MikeBD Musings of a 24/6 techie (Software Architect / Technical Manager) family guy struggling to find meaning, balance and strong design / implementation supporting excellent user experiences.

28Sep/100

Comments from James Gosling upon leaving Oracle / my thoughts on the creative and artistic aspects of Software Development

Excerpts From: Java Creator James Gosling: Why I Quit Oracle - In an exclusive interview with eWEEK, Java creator James Gosling discusses a series of issues he earlier declined to take public, including why he left Oracle.

  • Also, asked whether in hindsight he would have preferred Sun having been acquired by IBM (which pursued a deal to acquire Sun and then backed out late in the game) rather than Oracle, Gosling said he and at least Sun Chairman Scott McNealy debated the prospect. And the consensus, led by McNealy, was that although they said they believed “Oracle would be more savage, IBM would make more layoffs.”
  • However, in Gosling’s case personally, he may have fared better at IBM, where technical savvy is generously rewarded. For instance, when IBM acquired Rational Software they saw value in Rational’s chief scientist Grady Booch, co-creator of the UML (Unified Modeling Language), and made him an IBM fellow and more.
  • “All of the senior people at Sun got screwed compensation-wise. Their job titles may have been the same, but their ability to decide anything was just gone.”
  • Also, there are number of interesting comments on Google's use of Java in Android and the relative merits of software patent litigation.

This is an interesting read on employee motivation, reconfirming that the intangibles - including intellectual / creative freedom really do matter.

I have always felt that Software Development is as much a creative / artistic endeavour, if not more so, than it is a science. The scientific aspects reinforce the need for considered methodology, measured responses to create healthy feedback loops on both progress and results, and the imposition of order upon chaos (e.g. design, usability and information architecture). This is true as well of all fields of human activity traditionally considered by many to be purely creative / artistic: music, art, architecture etc...

I believe many technical managers would do very well to contemplate this in hiring by gauging creativity and in production by allowing time boxed exercises to evolve functional and non-functional capabilities. At worst, some time is lost in 15-30 minute manageable increments, but even then, the team benefits from the exercise in many ways. Trust the team, give them the support and tools they need, then prepare to be amazed at how they will add unexpcted value - often willingly contributing their own time.

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23Dec/080

Links on Development Management

Some jumping off points I've encountered today and agree with on the management of software development processes and professionals:

It's all about the people and the way they communicate and interact.
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7Aug/080

Agile Software Development: an Answer to Procrastination?

A recent LinkedIn question on Software Estimation and Agile Methology included a concern that Agile could lead to Procrastination. I believe otherwise as detailed below. What has your experience been?

Software Estimation and Agile Methodology

I am new to Agile Methodology. I am working on a project which is following Agile. I have the following questions:

  1. What are the estimation techniques for Agile?
  2. Typically which type of Projects use Agile?
  3. In the name of Agile, can people procrastinate every single decision during requirements gathering? For example, we know what is expected but we don't know the most atomic level of the requirement. Say, I know I must build a webpage, but I don't know the validation of the webpage.

My Response:

I think Agile principles can be an antidote against procrastination. I would agree with the thoughts expressed in this post. If you continually drive to keep the design and implementation as simple as possible and don't get overly concerned with anticipating potential future needs, there is nothing left to do but build what you know is needed now. Continue reading...

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10May/070

Daily Stand-Up / Scrum Kickoff

Today was day 3 of our adoption of Daily Stand-Up / Scrum meetings at GS1 Canada. I've chosen an open location and policy for observers (a nice crowd formed today). So far so good - lots of positive feedback on the format and value. The following is how I introduced the concept here:

Agenda:
  1. Accomplishments since the last meeting
  2. Planned activities before the next meeting
  3. Identification of any blockers that are preventing progress
The result should be the following benefits:
  • knowledge sharing / reuse scenario identification
  • quickly identify sore spots that require further deep dive follow-up meetings / actions
  • dynamic balancing of work assignments as people have availability and projects can benefit from additional resources that are not dedicated to them
  • build the team work / sense of commitment to each other
Continue reading...
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2Feb/070

Team Introduction

Welcome to the team (for me).

Taking a page from two thought leaders in the software development industry (Joel Spolsky and Reginald Braithwaite), I thought I might start posting here messages within my team that have common application. I hope you'll agree or comment otherwise :)

What follows is my introduction / team orientation message to the development team at GS1 Canada.

Day 2 dawns and I am filled with thoughts of a new business domain to master, lots of bits and bytes that need to get delivered and a new team to work with.

Please notice I said team. We all come from different backgrounds, culturally and technically, and from that diversity comes our strength - IF we behave as a team. If we do not, then we are bound to fail. It's been said many times before but bears repeating: we will succeed or fail as a team. Whether it be at an organizational or personal level, I do not consider failure an option. So here comes...

Continue reading...
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