The Oracle ACE programme

I’m proud to be one of the Oracle ACE Directors. Watch the video for some viewpoints on the Oracle ACE program from both Oracle and other Oracle ACEs.

Collect only actionable data

We are collecting more and more data, but using less and less.

You only need data for two reasons:

  • To take action based on the data
  • To store for possible future reference

Every time I shop online or interact with a support service, I’m inundated with requests to review and answer surveys. Not much of this is useful. If I rate your support staff 7 out of 10, what action will you take? Do not (more...)

Offshore Mismatch

Why do offshore projects fail? Because they have too many junior offshore people and too many senior onshore people.

Offshore MismatchYou need offshore senior people to mentor the juniors, and you need to train onshore junior people.

This illustration is from tomorrow’s edition of my weekly “Technology That Fits” newsletter. Sign up to get a weekly tip for using IT successfully.

 

 

Designing Door Acoustics

I just watched a video with a very dedicated professional. He was in charge of door acoustics at a major car manufacturer – in effect, his job was to make sure that the door makes a satisfying sound when you close it.

It is this kind of attention to detail that differentiate brands. An Audi shares 80-90% of components with Volkswagen and Skoda, but still manages to command a hefty premium.

Are you building a (more...)

Useless Documentation

Not all documentation is created equal. Too much time is spent on formal design documents that are immediately outdated, and too little is spent on writing code comments.

Useless DocumentationMake sure your process requires and rewards good code comments. And make sure your architecture diagrams are kept up-to-date.

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White Elephant Requirements

I’m often engaged with clients helping them respond to Requests for Proposals (RFPs), and there are way too many bad RFPs out there.

These bad RFPs not only specify what the customer actually needs, they also specify that the customer can possibly think he will ever need. Typical requirements are that the user must be able to add extra attributes to all entities, or that the user can dynamically change which attributes are mandatory, or (more...)

The Spiritual Programmer

Based on my article in the latest issue of OTech Magazine, I am offering a free teleseminar (by phone or Skype) on how to live a happy, meaningful life in IT.

Programmers have a head start over the rest of humanity in leading happy, meaningful lives. If you have not yet reached complete enlightenment, I encourage you to sign up and invest 30 minutes listening to this call. It might improve your life.

New issue of OTech Magazine

The summer edition of OTech magazine has just been published – 111 pages packed with information from international Oracle technology experts.

Authors and topics are:

  • Sten Vesterli – The Spiritual Programmer
  • Scott Weseley – APEX 5.0 New Features
  • Patrick Barel – Dear Patrick
  • Emma Groomes & Crystal Walton – KScope 2014
  • Anar Godjaev – How to protect your sensitive data using Oracle Data Vault
  • Debra Lilley – Women in IT Initiative
  • Lonneke Dikmans – (more...)

The Internet of What?

Gartner has just released another iteration of their classic “Hype Cycles.” They are up to more than 100 different topics now, but one interesting graph is one is the one for Emerging Technologies.

Source: Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies 2014

I want to comment on a couple of points from this graph:

  • Internet of Things as peaking – completely agree. Everybody is talking about it but what do we have? An internet-connected smoke alarm.
  • Big (more...)

Book Review: “Write the Perfect Book Proposal”

I’m not in favour of calling books a “must-read”, but if you want to get your own book commercially published, I have to say you must read Write the Perfect Book Proposal: 10 That Sold and Why, 2nd Edition.

The main force of this book is that it explains the publishing industry from the inside: What a publisher is looking for. The authors honestly explain what the publisher will and will not do, and that (more...)

UKOUG Tech 14 in Liverpool

I’ll be going to the UKOUG Tech 14 conference in Liverpool in December to give one of my favorite presentations: “APEX or ADF? From Requirements to Tool Choice”. I’m also leading the Development Tools roundtable, which is always lively at the UKOUG conference. If you want to discuss your options as a developer in the Oracle world, UKOUG Tech 14 is the place to be.

APEX or ADF? From Requirements to Tool Choice
APEX or (more...)

Are Web Service a Mistake?

Quick, how many different Web Service specifications are there?

  1. less than 20
  2. between 20 and 40
  3. more than 40

I was in doubt whether the answer would be 1) or 2) – after all, there is a lot of WS-* stuff. Turns out the answer is 3) – there are currently 50 web service specifications.

A technology with 50 specifications is unlearnable. The basics of web services is simple and useful, but the IT industry (more...)

Learning It All

I was recently advising a transition project where a customer was switching support and maintenance supplier. This means that one organization must take over a system that has been maintained by another organization for a number of years.

A lot of information is lost in these transitions because knowledge of the problem domain has been accumulated in the heads of developers over many years. This loss cannot realistically be mitigated.

But sometimes, specific information about (more...)

The Art and Science of Estimates

I’m currently estimating the effort for a piece of software. With 20 years of experience under my belt, I don’t find estimating hard any longer. But back when I started out, I was terrified whenever I was asked to provide an estimate.

In most organizations, too much of the estimating is art and too little is science. Experienced developers can produce good, realistic estimates, but these are often treated as individual efforts and no organizational (more...)

Book Review: The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful BusinessesThe Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This main point of this book is the principle of “failing fast.” Since you don’t know everything (and a startup knows very little), it is most efficient to quickly create some data to base decisions on.

The distinction between “vanity metrics” and real, useful metrics is illuminating. A “vanity metric” shows (more...)

Arguing Facts and Fiction

I’ve been following the discussion on the new In-Memory option in the Oracle 12.1.0.2.0 database. As far as I can see, it’s very easy for a developer to start using this feature, which will cost your company $23,000 per CPU at the next Oracle license audit.

But the most interesting part is actually not the cost – it’s the discussion. Oracle expert Kevin Closson stated that there was a problem (more...)

Being Right and Proving It

One of the great things about working in IT is that you can often win an argument simply by being right. Not because of who you are or because you are more eloquent than others, but because the facts support your position. Almost every IT person I have ever met respects facts.

In order to win arguments this way, you of course need some facts to work with. And that’s where too many people fail. (more...)

Take Self-Absorption to New Lengths

Observing tourists around me, I’ve noticed that the regular selfie doesn’t cut it anymore. The essential travel accessory for the modern self-absorbed traveller is a selfie stick:

Of course, the whole selfie concept is the opposite of a traditional tourist snapshot: Not “see what I saw,” but “see me”. But while you are at it, why not make yourself a spectacle while you take the picture. Hence, the selfie stick.

The picture is pretty much (more...)

OK Watch, What’s the Time?

While we’re waiting for the mythical iWatch, Google has already released Android Wear, and the first two Android Wear watches are here.  And they’re ugly.

If I’m going to wear something like that on my wrist, I need a really compelling usecase. I’m not sure that getting even more notifications and reacting 0.8 seconds faster is what I’m looking for.

When my latest Nike FuelBand eventually dies (they seem to last about (more...)

Debugging Faulty Assumptions

I wanted to install Oracle JDevelper 12.1.3 – a version that I had been eagerly awaiting. Since my primary machine is a MacBook, I wanted to install it on OS X 10.9.3.

I downloaded the generic installer and found that the install didn’t run. Since OS X had disappeared from the documentation, I assumed that I would have to fiddle around until I found a combination of JDK and OS (more...)