Thursday, August 19, 2010

Missing Office Equipment Prank

Here is Part 2 of my series where I reminisce about the good times I had at Williams. As I stated previously, I came across these printed off emails in our attic while moving to our new home. I'm so glad I printed them off. #goodtimes

Anyway, this was a prank Keith Stanek, Josh Guthman (Guthy), and myself pulled on Michael Brotherman (Are you Miking Me?). Before showing you the email though I need to set the stage. The year was 2003, and our company had just gone through 3 rounds of layoffs. Morale was pretty low. We worked on the 32nd floor of the 52 story BOK building in downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma. During fire drills we had to take the stairs down a floor. During one of the fire drills we noticed the entire 31st floor was void of humans, but a lot of very nice unused office furniture and white boards were still present. We joked around about repurposing some of the nicer equipment, but nothing ever come of it. Until one morning, we noticed Mike had a new chair. A very nice new chair. We gave him junk about it all day, but decided a prank would be better. So we had Josh Guthman (Guthy) write us up a believable email that Keith and I would spoof using the Facilities email address. Here it is:

From: Facilities Services-Tulsa
Sent: Thursday, March 13, 2003 7:39AM
Subject: Missing Office Equipment

During a recent audit for unused office equipment we discovered black reclining office chairs were missing from several of the floors in the BOK tower. Upon further investigation we discovered those chairs had been procured by current employees looking to upgrade from their existing chairs. While facilities appreciates your desire to utilize existing assets instead of requisitioning new ones, please remember that Williams is undergoing a cost savings campaign at this time and that all unused equipment needs to remain on its respective floor for proper accounting and redistribution either to the lessee or to an employee in need. If we have not already reacquired your chair, please return it to the floor from which it came by the end of business Friday, March 14.

Mike smelled it out, but noone ever confessed, and I'm pretty sure deep down, even though his gut was telling him it was a prank, he still didn't want to take the chance in the possibility that it might have been true. The best part about it was the morning we sent the email, Mike and I had a group breakfast meeting with one of the Senior Executives. As we were going down the elevator, he mentioned to me that he was going to bring it up during the meeting, and with a complete straight face I called his bluff and told him that I think he should, knowing that he wouldn't anyway; and if he did it would only make the prank that much better.

Mike returned the chair.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Real man of Genius

I usually keep this blog professional, but I'm in the process of moving and came across some emails that I just have to share and they are too long to post on facebook. All 3 emails where from my time at The Williams Company in Tulsa, OK where I had the privilege to work with some great friends. People like Keith Stanek, Michael Brotherman (Are you Miking me?), Jason Randall, Josh Guthman (Guthy), Erin Nylund, Becca Fairchild, Jennifer Brandt, and a host of others. I was so fortunate to work with these people and I'm not sure it could ever be duplicated. We had a ton of fun together. During off hours we played a lot of cards (Rook mainly), Starcraft I, and lots and lots of Halflife. Over time, I got to be pretty good at Halflife (HL). At some point we started playing 2 (Keith and Mike) on one and I still would usually win.

Now to the email. Wednesday August 20, 2003 at 9:45 AM, Michael Brotherman emailed Keith and me his Real man of Genius in my honor. It was done just like the Real Men Of Genius commercials. Here it is in it's original form:

Mr real man of genius...
We solute you, Mr. Total Conqueror in HL.
You who drops bombs that are not in the bathroom.
Who shoots your double barrel in our face.

Your eyes keep us from getting caught,
But your play keeps us from coming back.

Here's to you...Mr crossbow no miss,
Mr. Ray gun who makes it no fun.

We solute you.

My Favorite weapon was the crossbow. Oh good times. Stayed tuned. I've got 2 more coming.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Hash tags in Commit Comments

I've been using Yammer, Twitter, and Facebook consistently for awhile now. One of the things I really like are hash tags, where yams or tweets include additional meta information in the comment such as #groovy, #hudson, or #maven. One of the main purposes of hash tags, is it allows others to subscribe to an area of interest verses subscribing to hundreds of individual people. Another purpose it serves, is determining interest value; sort of like a subject heading. Since hash tags are typically at the end of a tweet or yam, I usually read the end first before I commit to reading the whole yam or tweet. I don't follow a ton of people yet, but I do consume a lot of information in a day and in order to find the good I have to wade through the bad. Using hash tags aides in this process.

I also think hash tags could help in another area: commit comments. It's something important I've mentioned before, and I think hash tags can be useful in commit comments even if there aren't any tools yet to mash it up. A few days ago, our of habit I accidentally started including some high level hash tags in an svn commit comment and it occurred to me that it might be useful to others, if not myself in 6 months. If we find hash tags useful in yams and tweets, why not commit comments?

Including tokens in commit comments isn't new. In fact, we already include a Jira number in most of our commit comments and this allows us to view all the commits for a Jira issue. There is even a Jira plugin that allows you to perform actions by specifying hashes in commit comments. For example, if I want to resolve a Jira I can include #resolve in my commit comment, and Jira will automatically Resolve that Jira. And don't feel like you can't include the #resolve tag only if your using that jira plugin. I could see value in seeing a #resolve tag in the final commit of a Jira.

As an example, here is the exact commit comment I used that includes some hash tags for geoserver and installer.

"Jira: AC-4207. Got the filtered geowebcache.xml file correctly moved to the production and staging data directories. These files point to localhost with the correct geo port and stage geo port. Also commented out some fixpath.cmd lines to get the installer to work. Finally, I also change the ProcessPanel to not have a condition: changed to . This should allow us to be really selective in what we install and still allow the process panel to run, whereas before it wasn't running. #geoserver #installer"

Now the really cool part is if someone else in the near future notices an issue with geoserver in our installer, this comment will stick out more than a comment without those hashes.

Another cool thing that could be done is a team subscribing to certain hash tags in the svn commit emails. For example, someone responsible for peer reviewing all DAO changes could subscribe to a hash like #dao. Then when developers are modifying DAO's all they need to do is include the #dao tag.

I guess what I am saying is perhaps we could also benefit from putting extra hash tags in our commit comments. My brain has already been trained to read them so personally I think it's useful.