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Is Enterprise IT More Difficult To Manage Now Than Ever?

Dastardly Re:YES !! (241 comments)

Yes!

All of you get the hell off my lawn!!!!

about a week ago
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Mixing Agile With Waterfall For Code Quality

Dastardly Re:Some flavors of agile fight human nature ... (133 comments)

But some flavors say that developers are supposed to work on all parts of the project.

I think that is a misreading. Development teams should be assigned to end to end features. Development teams can be specialized in particular features and the components associated with those features. Development teams should be allowed to work on whatever component is required to implement their features, including some that may only be peripheral to their core components in order to complete a feature. Experts should be available to assist with modifying those peripheral components. That means teams have senior members who have some responsibility to teach other teams. If after some time, the most valuable work is not longer in the area of the application that the team is specialized in, the team should start getting work in the more valuable area of the application and start ramping up their capabilities in that area.

The calculation is whether lower effectiveness at higher value work is worth more than higher effectiveness at low value work. Clearly switching teams around constantly, so they are always on the steep part of the learning curve is stupid, and should not be done. But, seeing a lot of work in a high value area of the system or organization would make it worthwhile to move that team and have them start learning something new.

about 2 months ago
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Mixing Agile With Waterfall For Code Quality

Dastardly Re:Agile is the answer to everything (133 comments)

Hourly billing can work, but it does require a level of trust and openness between customer and contractor that may not be possible in many cases. The customer has to trust the contractor is billing for productive hours worked at a reasonable profit. The contractor has to trust the customer enough to open up their operations sufficiently to create the trust with the customer that they are getting the value for their money.

about 2 months ago
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Mixing Agile With Waterfall For Code Quality

Dastardly Re:Agile is the answer to everything (133 comments)

It kind of depends on which kind of manager, and the organization. My experience is that managers love their illusions of control, but hate actual control because then they have to be responsible for the results. Also, actual control means actual effort. They want burn down charts that they can look at once a week and pretend they are contributing something useful by beating on people when they are not perfectly on the ideal line. Of course, in two week sprints at that interval burn down charts are virtually worthless.

Backlog grooming.. Hah. Nope instead of prioritizing the work, they want to spend a several weeks every 6-12 months where development, PMs, and business analysts come before them on bent knee begging for them to approve the work statement they believe should be done. Of course they don't actually understand any of what is being asked for, but want to go through the ceremony of having people give estimates and act like they are somehow contributing to the ability of the people doing actual work and talking to actual users to determine what should be done and what will fit in the time allotted. Then, they can go off and likely do the same thing with executives who also think they are justifying their salaries by looking at one page power point slides once a month or so. The needs will change during those 12 months, but we like to pretend we can predict that far ahead.

about 2 months ago
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Mixing Agile With Waterfall For Code Quality

Dastardly Re:Agile is the answer to everything (133 comments)

And, many military software contracts are moving to require Agile practices because they are tired of spending a lot of money on cancelled projects with nothing to show for it except a bunch of documents.

about 2 months ago
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Mixing Agile With Waterfall For Code Quality

Dastardly Re:Agile is the answer to everything (133 comments)

That is weird. I find it much harder to get access to actual users for externally facing software. At least for internal software the user works for the same company. The fact that the company doesn't actually want the users to contribute their knowledge of how they actually do business to the creation of the software that is supposed to help them do that business seems like a dysfunction that will doom a project regardless of the methodology. Interestingly, the project itself might not get the doom, but the users might not actually benefit, but perhaps the company mandates using the software that does not actually make the users more productive.

Of course new requirements might require re-architecting. That is not a property of Agile.

Waterfall does not provide reliable estimates either because organizational dysfunction generally results in over estimating because no one gets punished for coming in early, but you are always punished for being the slightest bit late or over budget. i.e. 20% under budget and early is rewarded 5% over budget and 5% late is punished, but who had the more accurate estimate. In addition there is the dysfunction of the effort expanding to fill the estimate.

Agile can be reliable for hitting estimates and hitting time and budget because if you use the empirical information provided by point estimation and velocity. But, it requires consistency. Consistency of teams, consistency of story (requirement) quality, and consistency of relative sizing. Actually, requirement quality can be compensated for by increasing an estimate to account for it having higher uncertainty than other stories which represents the effort prior to the sprint to reduce . But, by achieving consistency you now have velocity, which divided by total points gets the number of sprints needed. Which given a consistent team and knowing what that team costs results in knowing the cost as well.

about 2 months ago
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Mixing Agile With Waterfall For Code Quality

Dastardly Re:Agile is the answer to everything (133 comments)

One of the big tricks I have found is that you actually have to identify everything that might need to be done to get something to "release" (whatever that means in your org). I don't mean like in waterfall with every individual thing in a project plan with an estimate. I mean in general for all stories. i.e. Definition of Done. Then, you identify the things that can and must be done during the story Sprint and that is the sprint definition of done. What is left over can be called release definition of done, and is work that some one has to do before a change can be released. Which requires that time and resources be allocated to accomplish those things after the sprint. And, it also requires acknowledging that every one of those items that was not done during the sprint creates a risk. Typically, to the release schedule. I would argue that the perfection goal if for most "release" definition of done items to be optional, and assessed as to whether the cost of doing that thing is worth the risk that something it could catch is in the code and gets in front of a customer. For example: Does every release require a full at scale performance and scalability test that is costly and might take a lot of time? Or, is it better to assess the changes and take the calculated and explicitly stated risk that the probability of a significant problem is small versus the benefit of putting the changes into production and detecting and fixing the less significant problems later. Non-optional items to be done after the sprint are high risk in that they are probably non-optional because they have a high chance of detecting issues that would prevent the release. ie. post-sprint functional testing.

It does require being brutally honest about whether a story is complete according to the Sprint Definition of Done, if it is not done, it is not done and must be moved to another sprint (preferably the next sprint). Unfortunately, most management does not want honesty or reality. They prefer their illusions of control because when handed actual reality they then have to do something about it and realize that they don't have any actual control over what goes on in their organization. So, you get blame and punishment which simply results in everyone pretending something is done when it really is not. Which allows everyone can spend quite a while being happy until the whole thing blows up in their faces.

This is the great thing about waterfall, you can produce requirements and design documents on schedule and everyone thinks all is well. Then, you can spend a bunch of time writing code that may or may not actually work. Then, at code complete you pretend you are actually done, but you know there is a bunch of time for defect fixes during test, plus you are going to have to implement new features because a business opportunity came up that is very valuable and it was decided that it could be implemented while everything else was tested. Even during testing with defects being found everyone is fairly happy because defects are expected. But, sometime during test reality finally slaps everyone and it is realized the schedule is impossible, a lot of things are not really done, there are too many defects. So, we go about punishing everyone. Testers and developers work a bunch of over time. PMs and Managers have to get yelled at by their superiors, everyone looks for some one to blame for the bad code. People spend days trying to figure out how much the actual release is going to slip, until finally some one decides the product is good enough and it goes to production with great fanfare. And, we repeat everything all over again.

Returning back to how to deal with this in Agile, consider the situation where testing is manual, significant chunks can slip out of the sprint definition of done. Or, you can end up doing mini waterfall inside the sprints where days are set aside at the end for testing. What often gets forgotten is the continuous improvement part of Agile or Lean, or whatever you want to call it. Perhaps no one is setting aside time to move tests from manual to automated. It can be a big bang or it can be a matter of all new tests and a portion of old tests every sprint to gradually free up the testers from being human script runners to spending more time figuring out what the tests are or doing the things humans do better like verify the UI visually, or try to find the weird edge cases that are hard to think of when the application is not right there in front of you (exploratory testing).

about 2 months ago
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Oregon Suing Oracle Over Obamacare Site, But Still Needs Oracle's Help

Dastardly Re:ok (116 comments)

And, on top of that is the simple truth that most of the time no one knows what they actually want until they see it. So, the exercise of writing requirements for any significant piece of software is an exercise in writing requirements that are at least 50% wrong and even worse having no idea which 50% is wrong. You then put those into a contract and get the wrongness locked in, since changes costs money and have a pain in the ass process to process to get approved. Then, add government contracting which make change even harder and its no wonder that the project fails.

The knee jerk solution is we need more detailed requirements or more analysis or whatever which tends to do little to relieve the problem that 50% of the requirements are still wrong.

about 4 months ago
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Wiring Programmers To Prevent Buggy Code

Dastardly Re:Hi, it looks like you are writing difficult cod (116 comments)

I have seen many books on software development that say that a significant part of a senior developer's job is supposed to be teaching, thereby increasing the overall team's productivity. Of course what an MBA would say is that the senior developer is not doing enough programming and direct the senior developer to stop helping others to the detriment of the team.

about 4 months ago
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Wiring Programmers To Prevent Buggy Code

Dastardly Re:Hi, it looks like you are writing difficult cod (116 comments)

Same here. Usually the coding mistakes occur in the easiest code, and are usually the easiest to detect and fix. The hard and undetected bugs are the ones that are the result of multiple pieces of code interacting in unexpected ways, easy, medium or hard at the individual code chunk level doesn't really matter.

The other source I have found is leaving unspecified paths open to users. You think that you don't have to prevent a user from doing something because it should work. It is actually more effort to prevent that use case. Then, you get bit in the ass because the user expects a different behavior, its not tested very well since it is unspecified, and often no one even really made a conscious choice to "add" the behavior which has effectively become a feature which now needs to be supported.

about 4 months ago
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Ecuador To Forge Ahead With State-Backed Digital Currency

Dastardly Not like bitcoin... (85 comments)

I didn't see anything in the article to indicate this currency would be anything like bitcoin, other than the title saying without any backing evidence "bitcoin-like money". It seems like any other currency except Ecuador avoids the expense of printing paper money or minting coins.

It would be extremely interesting if this is a move by Correa to put into practice Modern Monetary Theory. Correa is an economist by training, and clearly not a neo-liberal. If we see the Ecuador government switch to collecting taxes in the new currency and improving tax enforcement, I think it would be a good sign that is the direction. Assuming the neo-liberals and Washington Consensus types don't assassinate Correa before the transition is complete, it could be a fascinating case study in whether the MMT crowd gets it right. The trick will be figuring out how to get the dollar denominated sovereign debt eliminated by paying it off or conversion to the new currency or possibly fully repudiating it. The problem being that the only real way for Ecuador to get dollars is by having a trade surplus, that they have oil is advantageous. Getting people to stop holding dollars for savings, regular transactions, etc... would move those dollars from private hands to the government where they can use them to pay off dollar denominated bond holders and get out of the business of issuing debt in some other nations currency.

about 4 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: When Is It Better To Modify the ERP vs. Interfacing It?

Dastardly Re:Bite the bullet / replace the apps (209 comments)

An additional concept that might also help is the concept of application strangulation. http://paulhammant.com/2013/07/14/legacy-application-strangulation-case-studies/

In addition to the current functions, try to find out what these groups wish they could do, watch what they do. Because as the grand-parent said,

If you are just going to recreate the apps, you might as well not even bother.

If you just recreate the apps, what will motivate the user to use the ERP or the new app built on top of the ERP? You want to put in something beyond their existing tool to motivate them to stop using it. But, also be careful because you don't want to implement something just because it is in the existing tool, it might not actually have any real value. Applying Agile practices to putting a working product in front of users early, and watch what they actually are doing, you might get lucky and find out that some existing functionality really is not necessary. i.e. if users move completely to the new tool and stop referencing the old one, that would be a sign that any other functions left on the list are not that valuable. Then, you get to do one of those rare events where you come in under budget/save money.

about 5 months ago
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Scientists Propose Collider That Could Turn Light Into Matter

Dastardly Re:The next question is... (223 comments)

Very large stars create matter from light in their core. Although, in order to conserve momentum, it happens most commonly near a nucleus with a single photon. The photon converts to a positoron and electron and the nucleus recoils a bit conserving momentum. I expect that in the giant randomness of a stellar core gamma rays occasionally collide head on thus allowing momentum to be conserved that way, but I expect it is much rarer than the other mechanism, since at those densities a gamma ray probably encounters s nucleus before it can collide with another gamma ray head on.

If the pair production reaches a certain threshold it actually causes the pressure in the core to drop resulting in collapse. This increases the temperature and pair production reducing the pressure further and accelerating the collapse. Since this happens in a non-iron core, run away fusion ensues disrupting the entire star as a pair production supernova. There are only a few candidates observed to date, and not close enough for a very high level of confidence that they really were pair production supernova.

about 7 months ago
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Future of Cars: Hydrogen Fuel Cells, Or Electric?

Dastardly Re:Hydrogen Vs Batteries (659 comments)

A far bigger problem still is the grid that would be needed to charge cars if you replace ALL of them with electric cars. Because the future is one where most cars are one kind of car.

A far bigger problem is the grid that would be needed for electrolysis of hydrogen for ALL of the fuel cell vehicles.

Yes, I know that hydrogen can be extracted from hydorcarbons, but you then go on to say.

Depending on the eventual methods of production is could mostly be local because it comes from water...

Which means electrolysis or thermal extraction of hydrogen from water.

Basically, hydrogen is energy storage same as electricity in a battery. The energy still must come from somewhere in that respect about the only difference with hydrogen is that pipelines and/or trucks are a means of transporting the energy while electricity is pretty much via wire.

about 7 months ago
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GM Sees a Market For $5/Day Dedicated In-Car Internet

Dastardly Simple mount point for smart phone... (216 comments)

I have a Toyota Prius from the year before the Aux port was added (pisser). But, the one thing I really need, is a place to put the freaking phone. My solution is a phone case and some velcro tape on the center console (on the radio) and on the back of the phone. A few seconds to plugin the charger and stick the the phone to the console.

No stupid suction cup phone holders that don't stick properly or block visibility or don't fit the phone right so it falls out or whatever.\

It also works well when I want to use the golf app on my phone for scoring and range finding by sticking some velcro on my pull cart.

If it is good enough to put a man on the moon, it is good enough to hold my smart phone.

about 7 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: How Do You Tell a Compelling Story About IT Infrastructure?

Dastardly Cheer the boring... (192 comments)

Infrastructure should be boring. Cheer the boring. If there is a time period where things just went smoothly, put a big exclamation point on it. And, then list why.

Things like clean failovers.
System patches without downtime.

One other thing that is a pain at my company that you could also show it provisioning speed. When requests come in for VMs, or hardware upgrades how fast a re they served. How many are queued, how many are awaiting management approval, waiting on vendors, waiting on quotes, POs, etc... That is also a great thing to show improvements on. Because if infrastructure is slowing new money making projects from getting off the ground then that is a problem. And, those projects are going to move to cloud services in an attempt to get around infrastructure for good or ill.

about 7 months ago
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How 'DevOps' Is Killing the Developer

Dastardly Re:Oh please... (226 comments)

Amen.

I run into this similar mentality when explaining Agile team members and full stack development. Usually, the objection I get is "Well, if people are jumping around how are they going to learn anything really well, and not screw up that part of the application." It is people who think we are going to be stupid about assigning work. People and teams specialize, but they have capabilities outside the specialty, but at a lesser effectiveness. Generally, we will assign people work in their specialty. But, if the most important work does not fall into the available team's specialty, then we might give them that work if it is sufficiently more important than the less important work that might fall into their specialty.

about 8 months ago
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How 'DevOps' Is Killing the Developer

Dastardly Re:Nothing new here (226 comments)

I think it misses the point of DevOps. My reading of DevOps is not that developers do operations. It is that operations applies development style processes to their job and works closely if not within the development organizations to make sure the application is designed for operational ease from the beginning. A DevOps specialists will be operations focused with a high degree of skill in the scripting to automate deployment and configuration. They will use version control in order to version the deployment and configurations with the application. That way when a version of the application is deployed to a development environment, testing, or production the exact same software not just for the application but the deployment and configuration is used. The goal is so that when things go wrong it is not due to some untraceable human error, but a fixable automation error.

And, DevOps doesn't mean operations goes away. I think it let's operations focus on delivering a stable platform for applications. i.e. servers, disks, networks, OS, and perhaps the software repository that DevOps can use to configure the platform and deploy applications. In infrastructure as a service cloud situations, servers, disks, networks, and OS become a DevOps responsibility, also.

As far as a DevOps role, I think this falls into the same mistake I get into in my company when trying to explain the concept of Agile team members and feature teams. Just because everyone on an Agile team should be able to take on any task to deliver the software doesn't mean you don't have specialists in Dev, Test, and Analysis. It also doesn't mean that you assign tasks stupidly to those least capable. Most of the time people will be working in their specialty, but they have secondary skills that allow them to take on other types of tasks when over flow occurs in those tasks. A DevOps specialist is focused on the deployment and configuration process and they primarily get that kind of work, but can help with other types of tasks when necessary. Similarly, just because teams are capable of working on any part of the application doesn't mean they don't specialize or that you assign work to teams outside their specialty willy nilly. But, if it looks like there is a long term need for another team in some application area, it is possible to have a team move to that specialty and ramp up their capability there with the help of the existing specialists. It might make sense to have a DevOps specialized team with multiple specialties (SA, DBA, scripting, support) represented in that team, but with flexibility to handle work in other areas, but perhaps at a lower capability that a team specialized in that area.

about 8 months ago
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Mathematical Proof That the Cosmos Could Have Formed Spontaneously From Nothing

Dastardly What is nothing? Re:Its not nothing (612 comments)

I think more physicists need to work on the physics of "nothing". I don't think we really understand "nothing". In addition there are different kinds of "nothing".

We have the "nothing" of empty space-time where particle and energy pop in and out of existence. What happens when there is a lot of nothing? 1 atom per cubic meter, per cubic kilometer over millions of light years?

Even then there is still space-time. What happens when there "nothing" means no matter, no energy, and no space-time?

Or, what happens when the universe expands to the extent that the visible universe contains no matter, and the CMB has cooled to a hundred negative powers of 10 or more. Does space-time lose meaning?

The impression I get from current physics is that "nothing" is unstable. Has anyone studied "nothing" sufficiently to show that there is not some effect proportional to the amount of "nothing". Of course, how do you even talk about a quantity of "nothing"? But, what if the more "nothing" there is, the greater the so called quantum fluctuations, such that something is inevitable.

about 8 months ago
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The Next Keurig Will Make Your Coffee With a Dash of "DRM"

Dastardly Re:Why? (769 comments)

Hilariously expensive?

I guess the Keurig one at $10 might be, but there are several for $5 or less. In just 100 uses you are talking a nickel or less without the waste.

about 10 months ago

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