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Personal Non-tech stuff.
Calculating the ROI for Requirements Analysis
My buddy Josh Holmes has written a very excellent post on the Return on Investment (ROI) for software. I recommend it to anyone who sees software as a business, not just a job or a hobby. Last week, the always-worth-reading Patrick Greene made a comment that made me start thinking specifically about the ROI for Requirements Analysis. Most teams and most managers know they have a requirements problem; but too many of them say, “But we’re too busy to fix it, so we’ll just start coding.” Or “We’d like ......

Posted On Monday, May 4, 2009 7:53 PM

Weird Word 2007/PDF Bugs
Here’s a screenshot of my document in Word 2007: That’s exactly what I wanted: three columns in different shades. Hurray for Word 2007! Then I saved as PDF. Here’s a screenshot from Acrobat: I don’t know why the colors “leaked” like that, but it’s bad. And while I could imagine this being Acrobat, not word, this is clearly Word’s fault. I added a line to Column C, but made no other changes. Here’s the screenshot from Word: More of the same strange color leaking. Not acceptable, not in my marketing ......

Posted On Wednesday, April 22, 2009 1:05 PM

UML... It's not Rocket Science
If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen a strange tweet yesterday: Looking for a word... "Employee" is to "Roster" as "Vehicle" is to _____? "Fleet" doesn't seem quite right. With a lot of helpful suggestions, especially from @patrickgreene, we settled on “Fleet Manifest”. It’s ideal for what I needed. But in case you’re wondering why I needed that term, here’s a slide from the UML QuickStart class from 213 Software Studios (click pictures for larger images): And here’s another: "Think one ......

Posted On Friday, April 10, 2009 3:08 PM

The U-Shaped Curve (A few more reasons why Coding Geekette is right)
Note: This is a Best Of post from my other blog. The topic came up on Twitter, so I'm rerunning it here. Coding Geekette has a slightly dated but still timely post about The Making of a Good Developer. That post was inspired by Justin Etheredge's equally interesting post on why Being Smart Does Not a Good Developer make. Both address the idea that good developers are those who like to learn new things, not just smart people. And they lament or wonder that so many people in the software development ......

Posted On Friday, January 9, 2009 1:18 PM

Ulterior Motive Lounge Episode 29: Touring the Pavilion
Continuing The Project That Time Forgot, a UML case study in comic strip form... (Click pictures for larger images.) “We grow dinosaurs!” Big whoop, huh? Like anyone reading the strip hadn’t figured that out before I started Scene 1… It’s hard to surprise the characters in a story when the audience can tell from the promos what the surprise is. But since The UML Guy has been part of the project before, none of this was a surprise to him. So while the others were taking in the new sights, he was drawing ......

Posted On Monday, December 15, 2008 8:03 PM

Not that I'm ungrateful, but I think you're in the wrong place...
In an effort to understand and better serve my readers, I keep an eye on my referral logs. I like to know who likes what they read here, and then learn what else they read. But this one has me boggled. One of my most recent referrals is from the headlines page for fanpop's community for The L-Word. It's a link to my recent post for Ship It On The Side. I appreciate the link. Really, I do. But this site has pretty much nothing to do with the lesbian scene in L.A. Sorry ......

Posted On Saturday, December 13, 2008 6:42 AM

Ship It On The Side

Curtis Gray informs me that the first Ship It On The Side podcast is now published.Listen to us talk about building and shipping great software while holding down day jobs.

 

Posted On Saturday, November 29, 2008 3:59 PM

Jaded
Once upon a time, I had a really thorny development problem to solve. I needed to build a histogram of the colors in a true-color image. There was a theoretically easy way to do this. If I had had C# then, the code would’ve looked like this. int[,,] histogram = new int[256, 256, 256]; for(int y = 0; y < bmp.Height; y++) { for(int x = 0; x < bmp.Width; x++) { Color clr = bmp.GetPixel(x, y); histogram[clr.R, clr.G, clr.B]++; } } This was the brain-dead simple way to build the histogram. Only ......

Posted On Thursday, March 19, 2009 5:54 PM

Usability 101: Don't Do This! (I'm Talking to YOU, Microsoft!)
From PowerPoint – 2007, no less! On one page, we can set the size. X and Y are arranged horizontally, Y first. On the next page, we can set the position. X and Y are arranged vertically, X first. This has confused me practically every time I’ve had to edit the size of something in PowerPoint. I know it’s there. I do. But the behavior is so counterintuitive, I just can’t get my brain to think this way. It’s just wrong! Personally, I would prefer size and position on the same page; but I can see the ......

Posted On Friday, March 13, 2009 6:54 PM

Not that there's anything wrong with twins!
In no way should anything in the prior post be construed as a criticism of twins in general; and by no means do I wish to imply that twins are evil, as a rule. In fact, twins are some of the most delightful people around, especially if the twin in question happens to be the most lovely and patient and understanding and beautiful wife on the planet. (Whew!) Some days I count myself lucky that Sandy has no interest in computers; but just in case... (hide) ......

Posted On Saturday, November 15, 2008 4:22 PM

Some Recruiting and Placement Resources, in Case You Need Them
Based in part on PC Magazine’s Top 20 list. Offered in alphabetical order, with no comment on quality or usefulness. But I hope you find them useful. Feel free to comment with more. Advanced Technology AITC AJM Professional Services AMTEC Systems Corporation Aquent Austin Park Azad Balionis Group BetaTech, Inc. Beyond Bill Young & Associates Bren Norris Associates, Inc. CareerBuilder Careernet.com CIBER Computer Express, Inc. CraigsList Creative Group Creative Hotlist CyberCoders Data Search ......

Posted On Wednesday, March 11, 2009 2:11 PM

Stray quote for the day…
By and large the literature of a democracy will never exhibit the order, regularity, skill, and art characteristic of aristocratic literature; formal qualities will be neglected or actually despised. The style will often be strange, incorrect, overburdened, and loose, and almost always strong and bold. Writers will be more anxious to work quickly than to perfect details. Short works will be commoner than long books, wit than erudition, imagination than depth. There will be a rude and untutored vigor ......

Posted On Wednesday, March 11, 2009 10:59 AM

Spider
A small benefit of being between gigs: I’m sitting here, coding and networking and working and planning, while watching From the Earth to the Moon Episode 5: Spider. If you’re any sort of an engineer, you need to watch this every year (or more) for inspiration. It’s the best, truest picture of engineering I’ve ever seen on screen. And for me, it’s a reminder: my job is not hard. That was hard, and they did it. I can do this. I also recommend Thomas J. Kelly’s Moon Lander for the story behind Spider. ......

Posted On Wednesday, February 25, 2009 12:21 PM

Quality is NOT Free
A business classic tells us that Quality Is Free. The title is intentionally provocative: no, quality isn't free, it just pays for itself. But first, you have to pay for it. And that, unfortunately, is where we fail in the quality game so often. Corporations seem addicted to the practice of compartmentalized budgeting, or what I think of as "bucket budgeting": you've got a bunch of different buckets you pour money into at the start of the fiscal period; and each bucket can only be spent on a particular ......

Posted On Friday, November 28, 2008 10:54 PM

Thanks, comment spammers!
Comment moderation is now activated. Thanks, comment spammers!

Posted On Wednesday, November 26, 2008 10:46 PM

It’s All About Communication
Note: This was originally chapter 13 of my book, UML Applied: A .NET Perspective from Apress. My editor and my tech reviewer read it; and both said, "We like it; but what does it have to do with UML?" So I came up with a more on-topic closing chapter. But I still like it. It sums up my view of the software development profession quite nicely. So I thought I would share it here. Somewhere, deep in our prehistory... A man tells a story, a story of a hunt. Perhaps it's a hunt he's planning. Or perhaps ......

Posted On Friday, November 21, 2008 11:27 PM

???, ???????.
If Babel Fish hasn't let me down, that title should read, "Welcome, honored visitors from China!" But if it doesn't, I couldn't tell you. (UPDATE: John Workman and a Chinese friend have provided a better translation. Thanks!) Ever since I added Google Analytics stats to the Ulterior Motive Lounge archive, fully two-thirds of my visitors there have come from China. And tonight, someone found my Geeks with Blogs site via this referral string: http://google.cn/search?q=u... Yep, that's ......

Posted On Tuesday, November 18, 2008 12:55 AM

Inspiring!
It's a cliche, but it's generally true that kids adopt computers faster than older people do. They don't have any fear that they might do something wrong and make the computer catch on fire, which seems to be in the back of the mind of every reluctant adult computer user. (I tell them and tell them that they can't make the computer catch on fire, but they just don't seem to believe it.) We've all heard the same story: "My kid (or grandkid) is a wiz with computers, but I can't figure them out." So ......

Posted On Saturday, November 15, 2008 4:23 PM

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