You're wrong, I'm right, and you're hiding the data that proves it

There should be honor among techies, but it can be hard to admit error

On Call Few among us are faultless, but more often than not it's users and managers who are in the wrong when IT goes awry. Which is why each Friday The Register offers a fresh instalment of On Call – the reader-contributed column in which you share stories of being asked to bail out bores, brats and blockheads.

This week, meet a reader we shall Regomize as "Brian" who told us he once worked for "a large, international company with a web presence that we shall call 'Circus Maximus'."

Brian managed an application group and worked with an IT manager he called "Spartacus."

"Together, Spartacus and I worked to satisfy our corporate end users in the US and in multiple international locations," Brian told On Call.

The applications Brian oversaw ran on servers in the US, where users accessed it via a browser. Brian's message to On Call suggests it was quite a lightweight affair – not much passed over the wire other than HTML and what he described as "very small icons for a handful of buttons."

Brian and Spartacus ran a tight ship, so users were pleased with service levels.

But one office – which Brian described as "Gaul" – was not happy.

Despite the app's modest nature, users in Gaul claimed their WAN link was maxed out and Brian's code was to blame. "They kept reporting terrible response times and complaining the app was bad, the network was bad, and this meant that they were being treated poorly and they could not meet their productivity metrics."

Brian therefore put his app group to work reviewing code and looking for needlessly chatty communications.

None were found – as you'd expect, given that all other offices were problem-free.

As the dispute with Gaul raged, Spartacus was sent there to investigate the situation.

"He joined the chorus whinging loudly about the crappy app," Brian lamented.

Rather than put up with that, Brian decided to gather some actual data to inform the conversation.

"I challenged Spartacus to put a data analyzer on the WAN to see what kind of traffic was moving and what was causing the slowness before the whinging reached the Emperor," he told On Call. “

Spartacus agreed to do so and, a week or so later, the problem went away.

So did Spartacus.

"He went silent and would not respond to my emails," Brian told On Call. "So I hunted him down, cornered him in his office, and grilled him."

Spartacus grudgingly revealed that the analyzer identified that an IT guy in Gaul was routinely downloading copies of Linux binaries over the WAN during business hours, thereby saturating the link.

When the Gallic techie was told "Arrêter de faire ça" he did, tout de suite.

"I never did hear if the French admin kept his or her job, but Spartacus and Gaul stopped complaining about application performance over the WAN," Brian wrote.

Have you proven a colleague wrong and emerged triumphant? If so, click here to send On Call an email so we can say "bravo” and bring your ballad of beneficence to readers on a future Friday.

Remember: On Call always needs ideas, and is closing in on a 500th column! You can help us get there – and beyond – by sharing a story. ®

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