Be wary when something is defined by expressing what it is not. This is usually a sign that the definer cannot articulate the meaning clearly or doesn’t understand the subject clearly. Nevertheless, this is the best way to define punctuation: all the stuff that is not letters or numbers. The primary elements of punctuation are shown in the punctuation primer below. (more…)
Archive for the ‘Observation’ Category
The basics of English can be captured in just nine classes of words traditionally called parts of speech. Here they are in (my) priority order:
There is more and more impotent and arrogant punctuation cluttering up professional writing, email, and literature. Here is an example email that I received from a vice president of a Fortune 500 company. All of the different forms of emphasis are his.
English is a complex human creation, and it is as quirky as those of us who speak it. We expect certain structural attributes: symmetry, regularity, consistency, and logical construction of words and phrases. In general, our language delivers well on these features, but occasionally, or even frequently, quirks surface. A whirlwind tour through some counterintuitive usages illustrates this point.
Most software projects require a complex web of sequential and parallel steps to achieve success. As the scale increases, more overhead steps must be included just to manage the complexity of this web. All project processes consist of productive activities and overhead activities. Productive activities result in tangible progress toward the end product. For software efforts, these activities include prototyping, modeling, coding, testing, and delivery. Overhead activities, which have an indirect impact on the end product, include management, planning, documenting, progress monitoring, risk assessment, metrics collection, configuration control, regression testing, personnel training, and business administration. Another source of overhead is unnecessary scrap and rework.
For those of us with logical brains who want to see some symmetry in the English language, here is disappointing news: English is not very logical or symmetrical.
There are many common double negatives that are proper English. However, there are positive ways to say exactly the same thing with no confusion. (more…)
Setting any project’s expected delivery date or its planned resources is a kind of prediction. Many project managers have been faced with the dilemma that it is impossible to predict the future, but that is our job. The best way to improve predictions is to apply what is called Bayesian reasoning.
Suppose you are the project manager for a software product that your organization needs to be delivered in 12 months to satisfy a critical business need. You gather your leadership team, perhaps an architect a development manager and a test manager, and analyze the project scope and constraints to estimate the resources and time needed. You employ empirical models that estimate the project should take 11 months. Excellent! What do you do with that information?
Successful software outcomes are highly dependent on continuous negotiations, accurate predictions, value judgments, innovations, team collaboration, architects, agility, market conditions and user demand. Success is much less dependent on quality of contracts, Gantt charts, critical path schedules, earned value measurement, laws of physics, material properties, mature building codes and certified engineers. Software delivery is more a discipline of economics than it is of engineering because it is a complex endeavor that is inherently non-deterministic…there is much more uncertainty.