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Comment Challenges of moving into management (Score 1) 125

Technical skill and seniority does not translate into managerial aptitude. In fact, the better you are at your technical role right now, the worse off you will be as a manager. And it gets worse: If you are an awesome hacker, chances are you will not only suck at management, but you will also hate it with a passion.

Some of the core challenges:

The zone: Banned for life.

As a developer, you need long, undisturbed periods of time in order to concentrate on the problem at hand. Your best, most productive time is when you are in 'the zone'. Management time, by contrast, is highly fragmented, allowing little unbroken, focused time.

Feedback loops: Error 504, forever.

Seeking out short feedback loops is instinctive for developers. It is fundamental to our productivity and helps keep us in the zone. Management feedback, by contrast, is biased towards very long-running, indirect and actually most often, non-existant.

Communication: Nobody will understand a word you say.

Every time you have to communicateas a software developer, there is a standard which serves to strip away subjectivity, reduce the signal to noise ratio and improve the consistency and quality of the shared understanding of that information. UML, use cases, flow charts, DFDs, ER diagrams - even code itself. These are the standard tools of trade for a developer and we like the certainty they provide. Managers on the other hand have to deal with nuance, audience awareness, bias, sensitivities, personal context, etc etc etc - all the things that developers try to remove from their communication.

Decisions: Striving for average.

One of the most challenging aspects of moving from software development into management is that it involves a fundamental, religious shift in your personal values and motivation - from objectivity to subjectivity. One example of this is that as software developers, we strive constantly towards a commonly defined and accepted 'best' possible solution. In management, there is no such thing. By virtue of the fact that you're dealing with a group of people, you will always get a diverse set of responses to any decision you make. And the kicker is that if everyone likes a decision you've made, it's probably a mistake.

Comment Some keys to managing developers (Score 1) 146

Managing all teams takes honesty, an ability to connect, balancing the needs of the organisation against the needs of the team and so on.

However, there are some specific things that developers require or value highly that other groups don't:

1) Objective decision-making.

Developers respond and react far better to a manager who engages with a problem objectively, applies reasoned logic to it and then explains the reasoning for the decision. Other groups respond well to "lead by example", "lead by inspiration" or "lead by authority/tenure", but developers tend not to accept these quite so readily as they do leadership from objective, reasoned assessment.

2) A recognition that coding is a unique blend of creative and technical effort.

Managing creative people often means taking a more "hands off" approach, to let their creativity be expressed in a way that you may not have chosen yourself. This is why people commission works of art and give a broad brief, but rarely do they define which medium to use, which colours, even what the subject or contents of the piece are. Many managers see developers as technical codemonkeys, turning requirements into code - but a good development manager realises that developers also need creative space.

3) Control of their environment.

Many people will simply accept whatever restrictions are placed on their work and happily work away within the confines they're given. Developers tend to want to control their environment (both physical and technical), so they demand more control, more access, better security privileges, to run their own tools and support systems and so on. While fighting for benefits for your team is the role of any manager, fighting for self-determination within the environment seems to be important to developers - and better, if they have control of the environment, they will own it and start tweaking every process and system wherever possible to maximise their efficiency.

Comment Re:Wolves among sheep (Score 1) 880

What measure would you consider to be a reasonable indicator of a population terrorized by gun violence?

Number of armed hostage incidents per year?
Number of fatal shootings per year?
Number of shooting incidents per capita?

Just any other statistic whatsoever relating to gun crime in any way, shape or form?

Go ahead, pick one - anything that you think indicates that gun crime is rife in countries where there are gun controls. Take your time, think it through.

Now, go and check the statistics for whatever measure you have picked. Check Australia, where we have tight gun controls. Now check America, where you have laws and political pressure preventing gun control.

See how wrong you are?

Comment Re:Don't worry guys... (Score 1) 880

There is nothing in attributed to the Christian god himself — nor any of his prophets — that required Crusades or the Inquisition.

And here, you've arrived at the very heart of the issue. There are many authorities around the world and throughout history which motivate action from human beings - it is a combination of the intent of the authority, the desires of humans and resulting interpretations that are the issue here. You say there is nothing attributed to the Christian god that required Crusades or the Inquisition - and yet they happened, in his name, under authority of the highest power in Christendom (the Pope).

Equally, there are Muslims who will say that Islam is the religion of peace and who will quote the Quoran and Mohammed in support of this position. And yet terrorism and other atrocities are being committed in the name of Islam, with the support of some Islamic leaders.

Rather than arguing which religion is less damaging today or which was more damaging yesterday, I feel we should subject all religions equally to scrutiny and subjugate all religious authority to the cause of bettering all mankind.

Perhaps then, we can begin sensibly to actively support stem-cell research as truly the most remarkable and promising area of medical research in decades, offering potential cures to our most deadly diseases. Perhaps then, we can agree that condoms are a sensible approach to combating the AIDS epidemic in Africa. Perhaps then, we can agree that "God told me to" was not a good reason for Bush to invade Iraq.

Comment Re:Check your math. (Score 1) 880

1 of them is committing this crime.

In the name of his religion.

What they need is a local Imam to get on a megaphone and tell this guy that this is not in keeping with Islam and that he (the Imam) will personally supervise his body being fed to pigs if he doesn't come out RIGHT NOW.

They did more or less exactly that, to no effect:

I think what you're expecting with this comment is that the perpetrator will recognise the authority of leaders in his religious community and abide by their direction due to his faith. That they did exactly what you describe and it had no effect demonstrates that there is a disconnect here between the motivations of this individual and the control and authority of the religion.

This could be a disconnect between radical and moderate elements within the religion (i.e. a schism which allows him to declare that his interpretation of the religion is the "correct" one and that those other interpretations can be ignored) or a disconnect between the religion and this person's true motivations (i.e. he isn't actually directly and wholly motivated by the religion).

In either case, this is a good illustration that Islam and adherence to the faith isn't his only motivator. In fact, there is ample evidence from his past that he is a mentally unstable person and this may have more bearing on his actions than his proclaimed faith:

Comment Re:Check your math. (Score 1) 880

Actually, our Prime Minister is doing just that.

In 2010, Tony Abbott, when asked about Asylum seekers arriving in Australia, he said "Jesus knew that there was a place for everything and it’s not necessarily everyone’s place to come to Australia" Source:

He then legislated on this basis and proposed a range of immigration policy changes.

That proposed immigration policy has recently been found to be in contravention of UN human rights law. Source:

So yes, at least one Christian person is committing international human rights violations in the name of his religion - unfortunately, it happens to be the most powerful man in Australia.

Comment Re:Color me surprised (Score 1) 880

You think someone wanting to fight and die because his imaginary friend told him it's a good idea is NOT mentally deranged?

I'm afraid if you look closely, you'll find that a great many people declare this as their motivation for major decisions - including those we elect to lead our sensible western democracies:

George Bush on starting wars, 'God told me to end the tyranny in Iraq':

Tony Abbott (Australian PM) on immigration policy, 'Jesus knew that there was a place for everything and it is not necessarily everyone’s place to come to Australia':

So it's not really a sensible approach to just declare all such people mentally deranged. We need to look more closely at this motivation and work to eliminate, as far as possible, those elements of it which lead people to make decisions which are otherwise contrary to the accepted civil standards of our society - whether lone wolf acts of terror, political acts of policy-making, or declarations of war on our behalf.

Comment Re:Muslims? (Score 1) 880

This guy is simply not right in the head. It's not that he's a Muslim that caused this, its the fact he's mentally ill. He's already lost 5 of his hostages (they escaped out the back door) he's that incompetent. This is more an indication of Australia's failing mental health care than the rise of Islamic extremism.

I'm also Australian and I'm afraid I have to disagree with you here.

As you'll no doubt have now heard from the ongoing media coverage, this man also sent a number of offensive letters to the families of killed Australian armed service personnel, using rhetoric such as "A Jewish man who kills innocent Muslim civilians is not a pig, he is a thousand times worse".

He was an active participant in Muslim protests during the recent anti-terror raids in Sydney and Brisbane. At the time, he said: "Islam is the religion of peace, that’s why Muslims fight against the oppression and terrorism of USA and its allies including UK and Australia"

You can read a good summary of his progress to radicalisation here:

You'll note I've specifically excluded his alleged sex crimes, the charges of being an accessory to the murder of his ex-wife and other elements of his sordid past. He certainly seems to be mentally disturbed, but equally there is no doubt that the Muslim faith, his belief in it, the recent rise of Islamic extremism internationally (he specifically asked for an ISIL flag to be delivered to the cafe) and his willingness to act on its behalf materially contributed to these events.

I think it's fair to say that he was vulnerable to the influence of potentially radicalising agents due to his mental health and that radical Islam acted on that vulnerability. It's not reasonable to say that radical Islam had no influence or played no part in this man's actions.

Comment Moving into management (Score 1) 376

I worked as a developer and solutions architect for about 10 years. I worked under non-technical management for some time and was incredibly frustrated with decisions made on the basis of general management knowledge, rather than an understanding of software development and developers.

As a result, I decided to go into management - how hard could it be? Turns out, quite hard.

There are almost no transferable skills between software development and management, unfortunately.

Also, many of the aspects of software development which bring job satisfaction don't exist in a management role.

Feedback loops move from being very direct and very short - write code, compile, run, result, fix, compile, run - to almost always indirect and almost always long-running - identify what feels like a general issue with training and currency of skills in your team, explore options for training, look into costs for each, present options to team, get no consensus as everyone has a different preference, make decision on which training to use, deal with complaints from those whose preference wasn't selected, training budget is cut, so programme isn't completed, deal with complaints from those who missed out, see some improvement in uptake of new technology by one person in team, that person leaves as they are now in demand in the market...

The built-in belief that the objectively best solution is the one that should be implemented becomes subverted by political, financial and emotional influences. Rather than working in a context where there are an agreed set of terms as to what is "better", you have to negotiate with stakeholders who have more power than you, sacrifice quality to make cost savings and implement stupid features because that's what the client demands.
And of course you stop delivering true value directly yourself. Instead all your work is done through others. How often have you seen a new team lead standing over a developer's shoulder practically telling them which keys to press? Their instinct to get involved directly is so powerful that even when they're team leading, they try to get as close to the keyboard as possible. You need to learn to step back, give clear instructions and then just let the team complete the work in your place.
A transition to management is not easy, nor is it for everyone. If you're going to make the move, you need to be aware of all these issues and the many others which come with any major career shift - because that's exactly what this is.

Comment Re: Instead of carrying on as a one-man band - (Score 1) 376

The problem with this approach is that there is almost no transferability between technical skills and the skills required to manage technical people, let alone train people or manage a business.

If you want to take this approach, I'd recommend a first step acknowledging this gap and spending time retraining yourself first.

Comment Re:Not good enough (Score 1) 323

I can't find the track right now, but there was a moment from a live recording which changed my mind on Bono. He's on stage between songs talking about how everyone is equal and beautiful and etc, then there's a slight pause and he says "the only difference is all of you... have made all of us... very rich". There's a little laughter in his voice by the end of the sentence.

Comment Re:Azure is marketing hype for the Cloud (Score 1) 164

Actually, there are some fundamental differences between traditional hosting and "cloud" services, such as Azure.

In a traditional hosted model, you get access to a physical set of resources, where you can run your application / web site / server / whatever.

What Azure supports is scaling up that compute resource seamlessly, on-demand. This means that the capacity of your hosted service will grow to match the demand being made on it - helping to avoid things like the slashdot effect, while also reducing your compute cost when the site is quiet.

There are implications to how you architect, design and code Azure solutions in order to take advantage of this, so it's a fundamentally different thing to just hosting in a datacenter.

Comment Re:come on! (Score 1) 535

I would suggest these are the most directly attributable contributions of the (catholic) church to mass death and misery in contemporary times.

The position on the use of barrier contraception to prevent spread of AIDS:

The position on the vaccination of children against diseases which have caused massive birth defects and deaths prior to vaccines being discovered, have been practically eliminated since introduction of vaccines and which of course could potentially re-emerge in populations which are not vaccinated:

In both cases, the conflict is caused because the obvious benefits to life and health brought by scientific progress are being held back due to the acceptance of the population of moral guidance from an organisation who draws it's position in the matter from the bronze age.

"Lead us in a few words of silent prayer." -- Bill Peterson, former Houston Oiler football coach