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Managing Software Engineers, by Philip Greenspun (philg@mit.edu)


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RECIPE FOR CARPAL TUNNEL

"the architect never saw so many ppl sit in a chair so long." i winced as i read this. why? because scrolling with the mouse makes my hands hurt.

I am a guy who would program 100 hrs/wk b/c i liked it. in fact, for a few years i did. for me aD would be a dream. but now it is only that. why? b/c after all this typing my hands are ruined. i cannot use a keyboard properly; only for very short times. fair warning to all aD ppl. once your hands or other health are gone, so is you job. and there are only so many opportunities in radio.

P.S. I have a degree from that other school in cambridge. it doesn't matter when you're disabled. you just get the boot and nobody wants you. you can't be a manager b/c u still have to use a PC. so forget about families, you won't get one.

note -- and you must post anonymously so you don't lose any temp job u might have (atm. pr writing with dragon nat speak, a nightmare to use) where they get the idea u are a dead weight

-- asf asdf, November 6, 2000

A few years back I worked on a project that required long hours. We started out at 60 hours per week; nine months later we were at 120 hours per week (of course, a significant portion was wasted). Morale was not too bad throughout the project, as the company was depending on it, and committed extra resources (dinner weekdays, lunch and dinner on weekends). The results were something less than great: the product was very buggy when it shipped, and it resulted in a significant market loss. More than 50% of the core team left within three months. There was at least one divorce.

This is an extreme example, but I have found in several different environments that extended hours are counterproductive, more often than not.

-- John Wilkinson, November 6, 2000

Where does Greenspun get the idea that coordination time, etc. is constant while coding time is not? The math he uses to calculate that 55 hours per week is 2x as productive as 40 hours per week is incredibly sloppy, especially considering how he uses it to justify firing workers who leave at 6.

I expect there's a lot of variance from the 25-hour figure he pulled out of thin air, mostly in the downward direction. 5 hours would be more typical where I work.

Sadly, there are probably some managers out there who will take Greenspun's advice. Probably the same ones who get alarmed when 40% of sick days are taken on Monday or Friday.



-- Bruce Lewis, November 6, 2000

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