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The Daily WTF

Curious Perversions in Information Technology

Last Build Date: Thu, 25 May 2017 18:30:19 GMT


Icon on Fire

Thu, 25 May 2017 10:30:00 GMT

Tim joined a company that provided a SaaS solution for tracking attendance and grades in schools. The job was mostly minor updates to a ColdFusion application, although there was an active project to replace it with something more modern. Tim felt like half of his hiring was based on him knowing when to throw out buzzwords like SPA or REST or Reactive Programming.


“It’s not the first time,” Karmen explained. She’d been with the company for some time. “When I joined, they had just upgraded to ColdFusion from a VBA hack on Microsoft Access. Crazy days, back then, when the whole ‘selling service, not software’ thing was new. Sometimes, I think I was hired because I knew the right buzzwords.”

Ostensibly, Karmen and Tim were meant to be focused on the new version of the application, but the ColdFusion version was so old and so poorly maintained that they spent 75% of their time in firefighting mode. The rest of the team had neatly adapted to the culture of “just put out the fire, and don’t worry about code quality, there’ll be a new fire tomorrow”, which of course only created more fires to put out.

One day, near the end of the month, the webmaster inbox had an alert message from their webhost.

This is to alert you that your account is nearing the data transfer threshold. Your account has transferred 995GB of data during this billing period, with a total account limit of 1,000GB of data allowed. At your pricing tier, overages will be charged at $10/GB.

“Wow, what?” Tim was pretty shocked. He knew they had a goodly number of schools, and were tracking many thousands of students, but there was no way that the application should be serving up 1TB of data in a month. 95% of the application just was text, and while they did have photographs of every student, those photos were only 9kb after resizing and compressing.

“Oh, yeah,” Karmen said. “I heard about this a few years back. We had to upgrade to the higher plan with our host. Guess they’ll probably do that again.”

“I mean, don’t you think this is wrong?”

“Probably, sure, but… y’know. Not my circus, not my monkeys

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