|Don't ask to ask, just ask|
Re: Lost in the Translationby BrowserUk (Pope)
|on Apr 30, 2003 at 17:40 UTC||Need Help??|
This reminds me of a support call a few years ago from the user of a application that had a character-cell based menu interface. The question was "How do I do such and such task". I asked her to identify where in the menu system she was by reading the menu id number from the top right. She did. I then asked her to back out of the current menu by hitting escape, which universally took you back to the previous level. Her responce was, "Do you mean a soft escape or a hard escape"?
After a little quizzing, it turned out that a "soft escape" was hitting the escape key once. A "hard escape" was pressing and holding the escape key so that the keyboard auto-repeat resulted in a return to the main menu. It turns out that this terminology had been evolved by the users of this particular application themselves. It subsequently became so useful that it became a part of the documentation for the application. As far as I know, it could still be so.
One of my bosses asked me too explain the current state of the application, and I responded by telling him that we had a few problems with it, but that I thought that they would be fairly quickly resolved. His next question was; "Are these evening overtime problems or weekend working problems"?
I firmly believe that most coders make lousy managers and vice versa and that the most important, underrated and toughest position is the project leader. His/her job is -- or maybe 'should be' -- to act as the interface between the two disciplines. In essence a sort of universal translator and two-way filter. Not just literally translating geek-speak to PHB speak and vice versa, but also filtering the input from each direction to allow only the parts relevant to each to get through. Of course, with any form of translation comes the possibility for mis-translation and chinese whispers. The art is in knowing what to translate and what to filter.
I've never decided whether the Business Studies person that learns to code is better or worse than the coder who takes a BS course? It is my experience that the (too few) women I've encountered doing the project leader roll seems to do it with more aplomb and less fractiousness than they guys.
It's all in the terminology.
Examine what is said, not who speaks.
1) When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.
2) The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible
3) Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
Arthur C. Clarke.