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A Mugged Liberal

A Liberal is a Conservative Who Hasn’t Been Mugged

I discover that our book Growing Object-Oriented Software, Guided by Tests is already up with the file sharers. This is before Nat and I have even seen a printed copy. I don’t know whether to be flattered that someone thinks our effort is worth pinching or annoyed that the production process has not protected our interests.

If you’ve downloaded a copy, remember that it took us three years to write, which includes a great deal of lost income. The least you can do is tell the world how good it is so that maybe we sell a few more copies.

Coming up for air (Agile 2009)

Minke Whale surfacing

I’ve been mostly off-line for a couple of months: no blogs (reading or writing), no twitter, no open source (sorry, users), very little chat. That’s because Nat and I have been finishing up the copy editing of our book. We’re very much looking forward to it being done.

With that out of the way, I can start getting ready for Agile2009 in Chicago. I’ll be presenting two sessions on Wednesday:

A busy day, so I hope to see you there.
Agile 2009

Whale photo by René Ehrhardt (CC) 2008

The UK today

Two “facts” heard on the radio today:

  • there are now more mobile phones than people in the UK
  • half of UK children have had no fresh fruit or vegetables in the previous week

What kind of hole have we dug ourselves into?

Update: Nice follow-up from “TestObsessed”, you can get your free certification from her. As she suggests out, I’d rather be a sucker for an elaborate joke than have this be true.

There is now, apparently, a “World Agile Qualifications Board” offering Agile certification programs (I won’t link to it directly, but it’s at waqb (dot) org). The site looks professional, but there’s not a single name or organisation on it, so there’s no pedigree—but people can apply to join the review board.

Assuming that this is more about an excess of ambition, rather than a direct scam, what does this say about the state of both our industry and the Agile movement that some mysterious person thinks that this is a good idea? Enough people have been seduced by the idea of certification, that someone is prepared to try their luck with a big-sounding title. With enough Google keywords, it might even pay off.

I’d love to be corrected, but I don’t believe this is what we’ve struggling to achieve all these years.

"Basically, since about half way through last year, the global financial system has been on a work to rule"

From D-Squared

This man is corrupting the next generation….

Cay Horstmann, Professor of CS at San Jose State University, Sun Java Champion, and consultant in Internet Programming, says

I perform an occasional unit test after I’ve encountered a failure that I don’t want to have recur, but I rarely write the tests first. If so many experienced developers don’t write unit tests, what does that say? Maybe they would be even better developers if they followed Heinz’s advice. Maybe they don’t make many mistakes that unit tests would catch because they’re already experienced. The truth is probably somewhere in between.

What that says is that we work in a horribly inefficient industry where too many developers spend their time fixing bugs (using the debugger) sent back upstream by the testers, and it looks like there’s evidence to prove it.

via Kerry Jones

Can I afford this business card?

I run my own company, perhaps I should make a business card like this: lego business card.

from Alexander Kjerulf via Diana of Portland

An "optimistic" view

Yesterday morning on the the Today programme, James Lovelock said that he was feeling quite optimistic because he now thinks that the Earth will still be able to support 1 billion people by the end of the century—as against nearly 7 billion now.

Sometimes the current financial crunch feels like a dry run for the bigger show.

We're not craftspeople yet.

Software Craftsmanship 2009

In the run up to Software Craftsmanship 2009 it’s worth reminding ourselves how far we have to go. Recently the (London) Times put the dire state of UK government IT projects on its front page.

One bright correspondent suggested:

Why not use university computer science departments for large public sector IT projects? They could form part of the course work and would be far cheaper as there would be no culture of profit to worry about.

I can just hear the other disciplines jumping on this bandwagon: “it was costing too much to do the stress calculations for our nuclear power station, so we assigned them as coursework”, “we can’t afford these QC’s, so we got some students to handle the negligence case”, and “accountants are expensive so we had some students work out the portfolio risk” (no, wait, that last one might make sense).

Anyway, as long as anyone is not too embarrassed to put this sort of nonsense in print, we don’t have a profession.

Sic transit gloria mundi

Apple have declared the 12″ G4 PowerBook obsolete. If you can be bothered, you might notice that the document is dated December 2008, but the news has only recently attracted attention, in my case via The Register.

This is something of a blow. Our venerable PowerBooks are still very useful, although my wife’s has lost its optical drive (probably because she dropped it hard enough to buckle the case). For all its faults (like rubbish wireless), it’s still one of those laptops that every technical generation just hits the spot. Around 2000, it seemed like everyone I knew was buying a Sony Vaio 505; it was exactly the right weight and felt very solid to use.

So, now we’re on borrowed time. Apple don’t make a laptop which I can open properly when travelling coach, or just pop into whatever bag I happen to be carrying. There must be an alternative