When Reality Imitates Art

Remember when I wrote about Google Poo? Ha ha ha…that was funny wasn’t it?

…What do you mean that this is no longer a joke? People are actually calling for that?!

Can’t Say that I’m Surprised

Well, after my research in the past, you’d think that nothing would surprise me. And you’d be right, because this news didn’t make me bat one eye.

I’ve been thinking about doing another round of research, to see if book trends have changed any within the last few years. With this new tool called LinkFish, it’d be much easier than last time. Maybe if I have some time in the near future, I’ll give it another shot.

I Should Take the High Road

So, when I read this article about the final nail in the coffin for the Microsoft Phone and its app store, it wasn’t exactly news. Yet, when I got to that one quote:

“…As for why the platform has been all but dropped? The executive boils it down to one main reason: the difficulty of getting developers to write apps.

A Balrog rose from the depths of my soul. Suddenly, waves of memory after memory after memory hit me repeatedly, as I remembered the rage and frustration of even attempting to publish anything on that goddamn store. Since the whole operation was pretty much over long ago, it should just be left in the past and forgotten. And I should take the high road and just let it go…but I can’t hold it back, not after Joe Belfiore’s eulogy.


Okay, I got it out. I’m done now.

Signs of Your Startup’s Imminent Demise

  1. Your company is relocating from that “stuffy” office in the business park to a “bohemian” section of the parking lot.
  2. When you ask senior leaders about the next target platform for your product, they reply that it doesn’t matter and that you’re welcome to pick whichever one you want.
  3. After a steady stream of departures from your team, you are now your own boss since you’re the only one left.
  4. When you tell your developer friends about your latest stories from work, they politely respond “Oh, I thought that you guys closed down already. You’re still around?”
  5. If you’re the new hire, your new equipment includes a blood-covered monitor and a partially-smashed keyboard.
  6. Even though you weren’t hired as such, you’ve become a full stack developer out of necessity. (When people ask how things are going, you reply that you feel like you’re running a marathon through a mine field.)
  7. Your coworkers don’t even hide the fact that they’re using your main competitor’s product in the office. Worse yet, it’s used at company meetings.
  8. Turnover is so high that the most senior programmer has a grizzled employment record of three months and works inside a padded room.
  9. Management has repeatedly asked you whether you would like to buy them out.
  10. Every other commit message in the code repository ends with a variation of “…Please, somebody kill me.”

Peter Bolton is the author of Blowing the Bridge: A Software Story and has also been known to be a grumpy bastard on occasion.

Other Poor Business Phrases

Recently, CEO Marissa Mayer engaged in a discussion with reporters and analysts about Yahoo’s last business quarter, and when asked about the company’s layoffs, she referred to management’s choices as a “remix” of her company. Obviously, some marketing guru/moron probably encouraged her to use terminology that actually did more damage than good. Here are a few other potential mistakes that she and her peers might want to avoid in the near future:

  1. Construct a valid argument about the chosen technical direction for the company, rather than simply stating “YOLO”.
  2. Avoid referring to anyone who doubts your company’s potential competitiveness as simply “wacked out on flakka”.
  3. Do not announce that you’re about “to drop” your next earnings report within the next week.
  4. Refrain from announcing your CFO on conference calls as “your bottom bitch”.
  5. If you sell or purge a division within the company, “cause they didn’t have mad swag” will not be a sufficient explanation for your actions.

Peter Bolton is the author of Blowing the Bridge: A Software Story and has also been known to be a grumpy bastard on occasion.

Predictions for the Second Season of Silicon Valley

With the arrival of the second season of Silicon Valley, I have used my prescient powers to see into the future. My mind has captured the following events that will surely unfold in the next episodes:

  1. Under the direction of Ellen Pao, Reddit will become the major investor of Pied Piper and promise funds with no attachments, as long as the entire team promises to undergo surgery in order to become women.
  2. A Japanese researcher will discover the jerk-off equations on the whiteboard from Season 1, and he will ask Piep Piper to assist him with creating the most efficient “happy ending” robot in the entire world.
  3. Richard Stallman will attempt to convince Richard that he should open source Pied Piper’s compression algorithm, and when Richard refuses to do so, Stallman and his army of chubby ninjas will chase and harass Richard throughout the remainder of the season.
  4. As part of a PR campaign for the company, Erlich must attend a CodeNow session for minority students, where he will create politically incorrect code samples and will gain the respect of his students by participating in a rap battle.
  5. A heated argument over design at Pied Piper will lead to an escalating progression of pranks between Gilfoyle and Chugtai, which will end with a swatting that accidentally deports Gilfoyle from the country.

Peter Bolton is the author of Blowing the Bridge: A Software Story and has also been known to be a grumpy bastard on occasion.

Ways for Developers to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day

  1. Wear a shirt with only “#00FF7F” on the front and back. Tip: It’s an unstated rule that if someone pinches you while you are wearing green, you have every right to Qaddafi or karate chop the other person.
  2. Create your own pot of gold by filling a small bucket full of Nacho Doritos. Then, put a green hat on your RC car and reward the bucket to any work colleague who can catch your car. (If your work situation is like mine, they’ll all probably die of a heart attack before they get within three meters of the car.)
  3. In order to spur the right amount of violence, ensure that everyone in the office is horribly drunk before you issue ‘git remote rm’ to any and all branches.
  4. Use a shamrock with school children to explain the Holy Trinity: Linus Torvalds, Linux, and init. (If a systemd advocate is nearby and overhears you, be prepared for combat.)
  5. Buy a Guinness for that one developer who rarely showers and has a propensity for smelling like cabbage.

Peter Bolton is the author of Blowing the Bridge: A Software Story and has also been known to be a grumpy bastard on occasion.

A Developer’s Wish List for Christmas

Dear Santa,

I’ve beeen a fairly good boy this year. Please give me at least one of the following:

  • Enough goddamn tablespace on the goddamn database schema so that it doesn’t run out every five goddamn minutes.
  • An environment where there’s less than 3 homegrown libraries that have different implementations of the same functionality.
  • Good will and peace on Earth…in other words, a calm, rational discussion about systemd that doesn’t involve remarks about physical assaults of family members or accusations about genital size.
  • An obedient monkey of my size who can wear a suit and quietly attend meetings in my place. (Trust me, they won’t be able to tell the difference, as long as he throws any poop at the trashcan instead of the other attendees. My aim is normally perfect.)
  • A development platform that was chosen because it makes sense, not because a slick salesman bought dinner for one of the company suits.
  • An Etch-A-Sketch for each stakeholder, since they’re so fond of drawing up vague specification requests and then erasing them quickly with a flash.
  • Less irony in the workplace (like when a new project is more complicated and expensive than the legacy system that it was intended to replace).
  • A fellow developer who doesn’t interpret ‘add more wrappers’ to mean that he should add more Wendy’s and McDonald’s wrappers to the existing layer on his desk.
  • Not hearing another unimaginative technical interview that starts with “So, you have a list of numbers that you have to sort…”
  • An intelligent workplace Internet filter that blocks porn sites and allows access to StackOverflow, not vice versa.

Peter Bolton is the author of Blowing the Bridge: A Software Story and has also been known to be a grumpy bastard on occasion.

Seven Levels of Hell: The Tech Edition

  1. First Circle (Limbo): For developers who can’t pick a language or platform as their given specialty.

    Punishment: All souls chained to this level will walk door to door with their résumé, only to have each one slammed in their faces with the phrase “You have no strengths!”

  2. Second Circle (Lust): Taking into account who we have to face each day at work and their respective level of resembling a troglodyte, we can go ahead and eliminate this possibility.

    Punishment: Not applicable. This level of hell is empty.

  3. Third Circle (Gluttony): For programmers who create memory leaks and perpetual loops, eating up all the memory and CPU cycles on the system.

    Punishment: Every single day, these offenders are presented a choice to either write an enterprise server application (with an embedded demoscene) that can run efficiently with only 2K of RAM or to eat an entire Alienware computer case.

  4. Fourth Circle (Greed): For IT managers who wouldn’t share resources or knowledge with other managers.

    Punishment: Chained to a wall and gagged, these souls must watch silently as their peers take credit for all of the damned’s projects and heap praises upon each other.

  5. Fifth Circle (Anger): For admins who blow their top and acerbically berate all users, both advanced and novice in technical knowledge.

    Punishment: Surrounded by blaring alarms about hard drives losing disk space, they will sit at a terminal for eternity and their fingers will only be able to repeatedly type ‘fsck’ (and other variations with more vowels).

  6. Sixth Circle (Heresy): For the sales managers at software companies who know the limitations of the product being sold but then promise everything else to the customer.

    Punishment: Unfortunately, this level of hell is full of innocent software developers. As with the world of the living, the salesmen have talked their way out of punishment and somehow placed the full load of misery onto the developers.

  7. Seventh Circle (Violence): For the developers whose nonsensical code causes headaches and dizziness to those who review it.

    Punishment: While being flogged with the “computer-mice-o-nine” tails, they must write the code for their next project through only the smashing of their heads against a vintage IBM Model M keyboard. ‘Click-clank-click’ will be the only soundtrack for eternity.

  8. Eight Circle (Fraud): For all IT staff who knowingly have taken one shortcut in their lives when they should have done things the right way.

    Punishment: Due to overcapacity (in that all fellow IT staff belong here), a huge volume of sinners will need to take turns being in the pit in order to accommodate the space. The punishment has yet to be determined since the domain model hasn’t taken all factors (like performance requirements) into account yet.

  9. Ninth Circle (Treachery): For any CIO/CTO who had a productive, strategic vision for the company but then abandoned that vision at the first sign of trouble (or a golden parachute).

    Punishment: Much like those stuck in Limbo, these souls must forever be denied employment by various prospective employers…but they must suffer while chained to an ex-spouse who perpetually complains about a lack of alimony or child payments.

Footnote: The title would be nine levels of hell, but since the second level is empty and the sixth level is misused, there’s actually only seven. That seems to fit, though, since nothing in tech has an implementation which matches the specs.

Peter Bolton is the author of Blowing the Bridge: A Software Story and has also been known to be a grumpy bastard on occasion.