Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Thursday 25/04/2002We're not making a big song and dance about it, but a brand-new reviews system has just gone live on the site. Whenever you go and look up some piece of equipment we're written about, you'll be using this: you shouldn't notice, of course, as part of the trick is to make it as simple to use as a piece of paper but just a lot more powerful.

Thursday 25/04/2002

We're not making a big song and dance about it, but a brand-new reviews system has just gone live on the site. Whenever you go and look up some piece of equipment we're written about, you'll be using this: you shouldn't notice, of course, as part of the trick is to make it as simple to use as a piece of paper but just a lot more powerful.

I wasn't involved, except very tangentially, but I did follow the progress closely enough to be reminded forcefully of all the joys of large software projects. Do you ditch the legacy stuff and redo everything from the beginning, or do you work with what you've got and accept some less than optimal design features? You have fifty things to do and enough time and people to do ten: which ten do you do? When do you stop writing new features and fix the problems you've found?

One of the heros of the hour is Charles McLellan, the urbane Yorkshire ornithologist who fate has made our reviews channel editor. Night after night he's bashed away, converting old data, reclassifying, editing and working away at eighteen months of data. For the past week, his young family have inevitably been asleep when he crawled home and still abed when he left early in the morning. Today, he finally gets back before the witching hour -- expecting the love and delight of his temporarily estranged offspring. But alas, the lot of the journalist who oft flits abroad on business is rarely one of unalloyed happiness: his absence has been misinterpreted.

"Daddy's back!" they cry with happiness. "Where are our presents? WHERE?"

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