Ask Me No Questions and I'll Tell You No Lies

I often get requests from students about technology-related homework and projects they are working on. Usually the questions are short and as far as I can tell the students are just looking for quick answers. The other day I received an e-mail from an IT student that made me laugh. This “short” questionnaire would take longer to answer than I've spent in some interviews. Could it be that he really didn't realize just how much time would be needed and that he can't expect such an effort in return for nothing?

This is the student's note to me. My snarky, pre-morning-coffee appears in italics.

I am a student at Texas A&M International University with a Management Information Systems major. I have tasked to ask some questions of a information systems developer. I found your website while looking for one and hope that you can help me out with this short questionnaire. If you cannot, could you please advise me of someone that can?

Please note that while this is a college project, my interest in your answers stems way beyond the scope of my class.

A nice intro with some background. No red flags yet.

What advice do you have for the design phase of the SDLC?

Use a pencil so you can erase mistakes.

What are the activities you involve in the design phase?

Mostly design-related stuff.

What are your system design practices or lessons learned?

I'm supposed to summarize lessons learned? Such open-ended questions are not likely to get useful answers.

If you could go back and teach a class on SDLC what would you highlight, and what would you ignore?

And I'd ignore the students. Sort of like what I'm doing now.

As project manager is there a team size you have found you prefer?


What are your thoughts on Object-Oriented approach vs Traditional (data flow diagrams) to the SDLC?

My head hurts.

At the end of the design phase, I am assuming that you must sit down with the client and discuss the final design.

At this point what promises do you make? What promises shouldn't working correctly after the support phase is over, they don't call you up angry because your thousand dollar system isn't working as expected, and then get even angrier that you are going to charge them for the modifications? Instead you get them to take ownership, and they call you up to fix their system knowing that it will be at a cost?

I promise to never make promises. They just get me into trouble.

I currently have my own computer repair business, I service 4 Wells Fargo banks along with several other accounts. I wish to grow my business into the analysis, design, and implementation of information systems and hire technicians to take over the section of the business I have already created.
What do I need to learn?

Sure, let me put a business plan together for you. Writing business plans is actually a hobby of mine.

What SQL server/DBMS should I learn (MS SQL, MySQL, Oracle, etc.)?

Here's one I can answer: Yes.

What web language should I learn for web interfaces?

A web interface language would probably be helpful.

Do you have any literature or workshops you recommend?

Whatever your employer will pay for.

Are there any certifications worth pursuing to better market my company?

Yawn. Is the coffee ready, yet?

Do you have any general advice?

Yes, I do. Wait for people to get out of the elevator before you try to get in.

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  1. Very funny :) It's amazing what some students want you to do for them!

  2. Definitely a funny post, I'm surprised at the student's obvious intelligence being in stark contrast to his common sense. Why ask such long questions to a busy professor?

  3. Avatar photo


    Thanks for commenting and I'm glad you enjoyed the post. I always wonder if humor comes through in blog posts.

  4. rofl to your replies..but seriously people do need to think before they start asking questions. Some don't deserve half the though the original questioner used.

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