In response to the follow-up on the “Flock” browser, I decided this post was necessary. You see, I too felt that the browser was too busy; almost like I needed ADHD just to process the shear amount of information being delivered! (As an aside, I think I’m going to trademark the term “informatsunami™”: the farther back a browser/feed goes, the more overwhelming amounts of data get returned…with no escape!) The painful reality of my discomfort with using the browser in its intended state hit me with force of, well, a tsunami: I’m older now, I don’t need all that “stuff”!

 

Perhaps it really is a sign of maturity, know quite matter-of-factly what I want and how I want it delivered to me. I could care less if my cell phone has a 2.0 megapixel camera with zoom, or that it plays mp3 files, or that I can download a new ringtone. I JUST WANT TO MAKE A PHONE CALL FROM SOMEWHERE OUTSIDE MY HOUSE AND NOT WORRY ABOUT FINDING A PHONE TO USE!!!! (whew, for a minute there, I lost myself…I lost myself…) Where was I…ah yes, how I want content delivered to me, I digress. I think it’s “cool” to have everything in one tidy Mozilla-based browser. But I really don’t want everything. I don’t want to be part of a social network online; it’s hard enough maintaining my relationships in person! I don’t want to share my pictures with the world (or with the select few people whom I grant access), nor do I want to view everyone else’s pictures. I don’t want to write a blog everyday, as indicated by this being my first blog post in about 5 months! I do want to check my email, the few RSS feeds I subscribe to, and some blogs/articles that center on my current professional activities; I may even want to play a game or two online. Of course, I realize that I could simply tweak/customize Flock’s settings to behave in manner more fitting my discriminating tastes. But then I realized something else: I don’t want to. I joked with “JH” about being too old for Web 2.0, about being passed by. That used to make me sad, but really, I feel liberated.
Getting to the title of this post, my memories too me back in time about 10 years ago. I was a young(er), cocky programmer who had just cut his teeth on a Y2K project, learning Fortran, TAL, C, COBOL and statistical analysis in 18 months. I was moving on to a small consulting firm where I’d learn VB/SQL/ASP development, along with Oracle, Sybase, Linux development/administration. I was barely old enough to drink, yet I had surpassed the technical experience of every person in my family. I had a cell phone! I knew every punctuation combination used to create a smiley! I knew every IM acronym! I downloaded mp3 files before it was illegal! (Ok, ok, it was always illegal; but that was when few got in trouble for it…) I read “journals” updated daily online. The fact is, I’ve already been there, done that. I don’t care anymore, or least I don’t care as much what’s new and improved: it’s really old and declining…or maybe I am. Either way, I might still use Flock and whatever else new comes along. I might even get swept up in the informatsunami™ (remember you read it here first!) But in the end, I’ll still pine for the “old days (you guessed it)…when we were kings…

On January 30, 2007, Microsoft released Vista to the general public, with the hopes that every computer on the market would run the “enhanced” OS. The one year anniversary has come and gone without much (positive) fanfare. Ironically, some of the features deemed enhancements are the very ones that seem to drum up the most criticism: Security, Graphical Display, Memory Usage.

Now, if you were to ask me, I’m lukewarm-leaning-toward-cold on Vista. About the only thing that’s “cool” to me anymore is the breadcrumb navigation in Windows Explorer. Yeah, I used the Sidebar for a while, with a “gadget” that showed how my system was performing. Yeah, I was all geeked out over “Windows Flip 3D” and all the other slick Aero features. But being a software developer who actually knows what he wants to install, modify, delete, I immediately turned off UAC! Sure, Vista warns me that it’s turned off every time Windows Explorer restarts (which reminds, me I’m about two warnings away from turning off warnings!!!!!!) but I’ve learned to live with it….sort of. I agree with what’s written in this article: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2254104,00.asp

For the record I have a Dell Inspiron e1505, 2.0 Dual-Core processor, mid-range graphics card, 2gb RAM with Vista Ultimate –$949 in the Dell outlet early last year. My wife has a $300 Acer with a Celeron processor, 512MB RAM and Vista Basic. (Don’t judge me! We bought my wife’s laptop right before the parents sent their kids of to college. She only needs it for Napster and email….seriously!) Do I even have to describe the pain of using her laptop? Do I even have to say that every forum recommended “downgrading” her laptop to Windows XP? But think about it: of the people buying $300-500 laptops, how many of them are thinking about how well it will perform vs. XP? My wife’s a brilliant women in her own right, but she’d never think to search online in a forum for instructions on wiping out her laptop and resinstalling drivers, software, etc!

I’m sure most people are merely satisfied with whatever they are given. They probably have the “so-long-as-I-can-still-do-x” mentality. But people on the fringes — the tech savvy on one end and the tech newbies on the other — are going to be frustrated with the standard OS offering. So who is Micro$oft going to please: 80% of the users in the middle, or the 10% on either end? We’ll wait for the answer. Until then, (un)happy anniversary, MS Vista! Thanks for the memor…uhm…thanks for…nothing.

All you want to do is write some code, and somehow remain profitable. Well, maybe that’s not all you want to do. If you have one, you might be interested in fulfilling your client’s needs, while not going on any “death marches” in the process. You probably want to work on features that excite you with technology you want to use. You might want some flexibility on deadlines in response to unexpected problems. Ok. Great! Now, choose your flavor of methodolgy: Agile, XP, RAD, TDD, Waterfall, RUP, SCRUM…should I go on? Which do you choose? How do you know what will work best for you and your needs? When in doubt, do what everyone else is doing!

Agile with SCRUM is certainly en vogue. The values of Agile development are captured by the Agile Manifesto: http://agilemanifesto.org/ (also see: http://agilemanifesto.org/principles.html) SCRUM is a way of managing the work and communicating status. The two combined certainly make for an effective set of tools and guidelines to make everyone happy. But the first thing you learn about SCRUM (or the first thing I learned anyway) is: SCRUM is common sense! Meaning, if you have bad developers, or good developers with bad practices, SCRUM/Agile won’t help you; firing the developers will! See, common sense at it’s finest.

But seriously. One of the advantages of Agile with SCRUM is that work is clearly exposed as knowledge changes. For example, say you agree to deliver the user administration widget in 4 weeks. But as the days pass, you complete work, but new features are discussed. You can choose with the stakeholders what to do with those features: do we try to squeeze all of them in, or can we release the most essential ones first and then the others as enhancements later? Developers get to talk to stakeholders without all that messy project management stuff getting in the way. Of course, there’s a Product Owner (Team) and a ScrumMaster. But their roles are mainly about helping the developers work on the most important features without any impediments.

I’ve worked with Waterfall, Spiral, a little RUP, and now Agile with SCRUM. I love it! It’s lightweight, it’s simple, it allows for quick response to unexpected issues. I’ll be posting more on this topic as my experience as a ScrumMaster increases.