* Posts by William Roberts

5 posts • joined 22 Sep 2011

Women in IT: ‘If you want to be taken seriously, dress like a man’

William Roberts

I recall a consulting assignment where our seven person team showed up the first day in full business attire (per SOP) and all of the customer team showed up in blue jeans and sports shirts. At the end of the day, the team lead got us altogether and said "Tomorrow we all show up dressed like the customer." A fast trip to the mall to buy a pair of jeans and a couple of shirrts and the next day when we walked in, the atmosphere dramatically changed. What could have been a rough visit became smooth and friendly. Fitting in is the first rule.

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British computing pioneer James Martin found dead in Bermuda sea

William Roberts

A software pioneer..

As an information modeler and database designer, much of my understanding of the art can be attributed to studying his scholarship.

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Happy birthday, Lisa: Apple's slow but heavy workhorse turns 30

William Roberts

I was lucky enough to have used a Lisa

The team I worked with at Phillips Petroleum from 81-85 used the Lisa as a standard office workstation. It was a revelation after my earlier experience with IBM AT technology and software. The integrated software was far ahead of its time. In '85 Apple came and demonstarted the Macintosh. When we found out that the software from Lisa would never be migrated to the Mac, we laughed them out of the conference room. There was simply no way the inital Mac could ever compete with the Lisa. To this day, I have a hard time understanding how it ended up on the trashheap.

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What Compsci textbooks don't tell you: Real world code sucks

William Roberts

A case in point

I remember well a day over 17 years ago when I was handed some code and a database that an inexperienced programmer had been working on for months, but suddenly gave notice. I was told it was mission critical and needed to be finished ASAP. Well, I managed to make it work, but it was some of the most terrible software I had ever seen.

I suggested it should be completly rewritten from scratch, including the database, but I was assured that it was "temporary" and would be thrown out as soon as a suitable COTS package was found. Eventually maintenace was turned over to a series of other programmers, but just 2 years ago, the database was migrated from Sybase to Oracle and it's still in use.

A package is already installed and in use that has features to support the requirement, but since that new package is "corporate" and the old application is "local", it will never get replaced.

Is there any need to mention that management most emphatically does not want to pay for a testing suite?

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Web surfers stumble upon new planets

William Roberts

Why make light of this accomplishment?

I object to the use of the word "stumble" as derogatory. You are making light of a significant contribution by lay participants in a major scientific effort. Your use of "stumble" implies that the discovery was accidental. A participant examines data provided randomly to a group of participants. A substantial number of participants agreed that the data met the established criteria. There is nothing accidental about it.

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