Project Time Machine

April 12, 2008

Hi everyone, and thanks for coming. I’m the PM for Project Time Machine. We’re all here because of the proposal that has come to us from our business unit – namely to construct a fully functioning time machine. We feel that with this device we can get a pretty good jump on our competition and really dominate the market once this thing is up and running. And if we don’t we can just correct it. Over and over again. It’s a “win win” proposition people, and I’m excited to be a part of it.

We’ve done some preliminary planning, and our estimated costs sit at around $32 trillion, or roughly one-third of the available wealth on the planet. Our business Unit is working on getting some preliminary funding so we can at least do a prototype. We project that the project will take either the rest of known time, or no time at all, depending on whether time is linear or cyclical. And since I’ve seen some hands go up, yes, we’ve listed that as an issue.

The project is pretty straightforward as far as scope goes, but I’d still like to bring you through some of the more critical points
1. Time Machine must be able to go both forwards and backwards through time
2. Carrying capacity must be 4 people
3. Should be red

There are two basic approaches to time travel, one sees you using mass to create velocity which would then “springboard” you forward or backwards in time, the second is based on the construction of wormholes.
We’ve had some pretty intense JAD sessions over the past few weeks, and we’ve opted to go with option 1 – using mass. You can read the details in the architectural notes, but basically we’re not clear that wormholes actually exist, whereas we’re pretty sure that things have mass. Like 99% sure. It’s listed as an issue.
Speaking of issues, you’ll notice we have a couple listed already. None of these are show stoppers, but we should be on top of them nonetheless.

1. Project will require celebrated mathematician Stephen Hawkings as he is the only living human being who understands the quasi-science behind this endevor. Sadly, he is not available for independent projects with commercial interests. This is a known resource gap that we’ve escalated to senior management.

2. To create the correct mass to create a springboard effect, our engineers are pretty sure we’ll need an object 30 times denser than the sun. One option is to wait until the sun goes supernova as the resultant cooling period would create a black hole with enough density for our purposes, however this event is not expected to happen for another 60 billion years – well outside of the project duration. Plus, we’d all be dead (see Risks). We’re working to mitigate this one by watching some old “Star Trek” episodes to see if we can find a quick workaround.

3. The fact that there isn’t a working time machine sitting beside me right now implies that we don’t ever succeed in this project as if we did, we would travel back in time and tell ourselves. However, we’re not discounting the possibility that the future version of us are just all dicks. So, issue.

I see a couple people from QA are starting to have a side discussion, so let me just jump right in. Obviously, regression testing is a concern as time occurs in the past and any testing we did on previous events viewed with this time machine are all by definition correct (as they’ve actually happened) and anyway, we wouldn’t be able to tell if we screwed up in the first place as future time would have altered accordingly. It’s a knotty problem, but nothing a well written Master Test Plan can’t correct.
In terms of performance management, we sadly alter the outcome of any event simply by measuring it. So – risk.

I have a lot of confidence in this team. For some of you who are trained in more “classical” development languages like Java or C++, you’ll all be going on metaphysics training at Yale starting next week. Also, we’re sending all our Business Analysts on a 2-day “writing testable requirements” course. That should help.
I look forward to working with all of you in the past or in the future, whichever. I’m not clear on the mechanics. Any questions?