Author Topic: Professional Darwinism: Update to OP on p.74  (Read 1425423 times)

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zyrs

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Re: Professional Darwinism: Update to OP on p.74
« Reply #3450 on: February 16, 2013, 07:17:14 AM »
I have a work friend who was on call once, and he got a work call while he was at the movies.  His response was "I'll call you back later."  That did NOT go over well with the bosses.  To this day, he still doesn't really understand what he did wrong - "I was at the MOVIES!  What was I supposed to do?"

Perhaps ... not go to the movies while you are on call?

This happened to a friend. 
The place they work at has an emergency phone which is part of an automated system, so if you get a text on the phone, it's because a problem has already happened, you are being notified that you need to follow procedures to fix it.  There are two systems that send texts to the phone so in case one fails, the other will send a text.  Each of the people that works there is scheduled to take the phone for a week, then to hand it to the next person on the schedule.

Huge problem is detected in system phone is connected to and phone sends a text through the automated system.  The other system is people, and they never bother to send a text.  Unfortunately the person who has the phone has let the battery die and they never get the text so the problem does not get fixed for hours.  Of course, it wouldn't have mattered if they had gotten the text because they had left the phone at home while they went for an overnight visit to their romantic interest, so they wouldn't have been able to take care of it anyway.  And they don't understand why it's such a big deal anyway.

Shalamar

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Re: Professional Darwinism: Update to OP on p.74
« Reply #3451 on: February 16, 2013, 12:13:38 PM »
Oh, Lordy.    :o.   That sounds like a perfect storm of screw-ups.

mmswm

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Re: Professional Darwinism: Update to OP on p.74
« Reply #3452 on: February 16, 2013, 12:35:34 PM »
My father once had to deal with a situation that could have been PD if the big guys hadn't had a sense of humor about it. He worked for a major US telephone company (he's retired now), and the group he worked with was the end of the line for tech support.  A problem ticket had to go through several layers of tech support before it got to them, and when they got it, they had to fix it, no matter how long it took.  Some of these tickets took years of research and working with manufacturers and with the research labs.

So, there's a problem in a major switching office that supports a portion of a major city that's home to many, many tourist venues.  This problem has the potential to cause a catastrophic outage. This is considered serious enough that when all the lower levels of tech support failed to fix the problem, the CEO found it reasonable to send his personal driver to my father's office, drive him to the airport and put him on his personal private jet and fly him to the major city, where he'd hired another limo driver to drive him straight to the office.

My father gets there, does a few basic trouble shooting things, only to discover that an important piece of equipment was unplugged.  That was it.  They plugged the piece of equipment back in, rebooted a few systems and the problem was solved. If the CEO didn't have a sense of humor about it, several heads could have rolled, as the expense of sending my father there via private jet wasn't trivial.
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marcel

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Re: Professional Darwinism: Update to OP on p.74
« Reply #3453 on: February 16, 2013, 01:00:04 PM »
My boss told me this tale that happened about 15 years ago.  The company interviewed for a new receptionist, and the president decided who he wanted to hire and called the applicant to offer the job.  Everyone was surprised to see a different applicant at the reception desk the next week - apparently the president had mixed up which resume went with which person and had offered the job to the wrong applicant.  Oh well, we'll see how this works out, was the decision.  Fast forward a few months.  The receptionist wasn't particularly well liked, but she wasn't completely incompetent either.  Things were okay.  There was a conferenc in New Orleans and the president, vice president and for some reason the receptionist flew to the conference and attended the first day.  The second day, the president, vice president and receptionist attended the morning session and then parted ways for lunch.  The receptionist was never heard from again.  Like, never.  She was not on the plane home the following day.  She never showed up for work or collected her belongings.  No one ever called looking for her.  Nothing.  She just vanished.  I asked my boss why they didn't follow up or report her as missing.  He said they just didn't really think about it.  That seriously blows my mind!  I really wonder what happened.  I am going on a trip to New Orleans with my boss in a few months and I am a little concerned that I might disappear too!  :)

That reminds me of when I was interning on a container vessel. One day we were docked in Bordeaux and our (Philipinian) cook took a trip into town for the evening.

By the time we were ready to depart, he still had not returned to the ship. In the end, we had to leave without him. Our agent did check with hospitals and police and everything, but nobody ever found out what had happened to them.

We had no idea whether he decided to stay in France illegaly or if something more sinister had happened to him, and I still consider this one of the strangest things I ever encounbtered profesionaly.
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VorFemme

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Re: Professional Darwinism: Update to OP on p.74
« Reply #3454 on: February 16, 2013, 02:08:53 PM »
My father once had to deal with a situation that could have been PD if the big guys hadn't had a sense of humor about it. He worked for a major US telephone company (he's retired now), and the group he worked with was the end of the line for tech support.  A problem ticket had to go through several layers of tech support before it got to them, and when they got it, they had to fix it, no matter how long it took.  Some of these tickets took years of research and working with manufacturers and with the research labs.

So, there's a problem in a major switching office that supports a portion of a major city that's home to many, many tourist venues.  This problem has the potential to cause a catastrophic outage. This is considered serious enough that when all the lower levels of tech support failed to fix the problem, the CEO found it reasonable to send his personal driver to my father's office, drive him to the airport and put him on his personal private jet and fly him to the major city, where he'd hired another limo driver to drive him straight to the office.

My father gets there, does a few basic trouble shooting things, only to discover that an important piece of equipment was unplugged.  That was it.  They plugged the piece of equipment back in, rebooted a few systems and the problem was solved. If the CEO didn't have a sense of humor about it, several heads could have rolled, as the expense of sending my father there via private jet wasn't trivial.

Back when computerized ordering systems were in their toddlerhood (over twenty years ago) - VorGuy worked for a guy who was starting up a computer programming business and that was one of his projects.  The system involved a central offfice that took orders over the phone - then sent the order to the closest restaurant to you for cooking & delivery.  Home computers were available - but not common yet.

One store kept having trouble with their system - so VorGuy hopped in his car and drove for several hours to get there.....to find that the printer (fax machine style with a roll of paper instead of sheets of paper) had been moved for cleaning the day before and unplugged from the computer.....it had power, so when they checked "is it plugged in?" the answer was yes.

But either the phone line or the computer cable had fallen out.....
« Last Edit: February 16, 2013, 02:12:38 PM by VorFemme »
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ladyknight1

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Re: Professional Darwinism: Update to OP on p.74
« Reply #3455 on: February 16, 2013, 03:04:55 PM »
I am sure you can all imagine how scanning and storing student documents are a big deal. Because that process is a big deal, my department has very strict policies regarding it. Every member of our department and IT know the policies. However, at least once a year, someone forgets the process and does whatever they please, which creates major problems. There are legal reasons why the scanners have to be located where they are.

For scanning student documents, we have a special scanner, that has special software that is run by a special department at our university. To add a scanner, it is a major investment ($$$$$). So we have rules regarding their use and maintenance. Once a scanner is in place, remote software installment must happen, it must be tested and made to be as good as possible, etc.

This is a month long process.

So, when we found out that two of our 6 scanners had been moved, and that not one of the integral people had been notified, it was a big deal.

artk2002

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Re: Professional Darwinism: Update to OP on p.74
« Reply #3456 on: February 16, 2013, 04:08:31 PM »
My father once had to deal with a situation that could have been PD if the big guys hadn't had a sense of humor about it. He worked for a major US telephone company (he's retired now), and the group he worked with was the end of the line for tech support.  A problem ticket had to go through several layers of tech support before it got to them, and when they got it, they had to fix it, no matter how long it took.  Some of these tickets took years of research and working with manufacturers and with the research labs.

So, there's a problem in a major switching office that supports a portion of a major city that's home to many, many tourist venues.  This problem has the potential to cause a catastrophic outage. This is considered serious enough that when all the lower levels of tech support failed to fix the problem, the CEO found it reasonable to send his personal driver to my father's office, drive him to the airport and put him on his personal private jet and fly him to the major city, where he'd hired another limo driver to drive him straight to the office.

My father gets there, does a few basic trouble shooting things, only to discover that an important piece of equipment was unplugged.  That was it.  They plugged the piece of equipment back in, rebooted a few systems and the problem was solved. If the CEO didn't have a sense of humor about it, several heads could have rolled, as the expense of sending my father there via private jet wasn't trivial.

That reminds me of an apocryphal story, whose moral is about experts and what they are worth.

A company bought a multi-million dollar piece of equipment. The manufacturer brought it and installed it, but it didn't work. So they brought in the next level of tech support and they couldn't get it to work. And again with a third level. Finally, someone suggested that they get "Fred." Fred was the absolute expert on this equipment, but had retired. After much begging and pleading, Fred agreed to take the job. He visited the customer site and looked the machine over. He opened his tool box and took out a small hammer. He then tapped the machine in one corner. Suddenly, the machine starts working. There is much rejoicing.

Fred turns in his bill, which is for $50,000.50. The customer and manufacturer blow a gasket. "$50K for a little tap, what's this about?" Fred's response was: "The tap cost you $0.50. The $50K is for knowing where to tap."
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bow lines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. -Mark Twain

artk2002

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Re: Professional Darwinism: Update to OP on p.74
« Reply #3457 on: February 16, 2013, 04:16:41 PM »
Back when computerized ordering systems were in their toddlerhood (over twenty years ago) - VorGuy worked for a guy who was starting up a computer programming business and that was one of his projects.  The system involved a central offfice that took orders over the phone - then sent the order to the closest restaurant to you for cooking & delivery.  Home computers were available - but not common yet.

One store kept having trouble with their system - so VorGuy hopped in his car and drove for several hours to get there.....to find that the printer (fax machine style with a roll of paper instead of sheets of paper) had been moved for cleaning the day before and unplugged from the computer.....it had power, so when they checked "is it plugged in?" the answer was yes.

But either the phone line or the computer cable had fallen out.....

I've told this story before, but it's apropos here. It's the story of why Art refuses to do first-line (and sometimes 2nd-line) customer support. I was CS for a small service bureau, who sold computer time on our mainframes to whomever would pony up some money (Larry Flynt? No problem! We'll print your stuff as soon as we finish printing the solicitation letters from the televangelist and before we print a few hundred thousand tax returns.) One of our customers was a government agency who kept a significant database on our system. They communicated with us via an old Teletype Model 35, essentially a typewriter with a modem attached. One day I fielded a call from someone at the agency complaining that they couldn't connect. I walked them through the process: Was it plugged into the power? Yes. Was it plugged into the phone jack? Yes. Was the power light on? Yes. Were any other lights on? No. We went around and around for a good half an hour before the person asked "What does this red 'paper' light mean?" You guessed it, the teletype was out of paper.

From then, until I moved to systems programming, I had to fight down the temptation to answer the phone with "Customer Support! This better be good!" So, apropos of the thread, I managed to dodge committing PD.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bow lines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. -Mark Twain

Julian

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Re: Professional Darwinism: Update to OP on p.74
« Reply #3458 on: February 16, 2013, 07:13:42 PM »
These computer support stories reminded me of one that happened a few years ago at my old job.

We* needed to get a new server - a not inconsiderable server.  $3M worth of specialised server.  Only one company, MegaComputerCorp, makes them.  But we work in a government department, and there are procurement rules that need to be followed, so we had to go out to tender for the hardware. 

That would have been simple enough, however the rules also stipulated that for capital expenditure of that degree, we must also have a project team that manage the tendering, purchase and installation of said hardware.  So the procurement department establish their project team, who go about their business at their usual glacial pace.  Some twelve months or so after the process started, we have the new server.  Yay!

Until they went to install it.  You see the project team had neglected to establish if the location of the new server was ready to go.  Well, there was space, but no dedicated power supply to power up the new megabeast.  And now, since the project had swallowed all the funding for the new server (what with paying the project team of three people for twelve months), there was nothing left in the bucket to establish the power supply.  It took another three months to get the power supply issue sorted, and the server up and running.  I'm still not sure where they got the extra bucks from.

I suppose we should consider ourselves lucky we actually got the server we needed, because they did try to persuade us otherwise in the beginning.

* 'We' as in my work unit.  We owned and managed the previous server, which contained statewide data storage and financial information for our Govt Dept.  It was an older version of the new server, which was slow, having space issues and was beyond its use-by date. 

akm10

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Re: Professional Darwinism: Update to OP on p.74
« Reply #3459 on: February 16, 2013, 09:39:31 PM »
Julian's story of the new server reminded me of what happened at my first "real" job. Unfortunately my employment ended before the story fully played out so I only heard the simple ending, and have no idea if anyone was eventually held responsible.

Setting: 25 years ago, when personal computers were just becoming cost effective, but most financial work was done on terminals to a mainframe. I worked at an office who's main focus was entering General Ledger data into the mainframe for an international company. The mainframe was physically located in this office, and wasn't too large. It was one of those systems that needed to have the hard drive 'unseated', or whatever it was then.

They decided to relocate and none of us were offered positions in the new location. One of my last tasks was arranging for the terminals to be packaged up for shipping to the new location. We paid for three people to spend six hours carefully boxing up about 10 terminals.

But what of the mainframe? I can hear Art and other IT personnel asking. The person in charge of the move refused to authorize funds for any special movers, claiming that the furniture movers had plenty of experience "moving computers."

My last day was before the final move, so I only heard this second hand, but the story was that the movers basically just treated the mainframe as if it was a filing cabinet, and when they turned it on at the new location, it failed to come on.

That's the last I heard. I don't think the person in charge of the move was held accountable for the loss of the mainframe as they were the "golden child", and were very good at deflecting blame. I wouldn't be surprised that even though I was gone by then, had no authority to hire special movers for the mainframe, was the youngest by decades of the group and only a low level clerk, somewhere there's a memo about how "Anna destroyed the mainframe."

Anna

Elfmama

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Re: Professional Darwinism: Update to OP on p.74
« Reply #3460 on: February 17, 2013, 02:05:46 AM »
Well, there was space, but no dedicated power supply to power up the new megabeast.  And now, since the project had swallowed all the funding for the new server (what with paying the project team of three people for twelve months), there was nothing left in the bucket to establish the power supply.
Sounds like a project DH was on back when he worked for Uncle Sam.  Uncle Sam had spent several billion US dollars of the taxpayers' money for Spiffy New System.  SNS just needed $10,000 to put it into final installation.  Congress (who did not directly use the output of SNS) decided that SNS wasn't needed after all, so they declined to budget any more money for it.  What did Uncle Sam use before?  Just go back to that. Never mind that Old System was inadequate, had been so for 15 years, and was on its last tottery ancient legs.  It's been good enough for the last 50 years, it should be good for 50 more.
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Julian

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Re: Professional Darwinism: Update to OP on p.74
« Reply #3461 on: February 17, 2013, 03:08:00 PM »
It's simply amazing sometimes how much ignorance there is around big servers!

Another story, not so much PD, but about the lack of knowledge.

There was a high profile criminal court case going on in my state while at the previous job (server job).  As our server had all the relevant data (albeit in a very non-user friendly format), the legal boffins decided to subpoena the server.  Yes, the server.  We said fine, send a semi-trailer for it.

Oh, is it that big?  Well, just send the data on CD or DVD. 

OK (quick calculations ensued) that'll be about 650 DVDs worth of data.  Where shall we send it?

Oh...  OK.  Well in that case we'll just get your people to run some reports for us.  <This> is what we actually need...

(They got what they needed, in a format that was clearly understandable, and which involved a huge amount of work for the team.  Interesting times!)


faithlessone

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Re: Professional Darwinism: Update to OP on p.74
« Reply #3462 on: February 21, 2013, 05:36:44 AM »
I had the pleasure of talking to a Special Snowflake that turned into Professional Darwinism at work yesterday!

I work in the office of a small building company. Very small. There's the boss, his son, three of us office people (one full time, two part time), six builders and three electricians. There were two more builders and another electrician before Christmas, but they had to be laid off because there just wasn't enough work. We also heard yesterday morning that another builder is going into "voluntary" retirement. :(

So, we're not hiring right now. (Obviously). However, the trade is scarce all over the area (probably all over the country), so we do get a lot of "are you hiring" calls, and other companies/independent workers asking to be kept in mind for future work. Which is totally fine. We keep a folder of their details so when the work does pick up (usually when the weather gets better), we can call them.

Yesterday afternoon, the phone rang. On the other end was a man. I won't hazard a guess at his physical age, though he was acting like a petulant 6-year-old, so who knows?

Me: Hello, (name of company), how can I help?
Man: Are you hiring?
Me: I'm afraid we're not at the moment. If you want to send in your details, we could put them on file? We do usually take on extra people during the summer.
Man: THAT'S NOT GOOD ENOUGH.
Me: I'm sorry, but that's all I can do right now. What sort of work were you looking for?
Man: Building.
Me: Okay, well, I can take your details over the phone if that's easier. Do you have a (card that means you're qualified to be a builder) card?
Man: A what?
Me: A (Full name of the qualification body) card? Some people call it a (colloquial name)?
Man: What's that?
Me: *major alarm bells ringing* I'm afraid all our workers have to have a card. If you don't have one, we won't be able to use you.
Man: THAT'S JUST CRAZY. I'M A BUILDER. I'VE BUILT THINGS. I DON'T NEED A ******* CARD TO BE A BUILDER.

Luckily, at this point, my boss (the owner of the company) walked into the office, and I made crazy hand signals to get him to take over.

Me: Let me pass you over to the boss.
Man: FINALLY.

The boss repeated the need for this qualification card, then asked him for his details, and the details of where he learnt his trade. The man abruptly hung up without telling him anything.

His phone number has now been placed on our "DO NOT ANSWER" list. :)

Roodabega

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Re: Professional Darwinism: Update to OP on p.74
« Reply #3463 on: March 01, 2013, 03:13:23 PM »
All the computer talk reminded of something that happened many years ago at my first job.  The company I worked for was consumer oriented, and downtime was a major, the CEO is going to get notified issue.  This was the IBM mainframe days and we had a large room full of equipment.  All of the equipment was managed from a central console. 

We had been in the CR working on resolving an issue that had caused an outage, which idled several thousand people.  We had just resolved the problem and were standing around shooting the breeze.  My boss was always flirting with one specific data entry girl, and was doing so again that day.  She really had no business being in the CR other than she wanted to be near the boss.

She says to my boss "What does this grey button labeled 'EPO' do?"  He then replies "Why don't you just push it and find out?"  Kind of like in slow motion, the system admins and the operations staff watch as she reaches down and pushes the Emergengy Power-Off button.  As soon as we realized what she was doing, a bunch of us yelled "NOOOOOoooo", but it was of course too late.  The silence in the room with all of the equipment shut down was deafening.

It only took us a full 45 minutes to get the system back up and running again.  My boss explained it off to his boss as another system glitch.   I really don't know how he talked his way out of that one.

After that day, the button was covered by a cardboard cover held down with duct tape.  A big "NO" was written on the cardboard.

pierrotlunaire0

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Re: Professional Darwinism: Update to OP on p.74
« Reply #3464 on: March 01, 2013, 03:33:33 PM »
I worked with someone years ago, when I was the service contract biller for a company that sold phone systems.  Bea had been hired to help all of us billers, and it was a struggle.  She was one of the laziest persons I have ever met, and a slow learner as well (mostly because she never shut up to listen).  Our supervisor went on vacation when Bea had been with us two months, and her instructions were: Bea is to do one small batch of invoices on Monday, and the rest of the week, she could file and shred.  Some of the billers kept saying that when she finished the 2 hours of work that the invoices would take, Bea would spend the rest of the week talking our ears off.

I only wish.  Everything that could be done wrong was done wrong.  She didn't balance; she fed the invoices backwards through the printer; she messed up customer numbers and billed the wrong customer and had to void it out.  This was not rocket science!  A straightforward task that we had been showing her how to do for two months.

Finally, on Friday afternoon, she is printing the invoices.  While she waited for the printing to finish, Bea decided to lean her hand up on the big red button level with the top of her head.  It had to be an uncomfortable way to stand, but Bea did it.

It was the emergency computer shut down.  Bea tried to giggle and "Oopsie!" her way out of it, but we were all furious with her, and she knew it.  They got rid of her shortly after, although I never understood why they let her go more than 2 weeks with her incompetence.
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