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Projects are bad for software.

This post is mildly inspired by the discussions from this year's Smidig conference (Oslo's agile conference) inspired by Marcus Ahnve's talk about "totality outside the project", roughly translated. I didn't see the talk myself (looking at it right now though), but when I heard the announcement of the title of the open space, I immediately recognized the idea as something that I've been lingering around for years, without being able to identify properly.

In my last post, I wrote about how I learned about project management in uni, and how it is the way for building software. In my own opinion, that is not true at all.

Over the handful of years I've been working with software, both in project and maintenance mode, I can just about sum it up in one sentence:

Projects are bad for software.

There is one exception (discussed below), but in all practical cases, I find this to be the reality, and if you think about it a little bit, I'm sure you'll agree…

What I learned about Project Management in school

Back when I started studying at uni, I took a course called "Organization and management of technical projects" (Norwegian course page link). The course was structured in a very interesting way, and dealt with a measure of topics which are still very relevant for me today (team psychology and leadership, project planning, estimating, etc). It was also held in parallell with a practical software development project (Norwegian link).

I won't write too much about the course itself, but I want to write about the final "exam". We were asked to write a ~15 page essay reflecting on the subject based on our experiences from the practical project combined with the curricular theory.

I handed in my copy in June 2004, just about as I started earning money as a software developer. Some times recently I've wondered if there are any nuggets in that essay (entitled Project management for the Nintendo generation) that I can still reason about today.

(Skip to the bottom of thi…

Looking for work in Bonn (update: fixed)

Update: I was in Bonn doing an interview on Friday, and the outcome is more or less decided: I've found my new employer. Thanks for all the input and pointers! Note that I've removed links to some documents with some sensitive information.

For those of you who don't already know: In about two months I'm moving from Oslo, Norway to Bonn, Germany. I am currently looking for work down there, and that's what this post is about.

Here is the information any potential employer should be interested in:
Elevator pitch:Norwegian MSc graduate from the University of Oslo, Department of Informatics. Four years of working experience with Java, consulting, agile methods, product development and open-source.I'll be ready to begin working on the 5th of January, 2009. I will be staying indefinitely.
My résuméI will be visiting Bonn a couple of times in the following months, and it will be possible to meet me for interviews in Bonn on these dates:
7-10th of November27th of November - …

What I'm doing these days

I'm quite busy these days doing preperations for *a big change in my life* that will be the subject of my next blog-post, but I figured I'd give a quick status update that's a bit too big for my twitter stream.

I was recently appointed to lead Objectware's Java-department's focus group on Agile. We've been doing agile for a long while on the company level, but it's first now that our department has its own group on it. My goal is to nurture it to being a very active micro-community that will produce knowledge both internally and externally. Much like we already did, but now with more, well, budget :)

Our first accomplishment was to attend the Smidig 2008 conference with a respectableamount of Objectwarespeakers. There were alot of interesting discussions going on in the succeeding open spaces, my favourite topics incuded some hard-core web-testing (of course), when (not to) re-use and some others I can't remember right now.

As part of my new responsibilit…

Debate about Open Source in Oslo next wednesday

Just a quick note. The alumni organization from my old university is arranging a meetup/debate about open source, and I'd promise I'd help communicate the event. The tine-up looks very promising:

Heidi Arnesen Austlid, Friprogsenteret
Per Hove, Oracle Norge
Shahzad Rana, Questpoint
Johannes Brodwall, Steria

The event will be held in The Scotsman, where they sell beer! And there will be free pizza! Doesn't get any better than that :)

I took the opportunity of uploading the full invitation here.

So, set aside next wednesday evening and I'll see you there!

My JavaZone video is out

I was very happy when my JavaZone talk about "How I learned to love and hate web-testing" managed to fill up a whole room. For those of you you who didn't get in, or didn't manage to get a hold of one of the very rare overflow-headsets, or were busy at one of the other talks, here's the recorded video for your viewing pleasure:


All hail web-testing! Click the image to get to the talk, hit the little Presentation link at the top and off you go.

For the best viewing please, and this goes for all the JavaZone videos, I recommend the following:

1) Click the Max Slide button to get the slides in a seperate window
2) Right click the video for the flash menu
3) Click Zoom in, so you get a bigger video (click and drag if the focus is wrong)

On a cool note, after the first count (yesterday), my video was the 7-most viewed video (of a total of 86 videos). Woohoo! But I'm likely to drop once people start realizing that All the videos from JavaZone 2008 are available online! N…

Some books for agile programmers

I'm giving docs.google.com another try. I tried it over two years ago (wow, time flies) when Google Docs was still Writely. Oh, my prediction did come through (they got bought by Google), wuhu! So if this post gets doubly published it's because it got screwed up.
Update: docs.google.com didn't manage to publish the title properly. I also have to apply some tags manually. All the pictures and headings came through allright, though.
New booksI just got these books:
They're all from The Pragmatic Bookshelf, although I got them from Amazon (who sent them from New-Zealand, which gave me sort of a bad eco-concience for a while..) cause they were alot cheaper there. The first title, The Pragmatic Programmer. Well, I'm sort of ashamed that I haven't read it before, being as famous as it is. However, I'm looking through the TOC, and I sort of get the feeling I've touched most of the points, either by hard realization and experience, or by advice from friends and col…

JavaZone 2008 and GeekCruise

So, JavaZone is done. I did my presentation, tada (please view full screen to get rid of the chippy graphics):

How I Learned to Love and Hate Web-TestingView SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: jz08javazone)


I got good feedback. In short: The slides are funny and original, my presentation moves were allright (good voice, good gestures, movement around the stage), the content was pretty good and interesting. The talk was at an introductory level, and I feel I hit the audience pretty well. Will be very interesting to see the video, as well as getting the feedback.

I was also in the JavaZone arranging committee. You might've seen me scurrying around, commanding the guys in the orange T-shirts (they were the volunteers). It was alot of work, but it was alot of fun as well. Tomorrow evening we're throwing a party in their honour at the University, so if you're in the neighborhood, give me a ping and drop by.

But anyways, I didn't get too see many talks. Only one …

JavaZone'08 coming up

I'm still going through my post-summer awakening, so I still haven't gotten the wheels of this blog running again. But current events are sort of relevant to the people I'm guessing are part of this blog's readership.

The biggest happening coming along is JavaZone 2008. Now this is especially important for me for two reasons. First reason:

I've been a part of the crew preparing the conference. My role has been gathering a crew of volunteers to help out with all the practical work during the conference. Hooray, very rewarding work, getting 40 people to work two days for virtually nothing!

Luckily there's a great crowd of Java-interested students in Oslo, and they can't afford a conference-ticket! So our evil schemes of acquiring a cheap workforce are proceeding as planned. Actually, there is a win-win relationship going on here. Student-organizations like to profile themselves in front of companies, cause companies have a tendency to give away free stuff when t…

Sharing the knowledge

This post is going to a bit about what I've been doing lately. Well, like any other developer I've been mostly busy with getting the projects released before the big July. But I've also been past-timing a bit on setting up a new wiki.

Yay, I don't have to be the wiki techie any more!

It's been well over a year since I started managing Objectware's Confluence installation. As expected, it was very little work. Confluence basically runs itself once it's set up. Mostly it was upgrading, administering content (deleting and cleaning), doing the odd restart or log-watching. Eventually, after a year or so, the hosting of the wiki was outsourced to a nearby hosting company, cause our instance's database was starting to run a bit slow, and my billing rates were a bit high (hey, I'm a consultant, after all) :)

So good riddance, finally no more booring IT-support work.

Or do I...

Well, not until two months later, anyway. I was asked by a colleague, who's a cor…

Here's a nice way of taking notes

Inspired by Johannes' post-its and Anders' moleskin, I'd like to share my tip'o'the day for taking notes.

Step 1: Find a stack of A3 sheets, big ones!

Step 2: Get a good thick nice pen (mine could've been thicker)

Step 3: Lay the sheets on your desk between yourself and your keyboard (warning, not sure this is ergonomically wise thing to do).

Step 4: Whenever you show off stuff, especially code and stuff you've got on yer computer, support your presentations with drawings and notes on the sheet.



Step 5: When you're done, hand the sheet off to the person you drew it for, or whenever the drawing ends up particularly pretty, smack it up on the wall behind you. Or throw it out if it's all squabbly wabbly.


This way, I don't have to get up to use a flip-over, I don't have to take useless digital pics of the white-board, and I get to show off my l33t UML-skills without having to use some crappy software. Sweet!

Diclaimer: I didn't come up with this my…

Why I keep badgering on about Web Testing..

Lately I've become somewhat obsessed with testing. A specific kind of testing. I'm not quite sure about the term right now, but it's close to system testing, or maybe user testing. Ye know, that kind of black-box testing that makes sure your stuff works from the user's perspective. In web applications (of which I probably do about 90% of the time) they happen to blend in with web tests.

I suppose it started off with last autumn when I put some thoughts on this into my lightning talk at the Smidig 2007 conference. Well, it actually started all the way back in 2006 when I did a lightning talk about Selenium in XP-meetup based on my experiences with Selenium vs. gargantuan use-case descriptions in a project (see slides).



A few months ago I was down visiting a friend in Bonn, Germany. He works for this CMS-vendor/host called WebFactory. I offered him to drop by their workplace and do a quick demo on Selenium, as I figured they're (a) probably doing web applications, and …

Wrapping Scrum in Evolutionary method(s)

The best grade I ever achieved in college (apart from English) was of all things in the subject of statistics. It wasn't particularly fun or fascinating for me. It was just easy, the rules were straight and the formulas were logical (well, I kinda dropped off when we reached quantum statistics, but luckily that wasn't within the curriculum).

The reason I mention it it that I just came back from this 3-hour presentation about Evo Project Management, signed Tom Gilb and Junior (Kai Gilb). In short, Evo is an agile method focused on measurements. They have a lot of other sound agile practices in there, but that's the main thing ringing in my head after the presentation: They use measurements to aid them in prioritizing the backlog.

Now Tom's been around the Oslo agile scene for quite a while, he did a presentation in XP-meetup a year ago. I also saw him around on the Smidig 2007 conference, doing an open-space on agile estimation or something.. Didn't attend it myself …

Legacy Code, Broken Windows and Code Quality

Long time since last post. It's not that I have been particularly busy, just haven't had anything *that* interesting to write about. Well, this might be interesting:

I know this legacy system. Well, it's not that much of a legacy system, it's barely a couple of years old. But it sure didn't take it too long to become difficult to maintain. Maybe you've seen similar scenarios... A big team of developers and consultants with lots of funding creates a big-bang super solution. Struggling to reach a deadline, at some point quality was left behind (or post-poned). We're talking compiler warnings, copy/paste code, hacks, quick'n'dirty (quoting Uncle Bob: There is no quick'n'dirty. Dirty means slow.), bad object-oriented design, the lot.

Well, I have to say that 80% of the code was golden: agile method, top of the line modern open source lightweight technologies, test-driven development, code reviews, continous integration, etc. But that last 20% of …