This is number 6 in my series of ridiculous happenings in my software development career.
I had left Upstart Consulting and gone out in to the world as an independent consultant. My first project was fairly uneventful but I had just started a new project for a small energy trading company that I will call Tiny Trader.
I came to work at Tiny because of a relationship I had with their CIO from my years at Upstart. She called me in almost a state of desperation and I could not say no. She hired both me and a close friend and co-worker of mine without even an interview.
On my first day, I was given a tour of the operations of Tiny Trader. During the 2 hour tour, I overheard announcements 3 times for all users to exit an application while the database was being repaired. A quick explanation confirmed my suspicions that the entire trading business of Tiny was run on MS Access and that several times a day the database was corrupted and had to be repaired.
As we entered the server room, I could not help but notice the huge pile of network cabling jumbled on the floor. From a patch panel above, wires led to the pile and from the pile back to the panel. As we looked around, a user entered the room and walked up to a server. The user rebooted the server and walked out. The administrator explained that all accounting system users were able to login to the database server with admin privileges and often rebooted the box when they were encountering unexplained problems.
A brief question and answer session revealed that no database dumps were occurring and even though backups were scheduled on the server daily, the data was obviously not backed up because of this. The administrator was oblivious to this important fact.
The good news was that there were no processes in place to hinder improvement. That bad news was the same as the good news.
On the second day of work at Tiny Trader, two users got into a fist fight in the conference room and broke the glass cover for the conference table. This was definitely going to be an interesting project.