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Five years ago

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I was on the South Mall* of the University of Texas throwing a frisbee with Nate Curs to celebrate our impending graduation. It was something we'd both said we always wanted to do before we finished. It was a good time and the kind of thing I wish I'd taken more time for all the years I was here.

Just a few minutes ago I walked back by that spot, on my way to the UGL to study for my first round of finals as a grad student. Funny how five years can seem both so short and so long ago.

*Technically, it was the west flagpole just south of the Tower, but who would be that precise?

Software engineering - or doublethink?

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From "A Rational Design Process: How and Why to Fake It" by David Parnas & Paul Clements:

Maintenance is just redesign and redevelopment. The policies recommended here for design must be continued after delivery or the “fake” rationality will disappear. If a change is made, all documentation that is invalidated must be changed. If a change invalidates a design document, it and all subsequent design documents must be faked to look as if the change had been the original design. If two or more versions are being maintained, the system should be redesigned so that the differences are confined to small modules. The short term costs of this may appear high, but the long term savings can be much higher.

From 1984 by George Orwell:

What happened in the unseen labyrinth to which the pneumatic tubes led, he did not know in detail, but he did know in general terms. As soon as all the corrections which happened to be necessary in any particular number of the Times had been assembled and collated, that number would be reprinted, the original copy destroyed, and the corrected copy placed on the files in its stead. This process of continuous alteration was applied not only to newspapers, but to books, periodicals, pamphlets, posters, leaflets, films, sound-tracks, cartoons, photographs -- to every kind of literature or documentation which might conceivably hold any political or ideological significance. Day by day and almost minute by minute the past was brought up to date. In this way every prediction made by the Party could be shown by documentary evidence to have been correct, nor was any item of news, or any expression of opinion, which conflicted with the needs of the moment, ever allowed to remain on record. All history was a palimpsest, scraped clean and reinscribed exactly as often as was necessary. In no case would it have been possible, once the deed was done, to prove that any falsification had taken place. The largest section of the Records Department, far larger than the one on which Winston worked, consisted simply of persons whose duty it was to track down and collect all copies of books, newspapers, and other documents which had been superseded and were due for destruction. A number of the Times which might, because of changes in political alignment, or mistaken prophecies uttered by Big Brother, have been rewritten a dozen times still stood on the files bearing its original date, and no other copy existed to contradict it. Books, also, were recalled and rewritten again and again, and were invariably reissued without any admission that any alteration had been made. Even the written instructions which Winston received, and which he invariably got rid of as soon as he had dealt with them, never stated or implied that an act of forgery was to be committed: always the reference was to slips, errors, misprints, or misquotations which it was necessary to put right in the interests of accuracy.

I've been oriented

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Spent most of Monday on campus attending orientation for the Software Engineering Program. It was my first time there as a student since May of 1999. I really take my familiarity with the 40 acres for granted...there are students from San Antonio, Bay City, and Tuscon, Arizona that are seeing everything for the first time.

The contrast between this orientation and the one I attended in 1994 before coming in as a freshman is just mind-boggling. There are only 30 people starting the program this year, opposed to 300+ that were in CS 304P with me. It seems I've already had more conversations with classmates and professors than I did in five years of undergraduate study. Part of that is due to me maturing and wanting to get more out of this program, but I also see a higher level of personal involvement from the faculty and staff. It is obvious that they want to help us learn and succeed. It helps that "lines of code" is no longer a foreign phrase to me, as it was 10 years ago.

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