Recent Feature Articles

Aug 2018

A Shell Game

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When the big banks and brokerages on Wall Street first got the idea that UNIX systems could replace mainframes, one of them decided to take the plunge - Big Bang style. They had hundreds of programmers cranking out as much of the mainframe functionality as they could. Copy-paste was all the rage; anything to save time. It could be fixed later.

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Senior management decreed that the plan was to get all the software as ready as it could be by the deadline, then turn off and remove the mainframe terminals on Friday night, swap in the pre-configured UNIX boxes over the weekend, and turn it all on for Monday morning. Everyone was to be there 24 hours a day from Friday forward, for as long as it took. Air mattresses, munchies, etc. were brought in for when people would inevitably need to crash.


A Tapestry of Threads

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A project is planned. Gantt charts are drawn up. Timelines are set. They're tight up against the critical path, because including any slack time in the project plan is like planning for failure. PMs have meetings. Timelines slip. Something must be done, and the PMs form a nugget of a plan.

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That nugget squeezes out of their meeting, and rolls downhill until it lands on some poor developer's desk.