Roman Sandals

May 23, 2008

Frustrating in-house systems

Filed under: musing, technology — Craig Lawton @ 1:25 pm

I’m constantly amazed at the crappy performance of in-house applications at the places I’ve worked. Customer-facing applications must perform, or business is lost. In-house applications are never tuned for performance it seems, and this makes work that much harder.

This difficulty is related to the level of brain-memory you are using for your current task. Very short term memory is great, and necessary, when you are flying through a well understood task. But short system interruptions (usually involving the hour glass) force you to use more extended memory times, making the effort that much larger, and less enjoyable.

There are other types of interruptions of course, which have a similar effect, such as people-interruptions (“What are you doing this weekend?”) and self-inflicted-interruptions (such as twitter alerts).

If your system hangs for long enough you may start a new task altogether (so as not to look stoned at your desk) and therefore lose track completely of where you were at.

This forces unnecessary re-work and brain exhaustion!

I see lots of people with “notepad” or “vi” open constantly so they can continually record their work states. This is a good idea but takes practice and is an overhead.

It comes down to this. I want a system which can keep up with me! :-)

And is that unreasonable, with gazillions of hertz and giga-mega-bits of bandwidth available?

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1 Comment »

  1. This continuous partial attention is an occupational hazard of life in IT. It’s not just the systems, it’s all the tools … Install some packages. Reboot a server. Fire up a VM. Compile something. Before you know it, you’re cruising http://twitter.com/fireland and laughing yourself silly instead of working.

    In fact, I actually tweeted something related to this just a couple of days ago: http://twitter.com/rchanter/statuses/816326829.

    And yep, task logging is a huge help. My favourite organiser has just added a journal; http://www.37signals.com/svn/posts/976-a-peek-at-inout-an-internal-app-at-37signals. Up until now I’ve had a small (about 5 lines) shell window open, sticky on all workspaces, that I fed status updates to a script that calls logger. I’ll be replacing that with a small script that logs to the Backpack journal. Great for backtracking through the labyrinth of Ooh! Shiny!

    Comment by rchanter — May 23, 2008 @ 4:01 pm


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