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The Secret New York Minute

Some New York Trains are 1-minute late by design according to an article in today's New York Times.

It turns out that a 5:20 train leaves at 5:21. This gives people a good feeling when late because they "just caught" their train.

Since I take such a train every day, I'm not sure if I believe this. By my AT&T cell phone, the trains seem to leave right on time. My theory is that they leave 59 seconds late. It is still technically 5:20 (in the above example).

What really annoys me is that the train doors close "on time" (whatever that is) but then the train sits there on the track waiting for permission to move. Once I just missed a train and stood there pounding loudly on the glass door, yelling and screaming (and then yelling, screaming and cussing) as the train stood there for 5 minutes. The conductor heard me but wouldn't open the door to let me in.

Maybe it was the cussing.

How this relates to system administration: Under-promise and over-deliver. If you tell a user "this will take an hour" and then it takes 2 hours, they will hate you. If you tell them "this will take 3 hours" then fix it in 2 hours, they'll think you are a genius. Either way you spend 2 hours on the task. Therefore, always increase your estimates. TPOSANA has a few tips related to this kind of thing, especially where giving support to unsupported products is concerned.

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in Time Management

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5 Comments | Leave a comment

I had the same experience. If you are late they won't upen the door, no matter. But I no longer care if I'm late. Pure waste of energy. I'm now a lot more relaxed.

Once the train doors have closed they can't be re-opened without them having to be rescheduled by the trains dispatcher.

I've actually had them close the door on my wife and I, and it just so happened that she nudged out and I nudged in and they forced the doors shut, leaving her on the platform. I was not happy.

And I've always heard the underpromise / overdeliver called working on Scotty Time.

padding project time or padding problem time...

Back in the days of COBOL programming...programmers used to pad a project with 6 months. SO if knew the project would take you 3 weeks, you added 6 months...or something like that. Same with fixing a problem. You know or think it will take 2 hours, you pad it with 2 more hours, then if you get done in 3 hours, they are thankful. I usually don't do this. Or if I know it's going to take 20 minutes, I tell them an hour, just in case I find some unexpected problem.

Maybe AT&T's in on it too. Since you get your time from their towers, they could give out different time info for ones in range of a train station. . .

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