Going Digital

Life after Analog

Union 76

This was a single contract job lasting about 3 months.  It was a team job of hired programmers just for this job.  The lead on it was Asian kid who sat there all day scratching his nuts.  The job was to write a new gate entry system for the Long Beach refinery.  Back then it was a Union76 (later Unocal 76), now owned by Tosco and services ALL brands of gasoline and diesel fuels.

All the workers had ID badges that had a chip in them and were vicinity activated and it in turn accessed the database to see if this card was allowed access at a particular gate and time of day.

The rules and database were old, it was jus the interface and validation we were updating from and old DOS app to a VB interface.

There were strict deadlines for implementation of any particular phase as it would potentially impact hundreds of workers.  Most time implementation had to take place on weekends and in the early morning hours.  We always had a small window of time to implement, test, distribute, and execute the new code.  No small challenge on its own.

There were many a long night were we coded into the small hours of the morning and just got a room at the next door hotel to take a shower, eat and return to work.  Not our best work as we were too overworked and under fed!

But we did manage to struggle through and make it to the end of the project.  It was tough for me as I had a your Asian girl writing all my SQL and she constantly complained the to PM that I was driving her too hard... I followed protocol exactly to the letter but the PM was a woman too and that didn't make for a good environment.  So I stopped even going to her for code and started writing my own, it was faster anyway, that got me into trouble again!  My final solution was to not to talk to anyone and work on my own and submit everything via email, which caused more uproar, but no one could complain that I was driving them to hard.

The moment the project was completed I was out of there.  My conclusion was that it was a poorly conceived project with unrealistic timelines and inexperienced members on the team.  That was not an unusual scenario as the IT business was new and no one really knew how to do things properly.

There is a triangle for a project each side represents a different aspect of the project... Cost, Quality, Resources... any variation or deviation from the planed will cause one of these sides to collapse and will necessitate each of the other sides to be adjusted to compensate.

Unocal 76


Created by Phillip Seaman
Modified 10/28/2015