Games as motivation
After my many years of interviewing software developers of all stripes, I have come to a conclusion: You all wish you were making games. Sure, there are plenty of programmers out there who enjoy writing enterprise code, and even more that find it a tolerable way to spend their working life. But in the beginning, it seems to me that all programmers get into development in order to write games.
I know of only one developer I have ever met who learned to program because his parents gave him nothing but a C64 and a C compiler. Other than him, however, it would seem that all software developers remember one Christmas or one birthday when that first computer was unwrapped, and that first game they played. It’s an interesting phenomenon and one that artists have long known:
There’s more money in writing jingles for commercials than in trying to make it big as a rock star. And there is more money in fixing business transaction systems then there is in trying to write the next big game.
Of course, this does not mean you can’t learn from games in your day-to-day job. After all, adding a little random chance or difficulty curve to your applications could spice things up around the office. — Alex Handy
Agile’s an old story
Agile development may have really caught on over the last few years, but a couple of executives at Electric Cloud note that the concept isn’t quite new in other industries.
“We’re really behind people who are making manufactured goods,” said Mike Maciag, CEO of Electric Cloud. “This whole concept of agile has existed in manufacturing for decades. We’re just catching up to this now. Like agile, just-in-time manufacturing is about how to cut batch sizes, and the result was having lower inventory.”
Anders Wallgren, CTO of Electric Cloud, noted the concept of continuous process improvement in manufacturing, which involves constant evaluation of processes to improve efficiency. Continuous process improvement “kind of dovetails nicely with what agile wants to do, which is cycling several times through the product release cycle, and do things, try them, test them, improve them, and then release them,” Wallgren said. — Jeff Feinman
It’s still the Wild Wild Web
Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales recently wrote a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece decrying the lack of civility in online forums, and he suggested ways to remedy this. His suggestions, though, will probably fall on disinterested ears.
His criticism of rude, obnoxious and abusive online behavior is very late in the game. When the World Wide Web was first kicking around, most people communicated fairly anonymously, behind pseudonyms and in detached message boards. Because they were essentially untraceable, it provided a shield of anonymity that allowed them to get away with all kinds of outrageous behavior.
But today, people are more likely to know who is behind the Internet handle, if not outright knowing the person’s identity (as is the case with Facebook). What we’re seeing now is people not remembering that others can see them now when they act obnoxiously. On the other hand, they probably don’t care about that anymore, as this kind of behavior is considered the norm and the majority of Internet users seem to at least tolerate it.
It looks to me that Mr. Wales is underestimating the desire of many Internet users to simply let loose online without restrictions, for better or worse. If he intends to make the Web more civil, he will probably find himself outgunned here. — Adam LoBelia
Relics on the bookcase
During the holidays, I decided to make some room in my bookcase for newer publications, such as “Hadoop: The Definitive Guide” from O’Reilly and Yahoo Press, and I came across some titles from bygone days. At the time, it felt as if they were must-reads. Now, they are so antiquated.
Among the titles: “COM and CORBA Side by Side: Architectures, Strategies and Implementations.” I recall doing an interview about five years with a company called Iona Software, which was one of the leaders in CORBA software, and even then they were saying, “We’re not talking about CORBA anymore. It’s all about the enterprise service bus now.”
Then there’s “Kylix: The Professional Developer’s Guide and Reference.” I don’t know of too many developers who were working with Kylix back in 2001, when this book was published. I can’t imagine there are any today.
Finally, I came across “The Road to the Unified Software Development Process,” by Ivar Jacobson. Thumbing through it, I re-read about the merger of Rational and Objectory, which brought together tools and development processes. It was a great success story, but when agile development went mainstream, developers came to see the Unified Process as an 800-pound gorilla.
It’s interesting to follow the advance of software development through these books. I’m sure that in 10 years, the Hadoop book will seem as quaint as these other titles do now. — David Rubinstein