Mistakes in IT and Data Center projects occurs much too often, and part of the problem is people's difficulty in clearly communicating their requirements, and checking to make sure they were heard correctly.
It is difficult to get data center wrecks documented, but here are some Cakewrecks to illustrate the point.
January 23, 2009
[answering phone] "Cakey Cake Bakery, Jill speaking! How can I help you?"
"Hi, I need to order a cake for my boss. We have a photo of him playing golf that we'd like to put on it, though - can you do that?"
"Of course! Just bring the photo in on a USB drive and we'll print it out here."
"Great, I'll bring it by this afternoon."
"Hey, Jill, what am I putting on this cake?"
"Oh, check the counter; I left the jump drive out for you there."
[calling from the back room] "Really? This is what they want on the cake?"
"Yeah, the customer just brought it in."
May 20, 2008
"...And underneath that, write 'We will miss you'. Got it?"
Oh yeah, they got it.
October 11, 2008
I guess you'll have to make do with just the roses, Jessica P.
And for one that applies to hiding mistakes.
May 29, 2008
So I went to the originating site of the photo and read the corresponding blog post. It's written by Scott of Basic Instructions, which you should definitely check out sometime. Anyway, by the time I finished reading his post I was crying with laughter, and I knew I could not post his cake photo without the whole story attached. I e-mailed him and got his permission, and so without further ado, here it is:
"I had a day job as an office manager for the Seattle office of an international firm. We found out that one of our employees was transferring to one of our offices in China. When one of our people would leave, we usually had a little wing-ding with drinks and cake on the departing employee's last Thursday in the office, so on Tuesday it fell to me to fax a cake order into our nearest Costco Bakery.
I should point out that on that day I had a headache so bad that it hurt to move my eyes. Ordering the cake was the last thing I did before I went home sick for the afternoon. As I filled out the order form, I realized that in addition to the personalized message ("Good Luck in China," in this case) we could also get a large decoration for no extra charge. I looked at the options and none of them were appropriate. They were all things like teddy bears, balloons, or race cars. Crap, in other words. I figured if none of them were appropriate, I might as well get something that made no sense whatsoever.
I put a check mark next to the word "Fireman."
The next morning (Wednesday), lying in bed just before getting up, my mind wandered over the previous day and all the things I had accomplished. My eyes snapped open as I thought, "What did I do!? Why did I order a fireman? That makes no sense!!! I'm going to look like an idiot!"
I went to work, intent on calling the Costco as soon as they opened and stopping the cake before it started. I still had a day before I was supposed to pick it up. I figured that should be plenty of time. After some effort, I got hold of the bakery manager, only to be told that the cake had already been made. It was too late. I figured I'd just have to stand up straight and take it like a man.
My wife and I went to Costco to pick up the cake. When I got to the bakery, this is what was waiting for me.
(see above picture)
Making the hose flesh-toned had been a very bad move.
At first all I could do was blink at it and wonder, "Am I the only one who sees a giant wang?" I looked at my wife. She was blinking at the cake. An awkward silence and a few stammered sentences later we established that we both saw the same thing. A fireman holding an immense, dripping wang.
I could not serve this cake to my coworkers.
My first thought was that I would just absorb the cost of a second cake and pretend this never happened. Then I thought, "Wait a minute! This is not an erotic bakery! This is Costco! I should be able to order any stupid cake I want and be confident that it will not be sexually charged."
While at the checkout line I found a Costco employee to complain to, and showed him the cake. He blinked at it. I told him I was uncomfortable serving this cake at a place of business, and he started laughing and looking relieved.
Here’s what I came to realize about the cake. The obscene image was just obvious enough that you can't help but recognize it, but also obviously innocent enough that you don't want to say anything for fear that you're the only one who sees it.
Soon I was surrounded by several Costco employees who were looking at the cake and laughing. They explained that they had a new cake decorator who was a deeply religious woman from a foreign country, as if that explained everything. At one point while we were hammering out a settlement a woman happened by, caught a glimpse of the cake, covered her mouth and gasped. Good stuff."