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'[PIC]: PIC development STINKS!'
2002\07\31@122131 by Brandon Stewart

picon face
I say that PIC needs to offer free C compilers for their
product, like some of their competitors, if they want to
be #1!  It was my understanding that Microchip set out
to differentiate itself from its competitors by offering
free development environments for its MCU's (like
MPLAB).  But today's toys are bigger, smarter, faster,
and often times the level of abstraction that is offered
by C is the preferable manner of doing things.  So why
dosen't Microchip continue their initiative of offering
real, usefull development tools (LIKE A C COMPILER) for
free?  Its competitors sure do!  It is my bet that they
get kickbacks from HIGH TECH not to do this!

{Quote hidden}

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2002\07\31@124557 by Scott Dattalo

face
flavicon
face
On Wed, 31 Jul 2002, Brandon Stewart wrote:

> I say that PIC needs to offer free C compilers for their
> product, like some of their competitors, if they want to
> be #1!  It was my understanding that Microchip set out
> to differentiate itself from its competitors by offering
> free development environments for its MCU's (like
> MPLAB).  But today's toys are bigger, smarter, faster,
> and often times the level of abstraction that is offered
> by C is the preferable manner of doing things.  So why
> dosen't Microchip continue their initiative of offering
> real, usefull development tools (LIKE A C COMPILER) for
> free?  Its competitors sure do!  It is my bet that they
> get kickbacks from HIGH TECH not to do this!

Who offers a free C compiler for their microcontrollers?

If a C compiler is all you need then wait a while and SDCC will be ready
for you. Meanwhile, you can use Jal, which I understand to be quite
powerful. If you're doing professional development with PIC's then buying
professional tools is such a small drop in the bucket that free tools
aren't even worth considering. (This of course is changing as gpsim, gpasm
and now, SDCC are serious alternatives. I'll even fo so far as to say that
for assembly programming that gpsim/gpasm is superior in many aspects to
MPLAB. I'm of course slightly biased...)

Scott

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2002\07\31@132802 by Drew Vassallo

picon face
>If you're doing professional development with PIC's then buying
>professional tools is such a small drop in the bucket that free tools
>aren't even worth considering. (This of course is changing as gpsim,

I just want to add that if you're NOT doing professional work, then
Microchip probably has little interest in your home projects and hobbies.
For this reason, I consider their MPLAB (being a capable utility) EXTREMELY
valuable and I appreciate Microchip providing it free of charge.

Believe me, Microchip's not missing out on anything by not providing a free
C compiler.  As a hobbyist, you might WANT one, but that doesn't necessarily
make it a good investment for Microchip to develop and hand out free of
charge.

--Andrew

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2002\07\31@140411 by Wouter van Ooijen

picon face
> I say that PIC needs to offer free C compilers for their
> product, like some of their competitors, if they want to
> be #1!  It was my understanding that Microchip set out
> to differentiate itself from its competitors by offering
> free development environments for its MCU's (like
> MPLAB).  But today's toys are bigger, smarter, faster,
> and often times the level of abstraction that is offered
> by C is the preferable manner of doing things.  So why
> dosen't Microchip continue their initiative of offering
> real, usefull development tools (LIKE A C COMPILER) for
> free?  Its competitors sure do!  It is my bet that they
> get kickbacks from HIGH TECH not to do this!

Whenever I heard someone telling (shouting?) that X should be provided
(for free of course!) I get a bit uneasy feeling over me. If that
someone realy feels that way, why not get a (free!) C compiler (free
Eagle Light, free datasheet, free PC/Linux C compiler, freeDOS, free
...) and *write* that stuff you feel should be 'freely available'? BTW
this remark applies for X = compiler, design, FAQ, (beginners) manual,
etc. I'm sure James will gladly host whatever free stuff is produced!

Wouter
(probably also speaking for a few other free-stuff-providers)

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2002\07\31@180758 by Matt Pobursky

flavicon
face
On Wed, 31 Jul 2002 09:43:55 -0700, Scott Dattalo wrote:
>On Wed, 31 Jul 2002, Brandon Stewart wrote:
>
>>I say that PIC needs to offer free C compilers for their product,
>>like some of their competitors, if they want to be #1!  It was my
>>understanding that Microchip set out to differentiate itself from its
>> competitors by offering free development environments for its MCU's
>>(like MPLAB).  But today's toys are bigger, smarter, faster, and
>>often times the level of abstraction that is offered by C is the
>>preferable manner of doing things.  So why dosen't Microchip continue
>> their initiative of offering real, usefull development tools (LIKE A
>> C COMPILER) for free?  Its competitors sure do!  It is my bet that
>>they get kickbacks from HIGH TECH not to do this!
>
>Who offers a free C compiler for their microcontrollers?

TI does for the MSP430 flash family -- in fact a complete HARDWARE
debugger, in-system programmer and excellent Windows IDE with C
Compiler/Assembler (puts MPLAB to shame) can be had for $99. Neither
Microchip's ICD or ICD2 comes close in functionality.

There is also an Open Source (a GNU C port, I think ?) MSP430 compiler
in development as well. Some really nice mid-priced professional 3rd
party tools are emerging now also as well as low-cost tools that would
suit a hobbyist.

After completing a couple MSP430 based projects, I can tell you they
are much much easier to work with than any of the PIC family parts
(including the 18F parts). They are lower power, about equivalent
speed, have a nice linear address space (ROM, RAM and I/O), a nice
orthogonal *16 BIT* CPU core design and have a real stack. Oh yes, did
I mention a contiguous block of RAM? These parts are really nice to
program whether you are a "C guy" (like me) or an assembler whiz.

They also are building a nice range of parts, from 2K-ish (around $1-$2
singles) to full featured parts with 60K Flash/2K RAM, multiple UARTS,
PWM's, TIMER's, ADC's, LCD drivers, etc. On-board JTAG ports and
hardware debug registers make hardware debugging an "always works"
proposition, unlike the PIC's less than straighforward method. The
MSP430's also have a built-in bootloader in ROM. Very nice.

They are so dead simple to use, I'd actually recommend them to someone
just starting with microcontrollers over the PIC.

I really wish Microchip had scrapped the basic PIC architecture with
the 18F series. They had a chance to dump the arcane PIC architecture
and start from scratch ala Atmel or TI. For anything but very basic and
simple tasks, I much prefer the Atmel or TI parts now and probably
won't move many (if any) new designs to the 18F parts. I just can't see
investing in all new tools for a part that's not much better than the
more advanced 16F family.

Anyway, I don't hate PIC's or anything and I doubt I'll ever quit
designing with them. I just think it's a good idea to always evaluate
alternatives and right now I see a few nice ones out there.

Matt Pobursky
Maximum Performance Systems

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2002\07\31@225255 by myke predko

flavicon
face
Andrew wrote:

> Believe me, Microchip's not missing out on anything by not providing a
free
> C compiler.  As a hobbyist, you might WANT one, but that doesn't
necessarily
> make it a good investment for Microchip to develop and hand out free of
> charge.

I strongly disagree on this point.  I can name a number of very high volume
products which have PICmicro MCUs built into them simply because an engineer
wanted to try out some ideas before committing to a design.  The MPLAB IDE
being free of charge allows an engineer to develop an application and try it
out in a circuit without having to go to his manager/VP/purchasing
department to request the software.  When it comes time to develop the
product for real, why would he go with any other device?  Even if the shop
is committed to using other manufacturer's chips, I doubt they would change
the design and rewrite the software.

This scenario especially true in the current business environment.  Nobody
has cash for engineers to experiment or redesign products that already work.


I would like to point out that HI Tech Software have made their "PICC Lite"
compiler available free of charge (download it at http://www.htsoft.com).
I've been playing around with it for a few months now - you can develop code
for the PIC16F627 and PIC16F84 and use it within the MPLAB IDE.  This is a
really nice combination for developing PICmicro MCU applications and the one
I'm recommending now to anybody that sends me an email asking what is the
best way to get into the PICmicro MCU.

myke

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'[PIC]: PIC development STINKS!'
2002\08\01@020815 by Michael Rigby-Jones
flavicon
face
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Brandon Stewart [SMTP:spam_OUTbrandonstewartTakeThisOuTspamATTBI.COM]
> Sent: Wednesday, July 31, 2002 5:21 PM
> To:   .....PICLISTKILLspamspam@spam@MITVMA.MIT.EDU
> Subject:      [PIC]: PIC development STINKS!
>
> I say that PIC needs to offer free C compilers for their
> product, like some of their competitors, if they want to
> be #1!  It was my understanding that Microchip set out
> to differentiate itself from its competitors by offering
> free development environments for its MCU's (like
> MPLAB).  But today's toys are bigger, smarter, faster,
> and often times the level of abstraction that is offered
> by C is the preferable manner of doing things.  So why
> dosen't Microchip continue their initiative of offering
> real, usefull development tools (LIKE A C COMPILER) for
> free?  Its competitors sure do!  It is my bet that they
> get kickbacks from HIGH TECH not to do this!
>
Todays bigger, smarter and faster toys probably don't use PICs.  I really
can't see what you are shouting about, you are given a (mostly) functional
development environment with a perfectly good assembler and simulator.  If
you are a professional who needs the advantages of a high level language,
then you pay for the best you can buy and that cost will be trivial, even in
the short term on a profitable product.

If you are a hobbiest, then there are hobbiest C compilers available (CCS)
and Scott's SDCC port is well on the way.  However, to use any of these
products to produce compact, fast and bug free code with the minium of
debugging time I'd say that a working knowledge of assembly was almost
mandatory.

If you are really that desparate to program in C for free, perhaps you
should look at some of the more mature devices such as the 8051 which
already have open source compilers.

Regards

Mike

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2002\08\01@034607 by Jim

flavicon
face
While we are on the subject.
I think Microchip should give us free chips to. I'm tired of waiting for my
wife to tell me it's ok to buy more electronic gizmo's.

J/K OK
Jim

{Original Message removed}

2002\08\01@052655 by Katinka Mills

flavicon
face
On Thu, 1 Aug 2002 01:28, you wrote:

Hi all,
<snipped some great stuff>

> If you are really that desparate to program in C for free, perhaps you
> should look at some of the more mature devices such as the 8051 which
> already have open source compilers.

http://www.gnupic.org/

Has lots of great resources for the cost concious ppl, yes it is mainly *nix
based, but with programs like CGYwin (IIRC have not used winblows for *nix
emulation since my servers moved from NT4 to FreeBSD (way back in '96)

Atmel is slightly lacking on the *nix support, but is catching up :o) (I have
just released version 0.10 of the AVR ASM highlighter for KATE in KDE 3.0.X,
and this will be released with the next KDE release (KDE 3.1.0 soon)

Alot of people are working in this area, but all of us (weather pic, AVR, 8051
...) are banging our heads ATM as there is a massive user base, which is
refusing to donate their spare time in the spirit of GNU / GPL etc and help
out, helping is as simple as writing documentation, finding bugs maybe even a
bit of development work if you are a C junkie ;o) we all want free, we all
want good tools, some of us want to be free from M$ crap, but if ppl do not
help, then nothing happens. How long will it be till people like Scott burn
out, IT IS HAPPENING, look at the number of unfinished projects, then ask
why, it is usually not that it was a bad idea or no one is interested, but
more like no one helped, no one bothered to let the author know his / her
work is apreciated ..... I could rant all day, but you get my drift, IF YOU
WANT FREE TOOLS, SUPPORT THEM, ASK WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP !!!

Regards,

Kat.


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2002\08\01@082816 by Rob Hamerling

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face
myke predko wrote:

> I would like to point out that HI Tech Software have made their "PICC
> Lite" compiler available free of charge (download it at
> http://www.htsoft.com). I've been playing around with it for a few
> months now - you can develop code for the PIC16F627 and PIC16F84 and
> use it within the MPLAB IDE.  This is a really nice combination for
> developing PICmicro MCU applications and the one.
> I'm recommending now to anybody that sends me an email asking what is
> he best way to get into the PICmicro MCU.

The very limited number of supported PIC types of this compiler was for
me the reason NOT to choose for it. I needed a compiler with support for
(at least) the 16F873. Therfore I selected the demo version of CC5X by
Bengt Knudsen Data (see http://www.bknd.com/), which has similar
features as far as I can see, but supports many low and medium range
PICs. There is a separate compiler for the high range.
Its limitations (max 1000 statements, reduced optimisation) may be a
drawback for large programs, but for learning and experiments I think
it's ideal. Even with 500 statements I could produce quite fancy
programs. For larger projects you can choose: buy the full function
compiler or use MPLINK to combine object files.
So far I have only positive experience with support.

Rob.

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2002\08\01@084348 by Scott Dattalo

face
flavicon
face
On Thu, 1 Aug 2002, Katinka Mills wrote:

> On Thu, 1 Aug 2002 01:28, you wrote:
>
> Hi all,
> <snipped some great stuff>
>
> > If you are really that desparate to program in C for free, perhaps you
> > should look at some of the more mature devices such as the 8051 which
> > already have open source compilers.
>
> http://www.gnupic.org/

Which I hardly update - if anyone has recommendations for other references
that should go here please let me know and I'll add them.

{Quote hidden}

While I don't think you implied this, I (Scott) don't currently have any
unfinished projects, just several on-going ones with no clearly defined
deliverables! (I only have three projects: gpsim, gpasm, and SDCC).

Kat is mostly right. Like BAJ, I won't even address the religious aspects
of Open Source tools. Doing so is just a waste of time. I can tell you
though that my personal motivation for Open Source development resides in
the challenge of solving a complex problem. I view Open Source development
exactly the same way I view basic Research. There's information and there
are ideas. Information is the collection of ideas over time. I use
information "out there" to expand my ideas and in turn reciprocate by
contributing my ideas back to the "information pool". Anyone can use this
simple model to guage how they wish to contribute.

So if I may, let me re-phase Kat's last sentence:

If you want Free tools, look around until you find them. If you find them
then use them. If you discover a way to make them better then either
enhance them yourself or make suggestions to the authors. If you can't
find the Free tool you want, then find something similar. Ask the authors
if they'd be willing to morph the tool for your situation. If that doesn't
work, then spend some money and buy a commercial tool if it's available.
Unlike most Open Source advocates, I don't believe there's anything
philosophically wrong in purchasing honest commercially developed code.
Again, using the Research metaphor, one's ideas can be enhanced with
closed source too.

Scott

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2002\08\01@085158 by Nick Veys

flavicon
face
> Who offers a free C compiler for their microcontrollers?
>
> If a C compiler is all you need then wait a while and SDCC
> will be ready for you. Meanwhile, you can use Jal, which I
> understand to be quite powerful. If you're doing professional
> development with PIC's then buying professional tools is such
> a small drop in the bucket that free tools aren't even worth
> considering. (This of course is changing as gpsim, gpasm and
> now, SDCC are serious alternatives. I'll even fo so far as to
> say that for assembly programming that gpsim/gpasm is
> superior in many aspects to MPLAB. I'm of course slightly biased...)
>
> Scott

Is SDCC even actively maintained?  And do they even have decent support
for PICs?  There web page hasn't been updated since last year, and even
then they only mention STARTING to add PIC support.  Is there some other
place you are looking for your information?

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2002\08\01@091439 by Scott Dattalo

face
flavicon
face
On Thu, 1 Aug 2002, Nick Veys wrote:

> > Who offers a free C compiler for their microcontrollers?
> >
> > If a C compiler is all you need then wait a while and SDCC
> > will be ready for you. Meanwhile, you can use Jal, which I
> > understand to be quite powerful. If you're doing professional
> > development with PIC's then buying professional tools is such
> > a small drop in the bucket that free tools aren't even worth
> > considering. (This of course is changing as gpsim, gpasm and
> > now, SDCC are serious alternatives. I'll even fo so far as to
> > say that for assembly programming that gpsim/gpasm is
> > superior in many aspects to MPLAB. I'm of course slightly biased...)
> >
> > Scott
>
> Is SDCC even actively maintained?  And do they even have decent support
> for PICs?  There web page hasn't been updated since last year, and even
> then they only mention STARTING to add PIC support.  Is there some other
> place you are looking for your information?


I can promise you that SDCC *IS* actively maintained. I'd suggest browsing
the mailing list archives. This will give you the most recent information
as to the status. Also, you may wish to browse the GNUPIC mailing list
archives where there's also some discussion about SDCC.

But in a nutshell:

The SDCC PIC port supports the midrange PICs (e.g. 16F84, 16F628, 16F877,
etc.). SDCC is an ANSI C compiler with extensions. (For example, you can
declare bits or specify variables at specific addresses). The PIC port is
nearly complete from a functional perspective. The only thing lacking is
floating point support, division, and mod. From a system level, the only
thing lacking is a linker.

If you care to get an idea of what exactly is supported, you can examine
the regression test files in CVS:

http://cvs.sourceforge.net/cgi-bin/viewcvs.cgi/sdcc/sdcc/src/regression/

Scott

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2002\08\01@091716 by Olin Lathrop

face picon face
> Alot of people are working in this area, but all of us (weather pic, AVR,
8051
> ...) are banging our heads ATM as there is a massive user base, which is
> refusing to donate their spare time in the spirit of GNU / GPL etc and
help
> out, helping is as simple as writing documentation, finding bugs maybe
even a
> bit of development work if you are a C junkie ;o) we all want free, we all
> want good tools, some of us want to be free from M$ crap, but if ppl do
not
> help, then nothing happens. How long will it be till people like Scott
burn
> out, IT IS HAPPENING, look at the number of unfinished projects, then ask
> why, it is usually not that it was a bad idea or no one is interested, but
> more like no one helped, no one bothered to let the author know his / her
> work is apreciated ..... I could rant all day, but you get my drift, IF
YOU
> WANT FREE TOOLS, SUPPORT THEM, ASK WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP !!!

If you have to help, then they aren't free.  You can just as well "help" to
get a good tool developed by paying for a commercial product.  In the end
you get what you "pay" for either way.


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(978) 742-9014, http://www.embedinc.com

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2002\08\01@093656 by Pic Dude

flavicon
face
Hee, hee, hee.  Well since they plaster "only 35 instructions
to learn" everywhere, I'm very annoyed that it takes me hours,
not minutes, to write a full application.  So perhaps they
should write the code for us too.  :-)  :-)  :-)

Cheers,
-Neil.



> {Original Message removed}

2002\08\01@094058 by Bond, Peter

flavicon
face
> Hee, hee, hee.  Well since they plaster "only 35 instructions
> to learn" everywhere, I'm very annoyed that it takes me hours,
> not minutes, to write a full application.  So perhaps they
> should write the code for us too.  :-)  :-)  :-)

An obvious one - English only has 26 letters to learn.
Mind you, a lot of other languages use the same 26...

Peter
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2002\08\01@112315 by Katinka Mills

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On Thu, 1 Aug 2002 20:43, you wrote:

> While I don't think you implied this, I (Scott) don't currently have any
> unfinished projects, just several on-going ones with no clearly defined
> deliverables! (I only have three projects: gpsim, gpasm, and SDCC).

Hi all

Sorry of you thought that wa aimed at you Scott, it most certainly was not, I
am just getting frustrated by the piles of good work done that just ends
(more often than not in a half finished program) becuase the author lost
interest due to no (or little) feedback.

Regards,

Kat.


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2002\08\01@112734 by Katinka Mills

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face
On Thu, 1 Aug 2002 21:16, you wrote:

> If you have to help, then they aren't free.  You can just as well "help" to
> get a good tool developed by paying for a commercial product.  In the end
> you get what you "pay" for either way.

I agree Olin, but for a small business like mine, a little time spent writing
a tool is not a lot of money, and I mean a little time, take the XML script I
wrote for KATE to highlight the AVR, It took all of 2 hours from start to
finish, and that was from someone who has never written a word of XML in her
life :o). Sure some tasks like simulators etc are big and need 1000's of
person hours, but if 1000 people each wrote a small module, it would take no
more than 5 hours per person (assuming it would take one person 2000 hours).

I pay for software that works and does what I need, but I also use free /
reduced price software if it does the same job as $$$$$ software :o)

Regards,

Kat.

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2002\08\01@113830 by Wouter van Ooijen

picon face
> Sure some tasks like simulators etc are big and
> need 1000's of
> person hours, but if 1000 people each wrote a small module,
> it would take no
> more than 5 hours per person (assuming it would take one
> person 2000 hours).

No way, unless it is trivial software. In my experience productivity is
more like the logarithmical than linear in the number of persons
involved.

Wouter van Ooijen

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2002\08\01@121335 by Scott Dattalo

face
flavicon
face
On Thu, 1 Aug 2002, Wouter van Ooijen wrote:

> > Sure some tasks like simulators etc are big and
> > need 1000's of
> > person hours, but if 1000 people each wrote a small module,
> > it would take no
> > more than 5 hours per person (assuming it would take one
> > person 2000 hours).
>
> No way, unless it is trivial software. In my experience productivity is
> more like the logarithmical than linear in the number of persons
> involved.

I agree and add that of those 1000 people, 10 of them are faster than the
other 990 combined. Of those remaing 990, 900 aren't cabable of even
starting a 2000 person hour project. Of the 90 remaining, 80 don't have
the persistance to finish. If these statistics are valid (and I think
they're conservative), then the failure rate for projects is on the order
of 90%.

I'm not trying to be critical here. Ask Andy Warren how efficient an
individual programmer can be.

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2002\08\01@133832 by Pic Dude

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face
I'll back this up from a project manager's perspective...
10 people @ 1 hour each IS NOT EQUAL to 1 person @ 10 hours.
It's somewhat the opposite of manufacturing-line specialization.

Have any of you used XP (Xtreme Programming)?  I've implemented
it on a large project and got to try/evaluate the sub-concepts
within the methodology.  The biggest and probably only failure
was pair programming -- with any combination of strong/strong,
strong/weak, or weak/weak programmers, productivity was no
where near that of individual programmers (though there were
some other benefits such as the weak members learning techniques
from the experts -- still some training would've done that as
well).

I'm sure that communication and the processes to support
communication and documentation are a major factor for this,
but I feel sure there are other reasons.

Cheers,
-Neil.


Wouter van Ooijen scribbled:

{Quote hidden}

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2002\08\01@201323 by Sergio Masci

picon face
----- Original Message -----
From: Wouter van Ooijen <wfspamKILLspamXS4ALL.NL>
To: <.....PICLISTKILLspamspam.....MITVMA.MIT.EDU>
Sent: Thursday, August 01, 2002 4:37 PM
Subject: Re: [PIC]: PIC development STINKS!


{Quote hidden}

Actually in my experience the bigger the team the greater the chance that
you end up with some members that generate negative productivity. The really
good people end up chasing problems introduced by the really bad ones. On a
few occasions I have personally discovered people actively sabotaging a
project.

Regards
Sergio Masci

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2002\08\01@210520 by Brendan Moran

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> Actually in my experience the bigger the team the greater the
> chance that you end up with some members that generate negative
> productivity. The really good people end up chasing problems
> introduced by the really bad ones. On a few occasions I have
> personally discovered people actively sabotaging a project.

Yeah, apparently, there used to be some of that where I now work.
The people causing it are all gone now, but the principle, as far as
I've been told was that these people were directly sabotaging a
project so that they could fix the fault they introduced, and thereby
look really smart to the management.  Yay them.  Not the way I'd
choose to look smart.

"The intelligence of a crowd is the the intelligence of the dumbest
person in the crowd divided by the number of people in the crowd."

Lynch mobs are really stupid.

- --Brendan

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