That Code Boy Hath No Shame

The Cranky Product Manager has actually not been so cranky lately.  She’s started a job at a spankin’ brand new startup and for the first time in her professional life is part of a team – that for the moment, anyway – seems free of major dysfunction!  OMFG!  

She has a major crush on this company and loves (LOVES) going to work in the morning.

(oops, need to insert an ad for Quantum Whisper here, cuz they buy me grande skim lattes each month. Quantum Whisper is wicked pissa. They link customer feedback to your agile backlog and all that fun stuff.  OK, back to the post.)

But being a born-New Englander — a cynic through-and-through, to the core of her jaded, oft-broken heart — the Cranky Product Manager knows better.  She knows this is merely the honeymoon period.  At some point, an idiot will be hired. At some point, a customer will demand something ludicrous and a SalesDroid will get simultaneously hysterical and rabid as a result, causing the Cranky Product Manager no end of aggravation. At some point, the PR agency will start arbitrarily tossing the buzz word du jour in every sentence of every press release, even if the results are nonsensical and utterly laughable.

But in the meantime, before the other shoe drops (where did that shoe dropping phrase get started anyway?), the Cranky Product Manager is trying to enjoy her enviable situation. 

The only downside of all this has been that is has been hard to get the Crank up to write this blog. Thus the drought of blog content.

So, you should all thank SugarSync for irritating the Cranky Product Manager enough that she should post.  

Some background…SugarSync is a cloud backup service that the Cranky PM pays for. She uses it at home to keep her 3 computers backed up and in sync. Cool in concept, but not so cool in reality. A few months after subscribing, instead of just backing up her files, SugarSync decided to duplicate over 10,000 files – eating up all her hard disks and cloud storage. The Cranky PM then spent lots of time using 3rd party tools to remove the duplicates. The end result was a lot of lost time and at least a few lost files.  

Irritating, to be sure. But the Cranky Product Manager is nothing if not forgiving of buggy newish products. It’s what SHE DOES, after all.  So, reassured by the SugarSync Support that this was a one-off situation related to their latest upgrade, the Cranky Product Manager carried on and continued to use their service.

And then a month later it happened again.  Argh! This time the Cranky Product Manager searched the SugarSync Forums for answers and found multiple threads related to this duplicate file issue.  The most enlightening was this: http://sugarsync.hivelive.com/posts/c6fb6fb9db 

This thread reminds the Cranky Product Manager about everything that is frustrating about dealing with a certain type of Code Boy:

1. Despite overwhelming evidence in its own forums that MANY customers experience this mass-duplication of files, the SugarSync CodeBoy(s?) (username “admin”) insists that this problem is a “corner case” and never really happens.  

(We can tell that it is an actual code-slinging CodeBoy in the forum, because no self-respecting Customer Support Engineer would ever take this kind of attitude with a customer).

2. The SugarSync CodeBoy then pushes the burden of the bug onto the customer — insisting that they open support tickets, collect and mail in logs, etc… 

3. The customer doesn’t send the logs in because: 

(A) They are busy manually cleaning up the duplicate file mess and don’t have time to also help debug SugarSync’s software, and 

(B) From the tone of the previous messages it is OBVIOUS to the customer that SugarSync does not recognize this as a genuine problem, and realizes it will be an uphill battle to convince SugarSync otherwise.

4. The SugarSync CodeBoy declares victory:  ”The customer won’t cooperate with me in reproducing this bug!  I can’t do anything!  So, this bug must not really exist! Plus, I AM RIGHT! HAH!”

……………………

Excuse the Cranky Product Manager while she strangles a voodoo doll that she created of this CodeBoy….

…OK, feeling better now.

Gotta say, it’s kinda rare to see this type of exchange played out in a public forum like this. Usually the Support people rightly prevent this type of unempathetic, obnoxious Code Boy from interacting with customers and others outside the company.

But within the company, who in Product Management has not encountered almost the exact same crap from a CodeBoy/Girl, at least once a release cycle?  It is ABSOLUTELY MADDENING!   

To have someone deny that a problem exists when MULTIPLE people have encountered it?  To be told that the problem you are clearly experiencing  is a “corner case” that doesn’t ever really happen?  To be told its somehow your fault – some kind of user error situation?  To have the Code Boys & Girls demand that YOU do THEIR effing jobs by spending ungodly amounts of time reproducing their damn bugs and verifying their alleged “fixes”?!?  

AS IF product managers don’t have ENOUGH to do near release-end (market launch, get pricing proposed and approved, write collateral, and sales training, not to mention being neck-deep in planning the next release….the list goes on and on.), but now they have to be QA engineers as well?  

All because some frigtard CodeBoy/Girl has no effing pride in his/her work??!!  How can s/he think it’s okay to release what is obviously a steaming pile to customers?

WTF!!!!!!

BUT THEN, serendipitously, the Cranky Product Manager received a Truly Awesome article from a Code Boy who reads this blog.  It’s about the process an Engineer goes through when faced with a thorny bug.  

And now the Cranky Product Manager understands just a little bit better.  She still wants to keep her voodoo doll collection of CodeBoys close at hand, but at least she’ll feel a bit more empathetic when sticking it with pins.

Read the guest post from Code Boy Extraordinaire in the next article (coming in a few minutes). It’s required reading for any product manager who has ever had a bug s/he reported marked as “not reproducible.”

18 comments

  1. Jennifer

    will you be producing a line of VooDoo codeboy (and SalesDroid) dolls for sale? please? we could all use a few lining our shelves.

  2. Saeed Khan

    BTW, what other services did you consider for your synch/backup solution?

    I’m in the market for such a service. I’ve looked at Mozy and Carbonite but had never heard of SugarSynch before. Not too thrilled BTW, based on your experience with it.

    • The Cranky Product Manager

      Tried Mozy, not happy with that either. It pinned my CPU utilization and caused my machine to crash on a regular basis.

      I’m thinking about a combination of Carbonite & GoodSync. Or maybe even S3 and GoodSync. Dropbox works well for the cloud storage, but gets expensive very quickly.

  3. Kyle Langdon

    Great article! But the statement that “…CodeBoy/Girl has no effing pride in his/her work??!!” seemed off to me. And then I remembered when I was faced with this situation my pain came from the CodeBoy having WAY too much pride in his work. I find it just as frustrating when dealing with either.

  4. Sharon

    I have a new one to add: “Brittle Code”…as in, “I can’t fix this bug because the code is so brittle it will break 3 or 4 other things”. Defeatism eliminates the need to try.

  5. matt mackenzie

    Great post. BTW….CrashPlan has been serving my needs at work (8000+ person software company) and at home with a personal account very well. I suggest you look at it.

  6. Pingback: GUEST POST FROM A CODEBOY: THE FIVE STAGES OF DEBUGGING - 简单快乐,享受生活