Software development using Scrum is not a sprint, it’s a decathalon.

decathalon image from istockphoto.com

  • You get points for each event.
  • You have to change your mindset and use different muscles for each event.
  • Poor performance in one event can mess you up in others.
  • You don’t know if you’ve won or lost until all the points are totaled.

(with credit to Jeff Gothelf)

I’m psyched that my proposal has been accepted to present on the Kanban methodology at next year’s (Oracle Developer Tool Users Group) Kaleidoscope conference.  Though I have no idea how I’m going to cram all the cool stuff about this awesome task management methodology into the allotted time, without talking way too fast!  Maybe I should use the technique of 500 slides that rip along at one every 5 seconds?  I saw that once and it was very cool.

Title: Using Kanban to increase your development throughput

Topic: Building Better Software - Subtopic: Agile

Description: The Kanban methodology was developed at Toyota in the 1940’s as a production line scheduling tool for just-in-time building. It’s been adapted to software development as a way to improve software delivery throughput, reliability and customer satisfaction in an IT/programming environment, while having significantly lower overhead than most Agile implementations. This session will cover the basics of the Kanban methodology and how it applies in development environments, focusing on the improvements to team productivity and improved relationships with software consumers. It will also present a case study of Dartmouth College’s IMS team implementation of Kanban during the past 2 years, including our implementation of Kanban, immediate productivity benefits, changes to long-term relationships with end-user departments and the improvement in the team’s reputation, morale and productivity.

Link: http://www.kscope13.com/component/seminar/seminarslist#Using Kanban to increase your development throughput

I hope to see plenty of you there!  Hey anyone want to share a room?  I’m self-funding this time!  :-)

Cool software I just found that someone recommended.

“ClipboardPath” software adds a new command “Copy Path to Clipboard” to the context menu for files and folders. Pasting the complete filename or foldername into any dialog or editor is just a mouse click away. You always get the full path. This software is free for end users.

If you’re any sort of Windows geek, you’ll find this indispensible.

http://stefan.bertels.org/en/clipboardpath

Pastebin.com

November 25, 2010

People who read this blog probably need to share bits of source code or other text on a regular basis, eh?

I just stumbled upon the Pastebin.com site, which lets anyone share chunks of text, then provide a link so others can access it.  Most clippings are shared publicly and have no identifying information.  You can also create private text clips or create folders for sharing multiple chunks privately, though the protection is limited to those who know the name of your private folder, so very weak!

It’s ad-supported, searchable and even provides an API for posting (anyone interested in building an Apex application to create and share a private folder???).  It has a syntax-formatter to highlight your source for a variety of languages.

There’s not much to it, but it definitely fills a need.  While I was looking it over (on Thanksgiving Day), dozens of people were adding new clippings every few minutes.  Though many of them are just posts of BitTorrent download sites for various search phrases (e.g. Harry Potter Goblets of Fire), so I doubt anyone would want to spend time searching the archives for other people’s clippings.

A friend dropped me a line saying her Apex app’s Interactive Report wasn’t working for her users anymore and she asked if I knew what could cause it.  She said it worked for her in the Apex development environment, but not outside.  I talked her into giving me an account on her Apex workspace and started digging through it.

For me in the developer environment, it wouldn’t do any of the JSON updates, like search for text, filter, change columns, sort, etc. – all the cool things we love about IRs.  I’d seen this before, but it’d been so long I’d forgotten.  I finally dug into the page template and noticed that there wasn’t much inclusion of external CSS going on and when I added that in, the report worked.  So I sent her that as “fixed!”  I couldn’t figure out how this application could have worked before, but had stopped!

Unfortunately, she wrote back saying that didn’t do it for someone running outside the development environment!  Aaagh!

But I love a good challenge, so I dug back in.  I got another session going in another browser so it was outside Apex’s environment.  I noticed a difference between the two user sessions, that in the Development Environment, it showed my username on the top of the page, but not when I wasn’t.  That was the hint I needed!  It reminded me that the Interactive Reports store your queries by the APP_USER name into the database.  No user name, no interactivity!

It turned out that this was a new application, she was using a custom authentication method that was new to her and she wasn’t setting the APP_USER value!

I’d used this same custom authentication method and found I needed to call

APEX_CUSTOM_AUTH.SET_USER(p_user => 'some custom value');

in the Post section of the authentication method.

Once that was set, everything worked great.

It was only after I told my friend the solution that she said that this was a new application she was building.  Oops!  If she’d said that up front, I might have figured out what was wrong sooner!  :-/

[Another non-Apex post…  Sorry to those who subscribe to my blog for Apex stuff.  I haven’t been working on it much lately, except to check out 4.0EA, which is looking great!]

On to the subject at hand… MobileNoter allows you to sync selected OneNote notebooks (2007 or 2010, though they only recommend 2007) to your iPhone.  They offer a WiFi-only version and a “Cloud” version for syncing via iPhone cell signal.  I’ve only checked out the WiFi version for a few minutes, but what I see has impressed me.

Once you’ve downloaded the Windows client and installed the iPhone client, you run the Windows client setup feature to choose which notebooks you want to sync.  They have to be currently open in OneNote (i.e. on OneNote’s list of notebooks), though OneNote itself doesn’t have to be open to set up or sync.  Then you set up syncing on the iPhone, telling it which iPhone on your local WiFi network is you.  It provides a passcode, which you plug into the Windows client (it prompts you on Windows).  That provides the secure handshaking.

Then just sync!  The first one will take a little while, depending on how big your notebooks are.  After that, sync is pretty quick.  As far as I can tell from the pages it said it was trying to re-sync, it only checks those pages you visited in MobileNoter.  Currently there’s a limit on the maximum page size of 5Mb, though their blog says they’ll be removing that in version 1.3, which they hope to release at the end of March.

How’s it look?

The quality of the OneNote renditions in MN is very impressive to my eyes.  Pages look great, with all the images, tables, fonts, links, etc.  All images are brought over beautifully.  Links to external sites work about as you’d expect, they open MN’s internal browser or you can copy the URL to open in the browser of your choice.  Unfortunately, internal links don’t work at all, so clicking on a link between ON pages just sits there.

What about updating your ON notes?  Sadly, your notebooks are read-only at the moment, though they say that’s in the plans for the future.  The only nod to updating is the ability to create text-only notes in MN, which then sync to a newly-created ON notebook back on your PC.  But it’s something.  Check out their blog for their Roadmap to the Future.

Options

There aren’t too many, but one looks pretty good.  You can have it combine your Sections and Pages together, so you you can view a section by flipping sequentially through pages via previous and next buttons at the bottom of the screen.  That cuts down on navigating up/down within a section to look through all the pages by choosing from the list of page titles.  It’s not perfect, but it gives you a slightly different way to get around.

Price

  • $10 for the WiFi edition (increasing to $13 on 3/7).
  • Cloud edition subscription – 3 months for $5, 1 year for $15

I think the price is pretty reasonable and I was happy to pay it to get my OneNotes viewable on my iPod Touch.

Cloud

Note, the “Cloud” version that lets you sync via cellular to your iPhone works a bit differently.  Their website says they have to suck your ON notebooks up into their Cloud storage on their website, which then gets beamed to your iPhone.  This version has a subscription fee because you’re storing data on their servers.  Right now it’s 3 months for $5, 1 year for $15, though I think the price will go up a little shortly.

Version: 1.0

Finally, since this is version 1.0 software (even though they did a pretty long beta-testing), I see at least one quirk.  After I sync, it looks like MN’s Windows client becomes a minimized window that sits on your screen.  If you close it, it quits the application.  Minimizing it does nothing.  I don’t know why it hangs around instead of closing to the system tray automatically.  Also, there’s a sync option in the Windows MN client (in your system tray), but that only relates to the Cloud edition.  If I’ve registered for the WiFi edition, I don’t understand why they still show this option.  Maybe because I just installed it, so the Cloud edition is still running in trial mode?

Conclusions

I’m pretty impressed with this first version.  I’ll give them 3.5 stars for the functionality they provide and the current implementation.  Once they work out the quirks in this release, it’ll be a 4-star application in my book.  Add the ability to edit your OneNotes directly, and it’s clearly 5 stars.

All I can say is Wow!

That’s it.  Nothing more here…

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