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* Posts by Doctor Syntax

11874 posts • joined 16 Jun 2014

Wave Tata, Capita: You've lost mega-contract to rival outsourcer

Doctor Syntax
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Re: And a few years down the line

to save costs "my" bank closed local branches I used, result I changed bank to one with local "bricks & mortar" presence

This is getting harder. I ran out of banks in my preferred location. The next best was one with in-store premises with extended opening hours. That closed. I've been pondering another change & decided on the next one but the bar stewards have decided to pre-empt me and announced the closure of the relevant branch of that bank.

I can't help hoping that when they've all completed the race to the bottom (who said "they already have?") some bright spark will have the idea of differentiating themselves by offering local branches.

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Doctor Syntax
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Just checking...no, no policies with the Pru so that's OK.

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Causes of software development woes

Doctor Syntax
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Re: Requirements are always a nightmare

The worst case scenario is letting UX talk to the users anywhere near anything

FTFY

Whatever interface nightmare you come across it's very likely that UX had a hand in it. Perfectly reasonable websites become useless because these numpties got a hand in it.

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Doctor Syntax
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Re: catchy methodology names

"find out what is needed and then deliver it." (my emphasis)

Not necessarily what's wanted.

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Doctor Syntax
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Re: "statement of requirements with an email saying what you understand them to have said. "

But make sure you keep an off site, off line copy, to avoid "The email archive got deleted" defense.

Goes without saying. Also, include it in the project documentation that gets distributed to all the project team. That way it becomes more difficult to deny that the off-site copy's kosher.

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Doctor Syntax
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Re: "it's important to get the big picture of what the system might grow into"

Beware, it could also lead to an over-engineering trap - if you don't have really clear "what the system might grow into", and how long it will take to get there.

But beware also the under-engineering trap. I had a client who had a slew of small applications, each hacked out to solve almost the same problem. Every time a customer gave them a slightly different job they wrote a new application to do it. Could a single application replace them all and tackle all the other jobs in the same category? Yes it could.

And they still didn't learn. The next, far more complex requirement came along. The contract required two types of job, both basically take in the data (in XML) rearrange it to drive the production process, batch it up, inspect the result and recycle items that failed QA into the next batch. Result: they insisted on writing two systems, one for each job.

The next, more complex contract after that I got far more of a hand in specifying as well as developing. Most of the code to be inherited from the previous one got thrown out (in retrospect I should have thrown more out) and the replacement made more versatile so, with minor extensions, it coped with more and more additions to that contract and a subsequent one. After all, when you looked at the general problem it was just a set of rules engines to provide different bits of the functionality - and being XML, XMLT is a pretty handy rules engine. Just throw in some new rules (mostly style sheets).

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Doctor Syntax
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One tool I used to use was Enterprise Architect. In particular it had an option to sketch out a user interface and then add on actions in the manner of a Use Case diagram. You could them produce a narrative of what happens if the user undertakes a particular action. For instance a drop down menu could have actions associated with User selects "Missile alert" and User selects "Test missile alert". It gives the user an impression of what the interface will look like, what actions will be available and what will then happen. It also serves as a straightforward guide to implementation as it provides a list of event handlers and what they should do.

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Doctor Syntax
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Re: Can you do us a sort of dashboard thingy with graphs and pie charts and stuff?

Yah, except when you utter your cute punch line "Nothing, you told me to make them up," you get torn off a strip for insolence and obstructionism

That's why you confirm your instructions by email. And you use less cute, more business-like terminology: "You suggested that arbitrary data be inserted as place-holders until real data is available.".

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Doctor Syntax
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Re: Foundations

"In terms of software requirements, then, it's important to get the big picture of what the system might grow into, as a starting point for system design. That allows one to make appropriate platform and system architecture decisions that should prevent the system running into a brick wall as it grows."

I can't upvote this enough. Ask yourself what's the general problem of which the initial requirement is an example. Solve that general problem. It might not necessarily be much harder, if at all, than solving the initial one and it will stand a very good chance of being easier than the problem defined by the changes of mind between the start and the deadline.

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Doctor Syntax
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The problem is that "agile" is such a buzzword for management that, like most buzzwords, they don't see past it and believe it's a magic bullet.

And the fate of management buzzwords - achieved in a very short time - is to become meaningless.

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Doctor Syntax
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Re: And that's why...

"would you rather it was done properly and agreed so you could go home at a respectable time and put your child to bed?...Life is far too short to treat any gobshite boss's demands as wasting their money. It's wasting your time, and you only have a finite amount of it."

Look on the time you spend after you've gone home as your time. What you do with it is funded by their money. If they're determined to get as little as possible for it that's their problem.

However, a good plan if the instructions are verbal is to follow up each change of mind statement of requirements with an email saying what you understand them to have said. That set of emails becomes part of the project documentation.

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Airbus warns it could quit A380 production

Doctor Syntax
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Re: Why not a cargo version

"Because nothing - absolutely nothing - can beat ocean shipping for costs."

It depends on the value of time.

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Frenchman comes eye to eye with horror toilet python

Doctor Syntax
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A python is unlikely to bite. It could have given him a nasty squeeze, however.

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Users clutch refilled Box boxen after 'empty' folder panic

Doctor Syntax
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"My files are now back and safe and I have made a physical backup of them, and I am now moving to another storage location."

A very good idea. Just as it always was.

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France may protect citizens' liberté with ban on foreigners buying local big data firms

Doctor Syntax
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"This is France talking, not the EU."

After the UK joined the EEC someone made the snide comment that now maybe even France will join. Not much chance of that happening now.

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UK.gov denies data processing framework is 'sinister' – but admits ICO has concerns

Doctor Syntax
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<Sigh> Only one upvote but "pertains" deserves another all of its own.

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Why did top Home Office civil servant lobby Ofcom for obscure kit ban?

Doctor Syntax
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Why was it so badly redacted? Maybe someone at Ofcom thinks that Freedom of Information means exactly that.

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Doctor Syntax
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Re: One of the more interesting questions

"It may be a simpler explanation"

Being senior in the HO is a simple enough explanation for all sorts of shenanigans..

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Doctor Syntax
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Re: Me: "Oh no you haven't"

I'm sure there's a "behind yooou" missing from that dialogue.

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Hawaiian fake nukes alert caused by fat-fingered fumble of garbage GUI

Doctor Syntax
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"The operators fitted different brands' beer pump handles to them so they were more distinguishable."

Yo'd want to be sure that in an emergency shutdown your jury-rigged handle won't fall off in your hand. So you'd need to test it. How?

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Doctor Syntax
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Re: Success!

"job well done and deserves a Pina Colada!"

But in future don't drink the Pina Colada before running the test.

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Wait, what? The Linux Kernel Mailing List archives lived on ONE PC? One BROKEN PC?

Doctor Syntax
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"keep your own hardware skills up to date."

But only at well-spaced intervals. Mostly it just works.

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Worst-case Brexit could kill 92,000 science, tech jobs across UK – report

Doctor Syntax
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Re: Phil

"Not a single forecasted growth figure has been correct since the referendum"

Or ever as far as I can remember. The projected growth figure for any given year always gets lower as we approach it and the growth for the more distant future always looks rosier. Treasure predictions resemble Gartner's.

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Doctor Syntax
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Re: Economics

"Conversely the UK component of export costs has become cheaper when viewed from the perspective of an overseas customer or employer."

What you're saying, in effect, is that the UK will do very well after Brexit as a low wage economy.

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Doctor Syntax
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Re: Brexit

"It seemed to go on for long enough"

Like he said, slow motion.

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Doctor Syntax
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Re: Best Case Brexit

"If those inherited laws aren't transposed into UK law by the time Brexit happens there'd be a gap, old laws either repealed or inappropriate but no new law to replace them."

Quite true. That's not what the A/C objected to and what you're responding to. The problem is combining this with the govt wanting to give itself the right to change the transposed laws in the future without further legislation. That means that in a few years' time what gets transposed from EU law to local law becomes changed by Ministerial fiat:

"The Government sometimes adds this provision to a Bill to enable the Government to repeal or amend it after it has become an Act of Parliament. The provision enables primary legislation to be amended or repealed by subordinate legislation with or without further parliamentary scrutiny.

Such provisions are known as Henry VIII clauses, so named from the Statute of Proclamations 1539 which gave King Henry VIII power to legislate by proclamation."

From parliament.uk.

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Doctor Syntax
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Re: But the good old days!

"If you want real reports to read go look at the actual tangible figures instead of remain/leave propaganda sheets."

He asked you for references. Where are they?

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Doctor Syntax
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Re: But the good old days!

"Let's reconvene in two years time and see who was right "

He'll come along with the "no true Scotsman" line.

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Doctor Syntax
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Re: Amsterdam

"And of course not being in the EU won't stop us buying from them if we want to" and can afford to.

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Doctor Syntax
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Re: So one remainiac commissions a report from load of other remainiacs...

"I don't know how these problems are going to be resolved, but I do know that the richest 50% of the population screaming insults at the poorest 50% of the population is unlikely to contribute towards lessening tensions between class groups and starting to resolve the problems that we face."

Something else that isn't going to contribute is the poorest 50% discovering that what happens isn't what they'd been persuaded was going to happen.

I do, however, notice that the Farages & BoJos of this world are actually in the richest 50%.

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Doctor Syntax
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Re: Loyal Commenter

"And right or wrong is subjective."

Fair point. Losing a few thousand jobs would be objective. Deciding whether that's the right or wrong outcome is subjective.

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Heart of darkness: Inside the Osówka underground city

Doctor Syntax
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Re: Outsourcing

"otherwise you have one interesting to drive car"

Believe me, the two front end version was far more interesting.

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PC lab in remote leper colony had wrong cables, no licences, and not much hope

Doctor Syntax
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Re: Sounds perfectly normal

"I was SHOCKED to find no cc, this must be the only UNIX without one."

The Onyx Z8000 box had its software distributed on two QICs. The main one had the compiler so that was OK. The other tape was called the games tape and somehow we weren't supplied with it. That was the one with vi on it.

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Doctor Syntax
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Re: Ré causing, not curing chaos

"Except, of course, that you must not have ANY exposed circuit parts (switch, beeper, etc)."

Remember the old AC/DC transformerless radios? Probably running off a 2-pin plug. Serial heaters, quite possibly a live chassis... The good old days.

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Doctor Syntax
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Re: Ré causing, not curing chaos

"The idea was to try and do away with the circuitry and expensive transformer required to step down from 240v to 5v by using ultra low current devices and a simple resister to drop the unwanted 235v."

I took apart a defunct PIR detector. The power supply? A bridge of 1Nsomething-or-other diodes, a fractional watt resistor, a capacitor and a zener.

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BOFH: Buttock And Departmental Defence ... As A Service

Doctor Syntax
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Re: Well the smoking gang...

"2 side walls would class it as outdoors"

Two side walls on a bus shelter? Luxury!

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Remember those holy tech wars we used to have? Heh, good times

Doctor Syntax
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"ZX Spectrum vs C64 or ST vs Amiga."

The Spectrum was the toy we bought for our son.

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Doctor Syntax
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"Does anybody know if KDE still better than Gnome?"

AFAICS Gnome are winning the race to the bottom. Nevertheless each version of KDE gets uglier than the last and more replete with who-on-Earth-wants-that features.

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Doctor Syntax
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Re: S**t!

"it is probably because I am old"

As one gets older time becomes more precious so saving it is a good idea.

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Doctor Syntax
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Re: S**t!

"I have noticed that these days, ***ALL*** web browsers suck."

Maybe it's just that all the websites suck in different ways.

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Next; tech; meltdown..? Mandatory; semicolons; in; JavaScript; mulled;

Doctor Syntax
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Re: Anyone seen a single line C program ?

"APL couldn't be worked on even WITH the unadulterated source."

APL and "unadulterated source" both in one sentence. Who'da thunk it?

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Doctor Syntax
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Re: Bad programmers blame the syntax.

"And if you are so old you cant adopt your coding style"

Ah, poor little orphan coding style, looking for new parents.

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Doctor Syntax
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Re: Tabs v spaces

"languages that need whitespace to decide the structure of a program should be similarly taken around the back of the shed."

I can see why someone thought it would be a good idea. I can also see why it isn't. An IDE that automates indentation or something like cb is a better solution.

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EU court to rule whether Facebook should seek and destroy hate speech

Doctor Syntax
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Re: Logistics

"Dislike FB as much as I do this doesn't seem like something they can win."

Not getting into a fight you can't win is always good advice. Somebody should have given it to FB.

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Data protection is best managed from the centre

Doctor Syntax
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Getting ahead of yourself here..

There's no point in even thinking about controlling the way stuff's stored and handled until you've cracked down on over-collecting and that's primarily a cultural problem. You need to deal with your data fetishists first.

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PowerShell comes to MacOS and Linux. Oh and Windows too

Doctor Syntax
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It sounds like a perfect fit on Linux - with systemd.

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Doctor Syntax
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Re: Poor old MS

"And we know that Andromeda is coming which will merge Windows Mobile and Windows capabilities so they haven't given up yet."

Wasn't that Windows 8? And 8.1? And 10?

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Worcestershire's airborne electronics warfare wonderland

Doctor Syntax
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Croome is one that I've always managed to miss. Must definitely make the effort to get there next time I'm in that area.

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Ecuador tried to make Julian Assange a diplomat

Doctor Syntax
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Re: It's a weird world...

"I honestly think it will at this point be a million times more likely and a thousand times more embarrassing for him to come out, be arrested, sent to jail for skipping bail, six months without press, gets out of that and... literally nothing happens. Nobody cares enough to bother to chase him any more. A couple of press conferences and then fades into obscurity."

That would certainly have been the smart thing to have done and could have been the situation a year a so back. However he's now met his match in the White House.

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Brace yourselves for the 'terabyte (sic) of death', warns US army IT boss

Doctor Syntax
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"The Military is connected to the Internet ?"

Remember all those early three letter top domains? .edu, .com and ..... .mil?

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