Consultants

(I am sitting in a presentation on a web framework in our office conference room given by a former employee who is now a consultant. One of my engineers asks the consultant to give an example from experience where he had to modify the framework code itself.)

R—: “Yeah, that happened to me, you know when v was greater than 1 and you are going viral… you know when you are doing a blast? We had a couple sites hit over 40 million users, sure then we had to go in to the CakePHP objects with an optimizer. I don’t know if you still have that at Tagged, but back when I worked there and blasting those times it makes sense to optimize so sure I’ve done it before.”

(One of my engineers, not me): “What company did you consult for hit 40 million users?”

R—: “Umm… (long pause)…I was speaking in hypotheticals. But certainly… v greater than one… I’m talking about the slope, when that happens and a lot of e-mails… No, we’ve worked with some sites that had… umm… (pause) more than 10 million users and that’s umm… what I was talking about, built on Cake and we’ve done that for around 10 million, so it’s certainly doable.”

(I so wanted to ask what site that was with even 10 million regs.)

[Origins after the jump.]

Two weeks earlier…

Email from an acquaintance in the Web 2.0 world:

Quick question: Are you familiar with these guys? They seem to imply that they basically are responsible for the development of Tagged and Hi5. What’s the scoop?

My response:

Jumpstart was an incubator of a bunch of startups, including Tagged. The guys who created it are the founders of Tagged (CEO and CTO) and they helped Hi5 get off the ground…Not sure what X is. Maybe one of the incubated companies?

Apparently that wasn’t enough because later that day:

Hmmm, thanks for the quick reply. They claim a pretty large role in tagged and hi5. From their website…Let me know if you might know people that can make an intro to these guys, if they are legit.

I look at the website and respond:

The page you sent sounds like someone who worked at JumpStart. Jumpstart was before my time at Tagged—I was at Plaxo at the time. I’m sorry, but I have no idea who was Director of Engineering at JumpStart and claiming to be “head of engineering” at Tagged. The guy who wrote Tagged back then was D—, but I think his title was engineering manager, not “Director of Engineering.” The only other person who could be considered head of engineering that I know is J—, but he’s the CTO of Tagged, not X.

Thankfully, I put D— on the cc:

[That is] R—. R—’s title at Jumpstart was Engineering Manager, as mine was, and he had almost nothing to do with Tagged—he worked on other business units at Jumpstart which eventually failed. As I recall he worked for Tagged briefly after his divisions were closed. He certainly had nothing to do with hi5.

The moral

“I think you owned that guy.”
—IM received from a Tagged engineer

You may get far in the consulting world by lying, but don’t come into my house and expect your bullshit to fly.

Corollary

“How come all these framework advocates seem to have no idea about the consequences?”
—IM received from a Tagged engineer

gwoo, reign your zealots in before CakePHP really does become the Rails of the PHP world.

And I don’t mean this in a good way.

Silver lining

Eventually he tried to shut me up by using “the fact” that he originally built Tagged. Sadly he wouldn’t take me up on my offer to go to a workstation so we could pull up Subversion in blame mode and see how much code was actually his.

On the other hand, he got me blogging again.

7 thoughts on “Consultants

  1. Hi Terry,

    What do you think about CakePHP? I’ve worked with it a bit, and I’m actually pretty impressed by how it gets things done. That being said, this is to be expected because this is the first framework I’ve actually gotten into deeply, always coding all components from scratch in the past.

    I dipped into Zend briefly, but was *very* put off by an obvious error in the “Official” quickstart guide: The first view they show, index/index.phtml, is missing a which breaks the view. Since ZF has Zend’s backing, this sort of problem should have been erased a long time ago. I haven’t touched Symfony, CodeIgniter, or any others.

    Do you have a preferred framework (I recall you mentioning ZF before, but don’t hold me to that)? Or no framework? Any insight from someone who’s been in the battlefields is far more valuable than the comparison posts I see from amateurs on their blogs.

  2. Note: The previous comments had PHP code, which is why is didn’t show up. The guide was missing a (?php } ?) line, breaking the view (sub parens for &lt and &gt ).

  3. Ah I think its almost time to feature Cake in wired. If you know what I mean. Heck I can even make another photoshopped jpg for you Terry. 😛

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