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Mark Atwood - "Technical Professional Purity Test"
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"Technical Professional Purity Test"
A friend suggested the creation of a "Technical Professional Purity Test", and suggested two questions:

Have you ever have you ever implemented a solution you knew would doom the client?

Have you ever yelled at your manager for interrupting your workflow?


Please, suggest more!

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tanjent From: tanjent Date: December 11th, 2008 08:59 am (UTC) (Link)
Have you ever faked a product demo because you couldn't get your code working in time?

Have you ever worked on a piece of code for more than a week without checking it into source control? More than a month?

Have you ever "fixed" someone else's coding style?

Have you ever intentionally used an O(N^2) algorithm when an O(N log N) one was available?

(Game-programmer specific) Have you ever tried to pass off a random number generator as your "AI"?

Have you ever used "const_cast<>" or "mutable" so you wouldn't have to spend time making a class const-correct?

Have you ever deleted an item from a STL container while iterating over it because you "knew what you were doing"?

Have you ever "accidentally" deleted your source tree so your boss wouldn't know how little work you'd actually accomplished?

Have you ever filed non-existent bugs against your own code so you wouldn't have to do real work?

Have you ever used "I mostly just played Nethack all week" as an explanation for your falling behind on your schedule? (I WAS IN A MEETING WHERE THIS ACTUALLY HAPPENED)

Have you ever held secret commando meetings behind your manager's back so your team could actually get things done?

Have you ever passed off the output of someone else's program as the output of your own?
awfief From: awfief Date: December 11th, 2008 02:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
(Game-programmer specific) Have you ever tried to pass off a random number generator as your "AI"?
This can be made more generic --

Have you ever tried to pass off an existing program as your own work?

....an existing commercial program?

....that you obtained illegally or are running unlicensed (if a license is required)?

And your list made me think of:

Have you ever filed non-existent bugs against a co-worker's code, or written bad code and blamed it on a co-worker, in order to get them in trouble/get them fired?
lishablog From: lishablog Date: December 11th, 2008 02:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
Have you ever used "I mostly just played Nethack all week" as an explanation for your falling behind on your schedule?

I know someone who would totally do that!
dip_thong From: dip_thong Date: December 11th, 2008 09:20 am (UTC) (Link)
Have you ever covered up for a coworker's technical failings? A superior's?

Have you ever been traded sexual services for technical services (a blow job for fixing a girl's computer)?

Have you ever slept more than three consecutive nights in your office, though you have a place to sleep at home? (so, not counting homelessness or working out of your own home/bedroom)

Have you ever claimed the work of an inferior as your own? Looking at you, graduate advisors.

lishablog From: lishablog Date: December 11th, 2008 02:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
Have you ever been traded sexual services for technical services (a blow job for fixing a girl's computer)?

OK, now I'm pissed! How come no one ever eats me out in exchange for fixing their computer? Damn!
dip_thong From: dip_thong Date: December 11th, 2008 04:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
My lappy's DIMM-B slot won't work =P
lishablog From: lishablog Date: December 11th, 2008 05:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'll be right there...
dip_thong From: dip_thong Date: December 11th, 2008 09:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
At least it'll be more thrilling than Dell.
kespernorth From: kespernorth Date: December 11th, 2008 07:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ha! I was offered the second one on the list but I ran screaming from that one...
tanjent From: tanjent Date: December 11th, 2008 09:33 am (UTC) (Link)

moar

Have you ever spent more money on your office furniture than on your computers and software?

Have you ever "borrowed" company hardware for personal use?

Have you ever intentionally lied on a changelist comment?

Have you ever claimed that your system would scale to N users when you'd only ever tested it on sqrt(N)?

Have you ever written your own string manipulation routines?

Have you ever broken the build? Twice in one day? By failing to test a fix for the first time you broke it?

Have you ever written language X style code in language Y? (Lisp in C++, Visual Basic in Java, Perl in Python, etc)

Edited at 2008-12-11 09:38 am (UTC)
catsidhe From: catsidhe Date: December 11th, 2008 08:53 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: moar

It's possible to write COBOL in any language.
awfief From: awfief Date: December 11th, 2008 02:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
Have you ever looked at a man page (or Google searched for a problem) while on the phone with someone, passing an answer to a question off as if you'd known it forever?

Were you laid off between 2000-2002?

Have you ever said "I don't know what the problem is, can you show me?" while surreptitiously fixing the issue, so that the person with the problem can't replicate the issue?

Have you ever made backdoors into a workplace in case you had to leave unexepectedly (ie, get fired/laid off)?

....knowing you were going to leave?

Have you ever chatted with a friend to get immediate help with a problem and then passed the solution off as your own?

....gone on IRC to do the same?

....used a message board/mailing list or other non-instant method to do the same?

....used a for-pay service to do the same?

Have you ever intentionally broken a EULA?

Have you ever used unlicensed software or software you obtained illegally?

Have you ever used a free trial without intending to buy the software because you just needed to do something once?

Have you ever done something against corporate policy for your own convenience? (ie, not changing your password, bypassed a firewall, etc)

....and been fired for it?

Have you ever played a game (or done other personal, time-wasting stuff) instead of doing work?

....and your boss/department knew about it?

....and you were on a tight deadline?

Have you ever skipped an entire day of a conference paid for by your work to visit the city you were in, or nearby friends?

....2 days?

....the entire conference?

Have you ever hooked up with someone at a technical conference?

....without planning it ahead of time?

....with someone you just met at the technical conference?

Have you ever skipped a meeting to get work done?

.....somewhere else than your office?

.....while your coworkers thought you were at the meeting?

.....and were caught?

Have you ever taken a sick day so you could actually do work instead of going to meetings?

Have you ever intentionally misconfigured software or otherwise put in a bug so you could look like a hero when you fixed it?

Have you ever open sourced work done at your company without your company's approval?

....because you wanted to use that same work in a different place?
ptomblin_lj From: ptomblin_lj Date: December 12th, 2008 12:56 am (UTC) (Link)
Have you ever used a free trial without intending to buy the software because you just needed to do something once?

Have you ever set back the clock on your computer so you could keep using it after the free trial expired?
awfief From: awfief Date: December 12th, 2008 01:01 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, man, I've done this....I've also reinstalled, and changed the hostname, so limited things would work...good one!
lishablog From: lishablog Date: December 11th, 2008 02:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
Suggested by a friend of mine I was reading this to:

"Does the thought of jkjkjkjkjkjkjk turn you on?"
tcepsa From: tcepsa Date: December 11th, 2008 04:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
Have you ever taken a sick day for "mental health" reasons?

Have you ever used a programming language different from that provided in the spec because it would make life easier?

... because it would make the solution more elegant?

... because you hate the language that you were supposed to do the work in with a passion akin to the flames of a thousand burning suns?

Have you ever used company funds to purchase unrelated technical books (e.g. you're doing C++ programming and you got yourself copy of Head First Java)?

... with your boss' approval? (An argument could be made that broadening your horizons would help you be more effective in your target language. I suspect that this should make the purity score go up...)

Have you ever worked a job where you spent $large_percentage of your time playing games or messing around online?

... and were still considered one of the better developers?

What is your first reaction to the word "refactor"?

Have you ever made a kludge with a comment along the lines of "// TODO Fix this later" knowing that you would never get around to it?

... because your boss told you to?

Have you ever left a comment such as "This is a horrible way to do this, but time and business constraints prevent me from implementing a more elegant solution"?

Have you ever refactored code without being told to?

... even though you were told not to?

Have you ever made your programs deliberately inefficient so that you could come back later, quickly resolve the issue, and get the credit?

Have you ever owned a red Swingline stapler?

... if not, do you want to?

... if so, do you still?

Which of the following movies best characterizes your development environment: "Office Space" "Hackers" [...]?

Have you ever cited a technology that you didn't know anything about as having made up flaws so that you wouldn't have to learn it?

Have you ever invented flaws for a technology that you didn't like for personal reasons so that you wouldn't have to implement it?

Have you ever written LOLCODE?

... in an application that went into production?

... for a customer?

Do you understand (or at least think you understand) prototypal inheritance?

Have you ever used tables to do layout in HTML? (This should only provide a minimal drop to purity, since it was "the way" to do it for awhile there)

... do you still? (This should cause a much more significant hit)

Do you bother filling in catch blocks?

... with anything other than a stacktrace?
awfief From: awfief Date: December 11th, 2008 11:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
ooh, along with the LOLCODE ones:

Have you ever written obscure comments on purpose because you didn't want to comment your code?

....comments in a different language?

....put curses in your comments?

....curses in a different language?
fallenpegasus From: fallenpegasus Date: December 11th, 2008 08:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
Have you ever had to fire a sysadmin?

Did you try to revoke his credentials before he was fired?

Did he find out before he was fired?

Did he try to crack back into the systems?

Did he succeed?
From: cerebresque Date: December 11th, 2008 08:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
...did you know what all his credentials were before you started revoking them?

...did you know afterwards?
dip_thong From: dip_thong Date: December 11th, 2008 08:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
Did you get the passwords to all the equipment from him before or after firing him for not letting anyone else have the passwords, the paranoid bastard?
... And did he tell you the physical location of all those devices you can ping and now have passwords for, but still haven't found?
awfief From: awfief Date: December 11th, 2008 11:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
this is less of a purity test question in the 3rd person. Better, "were your credentials revoked...did you find out before you were fired, have you tried to login/breakin/crack systems/web pages of former companies? and succeeded?"
From: cerebresque Date: December 11th, 2008 08:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
Have you ever hidden infrastructure upgrades in management's pet projects?

...and if so, was the upgrade bigger than the project?

Have you ever arranged for a system to fail early so that it wouldn't fail at a much worse time?

Have you ever deliberately broken something to be able to - finally - replace it?

Have you ever rigged a demo to fail obviously in front of management because you knew they wouldn't understand the non-obvious technical reasons for not buying whatever it was?

Have you critiqued other developer's code in comments?

... after they'd left the company?

... while they're still at the company?

... while they're still working on said code?

... did you critique their intelligence, character, and genetic background, too?

Have you ever used 'sealed' JUST to protect your library classes from other developers?

Have you ever used decoy hardware?

... to keep users away from the real hardware?

... to make management think that you're using the bright idea they got from Business Week, even though you have NOT yet gone insane?

... because the blinkenlights are pleasing to the eye?

Have you ever replaced someone with a shell script (size optional)?

Have you ever changed the password policy JUST to entertain yourself?

Have you ever invented a technology on the spur of the moment to avoid trouble?

... were you ever found out?

... did you have to implement it afterwards?

... did it work?

Have you ever used multiple inheritance?

...for something other than malice?

Have you ever solved a problem by inventing a programming language to describe it in?

... did you actually implement the language?

... has anyone else ever used it?

... does everyone (for finite values of everyone) else use it now?

Have you ever slept in your office?

... more than once a month?

... more than once a week?

... whenever there's not actually someone else there?
combatelf From: combatelf Date: December 11th, 2008 08:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
Have you ever: intentionally excluded the complicated bits from the diff sent to the code review tool?

... said "it's just a one line change," skipped testing, and pushed through to production and broken the whole build?

... Changed a '>' to a '<' deep in someone's code without saying so, because they pissed you the hell off the week before?
ronebofh From: ronebofh Date: December 11th, 2008 09:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
"Have you ever yelled at your manager for interrupting your workflow?"

I almost did this two days ago.

I really gotta think about adding questions to this.
catsidhe From: catsidhe Date: December 11th, 2008 09:14 pm (UTC) (Link)

here via bofhen

Have you ever used the emergency boot mode (F8 on Windows, single-user mode on *nix) to fix a non-booting system?
... successfully?
... have you ever screwed the pooch in the attempt?
Have you ever successfully removed a trojan by hand?
... a virus?
... a rootkit?
... all of the above, all in one bubbling virulent infection?

Have you ever repaired a motherboard at the component level? (e.g., capacitors)
... A power supply?
... A hard drive?

Have you ever reimplemented a widespread solution from scratch?
... because you couldn't get the other solution to work?
... and in the process learned why it wasn't working and how to fix it?
awfief From: awfief Date: December 11th, 2008 11:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
can't forget the meta questions:

Have you designed a technical professional purity test question?

And gotten it accepted?

More than 10 questions?

Have you argued about whether or not a question belongs on the tppt ?
mangosteen From: mangosteen Date: December 12th, 2008 12:25 am (UTC) (Link)
Have you ever written a paper for a conference....
....and had it accepted?
....5 papers?
....more than 20 papers?
....and had your company inform you that they do NOT want their name associated with the paper?
ptomblin_lj From: ptomblin_lj Date: December 12th, 2008 01:06 am (UTC) (Link)
- Ever had one of your programs submitted for a patent application?
- Ever tried to sabotage said applicaiton?
- Ever gotten the patent anyway?

(yes for all three for me)
From: macplusg3 Date: December 12th, 2008 01:10 am (UTC) (Link)
"Have you ever (intentionally) run 'rm /unix' on a production machine?"

"Have you ever (intentionally) written code that would be a problem for little Bobby Tables?"

"Have you ever hot-swapped SCSI devices?"

"Committed code while very, very drunk?"

"Published software that destroyed a lot of data?"
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Mark Atwood
Name: Mark Atwood
Website: My Website
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