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Search - "agile method"
This story is 100% true.
I got hired onto a team of construction workers to build a house. We set up a meeting with Management to find out what kind of house they wanted us to build, where’s the floor plan, what it’s going to be used for, who it’s for, etc. Management said that they didn’t know all that, we should just get started. They told us that we were going to use “Agile” which means that we just work on small deliverables and build the thing incrementally.
The developer team lead argued that we at least need to know how big the thing is going to be so that we can get started pouring the foundation, but Management told him they just don’t know. “What we do know,” Management said, “is that the house is going to have a bathroom. Just start there, and we’ll know more when it’s done. You have two weeks.”
So we just bought a port-a-potty, and screwed around on the internet for two weeks. Management was outraged. “You call this a house? This is the worst house ever! It doesn’t even have a tv!”
So we bought a tv and put it in the port-a-potty, attached to an outdoor generator. We were going to buy a a dvd player and get it hooked up to cable, but Management rejected the expense request, saying that they didn’t know if we needed it, and we’d come back to that later.
Management decided that we definitely need storage space, so we bought a boxcar and duct-taped the port-a-potty to it. Then to our horror they set up some desks and put a few miserable business interns in there. It went on like this…
After a few years the boxcar grew into a huge, ramshackle complex. It floods, leaks, it’s frozen in the winter and an oven in the summer. You have to get around in a strange maze of cardboard tubes, ladders and slides. There are two equally horrible separate buildings. We’re still using just the one outdoor generator for all power, so electricity is tightly rationed.
Communication between the buildings was a problem. For one of them, we use a complex series of flag signals. For the other we write notes on paper, crumple the paper up, and toss it over. Both of these methods were suggested as jokes, but Management really liked them for some reason. The buildings mostly talk to each other but they have to talk through us, so most of what we do is pass messages on.
It was suggested that we use paper airplanes instead of crumpled up balls, but the fat, awkward fingers of the Business Majors who inevitably take those jobs couldn’t be trained to make them. I built an awesome automatic paper airplane folder, but once again they couldn’t be trained to use it, so they just went back to crumpling the notes up in balls.
The worst part of all this is that it’s working. Everyone is miserable, but the business is making money. The bright side is that this nightmare complex is done so now we know what kind of building they actually needed in the first place, so we can start work on it. Obviously we can’t tell Management anything about what we’re doing until it’s finished. They noticed the gigantic hole in the ground where the foundation is coming in, but we told them that it’s a cache reset, and they mostly ignore it except when the occasional customer falls in.
I’ll probably be out of here before the new building gets finished. I could get a 50% raise by switching jobs, but Management still doesn’t think I should get a raise because I missed a couple sprints.7
I'm coming off a lengthy staff augmentation assignment awful enough that I feel like I need to be rehabilitated to convince myself that I even want to be a software developer.
They needed someone who does .NET. It turns out what they meant was someone to copy and paste massive amounts of code that their EA calls a "framework." Just copy and paste this entire repo, make a whole ton of tweaks that for whatever reason never make their way back into the "template," and then make a few edits for some specific functionality. And then repeat. And repeat. Over a dozen times.
The code is unbelievable. Everything is stacked into giant classes that inherit from each other. There's no dependency inversion. The classes have default constructors with a comment "for unit testing" and then the "real" code uses a different one.
It's full of projects, classes, and methods with weird names that don't do anything. The class and method names sound like they mean something but don't. So after a dozen times I tried to refactor, and the EA threw a hissy fit. Deleting dead code, reducing three levels of inheritance to a simple class, and renaming stuff to indicate what it does are all violations of "standards." I had to go back to the template and start over.
This guy actually recorded a video of himself giving developers instructions on how to copy and paste his awful code.
Then he randomly invents new "standards." A class that reads messages from a queue and processes them shouldn't process them anymore. It should read them and put them in another queue, and then we add more complication by reading from that queue. The reason? We might want to use the original queue for something else one day. I'm pretty sure rewriting working code to meet requirements no one has is as close as you can get to the opposite of Agile.
I fixed some major bugs during my refactor, and missed one the second time after I started over. So stuff actually broke in production because I took points off the board and "fixed" what worked to add back in dead code, variables that aren't used, etc.
In the process, I asked the EA how he wanted me to do this stuff, because I know that he makes up "standards" on the fly and whatever I do may or may not be what he was imagining. We had a tight deadline and I didn't really have time to guess, read his mind, get it wrong, and start over. So we scheduled an hour for him to show me what he wanted.
He said it would take fifteen minutes. He used the first fifteen insisting that he would not explain what he wanted, and besides he didn't remember how all of the code he wrote worked anyway so I would just have to spend more time studying his masterpiece and stepping through it in the debugger.
Being accountable to my team, I insisted that we needed to spend the scheduled hour on him actually explaining what he wanted. He started yelling and hung up. I had to explain to management that I could figure out how to make his "framework" work, but it would take longer and there was no guarantee that when it was done it would magically converge on whatever he was imagining. We totally blew that deadline.
When the .NET work was done, I got sucked into another part of the same project where they were writing massive 500 line SQL stored procedures that no one could understand. They would write a dozen before sending any to QA, then find out that there was a scenario or two not accounted for, and rewrite them all. And repeat. And repeat. Eventually it consisted of, one again, copying and pasting existing procedures into new ones.
At one point one dev asked me to help him test his procedure. I said sure, tell me the scenarios for which I needed to test. He didn't know. My question was the equivalent of asking, "Tell me what you think your code does," and he couldn't answer it. If the guy who wrote it doesn't know what it does right after he wrote it and you certainly can't tell by reading it, and there's dozens of these procedures, all the same but slightly different, how is anyone ever going to read them in a month or a year? What happens when someone needs to change them? What happens when someone finds another defect, and there are going to be a ton of them?
It's a nightmare. Why interview me with all sorts of questions about my dev skills if the plan is to have me copy and paste stuff and carefully avoid applying anything that I know?
The people are all nice except for their evil XEB (Xenophobe Expert Beginner) EA who has no business writing a line of code, ever, and certainly shouldn't be reviewing it.
I've tried to keep my sanity by answering stackoverflow questions once in a while and sometimes turning evil things I was forced to do into constructive blog posts to which I cannot link to preserve my anonymity. I feel like I've taken a six-month detour from software development to shovel crap. Never again. Lesson learned. Next time they're not interviewing me. I'm interviewing them. I'm a professional.9
I walk into the kickoff meeting today. The first part of this project had 5 developers and a project manager. Former project manager handled communication and sheltered us from bullshit. We built an amazing piece of software in a very short time. Customers were so amazed that they decided to reboot the project, boost the funding by several million, and let us go again. They specifically requested the same team.
Now the team looks like this: the neediest tester guy, a UX lady that doesn't have any UX background, an agile "visionary", a project manager that doesn't understand how development works, a solutions architect, 3 COTS platform specialists, a devops specialist, and an account lead. They have booked all kinds of workshops and other shit to kick things off.
So development capacity is only 60% of what it was. Management ratio was 1:5 before. Now the management ratio is 9:3. The new project manager thinks developers should be on more customer calls and responding to all customer emails during sprints. We already built this system and devops pipelines end to end. The COTS people, solutions architect, or the UX person can't program. They want us to magically convert this custom application into one based on COTS. What we need to do is make the rest of the business processes that we omitted, integrate known feedback, rework the backend, build better automated testing, improve logging and reporting, add another actor to the system, add a different authentication method, and basically work through the massive backlog.
How do they think this is going to work? Do they think we can download a custom engineered enterprise grade software system from Microsoft and double click all the way to customer satisfaction? The licenses alone are too much for the customer on an ongoing cost basis. I guess we can discuss it during the agile team-building weekend at some remote lake that the team "visionary" has set up. For the sake of fuck.
Like development isn't hard enough. Hire two more developers and lose all of the dead weight. Get a project manager that won't let the trivial shit roll down on us. What the fuck.5
Hey guys, I have a serious question for you: How do you define science?
And yes this is going to be a long Rant. This topic really pisses me off.
A bit of context first. I come from a "humanities" background. I study history and dude, I love it. The problem is that even though we fucking pull our brains out studying historical phenomena with a fucking ton of conceptual tools, our work is mostly seen as literature to entertain the elderly during their lonely evenings. But that's not really the point of this rant.
My fucking problem is that while we try to do some serious work; actual work that could help society for real, it all goes into that magical fucking kingdom called "humanities". HOW THE FUCK DO THEY DARE TO CALL SOMETHING "HUMANITIES". IT'S A FUCKING HISTORICAL TERM THAT MEANS "TO FULFILL MEN IN ALL IT'S ASPECTS", AND NOW THEY'VE REPURPOSED IT, MAKING IT CONTAIN ANY STUDY THAT ISN'T "EMPIRICAL", "OBJECTIVE", ADD ANY FUCKING SCIENTIFIC DELUSIONARY TERM YOU CAN THINK OF.
And don't get me started on "objectivity". Oh boy, your fucking objectivity is hollow as a kid's balloon. There is no such thing as a objective study, even when it applies your "rational" "godly" scientific method. Some guys follow that shit as if it was a fucking religion. I do understand it's useful and all that, but in the end it's just a tool, you can't fucking define "science" by it's tools.
"""Q: What is carpintery?
A: Well, it's hammers, nails and wood. Yep. Hammers, nails and wood."""
THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD WAS FUCKING INVENTED DURING THE XVIII CENTURY, WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU THINK WAS GALLILEI BEFORE THAT? "HUMANITIES"?
Why do I say objectivity isn't posible? Well, guess what? YOU ARE FUCKING HUMAN. Every thing you know is full of preconceptions and fucking cultural subjectivities invented to understand the world. And it's ok, becouse if you understand your own subjectivity, at least you can see yourself in a critical sense, and at least "tend" to objectivity, in the same way functions tend to infinity.
And here comes the best part: people studying "cs" in my university pass most of the time studying a ton of shit that isn't really science, but is taken as scientific becouse it is related to "science". These guys spend entire semesters just learning programming fundational stuff that in my opinion isn't really science, it's just subjective conceptual constructs built to make the coding process better. They only have TWO fucking classes on discrete mathematics and another 3 or 4 in actual scientific fields related to computing. THESE GUYS AREN'T FUCKING BEING TAUGHT TO BE COMPUTER SCIENTISTS; THEY ARE TEACHING THEM TO BE PROGRAMMERS. THERE'S A HUGE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CS AND PROGRAMMING AND THAT IS THE WORD SCIENCE. And yes, I'm being drastic on the definition of science on purpose becouse guess fucking what? I'M PISSED OFF.
"Hey, what are you doing?"
"Just doing science with scrum and agile development."
I understand most of you guys would think of science as "the application of the scientific method", "Knowledge by experimentation and peer-review", "anything techy". Guys, science is a lot broather than that. I define it as "the search for truth", mainly becouse that's what we are all doing, and what humans have been doing to gain knowledge through the ages. It doesn't matter what field of truth you are seeking as long as you do it seriously and with fundaments. I don't fucking care if you can't be objective: that's impossible. Just acknowledge it and continue investigating accordingly.
I believe during the last centuries the concept of science has been deformed by the popular rise of both natural and applied sciences. And I love the fact that these science fields have been growing so much all this time, but for fucks sake don't leave every other science (science as I define it) behind. Governments and corporations make huge mistakes becouse they don't treat history, politics and other sciences seriously. Yes, I called history a "science", fuck you.
And yes, by my definition programming is not a science. I don't know what most of you think programming is, but for me it's a discipline that builds stuff, similar to carpintery or blacksmithing. Now if you are pushing the limits, seeking ways to make computing go further, then that's science. The guys that are figuring out AI are scientists, the guys that are using it to detect hotdogs aren't - unless they are the same person- deal with it. I guess a lot of you guys are with me on this point.
In the end, we are all artisans building abstract tools by giving orders to a machine.
I still have some characters left, so I want to thank the community as a whole for letting me vent my inner rage. I don't have much ways to express myself on these matters, so for me DevRant is a bless.8