Thursday… let’s say whatever was causing the issue decided to move out. For Too Much Input, hover over this text. I still had a touch of whatever it was yesterday evening, but Mrs. Fetched attributed that to the Mexican food we had for lunch. Lord knows I’ve not exactly been eating right lately.
Skipping back a little… I got punted to a new department, which became official Monday. The new boss (not same as the old boss) came by Wednesday afternoon to get an idea of how I manage to get stuff done. I gave him a heads-up… as the new guy, he should expect a certain manager (the same one from Programmers 2.0, in fact) to start trying to poke his nose into the situation and dictating how I do my work.
I was right. I just didn’t expect it this week.
The opening shot came this morning, as part of an email chain concerning an update that we’d been handling through the week. Had I kept my mouth shut, I probably wouldn’t have had to worry about it, but I asked if we needed to update the translated User Guides as well. Another PITA engineer, who thinks his input is far more valuable than it actually is, wanted to know why we had French and Spanish for one product and Portuguese for another — the hobgoblin called Foolish Consistency rides that one hard — and the simple answer is that we sell one product through North America and the other in Brazil. “But we sell the other in Canada too,” said a manufacturing guy, and the seagull manager took wing with a comment to the new boss:
[You need] to make this multi-lingual translation routine and seemless [sic] for all our products.
I responded, “Routine and seamless? Good luck with that one.” We sell different products into different markets, and the markets often shift under our feet before I manage to finish the documentation. There is no “routine” when it comes to translation, simple as that. And seeing as it costs a fair amount of money for translation, there is no “seamless” unless we want to throw money away on translations we aren’t going to use… in this economy, that’s just stupid. I’ve already requested close to $10K for translations this year, and we’re not even through March yet. It also “seems” to me that someone who can’t even be bothered to turn on the spell checker in Notes should not be telling a writer how to do his job (“his” in this case is me).
I should have expected him to dig in… I have to give him this much, he won’t back down from a war of words even when he’s outmatched from the get-go. (Don’t start a flame war with a writer.) I suppose that’s a characteristic of empire-building; you can’t even admit to yourself that you’re on the wrong side on an argument. He whined about requirements (and there wasn’t even a Requirement Spec for this particular product), that the time and cost for translations seemed excessive (although he can’t really know since he’s not the one actually managing the process)… but the next part started (as Mrs. Fetched says) making my ass twitch:
We have impacted release dates in the past due to lack of translations. This is a problem area that needs to be fixed. […] delivery dates *MUST NOT* be gated by lack of documentation. This has to get fixed.
I wrote a nice little email that took him apart, paragraph by paragraph. In this particular case, we have had exactly one release date held up due to lack of translations (in 12 years), but he seems determined to hold that over my head at any opportunity… completely ignoring the myriad times development issues have held up releases. Perhaps if he was focused on hardware development instead of empire-building, they might meet more deadlines, but I didn’t say that. I went on to mention that documentation release dates keep getting pulled in, and the requirements for translations at the first build means I need to have completed and approved documentation (in English) 4–5 weeks earlier than that, so the translators have something to work from.
This took me to about 11:30 a.m. I wasn’t sure whether it was over the top (and the guideline is if you aren’t certain it’s not, it probably is), so I left the mail unsent and went to make a deposit at the credit union and grab some lunch (tried a random place along the way, a tad expensive but worth it). I figured a long hour, which included a motorcycle ride since I rode Little Zook to work, would give me some needed perspective. Alas, when I got back to work and looked over the email, I did some editing but didn’t see a need to tone it down at all. I sent it to my boss, who told me to not send it, let him handle it, and thanks for the info. No problem… I preferred to get some actual work done anyway.
With that not settled, but my participation thankfully out of the way, the discussion turned to yet another product. This is a “business services” product, so it doesn’t get end-user documentation, and people started questioning whether it should be done. As a necessity, I pointed out that we haven’t ever done translations for those kinds of documents, and asked whether we needed to start. One of the responses gave me a good laugh to end the day:
Maybe you'll have better luck getting an answer than I did.
And that’s the crux of the matter… I’m not going to request two grand or more for something I haven’t been told is needed. Maybe I should stop worrying and start stimulating the world economy.
But the indigestion, and its subsequent cause, are both gone now. There are days that the life of a chicken rancher looks like an improvement…