Khaos

Archive for February, 2007

Learning Japanese: the problem with husband and wife

Tuesday, February 27th, 2007

I have a Japanese teacher who comes to the apartment twice a week and I do seem to be making steady if somewhat slow progress with the language. I make at least one very silly mistake each lesson – but that helps me to remember the correct way to say something. Today I managed to confuse the words for beautiful and disliked. I also managed to write my first sentence in Japanese. It was a simple sentence that I’ve been able to say since my second lesson but before I could only write it in a romanised version of Japanese. Now I can write it using hiragana and katakana. My teacher was so thrilled with this that I ended up spending the rest of my lesson translating sentences and writing them in Japanese.

I also learnt today that the word Marty told me meant husband really means master (shujin). My teacher doesn’t think her English is very good so we only had a limited discussion about this word. It’s still used commonly in Japan to mean husband but it’s not favoured by young women and my teacher feels that Marty should never refer to himself as my master – though it’s fine if I want to call him that. I’m going to have to research this word to see what I can find out about its various meanings.

Marty might be using a word for husband that I think we’ll change in future but at least he’s using a word that is accepted in Japan. I, on the other hand, made a really silly mistake when trying to use the word for wife. My teacher and I were role playing and she wanted me to pretend to ring Marty’s office and to say the following – “Hi I’m Marty Pauley’s wife, may I speak to Marty please?” I made a blunder. I used kani instead of kanai and ended up saying – “Hi I’m Marty Pauley’s crab…” I’m not convinced I got to finish the sentence because my teacher was laughing so much and making little pincer movements with her fingers.

Management – a skill in its own right

Sunday, February 25th, 2007

Why do so many software companies treat management as if it’s something that people are just born knowing how to do? It seems that the standard career path is – programmer, senior programmer, team leader, project manager, and then senior manager. This is just ludicrous. What is it about software that makes us think that the only people who can manage a software team are people who, given enough time, could sit down and write all the software themselves?

I believe that I learnt how to manage by working with musicians and not because of anything I was taught whilst working as a programmer. I did learn that programmers think managers are stupid – which is interesting as nearly all the managers I know in the software industry started their career as programmers. And yes, it is possible for someone who has been a programmer to become a great manager but I believe that this is not the norm.

The skills required for being a manager are not the same as those required for being a programmer. This isn’t a shocking thing and seems almost self-evident. When have you ever seen a university course in programming that had a management module attached to it? The top management skill is probably communication and I don’t mean being able to write a tool that allows you to produce automated emails so you don’t have to respond to idiots. There are so many jokes around the fact that programmers are anti-social and find it easier to communicate via electronic means that it seems possible that programmers are maybe not that good at communication. To be an effective manager you need to be able to understand people and not machines.

I’ve put together a short list of the skills that first come to mind when I think of managers and programmers. As you can see from my lists I can’t see why anyone would think that their senior programmer is the obvious choice for their next manager.

Management Skills

  • Communication
  • Time Management
  • Leadership Ability
  • Delegation
  • Common Sense

Programming Skills

  • Attention to Detail
  • Problem Solving
  • Abstract Thinking
  • Logical Thinking
  • Creativity