It has been almost ten years since I wrote that other blog post. The reason why I wrote that post in the first place is a mixture of self-therapy, the need to tell the rest of the world, and also as a tribute to the people who shared that ordeal with me. I can attest that everything written there is true, and I have not (yet) shared everything there was to say. Tons of other anecdotes come to mind, but this is a period of my life I wish I could just erase.
When I first released that post, I received dozens of private messages from all over the world, from people telling me they clearly recognized their own project and I should not have modified it to make it look like it happened in France. That was probably the craziest part, discovering that hellish projects like this one must have repeatedly happened for years. In case there is any doubt: yes this happened in France, in the North of Paris, in a company best known for selling all kinds of stuff you wish had never been invented. Do your research, I am not telling.
This is not the worst project of all, to be honest. Spend a bit of time on the daily WTF if you want to get your fair share of software engineering shittiness.
My takeaways? C++ is a disaster, but I already wrote another post about that. CORBA deserved to be killed in flames. Object-oriented databases were always just a very bad idea. But what made this project hell was the sheer stupidity of the managers. Coluche once said (about bankers): give those guys the Sahara and in a year they will tell you they need more sand. Apply the same thinking to software project management.
Anyway, I was told a couple of years later that the main project boss had ended up in jail for fraud (détournement de fonds publics), so maybe there is a justice after all. I never confirmed that news but have all reason to believe it is true.
Seems somebody has posted a link to that other blog post on reddit a couple of days ago, which explains the sudden spike in views. Here are the links I found:
And on twitter:
If you think you’re on the project from hell, this will cheer you up:
* 6M lines of obsolete flavour C++
* 50K classes
* 48hr build time
* Average dev turnover 3 months
* 35 managers for 25 developers
* Fired if you arrive at 9.01am
— John Arundel (@bitfield) March 23, 2018
Among the many comments, some surprised me. Seems lots of people cannot believe you can be fired in France for being 1 minute late at work. Sorry to burst your bubble, mates, but this is what SSIIs (contractor companies) were invented for. You don’t lose your job, you immediately lose the contract you are working on (no justification needed, this is what contractors are for), end up between four walls at the contracting company, and then you are told your job is not justified by the activity level. Question of weeks before you lose your job then.
Here is a link (in French) to a judgment about a contractor company who fired someone for not accepting a contract. Two years in court for 30k, probably not worth the effort if you ask me. But then, most people won’t even try to sue.
For people who have a direct contract with the company, same story. Nothing prevents the company from saying you have committed a major blunder, fire you on the spot, and see you a couple of years later in court (Prud’hommes). Yes, that will cost them money if people choose to sue (I hope they all did). When you are unemployed, are you really looking forward to two years of battle with your former employer, even though you know you will win?
Let me give you a hint: the same company fired an employee for wearing shorts at work. That employee sued and won, but the no-short policy was established.
Don’t tell me France has good employee protection, this is just not true.