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Comment Re:Why not a government service? (Score 1) 39

There is certainly precedent; for example the TVA . As a resident of Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY, I am still waiting for Verizon FIOS to be offered. The monopolist Time Warner Cable is colluding with them to keep us from having decent broad-band. I had a really poor ADSL for years, and canceled it in favor of CLEAR wireless. But neither of those is high speed, at least not enough to download anything substantial. I would not go with TWC for either phone or internet service as it takes forever to get anyone to fix it when it goes down. TWC service is really poor and everyone hates them. If I had FIOS I would cancel them in a New York minute.
It is high time for the government to step in to assure us of this essential service. Of course, since the government is largely in the hands of teabaggers, it is unlikely to happen. Having Google get into the urban cable business here in New York would at least improve competition, if they did not collude with the present monopolists.

Comment Hiring midlife people? (Score 3, Interesting) 147

I am gratified to hear you are willing to hire midlife people who are tired of the rat race. There is something to be said for programmers who understand how to understand your problem, figure out a solution in the language of your choice (and learn it if necessary), then explain what they are going to do and how they are going to do it. You will seldom get programmer/analysts from a quickie course in CS, and generally people need about 10 years in practice to have any idea what I am talking about. You should not be trying to compete with Silicon Valley for the cream of the young programmers. Even if you could afford them, and you can't, they would not be happy with you. The country is full of unemployed middle-aged and older programmers. You have to be willing to pay them a bit more than entry level, but of course there is value in these people.

Comment Re:CGI and CMS (Score 1) 228

Trying to find out anything from public sources is pretty tiring, as they start out partisan and get worse. I rather liked this one from Reuters

I don't think there was a real System Integrator on the whole project. The guys at CMS were out of their depth. They had their doubts about the delivery date quite early. But as we all know, the customer manager and the salesmen have the last word on that! Responsibility without power leads to insanity.

The CGI contract was apparently based on the ongoing contract for IT services, based on an older RFP. (The same sort of thing goes on in NYC, for instance. You have to use on of the short list of pre-qualified contractors.) It appears that CGI were responsible for "the website", which to my mind is only part of the project. But integration with the middleware, back end, and inter-system communications is SOMEONE'S responsibility. That is why there is all this finger-pointing.

It appears also that CGI were more or less successful in the smaller implementations by the states that took responsibility. Possibly their management skills were spread too thin. Well, it all seems to be more or less working now, which is a great accomplishment. Thanks to all who participated over many sleepless nights!

Comment Re:Programming by contract (Score 1) 228

Yes, I have been there, on both sides actually LOL. Sometimes the business actually REQUIRES some sort of bid document and generally it is safer to propose the preliminary design phase before committing to the rest of it, as one generally does not know what is involved before actually finding out what is needed. That is, asking over and over again, what do you need to know and when do you need to know it? Anything bigger than a breadbox requires a bit of planning.

The point is not that you have to produce a document. You really have to find out what the project is. One of my jobs back when I was a consultant was to help produce a Request for Proposal for the US Navy. Now that was a document! Even for that, I had to find out what we were trying to buy and what the reasonable shape of it would be.

But you are quite right about bloat, lard, narcissism, and petty bureaucracy. The worst thing is that at some level you run into management who have no idea of what they are going to need, because they don't use it anyway. But they feel threatened by the people who DO know what they need, so you don't get to interview them.

Comment Re:CMMI is a scam (Score 1) 228

CMMI just the latest scam. I can't remember the names of all the attempts to "manage" software development that I experienced in about 30 years of it, but it was all a way to get expensive experts in expensive suits to annoy the crap out of the project and development groups. I don't know if it started in the days of Anderson Consulting (not to pick on them, but that was the period where I started to run into it). Six Sigma, anybody?

Not really having project management is what made such a fiasco. Probably CGI Federal had the wrong kind of managers to herd the cats that were the subcontractors. They may not have really understood testing, which was critical in this multiple-system case. Test planning is really boring but can't be skipped. Huffing over the documentation doesn't really help unless it is test planning documentation, but I bet it wasn't. Corporate-speak loses something in translation.

If buildings were built this way we would all be living in mud huts. Well, maybe not, but nobody would have built a cathedral or a skyscraper this way.

Comment Re: When jews export terrorism get back to us (Score 1) 214

This discussion doesn't really belong in /.,but Muslims have been slaughtering, maiming, and raping each other all over Asia and Africa with no encouragement from the US. The only reason there are so many Muslim countries is that there was an endless war of conquest starting in the 7th century. At this moment, Muslim countries and freelance gangsters are exporting terrorism all over the world. And they would be doing so if Israel did not exist.

Comment Re:It's an experiment now? (Score 1) 1078

The fact that some male told her to do it and then walked away. She probably had no idea what she was doing. While when I made nitrogen tri-iodide from ammonia and iodine, I definitely did know what I was doing. We did so many units on explosives in high school chemistry that we were heartily sick of them!

Comment Re:If it ain't broke... (Score 4, Informative) 289

And that is why
"Between 60 and 80 per cent of all business transactions performed worldwide are processed—very effectively and efficiently—by COBOL programs running on mainframes. Within the financial industry (banks and insurance), COBOL is used extensively to process the vast majority of their transactions."

I stopped writing COBOL in about 1985, but we were smart people, and our code was pretty good. It has lived all this time. Most of the new wave crap I have been involved in since has drifted off somewhere. It was relatively easy to create, but the technologies changed so fast that most of it was ephemeral. I bet some of my CICS is still running!

Comment Re:If it ain't broke... (Score 3, Informative) 289

Yes, users always lie. It's not their fault. I used to find little scraps of paper up on walls (if I was lucky), with some corner case that everybody knew about, or nobody knew about but the one user. Of course by now these users have long since departed the planet, so lots of luck... You captured it very well!

Comment Re:So i wonder how this was discovered? (Score 1) 289

Every once in a while the head of Operations (most places) will look at the print queues and wonder if anyone would notice if a particular report were not produced. Possibly this report's number finally came up. If nobody complains, the report output is commented out of the JCL.

Odd that it didn't have a report divider cover sheet, though.

Comment Re:If it ain't broke... (Score 4, Informative) 289

Yes, the hard part is finding out what the old system actually did, and how much of it was necessary and/or correct. Every miserable data transformation, data structure, business rule, magic number, compiler kludge, and dead end has to be discovered. It is not just a matter of translating the COBOL source either, supposing it is available. The job control and run books have to be examined, and every damn tape or tape emulation has to be dumped.

Nothing good happens without analysis and specifications up front.

Frequently the consulting company analysts are more interested in the user interface, where very little happens! But that is the sexy part, of course.

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