Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Sounds Easy to Me

I'm an old warhorse database programmer/administrator, been programming since 1984, been a DBA since 1997. I've worked in defense applications, in intelligence applications, in the insurance business, and for school districts. If I haven't quite seen it all yet, I've sure seen a lot.

One of the things I've seen is that there are basically two types of people:

1. There are people who, if they don't know about something, assume that the something in question is not necessarily easily knowable. A programmer might assume, for example, that if he's worked on military software, that software for school systems might be at least as hard to master, even though that may sound counterintuitive to a non-professional.

2. There are people who assume, if they don't know about something, that it must be easy to learn. Does that sound strange? Yeah, to me too. But that is what a lot of people are like. People who would assume that school software is easier than military software. People who would assume that software is easy because they work on computers too, and all you have to do is point and click. People who assume that something can be done within the dictated deadline because that's what's on the calendar. People who, to pull out an old retread, believe that if a woman can have a baby in nine months, then nine women can pull it off in a month.

I've met plenty of people like that. If you try to explain the complications, they take it that you're making excuses. HR and benefits departments have at times seemed to be fully staffed by such folks.  A benefits lady where I once worked gave us a briefing on our retirement benefit and tried to gloss over an obvious gouging the employees received from the company, as if nobody in the room would notice. This was a room containing mostly mathematicians, physicists, engineers, and computer-science wonks, many of whom had masters' degrees and Ph.D's. But if one assumes that math and physics are no harder than payroll, you get someone who thinks she can sneak an intellectual knuckleball through the strike zone even though she's probably the dumbest person in the stadium. It didn't end well for her presentation.

If I were the guessing sort, I would guess that the entire ObamaCare software project is being overseen by our type 2 individuals. It would just never occur to them that delivering a brand-new application to be used by millions to sign up for health care would be all that complicated. They could tell it would be done by Jan 1, 2014 just by checking their calendars. Yep, there it is, Jan 1, 2014.

Lucky us.

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