Entries Tagged 'Software Development' ↓

Keep your dogma leashed

If you look up dogma on wikipedia today, you’ll see this phrase as part of the definition: “It is not to be questioned.”  Software developers are at their core scientists, however, and scientists are defined by the fact that they ask questions.  So it should be obvious that there’s no room for dogma in your software group.  And yet, go down the hall to a few of your more senior developers and ask them about coding standards, development practices, or even IDE preference.  Good luck.

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Working in the moment

I’ve been thinking a bit more about the topic of my previous post (deadlines forcing decisions and focus), and comparing it to some other moments of high-energy, high-engagement, high-satisfaction productivity over the years.  I realized there was a factor I hadn’t really considered before, and that was the capacity of the task to force all participants to remain in the moment.

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In praise of deadlines

A pressing deadline is a powerful thing.  Without a deadline, ideas can drown each other competing for supremacy in a sea of data.  People use and abuse their own value functions to find fault with any possible approach.  But faced with a deadline, thinkers break out of analysis paralysis and become doers.  Of course, an unrealistic deadline just causes panic and sloppy work as people scramble to meet impossible goals and push themselves deep into technical debt.
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Peer to peer development

Sorry Napster fans, I’m talking about a different kind of P2P here … career development in a peer-driven context.

In nearly every group I’ve joined, some bright developers eventually banded together and decided they were frustrated at feeling out of touch with the industry.  The answer has always been some sort of peer-driven career development effort.  For example, back in the late 90s, I remember we set up a regular meeting which the entire Navisphere development organization was invited to.  Each week (or was it month?) a speaker would present on something new they had learned.  Occasionally, a guest speaker from another organization would present on something they were doing.  The speaking responsibility rotated among volunteers until we realized it was basically the same 3 people over and over again, and it fizzled out.

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Unnecessary Risks

“He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.” – Muhammad Ali

I’ve written in the past about how we need to embrace and even seek out risk at times.  Since I used American Football to discuss the topic before, I thought I’d continue the discussion with an example of poor risk management from this past weekend’s games.
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Working on something Cool

One of the common complaints you hear in Resource Management Software development is that you’re not working on anything Cool.  There’s just something pedestrian about writing software that (at its core) monitors hardware.  I mean, there are exceptions, some stuff that we do is really cool, but it’s seldom capital letters Really Cool, like, say, VMware.  Or video game development (which I imagine is fairly pedestrian in itself, but at least has an output which your average in-law can appreciate).

But yesterday I sat in on a meeting about something that is Pretty Cool, if not Really Cool.  And it’s not even software.
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Who owns this?

I’ve been involved in software development for over a decade, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this question: Who owns this code? Generally, if someone has to ask, it’s already a bad sign, but the real bad sign is what comes next.  “Oh, Bob used to own it, but he left the company, and then it was Kumar, but he transferred over to the other team, now I guess Sue could probably answer questions about it,” but nobody owns it.

Well, that last part is seldom verbalized, but it’s on everyone’s mind.
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More gameday advice: Get sacked!

In my continuing effort to add to the cluttered world of sports analogies in business conversations, today’s post covers a rather sensitive topic to this Tom Brady fan.  You want your quarterback to get sacked once in a while.
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StorageScope’s advice to Netflix

Netflix, the popular rent-movies-by-mail juggernaut, recently announced that a little-used feature called “Profiles” was going to be eliminated in September of this year (see commentary on this here).

I thought that it would be fun to give Netflix a little free advice about what can happen when you remove features from a software product. I was on a team that faced some of these issues (EMC ControlCenter StorageScope, in going from version 5.2 to 6.0).

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To Sun: I thought we were friends

I’ve attended three JavaOne conferences. I have Java T-shirts, little Java toys, notebooks, pens, pins, mugs, you name it. Books galore. Somewhere I have a picture of myself and several other EMC employees posing with the Java mascot, grinning stupidly. I’ve written more Java code than I care to remember, and evangelized it over the years to many audiences.

So why do I feel like I just got stood up on prom night?

Because I stopped and read the licenses, that’s why (or, technically, someone else read them, and clued me in).

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