December 24th, 2003

Do you know what an Aha-Erlebnis is? It's one of those moments when you say "but of course! That's the solution! Why haven't I thought of that on my own?" I just had one reading this article.

I have a desktop at work, and a computer at home, and I like to check the same email boxes at both. At the moment, I'm in the routine of "leave messages on server" at work, and "don't download messages automatically" at home, but this still gives problems. For example, if I receive an email at home that I need again at work, I can't get at it.

So what if.... I could put FireBird on such an USB dongle, or at least have it store its inboxes there. My worries would be over. Keeping track of my RSS feeds would also be much less of a hassle.

Would it be too late to change my order to Santa?

Eclipse 3.0 M6

December 22nd, 2003

In case you've been hibernating the last few days: Eclipse 3.0 M6 is out.

Time to get worried

December 19th, 2003

Now I'm worried. Gartner predicts (pdf) a golden future for Java. I've not seen many of their predictions come true. Let's hope this is the exception to the rule.

Via TechnoTourette: Gartner says Java will be dominant Language after 2004

Social skills

December 17th, 2003

In this light, Richard Saunders is intriguing:
Fortunately, I've determined that competency is usually less important than social skills.
and a little farther up:
On a side note, I've discovered that personal productivity is less important in a corporate environment than asking questions that allow others to seem the expert. Today I asked my boss to explain something rather trivial. Once he explained it, he actually thought I was smarter for asking. Oddly, he actually got it wrong, but I'll keep that to myself.
It also seems that he tricks people in explaining him stuff by pretending he's a complete idiot. Now I think he's smarter than he believes he is, but of course, that might be a trick of his too.

Rational Rapid Developer

December 17th, 2003

Peter talks about his RRD impressions.

I've had a look at RRD too, a couple of months ago. My conclusion (and that of my collegues too) was that it was indeed very nice for small projects with not-too-experienced developers. But I don't believe at all that it will scale. If the business logic becomes too complex, the RRD tool won't do the job for you.

However, this is not a fault of RRD alone. Every RAD tool that I've seen so far falls in this pitfall: they start making assumptions about the code you're going to write with it, and start building fences to prevent you from jumping into the code to build things they didn't think of. While this helps enormously for the beginning programmer, it gets in the way once your project starts to mature.

One way I would consider to use RAD tools, is to build some rough chicken wire framework, on which you can then add the real logic after throwing the tool away. But this would reduce it to an (advanced) GUI builder...

But I'm not able to evaluate these things. I think Peter, as a relatively inexperienced developer (AFAIK), is in a much better position to do this. So please, Peter: get your hands dirty with the thing (IBM will give you an evaluation version if you act interested enough), and let us know what you feel.

Later: Oeps, it turns out I underestimated yet another person. Peter has 8 years experience on C/C++ development, but has always been active as an analyst as long as I know him. So let's change the offending sentence to ... as a relatively inexperienced Java developer.... I'm glad I put AFAIK there.

IT and communication

December 16th, 2003

Today in the paper, in an article about IT cost reduction:

Bovendien -- en dit is echt niet onbelangrijk -- informatici zijn relatief weerloze slachtoffers. Ook andere departementen zoals marketing kosten veel geld waar geen duidelijke inkomsten tegenover staan, maar de marketingdirecteur slaagt er meestal veel beter in om zijn budget bij de bedrijfstop te verdedigen. Want de marketingdirecteur slaat de juiste zakelijke toon aan om aan te tonen waarom elke euro die naar zijn departement gaat, extra klanten en dus extra inkomsten genereert voor het bedrijf. IT managers, daarentegen. spreken niet de juiste taal.
Or in English: both IT and marketing departements burn a lot of money in every company for pretty obscure reasons, but marketing managers will succeed better in defending their budget than their IT counterparts. Hence, cost reduction will occur more in the IT department.

This just illustrates my belief: it is not what you can, but how you sell it, that will earn you a living. Alas, IT people are not very skillled in this area. And moreover: they often don't see the need to sell what they're doing. The most obvious example of this is what they teach IT people in college: "First, program what has most risk. Input and output modules are less risky, so do them last." Later, this results in people demonstrating perfectly working programs to users with command-line interfaces, while saying "we will get you a decent GUI later on." I have done some experiments the other way around: brush up your GUI, leave a few holes in functionality, and demonstrate tht to your users, while saying "yeah, you can't print anything yet, and saving your data is also not yet possible, but we will get to that later on." Guess which strategy delivers the most content users...

Anyway, looks like I'm rambling here. The point is: IT people are generally pretty weak in social (and thus commercial) skills. This is a greater threat to them than they are aware of. Don't forget to exercise these skills. If you meet a sales man at the coffee machine, try to talk to him for once, instead of looking at him like he's a piece of crud (while he's giving you the same look). You didn't get good at assembler by watching Winnie The Pooh videos, did you?

You have a digital camera? And you have tons of photos? And to top it of, you have a pc that runs windows? Try Kana WallChanger. You finally get to see your photos. Especially breath-taking if you close some application down, and all of a sudden, the first picture ever of your oldest son appears. Yes, I'm a nostalgic.

Mac zealots

December 11th, 2003

Watch this and try to tell me that mac users are not zealots again... Maybe these people should get a clue and try

Did I tell you that I hate queues? No, really, I hate queues. I get nervous if there are 5 people before me at the supermarket checkout. But then again, this is Belgium, the country where people try to slip in before you. If we had so many people appearing at the opening of a shop, we might need a few coppers more, not mentioning the extensive use of watercannons. But I digress. Mac Japan, don't expect my business soon.

Fun-nay: Role Fragmentation.

Netflix in Belgium

December 8th, 2003

We finally have our Netflix-like service here in Belgium: DVDPost. Jay!


December 8th, 2003

JavaPolis is over. It was great fun. Instead of enumerating all presentations, let it suffice to say that I saw a lot of ex-collegues and even ex-collegue-college-students (nice surprise, as I wasn't really prepared for this), and that I enjoyed talking to each one of them. I did miss a few opportunities to go and shake hands with people I only know from online stuff (blogs, ...), but I still feel a bit awkward to step up to them and say "hi, I read your blog." Some people define this as "beta male behaviour", as opposed to "alpha male behaviour". I guess I'm just too shy for this world.

Really only one thing to check out further: naked objects. Looks like fun to play around with. Not sure if it is useful for the medium- to big-sized projects though.

People and Faces

December 5th, 2003

All this blog and email stuff does you forget that the people you communicate with, often have faces. For example, this guy wonders whether we met on JavaPolis. I don't know. I've talked with a lot of people that I don't know, and I felt a bit awkward to turn their name labels to be able to read them (they weren't pinned onto your chest, put hung around your neck. And cords tend to twist.) So Wouter, this is me. Did we meet?

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