Review of Joel's lecture at UCDavis
I know Joel's blog pointed to Ted Neward's review at TSS.NET. But a much more technical review is available over at Ted's blog at:
"As part of that last point, he asked the audience, "If a bug costs $100, do you fix it if it will cost $110 to fix it?" Most everybody said no. "What if it costs $90 to fix it?" More hands went up. Then he pointed out, "The problem is I haven't given you enough information--what if that same $90 can go towards advertising, and brings in $300? From the business perspective, that's obviously the better ROI for the money." And a few engineers in the audience laughed, until they realized he wasn't making a joke."
Just me (Sir to you)
Out of curiosity, at some point in Joel's "cost of bugs" discussion, did he point out that buzz on one $100 bug can kill your product?
I would say that if the "buzz" on that bug "kills the product", then that bug cost a lot more than $100.
How is the cost of bugs being determined? By programmer hour? If a programmer costs $100/hr, a $100 bug takes one hour to fix? Does a $90 bug takes 55 minutes to fix? And a $110 bug takes 65 minutes to fix? Is there any real difference between 55 minutes and 65 minutes?
>> "This excerpt from TSS made me recall the discussion we had here (sorry, can't seem to find the topic in the archive) on development and business priorities in the light of the time spent fixing the huge upload problem of CityDesk."
I think the point of the "meaningless numbers" is to make people realize that outside of academia, there is more that goes into deciding to fix a bug, than the fact that bugs are bad so you should get rid of them. If fixing the bug delays your product 2 months so your competitor gets to the market first and capitalizes on 2 months of being the sole market player, than maybe fixing the problem where 1 in 100,000 data inputs crashes your program. I don't know if the MS approach of release and patch is the best solution, but it gets them the money, and outside of academia that's what people write software. For the income. No one was ever a full time software developer for free that wasn't already wealthy.
But software must be free! People who code for money are just monkey coders. They do not love what they do. All good developers like their work so much they are willing to do it for free to help the gerater community. We must stop the selfish acts of those who seek to destroy the profession by charging money. if we all instead work to 'help each other' out, that is the only true path.
Elephant, point taken. However, you are setting up a straw man by mentioning academia. Nobody cares about fixing bugs in academia.
That is so true. It is absurd that Joel is basing fixing bugs on economic decisions. That explains why commercial software is of such poor quality compared to free software. in the free software community, someone will fix the bug without charging for it. Therefore the dollar cost of fixing all bugs is zero and therefore it is always economically advantageous to do the fix. In the greedy microsoft world they use economic arguments and hence their software is very buggy, unstable, and riddled with security holes. Also, in the free software world there is no money spent on marketing. This also opens up time and resouces for coding bug fixes. If anything, Joel's speech only proves that free software is the only way!
Richard, the dollar cost of fixing bugs in an open source environment is not zero. This is basic economics. Time spent fixing a bug is time that could be spent doing something else. There's the risk that a bug fix will cause other bugs elsewhere. There's the risk that a bug fix will add extra complexity to the code.
>>Richard, the dollar cost of fixing bugs in an open source environment is not zero. This is basic economics
Please do not be naive.
1) this 'richard' guy is probably a parody of RMS.
Nobody's time is ever free. We all have expenses -- housing, food, heat, water, and so on. At a basic level, you could sum those up, divide by the average number of full time work hours in a year, and that's hourly cost for someone to live. To avoid going bankrupt, that person would have to work for an hourly rate of at least that much.
Joel makes an obvious point when he assigns specific dollar numbers to bugs and ROI, but that ain't reality. The reality is that you don't know, exactly, or even roughly. It comes down to wisdom and experience when making the call on which bugs to fix...but that doesn't make for good lecture talk.
Every decent manager makes this estimate before scheduling a bug to be fixed. Whether or not the estimate is accurate is another story.
"Linux is only free if your time has no value."
So time spent coding instead of with my family, does that not cost me something? Time spent coding instead of getting outside and going hiking, does that cost me nothing? Time spent coding not going out and being sociable with friends, does that cost nothing?
Great points, OB.
Elephant, if you always value your time with friends and family more than you value time spent developing open source, then you won't develop open source.
Quick! Somebody grab the net!
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