[clug] Software Engineering

steve jenkin sjenkin at canb.auug.org.au
Sat Sep 2 02:14:26 GMT 2006

Tarrant wrote on 2/9/06 9:46 AM:
> Thanks for the insight everyone, you've all helped to a degree.

You've asked a good question...

The good thing about ANU is that you get to meet and hang around with
people of the calibre of Tridge, arguably one of the top 10 software
writers ever.  Andrew Bartlett is someone who's been down this path and
has worked with Tridge in the SAMBA team for sometime now.  He's very
approachable and may still be at ANU.

Mikals' note about an anti-UC bias in town is somewhat true. I've heard
this multiple times and had poor work performance from more than one UC
grad myself :-( [CCAE *was* at the forefront of "ADP" in the late 60's
and 70's - their "PIT" scheme with the Fed Govt created a pool of talent
that still has tremendous impact.]

Mikals' other note that 4-year degrees are becoming a minimum is also
true.  Look at Psychologists - over the last 20 years, the Psych Society
has redefined their profession to require a 4-year degree, *and* 2-years
postgrad (masters) *and* then significant 'supervision'...  This trend
to increasing qualifications (think 'barrier to entry') is widespread.
As IT matures, this is going to become more so.

Software Engineering is not "programming" - it's an attempt to bring
engineering disciplines to bear on the software development processes -
it came out of a conference/meeting of NATO developers in the mid- to
late 1960's addressing the very low [<20%] success rate of software
projects.  While I've never seen anything that shows it's really
succeeded in its aims (i.e. better, cheaper, reliable code) - it is
*way* better than any alternative for large developments. [Hiring the
best people with a track record of excellence is a better strategy, but
not suitable for 'big corporates'.]

I've heard one of the leading lights in CSE at ANU slag off at Tridge and
his programming techniques.  This is like unmusical me slagging off at
Mozart - I don't have the right.  I was amazed at his chutzpha - to me
it demonstrated a lack of insight into the discipline (we should be
judged by our deeds, not words).  Then there was 'Thiri' supported by
one of our local IT heros - Brand Hoff. Although they enthusiastically
embraced all the right SE practices and methodologies, it's not come to

Have you considered *why* you wish to get into IT and what interests you
most about it??  Is it that you just *have* to program or are you
looking for a good, safe, interesting career?  And if you grow yourself
to become very good, as some CBR locals have done, you have to consider
Mikals' other comment - moving out of town, even out of the country...
[IBM's Linux Technology Centre ("Oz Labs") at Barton is an exception.
Many of the guys there are world leaders in their field. They are very
approachable - try to see them.]

Do you already program in 'C', 'C++', Perl, Python, Ruby, ...?
Are you already involved in Open Source or creating useful tools?
Have you participated in Google's "Summer of Code"??
You need to discover your interests, your passion and your drivers.

ANU also has a very good "Information Systems" school (in
Accounting/Economics).  A dual degree in IT and IS is a powerful double
act that will kick open many doors...

There is some research on what it takes to be a concert grade musician -
it's about 10,000 hours of practice.  At 5,000 hours you're good, but
not quite there.  Have a look at Watts S. Humphrey [creator of CMM] and
his "PSP" [Personal Software Process] for an idea of what it takes to
personally improve.  I think he misses out on the most important element
- finding mentors and good people to emulate. Open Source provides scads
of code to read - some very good, and a lot not so. You can learn from both.

Creating software is a performance discipline - it's what you do/produce
that counts - and Open Source puts that ability on show, it becomes your
'portfolio', part of your "permanent electronic record". You have to
practice (a lot) to achieve brilliance in the field.  High performers
like Tridge, Andrew Bartlett, Mikal and "Oz Labs" didn't arrive there
accidentally - it takes a conscious, focussed and sustained effort.  But
you can always ask those who've preceded you for help and advice.


> Oh and I'm relatively new to the list, but have known about CLUG (and know
> CLUG members) for some time. I'll be attending your meetings when I finish
> my CIT Bar & Resteraunt course as it sadly runs on Thursday evenings.
> - Tarrant
> www.aeria-design.com

Steve Jenkin, Info Tech, Systems and Design Specialist.
0412 786 915 (+61 412 786 915)
PO Box 48, Kippax ACT 2615, AUSTRALIA

sjenkin at canb.auug.org.au http://www.canb.auug.org.au/~sjenkin

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