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Saturday, October 21, 2017

An unexpected encounter with Bharpinder

Graduating from an accredited University Software Engineering Program is quite the achievement.  It’s even more exciting if you are recruited by TNGT Software with a offer of a salary that may actually provide the means to allow you to pay off the 6-figure student loans that you incurred during your 4-year program at the University of Texas at Austin and off you go to Mountain View, California, where they don’t talk the way that you do and they don’t dress the way that you do.  In a matter of days PETA has a group of volunteers following you around running background checks on you that TNGT hadn’t even considered:

Are your motorcycle chaps real leather? (was a cow harmed in the manufacture of your safety equipment?) Do you use environmentally friendly hair gel in the morning? And finally, “Why is it that you appear to live at TGNT’s headquarters? – Oh! That’s right you really don’t make enough money to pay your student loan payments and live in the most expensive region in the Country.  Instead of rocketing to the top of the organization, you find yourself toiling for 10 to 14 hours daily, including weekends just so that Bharpinder Nagasalamandanam doesn’t out-toil you with his own effort, which is underscored by mounting a goal of 18 hours per day plus weekends, and you quickly are reassigned to a team of under-performers who are tasked with reverse engineering a 20 year old application that was converted from Microsoft Visual C++ to Java using an automated code conversion utility.  Your initial assessment of this new assignment is flawless:

  1. The code needs to be rewritten from scratch. There is nothing that can be salvaged.  You have read this code and clearly it was code-generated by another program and though you do not have access to the original source code you recognize the entire asset is complete and utter garbage.
  2. You’ve looked around for any accurate and credible documentation of this module, but you have been given 3 answers when you ask:

  • We have a cryptic, hard-copy document provided by the vendor of the original C++-developed solution, but it’s in JoAnne Stevenson’s desk, and she will not share it with anyone.

  • There is an equally cryptic appendix that describes more business rules that are referenced in a document maintained by a 3rd-party company, but their version reflects thousands of changes to the specification that have been implemented in the ensuing 15 years after the original software was written.


  • The appendix has an even more cryptic reference to another document that hasn’t been in circulation for over 10 years, and another not-so-cryptic reference to a web site that contains additional code/value pairs that you will need evaluate within your module, but notably many of code/value references are completely missing from the industry standards organization’s website, or any other legitimate resource. 

Your team is practicing a combination of eXtreme Programming, Scrum and Kanban, but no one has a name for this Agile potpourri, and it’s not clear which practices of the Company’s agile variant that you are using is responsible for, governing which activities in the method, but Mr. Salamandanam seems comfortable and seems to know what needs to be done. He’s willing to help you, but it seems that part of the agreement will be that you will apprentice under him for 6 months, and only if you figure out the secret to deciphering the agile ceremony du jour will you be allowed to actually work on Bharpinder’s team going forward. In a matter of 4 days, the team concludes that you are rather dense, and you are re-assigned to build unit tests for a module that was developed based on User Stories that were written by a Stanford Undergraduate software Engineering Student who has dropped out of College and is no longer involved in the internship program with TNGT. 


From software engineer you quickly descend the corporate ladder to settle comfortably as a Test Developer reporting to the QA Team with an after-hours role as Bharpinder’s gopher.  After three weeks, you realize a necessity to pronounce that you not, in fact, gay - that everyone has misinterpreted your status on the LGBTQO continuum for which you have been written up by Human Resources, in which they cite your failure to uphold TNGT’s commitment to diversity which is a core tenet of the new Employee Guidelines.  

You are placed on a 2 week probationary term with no pay, though you will be allowed to purchase food from TNGT’s world-famous cafeteria which offers cuisines from all over the world -- Sadly, there is nothing on the menu that you would eat back home in Austin, TX. By the start of your third week, you sadly deliver your letter of resignation to HR admitting that you are simply not a very good Software Engineer, and that you’ve taken a new job at Yahoo at double the pay as a writer for Yahoo Sports.  Finally you are able to enjoy your two favorite things in life.  Computing and College sports!  Not to worry about Bharpinder.  He’s found a politically correct apprentice to work under him.

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