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Two Come Along at Once

Originally posted on Almost looks like work:

As the old saying goes, you wait ages for a bus and then two come along at once (or more!). Is this true though? My own anecdotal evidence would suggest yes, every single bloody time. However, we love data and maths in this blog almost as much as we hate waiting for the bus, so let’s have a more thorough look at the issue.

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Working Analog

I find the experience of printing things out and putting them to paper really does help you focus on what’s important and it does remove distractions. Recently I had to do this with the JIRA tickets that I’m working on and I printed out roughly 11 of them. It let me sit away from the screen and think about how many tasks were actually involved in resolving those tickets.

I’ve also been living like it’s the late 2000s and using a Moleskine daily planner and a notebook for notes. I still rely on Evernote and Zendone, but I make sure there’s some kind of duplicate analog version for anything that’s important. The daily planner saved me when my phone battery died and it was the only place where I could see my todo list for the day. I didn’t get a phone charge for 3 hours and those 3 hours would have been wasted if not for the Moleskine.

While at home, working analog is nice too because you can curl up on a couch but, most important, you can dim the lights. The constant brightness of screens everywhere is tiring on the eyes and some days I want a complete break from the screen to rest my eyes.

Getting Started with Apache Cassandra

Originally posted on SourceContribute:

Apache Cassandra is a highly scalable NoSQL database. This video is a nice 30 min introduction on how it works and why it’s useful to know.

One of the beauties of free/open source is that it powers much of the world and much of the largest websites in the world. Facebook created the project and released the code because they know how valuable it is. One of the benefits of releasing Cassandra’s code as free/open source and making it free as in price is that developers can freely download the code and learn how to use Cassandra. While there are still no formal classes in college or university that teach Cassandra, your company can still find developers out there who have learned it because they spent their spare time learning how to use it. That’s not possible with proprietary packages that charge high license fees (student pricing doesn’t apply to…

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The Software Estimation Struggle

Software estimation research is … improving estimation techniques so that sophisticated organizations can achieve project results +-5% of estimate results…

…the typical software organization is not struggling to improve its estimates from +-10% to +-5% accuracy. The typical software organization is struggling to avoid estimates that are incorrect by 100% or more.

— Steve McConnell, Software Estimation: Demystifying the Black Art


Risk in software estimation

Plus-or-minus qualifiers. Use plus-or-minus style estimates to indicate both the amount and the direction of uncertainty in the estimate. Even when you have been forced into promising the software in an unrealistic time frame, you can let those around you know how risky the schedule is by presenting your estimates in plus-or-minus style. An estimate of 6 months, + ½ month, –½ month says that the estimate is quite precise and that there’s a good chance of meeting the estimate. An estimate of 6 months, + 3 months, –2 months says that the estimate isn’t very precise and that there’s less chance of meeting the estimate. An estimate of 6 months, + 6 months, –0 months says that the estimate is quite optimistic—probably unrealistic.

Steve McConnell, Rapid Development: Taming Wild Software Schedules

Grunt2Gulp.js update: on the way to handling yeoman-generated Gruntfiles

grunt2gulp-logoThe second ever issue filed for grunt2gulp.js was caused by a Yeoman-generated Gruntfile. It’s a complex file and that’s exactly what I wanted when I first created the project. The example Gruntfiles I came up with were hand-crafted and weren’t very complex.

In any case, grab the latest the copy from github, make sure you’ve done an npm install in your project and then run grunt2gulp.js on your Gruntfile.js.

You can generate API docs using jsdoc for grunt2gulp.

Please report any issues here. Leave any comments about how useful you’re finding this tool or if you’re sticking to Grunt or Gulp and why.

For debugging I’m finding node-inspector to be really awesome.