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Tired but must blog

It’s just past midnight, and I feel compelled to put something down, even though it is the case that I am tired, getting sick, and know I should rest. The last few days have been rough, with the beta release of Pachyderm being put through the ringer by Larry (the head honcho), and of course he finds the exact most annoying bugs he can, causing him much pain and anguish. He’s been freaking out, because he has been planning to demonstrate Pachyderm to the Merlot audience and his confidence in the application has been shot. He’s even talking about pulling the beta until it’s ready for prime time.
Part of me feels a bit offended and spent and frustrated that I’ve worked my ass off so hard just to have him say ‘no-go’, but part of me is feeling overall positive about the fact that Larry is considering turning the beta down until the product is ready. The date was arbitrary to begin with, and we rushed our asses off to get it to the table by his timelines, knowing full well that code still needed to be written. But, we cut corners and patched together where and when we could, so we could make his proposed mid-july deadline. Now, he’s come to realize you can’t just stake a date down in the dirt and meet it without consequences. To a large part, I have to say I agree with him — we aren’t ready for prime time, as disappointing as that might be. Let’s pull the thing or at least turn it down to a smaller group, and get the code really stable and fault tolerant. I’ve been bitching about how the system throws exceptions when things don’t go the intended way. I think we need to do some *major* qa on the app, now that we are (mostly) feature complete. This is when the qa phase needs to start. We aren’t really beta-ready. We’re in late alpha.
Really, what I worry about is disappointment on his part, and on the part of our users. The engineers have been working our asses off, in the face of other projects pulling at our time and attention, in the face of the fact that our institutions are donating our time at this point to the project — the development money from the grant has long since dried up. In the face of the fact that no one else on the team could be doing the work we’re doing right now, with the exception of a few. We basically enacted a re-write of a system that took several years to build, in less than a year. And our system is more stable, more extensible, and more maintainable. I really hope that Larry sees this, that our partners see this. I’ve been working harder this year than I have for several years previous, and I don’t want this setback to be seen as a setback at all. Really, I think there’s been no failing on the part of the development team. I think there’s been a failure on our leadership to make sure they were informed on our real status, and to adjust accordingly. I think there’s been a failure on our project to not properly staff and fund and plan a proper QA cycle. But, I think that might be in the midst of a correction, and I welcome it. Let’s really focus on making this code the best we can make it, and not just turn out yet another sloppy rush job. I want to be proud of the Pachyderm project, not ashamed.
So yeah, I’ve had a hard few days, and I am sure they aren’t going to get much easier. Good thing I’m leaving for a week to OSCON next week so that even less work can get done, huh?
Sigh.

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