Reading


On the Google-bro Memo

tl;dr By now, everybody has heard of the memo that was passed around by the Google-bro, claiming that Google should reduce its efforts at explicit diversity hiring and how his message was unwelcome within Google’s halls; my reaction is that he had a small point, but it was drowned in the inanity of his larger, and far more incorrect, message.


Speaking Tips: Don't Be Funny

For many years, I’ve quietly mentored a few speakers in the industry. Nothing big, nothing formal, just periodically I’d find somebody that wanted to get in front of audiences and speak, and either they’d ask me some questions or I’d get the feeling that they were open to some suggestions, and things would sort of go from there. Now, as I start to wind down my speaking career (some), I thought I’d post some ideas and suggestions I’ve had over the years.

This time, it’s about humor. Or the lack thereof.


Speaking Tips: Managing T&E

For many years, I’ve quietly mentored a few speakers in the industry. Nothing big, nothing formal, just periodically I’d find somebody that wanted to get in front of audiences and speak, and either they’d ask me some questions or I’d get the feeling that they were open to some suggestions, and things would sort of go from there. Now, as I start to wind down my speaking career (some), I thought I’d post some ideas and suggestions I’ve had over the years.


Speaking Tips: Tell A Story

tl;dr When doing a presentation, there should always be some kind of “story” to the presentation. It doesn’t have to be a full-blown Shakespearean “Things get worse, things get a little better, then things get way worse, and either they eventually get better (a comedy) or they just end worse (a tragedy)” plot arc, but your audience needs to have a narrative arc to the talk that they can sort of hang on to while you’re doing your thing. And, as it turns out, you need it as much as they do.


Seattle Code Camp 2016

tl;dr I spoke at Seattle Code Camp last weekend, and I wanted to make links to the slides available for anyone who was interested in consuming them.


Speaking Tips: Mentor and Be Mentored

For many years, I’ve quietly mentored a few speakers in the industry. As I slow down my own speaking career, I’ve decided to put some of that mentoring advice into Internet form. And one of the key things I advise new speakers to do is to sit on both sides of the mentoring fence.


Speaking Tips: No Speaker Notes

For many years, I’ve quietly mentored a few speakers in the industry. As I slow down my own speaking career, I’ve decided to put some of that mentoring advice into Internet form. I’ve seen numerous speakers bring notes to themselves up to the podium, and reference them during the presentation.


Speaking Tips: Never Memorize

For many years, I’ve quietly mentored a few speakers in the industry. As I slow down my own speaking career, I’ve decided to put some of that mentoring advice into Internet form. One of the most important things, although it seems like a good idea at first, is to never, never, EVER memorize your talk. And that includes having a script for it.


Speaking Tips: Slow Down and Drink

For many years, I’ve quietly mentored a few speakers in the industry. As I slow down my own speaking career, I’ve decided to put some of that mentoring advice into Internet form. In this installment, we talk about speaking—and by that, I mean pacing.


Speaking Tips: Critique Others

For many years, I’ve quietly mentored a few speakers in the industry. Nothing big, nothing formal, just periodically I’d find somebody that wanted to get in front of audiences and speak, and either they’d ask me some questions or I’d get the feeling that they were open to some suggestions, and things would sort of go from there. Now, as I start to wind down my speaking career (some), I thought I’d post some ideas and suggestions I’ve had over the years. This time, it’s to critique (not criticize!) others speaking. And ask for their critique in return.


Speaking Tips: Record Yourself

For many years, I’ve quietly mentored a few speakers in the industry. Nothing big, nothing formal, just periodically I’d find somebody that wanted to get in front of audiences and speak, and either they’d ask me some questions or I’d get the feeling that they were open to some suggestions, and things would sort of go from there. Now, as I start to wind down my speaking career (some), I thought I’d post some ideas and suggestions I’ve had over the years. One such tip: Record yourself when speaking. Then, actually watch the video.


Speaking Tips: There is a Conference That Wants You

For many years, I’ve quietly mentored a few speakers in the industry. Nothing big, nothing formal, just periodically I’d find somebody that wanted to get in front of audiences and speak, and either they’d ask me some questions or I’d get the feeling that they were open to some suggestions, and things would sort of go from there. Now, as I start to wind down my speaking career (some), I thought I’d post some ideas and suggestions I’ve had over the years.



Speaking Tips: How to Write Good Proposals

For many years, I’ve quietly mentored a few speakers in the industry. Nothing big, nothing formal, just periodically I’d find somebody that wanted to get in front of audiences and speak, and either they’d ask me some questions or I’d get the feeling that they were open to some suggestions, and things would sort of go from there. Now, as I start to wind down my speaking career (some), I thought I’d post some ideas and suggestions I’ve had over the years.


Intellectual Honesty

tl;dr At last night’s Seattle Languages meeting, I was reminded of what intellectually-honest debate does and does not look like; then, as part of the discussions and argument around the tragic deaths of several black men at the hands of police, I was presented with a link to a page entitled “Ten Signs of Intellectual Honesty”. This is good material.


Practice, practice, practice

tl;dr Recently the Harvard Business Review ran an article on how readers could prepare for difficult business situations, using the analogy of coaches preparing their teams for different eventualities by simulating those eventualities on the practice field. There’s lessons to be learned here for both programming and speaking.


Reclaiming Design Patterns (20 Years Later)

tl;dr 20 years ago, the “Gang of Four” published the seminal work on design patterns. Written to the languages of its time (C++ and Smalltalk), and written using the design philosophies of the time (stressing inheritance, for example), it nevertheless spawned a huge “movement” within the industry. Which, as history has shown us, was already the hallmark of its doom—anything that has ever become a “movement” within this industry eventually disappoints and is burned at the public-relations stake when it fails to deliver on the overhyped promises that it never actually made. It’s time to go back, re-examine the 23 patterns (and, possibly, a few variants) with a fresh set of eyes, match them up against languages which have had 20 years to mature, and see what emerges. (Spoiler alert: all of the original 23 hold up pretty well, and there’s a lot of nuance that I think we missed the first time around.)


Why should they care?

tl;dr I’m frequently asked for my opinion around books (doing two reviews now, in fact, both of which look really good and worth reading—more on that later), presentations, marketing efforts, and sometimes, startups themselves. In almost all of these cases, I find myself frequently asking the same question as a bit of Quibb clickbait I ran across recently. (It also helps to answer why I’ve taken up the habit of doing the “tl;dr” thing at the front of each of my blog posts recently.)


How do you learn?

tl;dr I’ve been asked a number of times over the years how, exactly, I approach learning new stuff, whether that be a new programming language, a new platform, whatever. This is obviously a highly personal (meaning specific to the individual offering the answer) subject, so my approach may or may not work for you; regardless, I’d suggest to anyone that they give it a shot and if it works, coolness.



Technical Debt: A Definition

tl;dr A recent post on medium.com addresses the topic of technical debt; I had an intuitive disagreement with the thrust of the post, and wrote this as a way of clarifying my own thoughts on the matter. It raises some interesting questions about what technical debt actually is—and if we can’t define it, how can we possibly understand how to avoid it or remove it, as opposed to our current practice of using it as a “get-out-of-this-codebase-by-blowing-it-all-up” card?


A Good TechBlog Read

tl;dr I’ve found a new blog that I’m enjoying reading so far, and thought readers might want to browser-bookmark for future consumption.


Speaking: 2016 (so far...)

The confirmations are starting to flow in, and I’m getting quite the nice lineup of shows to speak at for the new calendar year; the complete list is a bit long to list here (and it’ll change as the year progresses, to be sure), but so far I’ve got a nice mix of different kinds of shows: Voxxed Days: These are smaller, newer events in cities that are new to the Devoxx conference circuit.

Google's 8 Manager Skills

I’ll admit, my first reaction was, “Hey, some of those 8 things aren’t really skills, per se, as much as they are the effects you want to see come out of your manager”. For example, “Empowers team and does not micromanage” isn’t really a skill, as it were, but more of an abstract guiding principle that would encompass things like, “Gives an employee a goal and a deadline, then steps out of the way to see them accomplish it, unless asked to step in and assist”.

On (Free) Speaking

Remember when I posted about speaking for free at conferences? And everybody got so upset? Because, you know... community! Somebody tell me how this is any different. When a conference chooses not to offer its speakers even a modest stipend beyond expenses (and let's not even begin to discuss the conferences who don't bother covering expenses), they are essentially asking the speaker to do all that work for free. Just like asking a musician to use his music for free.

On speakers, expenses, and stipends

In the past, I've been asked about my thoughts on conferences and the potential "death" of conferences, and the question came up again more recently in a social setting. It's been a while since I commented on it, and if anything, my thoughts have only gotten sharper and clearer. On speaking professionally When you go to the dentist's office, who do you want holding the drill--the "enthused, excited amateur", or the "practiced professional"?

Programming Interviews

Apparently I have become something of a resource on programming interviews: I've had three people tell me they read the last two blog posts, one because his company is hiring and he wants his people to be doing interviews right, and two more expressing shock that I still get interviewed--which I don't really think is all that fair, more on that in a moment--and relief that it's not just them getting grilled on areas that they don't believe to be relevant to the job--and more on that in a moment, too.

Say that part about HTML standards, again?

In incarnations past, I have had debates, public and otherwise, with friends and colleagues who have asserted that HTML5 (by which we really mean HTML5/JavaScript/CSS3) will essentially become the platform of choice for all applications going forward—that essentially, this time, standards will win out, and companies that try to subvert the open nature of the web by creating their own implementations with their own extensions and proprietary features that aren’t part of the standards, lose.

"Craftsmanship", by another name

This blog, talking about the "1/10" developer as a sort of factored replacement for the "x10" developer, caught my eye over Twitter. Frankly, I'm not sure what to say about it, but there's a part of me that says I need to say something. I don't like the terminology "1/10 developer". As the commenters on the author's blog suggest, it implies a denigration of the individual in question. I don't think that was the author's intent, but intentions don't matter--results do.

On Sexism, Harassment, and Termination

Oh, boy. Diving into this whole Adria Richards/people-getting-fired thing is probably a mistake, but it’s reached levels at which I’m just too annoyed by everyone and everything in this to not say something. You have one of three choices: read the summary below and conclude I’m a misogynist without reading the rest; read the summary below and conclude I’m spot-on without reading the rest; or read the rest and draw your own conclusions after hearing the arguments.

That Thing They Call "Unemployment"

TL;DR: I'm "unemployed", I'm looking to land a position as a director of development or similar kind of development management role; I'm ridiculously busy in the meantime. My employer, after having suffered the loss of close to a quarter of its consultant workforce on a single project when that project chose to "re-examine its current approach", has decided that (not surprisingly) given the blow to its current cash flow, it's a little expensive keeping an architectural consultant of my caliber on staff, particularly since it seems to me they don't appear to have the projects lined up for all these people to go.

"We Accept Pull Requests"

There are times when the industry in which I find myself does things that I just don't understand. Consider, for a moment, this blog by Jeff Handley, in which he essentially says that the phrase "We accept pull requests" is "cringe-inducing": Why do the words “we accept pull requests” have such a stigma? Why were they cringe-inducing when I spoke them? Because too many OSS projects use these words as an easy way to shut people up.

Um... Security risk much?

While cruising through the Internet a few minute ago, I wandered across Meteor, which looks like a really cool tool/system/platform/whatever for building modern web applications. JavaScript on the front, JavaScript on the back, Mongo backing, it's definitely something worth looking into, IMHO. Thus emboldened, I decide to look at how to start playing with it, and lo and behold I discover that the instructions for installation are: curl https://install.meteor.com | sh Um....

Last Thoughts on "Craftsmanship"

TL;DR Live craftsmanship, don't preach it. The creation of a label serves no purpose other than to disambiguate and distinguish. If we want to hold people accountable to some sort of "professionalism", then we have to define what that means. I found Uncle Bob's treatment of my blog heavy-handed and arrogant. I don't particularly want to debate this anymore; this is my last take on the subject. I will freely admit, I didn't want to do this.

More on "Craftsmanship"

TL;DR: To all those who dissented, you're right, but you're wrong. Craftsmanship is a noble meme, when it's something that somebody holds as a personal goal, but it's often coming across as a way to beat up and denigrate on others who don't choose to invest significant time and energy into programming. The Zen Masters didn't walk around the countryside, proclaiming "I am a Zen Master!" Wow. Apparently I touched a nerve.

On the Dark Side of "Craftsmanship"

I don't know Heather Arthur from Eve. Never met her, never read an article by her, seen a video she's in or shot, or seen her code. Matter of fact, I don't even know that she is a "she"--I'm just guessing from the name. But apparently she got quite an ugly reaction from a few folks when she open-sourced some code: So I went to see what people were saying about this project.

Review (in advance): F# Deep Dives

F# Deep Dives, by Tomas Petricek and Phillip Trelford, Manning Publications As many readers of my writing will already know, I've been kind of "involved" with F# (and its cousin on the JVM, Scala) for a few years now, to the degree that I and a couple of really smart guys wrote a book on the subject. Now, assuming you're one of the .NET developers who've heard of F# and functional programming, and took a gander at the syntax, and maybe even bought a book on it (my publisher and I both thank you if you bought ours), but weren't quite sure what to do with it, a book has come along to help get you past that.

Review: Metaprogramming in .NET

Metaprogramming in .NET, by Kevin Hazzard and Jason Bock, Manning Publications TL;DR: This is a great book (not perfect), but not an easy read for everyone, not because the writing is bad, but because the subject is a whole new level of abstraction above what most developers deal with. Full disclosure: Manning Publications is a publisher I've published with before, and Kevin and Jason are both friends of mine in the .NET community.

Tech Predictions, 2013

Once again, it's time for my annual prognostication and review of last year's efforts. For those of you who've been long-time readers, you know what this means, but for those two or three of you who haven't seen this before, let's set the rules: if I got a prediction right from last year, you take a drink, and if I didn't, you take a drink. (Best. Drinking game. EVAR!) Let's begin....

Thoughts on my new Surface

As a post-Christmas gift to myself, I took a bit of the money that my folks gave us and bought myself a 64GB Surface. Couple of thoughts came to mind as I've sat down to play with this thing: Microsoft doesn't sell a 64GB model with a Type keyboard? I know the touch-thing is, like, the new hotness with everyone, but frankly, having played with a friend's Surface and his (preferred) Touch keyboard cover, I think both he and Microsoft are smoking some serious crack if they think anyone can seriously touch-type on the touch keyboard.

Scala syntax bug?

I'm running into a weird situation in some Scala code I'm writing (more on why in a later post), and I'm curious to know from my Scala-ish followers if this is a bug or intentional/"by design". First of all, I can define a function that takes a variable argument list, like so: def varArgs(key:String, args:Any*) = { println(key) println(args) true } varArgs("Howdy") And this is good. I can also write a function that returns a function, to be bound and invoked, like so: val good1 = (key:String) = { println(key) true } good1("Howdy") And this also works.

On Uniqueness, and Difference

In my teenage formative years, which (I will have to admit) occurred during the 80s, educators and other people deeply involved in the formation of young peoples' psyches laid great emphasis on building and enhancing our self-esteem. Self-esteem, in fact, seems to have been the cause and cure of every major problem suffered by any young person in the 80s; if you caved to peer pressure, it was because you lacked self-esteem.

Cloud legal

There's an interesting legal interpretation coming out of the Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF) around the Megaupload case, and the EFF has said this: "The government maintains that Mr. Goodwin lost his property rights in his data by storing it on a cloud computing service. Specifically, the government argues that both the contract between Megaupload and Mr. Goodwin (a standard cloud computing contract) and the contract between Megaupload and the server host, Carpathia (also a standard agreement), "likely limit any property interest he may have" in his data.

Vietnam... in Bulgarian

I received an email from Dimitar Teykiyski a few days ago, asking if he could translate the "Vietnam of Computer Science" essay into Bulgarian, and no sooner had I replied in the affirmative than he sent me the link to it. If you're Bulgarian, enjoy. I'll try to make a few moments to put the link to the translation directly on the original blog post itself, but it'll take a little bit--I have a few other things higher up in the priority queue.

On Equality

Recently (over the last half-decade, so far as I know) there's been a concern about the numbers of women in the IT industry, and in particular the noticeable absence of women leaders and/or industry icons in the space. All of the popular languages (C, C++, Java, C#, Scala, Groovy, Ruby, you name it) have been invented by or are represented publicly by men. The industry speakers at conferences are nearly all men.

Just Say No to SSNs

Two things conspire to bring you this blog post. Of Contracts and Contracts First, a few months ago, I was asked to participate in an architectural review for a project being done for one of the states here in the US. It was a project dealing with some sensitive information (Child Welfare Services), and I was required to sign a document basically promising not to do anything bad with the data.

“Vietnam” in Belorussian

Recently I got an email from Bohdan Zograf, who offered: Hi! I'm willing to translate publication located at http://blogs.tedneward.com/2006/06/26/The+Vietnam+Of+Computer+Science.aspx to the Belorussian language (my mother tongue). What I'm asking for is your written permission, so you don't mind after I'll post the translation to my blog. I agreed, and next thing I know, I get the next email that it’s done. If your mother tongue is Belorussian, then I invite you to read the article in its translated form at http://www.moneyaisle.com/worldwide/the-vietnam-of-computer-science-be.

Tech Predictions, 2011 Edition

Long-time readers of this blog know what’s coming next: it’s time for Ted to prognosticate on what the coming year of tech will bring us. But I believe strongly in accountability, even in my offered-up-for-free predictions, so one of the traditions of this space is to go back and revisit my predictions from this time last year. So, without further ado, let’s look back at Ted’s 2010 predictions, and see how things played out; 2010 predictions are prefixed with “THEN”, and my thoughts on my predictions are prefixed with “NOW”: For 2010, I predicted....

VMWare help

Hey, anybody who’s got significant VMWare mojo, help out a bro? I’ve got a Win7 VM (one of many) that appears to be exhibiting weird disk behavior—the vmdk, a growable single-file VMDK, is almost precisely twice the used space. It’s a 120GB growable disk, and the Win7 guest reports about 35GB used, but the VMDK takes about 70GB on host disk. CHKDSK inside Windows says everything’s good, and the VMWare “Disk Cleanup” doesn’t change anything, either.

Emotional commitment colors everything

As a part of my program to learn how to use the Mac OS more effectively (mostly to counteract my lack of Mac-command-line kung fu, but partly to get Neal Ford off my back ;-) ), I set the home page in Firefox to point to the OSX Daily website. This morning, this particular page popped up as the "tip of the day", and a particular thing about it struck my fancy.

Comments on the SDTimes article

Miguel de Icaza wrote up a good response to the SDTimes article in which both of us were quoted, and I thought it might serve to flesh out the discussion a bit more to chime in with my part in the piece. First and foremost, Miguel notes: David quotes Ted Neward (a speaker on the .NET and Java circuits, but not an open source guy by any stretch of the imagination).

Another Gartner prediction...

Let's see if this one holds: Gartner says that by 2012, Android will have a larger percentage of the worldwide mobile phone market than the iPhone, 14.5 % against 13.7%. Reasons to doubt this particular bit of prescience? Gartner also predicts that "Windows Mobile" will have "12.8 percent" of the market. This despite the fact that at MIX last week, Microsoft basically canned Windows Mobile in favor of a complete reboot called "Windows Phone Series 7" based on ideas from Silverlight and XNA.

10 Things To Improve Your Development Career

Cruising the Web late last night, I ran across "10 things you can do to advance your career as a developer", summarized below: Build a PC Participate in an online forum and help others Man the help desk Perform field service Perform DBA functions Perform all phases of the project lifecycle Recognize and learn the latest technologies Be an independent contractor Lead a project, supervise, or manage Seek additional education I agreed with some of them, I disagreed with others, and in general felt like they were a little too high-level to be of real use.

2010 TechEd PreCon: Multiparadigmatic C#

I'm excited to say that TechEd has accepted my pre-conference proposal, Multiparadigmatic C#, where the abstract reads: C# has grown from “just” an object-oriented language into a language that is capable of expressing several different paradigms of software development: object-oriented, functional, and dynamic. In this session, developers will learn how to approach programming in C# to use each of these approaches, and when. If you're interested in seeing C# used in a variety of different ways, come on out.

2010 Predictions, 2009 Predictions Revisited

Here we go again—another year, another set of predictions revisited and offered up for the next 12 months. And maybe, if I'm feeling really ambitious, I'll take that shot I thought about last year and try predicting for the decade. Without further ado, I'll go back and revisit, unedited, my predictions for 2009 ("THEN"), and pontificate on those subjects for 2010 before adding any new material/topics. Just for convenience, here's a link back to last years' predictions.

Book Review: Debug It! (Paul Butcher, Pragmatic Bookshelf)

Paul asked me to review this, his first book, and my comment to him was that he had a pretty high bar to match; being of the same "series" as Release It!, Mike Nygard's take on building software ready for production (and, in my repeatedly stated opinion, the most important-to-read book of the decade), Debug It! had some pretty impressive shoes to fill. Paul's comment was pretty predictable: "Thanks for keeping the pressure to a minimum." My copy arrived in the mail while I was at the NFJS show in Denver this past weekend, and with a certain amount of dread and excitement, I opened the envelope and sat down to read for a few minutes.

"Agile is treating the symptoms, not the disease"

The above quote was tossed off by Billy Hollis at the patterns&practices Summit this week in Redmond. I passed the quote out to the Twitter masses, along with my +1, and predictably, the comments started coming in shortly thereafter. Rather than limit the thoughts to the 120 or so characters that Twitter limits us to, I thought this subject deserved some greater expansion. But before I do, let me try (badly) to paraphrase the lightning talk that Billy gave here, which sets context for the discussion: Keeping track of all the stuff Microsoft is releasing is hard work: LINQ, EF, Silverlight, ASP.NET MVC, Enterprise Library, Azure, Prism, Sparkle, MEF, WCF, WF, WPF, InfoCard, CardSpace, the list goes on and on, and frankly, nobody (and I mean nobody) can track it all.

More on journalistic integrity: Sys-Con, Ulitzer, theft and libel

Recently, an email crossed my Inbox from a friend who was concerned about some questionable practices involving my content (as well as a few others'); apparently, I have been listed as an "author" for SysCon, I have a "domain" with them, and that I've been writing for them since 10 January, 2003, including two articles, "Effective Enterprise Java" and "Java/.NET Interoperability". Given that both of those "articles" are summaries from presentations I've done at conferences past, I'm a touch skeptical.

What is "news", and what is "unethical"?

This post from TechCrunch crossed my attention inbox today, and I find myself quite flummoxed on the subject of how I think I should react. Assume you have managed, through no overt work on your part (meaning, you didn't explicitly solicit, ask, or otherwise endeavor to obtain), to get ownership of "hundreds of confidential corporate and personal documents" for a company. Assume further that these documents are genuine—there is little to no chance that they could have been forged or fabricated.

Review: "Iron Python in Action" by Michael Foord and Christian Muirhead

OK, OK, I admit it. Maybe significant whitespace isn't all bad. (But don't let me ever catch you quoting me say that.) The reason for my (maybe) shift in thinking? Manning Publications sent me a copy of Iron Python in Action, and I have to say, I like the book and its approach. Getting me to like Python as a primary language for development will probably take more than just one book can give, but...

Review: "Programming Clojure", by Stu Halloway

(Disclaimer: In the spirit of full disclosure, Stu is a friend, fellow NFJS speaker, and former co-worker of mine from DevelopMentor.) I present this review to you in two parts. Short version: If you want to learn Clojure, and you’re familiar with at least one programming language, you’ll find this a great resource. If you don’t already know a programming language, or if you already know Clojure, or if you’re looking for "best practices" to cut-and-paste, you’re going to be disappointed.

A eulogy: DevelopMentor, RIP

Update: See below, but I wanted to include the text Mike Abercrombie (DM’s owner) posted as a comment to this post, in the body of the blog post itself. "Ted - All of us at DevelopMentor greatly appreciate your admiration. We’re also grateful for your contributions to DevelopMentor when you were part of our staff. However, all of us that work here, especially our technical staff that write and delivery our courses today, would appreciate it if you would check your sources before writing our eulogy.

SSCLI 2.0 Internals

Joel's weblog appears to be down, so in response to some emails I've posted my draft copy of SSCLI 2.0 Internals here. I think it's the same PDF that Joel had on his weblog, but I haven't made absolutely certain of the fact. :-/ If you've not checked out the first version of SSCLI Internals, it's cool—the second edition is basically everything that the first edition is, plus a new chapter on Generics (and how they changed the internals of the CLR to reflect generics all the way through the system), so you're good.

"Multi-core Mania": A Rebuttal

The Simple-Talk newsletter is a monthly e-zine that the folks over at Red Gate Software (makers of some pretty cool toys, including their ANTS Profiler, and recent inheritors of the Reflector utility legacy) produce, usually to good effect. But this month carried with it an interesting editorial piece, which I reproduce in its entirety here: When the market is slack, nothing succeeds better at tightening it up than promoting serial group-panic within the community.


Building WCF services with F#, Interlude

Because I’m about to start my third part in the WCF/F# series, I realized that I’ve now hit the “rule of three” mark: in this particular case, this will mark the third project I’m creating that unifies WCF and F#, and frankly, it’s a pain in the *ss to do it all by hand each time: create an F# Library, add the System.ServiceModel and System.Runtime.Serialization assemblies, go create an App.config file and add it to the project as an Existing Item….

Building WCF services with F#, Part 2

If you’ve not read the first part in the series, take a look there first. While it’s always easier to build WCF services with nothing but primitive types understood by all the platforms to which you’re communicating (be it Java through XML services or other .NET systems via WCF’s more efficient binding types), this gets old and limiting very quickly. The WCF service author will want to develop whole composite types that can be exchanged across the wire, and this is most often done via the DataContract attribute applied to the types that will be exchanged.

"Pragmatic Architecture", in book form

For a couple of years now, I've been going around the world and giving a talk entitled "Pragmatic Architecture", talking both about what architecture is (and what architects really do), and ending the talk with my own "catalog" of architectural elements and ideas, in an attempt to take some of the mystery and "cloud" nature of architecture out of the discussion. If you've read Effective Enterprise Java, then you've read the first version of that discussion, where Pragmatic Architecture was a second-generation thought process.

The Myth of Discovery

It amazes me how insular and inward-facing the software industry is. And how the "agile" movement is reaping the benefits of a very simple characteristic. For example, consider Jeff Palermo's essay on "The Myth of Self-Organizing Teams". Now, nothing against Jeff, or his post, per se, but it amazes me how our industry believes that they are somehow inventing new concepts, such as, in this case the "self-organizing team". Team dynamics have been a subject of study for decades, and anyone with a background in psychology, business, or sales has probably already been through much of the material on it.

REST != HTTP

Roy Fielding has weighed in on the recent "buzzwordiness" (hey, if Colbert can make up "truthiness", then I can make up "buzzwordiness") of calling everything a "REST API", a tactic that has become more en vogue of late as vendors discover that the general programming population is finding the WSDL-based XML services stack too complex to navigate successfully for all but the simplest of projects. Contrary to what many RESTafarians may be hoping, Roy doesn't gather all these wayward children to his breast and praise their anti-vendor/anti-corporate/anti-proprietary efforts, but instead, blasts them pretty seriously for mangling his term: I am getting frustrated by the number of people calling any HTTP-based interface a REST API.

Apparently I'm #25 on the Top 100 Blogs for Development Managers

The full list is here. It's a pretty prestigious group--and I'm totally floored that I'm there next to some pretty big names. In homage to Ms. Sally Fields, of so many years ago... "You like me, you really like me". Having somebody come up to me at a conference and tell me how much they like my blog is second on my list of "fun things to happen to me at a conference", right behind having somebody come up to me at a conference and tell me how much they like my blog, except for that one entry, where I said something totally ridiculous (and here's why) ....

The Never-Ending Debate of Specialist v. Generalist

Another DZone newsletter crosses my Inbox, and again I feel compelled to comment. Not so much in the uber-aggressive style of my previous attempt, since I find myself more on the fence on this one, but because I think it's a worthwhile debate and worth calling out. The article in question is "5 Reasons Why You Don't Want A Jack-of-all-Trades Developer", by Rebecca Murphey. In it, she talks about the all-too-common want-ad description that appears on job sites and mailing lists: I've spent the last couple of weeks trolling Craigslist and have been shocked at the number of ads I've found that seem to be looking for an entire engineering team rolled up into a single person.

Best Java Resources: A Call

I've been asked to put together a list of the "best" Java resources that every up-and-coming Java developer should have, and I'd like this list to be as comprehensive as possible and, more importantly, reflect more than just my own opinion. So, either through comments or through email, let me know what you think the best Java resources are in the following categories: Websites and developer Web portals Weblogs/RSS feeds. (Not all have to be hand-authored blogs--if you find an RSS feed for news on java.net projects, for example, that would count as well.) Java packages and/or libaries.

On Blogging, Technical, Personal and Intimate

Sometimes people ask me why I don't put more "personal" details in my blogs--those who know me know that I'm generally pretty outspoken on a number of topics ranging far beyond that of simple technology. While sometimes those opinions do manage to leak their way here, for the most part, I try to avoid the taboo topics (politics/sex/religion, among others) here in an effort to keep things technically focused. Or, at least, as technically focused as I can, anyway.

Blogs I'm currently reading

Recently, a former student asked me, I was in a .NET web services training class that you gave probably 4 or so years ago on-site at a [company name] office in [city], north of Atlanta.  At that time I asked you for a list of the technical blogs that you read, and I am curious which blogs you are reading now.  I am now with a small company where I have to be a jack of all trades, in the last year I have worked in C++ and Perl backend type projects and web frontend projects with Java, C#, and RoR, so I find your perspective interesting since you also work with various technologies and aren't a zealot for a specific one.

Rules for Review

Apparently, I'm drawing enough of an audience through this blog that various folks have started to send me press releases and notifications and requests for... well, I dunno exactly, but I'm assuming some blogging love of some kind. I'm always a little leery about that particular subject, because it always has this dangerous potential to turn the blog into a less-credible marketing device, but people at conferences have suggested that they really are interested in what I think about various products and tools, so perhaps it's time to amend my stance on this.

Reminder

A couple of people have asked me over the last few weeks, so it's probably worth saying out loud: No, I don't work for a large company, so yes, I'm available for consulting and research projects. If you've got one of those burning questions like, "How would our company/project/department/whatever make use of JRuby-and-Rails, and what would the impact to the rest of the system be", or "Could using F# help us write applications faster", or "How would we best integrate Groovy into our application", or "How does the new Adobe Flex/AIR move help us build richer client apps", or "How do we improve the performance of our Java/.NET app", or other questions along those lines, drop me a line and let's talk.

Quotables

Some quotes I've found to be thought-provoking over the last week or so: "Some programming languages manage to absorb change, but withstand progress." "In a 5 year period we get one superb programming language. Only we can't control when the 5 year period will begin." "Every program has (at least) two purposes: the one for which it was written and another for which it wasn't." "If a listener nods his head when you're explaining your program, wake him up."

Quotes on writing

This is, without a doubt, the most accurate quote ever about the "fun" of writing a book: Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement; then it becomes a mistress, and then it becomes a master, and then a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster, and fling him out to the public.

A Dozen Levels of Done

Michael Nygard (author of the great book Release It!), writes that "[his] definition of 'done' continues to expand". Currently, his definition reads: A feature is not "done" until all of the following can be said about it: All unit tests are green. The code is as simple as it can be. It communicates clearly. It compiles in the automated build from a clean checkout. It has passed unit, functional, integration, stress, longevity, load, and resilience testing.

A Book Every Developer Must Read

This is not a title I convey lightly, but Michael Nygard's Release It! deserves the honor. It's the first book I've ever seen that addresses the issues of building software that's Production-friendly and sysadmin-approachable. He describes a series of antipatterns describing a variety of software failures, and offers up a series of solutions (patterns, if you will) to building software systems designed to combat said failures. From the back cover: Every website project is really an enterprise integration project: the stakes are high and the projects complex.

Yellow Journalism Meets The Web... again...

For those who aren't familiar with the term, "yellow journalism" was a moniker applied to journalism (newspapers, at the time) articles that were written with little attention to the facts, and maximum attention to gathering attention and selling newspapers. Articles were sensationalist, highly incorrect or unvalidated, seeking to draw at the emotional strings the readers would fear or want pulled. Popular at the turn of the last century, perhaps the most notable example of yellow journalism was the sinking of the Maine, a US battleship that exploded in harbor while visiting Cuba (then, ironically, a very US-friendly place).

The Strategies of Software Development

At a software conference not too long ago, I was asked what book I was currently reading that I'd recommend, and I responded, "Robert Greene's The 33 Strategies of War". When asked why I'd recommend this, the response was pretty simple: "Because I believe that there's more parallels to what we do in military history than in constructing buildings." Greene's book is an attempt at a distillation of what all the most successful generals and military leaders throughout history used to make them so successful.

Important/Not-so-important

Frank Kelly posted some good ideas on his entry, “Java: Are we worrying about the wrong things?”, but more interestingly, he suggested (implicitly) a new format for weighing in on trends and such, his “Important/Not-so-important” style. For example, NOT SO IMPORTANT: Web 2.0IMPORTANT: Giving users a good, solid user experience. Web 2.0 doesn’t make sites better by itself - it provides powerful technologies but it’s no silver bullet. There are so many terrible web sites out there with issues such as- Too much content / too cluttered http://jdj.sys-con.com/- Too heavy for the many folks still on dial-up- Inconsistent labeling- etc.

More on Ethics

While traveling not too long ago, I saw a great piece on ethics, and wished I’d kept the silly magazine (I couldn’t remember which one) because it was just a really good summation of how to live the ethical life. While wandering around the Web with Google tonight, I found it (scroll down a bit, to after the bits on Prohibition and Laughable Laws); in summary, the author advocates a life around five basic points: Do no harm Make things better Respect others Be fair Be loving Seems pretty simple, no?

Programming Promises (or, the Professional Programmer's Hippocratic Oath)

Michael.NET, apparently inspired by my “Check Your Politics At The Door” post, and equally peeved at another post on blogs.msdn.com, hit a note of pure inspiration when he created his list of “Programming Promises”, which I repeat below: I promise to get the job done. I promise to use whatever tools I need to, regardless of politics. I promise to listen to the Closed Source and Open Source zealots equally, and then dismiss them.

The Root of All Evil

At a No Fluff Just Stuff conference not that long ago, Brian Goetz and I were hosting a BOF on "Java Internals" (I think it was), and he tossed off a one-liner that just floored me; I forget the exact phrasology, but it went something like: Remember that part about premature optimization being the root of all evil? He was referring to programmer career lifecycle, not software development lifecycle. ... and the more I thought about it, the more I think Brian was absolutely right.

Welcome to Borders' Microsoft Days...

If you're a Microsoftie and you're in the Redmond area this week, swing by the Borders in the Redmond Town Center, where they're having their "Microsoft Days" experience--everything a Microsoftie buys (whether for themselves or for their significant other, hint hint, guys) is 15% off. Why the advertisement? Two reasons: one, because I love supporting the local causes, and two, because I'm going to be there Friday night on a panel discussion with several .NET notables, including Bill Vaughn (the original SQL Server curmudgeon), Harry "I Got Your Architecture Right Here, Baby" Pierson, contributor to the "VB6 Migration Guide" book Keith Pleas, and possibly (if we can drag them out of the p & p "war room") agile afficionados Peter Provost and Brad Wilson.

Kudos to APress...

So I'm in Borders tonight, looking around, and I happen to see one of APress's latest titles, "Practical OCaml". Several things go through my mind at once: WOW. OCaml. A book on OCaml. Not even a "Programming Languages 101" textbook, but a practical one, even. Like, a book, copywrit this year, on OCaml. Gotta buy it--not just because it's another of those Dead Languages I like to explore, but because F# is a dead-ringer for OCaml, and I'm really interested in seeing where we can go with F# these days.

Why programmers shouldn't fear offshoring

Recently, while engaging in my other passion (international relations), I was reading the latest issue of Foreign Affairs, and ran across an interesting essay regarding the increasing outsourcing--or, the term they introduce which I prefer in this case, "offshoring"--of technical work, and I found some interesting analysis there that I think solidifies why I think programmers shouldn't fear offshoring, but instead embrace it and ride the wave to a better life for both us and consumers.

Don't fall prey to the latest social engineering attack

My father, whom I've often used (somewhat disparagingly...) as an example of the classic "power user", meaning "he-thinks-he-knows-what-he's-doing-but-usually-ends-up-needing-me-to-fix-his-computer-afterwards" (sorry Dad, but it's true...), often forwards me emails that turn out to be one hoax or another. This time, though, he found a winner--he sent me this article, warning against the latest caller identity scam: this time, they call claiming to be clerks of the local court, threatening that because the victim hasn't reported in for jury duty, arrest warrants have been issued.

2006 Tech Predictions

In keeping with the tradition, I'm suggesting the following will take place for 2006: The hype surrounding Ajax will slowly fade, as people come to realize that there's really nothing new here, just that DHTML is cool again. As Dion points out, Ajax will become a toolbox that you use in web development without thinking that "I am doing Ajax". Just as we don't think about "doing HTML" vs "doing DOM".

Props to my wife

For those of you who don’t know this, the blog at the root of the neward.net domain is one that my wife maintains–all I can claim is inspiration, providing her with plenty of material to write about, like the stories about her kids and her uber-geek husband. A regular Muse, that’s me. :-) The reason I bring it up here, in this channel, is that I’ve had more speaker-friends of mine come to me and tell me that while they like reading my blog, they love reading Charlotte’s blog.

Book Review: Rootkits, by Hoglund/Butler

The title is a bit scary, but "Rootkits", by Hoglund and Butler, really is anything but. Oh, I'll admit, their talk of how rootkits--programs that hackers install onto your system that patch into kernel space and thus are undetectable by any user-mode program--is scary, but then they walk you through the process of developing your own rootkit, thereby giving you some awareness of what a rootkit looks like, acts like, and therefore can be discovered and killed.

Book Review: Pragmatic Project Automation

A bit late, but I realized after I posted the Recommended Reading List that I forgot to add Mike Clark's Pragmatic Project Automation, a great resource for ideas on how to automate various parts of your build cycle... and, more importantly, why this is such a necessary step. Although nominally a Java book, there's really nothing in here that couldn't also be adopted to a .NET environment, particularly now that $g(NAnt) and $g(MSBuild) are prevalent in .NET development shops all over the planet.

Recommended Reading List (old version)

(Note that this is a reprint, so to speak, of the same entry on the old weblog, but I wanted to kick the Reading category off with a reprise of what I’d written before.) I’ve been asked on several occasions (from students, from blog readers, and from a few friends who happen to be in the business) what my recommended reading list is. I’ve never really put one together formally, instead just sort of relying on impromptu answers that cover some of my absolute favorites and a few that just leap to mind at the time.