diff options
authorLars Wirzenius <>2018-03-07 17:47:55 +0200
committerLars Wirzenius <>2018-05-02 18:04:19 +0300
commitbd95665b413d007c7452525eee75f5c803223fac (patch)
parent27231a0b138fab24423a8172c47df4f0c04d877c (diff)
Add: newhardware chapter
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@@ -23,6 +23,7 @@ There may be contradictions. Retconning in the future is possible.
* [[Negotiation]]
* [[Development setup phase|devsetup]]
* [[First conflict with SmartHome|conflict]]
+* [[New hardware platform|newhardware]]
* to be continued
# Change log
@@ -44,6 +45,8 @@ For exact details, look at [git][].
* 2017-03-21: Typo fixes from Pete F
+* 2018-03-07: Added chapter four ([[newhardware]]).
# Patreon
diff --git a/newhardware.mdwn b/newhardware.mdwn
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@@ -0,0 +1,520 @@
+# New hardware platform
+"What the RUDE WORD, RUDE WORD, RUDE WORD is this?" Anna sits at her
+desk, one hand one her mouse, speaking loudly. "ROOOBBIIIINN! Come
+heeeereee!" In a minute Robin shuffles in through Anna's doorway.
+"What's wrong? You're upsetting the whole office with your screaming."
+Anna almost never raises her voice. When she does, it's upsetting to
+those who know her.
+"I just got an email from Sam. They're changing the hardware
+platform." Robin raises one eyebrow. She realises at once what this
+may mean. "Does he say why?"
+Anna shakes her head. "Not really. He says, and I quote, 'To align our
+customer-facing deliverables with global leaders in leveraging
+technology we proactively synchronise our product schedules with Arm
+release road maps.' What a pile of RUDE WORD marketing RUDE WORD."
+Robin sighs deeply, then slumps down in a chair. "Does he realise that
+our project will have to restart from scratch? That all the work done
+so far is useless? That there's no chance of meeting any agreed
+deadlines now?"
+Anna grimaces. "Of course he doesn't. If they actually do this, it may
+mean we lose the project." Robin nods. "And that means we're in a
+trash compactor, the walls a moving inward, and something just touched
+my leg. We were already desperate when we landed this project."
+Anna nods. "Exactly. I better meet with Sam to try to stop this." She
+buries her face in her hands. She sobs once. "I don't know, sometimes
+it's just feels like too much. Clients seem to always try to shoot a
+project in the head, just when things start moving along well."
+Robin shifts uneasily in her chair, then gets up and stands next to
+Anna, and gathers her into a hug. Robin smiles uncertainly. "There,
+there, it'll be all right. We'll get through this in some say."
+Robin chuckles. "Anyway, they're not shooting the project in the head.
+They're sawing off their own leg. With a blunt axe. Which is rusty."
+Anna barks a short laugh, and indicates she needs to get out of the
+hug. She takes a deep, deep breath, and shrugs. "Sorry. I was feeling
+overwhelmed for a moment. Better now. Thanks." Robin goes to the
+doorway. "I'll go make us tea, so we can have a calm discussion about
+this, and decide what to do."
+Robin says on IRC. "Everyone: sitrep and planning, kitchen, 5 mins.
+Drop everything you're doing."
+Anna is in the kitchen, with her laptop and five steaming mugs of tea.
+Everyone in the Team has their own, favourite mug, labelled by their
+name and preference as far as tea, sugar, and milk. Anna takes a sip
+of hers. It says "Anna, Russian Caravan, full-fat milk, no sugar", and
+has a picture of Snufkin from Moomin, sitting on a river bank with his
+fishing rod. The mugs had originally been bought a few years ago, when
+the Team was set up. When new team members had joined, new mugs had
+been made.
+Over the new few minutes, team members were coming in, taking their
+mug, and sitting down, until only Nina was missing. Robin puts her mug
+down ("Robin, Lapsang, skimmed milk, sugar, picture of Lara Croft"), and goes
+knock on the door of Nina's lab. "Excuse me, Nina, we're having a
+meeting and we need you." Nina and Nick look up from the bench, where
+they've been debugging something together. Robin nods at him. "Nick,
+I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask you to leave. We're going to
+discuss something sensitive, and it would be awkward to have you
+present. Sorry."
+Nick stands up, and nods. "I understand. Is it OK if I come back
+tomorrow?" Robin smiles. What a polite young man. "I'm sure it it will
+be, but check with Nina in the morning, OK"
+Robin and Nina go to the kitchen, take their mugs ("Nina, any tea, no
+milk, no sugar, picture of a 555 timer IC"), and sit down. Anna stands
+up and starts speaking. "I'm afraid there's a bit of bad news.
+SmartHome have just let us know they want to update their hardware
+platform. I called this meeting to tell you that and for us to discuss
+the situation together."
+The the room is filled with a cacophony. Anna lets it continue for a
+moment, then raises her hand. The room quiets instantly. An outsider
+might mistake it for military discipline, but it's a habit borne from
+collaborating with the same equals for a long time, and from respect
+of the role Anna has as mediator. "I have a couple of questions I need
+to have answers to. First, this is a big enough change that it lets us
+cancel the contract without a notice period, but still get paid for
+what we've done so far. Do we want to do that?"
+Robin raises her hand. "I'd like to keep the contract, if we can talk
+them into keeping the old hardware platform." She drops her hand. Andy
+and Bert look at each other, nodding. Berg raises his hand. "Andy and
+I agree. We've put in a lot of effort into the old platform already,
+would be a shame to let that go to waste." Andy keeps his hands on the
+table, but raises his index finger. "We can start on a new platform,
+but if they haven't got the hardware working yet, it seems like an
+impossible project."
+Nina nods, but keeps quiet. Robin makes a short wave. "That's a good
+point. Anna, do you know what the status of their proposed new
+hardware platform is?" Anna shakes her head. "Sam wasn't explicit
+about that, but my impression is that they're only about to start
+designing it. It's not ready for us to port to." Robin grimaces, but
+Andy speaks, without indicating he wants a turn. "Erm, really? In that
+case, I don't think we can wait for that."
+Anna stands up. "I think we agree. We can't continue on this contract,
+if they change the hardware platform. It would delay all user land
+software progress too much. It would probably mean we run out of money
+before this contract is paid. Frankly, I would expect SmartHome to go
+bankrupt before they get the new platform working."
+Anna shrugs. "My other question is, do we try to talk them into not
+upgrading their hardware platform, or do we look for a new client?"
+Another cacophony. Robin raises her hand, and everyone goes quiet and
+looks at her. "I'd like to keep them, if possible, I see a possibility
+for a long, mutually profitable relationship, if we can both survive
+the current project." There are murmured agreements and nodding.
+Anna takes a deep breath. "Thank you, looks like we have a consensus.
+I'm sorry we're in this situation, but it's something we've seen
+before. The client thinks they're being smart, but are actually just
+running really fast carrying a naked blade pointed at their heart.
+Everything looks like it's going well, until they stumble and they
+experience a sudden, painful stop."
+Nina raises her hand to her shoulder. "What do we do now?"
+Anna looks at her, then around the room, into the eyes of each of her
+co-workers. "We continue work on the old platform, and I go talk to
+Sam face to face and try to talk sense to him. I'll probably be back
+later today, and then we'll see. If it drags on, I'll let you all
+In the afternoon, after Anna has returned from a long lunch with Sam,
+she visits Robin's office, and sits down. "I think we're OK. I talked
+Sam out of doing a hardware refresh now. They'll do it for the next
+generation instead."
+"Well done, Anna! Was it a difficult discussion?"
+Anna shrugs. She isn't smiling, but doesn't look distraught either.
+"It wasn't easy. He was really enthusiastic about using the new 64-bit
+Arm architecture. But he believed me in the end when I told him he
+couldn't have our platform and new hardware in the same product
+"Good. Meanwhile, Andy and Bert had a really productive day today. We
+have our platform working on the SmartHome hardware now, at least
+enough to start getting SmartHome to port over their applications.
+There was cake after all the system tests passed the first time. You
+missed that, but we saved you a slice the fridge. It's your favourite,
+death by chocolate."
+Anna grins. The Team is not shy to celebrate its achievements.
+"Excellent news. And if we pull off the current, now-saved project, we
+may get SmartHome to hire us to update our platform to their new
+hardware version, too."
+Anna pushes herself up by pushing with her palms on her knees. "But
+now I'm exhausted. I'm going home early. I need a relaxing evening,
+after today. Maybe a sauna. Might call Russ and see if he wants to
+have dinner."
+Robin looks surprised. "Russ? Are you seeing him again?"
+Anna shakes her head quickly. "No, no, not like that. I just ran into
+him the other evening, and we had a few beers. It was nice, but I'm
+getting involved with him again."
+"Good. I mean, it's not like he's a bad egg, but he could maybe mature
+a bit."
+Anna comes in late the following morning. Robin pokes her head out of
+her office. "Hi Anna! Get a cup of tea before you open your email."
+Anna stops in the middle of taking off her coat. "Oh? Clearly
+something bad has happened. What's up?"
+Robin is determined and shakes her head. "Tea first. We'll discuss
+when you have a cuppa."
+Anna finds an almost full pot of tea in the kitchen, and ambles into
+Robin's room with a steaming mug in her hand. She sits down. "So,
+what's up?"
+"Sam's sent an email, cc'd to me, asking for an all-hands meeting with
+us and their developers and management, to discuss the new hardware
+platform. It seems Sam's bosses were not swayed so easily." Robin
+shrugs a little. "They want it tomorrow. They'll arrange a place, we
+just need to show up."
+Anna grimaces. "I should've known it was too easy. Clients never
+want to hear they're wrong. What do you think about this?"
+Robin grimaces too. "I don't think we can avoid it, even if it costs
+us a full work day and possibly a client. We'll have to go."
+A nod, and another grimace. "I'll go read the email, but I think
+you're right. We'll spend today preparing for any arguments they may
+have for a platform refresh now. I think that'll be what you and I do
+today. Do you have the time?"
+"I was meant to draft a plan to get SmartHome devs to start porting
+their software to our platform, but that'll have to wait. I'll notify
+"Good. Well, not good, but you know what I mean. We'll gather our
+people in the afternoon and go over the arguments. Have you told them
+"Nope, I wanted to wait until we decide to go."
+"OK. I'll notify our people today. And tell Sam and his bosses that
+we're coming. Is 15:00 a good time to gather everyone?"
+"Should be. RUDE WORD I don't like this, but needs must."
+Anna nods, gets up, and goes to her own office. After a deep breath
+she opens up her email, reads for a while, and sends out a couple of
+emails. One to the Team, explaining the situation, and another to
+SmartHome asking where and when.
+The assembles at the office. It's 8 in the morning, and for most of
+them this is unusually early. Anna arrives with a car, the team piles
+in, and they go to the SmartHome office.
+They arrive, get out of the car, and walk in an organised formation
+into SmartHome HQ and the large meeting room they've visited before.
+The SmartHome CEO, Lasse, and other members of top management are
+already there, as well as Sam, and several senior developers.
+The CEO stands up. He's dressed in a navy blue suite, with a red tie.
+In his late 50s, somewhat stout but not fat, looking serious, but
+calm, he coughs to get everyone's attention. "Welcome, everyone, I
+apologise for the abrupt meeting, but we need to resolve this issue of
+refreshing the new hardware platform sooner rather than later." He
+looks at Andy. "I understand that your team is objecting and raising
+concerns about the new hardware. Is that correct?"
+Andy looks momentarily confused, and looks at Anna, who speaks. "I'm
+Anna Carter. I speak for the Team."
+Now Lasse is a little uncertain, looking back and forth between Andy,
+Anna, and Sam. He recovers quickly. "Very well. Is it correct?"
+"We're concerned about the impact of a hardware refresh on the time
+table of the project. We think the refresh is OK."
+"How magnanimous of you. I'm not used to hired help giving me
+permission to make strategic changes. Especially not women."
+Anna's jaw drops open, and she just stares. The room goes quiet.
+SmartHome developers look at the table in front of them, visibly not
+squirming or doing anything to call attention to them. The Team
+members take a deep breath, let their shoulders sag, and look at Anna
+and Robin.
+Robin stands up. She looks around the room. Those who know her, can
+see she's angry from the say her lips form a thin straight line. "Sir,
+if you hire experts and ignore what they say, you are an imbecile. In
+the current situation, your choices are to go bankrupt or to let us
+help your developers save your company. It seems you want to go
+bankrupt and make every one of your employees lose their job, while
+you can just retire early. Very well, we don't wish to work for you.
+Have a good day."
+She pushes her chair back and steps away from the table. Sam puts his
+hand on Lasse's arm, and whisper urgently in his ear. Robin reaches
+the conference room door, puts her hand on the handle, and looks back.
+The rest of the Team have quietly also stood up and are forming a
+queue behind Robin. Anna is red her face, and her hands are shaking.
+The Team goes out of the door. Sam follows them. "Please wait."
+Anna turns to him. She's so angry she stutters. "Y-you.. w-wait? Why
+w-would we wait."
+Robin puts a calming hand on Anna's shoulder. "Sam, you must
+understand that what just happened was humiliating and infuriating,
+and cannot be tolerated."
+"Yes, you're absolutely right. What Lasse said is unacceptable. But I
+think I can talk sense to him, and talk him down off his high horse,
+and let us save the company. Because I now understand that what you
+said is right."
+Nina shouts and walks towards him. "NO!" Sam takes a step back. Nina
+pokes her finger in the middle Sam's chest to emphasise her syllables.
+"It's not RUDE WORD enough to talk to RUDE WORD Lasse. He's old enough
+to know better. Old RUDE WORD sexist stick in the muds like him are
+Sam takes a couple of steps back. Hurricane Nina is taking him by
+Nick comes out from the conference room. "Nina, are you OK? You're
+being very loud."
+Robin steps forward, and turns Nina by the shoulders. "Nina, you're
+absolutely right. We all agree on that. But let's take this to our
+office and discuss this amongst ourselves. We need to process this.
+It's a bad day." She looks at Sam. "We'll be sending our final invoice
+Anna pipes in. "It's clause 42, section 3. In the event of the
+customer changing the parameters of the project in the middle of the
+project in ways that make it difficult to finish on schedule, the Team
+can abort and is owed for work already done. You better not try to
+squirm yourself out of it."
+As if by remote control, the Team all turn towards the exit, and march
+Sam and Nick stand still and look at the departing group. The
+exit doors closes, with the soft thump and click of its automatic
+mechanism. They continue to stand still for a moment. Finally, Nick
+speaks. "I guess we need to back inside. But I really don't want to."
+Sam's shoulders droop. He looks back at the conference door. Then at
+the exit door. "I have to go back inside. You can have a family
+medical emergency if you like."
+The Team drive back to their office in silence. They gather in the
+kitchen. Robin makes a pot of tea. The silence continues while the tea
+is brewing. Bert takes out everyone's mug and puts them in a row on
+the kitchen table, and takes out two kinds of milk from the fridge,
+and three kinds of sweetener (sugar, artificial, honey). Robin pours
+tea. Bert adds milk and sweetener of choice to each mug. Everyone
+takes their mug.
+Anna takes a sip. "Well, that was exciting. I think we should process
+what happened together, rather than going home and let everyone
+marinate in solitude."
+Nina shakes her head. "I can't believe he said that. I can't believe I
+said that to Sam."
+Andy puts his mug on the table in front of himself. "One reads about
+people like Lasse, but one never expects to meet them. It was like
+meeting a villain from a movie. And Nina, I think you said what we all
+Robin sits hunched, holding her cup with both hands. "Frankly, this
+wasn't a huge surprise to me. There were signs. But I think we did the
+the only thing we could do. We shouldn't feel bad about it. Not about
+taking them on as a client, or for quitting today."
+Anna nods. "Yes, I agree. We should feel good for standing up against
+bad behaviour. The only thing we should worry about now is what we'll
+do next, in terms of a new client."
+Robin shakes her head. "It's important that we find a new client, but
+can we not worry about that today. I think we need to recover from
+today's events first."
+Anna nods again. "I guess you're right. What can we do to get over
+Bert puts down his mug. "I find that when I've had a bit of a shock,
+eating something helps. We could have lunch together."
+"A great idea." Robin smiles. "We could order pizza for everyone.
+"Yeah, let's do that. I'll order from my room. If everyone would
+message me on IRC what kind they want, I'll place the order. The usual
+Pizza has arrived and been consumed. Many words have been said. Much
+anger has been vented.. The Team is leaning back in their chairs,
+momentarily content and silent. Anna's phone rings. She looks at it.
+"It's Sam. I should probably take this." She rises and goes to her
+"Hi, Sam."
+"Hi, Anna. Are you guys all right?"
+"We're OK. How are you?"
+"Look, I wanted to call and ask if there's any chance we can patch
+things up. I think I have the leverage to get Lasse to apologise and
+get out of the way, even if he is the founder and the CEO."
+Anna takes a deep, audible sigh. "Look, Sam, I'll be honest. It's not
+easy. Lasse burnt bridges today that are not easy to rebuild. We don't
+trust SmartHome anymore, and we don't work with clients we don't
+"I see. Is there anything we could do to convince you to not break
+with us?"
+"I don't know. I'd have to talk with the whole Team about it. How far
+are you willing to go?"
+"Hmm. This is not an easy situation for anyone, right now. I'll take a
+chance and be open about what's happening here. I hope you won't
+spread it around. There's a bit of a civil war happening, and most of
+us at SmartHome see that you guys are right and we either make a new,
+better product with your help, or we are finished. Some of the older
+guys in upper management are resisting, but the resistance is
+Anna is laconic and inexpressive. "OK."
+"I won't say you can demand anything you want, but I think you'd have
+a strong bargaining position, if you were willing to bargain."
+"Are you willing to bargain? Please?"
+"I'll talk with my people. I don't know if they're willing. But just
+in case they're willing, do you have time to visit our office today? I
+have the feeling that if possible, this shouldn't be allowed to fester
+"I can be there in fifteen minutes."
+"OK. We'll talk and I'll let you know if you should come."
+The Team has gathered in the kitchen again. A new round of tea has
+been brewed and served.
+"Okay, so this is bit of an interesting development. Sam called. He
+says that SmartHost is having a civil war and he wants to know what it
+would take to bring us back, or least re-open negotiations with them.
+Assuming his side wins. What do we think about that?"
+Nina raises her hand. "Will Lasse still be the CEO?"
+"I don't know. The situation is unclear. In any case, it might be too
+much for us to ask for them to get rid of him entirely. He is the
+founder, after all."
+Nina chuckles. "Shame, but I see your point. But at least I would
+prefer him to not be involved in this project, or have any say in it."
+Robin raises her mug and sips. "Mmmm, I like how you think,
+grasshopper. More realistically, I think we can and should insist that
+they commit to a plan with us. The plan we've been working on all
+along. And by commit, I mean they won't unilaterally change it on us.
+They should also agree to a change management process with us."
+Nina looks at her with her eyebrows raised. "Change management
+process? What fancy words you use, grandma."
+The room fills with chuckles and giggles. It's clear that a big ball
+of tension has just unravelled. Anna grins. "Sounds like we're in
+silent agreement, but I'd like to make it explicit. Everyone in favour
+of re-opening discussions with SmartHome, or at least Sam's faction,
+if we can agree on what we think are sensible ground rules, namely,
+they stick to the current hardware platform, and let us guide the
+software development. Who agrees?"
+Everyone raises their hand, except Robin. "Robin? Do you want to say
+"I was hesitant about taking them on as a client in the first place,
+and only agreed to it because we need the money. My fears have been
+realised. But given the ground rules as you outlined, and given that
+we have the same need of money, I'm willing to try again." She raises
+her hand.
+"Good, that makes us unanimous. I agree we need to treat them with
+care. I'd like to invite Sam to our office today to discuss this and
+explain our conditions. Everyone OK with that."
+This time, everyone raises their hand.
+"Hi, Russ. Fancy dinner tonight?" Anna is in a good mood. Constructive
+negotiations always made her satisfied, and especially so when they're
+successful. "I've had a long, roller-coaster ride of a day and could
+do with some good food and company."
+"Hi, Anna, yes, I'd love that. Is 19 at the Santa Fe restaurant OK?"
+"Perfect. I'll see you there."
+Nina sits in her lab, at the table, with her laptop, typing and
+frowning. "Nickster, U OK? I hear u have crisis happening?"
+A few seconds pass, and the response shows in her chat window. "Hi,
+Burn. I'm OK. Thanks for asking. Interesting times in the faux Chinese
+curse sense."
+Nina types again. "I don't no if we work 2gether anymore, but wld like
+to keep in touch."
+"I'd like that too. I like to talk tech with you."
+"Kewl. I like 2 talk tech with u 2. Also I like u dont hit on me."
+"Yeah, you said. I've never really been just friends with a girl
+before. It's nice. Relaxing, even, to not have any romantic or erotic
+"U say such nice things. C u tomorrow?"