piclist 2009\01\29\092008a >
Thread: Agile programming (was Re: [P|C] Banksel)
face picon face BY : Rolf email (remove spam text)

Nate Duehr wrote lots of things.... :
> On Jan 28, 2009, at 10:27 PM, Rolf wrote:

Just as an over-all response to your mail:

1. the software we write does not do anything transactional (i.e. our
software can not change dollars and cents, there is no risk that enyone
could program our software to embezzle.
2. financial code is full of bugs. You should not have warm and fuzzies
for even the best financial institutions. Always check your statements,
etc. Still, the risk in finance of software errors causing you losses is
insignificant compared to direct human manipulation. 99.9% (a number I
have just invented) of money losses from clients/investors in financial
institutions will be related to errors other than software. Further,
software errors are typically discovered and fixed and the financial
consequence corrected. Human errors are seldom dealt with in such a
manner because your ciontract with the financial institution will have a
disclaimer about that....
3. Even though I say we write risk management software it does not mean
that our programs manage risk... our programs provide risk-management
data to risk-management people. These people understand the models we
use to calculate risk metrics, and they understand the flaws in the
models we use. The whole idea of financial modeling is that you simplify
the real-world in ways that make the problem more easy to understand and
quantify. The user of these models has to be aware of where the model is
deficient, etc. This is something you should be aware of in any
engineering task. Still, for the record, our clients have fared
relatively well in the past. Then again, people who are willing to spend
millions on licensing fees for our software are typically risk averse
anyway and likely would make similar decisions without our software.
Given that more than half of the world's largest banks use our software
and we have not lost a client yet, I guess our clients are survivors.
4. as for 'the best', well, it is a subjective thing. The company I work
for has earned the respect of the entire industry, and has a reputation
of excellence. I am a part of that. Take it for what it's worth.
5. as for management whims.... well, they are. When a client wants to
model a new type of financial instrument, and offers lots of money to
make it happen, the whims of managers can change. Suddenly that
performance problem you were engrossed in is not so important.
6. As for award winning software, the software we all write is
award-winning too. In fact, in most financial risk categories our suite
is acknowledged industry wide to be the best.
7. I guess all nose-ring wielding people are financially irresponsible?
What, African Americans too?, how about tattooed people? That comment is
despicable! Your spouse needs that tee-shirt.
8. The whole concept of Agile development can be applied in bits and
pieces to any development. it is hard to determine what exactly makes a
development process agile or not. Not everything that looks/smells/feels
agile is. That is why I said I had experience with a diluted form of it.
In fact, my understanding of agile is as fuzzy as the concept itself.
9. I believe software development is like a marriage... the two
'partners' are the product and the developers. Between the two of those
you have to come up with a system that works, and, since every developer
is different, and every product is different, every 'marriage' will be
different too. Different things work for different 'marriages'. Agile
development is a process that can be used to model the 'marriage' on,
but it is not a one-size-fits-all thing. Still, there are many
similarities between on set of developers and another, and one product
and another. As a consequence, most 'marriages' end up looking, for the
most part, very similar.
10. Why not use agile for our stuff? Well, we have 25 years of
investment in our product, and it is written parts in Cobol, C, C++, C#,
Java, web applications (asp, jsp, html, perl/CGI, javascript, ajax,
etc.), Windows GUI's, X GUI's, command-line, batch, interactive. The
biggest challenge is sometimes deciding whether to re-use a component or
to re-write. In most cases, re-using makes most sense.
11. The same type of processes and people that launched the shuttle also
launched the Mars Climate orbiter:

Overall I found your response to be more emotional than I would have
expected. Is everything OK?


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