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XP style process and battle-fields   25 Sep 04
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Not that I want to promote war in any way, but these posts in the extremeprogramming-ML made me smile:

Phlip:

 During the planning game, you review last week's
 finished stories, and they inspire you to write some
 new cards, to edit some cards, and to toss some cards.
 Then you (the Onsite Customer) re-sort all the cards,
 and draw off the top batch for the next week.

 But another input into this system that affects the
 planning game - the competition.

 The USA occupied Iraq using an effective new battle
 technique. In traditional advances, you send a
 diversionary force against one of your enemies flanks,
 draw them that way, then send your main force against
 their other flank.

 Modern soldiers, with cell-phones and such, follow a
 more agile approach. You simply send two forks of your
 forces, probing towards both flanks. You use sensitive
 algorithms to detect the defending commander's
 decision which flank to defend. If you can rapidly
 turn one advance into the diversion, and the other
 into the main attack, you will soon collapse the
 opposition's ability to effectively make decisions.

 Agile onsite customers can play this card too. If you
 detect your competition's marching orders, in
 real-time (using either sensitive algorithms,
 good-old-fashioned industrial espionage, or just
 reading their self-congratulatory Web site), you can
 then request iteration features which provide the
 minimum amount of code needed to start your project
 towards blocking the competition's advance. This
 technique will, again, collapse the competition's
 ability to make decisions.

 Or convince them to hire an XP coach or three. So
 either way it's a win-win-win for us! ;-)

Steven’s reply: :-)

 Or you could follow the agile strategy that Microsoft
 pioneered - announcing products with your competitions'
 features before you even start implementing them.

How to Construct Bad Charts and Graphs   25 Sep 04
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(Source: Gary Klass) A short but good article in the style of Edward Tufte, the big guru when it comes to displaying data in a meaningful way. Fundamental rule of efficient graphical design: minimize the ratio of ink-to-data The three fundamental elements of bad graphical display are these: Data Ambiguity, Data Distortion, and Data Distraction. link Make sure you check out these classic bibles about envisioning information by Tufte: Envisioning Information and The Visual Display of Quantitative Information

Adapting Extreme Programming   25 Sep 04
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Kent Beck posted this today to the XP-mailinglist.

I’ve been thinking about the problems of applying XP to whole organizations. Turns out this is ground thoroughly covered by the lean production folks.

Here is a paper I found helpful: www.nwlean.net/no_harm.zip The premise is that every step of the transformation must pay for itself.

Getting people to understand that their problems are tractable can be hard, I’ve found. Rob Mee was talking to a guy about TDD on a gig of ours recently. "Sure, yeah, TDD is a great idea." "Why don’t you do it?" "It’ll make us go slower." "But it makes you go faster." "Yes, of course, but it’ll make us go slower." "But it’ll make you go faster" *iterate N times for annoying large N* "Okay, it makes people go faster everywhere but here."

I've never been a Project Manager before   25 Sep 04
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Check out the excellent Dilbert

The Linux Incompatability List   25 Sep 04
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Saw this on /.

"The Linux Incompatibility list is a wiki project that attempts to document hardware that is incompatible with Linux rather than list what is compatible. In the wiki, it is possible to add alternitives so as to push hardware manufacturers to make good binary drivers, publish specifications, or even better, publish open drivers."

Wine-Migration   25 Sep 04
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At Linuxtag in Karlsruhe I met during lunch one of the authors of ganymede. I am the last person in the world to promote the use of the Win32-API, but it can come in handy, when you have to use some legacy software on Linux and do not want to pay license fees for the usual suspects like vmware. Having to maintain only one code-base is sexy, too.

I asked David Guembel, one of the fathers of the software to email me a short describtion:

 On an abstract level, the idea behind our ganymede system is simple: To make
 an application run under Wine (a free Win32-API layer and Windows
 executable loader), it is neccessary to know what parts of the Windows API
 are actually required by that particular piece of software. Software has a
 modular structure - in this context, a module is a Windows executable
 (.DLL, .EXE, .OCX etc.) - and every module provides (exports) certain
 functionality and requires (imports) functionality from other modules.
 Thus, ganymede internally creates a dependency graph of an application's
 binaries. This method is static and does not require anything but a fresh
 installation of the software to be analyzed.

 Before x-raying a Windows application, ganymede parses and stores an
 analysis of the soure code of one or more Wine versions. It automagically
 determines the implementation state of the APIs provided by Wine. During a
 software analysis, the functionality required by the Windows application is
 compared to what Wine provides, and missing or incomplete APIs are
 reported. By storing Wine versions and the dependency structure of the
 analyzed applications in a database, automatic or manual re-analysis with
 different Wine versions is possible. Via the API ganymede itself provides,
 the collected data is accessible in several ways. One application of that
 API is our tool named sysiphus, which uses ganymede and a GUI-based
 approach to semi-automatically determine the best possible Wine
 configuration while providing for the possibility to re-use already
 licensed Windows DLLs to fill the gaps Wine still leaves.

Unit Tests -- just do it!   25 Sep 04
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Been coding a lot these days on SmallWorld. I try to be disciplined and continue adding unit tests to the hundreds of unit tests wherever sth. could go wrong, but ever again I go off the track and code several methods and even entire classes without any tests. It’s simple stuff and hey, this is ruby :-).

Then I sit here for 3 hours trying to understand why the dammed computer does not do what it should. It’s that feeling I hate most. You waste time .. I mean I could as well go skiing or drink a bottle of vodka .. would be about the same productivity progress on my code and at least I would enjoy the sun.

After hitting my head long enough and starting to isolate the stuff .. I found it .. I had forgotten one return in a most trivial three line long method. Shame on me. Now I will go back to being test-infected. test-first is even better. Dammit .. sorry for the rant, but I doubt there are many systems like computers where one comma at the wrong place can make everything go boom. Oh well, try to modify the DNA and do not know what you are doing. :-).

Game Design & Engineering Theory   25 Sep 04
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(Source: Miyamoto’s Tokyo Univ. Lecture Today (July 3), at the Komaba campus of Tokyo University, a lecture was held by Shigeru Miyamoto, director and head of information development at Nintendo Co., Ltd. I’ll write out the main points of the lecture here. I’ve deliberately left some parts out; my apologies for this.

…I arrived at the classroom ten minutes before the lecture began. I was worried that there wouldn’t be any seats left, but I discovered one at the fourth row from the front so I hurried over and sat down. The classroom, which can hold around 200 people, filled up almost instantly. By the time I entered the room, Mr. Miyamoto was already sitting in a chair next to the blackboard.

Since Miyamoto was apparently too busy to make any special preparations for the event, it was decided to move from a traditional lecture format to a more informal discussion. To start off things, the instructor in charge discussed CERO [the Japanese game rating system], age restrictions, GTA, Kakuto Chojin, and other topics related to game regulation.

And then Miyamoto stepped up to the mike. Applause…

www.video-fenky.com/features/miyamoto.html

Just Ship, Baby   25 Sep 04
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(Source: Kent Beck) Short two page essay: The focus on shipping is not an excuse for cutting corners, but perfect adherence to the practices is no excuse for not shipping. groups.yahoo.com/group/extremeprogramming/files/just%20ship.pdf

Software for Slackers   25 Sep 04
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I need this program to stop my internet addiction.

Are you a slacker? So am I. Do you browse the Web, read the news, and write email all day in stead of working? So do I. Does it make you feel miserable and apathetic? Do you tell yourself to stop browsing the fucking Web and get some bloody work done? Do you have absolutely no discipline? I know your pain.

But recent technological advancements have made it possible… There is a cure for your disease!

Years of slacking at the renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology have resulted in a brilliant 461-line Perl script (which includes 130 lines of comments for free!) that makes it all possible! Your productivity will dramatically increase!

Today, I present Lockout: The Self-imposed, Computer-aided Work Enforcer. This program will help you get some work done by not allowing you to browse the Web. It won’t allow you to do anything but work. It’s a miracle! Your colleagues will respect you, your Ph.D. adviser will compliment you, and your boss, if you have one, will probably not notice the difference! It’s amazing! Scroll down! Read more!

Get the program

 

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