back to article Spent your week box-ticking? It can't be as bad as the folk at this firm

Friday has rolled around, regular as clockwork, and we celebrate the end of the week in the time-honoured way: On-Call, our regular column for techies to vent about frustrations from days gone by. This week we meet “Chuck”, who – unlike most of our featured readers – wasn’t tasked with fixing this particular problem… because …

  1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

    “were quoted a ridiculous price and told it would take four months”.

    Small change, big cost and long timescale...that sounds sickening familiar

    1. Admiral Grace Hopper

      As a senior exec at an outsourcing former (now-defunct) employer once told me, "We woo on the contract pitch and rape on the service changes".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        re:We woo on the contract pitch and rape on the service changes

        Yup.

        Former employer, had a decent ISA-based system. Sold a few instances to big names, and decided that rather than keep plugging, the income from licensing alone would grow the business. So a lot of sales guys were let go, and the pipeline dried up.

        I'm sure you know where the story ends.

        meanwhile, a competitor where the MD wasn't a techie had devised a proto SaaS model, where you never owned the software. More crucially, the monthly rental rental covered 2 training sessions a year, which reduced helpdesk calls to *real* bugs.

        1. heyrick Silver badge

          Re: re:We woo on the contract pitch and rape on the service changes

          Early '90s. A smallish company held their business database on a DOS program called, I think, "SNIP". They wanted to go to a Windows based system, and to transfer their data to a more modern package - namely Access.

          The old guy who wrote SNIP, in something like VisualBasic 1, wanted £££ for an add-on to export the data into a format that might work with other stuff.

          Ender me and my Acorn A5000. A bit of soldering bodged together and the A5000 hooked to the PC's parallel port. It pretended to be a printer. I received the data (telling SNIP to print it's database) and upon a Form Feed, I would parse the data (in BASIC) and spit out a CSV file to the serial port where it was fed into another PC in realtime...

          1. sunshinaks

            Re: re:We woo on the contract pitch and rape on the service changes

            Oh, I did that so many times "printing" BBX tables from SCO SysV machines to raw dumps, then using sed/awk/etc to import it into the new linux systems...

          2. Rohime

            Re: re:We woo on the contract pitch and rape on the service changes

            "me and my Acorn A5000. A bit of soldering bodged together and the A5000 hooked to the PC's parallel port. It pretended to be a printer. "

            Ah - those were the days.

      2. JimboSmith Silver badge

        Working for a retail chain doing shop fit out and maintenance. I visited stores in various places and had some interesting experiences with "stock". Any unsold items that had not appeared on two stocktakes were considered not to exist. This meant that the items could be taken by staff and the company couldn't do much about it. The problem was that the stock system was not designed to allow for items that were not on the system to be added by individual shops. Further to this items could not be returned to Head Office if they didn't exist because there was nothing to generate a return in the system. If the system says that widgets in stock=0 you have no widgets these therefore can't be returned. So as the stock was discovered at the stores they quietly put it to one side and then 'distributed' at a later date.

        The company was apparently aware that their system was useless but valued the cost of fixing it at more than the odd old item going missing. Stores could send an email to the retail coordinator with details of the extra items that were found and they could be added that way. No one did though as it was seen as a perk.

        1. pɹɐʍoɔ snoɯʎuouɐ

          " This meant that the items could be taken by staff and the company couldn't do much about it"

          unless they wanted too.

          my missus worked in HR for many years and they knew of many things that went on similar to this that for staff that were good workers a blind eye was turned, but when it came to problematic staff they would not be so blind sighted.

        2. Cpt Blue Bear

          "Working for a retail chain doing shop fit out and maintenance. I visited stores in various places and had some interesting experiences with "stock"."

          In my youth, and possibly for my future sins as kama works in strange and non-euclidian ways, I worked in the warehouse of a now defunct local supermarket chain. The stock control system had almost exactly the flaws you describe and it was indeed seen as a perk of the job and compensation for low pay and crap hours.

          That was until someone discovered a bug that generated spurious stock movements, the judicious application of which could make stock vanish on command. Cue a sudden spike in "shrinkage and spoilage" but only on the most expensive lines. I suspect the last straw was when cartons of cigarettes started disappearing...

          The front end staff got an interview with Mr Plod and a few were "let go" extremely sharpish. Fortunately I was in the warehouse and thus above suspicion. I have no idea why - the stores were the source of all serious pilfering. So we quietly got on with our games of under counting (to ensure a supply of snacks and drinks) or over counting (to generate errors that could be reported with much indignation while covering up more serious stock take discrepancies)

          1. 404 Silver badge

            Cpt Blue Bear - <deleted>

            Wrote up a nice bright cheerful description of murder, heads on pikes, etc, but decided that might be a bit much for a Sunday.

            I would be quite cross with you had I discovered the stock shenanigans.

            ;)

            1. Cpt Blue Bear

              "I would be quite cross with you had I discovered the stock shenanigans."

              You were obviously not working in the industry in that era. Getting cross with, or indeed threatening murder of, a junior storeman would have got you marked down as a dangerous lunatic who needs to be kicked into line or got rid of.

              It was a very different time to now. :-)

          2. Giovani Tapini Silver badge

            Anything with duty added

            Is not going to be part of the shrinkage game. The results were inevitable.

        3. Alan Brown Silver badge

          "No one did though as it was seen as a perk."

          Other people might classify this as "shrinkage"

      3. ridley

        I did a job for the MOD whilst being employed by a then large defence contractor,

        MOD bods insisted on everything in their spec be just so. After looking at their spec for a while I thought you know what they won't want that, they will want this. So wrote the code to do both on the quiet. You could specify which it compiled by setting a SW switch on starting the compile.

        A year later there was a collective suckling through teeth, amongst muttering of can't be done and going to cost from our team when the MOD bod changed their mind,

        Got quite a bonus on that one.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      “were quoted a ridiculous price and told it would take four months”.

      One of my ex employers told that kind of lie to one of our customers.

      I watched my coworker write the code in about ten minutes, spend another ten making sure it was as bug free as possible, then spent the next two days pounding the hell out of it in every conceivable real world situation he could imagine.

      Once he was confident it could survive getting used by said customer, he released it to said boss & said "you can ship it now".

      The boss sat on it for all but the last week of the quoted time estimate & then made it seem like a giant bunch of code slingers had to work their asses off day & night the entire time to get out this "beta version" out so soon.

      The customer said it was fine, our boss took all the credit for getting it out so fast, & we mere peons got told there would be no money for bonuses that year.

      My coworker - the ONE guy assigned to the task - gave his resignation a week later.

      He went to work for the customer & let them know just how badly they had been lied to.

      Meanwhile I & the rest of us got to deal with the shitstorm the boss sent our way because of the "defection" of said coworker.

      I lasted another month before I had to leave due to health reasons & I later learned the company went titsup after one too many customers realized they were being raped by the manglement of the company.

      I was rather amused when said ex boss asked me to write him a glowing testimonial on LinkedIn.

      Instead I wrote what an utter shitbag he'd been, the lies he told customers, & how he'd shafted us peons by depriving us of bonuses.

      I last heard he worked at a used car dealership selling Kias.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: “were quoted a ridiculous price and told it would take four months”.

        Morel of the story, never ask someone you've shafted/pissed off for a reference.

        My wife gets that regularly when working at a University. It's impressive how many crap/annoying students ask her for one - even after not being on good terms with her during their time there. On the other hand, she's become very good at writing references that don't look bad per-se, but leave out enough of the glowing positives to make the requesting companies/departments suspicious. Often this is followed by a phone call and a "What do you *really* think" query...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Coat

          Re: “were quoted a ridiculous price and told it would take four months”.

          Morel of the story,

          That'll be a D H Lawrence story.

          1. mhoulden

            Re: “were quoted a ridiculous price and told it would take four months”.

            I thought it was more a classic example of mushroom management: keep the customer in the dark and feed them horse manure.

          2. Kubla Cant Silver badge

            Re: “were quoted a ridiculous price and told it would take four months”.

            Morel of the story... don't practice mushroom management.

            1. Steve K Silver badge

              Re: “were quoted a ridiculous price and told it would take four months”.

              ..unless you're a real fungi

              1. Ian Emery Silver badge
                Holmes

                Re: “were quoted a ridiculous price and told it would take four months”.

                Still not sure if "screwed by the manglement" is a typo.

          3. Vincent Ballard
            Coat

            Re: “were quoted a ridiculous price and told it would take four months”.

            Adolfo Bioy Casares, surely.

            1. File Not Found

              Re: “were quoted a ridiculous price and told it would take four months”.

              Well invented!

          4. David 132 Silver badge
            Coat

            Re: “were quoted a ridiculous price and told it would take four months”.

            Morel of the story,

            That'll be a D H Lawrence story.

            I think it makes him sound like a fun guy.

            (EDIT: D’oh, after scrolling down the page I see that about 45 other people beat me to similar puns. So don’t bother up voting this. I’m not THAT desperate.

            I wish the Reg comments system threaded conversations properly!)

        2. Alistair Silver badge

          Re: “were quoted a ridiculous price and told it would take four months”.

          @AC

          Morel of the story, never ask someone you've shafted/pissed off for a reference.

          I've been kept in the dark and had $#!+ thrown at me for almost 20 years, thanks, I think I'd make a better morel.

        3. Roq D. Kasba

          Re: references

          Yes, the beauty of feint praise to condemn

      2. joshimitsu

        Re: “were quoted a ridiculous price and told it would take four months”.

        jumping ship to the customer, along with releasing sensitive information - isn't that covered by the non-compete clause?

        1. Fading Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: “were quoted a ridiculous price and told it would take four months”.

          "isn't that covered by the non-compete clause?"

          Yep - just under the honest and transparent change control pricing clause.

        2. phuzz Silver badge

          Re: “were quoted a ridiculous price and told it would take four months”.

          isn't that covered by the non-compete clause?

          As far as I know they're non-enforceable in the UK. Either way, they can't do much more than bolt the stable door.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: “were quoted a ridiculous price and told it would take four months”.

          If you have one...

          Anonymous as my ex boss is talking to me through lawyers only at the time.

          1. TFL

            Re: “were quoted a ridiculous price and told it would take four months”.

            Speaking of non-complete clauses, it's amazing what an employer might try to stuff into a contract.

            I was working for a company with a detailed, mostly-reasonable personal employment contract. All well and good, but then said company got acquired by a similar org a few provinces to the right.

            After mostly dismantling and throwing away the human and intellectual capital, said org sent out new contracts, along with some bit about "please sign by Friday." Where the old contract essentially forbade me from working with competitors (or poaching colleagues or customers) for a year, the new one more or less would block me from working in my entire field for the same period of time. I told them I'd have to review with legal counsel, and did.

            Never did sign that contract. They got enough pushback on this tripe that they said they'd re-work it, and then I moved on per the old contract that was still in place.

        4. Ken Hagan Gold badge

          Re: “were quoted a ridiculous price and told it would take four months”.

          "isn't that covered by the non-compete clause"

          I can't see why it would. The customer isn't your competition, though they may now be your competitor's customer rather than yours.

        5. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: “were quoted a ridiculous price and told it would take four months”.

          "- isn't that covered by the non-compete clause?"

          Enough sensitive information for the customer _AND_ the dev to hang manglement's arse out to dry in court.

          Do you think they'd have the balls to try - and then have it splashed all over media, for other customers to find out?

      3. Gobhicks

        Re: “were quoted a ridiculous price and told it would take four months”.

        Good story but downvote for "I & the rest of us". I'm not a total grammar-fascist but you can only push me so far

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: “were quoted a ridiculous price and told it would take four months”.

        "worked at a used car dealership selling Kias"

        Drive up in a used car, but don't tell him about the body in the trunk (mannequin) -- just don't say anything about all that cash, too. Just ask him if he has seen "No country for old men". Then toss the keys inside; the back seat would be a prime spot (for ketchup stains).

    3. R 11

      I spent a few weeks in the late 90s being paid by British Gas to sort computer printouts into alphabetical order. Along with at least four other temp workers. And I left to go back to university - there wasn't as far as a I know any plan to do anything about it other than keep paying folk to shuffle paper.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Sorted printouts

        Oh dear. A friend of mine was similarly employed by the Valuation Agency to sort printed letters into postcode groups to get discount bulk postage. He noticed a "sort by... before printing" option on the database, selected that and viola! four day's work done in 15 minutes.

        He was bollocked by management as "we can't justify what we charge if it only takes 15 minutes".

    4. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

      Consulting...

      Consulting... if you are not part of the solution, there is good money to be made in prolonging the problem.

    5. diver_dave

      Hummmmm

      Sounds like a well known large telecommunications company who quoted £400+vat to add one field to a custom report they had built for Symposium [×]

      Ended up scripting a merge for the two reports that would then give the required output. Sum of 2hrs work....

      DaveA

      [×] May have given it away there!

      1. katrinab Silver badge

        Re: Hummmmm

        To be honest, £400 for 2 hours work sounds pretty reasonable. I don't think your average PHB would complain about that. Yes, your salary may not be £200 per hour, but add on all the overheads, equipment costs, contribution to company profit and so on, and it will come to that sort of number.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Hummmmm

          "To be honest, £400 for 2 hours work sounds pretty reasonable."

          "Hitting the device with a hammer - $1. Knowing WHERE to hit it and how hard, $800"

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A tale as old as time

    Way back when government departments were first setting up internet applications, there was a Major Government Department that had a system that registered agents who dealt with stuff for citizens. When the agent registered, a record should have been created in a table on database in a pre-existing system, but that step was missed out from the original spec. This was only found out after it went live as the testers just did the fix as they tested to tick their boxes - it wasn't in the spec so it wan't on the list of things to test. By this point it was now a specification change and the private sector supplier had moved from the Development Charge Sheet to the Extra-Special Contract Change Charge Sheet which meant that the 6 line code change cost an eye-watering amount. So, your correspondent wrote a routine to extract the new data from one system, dump it to a CSV on a floppy disk which was then walked down to the server and hand-cranked into the live database. All the while, there was a major advertising campaign telling the world how whizzy the new system was, without a single mention that as well as the Internet it ran on Sneakernet too.

  3. TotallyInfo

    Reminds me of the time ...

    I was tasked with writing a warehouse stock control system for a major organisation with what was, at the time, the largest single-building warehouse in Europe. I was tasked with doing it in dBase III+ on one of those old Compaq "portable" PC's, before laptops. 12" monochrome screen and a 5.25" floppy drive, no HDD.

    I was then told that I wasn't allowed to speak to the warehouse staff due to unspecified "union" issues.

    Well, it got done but I'll never know whether it was actually useful. It was my first go at building an application for a PC! Fun but so painful on that device.

    No idea why they didn't use the excellent mainframe systems they had available. Go figure.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Reminds me of the time ...

      I was tasked with writing a warehouse stock control system for a major organisation with what was, at the time, the largest single-building warehouse in Europe.

      It was probably the same company as the original story, but an earlier attempt at fixing the mess....

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Reminds me of the time ...

      "I was then told that I wasn't allowed to speak to the warehouse staff due to unspecified "union" issues."

      Probably because the y new database system was either going to make people redundant or the union were looking for the warehouse workers to be paid extra for being "data entry clerks" or ever "data operatives" in addition to their existing duties.

      1. Alien8n Silver badge

        Re: Reminds me of the time ...

        My first proper foray into IT was when the warehouse system for one of our factories bloated to £2.7M due to scope creep from management. When asked to look into it as it was unusable I replaced it with an entirely touch screen based system written in Access in about a month. I designed the database on the system that we used at my previous role with the sole purpose of it being as easy to use as possible from an end user perspective. When the engineering team was made redundant that database was my ticket into IT, that and my knowledge of manufacturing systems that meant I was moved onto the data migration project for another factory that we'd just bought.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Reminds me of the time ...

          "...scope creep from management."

          As always, good projects are led by people who have the ability to tell management to "fuck off and don't be stupid"

  4. Buzzword

    Counter-argument

    I was a contractor for a government body which, every week, had to record a short document into two different systems. I was asked to quote for a script which would link the two systems together, ensuring that whatever data was entered in one system would automatically be forwarded to the second.

    I gave them a quote, but pointed out that the potential savings were meagre (15 minutes of clerical staff time each week) and unlikely to cover future support costs. The manager concurred and I never got the job.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I worked for one of those unpopular companies providing services for the military a few years ago. Another in my department regaled me of the military system that he used to work on, where there was a sheet on the wall that was supposed to have a coloured star stuck to a box every time a piece of work was complete.

    Needless to say when he got there it was years out of date and he was tasked with going through the work records, working out the appropriate star colour and sticking it to the right box on the chart on the wall. For several months non-stop.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It is best to write a generic version of your software for "one size fits all" and using plugins to customize it induhvidually when having multiple customers.

    Because once you start with customized versions for each customer, your SVN will not be able to keep up with that, and your coders will get confused if they're not careful with what they're doing.

  7. onefang Silver badge
    Coat

    Friday. Tick!

    Software blunder. Tick!

    Clueless manglement making things worse. Tick!

    Beancounters ruining things. Tick!

    Underpaid staff working too hard on pointless shit. Tick!

    Well known company that shall not be named. Tick!

    Ticks all my boxes, and it didn't take me all week.

    1. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

      Friday. Tick!

      Software blunder. Tick!

      Clueless manglement making things worse. Tick!

      Beancounters ruining things. Tick!

      Underpaid staff working too hard on pointless shit. Tick!

      Well known company that shall not be named. Tick!

      Ticks all my boxes, and it didn't take me all week.

      Totally Screwed Bank?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cheaper option

    "employing a minimum wage staffer to click boxes all day..."

    As a workaround, couldn't this have been done rather more quickly and efficiently by batches of simple SQL UPDATE queries?

    1. DJO Silver badge

      Re: Cheaper option

      couldn't this have been done rather more quickly and efficiently by batches of simple SQL UPDATE queries

      That's just crazy talk - a simple solution for a simple problem, plainly you don't work in commercial I.T.

      1. ma1010 Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Cheaper option

        Couldn't this have been done rather more quickly and efficiently by batches of simple SQL UPDATE queries?

        That's just crazy talk - a simple solution for a simple problem, plainly you don't work in commercial I.T.

        Or government! I've pointed out all sorts of simple ways to save time/money around here, but manglement isn't remotely interested. But they can spend millions paying con-sultants for a computer system that will slow down what we do here. Our tax dollars at work for us.

    2. Killfalcon Silver badge

      Re: Cheaper option

      That depends on being able to express the required permissions in simple rules and/or lookups, and the system being setup to allow arbitrary queries to run on it.

      If it turns out that temp staff aren't allowed to work with fruit unless they're in Reading or have permission from a manager (see paper documentation in box #45C), then SQL may just make a lot of mistake really quickly.

      If the software was designed to have a shiny front end and permit NO ONE to have direct access to the tables (secure, innit), then maybe no one could run that SQL (or those that could, well, quoted a ridiculous charge and 4 months to implement).

    3. diver_dave

      Re: Cheaper option

      See the BOFH on how document management systems REALLY work.

    4. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

      Re: Cheaper option

      Maybe, maybe not. Bear in mind that the supplier isn't likely to provide details on how the database works, given they've already quoted a large amount for doing it the proper way.

      If the customer changes the system in an unsupported way, there's the potential both to create support issues, and also to affect future development. Depending on how unsympathetic the support structure is, it's not unreasonable to demand a restore from backup, rather than a data fix.

      At the very least it's probably more than a simple update, because you DO want to write an audit, don't you?

      That applies to anyone using the system, not just customers. We had an instance of a different product/support group running a query against our product without our knowledge. This worked for a while until the customer data was changed slightly, and an invalid assumption the other group had made in their query resulted in things grinding to a halt..

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I’m guessing this company was either Carphone Warehouse or Ocado

    1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

      I was thinking Sports Direct.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        >I was thinking Sports Direct.

        Minimum wage? We can't afford that !

        Can they do it in zero hours?

      2. Mike_G

        They use an Oracle Database for stock

  10. Prosthetic Conscience
    Devil

    "he believes his ex-employer eventually paid for the database to be fixed"

    I love it when manglement end up paying twice in the end for such decisions, gives me a reason to get up in the morning.

  11. ma1010 Silver badge
    Go

    An honest consultant

    I knew a woman who was an honest consultant (can be difficult to imagine, I know, but true in this case). Her clients had 4 companies and wanted some sort of computer program to sort out the mail between the individual companies. She suggested they forget using a computer and just get separate P.O. boxes for each company and let the Postal Service sort the mail for them. Problem solved.

    1. Killfalcon Silver badge

      Re: An honest consultant

      Hey, I've met an honest estate agent, so I can believe in anything!

      PO Boxes are a surprisingly good fix, but so are post codes. I've seen companies use multiple postcodes in the same building to have the mail sorted by department, and the Royal Mail are perfectly happy with this (for the appropriate setup fee).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: An honest consultant

        PO Boxes are a surprisingly good fix, but so are post codes. I've seen companies use multiple postcodes in the same building to have the mail sorted by department, and the Royal Mail are perfectly happy with this (for the appropriate setup fee).

        Doesn't work so well in Gibraltar.

  12. Roq D. Kasba

    I had the opposite experience

    Big company had an outsourced payroll system which required a server on the corporate network to have a very special (poorly locked down) configuration, and for the outsourced payroll company to use a shared login to access it monthly. Terrible topography, unforgivably bad, but that's what happens when you let HR manager their own IT and bring in their own contractors.

    Anyway, this thing was badly out of date, a massive security risk, and the company (a very, very big computer company) main IT security branch were on the warpath having a tidy up after a lot of lines of core product code were stolen. The hardware was on expensive extended warranty, the server took loads of rack space and needed attention. Turned out this "critical" system was just to allow a few thousand people electronic access to their payslips. Many would anyway print a copy on the company's printers.

    For less than the price of the warranty, security violation special monitoring, rack space and power let alone license fee and development time, I worked out that we could print and post all the payslips directly to everybody's homes each month. This was turned down for appearances sake for a tech company!! They would rather pour money into a shit old system breaching all security guidelines, create extra policy work for everyone, all sorts out of embarrassment.

  13. CheesyTheClown

    Cisco ISE

    It sounds like Cisco ISE’s TrustSec tools.

    The good news is that in the latest version, the mouse wheel works most of the time. It used to be click 5 boxes, the move to the tiny little scroll bar and then click 5 more. Now you can click 5 and scroll using the wheel. So safely clicking 676 boxes when you have 26 groups is almost doable without too many mistakes now.

  14. ecofeco Silver badge

    Seems like this is the same almost everywhere

    Almost every place I've worked had some bottleneck like this.

    I've also realized that even when you come up with a solution it is either rejected or at best, not rewarded, so I just do my job these days and not much more.

    Which is why I laugh and laugh when I hear other people say companies are wanting innovation and motivated people and you if are a person who is not making a lot of money it's because you aren't motivated.

    And then I laugh some more.

  15. Glen 1 Bronze badge

    Reminds of my first paid coding gig

    I was working as an office admin for a company that dealt with hire cars. Every week, my dept was sent a list of 500-1k vehicles that were due an MOT. Muggins (with occasional assistance), had to copy the details into the gov website, hit next a few times, and copy the results (pass/fail/no change) back to the spreadsheet. 3 man hours every day. After the first week I was practically begging them to let me automate it. I did. The powers that be were ecstatic as you might imagine. They layed off a few people, (not me) and the MD showed up to work in a new Aston Martin. Thought twice before volunteering stuff after that.

    1. Glen 1 Bronze badge

      Re: Reminds of my first paid coding gig

      No edit link on phone version.

      I should add that there were other depts that had identical tasks (from different clients). I estimate I saved a man week per week access all the depts.

  16. russmichaels

    someone needs to learn to proof read his articles before posting.

  17. C-L

    Sometimes high $$$ is justified

    Decades ago, on an IBM 360 Model 20 (or something like that), I wrote assembly code to figure out all the valid combinations of some industrial contraption being machined. Their original "system" broke down (bad code, dumb logic) and the original programmer gave up, could not figure out his own bad code.

    I was approached to "fix it". It took me all of an hour to get the assembly code just right, and it was so small I could multipunch it on 3 punch cards (remember those 80 column babies??)

    When I asked the manufacturer what if it cannot be fixed, he said he'd shut down. And if it can be fixed? He said he'd make a mint, he had a rich, juicy contract for the product. I asked for 3% of the mint. He thought he'd arrived in heaven!

    In this case my hourly rate was huge, many-many times what the most expensive lawyer I heard of, really! But a business saved, 3 salepersons had jobs, 18 manufacturing and other workers in the business had a job, owner had a business that continued thriving and growing for at least a decade that I am aware of. Yeah, they got into many other things after they came back from the dead, well, the had money to do it...

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019