Uncharted Waters

March 16, 2015  9:25 AM

HP Is Patenting Continuous Delivery

Justin Rohrman Justin Rohrman Profile: Justin Rohrman

Feburary 20th of 2014, HP published a patent (originally filed in 2012) for implementing performance tests in an environment using continuous delivery. The content of the patent is pretty general, there are definitions of benchmarking, explanations of tests being run in parallel against multiple systems, as well as mentions of test repositories and an engine that will drive everything.

Software patents are controversial, especially  the patents that don’t specifically describe implementation and integration.

Let’s see how far reaching, and maybe overbearing this one is.

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March 12, 2015  10:17 AM

Even Technical Writing Deserves A Real Voice

Michael Larsen Michael Larsen Profile: Michael Larsen

One of my daily frustrations is reading through technical documentation. Sometimes it is for my own product (and thus, internal). Much of the time, it also involves materials on the web, i.e. researching an open source tool. There is a brisk trade in the book market today for technology titles, especially those related to tools, to help us make sense of what we use each day. A lot the technical documentation available is written by programmers or engineers. I don’t mean to criticize, but the fact is, much of what is written is, at best, challenging to understand.

I am often called upon to write technical documentation, so I find that I become the person I complain about. It’s easy to put commands or instructions together as though it were a script, and leave it as is. After all, the people who will be reading my docs are smart people. They’ll figure it out, right?

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March 9, 2015  9:15 AM

Who Benefits From Code Refactoring?

Justin Rohrman Justin Rohrman Profile: Justin Rohrman

ITWorld recently published an article about a study claiming refactoring usually doesn’t result in improved code quality. The authors of the study say “Even though some of those studies claim that refactoring improves the quality of software, most of them did not provide quantitative evidence”

There are other claims in the study that are a little concerning — refactoring doesn’t make code easier to change, doesn’t make code run faster, and refactored code isn’t more resource efficient.

My first instinct is to question the premise and techniques of the study.

But, does the study even matter?

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March 5, 2015  3:09 PM

Is Your Killer App Slowly Killing You?

Michael Larsen Michael Larsen Profile: Michael Larsen

I’ve been working with technology professionally now for twenty-four years, and in all that time, there is one “killer app” that just will not go away. This app may, frankly, be causing stress that is bad for our overall health. I am, of course, talking about E-Mail.

Your Inbox has 99,999 Unread Messages

I have E-mail for business, for personal endeavors, and for community activities. My apps send me email to tell me I’m being a slacker about something I should be doing. I have aspired to live the “Inbox Zero” life, and have made several attempts, yet somehow, it always comes back, layers of sediment, to the point where, some days, opening my Inbox fills me with dread.

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March 2, 2015  9:28 AM

Installing Windows 8.1 On A Mac

Justin Rohrman Justin Rohrman Profile: Justin Rohrman

I’m writing this post from a fresh installation of Windows 8.1 on a MacBook Pro. I spent about half of Saturday researching, and downloading files, installing things, and waiting. There was a lot of waiting.

Systems administration isn’t my idea of a good time, so this was a little tedious for me. There were some lessons learned, and if gathering all of this in one place helps one person, then that’s great.

Here we go.

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February 27, 2015  2:24 PM

Beyond ‘Fail Fast’

Matt Heusser Matt Heusser Profile: Matt Heusser

web-failoftenWhen you consider that “fail fast” is a mantra of the lean startup movement, a silicon valley catchphrase, its own book, and thirty-six thousand google search results, the term must be right … right?

Well, sort of. To the extent that fail fast enables people to experiment, to try new things, to learn from them instead of continuing to bang their heads against the wall in the hope of getting through — sure. Fail fast is good.

And we can do better.

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February 26, 2015  6:00 AM

With All Our Programming, Let Us Get Practice

Michael Larsen Michael Larsen Profile: Michael Larsen

In the ITKE Discussion forums, a question was posed that I felt compelled to answer.

“Can someone explain the benefits of my life after completing my Java courses?”

19th century image of machine connected to student's heads.

I am no stranger to course work related to programming. In the mid 1990s, I earned a Certificate for UNIX Programming through the University of California at Santa Cruz. While I completed the Certificate program, much of the advanced C language work I focused on was never used again. The shell scripting I learned, however, I still use today. Why? The shell scripting skills had an immediate and tangible effect on my work.

It’s great to learn a new language, or get some time experimenting with a new framework, but experimenting with it alone isn’t going to help us keep those skills. In fact, the speed in which we lose skills that we develop but don’t use can be frighteningly fast. What can we do to make sure that we actually use what we are learning?

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February 23, 2015  10:16 AM

How Netflix Makes Software

Justin Rohrman Justin Rohrman Profile: Justin Rohrman
Software testing

Last week I went to snowy Columbus, OH for a regional software / quality assurance conference called QA Or The Highway. QA Or The Highway is a one day conference, this year, it was preceded by a one day workshop on teaching software test design.


The workshop and conference were fantastic, but the conference keynote was particularly interesting to me. Gareth Bowles did the closing keynote on his experience working at Netflix and why they do a lot of testing in production rather than the normal pre-release testing we see.

Lets take a closer look at his keynote.

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February 19, 2015  10:14 AM

The World Needs Starters and Finishers

Michael Larsen Michael Larsen Profile: Michael Larsen

I’ve had both the pleasure and the challenge to lead an initiative over the past five years called Weekend Testing. It’s a loose model based on the idea that a session is announced, a mission is declared, and people are invited to participate over Skype. It takes place over  the course of two hours. The sessions are informative, fun and, in my opinion, very organic. While I may have a general idea of a topic or a goal, where the session will go or how it will be received is anyone’s guess.


The biggest challenge for me personally is to try to come up with topics that are unique and interesting. I’m not alone in this initiative, I have a couple of other facilitators that help with developing sessions as well (my fellow Unchartered Waters writer Justin Rohrman being one of them). It was during a recent conversation with Justin, as we were discussing how to propose new sessions, that we started talking about how difficult it can be to make something that is “new”. As we were talking, I shared with him what I call the “Becker-Fagan Effect”. What is that, you ask?

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February 16, 2015  7:15 PM

More On Social Classes

Justin Rohrman Justin Rohrman Profile: Justin Rohrman

Last week, I talked about a way of thinking about thinking of social classes in software companies. The less obvious it is that we make money for a company, or the more often we have to deliver bad news, the less likely it is that we are part of the ‘it’ crowd.

How does the model effect us in a practical sense, and how do we change it from a dart board with defined boundaries, to more of a swimming pool where everyone is mingling?

Continued »

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