Archive for May 2006

Aardvark'd Screening in New York 02 May

When our summer internship candidates flew into New York City for their interviews, we made sure they got a hotel room with a DVD player and we left them a copy of Aardvark'd, the documentary about last summer's interns. Despite the filmmaker's fondness for stories about tomato plants and cockroaches, the movie works great as a recruiting tool.

This summer we have six interns, including our first-ever graphic design intern and our first-ever intern in program management. Again, we had hundreds of applications, and we had so many good candidates we only interviewed about half of the candidates we wanted to before the new office space filled up. Interns get free housing, free lunch, Aeron chairs, dual-Xeon workstations with 30" LCD monitors, and weekly cultural events like Broadway shows, a Yankees game, and tours around New York City.

Aardvark'd - A film by Lerone WilsonIf you're going to be in New York City next Tuesday, May 9th, join me for the premiere of Aardvark'd at the New York International Independent Film and Video Festival, at 8pm at the Village East Cinemas (Details | Order Tickets | Windows Trailer | Quicktime Trailer). If you're not in New York, you can still buy the movie on DVD.


Lazy Programmer, Didn't Handle Exception 05 May

catch(Exception *)
   print("call customer service");
// i guess i'm done!

I called the numbers listed, and went through several layers of menus and waiting. Of course, the person who answered at Cingular had no idea what to do. He found someone walking around his call center who told him to call some other number. He called that number, went through voice menu hell, and finally got told to call some other number. Now he's calling that, and of course, it's just ringing the guy next to him, who has no idea what to do, either. Of course they don't. It's a friggin' unhandled exception.

Eventually they got me to another customer service representative who had been trained just to ask me what I was trying to do (add another couple of lines to my account) and do it. That's not really a solution.

One of the hallmarks of a broken system is when there's just no possible way that the programmer who is writing code that talks to customers can ever get feedback from those customers about bugs, because the call center is outsourced to a different company than the software development project is outsourced to. Everyone is trying their hardest to do their job but management has set it up so that it's impossible.

Now, on to wireless companies in the USA. In the last ten years I can't think of one time when a wireless company has been able to handle the basic things I've asked for (new service, cancel service, port a phone number) without 45 minutes of unbelievably incompetent service. Over the years I've used Sprint, the old AT&T, Cingular, and BellAtlantic, and they're all pretty much equally messed up. All of them suffer from hard working shlubs who are stuck in a situation created by incompetent managers, who have built esoteric mountains of complicated and brittle systems with a million moving parts, 3/4's of them outsourced, where it's simply impossible to get anything done.

What does your code do to contact you when things go badly wrong? We use BugzScout to report unhandled problems directly into our own FogBugz database. But even if you call our customer service line you get a human who is sitting right next to the programmer.

FogBugz 5.0 Ships 17 May

“What's shipping today is really something like FogBugz 4½, but we're calling it 5.0 anyway, because life is confusing enough without fractions.”

FogBugz 4½ and Subjective Well-Being

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