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“Meredith Adventure Number 1” • February 26, 2006

This will REALLY make you wonder about people!


I know, I know, every time someone tells you a ‘true’ story it’s always a complete bunch of nonsense about something that happened to their brother’s mother-in-law’s second cousin’s uncle or something.  But this one REALLY is true and the reason I know is because I was the one that did it!!

A couple of jobs back right after I got out of school, I worked for a company that had a very elaborate database system that did all their cost accounting.  Everyone in the company used the system all day long.  The database was rock solid but their user interface was really confusing and hard to navigate.

SO —

They stuck me with the job of re-writing it!  A couple of months later I had it going pretty well, so we got ready to swap out the user interfaces.  I sent out a company-wide e-mail asking everyone to let me know about any problems they encountered.  I explained that this was the first version and that further enhancements would be coming along.

I had been under a lot of pressure and I was really feeling relieved to get the thing going and to finally delivery it.  AND — after working so hard (almost around the clock) for so many months I was starting to feel like my old self again.  Translation, “Mischievous Meredith” was back in business!!

SO —

Right before I installed the new version, I added one more ‘feature’ — a small command button right down at the bottom of the main menu screen that was labeled, “DO NOT CLICK HERE!”

Now if anyone clicked the button, it didn’t seem to do anything — but — what it really did was log their user name and the date and time of the click!

SO —

The next day we rolled out the new interface and I got a few bug reports back (which I got to work fixing) but NO ONE ever said anything about the “DO NOT CLICK HERE” button.

BUT —

EVERY SINGLE USER clicked it at least once!!  One VP clicked it 47 times in two minutes!!  When I looked at the log files I was totally flabbergasted!

Over the next two months, we added some more features to the database system, so that now it was handling a lot of our HR stuff, too.

AND buried down in all that multitude of HR pages on a screen about our responses to specific threats to the office, (fire, tornado, hurricane, etc.) I added a few “special” little command buttons — and of course, all they really did was logged who and when!

There were about twenty of them and they all got clicked at least once by everyone.  The two most popular ones were:

“Launch missiles — start global nuclear war”

and

“Release rats — initiate bubonic plague pandemic”

The strangest thing is that NO ONE ever said a word about it!  And a few months later, I got a better job offer, and moved to a new company.  As far as I know, people back at my old company are still clicking “Launch missiles — start global nuclear war” on a daily basis!!  Kind of makes you wonder!!  (And worry!!)

Love,

Meredith


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Last Updated: October 2006


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