Snax, Handwashing, and Microsoft’s Buggy Milk Cartons

The MicroNews is a company newsletter that appears on the Microsoft corpnet each
week. By and large, it is whitebread for weenies: a bland, unnourishing,
squishy, play-it-safe view of a really amazing and dynamic company. On those
rare occasions when I do read the MicroNews, I go straight to page two, where
Dilbert is a regular and the "inbox" letters to the editor are famously funny. In
recent memory, the most famous were a series of bellicose notes to the editor
about the lack of handwashing that occurs on visits to the bathroom at Microsoft.
The writer(s) actually conducted a study of Microsoft's collective hygiene habits
and then sought to embarass us into washing our hands more frequently.  Their
crusade was riotously funny.  And it worked.

This week, the "inbox" includes a note from my friend Mike
, who pokes fun at a representative of MS Dining services who
recently railed against his companywide Web service, http://snax,
a subscription-based snack notification service, on the grounds that it was encouraging
MSFT employees to eat potentially sickening leftover food.  "Be careful about
eating leftovers that have sat around a while!"
they wrote. I hang my head in
laughter.  Mike responds, "(And, because this is a MicroNews letter, we simply
have to say, "Wash your hands!")

Also appearing in this week's MicroNews is a rant about a spate of buggy milk cartons
and an explanation of how the issue was resolved. Drinks, which include skim,
nonfat, and chocolate milk, are free to Microsoft employees and guests.  Recently,
the company's milk vendor changed and our milk cartons became practically impossible
to open. One morning, I actually hacked into a milk carton with my
handy Leatherman.

Around this time, across the street, in a large, nondescript building, a SQL Server
test engineer logged a bug to track progress toward the resolution of this unacceptable
product defect. It looked something like this (all names have been changed/obfuscated
to protect the identities of the guilty):

Bug 17630017882
by Larry (Day 0)-- The new 2% milk cartons are clearly dysfunctional. They don't open
properly. This seems to be a regression from the older Vitamilk design.


-- Need more info on customer impact.


-- Recently we have added a new persona (SQLServerDev)


-- Not a defect - tracking.


-- Clearly this is a Pri1, Sev1 bug as I'm encountering it 2-3 times a day.


by Abbott -- Response from msdining (CostelloGoth)

you for contacting us about the new milk. Vitamilk has been purchased by Wilcox Family
Farms. There was a press release sent out the media at the end of last month. We have
met with Wilcox Family Farms last week to go over all the details and to make sure
that they meet the Microsoft standards. We found out that the reason that the milk
is hard to open is because Wilcox's has just bought a brand new machine for the pint
size milk cartons and they adjusting the machine now, not to have such a tight seal.
Thank you for your question and should you require additional information, please
feel free to contact me.


-- Suggested work-arounds:

Drink water instead

Bring your own cow

Use elevator doors to clip off the seal.

Freeze the milk carton, let the frozen milk crack the carton, and then thaw.

Tell your manager that you can't work without milk and let her or him solve the problem.


-- One more solution: If the problem is chocolate milk, open the carton haphazardly,
stick a spoon inside, freeze the carton, rip away the paper, and eat it like an icecream


-- they adjusting the machine now, not to have such a tight seal.  Doesn't that
mean, more surface area for "bugs" to attack?


-- This seems to be a cross group issue. The HealthCare Solution for Internet Business
team is having the same issue. I have tried Moe's work around unfortunately the Cow
will not fit in the elevator in BLDG1.


-- This bug, it is causing a lot of churn -- it might sour our attempts at the RI
this week. I hope we can moo-ve on this issue quickly.


-- One thing's for sure - if you get the chocolate variety, make sure you shake it,
then shake it again, then shake it some more (before opening!). Otherwise, you end
up with the yummy brown sludge at the bottom, instead of mixed in. I think this should
be opened as a separate bug, though.


MooTania --
I think we should request a hotfix.


-- The exact same problem has been reported out in the Sammamish campus. We've discovered
a local workaround that might be helpful. There is a Dairyglenn dairy located approximate
1.35 miles south of our location that bottles 2% in quart sized containers that are
sufficiently easy to open. The downside is that it is typically SUBSTANTIALLY more
milk than a single person can comfortably consume in one setting. An additional step
to the work-around is finding 2-3 other people who also want to consume the milk at
the same time. I'm not sure that this warrants downgrading of the bug's severity because
the caveats associated with this workaround (1. the geographic location of the alternate
source being MUCH less convenient than the kitchen fridge, and 2. That efficient consumption
requires pooling of resources.)


by Larry


BovinIa --
The latest information I have is that Wilcox Family Farms has said that they will
not be able to release the fix ASAP as the new fix will be required to go thru extensive
testing. The testers have refused to sign-off on the fix. They said that they have
merely tested the private for the bug fix, but haven't run their full regression pass.
Currently on 3 testers are handling this component and they can only drink 8 cartons
a day. The team could conducting more carton-opening tests but carton-tasting, milkflow
testing and carton pressure tests are still remaining. Also since the seal has been
made less tight they have been observing breaks in their stress tests. The testers
are not sure how much security flaw will be induced once we loosen the seal. They
will need to completely overhaul their security tests as the earlier tests were inadequately
written as everyone relied on tight seal for security purpose. Test needs 3-4 more


-- FYI: Repro also available at Willows.


-- News of the bug has reached the message boards. &


-- After reverse engineering carton implementation I believe that this is a documentation
issue. Some message strings on the carton are clearly misleading and may have been
copy-pasted from other versions. To successfully open the carton one should ignore
"OPEN OTHER SIDE" error message. Details to follow. (BTW, our group has experienced
and solved similar problems in related areas. Bugs linked (1082982541 and 1290))


by Larry


HereFord --
Following the suggestion of fburian I invoked Carton.Shake() several times before
attempting to open my carton. Opening the carton requires two instances of the Hand
object, one designated as the Holder, and another which actually performs the open
operarion. With the tightly-sealed carton, the tendency is that the Holder hand will
be tightly bound to the carton. Be advised that this can result in an unintentional
invocation of Carton.Spray() . Although Carton.Spray() yields only a small leak, under
(admittedly contrived) circumstances it could yield hardware damage.


-- Solution: Open the milk as expected, but on the reverse side of the carton as indicated
by the small arrow. Opening the milk in this fasion will result in the expected user
experience. This work around is tested to work 100% on both chocolate and non-chocolate
milk. The bits for this fix have been budy tested and are awaiting RI into the main
build pending review. &


-- The suggested fix (open on other side) doesnt always work




by Larry (Day 14) -- Problem seems to have been fixed.


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