tunnel rat posted on October 12, 2007 19:13

Actually, this should be entitled “The One Week Job. Day Two,” but I suspect the chronological blog narrative is a cliché by now.

I returned to the medical claims clearing-house company the next day, ready to code. Or look at code. Or think about looking at code. Whatever.

I finally get connected to Visual SourceSafe and drag down all the code. Man, that was a shitload of folders, dozens. Freakin’ rat’s nest of folders. This was going to take awhile. I grabbed my Wall Street Journal and walked out to the deck outside the office. I drank my coffee and took in the view. Not too bad, I thought, even though the place was a dump.

An hour later, I started cracking open the code.

OMGWTF? OMGWTF. OMGWTF. OMGWTF. OMGWTF!

OMGWTF!!!

The shit was all ASP, Visual Basic 6, and nasty, huge stored procs. A pile of pasta, rotting, stinking. I felt like I had lifted up the intestines of a long dead piece of road kill. No .NET code to be found, anywhere. It was like that scene in Apocalypto, where Jaguar Paw stumbles upon huge piles of headless, rotting corpses while he escapes to the jungle.

This movie pissed off La Raza!
BTW, I love that scene in the movie where one of the Mayans gets bit by a snake, and Middle Eye says in Yucatec Mayan “He’s fucked.” And those guys in that movie have some serious tats and piercings!


Man, was I fucked.

I checked the site again. Oh man, it’s all ASP. And this is 2006. But Bruce said they were coding in .NET. Or did he?

I cracked open a Visual Basic project. It had 12 ActiveX DLLs that it was dependent on. I traced them all down and scanned the code. The code has a stench to it, like a bag of skunkweed.

Chill out, dude, I said to myself…

… No biggie, we can port all this over in the next year…

… refactor it, make it good…


I started in the back, checking out a rambling, incoherent stored proc dated 2004, according to the comments. Some guy named Trevor had tagged the nasty code.

The sound of the phones ringing in the office was starting to get to me. I needed a drink.

I glanced across the office at the four developers that were “my team.” I had gotten a quick tour on the first day, and with it a handshake and a nod from each one. Ok, a good time as any to get acquainted.

I walked over to the quad of desks where the “programmers” sat and picked the first one that looked me in the eye. The others averted my gaze.

“What’s up?” I asked.

He took his headphones off. “Hey, hi-ya’-doing? You-d-new-supervisor?”

He was young, I guessed twenty-five. And he had a large shiny ring embedded in his right eyebrow.

I hope this guy doesn't hack my blog. He looks pissed.Wassup, Ringbrow, I said to myself. “Supervisor? Uh, I don’t know about that, but I have a few questions about the code. Is Trevor around?” I asked.

“Trevor?” He shrugged. “Na, man, he-was-just-some-high-school-kid-Bruce-hired-to-write-some-code-a- while-back. He-wuzzen-around-long.” Ringbrow talked really, really fast. Like rat-tat-tat fast.

High school kid? Nice. Like I said, the medical vertical is filled with hackers, and your medical data is not safe. A bunch of kids probably know you got the clap in 2005, and maybe they are spreading the word on MySpace.

“Ok, I was looking through his procs, and I see that there is this scope identity [SCOPE_IDENTITY] call that returns a primary key. What’s the difference between that and at-at Identity [@@IDENTITY]”?

What-Uh-you-don’t-know-what scope identity [SCOPE_IDENTITY] is?” he asked, loudly. “Hu-uhh-uh-uh-uh,” he grunted.

No, Ringbrow, I don’t, I wanted to say. And I felt like tearing that big honking ring out of his eyebrow.

Asking another techie a question like “What, you don’t know what yadda-yadda is?” is like screaming “I know more than you! I own all your bases! I am the more superior geek!” And it’s a good way to get your ass kicked.

Because at the end of the day, there is a bookoo stuff to absorb in the programming world, and it is impossible to expect someone to know all of it. But twenty-something application developers have a tendency to ask such questions (go ahead, readers, you know who you are -- you know you just did it the other day, hoping to punk another programmer).

Now, some of you may call me a hypocrite, because you think you recall me mocking Burning Man’s failure to know what IIS meant, even though he was posing as a Microsoft Web Developer at TCTSRN. But read the post again, and you will notice that I calmly explained what IIS meant, and never mocked him for not knowing, at least not publicly.

And the fact was, I had been coding to SQL-Server since 1994, and SCOPE_IDENTITY was something that popped up in version 2000. Not being a DBA, I wrote plenty of apps that used @@IDENTITY without a problem. So I just wanted to know what the difference was.

Now, with Ringbrow using this opportunity to try to punk me, I was a little agitated. But I chilled. I knew what he was all about. I had his number.

I always had a theory about guys that have odd chunks of metal stuck in their faces – they have issues. And I was recently reading a great book that touched on the topic.

In John Burdett’s “Bangkok 8” an American backpacker gets caught by the Thai police with a shitload of weed.



The kid is a typical narcissistic American pussball, much like Ringbrow. Tats, piercings, attitude, etc. The cops proceed to make him smoke all the dope and then they throw him in a hole in the ground. When they drag him out of the hole the next day, the kid is broken:

…The hole is exactly that, a circular excavation…It takes a few minutes to find the key to the padlock and someone to help me drag the kid out. …I am relieved to see that Adam Ferrel can still walk…He staggers around somewhat before I put an arm around him…All of the sudden he bursts into chest-jarring sobs…It takes ten minutes for the sobbing to quiet, and then Ferral yanks at the hatpin through his eyebrow until it comes out and hands it to me…

“When I was down your fucking hole I promised Christ, God, Krishna, Muhammad, Zeus, the Buddha and anyone else who would listen that if I got out of there with my mind intact, I’d get rid of it. My old man hates it, he calls it a disfigurement. I’ve been torturing him with it for two years…”

So, my point being, Ringbrow probably pierced his face to piss off his dad. To piss of my dad, I joined the Marine Corps.

Let’s just say this – Ringbrow and I had differences. And I wanted to pull that fucking ring out of his eyebrow the minute he said “What-Uh-you-don’t-know-what SCOPE_IDENTITY is?”

What a pussy.

To Be Continued...


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