26 August, 2011

Recursion: it's like Inception, but stupid.

La Mondaine is slowly - very slowly - cataloguing our far-too-large software collection. It's only taken a year to reach this point, during which she's worked hard to find other things she'd rather be doing (and it's only been five years since I first said this really needed to be done so we knew what we actually had).

Unfortunately, instead of simply weeding out the duplicates*, she's also decided that for "old" software (and her definition of "old" is highly variable, completely subjective, and based almost exclusively on what she sees as her extensive and detailed knowledge of software) she "needs" to ring the original client to see if they still want it ... kind of overlooking the fact that even if they still work here, the odds are good they're no longer the person using it and probably can't say whether or not it's still in use.

(Yes, we have tried telling her not to do this and that it's unnecessary for what we actually want. Even direct instructions don't work - they just impact on the swampy surface of her brain, and are quickly sucked beneath the mire.)

She's using our puchasing database to discover the original user, and is assuming that where she can't get hold of them, the admin staff who placed the request or the manager who approved the expense are the obvious fallback positions. This led to her finding some requests created by our much-missed (by me, at least) hyper-efficient team-member of a couple of years ago when she was cleaning up a lot of the errors in our systems. La Mondaine knows about this staff member but failed to either recognise her name (halfway understandable) or notice that The Invertebrate was recorded as the approver (*not* understandable. In fact it's borderline retarded).

She found the former team-mate's extension number and began trying to call her. La Mondaine was convinced she was still working here somewhere, because every time she tried to call, the line was engaged. After this happened a few times, she concluded there must be something wrong with their phone and wandered around to the telecomms team to report the fault with the number. They checked the extension in their system ... and inform La Mondaine that it was her phone number.

Yes, that's right. All this time, La Mondaine has been sitting at our former team-mate's old desk, dialing her own phone number repeatedly, and wondering how someone could possibly be busy on the phone every time she called.

(Presumably because anyone with any common sense normally pretends they're simply not there at all.)

* We have many, many needless duplicates of so many things. Not only does the team have a long and deeply-entrenched culture of never throwing anything out, it also used to run on the theory that you can never have too many duplicates of something. I tried several times to call them on it, pointing out we had multiple physical copies of the same minor piece of software and producing said copies to illustrate my point.

"No, you're wrong," Ted E. intoned smugly, "It's different software. You can tell, because the label is different. See?" And he pointed to the Purchase Order number printed on the label.

"We put that on the label. It doesn't come from the vendor like that. The actual software - and I've checked the disc contents, and what we actually ordered - the actual software is identical across all of these."

Ted shook his head condescendingly. "You're not used to how we do things here, so you wouldn't understand. You see, the number is different."

No comments: