Sustained engineering idiocy

Plumbing channels waste water into a series of larger and larger pipes till it is expelled. That’s because sewage flows downstream, which explains the quality of goods that test, operations, and sustained engineering teams receive. After all, they are downstream of design and development. I’ve written about pushing quality upstream for testers in “Feeling testy”…

5

De-optimization

Why? Why! Why do managers make stupid decisions that cause devastating churn and tawdry results? And it’s not just managers, though they are particularly proficient at promoting poor performance—architects, leads, and individual contributors flood the lives of their team with wasteful, useless, misdirected activity, leaving us even less opportunity to deliver real value. What reason…

2

NIHilism and other innovation poison

Is innovation the act of creating something new (as the dictionary claims) or is it building upon the work of others? To me this is a fundamental question that Microsoft as a company and as a culture has gotten horribly wrong. We deal with the consequences every day. It shakes our self-esteem and cripples our…

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Nailing the nominals

People are always looking for that amazing breakthrough technology or process that solves all their problems—enhances their love life, trims their waist, and improves the productivity of their development team. That’s why process manias like Agile and Six Sigma are so enticing. Just splat the Scrum tag on your development team and “bam!”—your team is…

9

I would estimate

When I’m discussing challenges with fellow engineers, the first topic that comes up isn’t estimation—it’s career and people challenges. That’s why those issues are so rampant in these rants. However, “How do you generate task estimates?” is always among the top non-moaning-about-your-manager-or-mates topics. After all, estimation is predicting the future. There are so many unknowns…

6

My experiment worked! (Prototyping)

It’s summertime. Time to sit out in the sun and daydream, perhaps on a vacation or a weekend afternoon. When your mind is relaxed at times like these, you often think of beautiful new ideas. You further develop those ideas and then, when the time is right, perhaps early in the next release cycle, you…

3

Opportunity in a gorilla suit

  It’s annual review time at Microsoft. We differentiate pay between high, average, and low performers in the same roles. Thus, it’s time to calibrate those who’ve made the most of their opportunities in the past year with those in the mainstream of solid engineers and those who haven’t quite kept pace with peers. Eric…

4

No column for June – Preparing for annual internal engineering event

Eric Aside I’m taking June off to prepare for the annual event my organization runs internally for Microsoft engineers. (Not a Microsoft engineer? We can fix that.) This year the event is five days focused on various themes for improving engineers and engineering at the company. We’ve got one day focused on product quality, another…

1

Crash dummies: Resilience

I heard a remark the other day that seemed stupid on the surface, but when I really thought about it I realized it was completely idiotic and irresponsible. The remark was that it’s better to crash and let Watson report the error than it is to catch the exception and try to correct it. Eric…

36

At your service

Remember this one, “The microprocessor changes everything!” No, it didn’t. Yes, it had a big impact, but people still fretted about the same problems and tried to accomplish the same things. They just created problems and accomplished things more efficiently. How about, “The Internet changes everything!” No, it didn’t. Yes, it had a big impact,…

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