Easy as SendMail

We have a data correction script scheduled to go out to Production. The results are supposed to be emailed to the customer. A DBA got assigned to help with getting the email produced automatically.

Being a developer, I thought it would be as easy as getting an API from the DBA on how to make the call to send an email. Nope. The DBA wanted to take the script and implement it himself. Bad sign #1.

My boss wanted me to ensure the email was being scheduled at the right time. Turns out the DBA was confused over when to do the work. Great. Then it turns out that the DBA did not know how to actually send the mail.

Another DBA asked if we had SendMail capability on the UNIX box. How do you test this? Easy. Run /user/lib/sendmail, passing an email address on the command line. Then enter in some text for the body of the email. Finally type a period followed by the Enter key.

Email will either be sent or not. For the record, it works on my UNIX development box.

Dreamspark to the Rescue

I own a personal copy of Microsoft Visual Studio 6. It was purchased with my own money. When I first arrived at my company, they handed me a laptop. I was told I would get an additional laptop to do the development for our customer. It would just be a big wait.

What did I do? I installed my own personal copy of Visual Studio 6 on my company laptop. The main reason I did this was that I use Visual Studio as my text editor. I am very familiar with it.

Just the other day, Visual Studio 6 started aborting on my when I tried to open a file. The problem happened again today. My solution is to unintall and reinstall the darn thing. However after uninstalling, I looked around to see if I could install an upgrade instead. I have not purchased a new copy of Visual Studio yet.

Luckily I am a student in the local community college. Through Microsoft's Dreamspark program, they provide free access to all the professional versions of Visual Studio. Why should I not go to the most recent Visual Studio 2010 install. The install is 2G large. I hope it will be worth the wait. Thanks Microsoft.

Dreaded Screen Shots

I am on loan to my old team to take care of some high priority problems for them. At first I protested. But the boss said they needed help. So I am finishing up the development of a fix. Then I needed to help the quality assurance team test out my changes. Fair enough.

Now I got some bad news. The quality assurance team is too busy to do any testing. So I got to do the testing. That by itself is fine by me. I unit test my stuff. I even produce a unit test plan complete with the results from testing.

However I got word that the tests required a big document that showed exactly what was tested and how. That means there needs to be a massive Microsoft Word document with all kinds of screen shots. What? Come on now. Don't make me join the insanity. I am all for doing tasks that add value. But this seems ridiculous. Nobody is going to be looking at this massive document.

Perhaps I should just paste in some random pictures and forget about fighting the system. What do you think?

All About Timing

I am working on a high priority problem our customer has. They told me the behavior of the applications is unacceptable. No problem. I am the Maintenance Man after all. So I coded up the app changes that will takes care of their problems. You would think that I am done. No chance. There is much more to it than that.

Next I ran through all my unit testing. Then I need to get my changes over to our quality assurance team. You would think we could just click a button and I could get them a build. It is never quite that simple. There are all kinds of manual processes to get a build to test. Now I need to go through them.

The end goal is to provide the fix to the customers. However the powers that be in the customer organization want to limit any changes we send them. Therefore I need to clear my release with the big dogs. Next I find out that it takes 72 hours for the customer organization to receive my app and install it everywhere. Luckily I know all these things. All this overhead is baked into my delivery estimates. And you wonder why it takes a few weeks to push out 20 lines of code changes. Now you know.