back to article Software engineer sobers up to deal with 2:00 AM trouble at mill

It's Christmas Eve Eve, which means we're assuming you don't particularly want to read industry news right now and so we're instead offering an extra instalment of On-Call, our regular reader-contributed tales of nasty jobs at nasty times in nasty places. Today's yarn comes from reader “BT”, who told us that “More years ago …

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Twat!

Dear BT

Your boss was a twat of the highest order. And a crap coder, too! You're better out of it.

I have a couple of cracking anecdotes to share, including a 'men in black' type moment that happened in Signapore, but I don't know where to send them.

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Re: Twat!

Link at the bottom of the story. Or you can normally click on the author name on the full fat reg site.

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Re: Twat!

my definition of a Twat is a fellow who get called in more than once for the wrong shift without replacing his beeper with one from the same manufacturer as his boss.

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CT

There are still steel mills in Rotherham

see title

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Anonymous Coward

AC for obvious reasons but...

I was called out to fix very similar code although RPG2 not FORTRAN.

Was 11000 lines of unstructured mess with about 120 listed modifications (and the base code was so old it was written when I was still at junior school). Auto looping, jumps, switches, subroutines calls, and yes, the jump out of loops gem...Comments of course could relate to the original code or any iteration of the modifications so were not a lot of help even if they hadn't simply repeated the code rather than hint at its purpose. Why N90 switch (which turned out to be the problem ), What is X? why do these routines nest so deeply?

I was also rather foggy from previous night's festivities and the problem could not be replicated in a test environment.

Jump through hoops to allow debug in production to find the 1 character change (remove an N) after about 2 hours of ticking back trace data against the source.

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Re: AC for obvious reasons but...

Coders and developers don't usually do on call do they? Seems like a good way to make sure you get reliable code.

Except I was doing on call some years ago, and the devs were contactable as a last resort. One in particular used to write deliberate bombs into the code and then remind me that he was available if needed and to not hesitate to call, because he was on £120 remuneration if called out, and was not pleased that I figured out how to work round his "bug".

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Anonymous Coward

I worked for a boss that tried to code...

I replaced it...

Although on a different job on my very first day on call ever for a system I had never supported my partner did not respond to calls or pages.

I managed to find the solution and rectify the batch process to be told "its a great learning experience" the following day.

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Re: I worked for a boss that tried to code...

The code was C but not as we know it.

The boss was a COBOL programmer and used the pre-processor to make C look as much like COBOL as possible. Some of the changes needed were in code expanded from macros but not all instances from a given macro needed changing. I just ran the whole thing through cpp and treated the result as version 1.

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Coat

Re: I worked for a boss that tried to code...

I replaced it...

Replaced the code...or the boss?

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Anonymous Coward

One (in)famous easter bank holiday weekend...

Ended up fielding over 50 calls calling in team members that were not on call, even had my mum answering the phone so I could get on with the fixes as it was supposed to be family time. 5 different countries down, all for different reasons.

I did NOT get to enjoy a long weekend that year.

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If not on-call, just don't answer

Strictly-speaking, that's not the Right Way to behave, of course. And feel free to behave properly if your particular working environment warrants it -- and I am sure many here would appreciate it if you let us know which paradise you work at so they can try and join you -- But this bit here:

"Sadly the mill wasn't willing to take BT home, so he ended up sleeping on the control room floor".

...shows just how little appreciation there is for someone going out of their way to effectively save the day.

The only way crappy business practices will be fixed is if they impact the bottom line hard. And that will not happen if you answer the phone and fix the problem even when you are not on-call.

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Re: If not on-call, just don't answer

"The only way crappy business practices will be fixed is if they impact the bottom line hard. And that will not happen if you answer the phone and fix the problem even when you are not on-call."

Except that when they're fixed you might not be there to take advantage.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: If not on-call, just don't answer

That reminded me...

Worked on bank holiday after being called in...

PHB: The call out rate is over my remaining budget, wouldn't it be nice if you could just take today off in lieu?

Me: Isn't it double time on bank holiday, so that would be two days off in lieu.

PHB: Harrumpf. I'll pay the callout

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Re: If not on-call, just don't answer

"Except that when they're fixed you might not be there to take advantage".

Probably very true, that.

But this is a bit of a meta for-the-greater-good thing, really.

Though now that I think of it, business entities with shoddy business practices are probably not long for this world, anyway, so you're out of a job in the long run no matter what you do.

Now, I *am* a realist, so I realize that what most people will actually do is smile and take it while looking for a better job elsewhere. Except that since everyone else is doing exactly the same thing, they may as well look for a unicorn, for all the good it will actually do.

And so we are doomed to forever keep abandoning eternally sinking ships. Hopefully in time to avoid personal disasters.

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This post has been deleted by its author

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Re: If not on-call, just don't answer

We have three people on call out and all three of them are off the island, I was asked 'Are you going away for Christmas?'

'No'

'Then you won't mind coming out if we have a problem?'

'I would be pleased to help if we can arrange suitable payment'.

'Oh, what do you call suitable payment?'

'Well, when I last diid call out, I was getting triple time for Christmas, at a guaranteed minimum hours, if it went over the rate went up,Oh and I got a day off in lieu as well.'

' Umm! We'll let you know'.

Somehow I think I'll have a quiet weekend.

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Re: If not on-call, just don't answer

When leave and/or TOIL piles up and you're in a "use it or lose it" situation, that can focus management attention somewhat...

Me: I've just checked my leave calendar, and I've worked out that if I don't start taking leave this afternoon, I will lose some of it.

Boss: But it's the last week in August, you surely don't have over a month's worth of leave to take ?

Me: I do, and that calculation takes the five-day carry-over into account. Here's my leave request, see you first week in October !

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Re: If not on-call, just don't answer

"Strictly-speaking, that's not the Right Way to behave, of course"

Don't know about that. One of the best call logs I ever read was from an engineer at BP who wasn't on call when the <ahem> call came.

Issue: Noise coming from pager

Base cause: Batteries discovered in pager.

Resolution: Removed batteries from pager.

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Re: If not on-call, just don't answer

No, that was silent retribution from the transport manager for swearing at the boss...

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Re: The only way crappy business practices will be fixed

While I commiserate with that fact, my read on this one is that BT would have gotten canned because he didn't cover for The Boss.

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What a hero

Trouble at Mill was it???

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Re: What a hero

The Old Mill? There's trouble down at the Old Mill? No?

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Boffin

Re: What a hero

Trouble at Mill was it???

Aye lad, one on't cross beams gone owt askew on't treddle.

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Headmaster

Re: What a hero

> trouble at mill.

Such a faux pas should not go uncorrected.

As all men know, the proper phrase is "trouble a' mill".

Can we have an icon of a teacher with the other kind of flat cap please?

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Re: What a hero

When there's trouble at the mill, you always should expect an inquisition.

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Re: What a hero

And we woulda got away with it...

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Just recovering from a mini panic attack thanks to reading "it's Christmas Eve" and automatically skipping the double 'Eve'. Still safe from the in laws for another day, phew!

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Anonymous Coward

Obligatory xkcd reference

https://xkcd.com/275/ gets me through many a dull meeting with the in-laws. That, and sherry. The drink, not the horny aunt.

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Anonymous Coward

Christmas

During my 3 days off so far I've been interrupted by work every day, best one being asked for the machine administration password so they could install Spotify and listen to Christmas tunes. It was not provided naturally.

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Pint

Re: Christmas

I've been on vacation since Friday, and went in yesterday for a few hours. Vacation plans changed so I wasn't in the south of France and was able help out.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Christmas

I didn't see you there or even know you worked at my place Chivo but thanks for helping out. ;-)

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Re: Christmas

Grinch stole Crimbo.

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Re: Christmas

Tuesday was my last day this week, off all christmas until 4th Jan.

On Tuesday afternoon something major broke and I had visions of my time off being delayed, working late and the next day.

I found myself extremely focussed and concentrated on my task that afternoon.....

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It's not Xmas eve eve ...

... It's the Boxing Day after Solstice.

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Where have I slept when on duty?

In the early/mid 1980s it was usually cat-napping under my desk when the marketards turned the "shipping forcast" into something resembling a hockey stick at the end of a calender quarter ... Three weeks of 18 hour days ain't exactly fun. Went on every three months for nearly two years.

I was single, in my mid-20s, and the money and comp-time was better than good, so I put up with it ... Never again, though. That's a young man'sperson's game.

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Re: Where have I slept when on duty?

I don't suppose there is an explanation of what I think I read is there?

An hazarded guess would do.

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Anonymous Coward

One of the big benefits of spending Christmas with the folks...

Aside from my mother's excellent cooking, is that their house has absolutely no mobile signal at all on any network.

Therefore, if something does go bang and I'm not on duty, I don't get to hear about it. If there is an urgent problem that needs my input, my manager has my folks' home number and he's sensible enough not to call it unless something's on fire.

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This should not go under "ON CALL"

This should go under "BOSS CODE"

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This sort of thing...

... is why my mobile number and personal email addresses are sacrosanct, and my personal laptop is not configured to connect to the company network...

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My best one was post staff party, I was working (3 shift rota at a bank). I was so pi$$ed I couldn't remember leaving the party, let alone doing my entire departments nightshift work *and* the morning shift stuff. They appreiciated it being under the weather themselves and when asked about it when I came in the following night, I just told everyone the stuff was so repetitive I could literally do it unconscious.

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Coat

@Your alien overlord - fear me

I was so pi$$ed I couldn't remember leaving the party, [...]

You were angry leaving the party?

Oh, wait...Brit usage of "pissed". Never mind....

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Heroic

Drunk, in the middle of the night, under intense pressure attempting to debug someone else's code. Amazing.

Still, I'd have sent that artic round to the boss's house.

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Re: Heroic

Amazing? Positively Russian.

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Non IT Callout

I was woken by a phone call from the police to say that the company alarm was sounding. Fair enough, I lived closest.

Because I was so close, I got there moments before the police did, and as I placed my security key in the alarm panel, a police hand grabbed me and pulled me back through the front door, which slammed.

I was left with no keys, or ID. They didn't believe any of my protestations.

The person next on the key-holder's list lived 40 minutes away. It was bloody freezing. Try waiting 40 minutes in winter in 1 layer.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Non IT Callout

"A likely story, my lad. You look a bit terrorist, too, come to think of it. And a bit lightly dressed for this time of the year."

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Joke

Re: Non IT Callout

<quote>I was woken by a phone call from the police alarm company to say that the company alarm was sounding. Fair enough, I lived closest. "What, you say, I haven't worked for those assholes for more than 6 years, and I left under 'unpleasant circumstances', and YOU EXPECT ME to drive in to a former employer??? No, I don't have the asshole in charge's home phone number! Fuck off I say!!!!!"</quote>

FTFY, and it did happen.

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Anonymous Coward

Build room.

So the build room is where you take boxes of kit and assemble it (take server out of box). Its in the basement and its locked to stop terrorists from opening the door.

4pm Summer party booze up starts. By 8pm, its hot and we are all hammered, a few fallen (literally) by the wayside - heat makes you drink. More.

10pm, security pops into pub, theres a manager and an issue that is urgent. We draw straws (who's round it is not) and me and 'Kate' head back to the office and into the basement. After plugging it back in, we spend some time in the build room plugging it back in again.

What a tail.

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Paris Hilton

Re: Build room.

I have the feeling there some information missing. Who is Kate. Was was plugged out? Why did you plug it back in while plugging it back in? And was drunken basement sex involved?

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Pint

Re: Build room.

"I have the feeling there some information missing."

Remote diagnostics tell me that the Christmas festivities have already started, with similar amounts of booze on offer as that summer's day,

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Re: Build room.

When Kate said the name was "short for Bob", I think he was lying.

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