Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board




What Happened to poor, poor me?

I read about Poor, poor me's impossible situation last month (Dealing with 21'st century slave labor ,Tuesday, June 24, 2003) and I really felt bad for him.  I think a lot of us can relate to the pressures that are being placed on both programmers and managers to deliver more product with fewer resources.  Does anyone know how things turned out for him?  I have an excerpt of his message below....

Took me about 2 weeks to figure out they fired this guy because he told them the truth, it wasn't gonna be done when they wanted it.  Just wasn't gonna happen.  I told them that, and was told "I don't care what it takes, 12 hours a day, nights and weekends, it has to be done".  So I'm doing 60 hour weeks, and it ain't gonna get done by the deadline. ....

just another evil manager
Wednesday, July 16, 2003

That would be me, thanks for asking.  I've been meaning to followup, but haven't gotten around to it.  I've been doing 10-12 hour days, 5 days a week, and fewer hours on weekends.  Deadline was last week but, due to hardware issues I'm not responsible for I now have until monday.

The code state?  Awful.  My boss jumped down my throat when I got caught unit testing modules.  Then blew me away by saying "when it's done it doesn't have to work, but all the features have to be there".  WTF?  So if you can pull up a page, set a value to 12, go to a different page, then back, and the app crashes, it's considered 'done' as long as the database has a 12 in it.  That's the most brain dead definition of done I've ever heard.

The deadline is pretty hard, it's a government proposal for a $2 mil contract.  The date won't budge.  The hardware slip ate into QA's time.  IMHO, that was no great loss.  QA isn't needed as there ain't no Quality to Assure.

It's reinforced a few things that I learned years ago on software:

1)  Ya gotta have a design.  Spending a day cranking out class diagrams and a database schema is not a design.

2)  Ya gotta unit test your modules before integrating.  If the underlying methods aren't rock solid, then integration is a nightmare.

3)  Ya gotta fix bugs when you find them.  No notes to yourself, no bugzilla entries.  Ya gotta fix em.  Otherwise you end up with code that depends on a certain behaviour, even if that behaviour is caused by a bug and it's wrong.

The big thing is I can't give any estimate on how close to done it is.  Normally, at this point in the project you can say features A, B, and C work, D is close, and E hasn't been started.  Here all I can say is all the features are implemented, but none of them work.  Nor does the underlying code the features rely on work.

I'll try to do a better report over the weekend.

Poor, poor me.
Wednesday, July 16, 2003

"My boss jumped down my throat when I got caught unit testing modules.  Then blew me away by saying "when it's done it doesn't have to work, but all the features have to be there".  WTF?  So if you can pull up a page, set a value to 12, go to a different page, then back, and the app crashes, it's considered 'done' as long as the database has a 12 in it."

"The deadline is pretty hard, it's a government proposal for a $2 mil contract."

  What the hell? Is this just a prototype then? Are you explained what the end result should be? Is anyone gonna be actually using this, or there'll be just a presentation?

It starts to seem like all they want is an appearance of how things would look like, and not a usable thing.

  Something seems rather bizarre here ...

Don't want to become a "yes" weasel
Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Sounds like he's working at Camel, except their deadline isn't until October.

Philo

Philo
Wednesday, July 16, 2003

I don't understand how a company can operate like this.

I mean, unreasonable deadlines are one thing. I can understand that. They want it done *now*. Fine. Hell, my company has some stuff due just next Monday.

The difference here is, *it has to work*. The question of whether or not the deadline is reasonable aside (not my project, just a coworkers, so I can't really say), they at least want the product to *function*.

How the hell does a boss say 'it doesn\'t have to work'?

Whatever happened to taking pride in your work? Put your name on your code. Take credit for its successes and responsibility for its bugs. And don't ever write bad code, even under orders. I know talk's cheap, and I hope I have the guts to say that to the big man when it's my head on the block, but that doesn't mean that it isn't the Right Thing. I don't understand how he can ask for a job done badly. It boggles the mind.

anon to protect the guilty
Thursday, July 17, 2003

Modus Operandi at Camel was to get *something* out the door reasonably close to the unreasonable deadline. It would be buggy and missing a lot of requirements, but it was a delivery.

It takes a certain amount of integrity, maturity, and honesty to refuse to release a product until it's actually finished. Those qualities are fairly uncommon.

Philo

Philo
Thursday, July 17, 2003

The posturing, low character a-holes that "Poor, poor me" are working for appear to be hot air marketing shills whose purpose in life is beating on the one poor bastard tech guy who is charged with breathing life into demoware:

>> The deadline is pretty hard, it's a government proposal for a $2 mil contract.  The date won't budge.

IE, it's a demo. This is being pushed by marketing dickholes who would sell their grandmothers into white slavery. They need a lie, a story, a line, and they will beat the ever loving piss out of poor, poor me until they see something that they can SELL.

Sales, the big ego bloated score. Good work meaning absolutely nothing, only appearance of substance.

Sorry for the bad language, but the typical blaming that some snake oilish salesy types do of hard working, decent, honest technologists makes me seriously want to kick some ass of this low character genre of sub-human.

Poor, poor me, FIND SOMETHING ELSE. Life is too short. Walk. F*** them.  You are well justified in doing a "Milton" (Office Space) on them.  With them in the building.

No, I didn't say anything... honest. LOL.

Bored Bystander
Thursday, July 17, 2003

Nope, it's not a prototype.  It's gonna get evaluated next to other vendor's offerings.  The winner gets to sell several hundred to the government, the losers get to lick their wounds.  This thing has to be 100% complete, and it has to work.  It ain't gonna be neither.

It was my boss jumping down my throat for unit testing that convinced me that, no matter what, I wasn't gonna make this happen.  And if I said that I'd be fired.  That event was the trigger for my original post.  Since that day, when they ask how things are I say "great!".  They ask how complete a task is, I usually say "75%, it's almost there".  They don't want to hear the truth, and lying keeps the money coming in for another day.

As for 'take pride in your work'.  I do.  It's why I tried to tell them it wasn't gonna happen.  It's why I'm so unmotivated.  I don't want my name on this steaming pile.

As for "It takes a certain amount of integrity, maturity, and honesty to refuse to release a product until it's actually finished. Those qualities are fairly uncommon.".  Look at the job market.  At some point in the near future they're gonna say "where is it".  I'll give them what I got.  In whatever state it's in.  I'll tell them it doesn't work very well.  They can do what they want with it, but I know they'll ship it.

Trust me, I've been looking for a job for a month now.  It's dead out there.  If you make me an offer I'll jump at it, even at a pay cut.  I hate this B.S., it's wrong, it's unethical, it's stupid.  But I got a mortgage and bills, so I keep my head down and stay employed as long as possible.

If things don't pick up in the next few months I'm thinking of cashing out my 401k and going to school for a masters in Nanotech.  That looks to me like an up and coming field that will keep me going for the next 20 years.  My computer skills should be a big help there.  If it weren't for the 2 or so years of full time school with no income, sigh.

Poor, poor me.
Thursday, July 17, 2003

Philo wrote, "It takes a certain amount of integrity, maturity, and honesty to refuse to release a product until it's actually finished. Those qualities are fairly uncommon"

Q. Do you believe those traits are uncommon in developers, management, or both types?


I (along with many other developers I have met over the years) have left several employers in the past because management at those companies simply wasn't interested in providing quality products/services to their customers.

Having said that, I no longer care about things like integrity, producing a quality product, etc.  The only thing I care about nowadays is the money someone is willing to pay me. I am a cynical IT whore who sells his services to whomever is willing to pay me the most money.

One Programmer's Opinion
Thursday, July 17, 2003

Poor, poor me -

Look out for your health, for your self esteem, and look out for #1. You.

Whatever you do, my best wishes. Even if you don't burn the building down. (as your employers deserve...)

Bored Bystander
Thursday, July 17, 2003

nanotech is applied chemical engineering, so if you don't have a strong bachelor's degree in chemical engineering, or chemistry, i wouldn't cash out that 401k plan just yet. also, some people seem to have a weird idea that software technologists have it worse than technologists in other fields. guys that do scientific tech work usually have far worse working conditions and much lower pay. i'd take out a $15K loan and become an electrician or a mechanic.

...
Thursday, July 17, 2003

Philo wrote, "It takes a certain amount of integrity, maturity, and honesty to refuse to release a product until it's actually finished. Those qualities are fairly uncommon"

Just a comment on this.  Its true, but what most often happens is that you function prune, you push back those things that are too trivial to worry about into a dot release, sometimes you push an entire module into a dot release because if you release the main event in some kind of good order you at least can get onto a solid footing.

It sounds like poor, poor me's company has no such person to do that.  It will hit the fan, I can't see that any other attitude other than keeping the head down and looking for a new job is feasible.  I would document everything though somewhere.

I was going to suggest doing a Camel type Blog, but that would be too cruel.

Simon Lucy
Thursday, July 17, 2003

The problem, Philo, is that developers generally belong in that "honest" group who want to get the thing working before selling it, whereas a surprising number of managers don't. Makes you wonder how they got their jobs, really, doesn't it?

Ok, no, it doesn't really
Thursday, July 17, 2003

What if their grandmothers are not white, or is that not possible in the IT world?

Joe
Thursday, July 17, 2003

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home