RE: Being an Expert (or at least knowing enough to question one...)

Subject: RE: Being an Expert (or at least knowing enough to question one...)
From: Charles E Vermette <cvermette -at- juno -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 16 Aug 2002 09:47:42 -0400

John Posada relates the following:

<<<Case in point. I'm writing some business rules for manipulating data
and system messages. I know very little about the system..though much
more since Monday last week. However, yesterday, I asked why, based on a
pattern of matches, in all cases except one, a string of numbers was 01,
09, 12, 20, and 90-99, but in one case, it was coded 00 instead of 01...
Turns out that this tiny little error was responsible for a VERY large
series of error messages that nobody could understand. To me, it was
almost them, a biggee....apparently, I justified my rate for
the rest of the year...>>>

And when you catch something like this, you find all of a sudden you have
no problem getting respect - or more importantly, access to the
infomration you need when you need it.

My equivalent to John's story...

My first real TW job was writing a manual for a software utility that
controlled hardware operations. I was given a box that simulated the
reaction of the unit...when the box clicked on/off, I knew the procedure
and/or routine was working correctly...

Part of the doc involved command line coding in a language similar to the
BASIC I used in the early 80s on my PC-JR. I became suspicious when I
found there was no type checking of the variables. To make a long story

* I found a VERY serious error in one of the standard routines. On
demonstrating it, the lead programmer and sales engineer went white (with
fear, embarrassment or both) and stuttered "Thank you Chuck..."

* I later suggested to the lead that they set up a Certification Program
and have only *those* folks write the routines (or bullet proof the code
so that novices couldn't make serious errors...)

* Based on the little coding I knew, I was able to add a section to the
document on good coding practice, and modifying/importing existing code.

You wouldn't think that the Structured Programming principles and BASIC
code I learned in the early 1980's would come to my aid fifteen years


Charles E. Vermette
85 Washington Park Drive, Norwell MA 02061
e-mail: cvermette -at- juno -dot- com

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