Thursday, July 27, 2006

The Tale of the Bathroom Drain

I am on the road right now, living in one of those extended-stay hotels. Every day they come in while I am at the client site and cleanup the place, give me new towels, and the like.  Every morning, I take a shower.  How is this related to deigning out load, you ask.  I am getting to that; be patient.  The problem is that there must be different cleaning crews.  Some of them leave the drain in the bathtub up (so that water can drain) and some of them leave the drain in the bathtub down (so that the water cannot drain).  Now if I were half as clever as I thought that I was, I would check this before I started the water and got into the shower.  The truth is that I am not that clever and most times do not figure out that the drain is down until the water starts covering my ankles.  In my defence, the drain is pretty slow even when it is open.

The problem here is variability.  Variability screws up my morning routine (not a lot but we all have to take our lessons of life from where we can).  Variability also causes a lot of the grief in building software.  You gather requirements and the requirements say in a clear way that X is the case.  Down the line you find out that it is X 99.99% of the time but every once in a while it is Y.  There it is, that old devil variability.  Especially, unexpected variability.  There you are, strutting your stuff, hitting your milestones, making your numbers up and down the line and BANG! some client vice president comes in to burst your bubble by asking why his ankles are wet.  Bummer!

Ah well, into every life a little water must rise.



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