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dws (341)

dws
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http://www.davewsmith.com/

Journal of dws (341)

Thursday August 07, 2003
11:51 PM

Found amidst the rubble

[ #13987 ]
While culling books from the shelves in my study (to make room for more books), I found a quaint little book my grandfather had left me. Eugene A. Znosko-Borowsky's "How Not to Play Chess" (David McKay Company, 1939). In the first chapter, the author writes

"Less pardonable are the obvious mistakes in simple positions, especially in the beginning of the game, which is now so carefully analyzed. One despairs when one thinks of all the effort expended on the study of chess, and of the poverty of results. Year after year the same elementary mistakes are repeated, the same antediluvian traps claim their victims."

Change a few words, and he's talking about the state of the practice in running software projects.

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  • Clearly we should redouble our efforts to study the first steps of a software project!

    • As it happens, about a dozen of the books I culled where project management books. A few of the older ones extolled the virtues of Waterfall. There's been a lot of study on how to run software projects, much of it well-intentioned nonsense.

      I've seem many software projects doomed, or at best crippled, from the outset, either by silly management decisions or by inappropriate choice of methodology. Or by both ("We need this quickly, but we also want to be CMM Level 3 by the end of the year").

      Alas, software

      • I don't think any software project is doomed unless it's completely incapable of solving the customer's needs. That said, there are plenty of doomed projects.

        I'm more interested in the middle of the project, though. No matter how well you start, I think the more discipline and better communication you have when you're actually coding, the better your chances of success. I've been accused of being a cowboy, though, by starting to code so soon.

  • : culling books from the shelves in my study (to make room for more books)

    No no no, you either buy more shelves or a bigger apartment...
    • Every time my SO discusses moving, I start thinking about how hard it's going to be to lug all 6 bookshelves of books around, because they'll all have to be unloaded from the shelves, the shelves themselves moved, the books stored in something else temporarily...

      The apartment always seems more livable after this, somehow. :\

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      You are what you think.
      • Only 6 shelves of books? Sounds easy.

        We had over a dozen shelves of books the last time we moved - that was in 1986. More have been added since then. (We also decided at the time that we were not about to move again for a long time. :-)

        Heck, just my paperback SF is way way over 6 normal sized shelves. They are actually stored on a single custom made "bookshelf". Each "shelf" is made from a 4x8 sheet of plywood. Cut out two rectangles to form a giant letter E. The spine of the E is 6", the 3 cross stroke

        • Well, I'm only 24. I've got plenty of time to get more books.

          Besides, I haven't managed to read all of these yet. I longingly remember the days of my youth, when I would look over the bookshelves at home (a wall of them that was three times my height, then twice my height, then just a few feet taller than me) and realize that I'd read half that whole wall. I don't feel like I have time to read much any more.

          Perhaps I should go carve some out... :\

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          You are what you think.
      • If you're worried about unloading that many shelves, that implies that their configuration is rather static. Don't you find that you periodically need to rearrange things so that you can keep the books you're using now within reach?

        That's my problem. The shelves within easy reach of my study chair were full of old cruft, some of which I unlikely to ever read again in this lifetime. Meanwhile, the stack on the side of the bed kept toppling over, and the stack in the bathroom kept getting knocked over. My w

        • The shelves within easy reach of my study chair were full of old cruft, some of which I unlikely to ever read again in this lifetime. Meanwhile, the stack on the side of the bed kept toppling over, and the stack in the bathroom kept getting knocked over. My wife has banned the stack that was next to my favorite chair in the living room, so those books had to go somewhere.

          I haven't been able to get another bookshelf to put in the bathroom (you cannot imagine what an uphill struggle it was to get a coffee

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          You are what you think.