Scott McKinney

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since Nov 29, 2002
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Recent posts by Scott McKinney

Well said Warren. I guess the whole point of your theory (and mine) is that software development is extremely communications intensive. Extremely. And it is so easy, too easy, to mess things up really, really bad---when the parties are both from the same culture and speak the same language, with the same accents.
Now add another culture with different accents...throw in some idiom differences, sprinkle in some resentment and you have a recipe for very very bad things to happen which offset the supposed savings. Swap out Indian for Russian for Irish and the same thing applies.
My first European project had me talking to an Irish guy about a dev environment setup...I had NO idea what he was saying. None. I pretended. And his country was speaking english long before America was even a discovered. Was his english the "correct english"? Who cares. Who had the accent, him or me? That's a matter of perspective of course. What is undeniable is that we could not communicate effectively with each other in a job that requires constant communication.
The more I think about it, the more I dont see offshoring as a viable option to software development to the extent that ite been attempted or protrayed. I used to fume about how our industry (app dev) was so loose, so non standard, so fly by the pants, so anything but repeatable. We're not "software engineers". Engineers have a common standard that they could measure themselves by. They have repeatable solutions and a discipline. They follow science. We, on the other hand, keep reinventing the goddamn wheel. How many friggin web frameworks do we need? How many languages do we need? Who the hell had the time or inclination to invent Ruby, Jython, Python, PHP, and all that other crap out there. Ant's not good enough so some fool invents Maven. Even UML cant stand still and now we'll add crap like MDA, aspects, generics and a bunch of other useless stuff. All in the name of cool. All in the name of "this is more elegant". So here we are in 2004, coding stuff that looks a lot like structured programming using an object oriented language. Where are all those objects that we could reuse? Remember...that was the selling point. Reuse. We dont reuse anything. VB widgets was the closet thing I saw to reuse. EJBs? Most people cant even get it right, much less reuse them around the enterprise.
The whole point of this is a mickey mouse industry that just wants to reinvent the wheel all the time. And reinventing the wheel requires coding. And coding requires communications. Among team members and between teams. This is not manufacturing. We can send shoes to Malaysia to be sewn/manufactured by peasants, or TVs to China. Get a machine out there to do it and it could be outsourced. Cost is the issue. Communicating with the Malaysians or the Chinese is not the central issue. Fortunately for those unemployed in the states, communications is required for software development.
Now all we need to do is convince them to USE that fact. But no. No. These same folks are gonna get certs. They're gonna talk aspects or generics. They're gonna visit Slashdot. They focus so much on tech that they will contribute to their demise. If tech is the issue and the commodity, then go for the lowest price. deserve to be unemployed. You bring nothing to the table if all you have is tech skills.
Name me one, where failure was due to lack of tech skills. I'll show you 5 that failed due lack of communications. And this was among Americans. No accents. No language issues. No excuses to fail.
They did fail. They do fail. And they will continue to fail until either software gets easier to write (remember CASE) or people value and use communications within a project team.
There is a third option. Standardize this stuff. Stop reinventing the wheel. Make a "software engineer" a true engineer like a Civil Engineer or an architect.
But it wont happen. And that's where I'll make my money.
18 years ago

Then there is the Indian term "fresher", meaning, I think, a job applicant fresh out of school

Awwww...damn. I thought freshers were young women (the fresher, the better?)

I know the brits go to "uni" (university) whereas Americans always go to college, even if it's a university. And I made the mistake of thinking chutney was jelly (or was it marmalade?)--either way I spit it out very fast.
Taking the "tube" was nice, thankfully not as painful as a colonoscopy.
So about those freshers....
18 years ago

Actually, that is a UK/US language difference that would mean that I could write a test so that you can write it?
Alternatively, I hear that Marcus Green has written some nice tests that people wrote?
UK origin or not, this is absurd. The American way isn't better, which implies's clearer. Books are written. Manuscripts are written. Plays are written. Songs are written. Tests are written, by the author/publisher and *taken* by the test taker.
If I write a song, am I listening to it? Is this another UK usage?
If I write a book, am I reading it? Or am I writing it?
That said, I'm sure people will continue to this term in this fashion, if not by habit, then for spite.
[ April 12, 2004: Message edited by: Scott McKinney ]
18 years ago
"There's communication skills, and there's language skills, and the two are not identical"
And it's a matter of semantics. For all intents and purposes they are identical. For example, on another thread here, somebody is saying they wrote a test. Hmmm. ok. But wait. If you read further, they said they did very well on it as far as they could tell.
They did not *write* a test. They took a test. Hell, I thought the guy was an author.
Not a big deal? Ok. I'll go ask a developer to take some code for the company. Am I implying theft or otherwise shady behavior? Or did I ask him to write some code?
Speak for yourself if you believe developers are nothing more than technical, but uneducated blue collar workers. You can have the $5 hour Indians that "write" tests. My team depends on crisp, clear communications and it's hard enough to communicate to business analysts, the user community, executives, QA, et al. Coding is the least difficult part of our jobs.
[ April 09, 2004: Message edited by: Scott McKinney ]
18 years ago
You have 7 months of JSP servlet experience, no EJB experience and you want to compete with engineers who you admit have years of experience? And you expect a cert to help you? This is the problem with certs as they are currently dispensed. They are worthless. Failure on a project is as useful as success since at least you now know what doesn't work. Experience is everything.
18 years ago
I agree with John completely. But I don't see a MS Math to be equivalent to MSCS. If it was, it would be called MSCS. That said, I can point out a dozen or so developers or architects that that have economics, history or other non-related degrees and are damned good. The ability to communicate effectively should not be underestimated. We try to use UML to takes us as far as we can, but at the end of the day, clearly communicating in english is absolutely key. Projects dont continually fail because some team didn't have the requisite knowledge in Java (or whatever technology). Projects nearly always fail due to communication related issues (usually in the form of "I liked you what guys built, but that's not what we wanted or asked for").
18 years ago
"I'm anxious to compete with Indians in India. I have met several of them fresh off the boat in the US. Their English is not up to where they can communicate with US customers until they have been here for quite some time."
Well said. I see it (hear it) everyday. I work with them...and I ignore them. I get tired of saying "what?...what did you say?...what?". And that's just verbal communication. Just look around here at Javaranch and you can witness poor communication skills en masse.
Today, I learned we hired an Indian for a Struts project...who doesn't know Struts. The over/under says he lasts 3 months max. I dont fear them technically and smile when they try to communicate progress at staff meetings and everyone pretends to understand them. Some of them are good. Damn good. But many of them are just cheap. The Indian Bogeyman is a facade. Like the Japanese of the 80s, they too shall fall.
18 years ago

IMO, universities really only do well at the basics or core of knowledge. They cannot keep up with Websphere, Weblogic vs OAS.

This is intentional. A university is not a vocational school. It is an attempt to instill a broad foundation of knowledge touching many subjects in order to develop a more well rounded person. Universities dont produce plumbers or electricians or carpenters. Is this what you want? A university curriculum devoted to Weblogic 8.1 SP2?
Universities intentionally require students to take courses in otherwise unrelated subjects (to app dev) such as art, history, the sciences, etc. Hopefully, the result of this is a person who is able to carry on a conversation at a cocktail party about things unrelated to technology.
Maybe I am losing faith. I see developers as a business person first, a technologist second. Maybe this line of work is indeed reserved for people with no interests besides technology--just hand them a spec and tell them to just shut up and code.
I scream everytime I see another languange invented or another framework or another set of taglibs to do the same damn thing we've been doing for years, except some group of geeks insist they "have a better way". This is the same group of people that marvels at crpytographic syntax, yet describes it as elegant; and since they could figure it out, they must be smarter than the average guy.
I remember an interview with a Big 6 firm years back...I questioned why they hired history majors and music majors when we were a technology consulting firm. I had such a narrow mind. Those liberal arts types were some of the best consultants I ever knew. They didn't see the world threw a stack trace. They saw the bigger picture. I also remember the managing partner telling me something that stuck till this day: "we dont hire skills, we hire intelligence."
so profound.
Needless to say, they didn't hire from ITT Tech or any of the vocational schools.
[ March 23, 2004: Message edited by: Scott McKinney ]
18 years ago
28 months, Tim? Wow. But I dont get the sense that you are upset about it. It seems to be a choice for you, which is cool. I'd love 28 months off. I was more referring to "the sky is falling" posts on I saw about 6-9 months ago with folks almost bragging about how long they've been unemployed. I think they were waiting for the same salary level jobs that disappeared and wouldn't adjust to the new market.
28 months? I envy your position.
I had to come back and edit this post. The mensa comment made me think. Mensa means high IQ or otherwise extremely high "book" intelligence. It's an asset, no doubt. I wish I was mensa material. But then I thought about this TV show on NBC with Donald Trump -- The Apprentice. To recap, 16 candidates are "interviewing" to be the president of one of Trump's businesses. It's a great reality type show. Some of the 6 remaining candidates do not even have a college degree. Fired were a few MBAs, a PhD (she was such a *****), a med student and otherwise "higher" quality candidates by virtue of book intelligence alone. I'll take street smart over book smart, personally. Hell, even Mr. Gates dropped out of Harvard. On the other hand, Trump went to Wharton. It's a toss up.
[ March 23, 2004: Message edited by: Scott McKinney ]
18 years ago
Interesting take on that. I guess it would be somewhat related to say that someone unemployed for 6 months, or 9 months, etc....would not be as bright as someone with no gaps in employment. We know that's not necessarily the case, but like salary, gaps could be construed as a signal.
Ancedotal evidence suggests the gap theory to be somewhat true. The brightest people I know are "somehow" never unemployed for long. And I find it facinating to read about the "I've been unemployed for 18 months" stories--it makes me wonder if these are college age kids living at home with mom. Who on earth can *afford* to be 18 months without a job?
The guy who's been watching Oprah for 18 months may be bright, but would you take a chance on him? Isn't it a subtle indicator that there may be a reason why he hasn't found a job in (let me clear my throat) 18 months?
I'm not sure I agree with your position though, Mark. I hated revealing salary info...until I started making nice coin. Then I had no problem revealing it when asked. One of the reasons someone might want to withhold that info is leaving money on the table--they were offering $70/hour for the contract and you confessed you were making $50. Very valid in this case, *if* you could step up to the performance level expected of a $70/hr. person.
Somehow, I think no one is overpaid for very long, but potentially overpaid for very long. And if you know you are underpaid for years and years, then you are not underpaid--your lack of (whatever) which is causing you not to get your true worth, is in fact your true worth. Over time, we all end up at our market worth.
In my experience, there are definite differences between a 40k guy, an 80k guy, and a 120k guy. No offense is intended to anyone at any salary level. It just is what it is.
18 years ago
An weblog by Sue Spielman
Wow. Sit tight and enjoy. It gets really heated. Natalie should like this one.
18 years ago
I guess that's where I'll respectfully disagree with you Michael. No one will pass an interview with me or get my blessing if they can't speak and write basic english. And definitely not now in an era of lots of candidates vying for few positions. He can lay bricks or cut someone's lawn, but he sure as hell is not going to participate on my team. Coding is not a blue collar job, despite attempts to push it in that direction.
I read your (RHE) book Mike. (Great book by the way). Your answer surprised me. I would think you of all people would appreciate the value of communicating. If you wrote like him, do you think we would all praise the book so highly? Would it have sold so well? Would you have received as much royalties, etc.? What if you wrote well, but the R and H guys wrote like crap?
I think you get my point. And no, he's not applying for a job as an author, but the relevance in my opinion is there.
Let's raise the standards of what it means to be a developer instead of lowering them. Let's be proud of our profession.
19 years ago
I'm glad someone made sense of the question. Upon first reading it, I had NO idea what this guy was trying to say. Even reading it a second and third time, I can't admit to understanding what he's getting at.
Now who wants to step up and say they would hire him, even as a junior IT type, when he can't even communicate well in a few sentences?
19 years ago