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Old 09-13-2013, 02:04 PM   #1
schneidz
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consultant at my job cannot think beyond what they think they know.


hi, my solutions manager asked me to help a consultant modify some files on the mainframe.
i made a bash script to mask some account numbers (took about 5 minutes) because the files are ftp'd to the sun machine to be hosted on the webserver for our external clients.
i asked them about 3 times for the /path/to/filenames on the server but they keep responding that 'it is impossible to modify gzip files'.
i keep telling them it is as simple as unzipping, editing, recompressing the files but they keep insisting to edit them on the mainframe.
i tired it but they came back a few days ago that the blank space at the end of each line is trucated and the files are mal-formatted.

so then they downloaded from the mainframe and emailed me the files and told me to edit the files in windows (i used notpad) but the files are corrupted (probably by their ftp or email ...).

how do i politely tell them that if they cannot think beyond their limited technical knowlegde they are just spinning their wheels by not just editing the files on the server ?
 
Old 09-13-2013, 02:16 PM   #2
TB0ne
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Quote:
Originally Posted by schneidz View Post
hi, my solutions manager asked me to help a consultant modify some files on the mainframe.
i made a bash script to mask some account numbers (took about 5 minutes) because the files are ftp'd to the sun machine to be hosted on the webserver for our external clients.
i asked them about 3 times for the /path/to/filenames on the server but they keep responding that 'it is impossible to modify gzip files'.
i keep telling them it is as simple as unzipping, editing, recompressing the files but they keep insisting to edit them on the mainframe.
i tired it but they came back a few days ago that the blank space at the end of each line is trucated and the files are mal-formatted.

so then they downloaded from the mainframe and emailed me the files and told me to edit the files in windows (i used notpad) but the files are corrupted (probably by their ftp or email ...).

how do i politely tell them that if they cannot think beyond their limited technical knowlegde they are just spinning their wheels by not just editing the files on the server ?
In my experience, you DON'T tell them politely. No matter how nice you say it, they'll either have to admit they're idiots, or admit they're wrong...they will like neither, and complain that you're 'condescending', or have 'a know it all attitude'.

I would ask them point blank "Ok...so how do you CREATE a gzip file on that server to start with??". When they tell you "Oh, you can just run gzip <blah>", you follow up with "That's what I read too...thanks for confirming. They also mentioned the man page for gzip, and I read about where you can decompress it with the '-d' flag...is that right too?". They'll HAVE to admit it is...from there, you've got them to having the file uncompressed and ready for editing, and admitting you CAN compress it again. All the steps are there. Be sure to do it in a meeting with upper management, and have printouts of the man pages.
 
Old 09-13-2013, 02:30 PM   #3
Firerat
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send them some screencast , or whatever.. with proof of your script modifying a gzip
for obvious reasons not with real data

regards the malformed files,
I assume plain text, and they are reading in windows ( which will see one long line )

is the client using ftp in ASCII or Binary mode?
if they use ASCII then it should convert to the appropriate format ( Unix or DOS dependent on client OS )
Not sure if that happens happens with .gz

You could send with DOS EOL, in binary mode, so at least while it is on the server it is in the correct format

alternatively, give them a bdiff patch
actually, that may not work, since I only guess the EOL
 
Old 09-13-2013, 02:32 PM   #4
schneidz
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@tb0ne: that would likely get us to a solution. but it kinda' makes me look like i am not the expert which would maybe look bad during my quarterly review.

one time i had to get strict with my domain manager because he wanted to put in my assessment record that i dont diligently attempt to resolve issues before sending it to other department.

if they come back to me again, i'll try portions of what you suggested.

@firerat: screen prints of gzip in action would probably be convincing.

Last edited by schneidz; 09-13-2013 at 02:35 PM.
 
Old 09-13-2013, 02:55 PM   #5
TB0ne
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Quote:
Originally Posted by schneidz View Post
@tb0ne: that would likely get us to a solution. but it kinda' makes me look like i am not the expert which would maybe look bad during my quarterly review.

one time i had to get strict with my domain manager because he wanted to put in my assessment record that i dont diligently attempt to resolve issues before sending it to other department. if they come back to me again, i'll try portions of what you suggested.
Well, I don't know your environment, but if that's the case, then be polite, but direct. TELL THEM they're wrong, and tell them you can prove it, and be sure to do it in front of your boss. If they push back, you'll easily be able to prove they're wrong. If they don't, ask them why they've said xx times you can't (and again, be SURE to bring printouts of the emails). Either way, it'll go back to their lack of knowledge, and their lack of cooperation, and won't land at your feet.
Quote:
@firerat: screen prints of gzip in action would probably be convincing.
Agreed...and the man pages to boot, showing how you can zip/unzip a file. I'd also grab one of the gzipp'ed files and perform your edits on it, and prove that it can be done (printouts, etc.)

If they don't want to do that, tell them you know a consultant that will be happy to tackle the job for $1000. I'll split it with you.
 
Old 09-13-2013, 03:01 PM   #6
dugan
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"Let me show you."
 
Old 09-13-2013, 03:02 PM   #7
Firerat
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actually

does this all happen over email?

email is ok, but if I ever need to really get my point across,. I pick up the phone
so much faster.

then you just 'sum-up' over email
 
Old 09-13-2013, 03:07 PM   #8
schneidz
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yeah. email is easier because i dont like to talk to the humans. also they are at remote sites so it makes it harder to look over someones shoulder.
 
Old 09-13-2013, 03:29 PM   #9
Firerat
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yeah, I hated talking on the phone, still do to some extent.
I needed a job and got one in customer services, which was 95% on the phone.. that kind of cured me
I later did the Supplier Returns side of things, most of that was email but when I needed to chase them down the Phone was my tool of choice.. Wasn't me on the phone, I just played various characters.
chilled out "yeah no problem, whenever you can" to stern "that is just not good enough!"

enough of my pitiful CV..

I see that remote may mean different time zone, so perhaps not an option.

my tip for Phones, don't workout what you are going to say ( analysis paralysis )
just do it, if you know what you are talking about.. you have nothing to worry about.. after all, you know what you are talking about.
 
Old 09-14-2013, 12:02 AM   #10
schneidz
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i remember recently i had a discussion with one of my managers. he mentioned that the mainframes are still needed because the sun systems are not capable of handling the processing loads. since most managers/directors have that type of mentality, then the organization will never experiment with the configuration of the servers and measuring thoroughput since they already know that the mainframes have better performance.
 
Old 09-14-2013, 02:35 AM   #11
AnanthaP
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Whatever you do, you should have no expectations about teaching the consultant how to do it right.

So what do you do? I would tell the consultant to send me the original (presumably uncorrupted) zip files and work with the files they contain.

Points point for you to note.
If the zip opens,it (the zip file) is not corrupted by ftp or email. However, since the files inside seem corrupted when you open them (using notpad), it's clear that you should be using the appropriate program to open the files.

Second option.
If the files are malformed and blank spaces on the right are being truncated, then it is likely that the data is expected to be of fixed length records (with no seeming delimiter) and notpad converting spaces to tabs.(Old COBOL format on the main frame). Ask for the format and edit the file only once you know the format. If the consultant supplies the format, then well and good. Otherwise, get the original file and have a go with full information to your solutions manager and then the consultant.

OK
 
Old 09-14-2013, 09:02 AM   #12
schneidz
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i guess it took a little finagling but they were able to force the file thru the mainframe job (they probably entered in new lines where appropriate).

thanks for everyones advice; my main point of this thread was more about the stubborness of peoples unwillingness to learn a different method of doing something (this is starting to be a pretty theraputic rant).

i have an another example: an integration manager a while ago recomemded (kinda' forcefully) that we use excel macros to login to the mainframe (with our user name and pass clearly visable) and run a sequential set of jobs.
the automation is actually more labor intensive than running the jobs manually.

is this kind of thing common in other it/is shops ?
 
Old 09-14-2013, 02:32 PM   #13
TB0ne
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Quote:
Originally Posted by schneidz View Post
i guess it took a little finagling but they were able to force the file thru the mainframe job (they probably entered in new lines where appropriate).

thanks for everyones advice; my main point of this thread was more about the stubborness of peoples unwillingness to learn a different method of doing something (this is starting to be a pretty theraputic rant).

i have an another example: an integration manager a while ago recomemded (kinda' forcefully) that we use excel macros to login to the mainframe (with our user name and pass clearly visable) and run a sequential set of jobs. the automation is actually more labor intensive than running the jobs manually.

is this kind of thing common in other it/is shops ?
You bet. It usually involves preconceived ideas, and only using what that ONE person knows, rather than asking the team what THEY think/know. For me, I'd have suggested an SSH keyswap for passwordless logins, and a cron job. But I know Linux/Unix, and those things are trivial to do. That person probably knew Excel, and tried to shoehorn in a solution the only way they knew how.

My typical way to deal with that is to then ask them to explain WHY that's the best way, and what other solutions they might have, which would cause them to think the one they suggested was the best way. They rarely can think of another way, which opens the door for a discussion. When that fails, apply the LART, and do what's best.
 
Old 09-14-2013, 06:04 PM   #14
911InsideJob
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Management always wants cookie cutter "best practices" because, er, uh, they're easy to manage. One size fits all... just do the same thing as last time. Sure, maybe employees have a more "efficient" (less work for the employees) solution but they don't sign the consultant's check.
 
Old 09-15-2013, 09:04 PM   #15
AnanthaP
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Quote:
is this kind of thing common in other it/is shops ?
Probably not in it/is shops - but in end user environments where you are dealing with real data, it is common to have one and only one mandated way to login (or indeed do any other business task). Now an XL macro may not be the most appropriate way to login but why don't you ask the integration manager why he (or she) chose this particular way? There could be some simple explanation. After all, an integration manager ought to have some experience and know that XL macros are slow, kludgy and have been known to house and spread viruses.

OK
 
  


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