The Bastard Guide To Writing Software
BOFH 2002: Episode 3
I HATE IT!!!!
The Boss has been talking to some geeky guy from R&D who's so far 'out there' he's got satellites orbiting him, and now he wants us to develop our own software...
"But it's a sure thing!" he cries, mentally preparing for his stardom on the international geek-talk circuit as the man who brought the world a new alternative. "We just write an Office type system that can compete with Microsoft and sell it for half the price!"
"Compete," I respond dubiously, "with Microsoft?"
"The company whose court imposed penalty which was pretty much equivalent to a slap on the bum with a rolled up newspaper?"
"And by Newspaper I mean PART of a newspaper - something like the 'Culture' section of "The Sun", the non-boring bits of "The Financial Times" or the non-fiction portion of a vendor's Benchmarking specs handbook?".
"It doesn't matter."
"But surely it's possible to write such a system?" The Boss asks, masking his disappointment as best he can.
"It's possible, yes, but feasible, probably not."
"Well for a start, there's the development staff. Not to mention analysis!"
"Yes - of needs, we'd have to find out what people know and want."
"Oh, you mean like meeting rooms, questionnaires and some focus groups?"
"I was thinking more of the Tape storeroom, a rubber hose and a bright light, but yes, you're in the right ballpark."
"But we know what people want," The Boss continues, ignoring me. "They want what they've got, with more security - well, with ANY security - and cheaper. Obviously there's going to be expenses for the organisation in the training and travel side of things."
"Well yes, to evaluate the options, visit vendors to see how they do things, that sort of thing?"
>WHOOP! WHOOP!< >JUNKET ALERT!<</b>
And so the delicate process of junket negotiation begins...
The Boss obviously knows that this project suggestion would be as popular as a Windows T-Shirt under Richard Stallman's Xmas tree and is now entering the delicate area of junket negotiation.... To get something he wants, he has to offer me something I might want in a manner that conforms to the Encoded Junket Standard RFC.
"And who did you envisage going to these sites?" I ask, starting off the negotiation with a simple Query Junket packet.
"Well I suppose the Project Champion, and some form of Secretarial/P.A person," he responds.
(In other words, "Me and the new girl from the Admin Pool who's rumoured to be undergarment impaired and have a morally casual attitude.")
"Uhuh," I respond, sending out the standard Junket Packet-Received-And-Decoded response.
"...and obviously the Technical Project Manager."
(Meaning: And obviously YOU, so I can get your vote when the feasibility of the matter is under discussion..)
"And..." I add, resending a PRAD, and following up with an unsolicited Request For Further Junket Tradeoff Items.
"And possibly one or other personnel who might be critical to the project."
A standard Capacity For Extras Available packet, meaning Whoever you want to get the ball rolling
"Well I was just thinking I may need some Personal Assistance myself if there's a lot of data to be compiled sorted through. And given that we're looking at external markets, probably it should be an external person."
The Boss acknowledges my request for handbrake accompaniment, and the deal is struck...
"I'll get right onto it." he burbles, heading out of the office at Warp Factor 5.
. . . Later, at the Departmental Projects Meeting . . .
"..which means we might both SAVE ourselves some licensing costs and EARN ourselves money as well. The benefits would far outweigh the costs!"
"Really?" the Head of IT says. "But this travel, are you sure it's really necessary."
"Well, to get a real feel for the development life cycle, yes."
"But you don't seem to have thought of the higher levels of this - the management and marketing phases of the operation?" The Head responds, sending a Query Junket Packet.
"Obviously, there would need to be some senior Management presence," The Boss negotiates.
"Yes" the Head PRADs, followed rapidly by a RFFJT: "and perhaps.."
"And obviously someone to organise the copious notes and meetings," The Boss CFEAs.
Once more the deal is struck.
"You've got to be kidding," The PFY jumps in, smelling blood in the water. "What about development and Analysis costs."
There comes a time in every bastard's life when he has to sacrifice a friend for a junket. It's sad but true - and remember, all's fair in love and computing. More so if you're playing a teams shoot-em-up game and a team member gets in the way of your handcannon....
"Well we don't need any analysis, because we know what they want.." I respond, going on to repeat The Boss's message from before.
Seeing his chance of a junket going down the tubes, The PFY tries to torpedo mine.
"What about Development costs then?" he snipes.
"I know it'll cost a bit, but I've been working it out. You see, development costs can be worked out by multiplying the number of programmers and testers, by the cost of the development tools, by the number of hours it takes to develop the software - right?"
"Yes," The PFY concurs.
"And so by lowering one, we'd lower the cost of the whole project."
"Well, I've been looking at these Open Source Tools and, well, they don't cost anything."
"Yes?" The PFY asks, not seeing the trap until it's too late.
"So if the Number of programmers and testers, times the cost of development tools - which is zero, times the number of hours equals the cost of the job...."
"Then the job should cost nothing."
"Wait a minute.." the Head of IT frowns, performing some mental calculation involving carrying a bunch of 1s, subtracting the number he first thought of, and dividing by his belt size. "You know, I think he's RIGHT!"
So it's a done deal. Junket approved and booked. True, I expect that when I get back all my plants will be poisoned, my desktop will be rigged to the mains, and my hydraulic chair will be remote controlled...
But it's worth it.... ®
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