A Blog by Scott Isaacs

Month: March 2008

WI Social .NETworking

Chris just mentioned this so I thought I’d write a follow up post.

Several months ago I created a Facebook group for the WI .NET Users Group, although I never really publicized it, and had actually forgotten about it until today.  Well, today, Chris created a LinkedIn group for the UG, and that prompted me to create a Twitter account for the UG.

If you are a member of the WI .NET Users Group and are on any of these networks, please feel free to join the groups (or follow us on Twitter).

And yeah, I know — it’s a corny title…

Happy Easter

Whether you think of it as just another holiday for the kids, or if you, like me, are celebrating something much more important, have a Happy Easter.

Fox Valley Day of .NET

Tomorrow (Saturday) is the first ever Fox Valley Day of .NET in Appleton, WI.  I’m planning to attend, and if you’re anywhere in the area, and are a software developer, I’d recommend you go as well.  They have a good looking lineup of speakers and sessions, and I’m looking forward to it.

Best of all, it’s free.

Their automatic registration process is closed now, but you can still show up and register on site.  If you’re planning to go, I’ll see you there.

Stop Thinking Like A Programmer

Gerry recently posted an interesting article about the mindsets of software developers and software companies.  We had talked about this same topic on the phone for a while a couple days ago.  The same phrase that jumped out at me then also jumped out at me while reading his post: Stop Thinking Like A Programmer.  Of course, it’s the bolded opening statement of his post, so of course it jumps out at me.

But there I go, thinking like a programmer.

Analyzing why something happened, I think, is a lot like debugging.  Describing how to do something is a lot like writing code.  Rearranging sentences and paragraphs, deleting words, and choosing new phrases to replace others while writing this blog post is a form of refactoring, similar to what developers do to improve code quality.  Adding new words to the spell checker to get rid of the annoying squiggle underline — that’s just me being unnecessarily picky.

So many of the things that I do, and that other software developers do, we do like programmers.  So what?  What’s the big deal?  On the whole, developers (and other analytical types like mathematicians, engineers and scientists) are known for being thorough and precise.  Those are good things.  Right?

Yes, if you are in the process of actually writing software (or proving theorems, performing experiments, etc.).  However, if you’re doing just about anything else with anyone who is not an analytical, you have to watch yourself.  Some things I’ve learned over the years are that customers (or your wife, or the project manager, or you father-in-law) do not care:

  • That the changes they want will be accomplished by adding three tables to the database with a foreign key to the Widget table, then using the Suchandsuch Control to display the WidgetDetail properties in a GroupBox on FormMain.
  • That the hardware vendor’s newest firmware release better distributes its resources to make the scanning process more stable.
  • That you will spend 4 hours on designing the data model, 24 hours building the data access objects and business objects, 12 hours on the UI, 3 hours in QA, and 1 hour on documentation.

They do care:

  • Whether or not it can be done.
  • If everything works right now.
  • How much it costs.

CoderSalesperantoThey have different concerns.  They have a different way of approaching the problem.  They’re coming at the problem from an entirely different point of view in the first place.  They’re speaking a different language.  Gerry calls it Salesperonto, and I thought that was pretty clever.

Where I grew up, there were very many native Spanish speakers.  Many of them also knew English, and some knew English very well.  They were capable of talking to me in a language I understood well.  However, when they got excited about something, or focused on something, they would often switch back to Spanish without realizing it, or worse, speak in sentences that were half English and half Spanish.

All to often, I’ve seen developers, including myself, do this.  It’s dangerous for a few reasons.  It can confuse the Salesperonto.  It can stifle their creativity within the business domain by overwhelming them.  It can bore them.  It can make them think that you don’t care or don’t listen to what they are saying.  There is a place for speaking Coderian, but make sure your audience is also fluent first.

Coderian is definitely my native language, but I’ve been working on my Salesperonto.  I still have some practicing to do before I consider myself fluent.  Does anyone know how to say "abstract class" in Salesperonto?

The Weekend Has Officially Started

I’ve recently found a new online comic strip: Garfield Minus Garfield

Garfield Minus Garfield


From the site:

Who would have guessed that when you remove Garfield from the Garfield comic strips, the result is an even better comic about schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and the empty desperation of modern life? Friends, meet Jon Arbuckle. Let’s laugh and learn with him on a journey deep into the tortured mind of an isolated young everyman as he fights a losing battle against loneliness in a quiet American suburb.

I think they’re funny.  If you don’t then you’re just wrong.

Happy Pi Day

Today, 3/14, is Pi Day.  I hope you were enjoying mathematics at 1:59 in your local time zone.

But it’s not all fun and games: Beware the Ides of March.

Does anyone else celebrate Square Root of 10 Day, or is it just me?

Banjo and Open Source

I don’t remember how I found it in the first place anymore, but I recently started listening to a new podcast called PC Load Letter.  It’s two guys that used to work together on Subversion (and now work together at Google) talking about open source software and related topics.  So far, there have only been three episodes, each fairly short, and I’ve enjoyed them.  Especially the banjo in the intro/exit music.  If you like open source software and banjo picking, this might just be what you never knew you were looking for.

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