AUTO1 Group

Beerxcalibur!

By Paul Hofmann

Paul is Director of Engineering at AUTO1 Group.

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Social Mar 6

Each Friday at 17:00, a slackbot called Darth Vader appears in our #random chat, shares some statistics about our week in AUTO1 TECH and officially declares beer’o’clock. While the fridge is more or less filled and usable throughout the week, it is being refilled to the brim on Friday mornings by our beer enthusiast volunteers.

Some weeks ago, something terrible was discovered during breakfast, with only seven hours to go until Feierabend.

beerinfridgeangle

beerinfridge

The bug was discovered by Senior Management during a coffee deployment. They immediately called for a blocking bugfix and the first responders were struck by the impeccability of this text-book critical situation.

screenshot

Quickly after, nihilists and dark tourists took over the scene and waved their doomsday scenarios at the crowd or tried to ply out “funny videos” for their individual amusement only.

Considering this happened in an engineering kitchen, solution design and problem solving ingenuity kicked in quickly.

These were the contending approaches:

  • Put some pillows on the floor and open the door. This solution was rejected because of the lack of pillows.
  • Open the door really quickly and catch the bottle with your feet. Quote: “I do this with eggs all the time.” Editor’s note: We should have demanded video footage on that as a proof of concept. This solution was encouraged (“Go for it!”), but not executed.
  • Kneel down before the fridge, open it, accelerate faster than gravity does and try to catch the bottle.
  • Drill a hole through the door, drink the beer using a straw. This solution won the audience prize.
  • “Just angle it”. No follow up.
  • Tilt the fridge by 45° towards and lean it against the wall, so that the bottle stands again and can be picked up. This solution was later extended to “lay down the fridge”. Multiple risks were pointed out.
  • Duplicate of solution one, just replaced “pillow” with “fluffy stuff”. This solution was rejected because of the lack of "fluffy stuff".

At this time the crowd agreed that this epic challenge could only be taken on by a single hero, as the prophecy predicted. And it was known as Beerxcalibur.

“Only the one who removeth the beer frometh the fridge can be considered the true king/queen”

More solutions came in:

  • Open the door and close it very fast so the bottle starts to fall and the door pushes it back to the shelf below. This solution has been discussed widely, but rejected because of the skill level needed to not damage any other goods.
  • Load the fridge into an airplane, drop the fridge from 4000m, during free fall, open the fridge, readjust the bottle, close the fridge again, open parachute, land safely, ship back to office. This solution was proposed after the post mortem.

While a dozen experts discussed solutions and got all excited about possibilities, constraints, KPIs and SLAs, math and physics, laws of gravity, risks and opportunities, one lonely guy without any contextual knowledge and with no video camera attached to at least four parts of his body went to get coffee, saw the bottle, opened the door just a little bit, let the bottle slowly slide down to the bottom, picked it up, sorted it into the shelf it belonged to, took a picture with his smartphone and went back to business.

solved

The picture, once posted to the beery solution slack room, caused several people to walk through all the stages of grief.

  1. Shock: “It’s all fixed now :disappointment:”
  2. Denial: “Who says it’s not a picture of last week?”
  3. Anger: “What do you mean there is no video!!”
  4. Bargaining: “Video or it never happened!”
  5. Depression: “I wish there was a video…”
  6. Testing: “Can we reproduce the issue and try the fix again?”
  7. Acceptance: “Awww, there were so many options.”, “But at least we have beer again.”

And of course, someone had to ask the question: How many engineers do you need to fix the beer fridge.

The answer is: 15. Well, one. But 15 engineers helping, you know ... "Helping".

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