Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 26th May 2014 21:24 UTC
In the News

It's hard to explain to regular people how much technology barely works, how much the infrastructure of our lives is held together by the IT equivalent of baling wire.

Computers, and computing, are broken.

Software sucks. It really, really sucks. I have yet to meet a piece of software that didn't make me go "...eh." several times per hour - whether it be a videogame, a browser, or an operating system.

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TM99
Member since:
2012-08-26

It is hardly rubbish.

Are you a graduate of an accredited college with an engineering degree? Is it a Masters or just a BS? If it is a Masters, do you hold a State License as an engineer? Did you pass the required exams? If not, do you therefore report at work to those men and women who do?

Your field is an interdisciplinary one that includes aspects of software engineering. And yes, you as a member of your company, would be liable for any issues especially with a medical product, which by the way must meet certain professional level qualifications in order to be approved by the FDA, right?

I work in two fields - psychology and economics. In both, I have had to follow the same professional requirements as UncleFester rightly suggests software engineering and development should now follow. I, too, find myself programming quite a bit given the nature of my work and research. I gladly would welcome greater requirements of professionalism in that field. I would take the time to achieve those added requirements. It would benefit me, my research, my university, and those whom my work helps.

The resistance to this is laughable. Everyone who disagrees dreams of becoming Gates or Jobs while no one wants to aspire to being Ritchie or Knuth. With recent severe issues like Heartbleed and eBay's security breach, with Appple wanting home automation as its next big thing, and with Microsoft wanting inside of automobiles, it far past time for the computing field to grow up passed the adolescent 'freedom' phase and into the adult professionalism phase of its evolution. Only teenagers living at home with mommy and daddy footing the bill believe what they have is 'real' freedom. ;)

Reply Parent Score: 3

daedalus Member since:
2011-01-14

Well, first off I'm not in the US so terminology is a different in some cases. We do adhere to FDA requirements of course but our main concern is with ISO regulation.

I don't have a Master's, it's "just" a Bachelor's degree - BEng actually. I don't have a state licence or any equivalent here, nor does any other member of my team.

How the medical field works is that someone ultimately approves the work that I do, and since I'm a senior engineer, that somebody is a combination of management, QA and Regulatory Affairs, none of whom have software engineering qualifications. If I do a half-assed job and produce buggy software which causes someone to be overprescribed Warfarin or something like that, the responsibility is with management for allowing such shoddy products to reach the market without adequate testing, and it would have to be proven that I deliberately and maliciously circumvented the quality systems for it to come down to me personally. They don't need to have software degrees to approve my work or the work of my team, they need to have the correct controls in place to ensure that any issues get caught. That's their profession and they're good at it, be it hardware, software or implant.

I don't know where you got the idea that I want to be the next Jobs or Gates. I most certainly don't. What I do believe however is that professional products regardless of the field they originate from, need all steps of the development and manufacturing process to achieve a standard appropriate for their use. That means planning, design, development, verification, manufacture, validation, QA and post market surveillance. Manufacture alone does not make a quality product, the quality control steps (verification, validation, QA and post market surveillance) are every bit as important, and together have the single biggest impact on end product quality. Mission-critical stuff always needs far more rigorous testing, and such testing should have caught things like Heartbleet etc., but I think a lot of people are expecting mission-critical quality from products which are obviously not mission-critical, such as MS Office or games. I wouldn't expect my washing machine to be built to the same quality standards as an aircraft engine for example, and therefore would expect that lower standards are applied across the board at every level of the washing machine's manufacture. And I'm ok with that - I only paid €400 for the washing machine and if it breaks down, chances are it won't kill me or steal my bank details.

Perhaps some more experience of the manufacturing industry would make the concept of quality products a little clearer to people who live exclusively in the field of software or academia.

Reply Parent Score: 2

TM99 Member since:
2012-08-26

I don't think anyone is arguing against QA steps. In fact, I would agree that those need beefing up as well as the professionalism of the earlier stages of development.

I am quite aware of the concepts you are putting forth despite my professional background. Trust me, there really aren't as many differences as you imagine.

Planning, conducting and publishing research for review is not that different. It follows similar QA and specific cross-profession standards.

It isn't just mission critical needs, it is reliability. If that wash machine in your example has poor QA and buggy software, it will be recalled or manufacture fixed. If it isn't, then there are liability issues that arise. If those aren't addressed, the company in question runs the risk of lawsuits and even going out of business. The same kind of standards and professionalism just don't exist currently in OS, application, and game design.

Hello I am Warner Bros, and I could give a shit about fixing the bugs in Batman, all I care about is taking your money from DLC purchases. That's the kind of bullshit that needs to stop, and is not allowed in other regulated professions.

http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2014/02/10/warner-prioritizing-dlc-...

And here is another example:

http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2012-07-19-fez-developer-wont...

I think many more examples including Heartbleed and others could be found. There is a problem. There are solutions. Many software developers unfortunately do live in a fantasy world of specialness and freedom at all costs.

Reply Parent Score: 3