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Comment: Re: Technical People (Score 1) 194

by david.emery (#47685857) Attached to: The Billion-Dollar Website

I don't know if anyone associated with this project adopted anything they called "agile" or not. What I was saying was that I have zero confidence in "agile" as I've seen it either defined or applied, for products that are (a) large, (b) complex and/or (c) have substantial infrastructure (versus user-facing) functionality. This project had at least (a) large, and probably (c) substantial infrastructure requirements (that might have been solvable by judicious selection of the right commercial products.)

It should be a feature that a waterfall project could be seen to fail early, but for the PM whose career is built on continuing the project past his tenure, there's no advantage to her/him to fail quickly.

Comment: Re:F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (Score 1) 194

by david.emery (#47678285) Attached to: The Billion-Dollar Website

...Witness the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, an aircraft nobody needs, trying to fill too many roles, and was supposed to save our armed services money by having one plane replace many planes...

I'm not defending the F-35 (I'm a huge A-10 fan, and 2 F-35s would fund the whole A-10 fleet), but your comment here is self-contradictory. Either we don't need it, OR it's trying to fill too many missions (that do need to be done.)

I think it's the latter, and that's not just requirements creep, but a different phenomenon that is something like "requirements conbinatorics", where too many requirements get loaded onto a system (health care or weapon) and the result is either (a) not buildable as a violation of math or physics or (b) massively complex and therefore massively expensive.

It's a combination of no discipline on the part of the users/managers who develop the specifications or needs statement, and the problem that the number of major system starts (whether DoD or commercial) is limited, so each user/stakeholder needs to get -His/Her Requirement- in place on this system, because they won't have a chance for another 10 years to get that requirement into their/their user's hands.


Comment: Re:Technical People (Score 5, Insightful) 194

by david.emery (#47676953) Attached to: The Billion-Dollar Website

PLEASE Mod Parent up! I've been working on large government funded systems (defense and commercial) for 35+ years, and in my view programs are screwed from the beginning by overly-aggressive schedules for the up-front work. When the incomplete/absent requirements/architecture/design results in coding, or more often test and integration delays, they'll find more money and time. By then, it's too late.

Back when we had explicit waterfall milestones (requirements review, preliminary design review, etc), we could tell at PDR a program would fail as a result of incomplete or even incorrect requirements & architecture.

Unfortunately, the adoption of "Agile" in these organizations has reinforced the culture of "We don't need no stinking requirements! We can draw an architecture on a whiteboard in an afternoon", resulting in systems where you really can't say anything intelligent about how long it will take to complete them, because you have no fscking idea what "complete" actually is.

And this -should not be a revelation-, at least to anyone who has read "Mythical Man-Month," which will be 40 years old next year.

Thank God I'm getting ready to retire.

Comment: Re:User docs, or developer/maintainer docs? (Score 1) 199

by david.emery (#47672825) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Should You Invest In Documentation, Or UX?

How often do you need to do that? As an "end user" when things work correctly, I'd assert it's infrequently.

But when trying to debug a problem, I agree this is frustrating, and the worst of all is "You are unable to log in at this time. A system error has occurred." and even if you know how to bring up the Console (/Applications/Utilities/ to look at the error logs, they're not particularly helpful.

So I'll put some words into your mouth and say, "It's important to have documentation available to support troubleshooting or 'power users', but the goal should be that 95% of the time you shouldn't need to RTFM to use the system." Agree?

And access to documentation is separable from existence of documentation. Most of the time, when I'm connected, using a search engine to find this kind of information doesn't bother me. But when disconnected (e.g. sitting on an airplane), not having the information local can be very frustrating.

Comment: User docs, or developer/maintainer docs? (Score 1) 199

by david.emery (#47672259) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Should You Invest In Documentation, Or UX?

From a user doc perspective, Apple Mac OS X is a great example of what you can do with a minimum of user documentation, but with very mature and fully enforced user interface guidelines. In fairness, someone new to the platform does need some hand-holding, either training (including over-the-shoulder help from a family member :-) or a good book (I'm partial to the Pogue "Missing Manual" series.)

From a developer doc perspective, if you expect to maintain the software, some amount of documentation, that should capture (1) interfaces; (2) design intent; (3) full build/reconstruction directions (including configuration data, etc) is essential. And "Agile" that ignores these documentation/sustainment issues is just an excuse for write-only coding.

Comment: Also those sliding "give us your email' boxes (Score 4, Insightful) 418

by david.emery (#47490967) Attached to: Dealing With 'Advertising Pollution'

I've noticed a really annoying trend, where you're on a site for a 10-20 seconds reading their content, when this (presumably JavaScript) box pops in front of the content soliciting for your email address. This is really annoying, since it totally breaks the concentration on what you're reading. Since this apparently done with JavaScript provided by the hosting site, pop-up window blockers and cross-script blockers don't prevent it.

So here's a hint for web designers: THIS IS F***KING ANNOYING! STOP IT!

Thank you.

Comment: Re:PowerPC (Score 1) 126

There seems to be a significant number of people here who believe if a device isn't either very complex, or doesn't require or at least allow you to tear it apart and rebuild it, it is somehow "unworthy." For a lot of the rest of us, these are tools we use to do useful things, and the utility of the tool is in part based on how easy it is to use.

If that makes us "hipsters," I guess I'll have to grow a ponytail.

If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.