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 Too much time is spent on formal design documents that are immediately outdated, and too little is spent on writing code comments.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...)

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...)

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...)

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...)

Incompetence or Malice?

We’ve just had a leak of 900,000 national identifier numbers here in Denmark. That’s about 16% of the total population, so it’s pretty big. These numbers are unique identifiers for a person (similar to Social Security Numbers) and are a good starting point for identity theft.

Never ascribe to malice that which can adequately be explained by incompetence.

Napoleon Bonaparte

 

So how did these numbers leak? Through plain incompetence and lack of procedures. It (more...)

They Took Away My Cloud

On Monday, a U.S. judge gave Microsoft control of 22 domains owned by domain hosting service No-IP.com. Microsoft intended to filter out some domains used by malware, but promptly screwed up. The result was that millions of legitimate users could not access their servers.

This will happen again and again as infrastructure moves to centralized cloud providers. What do you think will happen if the server just above yours in the server rack (more...)

Citizen + Open Data = $55,000 savings

Big Data is not necessarily about crunching massive amounts of data – it’s about finding unrealized value in a data set. This might be done on huge sets of billions of records, using Map/Reduce running on thousands of servers. But it might also be done at a smaller scale by a concerned citizen.

More and more data is being made available by municipalities and countries. These are typical “big data” collections: Just a bunch of (more...)

Poor Usability Puts Dangerous Criminals on the Street

Good usability is often seen as optional – something we can include in a system if we have the time and the resources for it. But sometimes, bad usability can cause economic damage. A couple of years ago, here in Denmark, a large, well-respected organization had to write manual checks for months to avoid having their phones cut off. The reason: Their new ERP system was so hard to use that invoices were not getting (more...)

Late to the game: SAP

Having working with Oracle Fusion Applications, I know what a modern, cutting-edge user experience for enterprise software looks like. Something like this:

fusion-applications-screenshots-3I’ve also sometimes been subjected to SAP. Suffice to say, it does not look like this.

But maybe they’re upping their game – according to job hunting site Glassdoor.com, SAP is looking for 58 User Experience engineers. A bit late to the game, given than Oracle is already shipping stuff like the (more...)

Cool or Safe? Volvo Chooses Cool

Safe driving has two components: Safe cars and safe drivers.

A Volvo car is built like a tank and is equipped with all kinds of safety features – it’s a very safe car. Unfortunately, Volvo has unthinkingly undone all the advances they have made on the car side of the equation by making the driver much more likely to cause an accident. How did they do that? With touchscreens, of course.

A driver in a (more...)

Keeping the Programmers Out

When an implementation project for a standard system like SAP or Oracle E-Business Suite runs completely off the rails, it’s because the programmers have been allowed into the project.

Programmers are very accommodating people and they don’t like to say no. And true enough, given enough time and money, they  can build anything.

The problem is that the business case for a standard system rests on the word “standard”. Not “almost-standard-with-a-little-bit-of-code”. By all means use (more...)

Why you’re not getting hired

If you’re applying for permanent positions and not getting hired even though you have the skills the organizations asks for, consider whether you are proving your ability to learn new things.

I’m often talking to people who believe their 20 years of experience with technology X or Y should make them shoo-ins for a job. However, they are not getting hired.

The reason is that a modern organization can’t depend on the same skill being (more...)

Cool or useful?

This is the dashboard of a Tesla S:

tesla dashboard

With a large touchscreen and very few physical buttons. A lot of design time went into building this. Very cool-looking.

This is the steering wheel of a Formula One racecar (which is incidentially the whole user interface of the car):

formula1 steering wheel

A small screen and a lot of physical buttons. A lot of usability engineering went into building this. Very useful.

If you are going to be handling (more...)