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Comment Team intention, that's what matters! (Score 1) 371

I was a dev in a firm that pledged to do things agile/scrum way. However, nobody knew how to do it in the "text book" sense. As you can imagine, it went horribly wrong, especially for large web projects. Same firm, then tried waterfall, similar disaster.

So I conclude, workflow doesn't really matter. If the team you are working is not properly functioning as a team, likely no workflow can help you.

What I call a properly functioning team is a team with members who has a common goal, willing to sacrifice and work hard to achieve it, and willing to help other team members. Unfortunately, most organizations are driven by appraisal systems, which by design down play team work.

Comment No (Score 3, Interesting) 568

I support the motion of *not* calling programmers as engineers.

Starting from the academic point of view, engineering curriculum is far more different than a CS. General undergraduate engineering course comes with number of core modules with the purpose of teaching basic "Engineering Concepts". Furthermore, engineering courses are focused towards "skills training" by range of hands-on laboratory classes, design projects, team projects etc, to learn skills such as see the big picture, learn how to operate instruments, safety, planning etc.; which are a must to function as a professional engineer in industry. Then once in the trade, engineers generally become a member of a professional body e.g. IEEE, IEE, etc. and they are sworn to obey their code of conducts.

Switching gears to my personal story, I trained as an electrical & computer engineer. After a stint in telecommunications industry, I went on to work in web development. I was quite appalled by the way "programmers" think and execute projects in general.

When I worked in the telecoms, I observed that engineers spend quite a long phase in planning before actual execution. In the process, they have to comply range of regulations on telecoms, environment, etc.; and not to forget other concerns such as the commercial interests, backup plans, future expansions, long terms sustainability, maintainability etc. Overall, they consider the "big picture" and do not bog down with just the technical aspect. When it comes to execution, it is generally smooth and trouble free (usually there is a research & trial period before actual execution). Overall, I've seen much more customer orientation and long term view in engineering firms.

When I worked for the software house, planning was considered a "waste of time" (and not to mention, practises like Agile are generally up the anti). And most often or not, you build the roof of the house before the foundation, then figure out how to connect two of them. By and large, there was poor customer orientation. And most damaging of all, lack of concern or thought on long term view of the project and its outcome. I've lived through many cycles of delivering half-baked solutions to client and milking them on the long run to fix those solutions (and in the worst case scenario, making client go bust). If it is a proper engineering firm, they will be sued for such kind of misconduct for sure.

Just my 2 cents.

Comment Re:I said "No, I won't put that code in." (Score 1) 569

I worked for software industry in far east -- a small city-state popularly known as 'the little red dot'.

The firm I have served there had the terrible conflict of interest, where development team delivers rotten products to clients, which will be fixed to a barely operational state later by the maintenance team for a hefty price tag.

Developers always had to ship code, regardless how many bugs or security loop-holes in the product. As you could imagine, project timelines are always half of what it should need. Managers are micro-managing to the point, developers have to report progress every 4 hours. As long as half-baked features are there in a barely demonstrable state, project/product is declared complete by the manager, and the senior manager is happy. Otherwise, developers are forced to admit that they were lazy and incompetent.

Still, none of our clients was happy. Some clients even went bust. The only reason why we had a clientele was, they invested too much that they can't do a U-turn. It was frustrating! Despite being registered as an IT service company, we gave middle finger to the clients far too generously and openly.

I have complained through official and unofficial channels (i.e. in meetings with senior managers behind closed doors) about this unethical practices. Reply was, "This is how we work, we don't care about our clients. If you don't like how we work, the door is open for you to leave".

2 months ago, I was fired. Though they have given ã different reason for the dismissal, their hidden message is "You never played by our rules. Just go away".

As long as corporations operate by the mantra "money over all else", nothing would change. Its a dystopian future after all.

Comment More like crawling through a ventilation system (Score 1) 242

I came to software industry quite late at the age of 27. I worked for number of web development project in Java. And I was fired a month ago saying I am "not a good fit for the team".

The team in question is full of fresh grads (and I was the only non-chinese person), who are willing to work 18 hours a day, 6 days a week; tech leads and managers are around my age, and still they can't do a simple project without a major re-write 2 weeks before going live. Since I don't speak fluent Java, I was often look down for being a "non-technical" person. Still, every project I had control, I made sure work flow is optimised, everybody is in same page, requirements were correctly gathered and most important of all, managing client expectations and keep them satisfied.

For the past few weeks, I tried looking for a similar job. Most companies are unwilling to hire someone in 30s. And as someone mentioned above, most Java jobs asks deep technical questions (and trust me, you will never use those concepts in real world). And also, lot of companies do not want to pay my previous salary level even.

Then I tried Business Analyst positions, and most companies turned me down saying "you have no experience in this domain" or "you haven't done UML before" etc etc. Same goes with project management or other possible jobs in tech line.

To be honest, at this point in my 30s, I feel like I am quite redundant in software industry, and my skills are worthless. It is quite hard to change careers, as I do not have experience in other domains like finance, healthcare or education. Looks like future is doomed at this point of time. I just can't emphasize enough to anyone who is willing to land in a tech career.

Comment Grumpy cat response (Score 1) 55

I don't see much point to be honest.

For a start, telcos these days have very stringent bandwidth caps. For an example, here in Singapore, a 2 year mobile data plan with 12GB/month costs ~USD 200/month. Other than light usage (e.g. browsing, bit of skype and youtube), you can't do much.

And what about power consumption ? how fast can it drain your phone battery ?

Submission + - Ask Slashdot: Are general engineering skills undervalued in web development ? 1

nerdyalien writes: Reading a recent post about developer competence, I can't help but to ask the question "Are general engineering skills undervalued in web development ?"

I am an EE major. The course I completed, and the professors who taught it; mainly emphasized on developing skills rather memorizing reams of facts and figures. As a result, I have acquired multitude of skills such as analytical, research, programming, communication, project management, planning, self-learning, etc.

Little over 3 years ago, I made the fateful decision to become a web developer in a small SME in SEA. Admittedly, I have an unstructured knowledge about CS theory. Still, within a short period of time I picked up the essentials of web development craft, and delivered reliable web applications. Most of all, I made good use of my existing technical/soft skills, despite the lack of my CS pedigree.

Lately I went through couple of job interviews in MNCs, SMEs and start-ups alike. All of them grilled my CS theory or Java knowledge. Almost no interviewer asked me about my other skills (or past experiences) that could be helpful in the developer position.

In my experience, web development is a cocktail of competing programming languages, frameworks and standards. Rarely a developer gets exposed to a single technology for a substantial period to learn it inside-out. Even still, in web development world, deep in-depth knowledge in anything will be outdated in few years’ time as new technologies roll out.

So, what matter's today? Knowledge on a particular technology or re-usable engineering skills ?

Comment I was there.... (Score 2) 479

I completed my PhD in EE/CS 4 years ago. Right after submission, I was unemployed for 6 months and during which time, I applied for 1000+ positions. Only on my 3rd interview, I was offered a junior dev position with minimum compensation in a SME.

Initially, things were good. I paid my bills and was doing many things I couldn't do as as a grad student i.e. going on holiday, fine dining, drinking binges. Work wise, I enjoyed the first year or so learning and coding new languages/platforms.

After a while, I woke up to the fact that my firm has deep problems in terms of work flow and project management. Almost 90% of the web projects we completed in last 3 years were failures. Perhaps I was too naive, I fed them back to the management and highlighted that the problem is with our SDLC and some incompetencies in mid-layer management and tech people. This did not rhyme well, I was kicked out from dev team and transferred to a different department; and my promotion was denied while every other fresh grad was promoted before me.

Overall my experience is, PhD can work against you. For a start, bosses are always intimidated with your superior intellectual brain and over the top communication skills (and don't forget, most bosses will be at your age too). Other aspect is, rest of your co-workers been there or has cut-teeth in corporate politics, so in an event of political power-struggle, quite literally you don't know what to do. Also most firms has no idea what to do with a PhD qualified human resource, let alone having a boss who can manage one. Lastly, not being mastered in some technologies (like Java) can be a disadvantage.

As of today, I'm feeling quite dejected and unappreciated at my firm. Lately I am looking for a new job (preferably something outside IT). I don't know what the future holds for me. As much as I regret taking up above position, on the hindsight, I landed on that position during recession years and helped me to sail through those critical years.

Submission + - Ask Slashdot: Have you experienced Fear Driven Development (FDD) ? (hanselman.com) 1

nerdyalien writes: Few years back, I worked for a large-scale news-media related web development project in a South-East Asian country. Despite formally adopting Agile/Scrum as the SDLC, development was driven based on fear imposed by managers, and architects who were proficient in ADD — A**hole Driven Development. Project ran 4x over its initial estimation, and not to forget those horrendous 18 hours/day, 6 days/week shifts with pizza dinners. For better or worse, I was asked to leave half way thru the project due to a row with the manager; which followed with poor performance reviews and delayed promotion. Are FDD and ADD here to stay ?

Submission + - Does "Scientific Consensus" deserve a bad reputation? (arstechnica.com)

nerdyalien writes: From the article: Fiction author Michael Crichton probably started the backlash against the idea of consensus in science. Crichton was rather notable for doubting the conclusions of climate scientists—he wrote an entire book in which they were the villains—so it's fair to say he wasn't thrilled when the field reached a consensus. Still, it's worth looking at what he said, if only because it's so painfully misguided:

As a STEM major, I am somewhat bias towards "strong" evidence side of the argument. However, the more I read literature from other somewhat related fields i.e. psychology, economics and climate science; the more I felt that they have little opportunity in repeating experiments, similar to counterparts in traditional hard science fields. Their accepted theories are based on limited historical occurrences and consensus among the scholars. Given the situation, should we consider "consensus" as accepted scientific facts ?

Submission + - Is there a creativity deficit in science? (arstechnica.com)

nerdyalien writes: From the article: "There is no more important time for science to leverage its most creative minds in attempting to solve our global challenges. Although there have been massive increases in funding over the last few decades, the ideas and researchers that have been rewarded by the current peer-review system have tended to be safer, incremental, and established. If we want science to be its most innovative, it’s not about finding brilliant, passionate creative scientists; it’s about supporting the ones we already have."

Submission + - How Microsoft dragged its development practices into the 21st century (arstechnica.com)

nerdyalien writes: As a web developer who joined the industry few years back, I had to practice Agile from day one. Despite the years of expereince and what I heard/learned in Agile related events (i.e. workshops, conferences), I always maintained a firm opinion that Agile would not scale in large projects. For me, it was the simple fact that there weren't enough strong case studies to explain how a large organization or a project successfully adopted Agile in their daily business. It seems tide has changed, and the Redmond giant has embraced Agile to deliver one of its flagship products. Is this the turning point for large scale Agile ?

Submission + - New html element <picture> to make future web faster (arstechnica.com)

nerdyalien writes: At some point or another, haven't we all web developers spent unjustifiable number of hours trying to optimize a desktop site for mobile devices ? Responsive Web Designs (RWD) has given us the solution "develop once, works in every device"; however, still it downloads multi-MB images and resize them based on device screen resolution. Retrieving optimized images from the server, based on device (desktop, tablet, mobile) and its internet connection (fiber, mobile), has always been an open problem. Recently, number of freelance developers are tackling this with a new html element <picture>, which informs the web browser to download optimized image from the server. This tag to be featured in Chrome and FireFox browsers later this year. Will this finally deliver us faster web browsing on mobile devices, and pain-free web development experience ?

"Spock, did you see the looks on their faces?" "Yes, Captain, a sort of vacant contentment."