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Showing posts from 2012

Judging Code

Sam Stephenson of 37 Signals wrote this post on December 13th, 2012 - You Are Not Your Code.

I didn't realize he was one of the authors of the Prototype framework or even that he worked at 37 signals (until the bottom of the post). The other point I wanted to make is that I don't think this is specific to "open-source" work either.

"Developers working together to build shared infrastructure: it’s the fundamental tenet of open-source software. Any motivated programmer with an idea and the ability to implement it can solve a common problem, share the solution with the world, and reap the rewards of future improvements by peer review."

It's not just open-source software - it's ANY software. Every product or project you work on typically involves working together, even if it's by simply pitting your own crazy ideas against each other. You solve a problem and then you get reviewed, whether it be by peers, superiors or, far worse, the purchasing publi…

A Quick Plug: Whitey Board

Yes, it's a very politically incorrect name but Whitey Board is AWESOME!!!

I purchased two because the office where I'm currently working doesn't give consultants their own white board (and meeting rooms are hard to find).  Who uses white boards anymore? After seeing supposed consultants and business analysts struggle using a SmartBoard or any of those other intelligent white boards AND getting tired of deciphering things on a smaller screen, I needed something anyone could use and didn't need to sit around a computer screen to look at it.

Bonus #1: INEXPENSIVE (24$ - I bought two 2x3)

It came in rolled up tubes and stuck onto the nearby wall in minutes.

Bonus #2: Super easy to put up anywhere

You can unstick and re-stick it anywhere.

Bonus #3: Roll it up and take it with you

If you're looking for a solution for discussing ideas in a group, check it out.

Of course, there are some downsides:

1. The provided dry-erase pen is useless. Buy some better ones.

2. Because it…

Always Be Releasing: one week iterations

In reviewing older posts, I came across this little gem that had never been posted but is always particularly relevant to development today. I posted a more thorough outline on my process blog. http://intridea.com/posts/always-be-releasing It's a short post but hits on a key point for developers and anyone involved in a project that seems to be going on and on: I burn out when I'm not releasing. One of my clients recently started one week iterations. If you're feeling burnt out, take a step back and think about something you can release this week. I was asked "do I feel the one week is too short a time?" Surprisingly, I said No. The one week iteration ensures there are no "beware the man in a dark room" syndrome but it also allows for very little time for re-design and refactoring. Programmers that like to tinker and sit back and re-design over and over again really don't work well in this one week iteration process. it's not "w…

Make 99% Invisible Visible

I mentioned 99% invisible on my last FoxShow - it's a fascinating and amazing show, talking about design, typically in architecture. For those who build software, what IS interesting is how design impacts a variety of things. Subtle things, like how if you close your eyes, a lane change feels like a 90% degree turn or just a quick flick of the wrist. Or how four uber-creative guys decided to ensure certain words were ensconced in metal. Or even more fun, what really should happen when patent-violators go bad.

However, more to the point, 99% Invisible is on KickStarter, a web site to help businesses or groups fund things through the crowd. The show started looking for some money to help broaden its scope so it can do more shows. But they hit that target almost instantly. Now they are trying to do something  a little more fun ---- reach 5,000 "backers". They're almost there (4,600 at this writing) with 4 days to go.

You don't have to give a lot of money --- in fact…

Talking Lianja with Barry and Hank

Last month, I had the opportunity to talk with Barry Mavin and Hank Fay about Lianja, Barry's new tool for building a single application for Desktop (Windows, Mac and Linux),  Web and Mobile.

It's based on QT but what Barry has done is pretty damn incredible - a full development platform where  you can code in Python, PHP, Javascript and yes, FoxPro. So you're not just cross-platform in terms of OS but you're also cross-language. You can even mix code so one part can be written in JavaScript while another can be written in VFP. And Yes, it is eXtensible.

The FoxShow Episode is now available.

Learning from Kent Beck

Here's a great post that I'm sure others have seen and posted. Three guys had the opportunity to do some prototyping with Kent Beck, the creator of TDD and thankfully, one of them, , documented it. I haven't ready Kent's implementation patterns book

The entire post is very long and detailed but I wanted to post some key takeaways as they apply to pretty much any project.

Make your code readable.  "Code is primarily means of communication."



KISS. "Apply simplicity at all levels."

Flexibility "Programs should be flexible in the ways they change, they should make common changes easy or at least easier. "

Approaches to coding. When thinking about Agile, people start creating sprints of 2 weeks or less. When prototyping, an even quicker sprint came up - "what would be the demo we would like to show at the end of the day. And his next question was what test to write."

Write tests that test needed functionality, at a high or u…

Awesome Tech Conference + Tablet = Great Reason to Register

Doug Hennig and Rick Schummer just posted about Southwest Fox's new registration incentive. Pre-register before July 1st, and you may win a Samsung Galaxy, iPad or Kindle Fire - something to suit your needs whether you be an Android, iOS or just an avid reader.

With pre-registration, you also get a pre/post con and a chance for $150 scholarship or Stonefield Query . Last year, there weren't a lot of pre-July 1 registrations so the chances of winning are HUGE!!!

As an aside, one of the sponsors of SW Fox is Lianja and I recently had an opportunity to talk with its founder and will be sharing that interview on the FoxShow later this week.

Article: Failure and Rescue

Failure and Rescue
http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/newsdesk/2012/06/atul-gawande-failure-and-rescue.html

Sent via Flipboard, your social magazine for iPad and iPhone.



Sent from my iPhone

Article: For the Single Founder Who Can’t Code

For the Single Founder Who Can't Code
http://techcrunch.com/2012/06/03/for-the-single-founder-who-cant-code/

Sent via Flipboard, your social magazine for iPad and iPhone.



Sent from my iPhone

Bit by a 7 year old Internet Explorer bug, er, feature

I arrived on the client's floor and didn't even have a chance to walk into the office.
"Stop everything - we need to solve this problem"

Sounds serious.

After deploying an existing ASP.Net application to a new server, a basic run-through test is typically done, making sure that everything is working. This time, however, nothing would work. The site would load, but as soon as the user did anything, it would return them to the launch page. We tried a different site and it worked fine. So it must be the configuration of IIS --- that was the general consensus.

What was happening was that the session variables used in the application were simply not being registered. So if you issued a Session("Variable") = "Andrew", it didn't error out but it also didn't set the variable.

But it wasn't. The kicker came when we installed Chrome and tried the site - it worked fine!
Now, I'm a big fan of browsers but I don't think the solution to a pr…

H600 Wireless Headphones Gotcha

Just a note on the Logitech H600 found from eHow but the comment was buried and only available via the Google Cache so I thought I would repost it here.

I'm using an H600 with a MacBook Pro. It stopped charging and I didn't know why. I came across this gem:

Headline:
My Logitech Headset 350 Won't Work | eHow.com
hadtrouble with myh600logitechheadsetnotcharging. I just got a steady orange light. I couldn't find much help online but what I did do was unplug myheadset turned the computer off for about 5 mins and even unplugged the computer. I tuened it back on , plugged in myheadset and viola! it started to blink slowly and is now charging. I hope this helps someone else.

So I took the USB wire out , tried it on a AC charger (didn't work) but then went down and plugged it into my PC - it started recharging as expected.

I'll update this to see if it completely dies again. I hope not - I've been having terrible luck with all my wireless headsets (Blueant died, P…

A Solution's Perspective

There's an age-old image of project management that looks something like this:


And there have been various adaptations of it --- one I found recently (and appreciated) is this one from Jan Tielens:

What is the actual process that a "solution" goes through? The client dreams up an idea or has a problem that needs to be solved. They attempt to describe it to someone who then attempts to build it. At the risk of anthropomorphizing a concept like a solution:

The Birth: Wow...now this is more like it. I'm not just a little thought in someone's head anymore - I'm going to be great. I'm going to solve the world. Now I just have to figure out...

The Terrible Twos: OK...I can go a variety of ways - I just need to focus on what I want to do. What?!? Who are you? Oh...I have to do it this way....no wait, now who are you?!? This way instead? Argh!!!

Primary School: So I have to do this so I can really be what I want to be. That sucks. I guess you know better - you…

Using Gmail? - you NEED this

If you are using gMail and ever wondered what your usage is really like, check out gMail Meter.

What does this do? Well, it may help you change your email habits by showing your patterns.

The link from LifeHacker is here

You create a new spreadsheet in Google Docs, name it Gmail Meter and then run a script from the Script Gallery.


Then let the script run. It can take a while to run but you can just let it go, it will send you an email when it's done with all of the stats. What kind of stats? Here's just a smattering of the stats:




Very cool!

Southwest Fox 2012 is two conferences in one!

A new year  - a new Southwest Fox!!


Save the dates for Southwest Fox and Southwest Xbase++ 2012! The conferences take place October 18-21, 2012. This year we have two conferences as one great event at the same location. Southwest Fox has always served Visual FoxPro developers an opportunity to learn and extend their skills, and network with fellow developers. Alaska Software is working on PolarFox, a product that keeps the Visual FoxPro language alive in their next generation tool. 

Southwest Fox - Home

Why FoxPro Matters: Development

Every developer has a starting point. It isn't necessarily the first time they wrote a line of code or the first computer they worked with. Rather, it's the first time they "got" it - the first time, they were able to put the separate pieces (the data, the code, the interface, the entire experience) together, not just for a client but for themselves as well. It's the light-switch moment - the kindling of the passion. Some developers write code their entire life but never find a connection to data. Others become pure DBAs - they don't write application code; but rather focus on how the database interacts with others. But most applications rely on the convergence of the two, the content and the delivery, to create the final solution.

When I meet a developer for the first time, I usually ask what they like to work with, what part of the development process gets their juices flowing. This helps me identify the best method of optimizing their strengths. There are …

VFP ODBC Drivers - Argh

Looking for VFP ODBC Drivers can be a pain. I know they are only VFP 6 (talk about old) compatible but when you need to connect to VFP tables via ODBC, you need to find them, which can turn into an exercise in frustration. The Microsoft site itself says they aren't available and in fact, the only one you can find is included in an MSM (Merge Module) that needs a setup to distribute them.

So once I found the MSM file for it, I created a setup for this (with some install notes for accessing it) which is available here.

Microsoft may not care too much about VFP Developers any more, but there are enough of us out there to do so.