Recent Feature Articles

May 2017

Icon on Fire

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Tim joined a company that provided a SaaS solution for tracking attendance and grades in schools. The job was mostly minor updates to a ColdFusion application, although there was an active project to replace it with something more modern. Tim felt like half of his hiring was based on him knowing when to throw out buzzwords like SPA or REST or Reactive Programming.

The fire emoji, as an image.

“It’s not the first time,” Karmen explained. She’d been with the company for some time. “When I joined, they had just upgraded to ColdFusion from a VBA hack on Microsoft Access. Crazy days, back then, when the whole ‘selling service, not software’ thing was new. Sometimes, I think I was hired because I knew the right buzzwords.”


Take the Bus

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Rachel started working as a web developer for the local bus company. The job made her feel young, since the buses, the IT infrastructure, and most of their back-office code was older than she was. The bus fare-boxes were cash only, and while you could buy a monthly pass, it was just a little cardboard slip that you showed the driver. Their accounting system ran on a mainframe, their garage management software was a 16-bit DOS application. Email ran on an Exchange 5.5 server.

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The Smell-O-Vision

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Ron used to work for a company which built “smell-o-visions”. These were customized systems running small form factor Windows PCs that operated smell pumps and fans using USB relays timed to a video to give a so-called “4D Experience.” Their product was gimmicky, and thus absolutely loved by marketing groups.

One such marketing group, whose client was a branch of the military, worked with them to create a gimmick to help with recruiting. A smell-o-vision was installed on a trailer and towed around the country, used to convince teenagers to join the service by making them smell fresh-squeezed orange juice while watching a seizure-inducing video with guns. The trailer was staffed by grunts, and these guys cycled through so frequently that they received little or no training on the system.

A vintage ad for a smell-o-vision film called 'Scent of Mystery'

The New Manager

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She'd resisted the call for years. As a senior developer, Makoto knew how the story ended: one day, she'd be drafted into the ranks of the manager, forswearing her true love webdev. She knew she'd eventually succumb, but she'd expected to hold out for a few years before she had to decide if she were willing to change jobs to avoid management.


A Naughty Bot

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As many of you know, outside of being a writer, I also work on open-source projects. The most famous of these is Sockbot, a chatbot platform that interfaces with various forum and message clients. If you're reading this, my boss didn't object to pointing out that my work has never made this particular mistake—but maybe we'd be more famous if we had.


Where in the World Is Our Website?

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It was a particularly irritating Monday morning, when Travis got a frantic text from his boss. The sun was shining, the birds were nattering, and everyone was greeting him with a smile; it was like everyone in the world had their coffee, but Travis overslept and was going to have to satisfy himself with whatever sludge he could scrape out of the office coffee maker. He had just crossed the threshold when the text arrived:

WEBSITE GONE. WHERE R U?


Do While False

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It was early in Seth's tenure at PicoServices Inc. when he first heard about Joe.