LowComDom Performances Presents
The Crapolla According to Fek'Lar
You know you're screwed when...
Your campaign needs to tell the press that you were "just kidding" after every time you open your mouth.
You've stumbled onto another issue of The Crapolla, a journal written for software professionals. No not the managers; I mean the people who do the work.
This Crapolla is sponsored by...
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In This Issue...
Bonus Soda References!
We got a letter from a customer who claimed the service hadn't met minimum specs, and we owed them money. The sales rep fielding the complaint sent them the contract and asked what they based their claim on. WTHAIS does not guarantee service in the manner the customer claimed in the letter. The sales rep was surprised to find that her predecessor had dropped a clause in the contract that the company should never have agreed to. The was no way to guarantee what the contract said.
Usually, my group is the one with Tourette's syndrome. Today, it felt like this disease had spread through the building. People you never would have guessed knew how to curse, were dropping F-bombs in the halls. The Sales Puke who negotiated this contract has long since left the company.
This comes to a point I've long felt at WTHAIS. The company's greatest enemy is the Sales department. In the past, I've seen Sales bring in contracts that had no profit in them. At least, not for the company. The Sales Puke always had profit in the contract for themselves.
I've seen Sales also bring in contracts which required the product to do things it doesn't. This usually means a new feature has to be added to the code. Often the company would only give it to this one customer, and we became a one-off factory. This turned into hell for anyone trying to support the product six months later when no one remembered what had been made for one customer.
WTHAIS Sales Department - winner of the Rubber Glove Award.
I'm really pissed about Standard & Poors' (S&P) downgrading of US debt. It's not because I think we can keep spending as we have been for the past 50 years, it's because of who has done the downgrade.
As you may recall, the crash of 2008 was caused because Wall Street was giving mortgages to people who were never going to be able to pay the money back. The list of people whose fault this is, is long and distinguished. It includes President Clinton who told Freddie and Fannie to make more loans, even when they told him this disaster would happen. It includes members of Congress who repealed the Glass-Steagall act (just to balance this, I'll point out that the three main sponsors where Republicans.) It includes the investment banks who created credit default swaps out of crap loans. But I truly believe the gun was in the hands of the investment rating agencies who tell investors how risky an investment is.
The banks made loans that were rated D, the lowest possible rating, and built conglomerate shares of many mortgages. They asked and got from the credit rating companies, AAA ratings. The normal human would never think that a group of Ds could equal a AAA rating. We all saw what happened. The capital markets collapsed, and took the economy with it.
Once the economy was in the crapper, tax revenue started drying up. This is why most state and local governments are having to slash budgets to make ends meet. (It is not, as some would have you believe, caused by teachers, nurses, and other unionized workers.)
The Federal government did the only thing a government can do. It threw money at the problem. This drove up the US budget deficit to over a trillion dollars. (Now we're talking about real money!) Then, the debt ceiling came up. Congress could have solved this problem with a one line bill that said, "The debt ceiling is now 18 trillion dollars." But Washington politicized the problem, and waited for the last possible second to raise the debt ceiling.
Now S&P stepped in. After the debt ceiling was raised, they lowered the rating of US bonds from AAA to AA+. Maybe this is the right thing to do. As I said, it's not what was done that pisses me off, it's who did it. S&P is one of the rating agencies who didn't do their job during the housing bubble. Of all the players during the adventure in crazy economics, the rating agencies were the single group who could have put a stop to it all and avoided the world economic crash. But instead of rating junk as junk, they were on the take. It was simple. The issuers wanted AAA ratings. If you didn't give it to them, they would take their business elsewhere. Since the rating agencies make their money rating securities for banks, they had a conflict of interest. They had to give the AAA ratings, or go out of business. So, they lied. Their lies allowed people who had no income to continue to get mortgages, only to have their mortgage sold to some poor schmuck who didn't know his AAA rated real estate security was worthless. Had the rating agencies told the truth, these mortgages wouldn't have been sellable. The banks who wrote the mortgages would have been stuck with their own crap. They would have stopped lending to people who couldn't pay, and this crash wouldn't have happened.
I just heard that S&P are being investigated for criminal fraud. It really will be Christmas if we get to see an OJ trial of some fat cat who made millions telling lies. A live feed of Paris Hilton walking through a crack neighborhood at night wouldn't be as much fun as getting to see Wall Street held accountable for a change. Hand me another Diet Coke!
I'm sitting in a meeting. We're discussing an extremely large and complicated process. It's very clear nothing is going to happen in this session. The leader wants to talk about that we have today. I have a radical thought. Scrap it, and start over. I've suggested that we decide where we want to go and just plow a road to that destination.
I hear the 8 dirty words of The Valley, "We have to pick the low-hanging fruit."
The trouble with low-hangingfruit is the grand goal never gets achieved. We end up with an even more stupid, and confusing processes. Nothing is well integrated. Without a grander vision, the real problems never get solved.
The "fire an arrow and then blaze a trail" method has a large goal, but there are small steps that get you to the goal. The point is you actually achieve something. The low-hanging fruit method is just a re-enforcing of the status quo, but it makes it look like the Product Manager is doing something.
Explaining to people that what we have is complicated and expensive, gets nods, but then they go back to the safety of the low-hanging fruit. When you explain what the true solution is, everyone does a sphincter clinch when they hear the scope, time, and money required. It doesn't matter that long-term this is the only economically sound solution. When people don't intend to stay with a company more than two years, they couldn't give a wet slap about where the company will be after that two years.
I'm sure I come off as being very anti-product management in this rag. But in my 12 years at WTHAIS, plus a few choice meetings I was in at Green Lizard, my experience with the low-hanging crowd is they never release anything worth the effort, and as a person who stays longer than the average Product Manager, I'm getting tired of explaining to a long line of new people what really needs to be done.
I suspect as I get closer to retirement, I'll have an easier time just sitting in the meeting, nodding my head, drinking my Diet Coke, knowing nothing that happens in the meeting is going to solve our real problems.
National Drivel Day is September 20th!
Prepare For A Dark and Stormy Night!
Heard in the halls of various software companies.
"The amount I don't care is pretty enormous right now."
"Making Tomato soup is stupid, because it comes in a can."
"I bought a one-way ticket to Sanityville."
"It needs to be slightly fixed."
"That's a nice hat."
"Thanks, I got it in Cancun."
"You've done an excellent job of getting the vomit out of it."
There's a clever kid at my door...
They pay me to think. These are my thoughts. Do you think they are getting their money's worth?
Remember: The Crapolla contains my personal opinions. That's right they're mine, so get your own! And you kids get off my lawn!
Although written with the software professional in mind, my mind tends to wander all over the place, and I sometimes write about politics, mass stoopidity, dumb things I saw, and whatever else comes to mind.
From time to time, I use salty language, thus The Crapolla is not intended for children, or certain people from the Christian Right.
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