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2003-03-20 - 1:34 p.m.
Shortly before the client's new site was released Mr. Pink put in his first appearance. Mr. Pink is one of those socially awkward guys that tries way too hard to seem funny and personable so people will like him. I think the end result is that he puts most people off. That is certainly the effect his antics have on me.
I'll never forget his first moronic words to me over the phone: "Say, what do you think about you and me going on a date this afternoon?!" I was dumbfounded. I kinda knew he was calling to arrange a meeting, I was told to expect his call to discuss some new requirements.
The ill-conceived attempt at humor left me feeling somewhere between creeped out and annoyed. "Mmm-kay, You wanted to discuss those new requirements, right?" I managed to stammer. "Yeah, your place or mine? Who is bringing the food?" he replied back, sticking to his stupid joke and sounding entirely too enthusiastic about our get-together. I didn't even know what to reply with, I just wanted to get the meeting with this social misfit scheduled and over with. I said something about having rice cakes at my desk, I was honestly at a loss and just wanted him to shut up and go away. He made another desperate unfunny remark about health food and finally agreed on a meeting time.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not a stick in the mud. If someone I knew well made a joke like that I might have even snickered at it, but with a total stranger trying with such unsettling zeal to strike up a rapport it didn't go over well.
Mr. Pink really likes to chit-chat. He spends hours at Sorority Life's desk discussing uninteresting details of his stupid life and acting riveted when she regales him with stories of her drunken sorority girl adventures.
Mr. Pink has tried to pull this sort of thing with me but I think my blatant disinterest isn't entirely lost on him, when his attempts at small talk fail he launches into painfully detailed chatter about whatever it is he wants me to work on -- stating obvious facts, providing me with tons of irrelevant details. A typical encounter with Mr. Pink lasts about an hour.
At this point you may be starting to feel sorry for Mr. Pink, but don't. I assure you he is evil, as I will prove to you later in this issue. For now please note that at our first meeting the only real information Mr. Pink had to convey was that there was going to be a table with member IDs stored in it and that if a member's ID was in the table then the member was not to be displayed in the member list on the website applications. Simple enough.
I implemented the change exactly as he described it, the requirement was documented, the change was tested and that was that, at least for the moment.
About a month later an application defect came through reporting that members who should be appearing on the website were not. I checked the exclusion table and sure enough all the members that were not appearing were listed in that no-show table.
The interesting thing was that the no-show table wasn't just a list of member IDs any more, now it had categoryIDs too. After several hours of detective work I discovered that at some point the purpose of the exclusion table had changed from just storing members to storing members and their categories. The new requirement was to not show members listed with categories they are associated with if that member ID and category ID pair existed in the exclusion table, and the member was excluded from listing entirely if all of its associated categories were in the exclusion table. See how the plot has thickened?
Any way, no one was going to send me an enhancement request or even clue me in as to why there was a bug in my application. I had to work all of this detail out for myself and then fix my code. The code fix was not a big deal, the hours spent hunting down the new requirements were pretty wasteful. Mr. Pink was involved with the spec changes and was aware of this defect. He never bothered to tell me what I needed to know. He simply wrote on the ticket that there must have been a miscommunication of the initial requirements -- implying that maybe I didn't understand the requirements when they were given. See how he craftily dodged the issue -- the fact that he changed the requirements and didn't bother to tell me.
Stuff like that goes on a lot, people seldom admit they fucked up and forgot to tell people who need to know about things like this. Mr. Pink is certainly not unique in this aspect of his dastardliness.
Part of the larger problem at hand is the whole requirements gathering process or lack there of. For a project of this size a requirements person should have been in from the get go. We finally got a requirements specialist during the final weeks of the project but it was too little too late. The requirements specialist does maintain documented application specs currently but the problem is people don't really use her, they try to get around working with her. Everyone is always trying to sneak things in, calling them application defects when really they are application changes that need to be documented in the requirements. This tactic just ends up making the development team look incompetent. The casual observer has to wonder what could possibly be wrong with those stupid developers that their applications are so laden with defects. No one wants to play by the rules in Officeville for the most part so anarchy reigns supreme.
Since the big release of the client's website, I've had my hours freed up and I've been assigned to help with the administrative back end applications that I mentioned is the last issue. The bad news there is that this side of the project is staffed with mostly villains. There's a lot of interaction with Mr. Pink and the most detestable Ms Psycho. You'll hear more about her in Issue #4
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