vin_petrol: (argh)
[personal profile] vin_petrol
It meets in secret. It’s purpose is to mess with my head. I’ve thought about it long and hard, and it’s the only explanation I can come up with for the apparent level of cluelessness I have to deal with amongst the data providers I work with. No organisations could be staffed by this many knuckle-dragging, hopeless incompetents. Clearly, they just meet up at times and work out hilarious new ways to fsck-up and make me mad.

The clocks changed on Sunday morning. This happens twice a year. It’s not really a hard thing to work around. Planet Earth has a universal time. The name isn’t hard to figure out, it’s called Universal Coordinated Time, although the abbreviation is UTC to appease the French. There are several international standards regarding precise methods to specify times when events will happen (ISO 8601, RFC 3339) where speccy nerds who care about this shit have thought about it long and hard and come up with pedantic, precise ways to ensure there can be no ambiguity about times. These standards take into account the fact that there are different time zones on planet Earth, and things like Daylight Savings Time. It’s all a solved fscking problem.

Or should be.

I’ve been dealing with a data provider for months who seems utterly, totally incapable of dealing with this. They send me Electronic Program Guide (EPG) data for a couple of television channels. Or rather, they send me inacurate EPG data for a couple of TV channels. Their data is always an hour or two out of sync with the reality of what that channel is showing. This company is in Scandinavia, and it’s almost as if they are so utterly clueless that the concept that there are other time zones on this planet, other than the one they’re in, has never occurred to them.

Here is a scenario (that cannot possibly be true) which would accurately account for their utter crapness: Ugg the programmer (somewhere cold in Scandinavia) look at the time on the clock on their wall. It say “11:30”. It must be 11:30 in London. Obviously! *grunt* No other time possible!

Hence it must be the cabal. They have met in secret and giggled and gone “let’s pretend to be so clueless we can’t handle timezones and DST. That’ll wind Vin up something awesome!”

They have a “support system”. I open a ticket in their system, which they ignore for several weeks, misunderstand for several more, assign to an assortment of different people, continually email me back randomly saying it's fixed (when it isn't), assign to some more people, change their help desk system, lose my ticket, email me randomly some more saying it's fixed (when it isn't), email me telling me I need to fix the data in the EPG file because they've confused me with someone else, have a meeting with me where they try to convince us that we should entrust our entire TV service to them when they can't supply one tiny set of XML data correctly and act surprised when I decline, email me randomly some more saying it's fixed (when it isn't), etc.

Finally, after about five months of me complaining, and them telling me they’ve fixed it about three times when they haven’t, for a few glorious weeks their EPG data matches reality! They close the ticket in their system.

However, I have a dread sense of foreboding. I know that one day the clocks will change. The cabal has met. They will fsck with my head once more.

And so it came to pass that this morning I came into the office and checked their EPG data.

Guess what? Go on, you’ll never guess.

Their data is now one hour out of sync with reality.

*sigh*

This was not unexpected, and I’m getting used to sending them emails pointing out the problems with their XML. However, they really put the icing on the cake this morning, with a move that nearly put me on a plane to a Nordic country to set fire to someone's offices.

I received an email from them saying “we have checked our EPG system this morning, and we can confirm it has handled the clock change properly with no errors.”

Aaaaaarrrrggghhhhhhh!
Date: 2010-11-01 02:59 pm (UTC)

From: [identity profile] ms-siobhan.livejournal.com
I don't share your pain on a technical level but I do on a metaphorical level.

Fancy lunch some time?
Date: 2010-11-02 08:22 am (UTC)

From: [identity profile] daeghnao.livejournal.com
I suspect these are the same Cabal who like to pretend they don't know that regular expressions are a bad way to deal with pretty much any structured data, or even email addresses.

Or that floating-point numbers aren't really all that close an approximation to anything, and certainly shouldn't be used for currency.

Or that flat files, databases, spreadsheets and documents are different things for different purposes.

Or... darn, if I keep going, I'll probably asplode...
Date: 2010-11-03 08:54 pm (UTC)

From: [identity profile] daeghnao.livejournal.com
That top answer is, in fact, simply beautiful. I shall think of it every time someone cooks up their own way of handling text encodings and ends up addressing my parcels to Zoë Stephenson.
Date: 2010-11-09 07:34 pm (UTC)

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