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Thursday, March 08, 2007

Programmers. Argh. (3.0, when “RTFM” is Just Too Much Effort)

I had to bang out an emergency project today — well, they’re all emergencies these days, but that’s beside the point. Knowing it had to be done today, I seriously considered working at home; I decided not to because The Boy is around and I didn’t want him interrupting me with spurious requests for money, car keys (missing driver’s license notwithstanding), a ride to somewhere, blah blah blah. There was also some camera work to be done, which usually involves my physical presence anyway.

Hindsight is 20/20.

Instead of The Boy, I had people popping into my cube all day and committing Documentus Interruptus — some of them were asking about the project I was trying to get done in spite of the interruptions. It was difficult at times to hold my tongue. Worst, though, was a programmer from down the aisle.

“Where in the manuals would I find Voice Quality Metrics?” “There’s a description in the Feature Guide, and instructions in the Troubleshooting Guide.”

“Where in the manuals would I find Loop Diagnostics?” (same answer)

At one point, I was about to get into The Zone — a rare state where I can out-produce just about anyone — when he popped in and barked my name a bit too loud, causing me to jump several inches.

“Sorry. Where would I find Loop Voltage Management?”

“Description in the Feature Guide. Instructions are either in Management or Provisioning, I can’t remember.”

“How could I find out?”

“Um… have you tried looking at the table of contents?”

I think he got the hint, because he didn’t come back the rest of the day.

The second most annoying visit was from the Vietnamese guy in Tech Support, who waved his hand alongside my head to get my attention (I have my iPod going most of the day, partly because the guy across from me is on the phone being Super Consumer Advocate half the time). Naturally, he wanted to know about the emergency project he’d just delayed.

I’d seriously considered, early on, grabbing a conference room and closing the door so nobody could find me. In retrospect, that’s exactly what I should have done.

I never did get to the camera work. Maybe tomorrow.

If you want to see the previous installment


  1. I feel your pain.

    I constantly get ICQ messages or emails from our customer support people asking about something clearly identified in the doc.

    In these case, I just refer them to the documentation. Some have gotten the point, but others are being a bit thick about it.

    I've really got to step up efforts to stop this situation, though. Our next release is huge, and I've been handed three major projects for new manuals. I'm going to need a lot of "in the zone" time.

    I've been thinking about pushing a work-from-home situation so that I can get the necessary time to focus.

  2. I used to hate situations like you described. I usually worked in small offices where everyone was together and no partitions. Between people asking me questions all the time or just BS'ing it was impossible to get any work done. That's one of the reasons I was always into work at least an hour and a half early every morning. I got the most work done then, than any other part of the day.

    Hope it levels out for you soon.

  3. J, could you set the ICQ status to Busy? Emails are something you can process when you're ready. I know how you feel about the three major projects; I'm going through that now. I think I'll get some daylight after this month is over... I hope.

    FM, arriving early would be a great idea if I could drag myself out of bed that early!

    The guy across the way must have really got on my nerves today, because I cranked the iPod volume to just short of painful so I didn't have to hear him berating whoever it was. He might have even heard it, and possibly even gotten the message, because he took his conversation elsewhere after a few minutes.

  4. We use the "real" ICQ, and even with the status set to away, ICQs come in anyway.

    The general idea is supposed to be that IM's are for "urgent" matters, whereas they should email for less urgent.

    I tend to ignore emails until I have a free minute. Many of my collegues have figured this out, and therefore they ICQ. If I don't answer the ICQ, my phone rings.

    The only way I could stop the ICQ would be to close it out, but then my supervisor would think I'm not at work or away from my desk (we've had that particular discussion before).

    Our customer care group is really clique-ish, and certain people are "on the outside" and never get support from their supervisors. They have to outside normal channels to get information. I have the tools and the willingness to help or test the system, so I've become the go-to guy for these people.

    It's certainly a difficult position to be in, and I can't really blame anyone but myself for allowing it to continue. I've made the decision to move to Nashville, and my supervisor and department manager are amenable to the idea, so not being on site will cut down on some of these issues. However, until then, I'm just going to have to learn to say no.

    Easier said than done.


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