Engage

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I am a full-time consultant who is available to engage with clients remotely or onsite anywhere in the world (I currently hold dual-citizenship between Australia and the United States).

To discuss your specific needs, please call me on +1.650.336.5877, or email me at craig@craigsdickson.com, or use this Contact form, or download a copy of my resume from this page.

The following is an overview of the services I provide to clients:

Software Development Process Improvement

  • Coaching for Agile process evaluation, adoption or improvement, including Scrum, Lean, Kanban and Extreme Programming (XP)
  • Definition, refinement and documentation of team processes and practices
  • Definition of Quality Assurance and Quality Control standards
  • Integration of defect tracking systems with other tools and processes
  • Engagement with customers and requirements elicitation

Software Development Team Management

  • Job Description authoring
  • Salary range and benefits package definition
  • New candidate acquisition and screening
  • Team workspace design and office space evaluation
  • Skills assessment of existing resources
  • Collaboration strategies for teams

Vendor Management

  • New vendor discovery and screening
  • Vendor proposal reviews
  • Offshore vendor management, including onsite visits and reviews
  • One throat to choke multiple vendor management

Software Configuration Management (SCM)

  • Introduction of an SCM system to teams not already using one (Subversion, Git, CVS etc)
  • Subversion and CVS training
  • Subversion and CVS server installation and configuration
  • SCM process definition and documentation, including branching and merging processes
  • SCM system migration, particularly CVS to Subversion

Build Management

  • Implementation of Apache Maven and Apache Ant based build systems
  • Automation of builds, particularly in relation to a Continuous Integration system like CruiseControl or Hudson
  • Management and versioning of produced code artifacts, particularly in relation to an Artifact Repository like Nexus or Artifactory
  • Release numbering strategies and Alpha and Beta customer release programs

Software Architecture & Design

  • Enterprise-level system architecture definition, existing architecture reviews
  • New database design and existing database design review
  • Formal UML based architecture definition

Enterprise Java Development

  • Specialist in full-stack JavaEE development
  • Public API design and documentation for ISVs
  • Web service development and integration
  • Code reviews and performance tuning
  • Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) design and implementation

Web Development

  • HTML, JavaScript and CSS development
  • Integration of AJAX style JavaScript libraries including GWT, JQuery and ExtJS
  • Integration of Adobe Flash and Flex components

Automated Testing Strategies

  • Introduction of tools like JUnit and Sellenium to teams that currently do not do any automated testing
  • Integration of tests into automated build scripts and generation of metrics
  • Static analysis of codebase quality

Mobile Development

  • iPhone application design and development, specializing in integration to JavaEE based back ends
  • Web based mobile development

Social Media Strategy

  • Specializing in small to medium business that do not have dedicated in house Social Media resources
  • Evaluation of current Social Media presence
  • Recommendations for Social Media platforms based on particular business needs and goals
  • Evaluation of Location based services in relation to business needs and goals

Once again, to discuss your needs and to find out how I can help you, please contact me by phone on +1.650.336.5877, by email at craig@craigsdickson.com, or simply use this Contact form. If you would like more detailed information regarding my experience and qualifications, you can download a current copy of my professional resume from this page.

Book Review – The Accidental Billionaires

Posted in: Consulting & Entrepreneurship, Social Networking

This book is a fascinating look at how Facebook started and what it means to go from a college dorm room to a multi-billion dollar valuation in just a few short years.

It is not surprising that there are some casualties on a rocket ride like that, but you cannot explain away all of the deception, backstabbing and betrayal that easily. The book points a finger squarely at Mark Zuckerberg the original brains behind the operation, as the likely cause of many of Facebook’s troubles. The book does elude to the irony that is someone like Mark Zuckerberg, who is by all accounts socially awkward if not entirely inept, running the biggest social networking site the world has ever seen.

The book is a work of non-fiction (or near non-fiction), but it reads like a fiction novel and is easily digestible.

I am the first to admit that I resisted the lure of Facebook until late in 2009, so I was kind of late to the Facebook party. Now with all of the bad press Facebook has been getting lately because of their seemingly cavalier handling of their user’s personal data, I am starting to question whether I made the right decision to create an account at all. This book clearly raises the question as to whether you should be trusting your personal data to Mark Zuckerberg.



How Great Leaders Inspire Action

Posted in: Consulting & Entrepreneurship, Software Development Team Leadership

One of the best TED talks I have seen in a long time. Simon Sinek talks about how companies like Apple can be so successful when compared to their competitors.

Scrum Anti-pattern : Prioritizing Stories Within Sprints

Posted in: Software Development Team Leadership

The prioritization of Stories is a core practice in the Scrum agile development process. In fact it is probably the single most important responsibility of the Product Owner – making sure the Product Backlog is prioritized properly to maximize business value (a.k.a ROI). However, there is a common anti-pattern that I see regularly in which the Product Owner and the Delivery Team act complicitly to establish a priority order for Stories that are being committed too within a single Sprint. The need to do this comes from a negative place and it has dramatic consequences for the Delivery Team.
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Multiple Online-Personality Disorder

Posted in: Personal Branding, Social Networking

With the increased hype and focus on social media and social networking, many people are struggling with trying to keep their public/private lives, or their professional/personal lives separate. And for those people, I have some bad news – there can be only one You in social media!
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O.C. the Rodney Dangerfield of LinkedIn?

Posted in: Social Networking

… LinkedIn, the business-oriented social networking site, groups Orange County not just with Los Angeles but Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties, under the umbrella of “Greater Los Angeles.”

A group of Orange County business people recently hollered, “Enough!” … 2,500 have joined the We Are Orange County group on LinkedIn to persuade LinkedIn to use Orange County as a member geographic designation.

Read more in this OC Register Article.

Why Marketing Is Too Important To Be Left To The Marketing Department

Posted in: Consulting & Entrepreneurship

I just finished watching this exceptional presentation by Seth Godin (http://sethgodin.typepad.com/).

If you are a software developer, software entrepreneur or even a marketing person that works with a software team, I am confident you will get something out of this.

The presentation is from the Business of Software conference (http://blog.businessofsoftware.org/) in 2008.

links for 2009-06-22

Posted in: Social Networking

QOTW for 2009-06-12

Posted in: Quotable Quotes

While real people will use your really bad product because they are paid to use it, if it is a good product with decent behavior, productivity will climb. You can walk into any organization and spot the SAP users – they are crying in the corner. You can’t tell me that that’s good for business.

- Alan Cooper
(from “An Insurgence of Quality”)

JavaOne 2009 – (Mostly) Important Questions (Mostly) Answered

Posted in: Enterprise Java

A few days before JavaOne I posted some questions that I was looking forward to finding out the answers too. Here is what I found out.

Has Hudson Killed CruiseControl?
I saw a couple of presentations on Hudson. I also saw Kohsuke Kawaguchi at the Thirsty Bear and he was drinking the good beer, so clearly Hudson is verging on world domination under his guidance.

I never saw Cruisecontrol mentioned anywhere. Not in the conference catalog and not in the pavilion.

I am now even more convinced that Hudson is the way forward for open source Java Continuous Integration.

What Will Be The Volume Of The Twitter Noise Coming From Inside The Conference?
There was definitely a strong stream of Tweets around the #javaone keyword all week. I was able to get a different perspective during the General Sessions by watching the Twitter stream go by as people Tweeted about what was being said on stage.

But what I will say is that I was able to keep up with the volume of Tweets. I mention this because I started to try and follow the #wwdc keyword this week as the Apple conference was going on and I simply could not keep up, not even close. Every time my TweetDeck was refreshing, I was getting more than 100 Tweets during the opening keynote. I gave up in the end and turned the live search off.

Also, while I saw some people Tweet about “is there a Tweetup?“, I never actually saw anyone take the bold step to be the organizer of one.

So definitely more Twittering going on, but nothing earth shattering. I was also hoping to see a vendor try and use Twitter as a medium for some kind of viral promotion during the conference, but I didn’t see anything that creative unfortunately.

Will AJAX Presentations Be THE Place To Be Seen For A 3rd Year Running?
So there were definitely a lot of AJAX based presentations. There were also a lot of REST presentations, which (at least in my experience) seem to always stray over into the AJAX world.

But there were also probably an equal number of JavaFX presentations. Although I would take the amount of JavaFX presentations and other buzz with a grain of salt as it is Sun’s pet project and it was their conference.

There was even an AJAX vs JavaFX presentation to round things out on that front.

But I do think my prediction of all topics related to the cloud as being the hot topics of the conference was probably correct – probably only outnumbered by speculation related to the whole Sun/Oracle situation. There was a track on the Monday morning related to the cloud, there was an unconference on the Monday afternoon called “Cloud Camp”, Sun showed off cloud related provisioning in the Tuesday morning keynote and there were a whole pile of regular sessions either related to new cloud topics, or just repositioning old topics to add the buzzword cloud to their repertoire.

What Will The Oracle Presence Be?
So a bit of a mixed bag on this front.

As most people who care already know, Larry Ellison made an appearance at the keynote on Tuesday morning. I was actually rooting for him to not show up at all – I think that would have been the best play for Oracle. I think McNealy played it well, but it was obvious that both men were a little uncomfortable and they stumbled on some awkward topics during the time they shared the stage. I don’t actually think Larry really cleared any of the FUD related to the situation even though he tried to reassure people that Oracle “likes” Java.

Beyond Larry’s appearance though, Oracle’s presence was actually less than previous years. Most notably, Oracle had absolutely zero presence in the pavilion this year. You can speculate to heart’s content as to why that was. I believe there was at least one session from Oracle personnel, but I did not make it to that one.

I didn’t see any Oracle signage around the conference, it pretty much was business as usual from that standpoint.

What Will The Reaction To The Microsoft Keynote Be?
This turned out to be a dud when compared to the chatter leading up to it.

There was little reaction from the crowd, although from my quick eyeballing of the room, it seemed to be the smallest attendance for keynote during the week.

Basically Microsoft told us that integration is import – wow, thanks for that, welcome to the party. The rest of it was a thinly veiled marketing pitch, which never goes over well at a technical conference.

Will Jonathon Schwartz Look As Uncomfortable And Awkward As Usual?
Believe it or not, I actually think Schwartz did a reasonable job on the Tuesday morning. It didn’t feel quite as stiff as usual. His interaction with partners etc. was still a little cumbersome but nothing worse than I have seen elsewhere.

I was super happy to see Scott McNealy make an appearance – it was clearly the highlight of the keynote. I also think Sun made the right call to have McNealy be the one to address the elephant in the room. The standing ovation he received when he left the stage I think was evidence of that and was also the highpoint of the whole keynote.

Will James Gosling’s Toy Show Seem Overly Long And Desperate Again?
The toy show was the same old story as expected. I sat through it and there are some interesting niche type Java things going on, but I still left the session with overwhelming sense of “meh”.

I think the most interesting part of the Friday morning keynote was the fact that there was absolutely no acknowledgment of the Oracle/Sun situation at all, nor was there any acknowledgment that this was probably the end of JavaOne, at least as we know it today. I had predicted the Friday morning keynote to be somewhat emotional with a bunch of farewells and look-backs, but as it turns out, the Tuesday morning keynote was the one that had the emotion in it.

Will The Lunch Lines Be Under Control?
Nope, lunch lines were ridiculous as usual.

I am always impressed at how megalomaniacal the event staff get at Moscone during these big conferences.

Will It Be Crazy Cold in Yerba Buena Gardens on Thursday Night Again?
I was way off on this one.

The weather was forecast to be horrible on Thursday and so the event staff moved the party to the ballroom at the Marriott on 4th street. As it turns out it was perfectly dry on Thursday and it could have easily been held outside, but it was certainly cold.

The party was actually pretty good and the band was excellent for the setting IMHO and the food was significantly better than last year’s corn dogs and popcorn.

Will The Bookstore Be Given More Space?
Nope, exactly the same space, exactly the same pushy-shovey experience trying to browse the books.

Will Enough People Use me As A Reference So I Can Get The Better Swag?
Unfortunately no. :(

Why are the A’s and Giants both playing away all week?
The MLB has declined to comment on this obvious conspiracy.