Software Engineer’s Blog

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Caste system in software development

Indian society was practising caste system wherein human beings were classified into Brahmins (typically priests & teachers) who are custodians of knowledge , Kshatriyas (typically royal families) who are protectors, Vaisyas (business class) who hold money and Shudras who serve the rest …. and then there is outcasts as well who do not belong to any of this …

This is almost gone though its traces remain still in isolated pockets …. it was a system which maintained some kind of balance but what is worst about it is that it straightjackets human

World has a way of repeating itself …. in the software industry, which is run & practised by the educated, still practices a kind of caste system while one job is considered inferior to another …. management is great and many of the managers I know has long lost touch with the current technologies …. architecting is great but how can that happen without testing …. then testing is considered to be inferior … of course, situation is gradually changing

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December 16, 2004 Posted by | software engineering, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Myths, Jargons and software engineering

Yet repeatability, reusability and predictability are illusive goals sought to be achieved by many software development houses for decades now ….. new fads replaces old ones, new methodologies replace old ones, new standards replace old ones and new tools replace old one …. each time with significant improvements, admittedly …. problem is often not with the new stuff coming in but rather the hype associated with it …. invariably, it fails to live upto expectations of business houses at large; especially small & medium houses which are focussed on delivering rather than moving on the bleeding edge of technologies ….

They do not have neither time nor money to spend blue sky researches ……. after all, aren’t engineering houses meant to run their businesses based on already researched, proven solutions? …. is not research more close to science …. may be, science of engineering or technology …. still research is scientific activity …. why should a small business house spend time on research with many unknowns?

In many of my assignments related to architecting, I find practioners struggling to calibrate a standard or derive their own across many projects …. variables across these projects are many to allow any reasonable calibration …. the kind of technology they work with (client/servner, J2EE, .Net etc), the development team concerned (their skills, experience vary significantly even within an organization), process followed (especially considering that it evolves the individuals, teams and the organization learns) ….

How much is the rework happening? how much of earlier work is being reused? no mattter, whether it was intended to be reused in the first place or not …. what is the work involved in learning and tweaking as required? what is the impact of such changes? how much familiar the team is with the technology? process followed?

I am aware that these questions are answered in the methodologies? but how much of it is actually practised? …. the point is the moment we talk about a methodology, what follows is a ritualistic adoption …. somewhere down the line, focus shifts to either following the process (or at least, pretending to …. and thereby creating a lot of overhead) or dumping the so called process

The point is, if we have to take engineering to software industry ….. many of what is claimed as engineering has no engineering in it; it is more of a research work… it is hightime that it comes out of intellectual, academic echelons …. beyond the hypes and jargons … which is what I am striving for in my consulting assignments

December 16, 2004 Posted by | software engineering, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Down the memory lane

I have been in software development for last 20 years involved with various activities like programming, training, consulting, team building, career development, etc

I started my career as a programmer in 1984. In those days, programming or software development as a profession was not common in this part of the world. When a commoner enquires about my professions, the closest thing that they could relate is to is Television and the only technical person they come across is a mechanic … closest analogy for me those days was TV software like News, Soap Operas etc.

We were using computers Cyber 170/730 and NEC 1000/20D for programming, languages were FORTRAN & COBOL and software development was for internal use for data processing & report generation.

IBM PCs with MS-DOS started replacing mainframes in our work environments also by late 80s. Consequently, moved to using & developing PC based softwares. By early & mid 90s, we were into the bandwagon of networking, internet, hypertext, web, OO, Java & multimedia.

With the revolution in computing around the corner, consequent growth in complexity was obvious and it was clear that the ad hoc approach to software development would not suffice. By early 90s, I had started evangelising & practising software engineering practices and, by mid-90s, training & consulting as well.

Through Dot-Com days and past Dot-Com burst, I continue to practise, evangelise, and train & consult on software engineering practices. Key to success so far has been due to emphathetic listening & close working with the customer, planned working & close monitoring and working with the right people & building good relationships

December 13, 2004 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Learning in nostalgic moments

Thanks to the wired world, I could establish contact with one of my old colleague & friend …. who maintains a blog in the same place ….. www.mathewkoshy.blogspot.com …. with the same template …. coincidence or may be, something more than that …..

We were chatting on MSN Messenger, we discussed many things … many of which actually opened my mind …. it is too early to even scribble out here as the thoughts on those lines are still evolving ….

I remember him as a person with strong convictions …. I am glad he is pursuing his goals with his convictions yet moderating himself to be accomodated in the world at large …. I foresee his vision of blending of knowledge & software engineering imminent.

I wish him all the success

December 13, 2004 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Homage to a Legend

Most of us, if not all, are proud of the work we do … many things we have done in the past …. the differences we make in the lives of our own, our near & dear, world at large … in our own small ways (wonder, if any one can truly be happy & content at hurting others)

Yet, we find ourselves caught in the active & endless pursuit of happiness …. Is that not within us? … Easy to preach but difficult to practise…. Being content with whatever is as good or bad as being complacent … This is what scriptures, whatever religion or philosophy, talk about …. but does not motivate any action?

We find people working with conviction …. no matter what happens …. conviction in the knowledge, conviction in what we believe in, conviction in what preach …. practise whether the world adores or not …. yet care for the world around … help the world around in their own small ways …. They are the people who are respected …. They are the people who are remembered ….. yet they do not do whatever they do for the purpose of being respected or remembered …. well, there are bogus ones as well … but then they get exposed in the long run or they live in a perpertual fear of being exposed

What made me write all this is the news of sudden (because I had no clue of her life/illness) demise of M S Subbulakshmi, well-known carnatic musician of our times …. She was truly a legend ….. Though I do not know her in person …. Somehow, some image is engraved deep in my heard with whatever folklore I have heard of about her ….. It makes my heart feel heavy …. Have we lost something?

But then, what is reassuring is that a world has a way of repeating itself …. proving the basic values one stands by …. own own convictions and living as per those convictions … yet causing harm to none …. being good wherever one can …. even when goodness is perceived as a weakness ….. She may not have faced all these and if she has or now, I shall never come to know …. nor am I interested ….

All I seek to reassure myself is that there is still a place in the world for human values …. and based on my conviction on those values, the respect for the fellow human lives being a key one at that, I dedicate myself to those values, as a homage to the parted soul …. no matter whatever scientific developments happen, no matter how threadbare we study human emotions & thoughts, no matter dissect human ethics & values, no matter how we seek to constrain humans through “well-defined” processes in the name of scientific management ….

I am not saying that goals are orthogonal … often they are not …. but yet if I need to take a single dimensional view, I would be with human values

December 13, 2004 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment