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¶ unreliable people
Schrock's dad won the Nobel prize! Now we know where at least some of his smarts came from. (Eric Schrock was the same year as me at Brown, and we worked on a bunch of projects together. He's now a kernel guru at Sun)

Some time ago, I began to appreciate the value of a dependable person when working as part of a team. Not necessarily the fastest, or the strongest, or the most talented, but just plain dependable. Looking back on a number of group projects or team efforts I've been a part of in the past, the ones that failed were never because we didn't have the potential, or the drive, or whatever. They always failed because someone, who everyone else was counting on, just didn't follow through with their part. Oh, I didn't have time. Sorry, it slipped my mind. Oops, this other project is way more important. My schedule changed unexpectedly. There's always some excuse.

Recent example: I've been maintaining this translation software for a few years now. I don't put a lot of effort into it anymore, and it targets a niche audience, but a few people find it quite useful. Sometime in the spring, a programmer approached me with some suggestions and patches to improve it, and said he wanted to help out. Optimistic, I gave him access to the project files and within a week or so he made a new release. On looking at it, I found a number of bugs, and asked him to fix these and re-release. All of a sudden, *poof* it's impossible to find this guy anymore. Over the next six months, he becomes the busiest person in the world without a single moment to spare. Finally, I got annoyed and fixed the bugs myself, ending this whole collaboration feeling quite let down.

Anyway, I guess I'm not saying anything that anyone doesn't know already. It just bugs me that dependable people are so few and far between. I suppose that can't be helped, though, as there are only so many people you can be 'dependable' for.

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