Updates from January, 2012 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • danielsaidi 8:43 pm on January 21, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , doc list, gamification, ginger cake, jim benson, kanban, , short software half-life, spike and stabilize   

    Øredev 2011 in the rear-view mirror – Part 6 

    Øredev logo

    This is the sixth and final part of my sum-up of Øredev 2011. Read more by following the links below:

    This is the final part of my Øredev sum-up. It will cover the last three sessions I attended to and conclude my visit to Øredev.

     

    3:4 – Jim Benson – Healthy Projects

    After gathering some key-words from the audience, Jim’s defined healthy projects to be:

    • Happy
    • Productive
    • Stress-free
    • Focused
    • Nice to the workers

    He gave a good description of when things tend to go wrong within an organization, visualized with the following organizational structure (a single node topmost and several nodes bottommost):

    • Company (has many portfolios)
    • Portfolios (has many projects)
    • Projects (has many tasks)
    • Tasks

    Imagine someone working at task level being “promoted” to project level, e.g. becoming product owner. If this person cannot understand his new area of work and keep focusing on the details of task level, it will lead to micro management. The same goes when moving from project to portfolio and portfolio to company level.

    Speaking about rules, Jim states that when you add a lot of rules, you will also have to introduce a process. If the rules are then hard to follow, people will fail…and when they do, they will blame the process. Methods like Kanban, for instance, visualize the work, minimize the amount of ongoing work and lead to healthier projects.

    A good technique that can be used to visualize how the team feels is to have it marking the scrum/kanban notes with an illustration that describe how they feel after completing a task. I found this to be a very good idea! It is so simple, yet communicates so clearly how the team is feeling.

    This session grew on me afterwards. While sitting there, I found it hard to stay focused and found large parts of the session rather passable, but after reading my notes afterwards, I found some golden gems.

     

    3:5 – Doc List – Development is a game

    Okey, so this session was about Doc having an idea…and wanted a lot of stuff to happen. His question was, how do we measure how good we are at what we do and what are the tools of measurement that we should use? Certificates? Level of success?

    Doc asks us – why can’t life itself be a game? Why can’t we have rewards in our professions (actually, Visual Studio has just introduced achievements, so we are getting there)? Why can’t we have quests? Want to measure how good a person is – give him a quest! Want to measure how good a team is – give them a group quest!

    Doc wants to create a globally applicable system that ranks people according to what they know. With this system, if you need “a level 24 Java developer”, you will have a specification of what a level 24 Java developer knows…and a list of persons who are at that level (since it is measurable). Doc wants to build a global community for this and wants…

    …well, there you have my biggest problem with this session. Doc is a really charming man who has been around a while and has a great rep, but…he wants a lot of things and talks about it without having created nothing so far. So, he just describes a vision.

    I could have found the session interesting, and Doc convincing, if he at least had started. So, I eagerly await Doc to prove me wrong and announce that he has started working on that global system of his. Until then, I will lay my focus elsewhere.

     

    3:6 – Dan North – Pattern of effective delivery

    With Dan’s keynote being the undeniable highlight of Øredev for everyone that I know saw it (I did not, unfortunately), I really looked forward to this session…as did the entire Øredev. The room was packed.

    Dan spoke of some exciting new patterns, like:

    • Spike and Stabilize (easy, semi-effective) – try something out, then build it well. Optimize for discovery.
    • Ginger Cake (semi-hard, semi-effective) – break the rules once you go senior…”it’s like a chocolate cake, but with ginger”
    • Short software half-life – how long does it take, before you have to fix a bug? Optimize for throwawayability.

    No, in fact, I did not find this to be a interesting session at all. In fact, I found it rather pointless, which was a huge disappointment.

    Dan, like many of the big speakers, is very charming and passionate when on stage…but I cannot help to feel that I perhaps should choose more concrete sessions than these “inspired and fun” ones, the next time I attend to one of these conferences. I am obviously not the target audience.

    Please watch the video? Do you disagree with me? Let me know in the comment field below.

     

    Conclusion

    Øredev 2011 was a fantastic conference, with high mountains and, unfortunately, some rather deep valleys. Next year, I hope to see even more local talents, and more odd and exciting selections of speakers. How about a grave russian who (in bad English) demonstrates some kick-ass piece of technology without one joke being said or charming smile being fired?

    I would like to see that. Maybe next time.

    Anyway, a big, BIG thank to the Øredev crew – you delieved a really inspiring conference that I still return to mentally.

     
    • Henrik 9:11 pm on January 21, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Agree, Dan’s keynote was much better. This was a bit hard to grasp.

  • danielsaidi 9:03 pm on January 20, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: afferent coupling, cvs, , efferent coupling, , , , kinect, , , stack overflow, tim huckaby, windows 8   

    Øredev 2011 in the rear-view mirror – Part 5 

    Øredev logo

    This is the fifth part of my sum-up of Øredev 2011. Read more by following the links below:

    So, yeah…this sum-up was supposed to be a rather short thing, but has grown out of proportions. I will try to keep it short, but the sessions deserve to be mentioned.

     

    2:7 – Greg Young – How to get productive in a project in 24h

    In his second session at Øredev, Greg spoke about how to kick-start yourself in new projects. First of all, do you understand what they company does? Have you used your the product or service before? If you do not have an understanding of these fundamental facts, how will you deliver value?

    Then, Greg described how he quickly get up in the saddle. He usually start of with inspecting the CVS. Project that have been around for a while and still have tons of checkins, could possibly be suffering from a lot of bugs. Certain areas that are under the burden of massive amounts of checkins could possibly be bug hives.

    Note these things, it could quickly tell you where in the project it hurts. Naturally, a lot of checkins do not automatically indicate bugs or problems. The team could just be developing stuff. However, it will give you someplace to start. At least, a lot of checkins do mean that someone is working in that particular part of the project.

    These are very simple steps to take, but to actually be able to discuss the project after just an hour or so with the CVS, and maybe even pin-pointing some problems, will give your customer the impression that you are almost clairvoyant…or at least that you know what you are doing, which is why they pay you.

    If the project is not using continuous integration, at least set it up locally. It does not take long and will help you out tremendously. To be able to yell out to someone who breaks the build the second they do it…well, it will give you pleasure at least.

    Greg then went on to demonstrate how you can dig even deeper, and his tool of the day was NDepend. Greg’s demo was awesome, and Patrick should consider giving him…well, a hug at least. I, who without that much success demonstrated NDepend in my organization a while back, could quickly tell that I have a long way to go in how you present a tool to people.

    With NDepend, Greg demonstrated how to use the various metrics, like cyclomatic complexity and afferent/efferent coupling. He went through the various graphs, describing what they do and how they can be used and told us to specially look out for black squares in the dependency matrix (they indicate circular references) and concrete couplings (they should be broken up).

    All in all a very, very great session that also gave me a lot of things to aim for when holding presentations myself. As a consultant, you should not miss this video.

     

    3:1 – Keynote – Jeff Atwood – Stack Overflow: Social Software for the Anti-Social Part II: Electric Boogaloo

    I will not attempt to cover everything said in this keynote. Instead, you should go here and wait for the video. It is filled with fun gems, like when Jeff describes how stuff that are accepted in a web context would be really strange if applied in real life. For instance, FB lets you keep a list of friends. Who has a physical list of friends IRL?

    Anyway, Jeff spoke about gamification and how we can design our service like a game, using a set of rules to define how it is meant to be used, award those who adapt to the rules…and punish the ones that do not. The basic premise is that games have rules and games are fun…so if we design our web sites as games, they should become fun as well.

    Well, at least, rules drastically simplifies how we are supposed to behave. It tells us what to do. Sure, it does not work for all kinds of sites, but for social software, gamification should be considered. Games, in general make social interaction non-scary, since everyone has to conform to the rules. Just look at the world, and you will know that this is true.

    So, when designing Stack Overflow, Jeff and Joel did so with gamification in mind. You may not notice it at first, but everything there is carefully considered. For instance, people use to complain that you cannot add a new question at the very start page. This is intentional. Before you add a question, Stack wants you to read other questions, see how people interact and learn the rules.

    Stack adapt several concepts from the gaming world. Good players are awarded with achievements and level up as they progress. There are tutorials, unlockables etc. Without first realizing it, Jeff and Joel ended up creating a Q&A game that consists of several layers:

    • The game – ask and answer questions
    • The meta-game – receive badges, level up, become an administrator etc.
    • The end-game – make the Internet a little better

    This design makes it possible for Stack Overflow to allow anonymous users, unlike Facebook who decided to only allow real names in order to filter out the “idiots”. Since Stack Overflow award good players, bad players are automatically sorted out. The community is self-sanitizing. People are awarded with admin status if they play good enough. It’s just like Counter Strike, where you are forced to be a team player. If you are not, the game will kill you 🙂

    I could go on and on, but Jeff says it best himself. Although some parts are simply shameless Stack commercial, I recommend you to check out the video.

     

    3:2 – Tim Huckaby – Building HTML5 Applications with Visual Studio 11 for Windows 8

    Tim has worked with (not at) Microsoft for a loooong time and is one charismatic guy, I must say. What I really appreciated with his session was that it seemed a bit improvised, unlike most sessions at Øredev. What I did not like quite as much, though, was that it seemed too improvised. Due to lack of time and hardware issues, Tim failed to demonstrate what I came to see – HTML5 applications with VS11.

    Tim begun with stating that he hates HTML…but that he loves HTML5, which is “crossing the chasm”. This means that it is a safe technology to bet on, because it will be adapted. How do we know? Well, the graph below illustrates when a technology is “crossing the chasm” in relation to how people adapt it:

    The Chasm Graph :)
    So when a technology is “crossing the chasm”, get to work – it will be used 🙂 I wonder how the graph would have looked for HD-DVD? Tim also thanked Apple for inventing the iPad (which he calls a $x couch computer). Thanks to the iPhone and the iPad, Flash and plugins are out and HTML5 is in.

    Large parts of the sessions were fun anecdotes, like when he spoke about how Adobe went out with a “we <heart> Apple” campaign and Apple responded with an “we <missing plugin> Adobe”. Hilarious, but did we learn anything from these anectodes? Well, time will tell.

    • Tim went through some browser statistics, explained why IE6 is still so widely used (damn those piracy copies of Win XP in China)…and ended up with some small demos, but faced massive hardware problems and promised us some more meat if we stayed a while. I stayed a while (I even attended the next Tim session) but the demos were not that wow.

    So, how did Tim do in his second session? Read on!

     

    3:3 – Tim Huckaby – Delivering Improved User Experience with Metro Style Win 8 Applications

    Tim started this session talking about NUI – Natural User Interfaces and some new features of Windows 8, like semantic zoom, a desktop mode behind Metro (it looks great, just like Win 7!), smart touch and…a new task manager (he was kinda ironic here).

    Tim demonstrated Tobii on a really cool laptop with two cameras, which allow it to see in 3D.  The rest of the session was…enjoyable. I cannot put my finger on it, but I had fun, although I was disappointed at what was demonstrated. The Kinect demo was semi-cool, a great Swedish screen was also interesting and Tim also hinted about how the new XBOX Loop and a new Kinect will become a small revolution.

    I really do not know what to say about this. Watch the video. You will have fun.

     
  • danielsaidi 5:31 pm on January 18, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: microsoft commerce server   

    Microsoft Commerce Server, anyone? 

    I am currently working on an e-commerce solution that is based on Microsoft Commerce Server 2007 SP2. Without prior experience of MSCS, and without being the one setting up the solution, I am at a loss regarding some issues that we are trying to solve.

    Anonymous baskets

    A big problem for us, and a strange one to solve, is that 200.000 anonymous baskets are automatically generated every night! This occurs in all environments – locally, at the test and stage servers as well as in production. The basket creation occurs at the same time every night, which (duh) indicates a scheduled event of some kind.

    My developers have not been able to track down what is causing this. Instead, they have created a scheduled task that empties anonymous baskets that are not used. So, we have not fixed the problem, we are just cleaning up the mess.

    These auto-generated baskets did cause the MSCS database to grow to insane levels. Our scheduled task have brought it back to normal, but the dream scenario would naturally be to be able to track down what is happening and simply solve the problem. Since it happens locally, we can exclude any of the import jobs that run continuously, as well as any externally exposed web services.

    Has anyone experienced this behavior with MSCS 2007 before? If so, I would appreciate a push in the right direction.

    Slow data operations

    Our load tests show that the site has become a bit slower since the new version was launched in May. Sure, the devs have added a lot of new functionality, but when I analyze the data operations that take the longest time to execute, it turns out that MSCS is the real bottleneck. Profile creation can take up large parts of the execution time when a view is built, and product sub categories are really slow to load.

    For a system like MSCS, is it really realistic to assume that the database has become that much slower in just six months. The MSCS database has not undergone any optimizations during this time, but should it really be necessary? We are bringing in a SQL optimizer, but if anyone has experienced that MSCS slows down due to bad indices or so, I’d love to hear more about it.

     
    • Ben Taylor 1:14 pm on January 23, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      I would wager that you create an anonymous basket each time you get a new visitor. You probably then store something in a cookie and pull the anon basket out each time they return. Problem is, this fails when you are hit 200,000 by a web crawler that does not support cookies 🙂

      If you’ve not been working on your SQL housekeeping and tuning, then I’m sure that will be part of the slowdown issue. You may also be using more expensive API calls. I would suggest you profile the site using a good profiler. A good caching strategy is also a winner. However, caching CS objects is memory intensive. You may want to just cache the bits of data you need for the page.

      • danielsaidi 4:12 pm on January 23, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        Ben, thank you SO much for your comment! I believe that you pin-pointed the problem with the anonymous baskets and gave the developers a kick in the right direction.

        We have not confirmed it yet, but we do have an external search service that crawls through the site every night. When the developers read your response, they immediately started investigating whether or not that service is what could be causing the problem. We will know more tomorrow 🙂

        Also, big thanks for your other advices. We will allocate resources for optimizing the databases, which have been cluttered with anonymous baskets (and cleaned up continously) for over half a year. I think that this will make the databases a bit faster.

    • Ben Taylor 3:40 pm on January 24, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Glad to have (hopefully) been of assistance.

      If you guys ever need an awesome promotion engine for Commerce Server check us out http://www.enticify.com/

      Good luck!

    • ikilic 9:09 am on May 27, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      We are having problems with Microsoft Commerce Server 2009 freetextsearch, the proplem is searching for a single character ,
      For example we can search for iphone 4S but not for iphone 4, we are using AND clause

      Hope you can help us.

      • danielsaidi 8:28 pm on May 28, 2013 Permalink | Reply

        Hi, I sadly cannot help you guys with this, since I first of all have not had that particular problem and also have not worked with MS Commerce Server for a looong time. Best of luck, though!

  • danielsaidi 7:45 am on January 17, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: azure, cdn, , marc mercuri, , , service bus, udi dahan   

    Øredev 2011 in the rear-view mirror – Part 4 

    Øredev logo

    This is the fourth part of ny sum-up of Øredev 2011. It has taken quite a long time to get this summary finished…so I will write a bit less about each session in this finishing post and refer to external resources instead of spending a lot of lines describing products and concepts.

    For more Øredev, check out the previous parts in this sum up as well:

    Okey, here we go…but first, I believed that I would be able to cover all remaining sessions in this post, but I will not. There will be a fifth part…and possibly a sixth.

     

    2:4 – Udi Dahan – Who needs a Service Bus anyway

    Udi Dahan, founder of NServiceBus, had a nice session about why we should consider using a service bus. He begun with the history of the service bus, speaking about CORBA, the rise and fall of the Broker architecture and how a service bus differ from a broker (a broker is in the middle of everything, a service bus is everywhere).

    A bus is distributed everywhere, plugged into each part of the system. There is no remoting, since none is needed. While a broker is in the middle, tying everything together, a bus communicates with messages and makes sure that all subscribers receives the messages they should receive.

    Udi finally demonstrated NServiceBus and how to set it up in various ways. The demo was pretty cool, but hard to describe, so if you have not checked out NServiceBus, or any other buses for that matter, make sure to do so. They are great for certain tasks.

     

    2:5 – Jeff Atwood – Creating a Top 500 Internet Website in C# for Dummies

    When you publish your kick-ass web site for the world to see and use, how do you optimize it to stand the traffic? Jeff knows, and shared his four greatest means of optimization:

    • Static content
    • Reverse proxy
    • Multitenancy
    • Caching

    A CDN (Content Delivery Network) is a must have. If you do not want to use a cloud-based service like Amazon S3, at least put your content on a simply configured server of your own, separate it from your logic and you’ll be able to distribute your content over the world, grabbing the one closest to your users when they require it.

    A reverse proxy distributes incoming requests over a number of internal servers. With load balancing capabilities, it can drastically improve the amount of traffic your site can handle. Just make sure to make it sticky, if a client has to be redirected to the same server for each request.

    Multitenancy means that one application does many things. Having several applications on one server makes each perform more poorly than if one is configured to do several things. So, have one application handle several sites and services and you’ll be off to prestanda heaven.

    Caching means…well, yeah, we all know. The issue is how to cache. Having one cache per server may cause inconsistency, but one that is shared by all may cause poor performance. Jeff use MySQL for cache storage. He has one per app and one that is shared by all and syncs with the individual cache instances.

    Jeff also spoke about serialization and how you must consider your serialization options – binary serialization may crash if the assembly changes and xml may be CPU intense. A final piece of advice was to design your systems as if you have a farm, caching etc…even if you do not have one at the moment.

    A great, but intense session. I hope my description gave it justice.

     

    2:6 – Marc Mercuri – Cloud First Services

    Marc covered a lot of information in his session. He started of with stating that you must adapt a completely different mindset when you develop for the cloud (how come these Americans make such obvious things sound smart when they say it?) and design all new applications as if they are to be run in the cloud.

    Marc went through various hosting alternatives (on premise, cloud-based and partner hosted) and some of the popular service models:

    • Infrastructure as a service (Amazon EC2 etc.) – you get a server somewhere and do the rest yourself
    • Platform as a service (Azure, AppEngine etc.) – a configured environment to which you add your applications
    • Software as a service (nuff commercial 🙂 – free or commercial software, ready to be used by you and others

    If we break down our services into well-defined capabilities, workloads, solutions, roles and services, we will be able to:

    • scale them independently of eachother
    • replace one service with another one with the same capabilities
    • move, exchange or delete one service, without making the rest fail

    With cloud-based services, we must think async for all tasks, designing them to be stateless and always assume that services we use will not be available at the moment. Designing your services this way will prepare them for what will come – services that are not available at the moment 🙂

    And now for some great advice in clutter form. Use distributed cache, queues, external data storage etc. and you will be able to easily scale out when you create that killer-app that the whole world wants to use. Consider your storage alternatives. Some data is perfect to store in a relational database, while other may fit better in a NoSQL or BLOG storage. Boost availability with redundancy (multiple instances) and resiliency (how to recover).

    And finally, some final words of wisdom:

    1. Moving to the cloud is NOT equivalent to designing for the cloud
    2. Believing that moving to the cloud means moving all or nothing, is plain wrong
    3. Platform SLA:s are not Application SLA:s. Assuring uptime does not mean covering your application logic.
    4. Bad applications will not behave better in the cloud.
    5. Support and operations are not automatically automised

    Phew, not bad for a one hour session, huh? And then, I have even excluded the Azure-specific parts.

     
  • danielsaidi 1:13 am on January 3, 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    Kick-starting 2012 

    Last year ended in a downhill slope, didn’t it? With me moving to a new apartement in the beginning of December, after planning for and celebrating the birthday of both my oldest daughter and my wife in the end of November and also preparing for the Christmas holiday, not much time was left for blogging.

    So, for those of you spending the entire New Year’s Eve refreshing the start page of my immensely popular blog (eh), sorry for not producing!

    However, I will kick-start this new year with a…rather short and pointless post about not that much. Instead, I will just sum up what I will write about shortly, to try to tempt you into returning in a couple of days:

    • Øredev 2011 – Sure, this is pathetic, summing it up after such a long time…but I will complete it! Look at it as some kind of new year’s resolution.
    • TeamCity – …or, at least, my take on it, with multiple builds, passing params into the boo script etc. etc.
    • VS Config transforms – …and how you can use them for all your config files (with and without SlowCheetah)
    • Wigbi 2.0.0 – I am doing a quick SOLIDification of the Wigbi source and will soon be done. I will blog about the progress so far.

    So, keep coming back. In the mean time, stroll down memory lane and take a look at what I have written earlier…then visualize how much better my writings and topics will be in 2012…then let me know how I can get there.

     
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