Charles Robinson

Charles Robinson has done a little bit of everything in the IT world since getting an internship at age 16. He currently holds a position as a release engineer at a bank in Wisconsin. He has maintained comedic writing as a hobby throughout, writing for various websites, blogs, and now The Daily WTF. When not breaking computers or writing, he enjoys drinking beer, gaming, and playing bass guitar.

The In-House Developer

by in Tales from the Interview on

James was getting anxious to land a job that would put his newly-minted Computer Science degree to use. Six months had come to pass since he graduated and being a barista barely paid the bills. Living in a small town didn't afford him many local opportunities, so when he saw a developer job posting for an upstart telecom company, he decided to give it a shot.

Lincoln Log Cabin 2

We do everything in-house! the posting for CallCom emphasized, piquing James' interest. He hoped that meant there would be a small in-house development team that built their systems from the ground up. Surely he could learn the ropes from them before becoming a key contributor. He filled out the online application and happily clicked Submit.


Cut Short

by in Feature Articles on

Marcus worked on a small networking team responsible for keeping a series of UK-based garages interconnected with the world-wide web. Seymour, the Team Leader (in title only), knew far less about networking than Marcus, but that didn't stop him from acting like the big shot. Seymour was working a cash register at the original garage several years ago when the owner asked him, "You're a young guy, right? That means you know how the internet works. What can we do to make this place internet-friendly?" After taking a Networking 101 course, Seymour managed to get the garage online, then enabled it to monitor gas prices and perform credit card transactions. This made Seymour a hero to the owner, and earned him the title, "Networking Team Leader" before he even had a team.

Eventually the garage grew from a single location into a chain. When each new location opened, Seymour made it "internet-friendly", using the same techniques he learned at the original store, which usually involved sloppy cable runs and the cheapest router he could buy. When it came time to do more than just have the ISP arrive to show where Seymour to plug in the network cable, he was completely lost. Having multiple locations networked together was really advanced stuff, so he convinced the owner to hire some help.


Not so DDoS

by in Feature Articles on

Joe K was a developer at a company that provided a SaaS Natural Language Processing system. As Chief Engineer of the Data Science Team (a term that make him feel like some sort of mad professor), his duties included coding the Data Science Service. It provided the back-end for handling the complex, heavy-lifting type of processing that had to happen in real-time. Since it was very CPU-intensive, Joe spent a lot of time trying to battle latency. But that was the least of his problems.

Ddos-attack-ex

The rest of the codebase was a cobbled-together mess that had been coded by the NLP researchers- scientists with no background in programming or computer science. Their mantra was “If it gets us the results we need, who cares how it looks behind the scenes?” This meant Joe’s well-designed data service somehow had to interface with applications made from a pile of ugly hacks. It was difficult at times, but he managed to get the job done while also keeping CPU usage to a minimum.


A Lost Voice

by in Feature Articles on

Having survived the scourge of Jack's automated testing debacle, Rita thought she could handle anything. Since that time, Rita had Operations burn/kill/destroy all the JCKRKS servers and set up new ones that she had full control over. Rita felt well-prepared for a future where nothing that bad could happen again. But sometimes those who only look forward are unprepared for the return of a long-forgotten relic.

Laryngitis: a diagram of the larynx and its inflammation In a different IVR-enabled part of their health insurance system, customers could call in to hear information about their health benefits. These benefits, as is par for anything with health insurance, were governed by a very complex set of rules, contracts, overrides, and addendums. Depending on the caller's employer, benefit administrator, subscriber level, eye color, astrological sign and feng shui positioning, their very specific set of benefit information would be read back to them.


Frayed Fiber

by in Feature Articles on

The 80's were a time of great technological marvels. The Walkman allowed a person to listen to music anywhere they went. The Video Cassette Recorder allowed you to watch your favorite movies repeatedly until they wore out. Then there was the magic of Fiber Optics. Advances in the light-blasted-through-glass medium allowed places like Seymour's company to share data between offices at blistering speeds.

Bill, the President of Seymour's company, always wanted them to be on the cutting edge of technology. He didn't always know the why or the how surrounding it, but when he heard about something that sounded cool, he wanted to be the first company to have it. That's where Seymour came in. As Vice President of Technological Development (a fancy job title he got for being the organization's only true techie) he made Bill's dreams come true. All he had to do was ask for the company credit card.

an illuminated bundle of fiber optic cable

freE-Commerce

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Douglas had just joined a large eCommerce company that was constructing its own in-house PHP development team. It was a big step for them, as they only relied on cheap freelance c0derz to get things done before. Because of this, Douglas and his cohorts had to maintain a glut of legacy applications made by people who were long gone.

A vast majority of the horrid legacy apps were created by a man simply known as Shayne. The sight of his name in the code comments would send icy chills down Douglas' spine. Shayne was freelance down to the very definition of it. His signature philosophy to coding seemed to be "roll your own" and his framework weapon of choice was a version of CodeIgniter that was two years out of date at the time he utilized it. An open cardboard box on a wooden floor


The Logic Barrier

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Brad was brought in as a new hire to work on improvements for a big-name ERP system. His supposed role would be that of the "input guy" for a new I/O module where engineers would enter some numbers, they would be crunched, and it would output a wireframe design of what they needed to build. While he got started, the development manager Cindy assured him they'd have an "output guy" soon enough.

A bottle of Monopolowa Vodka


Logjam

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Steven worked for Integrated Machinations, a company that made huge machines to sell to manufacturers so they could actually manufacture stuff. He didn't build the machines, that would require hard physical labor. Instead, he wrote computer programs that interfaced with the machines from the comfort of the air-conditioned office. One such program was a diagnostic app used to log the performance of Integrated Machinations products. The machines didn't break down often, but when they did, logging was very important. Customers wouldn't be in a mood to hear that IM didn't know why the equipment they dropped fat stacks of cash on failed.

Text-xml file-type image Steven also had a subordinate named Thomas, who was foist upon Steven in an effort to expand the small development team. Steven could have easily handled everything himself, but Thomas needed something to do so he was given the simplest part of the diagnostic app - the downloader. Steven's code handled the statistical compiling, number-crunching, and fancy chart-making aspects of the application. All Thomas had to do was make the piece that downloaded the raw files from the machines to pass back.


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