[lug] software engineering

Nate Duehr nate at natetech.com
Mon Nov 13 13:58:53 MST 2006

Nate Duehr wrote:

> Again back to testing too -- the F-22 (using your example) was also 
> heavily TESTED for YEARS by pilots who weren't the operational 
> day-to-day folks who fly it.
> (That makes F-22 Raptor pilots sound like they're not 
> steely-eyed-missile-men, but they are... the test pilots are just that 
> razor's edge better even.)
> Software simply doesn't go through anything close to this level of 
> testing or anything many orders of magnitude close to it.

An interesting thought came to mind, after I re-read this section that I 

In Aviation, the best "System Admins" (pilots) WANT Flight Test jobs, 
and they're highly competitive.  The pilots understand there is risk 
involved, but the opportunity to fly "a new system" and be one of the 
elite that TESTS things, outweighs the risks.  Additionally these guys 
train and train and train to be the best pilots they can be to lower the 
risks to themselves considerably.

In contrast -- In the computer fields, the best sysadmins want the hell 
away from testing if at all possible, knowing that it's likely the whole 
thing will blow up and kill them and/or their career when they tell 
management just how broken something is that needs to ship tomorrow.  QA 
testing is usually handled not by the system admin superstars who are 
highly motivated and know this system and every other type of system 
like it in the world as much as humanly possible, but by a regular Joe 
who might have just picked up the manual to the thing yesterday.

No one aspires to be a "Software Test Pilot".

I wonder if there's some nugget of information hiding in the comparison 
above that might lead to why the motivations are completely backward 
between the two disciplines.  Hmm.  Interesting.  Other than there being 
human life on the line in the first discipline (aviation), I can't think 
of much -- but reality is that human life is on the line in many 
software systems that aren't treated much like it -- banking, medical 
records, grocery store databases... you're "life" is on the line in 
those systems also, today.


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