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Comment: Re:Simple methodology (Score 1) 265

by sjames (#49143139) Attached to: The Programmers Who Want To Get Rid of Software Estimates

First, keep in mind, to the MBA, a line in the summary plus 20 supporting pages is "a line", at least when it benefits him to call it "one line".

Next, that one line can be HUGE sometimes. It can require whole new additional sub-susyems. Must interface with existing PCs -%gt; Must interface with existing PCs including the Univac in the basement. (and by interface with, they also mean translate between).

And, as BronsCon points out, sometimes one WORD is a problem depending on when it changes.

Dropping or adding the word 'not' can also make life interesting.

Comment: The real problem (Score 1) 265

by sjames (#49143105) Attached to: The Programmers Who Want To Get Rid of Software Estimates

You can't have an estimate without knowing exactly what you will be doing. Finding out exactly what you are doing is also known as the design phase. It is the highest paying part of the project and can easily be 50 to 90% of the whole project. But they want the time estimate up front...

Once given, they will want to stick to the estimate as if it was carved on stone tablets by Moses.

If the project involves replacing of interfacing with a legacy system, or for that matter gathering requirements from people you don't know yet even estimating the design phase timeline can be a problem.

If it requires anything that can be described as experimental, you need to perform the experiments before you can commit to a timeline. The estimated time to do the experimentation will be even further out of the question if there is any possibility that one result could lead to an additional experiment.

Comment: Wasn't this the main point of "Agile"? (Score 1) 265

by hey! (#49142597) Attached to: The Programmers Who Want To Get Rid of Software Estimates

Find a compromise between predicting too much of the future and just managing a project by the seat of your pants; get into a rhythm where you check how good your estimations and learn to get better at them.

Of course you can't develop every project this way; I've used Agile and it's worked for me. I've used waterfall and it's worked for me too. You have to try to be sensible; you can't completely wall of other people's need to know when you'll accomplish certain things, nor can you build a solid plan based on pure speculation. You have to have an intelligent responsible way of dealing with future uncertainty, a plan to cut it down to size.

I've even had the good fortune at one point of winning a $750,000 grant to build a system for which no firm requirements had been established. It was kind of an uphill-flowing waterfall: we knew how long it would take us and how much it would cost but we had no firm idea of what we were supposed to build. If that sounds like a recipe for disaster, it was; but my team was *successful* and built a product which was still be used and supported over a decade after the grant finished.

What's missing from many programming estimates is honesty. It's a matter of ethics; you can't take people's money and say maybe someday you'll deliver something useful to them. People don't have unlimited time and money to accomplish all the things that need to be done in the world. It's an honor being entrusted with people's aspirations, and a serious responsibility. It's hard, even nerve-wracking, but you've got to care enough about the impact of your planning on other people to make the effort to do the very best job you can.

And what I've found is that if you do make the effort you can do a surprisingly good job of estimating a project if it's in an area and with technologies you're reasonably familiar with. If you look closely your specific predictions will often be way off, but if you care enough to be brutally honest the pleasant surprises tend to balance out the unpleasant ones.

Comment: Re:Black Mirror (Score 1) 241

by ceoyoyo (#49142573) Attached to: 5 White Collar Jobs Robots Already Have Taken

I'm going to go ahead and guess you're American? Your culture seems to have this weird blind spot where the rest of the world is concerned.

You know that the populations of the USA, Israel and most, if not all, other countries with modern social systems are reproducing at below replacement levels, right?

Your personal prejudices are causing you to focus on a few niche groups. Grow up.

Comment: Re:Ignorant premise (Score 1) 436

by ceoyoyo (#49142487) Attached to: Machine Intelligence and Religion

I'm not sure what assertion you think I don't have any evidence to back up. That babies show outward evidence of emotion? You made the same assertion with zero evidence, but it shouldn't be hard to find some. That you don't know if it's genuine emotion (whatever that is) or just outward signs of it? Sorry, you've got to provide evidence for what you know, not me.

William of Ockham would say you're full of baloney. You seem to be proposing that there's some je ne c'est quoi ("emotion") that we (and babies) have that isn't an emergent property and for some reason cannot be possessed by an artificial construct. That mystical hypothesis is much more complicated than the idea that there is no magic and things like "feeling emotion" or "looking happy" are properties of complex systems in the right arrangement.

Comment: Re:Garbage (Score 1) 241

by ceoyoyo (#49142421) Attached to: 5 White Collar Jobs Robots Already Have Taken

You don't really need a supercomputer. The math involved is really very simple. Determining what the coefficients are is difficult and expensive, requiring large trials, but once you've got them your phone, plus a nurse, lab and imaging equipment, is more than capable of diagnosing the vast majority of things you're likely to get.

Most people do want a person around to reassure them. Also, until the robots get good enough, the nurse can provide an objective assessment of symptoms.

Comment: Re:Correction (Score 1) 237

by sjames (#49142089) Attached to: The Peculiar Economics of Developing New Antibiotics

The vast majority of drugs never make it to market yet they costs millions in development anyway. It's an extremely expensive and difficult business with a high failure rate.

That is nothing recent. It was the case when the other drugs were developed as well. It was even worse before they had a hope of screening out probable failures through computer modeling. Back then they had to test each and every possibility manually with petri dishes and a microscope, then even the candidates that we can easily identify as deadly today had to be tried on expensive lab animals.

Comment: Re: Is that really a lot? (Score 2) 259

by sjames (#49141923) Attached to: Drones Cost $28,000 Per Arrest, On Average

Actually, yes, minimum wage was meant to be at least barely adequate to keep you and your family off of food stamps and welfare.

Stop paying the CEO as much as everyone on the factory floor put together and it's not that big of a problem.

Tell the management to quit trying to pay silly stupid low wages.

It's funny how quickly the so called free market capitalists cry foul when unions demand whatever the market will bear. Sorry, you can't have it both ways.

Comment: Re:Get ready for metered service (Score 1) 545

by sjames (#49141629) Attached to: FCC Approves Net Neutrality Rules

That makes sense for consumables like gas or electric, but the only real consumable in networking is peak bandwidth. It costs the same to transmit your 10Mbps stream for 10 minutes as it does for 10 hours. It costs less to transmit a 5Mbps stream for a week.

For the same reason, our highly regulated landlines are billed as a flat monthly.

Comment: Re:nice, now for the real fight (Score 1, Flamebait) 545

by sjames (#49140863) Attached to: FCC Approves Net Neutrality Rules

Beyond even that, they seem to miss that for competition to actually result in a healthy market, there must be dozens or even hundreds of competitors. Less than that and they'll settle into a comfey tacit agreement to keep prices high and service low.

Their understanding of market forces is at about a 4th or 5th grade level.

"A child is a person who can't understand why someone would give away a perfectly good kitten." -- Doug Larson