Thursday, April 30, 2009

Friday, April 3, 2009

John Wooden: Coaching for people, not points

I came across this really interesting talk by John Wooden about his coaching career and the measurement of success. Although the focus is basketball it is remarkable how many thoughts have relevance to other walks and works of life.

"Success is peace of mind attained only through self-satisfaction in knowing that you made the effort to do the best of which you are capable."

View the talk on TED

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Think about change

Over the last few years I have noticed a growing trend in software developers to constrain their thinking to static models.

Static thinking is a great way of envisioning a system and we have many tools to support modelling systems in this way - class, deployment, network diagrams all fall into this category. But all these models are about a single state of the system - either historical, real (current) or imaginary (future).

However many projects involve more difficult thinking. Typically these difficulties involve moving from one state to another and the most complex of these is migrating from one version of a system to another.

It is at this point that I struggle to find an effective model that captures this transition. How do we model and capture the upgrade of a database, application and infrastructure requirements. And further these transitions occur at different times and are typically not instantaneous which can mean that the service is not available. How do we model this sequence of events so we can understand the effect of our evolving software design on the rolling out the new software.

Quite often these rollout plans are written down (impact analysis, rollout network models, sequence diagrams, flow charts) and held in the minds of the project team. But these models are not easily tested. Organisations with a significant investment in their live environment often struggle to replicate that environment to allow the model and plans to be tested before hitting the production environment.

I think finding an effective tool to model and execute software updates will be one of the key challenges for this decade - as it has for the last two.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Macs on trains

On my current project I am travelling more that usual, mostly by train between London and the North West. The journey time is pretty manageable and the service (so far this year) has been pretty good leaving and arriving on time.

The thing that struck me today was the number of Macs in coach B. Of the 10 computers in used well over half were macs. I remember some time ago that macs were a rarity for train travellers but no more. Ok most of them were MacBooks and not the shiny new aluminium ones but the trend was quite startling.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Designful Company

The Designful Company by Marty Neumeier

I have to confess that when it comes to reading books related to work I have a short attention span. For technical books I tend to skim through the text and examples until I get a 'feel' for the content. Most of the time this is sufficient, after all if I need more details I can come back to the book and dig into them. The most important thing for me is to have a high level view of the technology and to know were to get more information.

So when it came to reading 'The Designful Company' by Marty Neumeier I kicked off with my usual skimming approach - but quickly found myself changing tack and putting my novel hat on - reading every word!

Quoting Thomas Aquinas "Ad pulcritudenum tria requiruntur integritas, consonantia, claritas". Design requires 3 qualities

  • integrity

  • harmoney

  • radiance

Reading this I was struck by the thought that these are the things I am looking for in the architecture and design of a software system.

In fact many of the ideas presented by the book (intended for a wide variety of companies) resonate with current agile software development trends.

The bit on agility (p21) brought a smile to my face

'The Designful Company' is an easy thought provoking read. Presenting a strong argument for corporate adoption of design to drive growth in the 21 century.

Given my reading habbits it also helps that the book is small and layed out well with large print.

It may be just me but I am seeing a convergence in thinking across many different disciplines - or maybe software development practitioners are still learning from others.