An Experiment In Scotch

I write to discover what I believe

Month: July 2007

Chances Are It's You That's Stupid

In my experience in the software development world, people tend to have one of the following three reactions to a new technology or process:

  1. This is so stupid.
  2. I can’t do this, please do it for me.
  3. I don’t understand, can you help?

You can learn a great deal about a team member or employee just based on this reaction alone.  The first person expects all problems to exist external to themselves.  If a co-worker immediately reacts to a new tool with “This is stupid”, I know I don’t want to have them on my team.  These types of people don’t consider the why’s of a decision, only the outcomes.  Their immediate reaction is always one of blame and not self-inspection.  They are a contagion to a team that requires flexibility because they embody inflexibility.  Helping these people is almost always an exercise in futility because to them, it’s always something (or someone) else’s fault.

The second group are the give-uppers.  They may toy with it for a bit but only superficially before running to the expert in the hope he will save them from expanding their boundaries.  These people are nearly as detrimental to the team’s morale but they are highly detrimental to the team’s productivity.  They are net negative for teams that require high efficiency to operate effectively.

The last group are the ones you want to have around.  When they don’t understand, chances are they’ve struggled with it for quite awhile and are now looking for some insight as to why things are done a certain way.  They typically don’t want the problem solved for them but they aren’t afraid to ask for a little help.  They realize that there’s probably a reason for everything but they just don’t know it yet.

I get frustrated a lot when dealing with something new but I try to always remind myself to step back and think for a second regarding the problem.  Chances are, I’m missing the big picture or not looking close enough internally before rushing out to blame the technology or process.   Just because something doesn’t do what you expect it to doesn’t make it stupid.

Why Less is More

The more I work in IT, the more I realize how insightful the Pareto principle really is.  While it doesn’t apply directly to IT, it certainly rears its ugly head here a lot.  For example, to this day, years after a certain developer left who shall remain nameless to protect the guilty, we have code in production that consistently contains bugs even though that very same code has contributed many bugs in the past.  This fellow didn’t contribute anywhere near 20% of the code but his code helps us know where to look for a good chunk of the 80% of the bugs.

On the flip side, I think it’s apparent that in almost any field of work that doesn’t require a 10 year degree or that you don’t get paid $7 million a year to do, 20% of the people do somewhere close to 80% of the work.  Thinking statistically, this probably has something to do with approximately 16% of the people being one or more standard deviations above the mean.  There are lots of leeches and bloodsuckers who float along on the tails of people who actually do work.  Strangely, the more hierarchical a company is, the more leeches there are around.  I think it’s because the hierarchy protects them from being found out.

So how do you either find a job where everyone is in that 20% or start a company and hire those people?  If it’s the former, look for a flat organizational structure, one where the concept “team” isn’t a dirty word.  If it’s the latter, and you have an answer, I’d love to hear about it.  In reality, I know how to find and hire them, I just have to find the idea for the company first.  So if you have an answer for that, drop me a line.  🙂

Random Brain Dump Post

It’s been 2 and a half weeks since I wrote anything and while I don’t think I have anything of note to note, I’d hate to get out of practice.  So this is a random brain dump post where I just write for a little bit about pretty much the most boring stuff in the world.

K and I went to my family reunion last weekend and I had fun while she suffered admirably.  Seriously, I think she mostly enjoys the family reunion especially now that they have a casino one exit away from the hotel.  I have fun hanging out with the family for the weekend and this year, the food was much better.

Softball is going well now that we aren’t stuck in the competitive league.  We’re 4-0 which makes playing much better than 0-4 though I tended to drink quite a bit more beer when we were losing.  That could be a pro or con depending on your views.

Pandora is losing a lot of weight but seems to still have energy so I think that’s ok.  I’m a little worried about her but she seems to be doing fine.

I built a new computer two weeks ago and I’m pretty pleased with the results.  That really should be a separate post but given my non-postyness, it warrants mention here.  It’s got an Intel Core Duo chip with a 320 GB hard drive and two 22-inch monitors.  That last part makes me happy just typing it.  40 inches of screen real-estate is fun to try and use.

That’s  it.

"We're Spreading Toilet Culture"

No words suffice, just make sure and see the slide show.

Our Mainstream Media Lets Us Down

Remember the story last week about the 20 decapitated bodies found in Iraq that was splashed all over the major outlets? Yeah, it wasn’t true. The American people are left in the dark both by their own politicians elected to serve their interests and by an independent media that seems to be anything but.

Someday, probably soon, Americans will get tired of being treated like idiots and small children. I can’t wait.

God's Prayer Response Technology

I’ve always wondered how God decided to answer prayers and what prayers had precedence over others.  I think I’ve finally figured it out.  God uses Microsoft Message Queuing for his prayer aggregation and his queue server went down last year, at least the queue server that took in prayers for rain in the DFW area.  God’s queue server came back up around May 15th and instead of having some nice error checking in there to see if the timeout has been exceeded, God (or his proxies, proxies tend to be dumb enough to do such things) is answering all the “Please let it rain in DFW” prayers from last year as the queue server catches up.

Nothing else can explain the fact that we’ve been getting rain every day for the past 3 weeks during a time period when we should be praying for rain.  God could really use a decent QA team and a bug tracking application.  Let this be a lesson to you: always set an explicit timeout on your queue messages prayers just in case the default is Timeout.Infinite.  God works in mysterious ways.