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2003-03-20 - 1:23 p.m.

It was during crunch time that the first of the infamous office villains began to show themselves: The DBA Legion of Doom -- a gang notorious for unclear or nonexistent answers to questions they were sent. One of the early battles with these villains pertained to a matter of cleaning data.

Apparently when the DBAs converted data from the client's old system one of the text fields had semi-colons appended to the end of the last line in every record. The semi-colons certainly didn't belong there and the obvious solution was to take them out so they didn't appear on the web applications when the data was pulled onto web forms. The DBAs suggested that rather than clean up the data that the developers should write code to look for the semi-colons and not display them if they were present. No techie with even the vaguest notion of best practices would make this suggestion.

The DBAs were eventually given a mandate to clean up the data. Heroes - 1, Villains - 0!

Several similar battles were fought with the DBAs during the course of the project, since reason was on my side the DBAs eventually lost and were forced to do the work they were trying so hard to get out of doing.

Although the DBA Legion of Doom is mostly a phantom villain, one of their members did put in an appearance during the tail end of the project's release preparations.

A manager who had been involved with gathering requirements from the client on an application had neglected to provide one little spec to the developers. The application had already been developed and released to staging for the client to review and the client noticed one of their features was missing.

It turns out the teensy little left out requirement was actually a pretty big deal. It was such a big deal that North Carolina and I weren't really going to be able to meet the requirement using plain old SQL statements with anything resembling efficient code. A stored procedure was the only hope of getting the job done. Clueless was tasked with the assignment.

I suspect the biggest problem with Clueless was that he really wasn't so good with SQL, he didn't exude evil as much as flat out stupidity (think Billy from the Gangrene Gang). I am not even sure why he was chosen to develop the stored procedure. I gave Clueless all the specs I had. I even gave him SQL to use. I told him to contact me with any questions or let me know if anything was unclear.

Days passed with no word from clueless. "Where's the stored procedure?" was the question on everyone's mind. Clueless wouldn't dare show up to a status meeting. He stayed in the shadows, biding his time, and producing no results.

Over a week later Clueless sent an email informing me that the procedure was finished. No details about where I could get ahold of it, what parameters it required, nothing other than to say it was done.

"Ok, so can I run it?" I responded. The answer: "Yes". This went back and forth for hours over email, I finally gleaned the information I need to attempt to run the procedure but it didn't work. I told Clueless.

Several more days passed with no word. The Patron Saint of Deadlines and I took turns calling and emailing Clueless requesting status. We got nothing.

Eventually Clueless contacted me to let me know he was finished. Again, the procedure didn't work. Weeks passed and the above cycle repeated itself again and again. Hundreds of emails were traded. The procedure had a new thing wrong with it every time I looked at it. It was obvious that Clueless wasn't even testing his work before sending it out. My job became full time babysitter of Clueless.

Meanwhile the rest of the people working on the project were getting antsy. This was supposed to be a small change, the client was expecting to see it some time ago. The application was very late. What was the hold up?

As the pressure built tempers began to flare. At one point Mr Erratic blew up in front of the entire office. He loudly shouted that he'd fire me if the application wasn't out by the end of the day. Now keep in mind that other than testing the procedure once it was finished and adding its path and parameters to my application I had nothing to do with the application changes. Firing me because the application wasn't finished wasn't going to make any difference. I was fuming with at that point. Between spending all my time and energy dealing with Clueless and now being threatened with firing if Clueless didn't get his act together I was pretty close to losing it myself.

TPSoD and a few others in their right minds finally came to the obvious conclusion that Clueless wasn't going to be able to get the job done. A more senior level DBA was brought in to "help" Clueless and within a few days a working version of the procedure was completed. The day was saved.

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