New: Book Report: Slack

Today I was that guy on the bus who wears too much scent. Not my fault! An automatic air freshener squirted me. Now I know why "fresh" can mean "offensive". I am very fresh right now, in that sense. Not like the "fresh" in "fresh content". That means "recent". Or as the cool kids call it these days, "real time". As of 7:33pm PDT 2009.08.18 I still smell like a stack of urinal mints, which means that this news is in "real time". This news is as fresh as I smell. You might even be reading it sooner than you would expect. Maybe. Depending on how often you check this stuff.

Blogger (the service which runs this here blog and many others) announced pubsubhubbub support. This means that after I post one of these blog posts, lots of services can find out really quickly. (Well, they could do that before, but it would have involved checking my website really often, which would have been silly, because I don't update that often. But now those services that want to check for recent updates can use one "hub" to keep up with many many web sites. So they can be really fast.) But I can keep writing really slow. Though with all of this "real time" stuff going on, I have to remind myself to maintain slack. That's right, I remembered the topic of this blog post. This is a book report, and it is on Slack. Not as in the stark fist of "Bob". I mean the book about managing software projects.

Slack takes a common-sense view, arguing against various software-development snake oil schemes. It was written back in 2001... so I'm reading it kind of late. I'm not keeping up with the literature in "real time," you see. So, I read about old snake oil. Some of that snake oil is still around, but it uses a different vocabulary now. Folks no longer strive for Quality. (That's Quality with a capital Q.) They do still pour effort into optimizing things that don't need optimizing, using this as an excuse to ignore harder problems. But they don't call that Quality anymore. And since they're looking for excuses to ignore common sense, they'll probably ignore the advice of this book. Oh, what? What's the advice? OK.

Don't work too hard all the time--you'll burn out. Besides, if you need to sprint for a while, you won't be able to speed up if you were already sprinting.

Make middle managers talk to each other, not just to their underlings and overlings. The underlings in group A and the underlings in group B might not be so great at talking to each other. It's good if their managers can talk every so often just to exchange ideas and news.

Oh, there's more but you're probably bored. It's all such sensible advice. Not like the snake oil. Snake oil is exciting, in much the same way that it's exciting to get squirted by an automatic air freshener.

Oh man I hope this stuff washes off.

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Posted 2009-08-18