Stories by Anonymous

A classic dot-com tale of woe

This is one of those cautionary tales from the dot-com boom. Do we really need another, you ask? Well, there's always room for a classic story of hubris, terrific marketing, and a total misunderstanding of the importance of infrastructure.

Running cable without a clue

One day we got a call from somebody having trouble with her mainframe connection. I had started the installation of this workstation some 8 months previous, and then somebody else completed it while I was on vacation. All of our cross-connects were made on 66 blocks; there was no structured cabling in any building. Token-ring was pretty robust in that respect; it usually ran the full 100 meters with no issues.

How 'the suits' destroyed a company

In the early 1990s I landed a job with "Strat-a-Gee," a hugely successful VAR (value-added reseller). Our growth was enormous. By Y2K we had gone from 100 employees to more than 1,600 -- and nearly a billion dollars in sales. We carried tens of thousands of SKUs, and employed 1000+ sales professionals in my office alone. Along the way, we became experts in the service arena too, which gave us an edge on the competition.

Paying good money for bad software

When I went to work for a company I'll call "Heart of Glass," a firm that imports and sells high-end glassware, I was initially hired as a programmer. At the time, HoG had only one warehouse and five retail stores, but we worked hard and the company grew.

How to bungle a software upgrade

Ten years ago, I was the IT manager at a successful software company whose main product was aimed at large insurance companies. It was a DOS app that read records from large data files, did a little processing, and passed the results to other apps downstream. It wasn't particularly pretty, but it was accurate -- and it was fast! It worked in batch mode, processing thousands of records per minute, which was a critical feature, considering how many records our clients needed to manage each day.

Beware the programming guru

Ten years ago I took a job with a large, privately owned plastics manufacturer. The firm's president had decided to update the proprietary systems that had been running the business for more than a decade with more efficient versions. The company had experienced rapid growth, and the old systems were creaking under the load.

Web site disasters made easy

In 1997, I was working in the IT department at a midsize consumer products company in the San Francisco Bay Area. My job was mainly to keep the network up; the company had no Web presence. But as our competitors ate more and more of our lunch, it gradually dawned on management that we ought to be selling online. So I built a LAMP (Linux, Apache, and Perl/Python/PHP) sales portal that handled online ordering and a corporate Web site. It generated revenue from the outset.

Web site disasters made easy

In 1997, I was working in the IT department at a midsize consumer products company in the San Francisco Bay Area. My job was mainly to keep the network up; the company had no Web presence. But as our competitors ate more and more of our lunch, it gradually dawned on management that we ought to be selling online. So I built a LAMP (Linux, Apache, and Perl/Python/PHP) sales portal that handled online ordering and a corporate Web site. It generated revenue from the outset.

'Just fix it' is not viable for complex problems

In recent months, my job -- working overseas for an international stock trading/brokerage house based in Zurich -- has started to feel a lot like being dropped into the middle of a gangster movie in which dangerous racketeers plot and scheme to kill one another. Or maybe it's more like a Shakespearean tragedy in which all the characters are dead at the end of the play. Either way, you need to watch your back.

Confessions of an offshore developer

I'm the guy you're afraid of. I was born in India, and in 2000, fresh out of college, I was working for an engineering services company in Pune -- one that helped design and build manufacturing plants worldwide. The company was a wholly owned subsidiary of a US company based in New York.

Hiring heads-up: Watch out for phonies

The computer service agency where I work provides around-the-clock support for thousands of clients around the world. Because our customers are an international group, we hire staff from all over the world. Most of them are highly qualified.

When someone is stealing your hardware

Just call me Philip Marlowe.

Several years ago I took a job working for a large telecommunications company as the desktop support manager, and somehow I got assigned to the most loathsome of all duties in our shop: hardware inventory clerk. I was elected in true democratic fashion, being nominated and appointed while on vacation.

How to exit a doomed IT project

I work for a large trucking company. These days I'm head of information services. But many years ago, right after I was hired as one of the low-end IT guys, I was asked to take on a month-long, "quick-hit" project using Microsoft Access and Oracle to capture shipment data and analyze it. I named it CTA/PTA, for Cycle-Time Analysis and Post-Trip Analysis.

When your VoIP vendor goes bye-bye

A few years ago, I was IT manager at a small bank with five branches in three regions. We were looking for a way to standardize our phones as well as cut costs, and after some research we pretty much decided on a VoIP solution from a company I'll call AcmePhone.