Jerry Pournelle R.I.P

I’m mourning the sudden passing of one of my favorite blog authors, Dr. Jerry E Pournelle (http://www.jerrypournelle.com/ChaosManor). I didn’t always agree with his views (and reading several obituaries published today, I notice this is a common theme) but he never failed to find interesting and important things to discuss.

He wrote about many scientific and technical issues, he shared his many experiences in dealing with modern day software and hardware, and the necessary infrastructure needed to connect it all from the viewpoint of the consumer. His catchphrase “I do these silly things so you don’t have to” was the preface to an entertaining report of his latest struggle to get things working as they were supposed to.

His Phd was in political science and he frequently expressed social, economic and political views as well, and expressed them clearly;  although I often was not in accord with many of them the subject matter did not detract from the quality of the writing.

In any event I am now struggling to find a similar source of interesting and entertaining subject matter on a broad range of topics and I just don’t know where I will find it.

I may attempt something myself, I am sure it is not easy. I once asked Jerry (we never met, but he always replied to my emails) how to get his job and he obviously had many such enquiries. The answer is on his website https://www.jerrypournelle.com/slowchange/myjob.html

I guess it’s time to follow his advice.

 

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Agility

Let me start a topic on a subject that’s been bothering me for some time now.

I’ve been partaking of the Agile/Scrum methodology at work this past couple of years. It is said that Agile is hard to master. I do not think that what I am experiencing is Agile but something else; In comparison to other software development life cycle methodologies I’ve used,  what I am currently doing appears lax and minimalist, requirements often totally inadequate and use of tasking by the development team as thinly disguised micro management. There’s often no project plan or even an awake project manager; the scrum master is hectoring in tone when the burn down chart shows trouble, and communications across teams is poor. We prefer conversations to documentation but since the conversations are not written down and the User Stories are seldom updated, it’s a mess.

I am going to being exploring what Agile/Scrum really is and why it appears so wildly popular. In my place of work it seems mostly popular among those who are not active participants; the business stakeholders and middle/upper management. From a developer’s perspective, it appears arbitrary, incomplete, sloppy and the cause of significant decline in quality. We are supposed to welcome new requirements as we go along but we are also working to a monthly release schedule where complete features have been promised and so we’re often working evenings and weekend to accommodate the poor decisions of business stakeholders.

Discuss.

First Post

Many things spring to mind, I’m starting this as a form of therapy, to improve my writing and give myself a place to express myself and comment on things in general that interest me. Wish me luck!