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The story’s a couple of years old, but it’s been making the rounds
lately, so I thought I’d point to it: The Case of the 500-Mile Email.
Here’s the introduction:
I was working in a job running the
campus email system some years ago when I got a call from the chairman
of the statistics department.
“We’re having a problem sending email out of the department.”
“What’s the problem?” I asked.
“We can’t send mail more than 500 miles,” the chairman explained.
I choked on my latte. “Come again?”
can’t send mail farther than 500 miles from here,” he repeated. “A
little bit more, actually. Call it 520 miles. But no farther.”
Email really doesn’t work that way, generally,” I said, trying to keep
panic out of my voice. One doesn’t display panic when speaking to a
department chairman, even of a relatively impoverished department like
statistics. “What makes you think you can’t send mail more than 500
“It’s not what I *think*,” the chairman replied testily. “You see, when we first noticed this happening, a few days ago–“
“You waited a few DAYS?” I interrupted, a tremor tinging my voice. “And you couldn’t send email this whole time?”
“We could send email. Just not more than–“
“–500 miles, yes,” I finished for him, “I got that. But why didn’t you call earlier?”
we hadn’t collected enough data to be sure of what was going on until
just now.” Right. This is the chairman of *statistics*. “Anyway, I
asked one of the geostatisticians to look into it–“
and she’s produced a map showing the radius within which we can send
email to be slightly more than 500 miles. There are a number of destinations
within that radius that we can’t reach, either, or reach sporadically,
but we can never email farther than this radius.”
Read the rest to see what the culprit turned out to be.
I’m working on the details. Stay tuned…
Me at last year’s bash.
Found: a photo of some clever public washroom hand dryer graffiti…
Corporation’s 2005 Developer Relations Conference. Seeing as my job is
developer relations, I feel a little silly for having been unaware of
its existence and have adjusted my radar accordingly.
I went through the presentations — mostly outlines of the developer
relations techniques used by various companies — looking for ideas
that could be incorporated into Tucows’ developer relations strategy.
One slide in
particular caught my attention. Its title was Who is the Developer? and
its bullet points outlined the average developer, based on a study by
the Evans Data’s 2005 study of the developer market:
- Male (over 90% of respondents)
- 40 years old
- Married (nearly two-thirds of respondents)
- 15 years’ experience
- Loves programming and isn’t in it primarily for the money (two-thirds of respondents)
- Enjoys logic and puzzles (57% of respondents)
- Skills picked up mostly on the job or self-taught (75% of respondents)
My own experience is not the norm (in fact, the master of
ceremonies at my friend Rob’s wedding introduced me as “a guy whose
life was engineered to be offbeat”), having spent most of my career at
start-ups and oddball companies. I expected that the average developer
would be thirty and single with closer to five years’ experience.
Upon further reflection, I realized that as of a month ago, I match
those stats. That’s a little frightening. Confronted with
this realization, a lesser man might admit defeat, program an “easy
rock” station into his radio, buy a Ford Taurus and restock the
wardrobe with golf shirts and elastic-waistband slacks.
But me? I’m cool.
(Alternate title: In which our hero shows that he’s been reading too many articles about these new–style web applications)
The scene: the Tucows offices, early afternoon.
Co-worker: Hey, Joey! How’s married life treating you?
Me [making finger quotes, a.k.a. “sarcasm tongs”]: “Married life?” What is this, the twentieth century? It’s now called Life 2.0.
The webcomic Something Positive has its own take on Anne Rice’s change of subject matter (which I wrote about in this entry). Here’s a sample: