mark roseman

mark@markroseman.com

A Skit about Software Development

I'd like to say that any resemblance between characters in this skit and any real people is entirely a coincidence. I'd like to say that. I'm afraid I really can't though. However, thats not to say that there hasn't been some artistic license taken with some of the situations described herein. Its a caricature, not reality. Its also not Monty Python's cheese shop, but there are resemblances.

Cast

  • Grant - company president
  • Leo, Tom - software developers
  • Mark - project leader
  • Don - marketing guy
  • Marty - sales guy
  • Laura, Greg - tech support folks
  • Steve - techno-visionary

  • Scene: quiet day in office, several developers sitting around idly, taking a break between rounds of playing "doom". developers contemplate clip-on ponytails and steroids, while the radio plays a gentle medley of skinny puppy songs. sign over door says "drop like flies bug killers".

    suddenly, out of breath, grant comes flying through the door, with a large pile of paper covered with scribble notes. the wide red eyes suggest too many hours in front of a computer screen or side effects from those funny cigarettes they had at the stones concert. he swipes frantically in the air, apparently at nothing, though its not like the developers have noticed his presence, having just discovered the recreational benefits of spray-on screen cleaners.

    Grant: you guys gotta help me, there's bugs everywhere, all around me! i can't seem to get away! make 'em drop! get 'em away! (swipes at air more)

    Leo looks up from his desk and smiles, but doesn't say a word. Grant aims for another invisible bug but "misses" and swats Leo. Leo smiles more, still silently.

    Grant: (in a louder voice) hey, i heard you guys fix bugs here!

    Mark glances up from his screen-cleaner-flavored-designer-coffee and fixates on the pile of paper Grant carries.

    Mark: sure, we fix all kinds of bugs here. make 'em drop like flies, we can do that.

    Grant: well, i sure hope so, because...

    At this point Don runs briskly through the office.

    Don: hi guys, keep up the work, things are great. i'll talk to you soon, just have to scoot off to a meeting with environment. got to make sure we're all on the same page you know! (runs out)

    Tom stands idly by, contemplating what kind of performance enhancing "supplements" would be needed to get through the office that quickly. He glances over at his monitor, breathes deeply, puts a fist through it and chants repeatedly "oh i love windows. please let me do the ecsmail dos port."

    Grant: as i was saying, you guys better be able to do it. these are important bugs to get out. you better be quick!

    Marty: (off to the side, ignoring again that he doesn't rate a door to his office) hey, you should see the ticky-boxes those guys can do, its just amazing! heck, i've even swung this deal with some folks in arkansas to sell them a site license on just the ticky boxes alone, let alone the program! oh, reminds me, i just have to get support to set everything up, just a few little additional things they wanted.. anyone know how hard it is to port oracle onto an altair?

    Gurgling noises from down the office. Greg and Laura are hanging on the wall with phones attached to their faces.

    Laura: for the 1000th time, the damn thing doesn't run on pc/nfs version 1.2! buy a real tcp/ip stack you morons! just for that we'll never ship to your damn country again. whats that? well, i wouldn't say much for hillary either. good riddance!

    Greg: (mumbles something in italian..)

    Mark: (to grant) anyway, sure we fix all kinds of bugs! we can take care of anything. what ya got for us?

    Grant: (looking at his list) well, first one here, when i start up i get what looks like a table of rows and columns with numbers in it.. what the hell kind of interface is that?

    Greg: hey, i get that too, i think, yeah i do too! oh wait a minute, didn't that say "excel" underneath?

    Mark looks prepared to be here a while.

    Grant: uhhhh.. oh anyway, here's one. printing doesn't work. that should definitely be working. fix it now!

    Mark: ahhh yes, that would be an interesting bug to fix. its one we've really been meaning to get to in fact. it really did have to wait on the news-reader optimizing features though. but let me just check, oh yes, here it is on yuchen's schedule. yes, that'll be fixed right away.

    Grant: but he left over a year ago!

    Mark: oh dear, thats right. hmmm, and he was the only one who knew any of that stuff -- too much a learning curve now! we'd never be able to get that one done before production.

    Grant: (grumbling) well, then there's..

    Don runs through again, limping slightly on account of one leg being missing, leaving a bloody stump dripping all over the carpet.

    Don: man, what a day, got through that meeting at environment, then was off to see at&t and then the folks at u michigan. was in such a hurry to get back to the office i accidentally ripped my leg off getting off the plane. ah well, must keep on it, meeting with the vencap folks in two minutes! (hobbles off)

    Grant: how about this thing with moving the icons left one pixel on this screen?

    Mark: (exploding) oh fine, go ahead and find the most complex and difficult thing to fix in the entire program! it would set us back months to even attempt to do that! imagine, trying to disturb the whole existential balance of the program that radically! for god's sake man, if you have no background in user interfaces, you have no right meddling in this!

    Grant: well, damn it, do it anyway. what about this bug with not being able to send messages at all?

    Marty: (interjecting) well, we got pretty short staffed and i ended up taking a look at this one. pretty tough! but i checked and none of our market surveys indicated that as one of their key critical differentiators, so it should be alright. besides, we're having some problems with our network now so there's no way to test it anyway.

    Grant glances at Leo, who's still smiling silently.

    Grant: is he ok?

    Tom: as long as we feed him his nutribars every hour, no problem.

    Grant: uhh, ok. now how about this thing with no online help?

    Mark: interesting you ask! spent three hours on the phone to this person down in the states who's frantically working on the conversion program from latex to microsoft help format. seems after the 100th time brenda was told she couldn't use frame she just flipped out and converted everything to latex.. screamed something about "if you're not going to give me decent tools to work with...". so its pretty much out of our hands for the moment i'm afraid.

    Phone rings, Leo picks it up, smiles into it and hands it to Grant. Grant talks for a sec and then hangs up.

    Grant: It was Don, calling on his cellular from the space shuttle en route to the moon to check out some potential customers interested in disconnected operation. Had to pop by the hospital to pick up Steve to help out, and while there helped deliver Sandra and Steve's baby. Sold the kid an ECS site license -- directory too! Oh yeah, and vencap went well too.

    Mark looks at Grant expectantly.

    Grant: so i've given you a whole pile of bugs, and you say you can't fix any of them! do you guys fix any bugs at all?

    Mark: of course we do, we wouldn't be a bug fixing group if we didn't fix bugs now would we?

    Grant: (getting skeptical) how about this tcp/ip stack thing?

    Mark: waiting on a stolen copy of the software from greg's mafia friends..

    Greg: (in background) now luis, i told you, you can't keep calling me just because you're bored..

    Grant: this lack of color?

    Mark: interesting, we just trashed the source code file, all we have is the object file now. although we could go patching the binaries..

    Grant: why don't you use the word "the" anywhere?

    Mark: couldn't do it -- bill called and said he'd sue!

    Grant: there must be some kinds of bugs you can fix!

    Marty: (underneath a bottle of scotch) they'll fix anything!

    Grant: make it so i can read my mail?

    Mark: waiting on an internet standards committee.

    Grant: turn on the computer?

    Mark: patent on the power switch

    Grant: (to himself) god, someone put me out my misery!

    Tom stands up, flexes his muscles and winds up. Leo smiles more and smoothly sedates Tom who falls over backward, crashing through the floor.

    Laura: geez, not again! just got off the phone with ron from asu.. can someone please remind don to stop saying "getting on the same page" to ron? some people are getting ideas.

    Don: (poking his head in the room, face red from the heat of atmospheric reentry) I heard that. (leaves again)

    Grant: (to everyone) so what you're really all saying is that you really can't fix any of these bugs.

    Mark: well, that would be one of many possible things we could say i imagine

    Marty: the guys in the pool hall don't seem to really care about the bugs i don't think, let me just check..

    Tom: (waking up briefly) i can bench that..

    Leo still smiles silently, even though he's fixed all the bugs while everyone else is fighting about these things.

    Laura: what bugs? never got any through ecs support!

    Grant: thats what i figured. (pulls out a gun and kills everyone present).

    Steve walks in and puts a golf club through Grant's head.

    Steve: ha ha! finally with all you clowns gone i can get some real work done for a change!

    Exeunt