Wednesday, March 28, 2007

"Gutless Estimating" - Excerpts from "The Mythical Man-Month"

The following is a excerpt from the classic book "The Mythical Man-Month".
Read on the following paragraph carefully. Sit back, close your eyes and think for the next 2 minutes. Frederick P. Brooks, Jr. the "father of the IBM System/360," has written these lines 20 years ago. So little has changed over these 20 years...

Gutless Estimating

Observe that for the programmer, as for the chef, the urgency of the patron may govern the scheduled completion of the task, but it cannot govern the actual completion. An omelette, promised in two minutes, may appear to be progressing nicely. But when it has not set in two minutes, the customer has two choices—wait or eat it raw. Software customers have had the same choices.

The cook has another choice; he can turn up the heat. The result is often an omelette nothing can save—burned in one part, raw in another.

Now I do not think software managers have less inherent courage and firmness than chefs, nor than other engineering managers. But false scheduling to match the patron's desired date is much more common in our discipline than elsewhere in engineering. It is very difficult to make a vigorous, plausible, and job-risking defense of an estimate that is derived by no quantitative method, supported by little data, and certified chiefly by the hunches of the managers.

Clearly two solutions are needed. We need to develop and publicize productivity figures, bug-incidence figures, estimating rules, and so on. The whole profession can only profit from sharing such data.

Until estimating is on a sounder basis, individual managers will need to stiffen their backbones and defend their estimates with the assurance that their poor hunches are better than wish-derived estimates.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

An universal format for resume

My most of the latter half of last week went into scanning resumes for a test automation position. HR in its part had dumped into a MS Outlook folder, quite a few resumes from internet job postings and candidates applied for the job posting on our company website. Given the enormous amount of work it takes to scan through the resumes for the right set of skill set and experience, I'm wondering if its high time the software industry propose an universal format for resumes.

Automated tools could scan the machine readable formats and save the drudgery of reading through pages text to get simple information like years of experience and skill set. This had prompted me to looked into wikipedia for a definition of resume. One format that had caught my attention was the hResume . Any new initiative requires big names to support it. Its time for the big companies to support a common initiative. The smaller one will follow suit.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Two Blogger bugs

After having started blogging, I've started looking at everyday things more critically. I noticed two things with that caught my attention.

I have this habit of creating a blog post and saving it as draft. After many a iterations of writing and rewriting, I finally publish the post. Often times the gap between creating the post for the first time and publishing it takes several days. I have several draft post that I work on at any given point in time.

I created a post on February 26th, finally published this post on march 4th. The published date on my blog still lists as february 26th instead of march 4th.
The other bug related to my blog title, I'll still drafting.

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The Elusive Bug by Rajesh Kazhankodath is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 India License.