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Comment Think Banquet, not broth. (Score 2) 276

I would speak to whoever your direct supervisor is and ask to learn about how the company manages project of this size. Maybe point you towards any documentation in the SDLC. Clearly you don't understand what the program manager is doing. If they are traditional PMI type program manager, than they exist because what you are doing is called a program, not a project, wherein there are multiple projects that make up the program.

A program manager with multiple projects running concurrently is going to be trying to determine how many project managers there needs to be. Given that traditional programs have multiple deadlines, might have multiple development teams, qa teams, deployment teams, and a wide range of stakeholders, you may be underestimating what is necessary for the project management side of things. A program manager who underestimates what they need is failing. A project manager who underestimates what they need is failing. As a developer, you give estimates and the project managers try to understand how to use those estimates to determine resource needs. As a project manager, you have to include not just development work, but project management itself. Project managers who are programmers tend to try to close gaps by programming rather than project managing. The program manager doesn't have any recourse there. They can't dive into detail level. Its actually important that they don't. A project manager should be helping identify tasks, so that they can prioritize work based on dependencies. They need to be able to continually communicate resource gaps. A program manager should be taking oversight over multiple projects.

So basically if this project is simple enough that a single person can manage the teams necessary, with all communication being handled in a timely way, change control, qa, and deployment teams all easy to manage, then sure, smallest team necessary is best.

But if the issue here is that you just don't like the culture of enterprise development software development life cycle, then you are in the wrong company based on what you describe.

Having spent a lot of time running a small fast software company and a freelance programmer, and 5 years watching a small company get absorbed into a large company, I know a lot about how this works. Personally I am a better project manager than most people I know, but I hate it and since i am also a better design/architect/programmer, my bosses agree to try not to make me project manage. That being said, because the very large corporation I work for is extremely resource tight, and believed in flattening their management, we have very few project managers and we have suffered a lot. If your company has drank the ITIL/PMI coolaid and are willing to actually allocate the right qualified team members to fill those roles, than you are very lucky. Mostly I have seen companies whose leadership is trying to enforce those things, and doesn't invest in the necessary resources to make it work (so that too few lead chefs mean everyone has to do work they aren't good at)

Before you assume that your MBA type program manager sucks, consider that good project/program manager is a skill independent of the goal. A good project manager can figure out how to get you to the moon without knowing anything about aerodynamics. If you can learn a bit of that, then at worst you may be better at communicating to project managers and the people who hire them, and you may even be better at hiring project managers in the future.

If you treat it as a case where the guy is not valuable because his knowledge isn't based on software development skills, well I have news for you. None of the expert programmers I know can project manage worth a damn. Guys with 30 years of experience don't know how to think about projects in a way that is constructive. They may be problem solvers in their domain, but project management is its own puzzle. If you don't respect it, then don't expect to work well in the modern offshore heavy, PMI/ITIL driven enterprise world.

So yeah, if all you are making is broth, then too many cooks is bad.

I assume you want to do something a little bigger than broth in your life.


Comment Dumb (pun intended) idea. (Score 1) 370

The article uses a technique to basically cause discomfort for a person trying to speak, by creating an audio feedback directed at them. They point out that it is similar to the annoying experience of hearing yourself during a skype (or conference call) which can disrupt your chain of thought.

The goal is to silence someone who is speaking to establish presence rather than contribute ideas.

In my experience what this does is disrupt the ability to keep track of what you are saying, but for someone who is speaking to hear their own voice (as we say idiomatically) this is entirely counter-productive. Furthermore a person who is a good speaker learns to concentrate through this. Anyone who has ever spoken in a hall where there is large enough space to create an audio delay, has heard their voice come back to them. Basically you learn to filter it out.

I am not saying it isn't annoying. I am saying that anyone who has a prepared statement can easily bypass it and anyone who is just ranting without concern for making sense, can do so. It is only someone who is actually trying to think about what they are saying, that will have some hardship.

This is pretty much the technically equivalent of someone echoing you (which siblings do).

I hope they got lots of money to develop this.

Comment Competing Against Microsoft/Apple/Google (Score 2) 323

A while back it was considered one of Microsoft's evil ways, that they sold an OS and the leading apps on it. It was considered an unfair advantage because they had access to api's and the OS writing team, with a greater level of access than other companies.

In the same way, people get frustrated that Apple has prevented other developers to publish certain apps that are similar to Apple ones. This has changed over time but at least for a while it was a key argument.

Now, Google is going to start competing against the app marketplace in a larger way.

Beyond just an admission that there is a lack of quality apps for Android, or that the economy of apps on Android is not yet mature enough to draw the larger scale development that has begun to focus on Apple (especially with games but also with productivity tools), this is now an 800 lb Gorilla. Can you write your killer app before Google does it and gives it away?

How long before Google starts buying small developers who develop cool multiplatform apps and then squelch their development on Apple?

Comment In other news... whine whine whine... (Score 1) 580

If Apple wants to create an Application store on their own OS, why is that a problem?

Steam has an Application Store on both the Mac and Windows.

If someone wants to create a service exactly like Apple's they can, with additional features as they see fit. Apple isn't preventing that.

The fact that software developers will have an incentive to use Apple's method of distribution is based on THEM GETTING AN ADVANTAGE. If you have a better method to help developers make a living on Apple, then go ahead!

It isn't like the phone. The phone is locked down. The phone is closed.

The OS they give away the development software for free, there are even open source repositories that you can use to get X11/Unix software.

Whine Whine whine.


2012 Mayan Calendar 'Doomsday' Date Might Be Wrong 144

astroengine writes "A UC Santa Barbara associate professor is disputing the accuracy of the mesoamerican 'Long Count' calendar after highlighting several astronomical flaws in a correlation factor used to synchronize the ancient Mayan calendar with our modern Gregorian calendar. If proven to be correct, Gerardo Aldana may have nudged the infamous December 21, 2012 'End of the World' date out by at least 60 days. Unfortunately, even if the apocalypse is rescheduled, doomsday theorists will unlikely take note."

Comment Not sure what Normal is: (Score 1) 547

Since in a small shop most people have to handle multiple roles, its sometimes hard to evaluate what your real work load is as far as any given set of tasks. The effort to effectively track each task is another task, and most people aren't really willing to give up 10-20% of their employees time to administrative tasks involving time tracking, so the end result is a sort of vague count "I spent about 5 hours programming, and about 2 hours production support and 1 hour administrative"

However, any computer programmer who is exhausted by heads down coding should probably find something better to do. When I was in my twenties I often would code for 10-12 hours a day for stretches lasting as long as a month. I think I once did 20 hour days for 4 weeks with really no break on weekends. Not that it was healthy, but as far as just pounding out code, testing it, packaging it for UAT and then moving on, I was pretty non-stop. Now that I am 40 I prefer not to do that however I had a project in which I lost my coder to another project and suddenly had to fill in for 8 weeks that wasn't on my schedule. I did a few all nighters, and certainly was averaging 14 hours per day for about 2 weeks, mostly coding.

Obviously that doesn't just mean writing a line of code a minute. It does involve testing things, finding answers to problems, designing algorithms, refactoring, but if you think programming is purely a function of typing out commands then I suspect you are writing trivial code.

In any case, I don't want to judge, and I don't think people are being fair talking about you being lazy. It is VERY difficult to really code productively when you have to break every hour. I find that I like to set myself up for 4 hour slots for programming, so that I can really warm up, get into the right head and have time to really complete a few significant things.

Still I think about programming when I am showering, or eating, or walking. Thinking is a big part of my job. Its really a challenge to just program at work and then stop thinking about it afterwards.

The real question always has to be, are you delivering what you promise to deliver on time. If you are having trouble getting things done on time then you have to worry about how you are organizing yourself. If you are feeling like you just can't program more than a certain number of hours a week without your head hurting then get a better monitor.

Comment Re:It's called Java (J2ME)! Look it up! (Score 1) 296

Funny. You call someone totalitarian because they choose to do something different than all the other phone makers. I would think requiring everyone to support Java would be totalitarian.

Maybe you don't really use the word properly. Maybe what you mean is, independent and competitive. Is that bad too?

For years Sun did nothing to get Java to work well on the Mac. Do you wonder that Apple doesn't really feel like relying on either them or Adobe to provide a user experience for their phones or tablets?

Comment Strange Criticism of Built In Monitors (Score 1) 469

I am not sure how they came up with their criticsm of the Color classic being an indictment of the idea of the built in monitor.

"It could be argued that this system forced Apple to rethink building screens into systems. Sue it looks very good but it increases the overall cost of the system and limits users to a particular view. Built-in screens made sense at the start of the computing age but they have thankfully gone the way of the dinosaurs"

So I am wondering if anyone knows if the Australian Apple market is so different that the IMac and Macbook lines are marginal. In the US, the built in monitor is the standard on most models Apple sell. It is true that other computer companies don't do this on the desktop, but other than the mini there is no consumer desktop that Apple makes without being a single unit.

And the statement about the PowerPC is entirely 20/20 hindsight. The Intel Chips at the time were dogs. And apple is still producting development model and OS that differs entirely from the Windows one. As far as developer interest, I would say that once Mac OS X, and giving away the development tools began that jump start, and its still quite a bit different from any other environment.

Hard to imagine that the IPod Hi-Fi rates in any top 10 list. It seems so unimportant, but I guess Thomson saw one. That makes it special it seems considering he doesn't seem familiar with much about Apple's line from personal experience.

Comment Re:Kernighan (Score 2, Insightful) 580

This is a point I really am trying to make too... The best code you do, the stuff that required you to actually use your brain hard, is going to be hard for YOU to maintain let alone others. You comment based on your own Eureka moments, you document your understanding, and hopefully it lets a person recognize that you were both solving the problem in a reasonable manner, and that your implementation and solution are in sync.

Beyond that, adding a few lines of code for clarity can also make it easier to debug, to extend and to implement in a different language.

Comment Re:One person's myth is another person's fact. (Score 1) 580

Thank you for writing almost exactly what I wanted to say. I went through a weird emotional response. I almost want to call the writer a young whippersnapper...

It is pretty funny to say you aren't going to buy into dogma when nothing you are talking about is dogma. Even best practices are often stated in contexts. I won't reiterate the excellent rebuttals to the blog both on the blog and here.


The more brilliant and exciting the code you write the more likely it is not a trivial and obvious solution. If all you do is code obvious solutions to common problems in standard idioms then you may be able to argue that your comments do not matter.

If you are writing something that was difficult for you to write (and the best programmers are lazy enough to try to avoid always rewriting trivial solutions) then you also are writing something that is difficult for not only other coders, but for YOU. That is to say that solving a complex problem in an ingenious and elegant way does not automatically mean that you will understand it later. Even a few months later you are going to wish you had explained some of the why and some of the what.

In the end most programmers comment only when they feel it is necessary. It isn't really enjoyable, it does take effort. Mostly we do it because we must. Depending on the language and context, you may be writing very formal documentation as part of your project, and some of that may be in the code itself. Other times, you write code that you think is a one off, and then somehow it ends up being a large project and suddenly you need to go back and comment to make it possible to hand it off.

I do feel as if the fellow who wrote this blog was not an experienced coder, and had never worked with other programmers...

Comment Re:making enemies unnecessarily (Score 2, Informative) 344

Agreed 100%. I have had headhunters revise my resume from a format perspective so that it could fit within a format that the companies were looking for (often they want very little formatting) and when they did so they sent me back the revised copy.

The only other thing I have seen them do is remove my direct contact information from resume, to prevent the company from going around them. I respect that.


Best Tablet PC For Classroom Instruction? 176

dostert writes "With all of the recent hype of multitouch notebooks, the Apple Tablet, the Microsoft Courier, and the CrunchPad, I've been a bit curious about what happened to the good old pen and slate tablet PCs. I'm a mathematics professor at a small college and have been searching for a good cheap tablet (under $1000) which I can use to lecture, record the lecture notes along with my voice, and post up video lectures for the class. I have seen some suggestions, but many are large scale implementations at state universities, something my small private college clearly cannot afford. All I have been able to find is either tiny netbooks (like the new Asus T91), expensive full featured tablets (like the Dell XT), or multitouch tablets, that really wouldn't allow for the type of precision mathematics needs. I know a Sympodium device would work great, but we really can't afford to put one of those in each room, so something portable would be ideal. All I've been left with is considering an HP tx series. It seems nobody has created a new tablet like this in quite sometime, and HP, Fujitsu, and Dell are just doing incremental updates to their old designs. Does anyone have experience with this?"

Firefox To Replace Menus With Office Ribbon 1124

Barence writes "Mozilla has announced that its plans to bring Office 2007's Ribbon interface to Firefox, as it looks to tidy up its 'dated' browser. 'Starting with Vista, and continuing with Windows 7, the menu bar is going away,' notes Mozilla in its plans for revamping the Firefox user interface. '[It will] be replaced with things like the Windows Explorer contextual strip, or the Office Ribbon, [which is] now in Paint and WordPad, too.' The change will also bring Windows' Aero Glass effects to the browser." Update: 09/24 05:01 GMT by T : It's not quite so simple, says Alexander Limi, who works on the Firefox user experience. "We are not putting the Ribbon UI on Firefox. The article PCpro quotes talks about Windows applications in general, not Firefox." So while the currently proposed direction for Firefox 3.7 involves some substantial visual updates for Windows users (including a menu bar hidden by default, and integration of Aero-styled visual elements), it's not actually a ribbon interface. Limi notes, too, that Linux and Mac versions are unaffected by the change.

Comment Not a complete solution BY DESIGN (Score 1) 487

The article talks about how it is not intended as a complete solution. They do not go into, or intend to, describe their redundancy features, their performance issues, or anything else.

From the Article:

A Backblaze Storage Pod is a Building Block

We have been extremely happy with the reliability and excellent performance of the pods, and a Backblaze Storage Pod is a fully contained storage server. But the intelligence of where to store data and how to encrypt it, deduplicate it, and index it is all at a higher level (outside the scope of this blog post). When you run a datacenter with thousands of hard drives, CPUs, motherboards, and power supplies, you are going to have hardware failuresâ"itâ(TM)s irrefutable. Backblaze Storage Pods are building blocks upon which a larger system can be organized that doesnâ(TM)t allow for a single point of failure. Each pod in itself is just a big chunk of raw storage for an inexpensive price; it is not a âoesolutionâ in itself.

If you did want to attack this concept, it would be based on the fact that I cannot think of a good general storage use for this besides serving static webpages.

The only access method is through https.

There is only 1gigabyte bandwidth per 67 terabytes. 67 Terabytes is duh, 67000Gigabytes... Thats 536000 gigabits. a 1gigabit/s interface needs 6 days to move all that data. Oh and it can only be accessed through https. So its somewhat questionable that you can actually move nearly that much data. I don't really know what the limitations of the harddrives or SATA are, but no matter how much speed any of that has, the network link and latency are going to be significant if you are really moving large scale data. I can only assume their applications don't require speed, or that by duplicating it over a large number of systems they are going to get some load balancing. So then one asks... HOw many of these pods equal a redundant system with reasonable performance? And what is the power usage involved?

There is Raid6 based on 15 drive sets with 2 parity drives spread across between 1 and 3 controllers but there is no hot swappable drive, fan, or controller.

Essentially a single drive failure requires you to take down the entire system. Now I assume there is a replicated system, so you can just take down any of these boxes with no planning.

Honestly I am sure this suits their purpose. I can't imagine what purpose it would suit for me.

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