- A phrase that should set off AlarmBells in year head, telling you to beware or to at least take the subject matter with a GrainOfSalt.
- A phrase that causes you to lose your concentration on what you were doing before it ticked you off!
Somewhat related to KillerPhrases
Phrases that set off AlarmBells
, and are somewhat related to KillerPhrases
AlarmBellPhrases from the Marketing Department:
- "Hello..." :-)
- "My good friend, I would like to..."
- "No programming knowledge necessary."
- Any sentence that contains the word "just": "You just hit the frimfram button on the vabomba window" [ -- DickBotting ] [JustIsaDangerousWord] [The word JustRevealsEssence]
- "Just" when combined with "try" is a deadly combination as in the pointed headed manager saying "Why don't you just try and get the database to speak to the whatnot".
- It claims to be fully automatic, but actually you have to push this little button here. -- JohnKillian
- "Code Once, Run Everywhere"
- "100% Pure Java"
- "You don't have to think about distribution any more." (See UnderstandingDistributedSystems.)
- "And we get (distribution|portability|customization|...) ForFree."
- "<X> is the <Y> to solve all problems." Start with life, death and the universe and then go onto the halting problem -- DickBotting Or the heat death of the universe. See ChargedVacuumEmboitment.
- "It might be slow today, but it'll get faster; hardware is getting increasingly cheaper and faster so we don't even need to do anything to the software." (The Redmond approach?)
- But then there's this corollary to Moore's Law: "Every 18 months, the speed of software halves."
- then again, please bear in mind this doesn't apply to your well-written, XP code. When it's you coding, shoot for clarity, not speed. When it runs and is readable, if it is too slow, then you profile and optimize. See CategoryOptimization.
- "Compatible" - meaning, "Not the same". As in "This printer is HP compatible." Even better: "90% compatible"
- "Industry Standard" = "Similar to something else on the market"
- "We will be using OOP, therefore the code will be surely better organized"
- "World-class", "BestOfBreed", "market-leading", "state-of-the-art", ...
- "Just look at all the automated code generation it does for you!" (See CodeGenerationIsaDesignSmell.)
- "It would be nice..."
- "It's NinetyPercentDone."
- "It's ok he doesn't bite." - yeah, right
- "what if... or wouldn't it be good if..." - tho these are usualy followed by laughter.
- "But, theoretically ... ", the PHB in Dilbert uttered this phrase in September.
- "Virtually ...", as in "almost", as in "not at all similar", or "I don't have any proof of that but it must be the case". I found this word in RootPasswordToTheConstitution?.
- "We are going to combine all our databases...", or "We are going to create a DataMining database", otherwise known as the "One database project"
- "This one little new feature is very very important to the client. Really."
- "Semi hot-pluggable" -- Seen in hardware documentation
- "It's all very standard..." -- after all, why change what's already standard?
- "Enterprise" - To me it has the same, big, beaurocratic, arrogant, steamrollering, inefficient connotations as the word "soviet" did to a Russian, former flatmate of mine ;-)
- "We selected this easy-to-use software for you [without asking]; it's all just drag-and-drop. Even my grandmother can use it."
- "It's trivial" as in "it's trivial to use", or (as student, in a course of math) "this step in the proof is trivial".
Wait - does this mean that pointy-haired management babble is TheEvilThatLurksInTheHeartsOfMen?
Yes. This manager also expressed confidence in something called "implementing the final solution" ... -- LC.
What a coincidence! I was just at a process issues meeting. The senior manager spoke about a "final solution" as well. Do we work at the same company or do our pointies read the same books?
Perhaps you should call the Mossad the next time you hear it...
If I hear another MarketingDroid
or consultant use the word "space" to describe a market niche, I will puke.
Do it on his Guccis.
Why? Doesn't "niche" simply mean "small space"? it's not a marketer's fault that the english language lacks words specific to 21st scentury commerce.
Then why not say "niche"? Or does the marketer want to describe a big
space - in which case it's not a niche after all?
All these AlarmBellPhrase
s worry me. It seems like almost anything a person says to you should set off the Alarm. Are there any NonAlarmBellPhrases
? -- ThaddeusOlczyk
It does not necessarily mean they are for sure wrong or clueless, it is just a Proceed-With-Caution warning. Perhaps YellowAlertPhrases? would be a better name. "Alarm bell" sounds like a red alert.
[All of these alarms are context sensitive as well. Watch yersef, dude.]
For me, nearly any ManagerSpeak
is an alarm bell -- using "challenge" for "problem," for instance. Problems are the be-all and end-all of engineering, and nobody should denigrate them.
"Houston, we have a challenge" would not have saved the 3 on board Apollo 13; a "problem," however, makes a true engineer ready to tackle the world, because WE EXIST TO REMOVE PROBLEMS! -- Pete Hardie
Same goes for "opportunity." I always like to refer to it as a big, steaming pile of opportunity.
OTOH, I used to know a stage manager who produced really big shows. One of the shows he worked on had government bureaucrats involved. Whenever anyone said on the radio "We've got a problem here" the bureaucrats would flock to the location and get in the way, causing more problems then they were solving. The techs quickly learned to say "I have an opportunity here..." -- Jim Hyslop
AlarmBellPhrases from Doctors:
(and now TSA)
- "You might feel a little pain." or "You may experience a little discomfort."
- "This won't hurt a bit." (Means it'll hurt a lot)
- "What insurance are you on?"
- "It's an experimental procedure..."
- "That's curious; it didn't do this on the last patient."
AlarmBellPhrases from Management:
What is alarming about this phrase?
It means that the company is a dictatorship. This statement can be given with a smile or a snarl, but if it's given with a smile the first day you're there, the company might actually be a good place to work. It's an exceptional leader who can say this without inspiring fear.
- "There are no politics at this company."
To try to answer my own question: In PeopleWare
, they mention how many different things people label as "politics". Ultimately, people use it to describe any sociological aspect of a project. Maybe the person who finds the phrase, "There are no politics here," to be alarming has heard it used to mean, "We are going to ignore the sociological aspect. (And we'll do it my way, regardless of your feedback, thanks!)". Could this be what they meant? Partly, yes.
In the particular case I have in mind, the company was actually rife with under-the-table (and sometimes under-handed) political maneuvering. But because the company "had no politics" there was no above-board way to acknowledge the political realities.
s are "We have a flat organizational structure" or "We don't have titles around here", which signify that no-one really knows who is responsible for anything.
- "We have to move fast." (Translation: We're not going to stop to SharpenTheSaw.)
- "Ok, you certainly have good technical knowledge, but I've experience." -- SavasAlparslan
- "In my mainframe days, we had real security..."
- "I remember, back in the sixties, we used to..."
"Who" answers for "What" and "How" questions:
HaHaOnlySerious. I recently experienced an introduction to this, except 'Frank' was also a contractor!!
- "What is the value for this parameter?" "Frank knows."
- "How do I initialize this system?" "Ask Frank."
Did we mention that Frank answers all questions in mystical riddles? He also works from 10 PM to 3 AM three days a week, and never answers email.
And why the heck wouldn't he? What are they going to do about it ... FireHim?
? BWAHAHAHA! I'd do exactly the same in his shoes.
- "We need to pass these new laws quickly."
- "We write in C, but we have a little OO code in the codebase." (We're going to give you the agility and scalability of structured programming, tightly coupled with the complexity of C++.)
"We might re-architect this project."
Try this interpretation: This piece of crap was thrown together and released. One day, if we have the time, we might work out how it's supposed to work, and rewrite it properly.
s during interviews:
- "The schedule says X but I know it's 3X. Think of it as job security."
- "The users don't want a new system but we know what is good for them."
- "This is the fourth attempt at replacing the system. This time for sure!"
- Report back from one of your references: "He asked 'How does she handle politics?' What is that supposed to mean?"
- "A RDBMS is only for 'persistence,' so let's wrap away its ugly guts." (DatabasesAreMoreThanJustStorage)
- "Enterprise" outside of a Trek convention - EnterpriseApplication
- "We're going to be using Technology X in the near future" during job interviews, where 'Technology X' is a some technology one desperately wants to start using. For me X = EJB, I've been promised it for the last two jobs and didn't get it, waaaahh, career suicide!
For me X was (and still is) java. All program are still in C/C++ and the company just start a project in COM!!!
Each time I get caught by this one, I say, NEVER AGAIN. Java, Windows versions, migrate to C++, depending on the era. Usually said at a company with 10 year old technology that will never upgrade because the current system is too profitable.
And, remember the current employees have already formed a queue to start using Technology X, so make your way to the back of the queue please.
Uh-oh -- several of these phrases (from managers and clients) have shown up for my current project!
Run away! Run away!
"We're going to have an impromptu company wide meeting in a few minutes. Margaret could you block the fire escape please" -- LeonBambrick
Also: "Hey Jim, is the network down? I was hoping to check my mail before the all-hands meeting..."
- Of course, if you hear that one, it's probably too late. Not much to do but collect your final paycheck (assuming your employer is still solvent) and polish your resume.
AlarmBellPhrases In Documentation
- ...for historical reasons...
- ...consult the info pages...
- To X, you simply...
- The X lets you Y. (No mention of how to use X to Y)
- Using X is intuitive. (Run!!!!)
- Any confusion between "loose" and "lose", "lead" and "led", "it's" and "its", "let's" and "lets", etc.
AlarmBellPhrases From Human Resources
How's this for a job listing?
''...Someone that knows their area of expertise, professional, is a go getter, and doesn't gossip. Environment:
- Systems department in a Financial Firm
- Loosely structured
- Will be sharing a cubicle
- Long hours
- High stress levels''
- That's just how we do things here
, would attempts to lower the stress levels be dealt with harshly and ruthlessly?
Or how about this one (for the position StickToYourGuns
"This position requires a highly motivated self-starter who has an excellent track record of accomplishments."
Translation: We need a loner CowBoy
who cuts corners, and who doesn't have the "wrong
" accomplishments on their track record.
AlarmBellPhrases From Comments in SourceCode
/** This class was generated by a wizard */
/** This method was auto-generated by a wizard */
Or my favorite: //** I don't know why this works **//
s of four words or more: "Development Integration Process Methodology".
"Process" and "Methodology" as consecutive words.
"On this project, failure is not an option"
It must be a certainty then.