Saturday, 28 August 2010

Week in review - 2010-34

Right now, I'm trying out EasyPeasy on my laptop - an Ubuntu Netbook based edition optimized for low power consumption and pre-installed with propriety codecs and software. I thought I'd try it out hoping to get more battery life, and also to take the netbook interface for a drive. I figure its got some attractive qualities - it differs in the way you access the system menus and opens applications full screen.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Week in Review - 2010-33

Know of any companies in Sydney that engage in REAL agile projects - properly? Let me know, I'm interested!

I had a javascript drop-down menu that youtube video interferred with - when the menu dropped down, the youtube object covered it! I found the answer here - http://geekswithblogs.net/steveclements/archive/2007/03/03/107839.aspx - where the solution is simple:
Add nested element to object tag:

  • <param name="wmode" value="transparent"/>


And attribute to embed tag:

  • wmode="transparent"



Spending too much time travelling to and from work makes me appreciate the idea of telecommuting. I've noticed that Canonical (Ubuntu) advertises home based jobs, but all companies I know are strongly against it - and although they don't advertise the fact, it is an unspoken policy. Right now, I probably don't have the best home for accommodating telecommunting, but I did come across the OfficePod the other day - a brilliant idea, your office in your back yard!

The first thing that springs to mind is that telecommuting wouldn't fit into an agile environment - and I definitely want to work on agile projects as opposed to the alternative. But, I am dismayed by the low number of positions on the market that are truly agile - most of them are using the buzz words, but IMHO failing to embrace the spirit and implement properly:

  • meetings where you can't sit down (failing to appreciate the real goals of standups)

  • builds every 2 weeks (iterations - but without prioritizing, user stories and customer representatives - just 'time to do a build!')

  • test team completely separate (throw it over the wall to them and wait for the defects to come back - have a read of this)

  • development team using junit but writing the wrong tests (brittle, don't add value, and eventually just ignored


So, if I'm not going to work on a project where close personal collaboration is going to happen, why not telecommute? Or at least travel to a very close serviced office - and let technology take care of the collaboration (video conference like they do in the movies etc). Perhaps that would alleviate some of the strain on the transport infrastructure!

Interesting web sites:

Bugs encountered:

Monday, 9 August 2010

Week in Review – 2010-31

I've noticed a bunch of websites that just don't pay any attention to detail. Little things:

  • banking sites that don't remember your settings (i.e. for exporting statements) and you have to set them every time you export, for every account

  • log forms you fill it to register, and when you fail validation (like getting the CAPTCHA wrong), some parts of your form are now blank and you have to fill them in again (or you get to the bottom where they ask you to accept the terms and conditions, and when you view them it navigates away from the form you are on)

  • paying for things online is still very difficult! It took me almost an hour to pay for an extension I bought the other day - very confusing paypal process, which I haven't fully researched to know what is going on


Maybe these are symptoms of trying to do too much - and never doing anything very well? The banking site in question never seems to change, so perhaps they just aren't in a position where they can make small incremental improvements? Still on the big bang approach? The Minimum Feature Set is an interesting concept.

I came across a blog post about Performance Punishing via twitter this week. I've seen this at every place I've worked! If you highlight issues, identify work needed, present problems, you are always expected to work on it yourself - you found it, you fix it! One thing I like about Agile is the way it fosters teamwork, and team ownership of all aspects of the project. This spreads the load, results in less 'heroism' and obviously creates a better environment.

The Ubuntu Stackexchange Question and Answer site is now available to the public! Check it out for some useful Ubuntu information.

Bugs encountered:

  • Joomla 1.5 password reset token issue caused by some themes - http://docs.joomla.org/Confirm_password_in_1.5.16

  • I've found several Joomla extensions rely on their own javascript - but for some reason my theme isn't including them. I've just manually updated the html template in the theme to link to the javascript for now.


Bing has finally updated its index! See http://www.bing.com/search?q=exmount.com and http://www.bing.com/search?q=pmw-ex3+shoulder+mount - it must be at least a month behind Google and Yahoo, but it gets there.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Week in Review - 2010-30

Looking for some icons? Check out the fantastic work available @ webtoolkit4.me - there are some really good icon sets.

I'm always trying to find better ways of doing things and find incredible resistance to even the simplest of improvements - things that I would consider no-brainers end up subjected to business cases and long winded "evaluations of all the options". Well, the Pragmatic Programmers have released a book that might be exactly what I need:
Driving Technical Change

"Finding cool languages, tools, or development techniques is easy—new ones are popping up every day. Convincing co-workers to adopt them is the hard part. The problem is political, and in political fights, logic doesn’t win for logic’s sake. Hard evidence of a superior solution is not enough. But that reality can be tough for programmers to overcome."

Myself and a co-worker have a keen interest in developing our agile skills, and would also like to infect the rest of the team with our enthusiasm. So, we've held our first of what we hope to be regular lunch-time (couldn't possibly use company time for skills improvement) brown bag sessions - the first being "A practical application of TDD". It mostly went well, but as always people got distracted from the primary goal (TDD) by other secondary topics such as requirements. I've tried exactly this type of thing before, but never had an audience that is particularly interested. Lets see how well it works this time.

The next session we have planned is to watch awesome Kent Beck in his TDD screencasts. Perhaps we should have started with this one, instead of  trying to introduce a practical application myself. I found a review of the screen casts here: http://odoe.net/blog/?p=87 - Big thanks to Kent Beck for JUnit, Extreme ProgrammingTest Driven Development and more.

I also have to give a shout out to Area51! This is awesome - a place where you can propose, commit, and beta test a version of StackOverflow aimed at a niche market - and not necessarily programming related. You can propose a topic, and when enough people have committed to ensure it will thrive, it will be available for public beta - where we can all participate. Current topics include cooking, photography, maths etc. StackOverflow made Q&A much better than the norm, and having a place where the Q&A can branch out cover other topics is fantastic. I like the way these guys think - even the way they enable new sites/topics is different.