, it's me, Mister Splashycunt. I wish I'd made the newsletter for a compo entry or some stupid experiment but trolling'll do.

Note: I did not submit this blog to b3ta nor do I know who did.

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When I joined the Navy many moons ago, I quickly learned that the name of the service was really an acronym: Never Again Volunteer Yourself. It was a lesson that I continue to forget.

"Hi, Monkeys. $MegaCorp has a new support contract with Microsoft and we don't talk directly to Blackie and his department anymore. Instead we follow $MSprocess. We need a couple volunteers to be our internal contacts."

Well shucks, I'd been dealing with Blackie and his gang and had acted as a go-between for a lot of my fellow monkeys for years. This could be another rung on the ladder to the position of ESSM (Extra Super Senior Monkey) and the additional 20 bucks or so a year that such an esteemed position offers. The more projects like that I accept, the fewer tickets I have to take. Works for me.

With a second round of nagging mails our chief hooked another sucker, none other than Lenny. I pointed out that I hadn't had the training. "That's OK. We'll get it to you in the next couple weeks."

Suzi can't wait a couple weeks. She sent Lenny a request to file a ticket through $MSprocess and CC:d me. Lenny's note arrived not ten minutes later. "REC, I didn’t get chance to attend the $MSprocess training. Could you please log this issue on this occasion?"

Before I could laugh, up popped our annoying-as-fuck IM app. It was Lenny.

14:27 lenny: hi REC
14:27 rec: hey
14:27 rec: I think it's a hoot
14:27 lenny: is it?
14:28 rec: We both suckered ourselves to do this, neither one of us has a bloody clue, and no help or direction is being offered
14:28 rec: If I didn't laugh I'd have to cry.
14:28 rec: So I'm laughing.
14:28 lenny: kool

Ten minutes later came a mail with some links to what will undoubtedly be some very protracted, painful Death-by-PowerPoints with some fuckknuckle or another droning on and on, in an incomprehensible accent which appears to have been designed to do nothing other than rape the English language. If I'm really lucky, however, there'll be a link to the actual PPT slides and I can dodge what appears to be a total of some 11 hours of this particular circle of hell.

That'll have to wait, though. I have some tickets to answer. Somewhere in Estonia a fuckwit is trying to modify the contents of the HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\FontSubstitutes
key. On an IBM BladeCenter. A blade which is running Solaris 10.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Cow-Orkers XVI: Starkbier!

My married-with-kids colleagues, annoyed last night that we couldn't get into the strip club because the doorman didn't like the fact that I was wearing Adidas and not Florscheims or Ballys, are now thanking me. Under the cold light of sobriety they realise that had we indeed gone in, they'd be regretting this morning a lot more than they otherwise do with just the two liters of Starkbier each one drank last night. I'd had three; maybe I was a bit wobbly, too.

I want to thank the doorman for this because I fucking hate strip clubs. He has no idea what sort of favour he did me, and I don't just mean saving me from having to throw down double the normal beer price. He saved me from the whole thing. I don't "get" strip clubs. What's the attraction?

There's an attractive girl who you're allowed to look at but whom you can't touch. You're encouraged to give her lots of Teh Munniez but no matter how much you hand her, you can't touch her and she won't touch you. She has a boyfriend or a girlfriend (or both), despises you, and is trying to figure out what she has to do to get the rest of your money without actually having to talk to you, let alone countenance allow physical contact.

I ask again, what the fuck is the attraction? Why do people go to these clubs? Why do my cow-orkers insist on going there once drunk? I've been married. I know what it's like to want to see something fresh and different and that's why I pay €40/month for 16Mb downstream DSL -- to fill the My Documents\Faxes\Sent Faxes directory with 447GB of hot chicks doing anything you can name and quite a few things you've probably never even thought of. What do you expect from a guy whose browser home page is set to Ogrish and who was a pre-1996 alt.tasteless participant?

We can get drunk every fucking night for all I care. We can become the bestest buddies EVAR each evening, then return to this hellhole each morning and piss and moan at each other as is our daily routine. That's fine. Just leave the fucking strip clubs out of it. They're a waste of time and a waste of money. More importantly, this dog ain't married. If we stay at real bars there's a chance that I might be sniffing some bitch's crotch before the night is over. More importantly, she might be sniffing at mine without the expectation of any one-way financial transaction.

You want to keep me happy, cow-workers. Never forget I'm the Linkmaster.

With Easter coming up, the Starkbierfest is now over, but in another few weeks, the Spring Festival begins. It takes place on the Theresienwiesen -- the same spot where the Oktoberfest takes place -- and is little more than a smaller version of same festival, but cheaper and filled almost exclusively with locals. And to this festival, in one of the two or three beer "tents", a group of us will congregate after work at least once. And there we will drink. And at 10:30 p.m. as they're kicking us out, one of the group will have the brilliant idea to go to a strip club. Half a dozen such "clubs" are only a mile away.

I'd like to believe I'd just go home and play Spin the Black Circle, but I'm as much a seventeen as the idiots I deal with all day, though in a non-technical way.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

School Daze

Of all the things about high school that sucked, PE class was way up there on the list. The girls' coach was the stereotypical, manly-looking, semi-pro volleyball-playing bulldyke bitch, but she was nothing compared to Coach Marissey. Marissey was the absolute archetype of late 1970s high school coaches, an asshole, sadistic, self-important and imagined ladykiller. A real-life John Kreese, head of the evil dojo in Karate Kid who demanded all address him as "Coach" instead of "Mister".

I relived a little piece of hell almost three decades behind me last night in a dream, and woke up to a realisation.

At least I'm sleeping again, but I'm once again dreaming vividly, usually reliving something out of my past. Winning a pinball tournament is great; sitting in school not so much so. Marissey had called me out of class to his office.

Since I didn't like sports, Marissey didn't like me. My school was freaks and jocks and my PE class was freaks and geeks. I wasn't even that high on the social ladder. I was a freaky, geeky loner. There's nothing worse in the mind of a team sports coach than an individual.

Coach: Canine!
REC: Yeah?
Coach: You're playing football this afternoon. Be on the field at 2:00p.m. Here's your class absence note for 7th period.
REC: But I play chess, not football!
Coach: Don't get smart with me! I'm in charge of school intramurals and you're playing football. Today.
REC: But I don't even know how to play!
Coach: You'll learn on the field. You're going to be a linebacker.
REC: What the hell is a linebacker?
Coach: You block the other team from running into your line.
REC: But I only weigh 127 pounds!
Coach: Here's some pads.
REC: Coach Marissey, I'm still wearing a knee brace from tennis last month! I have a doctor's note.
Coach: Your doctor's not here and he's not in charge of intramurals. Your teammates should help prop you up.
REC: What?!
Coach: Be on that field at two or you've got a month of detention.

And when I woke up, clipped on my access badge and headed for the Subway, it dawned on me. I'd been wrong throughout high school. It really does prepare you for real life. You only have to know where to look. Marissey would feel right at home here assigning me another ticket from some customer suffering constant core dumps in a Solaris system.

Le plus ça change...

Oh, and since someone's bound to ask, I didn't go on the field and I didn't play linebacker. I did probably the most fuckwitted thing possible. Instead of attempting to gain Marissey's respect by at least suiting up and trying to participate just for one play, I went to the school library and got the Policies & Procedures book. Armed with the exact policy I went to the vice principal and told him I'd be damned if I was doing a minute of detention for not playing stupid football.

The day my doctor's note expired Marissey had me running laps for the entire PE period. Every day. For the rest of the school year. Rather suddenly there were only nine spots on the intramural chess competition roster, down from the original ten. Guess who didn't get to compete at County or State. "Budget," said Marissey with a grin.

Enough self-delusion through the fog of 20-some years of adult experience. Marissey wouldn't have found any respect for me. He would've laughed at my ass being bulldogged, then screamed at me for being a pussy and not playing anymore. He was such a dick.


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Friday, March 14, 2008

Be Careful What You Wish For

Confession is supposed to be good for the soul. I hope it helps mine. I feel so dirty, not about what I did but certainly about the results. My actions helped spark new interest in an organisation I wish would go away because their real interest is "brand awareness" rather than their stated and perceived goals. They're so bad that one of their founders left in disgust and started a new group which uses its funds for action rather than more fund-raising and showy but pointless gestures.

The secret's revealed here, Richard. I am responsible for that damned whale being called "Mr. Splashy Pants". I didn't make up the name (that honour goes to Omar Zayed), but I made it popular.

The 26th of November was just another shitty Monday. While waiting for an installation to crash I was perusing b3ta looking for some interesting links since I had no good ideas for the compo (not having seen the Transformers) or the QOTW. That's where I saw mince's link to Greenpeace. Everyone on b3ta thought it was a hoot and was voting for the name. The link first appeared at b3ta at 17:43 UTC. With the b3ta clicks "Mr. Splashy Pants" had gone from 4% to 5% of the vote and held a sad fifth place behind a bunch of crappy newage-sounding names like Talei, Aiko, and Mira.

I saw the link an hour after it had been posted and discovered that multiple votes were counted. Unfortunately I didn't have the time or determination to write a little program to do that for me... but I knew who did and would. I also don't have accounts at a lot of the big sites like MeFi and BoingBoing nor upmodding hordes on reddit and digg... but I know who does.

I had three motives. Firstly, it was funny. The sheer silliness drew me in. Secondly, basing any action or policy on the results of a fucking Web poll is sheer stupidity. They can be easily manipulated by just one determined person. Whether Greenpeace got egg on their collective face as a result of my actions -- be it using a pre-pubescent taunt as the official name of a mascot or publicly pussing out like the Washington National Zoo did when they decided the that "Tai Shan" was a much better moniker than the wildly popular "Butterstick" (they must be kicking themselves now) -- mattered not to me. And thirdly, I wanted to Tom Sawyer someone who doesn't like me.

Two minutes later I'd posted the call to action over at kuro5hin and HuSi as well as in a mail to a group of friends. There's one sad sack at kuro5hin who hates the site with a passion and despises me as well, and yet he can't help himself and continually returns, only to be banned again. Banning him can't stop him reading the site , and he still does regularly.

He's a student in Arizona. He knows how to program. He has a single bloody-mindedness which compels him to shit all over the Web wherever possible. Richard's description of how this person hit the Greenpeace system was exactly in line with how he also hits other sites in his vandalism attempts. When Richard's Greenpeace blog was posted I knew I'd completed objective number 3.

After Greenpeace threw away that brief click-fest our little vandal noticed and most certainly dropped the rate down, spreading the clicks through various proxies. As I expected, those with accounts at the big sites started posting the story as well. It was submitted to digg, reddit, BoingBoing 14 hours later, and MetaFilter another day after that, after which it spread quickly through E-Mail. A few days later I myself received one of those E-Mails which had been forwarded at least five times.

By the time the story appeared on BoingBoing "Mr. Splashy Pants" already had close to 80% of the vote, and there it was going to stay. I'd achieved Objective #2. The world was good. Greenpeace were stuck with using that name or publicly negating the poll which, within a day, was being slammed with legitimate clicks. Except...

Except that this thing was growing legs. People liked the name, and by "people" I mean everyone except for the weenies who submitted the sea-goddess names for the competition, but possibly even one or two of them. Oh, and Greenpeace executives. They weren't happy about it. But someone there finally recognised the value of a viral, grassroots campaign. That Clever Dick also noticed that rather than making them a laughing stock it was generating a lot of interest. They did what anyone would do under the circumstances: they went for the cash. Before the contest was even over they were already selling MSP bumper stickers and T-shirts and raking in the bucks.

I probably wouldn't be so angry if I was getting 10% of all the merch they're able to flog thanks to me. Who the fuck would've shelled out 13 bucks on a "Talei" coffee mug?

Why write about it now, so long after it happened? Because it's torturing me. "Mr. Splashy Pants" is turning up everywhere. What started as an opportunity to make a sort of political statement (Web polls can't be trusted) and laugh instead helped Greenpeace with their image, their popularity and their finances. The final straw was a picture at reddit this morning of a whale-shaped snowfall map with more than 1200 upvotes. No one would've even submitted, let a lone vote up, a picture called "Talei snowfall". But "Mr. Splashy Storm"? TEH FUNNAY INTARWEBS MEME JOAK!!11!eleven

I'm not claiming that had I not done this no one else would have, but I think it's unlikely. The contest had been going on for a while and was, up to that point, only four days away from closing. Greenpeace was going to call some whale "Talei" and the world wouldn't have given two shits. Instead they got user-involvement, held the competition open for another few weeks and let the buzz continue. And it worked.

I was the snowflake which started the avalanche that helped Greenpeace shed a bit of its "humourless hippie" image. Out, damn'd spot! out, I say!

Oh yeah, I'm a fuckwit. Here's hoping someone comes along with server logs or links to prove it wasn't me. Please.

x-posted to HuSi, sans poll

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

In My Sights

Lasers! Pew pew pew!

MAME's running and I'm busy playing Nintendo's 1980 Radar Scope in preparation for the next time I visit my brother so I can finally give him the ass-whooping he so richly deserves. He owns an original upright and practices the only game he could ever consistently beat me on. I'm in the zone on wave 5 with all my ships and still no damage when Jabber pops up.
Yo, REC!
I got a little problem maybe you can help.

I hit pause. This can't be good, but Joey's cool. We've gone out a few times and I like him so the game has to wait.

REC: What's up?
Joey: I got this guy with a problem with the Dev client. If it manages to open, it freezes. If it gets past the freeze it crashes. Same thing happens with the connected client. They're on Windows.
REC: OK, Windows what?
Joey: XP. They said they're on a supported platform.
REC: Did they tell you it was on XP?
Joey: No, but it's got to be that or Win2K.
REC: It don't gotta be nuttin'.

A little bell was going off in my head.

REC: Happens in both Dev and Connected client?
Joey: Yeah. I've been trying for a week but I can't reproduce it.
REC: But normal browsers work?
Joey: Sometimes.
REC: Sometimes?
Joey: That's what he said, but I wanted to just focus on the Dev and Connected clients to rule out the server stuff.
REC: Hold on a sec...
Joey: ok...

Clicky-clicky-clicky where the fuck is that goddamned ticket? I know it, I know it, I just sorted this same shit out maybe a week or so ago. And another light bulb: Joey's been working on this problem since about the time I dealt with mine.

When did you get this ticket?
Joey: last Wednesday

Clicky-clicky ORDER BY DATE clicky-clicky

You motherfucker.

REC: The guy you're dealing with, his name is Abodha, right?
Joey: Yeah. You looking at my ticket now?
REC: Nope. Have a look at ticket 12-A45-33701
Joey: Hold on.

Abodha, This is a summary of our communications so far:

18FEB Abodha: I have installed Connected Client on my Remote Machine. Still doesn't work.
18FEB REC: Are you getting any errors when trying to access using a supported platform ?
20FEB Abodha: We are not facing this problem on other Remote Machines which are having Micrisoft Windows XP only 2003
20FEB REC: Windows 2003 is not certified as a client OS
27FEB Abodha: Escalate!!
27FEB REC: Escalate what? OS is unsupported.
29FEB Abodha: Problem is on server with windows server 2003.
29FEB REC: Windows 2003 not supported. Does it work on your XP workstations?
03MAR Abodha: We are talking about connected client on server not workstation
03MAR REC: Windows 2003 server is not supported for running ANY client. You cannot run a Connected client on your server.
05MAR Abodha: Your documents don't say windows 2003 is not supported
05MAR REC: Our documents don't list more than 70 million programs that aren't supported. We only list what we do support. Windows 2003 is not on that list as I explained in painful, technical detail two weeks ago.

You can't run a client on any Windows Server platform, period. This ticket is closed.

Joey: I've got tickets piled up waiting because of this guy!
REC: I don't. My short temper is an asset.
Joey: You're still an asshole sometimes
REC: You say that like it's a bad thing. I'm outta here at 4pm today. How about you?
Joey: 8pm if I'm lucky.
REC: By then I'll be downloading Dirty Jobs and drinking a large glass of port-finished Edradour.
Joey: Fuck you.
REC: If only you'd said that to Abodha.

A twenty says that fuckwit files the another ticket again today or tomorrow, tweaking it further to hide his lies. One E-Mail to management, one to all my SYSOPS homies.

Root Cause: सप्तदश ("saptadaza")

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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:

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.