What turds have you been asked to polish? What turds have you been asked to polish?
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  1. #1

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    Default What turds have you been asked to polish?

    Some threads recently on the general subject of unrealistic client expectations and inheriting disaster projects have got me thinking today about some of my own past "learning experiences".

    The one that stands out for me was one chap from about ten years ago who'd designed the original version of his database schema in some cheapy desktop package apparently called "Dataworks". I know this, because although it'd moved on since then and had become an Access database by the time I was asked to look at it, the design still consisted of about three hundred tables that had all just been left with their default names of "Dataworks123", "Dataworks282", etc. To say it hadn't been normalised would be the understatement of the year. And he wondered why when he put customer data into "Dataworks157" the system wasn't smart enough to pick that up when he later tried to use a completely different table to populate a list of existing customers for some other part of his system. When I showed him that you can actually rename tables to something more meaningful, and establish relationships between them that enforced referential integrity it was like watching a drunk orangutan trying to understand an episode of Jeremy Kyle.

    Which un-polishable turds that would have required more than merely being rolled in glitter to make them sparkle as desired have you encountered in your travels?

  2. #2

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    palatino winotype has no reputation


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    I think you are being a little bit churlish.

    I love Halloween, me.

    Ok, its more of an American thing but any excuse for a knees up!

    That's what I love about this time of year, lots of celebrations over the period. Christmas, my birthday, firework night.

    Maybe I'll do diwali too!

  3. #3

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    Pondlife - scorchio!

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    Quote Originally Posted by palatino winotype View Post
    I think you are being a little bit churlish.

    I love Halloween, me.

    Ok, its more of an American thing but any excuse for a knees up!

    That's what I love about this time of year, lots of celebrations over the period. Christmas, my birthday, firework night.

    Maybe I'll do diwali too!
    Congrats on this one.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by palatino winotype View Post
    I think you are being a little bit churlish.

    I love Halloween, me.

    Ok, its more of an American thing but any excuse for a knees up!

    That's what I love about this time of year, lots of celebrations over the period. Christmas, my birthday, firework night.

    Maybe I'll do diwali too!
    Is your name "Jim", and did you once design a system called "Dataworks Magic", by any chance?

  5. #5

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    Back in my permie telecom days I was asked to test a shiny new in-house report to extract complaints data for statistical analysis. It promised all the whistles and bells you could ever wish for.

    The very moment I launched the report, arriving at a very impressive title page, the developer was over my shoulder. "You won't find any issues in this, I've been through it a dozen times already. It's perfect." he says.

    Really? Quoth I .... Who the f-ing hell is Ocfom then? It went downhill from there .....

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gentile View Post
    Is your name "Jim", and did you once design a system called "Dataworks Magic", by any chance?

  7. #7

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    suityou01 is NOT a disguised employee

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    Donkeys years ago I took a permie role with a firm that did visual inspection systems. They had a homemade system that was metal tube carcass, kitchen worktop, cupboard doors etc. The reason they could get away with this is because they were so niche.

    Anyhoo, the code was VB6 and this very odd developer had basically worked on this code on his own for years and years. I was to assist him. His code was awful, had no grasp of object orientation. It was spaghetti code. I hated it for months.

    But I found myself learning to think the way he though, and when I figured it out, his code made sense if you applied the fooked-up-thought filters accordingly.

    I look back and laugh, but it taught me to respect code that is in and working and take my time in understanding it. Badly written code in production systems is more of a challenge than a royal PITA since this experience. And if you think about it, you're more likely to come across tulipe code than brilliant code as you move from gig to gig.

    A wise person said to me this year, if everything in life was perfect, nothing would move.
    Knock first as I might be balancing my chakras.

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    Quote Originally Posted by suityou01 View Post
    ...Badly written code in production systems is more of a challenge than a royal PITA since this experience. And if you think about it, you're more likely to come across tulipe code than brilliant code as you move from gig to gig....
    I don't know whether it's unusual, but I'd say I've more often been exposed to examples of good work than bad on average. A huge irony I've found, though, is that those people that write the worst stuff are usually the most arrogant and blinkered to the fact that they've produced crap.

    E.g., on my last job I was literally working with people that between them had PhDs in Mathematics, advanced post-graduate degrees in automated search algorithms, and one particularly bright Polish guy that had every problem sorted out in his head before most of the rest of us had even understood what the problem was. Every single one of them was completely grounded and down to earth. You never heard them big up any of their considerable achievements. They didn't have to - the quality of their work spoke for itself.

    By contrast, the place I worked before that had a "Chief Technical Architect" who was also their sole and only developer at the time I came along. (It was that kind of place: everybody was a Director of Printing, Manager of Filing or some other inflated title). This guy was easily the most incompetent buffoon I've ever encountered in 22 years in technology. He'd come in without telling anyone else at 4am and break the code base trying out some nonsense that had occurred to him in his sleep. He'd talk at everyone from the CEO to the marketing people to me for hours about how he thought we should do our jobs, despite being demonstrably and grossly incompetent in his own limited responsibilities.

    One day, he brought the database server down by applying an untested patch. He should have tried applying it to the backup first, but he hadn't. (Rules were just there for other people to follow you see). So, we decided to bring the backup up to be the main server whilst we worked out what had gone wrong. He went off to do that, and next thing we knew the backup was broken as well. He'd applied the exact same patch to the backup before he brought it online, unable to believe that it was his patch that had caused so much trouble. Of course, he never learned from any of these mistakes, because he was deluded enough to believe that he never made any. I didn't stick around there for very long.

  9. #9

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    None, because I'm not a code monkey
    “Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.”

    ― Marcus Aurelius

  10. #10

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    Lots more here
    Brexit is having a wee in the middle of the room at a house party because nobody is talking to you, and then complaining about the smell.

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