Friday, November 24, 2006

Giving Thanks

It is the day after thanksgiving here in the U.S. Many of us have been with extended families eating obscenely large amounts of wonderfully homecooked meals and desserts and remembering what we are thankful for.

I have a LOT to be thankful for right about now. My surgery was a success and I'm still healthy. More importantly my sister is doing well with her new kidney, and we are both thankful for that, and for our children and our families (our entire family was incredibly helpful and supportive to the both of us - it's amazing to have a family like that)!

Like I said, I have a lot to be thankful for. And yet, I'm also rembering that today is a year to the day since John Vlissides passed away after a long-term battle with cancer.

John was not only co-author of THE seminal work on Design Patterns, he was also the series editor for the SCM Patterns book: he encouraged Steve and I to write it and was a mentor to us both. I would encourage folks to (re)visit the wiki-page created in John's memory.

During this time of year with the winter holidays coming, many of us give money to charities. Before John battled cancer he endured the loss of one of his own children to cancer as well, and his favorite charity was the Children's Cancer Fund (for obvious reasons). This year, I'm also a big fan of the National Kidney Foundation as well as the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (both for personal reasons).

Give Thanks! And Give Generously! :)

Saturday, November 18, 2006

The Buildmeister's Guide

I received a copy of the book The Buildmeister's Guide: How to design and implement the right software build and release process for your environment, by Kevin A. Lee, who runs (the book is also available on

I really liked Kevin's earlier book on ClearCase, Ant and CruiseControl: The Java Developer's Guide to Accelerating and Automating the Build Process. Even though it was specific to ClearCase it had a lot of really good information in general about build/release process automation. The Buildmeister's Guide "builds" on that (no pun intended) and covers build automation tools (such as CruiseControl and BuildForge) as well as Version Control in general (including tool selection and branching/merging policies). It also covers more than just Java, and has sections on other language & environment factors like .NET and C++.

All in all, it looks like a very good, and short (~110 pages) guide for beginning and intermediate build-meisters to learn a whole lot more about effective practices, resources and tools for software building and releasing.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Simplicity in Better Software

Back in May of this year I blogged about how Simple ain't Easy: Myths and Misunderstanding about Simplicity. That entry ended up being quite popular and very well received.

This month, a streamlined version of that entry is the featured article in the "Last Word" column for the November 2006 issue of Better Software magazine. The writing is a bit more compact, though I did end up having to trim a few thoughts I had really wanted to keep. The quotations and links from the original entry didn't make it into the article, but were instead made part of the online "Sticky Notes" for the November issue.

For those with access to the printed magazine who have a chance to read both the article and the blog-entry, I'd appreciate your feedback as to whether you like the article better, or the blog-entry better, and why.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Surviving CMMI, Lean Sigma, ISO-9000 and Surgery

My surgery went well. I returned from the hospital one week ago and am now able to get around on my own (and do some email :-). My remaining kidney is still learning to do the work of two and will be growing larger in the next couple months (in order to compensate). I'm still dealing with the usual to-be-expected-stuff and hopefully within another couple of weeks I will be mostly back to normal (except that I still need to wait another 2months before trying to lift anything >10 lbs, like my 3yr old & 4 yr old :).

I received a few more books in the mail that look like they will be very helpful to someone like myself trying to introduce/increase Agility in a large corporation that has already committed to the likes of SEI CMMI, ISO-9000 (TL9000 for Telecoms), and Six Sigma.

These books will help someone like me to "speak the lingo" when presenting Lean/Agile principles and practices to those well versed in the above. The Lean Sigma book will (I hope) especially show me how to use the methods and tools of Six Sigma itself to support Lean concepts and techniques.