The Month in Technology Jan 2016 - Jersey Evening Post

So, Happy New Year to you all, and I hope that no-one attempted to solve the Christmas puzzle based on the truncated first attempt caused by some printing press problems.  Thank you to the JEP for reprinting the article and hopefully saving some pulled out hair.

In case you missed it, the full puzzle (and other articles from this series, plus other pieces of hopeful interest) can be found at http://www.continuum.je/blog-posts/.

There were a few right answers, some wrong ones and some outright guesses – you know who you are !

I’ve posted the full answer in a comment to the December blog post (webpage as above) but if you can remember the answer is that the vicar is 49.

The beauty of the puzzle is that the order of questions and answers between the verger and the vicar provide additional information that can’t be expressed as an equation but only as logic that provides clues to removing potential solutions to the puzzle.

This kind of problem solving is the most important skill for people in technology to possess rather than learning this language of that, and to have the discipline to remember to think before charging into solving the problem.

It’s very common, and I am sure all developers have been guilty of this as I have, for someone to start writing code as soon as any part of the requirement has been communicated.

This is because it is very satisfying for us technologists to write code and to “get on” with building something, “making the magic happen” to the amazement of all around.

However, if this is only informed by part of the problem then there is absolutely no chance of it being correct and useful in the long term.

This seems obvious if one is to compare building systems to building houses, and a developer (property, not coder, Donald Trump not Dilbert) were to dig some foundations without seeing the full plans for the house.  Highly unlikely to be fit for purpose, either the wrong shape, not dee enough or too deep.

You wouldn’t build a house without an architect I would hope, nor would you proceed without getting prior approval from planning (that appears not to be quite so universal in Jersey, but bear with me) nor would you consider the design finished until you knew all of the potential inhabitants and their needs and requirements.  Why are systems different ?

A very interesting business book that I was recommended (thank you !) is “Maverick!” by Ricardo Semler, the story of how a self-confessed spoilt son took on the family business in Brazil and went on to pretty much change everything about it from doing away with job titles, filing, offices and the corporate structure to introducing self-set salaries. Great fun, although funnily enough I don’t agree about getting rid of the computers !

It definitely bears reading, although like many business books information on what happened to the company after the period of the book isn’t so easy to come by.  However, something that stuck with me was the parable whereby three stone cutters are asked what they do.  The first said he cut stones, it was a tough job but it was a living. The second answered that he used special techniques to cut stones in an exceptional way. The third smiled and answered “I build cathedrals”.

To continue the theme of lateral thinking puzzles, if 73 women were in the main draw at Wimbledon (no qualifiers), how many matches would need to be played to find the winner ?

If you can’t get it, don’t worry for in the words of this month’s malapropism “It’s all water under the fridge” (ET)

dan@continuum.je