T-mobile iPhone start-up crashes and stays down; doesn’t anyone git it?

I got up early this morning and queued with the rest for my piping hot iPhone. I had visited a few different shops yesterday and found that T-mobile would not take any reservations whilst resellers like BelCompany sometimes did. As of yesterday at 2.30pm there were still a couple of white 16 gig iPhones that could be reserved in Leiden so that’s what I did. I got up at the unearthly hour that I did because rumour had it that connecting an iPhone with the T-mobile network would take 10-15 minutes, and with 16 phones and a couple of terminals that could do the connecting — that’s a few hours of connecting mostly likely.
Which is why I was the only one standing, sitting (on a bin bag), munching on sandwiches and generally enjoying the fine weather and sense of anticipation at about 7.30am this morning (OK, ‘unearthly’ revealed my true nature of someone who cannot abide getting up in the morning). Possibly with the exception of a mammoth delivery truck wanting to dump his load of perfume for the Douglas shop next door. We chatted a little — he did not understand the hype. Just down the road a queue of about 15 people had already started in front of the T-mobile shop. Around 8am a couple more curious people arrived in dribs and drabs but left shortly after when a salesperson arrived and explained that ‘if you aren’t on the list, you ain’t getting in’. A few arrived for The Phone House across the street. The Phone House took down the names of the people in the queue at about 8.30am to make their reservation list, but hadn’t allowed people to reserve the day before (I know because I tried). The real volumes kicked in around 9.15am. A number of people were pretty upset that BelCompany allowed reservations.

I was first in the door and we started the ’10-15 minute’ process. Halfway through, the system came back with a 404 error and 25 minutes later we were no further on. I went to get a coffee and when I came back it was the same story. The T-mobile system was not highly distributed (or so the salesperson told me) and 10,000 salespeople had all tried to connect their new iPhones simultaenously to no avail. The guy took my number and was going to call when everything was up and running. It’s 2pm now and I’m still waiting for that call…

This made me think about git (as it naturally would, of course). Git is a distributed source code management system. It’s very simple and very powerful. It’s not a source code management system that was built to work with one server, but it’s got distribution in its very genes. And not despite that, but because of that, it’s speedy and efficient and allows you to do all the things you naturally want to do in (say) CVS, but where you naturally end up hitting a brick wall. Splitting out branches and merging branches is whole a lot easier and more natural in git. A couple of servers falling over do very little to hurt it.

Anyhow, git is not a natural thing to think of, but as I make another of my deep dives into coding again, it makes you realise how much more common very distributed systems are now than they were five years ago. And the systems that aren’t (are you listening T-mobile?) stand out like a sore thumb. The same goes for business processes. It certainly helps the hype to batch everything and drip feed iPhones into the market, but spikes of demand with supply and gluts of supply without demand and just not profitable ways of running a business. It results inevitably in waste. Lean workflows mean happier customers.

—- Update —
Belcompany called me late that afternoon with the great news that they had got the iPhone activated and it was ready and waiting for me. They stayed open late that day to make sure that everyone who had waited actually got their phones — great service!

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