Glossary

Mack truck scenario:what happens when a key resource is run over by a Mack truck on the way to work. As an independent contractor and software developer I'm often asked by clients how I can protect them from my own demise. Some principles that help to guard against this are: always use open standards; never keep critical data on client computers; never rely on users to back up critical data; maintain a circle of trust and freely share information within that circle, especially essential procedures; understand that if a person makes himself irreplaceable, he should be replaced.

Martian cake: anything created by someone who lacks fundamental understanding of the medium. The term is sort of an 'in' joke with me. Imagine a Martian who wants to make an Earthling visitor feel at home, and decides to serve cake. Though he's never been to Earth he's seen the procedure through a telescope and may have a cookbook. But there's no wheat on Mars, and no sugar, and the Martian doesn't know what they're supposed to taste like; so he uses fungal spores and ammonia salts instead. There's no yeast, either, so he uses some cyanobacteria in its place. What results is a horrible, possibly poisonous mess that is certain not to impress the Earthman. This happens quite a lot in software development. Once I was hired to work on a "client-server application" by a company that had never attempted such architecture before. I got there after development was well under way and was shocked to discover they had made 'Martian cake.' Not surprisingly, they decided that client-server architecture was fundamentally bad and never repeated the attempt.


Copyright 2006 by David F. Leigh