Wednesday, 25 February 2009
Steve McConnell has a training company, Construx, that is not like other training companies, mostly because Steve is not like other developers. As it says on his web site:
Steve is the author of Software Estimation: Demystifying the Black Art (2006), Code Complete (1993, 2004), Rapid Development (1996), Software Project Survival Guide (1998), and Professional Software Development (2004). His first two books won Software Development magazine's Jolt Excellence award for best programming books of their years.
Steve has worked in the desktop software industry since 1984 and has expertise in rapid development methodologies, project estimation, software construction practices, and third-party contract management. In 1998, readers of Software Development magazine named Steve one of the three most influential people in the software industry along with Bill Gates and Linus Torvalds. Steve was Editor in Chief of IEEE Software magazine from 1998-2002.
There are very few authors who have multiple books on my bookshelf that I paid for. Steve is in rare company there. And the courses they offer? We're not talking "Introduction to Silverlight" or "A First Look At Sharepoint" here. This stuff is more university-like: concepts, theory, the big picture. Some upcoming titles:
- Object-Oriented Requirements Analysis and Design Using the UML
- Professional Tester Boot Camp
- Enterprise Agile: Planning, Managing and Scaling Agile Projects Using Scrum
- Requirements Boot Camp
- Software Estimation in Depth
These are the kinds of courses that change the kind of developer you are, not just teach some new syntax or tool. And they cost thousands of dollars. But Steve has decided that fully one quarter of the seats in each class will now be available for free to people who have been laid off. If you can get to Bellevue WA, you should arrange to take one of these courses. No question about it.
Tuesday, 24 February 2009
Here's a list of ways to be a superstar at work, from GL Hoffman. It applies equally to a 19 year old close to me who's starting her first full time job, or to developers who want to work for me. The examples in the article are aimed at a 20-something working in an office full of older people, in a vaguely technical capacity, and is kinda Web 2.0 ish, but the principles are far broader than that. My two favourites: See Work and On Time. But read them all.
Monday, 23 February 2009
No, I'm not speaking metaphorically. Apparently in this day and age, on this continent, people are being held against their will, beaten and abused, and forced to work for little or no pay. There's no evidence of an actual slave trade, with people sold from one owner to another, or of babies being born into slavery, but nonetheless there are North American slaves today. Perhaps it's no surprise that the task they are set to, harvesting crops in the warmest parts of the USA, is what most of us have in our heads when we think about long-ago slavery on this continent.
This well researched article in Gourmet, and the articles to which it links, lay it all out. There is no dispute that at least some agricultural workers were in fact enslaved. The only issue is whether it's really common or an isolated incident. Here's a quote:
But when asked if it is reasonable to assume that an American who has eaten a fresh tomato from a grocery store or food-service company during the winter has eaten fruit picked by the hand of a slave, Molloy said, “It is not an assumption. It is a fact.”
Hm. Another reason to eat locally and seasonally. I do realize that our insistence on the lowest price for everything is one of the pressures that make abuses like this seem a reasonable course to some people. The article concludes with this suggestion if you, like me, like to buy tomatoes in the winter:
... take advantage of the fact that fruits and vegetables must be labeled with their country of origin. Most of the fresh tomatoes in supermarkets during winter months come from Florida, where labor conditions are dismal for field workers, or from Mexico, where they are worse, according to a CIW spokesman. One option during these months is to buy locally produced hydroponic greenhouse tomatoes, including cluster tomatoes still attached to the vine. Greenhouse tomatoes are also imported from Mexico, however, so check signage or consult the little stickers often seen on the fruits themselves to determine their source.
Sunday, 22 February 2009
If you've been to a big conference in the past few years you'll have seen the name David Platt on the speaker list, and usually scheduled into the big room. Dave's superbly entertaining speaking style delivers valuable information about user interface design and genuinely meeting the needs of the folks who use the systems you're developing.
Here's an interview with Dave recorded at Tech Ed, and on the Tech Ed Europe sessions page, if you click through to page 2, you can see the one hour version of his talk.
Since Dave mentions used car salesmen in his interview, I'll share a little joke with you. What's the difference between a computer salesman and a used car salesman? The used car salesman knows when he's lying to you.
Saturday, 21 February 2009
One of the major reasons to go to Tech Ed is to meet other people in the industry. Everyone says you get the best jobs, the best advice, the best learning opportunities if you happen to know a lot of people, and the way to know a lot of people is to meet people and talk to them. But haven't we all had trouble finding someone to speak to at conferences? I always seem to end up at a table of sysadmins who know more about PowerShell than would seem humanly possible, or some hardcore DBA types who spend the lunch swapping tales of index problems from hell. If they're having a really technical conversation that's over my head, that's a meeting opportunity come and gone.
Over the years Tech Ed has tried lots of ways to help people find like minded people to talk to. Once you're on site, there are Cabanas or Track Lounges or whatever they call the informal place from year to year. These are great. But what about in the months leading up to Tech Ed? This year, there's something called Tech Ed Connect. You enter some details about yourself and are shown a map where people with similar interests appear closer to you. Mouse over someone and you see their user name (looks like many people are using their name, or initials) possibly a picture, and some details.
(I had to put IE8 in compatibility mode to see the map, by the way.)
You also get a "quick connect" card that can help people find you using this site. Here's mine:
Give it a whirl!
Friday, 20 February 2009
Some time ago, I told you about an issue with the Tech Ed DVDs and Silverlight versions. I also gave you a workaround for how to play the sessions after looking up the session numbers in a PDF document that functioned as an index. Now Laurent Duveau, a Canadian MVP, has gone one better ... he's written a utility that will fix up the index on the DVDs so you can have an all-electronic experience. Nice work!
Thursday, 19 February 2009
Another Dan Griffin sample you might want to look at is the EC2 Console. I think his description from the first post in that category sums up his approach very nicely:
The purpose of the EC2 Console, like the other ones, is to demonstrate an attractive (WPF-based), novel, and useful application on Windows. In this case, we chose as our vehicle a helpful control panel for Windows developers who are new to cloud computing and would like to experiment with Windows Server, ASP.NET, and MS SQL on Amazon’s EC2 platform.
As it happens, Amazon already has an EC2 console (currently in Beta). But we’re going to differentiate ourselves from that in two ways. First, our EC2 Console will be specific to developers targetting Windows, and we can automate many administration tasks given that assumption. Second, our console (again, a WPF client app) will exhibit the kind of superior usability that is very difficult to achieve via the browser.
Client applications have many more advantages than just offline availability. Here's an application that's only useful when you're online, but is going to be a client application anyway. Follow along and see why.
Wednesday, 18 February 2009
Dan Griffin is working on some samples for client development and blogging his progress as he writes them. His SPOS sample combines workflow with access to local hardware (in this case, a fingerprint reader) to create an application where you could approve, say, purchase orders with a fingerprint swipe. It's a good example of the kind of application that is better as a local client application than something web-based and browser hosted.
He's created a Codeplex site where interim releases are appearing, and a blog category where you can follow his progress, read his musings on what fingerprint reader to buy, and so on. This is a sample designed for you to use in your own work, so follow along and see if it can help you.
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