Monthly Archives: August 2008

Philadelphia IT Architecture Conf. (23-24 Sep)

Just a quick note:

The International Association of Software Architects is sponsoring this conference.

The IT Architect Regional Conference is the largest event in the Philadelphia area to address the pressing needs of IT architects today. There are over 15 seminars and two tracks separated by specialty: Enterprise and Software Architecture. Architects of all levels can take their skills to the next level.

Good Judgment is Agile

a quip from the agile usability forum…

“But I still think that, in the early stages of UI design, in a project where the UI is critical, getting a usable paper prototype, as verified by user testing, is significant progress.”

as an agilist, i would agree.

i tend to run parallel tracks during initial development based on the project specifics. once i have gathered enough requirement details to have a good overview of where we need to go, i might begin some specialized “research” tracks, a.k.a. “spikes”, even as i may be gathering more requirements and building more of the object model. the overlapping activities may be any of these:

  • requirements workshop
  • a spike to work out technical architecture
  • a spike to work out User Experience issues
  • doing anything else in parallel that helps to reduce risk
    • risk of missing important requirement details
    • risk of producing an unusable app
    • risk of producing a non-performant app

The challenge is knowing when to do these sorts of things, and not allowing any single “prong” of the attack to get too far or too deep compared to the others. The purpose being:

  • you often get diminishing returns, you just need to investigate enough to get the 80% mark (for example)
  • you don’t want to waste effort on something that turns out to be obviated by something you discover in another track

It may help you to understand I have a few very closely-held tenets about software development:

  • The key to development is separation of concerns
    • the core is the problem domain built to support the requirements.
    • get this wrong, nothing else in the app matters. nothing.
      • not the UI/UX.
      • not the 5th normal form DB.
      • not the worlds most articulate UML models.
      • not the worlds best cruise-controlled, TDD, 100% test coverage,
      • not the best joshua bloch-/steve mcconnel-blessed code.
    • this core generally transcends UI, database, and even the language chosen to code the app. In other words, the “problem domain” reflects the relatively stable “business” world. I know it sounds trite, but despite all our wonderful software advances from green screen to now, the world of mortgage/insurance/banking has changed little, fundamentally, or relatively.
      • the app is all about the “business” needs
      • the User Experience/UI is a separate thing
      • The persistence is a separate thing
  • Carefully orchestrating the various tasks in parallel using agile approaches that hold dear doing the “best thing possible” given the business & development circumstances, constantly adjusting in a smart way.

it is about understanding risks, managing them, and using the elusive stratagem known as “good judgment.”

Return To Forever

went to see Chic Corea and Return to Forever last night at the Mann Music Center in Philly.

the show was unbelievable. these guys didn’t skip a beat. al di meola still moves his fingers faster than humanly possible. stanley clark — who i think basically invented slap bass/lead bass — blew me away. they had their instruments either identical to the late 70s, or — in Chic’s case — modern marvels are able to replicate the precise sounds of some of those no-longer-in-existence keyboards and synths.

bela fleck was the opening act. these guys are awesome and have one of the premier bass players in the world. but RTF made the flecktones seem amateur in skill (and believe me, they are not! bela and the ‘tones are an incredible mix of 4 virtuousos)

i just kept shaking my head in disbelief at what i was witnessing up close and personal. first row, center, just behind the orchestra section of seating thanks to my friend Clay and his VIP pass! i think we had the best seats in the house. close enough to see all the detail, but not too close where you miss the wider aspects of the whole band.

you could see utter joy in the band member’s eyes as they hammered out the songs. in a jazz setting, and sitting close, you can really see the tremendous on-stage communication that goes on between the band members. it was especially fun when they would do the classic guitar-piano duels, or bass-piano duels. Chic would slam down an incredible riff, then stanley or al would follow up with a mimic, and “up the ante” maybe with a bit more. back and forth they would go until i figured their instruments — or hands — would be on fire.

though they were all very appreciative (and humbled) of the audience and the cheering throngs, they have it wrong. i believe (for me for sure), that it is we, the fans, that are truly blessed and thankful to have been in their midst for at least one night. an unforgettable evening of music genius that just does not come around too often in one’s lifetime. it would be like hearing mozart live. (and i don’t say this lightly.) i am so very grateful!

oh, and i won a prize during the trivia game! the 2008 tour book (or whatever you call it — thing with photos and their tour dates). quotes like:

* “It was a moment… the four of hadn’t been together in the same space since the 70s. But when we get into the throes of playing, it’s right back to that zone. It feels pretty fresh.” — Chic Corea

* “This reunion is going to really be nice. All of us have been practicing… because the music is demanding even at this point to me.” — Stanley Clarke

* “So many years have passed since we last played together. I’m a different person and play differently. We all do. In fact, when we sat and listened to our old albums, there were times when even we, ourselves, couldn’t believe some of the things we were physically pulling off. There’s something to be said about youth and envy.” — Al DiMeola

* “Playing together again was like riding a bike. It sounded great from the first rehearsal. We had to re-familiarize ourselves with the notes — we haven’t played them in 25 years.” — Lenny White

it was truly amazing music. every song got a standing ovation. some of the most demanding music you would ever hear — or see. and the crowd knew it and appreciated it.

i continue to bask in the soul-stirring glow of the immeasurable grace and beauty of the RTF notes left hanging in the stratosphere. thank you!