Friday, January 23, 2009

The Perfect Customer

I was back at the manufacturing plant to help my customer gather data from the new sensor. Yesterday, she examined the code for the original algorithm and the reason it fails with the new sensor is not obvious, so it is back to square one, which is to analyse the input data.

She has a computer science background, so this approach works for her. I'm a programmer so I prefer analysing the output of the executing code to understand what it is doing wrong. Unfortunately, this system doesn't have a working unit test framework, so the only place I can run the programs is on the actual robot. That's not an appealing option.

I did have a unit test framework in the beginning, but as my customer tweaked the algorithm for each sensor, she did not update the tests, which is fundamental requirement for unit testing. For some reason, she was simply not interested in maintaining the tests. I offered to update the tests but that offer was rebuffed. I'm not sure why. After a while I gave up. Customers who have high technical skills create different challenges than customers who are completely non-technical.

So who is the perfect customer? The one who pays on time, of course. ;-)

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