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5 Missteps when Writing Code

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5 Missteps when Writing Code

I’m often asked to look over other people’s code, and these are 5 of my pet peeves rolled into a post.

tl;dr: bad documentation, no unit tests, unnecessary optimization, not auditing/logging, too strick adherence to methodology

5 Missteps in Writing Code

Like most developers I am constantly struggling to deliver in the face of unrealistic or extremely tight deadline, which can be self imposed or come from external sources. As I will likely discuss ….

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Written by Daniël W. Crompton (webhat)

July 18, 2012 at 8:28 am

5 Missteps in Writing Code

with 4 comments

Like most developers I am constantly struggling to deliver in the face of unrealistic or extremely tight deadline, which can be self imposed or come from external sources. As I will likely discuss in a future article this can be due to over optimism or rigid planning in the face of customer demand. It can also be due to missteps which the developer themselves have made. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Daniël W. Crompton (webhat)

July 18, 2012 at 8:06 am

Scrum Masters as Sri Ganesha’s pundits #agile #xp

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You would probably not associate a god from the Indian pantheon with an Agile methodological, and there are many things that can be learned for Scrum masters from Ganesh.

In Scrum the Scrum Master focuses on 4 key areas:

  • remove impediments
  • buffer against distracting influences
  • enforcer of rules
  • focusing team on tasks

Ganesha is the Lord of Obstacles, both material and spiritually. And is worshiped as the remover of obstacles, although he also places obstacles in the path of worshipers. The Scrum Master also removes the impediments and places obstacles in the path of the team members. Ganesha fans his ears constantly to symbolize that often words are spoken, but one is not receiving inside. This is what happens when the length of the meetings is too long, or it digresses off-topic. This is also what the broken tusk is said to symbolize, with oneness of mind and single-minded devotion you can achieve everything. In your team you can keep your focus by focussing the energies on the ability of the team to create results, and allowing the members to achieve.

Image source: Vijay Bandari – Wikipedia, Anamika S

Written by Daniël W. Crompton (webhat)

March 29, 2012 at 11:15 am

Posted in business, humour, programming

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How large is a Two-Pizza Team? #scrum #xp

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After reading about 2 pizza teams in Wired UK 03.12, I read that the comment came from Werner Vogels, the Amazon CTO. He says prefers two-pizza teams; “technology teams working on a given project typically can be fed by no more than two pizzas—usually eight or fewer people.” This makes no sense to me, and I’m sure you may find the same.

I can easily eat a 13″ pizza at one sitting. A 13″ pizza has an area of approximately 856.3 cm2, the largest size that Dominos Pizza makes is 16″ with an area of approximately 1297 cm2. This means that I would be full at approximately 66% of the 16″ pizza, when I split it evenly the pizza only feeds two and leaves us both a little hungry.

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How does Vogels think he can feed up to 8 people with 2 pizzas?

Image source: VirtualErn

Written by Daniël W. Crompton (webhat)

March 8, 2012 at 7:07 pm

Design – Re-Inventing the Wheel #agile #scrum #xp

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Everybody tells you not to reinvent the wheel, and I am going to explain why everybody is wrong and you should start re-inventing. Programming paradigms and design patterns are the staple of all new programmers, and they enable everybody to communicate in a common language which can be easily understood when their rules are strictly adhered to. The issue is that beginner developers have cursory knowledge, expertise and familiarity with the design patterns they are required to implement.

A recent practical example a group of relatively inexperienced programmers with the Model-View-Controller paradigm found that the controller they were using didn’t make their life easier, so in some specific cases they deviated from this and implemented their own heuristics. This caused the underlying database to get more SQL queries that even Facebook reports it gets. At the point the website ground to a halt a simple investigation revealed that they bypassed the controller and model to access the database. Common heuristics would usually point to scaling vertically or horizontally.

If it looks like a duck, it walks like a duck, and it quacks like a duck, guess what? It’s a duck.

A Duck?

It is not always a duck. Current thinking is that common things are common, and common problems have common solutions. This isn’t always the case, Henry Ford summed it up best: “If I had asked people what they wanted,” he said, “they would have said a faster horse.” By living in the constraints of their knowledge when people hear hoofbeats, they think horses, not zebras. And “[w]hen faced with a result that doesn’t go according to plan, a series of perfectly effective short-term tactics are used until the desired outcome is achieved.”[2] Some developers believe that once this hurdle has been taken all will be well, I can tell you the light at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming train.[4]

When you are in a hole, stop digging! That is exactly how we got into the mess in the first place.

How do you stop digging?

You have become increasingly convinced of the truth of your misjudgment, developing a psychological commitment to it. You have become wedded to this distorted conclusion.[1] Realizing this is your first victory. “In the material world, the unknown is a place of uncertainty and potential risk … [b]ut we make a mistake when we attribute the same qualities to the world of our thinking.”[3] The second victory is having the courage to throw out everything you have done up to now, baby and bathwater.

“There is a wonderful story of a group of American car executives who went to Japan to see a Japanese assembly line. At the end of the line, the doors were put on the hinges, the same as in America. But something was missing. In the United States, a line worker would take a rubber mallet and tap the edges of the door to ensure that it fit perfectly. In Japan, that job didn’t seem to exist. Confused, the American auto executives asked at what point they made sure the door fit perfectly. Their Japanese guide looked at them and smiled sheepishly. “We make sure it fits when we design it.” In the Japanese auto plant, they didn’t examine the problem and accumulate data to figure out the best solution—they engineered the outcome they wanted from the beginning. If they didn’t achieve their desired outcome, they understood it was because of a decision they made at the start of the process.”[2]

Clean Slate

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Starting with a clean slate learn to question everything you know and are told, especially what I tell you. Learned heuristics can be good, but they are only as good as your teacher. You own experience is key to be able to implement anything. Having a prototype or an example can help you, and a prototype is only as good as the developer who wrote it. Don’t be afraid to start over rather than refactoring, there is little to lose and everything to gain by ignoring the old paradigm: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

  1. How Doctors Think – Jerome Groopman, MD
  2. Start with Why – Simon Sinek
  3. Effortless Evolution – Jamie Smart
  4. Wall Street proverb

Image source: Sebastian Fritzon

Written by Daniël W. Crompton (webhat)

January 6, 2012 at 4:21 pm

Posted in lifehacks, programming

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Recognizing Signals #scrum #xp #agile #lifehack

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Signals come from everywhere, they are tell us something about our environment. Whether it’s hot or cold, wet or dry, and painful or pleasant. These signals are rarely binary, there are gradients in the signals. And we have signals with which we aren’t dealing at that moment, which we’ll call noise in that instance. Feedback is also a signal, perhaps it causes a painful sensation or it causes a pleasant sensation. Whatever the sensation it causes that sensation too is another signal which we can choose to regard as noise.

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Written by Daniël W. Crompton (webhat)

January 4, 2012 at 2:24 pm

Posted in lifehacks, programming, work

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User Stories: How small is too small? #scrum #xp #agile

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I like a User Story to be precise and target a specific functionality, a Use Case or a logical vertical of a Use Case. This means that a finely scoped task of 2 or 3 hours could be called small. It also depends at what time in the SCRUM backlog a certain User Story is implemented for it to be a small or large User Story.

At the beginning of any development project all User Stories are large, they include many additional variables everything from setting up the initial design patterns, to drastic refactoring to allow for stackable functionality. This means that a task which might take 2/3 hours once there is a working vertical to build on could take considerably longer when everything needs to be build from scratch. Ron Jeffries – SCRUM God – says Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Daniël W. Crompton (webhat)

November 28, 2011 at 3:44 pm

Posted in programming

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