Monthly Archives: October 2009

Agile Windows Programming: Big, Simple, Stupid

I’m a startup junkie. I use my free time to see if I can form teams to make something useful for folks. As part of that, I was talking to some guys this week about a new opportunity and one of them suggested that I write a mock-up UI to better demonstrate what we were talking about.

So I thought I’d just whip out C# and make something easy in WinForms.

Ugh.

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Traveling New Zealand’s South Island (pics)

After our glacier hike, we had a blast touring the New Zealand countryside on the way to Te Anau. On the way we did a lot of stuff — chased waves, climbed summits, ogled wonderful mountain lakes.

Mountain lake
This was the type of scenery we had for most of the day

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Review: Secrets of Consulting

Secrets of Consulting: A Guide to Giving and Getting Advice Successfully was an excellent “tech book” to take on vacation.

Sitting back and reading the book, I couldn’t help but nod and laugh many times. Gerald M. Weinberg, the author, has obviously been in the consulting business for a long time. He realizes that whether it’s legal, technical, or regulatory consulting, consulting is the same game: being able to give advice and take it well.

Where the last book was on establishing and growing trust, the intimate part of the relationship, Weinberg moves back a bit and talks about how to frame up relationships so that they are sucessful. His book is full of litte quips, which he calls “laws”

I enjoyed the book immensely. I wish I had read this book early in my career, but somehow I don’t think I would have believed much of what Weinberg has to say. You just have to live through some of these things to really see the truth here.

One of the things that struck close to home was the idea that you _must_ spend a portion of your week developing yourself professionally, whether writing articles, making contacts, speaking, etc, you can’t just “deep dive” on one client to the exclusion of your larger practice.

Good advice all around, and highly recommended for people who want to work on their consulting skills.

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Hacking Gravity

And you thought your apartment looked nerdy

As somebody who deals with changing complex systems, I love both science and pseudo-science.

Debugging and changing complex systems is all about science: you observe the system and find patterns, you make a hypothesis about the way the system is going to behave, and then you test it, learning as you repeat the process.

That’s fun, but pseudo-science is way more fun. Pseudo-science is when somebody just makes up some kind of reason for something and puts it in scientific-sounding garb. Pseudo-science is seeing something that happens randomly and can’t be reproduced, like a UFO, or a Blue-Screen Of Death in windows. Pseudo-science is when you reboot your sever on Saturday night “just because” — who knows? Maybe it’s happier getting rebooted every so often. Pseudo-science is when my wife calls me over to fix a problem on the computer she’s been wrestling with for two hours, only to have it go away the minute I sit down. Well, maybe that’s just luck, but when I say “glad to help! No bill this time” that’s pseudo-science.

Sometimes the story is better than anything else: good pseudo-scientific stories involve something that seems to have occurred, no “normal” reason for it occurring, and no way to make it occur again.

Which brings me to John Hutchison.

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Cairns Video

One of the interesting parts of my current vacation has been the way we’ve been sharing it with others. Whether it’s tweets, blogs, flickr, FaceBook, or YouTube, it looks like there are a zillion ways to tell people about stuff.

Something new that I’ve been playing around with since Agile 2009 is video. While I really love the video format (I’m a movie junkie), I’ve found that video is the hardest format yet to make into something consumable — probably because video is all around us and we’re such jaded consumers.

It’s also time-intensive: while 10 pictures might take an hour to process and upload, 10 minutes of video can easily take 2 or 3 hours for me, and then not come out so well. I’m almost beginning to think that to do video right you need to script everything, and that defeats the purpose of trying to share an event.

Having said all of that, I though I would share some video of one of our vacation days in Cairns, Australia.

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What’s Agile To You?

As a project manager, architect, developer, and coach, I’ve worked on a lot of agile teams. As part of that experience, it’s always fun to ask folks: “What does the word agile mean?”

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