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Thursday, July 1, 2010

Bad Day--John Bruce

After George got laid off from Digital Discipline Technologies, which everyone called DDT, he worked for a while as a contractor installing DDT software. There was a market for customers who’d gotten fed up with DDT, had kept their products, but wouldn’t let anyone from DDT on their property.

George even worked a job as a contractor for DDT’s sales side, when they didn’t trust anyone from the DDT post-sales side to do the installation right. Not that they’d actually rehire him – they went through an agency. The customer was up in Silicon Valley. Their employee bulletin boards had a no-questions-asked free ride home policy: if you were too drunk to drive home yourself (this, you understand, is at work), you could call Security, and they’d drive you home.

DDT’s sales team had been in this place for something like eight months trying to get the stuff to work right. George had worked with the guy who was putting it in while he was still at DDT. Everyone called him Doc, the way you call a guy who runs a card game Doc. When George got there, he discovered that it sort of worked. It sort of worked if you didn’t look at it too hard. It worked the way you might expect it to work if someone named Doc had installed it.

The customer wasn’t looking at it too hard, because Alison was their account rep. She came in wearing miniskirts and tight sweaters, and they looked much harder at Alison than they did at the software. The two customer guys who were working on the project would leap after her like crazed puppies.

So George started to make a careful review of how things had been installed. If you started up one part of the product, you’d get a security error on another part. If you tried to start the other part without the first part, it wouldn’t work at all. He asked Alison if she knew anything about how things had been done over the past eight months that might have caused this. Of course not, it wasn’t her job – her job was to wear miniskirts and tight sweaters. She was sure, though, that Doc had installed everything correctly.

George tried reinstalling twice. He spent two hours on the phone with DDT support getting the thing straightened out. It turned out Doc had screwed something up with Windows security eight months earlier. George changed the Windows security PARM, and after he’d been there two days, everything worked.

The customer was ticked off it’d taken him two days. They didn’t mind having Alison around for eight months while things didn’t work. They thought George could have fixed the Windows problem sooner than he did. They knew all about Windows, after all. They complained to the contracting company George was working through. The company docked him two hours billing—according to the customer, he should have fixed the thing two hours sooner.

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