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mbumby
Pins and Needles 
20th-Sep-2006 12:54 pm
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I've been working on a project at work for... rather a while now. Not quite a year, I think. It involves utilizing a programming language/environment that I took a week-long course on in May 2004, I think it was. I was given access to a very similar program in another environment (dissimilar enough that I couldn't copy/paste and file off the serial numbers) -- and I started digging in.

Ran into all sorts of issues. What worked in the one environment (printing messages from a 100-byte field that are longer than 30 bytes) did not work in mine. Huh? I asked for help from coworkers who knew more about the language/environment than I, but while they understood the technical aspects quite well, these silly little twiddles were beyond them. I resisted going to the company that sold us the product because (1) it's not simple (for me) to file a request for help, and (2) in the past working with their folks has taken lots of my time, resulted in me being insulted and my competence questioned, and as often as not the answer has come from a coworker, with the consultant not even necessarily understanding the answer when it was presented. Feh!

Then come the timing issues. Get this done ... but right now these 2 items are highest priority. Get this done ... but you're responsible for this high-visibility, high-stress, extremely important task that takes more than 40 hours per week. Get this done...

Also, this is an OO language -- not my poison of choice. Many hurdles. As I've been describing it, the documentation (both the dead-tree edition and the on-line) covers perhaps half of what I need, and is right about perhaps half of what it says.

As I got closer to the end of my task, I started to fight the battles that I'd given up on earlier. The easy half of the final task went just like the docs said. Then came the hard half, and the "read a line from a file" command inexplicably ignored about half of the "information the program needs" lines, and when I dug deeper into the incomprehensible OO documentation, trying to get around this problem, trying something that it said would work, I got an error message that Thus-and-So method does not work with "Object-Type". But all the documentation I have indicates that that is not correct. Feh. So I created a seriously ugly and manual parsing routine. I also made some guesses about things I couldn't find any documentation on, and the guesses seem to have panned out!

Shortly after I got back from California, I was given the heads-up that at the start of October we would be wanting this program to be ready for running in our development environment. Cool. I didn't want to migrate it up to Production before I'd tested it, and this would be a good time/place to test it, right? I'd be able to finish the actual programming and then spend time working on diddling the report to be accurate, right? Wrong. Middle of last week I learned that we would be running it in a non-development environment in about a week. Aiiii! I wasn't yet done with the actual programming. So I did my best to tweak the code and coordinate all 116 distinct objects that I need to migrate (and properly delete the 7 that didn't really exist, but that the system thought existed). This week we've been working on getting everything that needs to be done migrated up to the Stress environment.

Today someone will test the first half for me. Tomorrow, the first half will be run for real. Friday the second half (the hard half) will be run. (Sometime after that I'll start working on getting the report pretty and correct.)

These things never work right the first time. Right? But I still have to hope. And it's really not something I can test. So I'm stressing a bit right now.
Comments 
20th-Sep-2006 08:14 pm (UTC) - so far so good
Two problems discovered so far. The first one dealt with why the output files were named incorrectly and were placed in the wrong directory, and that turned out to be something controlled by the user, not a problem within the program.

The second problem was due to a specification I had been provided that turned out to be not quite ... accurate ...
20th-Sep-2006 10:14 pm (UTC)
Wow, talk about stressful. Good luck!
20th-Sep-2006 11:12 pm (UTC)
Destress! Eat good chocolate!
21st-Sep-2006 01:54 am (UTC)
Stress is no fun at all. Come visit -- The Spouse and I will feed you dinner and we can watch a mystery movie. Or sit out by the fire. Possibly even both.

Sitting by the fire, telling computer horror stories . . . ah! That's the life.
21st-Sep-2006 04:32 am (UTC)
Mystery movie, good food, fire, *and* good chocolate (?). (Maybe I should stop off by Trader Joe's...) Now there's an idea!

Probably not before the weekend, though. Thursday I should be available in case I need to perform emergency surgery on these programs, and Friday... well, Friday I'm still hoping to get together with another friend. Not necessarily de-stress-ifying, but it'll be good to do.
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