Good riddance Lotus Notes

Posted in: System Administration

As of today I no longer need to have Lotus Notes installed on my Macbook Pro! Woo hoo!

I was very excited at the prospect of uninstalling it (yes, uninstalling bad software is all it takes to get me excited). Lotus Notes is far and away the largest installation on my laptop. It weighs in at an incredible 792 MB! The next largest application I have installed is iPhoto at 430 MB and then follows Gimp at 263 MB. There would be very few people that would argue that Lotus Notes provides more functionality per megabyte than Gimp does. In my experience IBM is especially good at producing bloatware, but even this is beyond any rational (pun intended) explanation.

What makes it worse is that Lotus Notes is a just plain awful tool to use. So its a one-two punch, first it takes up ridiculously unjustified amounts of disk space, then it rubs salt in that wound by just being horrible to use. Nothing has ever made me long for Microsoft Outlook like Lotus Notes does, and that is saying something since I am a self-confessed Apple fan-boy.

I am pretty sure my laptop sighed in relief when I deleted Lotus Notes, like a giant burden had been lifted from its shoulders.

The only upside to Lotus Notes, is that it does have an Apple version at all, although this is more due to the fact that the recent versions are based on Eclipse (ie. Java), not so much that IBM really loves Apple users in any way.

Farewell Lotus Notes, it was depressing and frustrating to know you, and I hope we never cross paths again.

Microsoft Hates Testing … Um, No Surprise There

Posted in: Software Development Best Practices

A colleague of mine forwarded an article to me during this last week, which he prefaced with the following statement …

guys, I’ll write it in all caps and bold:

I AM NOT PROMOTING OR IN AGREEMENT OF ANY OF THE POINTS THE ARTICLE MAKES.

… which begs the question, why did he send it not only to me, but an entire team of people? I choose to believe it was because he is an enlightened soul that understands that the best way to reinforce your own beliefs is to read more of the opposing point of view, not more of the view you already have. I am lucky to have a few of these souls working for me right now.
Continue reading »

What is a browser?

Posted in: Uncategorized

It seems like an easy question. A web browser has become so integral to today’s computing experience that it would be hard to imagine what a computer without one would be useful for.

But take a look at this video that Google has posted on YouTube.

So if we ignore that this video is produced by Google and so the results are obviously predisposed to further their own agenda, then I think there are still a few interesting things that come to mind when watching this.

Firstly, I think software developers can sometimes get a little myopic about who their customers are, and I definitely make that mistake myself sometimes. Much of my day revolves around my laptop and my web browser, but for a lot of people, perhaps most people, this is not the case. So we should be careful about making too many assumptions about what our users will or will not understand and how they will or will not use our software.

Secondly, I think that this kind of proves out that the whole debate about whether Microsoft ships Windows with IE embedded in the OS or not is kind of moot. As it turns out, there is a pretty large number of people that can’t identify what IE even is, let alone whether it is IE or Firefox.

Thirdly, the number of people who thought Google was the browser says a lot about what the web experience of most people is. They launch a piece of software (not called a “browser” apparently), they either go to google.com, or it is already their home page, they search (or browse if you will) for what they are looking for, click one of the links on the first page that shows up, and that is the Internet as far as they are concerned.

Fourthly, following on from the previous point, this only serves to reinforce the importance of SEO activities and making sure your site shows up high on that very first page of results on Google.

Fifthly (is that a word?), this might be reading too much into it, but maybe these people are the embodiment of the trend of the browser just simply becoming more and more ubiquitous when using a computer. The delineation between the OS and the browser is fading rapidly. The move towards SAAS style applications, web applications as apposed to just web sites and just generally more and more computing work being moved to the network and less and less being done locally anymore will see this trend continue.

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.

JavaOne 2009 – (Mostly) Important Questions

Posted in: Enterprise Java

JavaOne 2009 starts in 5 days. Here is a list of questions I am looking forward to finding out the answers too.

Has Hudson Killed CruiseControl?
Seems like it has based on the number of mentions of Hudson vs CruiseControl in relation to the content at JavaOne. I lost my interest in CruiseControl when ThoughtWorks spun a for-profit version out of it. The only company I have seen be successful at this strategy is JBoss/RedHat where they develop the open-source version first and then roll the for-profit version out of that. The other times I have seen this attempted, all of the effort goes into the for-profit version and the open-source version ceases to progress. There is something fundamental about that 2nd pattern that just smells bad and doesn’t really seem to be in the spirit of open-source.

What Will Be The Volume Of The Twitter Noise Coming From Inside The Conference?
I have been tracking the hashed keywords related to the conference for a couple of weeks now. The volume has been slowly increasing and took a big jump on Tuesday morning when everyone got back from the long weekend in the US. I expect it to keep building up until Tuesday morning, but then what? Does it slow down because everyone is busy, or does it kick into a whole new gear and my trusty Twitterberry will just meltdown in the middle of the opening keynote?

Also curious to see what ad-hoc social activities get incubated in the Twitterverse during the conference?

Will AJAX Presentations Be THE Place To Be Seen For A 3rd Year Running?
The last 2 years have seen crazy interest in anything AJAX related. With Ben Galbraith and Dion Almer (spelling from memory there) being the focal point in their always entertaining presentations. But it feels a little like AJAX is getting to be slightly old news, at least in this forum.

My guess is that anything cloud related is going to be the hip place to be seen this year.

What Will The Oracle Presence Be?
AFAIK, the Oracle/Sun deal has not gone through yet, so technically Sun is still an independent entity. But of course I am also not naive enough to think Oracle won’t be pushing to start getting their hands on the “goods” at this conference. Will there be an Oracle presence in the keynotes that are traditionally Sun’s (the 2 on Tuesday and the 1 Friday morning)? What about signage around the conference? Oracle always has a booth in the pavilion, but will it be bigger, better positioned etc. this year?

What Will The Reaction To The Microsoft Keynote Be?
So the Twittervese exploded earlier this week when it was announced Microsoft will be presenting the Thursday morning keynote. Anyone who has been playing with Java long enough knows that Microsoft has not really been Java’s best friend. So, will the Java community accept Microsoft on the main stage? It would be nice to think that there will be some passionate reaction, either outrageous clapping or hateful booing, whatever, as long as there is some definitive reaction I will be happy. I fear the Java faithful might not be the kind to wear their hearts on their sleeves quite that much though.

Does the Oracle deal have something to do with Microsoft’s presence? Why does Oracle not have a keynote instead? Curious indeed.

Will Jonathon Schwartz Look As Uncomfortable And Awkward As Usual?
I will admit upfront that I am a Scott McNealy fan. He was passionate, and engaging to listen to on a stage. I was not happy when he was ousted from the top of Sun.

But even if I temper my anger over that situation, can anyone really be interested in listening to Schwartz talk? His stage presence is awful and he is robotic in his delivery of obviously scripted lines when guests are on stage. And don’t get me started on the pony tail, sport coat and jeans look! Bring back McNealy for the last one please!!!!

Will James Gosling’s Toy Show Seem Overly Long And Desperate Again?
I have a lot to thank James Gosling for. Most of my career is based on the technology he invented. I would like to have a beer with him at some point no doubt. But man, he is only marginally better than Schwartz on stage.

And I do not really understand the point of the Toy Show in the Friday morning keynote. You are at THE Java conference, and so the audience has self selected itself as resoundingly pro-Java. So why do we need a 3 hour carnival of Java applications trying to prove to us that Java is cool. We already think it is cool, that is why we are there. A lot of it just feels like they are pleading with us to please, please keep thinking Java is cool for another year until the next conference.

Will The Lunch Lines Be Under Control?
Getting your “free” lunch at JavaOne is an exercise in forgoing your basic right to not be hearded like livestock and yelled at by over zealous minimum wage event staff. It is like they are surprised by the number of people that show up for lunch each day, like there was no way they could possibly have guesstimated how many people might want to eat that day. Seriously, it is your last chance to get it right, please make an effort.

Will It Be Crazy Cold in Yerba Buena Gardens on Thursday Night Again?
Why is the Thursday night party outside now? I can’t possibly imagine it is much cheaper is it? It is San Francisco, it is cold on the hottest day of the year. I froze my ass off last year. The long range weather forecast looks like we are in for the same again.

Will The Bookstore Be Given More Space?
Doubt it. There is a whole convention center, and the bookstore gets jammed in a 10 by 30 square. Why? Why do you hate people who like to read?

Will Enough People Use me As A Reference So I Can Get The Better Swag?
I know 3 people who did, I think I need 2 more. I will even buy you a beer. My number is W1302019. Go ahead and earn yourself some karma points.

Why are the A’s and Giants both playing away all week?
A big boo to the MLB for having both teams out of town this week. It has become somewhat of a tradition for me to take my team to the baseball during JavaOne and you have destroyed that cherished pastime. Shame on you Bud Selig.

See you in San Francisco!

Real world development methodologies

Posted in: Software Development Team Leadership

Came across this great post by Scott Berkun on his The Berkun Blog:

http://www.scottberkun.com/blog/2007/asshole-driven-development/

I had a couple to add:

SCDD – Seagull Consultant Driven Development
This is where a company that already has a development team but believes they are not working to their fullest potential, decide to bring in a consultant to set things straight. The consultant, whose compensation package is not tied to the delivery of the project, comes in, waves his hands a few times, draws a set of cascading boxes on a white board, drops a few key acronyms around, hands out some boiler plate process documents and then leaves. The original development team is then left to sort out the mess created and deliver a whole bunch of design documentation that the consultant told upper management would reduce risk and guarantee delivery on time. The consultant has effectively behaved like a seagull – he flew in briefly, crapped all over everything and left just as quickly.

ADD – Analysis Driven Development or HGDD – Holy Grail Driven Development
This is where a project that is deemed “high priority” by a customer is never really defined and scoped out. The development team is brought in (way to early) to attempt in some magical fashion to divine what it is the customer needs and provide effort estimates. However, since the customer has no bounds set, they want to explore every possible variation of feature set and also want to see every possible alternative development plan. The development team gets mired in Microsoft Project files and gantt charts and never writes a single line of code. The customer continues to search for the development plan that gets them every conceivable feature, but can be delivered on time, for almost no money and has no risk whatsoever associated with it. In the end the customer has spent so much money figuring out what they want, and how optimally to get it, they have to settle for a scaled back version to squeeze out a release before a deadline.