Uncharted Waters


December 15, 2014  3:24 PM

Heads I Win, Tails You Lose

Matt Heusser Matt Heusser Profile: Matt Heusser

A coin flipThe company I was working for had traditional cubicles and was considering an office redesign. “Extreme Programming” was all the rage; people were talking about war rooms with no walls. I was much more interested in the private office, likely due to PeopleWare, which I read very early in my career. I even suggested to my manager that we ask our design firm to read PeopleWare, too.

The next five minutes blew my mind. Continued »

December 15, 2014  11:52 AM

Are Certifications Worth It?

Justin Rohrman Justin Rohrman Profile: Justin Rohrman

Certifications can be found in every niche corner of the high tech industry: networking, hardware, programming languages, process models, auditing models, software testing, and so on. This is a big business and it seems to only grow as time passes.

diploma

There is a spectrum of certifications to chose from. At one extreme, you sign into an account online, take a test, and get a PDF in your inbox a little later with your name on it to show at your next interview or performance review.

Are you sure you need to be certified?

Continued »


December 10, 2014  2:06 PM

How To Build The Future

Matt Heusser Matt Heusser Profile: Matt Heusser

Zero to one bookLast year I suggested a stocking stuff in Cubu, a strategy game with a politics angle.

I’d like this years gift to say something about my company, Excelon Development, in what we are trying to do, and what it means. Eventually I landed on a book by Peter Thiel, co-founder of paypal and an early investor in Facebook and Twitter.  Zero To One: Notes on Startups, or How To Build the Future covers a great deal of ground, including different kinds of change and what a startup needs to succeed. Perhaps most insightful, I found Thiel explaining the why behind the thinking in Silicon Valley, including the Lean Startup thinking that is so common today, and where it came from.

Continued »


December 10, 2014  11:15 AM

Humility and Technology

Justin Rohrman Justin Rohrman Profile: Justin Rohrman

Tech jobs are often steeped in ego contests and political games. Matt wrote about a scenario he calls ‘Faking it‘, where some people will navigate their way to the top of a company by doing anything except work that directly adds value. Telling the difference between bad and good and great work is difficult for folks that have been out of the game for a while. People still in the game, I mean the technical contributors, often want to advance through the ranks. The obvious route to that is sometimes self-promotion. I mean working specifically so that each thing you do is a strategic step toward a raise or promotion.

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http://dilbert.com/strips/comic/2010-03-26/

There is also a more difficult route of humility and service. I’d like to talk about both.

Continued »


December 9, 2014  12:33 PM

You Keep Saying Diversity, Does it Mean What You Think it Means?

Michael Larsen Michael Larsen Profile: Michael Larsen

During the latter part of November, I had the pleasure of attending EuroSTAR 2014 in Dublin, Ireland. Many of the talks delivered at this conference focused on diversity in the workplace. I think it is imperative we endeavor to engage the the creative talents of as many people as possible, and that we do so without regard to gender, ethnic background, sexual orientation, or factors related to physical mobility and information processing. These are areas frequently used to describe diversity. They are the most visible, and therefore, should rightly be considered examples of “external diversity”. That’s important, but it’s only part of the story.

five chairs with a rainbow

Let’s make sure we look at the whole picture when it comes to diversity.

Continued »


December 1, 2014  2:34 PM

Why is This Taking so Long: A Note on Velocity

Justin Rohrman Justin Rohrman Profile: Justin Rohrman

Things almost never take the amount of time we initially think they will, do they?

Programming is no exception. We can sorta kinda figure out how long a task will take to complete using yesterdays weather, but todays weather is complicated.

Here is the dirty secret. Well, it isn’t all that secret.

roadblock

Developers work long hours, often late into the night toward the end of a development cycle, to get things done. Done as in something that can be shipped. This isn’t because of estimate problems, though they certainly don’t help. This usually isn’t because of misunderstanding scope, there are many ways to solve that problem.

The work never gets done on time because the programmers can’t get it done on time. There are too many impediments for them to do the work.

Let’s talk about that.

Continued »


November 24, 2014  10:03 PM

Making A Better Resume

Justin Rohrman Justin Rohrman Profile: Justin Rohrman

A few weeks ago I wrote about the possibility of a shortage in technical talent. It’s difficult out there for both employers and employees. Companies are struggling to find the people they need and people are struggling to find companies they actually want to work for.

Matt Heusser wrote about a scenario where some folks lie a little bit on their resume to get into a job, delegate their way through projects, and social-engineer their way up to the top of an org chart.

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I want to talk about honor and truth.

I also want to talk about how to help people get the jobs they want starting with what is often the first impression, the cover letter.

Continued »


November 21, 2014  11:14 AM

A Leadership Secret

Matt Heusser Matt Heusser Profile: Matt Heusser

The Hard Thing About Hard ThingsAt a recent lunch with friends, one of them asked if I missed the security and simplicity of a 9-to-5 job. Wasn’t I scared?

The truth is yes. Oh yes, I am scared. Scared every day. I feel, a bit, as the neanderthal in the jungle must have felt thousands of years ago. Each time the neanderthal woke up to go hunting, he was alive, engaged in the moment. He may have gone hungry, he may lose in battle to a large animal, or perhaps, captured the tiger and fed for a month. As long as the neanderthal is living, though, he is living free.

I feel more … alive running Excelon Development than I can remember in my professional life. But scared? Certainly. Running a small consulting business is scary.

So when I heard that Ben Horowitz, a founder at Netscape (and multiple other companies) had a book out on entrepreneurship titled “The Hard Thing About Hard Things“, I was intrigued. When I realized the subtitle was “Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers”, I immediately purchased the book and read it in one sitting. The most obvious lesson in the book isn’t quite what I expected, though.

Let me tell you about it. Continued »


November 20, 2014  6:00 AM

My View of the Future: Mixed, but Guardedly Optimistic

Michael Larsen Michael Larsen Profile: Michael Larsen

As I was looking at Maxine Giza’s article regarding the Long Term IT Outlook, I was drawn to the areas many people cited as concerns. I likewise see that there are many challenges we are all facing, and that challenges differ between organizations. How optimistic or pessimistic we are depends a lot on where we are, what we do, and how flexible we are with the work we do. With that, here are several concerns voiced in the article, and my comments about them.

They’ve Chained Nature, but They Will Never Make It Sing by Peter Kurdulija

We may have limitations, but we can always grow around them.

Continued »


November 19, 2014  9:24 AM

NoTesting makes NoSense

Justin Rohrman Justin Rohrman Profile: Justin Rohrman

It is not uncommon for people in technology to occasionally shoot a provocative idea out into the wild and then make a temporary show of it. David Heinemeier Hansson did this recently by claiming that TDD is dead, and Woody Zuill did the same with NoEstimates.

A lot of the time, the conversation softens a bit when you step away from the loud title and figure out what the person is really trying to say. That can be difficult to do.

Bob Marshall is now following suit with a twitter tag and blog post on something he is calling NoTesting. Daniel Kirmse wrote a post in a similar vein asserting that there are no agile testers.

His post outlines a couple of main needs in creating software such as customers wanting products that work, companies needing a positive reputation, and people on the development teams needing to feel competent.

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The question being posed via the NoTesting hashtag is “Is testing the best way for a company to meet these needs?”

Lets take a closer look at the question, the premise, the rhetoric, and test this idea.

Continued »


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