Andrew Cooke | Contents | Latest | RSS | Twitter | Previous | Next

C[omp]ute

Welcome to my blog, which was once a mailing list of the same name and is still generated by mail. Please reply via the "comment" links.

Always interested in offers/projects/new ideas. Eclectic experience in fields like: numerical computing; Python web; Java enterprise; functional languages; GPGPU; SQL databases; etc. Based in Santiago, Chile; telecommute worldwide. CV; email.

Personal Projects

Lepl parser for Python.

Colorless Green.

Photography around Santiago.

SVG experiment.

Professional Portfolio

Calibration of seismometers.

Data access via web services.

Cache rewrite.

Extending OpenSSH.

C-ORM: docs, API.

Last 100 entries

[Link, Music] Music To Steal 2017; [Link, Future] Simulated Brain Drives Robot; [Link, Computing] Learned Index Structures; Solo Air Equalization; Update: Higher Pressures; Psychology; [Bike] Exercise And Fuel; Continental Race King 2.2; Removing Lowers; Mnesiacs; [Maths, Link] Dividing By Zero; [Book, Review] Ray Monk - Ludwig Wittgenstein: The Duty Of Genius; [Link, Bike, Computing] Evolving Lacing Patterns; [Jam] Strawberry and Orange Jam; [Chile, Privacy] Biometric Check During Mail Delivery; [Link, Chile, Spanish] Article on the Chilean Drought; [Bike] Extended Gear Ratios, Shimano XT M8000 (24/36 Chainring); [Link, Politics, USA] The Future Of American Democracy; Mass Hysteria; [Review, Books, Links] Kazuo Ishiguro - Never Let Me Go; [Link, Books] David Mitchell's Favourite Japanese Fiction; [Link, Bike] Rear Suspension Geometry; [Link, Cycling, Art] Strava Artwork; [Link, Computing] Useful gcc flags; [Link] Voynich Manuscript Decoded; [Bike] Notes on Servicing Suspension Forks; [Links, Computing] Snap, Flatpack, Appimage; [Link, Computing] Oracle is leaving Java (to die); [Link, Politics] Cubans + Ultrasonics; [Book, Link] Laurent Binet; VirtualBox; [Book, Link] No One's Ways; [Link] The Biggest Problem For Cyclists Is Bad Driving; [Computing] Doxygen, Sphinx, Breathe; [Admin] Brokw Recent Permalinks; [Bike, Chile] Buying Bearings in Santiago; [Computing, Opensuse] Upgrading to 42.3; [Link, Physics] First Support for a Physics Theory of Life; [Link, Bike] Peruvian Frame Maker; [Link] Awesome Game Theory Tit-For-Tat Thing; [Food, Review] La Fabbrica - Good Italian Food In Santiago; [Link, Programming] MySQL UTF8 Broken; [Link, Books] Latin American Authors; [Link, Computing] Optimizatin Puzzle; [Link, Books, Politics] Orwell Prize; [Link] What the Hell Is Happening With Qatar?; [Link] Deep Learning + Virtual Tensor Machines; [Link] Scaled Composites: Largest Wingspan Ever; [Link] SCP Foundation; [Bike] Lessons From 2 Leading 2 Trailing; [Link] Veg Restaurants in Santiago; [Link] List of Contemporary Latin American Authors; [Bike] FTHR; [Link] Whoa - NSA Reduces Collection (of US Residents); [Link] Red Bull's Breitbart; [Link] Linux Threads; [Link] Punycode; [Link] Bull / Girl Statues on Wall Street; [Link] Beautiful Chair Video; Update: Lower Pressures; [Link] Neat Python Exceptions; [Link] Fix for Windows 10 to Avoid Ads; [Link] Attacks on ZRTP; [Link] UK Jazz Invasion; [Review] Cuba; [Link] Aricle on Gender Reversal of US Presidential Debate; {OpenSuse] Fix for Network Offline in Updater Applet; [Link] Parkinson's Related to Gut Flora; Farellones Bike Park; [Meta] Tags; Update: Second Ride; Schwalbe Thunder Burt 2.1 v Continental X-King 2.4; Mountain Biking in Santiago; Books on Ethics; Security Fail from Command Driven Interface; Everything Old is New Again; Interesting Take on Trump's Lies; Chutney v6; References on Entropy; Amusing "Alexa.." broadcast; The Shame of Chile's Education System; Playing mp4 gifs in Firefox on Opensuses Leap 42.2; Concurrency at Microsoft; Globalisation: Uk -> Chile; OpenSuse 42.2 and Synaptics Touch-Pads; Even; Cherry Jam; Lebanese Writer Amin Maalouf; C++ - it's the language of the future; Learning From Trump; Chinese Writer Hu Fayun; And; Apricot Jam; Also; Excellent Article on USA Politics; Oh Metafilter; Prejudice Against The Rurals; Also, Zizek; Trump; Why Trump Won; Doxygen + Latex on CentOS 6

© 2006-2017 Andrew Cooke (site) / post authors (content).

Reflections on First Consultancy Gig

From: "andrew cooke" <andrew@...>

Date: Mon, 8 Jun 2009 14:51:37 -0400 (CLT)

I finished my first job in the capacity of a "consultant" and have been
thinking about how it went (ie worrying over the problems).

Technically, things generally went well.  I perhaps didn't worry enough
(or early enough) about efficiency, but this is perhaps more a social
issue than a technical one: even if you know a system can be made quick
enough in later iterations, "it's slow" is an immediate reaction of anyone
who tries it.

The technical/social distinction continues to be misleading, because my
first social issue is also a technical one: that I didn't think about the
future of the system.  Who will maintain and run it?  And do they have any
interest in it succeeding?

Related to that, did I provide what the client wanted?  I am not sure I
did.  There was an existing application that looked very good, but had a
poor technical basis.  I developed a new system that provided the
technical infrastructure on which a replacement could be built (or to
which the existing system could be moved).  That's fine, technically, but
it would have been much better received, I think, if it had been
implemented as a progressive extension to the existing system.  An
adaptive approach like that would have had the following advantages:

- The final result would integrate the existing presentation layer, which
looked good.

- During development I would have seen "real life" loads from the upper
layer, which might have led to slightly different (efficiency related)
implementation choices.

- The process for supporting the existing system would have adapted
gradually to the new system.

So why didn't I do this?  One obvious reason is that it sounds like a lot
more work.  But it turned out that we had enough time to implement much
more than anyone originally hoped.  So, at least in retrospect, I could
have taken much longer - half the functionality, better received, would
have been a decent tradeoff.

Another reason is that there was both poor communication and a fear of
poor communication.  The approach sketched above requires good
communication, I think.  But perhaps pressing forwards would have improved
communication to the degree necessary?  It is hard to argue against the
alternative - that by striking out alone, I made communication even worse.

All above is particularly galling because, while I don't think I am the
world's greatest communicator, I do think I am aware of my limitations and
sensitive to the kinds of issues described above.  I was certainly aware
of problems half-way through, when we gained an extension for more work;
at that point I knew I was not involving the client, but had not grasped
the extent of the problem.

While my *internal* process might be described as agile - many small
cycles, code always close to deployable, etc - I failed to implement what,
to me at least, seems to be agile's greatest tool: client participation. 
And the key to client participation, in this case, would have been
adaption of the existing system.

Andrew

Comment on this post