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Software Development

What should a good iteration contain

Yes, by now, we all know that agile works and what an agile project feels like. It has a set of guidelines like individuals over processes, embrace change and working software. It also recommends process tools like scrum, iteration planning, retrospective. And for developers it is manifested as a set of tools like pair-programming, continuous integration, TDD etc. I have been on about 10 different agile projects in l
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Windows Development on a Mac

I’ve been in just about the same cycle for almost 15 years now. Install Windows. Install the software I need on top of it. Wait about 6 months to a year until I can no longer take the gunk slowing down my system (“Windows Disease”). Backup my data. Format my drive. Rinse and repeat. Do this maybe 3 or 4 times, and then upgrade my hardware. Sound familiar? So I got smarter. I started making images us
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Want to go viral?

This last weekend, my wife was sitting at the computer and laughing.  I asked what was so funny, and she showed me a youtube video by Sons of Maxwell, a band from Halifax, Nova Scotia, called “United Breaks Guitars.”   The song tells the story of how United Airlines broke the lead singer’s guitar, and the 12 month saga of trying to get reimbursement: The video does not have a lot of production value, but its got humo
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To Mock Or Not To Mock

Today, bereft of post ideas, I asked my vast Twitter army (which, if you subtract the bots, probably numbers in the dozens…) for topics, and the leading (not to mention only) vote-getter was “a good rant on mocking vs not-mocking”… Well, I can’t promise a good rant, but here goes nothin’ Here’s my starting point: Mock objects are best used in the following 2 1/2 situations:
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Reducing Costs: The Power of Sketches

The very word sketching doesn’t invoke a lot of respect, especially when mentioned in the context of software development. After all, User Experience Design people come up with wireframes, diagrams and designs, not sketches. Sketches are considered a throwaway byproduct of the design process. What I would like to point out is the value of sketches and why they should be given an official slot in development pro
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Screen is the bomb

I started using screen about 4 years ago, and I think it’s one of the best things ever. It is a tool available on linux that allows you to have multiple sessions, and you can “tab” between them with keyboard shortcuts. Here are some pros and cons: Pros: * You can log the output of each “window” * You can rename windows (the default is 0, 1, 2….) * You can detach and reattach to a s
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We don’t have time for all of these meetings!

The majority of people who develop software utilizing agile practices find that they spend much less time in meetings than they did before they discovered Agile thinking. However, time and time again teams that I have coached hear about Scrums (stand-ups) and half-day iteration planning meetings quickly exclaim, “We don’t have time for all of those meetings. What’s wrong with our weekly status meeting?” Frankly, a lo
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More Kudos for Rails Prescriptions

Rails Prescriptions, the site and book by Pathfinder’s Noel Rappin, got some nice words of praise from the official Rails weblog on Saturday: Doing Test Driven Development (TDD) effectively is not something that comes easy, even when you’re working with a well structured Rails application. Up until March of this year there really was no guide I could recommend for developers who wanted to learn TDD with Rails.
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3 Misuses of Code Comments

Photo Credit: by dpascoe Not many people talk about good practices to use for comments in code. Many people see them as an extra or freebie, so not a lot of thought gets put into them. The truth is, though, that comments are a great tool for giving insight into the thought process when the code was being written. Unfortunately like any tool, comments can be misused. Here are three of the most common misuses of commen
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Digging a Hole and Covering it with Leaves — The Software Development Version

photo credit: Marco Arment Whenever I hear the plan uttered (and in my Wall Street consulting days, I heard this a lot), that we should build an HTML (or Flash) prototype, impress the client and then fill in the back end, an unwanted image comes to mind. We’re digging a hole (the missing 80% of the back end) and covering it with leaves (the HTML prototype) in the hopes that the client will fall in (impressing t
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