Saturday, January 30, 2010

How Much Is User Experience Valued In Your Business?

The last cartoon made me think about an old favourite of mine.  How many times has this happened in your projects.........

No You May Not Outsource Your Homework To India

Came across this today and it made me chuckle so that I'd share....

Thursday, January 28, 2010

How Testing Should Be!

I came across the following post by Sam Danes which I think is a great summary of how testing should be.

"I think the next level in test automation is to combine logically with a test engineer's skill set. The traditional "I don't code" testers are becoming less and less needed as the bulk of a testing team.

Automation moves hand in hand with proper white box testing, building stubs, harnesses, emulators that are capable of testing each component in a system in isolation are a near required component of white box testing.

Testing needs to take the step it always should have in the first place where the bulk of your testing team are actually capable of building the product they are testing. You will find far more defects far earlier in the development process by practicing proper white box testing and building good performance tools than you ever will with traditional black box and UI testing.

If you look at most traditional software house testers, even though the may be highly skilled at black box testing, they are mostly not capable of writing their own applications or understanding the full SDLC. In essence testing has always been looked down upon as a "less skilled" discipline than software development. In essence if you had a heirarchy of engineers by skill alone most places would put developers above testers in level of and needs of skills.

If you look towards software companies like Microsoft or Google, testing is actually the opposite. It is harder and more complex in many ways to be a tester (most often refered as something like a Software Engineer in Test) than it is to be a developer. To be a tester you need to be able to do all the things a good developer can do PLUS be able to understand and conduct testing.

You can in fact accomplish a lot with the traditional mostly black box test teams but if testing -- and by proxy automation -- are to take the next logical step test engineers in general need to evolve along with the tools they use.

A fully functioning, deeply technical test team, capable of everything from sitting in on code reviews, to true white box testing, to writing and maintaining the myriad of tools and testing applications in a modern organization on top of understanding and implementing good test practices can bring tremendous added value to the overal SDLC."

Verizon 100Gbps Backbone Link From Paris To Frankfurt

On Monday (Dec. 14) Verizon became the first telecommunications carrier to successfully deploy a commercial 100G (gigabits per second) ultra-long-haul optical system for live traffic. This system was deployed on the company's European optical core network between Paris and Frankfurt. The accomplishment marks the first time for deployment of ultra-long-haul 100G using a single channel on a production network.

"This latest 100G-first gives Verizon the edge in meeting the growing bandwidth demands of our customers," said Mark Wegleitner, senior vice president of technology at Verizon. "By consolidating traffic onto one large pipe rather than several smaller ones, customers will benefit from increased network capacity, improved transmission quality and greater network efficiencies."

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Agile Is Now Mainstream In Large Organisations According To Forrester

In a recent report Forrester acknowledge agile as mainstream. "In the past few years, Agile processes have not only gained increasing adoption levels; they have also rapidly joined the mainstream of development approaches. And while more organizations are adapting to Agile conventions, Agile is also adapting to the workplace. Perhaps the clearest sign of the mainstreaming of Agile is the abandonment of orthodoxy: Teams are puzzling out the mix of methodologies and combining them to fit within their organizational realities, blending Agile and non-Agile techniques and practices to create a hybrid methodology that fits larger organizations. Other changes, such as new team dynamics and the redefinition of roles such as the business analyst, show the genuine force behind Agile adoption. It's time for software development professionals to stop sitting on the fence where Agile is concerned. According to those who have successfully adopted Agile, the benefits are well worth the effort, and with the recent dramatic increase in Agile adoption, the probability of working in or with an Agile team has increased for everyone."

Sunday, January 17, 2010

8 Minute Video Overview Of SCRUM

A really useful 8 minute video overview of SCRUM by Hamid Shoajee of Axosoft for those who would like to know a little more.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

A Tongue In Cheek Look At The 8 IT Personality Types : See How Many You Recognise, Very Funny

IT personality type No. 1: The Empty Suit
Job title(s): Department manager, business analyst
Profile: Hired to be a liaison between top-level management and the techies -- with whom top-level management, or anyone on the business side, would rather not deal directly. Acts as a go-between during client visits to keep the geeks at a safe distance. Has memorized most of the important acronyms and mastered the art of nodding knowingly in meetings and then surfing Wikipedia afterward to find out what everyone was talking about. May possess an MBA from a dubious online university.
"This guy may not be the most detailed thinker, but he's the most popular guy on the team -- and he would agree," says Tim Jewell, CTO at Data Deposit Box, which provides online backup services for SMBs. "If you're looking for some fun, ask him a complex technical question and watch him wiggle around the room. Despite this, he's the only one who can talk to customers because he has verbal ability and may actually care about what the end-user has to say."
Despite making him the butt of inside tech jokes, the geeks at times flock to him because he's the only one in the department with a remote chance of picking up chicks, Jewell adds.
  • Hobbies: Picking up chicks
  • Last book read: "The ClueTrain Manifesto" (Cliff Notes only)
  • Greatest accomplishment: Consistently losing at golf to the C-level executives, despite possessing a single-digit handicap
  • Identifying marks: Cheap knockoffs of Brooks Brothers suits
  • Role model: Michael Dell
  • Most resembles: Michael Scott (Steve Carrell) in "The Office"

IT personality type No. 2: The Scary Sys Admin
Job title(s): Network administrator, database administrator
Profile: Your company can't run without him -- and he knows it. Fortunately, he likes dealing with machines far more than people, so you can rest easy, confident that he spends way more time keeping your systems up and running than may even be necessary. Friends? Who needs friends? That's why God invented computers.
"This is the person on the team who will agree to do the 48-hour server upgrade on the weekend and have everything up and running by 6 a.m. Monday -- all for two extra-large pizzas and a case of Red Bull," says Jewell. "He's very helpful around the office because people interact with him -- unlike his dolls at home."
But get on his bad side, warns Jewell, and you'll find yourself swiftly locked out of all your computer accounts -- and possibly your home and your bank accounts as well.
  • Hobbies: Getting certifications; writing network security subroutines in binary code to safeguard logic bombs or surreptitious SQL queries to the HR database
  • Last book read: "Get Even: The Complete Book of Dirty Tricks"
  • Greatest accomplishment: Holding the network hostage by refusing to release passwords to the Empty Suit
  • Identifying marks: Handcuffs and an orange jumpsuit
  • Role model: Terry Childs
  • Most resembles: Terry Childs

IT personality type No. 3: The Human Roadblock
Job title(s): Software developer, enterprise architect, systems administrator
Profile: No matter what task or project is presented, the Human Roadblock responds in exactly the same manner: It can't be done. This is then followed by a painfully detailed list of all the reasons why this task or project will cost too much, deliver too little, and can't be implemented in anything resembling the proposed time frame. And, oh yeah: It was a stupid idea to begin with.
"This individual presents this feedback under the auspices of being the only 'rational voice' in the room," says Travis Van, co-founder of ITDatabase, a research tool for IT professionals. "The points may often be valid, but typically lead to 'paralysis by analysis' for the development group -- when a more optimistic look at 'what's possible' would have been preferable to their predictable laundry list of 'why this is not possible'."
  • Hobbies: Complaining
  • Last book read: "I Hate This Place: The Pessimist's Guide to Life"
  • Greatest accomplishment: Not accomplishing anything of note since 1979
  • Identifying marks: Knit shirt with collar, khakis; still carries a slide rule
  • Role model: Eeyore
  • Most resembles: Marvin the Paranoid Android from "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy"

IT personality type No. 4: The Angry Support Drone
Job title(s): Support tech (what else?)
Profile: Hired to schlep from desk to desk fixing the computers of people deemed unworthy of their time. Will do what you ask, and not one iota more. Know more than you do about computers -- a point they manage to work into virtually every conversation -- but not really interested in sharing useful information. Might otherwise be flipping burgers if they could be trusted to handle sharp instruments around other humans.
"The IT support position in a startup is invested with near magical skills from the perspective of peers and yet manages to consistently disappoint 90 percent of the people he deals with," says Don Rainey, general partner at VC firm Grotech Ventures.
So they'll install that printer you asked for, but they won't test to see that it works correctly. Why not? Because you only asked them to install it. And if you question their abilities or work ethic, prepare for the consequences.
"These people are like the Energizer Bunny of anger," Rainey says. "Maybe it's the line of work, or it's because they're the starting point of a feedback loop for whatever is going wrong with the product or customers. But in any case, the Angry Support Drone can create a special kind of crisis."
  • Hobbies: Guns, shooting, random acts of violence
  • Last book read: "What Color is Your Parachute?" (unfinished)
  • Greatest accomplishment: Halo triple kill
  • Identifying marks: Permanent scowl, pair of Nikes circa 1982
  • Role model: William "D-fens" Foster (Michael Douglas) in "Falling Down"
  • Most resembles: Milton Waddams (Stephen Root) in "Office Space"

IT personality type No. 5: The Übergeek
Job title(s): Software engineer, senior programmer
Profile: Fiercely intelligent, stubbornly logical, and disturbingly anti-social. In other words, what most people think of when asked to describe a techie. In Myers-Briggs nomenclature, the Übergeek would be classified INTJ -- an introverted, intuitive-thinking, and judging person -- says Beth Armknecht Miller, co-founder of Executive Velocity, a professional coaching service. If the Übergeek absolutely must communicate with beings of inferior intelligence (i.e., you), she would rather do it by e-mail. But if she can avoid all human contact, that's OK, too.
"I call this type 'Mr. Artiste,'" says Don Rainey. "He is creating software -- sometimes the company's core product or hope for future success -- and he isn't limited by the contents of the requirements document. He isn't limited by it because he isn't reading it. He is creating, damn it, and brings his own vision. Plus, staying consistent with his vision keeps him closer to his imaginary specification with its imaginary time line -- and yes, he's on schedule."
  • Hobbies: What are these things you call hobbies?
  • Last book read: "Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software"
  • Greatest accomplishment: Completely rewriting and debugging every line of system code without anyone noticing
  • Identifying marks: Sometimes confuses real life with Second Life; unconscious "air typing"
  • Role model: Mr. Spock
  • Most resembles: Dr. Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons) from "Big Bang Theory"

IT personality type No. 6: The OS Fanboy
Job title(s): Help desk, support tech, programmervista
Profile: There is only one true path -- and, more important, only one true operating system -- for this person. All nonbelievers are heretics whose tech needs will be quietly ignored. Though most commonly associated with Apple products, often aligned with Windows or, more likely, Linux -- the more obscure the distro, the better. Every conversation ends with a discussion of why their OS of choice is superior, despite the fact that your company doesn't use it. Actually solving your problem with the OS at hand is an afterthought.
"The 'I'm really an Apple fan' is misplaced in the IT world," says Kevin Lightfoot, vice president of Affiliated Computer Services, a managed services company. "He or she really should be focusing on Apple products but, because of poor career decisions, is forced to support your desktop needs. Their lack of aptitude always leaves your computer performing slower and with more bugs than it did when you first called the help desk."
"The Serious IT Guy wants nothing to do with your toy Macintosh or Linux machine," counters Brian Dunning, technical editor for FileMaker Advisor magazine. "He's a Microsoft-certified engineer all the way, and he'll stand for no tomfoolery. If you're experiencing any kind of a problem or you have a question, it's your fault for not following strict Microsoft security guidelines and published Best Practices. Since nobody actually does all of those things, nothing is ever his fault."
  • Hobbies: Posting angry point-by-point rebuttals in the comments to online articles criticizing his/her OS of choice.
  • Last book read: None; only reads blogs about his/her favorite OS
  • Greatest accomplishment: Jailbreaking an iPhone, sticking with Windows Vista, taking complete editorial control over the Ubuntu wiki
  • Identifying marks: White ear buds, non-ironic Microsoft Bob T-shirt, stuffed penguin
  • Role models: Steve Wozniak, Bill Gates, Linus Torvalds
  • Most resembles: Genius Bar lackey, Steve Ballmer, a stuffed penguin

IT personality type No. 7: The Promiser
Job title(s):
 Outbound sales, business development
Profile: There is nothing this person won't say to close a deal. You want features the original product was never designed to deliver? Done. You need it within six months? The Promiser will get it to you in three. Of course, he or she doesn't have to deliver anything -- that's a job for the developers. Delays, cost overruns, and impossible feature-set requirements are all someone else's headache. On the Insights Discovery Wheel, the Promiser would fall into the "Fiery Red" quadrant.
"The Promiser does not appreciate erratic emotional outbursts if they get in the way of getting things done," says Jewell. "A master strategist, he is a born leader and doesn't like to be told what to do; instead, he'll tell you what to do. He's the guy who will tell the customer the code can be written flawlessly in two months when he knows it will take six -- and then work the team until they drop and do it all over again on the next project. But you're thankful he's on the team because if it wasn't for him, you wouldn't be the star team you are."
  • Hobbies: Golf, Michelob Ultra
  • Last book read: "The Art of War" by Sun Tzu
  • Greatest accomplishment: Closing a multimillion-dollar enterprise software deal using a demo downloaded off the Internet
  • Identifying marks: Starched button-down blue oxford, used car salesman smile
  • Role model: Blake (Alec Baldwin) in "Glengarry Glen Ross"
  • Most resembles: Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) in "30 Rock"

IT personality type No. 8: The Shadow
Job title(s): Unknown
Profile: It's not my problem, it's not my job, it's not my fault -- that's the mantra of the Shadow, who somehow manages to take up space in the IT department (and on the payroll) without actually filling it. No one's sure what the Shadow does, mostly because he or she has become expert at doing as little as possible. Over time, the Shadow may be handed management responsibilities, at which point this individual morphs into the Human Roadblock.
"The Shadow knows everything that's happening around the office, ignores it, and is very happy that way," says Deborah J. Graham, senior programmer/analyst for a teaching hospital in Massachusetts. "This person doesn't report anything bad happening for fear of the paperwork and making it his or her 'responsibility' to fix, and avoids additional responsibilities by declaring -- so everyone around can hear -- that the job/task/problem is not his or her job."
And when things go wrong, says Graham, the Shadow is quick to point the finger elsewhere: "They're always able to find someone else to blame, no matter how shaky a relationship between cause and effect. The Shadow is never the one to take the heat."
  • Hobbies: Selling decommissioned company hardware on eBay during "breaks"
  • Last book read: "Ninjutsu: The Art of Invisibility"
  • Greatest accomplishment: Taking a month-long vacation without the boss noticing
  • Identifying marks: None, because the invisible don't have any
  • Role model: Sergeant Schultz (the late John Banner) in "Hogan's Heroes"
  • Most resembles: An unidentified cell in a payroll database
Take the quiz at Infoworld IT Adventures and find out which type are you?  What do you think I was?

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Importance Of Leadership For Agile Methods To Work

Great interview with John Goodpasture about his new book Project Management The Agile Way, from Todd's Tech Bites

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Re-thinking Lean Service : The Best 56 Minuets Managers May Spend This Year

I have always had a problem with using lean principles in financial services but I've never been able to put my finger on it but it just didn't feel right to use manufacturing tools in service industries but then I clicked on this link to a presentation by John Seddon and it all became clear.  The presentation brought to us by the team at InfoQ is possibly the best 56 minuets an operational manager may spend this year.  John Seddon is a brilliant presenter and has some amazing insight and a huge back catalogue of experience into problems with Lean in service industries.

If you don't want to register for InfoQ you can see a very similar presentation by John at the Human Givens Institute below.

Cultural change is free from Mindfields College on Vimeo.

Patrick Hughes And His Father - Truly Inspirational

Not a normal topic for my blog but I was so amazed and humbled by Patrick's achievements I thought I'd post this as a reminder to myself, for those times when I 'think' things are tough.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Matt’ “rags to riches” Barrett's retired Baraclays Chairman Gives Top Tips For Management Success

I really like Matt’ “rags to riches” Barrett's (recently retired Chairman of Barclays Bank PLC and a long serving CEO of both Barclays in the UK and Bank of Montreal in Canada) top personal traits for management success.
  1. Humble but very collected and confident
  2. Sharpe / keen mind
  3. Prepared to make tough business decisions when situation calls for one
  4. Humanistic
  5. Iconoclastic when warranted
  6. Open, friendly and approachable
  7. Engaging
  8. Personable
  9. Respectful
  10. Goal oriented
  11. Value focused
  12. Always searching for new ideas that enable better ways of doing things
  13. Team player no matter if he is the advisor, leader or subordinate
  14. Excellent communicator (frank without being off-putting)

Nexus One includes support for Flash Player - Come on iPhone

Adrian Ludwig from Adobe demos Flash Player 10.1 on the Nexus One

Google Nexus One iPhone Killer Released - Engadget's 1st Impressions

The team at Engadget have got their hands on a Nexus One and give their first impressions.  Not so much of an iPhone killer apparently but a definite step up from the original Android phone.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Amazing Touchable Holography - Real Star Trek Stuff

An includible video from the team at Shindo lab University of Tokyo.  Real Star Trek stuff....

Monday, January 4, 2010

Internet Explorer Continues To Haemorrhage Share

In the last quarter, Chrome, Safari and Opera all set new personal bests for browser market share with 4.63, 4.46 and 2.4 percent respectively. This period marks the first time Chrome has beaten Safari to third spot, while their collective prosperity comes at the expense of IE, which continues to hemorrhage users at a rate of 0.92 percentage points a month. Microsoft's 62.7 percent slice might still look mighty, but projections from Net Applications suggest it could shrink to below 50 percent by May of this year. Unless something magical happens. You'll probably also want to know that Net Applications monitors incoming traffic to over 40,000 websites and generates a sample size of about 160 million unique visitors each month -- making the veracity of its claims pretty robust.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year

Wishing all my customers, friends, followers, well everyone a happy a very prosperous new year.

Best wishes