Flash Fiction Friday (#1) – Login

Bob Fenton sits at this cube. It’s small, and it’s near a conference room. Boy, if it isn’t loud here most of the time. Miraculously, there are no meetings. It’s quiet. Bob takes a sip of his coffee. Ah. “This is nice” he thinks, flashing back to his most recent doctor’s appointment. “Doc wanted me to take it easy.”

“Jesus, Bob!” Tim Drake slams his hand down suddenly on Bob’s bookshelf, jolting Bob out of his revelry. “Did you hear what happened?” Tim’s voice is louder than usual, apparently not caring who overhears.

“Wait, what?”

“With the PharmDataUploader. Remember? We pulled that back three months ago because it couldn’t connect with PharmDataDist”

Bob recalled the project. The development teams had spent 9 months making updates to the application. It was used to securely transmit sensitive patient information to drug makers. It was hard enough to interface their unique data schema with proprietary retail drug store exchanges, but factoring in HIPPA protections as well took ages. The first day they tried to run it, the whole thing failed almost instantly. Execs were pissed, and customers will pay top dollar for the data if this thing can ever launch. “Did we finally figure out the problem?”

Tim leans in closer. “We never activated the user login in Production.”

“What do you mean ‘never activated’?”

“Well, remember how our developers couldn’t reproduce the error on their boxes? Or that QA couldn’t reproduce it anywhere?”

Bob nodded.

Tim continued “We spent forever putting in special logging and debugging features. We built out a whole staging environment with scrubbed data thinking it might be related to the sheer size of the data. We spend millions building this thing, and it would have worked on the first day except no one enabled the login from PharmDataUploader into our database.”

“No” Bob replied. “What did Danny say?”

“He said it isn’t a DBA issue. They don’t do anything with users without a ticket from the operations team.”

“Wait, didn’t we have operations on board?”

“Of course we did. They sat through the entire release plan. They claim that the project manager never requested that they enable the login”

“She talked about it at the status meetings. What do they mean it wasn’t requested?”

“She apparently sent in the request to operations, but needed the DBAs to confirm which login to use. They provided a list of all the logins and asked her to pick one. She asked the devs, but they don’t know anything about how production is configured. So, in a vacuum, she picked one and provided it to operations.”

“So, why didn’t operations ask the DBAs to enable that login?”

“Because that login is being retired. Since it is being recycled, they didn’t include it in the instructions.”

“Seriously? This is a weird case of who’s on first.”

“We finally figure out the cause, released the code today, and the sucker is working just fine. Here’s why I’m pissed, though. No one knows who to blame: DBAs, operations, the PM, or development. This is just the way we do things around here. However, because this is my program, I’ve missed three months of revenue so I’m taking the hit on my KPIs.”

“No way. What did Kurt say?”

“He said that there is nothing he can do. This is just the way we track things here.”


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