Custom Application Development

March 27, 2008  6:30 AM

Web Applications, Small Business and Trust

SJC SJC Profile: SJC

Work Smarter” is the name of the article I read in the April 2008 Entrepreneur Magazine which has prompted another blog post about web applications and their role with small business.  The whole idea of having my key business information and functionality in the hands of another company over which I have absolutely no control is frightful to me.  Continued »

March 25, 2008  6:25 AM

Windows PowerShell Rocks

SJC SJC Profile: SJC

Nobody has ever accused me of adopting software or utilities upon their immediate release. Actually, as the plethora of articles about new product or product under development occur, I look them over briefly, but generally don’t give them much attention. With that said, it is no surprise that I had no clue that Microsoft was developing a new tool for administrators — Windows PowerShell.

Having worked within a UNIX and Linux environment for many years, I became very accustomed to creating powerful scripts to accomplish tasks. Even with the limitations of Microsoft’s command shell, I often would find that I could do things much more quickly at a command line than with a graphical interface. Now Microsoft has given me a whole new tool to learn — and I suspect I will find myself using the command line once again more and more frequently.

I only discovered Windows PowerShell today when I was reading the April edition of Microsoft TechNet Magazine. What caught my eye initially was an article regarding PII (Personally Identifiable Information). The article ( Really talking about security on your system) showed various examples of finding PII on your system using Windows PowerShell. As of this writing I am not finding the article on-line however, as it appears to be the March issue that is on-line at this time.

Getting the glimpse I did of PowerShell from the article had me quickly imagining many uses for the power which seemed to be available using this new tool. I searched for, downloaded and have now installed PowerShell on my XP, Vista and server 2003 systems.

If you have not investigated this free tool from Microsoft I’d suggest that you go for it! I have only begun to look at the functionality available, and I am impressed — and it generally takes a bit for me to be this way about a new product.

March 24, 2008  12:48 PM

Spending the Day with Microsoft

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Last week I had the opportunity to spend the day with Microsoft at their Heroes happen {here} Microsoft 2008 Launch Wave in Boston.  Evidence of Microsoft’s commitment to virtualization were plentiful.  Many of the demonstrations they provided, clearly were accessing virtualized machines.  Application virtualization was not quite as prominently noticeable however I understand one session which I did not attend, their session on virtualization in your infrastructure, did show application virtualization on Windows Server 2008.

I chose to follow the presentations provided in the “developers track” — surprise, surprise?  Microsoft managed to provide information sessions, for the most part, rather than vailed sales pitches — I commend them on that.  Of course, the greatest percentage of sessions and information provided were really geared toward the larger enterprise customers.

It’s always difficult to know after shows like this just what value I have gained from the time spent.  It probably will be a while before I truly understand the value to me, however, having the opportunity to work with the provided Not for Resale software — Server 2008, SQL 2000 and Visual Studio 2008 — I’m sure will provide value to me in the coming months.

March 18, 2008  6:16 AM

Trustworthy Computing

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Since reading the white paper entitled “Trustworthy Computing” on the Microsoft link provided by reader Willie Robinson I have been thinking about the concept of “Trustworthy Computing” ever since, almost to the point of distraction — so I figured it was time to blog about it!

I first noted when reading that Microsoft paper that it was dated in the year 2002.  This prompted me to try a Google search on “trustworthy computing”, and I discovered a recent article posted on entitled “Trustworthy Computing: Examining Trust“.  I found this article particularly interesting because very early on a reference was made to the fact that there is still a long way to go.

I have found myself wondering since reading the Microsoft White paper, just how possible is it to develop the same kind of confidence and trust in our computing environment that we have with our automobiles or telephone?  Computing, however, seems to be an area where there is an every day cat and mouse game being played between the good guys and the bad guys.  What happens when a good guy goes bad?  That has happened!

It seems to me that until the larger issues of global cooperation and trust are resolved, we will not see global trustworthy computing.  On the very first page of Microsoft’s “trustworthy computing” white paper, they state “…  Because computers have to some extent already lost people’s trust…”.  My experience would be that this is a gross understatement.  Significant data breaches have shaken the security foundation to its core, and significantly eroded trust that has been built up in recent years.

If this topic interests you, take a look at this most recent article that I’ve referenced above.  It also is a great read.

March 17, 2008  2:26 PM

Virtualization Revisited

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With much anticipation I find myself preparing my laptop once again to be used as a tool to demonstrate capabilities of software which I developed.  This is no ordinary preparation.  I will soon start an extended road trip during which I will be doing both development and demonstrations.  Last October I wrote in this blog about how valuable virtualization has become in my environment.  Since then, it has become an even more powerful tool which I use daily.  My use of virtualization technology has become a staple component of my development environment. Continued »

March 14, 2008  12:00 PM

Software Quality and Ethics

SJC SJC Profile: SJC

Not many articles come along about which I feel I could become a cheerleader.  However, yesterday’s news on featured an article entitled Test Driven Development and the Ethics of Quality — that is just such an article for me!  [Imagine a smiling, clapping Happy Face Here!].  I have been a believer in producing quality software since my early days of software development in the 80’s.  I must say that I never thought of software quality as an ethical concern.

Within this article, associate editor Jennette Mullaney uses a number of quotes from Robert Martin, who is the founder, CEO and President of Object Mentor Inc.  I really can’t say enough about this article — as it would appear that Mr. Martin and I are completely in agreement.  He thinks the way I do — which some might say is bit of a scary thought — for Mr. Martin that is!

I have been saying for quite some time that this is a fantastic time to be doing software development.  We as developers have multiple tools and capabilities available to us which greatly enhance our capability to produce quality software.  I believe that our customers have every right to expect nothing short of quality software from us as their developers.  This article makes reference to such topics as unit testing, agile development and test driven development(TDD).  If you are a developer and want a boost to help you commit to quality — read this article.  I highly recommend it!

March 13, 2008  6:25 AM

Agile development methods and application value

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An article entitled “BT adopts agile programming” came to my attention today, and had me thinking about how the development method used for a project can have a significant effect on application value.  BT as perhaps you know is the British telecommunications group, and they have seen significant productivity as a result of using agile development methods.  They began using agile development methods back in 2005.

The article I have referenced indicates that using Agile development methods they realized software development cycles which were a minimum of four times faster.  Given the size of BT, it takes no stretch of the imagination to understand how agile development methods have had such a significant impact on the application value.

Since a part of application value is established by the cost of developing the application, certainly the cost savings as realized by BT have a significant part in establishing application value.

I highly recommend this article as a good read.  In addition, there is another article that also makes reference to how BT utilized agile programming.  “Agile Delivery at British Telecom” is also an excellent read.

March 12, 2008  6:49 PM

Measuring Application Value – Step 2

SJC SJC Profile: SJC

In my previous post on measuring application value, I stated that the first place to look in establishing application value, is to complete application requirements definition.  Once you have clearly defined what the application is to consist of, and what value you expect the application to provide — you understand the business process that the application addresses and understand the value of having that business process improved.

With the requirements clearly defined, the next step is to establish, as a minimum, some key milestones that need to be met in order to accomplish the task at hand.  A project management tool can help in this endeavor.  One can get as detailed or general as required by the specific project, but with these milestones in place it provides a basis for creating a timeframe within which each task can be accomplished.

Once the timeframe has been created, it is a relatively easy task to then assign a dollar value for the time given an estimate of the individuals to be working on the project.  This approach can work as well for a large project as for a small.

Your work is not done however, because a thorough examination of your milestones will be required in order to determine the proper approach to completing the project.  That proper approach may take into account the particular development tools to be utilized, the pool of talent available for the development, or perhaps also require you to re-evaluate the steps to be taken as the project progresses.  Establishing a clear approach to the problem will go a long way toward establishing and measuring the application’s value.

March 6, 2008  2:27 AM

More Considerations for Application Value

SJC SJC Profile: SJC

It was with great interest that I read a editorial written by editor Michelle Davidson entitled Don’t Shrug off Buggy Software. In her article, Michelle writes how often, software development teams are in fact, working with projects that can have a life-and-death effect on people. She states , “If something is not done properly, not tested or not fixed, people could actually die. Software defects on planes or automobiles can cause deadly crashes, defects in air traffic control systems can leave pilots unable to fly safely, and defective software in medical devices designed to help people could actually hurt them.”

Talk about application value!

Once again, I find myself wondering – how would one establish the value of such an application? I seriously doubt that any of us would say it’s not a job worth doing right, or that it doesn’t have value. Just how much is a life worth? I’m sure you’ve experienced with each visit to your doctor, the increasing use of computers, and thus software. My Dr. has been dedicated to the latest of technology well before the time that doctors began to recognize the value of computer systems, and networks for small offices tended to be a nightmare.

I’ve had an opportunity to speak with him about the application program which he has been using for the last two or three years, and interestingly enough, the software he uses was originally designed by a doctor during his internship. He was particularly impressed with the software because it just seemed to provide him with everything that he wanted at the time.

Designed by a doctor, for doctors. I believe this is a software ideal not only in the medical field, but also for most industries.

March 5, 2008  1:25 AM

Careful Application Implementation Adds Application Value

SJC SJC Profile: SJC

Some time back I wrote in this blog about how I just hadn’t made the time to implement the voice-recognition software which I purchased a number of months ago. (Dragon Naturally Speaking). With the meltdown of my primary workstation a couple of weeks ago, it was necessary for me to replace my main workstation. This has been a huge project, resulting also in a domino effect with my internal development network. Thankfully now my changes have all been implemented.

However, now that most of the issues involved with replacing my main work station have been resolved, I decided to spend some time this evening to install, train, and actually use my new software. I must say that this has been a great experience. (P. S. I’m not getting paid by Dragon). I now have it working on my main workstation where I intend to use it daily. Who knows, it may even provide me with a tool to be able to blog more frequently!

So what does any of this have to do with software development? One might also ask, what does that have to do with what has been my recent topic — that of application value? What I’m seeing at this point, is that in a very short time this application has proven value to me. I expect that the more I work with this software, the more valuable it will become to my day-to-day operations.

Training, taking the time for training, experimenting, hands-on experience — there is absolutely no substitute for taking the time for successful implementation. The quality of training during the software implementation phase can have a significant impact on the long-range value of the software application.

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