Friday, October 22

Mob SIG Event on Mon 25th October

indows Phone 7 - has Microsoft got mobile right this time?
This is Microsoft's latest approach at the mobile phone market. It is a drastic shift away from their previous attempts at trying to bring Windows XP feel into the palm of your hand.

The entire WP7 experience has been standardised to follow the "Metro" theme which embraces concepts such as discoverability, content over chrome, and touch as the primary input (without the fiddly stylus).

Join David Burela and Jarred Sargent as they give an overview of what the Windows Phone 7 platform is and how to get started with it.
David will take us through a demonstration of the phone platform and how it differs from previous Windows Mobile phones. He will also talk about the UI design considerations of the "Metro" theme that permeates through the entire phone.
Jarred Sargent will give an overview of what it takes to easily build applications for the phone and will demonstrate some easy hello world applications and his experiences as a developer.
For more details

Wednesday, September 29

Endless Iterations

S ome time ago I sat in on two iteration meetings for an adjacent team. There was a possibility that I would join the team on a part time basis, a possibility that never eventuated.

The project they were working on was fairly far along. They claimed they were using extreme programming, they claimed that they were agile, they claimed that they were using two week iterations. However
  • The team were not asked to commit to completing the tasks scheduled the iteration planning meeting.
  • The instead of scheduling based on the historical progress of the team in previous iterations the capacity of the iteration is simply assumed to be 80 hours times the number of developers.
  • Deflects arising from tasks failing acceptance tests were saved for the end of the release, leading to a final test and fix phase.
  • Instead of using rolling wave planning and progressive elaboration all stories were assigned to an iteration during the release planning phase.
-->There was no ceremony or activity to close the iteration (no demonstration of completed functionality, no interim retrospective), the uncompleted tasks were just moved to the next iteration and the new iteration planning meeting commenced.
There was no learning in this process. Any mistakes made during one iteration were repeated during the next. Any lessons learned forgotten in the mad dash to grind out tasks.

The point of time boxing is to
  •  provide risk management 
  •  limit the amount of time consumed by a task.
  •  habituate the team to meet deadlines.
  •  prevent endless chasing of sunk costs.
None of these objectives were being met. 
They were continually starting but never finishing

Monday, September 27

Sticky Code

was working with though some legacy code when I discovered that the original coder had
  • avoided magic numbers by using Macros which was good
  • defined the Macros in multiple places which was bad
The Root Cause

I started asking myself "why" questions in order to discover the reasons behind this failure.

Question: Why has this duplication occurred?
Answer: The original location of the definition was poorly chosen and subsequent coders where reluctant to move the definition.

Question: Why were coders reluctant to move the definition?
Answer: Because to move code you need to delete it from its original location.

Question: Why are coders reluctant to delete code?
Answer: Either :-
  • they do not have source control
  • their source control software does not clean up after itself (files deleted in the repository are not delete in the workspace)
  • or they do not have decent code coverage.
The importance of moving definitions and implementation between different modules and libraries.
If code sticks to its original location and is not moved then over time you will find that you will get duplications or circular dependencies. Usually both.

Monday, July 26

The Art of the Question

What would you do if any question you could ask you would get an answer to?

Today we are closer that ever.

Any knowledge worker will admit how indispensable internet search is to their work. I have a suspicion that search is still under utilized.

As a programmer I have relied on search engines for a long time. In each project I work on their are new technologies, or API’s that I need to work with or neglected corners of old technologies that need to be used in different ways.

Lately the number of searches I do has risen dramatically. There is simply no excuse anymore to guess or remain ignorant about any information that is important to your decision making process.

Obviously it is still possible to spiral into analysis paralysis if you take this too far. However the length of time it takes to find an answer has shrunk so dramatically that it can not help change the rules of the game.

Asking the right question has long been recognized as important in the fields of critical thinking, skepticism and root cause analysis.

The last few years I have been relying increasing on e-books. Having your technical library on your USB thumbnail drive, Kindle or iPad makes a big difference to your workflow. Information becomes much more accessible. Our very relationship with information is changing.

This is what the information age and the internet has been promising and partially delivering for two decades. Back in the early days of the internet it seemed as if we had access to an enormous amount of information however when I compare what we could do with this information then with what we can do now, there is no comparison.

Thursday, March 11

Melbourne User Groups

T here is a lot going on in Melbourne at the moment with as many as seven different completing ICT related events on some nights.

A few years ago I started keeping a list of IT related events that I regularly attended on my team wiki as a way of encouraging coworkers to do more professional development.

Eventually I moved the list to my Google Calendar and this blog. People started emailing me details of events and groups, and the list rapidly expanded. You will find upcoming events and a list of user groups on the right hand side of the blog. The list of groups has become unwieldy, therefore I have sorted them into rough categories below.

  • Business Analysts

  • Cloud Computing

  • Computer Clubs for Specific Platforms

  • Database User Groups

  • Entrepreneurs

  • Hardware and Electronics

  • How to Improve your IT Job Search

  • IT Pro Groups

  • Web Design and Implementation

  • Women in IT

  • For more information about IT and entrepreneurial events in Melbourne subscribe to the Melbourne Edition of the Startup Digest curated by yours truly.

    I had a hell of a time trying to format this page using the so called wysiwyg editor. I finally gave up and edited the html by hand. Blogger kept on inserting extra lines at certain places.
    I was also getting blank anchors and strange indenting.