Idjits.

A woman, client of a client, contacted me this afternoon asking me to change a password on a server because she wants to store the user names and passwords in an Excel spreadsheet and she can’t figure out how to convince Excel to treat cells in which the first character is a mathematical operation symbol as just plain text. It’s good that she contacted me via email because I said stuff she would find offensive.

Ya gotta be just shy of half a moron to store passwords on any electronic media without strong encryption. Anyone who can sneak an executable onto her machine, or in any other way gets hold of that file, can now break into a certain limited portion of the server about which the client company (the client of my client) has many fucks to give while I have none. If they screw up and get that stuff messed up, they lose money while I make it. Me worry? Nah. Make all the mistakes ya want, I’ll bill more.

Any younger people who read that last sentence won’t get the reference. That’s okay. It’s a shitty product whose advertising tag line I borrowed anyway.

Another client has some servers that have not been upgraded in so long that they no longer can be upgraded (so must be replaced), and every damn one of them exposed to the public internet as things like web servers and mail servers must be in order to be useful. They’re not moving as quickly as I would like on buying some new hardware so that I can migrate all of their custom software and content to machines that are up to date and can be secured, so I’ve created some firewall rules that will block attempted exploits of the Shellshock bug. The problem: I know how to slip right past those firewall rules so many, many others know how to slip right past them, too. It’s just a matter of time before someone does and there’s nothing that can be done about it short of unplugging the ethernet cable to get the thing disconnected from the rest of the world. And disconnect my client’s revenue stream, which would suck for both of us if it meant he could no longer afford to pay me.

The ugliest part: I’ve just debugged a problem that was gimping that client’s revenue stream and found that their retrieval of vital content from a remote server was triggering that firewall rule. I fixed the firewall rule, but it took my reading the source code of the futilities that retrieve that content. My eyes are almost bleeding from it and I’m pretty sure that my brain is leaking. The code looks like it was written by monkeys who were drinking liquor and snorting cocaine at the time, and would have had no more idea what they were doing while sober than they did while stoned to the bejeezus.

I’ve been known to drink liquor and snort cocaine, and to enjoy it quite a lot, too. All things in moderation, including moderation. But I’ve never been known to write code, design circuits, or do any other kind of “knowledge work” or operate dangerous machinery while under the influence. A guy who did just that once nearly killed me with his inattentiveness. I suddenly found myself with three phases of 277/480VAC power in my right hand, and couldn’t let go of it. Electrocution hurts. If it had been up to that coked up idiot to save my life I would have died. Instead, I braced my body and while observing that the sounds I was making were not at all like what you hear when someone gets electrocuted in the movies I pulled the cables so hard that I broke off the studs to which they were bolted. I’m glad I had the strength to do that. Adrenaline puts cocaine to shame, let me tell ya.

The sound you make when being electrocuted is that of upper body contraction. Your throat is very tightly constricted while your diaphragm very rapidly forces all of the air out of your lungs. Screaming would sound a lot better. Electrocution sounds like being squished but without the crunchy sounds of bones breaking.

Oh, yeah. After I yanked those cables completely out of the equipment cabinet I took a few steps, and then when temporal normality returned I threw the cables onto the floor. The coked up idiot was running toward me… I looked past him and saw that the two circuit breakers he’d closed to light up my life were still closed so the power was still on. The right thing to do would have been to open one or both circuit breakers (one would have been enough) to turn the power off. And, of course, save my worthless heathen life. Later when I asked him why he’d closed those circuit breakers he explained that he’d forgotten what we’d just agreed we were going to do less than ten seconds earlier. Coke doesn’t tell you that it’s messing with your thinking.

Whoever wrote that code I spent all night reading wasn’t doing much thinking, so I hope liquor and cocaine were involved in it. Otherwise he’s just a dumbfuck and there’s no sobering up from that. One way or the other he wrote a massive pile of futilities. A futility, in Heathen-speak, is a utility application that is too fucked up to be fixed and must be rewritten from scratch. A fucked up utility for which rework attempts are futile. Which is not to be confused with a craplication.

Nobody cares to know all about programmer jargon anyway, am I right? But there’s the link in the previous sentence if you’re curious about it.

I’m curious about my pillow. Be well, friends and neighbors!

Advertisements

12 thoughts on “Idjits.

    1. happierheathen Post author

      I hardly ever know what I’m saying, myself, but I like saying it anyway. 🙂

      Thinking on it just now, I guess that means that I’m like most others in that regard, huh? 😀

      Reply
  1. erikamsteele

    how can you do your job? OMFG. I just applied for 3 positions that require me to teach people to use software for education or research. I think I may have made a mistake (if I even get an interview.)

    Reply
    1. happierheathen Post author

      Oh, wow, I love my job. I’m not always fond of the mistakes other people make, but when the impact of those mistakes upon me is billable hours I like them better. I refer to the money I make fixing the outcomes of other people’s bad decisions as tuition. “Hey, so-and-so’s tuition check just arrived!”. 😀

      End user training? Egad. Oh gawd. Holy motherfucking shit. Et cetera. But seriously, I’ve been dealing with customers in my capacity as a technical professional for decades now, and the two key people skills are to always be intellectually engaged but never emotionally engaged, and to avoid falling into the trap of adopting the prevalent but factually incorrect perspective that all end users are dolts. Those skills can save your sanity, make your job easier and maybe even enjoyable, and can even get you promoted faster. Make the difference between a fun job and a horrible mistake, even.

      Reply
      1. erikamsteele

        So you are saying that I need to just get into the position so I can be a contract worker and get paid $300 an hour by a university or other interested party instead of a salary. The stuff you were talking about in your post would make me cry on a daily basis. It’s not that I think people are dumb. I am surprised by the people who are that dumb. I can’t comprehend it. Then again, I do see it every day. My colleagues, especially the older ones, really struggle with technology. Heck, even some of the ones my age struggle with it. They didn’t know you could download spreadsheets from Blackboard, enter the grades on any computer and then upload it again (as long as you don’t change the cells). I suppose I have to keep in mind that my mom was a computer programmer and made me learn computers starting at an early age.

        Reply
        1. happierheathen Post author

          No, I’m not saying you need to just get into the position. Not at all! I’m just saying that if you end up in one of those positions you’re less likely to end up hating life if you practice those people skills.

          I rarely give career advice because I’m almost never qualified to do so and have rarely met anyone who was. One thing I think important, though, is to recognize the true nature of the deal struck when you take a job working for wages: Your career, when working as an employee, is really just a business whose model is that of agreeing to work for just one client at a time, and agreeing to pay far too much in both financial and surrender of power terms for the support services that enable you to fulfill your obligations under that contract. This fairly shitty deal is almost always part and parcel of paying one’s dues, and not a totally bad deal if the dues are for the career you want. If you’ve got to work a just-a-job to keep the pantry stocked, well, it ain’t ideal and it beats starving but it’s risky. I know lots of middle aged people who are today working in the fields of some just-a-jobs they took years ago because that’s where their experience makes them most employable. Ya gotta do what ya gotta do, but if it’s a just-a-job you’d do well to get out of it ASAP because of that risk. You’re better off, when it’s a viable option, to pay those dues to acquire the knowledge and experience that are best suited for incorporation into the foundation of the rest of your life.

          Coming at age and technology from another perspective: One of my favorite games is getting schooled by younger people about technology. In, say, Santa Clara or Boston or anywhere else where there’s a lot of high tech industry it wouldn’t happen at all, but out here in the sticks most people accept the media’s fictional portrayal of what programmers look like without question. So I play a fun game of nodding and saying “yeah” a lot while doing my best to look engaged, which I am, and vaguely perplexed, which I’m not. They almost always jump right into the trap, but sometimes I have to throw in a question or two as bait. They always end up trapped by saying something patently untrue, and then I get to very good-naturedly bag them. It’s not only great fun for all, it’s actually doing them a valuable service as it’s important to break the mental habit of knowing things that have never been learned.

          Reply
          1. erikamsteele

            {{hugs}}
            I was joking. I know you weren’t saying that at all. I am just hoping I get one of the positions classed as faculty or administration over one that is called staff because pretentious people are pretentious. It would not matter whether I would be providing the exact same service, title sometimes means everything. I think I am going to enjoy helping people use technology in their classrooms. It does surprise me when people don’t understand the basic function of the software that they use everyday. I think a mistake that a lot of professors make is that their students understand e-learning environments and that they do not have to teach them the software. I try to tell them that Blackboard is nothing like Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr and unless they are using something like Edmodo which is like Facebook, the students are going to struggle as much or than they do to navigate it.

            Reply
            1. happierheathen Post author

              Oh, okay then. I feel better now — earlier I was wondering “Where did she find that in what I said?” 😀

              I’d hoped that by now we’d be past that “kids grew up with computers so know all about them” bullshit. My kids don’t know shit about them beyond how to find Facefook and post career destroying information about themselves. 😀

              Reply
              1. erikamsteele

                That’s really the only thing all kids know. I am not even sure they teach computer science in school anymore since it wasn’t a part of the state standards from the NCLB act and it isn’t a part of the common core (that I am aware). Still, so many professors will insist that students know how to use e-learning, blackboard, and the other popular ones.

                Reply
                1. happierheathen Post author

                  “professors will insist”, as will entirely too many others, upon knowing things they have not learned. 😀

                  As far as I can tell, the purpose of NCLB and Common Core are to improve indoctrination by denying children the ability to ask meaningful questions. But that’s another topic, another rant, and another excuse for me to STFU now.

                  Be well!

                  Reply
  2. theinfiniterally

    I got lost in the comments. What was I going to say? It was a good post and I feel slightly more intelligent and slightly less like an idjit for having read it. I also feel sad for never having kept the company of coked up monkeys. And that image of being electrocuted is likely to stay with me for awhile.

    Reply
    1. happierheathen Post author

      Electrocution can be pretty exciting. 😀 Maybe some day I’ll get around to blogging a series of electrocution vignettes.

      Consider it good fortune that you’ve not experienced coked up primates. They’ve got too much energy but not enough mental capacity and it makes them dangerous.

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s