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Showing posts from June, 2012

Geek and Ye Shall Find

If you aren't using automation to get you to a place where you can efficiently apply intelligence you're almost certainly wasting time and effort. Michael Bolton put it this way on Twitter last week :  I like ... using automation as a taxi to drop me off at the site of the real work. When we moved offices a couple of months ago Marketing updated the contact details in their collateral and then requested that we review the changed PDFs. Simple approaches to this task would include reading all of the documents from top to bottom, skimming them looking for addresses to check or using a PDF reader's search functionality in each document to look for likely mistakes.  All of these would have been slow, prone to error and without a good way to make efficiencies. What we actually did was automate, using command line tools to do the heavy lifting. First, we transformed the PDF files into a text format in which they could easily be searched as a set:  $ find . -name '

A Glass of Weinberg

So the Dev Manager  finally started his own blog . Obviously, I was more than happy to pour feedback on it but more than disappointed that there's no public bug tracker, so I had to content myself with exaggerated outrage and inflated prioritisations via email. Which just isn't the same. But, joking aside, we should offer up a toast to him for writing positively about Weinberg's Perfect Software in one of his first posts even if he misinterpreted my face when I passed him the book as hopeful. In fact it was merely reflecting my ennui, despair, frustration, coffee intake and thoughts of an impending holiday . Weinberg wants to know  about how his writing has affected people's lives and I'm anxiously awaiting developments here too. Image:  http://flic.kr/p/9V2bKU

Never Thought

Maybe I'm just an oversensitive, subtle and thoughtful kind of guy, or attuned to ambiguity, or unempathic, or unimaginative, or a git, or plain old-fashioned thick, but being precise and clear with language is a skill that I value highly and strive to achieve . With questions, I find that I'm unlikely to assume the context if it's not already present or given. So, for example, I probably would not have a simple answer to " should the product do X?" Are we discussing a version of the product in the field or the product in development? Is it my personal opinion you're after? My user-head opinion? If so what kind of user? Perhaps it's what the spec says or said once upon a time? Maybe X is a reasonable result under certain circumstances but not others? Are you implicitly telling me that the software does do X and you're not sure whether it's right? Or that you think it might be intended to do X, and it doesn't? Or asking whether we need X in

Slight of Hand

As the wartime slogan had it, careless talk costs much time in reimplementation and testing and ultimately late delivery of software that contains less than you wanted at a quality level of just-about-bearable and which will be followed immediately by a patch release, no two, no three patch, no four patch releases. It's incumbent on everyone in a development project to share knowledge efficiently by getting key points across economically. If you're not comprehensive, coherent, correct and concise, you risk other people missing your point because they never heard about it, couldn't follow it, didn't believe in it or lost interest in it, and that leads inexorably to extra costs. In that spirit, the meat  in this post is that you should endeavour be as open as possible, full in description and slight in length. When these are in conflict, strive to remove the need for fullness. If you must be full, then structure your content accordingly. Software teams are often