Friday, 29 September 2006

I've had some personal experience in the past couple of years - mostly all good - what some call "agile" programming styles. One thing I don't like much, however, is the sometimes "religious" slant that can invade agile development teams. If you think about it, an agile methodology that doesn't allow itself to be flexible is just about as non-agile as possible. In other words, agile zealots can at times defeat the benefits of the methodology.

The one thing I have found is truly necessary for any agile-ish method to work is 100% participation and buy-in on the part of all involved, from the workers all the way up through every layer of lead and management. Without that, it will fail eventually.

Steve Yegge lives up there in Washington and has written an excellent (and beautifully opinionated) piece about what he calls Good Agile and Bad Agile. If you're a developer or a manager of developers you'll either agree or disagree with Steve, probably strongly in whichever direction you lean. Regardless of your position, it's worth your time to read what he has to say.

I mean hey, he's so colorful, even if you don't have a clue what agile development is you can enjoy the writing. Heh. Forgive the language quoted (like I need to say that). Here's an excerpt:

... Up until maybe a year ago, I had a pretty one-dimensional view of so-called "Agile" programming, namely that it's an idiotic fad-diet of a marketing scam making the rounds as yet another technological virus implanting itself in naive programmers who've never read "No Silver Bullet", the kinds of programmers who buy extended warranties and self-help books and believe their bosses genuinely care about them as people, the kinds of programmers who attend conferences to make friends and who don't know how to avoid eye contact with leaflet-waving fanatics in airports and who believe writing shit on index cards will suddenly make software development easier.
You know. Chumps. That's the word I'm looking for. My bad-cholesterol view was that Agile Methodologies are for chumps.

But I've had a lot of opportunity to observe various flavors of Agile-ism in action lately, and I now think I was only about 90% right. It turns out there's a good kind of Agile, although it's taken me a long time to be able to see it clearly amidst all the hype and kowtowing and moaning feverishly about scrums and whatnot. I have a pretty clear picture of it now.

And you can attend my seminar on it for the low, low price of $499.95! Hahaha, chump!
No, just kidding. You'll only find seminars about the Bad kind of Agile. And if in the future you ever find me touring around as an Agile Consultant, charging audiences to hear my deep wisdom and insight about Agile Development, you have my permission to cut my balls off. If I say I was just kidding, say I told you I'd say that. If I then say I'm Tyler Durden and I order you not to cut my balls off, say I definitely said I was going to say that, and then you cut 'em right off.

I'll just go right ahead and tell you about the Good Kind, free of charge.

It's kinda hard to talk about Good Agile and Bad Agile in isolation, so I might talk about them together. But I'll be sure to label the Good kind with a happy rat, and the Bad kind with a sad dead rat, so you'll always know the difference.

How can you not read what this guy has to say? That's just a start - read it all on Steve's blog.



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Friday, 29 September 2006 10:14:30 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Thursday, 28 September 2006

Nice to live here, dontcha know. The sunrise view from my front porch this morning as I left for work:



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Thursday, 28 September 2006 19:41:04 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Saturday, 23 September 2006

Saw this coming a mile away. It's always fascinating when people - or companies - show their true colors.

Apple Computer is sending cease and desist letters, apparently, so a number of companies and organizations that are using the term "pod" in their positioning or names, claiming it causes confusion in the marketplace. Podcast Ready is the latest victim among several.

Give me a break.

The deal is this: It's said Apple has recently applied for coverage from the USPTO to get protection via trademark for the word "pod" in addition to the already protected term "iPod." They've not been granted protection, and I would hope they won't get it. "Podcast" is probably next on their list, at this rate. I see several others have already applied for the term and several variants.

But , after all, it doesn't take a solid legal footing to be a bully, it just takes - well - a bully mentality.

And now, it appears the fight is being taken to the podcasting playground. Despite the fact that Apple didn't invent the term "podcasting," and despite the fact that they adopted - even embraced - the term (and created a whole section and special logo for iTunes, etc.), Apple apparently believes they can Monday-morning-QB this one into the courts - and they must think they can win. One would hope that's not the case, but in California, who knows.

Don't get me wrong - Apple's a company that makes cool stuff and I own a Mac in addition to my PCs. But hey - no one likes a bully, especially when there's really nothing to gain, and a lot of people who could be negatively affected as a result of this move. The idea that the terms "Podcast Ready" and "myPodder" could be confusing in a way that hurts Apple is a stretch. "Podcast" is practically a household term now, and the fact is that Apple didn't jump in until well after it became the defacto standard name and term (despite some heated debates early on around the terminology).

Apple really needs to go find someone or something else to pick on, lest all the other kids on the playground get tired of the black eyes and bruises. Or send some of the lawyers out for a vacation or something. Their judgement is getting clouded.



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Saturday, 23 September 2006 09:45:06 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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In a few hours I'm heading for San Francisco (again) to speak tomorrow at (yet another) conference. I'm starting to realize that my little world has certainly changed over the past few years. These days I find myself constantly on the road, speaking in front of groups of people who need to know more about that which I know. I'm on the phone or face-to-face a few times a week with reporters and industry analysts, talking about Internet security, anti-fraud efforts and identity protection.

And somehow I thought I was going to be a photographer. Heh.

Sure, the flying can be tiring (drink lots of water on-board, that's the ticket, except you can't carry it on anymore), and I think I could probably count on my fingers and toes how many times I've slept in my own bed in the past six months. But the experience is a great one, and I am learning and growing more and more every day.

Tomorrow afternoon's topic of conversation (which incidentally is how I try to do my presentations - interactively) is "Solving the challenges of multi-factor authentication." I plan to discuss strong authentication in general (which includes multi-factor among other methods), the many wonders of passive and active behavior biometrics, Cardspace/Infocard and related projects, why we need stronger authentication in the first place, the difficulties of deciding what to implement and how to make it happen, what the impact of requiring strong authentication is on consumers and businesses, and some creative ways to meet the needs of everyone involved. So, nothing big. If you're an identity and access-management geek, or someone who has to implement this stuff, it's probably interesting. If you're anyone else, you're probably bored already, heh. ;)

Best part, though, is that I will get to see my dad, whose birthday I missed last month due to a fit of travel and business overextension on my part. I think I was in Minneapolis or something. I am very much looking forward to spending some time with him.



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Saturday, 23 September 2006 08:22:34 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Wednesday, 20 September 2006

There's no point in droning on and on about this one - Scott Hanselman is 100% correct when he proclaims:

"I say this: IE7 and Office 2007 not supporting Basic or Digest Authentication out of the box for accessing secure feeds will negatively affect adoption of RSS more than any other failing of the spec since its inception. It will slow adoption down at every level; it will make it harder for Financial Institutions to justify it and it will flummox internal Enterprises who don't have completely NTLM/AD infrastructure."

He discusses this in the context of using RSS to securely retrieve feeds for banking data, for example. Sure, there are many points to ponder regarding the retrieval and storage of likely sensitive information, but in the end this is something that will be needed, and would be useful now for many uses.

Do you think this functionality is important? Scott does and so do I. Read his post, Accessing Private and Authenticated Feeds - Why it's important, and say something - in the comments here on this blog, on Scott's blog, on the IE Blog, on your blog.



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Wednesday, 20 September 2006 15:44:51 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Tuesday, 19 September 2006

Microsoft today announced and released (in an apparently closed beta) Soapbox, their new service aimed at the YouTube crowd. Word is it will allow you to upload your videos, up to 100MB, for sharing with others. Works with Windows Media player or Flash embedded in the web page. You can get on the waiting list for a beta account via a link on the Soapbox site.

This should be interesting to watch. From the site:

"Soon you’ll be able to upload your own videos, watch those made by other contributors, post comments on what you’ve seen, and much more."

I sure hope I can subscribe to feeds there. That would be a terrible boat to miss. We'll see soon enough.

   Soapbox



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Tuesday, 19 September 2006 05:55:21 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Sunday, 17 September 2006

Update: I was able to get the refresh installed - see below...

I've been running the various betas of Office 2007 for many months now, and the other day Microsoft released their Office 2007 Beta Two Technical Refresh. I ran across installation failures when I tried to install it, and the error that comes up when the installation fails was slightly less than helpful:

So I started looking around for any bright ideas. I found the below KB article (which is apparently the one that is supposed to be referenced in the above dialog box, according to the release notes - oh and by the way, don't even try to view it in Firefox Beta 2, use IE if you want to be able to read all of it, sheez):

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/923718/en-us

I tried all the suggestions in there, to no avail. And now my Office programs have some horribly broken ribbon and menu bars. Uh oh.

Any ideas? I am going to try a reboot and maybe one more installation try, and then it's off to the newsgroups I go...

-------

Update:

I ended up having to uninstall the entire Office 2007 suite, reinstall it, and then run the Beta 2 TR updater. Once I did that all was fine. Now I am up and running on the latest and greatest. Performance in Outlook is improved, and some menu items and buttons have been moved around in ways that make good sense. All the Office programs seem snappier and cleaner. PowerPoint is so much better performing in this version it's back to being usable again (the last version was a freakin' dog).



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Sunday, 17 September 2006 15:56:50 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Corillian - the company I work for - is hiring. We have a number of positions open across the country, in a variety of locations.

Right now I have one opening in the Security Solutions business (for an experienced software QA engineer), plus all around the company there are a variety of interesting positions and opportunities. As of the time of this post, positions are available in offices located in Portland, Oregon as well as Omaha, New York City and Reston, Virginia. Current jobs include positions in software development, test, product management, support, customer management, database administration and systems administration.

You can check out all the current openings at the Corillian web site job search page. If you find something you like, let me know and I will be glad to discuss the position in my section, or to tell you more about the company. My email and mobile phone numbers are on this blog's web page, over at the right. Don't be shy - I'll be glad to hear from you.



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Sunday, 17 September 2006 09:33:17 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Monday, 11 September 2006

I drove home from work this evening and it dawned on me that the entire day I was somewhat disconnected, and by the end of the day I was feeling impatient, randomly angry and very, very tired. Earlier in the day, as I drove in to the office, I listened to the radio and felt again that sick, angry, desperate feeling I remember feeling on and after September 11, 2001.

This evening I found and read a set of powerful blog entries from someone named Andy, who was there - a couple blocks away at work that morning - when the first airplane hit the World trade Center. He describes what happened in detail, from the time the first tower was hit to several days later.

"I've got to admit that as I wandered uptown I was dazed - I just wandered in between cars, in the middle of the street, staring into car windows as they stared back at us - the witnesses - stream by them. I wondered if they could see in my eyes what I had been seeing."

Reading Andy's posts brings me back to what happened that day. It's important to remember what happened, who it hurt, and how it continues to affect us and others today. If you don't read anything else, brace yourself and read his posts and remember...

"I hope that when this is all over New Yorkers can remember the way that they came together and united in the face of tragedy. The people I have met on the street, in the stores, everywhere, have risen to a level of compassion and decency that no-one would expect from a New Yorker. People have been demonstrating their better sides, putting their personal concerns on the backburner in order to reach out to those in need. And its possibly the only glimmer of hope in this horrible situation.

"And I would never have thought I would say this sort of thing, but God bless all the rescue workers, firefighters, policemen and everyone else. Prayers and thoughts to the victims and survivors."

Many New York City bloggers have written about their September 11th thoughts and experiences over time. You can read some of their accounts at the NYC Bloggers site.



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Monday, 11 September 2006 20:15:40 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Saturday, 09 September 2006

BMW Hydrogen Powered

Reports are that BMW is testing a production 7-series that runs on either gasoline or hydrogen. They've been doing tests on vehicle designs that can run on water and the sun for power since the 1970's, and they set a bunch of hydrogen-powered vehicle speed records in recent years, as well (in a silly looking car). But more recently BMW has said that their hydrogen combustion engine powered vehicle (read: no fuel cells and no emissions) would be available by 2008. Looks like they might deliver on that promise.

Lots of manufacturers are working on various designs. There are also companies working to let you retrofit your existing gasoline vehicles.

(Image from AutoExpress - dick the pic for original)

via leftlanenews



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Saturday, 09 September 2006 07:33:11 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Thursday, 07 September 2006

My friend Matt posted a terrific entry on his blog a few days ago with a great script diagram you can use whenever you get that inevitable call from a telemarketer during dinner.

Behold the Telemarketer counter-script. As soon as the person on the other end of the line asks you to purchase whatever wonderful time saving, life enhancing, sex enriching product they are selling, just start with this script and you will have them running for a Taco Bell application in no time!

Great find. Check it out.



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Thursday, 07 September 2006 18:00:04 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Tuesday, 05 September 2006

"You really don't want to go there today..."

It's a bug zapper for web browsing. It's a cool idea. How it will be secured and made solid I am not sure, but this is good news and a positive step toward solving zero-day exploits and quite possibly many vulnerabilities on unpatched browsers in the future.

Microsoft Research is working on something they call BrowserShield, which will allow Internet Explorer to detect malicious code and rewrite it, then displaying the cleaned version of any static or dynamic page in the browser to the end user.

From eWeek:

Researchers at the Redmond, Wash., company have completed work on a prototype framework called BrowserShield that promises to allow IE to intercept and remove, on the fly, malicious code hidden on Web pages, instead showing users safe equivalents of those pages.

"We basically intercept the Web page, inject our logic and transform the page that is eventually rendered on the browser," Wang said. "We're inserting our layer of code at run-time to make the Web page safe for the end user."

More on eWeek.com

Tags: , , , , , , ,



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Tuesday, 05 September 2006 09:29:11 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Still using Office 2000? Note that it's about seven years old and two versions have been released since then (with one more coming soon). Here's another good reason to stay up to date...

From ZDNet:

An "extremely critical flaw" in Microsoft Word 2000 is currently being exploited by malicious attackers, which could lead to remote execution of code on a user's system, security researcher Secunia advised Tuesday...

...Microsoft has not yet issued a patch for the vulnerability, and users are advised to forgo opening untrusted documents.



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Tuesday, 05 September 2006 07:49:57 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Friday, 01 September 2006

Now and then I get to rant.

I am (once again) on an airplane, on my way to some upper Midwest city for the day, heading right back home this evening. You get real perspective on airplanes, you know. Perspective on things like heights and time - and on people, too. People you know you'll never see again. And when one knows they'll never see the people around them ever again, I guess they let their words flow more than they might otherwise. That can be good or bad.

There are two middle-aged guys, poorly dressed in corporate standard attire, in the row in front of me. Like as in one of these guys is wearing one beige dress sock and one navy one. They've been yapping away ever since we got on this flight three hours ago. We should have landed well over an hour ago, but they have these things called, umm, I think they're called 'delays' in the secret vernacular of air travel. Anyhow, no one really understands it, so we just sit in the broken down coach seat and smile like it's comfortable as the flight attendants walk up and down the aisles with forced smiles on their faces. You know, the smile that says 'Isn't this fun, we're all stuck on this thing going nowhere again, and we're gonna be late too, yay!'

Anyhow, at least I got some sleep, which is nice (seriously). But that's not my point.

Now I am back awake, and these same two yahoos (no, I don't mean they work at Yahoo! as that would be a compliment, and as you are about to see I have no compliments for these particular guys) are still going on and on about someone they apparently work for and how SHE (emphasis added to match their conversational emphasis on the fact that their supervisor is apparently female) does this and SHE does that and how SHE expects things and how SHE can't possibly understand. It's really rather amazing to listen to. It makes one want to yell "Shut up!"

They're also apparently very concerned about some presentations that they have to give. But they don't seem concerned at all about the actual content, or the audience, or whether the presentation convinces anyone or informs, or anything useful like that. Instead they're harping on and on about how SHE likes JOHN's presentations better, and how the other day they were afraid that they might not look like good presenters in the room with so-and-so, and what they might be able to do to make such-and-such look bad the next time.

Wow. And all of this where I can hear it, with a computer open to a PowerPoint deck I can clearly read and a company logo I can clearly see. And now one of the guys is opening a girly magazine.

Yahoos, I tell ya. And someone's paying them money to "do work."

Some people are truly amazing. Amazingly pathetic, that is. I'm glad I get to work with quality, decent people in my job. If I had to work with guys like this, I don't know if I could keep my mouth shut. Actually, I know I couldn't. They'd be right out the door, no question.



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Friday, 01 September 2006 07:49:57 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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