Weird Software Engineering Proverbs

This is how I work in my career.  Some of these are counter-intuitive and require explanation.

Shipping code wins. On schedules: Picking an arbitrary deadline is often moreefficient than carefully planning things out.  I've spend 20 years decrying this, but if you add up the time you spend planning, negotiating schedules, then executing, it's less pain if you just work-to-deadline and throw features overboard in the process.On teams: A disciplined team of professionals cultivating mutual trust will outperform a team of talented jerks.  There are exceptions, but only if you're writing the Linux kernel or something requiring 10x insights daily.On technology selection: Always pick the technology 1 step behind the bleeding edge, because it's mature and documented For example, when everyone was going to Rails, use Spring MVC.  This will reduce your technical risk profile in every single case.  Treat everyone as though they might be your boss someday.Code only exists if it…

Is Dr. Who Done?

It's been tough to be a Whovian in the past few years.

First there was the Clara denouement, in which show-runner Steven Moffat demonstrated he cannot write for women.  Then, there was no Dr. Who in 2016, period, and we suffered through the rather uneven Series 10 and Bill the social justice warrior.  Last, we're in another break, as we wait for almost another year (October 2018) to see the first female doctor, Jodie Whittaker.

Taking a look at the Revived Era, from 2005 on, we've gotten regular installments of the Madman in the Box since 2010, especially during the Matt Smith era.  The irregularity of the Capaldi era removed the show from the cultural zeitgeist, and made it "that show we used to watch."

One could plot New Who like a fired artillery shell, with the Eccleston series 1 as the beginning, the Tennant  era as the meteoric rise, and the Matt Smith as the apex, and the Capaldi era as the fall to the target.  Truly, at times during Series 9, it felt lik…

Toyota Jumped the Shark Today


“With our rivals and the rules of competition also changing, a life-or-death battle has begun in a world of unknowns,” [Toyota CEO] Toyoda said during a fiscal update last week. “Cost reduction is crucial. It is a fight to restore our original strength.”
Dear Toyota USA
I read the article below and it sickens me. You are a great company well on the way to being FCA if you take your eye off product and think only of Expense controls. Having worked for a company that cut expense for 17 straight years (when it wasn't spending $3 Billion to buy companies it had no idea what to do with), let me be the first to say, this will not work, and it will drive your talent away. It's not employees' fault that Tundra is a dead stick. Chevy makes oodles of cash off the Tahoe/Suburban line and you can't move the metal. Your hybrid strategy is a money-losing mess. Y…

Two week review: 2018 Honda Civic LX 6MT

I've toyed with the idea of doing a video review of this car.  If you'd like one, leave a comment

So, I've had a 10th Generation 2018 Honda Civic since April 24th.  I had a little car trouble and found myself in need of a car.

Crap.  Nothing like buying a car in the middle of Spring, when everyone else is buying a car thanks to Tax Refunds.   Middle of the model year.  No incentives.  Yaaaaay.

My short list went like this:

Ram 1500GM half-ton with the 5.3 V8Buick LacrosseLexus GS350Honda Accord So basically: Truck or car?Practical or practical or practical. I needed something practical I could put my wife and girls in.  I was driving around in a sweet full size Chevy Impala, so I was feeling a car again, hence the Lacrosse being on the list.
I 86'd the GM as it drove too big, and Whitney homed in on the Ram and the Buick as her top 2.  On April 23rd I took off work and we went driving during the morning and early afternoon.  The accord was too stiff, but we drove some Ci…

On "Avengers: Infitnity War"

As the lights go up after a comic book movie, there are reactions one expects: Awed silence; various onomatopoetic words like "Whoa!," or (in the DC Universe) grim reflections that it either did or didn't suck as much as expected.
One does not expect seething, shocked anger like the gentlemen next to me, "Well, I'm glad I never saw Black Panther," or the repeated, mindless exclamation of a teen across the auditorium. This movie BROKE ME.  This movie completely BROKE ME.  I am Broken. Truly, after Infinity War, I think none of us will be the same again.  Our happy childhood of origin stories and side quests is over.  The reality (stone?) of us dutifully hitting the bar in our rat cages marked "comic book movie" with our $$$ since 2007 is  coming to pass. 

Or, as Master Mordo said in a (much better) comic book movie: "The bill comes due."

(Note: I'll try to avoid spoilers)
Too Many  The film opens with....geno…

An Open Letter to the Ford Motor Company on the Ford Fusion Hybrid Braking System

Dear Ford Motor Company, My 2010 Fusion Hybrid crashed today. No, I didn't smash into anything...the electric traction system in my car crashed in the computer sense as I was rolling towards a stop sign. I was left without power brakes. Thankfully this was at ~5 mph so just stomping really hard on the pedal yielded a stop. As I approached the stop sign in electric drive mode (engine off), my dashboard lit up light a Christmas tree, displaying warning lights I didn't know I even had. The display shouted 'SERVICE ADVANCE TRAC SYSTEM' and my brake pedal went almost to the floor. To fix this, I did the old IT trick: I turned it off and turned it back on. Problem "solved." This seems a rather serious failure mode, as without the engine running, there's no vacuum to power the brakes. As the car can run with the engine off up to 45 mph, I'd rather not imagine stopping from that speed sans a brake booster. Having been around embedded software, I can understa…

On Communication

Martin Lomasney, an old West End political boss from Boston, is best remembered for his warning to young politicians everywhere — “Never write if you can speak; never speak if you can nod; never nod if you can wink”.