Thursday, 18 September 2008

Perils of a software engineer

“So what’s next?” Asked my boss.

I looked at him. My eyes piercing, trying to gasp what could be coming in the next sentence! will the next sentence blow a deathblow to my career, will I be laid off, will I be given the pink slip and told “Many thanks for your service which were of no use to the company, and you with all your dignity may leave us now.”

Was this question a rhetoric one? the answer hidden in between to indicate, there was, actually, nothing coming up. We finally  were standing at the end of a road, which suddenly without giving any prior notice plunged into the ocean from where we stood. There was no way out. There was nowhere to go. I was the puppet of a closed system, and suddenly that system was dying. It stopped circulating blood and things got deteriorated.

“Well?” Came a probing voice. From the same source. With the same kind of pre-destined sense of finiteness in itself.

“Could be anything. There may be an escalation. Or there might be a complaint.” I vaguely tried to reply.

We were standing in one of those numerous glass rooms of the IT park I work in. It was a bright day literally, although the outer brightness did not bring any happiness to me.  glass-rooms were scary. And you go in them seldom. It was like a federal jail really. There were stony faced Project Managers, angry tech-leads, and in some cases when things went really wrong, group leaders. I had never been to a glass-room before. I had heard all sorts of stories about it.

One of my friend told me his horrific experience, where one glass-room visit had brought down his rating from an impeccable top to the dirty ground, in spite of clearing all the trainings in time, in spite of being the first one to fill in timesheet. Such are the perils of glass-room. Another friend told me, how he felt like inside a glass-room. The AC can not cool down a glass-room. Its usually like a blast furnace. Temperature grows up, up and above. Extravagant jargons fly around. The youngest person in the room is really fried on hot oil, messengers of satan beat him with harsh words, and the listless hapless fellow is reduced to dusts, with all his defense broken, all his mind crooked.

And there I was, in my short IT career, for the first time, in a glass room. I could see my project manager asking me questions impossible to be answered. Obviously I ain’t a clairvoyant fortune teller. I am just a mere coder, who can never foretell what will be the output of his code, leave alone this sort of turmoil filled earth where your whimsical client may kill you (not literally you but the contract) the next minute or he may himself go bankrupt.

I was afraid. I was thinking of all the gargantuan effects my mistakes can have on the company, the industry and the economy of the country.

These days its a fashion to go bankrupt for US companies. Who knows my American client will grab this smallest of opportunity to go that direction, and declare himself as one. US govt. in turn will have to come in rescue. They might see a deep conspiracy by Indian economic powerhouses in doing so. They might declare a war against India which will turn into a world war III demolishing economy of India in turn. OMG, demolishing indian economy is a bit too much I thought. Isn’t that the new avatar of invincibility ? Like they at Dalal street say so coolly?


My boss, turned his bespectacled, rude face towards me. “Do you even know what this can turn us into? We will be called novices by the client!”

Errr.. Novices?? Is that what this thing all about is?

After much ado I found out…

There was an error message I wrote in my code, “please do not provide garbaje values in the xml as it will be difficult to read by our production support guys who will read it manually.”


It was sent to the client who did not read the document. It was tested by professional testers (or so they claimed) and they did not find anything wrong with that. Now when it has gone live, a user has raised a defect stating that the spelling mistake in garbage is so eye catching that, there has been a million complaints about it.


And now we were, in the glass room! Doom looked at me with disdain. A million years of zero rating if I still manage to save my job, is sure to be the next best punishment.

The perils of a software engineer continues…


ayyo.... said...

Ah! The Glass Room.. we call it the Blue Bell here...I can see myself there in the next few days :D :D

Solitaire said...

Good luck!

Sadanand Renapurkar said...

@ your Jodhaa Akbar review:
Wolfgang Peterson's Troy was a shame. One of the worst bad films I've ever seen.
If you think showing those numerous yatches and Mr. Pitt's biceps will compell me to buy a ticket, I'm sorry. It won't happen. Jodhaa Akbar was any day less phony than Troy. A sad and totally undeserving entry in the war-epic catagory.

The Ancient Mariner said...

by the way wrong comment on wrong post! :)

man in the iron mask said...

First things first. I'm commenting on the wrong post, but couldn't hold back after reading a comment about Troy, and its comparison vis-a-vis Jodha Akbar

Troy isn't a bad film by any means. Yes it is a shame, but it is entertaining, and if not anything, at least on an escapist level. Branding it one of the worst bad films is kinda like an exagerration and I hope you realize that in time.

Jodha Akbar fails at a fundamental level. It is a film that doesn't even know to be one. Please note that Gowariker is not exactly the genius everyone has branded him as. He just doesnt have any idea how to structure his film, on what actually draws the audience in, and what holds their attention. He doesn't know how to write a screenplay, and often seems to bne confused on how to write a scene.

Petersen's Troy might be a shame to ILLIAD but it is a mighty spectacle and is competently made. And it is a million light years ahead of anything like Jodha Akbar which simply fails at a filmmaking level.
Troy is a professional studio production. Jodha Akbar, though having aspirations of a similar kind, has no idea how to be one.