• Subject: RE: What counts as technically slick?
  • From: Joel Fritz <JFritz@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 6 Apr 2001 08:03:13 -0700

Before I was a programmer I spent 13 years as a heat treater.  One of the
things that's a regular part of the job is using baling wire to make one
shot fixtures for loading parts into furnaces.  I was taught how to wire by
a man who believed in "good enough."  I later worked with a guy who made
little wire baskets that put my crude looking simple knots and loops to
shame.  The only problem with the cute little wire baskets was that they
didn't work any better than the simple knots and they took three times as
long to make.  

Even though I love learning the latest and greatest stuff, I can't see the
value in something that applies it that doesn't work very well.  I think
part of the definition of a technically superior solution has to include
something like "it works."

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Jim Damato [mailto:jdamato@dollargeneral.com]
> Sent: Thursday, April 05, 2001 5:39 PM
> To: 'MIDRANGE-L@midrange.com'
> Subject: RE: What counts as technically slick?
> It cuts both ways.  My second job was for a large System 38 
> shop where some
> of the "most technically competent programmers" were all 
> co-opted by one
> Director who put them all on the sweetest development projects.  As I
> started these folks were just finishing up an application 
> rewrite that took
> advantage of the coolness of the new OPNQRYF command.  This 
> Director viewed
> most of his staff as dullards who couldn't cope with the 
> change from RPG II
> to RPG III, and who didn't take the time to learn and use 
> something as slick
> as OPNQRYF.  The system crashed and burned when it went live 
> because the
> team didn't realize what their code was going to do (build 
> huge access paths
> on the fly) with production data.  Other teams had to go in 
> and shoehorn
> position and read logic all over the place to replace all the 
> OPNQRYF logic,
> reacting to major performance problems for months after the 
> fact.  The best
> and the brightest went on to failed client-server attempt after
> client-server attempt, eventually being retrained on Sybase and VB.  I
> distinctly remember one of them arguing with a data entry 
> user who didn't
> understand why she had to use a mouse on her order entry 
> screen.  I'm sure
> they're all developing x-tier web apps. on Oracle for 
> companies needing
> applications that are good enough, with as few administration 
> points (points
> of failure) as possible.
> I'd love to hire the most technically competent programmer as 
> long as he or
> she knows how to exercise restraint.
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