Recent Feature Articles

Feb 2017

Blind Obedience

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Murray F. took a position as an Highly Paid Consultant at a large firm that had rules for everything. One of the more prescient rules specified that for purposes of budgeting, consultants were only allowed to bill for 8 hours of work per day, no exceptions. The other interesting rule was that only certain employees were allowed to connect to the VPN to work from home; consultants had to physically be in the office.

The project to which Murray was assigned had an international staff of more than 100 developers; about 35 of them were located locally. All of the local development staff were HPCs.


What Bugs Beneath

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Fly-swatter

During the interview, everything was gravy. Celestino Inc. was doing better business than ever before, and they were ready to expand their development center. They had all the keywords Gigi was looking for: Java 8, serving up a SPA for a hot new streaming product, outsourced from a company with money to burn but no developers of their own. She loved the people she'd interviewed with; they were smart people with great ideas. It'd been a long, grueling job hunt, but it'd been worth it. Gigi was eager to work with the technology, not to mention having plenty of budget and a greenfield to work with.


The Second Factor

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Famed placeholder company Initech is named for its hometown, Initown. Initech recruits heavily from their hometown school, the University of Initown. UoI, like most universities, is a hidebound and bureaucratic institution, but in Initown, that’s creating a problem. Initown has recently seen a minor boom in the tech sector, and now the School of Sciences is setting IT policy for the entire university.

Derek manages the Business School’s IT support team, and thus his days are spent hand-holding MBA students through how to copy files over to a thumb drive, and babysitting professors who want to fax an email to the department chair. He’s allowed to hire student workers, but cannot fire them. He’s allowed to purchase consumables like paper and toner, but has to beg permission for capital assets like mice and keyboards. He can set direction and provide input to software purchase decisions, but he also has to continue to support the DOS version of WordPerfect because one professor writes all their papers using it.


Table Driven Software

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We've all built table driven software. In your engine, you put a bunch of potential callbacks into some data structure, perhaps a map, and call the relevant one based upon some key value. Then the calling logic that uses the engine has some structure that holds the key(s) of the method(s) to be called for some context. If you change the key(s) for a given context, then the corresponding method(s) that get called change accordingly. It's neat, clean, efficient and fairly simple to implement.

At least you'd think so.