Tales from the Machine Room

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Too Much Crap!

Some people have a tendency to overdo things.

Let's do 'X', then let's add 'Y'. And 'Z'. And then this, and that. And then the kitchen sink.. Oh, wait, we've already added that. Well, let's add it again, better 2 than none, right?

This effect is also known as "features creep", when it refers to software. Features are added to a product regardless of the actual usefulness of the feature itself, just to add "stuff" to the product and make it more saleable.

Sometimes it works. Rarely.

Most of the time the result is that the stapled-on features makes the whole thing wobbly and unstable at best.

A bloated lumbering beast at worst. Yes Firefox, I'm talking to you!

Sometimes this tendency makes peoples try to "abuse" of other things by bundling them together in some weird way, the result is usually not that useful anymore.

And with this "intro" out of the way, let's talk about chatting!

In the office there was this "policy", more a tendency than a policy, about not talking directly, but sending annoying chat messages.

Now, I've never understood why somebody that is sitting in front of me, can't simply look at my face and talk directly to me if he wants to ask something. If he is sitting 2 tables away, the only thing he has to do is to walk... 5 meters?

It's even more puzzling when the person in question is expecting an immediate answer.

I mean, I'm not looking at that piece-of-crap chat box and yes I turned the "alerts" off because it was just a pain in the ass. So you're not gonna get an answer right away, especially if I am busy doing something else.

For example, it's 7 AM. I am in the office because I need to do a quick change in the website of some dumb idiot that asked us yesterday evening (at 5.10 PM no less), directly on production of course, with the assurance that "it won't disturb the functionality of the system". Yeah right.

I do the change, and guess what? It fucks right up the application that start spitting crap all over the place like it's possessed or something.

What do I do? Check if the thing is still in downtime. It ain't anymore. Fuck. Put it back in downtime and begin the rollback. In the mean time I have my boss chatting me "can you fix it? can you? can you? hallo?" and the stand-by guy asking if somebody can have a look at it since he is on the train. Dude! First thing fix the bloody piece of crap... I'm talking about the server of course, I can't fix the customer's brain. Second, respond to the morons. Of course they complains later because of my "lack or reaction".

You're sitting 6 meters from me, just walk up and you'll notice that I am working on it.

I never appreciated much the 'chat', it's mostly a distraction when not completely useless. 99% of the stuff written there is useless or ignored, when somebody uses it for something actually useful is so rare that nobody bother answering. And when I am the one sending messages is usually because it is important, and since it's ignored the result is that I am bellowing in the office instead of typing.

Up to one day, when we began to introduce the "change management" into the system. What's that? You ask.

Simple: instead of doing the changes you are supposed to do directly on the server, you have to write a script that perform the changes for you and then run that.

Huuu.... why?

Well, the idea is that the script should be reversible, so you can "reverse" the change faster and better if you have a full list of all the changes done to a system; second, the same script can be run on multiple servers at once and apply all the changes to the all the systems and third, it forces you to THINK to what the fuck are you trying to do.

So it does have some sort of logic.

It works a lot better when 99% of your servers are exactly the same of course. When you have 2000 machines each one a single, weird snowflake, it becomes quickly a nightmare that makes every single stupid change a mess that takes forever.

Of course the "group" that decide how to implement the whole thing has a lot of great ideas that they want to implement. A centralized archive of scripts that everybody can use to quickly deploy everything, a centralized system to perform the changes with the click of a button, all interconnected with the main Password manager application, and so on and so forth.

Again.. features creep.

Shall I mention that the 'group' is composed by 3 guys that works in 2 different offices at different times and almost never met? Thought so.

And then they decide that the best thing to do is to connect the whole thing to the chat, so every time somebody does something it fires a message in the chat, informing EVERYBODY of the process.

Everybody that bother looking at the chat of course.

Now, that has some sort of logic: since you're performing a change to a production system, it is good if the person that is going to be notified when the system goes ka-blammo can look back and see who did what and when, so he can pick up the baseball bat and walk to the right person, instead of swinging the bat at random passerby.

However... You should think what happens when the single dude, that is now writing most of the scripts and doing most of the development, will be replaced or joined, by a bunch of other peoples that will be firing up scripts every 20 seconds.

Since the idea is to use that method to perform EVERY single change on the systems. And we receive a lot of requests for changes.

If you send a chat message every time you do something... And you do a lot of things... You will be getting A LOT of chat messages.

And indeed that's exactly what happened.

On the pro-points, the standard "have you checked in the chat" reply when something goes haywire was quickly obsolete: you can't "check the chat" when you get something like 500 messages per minute. Even if you do 'check' you wouldn't find anything useful, only crap.

On the not-so-pro-points, how do you know if something went wrong when CL1 did something and then CL2 added of his own and now the system is completely hosed?

I brought these, and more, important considerations to the 'meeting' where nothing is ever truly 'discussed' and nobody ever take any responsibilities for anything; and the 'decisions' are to a) create a separate chat channel for the scripts (why? so they can develop consciousness and begin their plot to kill us all?) and add a log file.

I point out that having the chat AND the log file is a duplication. If you write your stuff in the log you should do so in a way that you allow you to quickly separate and identify the operations performed on a single host/service, and that would already solve the problem of "who did WHAT on WHAT". The 'who' part being optional for me, I'm more interested in fixing the problem than pointing the finger but again, "pointing the finger" seems to be the national sport here.

Adding the chat and even having a separate one seems completely pointless, nobody is EVER going to read that crap because it's unstructured. And since it's asynchronous (by design) you can't even know WHEN that stuff was sent out, while the log file is obviously time-consistent.

The solution of our "boss" ? Let's send the data-stream that we send to the chat also to a database! And pipe the database into ELK so we can have graph!

...Graphs... of what?? And we already have the logs for that, why do you want to add yet another piece to an already over-complicated system that was supposed to be very simple and streamlined?

The answer was, more or less "because $othergroup has the graphs and he wants to show that we have the graphs too".

So, now we have a chat channel that nobody reads or look at, a database that is filling up with the same junk and a log file that is growing like some sort of alien plant in a B-movie... And now DB asked me how to make graphs out of that shit. Joy

10/01/2017 07:51

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Comments are added when and more important if I have the time to review them and after removing Spam, Crap, Phishing and the like. So don't hold your breath. And if your comment doesn't appear, is probably becuase it wasn't worth it.

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By Guido posted 20/02/2017 10:40

Io non ho mai capito, ne' lo capiro' mai probabilmente, perche' qualcuno che siede esattamente di fronte a me, non puo' semplicemente guardarmi in faccia e fare la domanda. Se sei seduto a due tavoli di distanza, puoi sempre alzarti e camminare per ... 4 metri? is to walk... 5 meters?

A me l'allora capo progetto me la giustifico' con il fatto che

a) parlando puoi disturbare gli altri

b) il destinatario del messaggio non deve interrompere il lavoro per rispondere a te, ma lo guarda appena puo'/ne ha voglia

Rimane il fatto che mi ha sempre fatto specie dover mandare un messaggio ad uno che stava a 10 cm da me invece di chiedere le cose direttamente.

Adesso dove sto ora e' esattamente l'opposto (ovvero ti chiedi le cose anche se sei a 10 mt di distanza) :\)

-- who uses Debian learns Debian but who uses Slackware learns Linux

Luca Ballarati

@ Guido By Luca Ballarati posted 20/02/2017 17:56


Io non ho mai capito, ne' lo capiro' mai probabilmente, perche' qualcuno che siede esattamente di fronte a me, non puo' semplicemente guardarmi in faccia e fare la domanda. Se sei seduto a due tavoli di distanza, puoi sempre alzarti e camminare per ... 4 metri? is to walk... 5 meters?

Perchè in realtà la tua società è infiltrata da Rettiliani che posson passare per persone in una chat ma la cui voce sibilante li tradirebbe in una vera conversazione.

Voglio dire, non può essere solo una conseguenza di seguire cecamente i "trend", no?

-- Luca Ballarati


@ Luca Ballarati By Guido posted 21/02/2017 08:43

Perchè in realtà la tua società è infiltrata da Rettiliani che posson passare per persone in una chat ma la cui voce sibilante li tradirebbe in una vera conversazione.

Voglio dire, non può essere solo una conseguenza di seguire cecamente i "trend", no?


Ora capisco cos'e' quella tessera con scritto "NWO" che mi arriva tutti gli anni a casa... :\)

-- who uses Debian learns Debian but who uses Slackware learns Linux


By Cisco posted 21/02/2017 14:19

Mi ritrovo più o meno: dove lavoro abbiamo un sistema di ticketing (ovviamente..) che manda una mail ad ogni singola modifica fatta su ogni singolo ticket aperto e non permette di configurare con una granularità sufficiente quali mail voglio ricevere.

Risultato: ho disattivato l'invio di tutte le mail e ho configurato dei filtri di ricerca ad-hoc per tenere sotto controllo la situazione.

È inutile sovraccaricarmi di informazioni inutili facendomi perdere quel paio di informazioni utili in mezzo ad una montagna di mail.

-- Cisco

Anonymous Lorenzo

By Anonymous Lorenzo posted 26/02/2017 11:50

Se scrivi quella roba nel log dovresti farlo in maniera da poter identificare rapidamente cosa e' stato fatto su un particolare server/servizio, il che risolverebbe immediatamente il problema di "cosa e come". La parte "chi" e' opzionale per me, io sono piu' interessato a risolvere il problema e molto meno a puntare il dito contro qualcuno, ma di nuovo, puntare il dito sembra essere lo sport nazionale

92 minuti di applausi!

E io che credevo che puntare il dito fosse sport nazionale solo in Italia, vedo che non è così

-- Anonymous Lorenzo

Pinco Pallo

By Pinco Pallo posted 05/03/2017 22:15

Da utilizzatore di sw apprezzo le nuove funzionalità introdotte nelle varie versioni purché:
- non minino la stabilità del sw (come ha già fatto notare D)
ma soprattutto
- non vengano eliminate funzioni presenti nelle versioni precedenti del sw, che funzionano e a qualcuno sono pure utili, perché gli sviluppatori pensano che non servono o che "tanto non la usava nessuno" (frase che mi sono sentito dire dall'assistenza telefonica perché non trovavo un comando presente nella versione precedente...) -- Pinco Pallo


By Akart posted 01/06/2017 12:57

In realta' un motivo c'e'. Una volta che rispondi automaticamente ti prendi la colpa. 

Io visto il posto dove lavoro, se dico una cosa importante poi gli invio anche una mail con un riassunto

Quando esplode tutto e il babbeo ti dice "Io non ne sapevo niente" ma tu ti presenti con stampa delle mail e' una soddisfazione!

Quando bisogna parlare con l'ufficio acquisti pero' vado sempre di persona : sono tutte donne.

-- Akart

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