Who's Your Survivor?
29 Jan 2010 07:36 EST

It's a well-popularized piece of trivia that during the State of the Union, one cabinent member stays behind, and doesn't attend, just in case someone manages to kill the first 17 or so people in the line of succession. 2 days ago (Jan 27, 2010), Shaun Donovan (Secretary of Housing and Urban Development) was the designated survior. As an aside - he wouldn't actually have been sworn in, as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in London and hence would have succeeded. (One must wonder about the logistics of who gets to have a nuclear football in times like those.)

Anyway, several years ago I interned at Bare Necessities (semi-NSFW) where I absorbed a wealth of information about female undergarments that seems out-of-context and creepy today. But besides learning the difference between a G-String and a Thong, I learned something about Operation Management. Apparently one day, the entire tech team (5-6 people) went out for a sit-down lunch, and when they got back the site was down and had been for about an hour. After that, there was a semi-joke, semi-serious rule that the entire tech team could not go out to lunch together.

Reddit learned that lesson yesterday. To summarize the post, 3/4 of their tech team was at google interviewing Peter Norvig, and the other 1/4 was in NYC going to meetings. The site suffered an ad attack followed by an outage - and the best the could do was huddle in Google's lobby working on laptops to fix it.

At my current job, there are around 2 dozen people who have access to production, split amongst Database Guys, Development, and Infrastructure. We have on-call lists, with priorities running down, and automated alerts - we're pretty good about it. But then I realized - what's the one event, that usually (not always, but usually) manages to incapaitate >85% of the entire tech team? That's right - Company Party. It's never come up, to my knowledge, but the thought of my bosses, slightly-to-very intoxicated, huddled around the single guy who brought his laptop to the party - all wanting to just rip it out of his hands and do it themselves - well, it amuses me.

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