Setting up for a new developer or new workstation

Setting up everything needed to get a new developer up to speed, or an old one going on a new workstation can be one of the most irritating aspects of working in software development. I currently use three separate PCs, two of which are now relatively old but largely stable, and one which is newer, …

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How should we do training in an agile process?

A lot of writings about agile processes seem to assume that everyone comes with all the skills they need, but in the real world people sometimes need to gain new skills which cannot easily be learned “on the job”. Planning ahead enough to ensure team skills are available when needed, and dealing with the impact …

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Increasing Code Coverage May Be Harmful

I develop almost all my code these days using Test Driven Development (TDD). By taking this approach I never bother about unit test code coverage, but some developers seem very concerned by it. One thing that I have never considered doing is retroactively adding tests just to increase some code-coverage metric. Dan Manges has written …

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Pair Programming: Pair Flow

Pair programming can be one of the hardest things to get right when attempting Extreme Programming (XP). It’s very common to give it a try and quickly find a whole bunch of problems. Mark Needham has written a thoughtful article full of tips on making pairing work. Well wortha read even if you don’t do …

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Handling Absence in Scrum Teams

We don’t use scrum as such, but we still face the issue of team-member absence during fixed iterations. It’s a tricky one to deal with, especially as absence comes in both predictable and unpredictable forms. InfoQ has a nice summary of some of these issues and some solutions. There is till no “silver bullet” for …

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Never return Null Arrays – really?

Scott Selikoff recently posted that we should “never return null arrays”. I’m not sure I entirely agree. Both the tone of the article and the comments so far seem to be in agreement, but I am still not so sure. I’ll skip the terminology issue for the moment, just note that an array in Java …

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Are static or dynamic languages more maintainable?

So the question is: are dynamic-typed languages (ruby, python, smalltalk, etc.) easier or harder to maintain than static-typed languages (Java, C#, etc.)? It seems there are arguments both ways. On the one hand, dynamic languages tend to be a bit more concise, and reducing code size is a great way to simplify maintenance. On the …

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Shiny new MacBooks useless for video

For the last few weeks I have been eagerly waiting for yesterday’s announcement of updated MacBooks, ready to lay down some cash but unwilling to buy an old model. Now I’m stuck. The new MacBook range do not have a Firewire port, and cannot be connected to a regular camcorder. Apple don’t even offer any …

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Details of my MSc proposal

In a few months I will begin “proper” work on the dissertation for a MSc with the Open University. Before starting I needed to choose a topic, so I chose Improved user interfaces for private family wikis. In order to claim this topic, I need to submit a proposal by filling in a form on …

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Some of my web sites temporarily unavailable

Following an unfortunate hacking exploit, some of my web sites are temporarily unavailable while I clean them up and review the number of web sites I currently manage. If you are interested in any content which used to be available on any of these sites, please start by checking the Internet archive “Wayback Machine”. If …

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The Power of Done

As we attempt to spread agile, continual, iterative, processes throughout the company, there is a growing confusion as to when things are actually ready for release. The old “waterfall” notion of a complex and detailed advance specification, backed up by months of laborious manual testing is no longer applicable. In most ways this is a …

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London Java Web User Group: Web apps and REST

This looks interesting. Next Monday (20th October 2008) the London JAVAWUG will be holding a “Birds-of-a-Feather” session on the topic of Web applications and REST web services. Both are subjects near to my heart, so I might try and arrange a trip to “the smoke” that evening. Anyone else likely to be attending? JAVAWUG :: …

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At ACU, Students Navigate College Life via Apple iPhone

More indication that mobile technology is continuing to change the process of education. This time students at a university are all issued with iPhone or iPod touch handsets so they can use specific collaboration software at university and outside course times. iPhone University: At ACU, Students Navigate College Life via Apple iPhone – CIO.com – …

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Ten easy ways to attract women to your free software project

This is a good article in many ways. Not just because it might help attract more women to work on open source software projects, but because it might help more people to work on open source projects. The general approach of supporting diversity in projects, especially where it is a very cheap option (such as …

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