A Scary Situation

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  • Oh, good question Steve. I'm looking forward to reading what other people write. Since I've been in this field for a long time, I've got several stories. I'll share 4 as briefly as I can.

    Starting with your last suggestion, I used to work in the private sector for a company that experienced frequent layoffs. In fact, everyone began referring to them bitterly as the "annual autumn layoffs" because they always came before Thanksgiving. Hundreds of people were laid off each time. Eventually they closed the plant and laid everyone off. Experiences like that tend to scar you for life.

    In my previous job I was working for my local university, but off campus. My boss used to be the network administrator, setting up SQL Server, Microsoft Exchange Server, routers, etc. After a few years he left, putting me in charge. Networking and system administration are not in my wheelhouse. The building we were in wasn't well insulated. One night we had a thunderstorm, which took out our Exchange Server. Let me tell you, when people can't get to their email, you will get a LOT of abuse and angry people demanding fixes yesterday. I was over my head. It took calling the university IT to have them come out to fix the problem. Again, I've got scars from that experience.

    A third example of mine is the fact that everywhere I've worked, they do not do code reviews. Ever. I do not know why, but it is consistent that no one does code reviews locally, regardless of the fact that often code reviewing is recognized as a best practice. I don't know why code reviews are not practiced in my area; they just aren't. Once I tried to get someone to help me with some code I was working on. They guy got really pissed at me for asking for help. "Rod, let me do it! Get out of my way and I'll fix your &#%^#$ code!" So, I stopped asking for help. What's the point getting abuse like that plus the fact that I didn't learn anything? It hurt me because companies (not local) expect you to be experienced at code reviews, which I'm not. More scars.

    My fourth and final example is my tendency, early in my coding career, to always assume the happy path. I'd open a file or fetch some records from a database, and I always assumed the file would be found or records would be retrieved. But of course, a naive approach is just that - naive. It took me a while to get it through my thick head that you've got to check to see if a resource has in fact been found and opened or that rows have been returned. I did eventually start to always write the boilerplate code to check for a valid connection to the resource or not null returned when trying to fetch records. I'm thankful that the latest version of Visual Studio (2022) actually prompts you after doing something like checking for a null result when trying to fetch records from a database.

    Kindest Regards, Rod Connect with me on LinkedIn.

  • I had a scary experience with CPU on a database server reaching 100% due to bad plans from badly written code. I have had all members of my team looking over my shoulder as I go forth and free that plan (which I first have to find).

    There is lots of code on the server that got there while I was still in college and not being aware of all the ugly monsters that can popup from badly written stored procedures is always a lurking fear .



  • I've had time pressured anxieties with numpties looking over my shoulder.

    In hindsight a lot of the things that scared me witless I needn't have been scared of.  I think many of our demons we create ourselves.

    The Dunning-Kruger curve is a famous example of job anxiety modelling.  I think if you are good at your job you will have surfed down "Moron Mountain" into the "Trough of Despond" and will be climbing the "Slope of Enlightenment".

    I've always been the sort of person who takes a lot on my shoulders.  I've felt responsible for stuff that, in reality, I could have said NO to or simply not picked up.  I think failure to recognise my right to set boundaries has created my most anxious moments.

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