Before Google launched Gmail in 2004, its creator, Paul Buchheit, brought it to
Page’s open cubicle office for a review.
As Buchheit called the program up on Page’s computer, the boss made a face.
“It’s too slow,” Page said.
Buchheit disagreed. It was loading just fine, he said. No, Page insisted.
It had taken a full 600 milliseconds for the page to load.
“You can’t know that,” Buchheit said. But when he got back to his office,
he looked up the server logs. It had taken exactly 600 milliseconds
for Gmail to load.
It is quite plausible for people who being to obsess over a certain aspect to become overly sensitive to it. In my case, a lifetime of playing high speed video games makes it possible to notice things that others miss when it comes to things like framerates and microstutter in computer graphics. I find it likely that Jobs and Page were able to pick up on millimeter & millisecond defects.
Quite possible. It's also possible that Jobs & Page made all kinds of more or less random comments, and people remembered and retold the stories about the times they were strikingly correct.
I'd guess the truth is somewhere between the two.
You don't have to be precise to the milliseconds, you only have to be able to recognize 100 milliseconds, 500 milliseconds and 1000 milliseconds. The rest is guessing work.
It's the same thing with the width of elements on the web. Know what 10px is, and you will be able to guess anything.
It turns out I'm not nearly as good as I thought. I can nail a delay of 100,200,...,900ms exactly only about 40% of the time, and within +-100ms about 80% of the time.
If anyone else feels like trying, you can do "go get github.com/erinok/howlonghowlong". Hit space to see a flash, and then type 1-9 for how long you think the flash was.
It's surprisingly fun. (At least if you're incredibly weird like me.)
I find I'll have periods of concentration where I can just nail it, and then it'll leave me, and I'll be sloppy.
And thinking about it, in Trackmania it was less a perception of time that you noticed, but a sense of how smoothly and perfectly you had hit every turn. You could easily race the almost the exact same time multiple times in a row, and then feel it when you hit a turn more smoothly and shaved a few fractions of a second off your time. (Or similarly feel it when you screwed up and added a few seconds.)
Man, thinking about this is making me miss trackmania :)
But that misses the point of the Jobs story. Some people really do have sensitivity to things that the vast majority of others have trouble perceiving. Most people would have trouble perceiving a millimeter difference in spatial dimension by touch.
Having said all of that... the likelihood that the Project Manager in the original story... or even that the Project Manager in your workplace for that matter... is the maven that Steve Jobs was is remote in the extreme.
Sen no Rikyu, a tea-master, wished to hang a flower basket on a column. he asked a carpenter to help him, directing the man to place it a little higher or lower, to the right or left, until he had found exactly the right spot. "That's the place," said Sen no Rikyu finally.
The carpenter, to test the master, marked the spot and then pretended he had forgotten. Was this the place? "Was this the place, perhaps?" the carpenter kept asking, pointing to various places on the column.
But so accurate was the tea-master's sense of proportion that it was not until the carpenter reached the identical spot again that its location was approved.
There is a tendency when one is running or developing a product to convince yourself that your efforts are producing a genuinely good product that your customers will like. Frequently that isn't true, and the product is rightly trashed by the outsiders. The thing is, the people on the inside would have trashed it too if they had not been insiders.
Jobs seems to have had the ability to resist this self-deception. He was ruthlessly honest about how good the things Apple was making actually were and not at all afraid to reject things because some aspect was poor.
All the praise in your comment only really works if the change is a clear improvement.
Apples design is hit and miss like everyone else.
(fixed the arm problem with physio and massage)
However, the apple trackpad on my macbook air seems to work great. I like this more than even ordinary mice, which can sometimes aggravate the issue.
In contrast, my wrist hurts just thinking about the Mighty Mouse or whatever it's called.
The wireless (which is what I'm using at the moment) is okay, but it's not the same.
I've got some dead ones in the junk pile. When I get some time I'm going to see if I can cobble together a working unit from them.
When will Chrome offer the option of switching to a new tab when its link is clicked on? Firefox has had it forever.
When will the big browsers be programmable? I'm currently running uzbl because I want to set my own hotkeys in my browser. I tried 4 different 'emacs bindings' extensions for other browsers until I just figured out that none of these is gonna get it completely right.
The good thing in all of this is that I now control the behavior and features of my browser myself. I've made features that wouldn't even be possible in Firefox/Chrome. Not because it should be all that hard, but because they just don't let you actually do anything with them.
Browsers are pretty much like e-mail clients. They all suck. Some suck less than others, but it's actually striking how bad the sum total of all the browsers' usability is. Ironically I had to switch to a browser that wasn't trying to be a modern browser to get the browser experience that I wanted.
 - http://www.uzbl.org/
Like I said, I had to turn away from everything that tried to be a modern browser to realize that most modern browsers are shit, FF/Chrome with these extensions included. Browsers have not evolved well and are mostly designed to be huge monoliths with little to no transparency and programmability. Vimperator and pentadactyl don't remedy this.
Also I thought "hockey puck mouse" was an old DEC mouse. Dec as in, "my Vaxstation is better than your Mac, cause it has a mouse AND it's still a VAX." (I still like saying "VAX" Side-effect: I start SHIFTING INTO ALL CAPS. )
My other issue is eyestrain. I can type text without looking at the screen, so I tend to prefer text based interfaces. And keyboard shortcuts are a way to rest from overuse of pointing devices. (i.e., overuse of our bodies)
Remember the urban legend about the QWERTY keyboard, that it was designed to slow us down in order to distract us from how slow typewriters were? Sometimes I wonder if the modern GUI has turned into something like that: Simple tasks require us to control the computer's sequence of operations through extensive manual and ocular labor, rather than us just telling it what we want it to do.
Just a weird thought, offered for amusement.
I was sad when they replaced it.
I've always wondered why people hate on it so much -- even if someone prefers to point with their arm rather than their fingers, surely they can understand the appeal of using fingers to point at things?
 an attitude I find myself unthinkingly adopting when doing reviews.
hard to ask for it without it seeming completely petty, particularly when everything else is perfect. it does represent a minor improvement.
Naming is important. Bad function names are a bug in the API, just like any other API bug.
Non-native speakers frequently struggle naming things even more than native speakers, especially when they have to deal with a problem domain for the first time.
Just like any other mistake, bad function names usually aren't intentional -- often quite the opposite. I remember struggling with naming business domain related functions and variables in the first booking system I worked on, especially because the UI wasn't localized into English, so I had no direct reference. Should this class be called Invoice or Bill? Are the terms "netto" and "brutto" commonly used in English as they are in German? What's the proper plural of "index"? And so on.
Having tactful help from a native speaker can be a huge advantage.
As an aside, I recently saw a job listing that included the requirement to be able to "defend your code in reviews" - I would say that's an environment where reviews probably aren't positive experiences.
As an intern, I've had many times where I'd say "I did it this way using A B and C, is that the best way? Are there any improvements you'd suggest?" after completing work. But in a more senior position, you probably don't want people second guessing / not really understanding these decisions.
Consider it this way: natively speaking English means you have domain knowledge, sharing that domain knowledge should feel no different from pointing out mistakes in other domains. If someone gets English wrong, that's no different from getting, say, VAT calculation wrong.
Maybe I'm just assuming everyone already handles mistakes in other domains with tact and respect.
Also, it's a matter of proportion. If a function name is extremely misleading that's different from a function name just using an awkward synonym, just as a broken piece of code is different from dodgy indentation. You'll want to fix either problem eventually, but the immediate repercussions are quite different (serious bug vs minor annoyance, basically).
I think we're generally in agreement – I was trying to keep the focus on things which can be reasonably be considered objectively wrong and keeping the degree of wrongness in mind when deciding how to handle it. If you're on the low end of that scale, it's probably not a good use for everyone's time in a code-review session unless it happens a lot.
I never said he was right or that I agreed with him, in fact I hate Apple Mice and actually find them too small. No idea where you are even getting that.
My point is that Steve Jobs was renowned for an obsessive, manic attention to exactly these kinds of detail and usually knew what he wanted and would blow up when he didn't get it; so it takes a special kind of person to dodge Occam's razor and go looking for some other explanation.
You called dchichkov's argument "idiotically cynical". That's a personal attack, even if you didn't mean it that way.
>I never said he was right or that I agreed with him, in fact I hate Apple Mice and actually find them too small. No idea where you are even getting that.
When you say "completely revolutionize multiple technology industries ACTUALLY had vision and a sense of aesthetics" in response to a comment that suggested he was reading expressions, that very heavily implies that Steve was correct. You need to work on wording if you have "no idea" how I got that impression.
>a special kind of person
This sounds like a personal insult again.
I don't know why you're so vehemently against the idea.
No, I'll admit I meant it that way and I'll stand by it. What I meant is that it isn't a personal issue for me as I thought you were claiming. Those are different things.
> When you say "completely revolutionize multiple technology industries ACTUALLY had vision and a sense of aesthetics" in response to a comment that suggested he was reading expressions, that very heavily implies that Steve was correct. You need to work on wording if you have "no idea" how I got that impression.
No. I'm saying I believe (assuming the story is true) Jobs correctly detected the 1mm difference. I'm also saying I don't agree that the 1mm difference was the right call, certainly not for me. Jobs sense of aesthetics resulted in many great products but a few duds as well.
My point is that since Jobs is literally (in)famous for attention to small details and being a complete hard ass about seeing those details through to the end product, it is silly to not only question a story about his attention to small details but to offer another option as "most likely".
It does not mean I think Jobs walked on water and was always right.
This has blown up way farther than a quick throw away line.
The blog post I think was talking more about people who just have to change something to 'make their mark' and usually the mark makers are the managers, not the doers or the designers, making arbitrary changes so they feel validated, or powerful, or in control, who knows.
Steve knew what was nice though, indisputably, and in Australia we have the saying "Who's rooting this cat?", in Steve's case he was the one rooting it, whereas the PM in the blog post barely even knew the cat.
The wily engineer directs them towards a large and important looking knob, telling them that they are free to dial in as much "pop" as they think the track needs.
Of course, they screw up their faces and make minute adjustments, and eventually announce that the sound is now perfect. You all know the punchline.
The twist is that every sound engineer also has stories of doing the same thing to themselves by accident.
I'd use them to bury the meddling fuckers who ask for this shit.
So I was showing the design to this client who always wanted to modify things, and he said he doesn't like the orange a lot and if we can tweak it. I had a red layer, and a yellow layer over it with opacity, so I clicked on the yellow layer, and started pressing random numbers on the numpad (pressing numbers changes the value of the layer's opacity) so the colors were jumping randomly from red to orange to yellow and the hues in between, finally I settled back on the exact value that was before, and that seemed to satisfy the client. The color was now perfect.
If we take this at face value, she could have asked more nicely, and he could also have followed the "F you, pay me" principle, and just quoted her a figure.
Had he said, "I'd be happy to make you a poster for your cat. I will be able to do it with an hour's work, for which I will bill you $80", he would not have wasted her time, and she could have made something herself in her word processor. (Or, she'd have said, "Awesome, here's eighty bucks".)
> Q: Are your articles (like Missing Missy), real emails?
> A: The email articles are verbatim ...
Even if his pieces are meant to be satire, IMO it's not particularly good satire. To each his own, I guess.
(Not that I really care to know; this is getting way off-topic.)
"Could you make the design pop a bit more?"
> I also don't know how to design websites based on someone else's feelings.
That's what design is, so if you're not doing that then you're probably not a designer.
The word design literally means 'fate', i.e. the absence of free will. Shaping behavior is the point, making studied choices is only the means to the end.
C.f. Robert Frost's poem Design:
Early in my life, I programmed synths in a studio - and I practiced a variation on this. I would listen to what sound they wanted, then I would play them something that was likely pretty close. They they would complain about it not being quite right, so I would play 3 or 4 different sounds that I knew were completely wrong, then return to the first sound. To which they would invariably say "yeah that one - that's perfect!"
There is nothing that can describe the mixture of confusion, shame, and artistic/technical self-doubt that you feel upon realising that the compressor you just spent half an hour lovingly tweaking, to seemingly great effect, is bypassed.
There are, but equally, there are tales of real genius among record company bosses too. Here's an awesome example, which I read in soundonsound a few years ago. From an interview with Giorgio Moroder on how he created the disco single "Love To Love You Baby", and the instrumental role of record boss Neil Bogart:
> This then provided us with a four‑minute, metronomic beat that had a kind of groove going on, and that really was the origin of drum machines, and the thing that enabled us to stretch it to a 16‑minute version, kept in perfect time, when Neil Bogart requested it.”
> According to Moroder, it was on a Friday that Bogart called him, at about three o'clock in the morning LA time, ecstatic over the number and insisting that it should be extended to cover the entire side of an album. Bellotte fills in the details...
> "Bogart was having an orgy at his house, there was a lot of coke going on and, to use his own language, they were all 'f*cking to this track' and the crowd there had him replay the song over and over again. Suddenly, a 'Eureka' thought hit Bogart; he recalled 'In‑A‑Gadda‑Da‑Vida' by Iron Butterfly, which had taken up a whole side. In a flash he came up with the idea of doing the same with 'Love To Love You Baby' and he needed it within a week. So we just proceeded to get down to it on that weekend, and since things always went very fast back then, within the week he had what he wanted.”
> The last song on the album, recorded in two to three hours and designed to transport listeners into the future, 'I Feel Love' would quickly become a gay anthem, not least because of Neil Bogart's astute marketing, while topping the UK singles chart and climbing to number six on the Billboard Hot 100. However, it was considered to be nothing more than a filler when the record was finished.
>"We never thought of it as a stand-out track, we just thought it part of a good album,” Bellotte comments. "However, when we sent the album off to LA, Neil Bogart called back straight away and said, 'The single is 'I Feel Love', it needs three edits and these are the edits.' Doing these immediately improved the fluidity of the track no end. He was that kind of a record man. And, of course, those edits no longer exist, because they would have been sliced from the quarter‑inch master and simply thrown on the floor. That's how it was then. If you ever did any editing, the floor was cluttered with all the stuff you didn't use. We never saved anything, it was just discarded. However, because of his uncanny feel for the music, Bogart knew exactly where the track should be edited and, of course, the improvement was fantastic.”
Crazy story, isn't it?
Source: learned during my employee training at The Museum of Flight. http://www.museumofflight.org/aircraft/boeing-vc-137b-707-12...
No, he wasn't. It was intentionally put in place to deceive him, and the deception worked.
> "people think that a Vice President can't get temperature adjusted to his liking"
Most VPs could get the temperature adjusted to their liking. Johnson was a special kind of control freak. He liked to make people uncomfortable by making it extra hot, extra cold, walking around naked (it's why he replaced some of the solid bulkheads with transparent plexiglas), raising the hydraulic table and his hydraulic chair so high that people at the table looked like children who could barely reach, and so on.
The Air Force crew got sick of his being in the cockpit, and they didn't much care for those antics, so they gave him the fake temperature control. No, he didn't know how it worked, and no, they didn't make it as hot or as cold as he wanted it to be, they just went along enough to keep him from making trouble for them.
> "not being fully respectful of those in power"
How many Air Force Colonels do you know? They'll give a guy the respect he earns, but they're not known for their willingness to defer to LBJ-style bullshit.
[One of our volunteers was the plane's crew chief for most of a decade. We got a lot of interesting inside stories on slow days.]
However as another commenter pointed out the "phony" switch worked.
Plus according the the above book not only did the crewman adjust the temperature when he saw the light flash, but Johnson felt the temperature was adjusted.
The idea here is not whether or not Johnson understood the technology. But I find it hard to believe that a man who is vice President of the United States is so easily duped. He asked for a switch to adjust temperature and he got a switch that could adjust temperature.
Despite the fact that "one of our volunteers was the plane's crew chief" do you think that it's at all possible that the story was somewhat embellished for effect? (Not saying it was but we are not talking about sworn court testimony when someone relates something that happened many years prior, right?)
You don't think highly-ranked Air Force officials can pull off a deceptive trick like this? They couldn't give the VP a switch, lie to him about what it did, and then manually mimic what he was trying to do but to a lesser degree? (They would also sometimes start with a large effect and then slowly return the temperature to normal.)
> "do you think that it's at all possible that the story was somewhat embellished"
We had multiple sources for this particular story.
Hitchock said of course he would, took the film back, and sat on it for a couple of weeks. He later sent back the 'fixed' version, and the censor was much happier with the 'changes' and certified it for release.
Building company wants to build a 12 storey block of apartments somewhere, but the locals will object to pretty much anything.
Initial planning application goes in for 42 storey block.
Locals up in arms demanding it be reduced. Big protest campaign launched.
Delays and then a revised planning application for 28 storeys.
Outrage (but less vociferous).
More delays and eventually a revised planning application for 12 storeys.
Little complaint, planning application successful.
(The other was one in an engineering thesis orientation class where one of the "teachers" said that "everything that could be invented has already been invented". I walked out immediately, followed by a few other people seconds later after some other comment.)
I'm sure history is sprinkled with many such interesting stories.
There's a real risk (of course) to killing the duck. Your client or your boss may hate you, and that's never healthy in the short run, but they also may come out of the interaction a wiser and better person. Or you may find yourself not working for an idiot, and be happier in the long run anyways. Keeping the duck alive is a bigger long-term risk for everyone.
Kill the duck.
That doesn't mean it's always the wrong decision, though. Sometimes, technical debt is the right trade-off. Sometimes the trade-off of teaching your boss just isn't worth the effort, and getting the job done quickly works out.
And, just like technical debt, doing this results is more problems for other people (including future-you) as your bad boss looks good and calcifies his bad habits and rises in the ranks.
Personally, my preferred solution is malicious compliance. If someone makes a stupid decision, they have them suffer the consequences of that stupidity rather than covering for them and letting them delude themselves that their bad decision was good. This only works on new decisions, though; if you try to remove existing work-arounds for old bad decisions, you're the one that looks bad.
Once you develop a good reputation by playing the game, you can always fix old bad decisions & at that point, your superiors would actually encourage you to do so.
Edit: that's a generic 'you', in case it's not obvious, not a reference to the parent.
I think it's important to differentiate between people who have the right knowledge to request a change and those that think they have the right solely because of seniority; but it's also rather disrespectful to 'cheat' and make fake changes just to make the someone happy. No-one deserves to be treated like a 'mark' for our tricks.
My experience has been that being honest, polite and knowledgeable is a much better approach.
Being honest, polite, and knowledgeable doesn't change the fact that the person who hires you may be ignorant, too busy, dead set on cheating you, or needs to assert his/her sense of control by insisting on changing something you considered finished.
-Best case: Someone sees your duck and you've all wasted time adding and then removing it.
-Worst case: No one notices your duck, or maybe even likes your duck. You now have a sub-par creation.
Instead, try communicating. If you think a change to your work is bad, say so. You might even learn something about a manager/PM's reasons for adding and removing things. They might learn something from you if you communicate your reasoning well. If your managers aren't open to discussing projects, find a different job.
We none of us are perfect, we all have our flaws, but being tricky is not something we need to do; at the very least, it's not something I would wish to spend any time in my life doing.
If you are a developer who takes this approach, you may want to consider whether the short-term benefit of avoiding criticism is worth the long-term downside of having me think you are incompetent.
The duck is a passive counter to the PM's pathological behaviour: ensure there's always some easily-fixed fault, so the PM can feel like they're doing something, without forcing unnecessary high-effort changes. Since the duck is obviously bad and easily removed, it shouldn't prevent the PM from noticing real issues, or detract from fixing real issues.
If you feel the need to add ducks, the real problem is that you have a bad PM. But if you're a dev and have no good way to solve the real problem...
The add-a-duck attitude fundamentally assumes that the dev/designer knows what's best for the end product and the customer, and while that happens some of the time, the reason the PM role exists in the first place is because that's not always true. :)
Is that the point? Or is the point that some developers/designers don't like to get edited, so they tell themselves that their PM is pathological?
There's more than one valid perspective on things, and in my experience professional relationships work better when everyone realizes that.
I've seen cases where people have completely ruined products in ways like this. I don't think that anybody is actually saying that "broken" / "poor" features should be added just to be removed... Possibly unless you have been working with one of the people who require you to change things without unreasonably.
That's my experience with the type of person who tends to pull this sort of thing.
It's a last resource action.
It means you as a manager are unqualified to manage the project and any idea you have is perceived as a waste of time by the employees, and you make them lose time, in fact, you probably already have a track record of meaningless changes and many man-hours wasted only to satisfy your tiny ego.
Also, in that case your own opinion is as meaningless as the duck.
The reality is this always exists to a degree. Politics exist. It can be hard to come up with an objective definition of best, especially around usability. (A/B testing helps, but only so far) So one has to learn how to do the politics to get things done.
I haven't had the opportunity to try this technique, but I have been waiting ever since for the moment where this might come in handy.
I think it gives them some sort of feeling of control and ownership over what is happening.
Which means less work for wambotron. Assuming that wambotron was paid hourly and not on commission basis, wambotron does less work for more pay, which is effectively a raise.
I've recently started hunting to get my meat, and I seem to be really sensitive to this kind of terminology lately.
You feel bad for the wasted animal that was killed.
You can call it by some strange name, but I don't call bread "wheat that was harvested" or pie some outrageously long list of ingredients.
I understand your sentiment, particularly in the context of waste. Honestly I think you're probably not correct, anyhow--I imagine GP feeling roughly just as bad if the waste was a non-animal food product. If I were speaking for myself, I can say that I would.
If you have to kill something, or destroy something, at least have a good reason for doing so.
Cutting down a whole forest for no reason is not a good way to behave.
If I'm buying meat in the store I'm definitely paying for it to be replaced.
I don't see why a good reason is necessary when it comes to a renewable resource.
I support demanding good reasons for non-renewable resources.
In the same way I think it's not productive to call an animal that will killed "cold cuts", I don't think it's productive to refer to a living animal as a "renewable resource".
Also implying that you can kill and waste as many of them as you like simply because you paid for it is not productive either.
In all honesty, it's disappointing to see people refer to living creatures this way.
I'm not trying to be insulting by calling things resources. Even the most important things like time are renewable in some important contexts.
Waste is not productive by definition, not sure where you're going with that. It's bad economically but not morally.
To get to the important part, I want animals to live without suffering. But cold cuts can't suffer.
And I'm not calling living animals cold cuts.
> I feel like the distinction between active killing and passive killing is overblown.
I used to feel the same way. A genuine question - have you ever done any active killing yourself?
I feel like it was a massive perspective changing experience for me to kill and butcher a ~1000lb wild creature.
Though there's a lot of difference in the wild vs. farmed part of the equation, not just in the details of killing.
Why would you want thinly sliced meat? That doesn't make any sense to me.
I tried for a long time to come up with a set of rules that would account for her preference, and eventually I came to: no obvious evidence that it was an animal. No bones, veins, ligaments, fatty areas, etc. Also a good texture, no slimy meats.
Her preference was that turkey they cut so thin it's almost fluffy.
I heard she got over that while she traveled, and now eats all manner of meats.
The concept shouldn't be too puzzling. There's a whole class of cooking (molecular gastronomy) entirely based on taking this to the extreme.
In Dutch it is a common expression to say something like "And then of course he has to pee on it a bit". (Hij moet daar nog even een plasje over doen) to indicate exactly this behaviour.
It depends on your frame of reference :)
Though I've definitely also heard of people making a deliberately terrible alternate design and having a client pick it.
From the linked article:
"FREASE: Exactly. And it's funny I'm saying this but yeah. You know, it happens. Everybody does it. Like, for example, I worked with - 10 years ago - I worked - we did these logos for a famous musician. And they had a lot of people working for them and a lot of voices. And after working with them for a couple weeks, we realized that they hated the color blue. So if we showed them three logos, we would show the ones we loved. And then, we'd do one that they wanted, but we'd put it in the color blue."
At least in software engineering, the idea of reviews is to find errors in code or design how ever small they are. When inspecting any code, we almost always find at least something, regardless of the level of quality. It's not about being fair, it's not personal, and it probably isn't even dependent on the reviewers personality. It's just that when the goal is to find deviations, that's what happens. It's just a process. The errors may be small or big, it doesn't matter, we just need to find them.
Some inexperienced developers often find the code review process intimidating and unfair. They take it personally. That's a wrong attitude.
After emailing him the presentation, he called and asked me to switch the 2nd and 3rd bullet on one of the slides and then send him the revision. Our relationship went downhill from there. Finally I had no choice but to marginalize him.
I don't think the author of the article had code reviews in mind; she's alluding to this sort of nonsense when you sense her negative tone.
Also, I don't have any experience of such absurd situations despite my experience working with dozens of teams. Maybe that's because I'm from Northern Europe where professionals don't take such bullshit from anyone. Oops... perhaps slightly strong wording. Well, I guess you get the point.
on a technical level they don't have to add anything to it, so it's mostly visual tweaks they're demanding; usually something they've seen in other apps (no matter if it was something that made sense on ios in a different context and we're working on android).
that's called bikeshedding.
if the project bombs they didn't really have anything to do with it (apart from that one minor change) - if it's a success they were an integral part of the team.
one project, we needed a notification sound. the product owner begged us to keep our mouths shut, take one of the default notification sound files and tell the others custom sounds aren't possible - because if the marketing department got wind of it we'd have to test a boatload of different files for different managers and wait another month for the notification-sound-committees final decision.
I really, really shouldn't read even the descriptions on YouTube videos.
I wonder if they are available from any where these days?
Only he decides by choosing between 2-3 options we've selected in advance to match what we want the outcome to be.
Similarly it's always bedtime before his actual intended bedtime so he can negotiate some extra time. It avoids so many conflicts when he smugly believes he has gotten exactly what he wanted out of us.
I think works on pretty much anyone, you can just be more blatant about it with some people than others.
I don't like letting him "get one over" on bedtime. When he's old enough to know the difference, then what? You'll have to take away those wins. Same goes for basically everything else he'll want from you.
At least he'll (hopefully) negotiate well!
At the same time, there are always things you can negotiate on. E.g. I don't care if he's up until 10pm if he can prove to me that he will consistently get up on time and do well at school despite staying up late.
We're already playing that with him: We point out in the mornings if we notice he's tired that he seemed to have gone to bed too late, and we "trade" going to bed earlier on school nights against staying up later during the weekend. As a result he sometimes tells us he wants to go to be before the agreed bedtime.
And I'm willing to be flexible about all kinds of things as long as he's giving us something reasonable in return. E.g. he gets weekly home work, and so I'm willing to skip on doing it one evening if I can trust that he will stick to an agreement of more than making up for it the following evening (and if he doesn't, he knows the consequence is much less freedom for a long time).
I've no doubt I'll still have plenty of challenges down the road.... And he is already a master negotiator, though sometimes he's trying to be too wily for his own good and sometimes ends up talking himself out of a good deal because he doesn't yet understand all the options well enough. So he gets maths lessons this way too...
We're careful to emphasize the sanctity of personal choice wherever we can, and to encourage her to make her own decisions based on an evaluation of her options (really, we're fine with her picking any of the menu options we give her; if she picks a gross combination it's hers to eat, not ours). The important thing seems to be that once she makes a decision, she becomes invested in it and is much more likely to see it through.
I probably shouldn't discount the preparation aspect, however. She eats much more of her lunch when she helps to prepare it (and thus knows what to expect when she opens it at school). Similarly, we have a countdown for bed ('bedtime in t-5 minutes! Bedtime in t-2 minutes!') that makes the transition to nighttime more or less painless.
A trivial example would be that if we're eating something that is traditionally a finger food and she wants to use a fork. We'll respond "You can use your right hand or left hand, it's up to you." and it avoids the confrontation completely because she gets to decide. She chooses a hand and life goes on.
Another example is sitting in her chair at the table. She'll normally ignore me when I ask her to climb in her chair but the moment I put a decision before her of getting in the chair on her own or I'll do it for her she hops right up.
It becomes second nature after a while and for us it's been a lot less stress and a time saver.
The unintended consequence of this approach is that changes in response to feedback appeared to have much more impact on the overall UX experience. It increased reviewers' feeling of ownership of the product and they were more likely to become product champions and evangelists.
I've also just hidden things that the client has asked removed if I thought they would eventually ask for it again, once they got to using the software. They usually do, and they think I'm a "genius" when I can make these "big" changes in such short periods of time.
Hell, I even tell them I'm going to do it. I'm always very forthright with my clients. But they never remember. They always think I do everything from scratch. I guess because their own developers do, they think we all work the same way.
Bernard Woolley: What if he demands options?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Well, it's obvious, Bernard. The Foreign Office will
happily present him with three options, two of which
are, on close inspection, exactly the same.
Sir Richard Wharton: Plus a third which is totally unacceptable.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Like bombing Warsaw or invading France.
On that occasion the Appointments Committee put forward the names of the
Archbishop of York, the favorite of the church leaders but one who had
ruffled Mrs. Thatcher's feathers on other issues.
To try to encourage his selection, the second candidate was generally
regarded as unqualified. An old line evangelical, who thought the
Bible contained the answer to every question and who was known to speak
The Church leaders thought this candidate, George Carey, was too
bizarre a choice even for Margaret Thatcher. However, the Prime Minister's
anger was such that she decided to teach the Church of England a lesson.
George Carey became the designated Archbishop of Canterbury.
If you click through to the original source, the Church had deeply angered Thatcher by criticising her policies extensively and finally praying for the argentinian dead during the ceremony celebrating the end of the Falklands war. After the ceremony,
> Prime Minister Thatcher was livid and quite vocal at the door of the Cathedral that day and vowed that she would never let a representative of the church embarrass her again.
I'm not surprised she decided to fuck with them and pick the crazy guy, she wasn't call the Iron Lady because she liked building steel plants (quite the opposite really).
He would design a circuit only to have another engineer (responsible for cost cutting), remove or modify a component. The resulting design would not work as well.
To get around this, he would add some sacrificial extra component like a resistor. The cost cutter would remove this leaving the original design intact.
Eventually, someone is going to see something you did, where they would have done it a different way. If that person is your manager, not only do they see lots of things you are doing (and thus plenty of things they might have done differently) they also have the power to compel you to do it their way.
If you're the boss, presumable you think you are the boss because someone higher up still thinks you do a good job, which is a sort of implicit endorsement for you doing things your way, instead of your subordinates way.
"Break" three things in your house, e.g., remove the cover from a bathroom exhaust fan, loosen a faucet so that it rattles, and remove all of the light bulbs from an overhead fixture. The inspector will find these, the buyers will require that they be fixed, and it will be easy for you to do so.
If you don't do this, the inspector will find three other things.
Of course this would only work if your house doesn't need any significant work done in the first place.
The last time I bought a house, the inspector worked for hours. In the end, I got a 14-page write-up, plus accompanying photos of any major defects and/or code violations.
With my work, a lot of reviewers do love to hear themselves talk, but every so often they'll come back at you with really good, insightful stuff that I totally missed. I don't dare game them because I don't want to be putting out garbage.
Except for CH. We totally owe her a duck.
This is sort of related to the story about Van Halen's concert contract that required a bowl of M&Ms in the dressing room with all brown M&Ms removed. 
I couldn't stand working in a place where it was a significant portion of work. But it is probably unavoidable to some degree.
I see that code reviews for newcomers' commits often have these elements:
First review: "you did X. That's not smart. Do Y instead."
The new employee goes back to rework their commit.
Second review: "you did Y. That's not smart. Do X instead."
After a few weeks / months it starts getting reasonable. It's not as extreme, and it's well disguised in friendly demeanor, but there's still some similarities to what it was like in the army "boot camp".
The territorial dog analogy is perfect. I've seen parks where they put fake fire hydrants and other features in the dog area so they can feel satisfied without leaving their designated area.
That's where I got my fix after Leverages' somewhat premature demise.
The story goes that you are supposed to make an obvious mistake, like a spelling error, on purpose. This will fulfill the clients' need to provide a critique and allow good designs to remain an option.
I suspect this is done by people that feel like they will need to justify their job later. Having something to say when your manager (or others) inevitably ask "So, what exactly is it that you do here?"
This seems to be also prevalent in the movie and tv industry. (Though I wouldn't COMPLETELY disparage the usefulness of studio/executive notes; see: Star Wars)
When the other artists asked him how he did it, he replied: "I always add a little white dog in my paintings. When the censor asks 'What is this dog?' I quickly remove it and he's satisfied."
E.g., you design your awesome nuclear power plant, and put a REALLY ugly bikeshed, so that the reviewers will feel compelled to expend their change-requesting energy on that, rather than on changing something that might affect the important stuff.
This is about how some managers feel they have to suggest a change, any change, to justify their position.
Bike shedding is excessive discussion in committees/group emails about trivial matters because everyone feels they understand the issue, unlike more complex issues up for discussion.
The project manager needs to show that's he's here and actually doing things, and so decrees changes like getting rid of the duck or changing the color of the buttons from taupe to mauve. In bikeshedding, all the people commenting need to prove that they're there and contributing, so now everyone is suggesting color changes. It seems to me that the main difference is the number of people involved.
If your work is so crappy that you know you have to add something even crappier to distract the reviewer, what does that say about your competence? Maybe I'm just jaded from years of reviewing awful code. But if someone put an obvious compiler error into their code in hopes that it would distract me and keep me from seeing their memory leaks, off-by-one errors, and mis-spelled variable names, I'd be wondering if they're qualified to be on the project.
> memory leaks, off-by-one errors, and mis-spelled variable names
The above don't fall into the review comments that are being avoided as these are valuable suggestions.
> story was a condemnation of the artist, not the manager