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The History of the Undocumented SMS Switches

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By: Ed Aldrich
Posted On: 8/29/2002

This is a response to an email thread way back in August of 2000 that came about after someone asked about the origins of those cryptic and bizarre "undocumented switches" used by SMS... this was given from a dear friend and real insider in Redmond who was "there" when it all began!

Read and enjoy! You'll have a much better appreciation for those crazy developers that gave us SMS!!


OK... here's the definitive, and final answer to the riddle of the undocumented switches! This is from "one of my sources" at Microsoft (JUST when you thought this thread had died off!!):


You guys are SO funny! I have so much fun hearing your replies, I thought I'd share a bit from one of SWYNK's most infamous lurkers - myself.

Maybe this'll clear up the issue - and hopefully give a lighthearted insight into life here at MS as well. Consider this "The History of DIAL_ME_IN_BABY" (you guys will have to forgive the lack of humorous mannerisms since I can't act them out through e-mail)... Last names have been removed to protect the innocent (and maintain Microsoft confidentiality).

Turns out we have a really, really funny guy named Nathan who performs the BVTs on each SMS build. He basically finds any big, ugly, nasty problems before testers waste their time testing against a flawed build. Once Nathan says everything is ok, the build passes BVT - and everyone gets to jump on it. At the time, Nathan was living with two other SMS guys - one of them a brilliant SMS developer named Jason. Besides being just a funny guy, Nathan is also quite energetic/spastic/hyper. So, every time something would go wrong with the build, we would jump around the bench of BVT machines shouting, yelping, pointing at the SMS installation and start calling it names (some of which I won't repeat here).

Nathan had a lot of 'funny phrases' he'd yell out a lot. Not only were they wacky, but they caught on with the test team - and became known as "Nathanisms". Some of these included:

If the build was broken - "It's all BUSTED, man - all BUSTED!"(while grabbing his head and stomping off)

If Nathan found a bug that just wouldn't go away - "Die Evil Bug Die!!!" (while jumping up and down, pointing)

If a developer was examining the problem while Nathan watched, he'd say to the developer - "Dial Me In Baby! Make it work! Dial Me In!" (while demanding the developer to fix it straightaway)

When the bug was finally fixed - "I'm Dialed baby! I'm Totally Dialed!"

(incidentally, a 'real' SMS'er will have one of the 50 "Nathan On Tour" T-shirts we had printed up with his picture and all of his funny phrases printed down the back of the shirt like concert dates).

Well, Jason needed a quick switch in the SMS code to enable logging for everything (without having to use the Service Manager for each and every thread) and an equally easy way to enable debugging. Being roommates, Jason took two of Nathan's most popular mannerisms he heard often and plugged them into the code - sure that these silly phrases would never see the light of day in the outside world.

As the test team started using these little tricks, word spread to PSS. During certain phone calls, PSS used these completely undocumented and unsupported 'features' to troubleshoot problems. Well, from there, MCS and customers got wind of it as well - so there it is.

As for the technical side of things: After creating DIAL_ME_IN_BABY.SMS, logging will start for a particular thread once it is started from a stopped state (which means you need to stop and start the SMS_EXECUTIVE and SITE_COMPONENT_MANAGER services since they are constantly running). Since most threads are already shut down until needed, logging will start for these threads the moment they are called into action. Of course, the way to trigger all components to log their output based on DIAL_ME_IN_BABY.SMS is to shut down and restart EXECUTIVE and SITE_COMP since they are the parents to all the other threads. No DIAL_ME_IN_BABY.SMS /NOT switch was ever implemented - and no options exist for either of these 'features'. We also had to remove the fun SMS Easter Egg for SP2 (and all future Microsoft products) due to an agreement with the US Government preventing the inclusion of 'hidden' code.

I hope that helps - and give you something to laugh about as well. Cheers! ©2010 | Legal | Privacy