Ever tried? Ever failed?

This week in the dev meeting we talked about failure.

The format we used was a Software Developers Anonymous meeting:

Start with: “Hello, my name is …. and I have failed”

And everyone cheers.

And then after that, you describe the failure and discuss it.

Unfortunately, most of the failures are too private to publish via our blog!

Among the things that we can repeat:

Stephen N talked about “The Meaning of Liff” – a book listing a number of placenames and definitions for them. One of these is “Ely” – the first tiniest inkling that something has gone wrong. Every one of Stephen’s failures has begun with an Ely – something that’s not quite right, something that’s a bit suspicious – and what he has now learned is that this is an indication that he should act immediately.

Alex talked about the importance of good coffee, and how a project he worked on had been saved from failure by the company installing (only two) good quality coffee machines, which made the teams work together while they were standing in the queue to get coffee.

Dan talked about a problem when he was working late on a server, and he rebooted it, and it didn’t come back. He reported this to his bosses at the time, and they didn’t blame him, but instead immediately went into damage limitation to deal with it, contact customers, and cope with the problem. It eventually turned out that the server was absolutely fine, but someone at the hosting company had disconnected the VT220 terminal from it and it refused to boot without it. The main lessons are – be careful when working on a live server, and when failure happens, deal with it well.