[plt-scheme] Re: Programming for non-programmers

From: John Kozak (jk at xylema.org)
Date: Sat Oct 16 14:57:52 EDT 2004

Shriram Krishnamurthi <sk at cs.brown.edu> writes:
>> It's really not that unusual - consider "Up to a point, Lord Copper".
>> Regarding India, one of the travellers' clichés is that asking a
>> local person the question "does this road go to X" will yield "yes"
>> for all values of X.  
> The statistics that say more than 60+% of software projects are
> delayed or never delivered, in good part because of difficulty saying
> "no" to unreasonable demands, were not compiled in India.  They were
> very much compiled in the western hemisphere.

Certainly - it was never my intention to say these communication
foul-ups were peculiar to India, but to any overly-stratified culture,
which is why I quoted from "Scoop" (Evelyn Waugh 1938). "Up to a
point, Lord Copper" is the closest to "no" that press baron's minions
dare to go, with hilarious consequences.

>> I've seen close-up only one project outsourced to India and that was a
>> major disaster (company in question went bust); I'd make similar
>> observations to those already made about code quality, but what I
>> found most noticeable was the complete lack of any of the normal
>> practices of software development - no version control, no automatic
>> build process.  
> This anecdotal complaint is not much different from what I hear from
> some of my own students who work in the US.  

Well, it's only one data point, but not just anecdotal.  My
consultancy firm was paid to review this code and report on it, which
we did.  Our findings (which were extremely negative, about many other
aspects of the project than the process issues mentioned above) were
disputed by the software house, and a well-known multinational called
in to "arbitrate"; their report agreed with us completely.

> Moreover, as of last year, over 70% of the organizations world-wide
> that had achieved CMM Level 5 were in India.

I'd be more impressed by success stories, to be frank.  I'm more than
happy to believe they're out there, but I've not personally heard any
report better than "just about OK".  Which surprises me, since it's
about twenty years since I first heard about how very impressive the
software people at Puna were.


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