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Gerald M. Weinberg has died (facebook.com)
374 points by pbowyer 6 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 66 comments



There's a great quote on his wikipedia page:

"... while riding a bus in New York City, he observed a mother with eight small children embark. She asked the driver the amount of the fare; he told her that the cost was thirty-five cents, but that children under the age of five could ride for free. When the woman deposited only thirty-five cents into the payment slot, the driver was incredulous. "Do you mean to tell me that all your children are under five years old?" The woman explained that she had four sets of twins. The driver replied, "Do you always have twins?" "No," said the woman, "most of the time we don't have any."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerald_Weinberg#Work


I don't understand that story. Could you explain?


They aren't really twins at all, but to save the fare, she'll say they are while riding the bus. Most of the time, they aren't.


Most of the time, after having sex, they don't have any children at all.

It makes more sense in the context of his Law of Twins:

> most of the time, no matter how much effort one expends, no event of any great significance will result


I think I misunderstood this entirely when I first saw it, I always thought she was babysitting or had a daycare and they were not her kids and most of the time she has kids but they are not twins.


> most of the time, no matter how much effort one expends, no event of any great significance will result

What a great outlook on life.


In the book [0], he adds the observation that sometimes something does happen. My inference of the point of the incomplete story told above is to reassure people when their efforts don't seem to take hold. Some can begin to blame themselves. Recognizing that change is rare and hard helps to depersonalize a failure to make change happen.

[0] 'The Secrets of Consulting: A Guide to Giving and Getting Advice Successfully', Weinberg


Thanks - I did rather mess things up by omitting that.


The woman was not the mother of all the children is one possible explanation


I have been a big fan of GW since the 80s. I don't have my copy of _Secrets of Consulting_ handy, so I can't check whether he actually claimed that story as a personal experience. I do know that I've seen a British comic postcard from around 1950 that uses a similar joke:

Vicar to parishioner: "My word, Mrs. Jones, do you always have twins?" Mrs. Jones: "Oh, no sir, most of the time we don't have anything."


RIP Jerry, I learned a lot from you.

Jerry's blog: http://secretsofconsulting.blogspot.com/

Jerry's books: https://leanpub.com/u/jerryweinberg


Jerry's books ...

Wow, I didn't realize exactly how prolific Jerry had been. There's some really interesting stuff there that I didn't know about before. Glad you shared that.


His systems thinking book is one that I stumbled onto a couple of months ago and really enjoy. And the “secrets of consulting” books are marvellous.


Yup ,kinda invaluable sources. Like you I gained a lot ,Will be missing his wisdom.


I've had a habit over the last 10 years of gifting (I've learned to never 'loan' books to people anymore) used hardback 1971 editions of The Psychology of Computer Programming (some bought as cheap as $0.13 + $3.99 S&H on Amazon). Probably given away away at least a dozen to friends & co-workers. For the handful who did more than skim it, it enriched their understanding about programming as a social activity. He left a great mark on the world, even if only a few of us truly appreciate it.


"Programming as a social activity" would actually be a better title for that book, as I recall it.


He showed up on HN once in 2010: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1825352.


Comment is clearer in context:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1813443


Thanks. Mentioning this might be contrary to HN's ethos, however I felt like upvoting his one and only comment - which was very thoughtful and seemed lovingly in response to his grandson's mention.

It's always sad when the good ones go. RIP Jerry.


Oh no. Just last week there was an article on the front page of HN (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17660011) which was plagiarized from a section of his excellent book The Psychology of Computer Programming. It reminded me of discovering his book in the library a couple of years and loving it, and thinking I ought to read what else he's written. Seems I never got around to doing that and thanking him. :-(

Wikipedia article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerald_Weinberg


The Psychology of Computer Programming (and its Japanese translation, プログラミングの心理学) is one of my favorite books and a must-read if you're interested in computer programming AND human being. It's the only computer-related book that makes me emotional and urges me to be a better programmer AND a better person. I'm sorry to hear this.


I've never heard of this book, I don't know how I missed it. Just ordered it for my kindle!


I was lucky enough to have met him in person several times, and to have corresponded with him in various online venues. He was generous with his time, and he both taught and practiced only giving advice when asked. His books are among my most read, most quoted, and most given to others. He was a giant. RIP.


Ditto. Every time I interacted with him, I walked away feeling smarter, and also feeling special and valued.

He truly did make the world a better place.


This hit me hard. I’ve read several of his books and it’s strange how you can feel like you know a person from that. But his writing was excellent and his personality was very evident.

If anything, I feel like now I want to read a few more of his books as a mark of respect.

And, you know, because they were excellent


Becoming A Technical Leader and Secrets Of Consulting are two books that have had a profound impact on my career and leadership perspective. I revisit them often and recommend them as a great starting point for aspiring leaders.


Seconded


A very fine person of wisdom and an effective teacher because of his great skill as a storyteller. His stories delivered his wisdom with both efficiency and grace.


"Are your lights on" (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1044831.Are_Your_Lights_... ) is my favorite Weinberg book. It had a very profound impact on how I approach problem solving.


So much of The Psychology of Computer Programming is still relevant, and still worth reading. The title might put you off ... but this is really a great book that covers some practical topics regarding the human side of programming.


Sad news. I have The Psychology of Computer Programming as my bathroom reading (read into that what you will).


I've learned so so much from his books on consulting, thank you for everything Mr.Weinberg. Rest in peace.


I had the great privilege of interviewing Jerry late last year. He generously talked to me for nearly two hours about his life and career. Here's a link to the interview for anyone interested: https://leanpub.com/podcasts/frontmatter/gerald-m-weinberg-3...


I judge the quality of books on software project management from references. I look at references section, and if I don't find any Gerald M. Weinberg I flat out discard the whole book because the author obviously didn't do his homework.

Pretty much the wisest author of all. Most of the time I feel like I owe everything I know to him.


Wow. I have read a lot of Jerry's books in the last couple years, and have taken away a tremendous amount of value.


Particularly poignant blog post of his from only two months ago.

http://secretsofconsulting.blogspot.com/2018/06/why-would-an...


Sad news indeed. One of my favorite Weinberg quotes (phrased as a law):

> Weinberg's Second Law: If builders built buildings the way programmers wrote programs, then the first woodpecker that came along would destroy civilization.

Weinberg’s books are filled with named “laws”, so many that some of his books have an appendix that lists them all. Here’s one of my favorites:

> Boulding’s Backward Basis: Things are the way they are because they got that way.

[Quality Software Management, Vol. 1: Systems Thinking]


I didn't get much out of his later work, but The Psychology of Computer Programming has changed my thinking and my career more than any other single book.


Is there a non-Facebook link? Facebook is blocked at my work.


There is no easy way to say this, and certainly no easy way to hear it. I am writing this on the evening of August 7th, 2018. Jerry died last night.

He's been in poor health, but this wasn't expected and Dani is coping with all of the things that need to be done. I told her that I would announce it to his friends and colleagues on Facebook, since she doesn't use social media.

I've been using the things he taught me a lot this summer, with some challenging personal and professional situations. I'm so glad I managed to tell him that while he could still hear it.

Knowing him made me a better person. His life goal was to empower Smart People to Be Happy. He succeeded.

Requiescat in pace, Jerry.


RIP, Gerald Weinberg

There's a less know book written by him: Weinberg on Writing: The Fieldstone Method

It's the only book I've found that teaches you how to steal like an writer, which the book Steal Like an Artist advocates but doesn't get into how to actually do it.


RIP Jerry, Learned a lot from your books. Those are very practical guidelines. We will miss your wisdom. It is a loos to the technological world. And I proudly posses your quite a few books, which change my life and thinking too about a specific thing. Thank you.


I am very sorry to hear that. I bought his book The Psychology of Computer Programming in the 70s when I was just getting started in my career. That book and some of his more recent work really had a positive influence on my life. Jerry, you will be missed.


A great teacher. Jerry, thank you for your wisdom and seeing right to my innermost core. RIP.


Very sad news. RIP, Mr. Weinberg.


I've read and re-read so many of his books. Tweeted a couple of times mentioning his work and got replies from him. Truly a great person


His "Secrets of Consulting" book has been a treasure trove of insight for me. Sad to hear he has died.


His books changed the way I think, work and live! Miss him! He retweeted me once, made my day fabolous!


His systems thinking book will stay with me forever. RIP Gerald.


Big fan, he was quite an influence on me. Really sad.


He will be missed.


Is this who the black bar is for?

Sounds like a smart guy. I'll have to get some of his books.


Do it, they are really really good, I re-read them often


Text for those who got Facebook blocked at work

--------------------

‎Sue Petersen‎ > Gerald M Weinberg

There is no easy way to say this, and certainly no easy way to hear it. I am writing this on the evening of August 7th, 2018. Jerry died last night.

He's been in poor health, but this wasn't expected and Dani is coping with all of the things that need to be done. I told her that I would announce it to his friends and colleagues on Facebook, since she doesn't use social media.

I've been using the things he taught me a lot this summer, with some challenging personal and professional situations. I'm so glad I managed to tell him that while he could still hear it.

Knowing him made me a better person. His life goal was to empower Smart People to Be Happy. He succeeded.

Requiescat in pace, Jerry.


> Text for those who got Facebook blocked at work

As if his death was not depressing enough, there are still places that do this...


Black bar worthy


Why? because he was a teacher or friend to someone who is a moderator on HN? Because he wrote some books? Lots of famous people, scientists (computer scientists and otherwise), who wrote books and died didn't get a black bar.

Every time a black bar is put for someone, his importance is immediately compared to the importance of other great people who died. Frankly I think it does a disservice not only to those who don't get a black-bar, but also to those who do.


I thought we were done with the black bar. If I remember correctly Steven Hawking didn't get a black bar.


Stephen Hawking's contribution, vast and profound as it was, wasn't specifically to computer science.

The use of the black bar seems to be determined by the moderators based on who has had a profound influence on themselves and other more active members of the HN community.

When it happens, I learn something interesting or valuable about that person's contribution to the field, in a way that I possibly wouldn't if it weren't for the black bar.

It's an important and useful community custom, yet debating its use (and protesting that some other person didn't get it) happens every time and always detracts from an otherwise congenial discussion thread. As much as it seems necessary, it really isn't the case that someone always has to be that person. Please just let it go.


I have never heard of the guy or his book.


Then it's a good time to discover him.

His book, The Secrets of Consulting, was the first to help me get my head screwed on straight. I can't tell you how often his "Orange Juice Rule" helped me make a better decision.


That's an interesting rule, and it reminds me of the story of Van Halen: For their concerts, they have asked (ask?) for a bowl of M&M's, but no brown ones.


Then why comment?


Not OP, but 'to encourage comments like that from ohjeez' seems a good reason.


Not all people did.


your loss




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