May the Force Be With You

I don’t know why I waste my time teaching statistics and quantitative methods when I could be teaching people how to use the force instead.  Do you remember how Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ben), teaches young Skywalker how to use the force?  Luke is training against some type of floating ball.  Of course Luke can’t hit the small beams coming at him from inside the floating ball.    Obi-Wan blindfolds young Luke with a helmet and says, “act on instincts.” Obi-Wan encourages Luke to ignore his eyes. Once Luke is blindfolded and uses the force he is able to hit all the small beams coming at him. In software development we call act on instincts expert opinion.  It seems like software developers use the force.

Too often when  someone  is asked, “How did you come up with your estimate?” they reply, “expert opinion.”  They are acting on instincts instead of using quantitative analysis.  Don’t get me wrong often instincts can give you insight into estimates and understanding projects status, but it should not be a substitute for quantitative methods.

The best part of the movie Star Wars Episode IV is when Luke is making his final approach to destroy the Death Star.   He is flying at a couple times the speed of sound and he has to hit a small target which is about one foot by one foot.   Time is running out and all the other attempts have failed to destroy the Death Star.   Luke hears the voice from the other side (Obi-Wan), the voice says, “Use the Force Luke.”  Luke looks around and thinks about it and the voice tells him, “Luke trust me,” so Luke turns off all the quantitative instruments.  Of course, Luke launches his rockets guided only by instinct and they are right on the mark and the Death Star is destroyed.  My advice is when creating an estimate, or when asked about project status it is best to let the force guide you.  When asked how you came up with your estimate simply respond, “The force was with me” and refer them to the Star War movies or this blog.

Just imagine how your next performance review could be worded.  In the Stars Wars movie Darth Vador says about Luke, “The force is strong with this one.”  Now wouldn’t it be great if your boss would write that about you.  That is something you could put on your resume.

Read more at Reboot! Restarting and Rethinking Software Development.


Pair Programming versus Cheech & Chong

Cheech and Chong, a 1970’s comic act, portrayed themselves in one of their skits as Siamese twins that were not identical.  They were paternal twins physically connected at the hip.  Of course this was impossible, absurd and a very laughable idea.  Whenever I hear about pair programming I can’t help but think about Cheech and Chong and the absurdity of the idea.    It is like asking two teenagers to share a phone.   It ain’t going to work folks.  It is absurd and laughable.

The idea is that one programmer writes code and the other programmer stands over his or her shoulder and watches for mistakes. When the first programmer gets tired they switch positions.  I think they are suppose to touch hands like professional wrestlers do in a a tag team wrestling match.  How cool would it be to called something like Stone Cold Coder or Diva Developer.  You could go to work dressed in costume.  Instead of programming sessions you could have smackdown sessions.

You don’t have to implement Agile to try out  the idea of pair programming.  I would suggest  trying pair writing.  Have one person start to type and have another person stand over them and correct them as they go.    This is an awesome idea! I am curious to see how long this process would last.  How about pair cooking?  You have one person cook and another person correct them as they go.  How about pair driving?  You could have one person sit in the backseat and correct the driver.  I think that is called back seat driving.

Read More at Reboot! Rethinking and Restarting Software Development.

Agile Methods and Other Fair Tales

If you are having a hard time coming up with a pseudo name for your pair programming job check out the auto Professional Name generator at  wrestles –

Professional Wrestling –

The Software Guru Speaks Again

Whenever I get worried about the future of software development, I go up to the top of the mountain to see the Great Exalted Software Guru.

 A few days ago I found him sitting crossed legged in front of his cave in a robe reading a book about Zen and meditation.   I placed a new 3.0 gig USB drive at his feet and bowed gracefully.

 “Oh Master” I said,” please tell me the future of software development.”

 The Great One Said, “the past is the best indicator of the future.  Those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat their mistakes”

 “Wow that is really profound, did you make that up.”

 “There is no new knowledge only old knowledge packaged differently. “

 “Oh Master” I said, “but the in the past software developers and their leaders have made many mistakes.”

 The Great One nodded in agreement and replied, “yes, they will make more mistakes, and it gets worse before it gets better.”

 I said, “that sounds bad.”

 The exalted one said, “It could be good.  It is better to get worse before getting better than getting better before getting worse.”

 Thinking out loud I said, “Wow, I never thought of that.”

 The exalted one said, “That is why I am the exalted one.”

 The exalted one exalted, “Do you remember Y2K?  The software developers were wrong about that problem.  Do you remember dot com, they were wrong about that one too.  Do you remember when software started to outsource in the 90’s, wrong again.”

 I nodded yes in agreement.

 Then the great guru of software said, “software developers need to meditate on their customers problems not on the code.” 

 I was taking notes as quick as I could.   I said, “but the code” he interrupted me and exalted again, “do not focus on the code. The code will only lead you down the dark side.  The path of happiness is found in deep meditation about your customers problems.”

 I thought about these great words and I asked, “Will this actually happen in the world of software.  Will software developers try to understand their customers before they code?”

 The exalted one replied, “no, because software developers are slow learners and this why they make so many mistakes over and over again.  This can be the only explanation.”

 I was trying to digest this wisdom when the exalted one said, “I must go and watch Dr. Phil.”  Just like that he stood up picked up the USB drive and quietly walked into his cave.

More from the guru….