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NOTE: use Perl; is on undef hiatus. You can read content, but you can't post it. More info will be forthcoming forthcomingly.

All the Perl that's Practical to Extract and Report

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  • I was in a roughly similar situation once where I was tasked with creating a program to summarize data in a system and dump the output for another process to grab, but I knew nothing about the systems involved. In this case, my ignorance paid off. I went to my boss and asked him what I should do. He had me make appointments with everyone involved and find out what their systems did, how they did them, what data formats they used, et cetera.

    It was a long process, but eventually I wound up with a specs document that I then circulated and had everyone sign off on. By the time I was done, I knew exactly what I had to work with and what everyone was expecting of me. My piece of the project was done far earlier than everyone else's and whenever I received a change request, it turns out that either someone upstream was sending me bad data or someone downstream was handling my data incorrectly. Aside from a minor upgrade to replace an external app that I was using (it was removed due to Y2K compliancy issues), I didn't make a single change to the program.

    Last I heard about the project, it was six months overdue, a million dollars over budget, the business section that it was automating was being phased out, and mine was the only part of it that worked -- all because I started out ignorant.

    • Having worked with some of the big 5 4 3 consulting firms, I suspect that their unwillingness to appear ignorant by asking basic questions is a factor in some of the huge cost overruns that we've seen reported.


      Humility pays off.