Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Are these women pair-programming?

Dell just announced a new website to sell netbooks to women. Is this a good thing? Do women need their own site? The netbooks are adorable. I want one. But I'm frustrated with the site. It's too hard to get to the technical details. The Tech Tips aren't technical. Plus Dell isn't showcasing the netbooks that sell with Ubuntu, just the ones with Windows XP. I wonder what this says about their assumptions about the female market? I would think that they would realize that their target market includes women programmers, Unix sys admins, network engineers, computational biologists, and technical instructors who travel for a living and are sick of carrying around a massive laptop. (Dell has made progress though. Recently they removed the Tech Tip that had to do with counting calories. The last thing we need is more anorexic Dell girls!)

I like to imagine that the women in the Dell photo are pair-programming. Pair-programming is a method for software development where two people work together. One drives (types) and the other navigates (makes suggestions and checks the work). Studies have shown that although a task may take 15% longer with pair-programming, the results are less buggy. The design and implementation are better, technical skills and team communications are improved, and pair-programming is considered more enjoyable at statistically significant levels. Two heads are better than one!? 


  1. Who is the third person? Hopefully not a pointy-haired manager! It's hard to tell since the photo cuts off the tops of the heads of the subjects.

  2. The third person inserts pithy, irreverent, yet useful comments into the source.

    Although no formula for software dev is a panacea, pair-programming is very intriguing. Of course, I'd prefer to pair-program with someone smarter than me, and I would also prefer to believe no such person exists. Seriously, I'd like to try it if the opportunity arises.