[plt-scheme] you have a tough road ahead of you ; ; ; was Re: from hell to paradise

From: hendrik at topoi.pooq.com (hendrik at topoi.pooq.com)
Date: Wed Feb 18 11:03:33 EST 2009

On Tue, Feb 17, 2009 at 10:11:38PM -0600, Grant Rettke wrote:
> Hi Dan,
> On Tue, Feb 17, 2009 at 9:15 PM,  <danprager at optusnet.com.au> wrote:
> > There's a lot in this.  If you want to sell something effectively, you need to see things
> > from your prospect's point of view.
> >
> > What's their "pain"?
> >
> > If they don't think clearly, don't realise this,  and don't perceive it as a problem, and you
> > tell them that they have a problem are they going to:
> I forgot to include the "pain" part of the story!
> The pain is client-visible broken features, no unit tests, terrible
> incomprehensible code, no answer for "why did you type this?", no
> ability to visualize the problem or the solution, and no way for
> senior and junior developers to interact since there is no common
> ground. It has been very, very painful.
> Not painful enough I guess?!

Too painful for them to consider alternatives.

In my long life I've been at two universities where the computer centre 
was saddled with CDC Cyber computers.  For those not in the know, the 
only thing they did well was fast floating point arithmetic -- 
everything else was an afterthought.  This was fine for the influential 
physics department, nut a disaster for everyone else.  The software had 
been adapted by CDC to do terminal access, do some manner of time 
sharing, etc., etc., but it basically could not work reliably.

The computer centre closed in around the machine, protecting it from the 
hordes of potential users who would only crash the machine if they were 
given free rein to program and compute as the wished (and no, I'm not 
talking about the ones trying to crash the machinery.  That was no 
challenge at all.)

When the powers that be decreed that the university would acquire a new 
machine, a VAX, the computer centre rebelled.  Another Cyber, sure, they 
had the experteise to deal with that.  But learning all the troubles and 
foibles for yet another kind of machine, no, they couldn't possibly face 

Fortunately, the powers that be had tbe final say, and VAXen were 
foisted upon the hapless computer centre.

Once the installation work was done, and the machine was turned on and 
made available to the army of users (gridgingly, at first), it took only 
a few weeks for the computer centre to discover that the new machine 
*actually* *worked*, and that when users started to do innovative things 
with it, it *went* *on* *working*.  And letting too many users on it 
didn't crash it.  It just made it slow for a while.

The computer entre personell' attitude toward the rest of the university 
changed rapidly.  No longer did they avoid meeting people.  No longer 
were they offputting in every interaction.  They became the kind of 
people you'd go to the pub with.

What you're facing is people who are so battle-scarred that they have no 
emotional or intellectual energy left to even imagine there's a better 
way.  They know their pain.  They simply don't believe there's a cure.

-- hendrik

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