The 'Groundbreaking and Revolutionary' Update
For MegaCorp's end-of-quarter presentation, the vice president of marketing arranged a demo for a feature that he had contracted an outside consultant to add to the new version of the company's customer-facing online application.
The new feature, described as "groundbreaking and revolutionary," had caused quite a stir within the organization. This was mostly because, when implemented, it would allow customers to receive updates sent directly to their cell phones -- and, interestingly enough, it would work with every cell phone carrier in the United States.
Equally impressive was the widely circulated rumor that the VP had paid the consultant around $50,000 for his troubles. Many people at MegaCorp viewed it as an attempt to upstage the technical expertise of the internal engineering group, which included Jared's application development team.
Soon after the demo, Jared's team received the application code to include in the next build. Expecting a large project that would include the contingencies for each possible cellular carrier, the team was shocked to receive only a single C# source file, which acted as a wrapper for the following function:
private object GetEmailBasedOnCarrier()
string text1 = " ";
text1 = "tmomail.net";
text1 = "vmobl.com";
text1 = "cingularme.net";
text1 = "messaging.sprintpcs.com";
text1 = "vtext.com";
text1 = "messaging.nextel.com";
return (this.PhoneNumber + "@" + text1);
The engineering group was stunned. They collectively wondered: Coding "style" aside, surely this wasn't all of it ... Where was the rest of the application?
About an hour after sending an e-mail to the VP of marketing, Jared and the rest of the engineering group received a reply from the hired gun.
Whoops! Wrong Version
Indeed, the consultant had sent an older, inferior version that was neither groundbreaking nor revolutionary. The updated version, which was attached, was far superior, utilizing direct "IP Calls" to send the data and "not using e-mails" anymore.
Curious, Jared opened the new code, but felt a little let down after seeing that using an "IP Call" really meant replacing the server domain name of the destination message with its IP address and keeping everything else the same.
After closing the source file, Jared did the only thing he could do: He checked the code into source control and waited for the next round of groundbreaking and revolutionary changes.
Mark Bowytz is a contributor to the popular Web site The Daily WTF. He has more than a decade of IT experience and is currently a systems analyst for PPG Industries. Have you experienced the darker side of development? We want to publish your story. E-mail your tale to Executive Editor Kathleen Richards at email@example.com and put "DevDisasters" as the subject line.