"Competence Debt: ... The gap between what is in your codebase and how much of it you understand..."

Over the years I have worked on a number of replacement projects. Looking back I realize that the real motive for many of these replacements was a severe competence debt in the old system. People would claim that the old system was impossible to maintain when the real problem was that they did not understand how it worked. Yes, technical debt made things worse since the confusing code and lack of automated tests made it frustrating to understand the system.
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Unfortunately, replacing a system just because the competence debt in the old one is too high is seldom a good idea. The whole project lacks meaning for the users since the new system will not give them any visible improvements.
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Ironically, the process of replacing a system often forces developers to study the old system, thereby reducing competence debt in it…
Read the entire post at leanway.no

"Ringing alarm bells about commodity prices..." -Jeremy Grantham

Q: You've been ringing alarm bells about commodity prices. Why all the worry?

A: They came down for a hundred years by an average of 70 percent, and then starting around 2002, they shot up and basically everything tripled—and I mean, everything. I think tobacco was the only one that went down. They've given back a hundred years of price decline and they gave it back between '02 and '08, in six years. The game has changed. I suspect the game changed because of the ridiculous growth rates in China—such a large country, with 1.3 billion people using 45 percent of the coal used in the world, 50 percent of all the cement and 40 percent of all the copper. I mean these are numbers that you can't keep on rolling along without expecting something to go tilt.

via wsj.com

It's the hardware silly...

The reason so many programmers have switched to Macs over the past decade isn’t just OS X and nice third-party Mac software; Apple remains the laptop manufacturer to beat in an era where desktop computers have all but vanished in most development shops.
via al3x.net

Using Lotus Notes? The NSA has you pwn'd...

As was revealed today, the NSA also works with security product vendors to ensure that commercial encryption products are broken in secret ways that only it knows about. We know this has happened historically: CryptoAG and Lotus Notes are the most public examples, and there is evidence of a back door in Windows. A few people have told me some recent stories about their experiences, and I plan to write about them soon. Basically, the NSA asks companies to subtly change their products in undetectable ways: making the random number generator less random, leaking the key somehow, adding a common exponent to a public-key exchange protocol, and so on. If the back door is discovered, it's explained away as a mistake. And as we now know, the NSA has enjoyed enormous success from this program.

via theguardian.com

"The Innovator's Dilemma" strikes again....

Anyone in business, of any kind, that hasn't read Clayton Christensen's "The Innovators Dilemma" is eventually doomed.  John Gruber of Daring Fireball points out this weakness in the Washington Post's article sympathetic to Ballmers demise... 

Seems to me Lee is in fact arguing that Microsoft’s decline was exactly Ballmer’s fault. His refusal to allow any other projects within Microsoft to disrupt Windows or Office made it inevitable that such disruptions would come from other companies. Christensen’s The Innovator’s Dilemma was itself disruptive to standard business practices, but it came out in 1997. Did Ballmer not read it? Did he think Microsoft was somehow immune?

Via Daring Fireball