tunnel rat posted on July 30, 2008 16:36

Two weeks into my new gig at the Sweatshop In A Nightclub (SIAN), I started to have physical problems.

First, a tingling in my fingers, followed by a numbness in my wrists. Shoulder pain. A stiff neck.

At first, I chalked it up to the long hours. The project I was working was an under-bid, under-planned set of enhancements for a big client, SIAN’s bread and butter. The client was a big computer company – let’s call them Pewlett Hackard.

And, as I was soon to find out, this was how all the projects at SIAN worked. I would spend 10-12 hours a day working on a web page, and an account executive (either Baby Huey or Ms. Account Executive Whore ) would stomp into our three-man office and throw a stack of printed screen shots on a desk. The pages were covered with red marks.

“PH wants these change made ASAP!!!”

So I or one of the other two developers would take a few of the pages and start hacking the changes in. I worked with two other guys – Cowboy and a total nerd that I shall alias at a later date. The nerd was such a piece of work that I am at a total loss for an appropriate nickname.

I mean, how do you come up with a moniker for a guy that can only be described as a “forty-something tech school grad with coke-bottle glasses who goes on vacations with his mother and drives a 15 year old import that he thinks is a bitchin’ ride and plays guitar in his Catholic church and has probably never been laid and used to work in the defense industry for, like, twenty years, and is a big hot head, and thinks Amiga was the greatest fuckin’ system ever made – and had been working at this place for seven years, and is the only one that understands the PDF generation code that he hacked together for THE BIG CLIENT, so NO ONE CAN FIRE HIM, and wears jeans and plaid shirts tucked in and the belt is pulled all the way up to his solar plexus, and thinks PHP is the ONLY language worth programming in, and the all this .NET shit is crap, and he’ll be dammed if is going to deal with shit like version control…”

You get my point.

As for Cowboy – you know what I mean. A hacker. Rockstar programmer who knows all. There is one in every shop, if not a shop full of them.

The kind of programmer that names all primary keys “id.” So when you are trying to figure out his in-line SQL, none of it makes a bit of sense because it all look like “Select a.id, b.id from tblShit a, tblCrap b Where a.id=b.id.”


Bastard did not even have the fucking courtesy to spell his variables properly. “Customer” would become the “Cutsomor” property. The “Assigned” field would be either the “Assding” or “Assnigd” parameter.

Whatever, baby. “’CAUSE I’M A COWBOY!”


I was asking (aksing?) him about some of his code once, and it was full of these charming examples of illiteracy.

“Oh, just so you know,” he said, “when I’m in the zone and really coding, my spelling gets kinda bad. Just so you know.”

Thanks for the heads-up, butt-wipe.

Now, for those assholes out there who want to pull the “YOU’RE A HYPOCRITE” card and point out my grammatical faux-pas --- fuck you. I am writing a blog. Not code.

Anyway, some of the changes were cosmetic. Others were wholesale redesigns of pages, menus, functionality. Whatever.

This would go on until about six at night, when most of the company would go home, except for the developers and the account managers. Someone would order in food, and we would take a break around the bar, eat, and drink a few beers. Then it was back to work, usually until around nine, when we would do a build and the account executives would screenshot the whole site and get their red Sharpies out. They would then present the site to the client in the morning, and the whole cycle would start again.

At first, it was kind of cool. Exciting. Wow, I thought, this is like working at a dot-com. And I could drink at work!

But it got old quickly.

The most dangerous thing in my business, other than a fellow programmer walking in with a machete or an AK, is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. It can end your career. So you have to be careful.

So, after a couple of weeks, I took a tape measure to my desk.

Holy shit, it was 38 inches high! And the cheap, trendy, IKEA chair they had me in had NO HIGHT ADJUSTMENT.

“Dude,” I asked Cowboy -- who was in the same kind of chair, and would code with his keyboard in his lap and his feet propped up on his desk, “what is with these desks? They are so fuckin’ high.”

“Yeah, when they turned this stage into offices, they paid some Mexican to come in and do the construction. He ran an electrical conduit across the room about waist-high, so they wanted him to build the desks above that so that it would look, like, smooth and shit. So we got high desks. Don’ bother me, I kinda dig it.”

He went back to his coding.

Man, I thought, I gotta take this up with the boss man. ASAP.

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Tunnel Rat posted on July 20, 2008 16:34

I once worked at a place that was a converted nightclub.

Green concrete floors. Disco ball. Speakers hanging from the rafters. A bar that served as a break room and kitchen, even stocked with booze.

A stage that had been turned into two large offices with four workstations in each one. The sys admin worked in a DJ booth upstairs, and it overlooked the cubicles that had been built on what used to be the dance floor. He kept a few tropical fish tanks in his office. I called him Fishboy.

Very hip. Trendy. Dot-com chic. Young staff. Casual attire – t-shirts, shorts, and flip-flops. A half-mile walk to the beach.

Wow, how cool, you might be thinking.

Yeah, cool -- if you like working without specs, version control, a stable network, a QA environment, and some of the other luxuries found in a decent IT shop.

When I first started, I shared an office with two other developers. It took me a few hours to realize that I couldn’t run a local web server, because I didn’t have local admin rights to my own workstation.

“Uh-uh, the network guy (Fishboy) doesn’t allow it,” one of the other guys said. “Said people will load stuff on their system and shit, so he just locks them down.

“Did you guys tell him that you need to run local web site to properly develop in .NET?” I asked.

They shrugged. “Uh, we’ve been asking for a long time. But he’s the owner’s brother. Enough said.”

Nice. The owner’s brother ran the network, and didn’t care what the developers wanted. I’d have to try to persuade him.

“And what’s the deal with SourceSafe? You guys don’t use version control?” I asked.

“We used to code everything in PHP. You don’t need version control with that. I just made copies of my source files.”


“But since you’re doing everything in .NET, you can use SourceSafe, right?”

“Yeah. But Fishboy won’t let us set up the archives database on the network. Says it would take up too much disk space,” one of the guys told me.

Man, this was going to be weird….

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Tunnel Rat posted on July 17, 2008 16:39

"...We only said goodby with words..."

Actually, I just wrapped up a gig working off-site for a flaky outfit that has left me with plenty of blog fodder.

One minute I was bouncing emails and IMs with the bimbo that was my, uh, how should I say it...my project manager ("possibly alchoholic over emotional dipshit unstable bimbo without a clue" would be a more a more appropriate title), and the next minute my recruiter calls and tells me my contract is terminated immediately.

"Doesn't surprise me," I told him. "My boss was getting pretty irrational lately. Personal issues I think."

"Yeah," he said, "she does seem like an emotional person."

So just like that, I was back on the street, facing the prospect of going back to the chain gang.

It was a nice a run, lasting over a year, and I never spent one minute on site. Never even met the boss/bimbo or anybody on the team. All virtual.

Ah, but the stories that I've got, geeze...

Nothing like working with a middle-aged, pig-headed, non-educated chain smoking housewife trying to run an IT department out of her house to make things interesting.

Not that I'm bitter or anything.

I just hated the bitch.

Uneducated, non-technical, paranoid, delusional bimbos just should not be in the business of managing complex web applications. Dealing with them tends to kill my buzz.

More on her and my year working in my flip-flips and shorts later...

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