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When Should We Test?   25 Sep 04
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Kent Beck, one of the people that invented extreme programming (XP) offers an economic model. The financial risk management community and the software development community can learn a lot from each other. Think of this article as: When should you put Risk Management into place?

Amongst other things this article tells you when best to have children :-). groups.yahoo.com/group/extremeprogramming/files/when%20should%20we%20test.pdf

[ANN] DataVision 0.8.2 released; upgrades to JRuby 0.7.0   25 Sep 04
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DataVision 0.8.2 is now available from SourceForge at sourceforge.net/project/showfiles.php?group_id=33343

DataVision is an Open Source reporting tool similar to Crystal Reports. Reports can be designed using a drag-and-drop GUI. They may be run, viewed, and printed from the application or exported as HTML, XML, PDF, LaTeX2e, DocBook, or tab- or comma-delimited text files. The output files produced by LaTeX2e and DocBook can in turn be used to produce PDF, text, HTML, PostScript, and more.

DataVision is written in Java and uses JRuby to add Ruby scripting.

Visualising wikis   25 Sep 04
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been surfing to get good ideas about visualising knowledge.

The pics shows "history flow" from IBM research. Tons of other good links can be found in the c2-wiki.

Visualising is really interesting and up for a major change. I am totally sick of all these boring search-engines out there and yeah, grep -r is still my best friend. Another reason why I despise MS-Word, he, he and use LaTeX. It took me years to fall in love with that programming-language, which happens to be a word-processor, too.

Executive Dashboard   25 Sep 04
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Thanks to Sven C. Koehler. He pointed out me to Edward Tufte’s interesting forum. There are some interesting answeres in the thread, esp. the graphic about the patient. Isn’t every company a patient? :-)
 I'm developing an executive dashboard, and I haven't been satisfied
 with the business graphics that are widely available
 (e.g. gauges, dials, stoplights). I decided to make a "Zen" version
 of a KPI status indicator, using as little color as possible,
 and incorporating E.T's innovative "Spark Line" metaphor for display
 of trends. The graphic below shows the proposed KPI display across
 the top of a browser screen with a descriptive example in the middle.
 Any feedback would be wonderful!

 Comments: Because of complex KPI names (e.g. This Week versus Last Week
 Sales (All Divisions), KPIs were labeled with Roman numerals.
 Balloon help could display the KPI name when the cursor brushes the
 KPI indicator.

link

POV-Ray - getting 10 years old   25 Sep 04
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"The Lovers" by Gilles Tran (2001). Find more in the Hall of Fame

I still remember my first ray traced spheres on old XTs 15 years ago :-).

There is a competition and the monthly irtc. See the May-June viewing page and relax.

Computers are a grate time-killer, especially once you get into 3D images and animations. Enjoy it!

The Best and Worst of Statistical Graphics   25 Sep 04
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This Gallery of Data Visualization displays some examples of the Best and Worst of Statistical Graphics, with the view that the contrast may be useful, inform current practice, and provide some pointers to both historical and current work. We go from what is arguably the best statistical graphic ever drawn, to the current record-holder for the worst. link

Only hire people who pair?   25 Sep 04
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(Source: Chad Woolley posted this to the extremeprogramming-ML) Here’s an interesting experience I had when interviewing for an XP shop, and one I will definitely keep in mind in future interviews, whether I am the hirer or hiree.

As part of my interview, I was required to sit and pair program for about half an hour. We worked on an writing a unit test for an actual defect that currently existed on the project (although it could easily have been a real user story, or a contrived scenario if the project had not yet started).

I thought this was a great idea, and a great source of knowledge for both sides. I was able to show that I did indeed know how to program, write unit tests, knew my way around an IDE, had acceptable interpersonal communication skills, etc. I was also able to get a different perspective on what the team dynamics were like, which I could not have gotten from a formal interview setting.

The interesting thing is that both me and my partner (one of the interviewers) taught each other about some tools and approaches that we were not previously aware of.

Even though I didn’t get the job (the position was withdrawn), I kept in touch and became friends with the interviewer/partner, and the things we taught each other came in useful in our future development work.

This company also asked for code samples and a mini-presentation, which I also thought was a great idea for separating the wheat from the chaff.

Since I have had responsibility for helping interview, select and recommend job candidates in the past, I know for a fact that the best resume and interview performance in the world is inconclusive. You can still get a lemon, even though the lemon may be very good at piling on the BS.

From my perspective as a job candidate, I am confident in my skills and my abilities. I know that I can quickly adapt and excel in any position within my skill set. However, its very frustrating when I cannot convince the potential employer of this through only a traditional resume and interview.

In future interviews that I go for (which will hopefully only be with XP/Agile shops), I am going to suggest this as a way for the hiring company to get a better idea of my skills, knowledge and abilities, both technical and interpersonal. If I am ever part of a hiring team in the future, I will definitely propose that code samples and a pair-programming session be part of the interview process for candidates who make it to the final stages. This is admittedly very time-consuming, but probably much less net investment than being forced to live with (or try to get rid of) an employee who looked much better "on paper".

Thanks, Chad

Kaizen Events   25 Sep 04
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(Source: Keith Ray) Keith Ray has an interesting entry on Kaizen Events in his blog. Kaizen Event definition from Ray’s blog: The Kaizen method is a "rapid improvement process" utilizing a cross-functioning group of managers and employees working as a team to meet targets in a results-oriented focus on a predefined project area. The process may take the following steps: define the problem/opportunity, choose the best people, and correct the problem in one week or less using Kaizen tools and techniques. The ultimate goal is to significantly reduce costs, reduce lead times, reduce required inventory space, enhance workforce empowerment, eliminate waste, and focus on continuous improvement. The Kaizen process may include: new product development, robotics, total quality control, Just-in-Time, statistical quality control, labor and management relations, or other concepts.

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."

Agile Processes Summarized   25 Sep 04
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(Source: Ron Jeffries and Alistair Cockburn, XP-ML)

I think that to get a group to be agile, you have to get people to do something like one of these things:

  1. Go in that room there and do all 12 XP practices until you actually do know better. (XP)
  2. Go in that room there, don’t let anyone screw with you, work on whatever you think you can get done for a month. Keep doing that until everyone is happy. (Scrum)
  3. Go in that room there, in peace love and understanding, ship software every month (*), and think about it. (Crystal Clear.)

There is a telling sameness to all of these, is there not? —> This is a wonderful summary of a summary! There’s not much to be removed (see Saint-Exupery, below). In Italian, the expresso of an espresso is called a "ristretto" (any Italians online?). This is the agile ristretto. It belongs on a Blog or something. "La perfection est atteinte non quand il ne reste rien a ajouter, mais quand il ne reste rien a enlever." (Saint-Exupery)

 

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