Sure Not Bottling Up The Stupid

, , , | Working | September 8, 2020

This happened several years ago, but several years after the Bonsai Kitten joke site was already old news. I work as an editor at a small — and not very good — magazine. I get called into the owner’s office.

Owner: “Someone just sent me this link! Did you know that in both New York and Tokyo, a lot of people are buying cats that have been raised in glass jars so they’re completely deformed? This is horrible! You have to write an article about this!”

Me: “Yeah.” *Laughs* “Good one.”

Owner: “What do you mean, ‘Good one’? This is pure torture! How can this be legal?”

Me: *Realising he’s serious* “Oh. No, no, that site is a hoax. That’s not real. It’s a joke.”

Owner: “What do you mean, ‘not real’? There are pictures! How is that funny?”

Me: “Yeah, those are photoshopped. Badly. Intentionally so.”

Owner: “‘Photoshopped’? You can’t change photographs!”

Me: *Pause* “We’re a glossy magazine. You literally pay one of us to fix photographs using Photoshop.”

Owner: “Yeah, but you can’t make a photograph of something that doesn’t exist! Those poor cats!”

I bring up a photoshop contest on his browser.

Me: “Look at this rhino/bumblebee hybrid. Do you think that exists in real life? You can do a lot in Photoshop.”

Owner: *Stunned* “Really?”

Me: “Yes. Also, think about it. The site says bonsai kittens have been hugely popular all over the world for years. If that were true, don’t you think it would be news anywhere else but on this one website?”

Owner: “Huh. Maybe?”

Me: “Right. It’s a joke. It’s in poor taste, maybe, but it’s not real. No actual cats are getting born into glass jars and growing up star-shaped.”

Owner: “I guess…”

At this point, one of our ad sales agents walks in.

Owner: “Hey, did you hear about this bonsai kitten thing?”

Agent: “Oh, yeah, that’s totally real. I talked to some Chinese guy and he confirmed it.”

Owner: “See?!”

Me: “Oh, look, it’s five pm. I need to get home.”

We never ran that article, no thanks to the owner.

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How Do These People Keep Getting Hired?

, , , , | Working | September 6, 2020

I’m heading to a coffee break and one of my coworkers is wrestling with the laser printer, which has been out of order since yesterday. It has to be noted that the display has been showing a message, “Replace Drum,” for months before the printer finally stopped working altogether.

Coworker: “Hey, since you’re good with this stuff, would you give me a hand? Put this in the printer and take out the old one.”

She hands me the spare part still in factory wrapping and the instructions leaflet. I don’t find anything especially difficult with it. I replace the part as per the instructions and restart the printer, which immediately displays the “Replace Drum” message.

Coworker: “Why isn’t it working yet?”

Me: “Because the drum still needs to be replaced. The part you gave me is the toner collection tray, and I replaced that. What you hoped to accomplish with that is beyond me.”

Coworker: “But this is the spare part that was ordered weeks ago!”

Me: “And yet it is not the part which the printer instructed you to order.”

When I went to get my coffee, my coworker was standing still and staring at the printer, perhaps trying to subdue it into working again through sheer willpower. In case you chalk it up to “women and technology,” I’m a female, too.

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Stupid Developers Version 1.1.1.Over 9000

, , , , , | Working | September 5, 2020

I work on the support desk of a company that develops and hosts web-based applications, but I also handle a lot of the internal and background processes such as the scripts to roll out updates. After struggling with our obtuse versioning, I get sick of it and confront the software manager.

Me: “Why do we append a patch number to the end of the version?”

Manager: “What do you mean?”

Me: “A version is four numbers; eg, the current version is, but we then bolt this obtuse patch number onto it so we’ve got ‘ Patch 5’. That’s the point of the fourth version number.”

Manager: “We’ve always versioned that way; it doesn’t cause problems.”

Me: “You realise that 90% of the problems we have with the service are because the version in the installer is and when we release a new ‘patch’ it’s still so Windows just reinstalls the same version? Do you have any idea how much we have to do to work around that?”

Manager: “When? Nobody’s complaining.”

Me: “What are you— We have problems every single time we release a patch! It’s just so common now that we deal with it ourselves.”

Manager: “Where are the tickets, then?”

Me: “This is irrelevant! I’m telling you now — again — it causes this problem. We need to be versioning properly. Why do we even have this patch number on the end?”

Manager: “Because we need might need to go higher than and we were releasing a lot of patches at the time.”

Me: *Incredulous* “You… realise that it’s not decimal right?”

Manager: “It’s how Visual Studio versions; it goes up by 1, say 1.8, 1.9, 2.0”

Me: “Nooo… Versions go 1.8, 1.9, 1.10, 1.11, etc. Each number is an integer, up to two billion or something, for each number.”

Manager: “Well, it’s too much hassle to change our processes.”

This is our software manager. With years of qualifications, he doesn’t know the MOST BASIC fact about software development. I’m kind of stunned and just leave. I relay the story to my manager and he stares at me with his mouth open.

But wait, there’s more. One of the devs comes in about something else and I start telling him, too. When I mention the patch number on the end, he gives me the SAME STORY.

Developer: “Because we might need more than 9,999 versions.”

Me: *Staring* “How…”

I facepalm and explain to him, as well, ANOTHER trained developer, and then show him the problems it causes. He goes off but comes back with more.

Developer: “I found a way around it; you can just add the patch onto the last number.”

Me: “Eh?”

Developer: “I just tested it and it lets me have one-dot-one-dot-one-dot-one-five — Then, it counts as a different version.”

Me: “That’s not dot-one-five. That’s dot-fifteen.”

Developer: “…”

Me: “And what happens when we release the next version?”

Developer: “It would be”

Me: “Yep. And two is less than fifteen, so it would be considered an older version and probably cause other problems.”

I even have to demonstrate this in PowerShell by comparing the two versions, and it confirms that fifteen is greater than two. He goes off, comes back, and admits that they’re not versioning properly.

I wish I was done. I also have to explain this to the remaining two developers AND an ex-developer. Yep, not a single one of our developers knew how to use version numbers. That’s the equivalent of running a sandwich shop without knowing what a knife is so you’ve been using a sharp spoon.

Almost a year later, we’re concluding a meeting about the update process.

Me: “Can we talk about versioning, as well? Seriously, there’s a whole bunch of dodgy stuff in the updater that takes a really long time to do.” *To the software manager* “Remember, you were complaining about it last week.”

Manager: “I said we don’t have time to do that; it’s too ingrained in all our processes.”

My manager and I give him a dirty look as he leaves the room.

Technical Director: “What’s the problem?”

I explain the problems caused by the patch number to him. This is the kind of guy that will tell you the components that your toaster shares with a fighter jet; he’s found some seriously obtuse solutions for bizarre problems and is known for typing on two keyboards at once in emergencies.

Technical Director: “Ah. Well, we can’t do much about it because Visual Studio bumps the version number for every little thing and we were worried we were going to run out.”

At what point do you start questioning that the Earth is round?

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, , , | Working | September 4, 2020

One time at work, I decide to have a cheap, late-afternoon snack: a cup of ramen noodles. As I’m putting the water in and microwaving it, two other guys I’ve never seen before come into the kitchen. This is not uncommon; it is a large company.

Guy #1: “Oh, man, ramen noodles!”

I’m not in the mood for small talk, so I nod with a polite smile and don’t make eye contact.

Guy #2: “I used to eat those so much! Nice and cheap.”

I’m feeling kind of awkward and just want to quietly make my snack in peace.

Guy #1: “Man, I’ve not had ramen noodles since college! They were so good!”

Realizing I’m being a bit rude, I decide to engage.

Me: “Yeah, I had them so much in college I got tired of them, but I’m okay with them again.”

It is at this point that I notice their body positioning: facing each other, not me. They both briefly glance over at me, a little annoyed because I have just tried to butt into the middle of their conversation.

Disregarding my presence, [Guy #2] turns back to [Guy #1].

Guy #2: “I may pick up some tonight just to try some out again.”

I got my food and went back to my desk.

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Wireless, Clueless, Hopeless, Part 41

, , , , | Working | September 3, 2020

I work for a VERY small charity doing administrative work. Since I have a background in computers, I’m also the tech guy. One day during a staff meeting — read: all four of us — I get to have this conversation:

Coworker: “My new desk is great, but there are too many wires and they get tangled up.”

Boss: “[My Name], what can we do about that?”

Me: “Not much, unfortunately.”

Coworker: “Can’t I at least get a wireless printer? That would help!”

Boss: “See? Why didn’t you think of that?”

Me: “A… You already have a wireless printer.”

Coworker: “No, I don’t.”

Me: “Yes, you do. I set it up myself.”

Coworker: “No, there’s this cable that keeps getting stuck behind the filing cabinet.”

Me: “What cable? Wait, do you mean the power cord?”

Coworker: “Yes! It’s very annoying.”

Me: “You want a printer that doesn’t have a power cord?”

Coworker: “Yes! Wireless!”

We reworked some of her space, but sadly, I was never able to find her a printer that doesn’t need power.

Wireless, Clueless, Hopeless, Part 40
Wireless, Clueless, Hopeless, Part 39
Wireless, Clueless, Hopeless, Part 38
Wireless, Clueless, Hopeless, Part 37
Wireless, Clueless, Hopeless, Part 36

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