Email and phonecalls and why am I wasting my time on this shit?


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    I'd estimate that easily 25% of my time is spent reading, sorting and writing emails, talking on the phone and trying to get ahold of other devs (repeatedly wandering over to their cube to see if they have a minute to discuss something - only to find them either out to lunch or on the phone).  Considering how much uninterrupted time it takes a developer to get a good flow going, this is an abomination.

     So, 25% of my time is spent communicating - that means that between 4 devs, we could keep a secretary busy all day. Given the proven benefits of keeping a programmer in the zone, they should be able to afford to employ a secretary to act as our communications gateway for everything that doesn't involve really complicated technical words. 

     

    Do any employers do this? Or is this far too sensible?




  • Sounds like you guys need IM for inter-dev communication. I use it all the time. Especially since we're all over the place and can't just walk over to another office.

    What are your non-technical communications about? I rarely have to deal with that, but do spend a fair amount of time talking with my customer. Although it takes a lot of my time, it's actually better than having an intermediary, if only because I can usually have a sensible answer about something and prevent them from panicking.



  • @Weng said:

    I'd estimate that easily 25% of my time is spent reading, sorting and writing emails, talking on the phone and trying to get ahold of other devs (repeatedly wandering over to their cube to see if they have a minute to discuss something - only to find them either out to lunch or on the phone).  Considering how much uninterrupted time it takes a developer to get a good flow going, this is an abomination.

     So, 25% of my time is spent communicating - that means that between 4 devs, we could keep a secretary busy all day. Given the proven benefits of keeping a programmer in the zone, they should be able to afford to employ a secretary to act as our communications gateway for everything that doesn't involve really complicated technical words.

     

    You raise a valid point.  I'm going to call a series of daily six-hour meetings so we can all get together and discuss why nobody's getting any work done and listen to proposed solutions.  I know I can count on your participation.

     


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

     We do have IM (Google Talk, our email is Google-hosted) but there's plenty of room where it's useless (due to the nature of our work, most of our inter-dev communication involves "Hey, you did this last year, demonstrate and explain.").

     

    Our non-technical communication is with the CSR or (non-technical) PM for a given job.  Because we multitask heavily (I currently have FIFTEEN jobs hanging on my cube wall, almost all of which are blocked and waiting for CSR feedback), it's not as if we're blocked from all productivity until they get back to us - when they do, they knock us out of flow on somebody else's job. Even more fun is when they decide to visit for the express purpose of handing us a new job physically. 

     

    Seriously, all I'm asking for is a gateway person to sit between me and all that shit and batch it all up until I'm between tasks, decide when it's important enough to actually stage an interrupt and when it's simple enough that a post-it note on the coversheet hanging on my cube wall is the best way to get me information.  And if they can go out on the production floor and run my prototypes for me, that would be awesome-in-triplicate.



  • @Weng said:

    We do have IM (Google Talk, our email is Google-hosted) but there's plenty of room where it's useless (due to the nature of our work, most of our inter-dev communication involves "Hey, you did this last year, demonstrate and explain.").

    Then you need better documentation.

    @Weng said:

    I currently have FIFTEEN jobs hanging on my cube wall

    The Real WTF. I have 7, 3 of which take daily attention, and I think that's too many to do quality work. (Which reminds me, I need to log in and check the DB status today...)

    @Weng said:

    Seriously, all I'm asking for is a gateway person to sit between me and all that shit and batch it all up until I'm between tasks, decide when it's important enough to actually stage an interrupt and when it's simple enough that a post-it note on the coversheet hanging on my cube wall is the best way to get me information.  And if they can go out on the production floor and run my prototypes for me, that would be awesome-in-triplicate.

    So ask for it. What do you need us for? It sounds like you should have no problem building a case for it.

    But report back what your boss says.



  • @Weng said:

    I'd estimate that easily 25% of my time is spent reading, sorting and writing emails, talking on the phone and trying to get ahold of other devs
     

    Your problem seems to be one of inadequate procedures and standardization. Constant communication is a symptom of that.

     

    We have 6 devs,  generally only 2 working the same project at a time, 3 as a rare exception, and 1 PM keeping track of it all, which is his job.

    So it's also possible that your project manager isn't doing his/her job, which is, strangely, planning and project management. Maybe what you mean by secretary is actually a PM?



  •  ... maybe you should take on the role of PM?


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @blakeyrat said:

    @Weng said:
    I currently have FIFTEEN jobs hanging on my cube wall

    The Real WTF. I have 7, 3 of which take daily attention, and I think that's too many to do quality work. (Which reminds me, I need to log in and check the DB status today...)

    Nah, it actually makes sense. We're a short-turn custom shop - this department's job is to take customer data and write code to massage it into a control program for our production equipment. We have vast libraries of stuff to plug together to do most of the work and that's all well documented, but customer jbos, as a rule, aren't documented (because 90% of them never come back with a job similar enough for meaningful reuse). This leads to a hilarious dual-mode development style where you're writing sloppy but quick code that's the bare minimum necessary to run for customer jobs, and the most meticulously-well-done but fast-performing code possible for internal use. It's really a unique environment and most traditionally schooled developers can't deal with it (especially when you consider the required mastery of the archaic, 70's-era stack-based, postfix-notation control language alongside C# 4.0 and heavy use of DBase3 and Foxpro right along with SQL Server 2008)


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @dhromed said:

     ... maybe you should take on the role of PM?

    That's a totally seperate department, 100% non-technical, and I'm a dirty-assed contractor anyway.



  • @Weng said:

    @blakeyrat said:

    @Weng said:
    I currently have FIFTEEN jobs hanging on my cube wall

    The Real WTF. I have 7, 3 of which take daily attention, and I think that's too many to do quality work. (Which reminds me, I need to log in and check the DB status today...)

    Nah, it actually makes sense. We're a short-turn custom shop - this department's job is to take customer data and write code to massage it into a control program for our production equipment. We have vast libraries of stuff to plug together to do most of the work and that's all well documented, but customer jbos, as a rule, aren't documented (because 90% of them never come back with a job similar enough for meaningful reuse). This leads to a hilarious dual-mode development style where you're writing sloppy but quick code that's the bare minimum necessary to run for customer jobs, and the most meticulously-well-done but fast-performing code possible for internal use. It's really a unique environment and most traditionally schooled developers can't deal with it (especially when you consider the required mastery of the archaic, 70's-era stack-based, postfix-notation control language alongside C# 4.0 and heavy use of DBase3 and Foxpro right along with SQL Server 2008)

    That sounds like shit-ton of fun! I like being able to use the best tool for the job, ... Wait. I will bet that the majority of the tools are not exactly the best tools for much of anything...

    Well, it was a nice dream for the 30 seconds I had it.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @mahlerrd said:

    Wait. I will bet that the majority of the tools are not exactly the best tools for much of anything...
    Of course. This isn't some sort of magical unicorn farm - the people who wrote the tools appear to have been the least qualified to do so.


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