Archive for August 2007
Yesterday, shortly after leaving one of my best friend’s wedding ceremony, I received a call from a family member letting me know my grandfather had suffered an aneurysm and had been placed on life support at SLUH. I rushed down to visit this morning, and learned he was on life support, but his brain was largely dead and at this point there was little chance for recovery. So, after everyone from the family came by to give their final respects, he was taken off life support and passed away shortly after.
Bill was a great guy, the kind of person who drew people to him. His laugh was heartwarming, and whenever you saw him he was always laughing or telling a funny joke… not a mean bone in his body. He never let anything drag him down, and the lives he touched will never be forgotten. If there is any memory I will remember of him, it won’t be of him laying lifeless on the hospital bed with machines pumping air in and out of his lungs, it will be of him enjoying a Busch beer, playing Garth Brooke’s “I Got Friends in Low Places” and laughing non stop.
I love you grandpa, and you will be missed.
I’ve documented some of my previous problems with Vista on my new laptop in the past, but this past week at Agile took the cake. EVERYTHING crashed… chkdisk had to run for 2 hours, and I found myself annoyed with tons of “Host Services have stopped responding and been restared” along with some minor application crashes, IE funkiness (forms sometimes don’t submit, randomly crash, etc), a forced removal of Firefox (it suddenly quit working and crashed whenever I started it) and very erratic web connectivity. I couldn’t use my web browser as I was expecting to do for an open space discussion, and VMWare would not work for the “CI for the Web 2.0 G(uy|al)” session.
After enduring ridiculous slow downs (for example, eclipse taking 10 minutes to start up when I have 2 gigs of ram and dual core 2.4Ghz) and random screen blinking, I decided enough was enough. I downloaded Ubuntu to give the Live CD a spin, but iexplore was so messed up it kept failing while trying to copy the downloaded iso from the temp dir to the download dir, so I had to redownload on my desktop and burn it.
Anyway, it’s been absolute bliss. I took note of all the hardware on my sony vaio laptop as I was used to having to fiddle to get things work with linux in the past, but it wasn’t the case… EVERYTHING WORKED FLAWLESSLY! As soon as I booted I was able to use the integrated wireless card, putting memory cards into any of the various slots caused nautlus to launch right away to view the photos, bluetooth worked after apt-getting the application for it, and my integrated nvidia card also works flawlessly. Even more, the eye candy is better and everything seems to be running smoothly and much faster… even hibernate mode works.
I suppose that XP will continue to live on my desktop for my windows needs, but my laptop without a doubt will continue on as a “Linux Laptop.”
The real ones, not the linux fortune command.
Only great passions, can elevate the mind to great things.
Whew… one thing I learned this morning as I rolled out of bed: maybe it would have been better to take a taxi all over rather than walk all over town last night. Some co-workers and I decided to do some late night sight seeing , walking from our hotel to the Whitehouse, the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, and everything else in between. Man are my legs sore!
Anyhow, we started the day off with the keynote, some lady that is the VP of some company telling us her story about climbing to the top of Mt. Everest with her husband. I can’t say this really interested me… I drew the connection with her story as a metaphor for software development, but I just had a lack of interest.
The first session I attended was presented by the fellows from SolutionsIQ titled “Weaving Domain-Specific Language Support into your Automated Testing Tool.” I had negative reaction to it at first, but after some reflection the session really wasn’t that bad… in fact it was rather good… it was just for me with my experience it would be like attending an “Introduction to Agile” session.
What it was really about is their new tool, which is kind of a mashup of Selenium and Fitnesse and an example of making your own DSLs with it. I didn’t think the examples were really representative of the DSLs I would have liked to see (i.e. “User logs in and selects credit card type VISA and clicks submit”), but was rather a more mid-level DSL that would make things easier. In retrospect, it would be a handy tool (and F/OSS to boot!), but from where I’m coming from, where we already have DoFixtures backed by httpUnit and Selenium, there wasn’t much for me to gain (However… don’t count it out… I still plan on downloading STIQ and giving it a hands on spin).
The second session I attended, Programmers are from Mars, Customers are from Venus: A Practical Guide to Working With Customers on Agile Projects with Robert Biddle and Angela Martin, was just what I was looking for. I gained a lot of new insights from the game they had us play in the beginning.
The game was simple really.. our team needed to give a presentation on working with good customers and bad customers, and the team needed to provide the customer with visual aids for the presentation. I got to play the customer in this game, and came up with 6 stories … 3 describing good customers, i.e. “Customer is involved and participates in two way conversation” and bad customers, e.g. “Customer is never available, never answers calls.” Made the stories, had the team size them, and split the work into two iterations. What made things interesting was the “randomness cards,” which were basically their way of introducing the real world into the game, with cards like “Kent Beck visits, insists you are doing everything wrong. Tear everything up and start over, but consult the Big Boss first.”
When “developers” started on the first story, one pair picked up a card and asked me what my favorite toothpaste was, then proceeded to write the name brand of it across the top and bottom of the visual aid. This gave me an interesting perspective on how the customer sees it when we, as developers, add features we think are usefull or snazzy that they didn’t ask for… strange and nonsensical. Heh.
Throughout the exercise they did other things I felt were very representative of “when things go wrong” on an XP project… new people not familiar with the project kept being swapped in, the team let in to management intrusions, and other distractions. It was great because it helped identify some of the problems we face on agile practice, and in the second half of the session they covered some of the recurring traits and practices that were observed on successful agile teams.
Interesting and valuable day. I’ll expand more on this in a future post.
Day 1 of Agile 2007 turned out to be just like Day 1 at OOPSLA was really.. very little content with the “official” start of the conference being Tuesday. I tried to attend the Research-in-Progress workshop in the AM, but it looked like the room was filled to capacity so I decided to go ahead and opt out. With nothing else going on until 2pm, the rest of the crew and I headed out to the Carfax VA headquarters to take a tour.
Once we got back, and some sessions finally started, I decided to attend XR02 (Experence Reports) which really captured my interest. There were three presentations. The first one was from a company who had done work with embedded systems, and described how they had written a dynamic testing framework using Ruby. It was pretty cool really.. it scanned comments in the C files to mock out modules that used the low level system. The other presentation that captured my interest was the experience report about moving applications servers, which went amongst the simple and obvious, yet not often followed, solution… put whole team, not one person, on the migration. Freeze the old code base as early as possible, with new development going on the new platform. Etcetra etcetra.
Not too much to report on today, but hopefully Tuesday will yield better results.
Finally touched down in Washington, D.C. today to gear up for Agile 2007… and I’m excited! Unfortunately there wasn’t anything going on today related to the conference and I wasn’t able to find any fellow Agilists to chat up, so some of the Carfax Crew and I went out for dinner and did a little sight seeing. If you’re interested, my daily photo dump of this trip can be found here. I’ll reorganize it later.
Anyway, I hope to provide a posting or two each day to kind of summarize the sessions and talks I’ll be attending and the experiences I’ll be having. If you’re here and you happen to see a guy with a blakc goatee and short dark hair, typing furiously on a Vaio laptop, feel free to stop by and say hi!
Free party room at Busch Stadium at the Cardinals game, complete with free food, beer, and a bus to take you there an back. And all just having a good Q1.
I quit reading slashdot regularly long ago, as the content was always getting poorer and poorer. I still drop by and check out what they have when I’m bored, but this really reaffirms my belief that slashdot isn’t “News for Nerds”, it’s “News for people who don’t have a clue”.
Programs can check whether certain objects are doing certain things by comparing their numerical values.