Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Observations on Product Development: Part 5

  1. The K├╝bler-Ross Model (a.k.a. "The Five Stages of Grief": Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance) is also applicable to product development projects that are in trouble.
  2. Build servers must have monotonically increasing clocks; otherwise builds using tools like make are not reliably reproducible.
  3. Consider completely divorcing your product build system from whatever damn fool build system that generates your root file system; the latter is seldom optimized for the same things as the former should be.
  4. If you want to eventually generate revenue, you must first optimize for developer productivity; everything else is negotiable.
  5. If you don't believe #4, read your company's financial report and see where most of its money is being spent.
  6. Don't build the Taj Mahal on a foundation of sand and loose gravel, no matter what your precious agile methodology says about customer value.
  7. It almost never needs to be gold plated.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

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Macroscopic Quantum Effects and the P vs. NP Problem

This article on the Physics Archive blog cites a paper by Arkady Bolotin at Ben-Gurion University the premise of which is that the fact that we don't typically see quantum effects (like superposition of states) at the macroscopic level (roughly defined as those systems made up of a number of quantum particles above Avogadro's Number) may imply that P != NP.


I have only a dilettante's knowledge of either quantum physics or computational complexity theory, but this is a really interesting idea.

Richard Cook: How Complex Systems Fail

I reread Richard Cook's paper on How Complex Systems Fail this morning for maybe the third time. My only complaint is that the paper is a summary of a ton of safety research over the past several decades without a lot of references being cited. But it's a terrific executive summary, and it mentions the constant tension between safety and production pressure that is discussed at length in the work by safety researchers Jens Rasmussen and Sidney Dekker that I've cited.


Cook's paper is just a few pages long and is worth your time. Cook is a medical doctor whose interest is specifically in patient safety, a topic that Mrs. Overclock (a.k.a. Dr. Overclock, Medicine Woman) and I frequently discuss.

Here's a video of Dr. Cook giving a talk on this topic. (If your device doesn't support Flash you can find the video on YouTube.)