I refused to make the CEO a coffee, so now they’re left with a broken system

Hi gang,

I’ve become a little hesitant with re-posting some of my stories but this one kinda blew up “elsewhere” and *many* people suggested I should post it here too because it would be a nice fit. So here you go…

I edited a few parts to emphasize on the issue. While there is most likely going to be an update later “elsewhere” the deed itself is most definitely done, no going back on this one.

# Backstory

I’m a retired IT guy who still kept taps with his old workplace, simply because I really enjoyed working there and there was a solid mutual respect between the owners and the staff. So I basically told ‘m that while I am retired I wouldn’t mind lending a helping hand every once in a while should the need arise. However… don’t overdo it.

This year has turned into a weird year so far, but I can fully understand why they were having some issues, *especially* in this particular case.

**An ancient inventory system**

Wednesday evening I finally got home with enough free time to try the recently released update for GTA V, and just as I was being called in-game my real cellphone also goes off. It’s my former boss who was very apologetic but they had a major issue. One of their, ehm, more “specific” clients called out for help because their automated inventory system had stopped working. They could cope, it wasn’t an immediate emergency, but this was still a major problem because this was costing them big money.

The main issue was that this particular client was still mostly using Windows XP. And were still using our older automated inventory system which was co-developed by yours truly. In Java. Using NetBeans as the main interface. For those who don’t want to read too many details: skip the next part until the next header and just keep in mind that in computer terms: this was ancient history at work. My company had already moved on towards other solutions.

**For the geeks amongst us**

NetBeans was / is (?) a very impressive IDE which stands for “Intergraded Development Environment”; meaning that you can use the program to develop software. NetBeans is an environment fully dedicated to Java development. The cool part was that NetBeans wasn’t just an IDE… it was also a *platform* which you could use to build your own applications on. See: building a functional piece of software is one thing, building the interface to help the users to actually use all this… that’s another thing and more than often worthy of a study in itself.

Considering that our software was going to be build on Java the choice was simple. Also considering that NetBeans was an open source project so we were free to pick up on the codebase, even for commercial usage.

In the mean time the whole thing has been ported towards ASP.NET which basically means that we have client software (developed in C#) which is in constant contact with a server component where all the actual data is stored (powered by ASP.NET).

This is provided in 2 options: if you already have an internal Windows server which also uses the Microsoft IIS webserver (/platform) then our software can easily be deployed on that.

However, if you *don’t* have a Windows server or don’t want to address those costs then we *also* have a FreeBSD solution, powered by the Mono project. Mono is an open source project fully catered to providing ASP.NET solutions without all the added costs for a Windows server (or optional IIS license).

Unrelated to the story but I *had* to share, not to show off but… even today this makes me **so** proud: my former bosses (the owners of the consultancy firm) were former IT heads / geeks themselves and they realized all too well what amounts of work we’d be saving up on by using the NetBeans infrastructure. The licenses were studied, and when everything cleared and the prototype turned into a huge success… my former company made a huge donation to the NetBeans project. Made me ***so*** darn proud to be working there.

These guys recognize effort which is one of the reasons why I still kept in touch with that place.

***Houston, we have a problem…***

One of our oldest clients were still using Windows XP because they reasoned that … “*why spent so much money on upgrades when everything works just fine?*”. Eventually my former work stopped supporting the Java version but because everything still worked….

For the non-geeks amongst us: Windows XP EOL’d around 2014 (see [this link](https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/lifecycle/products/windows-xp)). And it’s 2022 now at the time of writing….

SO the client called my former company because their main inventory server, running Windows XP, stopped working and they were somewhat desperate because all their usual hardware providers told them: “upgrade to Windows 10”, but that left them with the main question: will this software still work?

(just for the record: they got multiple offers to help with the transition from us in the past, rumor has it that at one time my former bosses offered them an insane discount (= it would have cost *them* money) just to make sure things went smoothly… “but it still works? naah, that’s not needed.”.)

The problem at hand? That NetBeans solution is ancient, we’re talking back in the days before Apache took over that project (I just Googled for it, but [this](https://www.infoworld.com/article/3119764/java-founder-james-gosling-endorses-apache-takeover-of-netbeans-java-ide.html) seems like a good source of info). And all the original developers who worked on that project had long left the company. The only person they still had in their sights was me.

As such I got contacted and was asked if I would be willing to go over there and see what could be done? See: even if they did upgrade things it still left a huge issue: extracting all the customized functionality out of the Java software and then port / rewrite that to be used with the web interface.

# Make me some damn coffee you! NOPE!

So Friday comes around; I dress up in a suit and head over there to see what I can do to identify and maybe fix the problem. I arrive around 13:00 (no way in heck that I am going to give up my morning sleep over this) and I am greeted by the manager. We talk a bit about the whole situation and he explains to me that the main issue is that the XP “server” doesn’t seem capable to contact anything else on the network anymore.

I get to work and see that the computer itself is still working but it would seem that the network card has finally given out. This is a bit of an issue because modern cards don’t provide Windows XP support nor would they even fit anymore. The good part however is that we can still extract data from all this and while I am looking over the (small) office an idea dawns on me.

Because I still had some more research and work to do I figured I’d put in my earbuds and ask Bixby (= Samsung’s personal digital assistant on my phone) to call my office, all the while making sure that I had my phone on full display out in the open so that it would be obvious to anyone that I was on call, and not going insane talking to myself ๐Ÿ˜‰

It got even a bit funny when one of the friendly secretaries asked me if I wanted something to drink. So then I had to backswitch a bit and try not to laugh when my colleague asked me in the background to tell her that he wouldn’t mind a coffee himself.

My plan was simple: extract all the customized macros we had made and then maybe we could port all that onto one of our company servers… allowing the client to use the whole platform through a web interface. The main concern would be to move the database but we’ve been using PostgreSQL from the getgo so… I didn’t see much issues there. Leaving only the translation of the macro’s and some custom Java code towards C#.

Sure this would involve costs, but maybe we could “sell” this idea by allowing more people to access the interface (in the current situation this was limited: a strict client – server setup).

SO here I was… in front of a somewhat disassembled computer, earbuds in and talking back and forth while my phone was lying on the table next to me.

Context: I am the only one wearing a suit around here, and I cannot help be certain that this is what started the whole thing.

My talk with the boss had just ended and I decided I’d keep my buds in for now, also because I had a radio app still open on my phone which responded the moment I touched my right bud. Boney-M! Note: I did make sure not to overdo it, it was background music at best, I could hear everything around me.

**The entitled CEO**

Next moment someone also wearing a suit enters the room and he’s immediately greeted by the manager who also showed me around. It was also at this time when I found an USB stick which actually worked on this PC. Great! That will help to make a most recent backup, so I fire up cmd.exe and make sure the database is shut down. Once I’m sure I start a copy process on the same command line environment.

Then I suddenly hear it: “*Ey you… support guy, get me a coffee!*”. I look up and see the guy, who looked to be in his 30’s, look at me with expectation. The manager, immediately seeming to realize what is going on, responds: “*I’ll get you a coffee right away sir*” but he’s stopped: “*No, I want* ***him*** *to do it*”, the guy goes.

“*Sorry, can’t help you. I’m busy and don’t work here*”, I respond.

“*What? I said: get me a coffee,* ***now!***”, the guy retorts with an obvious smug look on his face.

It was then when I knew this was not going to end well ๐Ÿ˜‰ And know what? I couldn’t care less either.

“*Not my job, why not get it yourself?*”, I respond while also starting to round a few things up. I was definitely going to push this, but I wasn’t going to blow up the whole project over it either.

As I expected: “*I am your boss, when I say that I want you to make me a coffee you make me a coffee, understand?!*”, the idiot even slapped the table to get his point across.

Ok then, game on: “*you’re not my boss, so get your own damn coffee*”, I tell him while also giving more priority to the cmd.exe process in order to (hopefully) speed up the copy process a bit.

The guy obviously did not appreciate someone talking back to him like this. The manager tried to intervene but after a bit more talking back and forth I was told: “*I am the boss around here, you stupid idiot either get me my coffee or piss off and get the* ***f*** *out of* ***MY COMPANY***”. (all translated from Dutch but the F was definitely a thing here).

So I decided to comply, not bothering to explain myself any further and just follow orders: “*Suits me just fine, can I get your signature on that? That you demand me to leave?*”, I ask while handing out my worksheet paper and for sure: “*f’ing idiot*”, he tells me when signing! I immediately secured the document and packed up my stuff.

“*Thank you, good luck with your broken inventory system and have a great weekend*”, I tell him while I put on my coat.

“*Wait, what?!*”, he goes. “*It’s what I’ve been trying to explain*”, the manager goes: “*he’s the contractor who is…* <at this time I make my way towards the elevator> … *well,* ***was*** *fixing our inventory system. The company told me he’s the only one who still knows ….*”, the door to the office room closes and that was all I heard.

I get onto the elevator and much to my surprise I’m met with a red, out of breath, CEO who is looking very apologetic as soon as I exit. The moment I see him I tell him: “*you’ll have to make a new appointment*”.

He starts down talking the whole thing without even bothering to say the magic word. Seriously: had he apologized then and there… but *nope!*

So I reach the exit, turn around to face him and tell him once again: “*Sorry, this “fucking idiot” is going to do* ***exactly*** *what you wanted me to do. Not my problem that you’re too stupid to make your own coffee*”, and with that I left.

Outside I immediately called the boss who was in full support of my actions (I was a bit worried about that part to be honest) and he agreed: they can make a new appointment.

This is going to be interesting because… the only day I can make this work is Friday next week. No way in heck that I am going to give up my weekend and I have more important stuff to do next week; all already planned out.



* My former workplace asks for help: a client who still uses ‘our’ majorly outdated software on Windows XP has an issue; I’m the only one they have who still knows that software from first hand experience (I was one of the founding programmers).
* I go over there, take the PC apart, find the cause of the issue and come up with a possible solution.
* Some guy in a suit walks up to me and demands I make him a coffee; I refuse.
* Bickering back and forth, now I’m told to get him a coffee or get out of HIS company. I ask him to sign off on that, he does, and I take off.
* After taking the elevator (from the 6th floor) I’m met with an out of breath bully who tells me it was all a misunderstanding. I tell him: “*Make a new appointment*”.
* I leave & call the boss, who fully has my back.
* Gonna be funny because the only day I can make this is Friday next week.


Thanks for reading, hope this fits and that you guys can also appreciate the story!

**Edit** / **small update:**

So this one exploded too, eh? Whoah, thanks for all the feedback & awards you guys, *very* much appreciated!

Also, since so many of you are asking for updates here too: assuming there is going to be one it’ll be posted on the IDWHL channel because although I have no idea what’s going to happen next I’m not too sure it’ll involve any malicious compliance. It’s also the channel where I first posted this story (if the name of the channel doesn’t ring a bell you’ll be able to find it in my post history).

Thanks again!

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