Walking into a new job can be a daunting experience, especially if the person you’re replacing was extraordinarily good at their role. If you’ve ever spent your first week at a new company feeling nervous as coworker after coworker reminisces about how great your predecessor was, and what big shoes you have to fill, then you’re not the only one.
If your new job is especially demanding then you might spend the next few weeks feeling slightly overwhelmed, and wonder how the previous person in the role did it all, and what their secret was.
Programmer Nihad Abbasov had the same experience after starting a new job at a tech company – and when he discovered his predecessors secret, it both amazed, and slightly terrified him.
Lazy or Brilliant? Man Secretly Automates His Job Via SMS
In a series of posts on Github last week, Abbasov explained that after starting his new job, he started digging through files left behind by the person he replaced, an older engineer who he describes as the type of guy that “if something — anything — requires more than 90 seconds of his time, he would write a script to automate that.”
After doing some exploring, Abbasov says how he stumbled across a number of Cron Jobs and other scripts hidden on the company’s servers by his predecessor, that did everything from send automated emails to clients, text his wife if he was late for work, and order the office coffee machine automatically make him a latte each morning.
Just What Was He Automating
It turns out the man had approached the job with a true engineer's mindset, and believe that if any repetitive task took more than 90 seconds to do, it should be automated.
Which lead to such results as:
• A script programmed to send an SMS to his wife if he was working late, which would automatically pick a new explanation from a pre-set excuse list each time.
• A script titled ‘hangover’ that would email or SMS his boss explaining he would be working from home if he had not logged into his computer by a certain hour.
• A script that automatically detected words like ‘help’ and ‘trouble’ inside emails from clients with database issues, and then rolled back their database to the last backup.
Digging deeper into the files, Abbasov then came across his biggest discovery – another hidden script that opened a telnet session to the office coffee machine each morning, once his predecessor swiped his door pass, and then ordered it to brew a latte to his exact specifications. Once the latte was brewed and then wait for exactly 24 seconds before pouring it into a cup. The 24 seconds? According to Abbasov the ‘The timing is exactly how long it takes to walk to the machine from the dudes desk.’
Abbasov went on to say that none of the man’s former colleagues had any idea he had automated his life to such an extent, nor that the office coffee machine was networked and even capable of being manipulated in this way.
It's Amazing What An SMS Can Do
While we wouldn’t suggest trying this in every workplace, to a certain extent the situation benefitted everyone involved – work, (and making coffee), was done more efficiently, and the man was respected in his office for his ability to complete even the most difficult of projects ahead of schedule.
Now that his secret is out, it’s doubtful whether Abbasov will be able to follow in his footsteps, meaning he has to go back to performing the role manually.
Whether his predecessor was right to automate his life to this extent is open to question, but we think Bill Gates said it best when he explained how he selected engineers to work on the most difficult projects at Microsoft: “I choose a lazy person to do a hard job. Because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it.”
If you’re interested in some tips about how to secretly automate your work life, then Abbasov’s original post can be found on GitHub For more on the story, Business Insider has further coverage of the story.