back to article Did you test that? No, I thought you tested it. Now customers have it and it doesn't work

Welcome again to “Who, me?”, The Register’s Monday mess – because it tells readers tales of breaking things. This week meet “Harvey” who told us a tale from 1986 when he worked for a company that decided Commodore 64 owners deserved a cheaper disk drive than the official model 1541. Said drive was called the SuperDrive 2000* …

  1. Rich 11 Silver badge

    Have you sent a dud product or program into the world?

    Yes, but the less said about my children the better.

    1. macjules Silver badge

      Re: Have you sent a dud product or program into the world?

      I used to work in government. I think the question should be "Have you sent a product or program into the world that wasn't a dud?

  2. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    What about Windows?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      What about Windows?

      Never let reality intrude when people earn a living from telling the same lie, they are more than willing to game any system inorder to discredit the truth.

      Windows has indeed always been broken and even with constant "updates" Microsoft has never managed to remove all the errors.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What about Windows?

        "Windows has indeed always been broken and even with constant "updates" Microsoft has never managed to remove all the errors."

        There's a modern (or old) OS without errors? Do tell, I'd love to give it a spin.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What about Windows?

        "Windows has indeed always been broken and even with constant "updates" Microsoft has never managed to remove all the errors."

        Yes because Linux or any other OS never receives patches whilst still in support.

        1. Tigra 07 Silver badge

          Re: What about Windows?

          A simple Windows security update: 50MB+

          Average Linux security update: ~100KB

          Any particular reason for such a big gulf between the two?

          1. JulieM Silver badge

            Re: What about Windows?

            This is a bit like comparing apples to oranges, though.

            With Linux, a "patch" consists of a file which is basically machine-readable instructions for editing the Source Code (which you are expected already to have). You then recompile the modified parts of the Source Code and link them against other software already on your box, to produce new binaries. (Or, more probably, you simply let your package manager automatically download the binaries which were recompiled by your kernel distributor.)

            With Windows, a "patch" consists of the whole new compiled binaries.

            Something like "Close the speech marks on line 269, delete lines 454-568 and insert a new line at 455 with nothing on it but a closing posh bracket" -- especially when expressed as commands that a computer could understand -- takes rather less space than the whole program.

            1. Tigra 07 Silver badge

              Re: What about Windows?

              Good explanation Julie

          2. Nutria

            Re: What about Windows?

            <i>Average Linux security update: ~100KB</i>

            LOL no.

            The latest kernel update Ubuntu wants to install on 16.04 is 112MB.

            1. Tigra 07 Silver badge
              FAIL

              Re: Nutria

              *Cough * "Average" *Cough *

              Never mentioned Kernel, i said "security".

              Sincerely, an Ubuntu user

      3. Alan Bourke

        Re: What about Windows?

        Yeah, point me at the codebase of tens of millions of lines that has zero bugs. You have no idea do you.

  3. jake Silver badge

    Well ...

    Not just me, but a bunch of us managed to infect the planet with TCP/IP ... We knew it wasn't secure, and we knew it couldn't be made secure. But that was the entire point ... it was designed to make it easy to share stuff globally, not to block the sharing of that stuff. Not our fault that a bunch of technically clueless marketing types decided to bring it to the even more technically incompetent masses.

    1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

      Re: Well ...

      Vint? Bob? is that you?

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Well ...

        Nope. I'm just a nameless, faceless engineering student who got to Berkeley at roughly the same time as UNIX ... ken wandered onto campus half a year later, or thereabouts.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Well ...

        No, this is jake. He's done everything, especially when an article or commentard mentions having done it.

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: Well ...

          No, this is jake. He's done everything, especially when an article or commentard mentions having done it.

          I've said this before, but it's really not hard to have done the number of things jake says he's done, when you're in that demographic group.

          Hell, that post was nearly 5 years ago, and by now I could add a bunch of other things to my list. (Was granted a patent. Taught myself to plaster walls. Finished my Master's degree, and so on.)

          Life is short, but it's not that short.

  4. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Superdrive 2000 - I think I remember those being sold at Commodore Trade Shows back around that time, back in the day when I worked for a company selling modems out of a house in Exeter.

    The one story I'm comfortable telling is the time we picked up a load of freshly & untested Mustang cartridges for the C64 half way to yet another Commodore Trade Show from the assembly company.

    We didn't get time to set up the stand until the following day (I was superbly hung over as well) & none of the cartridges worked in any of our demo machines. I took our SX64 (Luggable C4), my tools & the box of cartridges to investigate the issue.

    In investigating the issue I resoldered the cable connections on the main board & in my drunken hungover state I was refitting the boards back in their cases the right way around without recognising what I was doing until I was supremely ill in the hotel bedroom (I'll let you draw the comparisons between the chilli I ate on the M4 some 10 hours earlier & how the bathroom smelt afterwards) & the synapses started firing in a slightly less painful manner.

    Having unplugged my soldering iron & the mini bar back in I eventually went downstairs with more working cartridges then went off to get something approaching food back in my stomach.

    On returning to the hotel room I picked up my soldering iron only to discover that housekeeping had unplugged the mini bar to hoover & plugged my iron back in instead, my synapses functioning a little bit better after some lunchtime food eventually noted the heat searing into my hand as I stupidly picked up the iron by the shaft & not the handle.

    Human flesh really does smell like pork.

    1. MarkB
      Facepalm

      Soldering irons

      Funnily enough this topic came up in a different forum recently. Many decades ago (about half a century) I discovered the hard way that if you drop a soldering iron, you should NOT try to catch it.

      1. Roger Kynaston
        Coffee/keyboard

        Re: Soldering irons

        You sir, owe me a new keyboard!

      2. DuchessofDukeStreet

        Re: Soldering irons

        The female half of the species learn that from curling tongs and hair straighteners, although I still manage to forget once a year or so...

      3. You have not yet created a handle
        Facepalm

        Re: Soldering irons

        or hook the soldering iron on the edge of your desk with the ever so handy handle, and then proceed to drop something on the floor, bend down and pick it up... I still to this day remember the sound and smell as it burnt into my forehead.. fortunate not to have been 1 inch lower and in the eye!

        Very appropriate icon!

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Soldering irons

        > ... if you drop a soldering iron, you should NOT try to catch it.

        How does your brain not recognise "safe bits to catch by", and let you go for the dangerous areas?

        Hmmm, maybe my catching reflexes are just more paranoid than yours. :)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Soldering irons

          Hmmm, maybe my catching reflexes are just more paranoid than yours. :)

          Reflexes can be dangerous. I remember a friend, some years back, who dropped a mug in the kitchen. Trying to stop it smashing on the floor she stuck her foot out to catch it. Her timing was off, she kicked it through the kitchen window...

          1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

            Re: Soldering irons

            Her timing was off, she kicked it through the kitchen window...

            And now plays for Arsenal?

          2. AndyMulhearn

            Re: Soldering irons

            I remember a friend, some years back, who dropped a mug in the kitchen.

            With me it was a china bowl and a shelf while I was washing the dishes. Put the bowl on the shelf, but not completely. Having been a regular participant in a full-speed, full-contact combat sport (OK it was Fencing) my reactions are still relatively quick and in some cases, the body reacts before the conscious mind has a chance to insert a little bit of sanity. So as the bowl started to fall, I put my left-hand out to catch it and managed to smash the bowl and then put my hand through the resulting sharp-edged mess.

            As I have no ability to look at my own blood outside the normal meat-bag context, i.e. running down my arm from what looked at the time like a nearly amputated finger, without feeling queasy, I proceeded to faint on the bathroom floor and ended up in casualty having my left middle finger butterflied. What a tw@...

            And the root cause of this accident? It was Friday, it was beer-o'clock, the pub was calling and I'd not done my share of the washing up that week. Didn't get to the pub but I did make it to the off-licence...

          3. J. Cook Silver badge

            Re: Soldering irons

            Heh- I did that stunt about a year ago with a glass canning jar that I used as a drinking mug- it slipped out of my hands from the dishwasher, and in my attempt to catch it, slammed it into the granite countertop, shattering the jar and giving me a fairly decent cut in my hand.

            I know well enough that you let a falling knife fall, and to back up to get your feet out of the way. :)

          4. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Soldering irons

          as to catching reflexes: they need proper training. Some of the, um, more well seasoned, technicians I've worked with had stories from their technical school days. In labs one of their pranks was to toss vacuum tubes (gives you an idea of how long ago this was) to unsuspecting lab mates. If you worked inn that lab, you quickly honed your reflexes, or you got really good at cleaning up broken glass.

          Once everyone got good at catching, they started to substitute high-voltage capacitors. Fully-charged HV caps.

      5. H in The Hague

        Re: Soldering irons

        "I discovered the hard way that if you drop a soldering iron, you should NOT try to catch it."

        Just under half a century ago a gentleman of the very old school showed me how to assemble a radio - a valve radio, outdated even then. The first two things he taught me were: Yes, a 60 W soldering iron is perfect for electronics assembly (and if you do have to solder those newfangled transistors just do it quickly), and: If you drop the soldering iron _don't_ try to catch it. (I later graduated to rather smaller soldering irons.)

      6. Terje

        Re: Soldering irons

        And don't hold them like the models in the advertisements do....

      7. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: Soldering irons

        Had a lady in a factory whose normal way to test her soldering iron was up to temperature each day was to stick it in the inside of her mouth or close to her cheek.

        Worked fine until she was startled one day.....

      8. Unicornpiss Silver badge
        Flame

        Re: Soldering irons

        Painful too is soldering with bare feet and dropping a big ball of molten solder right onto the webbing between your toes. I'm sure you can guess how I know this.

      9. Andrew Punch
        Thumb Up

        Re: Soldering irons

        I learned in my engineering degree - never try to catch anything.

        Anything mechanical or electrical will elicit an automatic "hands up" response if it drops.

        Hand icon... cause I'd like to keep mine thanks

        1. imanidiot Silver badge

          Re: Soldering irons

          I've got the stripe of a soldering iron on my right hand. Lost my balance while using a heavy duty (1kW) soldering iron in a ditch below me to solder some heavy gauge stuff. Landed right on top of the business end before I knew what had happened. Got some nasty burns from that as it took a while to get my hand off of the iron.

          And in terms of stupidity rather than clumsiness I've also burned the top of my head with welding rod. While practicing TIG welding, went to scratch my head without thinking and stuck the (recently melted) tip of the filler material right onto my scalp. Smelled a bit...

    2. jake Silver badge

      Indeed on the pork ...

      A friend of mine reached behind a large bank of relay racks and managed to get his Rolex watchband across the 48V supply ... The resulting loud "CRACK!" and fans spinning down, coupled with the smell of roasting/burning pork, were rather disturbing. To say nothing of the screaming. I managed to calm him down & get him to the ER ... Xrays showed little balls of gold melted into his wrist behind the 3rd degree charring. The surgeons later told him he was lucky to still have full use of his hand. Today, 25 years later, the scarring is still impressive, despite skin grafts. He got a new band for the watch, and now wears it on his other wrist. It still works.

      And people wonder why I always take off my wedding ring when working on electrical stuff. Yes, that includes the cars, trucks, boats etc.

      1. wyatt

        Re: Indeed on the pork ...

        I'm the same, no jewellery any time it may get caught. Story was told to me in Junior school (7/8 years old) where a child had a ring on and climbed a fence, got it stuck and fell off stripping their finger to the bone. Ever since then it was a no no, really upset the wife until she got her ring caught and damaged one of the stones, fortunately nothing else. So easy to short a circuit or get something stuck.

        1. Chris G Silver badge

          Re: Indeed on the pork ...

          No jewellery was one of the first things we were taught at college many years ago.

          When I was a teenager I was working up a ladder, I slipped going down the ladder and a ring my girlfriend had given me caught on one of the rungs and produce a deep cut 3/4 of the way round my finger, after that no rings at work.

          One of my friends was a toolmaker at a fax machine manufacturer in the '70s,he told me one of electrical techs electrocuted himself by dangling his silver Saint Christoper necklace into the live chassis of a fax he was working on.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Indeed on the pork ...

            Re: neckware. Ever get a tie caught in a cooling fan or a line printer? There's a reason that ties were fair game for anyone with a pair of scissors at most early Silly Con Valley companies.

            I see my boo-bird/fanboi is having a busy morning. Glad I can give you something to look forward to. Have a nice week! :-)

            1. sandman

              Re: Indeed on the pork ...

              When I was taking a metal-working course at a local Tech College back in the mid-70s, wearing a tie was compulsory. Of course, you were wearing it under a boiler suit, but one guy nearly did a face-plant into a lathe doing 1500rpm when his tie got free. Moronic policy.

              1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

                Re: Indeed on the pork ...

                metal-working course at a local Tech College back in the mid-70s, wearing a tie was compulsory

                At college in the mid-80's (doing Computer Studies) we were required to do a metalwork section - presumably so we could learn CnC - except none of the machines *were* CnC.

                Anyway - we were required to wear the brown workshop coats - most of which were in a pretty bad way. After the second time[1] that the trailing sleeve of mine got caught in the mechanism of a (fortunately) slow-turning lathe I started carrying rubber bands to bind the sleeves with.

                [1] First time, the sleeve material was so rotten that the cuff tore straight off and no damage. Second time, I got a nasty friction-burn from the sleeve as it started to tear and pull off. Fortunately, the emergency stop button also applied a brake otherwise I suspect that I wouldn't have most of my right hand.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Indeed on the pork ...

                When I worked at fry's They insisted on dress shoes in receiving and ties every were even when working the banding machine.

              3. John H Woods

                Re: Indeed on the pork ...

                I'd have worn a bow tie... Medics wear them for similar reasons.

              4. J. Cook Silver badge

                Re: Indeed on the pork ...

                "...but one guy nearly did a face-plant into a lathe doing 1500rpm when his tie got free."

                I happened to see pictures of what happens when a person wearing a long-sleeve shirt got caught in a turning lathe. They were *not* pretty, and almost vomit inducing.

                I stopped wearing watches and rings for similar reasons long, long ago.

            2. heyrick Silver badge

              Re: Indeed on the pork ...

              "Ever get a tie caught in a cooling fan or a line printer?"

              When I did tech support for an office: long hair and laser printer. Never yanked a power cable out so fast in my life...

          2. Stuart21551

            Re: Indeed on the pork ...

            St Chris - the one who protects you on your journey? Hurried this guy on his!

          3. Tigra 07 Silver badge
            Thumb Down

            Re: Indeed on the pork ...

            I remember someone at school jumped over one of those construction fences on the school field and the ring on their finger got caught on the top...Leaving a ripped off finger up there.

            It wasn't a thumb but it's an appropriate icon >>>

        2. IsJustabloke
          Coat

          Re: Indeed on the pork ...

          It's not a wedding band unless it's causing you pain.

          1. Omgwtfbbqtime Silver badge

            Re: Indeed on the pork ...

            From wedded to welded?

        3. rmason Silver badge

          Re: Indeed on the pork ...

          No burning pork here but rings:

          One of the volunteers/coaches when I played U11 football lost a finger in front of us lot.

          Removing nets from goalposts post-match and his wedding ring caught on one of the hooks on the crossbar, lost the top half of the relevant finger.

          Unrelated jewelry anecdote is unrelated. As you all were.

        4. Stevie Silver badge

          Re: ring

          Whereas I had an old and very heavy steel garage roll-up door lose its springs and come down on my fingers.

          The ring is still flat on one side and I'm still wearing it.

        5. Blessed Cheesemaker

          Re: Indeed on the pork ...

          When I was in the military, I never met so many people with 4 fingers on one hand or the other.

          The story was, invariably, "I was doing (x/y/z...'jumping off truck/repairing truck/etc.) when my ring caught the p/q/r (door/handle/rotating piece of equipment, etc.)"

          Since then, I always take off any jewelry when doing any work. Getting divorced also helped!

      2. Blank Reg

        Re: Indeed on the pork ...

        I stopped wearing my wedding ring decades ago after getting a good zap while working in a rack of 48v telecom equipment, No permanent injuries, but my hand was numb for about an hour.

      3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Indeed on the pork ...

        why I always take off my wedding ring when working on electrical stuff

        Oldest brother (he of the tree surgery ownership) has a very flimsy wedding ring. The theory being that if his hand is caught in a tree and held in place by the wedding ring, he can break it quite easily.

        Personally, I'd take mine off if I was doing something risky[1]..

        [1] ie - not sitting in a nice warm office, looking at dodgy websites..

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Indeed on the pork ...

        I think it was all the way around. That rolex metal was the preferable conductor instead of his flesh and bones.

        He would have died.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Indeed on the pork ...

          "I think it was all the way around. That rolex metal was the preferable conductor instead of his flesh and bones."

          Flesh and bones don't conduct much at 48VDC. In that situation, metal turned a harmless situation into burns, that's the primary danger. A secondary danger could be in the metal object were to get welded to a terminal, precluding a quick disconnection.

          Now, if the situation was a 480 VDC battery bank, different story.

          1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
            Go

            Re: Indeed on the pork ...

            Not quite the same, but some years back for a offshore company I worked for, someone was playing with the opened body of a laser range\distance finder that wasn't working.

            His fingers hit the HT & he threw it straight through a fortunately open window, despite being on the ground floor for some strange reason it never found any ranges again after that.

      5. Thomas_Kent

        Re: Indeed on the pork ...

        I'm a retired US Air Force radar technician. Number one rule of working around electronics: "No watches, rings, or wire-rim glasses!"

        Also, we were advised to take off our dog tags and put them in our pocket.

        1. Mark 85 Silver badge

          @Thomas_Kent---Re: Indeed on the pork ...

          Same here (USMC though) except for the wire-rim glasses. They required the elastic straps. Also, no neckties, and for some things (high voltage equipment like radio transmitters) no belt buckles.

          When I started work in engineering, my job required lab and field testing. So same rules which irritated manglement as they were insistent on ties, etc. Until one of them nearly died when his necktie got caught. Rules changed quickly within days of that happening.

          1. Stevie Silver badge

            Re: Ties

            Clip-ons.

            Gordon Bennet, does no-one think through how it works with security guards, prison staff and police?

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Indeed on the pork ...

          Speaking of, buddy of mine worked on radar systems while deployed to Kuwait. He tells me one day he is finishing up some maintenance up around the business end of the unit when he suddenly feels his watch get uncomfortably warm. Apparently some yahoo missed the note not to energize and lit him up.

          He had a couple of kids afterward, the results of which gave his story credibility.

          Also told me his team were not too fond of the comms guys as they got to sit around all day in air conditioning.

          Anonymous in case I ain't supposed to be telling or he doesn't want anyone else to know. Two people can keep a secret if one of them is dead!

      6. mrchuckles

        Re: Indeed on the pork ...

        When it was still possible to work in small-scale manufacturing in this country and long before I became a developer and de-facto "computer guy" for everyone I met or was related to, I spent some time in engineering (proper). No Jewellery as a rule became self evident the first time I drilled a hole through my finger after not paying attention to what I was wearing.

        Stuff like that definitely (stories of hair and dangly necklaces getting caught in lathes, getting your hand crushed in a press or your fingers ground down by a horizontal grinder etc), focuses the mind, and I possess no jewellery whatsoever.

        Machinery of any kind, but especially machines with whirly blades and spinning things integral to their operation, make for a poor companion to vanity.

      7. Fihart

        Re: Indeed on the pork ...

        Got to be careful with a Rolex. Case is made from surgical steel and the bit where the strap attaches ends in a sharp edge. Apparently, Rolex-owning skydivers are advised to remove them or risk serious wrist injury on landing.

      8. Tikimon Silver badge

        Re: Indeed on the pork ...

        NO CAPES!

      9. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
        Holmes

        Re: Indeed on the pork ...

        A friend of mine did that with his watch strap hitting the HT of the TV he was working on, a cry of pain as he dragged forcibly his hand & arm up along the solder joints on the PCB.

        It took him a while to stop shaking & even longer for the blood to stop dripping on a OAPs carpet.

    3. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

      The Smell....

      I haven't done that with a soldering iron but picked up a tranga with bare fingers before.

      The tips turned the same shade of white as bacon when you first put it in the pan.... also lost my fingertips for a couple of weeks. Took a while to look at a pork steak the same way again....

      1. Tim99 Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: The Smell....

        @Sgt_Oddball

        You picked up a red-haired transvestite? Or a portable stove?

        1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: The Smell....

          The trangia portable stove... missed the 'I' ....

          If only the comments section was easier to type into and read on a phone.

          As for a red haired transvestite... never had the pleasure (!?)

        2. eldakka Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: The Smell....

          > You picked up a red-haired transvestite? Or a portable stove?

          I'm pretty sure either will leave you with a burning and itching sensation.

      2. Colonel Mad

        Re: The Smell....

        Trangia (Camping Stove)

      3. J.G.Harston Silver badge

        Re: The Smell....

        Taking down a section of fencing for a delivery, assistant angle-grinding some champhers on the security bolts so we could get a spanner on them. "Ok, just hold the nut so I can turn the bolt head". Sssss!!!! Arrhh!!!

      4. Cynic_999 Silver badge

        Re: The Smell....

        "

        I haven't done that with a soldering iron but picked up a tranga with bare fingers before.

        "

        Tranga? Google reveals no likely meaning. Closest to anything relevant is a red-headed transvestite.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: The Smell....

          Probably a typo. Try Trangia.

      5. ricardian

        Re: The Smell....

        I had to look up "tranga", I am sure you did not mean "dying salmon"

    4. caffeine addict Silver badge

      My father used to tell the story of doing this in a science class (back in the days that teachers were coal powered and electricity hadn't been invented yet). Went to tidy up the bunsen/tripod/gauze combo. Apparently your can hold a suitably hot gauze for a surprisingly long time before the remaining nerves kick in and tell you to drop the thing. And, yes, cooking pork.

      1. WallMeerkat

        The bunsen story - did the same picking up a pair of tongs that had been used to burn something or other over the bunsen.

        Blistered fingers that couldn't write for a week. Not that the teachers cared about my handwriting suddenly resembling a 5 year olds.

      2. ArrZarr Silver badge
        Unhappy

        @Caffeine addict

        That reminds me of a time at school when somebody held the Gauze over a Bunsen burner until it went red hot then proffered the (no longer red) hot corner and asked me to put it in the cupboard that I was standing next to.

        It still shows on my fingerprint.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I always use the handle.

      Train muscle memory before it makes a mistake!

    6. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Human flesh really does smell like pork.

      I had a (somewhat overweight) friend sit on a hot soldering iron once (in sitting down, he managed to drag it out of the cradle and onto his seat).

      Apparently, he only knew it was happening when he smelt burning pork. Seems to be not too many sensory nerves in the back of your legs!

    7. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

      Having fielded a small blob of molten metal with my exposed thumb when welding, and putting the painful extremity instantly into my mouth to cool it down, I am in a position to tell you that, roasted, I not only smell like pork, and taste like pork, but that my skin and subcutaneous fat does a very good imitation of crackling...

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Had a close call

    At a global financial services company that I wont name...I was a lead developer at the time

    Call from developers based in USA to UK at (of course) about 16:00 on Friday. "We absolutely have to have all this software deployed tonight. You must sign off the change urgently".

    Me "er, were we expecting a major release today? Can you tell me what the changes do?"

    USA "we can't tell you, its too complicated...just sign off the change urgently"

    At this point my developer spidey sense kicks in and warns me that this sounds a bit risky. Its late in terms of batch windows, briefing on-call, and for an apparently major & complex release that has less than satisfactory documentation.

    I start to surf the code they had provided. Some didn't compile (WTF) some was clearly missing changes from intermediate releases, some contained basic functional errors I could detect without even worrying about what it was actually all for..."

    I called back and said words to the effect of "there is no way I am approving this its not ready, and who is sponsoring it your side?"

    USA devs "you mustn't delay this, we have already told the business its going in today! You must be mistaken if you think its not deployable."

    I smell a proper rat now and draw a line under it and in essence tell them that I am not approving, and indeed I am pre-escalating (their likely next move) and ensure my senior managers know that this is not fit for purpose however there seems to be an ill defined urgency about it.

    A great deal of toing and froing later. I stick to my position.

    The following week it all turns out to be a disaster of epic proportions of wasted time, unapproved or poorly defined code changes, etc etc.

    Near miss!

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Had a close call

      Back in my day, the conversation went something like this:

      Management: MARKETING SEZ WE GOTTA SHIP IT!!!!

      Engineer: Sorry, it's not ready to ship. I'm not signing off on it.

      Marketing: BUT YOU HAVE TO! WE HAVE ADVERTISING READY!!!

      Engineer: Ok, Marketing, YOU sign off on it.

      Marketing: BUT WE'RE NOT QUALIFIED TO DO THAT!!!

      Management: Now, now, Engineer. Be nice to Marketing. They have ADVERTISING!!!

      Engineer: Then you sign off on it, Management. I'm not going to.

      Management: We could FIRE you for this insurrection!!!

      Engineer: Go ahead. Then you'll never have a working product.

      Management: ::sputter::

      Management: OK, WE'LL HIRE NEWLY MINTED ENGINEERS TO SIGN OFF!

      Marketing: Yeah! That's EXACTLY what we'll do! (BTW, what does "sign off" mean?).

      Management: (It's a technical term. I don't really get it either. Don't worry about it.)

      Marketing: (Thank heavens for that. Ignoring technical stuff is easy for me.)

      Engineer: Good luck with that, guys. I'm taking early retirement. Have fun.

      RIP, DEC

      1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        Re: Had a close call

        @Jake

        Have you just left Retro Computers Ltd??

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Had a close call

          No. Self employed since 1988 ... Working for other people gives me hives.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Had a close call

        In a past life, I worked for a company which had decided to cut ties with an outsourcing supplier. For various reasons, it was decided that this split had to be Top Secret, and so a team was assembled to rewrite various bits of the system and APIs which were deemed potentially vulnerable if the supplier decided to take things badly.

        However, in an attempt to minimise the risk of the supplier discovering anything, the project was deemed Top Secret within the company as well. And this was taken to a fairly ridiculous conclusion when the time came to seek deployment approval.

        "What does this project involve?" Can't tell you

        "What testing have you done" Can't tell you

        "What's your risk mitigation plan" Can't tell you

        "What's the worst case scenario in the event of a rollout failure?" Can't tell you...

        Obviously, as a Top Sekrit Important Thing, it got rolled regardless - and it must be said, it did come as a complete surprise to the supplier.

        Alas, the same can also be said for the rest of the company, who found themselves dealing with a load of changes (and associated bugs and process issues) which no-one had been able to prepare for!

        1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
          Headmaster

          Re: Had a close call

          Always live by the engineering mantra to sales and marketing minions -

          "Just because you made a promise doesn't mean I have to keep it for you..."

          1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

            Re: Had a close call

            "Just because you made a promise doesn't mean I have to keep it for you..."

            And the followon: "your incompetence does not constitute my emergency".

            1. Grant Fromage

              Re: Had a close call

              "Just because you made a promise doesn't mean I have to keep it for you..."

              And the followon: "your incompetence does not constitute my emergency".

              A close partner is " A dropoff and/or panic on your part does not equal a crisis situation for me, unless it is a potential ship sinker needing all hands on deck. That includes yours".

              There should be capitals shouting somewhere in there I feel

              Time after time the instigators run and hide (updating CV`s? friend phoning?) and are not contactable to aid the fix for their all encompassing fkup.

            2. ma1010 Silver badge
              Facepalm

              Re: Had a close call

              Where I used to work, we had a sales guy who was the infamous "last minute guy," always doing everything at the last minute. He'd be going to meet with a client and need you to work overtime to help him get his presentation crap ready because he was basically incompetent. I got tired of it and put a sign up in my office that said "YOUR LACK OF PLANNING DOES NOT CONSTITUTE AN EMERGENCY TO ME." He saw the sign and enthused all over, said he absolutely loved it and was going to make one for his office. Did I mention he was REALLY thick?

              1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                Re: Had a close call

                "Did I mention he was REALLY thick?"

                No but you did say he was a sales guy. For them words are just squiggles when written or sounds when spoke; they don't have meaning.

                1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                  Re: Had a close call

                  "No but you did say he was a sales guy. For them words are just squiggles when written or sounds when spoke; they don't have meaning."

                  Of course they have meaning. They mean whatever they say they mean at the time they say them, but will likely mean something else next time.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Had a close call - @jake

        Pretty much that. In my case the situation was this:

        1. We had a complicated bug that was only showing up on a customer site.

        2. Customer demands the bug be fixed, right now.

        3. We had written a nice piece of test code that could identify and report the bug, which we knew was actually the result of another device sending bad data - but we didn't know what the bad data was.

        4. Marketing would not let us deploy the test code to the customer because "they would lose confidence in us" (translation: we've told them that we know what it is and there is a fix)."

        5. Impasse.

        6. The IT support at the customer ask me if I can deploy the test code. I say I'm not allowed to without it passing through QA. The relevant QA person has been made redundant. I await events.

        I am summoned before general manager who has a massive strop at me because I don't have a fix for the unidentified bug and am risking the company losing a customer by talking to the IT support behind his back. I am demoted onto back end work and a new hire is put in charge of me. I speak to my lawyer. He says I have a case but do I want to take it to tribunal? I'm over 60 so I decide to just stick around a bit.

        Months pass...

        The General Manager disappears and the CEO asks pretty please will I go back to my old job again. The bug is still not fixed. The QA function is still lacking. I take early retirement by an email in which I say "unfortunately I am not in a position to assist this company any more."

        I have no idea whether the bug ever got fixed, but the biggest bug in the company was surely between the ears of the general manager.

    2. ArrZarr Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Had a close call

      @OP AC

      The Mgmt overruled you eventually and the fix went in. You were working for TSB at the time and I claim my £5.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Coat

        @ArrZarr

        No, he said a *global* financial services company. Obviously it was Visa!

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Had a close call

        "You were working for TSB at the time"

        No, he said it was a near miss. TSB was a bullseye.

        1. Olivier2553 Silver badge

          Re: Had a close call

          "No, he said it was a near miss. TSB was a bullseye."

          Technically, a near miss *is* a bullseye. Almost missed, but not quite so, a near miss is a proper hit :)

          1. Stevie Silver badge

            Re: Had a close call

            Technically the noun is "miss".

            Shenanigans.

    3. Robin

      Re: Had a close call

      "Call from developers based in USA to UK at (of course) about 16:00 on Friday."

      Ah the good old 4pm emergency. It's why I started working 10am-6pm shifts. I get a lie-in in the mornings and my 8am-4pm colleagues get to go home on time, while I spend 15 minutes finding out that's it usually not an emergency after all.

      1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Had a close call

        & indeed get home in a fraction of the time as the rush hour traffic has abated.

    4. Paul

      Re: Had a close call

      I had an urgent release to make and it was very close to christmas, and testing hadn't been done because people had already packed up and gone.

      I was fairly confident my code was up to scratch, but then I was quite ill and really shouldn't have been working. I was talking to the head of software dev, X, over the phone and I didn't want to deploy as I hadn't had any sign off, no written record of any testing other than my own, and he told me to go ahead and announce it to the regular internal email list. Working for X had been a very unpleasant experience in general.

      I made the deployment ready (java on tomcat). I sent a message to the release mailing list, which crossed many departmental boundaries - dev, sysadmin, testing, marketing - that I was deploying the release and that X had told met that it was OK despite the normal testing cycle not being done, then I hit the deploy button.

      A few seconds later X rang, and said "you can't say that!". I replied "I don't understand, what can't I say?". X says "You can't announce that you deployed without the normal QA because I told you". I feigned a little innocence and said "but I was only repeating what you told me". He was exasperated and hung up. Fortunately the release was good and all was well. I think X had planned to throw me under the bus if it had been a disaster.

  6. Vanir

    Worse still ...

    New and/or updated sofware was known to have significant bugs via code reviews and 'testng', Still went out to the customer. The bug list, critical and otherwise, just keeps getting longer and wider.

    The customer-user is the A1 tester. They are paying the developer for the privilege of being a tester in more ways than one.

    But this is the norm for software development.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Worse still ...

      We used to have a rule about updates:

      Nothing goes live after lunch.

      Nothing goes live on a Friday.

      Unless you, the developer, are the one on-call.

      Worked very well. Oddly enough, nobody wanted to put their code live when they were the on-call support.

      1. tip pc Bronze badge

        Re: Worse still ...

        Oddly enough, nobody wanted to put their code live when they were the on-call support.

        i can see how some people might think its a way of making easy money. Do your normal thing, add some bunkem, get called out, easily remove the nonsense you deliberately put in and then get paid for a few extra hours of on call for not having to do much.

        1 place i worked at our second line guys did exactly that, came in on the weekend, used the gym, goofed about effectively got paid for avoiding the family. I only found out when i came in to do some needed out of hours work that needed senior managerial approval because they where wanted to keep staff costs down, mainly as they where spending it on unnecessary overtime by the 2nd line guys.

        1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
          Black Helicopters

          Re: Worse still ...

          Two network contractors at G5K used to get away with authorising each others heavily inflated timesheets.

          They only got caught when someone overhead them talking about going up in their jointly owned helicopter on the weekend, when the timesheet said they were both working.

      2. Unicornpiss Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Worse still ...

        Yes, we won't even reboot a server if avoidable if it's Friday and late in the day. You're just asking for your weekend to be spoiled, as the universe has a cruel sense of humor and does not treat kindly those that say "Well, what could possibly happen?"

    2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Worse still ...

      But this is the norm for software development.

      I believe it's called "Agile".

    3. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Worse still ...

      Isn't that the way MS is doing things: "Our customers are our testers."... ?

      The more things change, the less they really do.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Worse still ...

        Isn't that the way MS is doing things: "Our customers are our testers."... ?

        No the users are the testers. They're also the product. The customers are those who buy the slurped data.

  7. mark l 2 Silver badge

    A series of similar mistakes at my old place of work where multiple people were working on the same machines and they were getting shipped out to client with missing software/drivers/wrong config etc, because everyone assumed someone else has done that part.

    Since it was only a small company everybody was expected to do all roles so there was no one officially in charge of QC. This lead us to implement checklist procedure where the PCs wouldn't be shipped until all the check boxes had been ticked and the initials of the person doing the task recorded. It was such as simple change but has a massive improvement as we never has another machine get shipped with missing software or wrong config after bringing in the change.

    1. imanidiot Silver badge

      Rule number one in any sort of support or troubleshooting role: "Everyone is an idiot. That includes yourself!" Unless you have proof something was done, assume the person is an idiot and check it yourself. Because people are idiots and lie about doing things. Sometimes intentionally.

      1. mstreet

        "Because people are idiots and lie about doing things. Sometimes intentionally"

        Reminds me of the time a users laptop mysteriously stopped booting. User had no clue why, apparently it just 'went dead'.

        The coffee that poured out of it when I turned it upside down to check the SN, told a different story.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "everybody was expected to do all roles"

      If it's everybody's job it's nobody's job.

    3. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Much like a place in Calgary, everybody was so busy looking to catch someone else in the wrong in the imagng of new machines that they never seemed to be paying attention to what they did.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I don't see the issue...

    ..apart from being a few decades ahead of his time, isn't this pretty much how much IoT / Disruptive technologies "work" these days?

    No joke icon...

  9. Tam Lin

    There are no bugs, just unreasonable customers

    Google/Motorola/Lenovo/Fi released Android 8.1 for the X4 Fi in April, after which, if you'd like to actually use the phone, requires all of the phone's security to be turned off (no password allowed, fingerprint scanner must be disabled).

    Seriously, that's their official fix (Solution!). They've closed the bug report and harass anyone who re-reports it. I presume 8.2 will post the complete contents of X4s to a public GoogleDocs page.

    Still, that's better than Microsoft's response when their "Insider" tag team techs trashed a Windows 10 install they were troubleshooting because it failed to (mumble)grade to 1709.

    "Hmmm... <click>"

  10. Paul Shirley

    copy protection fail

    Long, long ago we decided to ship Spindizzy Worlds leaving the game editor included as a secret bonus. Where secret really meant we'd leak the access hack and manual in time for launch as part of the promotion grind.

    All going well till the copy protection was bolted on and no one remembered to check if the save function still worked...

    More successful was the non standard MFM floppy disc coding cobbled together so I could nuke the Amiga OS, that confused the disc duplicators when they spotted it but worked anyway.

  11. Boothy

    IBM Software

    I can remember many years ago getting a new version of one of the components in the IBM WebSphere Message Broker products range (this was about 10 years or so ago), this version was only going out to select 'partners', and one of our devs was asked to do some evaluation. i.e. See if any of the new features would be useful, worth the effort to update to, if there was migration issues, bugs etc.

    Whilst evaluating one of the new features, he noticed it didn't work the way he was expecting, and on reading the new manual (big print out, not even a PDF available yet), he noticed the process in the docs didn't actually work, and to get the feature to work, he had to set various things in the UI in a bit of a workaround process.

    This was reported back to IBM as part of our feedback process. With the expectation being we'd get a patch for the software to remove the need for the workaround.

    About two weeks later some new manuals arrived from IBM, now containing updated instructions on how to use this feature. Which now contained the workaround instructions, basically word for word as provided by our dev! They'd obviously decided it was easier/cheaper to just update the manual, than fix the software!

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: IBM Software

      "They'd obviously decided it was easier/cheaper to just update the manual, than fix the software!"

      The converse of the Feynman story. As part of the Challenger investigation he was looking at the process for recycling the booster segments after they'd been knocked out of round. There were a series of holes and the opposite ones at the point of the bulge had to be lined up in a machine to apply a squeeze. There were problems counting off the correct number of holes to locate the correct pair. He suggested painting a series of marks so only a few holes would have to be counted off. He was told it would be too expensive. "To paint a few marks?" "No, to update the manuals."

  12. Baldrickk Silver badge

    Empty...

    I was one of a group in my IT class who found that when you took a 3.5" floppy, took the actual disk out and glued it together before putting it back into the drive, magic happened.

    Specifically the type of magic where Windows 98 (or was it ME/2000? The school had some older and some newer machines) decided that it didn't like it one bit and just killed all power - not even a BSOD.

    With the metal sleeve reattached, it looked no different from a normal drive unless someone tried pulling it back.

    Floppies were still the most used method of taking data home, and people would be happy to swipe any that were left around.

    This was at its most fun when someone has been working on an essay all lesson and hadn't saved a local copy, instead intending to just save straight to a disk...

    Or the more direct method used by some others in my class of just walking up and sticking the disk in someone else's machine.

    If nothing else, my class learned to save their work regularly.

    1. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

      Re: Empty...

      Excellent hack.

      Pity the stiffy drive's all but forgotten now... would've loved to try this trick on my PFY :)

      Not to digress - colleague of mine dumped all sorts of viruses and trojans to a stiffy disk, and labelled it clearly "DO NOT USE - VIRUSES" and left it on his desk.

      Of course somebody phoned in to complain that their PC's all acting up now - just because said person "borrowed" that "special" stiffy to copy some documents over...

      @all windows weenies - can't take a joke, eh? (I refer to the second post which got 10 downvotes)...

    2. jeffdyer

      Re: Empty...

      That was you,was it? cnut.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And it's even worse today...

    So in the 1990s, I was working in a development group at AT&T. We'd stage servers in New Jersey, and ship the entire hw/sw solution to customers worldwide. The boot tapes would include both the HP-UX OS, and the team's software, tweaked for each specific telecom around the world.

    But... when the software wasn't ready, we sent blank tapes. In the days/weeks it would take for the customer to figure out that the tape was "defective", we'd hustle and come up with some usable solution.

    We made sure that the tapes were all properly and officially labeled, of course. :)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: And it's even worse today...

      I've done that with review documents when I hadn't had time to implement review comments. I sent the original out again as the updated version while frantically working on the actual updates. Easy mistake, sorry, etc.

      It's surprising how few people noticed.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: And it's even worse today...

        "I've done that with review documents when I hadn't had time to implement review comments. I sent the original out again as the updated version while frantically working on the actual updates. Easy mistake, sorry, etc.

        It's surprising how few people noticed."

        You think? Most people don't RTFM unless told to :-)

        1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

          Accidents happen, too

          In the early days of software distribution on CDROM we got a CD with a Fortran compiler distribution kit for a Microvax. At least, that's what it said on the label. It wouldn't load, claimed to be unreadable, but before returning it one bright spark dropped it into a CD "Workman" player to see what would happen. Turned out to be a Springsteen album.

          Presumably a mixup of masters in the CD pressing factory.

    2. MrBanana

      Re: And it's even worse today...

      A blank tape or disc would have been noticed by my customers in just a few hours. So, when you didn't have anything to ship, the process was this: Start writing something that looked like the correct install files to media, open media door part way through (we're talking about the 5 1/4" floppy and QIC-150 era here) to generate an IO error. Put broken media in an inappropriate mailing package. Dance on the package so there is an obvious footprint and other plausible wear and tear marks on the outside. Send package. Act surprised, and blame The Post Office, when media is not readable by the customer. Before the advent of downloads over a "network", that would buy you a couple of days development time. Who said we weren't agile back then?

    3. PM from Hell
      Mushroom

      Re: And it's even worse today...

      I had this experience as a customer, a certain world wide software company had agreed to partner with us developing a property management system. they were about to miss the code delivery milestone and faced some financial penalties. The software was being developed on an AIX platform, amongst the cartridges they sent was a 3480 mainframe cartridge which we knew they couldn't have written to. on the third attempt they actually sent a cartridge which we had a drive for on a different machine (But there were no IAX drivers available for it). We could finally unpack the tar file to discover that surprise surprise all it contained was an empty directory structure.

      Even then they refused to admit the code wasn't ready.

  14. JassMan Silver badge

    Yeah but... Yeah but

    The picture isn't even a real C64 its from a revamped mini C64 called theC64. Which sounds like a good toy till you get to the last "Feature"

    • High Definition output at 720p via HDMI
    • Pixel Perfect graphics at 4:3 ratio, with full width, CRT filter and US/Europe display mode options
    • Save game function
    • 2 USB ports: plug in a USB keyboard and use as a fully functional home computer with C64 BASIC, or add a second joystick for 2-player games
    • Supports software updates via USB flash drive
    • Note: The keyboard keys are non-functional

    Is Harvey's old boss working there?

  15. kain preacher Silver badge

    Testing is for wimps. Real mean just ship it out and then cries like babies went it hits the fan.

  16. Rich 10
    Black Helicopters

    I worked for a company that went through a very traumatic experience. One of their employees got their smock caught in a piece of machinery and was unable to break free - the site was gruesome and they went through and set up all their machinery to have an auto-stop if any tension even slightly approaching that level was detected. I knew long time employees there that were excused from working in that room.

    1. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Hmm. When I hear people whinge about health and safety or having to risk assess a situation I think of these kind of stories.

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