April 14th, 2007

old school hacker, bug

An end-user day.

Management is a sweetheart. She's also an end-user. This means that technical things, with her, do not always translate clearly. I have to spend about four times the time explaining things to her. She's a very clueful, high-level end-user. She's still an end-user. I do have the habit of being able to tutor people up to a beginning level of competence in whatever field I'm trying to converse with them about, so it's not as bad as it could be (she was able to follow when I said "So, SELECT where 'leave date' IS NULL") but it's pretty dire.

It takes at least four times as long to explain a technical problem (worse than a technical problem that *can* be easily fixed, a technical problem that *can't* be easily fixed) to a non-geek. If you've established your geek cred to another geek, they'll go about trying to figure out a) how to get it in ways you haven't already covered, or b) how to work around it because you've already tried all the obvious ways. A non-geek, you have to explain in exhaustive detail *why* you can't.

I was shoved to the verge of tears. Not the "shove me an inch and I'll be on Center Stage of Tears" verge of tears, but front-row seating in the Theatre of Tears, with a fine view of the orchestra pit. I'd thought that this particular detail had already been hashed out, but evidently it hadn't. I'd have been fine with it if I were still in the exploration phase of it, but I already thought I'd explained it sufficiently. So, yeah.

Did I mention how lucky I am that Management is clueful, at least? I can only imagine what a nightmare it would be if she weren't. (And oi. Wrestlin' with end-users is supposed to be something I do for volunteer, not for pay.)

So I went back to my little office, got some more hot tea for myself (I've been existing on hot tea; it keeps the sanity level high) and banged away at the database some more. I've got the thing to a place where it's almost -- almost -- automated. I think it'll have to be changed from a create query to an append query, now that everything is in order, since the other update queries I've been building depend on it being nicely in place. Hooray!

At first I'd feared that I'd be there all night. Then I took a look at what I was doing and realized that I was in enough of a groove that a) I would be there all night if I kept going, and b) I could pick up where I'd left off if I left right now. So I finished a few more fiddly little update queries (running them to test them as I went) and left for boffing group.

There was a meeting this morning, with the guy who's going to be running the IT for us from now on. He's remote, and there will be need of some local hands; one person I don't know, one guy I vaguely know, and Obso1337 Manager are being considered for the position. Management and I came into the meeting late. Management introduced me as the woman who runs the interviewer statistics database. This is technically true, but the way it came out of her mouth, it sounded more like "DBA" than "girl who kludged together a dinky little database on a glorified spreadsheet application". I'm used to thinking of myself as the girl with the dinky kludge. They evidently see me as a DBA. Eeep?
lightswitch rave, The Cheat, the system is down

Not to put too fine a point on it...

http://theferrett.livejournal.com/900359.html -- Human 2.0
Related: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/6554743.stm
http://community.livejournal.com/techsupport/1318549.html -- "I am not sure of the issue severity..."

Yesterday at boffing was just great! I was (omg) picked first for Dan's team; we played Capture the Flag a lot. Turns out the Piranha has a father, Jim, and the ol' man was there playing too. He made a lot of protests about being the old guy, the new guy, and not knowing the rules; I'm not sure if he'll become a drama-h0r or not, but my eye's on him on principle. The Piranha is damn good, though, and if necessary we'll put up with the Piranha's dad for the sake of the Piranha. (The Piranha is this tiny ten-year-old boy who's fast as lightning; he earned his nickname.)

Our team wound up being called the Blue Canaries. Dan suggested the Green Canaries, but I insisted on Blue Canaries, and he went along with it. Vincent hollered "We will UNPLUG YOU!" which I thought was the funniest stuff in the world. (When we won, I shouted "SHIPWRECKED!" at him.)

I overheard Vincent giving his team a pep talk, evidently after they'd been trying to slice through me and I'd been defending myself adequately. The phrases "years of fencing" and "years with the SCA" floated back to me. I cracked up laughing. (It was two semesters of fencing, and a couple years with Shawn's "Games of Adventure" -- I'm not even sure Fairbanks has organized SCA.)

At the end of the night, Dan and I wound up going up against each other. That was very instructive. When we fight, evidently it's usually over very, very quickly. I'm learning the truth of the martial arts cliché that the first one to act is the one who loses.

...evidently I'm getting very, very good at this. I did not expect to be anything at all resembling a sports star, even on such a silly, local level.