October 2004 - Posts
There I was, so happy with myself. ProjectDistributor was ticking along
nicely and I was oblivious to the fact that I - being the bonehead that I am -
had totally broken the Contact forms which are attached to the individual
Projects. It obviously broke late last week when I turned ViewState off
for most of the pages.
So, If you've been trying to send feedback to Groups regarding their projects
can you please go and re-try; they work now, promise!
There's a Bedouin proverb which goes like this:
Me against my brother
Me and my brother against my
Me, my brother and my cousin against the foreigner
In the past two years there's been a rash of websites which have sprung up to
cater for the formation of communities and, looking at them, you really have to
wonder whether we have improved the ability to foster a rich community
Communities which prosper over the next 12 months will be communities who are
able to create a mentoring atmosphere and gain retention by helping struggling
users to learn better ways of doing things or, to provide some sort of
validation as to where they fit within the wider community pool.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not against "Top N X" lists; I'm just concerned that
we are producing boilerpate community sites from a template which may not be a
[ Nothing Playing. ]
The other day I mentioned that I was on the cusp of an important decision
regarding my career and implied - via my
favourite piece of poetry - that there were 2 distinct paths that I
could take. After asking some colleagues for advice I was pointed towards
a wonderful parable titled "Buridan's ass":
A paradox of medieval logic concerning the behaviour of an ass who is
placed equidistantly from two piles of food of equal size and quality. Assuming
that the behaviour of the ass is entirely rational, it has no reason to prefer
one pile to the other and therefore cannot reach a decision over while pile to
eat first, and so remains in its original position and
No answers of course but at least it offers some sound perspective into the paranoia surrounding the decision making process.
I downloaded and installed PostXING today:
Distributor :: Blue
Fenix :: PostXING
The download comes with source code and is packed full of features. I
mostly grabbed it for the cross-posting functionality so that I can more easily
maintain the 2 or 3 blogs that I currently run. The tool not only handles
cross-posting but also offers rich functionality for commonly used features such
- Inserting syntax highlighted snippets
- It imports all categories from your blog
- Allows for, not only blog configurations but also Ftp configs for
uploading images and files
I know that Chris did some work recently on the tool and, although there's
not much more to add to make it totally awesome I've already noted that it could
probably do with offline functionality. If you use the tool and have
ideas about enhancements you can offer them via the feedback form for the
OK, so you are talking with a client and a couple of their developers when they client turns to you and says: "We've heard a bit about SOA, what is it exactly?". You've got 3 minutes... GO!
UPDATE: Here's my basic version of the pitch:
SOA is popular because it allows disparate system to be connected while remaining independant internally.
Services connect via a messaging layer, meaning that data can be exchanged through schematized data structures.
The message layer provides a layer of of indirection which allows individual Services to be maintained independantly behind their external facade. This indirection allows for a plug-and-play style of architecture allowing individual services to be maintained or upgraded with less stress placed on regression testing of dependant linkages.
When creating project plans make sure that you define some interim milestones for the development phase. Interim milestones allow the development team to see measurable progress and provide key stakeholders with visibility about the progress of the project. Interim deliverables are also used to keep bottlenecks to a minimum and to reduce complexity when it comes to things such as testing and regression testing.
Recently I've seen a couple of projects become unstable through a lack of clearly defined interim deliverables.
In his presentation titled: "21 rules of thumb for shipping Great Software on time", Jim McCarthy talks about how an application is like a big bowl of jelly and how it is important to get to a known point and stay there. Getting to a known state allows the jelly to stop wobbling and again gives everybody with a clearer vision of measurable progress. The projects that I've seen go pear shaped were being developed in a fashion whereby it was not possible to get to a known state until the end of the project.
Recently, on one very recent project (which had a particularly low morale and was showing clear signs of being a Colonel Kurtz project) I was able to turn momentum within days by simply laying out some important interim milestones and hitting them early. These deliverables were designed to get important features to a "complete" stage and into test quickly which had a positive knock-on effect of restarting the communication between stakeholders as feedback trickled back from test into dev and up the chain of command. Everybody was energized and the juggernaut lurched forward; momentum is good.
Last word... interim milestones should mark important peaks. Don't set interim milestones around trivial marks.
The Road Not Taken has long been my favourite piece of poetry because of its darkness and its deep sense of nostalgia. I read it whenever my life reaches an important juncture as I search for meaning and answers to unanswerable questions...
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
ProjectDistributor is now pretty stable and nearly feature complete for iteration 1. This application was created as a place to store small or trivial pieces of code. Either code which was expensive to create - such as a prototype - or code which will be useful again in the future - such as a macro, server control or stored procedure.
It's not that clear on the site "yet", but, there are 2 levels of membership on the site: Users and Groups.
Users have the ability to login and use their "User Profile" page to store bookmarks to their favourite online tools. You can view my user profile page here:
Once you are a user you are eligible to create a Group. You need a Group to upload and manage your own tools and widgets. If you want a Group just let me know what you'd like the name of your group to be. I need a GroupName - which will form part of the Url for your landing
page and a GroupFriendlyName which will be used as the display name of your group. For example, my group is:
GroupName : MarkItUp
GroupFriendlyName : MarkItUp
And you can see my Groups landing page here:
Groups can actually have multiple users and they can be either private or public, likewise, you can have Projects which are private or public.
One of the major drawcards of the site is the WebServices:
...these could allow you to potentially host your tools (and their source) on ProjectDistributor and serve them up on your own site via Webservice calls.
If you'd like to host your tools/widgets/etc on ProjectDistributor, create yourself a User account and shoot me an e-mail with your preferred Group details and I'll set it straight up for you.
Just posted a prototype for new reuseable Wizard Framework on ProjectDistributor:
Project Distributor :: MarkItUp - Hierarchy Wizard
Patricks Cooney, theorizes over a new project management orthodoxy...http://www.patrickcooney.com/weblog.aspx?i=61
How do we spot Kurtz projects? Try the following:
- Scanty information: Nobody is saying anything, documentation is non-existent or irrelevant, ship dates are not seriously discussed
- Messianic leader, whispers of insanity
- Total collapse in the chain of command
- The project team has 'gone up the river', and nobody knows when they are coming back
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