Software Engineering Affairs Of the Heart and Mind

I’m taking a break from my 20 item TODo list and reflecting on an email I just sent to a prestigious member of the Software Engineering Community.
I signed it with:

"There is subtle irony to the fact that as we go through life our gut becomes more troublesome, yet we trust it more."

While I’m not at liberty to discuss this particular conversation, it did motivate me to come and write about some of my SE activities of late.

At TAMU my body count of direct reports is now 14, with only one full timer (and she’s on her 6 mo evaluation). I am finding (with disclosure already made to my bosses) that this is too many.  Especially since my most troublesome project just went from lab R&D to statewide and possible nationwide attention. 

I won’t get into the issues about transititioning from PhD input in a lab to organizing a group of public end-users with a vested financial interest and all the impacts that can have on requirements!  The issues are: reeling in the coders (I gave them too much rope, they wanted to do Computer Science vs Engineering a solid (but slightly boring) app), getting the automated test suites in place while we are solidifying beta code (yes, it’s feature complete), improving team communication (did I mention they only work 20 hrs a week and that is done over 3 days a week), and instituting automated test/build/deployment (and yes, we have broken our Microsoft tools and have gone to 3rd party resources).

My second set of SE activities revolve around my work with the Texas Board of Professional Engineers.  Here in Texas, we do everything bigger, and includes licensing Software Engineers as P.E.’s.  Or we did.  Seems the Legislature did find time to tell our Board to stop licensing by only experience and get a test established, as well as better define many of the undefined aspects of SE in Texas. The key points are that we are considering the necessary education, testing, sealing, and implications of being a SE PE and doing it at an interesection point between IEEE and Texas Statutes.

Another activity I hope to engage in concerns the SEI- they are looking at doing some research on SE in the Small.  Just my thing.  However, until I get some more full time help, and reduce my total head count (I graduate 1-3 every semester), I simply do not have time to contribute my lessons from some 22 years of building real software with younger minds.

Finally, there are my challenges at the game company.  We are in the midst of improving our ability to do automated testing of the game by leveraging some existing features.  We are staffing up our SQA staff (all part time) and making a real push to dramatically improve our quality.  To really do this we also need to switch compilers (Codewarrior simply can not handle 2 million lines of our simulation code), refactor, profile, and add some sort of remote debugger.  Here again, automated test. 

So I guess you can see a trend here – get computers to do the work that my part time staff can’t!

And I’ve added two book pics to my book list.  Book reviews will start soon as I finish Agile Project Management by Jim Highsmith.



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