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5/24/2002
05:34 PM
Stephanie Stahl
Stephanie Stahl
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Editor's Note: Misaligned Planets And Quality Software

Maybe the planets just weren't aligned properly last week. Or maybe the weird weather patterns across the nation are having some effect on logic, responsibility, or just plain common sense. I'm not sure. But it seems as though last week was filled with one annoying or incongruous thing after another-from the mundane to the more serious. It all started when I went to a store that sells mailing supplies, but it was out of stamps and its postal meter was broken. I went to my car to head to the post office, and there was a guy practicing his golf swing in the parking lot-never mind that there's a golf course just a minute up the street. On my way, I heard on the radio that the new Star Wars movie is drawing huge crowds. Apparently, it was enticing enough for one couple to leave their 2-year-old at home by himself while they went to a midnight showing. Oh yeah, then there were the ultracranky people at the air show at Andrews Air Force Base who were peeved that they had to wait in line to enter because of extra security measures. (Maybe we should send them out to fight terrorists, since they don't seem to worry about them too much). And can someone tell me why the self-serve coffee place at the airport has a tip cup? OK, I guess I'm starting to sound cranky, too.

Enough of my babbling. Back to the world of business technology ... I'm wondering, though, if those planets or the weather also made some readers who responded to our feature story last week ("Quality First," May 20, p.38) insist that better quality in software will never become a reality-even though a new consortium has been formed to address software dependability and security, and even though major vendors are being very public about their intent to improve software. One reader writes: "Microsoft is a member of this [consortium]?? Isn't that rather like having the fox guard the hens?" Another says: "These vendors aren't interested in reliable software-just good software. It will never change."

But the best suggestion I heard comes from Steven Jones, who has been programming software for 30 years. In order to have great software, he says, companies have to make completion dates and deadlines a matter of history. "Bottom line, it will be passed to the next phase when it's right. No dates, no expectations set. When it's right, it's ready."

Hope you all enjoyed the long weekend-and that you weren't stuck behind your desk fixing buggy software!

STEPHANIE STAHL
Editor
sstahl@cmp.com


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