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Back in My Day: Confessions of a Curmudgeon (Rhythm of Testing)

On June 22, 2011, in Syndicated, by Association for Software Testing
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When I first got into software for a living, the idea of “structured” anything was the red-hot burning idea that was going to save software from the horrible/bad/evil practices of people who were inept/wrong-thinking/clue-less practitioners of hocus-pocus.  Structure was going to save us.  Then it was CAD.  Then it was Object Orientation.  Then it was blah, blah.  You get the idea.

I heard some folks talking about some “New Ideas” that they had heard about.  Fantastic ideas, I thought.  Instead of centralizing everything on a host server, they could have servers in a bunch of different places and have them all talk to the host.  Then response times would be faster and the users would be able to get faster response.  Astounding, eh? 

Anyone else remember that new idea from, oh, 20 years ago?

Wait, that is sounding really, negative. 

Let me try again.

Back when I was heavily involved in bagpipe bands, there was an amused expression that was reserved for folks who had been involved in pipe bands some years before, and no longer were/

“The older I get, the better I was.”

The fact is, people’s perceptions will change over time as our experiences inform those same perceptions.  In the pipe band world, it seemed to inflate what the abilities were.

In reality, I have learned, now that I am part of the same “club,” is that some folks really REALLY don’t like change.  Change in any form is bad.  At the same time, things change as they grow, or they wither and die.  You can’t maintain existence without change.  Well, maybe you can, but it is not really existence, it is a museum display – almost a “living history” lesson. 

Change is inevitable. 

Once it was suggested that since I was so “set in my ways” I may not like the changes that were coming and I could have a hard time adapting to them.

I resisted the temptation to look around for my cane and wave it about calling that individual a “young whippersnapper.”  For one thing, I don’t use a cane or a walking stick.  For another, I sympathized with his perception and lack of life (and maybe professional?) experience that would lead him to say that. 

The thought that crossed my mind was “It is this very experience I have that allows me to see how he could have a view like that.  I have been around a while and I like things a certain way.  I have liked things in different ways before that, too.

When comments like the above are made, or when I think on change and flexibility, my mind sometimes wanders back to the companies I have worked for, the shops I have worked in.  No two were the same, even remotely.  Some were happier than others.  Some were more efficient than others.  Some turned out really good work.  Some were just jobs. 

Some are examples of the same things I mentioned before.  My own experiences shaped my perception of each of those organizations.  As I learned more, I wanted to learn more.  My views changed related to that job as I was working there.  I learned and experienced different things in different areas.

What does all this have to do with anything, let alone each other?

Well, simply put, I read a blog entry by The Maestro a couple of weeks ago.   My first reaction was “YES! EXACTLY”  Then it made me think on some things.

What I discerned from that thinking is that each of these “revolutionary ideas” was intended to address a problem.  Or at least, a perceived problem.  The thing is that many are just that – perceived problems.  I think the real cause is that people, myself included, don’t want to do the painful self-examination that is required for real improvement.

It is easier to follow the herd and the glossy marketing people when they hold out a promise than it is to dig down and work on the problem we have.  This leaves us the desperate grasping at the just-out-of-reach silver bullet.

This is, I suspect, the core issue with all the trends over the last 30 years in my experience, and more.

Unless you are willing to face and address your real problems, you will never fix them and will keep grasping at quick-fix solutions that are not.

Well, maybe I’m just being a curmudgeon.

 

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