February 28, 2021
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Life of a VB Programmer

  • By Sam Huggill
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Please note that any similarity to anyone you know is coincidental.

Well today I arrived at my new job in London.The company's name is "Lighthouse Software Group" and they are basedin this huge building near the river. The building has about 6 floors (OK, so itsnot really that big but I seems like it!) Anyway, meeting my new boss was aninteresting experience...

His office was situated on the third floor soit didnt take me too long to get there. With half a pound of butterflies inmy stomach, I followed the secretary into his office.

Through the glass door, which looked like ithad been replaced several times (very poorly I might add) I was confronted by alarge amount of cardboard boxes containing, as far as I could make out, newcomputer equipment. In the middle of this cardboard city I could just see thetop of a balding head of a very irritated man.

"Ah hello! Looks like you arrived just onthe right day!" he boomed as he stood up to greet me.

After initial introductions to all the rightpeople he explained to me that the company manager (his boss) had told him thatthey needed to move into the 20th century and therefore had splashedout an amount of money that he wasnt going to tell me on new computerequipment for the whole company.

Before I asked why the computers were piled upin his office, he told me that their "storage area" was currently fullof junk, and to save himself having to distribute the computers himself, heinstructed the delivery people to put each floors computers in the head ofdepartments office and each floor.

Without much further ado my boss got to thepoint, what was I going to be doing. "Your first job will be to set-up andinstall all the new computers on this floor. But dont worry" he said,"I will get a couple of people to give you a hand"

The company was made up of several differentdepartments, each one taking up about one floor with about 50 people assigned todifferent departments within that floor. Each floor was responsible for oneparticular thing in the company.

For example, the 1st floor mainlycontained the reception area and some meetings rooms, and the 2ndfloor was the internet department. They took care of web design and hosting forseveral clients, and, as you would expect, they already had all the latestcomputer gear.

The floor above me, floor 4 was intoadvertising. They run an online advertising agency called Single Click, whooffer low cost advertising through resellers. They also take care of advertisingfor the company (i.e. handouts, leaflets and newsletters)

The 5th and 6th floorsare mainly used for the "people in high places", e.g. The main bosses.Their offices could be found there, along with a small canteen and a few othermeetings rooms.

And finally, me new floor, the 3rdfloor. On this floor there is a range of applications development teams usingVisual Basic, Visual C++ and Java to develop applications for our clients.

My main area is Visual Basic, so naturally Isuppose after setting up these new computers, I will be working with a smallteam in VB (at least, that is was the job description said!)

After a quick tour around the office I decided that the high management whohad ordered this upgrade was probably saving the company from certain death.Most of the machines I saw were 486s running Windows 3.1, and when I came tothe VB development area, I found VB 4 was the primary development tool!

So I rushed back into my boss's office to start shifting the boxes. Acouple of people (as promised) gave me a hand and then started to unpack some ofthe equipment. From reading one of the labels, I saw that these new machineswere Pentium 400s with 12GB Hard drives, 128MB RAM and 17" screens!

I had to tell the others to stop as they jumped upon the boxes like hungryanimals, because I realized that we needed to plan where the machines were goingto go. As we had two new file servers, I asked to see where the existing fileservers resided. For the first time that day I was impressed. Two nice rackmounted servers with UPSs, surge protectors and even a dedicated phone all ina nice air conditioned room!

What didnt impress me was when I looked at the back of the cases where theservers were. I think one word can describe what I saw, "cables!" Yes,there were literally hundreds of cables coming from everywhere, and worst ofall, they were all the same colour! I realized that it would take several hoursjust to sort this lot out.

Anyway, on returning to the main office, we decided that we would find somespace and put up a couple of tables and install all the software on all thecomputers and get it working so the possibility of the computers working when wemoved them into their actual locations could be slightly increased.

After waiting for about 10 minutes while one of the three of us dashed off tofind out where we could go, we started to shift all the boxes down to thebasement. Apparently the person in charge there had got in serious trouble fordumping the computers in the offices that he had cleared up the mess and evenrushed off to get us some tables when we arrived.

By five oclock we had managed to get both of the file servers set up andabout six of the workstations all working correctly.

As I left the building feeling quite satisfied that this was the place forme, I wandered back to the tube station to return to my flat.

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This article was originally published on November 20, 2002

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