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Showing posts from 2011

In Response to "The Engineering Route to Accounting"

A clever blogger I follow (John Cook) posted this:

Regarding "The Engineering Route to Accounting". The guts of the post is probably summarised by the sentence "Many people find themselves approving expense reports for people who do the work they enjoy doing, or used to enjoy doing. [i.e. engineering]".

I responded, and thought I may as well repost as I spent a fair bit of time composing it! As follows:

OK, I _somewhat_ agree that “by the time you have your degree, you have 5–10 years to go before, if you have any ambition, you end up a manager of some kind” – I would swap the word “any” for “a good amount of”, and I would add to the word “ambition” the words “competence”, “enthusiasm”, “empathy”, “confidence”, “integrity”, etc,. Not everyone is asked to lead, or manage.

I do not agree that “you don’t get to build anything, technicians do that … you only approve their expense reports …”. I think a…

Inappropriate Use of the WWW

Seen a couple of technical presentations/documents recently that contained a diagram, depicting the WWW like this:

Not specifically with SFTP, but other miscellaneous (non-HTTP) protocols.

I guess that this is an architectural misnomer. Technically, the WWW does not propagate anything but HTTP(S) (and whatever you choose to encapsulate within the HTTP protocol) - yes?

So if you were dealing with (for example) SOAP or RESTful web-services, putting "WWW" in the cloud thingy 'might' be appropriate, otherwise it's just the plain old internet.

Just putting it out there, mainly because I have not blogged anything for a little while...I bet the title of this post made you think it was about something much more interesting though, right?


Eclipse, Android Development Problem - "Error: Error generating final archive: Debug Certificate expired"

A really nasty problem, could have burnt through a fair bit of time.
Luckily I found this article after looking at the "Problems" tab in Eclipse and seeing my debug certificate had expired at the exact minute that I started getting the error message:
Resolution was reached as follows:
Renaming the debug.keystore file and running a "Clean". Eclipse put a new debug.keystore in place and away I went...however on the next build I get the following trace (my App is called SimpleList):

[2011-08-01 22:32:47 - SimpleList] ------------------------------ [2011-08-01 22:32:47 - SimpleList] Android Launch! [2011-08-01 22:32:47 - SimpleList] adb is running normally. [2011-08-01 22:32:47 - SimpleList] Performing com.infostructure.simplelist.SimpleListActivity activity launch [2011-08-01 22:32:47 - SimpleList] Automatic Target Mode: using existing emulator 'emulator-5554' runnin…

Software Development Stuff, July 2011

VS2010 Integrated SVN
I have recently discovered the AnkhSVN Visual Studio add-in for linking Visual Studio 2010 to your SVN repositories - it's fantastic:

Full Visual Studio 2010 integration - gives you those nice neat “checks” and other icons in the solution explorer, to indicate modifications, new items, etc. It's just like a bought one!
Data Access, Entity Framework 4.1, POCO
Have also recently discovered Entity Framework version 4.1 for awesome POCO (i.e. "code first") support - doesn't quite "just work" off the bat, but it's pretty damn close:
Couple of hints - initially, I kept on getting the following error message:
System.Data.SqlClient.SqlException: Invalid object name 'dbo.Users'.
...obviously I've got a table called [User]. There seems to be some issue (probably not an issue, but just my not reading enough about the fr…

New Zealand Innovation

So, some irony - two articles forwarded to me yesterday, both regarding software innovation in NZ, both at opposite ends of the optimism scale:
(1): "Kiwi Software Skills 'Shallow'" (thanks Ann)

Dr McKendry is a New Zealander who has built a successful career overseas and has basically come home and done a talk dissing the nation that launched him. 

Original link:
(2): "Your Business: Timing Right for Software Success" (thanks Dad)

This is my uncle, talking about the successful SME that he has built over the past 15-to-20 years and his plans for it's future. 

Original link:
My $0.02...
Perhaps the overqualified expat CRM corporate executives of the world (seriously Dr McKendry, please don't tell me you think that Siebel is an innovate product?) should remember where they came from.
NZ'ers split th…

Book: The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering, Anniversary Edition (2nd Edition)

The Mythical Man Month comes with a big reputation attached.
The books was originally written in 1975. The author (Frederick P. Brooks, Jr) is a prominent Computer Scientist and software engineer, who most notably managed the development of the IBM OS/360 operating system. To quote Wikipedia, “the book is widely regarded as a classic on the human elements of software engineering”.
Honestly this was, for me, a difficult one to read. It's a little bit like trying to read the Bible in some parts (which personally, I find tough going). But I would say it is well worth it. In reading this book, I can see that Brook's writing has had an influence on almost every other serious piece of literature on the management and practice of software engineering that I have ever encountered.
The book is entitled “Essays on Software Engineering” and that's what it serves up. The chapters of the book are arranged in some sort of order, but really they're fairly distinct. The first few chapt…

Book: Joel on Software: And on Diverse and Occasionally Related Matters That Will Prove of Interest to Software Developers, Designers, and [...]

This book is effectively a collection of Joel's blog postings and letters, assembled into a somewhat coherent sequence of five parts. The first two parts are the most useful - “Bits and Bytes: The Practice of Programming” and “Managing Developers”.
I found part two exceptionally enlightening – this is the first book/article that I've read which deals with the matter of managing software developers directly, from the point of view of a former/current programmer.
Part one (The Practice of Programming) contains a very useful series of four chapters entitled “Painless Functional Specifications” - again, fantastically simple ideas and solid reasoning as to why it's critical that (almost) any piece of software development should be preceded by the thought process and documentation phase that amounts to a functional specification. I would just about say that this series of articles (or something resembling it) is a must read for any developer. Too many developers (myself included…

Reading Log and Career Path

I started another blog - "Bernard's Reading Log" recently. Then I realised that since I don't post a lot of stuff anyway, and also because much of what I'm reading that I want to post about is related to technology (some more, some less), I may as well have it all in the same place. Makes my posting stats look more impressive in any case... So I imported that blog to this blog. I've got a few more books queued up that I've read (or am reading) recently - hopefully will get them posted soon.
Regarding the other topic in this post's header; my reading history (which can be viewed by searching for the Tag "Book") gives away the story of what's happened with my career in the last year-or-so. In January 2010 our Development Team Leader left the company that I work with to go out on his own. A bold and respectable manoeuvre, which I believe is working out well for him. For me that meant that I was offered his job - which I accepted.
Since taking…

Using XLinq & MVVM to Populate DDL for ASP.NET MVC

Making some adjustments to a website recently. It's not a heavily used beast, but my client required some dynamic functionality - pulling data from a semi-static data-source that he would be able to edit. Hooking up a SQL Server back-end would have been overkill, so I looked into XLinq as an alternative. I have tinkered with XLinq in the past but haven't ever found any particularly useful application for it. This time however it worked out beautifully.
Setup an MVVM for the page that I was working with and used a technique for loading the data that admittedly I need to credit to Sascha Barber. The technique is fantastic and works perfectly.

Here's my data, stored in a file name things.xml at

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" ?> <things> <thing> <name>-- STUFF --</name> </thing> <thing> <name>THING ONE</name> </thing> <thing> <name>THING TWO</name> </thin…

Book: Agile Project Management with Scrum

This book provides an excellent coverage of how the Scrum software development methodology works. It introduces the key concepts then chapter by chapter reveals the intricacies involved in implementing the methodology by providing many, many, real world examples.
The author is one of the original signatories to the Agile Manifesto. He knows his stuff. Aside from the odd very dry joke, and perhaps the first chapter or two, the book does not deviate from the following pattern:
Chapter addresses one of the key features of the Scrum methodology (e.g. the purpose of the SrumMaster).The chapter's introduction covers the overview of the concept and explains how the chapter will deal with it.Two or three section (the "body") take us through some strategically selected real world examples, including an analysis of each.A conclusion ties the chapter together, and ponders the various outcomes of the scenarios provided.
It's written in a predictable and confident manner. Exactly …

Book: The One Thing You Need to Know...About Great Managing, Great Leading, and Sustained Individual Success

As the title suggests, this book is partitioned into three sections - in the opinion of the author:
How to be a great manager How to be a great leader How to achieve sustained individual success
I found this book useful as it clearly defines what the core competencies of a "leader" and a "manager" are; which is something that I have not found elsewhere as yet. Have to admit that some of what I read was news to me - I've realised that my role involves both. To spell it out, effectively managing is looking after your individuals and your team; helping them find success in their work and supporting them. Leading is about providing a vision for your constituents (team) which they can aspire to; painting a picture of what things will be like when the goal is achieved and being clear about what it'll take to get there.
The author introduces the concept of a "controlling insight". This is a succinct description of the one thing that stands out clearly as bein…

Book: Getting to yes: negotiating agreement without giving in

This book presents a technique developed at the Harvard Negotiation Project, in alignment with the Harvard Law School. The technique is called "principled negotiation". The technique can be broken down into four key tenets, as follows:
Separate the people from the problemFocus on interests not positionsInvent options for mutual gainInsist on using objective criteria
The book itself is divided into five sections. The first section dismantles and analyzes the traditional style of negotiation whereby each party takes a position and makes a stand on that basis; the negotiation goes back and forth until the positions are shifted enough so as they are closely matched. The author spends this first section setting the scene by saying that this style of negotiation is potentially dangerous - "don't bargain over positions".
The next section of the book deals with the method of principled negotiation in detail, and the four tenants, as listed above. This section goes i…