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December 2010 Blog Posts
Robert Fripp ends career '”in the conventional role of a professional player”

From his blog, after a performance at “WFC 1” (which is across from the WTC site, and which I visited in my last visit to NYC):

“Speaking in the dressing room afterwards to John Schaefer & the Power Person responsible for the programming here: this evening’s performance is the last for me in the conventional role of a professional player….conventional venues & conventional approaches to the conventional wisdom of the conventionally-professional musical life are at an end. Not retirement, as with Billy B., but continuing to play & practice with the work of the Guitar Circle & writing in the forefront…there are many professional guitarists who, today, can do what I can only aspire to; this in both their playing & professional capacity. Most are also much younger. Performances in churches & places outside the field mediated by commerce; areas free of the expectations, anticipations & assumptions of the pro musician; and those that might be characterized as acts of worship, in a wide sense; these all continue to attract my attention. Which probably explains why I don’t feel that anything has finished here at the WFC.”

Mr. Fripp has always been an odd fellow.  Lest anyone think this is a gratuitous insult, from another of his posts:

How did you come to work with Robert Fripp on the "Super Heathen Child" remix?
He was a real weird guy in the studio, too. Really kind of humble and referred to himself constantly in the third person. He would say, "Well, the guitarist feels that his performance the last time was better than the one before," and so on. He was kind of an odd character.
<Fripp>Other interviews by Nick have used the word strange in addition to weird. I mentioned this to Toyah. Her reply: You are immensely odd. If both Nick Cave & my Wife agree, then no more discussion is necessary.</Fripp>”

I guess one thing this means is that the previous concert 'mini-tour’ with King Crimson was its last.  I’m glad I took the time to see as many of those shows as I did.

Perhaps related, Kanye’s latest release includes a piece that samples from King Crimson’s debut.  A sign of the Apocalypse?

posted @ Monday, December 20, 2010 6:09 PM | Feedback (0)
Response to Mark Nijhof about Software Craftsmanship

Due to the previous post about moderation issues here, I missed a comment that Mark Nijhof made which I think is important, so I want to repost his comment and my response, and then add to it.

Mark said:

“In my definition a Software Craftsman finds delivering value the biggest reason to deliver quality, because he knows that stuff will change and these changes will be easier to deal with in quality deliverables (not just code). The continues learning is because he knows that in order to succeed in the above taks he needs to know his options and needs to practice his skills. And finally it is about more then just yourself it is also about those arround you, if they improve than what you build together will be of higher quality and thus will you deliver more value.
And yes in order to deliver value _now_ you may want to reduce quality, just know and explain the consequences as in the end business decides where the real value lies. And they can only make an informed decision if you inform them properly.”

I responded:

"@Mark
I don't disagree with anything you've said in terms of how you define "Software Craftsman", but I question whether the manifesto definition is the same.
Last night, we had an informal end-of-year gathering at a local bar for the Chicago Alt.NET group (which was highly enjoyable) and two things related to this stand out.
1) I made a comment about how having a good Project Manager can make all the difference in having a project succeed and one person (essentially) questioned whether "good Project Manager" was an oxymoron.
2) I have to say I agree with at least the gist of a point that Scott Bellware makes, and made it at the gathering, that the success of a software development project has almost *nothing* to do with the actual writing of code. Developers (and I include myself in this group) like to tout improved coding techniques and whatnot, but the success of software development projects really centers around ease of migration, production maintainability, etc. Some in the group agreed with this, others did not. Needless to say, the people who agreed with me were right...LOL.
Anyway, if you look at the manifesto itself, there is a lot about "well-crafted software" but unless you read into "steadily adding value" what you correctly talk about, individual self-proclaimed craftsmen often seem oblivious to point 2).
And JVR's comment about getting rid of management simply ignores the obvious real-world fact of point 1).
This is why I am so against the manifesto. It's a movement that works against improving software development because it seems entirely focused on what I understand Bellware to be saying about 'local optimization' and completely ignoring how this can be harmful.
It *seems* idiotic to question a movement that wants to increase software craftsmanship, and I'm well aware of that. How the hell can anyone be against writing better code? But, the manifesto encourages what I believe to be tendencies that lead to bad results.”

Adding on to this….

The value of project management

Everyone has worked with bad project managers, but when you work with a good one, you understand their value.

For instance, at one of the clients that I work with, we have a mix of Java, .NET, WCF, WebLogic, SQL Server, Oracle, numerous 3rd party vended apps and God knows what else.  For better and worse, different groups within the client have ownership of the various different pieces.  A really good project manager manages the communication between the various groups in a seamless way that allows the developer to do their job (writing code, amongst other things) without having to deal with all that communication.

When working on my own projects where I have absolute control over everything, it is fantastic to not have to rely on other groups.  But this is the exception, not the norm.  A really good project manager is crucial here.

The caricature of the project manager who provides no value exists because we all have had to work with someone like that.  Thus, the question of whether “good Project Manager” is an oxymoron.

Local Optimization

I hate it, as a developer, when I am restricted from using the tools that I like to use.  So, for one of the clients I work with, I can’t use Rhino Mocks, or NHibernate, or AutoMapper, etc. etc. etc.

As a developer, this sucks.  I have to use NMock2 and hand-rolled data access and hand-rolled mapping, etc. etc. etc.  Blows chunks.

But, to be honest, I can work around it, and so can any so-called software craftsman if they get off their high horse and do what they should be doing in the first place, writing high quality code within the constraints of the context in which they work.  If I can do it, anyone can do it, e.g., if you are forced to hand-roll data access code, you can write that code well.  You might hate it because your inner geek wants to use NHibernate 3.0, but whatever.

In terms of delivering quality, maintainable code, it is possible to do this with, e.g. hand-rolled data access code.  Will it be as high quality as, e.g. what you can do with NHibernate 3?  Probably not.  But deal with it.

Summary

The software craftsmanship manifesto encourages local optimization, which prevents successful software development projects.  Be a craftsman, reject the manifesto.

posted @ Thursday, December 16, 2010 8:25 PM | Feedback (2)
Moderation Issue

For reasons that I don’t understand yet, it turns out that when people have been submitting comments for moderation, I’ve been getting no email notifications of the fact.

Quite annoying.  I don’t know if it is a SubText issue or a PEBKAC issue.  Without any evidence to the contrary, I assume it is PEBKAC.

So, I’ve approved the backlog of comments, and will monitor the queue until I can un-PEBKAC the problem.

Sorry about that.

posted @ Thursday, December 16, 2010 7:24 PM | Feedback (0)
If your credit card or debit card is stolen

More than a decade ago, when I was living in South Beach (town motto: “It’s a great place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live here…Seriously, it sucks”), the last year I was there, my apartment was broken into twice and someone tried to steal my car.  Sign from God to move?  You be the judge.

Anyway, as part of the first theft, a bunch of credit cards were stolen, and I remember how much it sucked to deal with reporting it, but it was really important to do so.

Recently, a friend discovered that, even though they didn’t physically lose their debit card and hadn’t given out the PIN to anyone, someone got access to their account and drained it.

Merry Christmas.

Luckily, even with debit cards, you have protection, as long as you report it promptly.

Your rights can be found here.  I’m not a lawyer, and I don’t play one on TV, but as I read it, as long as you report unauthorized activity within 2 days of discovering it, your liability is $50.

Protect yourself.

posted @ Wednesday, December 15, 2010 10:23 PM | Feedback (0)