Tag Archives: fun

1-year-old thinks a magazine is a broken iPad

Starhub MaxOnline and speedtest.net

I have a Starhub MaxOnline Premium connection. Ostensible it provides a download speed of upto 30Mbps. I am happy to pay the extra price for the increased bandwidth. But am I getting more bandwidth for muy money? How much more?

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SEMAT, Software Engineering, and the fashion industry

Apparently there is going to be a revolution in the software development world, backed by some very illustrious names in the industry. In the words of Ivar Jacobson, one of the people behind it:

We are some people who have observed software engineering theory and practice of the past decades and have realized that it is now time to revitalize this discipline. We have been quietly planning a “revolution”.

And here is the “Call for Action” statement for this revolution (called SEMAT — Software Engineering Method and Theory):

Software engineering is gravely hampered today by immature practices. Specific problems include:

  • The prevalence of fads more typical of fashion industry than of an engineering discipline.
  • The lack of a sound, widely accepted theoretical basis.
  • The huge number of methods and method variants, with differences little understood and artificially magnified.
  • The lack of credible experimental evaluation and validation.
  • The split between industry practice and academic research.

We support a process to refound software engineering based on a solid theory, proven principles and best practices that:

  • Include a kernel of widely-agreed elements, extensible for specific uses
  • Addresses both technology and people issues
  • Are supported by industry, academia, researchers and users
  • Support extension in the face of changing requirements and technology

The list of signatories to the “revolution” is quite impressive. See for your self on their web page. Sounds good? But not everyone agrees, as you can see on this blog. The author of the blog has an issue with the very framing of the problem:

But this is an entirely misguided movement. Let’s analyze the call for action, bit by bit. It begins:

Software engineering is gravely hampered today by immature practices. […]

[…]

Never mind that people in the community (most prominently Tom DeMarco) have spoken against this paradigm, or that software development has little to do with most established engineering disciplines: the people behind SEMAT have chosen to ignore these criticisms and move on.

Fair enough. This critique reminds me of this really old paper, called “Masterpiece Engineering” that you might have heard of. Apparently, there were people doubting whether software development is really engineering even when the term was first coined circa 1968.

But what interests me is this statement by SEMAT:

The prevalence of fads more typical of fashion industry than of an engineering discipline.

So if Software Engineering is not engineering, could it be fashion? Let’s see. Here are my observations:

  • Formal study: (a) Electrical Engineer: formal degree required; (b) Software Engineer: formal degree not required; (c) Fashion Designer: formal degree not required
  • Work: Engineers: work hard; (b) Software developers: work harder; (c) Fashion Designers: while they are apprentices, work their ass off; as soon as they “become” a designer, stop calling it work and start calling it art; the amount of work/art that needs to be done everyday is inversely proportional to how good you are considered
  • Respect: (a) Electrical Engineer: gets some respect from the people who work for him, for his knowledge; gets respect from people he works for (the “business folks”) only if he can keep the cost low; (b) Software Engineer: gets no respect from anyone, including the janitor services, unless he accidentally makes some money from a dot.com IPO; (c) Fashion Designer: gets respected both by people who work for him, and people who he works for, directly proportional to how much he/she is exploiting them
  • Fame: (a) Electrical Engineer: not famous, with rare exceptions of people who have managed to make something that has the astonishing capability of being really appealing to customers and their company’s marketing department at the same time; (b) Software Engineer: not famous as long as they are doing the right thing; you need to write a worm that brings down the ‘net to be famous and maybe not even then (c) Fashion Designer: often famous, especially if the product simultaneously manages to be feckless (you don’t know whether its a skirt or a bandanna) and useless (does not cover the body)
  • Discipline: (a) Electrical Engineer: practices great discipline in work; (b) Software Engineer: is expected to work with discipline during office hours and continue to work with passion until midnight; (c) Fashion Designer: discipline is death!
  • Creativity: (a) Electrical Engineer: as his experience grows, tries his hand at more creative things; (b) Software Engineer: to start with, because he does not know much yet, everyone around is too busy to teach, there is no training budget, and anyway the product has to ship by month end with no time to learn anything, has to be creative by using the only tool he know to do everything; only after gaining much experience can he stop being creative and actually do thing properly; (c) Fashion Designer: your creativity is defined to be inversely proportional to how many people can afford your clothes

So, from the above, it is clear, fad or no fad, a Software Engineer’s life is nothing like a Fashion Designer’s. It is also not like an Electrical Engineer’s.

P.S.: while I have a Bachelors and Master degree in Electrical Engineering, and I have been developing software professionally for some time now, my profound knowledge of the fashion industry is gained entirely from the movie The Devil Wears Prada.

malevole – Programming Language Inventor or Serial Killer?

Can you recognize a computer geek from a serial killa?

malevole – Programming Language Inventor or Serial Killer?.

Hilarious.

I got a 9/10, for the record.

NATO Software Engineering Conference 1968

Apparently, all the problems and proposed solutions (aka Methodologies) that we discuss today were discussed more than 30 years ago, at the NATO Software Engineering Conference 1968. The proceedings of the conference did not feature one paper that was presented—Masterpiece Engineering—because it was not serious enough.

It’s a pretty enlightening “paper”, and—after 30 odd years—a fresh perspective on that problems of the software “engineering”.

(Got to this via the excellent book “Dreaming in Code” by Scott Rosenberg.)

The world is … flat?

From slashdot: The Flat Earth Society. What is this about? Well, people who really believe that the Earth is flat. Read the FAQ. It has gems like:

Q: “Why has no-one taken a photo of the Earth that proves it is flat?”
A: The government prevents people from getting close enough to the Ice Wall to take a picture.

It seems on first sight that the flat-earthers are much more civil to the ‘Round Earthers’ who visit their forums than other people who disagree with the mainstream.

How to choose clothes to wear

  • Choose according to your station

    • Choose according to what looks good on you

      • Exclude what you wore yesterday

        • Out of the rest, choose what you like

That free lunch that you were talking about….

Reading on BBC:

From his office in Nevada, entrepreneur Dennis Hope has spawned a multi-million-dollar property business selling plots of lunar real estate at $20 (£10) an acre.

This guy has made $9m till now.

Buyers include Hollywood stars, large corporations – including the Hilton and Marriot hotel chains – and even former US presidents Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter. George W Bush is also said to be a stake holder.

What drives me nuts is:

day. He allocates land by simply closing his eyes and pointing to a map of the Moon.

So, uh, who said there was no free lunch? I mean, by the time this guy’s claims are challenged in court, he would have enjoyed much of that $9m.

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Plotting the future with aplomb

From http://www.iftf.org/features/map_of_the_decade.html:

Want a quick tour of the future? Each year, the Institute for the Future plots the big trends that will define the coming decade on an AT-A-GLANCE graphic map. Scanning the Map is a little like swallowing a time capsule from the future–and getting very smart very fast!

More cool words:

  • The Group Economy: Organizing for sociability
  • Lightweight Infrastructures: Rethinking the movement of goods and services
  • Sensemaking: The new science and technology of meaning
  • Farming the Planet: Ground zero for global turbulence
  • Transformational Geography: The new role of the global south
  • X-People: The intentional evolution of human being

Wow, this site really reminds me of http://huhcorp.com.

Who funds these guys? Looks like it is a membership driven privately funded organization.

Who are these guys? The roots were engineers from RAND corporation. Now? A group of researchers with technical degrees, and some technical experience.

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What’s the difference?

From http://www.iftf.org/:

We provide the foresight to create insights that lead to action.

From http://huhcorp.com/:

We provide distinct clients with groundbreaking business strategies and cutting-edge designs to aggressively and creatively compete in a changing economy.

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