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Why Pay For Code, Then?!

, , | Right | January 19, 2022

I get a phone call from a client I built a website for.

Client: “The site isn’t working right.”

Me: “That’s strange.”

I download a page and take a look at the code.

Me: “It looks like a bunch of the code is missing. Did you have anyone modify the site?”

Client: “No, nothing like that.”

Me: “Well, there are entire chunks of code missing that were there yesterday.”

Client: “Oh, yeah, that was me. Some of the code seemed unnecessary. Back to the issue at hand: why isn’t the site working?”

Their Knowledge Is A Bit Floppy, Part 2

, , , , , , | Right | January 14, 2022

Back in the 1990s, my IT college tutor was regaling the class with a story about his time working on a helpdesk for his old company.

One client, in particular, kept phoning to complain that he couldn’t get the floppy disks to work. At the time, the huge 5.25-inch actually-floppy floppies were the height of sophistication.

After taking several calls about the same issue, sending and resending batches of the disks to the client, and being unable to make any sense of it, my tutor got permission to visit the client and try to work out what was going on.

When he got there, he asked the client to show him what he was doing when the issue occurred.

To his utter amazement, the client took a brand-new disk from the packet, proceeded to peel the thick protective cover off the disk, and then try to insert the round, thin, magnetic storage part into the drive.

Apparently, the client had wondered why there was so much “packaging” around the disk, and on pulling one apart the first time, decided that the magnetic storage looked so fragile that the additional “packaging” made sense.

Their Knowledge Is A Bit Floppy


, , , , | Working | January 13, 2022

During my last year of college, in the early oughts, I used to work in a campus computer lab as a tutor/technician. My job was to perform routine maintenance on the computers and help the students and teachers who needed assistance. It was pretty simple; people could book a time slot in advance, and then there were a few computers that could be used on a first-come-first-served basis for quick errands like checking email or making printouts. Since both the students and their teachers were notoriously bad at planning ahead and always expected this to be everybody else’s problem but their own, there was always a line to those computers.

One beautiful afternoon, I need to make a routine update on one of the “quick errand” computers. I know the program will take a while to run, so I write a large note which I tape up so it covers almost the entire screen with the message, “Update in progress. DO NOT TOUCH.” Then, I go about my usual tasks, helping people with whatever they need help with.

After a while, I notice a student sitting at the computer I’m doing maintenance on, so I walk up to them. They have removed my note, shut down my update, and are on the Internet.

Me: “Sorry, what are you doing?”

Student: “I just need to check my email. No one was sitting here so that means I get to use it, right?”

Me: “No, I was trying to update it. Now I have to start over from the beginning. Didn’t you see the note I put up?”

Student: “Oh, I was in a hurry. I didn’t think it was important.”

Me: “Well, it was. You’ll have to wait your turn on one of the other computers or book one in advance.”

I shoo them off, restart the update, put up a new sign, and go back to what I was doing. Five minutes pass, and when I look up from what I’m doing, I notice another person sitting at the computer I’m working on. This time, it’s a teacher.

Me: “Excuse me, you can’t use this computer right now. I’m doing maintenance on it. Didn’t you see the sign?”

Teacher: “Oh, it’s all right. I just need to make a few printouts; the printer in my office doesn’t work. I really need to get this done before my class starts. It won’t do any harm, right?”

Me: “Actually, I was running an update on it, and this is the second time I’m going to have to start over because people can’t leave it alone.”

Teacher: “Really, how bad could it be? I need to get this done for my students. It’s not the end of the world.”

I look at the teacher. I look at the flash drive they’ve got plugged in. Then, I look back at the teacher.

Me: “Do you know which program I am trying to update?”

Teacher: “No, what?”

Me: “The security software. It stopped working on this computer. I wouldn’t plug that drive in anywhere else if I were you.”

The teacher went pale, snatched the drive out, and fled.

To be honest, it probably wasn’t that bad. It really was a routine update, but I was fed up with people not being able to follow very simple written instructions.

In the end, I shut down the computer, removed the power cord so no one could try to restart it, and waited for my coworker to come in for their shift. I then stayed behind for half an hour so I could finish the update while guarding the computer like an extremely vicious computer watchdog.

It’s probably been about twenty years since, but I still marvel at the fact that so many people with an upper-level education seem to be completely unable to read a simple sign.

Not Developing An Understanding

, , , , | Right | January 10, 2022

My girlfriend works for a state-funded company and was the lead on the re-design of their website. They already had a developer lined up, but his design skills were not on-par with what they had in mind. As a web designer, I was naturally my girlfriend’s first selection for the job. After five minutes of discussing what they need to be done, I know I will have to turn down the job to save our relationship. 

Client: “So we need you to design three different options for the website and it needs to be designed in HTML and CSS.”

Me: “Okay, but if I’m just designing it, what do you need me to do with the HTML and CSS? Am I designing and developing the site?”

Client: “Just designing it, what’s the problem?”

Me: “Well, if I am designing it, why do you need me to use HTML or CSS? I can develop the site too if that’s what you’re asking?”

Client: “No! You’re not listening! You’re just designing the page, but we need it to be designed in CSS and HTML so it can be developed by[Developer’s Name] for our website.”

Me: “I don’t think you understand what HTML and CSS are.”

Client: “Yes I do! I took a marketing class!”

Me: “…”

If You Had A Nickel For Every Mistake…

, , | Working | January 8, 2022

I do in-house design work for my boss. I’ve worked with her for ten years and she swings wildly back and forth from being surprisingly design-savvy (not for a literal decade of trying on my part) and being a client from Hell. Today, she swung somewhere in the middle.

I have spent the entire time I’ve known her explaining how you cannot just pull photos from Google; I’ve explained copyright, public domain, etc. She refuses to buy photos 99% of the time, so I usually use free stock photos when possible. When she absolutely needs to buy a photo, she emails our web guy and has him buy one for her and add it to her next bill.

Me: “I see you got [Web Guy] to purchase the photo for the ad and forwarded me the email with the file. Unfortunately, the file is too small. Unless he sent you a separate email with a larger file, I will just email him for the correct one.”

Boss: “Maybe it’s how I sent it. I’ll try again.”

She forwards me the same email.

Me: “No, no, it’s not you. The file he sent you is labelled “thumbnail,” which is a preview file. He probably just sent the wrong one by accident. I have emailed him.”

Boss: “What about this one?”

She sends an email with the same photo attached.

Me: “That’s the same one. I have emailed [Web Guy]. Don’t worry about it. You don’t have the correct file.”

She forwards the same original email from [Web Guy].

Boss: “What about now?”

Me: “No, boss, I’ll get it from [Web Guy].”

She forwards the individual email she sent me.

Boss: “How about now?”

Me: “Boss, no.”

Closure: She now has a stock photo account that I have access to.