[conspire] HP Melt Down

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Thu Aug 25 14:31:44 PDT 2011

Quoting Luke S. Crawford (lsc at prgmr.com):

> I mean, I can understand why HP would want to be a consulting company;
> Consulting, when you have a big name and the marketing muscle to back 
> it up is a license to print money.  At one of the places I worked, we 
> hired a lot of bright kids fresh out of college.   I mean, they were 
> bright, and better looking than average, but they were fresh out of 
> school.  Zero experience.   Within a year, the better looking kids of 
> the group were hired by one of the $BIGNAME consulting company, given a 
> few months of training, and sent out as consultants.  Think of it; If 
> you have the name, you can hire entry-level people and you can rent 
> them out as expensive consultants.  That's got to be pure profit.

What was really sad was when I found out, about week one of my
subcontracting for a _small_ consulting firm in San Francisco, is that
some of them pull this bullshit, too.

The firm in question used to insist in sending on pimply faced youths
with me to 'help' me on client visits, and every single one of them was
worse than useless, wasting my time.  It became pathetically obvious
that they had been sent to pump me for some sort of 'secret sauce' that
would enable the firm to subsequently send them out solo, at a small
fraction of my billing rate.  So, I always sent them out for coffee.


One of them, a certain Matt Hargett also, in addition to being an idiot
and completely useless, actually had the chutzpah to start hostile-ly
interrogating me right in front of the customer:  This was an
architecture firm in South of Market, San Francisco, where I was sent on
a Sunday morning in summer, because their file/print server (NetWare
4.x, I think) was in trouble:  They'd moved into a new building with no
network room, and so repurposed a large closet with no HVAC as an
improptu server room, putting a sign on the door saying 'Do Not Close
Door'.  The janitorial staff, not reading English, had shut the door on
Friday evening.  By Saturday evening, high ambient temperatures in the
almost-airtight room had partially cooked the server.

The firm's CEO was there on Sunday morning when I gave my initial
assessment:  One hard drive of the duplexed pair was dead, and the other
might (in my view) die at any moment.  I recommended either of two
things:  (1) Fetch a hard drive (I could lend one of my own from home) 
and remirror onto it, or (2) do a tape backup of all changes since the
last full backup first and then remirror.  Either way, I stressed that
the remaining (and damaged) hard drive could go at any moment, and that
the downside risk (the Plan B scenario) was time/billings for a server
OS reinstall and tape restore plus (more serious) loss of all work
product stored on the file server since the most recent good backup.

I asked when the last backup had been done, and is there any information
about how reliable backups might be?  Answer:  Thursday early evening,
and no.  I recommended option 1.  I made sure Mr. CEO understood the
risks, and agreed on option 1, and didn't prefer option 2 or anything
else we could think of.  Bicycled home, got the hard drive, bicycled
back, mounted my HD, commenced remirroring.  Partway through, the second
drive died.

I gave the CEO the bad news, saying we'd need to switch to Plan B -- and
that was when useless punk Matt Hargett decided to launch his
interrogation of me, his alleged co-consultant, demanding to know why I
had insisted on taking a risky course of action, and insinuating that I 
was wasting the customer's money driving up billing rates.

I recapitulated the situation for the customer's benefit, and talked out
all of the options yet again, and how there were no guarnteed results in
such a bad situation.  The CEO went off.  I said we'd be taking a break,
and Hargett and I went off-premises.  

I told Hargett he would not be coming back, and telephoned the
consulting firm to advise them that Hargett would not be working with me
in the future.  And then I went back and restored the customer's server
with loss of a workday's worth of employee work.

The following week, the no-hoper who ran the small consulting firm told
me that the architecture firm's CEO was upset on account of what Hargett
had told him, and that his firm needed me to write a letter detailing
why I'd taken the steps I did.  I did so, but required the no-hoper to
pay me an additional hour's worth of billable time in advance.

About a year later, I was very amused to read that one Matt Hargett was
now a mouthpiece for Network Associates's security-consulting operation
-- which was one of the earliest signs I had that NetAss are a bunch of
clowns living off corporate welfare.

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