Saturday, November 15, 2008

Gonna Fly Now

blow-by-blow of a working Saturday down-the-mill

6:00 wake up
Often on the weekend, I sleep in my guestroom and pretend it is a Bed&Breakfast. I am not really fooled. Neither are you. The truth is that by the end of the week there are more clothes piled on my bed than not. I know where another bed is.

6:39 finally get up
I still can't get up in the dark. I am confused by this every year, as if I have never seen it before. I also think of that scene in Rocky when he wakes up in the dark and drinks the glass of eggs. Every time. 30 years.

Open this post.

7:30 on the job
Breakfast is provided for the weavers and is fairly picked over by the time we arrive. All the bacon is gone. And you know I loves me some bacons. I choose some squirmy sausage and english muffin with butter. Grease, essentially.

And it was delicious.

8:20 testing begins
This is difficult to explain to someone who doesn't do this work. Think of air traffic control, only no one will actually die, despite the heightened sense of crisis. It is also a little like backstage at the drama club, where you sit around on the lighting stools waiting for someone to yell down "take 3 to half and 4-blue." And you do, then sit down and wait some more.

One college production, when I was lighting crew chief, we read aloud to each other out of Rona Jaffe's Class Reunion. I hadn't yet heard of The Best of Everything . I can't link you to her official website because I don't want to pay her royalties.

The whole test cycle is orchestrated through chat windows, so you really could subcontract yourself if you needed to. Some suspect one of our team is working from a bar.

9:30 - Tests for my project go pretty quickly,
mostly because the designers have already uncovered so many things wrong with it. Too bad the Quality Assurance cycle hadn't, but that's what builds the plot.

10:45 Project checkpoint
This was internal to the project team I am on. How great is the mute button. really.

11:25 The Boss checks in.
The Boss is not on-site for these Be-Ins. But she can't stand a sleeping Blackberry, so this is about the time she comes knocking. She is also not invited to the chat room or checkpoints. She has some trouble with that.

Very funny (now) story about the month we ignored her frequent calls for a status report, because we have SOP about when we send these things and did not think we should provide them on demand. And by "we," I mean "me." Following Monday, my thinking was corrected in that regard.

11:30 cage match
Also known as the release checkpoint. This is the time when dozens of stakeholders on dozens of projects scream at each other about who's broken is more broken.

yeh, that's about right.

My role here is to cajole the designer into agreeing with me about priorities, usually through a little log-rolling and tsking about how disappointing the customer response to this exciting new feature will be, and by unbuttoning my blouse.

12:00 the wait
We wander in search of pizza and entertainment. I start outlining this post. The designer and his content team kick a balance ball from one end of the hall to another.

We start to complete testing across 4 time zones. Broken things start becoming "pre-existing conditions" because they were released before midnight.

12:15 testers released from my project. They hope they will get to go home, but they are usually "repurposed" to some other project they know nothing about. This is where the Americans were getting off easy by saying, "I ain't speak no nuther language," until we learned the art of quick deployment, and moved Dubrovnik onto Moscow, Moscow to Montreal, and the Americans onto any other English-speaking site. And Hawkeye to Adam's Ribs.

My project team opens 1 defect with a list of everything that is wrong when working through a certain browser. I rank this as my top priority.

Primer: how the priorities work
Let's say your little piece of the puzzle works on a certain browser, but appears to be drawn by Picasso, it doesn't offer up the "save today if you buy a gross of this crap" message that is expected, it doesn't work in Austria at all but Austria has no customers, the ad Discovery Channel Shark Week bought is covered by the empty "save today" message box, and the instructions for printing a document are in French.

Who owns the Zebra?

These are the kinds of negotiations you get to broker with your fancy-pants liberal arts degree.

12:30 toe-to-toe with project manager
So this guy says that he doesn't think my Priority is worth fixing today. (see how I capitalized it?) Because (he shrugs) "I don't think people are going to call." and I said, "I don't think you know that."

and a lot of other choice corporate words like "role," "appropriate," and "in future."

2:00 2nd checkpoint

I dial-in with the product team, after having learned that they can't stand the project manager either, and we enjoy more fun with the mute button. So much fun, that we elect to stay on for the after call, when "A, B, and Q, stay on please," and we are neither. But honestly, in a conference call world, how do you think that is going to go? Designer and I high-five when the facilitator announces he is "dropping the cone of silence," Weavers in Dubrovnik don't get it.

2:30 signing off
I and the rest of my department offer our priorities and the release team starts figuring out who owns the zebra.

3:00 pm stabbed in the back by my pjt mgr

Ass-clown volunteers that he does not think my Priority is "worth it" and it falls to the bottom of the heap.

watch this space.

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