take one woman with low self esteem, but quite good hair
add one moronic illness
stir in some medication which causes hair to fall out
mix it all up and this is what you get...

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Thoughts arising from a failed software implementation 

Yes, I know it was the printers which were the real show-stopper. Without the printed output, production simply could not continue. Hardware and networks are not my responsibility, not my area of expertise. Production was threatened, so we had to pull out and revert to the old system we were trying to replace.

But software is my responsibility. I could have tested it more thoroughly; I should have tested it more thoroughly. My testing should have emulated exactly how the system would be used in the production environment.

But everyone knows that, sometimes, a programmer will only test to prove that something works. This is a subtle, yet significant, point. It's when you get someone else to test it that the cracks will show. In a department of this size (where size = woefully inadequate), when all you have is one developer (that'll be me, then) to design, build, unit test, function test, system test and install, it's hardly surprising that there were cracks. As far as I'm concerned, though, there were too many cracks - none of them insurmountable, but every one of them revealed that I had not done my best. That I had not produced work of the highest quality. Every one was a further nail in the coffin that my career has become.

There is a strange duality in my attitude towards work. Whilst I know that, in the grand scheme of things, what I do for a living is utterly pointless and adds nothing useful to society or to the world and only serves to fund the bits of my life which remain when I am not at the office, I still take pride in my work and aim to produce systems of a decent quality.

I was in a hurry. This project is my ticket out of this place. The sooner I get it done and dusted, the sooner I can leave here, have some time off in December and start my new job in the new year. I'll admit, I rushed it and, unfortunately, it showed. Whichever way I look at it, I didn't do my job right and for that, I feel ashamed.

I can only dust myself off, fix the bugs, wait for the printers to behave and try again.

But it is hard not to beat myself up, particularly as it's one of the things I'm good at...

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