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Software engineering employment pet peeves

Reid M. Pinchback
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Joined: Jan 25, 2002
Posts: 775
I thought I'd start a new thread for fun, see where it would lead.
Once upon a time I was in a department that went through TQM (total quality management for those who haven't heard about it before). One of the things we used to do in tackling organizational problems was (a) list off all the things we could do wrong in our attempt to solve the problem, and then (b) figure out ways not to do those things. It may sound odd, but it was actually pretty helpful.
So, most of us hanging out at Javaranch are developers. We've obviously experienced things that we think are pretty numb. What is your pet peeve, and what would you have done differently? Maybe someday we'll figure out a way to build a better company, or at least a better boss.
Here is one of my big pet peeves:
People who insist something can't be done, just because they don't have the skills to do it.
My solution: management by consensus doesn't work for everything. If you have a problem to solve, and somebody is willing to take a crack at it, delegate it to them completely. Limit their resources to something reasonable, but otherwise get out of their way. If the attempt fails, at least it will be an honest failure, not failure-by-default because nobody even tried to fix the problem. You can at least learn from honest failures, but inaction is not a learning experience.
Another solution: train people effectively; sometimes past jobs have been better at creating bad habits and mental blocks than in helping an employee build skill and flexibility.
Ok, that is one of my peeves. What are yours?


Reid - SCJP2 (April 2002)
Thomas Paul
mister krabs
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Joined: May 05, 2000
Posts: 13974
Programmers who insist that the company re-train them at the companies expense.


Associate Instructor - Hofstra University
Amazon Top 750 reviewer - Blog - Unresolved References - Book Review Blog
Reid M. Pinchback
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Joined: Jan 25, 2002
Posts: 775
I take it you are referring to individuals who refuse to learn something on their own? (e.g. send me to a class on 'X' because I'm too lazy to read a book about 'X'). I've seen that, never understood it. I thought techies were supposed to *like* learning new stuff. :-)
Rufus BugleWeed
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Joined: Feb 22, 2002
Posts: 1551
Management squeezed me into a desk one foot from
my peer and 6 feet from my bosses boss.
He got mad at us for listening to things that
were bread and butter to us.
This was not a startup on a shoe string budget.
I'll bet a days pay to a dollar you or a member
of your immediate family have used their product.
SJ Adnams
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Joined: Sep 28, 2001
Posts: 925
I have so many 'pet peeves' it almost makes me feel like giving up software development and becoming a farmer.
First off it's got to be managers that are trying to move up the corporate ladder with their own secret adgenda. Generally it gives rise to new projects that have tight deadlines, then you find out that the department upstairs is working on a near identical project & suddenly the project is scrapped and I lose my job.
Next off, those people who seem to be paid for every line of code they write, generally these people enjoy making things obscure so they are the only people who can fix things when they go wrong, and of course they go wrong too. A great example follows:
There was a requirement to take a datafeed and put the data into a database. A contractor was taken on. He developed the solution in perl by writing his own xml parser, each packet of data (a news story) was written to a new datafile, he didn't know how to get the data into the database so another contractor was given the task of reading the datafile, inserting it into the database and moving the file into another directory, he did this in java. He just inserted the data into a single table, this was not what was needed, so a wannabe DBA wrote a trigger on the table to populate the tables where the data was supposed to go.
Everything was finished and the application turned on. News stories came in every second or so & the java app couldn't keep up with the files being written and the trigger took several seconds to execute and the hard disk soon filled up with datafiles. Needless to say the project died, the contractors left, the manager moved on...
Ashok Mash
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Joined: Oct 13, 2000
Posts: 1936
My misery is losing out to colleagues who are good in talking, and talking only. There are so many of them around and I seriously think one day if I walk out of this business, it will be because of them. And most of the managers are willing to buy that talk, because that helps them to impress their seniors.
Found this on net and it is relevant to this discussion I guess.
Copyright� 2002 Nicholas A. Corcodilos. All rights reserved. Reproduction prohibited. Ask The Headhunter� and The Crocodile? are trademarks of Nicholas A. Corcodilos. Photo copyright� Judith Canty 1997.
[ June 10, 2002: Message edited by: Ashok M ]
Please post a link to the article above, since it is copyrighted and reproduction is prohibited. Thanks. Marilyn
[ June 10, 2002: Message edited by: Marilyn deQueiroz ]

[ flickr ]
Reid M. Pinchback
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Joined: Jan 25, 2002
Posts: 775

First off it's got to be managers that are trying to move up the corporate ladder with their own secret adgenda.

Yeah, I've seen a fair number of those. I had a boss whose 'secret agenda' was to hide the fact that he was incompetent and probably not entirely sane. You weren't supposed to communicate directly with other people; you sent your email to him, and then he'd re-write it before sending it out, claiming you as the author. For example, a VP was overseeing the QA phase on a major project, and she wanted testing plans from developers. I wrote up my test plan, and then my manager cut all the specifics out so that we weren't committed to actually doing anything. We may as well given the VP a blank sheet of paper, because the remaining words in the plan were total nonsense. Oh yeah, and the plan still had my name on it. The project plans were even worse. Needless to say, with idiocy like that I decided not to work there any more.
I don't see myself walking out of the programming business, but I suspect one day I'll probably get serious about setting up some business of my own, probably a consulting company the size of a single team. No managers but me. No employees but the people that report to me. No politics, because if I see politics starting I'll boot his or her backside out the door.
 
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