Øredev 2011 in the rear-view mirror – Part 5

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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.