Project Horror Story

Posted in entertainment by Kris Gray on September 24th, 2008

I’ve read a lot about process, methodologies, and project life cycles. I’ve been able to put those practices in place quite a bit, and I never though I would be involved in the type of project I am involved with now. I can’t but help blog about it, even though I know its not in my best interest to do so. Anyway, on with the show.

We (as in Method SF) were pulled in about 2 weeks ago to help out on a project that was frankly going into the toilet, quickly. The team had estimated about 8 days of work, for 3 developers to get it all done, and it turns out they were just freakishly optimistic.

The first thing that happens is that our two best flash guys get immediately put on the super hard feature of the site which is this fancy flash video selector.  Then, me and another guy get pulled in to do QA on HTML templates, which have yet to be integrated with the system. Finally, we pull in the last remaining guy on our tech team who wasn’t involved with the project (now 5 of us) to do additional QA and help out any way he can.

Now besides the fact that we know this is a recipe for failure (people go around quoting Mythical Man Month, and something about 9, 1 month baby’s) we still think it is the only way to get the project done by Monday. No not this next Monday (its Tuesday as I write this) but yesterday, which was supposed to be the end of development and the start of QA. They actually worked over the weekend to try to his this date, which doesn’t seem that silly but it gets more ridiculous.

They worked over the weekend, did a whole bunch of work, but it still turns out we won’t be ready to integrate what we are doing in our office with the other groups work till Thursday. We don’t actually expect to be done with development till Friday, and of course they are presenting to the client on Monday.

Now if its a little hard to understand the big WTF here, the gist is that they plan to code 12-14 hour days just to get every feature implemented by Friday, so they can show the client their nearly finished product. The expectations here are not beta quality, but QA complete, getting ready to ship work. That’s never going to happen. The project will be smoke, mirrors, and most likely a Blue Screen of Death.

Monday also happens to be the day that the other group is planning to start phase 2 of the project, with a whole new set of requirements. Not only do they plan to be finished with the current site, they want to add on a whole new batch of work, basically making a QA pass impossible.

All through this process we’ve made attempts to get the left over work estimated and real expectations set, tried to get the customers expectations modified, and basically try to do everything in a smart intelligent way considering we know that the site won’t actually be ready when everyone is really really hoping it will be.

Hoping won’t change reality, if there are 10 people working on 30 features, and its going to take a month, then stop hoping and start doing something productive. Like managing the client, telling them you F’d up and that its going to take longer then expected.

I can’t believe I’m on a project like this, absolutely horrendous.

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StackOverflow, seriously fun leisure reading.

Posted in entertainment by Kris Gray on September 19th, 2008

I’ve really been enjoying StackOverflow since it came out. If your not familiar with Jeff Atwood’s new site, here is the vision statement he blogged about at the onset of the project.

 

Stackoverflow is sort of like the anti-experts-exchange (minus the nausea-inducing sleaze and quasi-legal search engine gaming) meets wikipedia meets programming reddit. It is by programmers, for programmers, with the ultimate intent of collectively increasing the sum total of good programming knowledge in the world. No matter what programming language you use, or what operating system you call home. Better programming is our goal.

 

The core directive Jeff and Joel set out to address was the issue of a good place to go for development knowledge. If you had a question, there should be once place that you know it should either be answered already, or shortly after you ask it.  

Jeff even goes as far as putting up a witty inspirational image with the caption STACKOVERFLOW: None of us is as Dumb as All of Us. Which again references that knowledge-base aspect of the site.

But I’m finding the real value in this site is actually for entertainment purposes. I probably take a break 2-3 times a day, and with my iPhone, when I’m waiting for a meeting or Appt., I can be just browsing the internet 10-12 times a day just killing time. For me to be able to browse StackOverflow and check out what the latest greatest questions that have been asked, questions that I might be able to help out with, or just questions with funny answers that means I get to do more then kill time reading Digg I actually get to learn as my entertainment. 

With that in mind, I think you could take the following Venn diagram Jeff uses to describe the site, and move the Digg/Reddit circle right on top of that asterisk.

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TED: Ideas worth spreading

Posted in entertainment by Kris Gray on January 10th, 2008

In transit between home, work, then back home again (about 50 minutes each way) I’ve been listening / watching every TED video thats available. This is made exceptionally easy using iTunes lovely PODcast subscription services.

Here are some of the ones I’ve been enjoying lately:

  • Habits of happiness : Matthieu Richard, who is a French Buddhist monk gives a talk about happiness, what it means to be happy and how to attain an enlightened state of happiness.
  • African fractals, in buildings and braids : Ron Eglash, this is a hard one to describe, its just interesting.
  • Compassion : Daniel Goleman, His talk is very free flowing and touches many great ideas. I also love his voice and the way he speaks.
  • Winning the oil endgame : Amory Lovins , the environment is one of the more popular subjects, and the ones where we they actually get into it with some facts and numbers, and a way out. Its very informative.

Theres a lot more, but they are hard to find and if your wise you’ll get over to TED.com immediately and discover some of your own favorites.

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