Exploration Through Example

Example-driven development, Agile testing, context-driven testing, Agile programming, Ruby, and other things of interest to Brian Marick
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Mon, 15 Nov 2004

Electronic voting machines: action can be taken

Here are some comments by Cem Kaner, professor of computer science and attorney, on the move toward IEEE approval of voting machine standards that do not include a paper trail. He is a member of the standards committee and is not happy.

Comments are excerpted from a semi-public mailing list, with permission. To set the stage, here's an excerpt from a note of Cem's:

... What puzzles me is why the IEEE is willing to associate itself with the development of a standard that pretends that non-recountable voting equipment is a reasonable, acceptable product.

Which led to this response:

Maybe the standard is being driven by the parties with a vested interest. My experience with IEEE standards is that most are driven by a small handful of people and are therefore easy to "drive" in certain directions. Something for those of us that vote on such standards to keep in mind when voting on this.

... and to Cem's longer reply, which includes some activities that we who care can take:

Most of the executives of the drafting committee work for the vendors or a contractor to the vendors. My opinion as a committee member is that the process has been driven by the vendors' employees.

What has puzzled me has been the extent to which IEEE management has taken the side of drafting committee leadership during disputes over process. Some of the process fights that I've seen: membership-in-committee rules have been used to exclude critics but not to exclude supporters. Proxy rules have been reinterpreted several times. Agreements are reached during the meetings, but the minutes typically list no agreements--we vote on meeting minutes that list only the only decision as approval of the previous meeting's minutes. Agendas for meetings have been distributed only a few days (rather than the "standard" 30) before meetings, drafts of the (quite long) standard have been circulated only days before the meetings, "agreed" changes seem to get lost, and it is almost impossible to trace comments to changes in the draft or changes back to comments.

A different issue is that standard drafts are considered confidential and may not be circulated -- I can't send you one for review. You can buy one for $100, though. With the public policy implications inherent in this standard, I think this is outrageous.

Some of my friends have commented that I have taken a sharper tone toward IEEE and its standards over the past year. The voting standard process has played a substantial role in that. I have seen disappointing work from (and in) other IEEE standards committees but this one leaves me questioning the integrity of the IEEE process.

The IEEE standard P1583 will come up for balloting soon. Please, join the IEEE Standards Association ($39), sign up for balloting on this standard, and vote against it.

For those of you even more actively interested, the next meeting of the committee is this Thursday/Friday in New Jersey. You are not required to be an IEEE member to attend (my understanding is that this is because ANSI rules bar that requirement, in the drafting of standards that will be submitted to ANSI for approval as national standards.) You have to attend the first meeting in person, but can go to subsequent meetings (as I do) by conference call. You become an official member of the committee if you apply to join during the first meeting and ask for membership again during the second. (Depending on the politics du jour and what votes are expected that meeting, new people gain their voting membership either at the start of the meeting or at the end of it. Like I said, it has been a most interesting process.)

## Posted at 17:58 in category /misc [permalink] [top]

Who came up with the hurricane metaphor?

Someone came up with the idea of using hurricane prediction tracks as metaphors for Agile project planning. Who was it? I want to give credit where due.

UPDATE: It seems likely I heard it from Tim Lister at ADC 2004.

UPDATE2: Clarke Ching knows more. He first saw it in Frank Patrick's blog in September 2003. Frank got it from James Vornov, who got the picture from Dave Rogers. Thanks, Clarke.

## Posted at 09:59 in category /agile [permalink] [top]

About Brian Marick
I consult mainly on Agile software development, with a special focus on how testing fits in.

Contact me here: marick@exampler.com.




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