Stevieslaw: Practice, Practice, Practice

I have known engineers who, when faced with a new piece of research equipment, will spend several weeks pressing every button, tweaking every knob, and observing the results with some sort of geek glee—all without recourse to the manufacturer’s manual. Almost always, this sort of high-level play produces an engineer who knows all there is to know about the equipment—someone who logically concludes that it is pretty safe to move the equipment to the lab and use it to make some measurements. Some time wasted? Perhaps. But in essentially rewriting the manual many of the fine points have been thoroughly learned.
Financial firms have a better way. Knight Capital, under CEO Thomas Joyce, decided to take their untested or poorly tested software to the floor of the market and try it there. After all, what could happen? Your pension fund—that’s just chump change. And don’t forget that testing it could cost seconds or, Koch forbid, minutes of profit taking. The resulting mess appears ready to put them out of business.
Here’s an idea. Why don’t the financial kids—the wizards that brought us the baseball card and comic book boom and busts markets before moving on to real estate and financials—hire some adult engineers or scientists? There are plenty of unemployed ones to choose from and many of them would be interested in making sure that things work.
Hey, Tommy. Call me.

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