In web and software development we all know what it’s like to finish a project and have it leave a bad taste with either your team or your stakeholders. Often left with thoughts of “if we’d just had time to slip that last feature in”, “I wish we’d understood that requirement earlier. or even worse “I wish we’d given that more testing time”. The problem is that as humans we’re incredibly good at this kind of thinking, but by using Agile processes to change this thinking both your development team and stakeholders alike will be a much happier bunch.
The past year has been a crazier year than most for me. I moved jobs to working in publishing where I've created a new thriving user group within the very company (post to come soon), launched the most awesome way for ASP.Net web developers to deploy their sites and generally loved being a developer for another 365 days. Our jobs are made so much easier by the online contributions of others, and moving into another year we get a chance to give something back.
Offshoring – the business consultant's best friend. It's often used as "the grass is greener" answer to many large software development team's senior management. After seeing this sold in some way at nearly every role I've had for the last 10 years, the one question I don't often see asked alongside is what problem this solves and if there's other answers. Like many legitimate leadership questions this is overlooked not because managers are unintelligent, but because it's often a hard question to answer. Digging deeper delivers answers that can save a lot of time, stress and money.
Today starts this year's Microsoft TechEd conference up on the sunny Queensland Gold Coast and I'm lucky enough to be up here for the week watching many top Australian and international developers and IT professionals working on the Microsoft stack, hacking on new frameworks and tooling, and perusing product wares. This is my second year at TechEd and I'm looking forward to more of the same awesome everything that we saw last year.
Windows 8 comes with some pretty awesome new toys, one of these for me is the Music app. As a Windows phone user for many years now I’ve fallen in love with the all-you-can-eat music subscription service that Microsoft has on offer. Sadly for me when I installed Windows 8 the app simply crashed every time I tried to play music. I searched for months and months, and now have the answer – in the hope that I save someone else the heart ache I’m happy to share what I discovered.
For the last 15 odd years we have continually expanded the amount of information available at our finger tips year on year exponentially. Thank you Internet for all your glorious contributions to our lives. Only recently has staying connected to the internet on a Mobile really started to take this to a level where I can truly say that I really am "connected on the go" and as far as technological achievements go that is a pretty amazing achievement to witness in our lifetimes.
We’ve all been guilty of it in our development careers at one time or another. When starting out using a language or framework that you’ve never used before you often have no choice but to. What I’m talking about is the act of “copy paste coding”, and it’s as common in the programming world as chewing gum under seats. When you copy and paste other developer’s code into your application it’s important to fully understand what the code does before you continue; or risk joining the many fools that have gone before you.
Today marks the official start to Microsoft’s TechEd Australia Conference on the sunny Queensland Gold Coast. With over 4 days of talks, product launch education, hands-on labs along with device and software manufacturers spruiking their wares, it is sure to be a great week – if you are around shoot me a tweet so that we can try and cross paths during the week.
In the IT industry employees experience a weird phenomenon once they begin to move up the ranks. You often start work in IT because you get to build stuff, monitor things, and watch your creations grow. The weirdest thing about this is that in our industry to step up in your career you often have to actually stop producing things. To move into management put down the tools, and loosen your grip on what you love.
Next Saturday at 9am sharp, I will be first cab off the rank in the developer skills stream at DDD Sydney presenting my talk “A few things developers should know about the internet (but probably don’t)”. I’d love for you to come along and say hello on the day, so if you haven’t already bought tickets, please do from the link above. Sydney has many conferences throughout the year, but few are as straight talking as DDD, with a good range of subjects on not only the Microsoft stack, but general web and development as well – not only how Microsoft would recommend it, but the very people who’ve been in the trenches with you.
No matter what your chosen career path society places constraints on what is an acceptable amount of interest you are allowed to show to a subject before you become *weird*. People working in IT face this more than most. In my life I have known a lot of really smart people,who are obviously in love with what they are doing, not sharing their excitement with others for fear of being thought of as uncool. However crazy this sounds from the outside one thing is true; they are holding themselves back from success.
The "www." prefix in a website's address was originally thought up by Tim Berners-Lee (The creator of the interwebs) to help us differentiate between a website’s address and that of a mail server, FTP, or Gopher server (remember those kiddies?). The world has moved on from gopher servers and the like, but for different reasons has continued using this prefix without much purpose or reason. In the last few years many people have commented on their religious decision either way to support or ditch it. I put it to you: do you www. or not?
I’ve written about local conferences a few times before, but DDD Sydney is one of my favourites. There are few conferences that are so “For Us By Us” as DDD Sydney as it’s organised by Lewis Benge and contributed to by a whole swath of the local developer community from a number of different user groups, so it’s a great place to come down and meet a number of your local devs, learn something new or take part in the discussions – and for $25 it’s one of the cheapest conference tickets around!
Part of my job is hiring people to build websites for advertising clients. Most of the things that we build don’t compete with brain surgery for complexity, but as anyone knows when working in software, having skilled people working on simple problems often leads to scalable, well built solutions – I hire accordingly. The problem is how do you define "skilled" and does it even have meaning in software out of the context of a company’s needs?
As Software Developers, our passion can sometimes be all encompassing. You can find a new language or framework and something inside you lights a spark and the obsession begins – it’s part of what makes a great scientist, developer, engineer or doctor. It can also be a part of what drives people insane. Recently I've wondered where the line is, when its time to back off, or even if you should.
Just a quick note for today: Early next month I will be attending DDD Sydney at UTS Sydney on the 2nd and 3rd July, and would like to invite you to do the same. If you are a .Net developer who is interested in one of the best priced conferences for people in your industry, this event is just for you.
Web Creatives like Black. There is no denying it. Every where i have worked where a graphic designer has had involvement in the creative process of a website, black has always been an early option. Nearly any text you throw on this magical colour will have bad readability in comparison to a dark-on-light approach, and yet designers keep plugging away… Maybe its got something to do with the tools they are creating these designs with; The Apple iMac.
Writing quality software for clients is difficult at the best of times. Planning a timeline, planning resources and making sure you have the skills to complete the job, along with a myriad of other things to worry about – If your company is a solution provider, not an integrator (a digital agency) you also have to factor in the end result, and expected return that the client will even get out of the project (the end game) before you even start. So the question is, with so many things that require careful planning, why do software development timelines always appear to carry less weight with management than projects in other mediums?
So tomorrow is my last day at Alpha Salmon. I am moving on to new and exciting things, at a new workplace, and felt a blog post was in order. The decision to leave was not an easy one. I enjoy my work and all of the pluses it delivers such as boozy Friday afternoons at the work bar (they have an open bar in the building – win). I walk to work, so adding a commute will drastically change my daily life/amount of sleep as well. I have stayed here long enough that i am starting to become a grey hair member of the staff. Management has given me great flexibility to implement change, and i really enjoy(ed) the opportunities they gave me.
The past 6 months started out as looking like yet another elected Communications Minister of our great island nation was simply out of touch with his portfolio. However things have started to take a sinister turn with the recent direction our elected leaders have started to take in relation to how we consume the internet in Australia – and i honestly believe they think they are making the right move. This is BAD.
So about a month ago, i thought I'd make the fickle decision to add advertising to my blog. A tricky decision for a personal site owner to make at the best of times. Lucky for me there was a relatively new player in town that has made it their business to cater to a very niche market better than the big boys.
My day-to-day job is always interesting to say the least. I work in an “Agency” atmosphere, where catch phrases, high budgets, high hopes and a lot of other hoo-hah take place on a daily basis. I am, however, a realist. I would prefer you to drop the f-bomb in a meeting if it meant the difference between clarity and shades of grey. It is because of this, that i am constantly mystified by a lot of my fellow agency brethren’s conversations when it comes to the topics of emerging media and the social media space in general. How much bullshit can these people spew before the world wakes up?
So we've all read posts like these probably a million times. I've recently been getting close to burn out in my current position, as we have had incredible amounts of work on. These are the things that I have found helped me. You may find variations on the theme but I thought it was important to get the conversation started, so that if anyone out there is feeling the same way i was, and is looking for potential answers, I'd be able to give them some ideas.
Mountain View must be starting to worry more about applying to it’s “Don’t be evil” mantra, by releasing a new web application security testing tool that has been under development internally. SkipFish is its name, and its sure to add another tool to your developer toolbox. On the flip side, this tool will definitely also pop up on the radar of the very people its trying to stop;
When Chrome was first launched by Google, and the media found out about it, they proposed that Google had Microsoft firmly in it’s sights and was potentially about to start a new browser war, i beg to differ in my opinion on this. Internet Explorer has one major advantage that no other browser has, and for the near future at least, will continue to have: locked in marketshare in enterprise and all new copies of Windows. Internet Explorer will never be crushed. No matter how crap Internet Explorer becomes, it has the (some may say unfair, but i believe that’s life) advantage of already being installed 90% of the time. So who should really be afraid of Chrome spreading its wings? Apple and Mozilla and if you still care: Opera.
For those of you kiddies loving you Windows 7 goodness you may have discovered that from a web development point of view having an Internet Explorer 6 installation without much hassle is a pretty cool thing. Although the fact that you have to launch Windows Xp mode up and can’t use it as a “native” application by launching it from within Windows 7 is a bit of a let down. Let’s fix that :)
Today i was reading a post by Rob Conery in which he discussed both his thoughts on developer productivity in relation to the creation of a new OS project (ASP MVP), and how he may have thought that in some instances hiding behind WebForms and not touching MVC was really just laziness or ignorance mistaken for productivity. Additionally i also read another post by Scott Bellware in which talks about a similar subject, in that developer productivity when viewed in isolation, is really a myth.
Today i was reading an article on the Sydney Morning Herald website by one of their travel bloggers. In it they asked the question “Have you noticed that backpackers tend to talk about the same things to world over?” and it got me thinking something that i used to think quite a bit: “Are most conversations that people have the same ones everyday?”. A lot of developers I've worked with definitely fit this statement.
There are times when you want to read a text file that is in use – or as i have had many times, code you have recently execute hasn’t fully let go of the file when you go to read it – when you copy something to a directory and the AV scans it or any other times when you want a file’s contents but don't want to have to worry about locks.
It’s official kids, November, the month of the moustache, is going to be my month of the moustache as well. I am taking part in the fundraising event known as Movember (http://au.movember.com/) in which i will rejoice in the god given right of growing a porn star moustache. Movember is an international cause to raise money and awareness for Prostate Cancer and Male Depression. Time to get involved!
I was recently read a blog post recently by Eric Spiegel, that made it to Slashdot where he asked the question: “Are software developers naturally weird?”. I think deep down everyone who works in IT is a bit weird, and i will repeat Eric’s remark: “Go on admit it”. Whether it is something tiny or their complete character, you can usually put your finger on something out of the ordinary. My REAL question is: Is everyone weird in some way once you get close to them?
I recently took Rob Conery of SubSonic fame’s advice and decided it was time to be a good Jedi and build my own blog engine – on a side note: If you haven’t jumped in and at the very least tried Subsonic well… “friendship over”, not much else i can say. Obviously if you want to write a blog engine, there is no better way than to create your own blog using it – So here goes!