Charles Robinson

Master Bug Finder Extraordinaire

Frayed Fiber

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The 80's were a time of great technological marvels. The Walkman allowed a person to listen to music anywhere they went. The Video Cassette Recorder allowed you to watch your favorite movies repeatedly until they wore out. Then there was the magic of Fiber Optics. Advances in the light-blasted-through-glass medium allowed places like Seymour's company to share data between offices at blistering speeds.

Bill, the President of Seymour's company, always wanted them to be on the cutting edge of technology. He didn't always know the why or the how surrounding it, but when he heard about something that sounded cool, he wanted to be the first company to have it. That's where Seymour came in. As Vice President of Technological Development (a fancy job title he got for being the organization's only true techie) he made Bill's dreams come true. All he had to do was ask for the company credit card.

an illuminated bundle of fiber optic cable

freE-Commerce

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Douglas had just joined a large eCommerce company that was constructing its own in-house PHP development team. It was a big step for them, as they only relied on cheap freelance c0derz to get things done before. Because of this, Douglas and his cohorts had to maintain a glut of legacy applications made by people who were long gone.

A vast majority of the horrid legacy apps were created by a man simply known as Shayne. The sight of his name in the code comments would send icy chills down Douglas' spine. Shayne was freelance down to the very definition of it. His signature philosophy to coding seemed to be "roll your own" and his framework weapon of choice was a version of CodeIgniter that was two years out of date at the time he utilized it. An open cardboard box on a wooden floor


The Logic Barrier

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Brad was brought in as a new hire to work on improvements for a big-name ERP system. His supposed role would be that of the "input guy" for a new I/O module where engineers would enter some numbers, they would be crunched, and it would output a wireframe design of what they needed to build. While he got started, the development manager Cindy assured him they'd have an "output guy" soon enough.

A bottle of Monopolowa Vodka


Logjam

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Steven worked for Integrated Machinations, a company that made huge machines to sell to manufacturers so they could actually manufacture stuff. He didn't build the machines, that would require hard physical labor. Instead, he wrote computer programs that interfaced with the machines from the comfort of the air-conditioned office. One such program was a diagnostic app used to log the performance of Integrated Machinations products. The machines didn't break down often, but when they did, logging was very important. Customers wouldn't be in a mood to hear that IM didn't know why the equipment they dropped fat stacks of cash on failed.

Text-xml file-type image Steven also had a subordinate named Thomas, who was foist upon Steven in an effort to expand the small development team. Steven could have easily handled everything himself, but Thomas needed something to do so he was given the simplest part of the diagnostic app - the downloader. Steven's code handled the statistical compiling, number-crunching, and fancy chart-making aspects of the application. All Thomas had to do was make the piece that downloaded the raw files from the machines to pass back.


Classic WTF: The Circle of Fail

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"Doctor, it hurts whenever I do this!" This classic ran back in 2013 -- Remy

During Ulrich’s days as an undergraduate, he landed a part-time gig at a nuclear power plant. It was an anxious time to be on board at the nuke plant- the late 1990s. The dreaded Y2K loomed over all of their aging systems. One decimal point in the wrong spot at midnight on January 1st, 2000 and… well, nothing good would come of it.

Ulrich’s job for the big conversion was more benign though. He needed to update the simple graphics on the monitoring program the nuclear technicians used to keep tabs on the reactor. The very basic macro language generated Commodore 64-quality graphics; it displayed the position of the control rods, neutron flux, water temperatures & pressure, turbine and generator stats, and how many three-eyed fish were caught in the neighboring lake. All of this was then shown on 10 massive CRT monitors mounted around the main control room.


Putting the "No" in "Novell"

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In the late 90's, Gregg was hired to administer a small Novell network at EduLoans, a student loan processing company. What it amounted to though was a toxic waste cleanup at a Superfund site. To say his predecessor, Loretta, was underqualified was a blunt understatement. The company wanted a network on the cheap, which included elevating a receptionist with slight technical skills to the ranks of Novell administrator. They figured the only training she would ever need was a two week hands-on Novell CNA course. Novell Netware login screen circa 1997

Loretta returned from training with tons of free swag in tow. This included a CD-ROM beta version of Netware 3.12, with bold text printed across its face reading NOT FOR USE IN A PRODUCTION ENVIRONMENT. Ignoring that, she convinced the President of EduLoans that they could get by with this great free version so there would be more money to spend on hardware - and her raise.


That 70's Paper Mill

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The late Seventies was a lucrative time for Finnish-based Kirkniemi Paperi, a paper production powerhouse. Puoval had a great opportunity to cash in on the profits by helping to integrate a completely automated, computer-based production system. His degree in electronic engineering was finally going to pay off.

Thanks to the invention of the Intel 8085 microprocessor, it became possible to turn trees in to paper quicker than ever. Puoval had a mandate from Kirkniemi ownership to spare no expense with getting the system up and running since their biggest competitor implemented a similar system the year before. But if they had a bumpy rollout, it would be incredibly damaging to both the company and Puoval's livelihood. Painting of paper-making at Hahnemühle


A Signed Release

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Brody and his team of contract developers were nervously awaiting a major update to TexOil's member website to go live. Between a complete overhaul of the site and massive database changes, it would be difficult to roll back if anything went awry. They were only responsible for developing the software, however. The task of the actual deployments fell to Lars' release team.

The development and testing process had been rigorous, but Brody felt confident in his code after receiving UAT signoff the week before. There was even time for extensive load and stress testing this time around. Brody spent most of the weekend running builds and packaging up the code and database scripts so that Lars and Co. could prep the deployment first thing Monday. Barack Obama signs at his desk2

Lars strolled in an hour late Monday morning, seemingly unconcerned with the magnitude of the release before him. "Hey Lars," Brody greeted him. "It wasn't fun, but I got everything packaged for you guys to do your thing. So you should probably get started so we can hit the ground running tonight."


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