Clean Green with BioClean

The new place of work is now physically finished and requires an initial deep cleaning session. In order to clean it without being environmentally detrimental, I am now using the services of BioClean. Organic cleaning has the following advantages:
  1. Zero risk - only natural products are used.
  2. The cost is the same as a conventional product.
  3. I am doing good by not releasing bad chemicals in the environment.
The people are very friendly and I am eager to see the results. Having a clean and green place is going to improve my way of working for sure!

MobileMonday Belgium on June 2009

Mobile Monday Belgium

Mobile Monday Belgium

Tomorrow evening, I am going to attend the mobile monday event in Mons in the brand new Microsoft Innovation Center. I am eager to see the center since I had a trip to the center in Barnevel ind the Netherlands a while ago and it was nice. The content will likely be interesting:
Thomas Jacobson, Philippe Back, Pernilla Ramslov

Thomas Jacobson, Philippe Back, Pernilla Ramslov

indent Cell ID + Mobile Value chain David Hodder (United Kingdom) - Artilium Microsoft Innovation Center- Mobile Vision David Hernie - Microsoft Location over Twitter Eric Charles - Nearyoo Mobile location based games Kristof Van den Branden - M-worker Emmanuel Ottevaere - Bizzdev I am quite eager to see how Microsoft will approach the iPhone, which is one of the dominant mobile platforms. I do have a BlackBerry but the iPhone is really a true computer in your pocket. See you there!

Project Tracking Sheet

I have created and collected quite some excel sheets over time while managing/specifying/estimating/coding/testing/releasing/deploying projects.
I spent a while putting the most important ones together in a single Excel Workbook.
Home page of project tracking sheet

Home page of project tracking sheet

You can replace the <<Project>> value on the front page and all other sheets will get updated. There is a sheet for features with a system for tracking the dev status.
Tracking sheet Features

Tracking sheet Features

And a kind of poor man's issue tracker. This is no Jira but does the job when you share the sheet on a MS Network.
Tracking Sheet - Issues

Tracking Sheet - Issues

 There is more, like a graphical follow-up of functional tests and a follow-up of service disruptions. One sheet that proved very useful is the deployment sheet:  
Deployment Sheet

Deployment Sheet

Get the Excel! If you have such sheets, I am interested in comparing notes.

Corporate Calcification

As an organization grows there appears to be more and more bone building up. Well, bones do provide for rigidity and structure - which is needed - but in todays marketplace, I do think that we need more muscle and flexibility than bone. Not to say that layoffs have to take place but instead that departments that act as very rigid bodies should be turned into dynamic, proactive, and possibly athletic ones. What happens in the marketplace today has been akin to trauma to lots of organizations and people. We must face it, flexibility is a must have for thriving and taking advantage of new trends. But the shift is painful. One must let old beliefs go in order to make space for new ones so that a new reality can manifest itself. For example I started outsourcing like crazy one year ago and this required me to learn a whole lot of new behaviors. Like knowing wher to put my trust for example. Like managing my time much better. Like managing cashflow. Like putting in place tooling for dealing with remote teams. Like conducting virtual meetings properly. And the list goes on and on. There is no way out of misery if the mindset is on being "entitled" to something. The welfare state ideal may just be that now: an ideal. This is not a problem per se but requires one to understand that an ideal is by definition unreachable. A good ideal (or vision) must effect a pull on people so that they focus their energies to come closer to it. So, better take an ideal that will make one a better person. Entitlement is really a calcification-generating word. How can any pride and renewed energy come out of that? It makes me feel like I would 'drone' throug life with such a mindset. There is no autonomy in entitlement. It is just like ones mother is taking care of him/her as a baby but ones is 40 years old. As Erich Fromm says, there is a point that once crossed will keep you in eternal dependency and its associated frustration. I am not for an all-meritocracy style thing either but a healthy mix of 10% bone and 80% muscle does fit in my opinion. And 10% extra for some brains... Success being 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration, this would be way enough! Is your organization becoming a fossilized dinosaur?

Ken Beck and Moneymaking

Kent Beck wrote a depressing post on June 9th. This reads as somewhat hard to believe from something like him. Kent is an expert on OO and I am following his works since encountering the C2's wiki (this was in 1997) . He is full of great insights, has a clear mind and there, he complains about not getting money from his work. Even if I do have decent programming skills and know people who are unbelievably good and insanely productive using technology, this is the kind of guy who is light years ahead.  I am pretty unknown when it comes to fame, but when it comes to making money, I can say that it is another story. The target demographic of Kent is developers. He is providing tools like xUnit, it's nice but the value to the decision makers is quite unclear (nothing more than a blip of the corporate radar). In fact, a lot of what I see on the developer's side of things has unclear ROI. Or things are not discussed in that light. And most developers I do come across usually have no interest in ROI, they are interested in bright and shiny technology. So, by targetting people with no decision power when it comes to money, you can for sure bet that the ROI on that will be very low. You will get recognition from the developers. If you thrive on recognition (as most people do), this is good. Kent even has a page on Wikipedia.  But if you want money, in fact, you shouldn't care about recognition, you should care about business results and business outcomes. That's why someone will put money on the table. On a journeyMy suggestions to Kent is that instead of focusing on what he does (creating JUnit Max, or providing Responsive Design insights), he should focus on what he provides as return on investment. Kent, how are your customers better off when they do work with you? And I mean in business terms. It's a bit like when the poster child of XP (C3) got stopped. There may have a been a clue there already. Why would they stop the project when it was providing (as it seems) lots of value to the company? That's where marketing enters. Marketing is not just a term for suits (even if I do appear to wear one on the picture, I am mostly working from my home office, leading offshore projects after having closed deals). It is how you create an understandable and valuable proposition to the market. I am sure that there is a market need where Kent's passion can shine in a way so that clear investments will lead to clear results. In fact, Kent's past should help him shape his client's future in terms of better performance. And that by proposing interventions that will be only his. This would form Kent Beck's value package. Let's face it, "Kent Beck" is a brand now. Just as "Ivar Jacobson" or "Grady Booch" are brands. Peter Coad didn't got rich because he was a truly inspired and powerful modeler in OO. He got rich because he took Togethersoft to great heights and sold the company for millions. But his name may have been one of the unlockers for the investors. I do not know if Scott Ambler is now rich, given the amount of books he wrote and sold, I guess he is by now. And he is now at IBM as a leader in Agile. That's recognition. He is a brand too. Ron Jeffries, yet another brand in the segment. But ask people from the boardroom and very few of them would have even heard these names. And then good luck to get a check signed from them. I do see technology as a great enabler and a lot of talent is going to dreamland, which I find is a shame. I do think that we would all benefit from being more ROI conscious. When delivering strong ROI for clients, what happens? They see the light, they want more. And this provides access to funding. And this means that they trust you. Because you are ethical. Because you deliver. Because they know that they will be ahead of the curve by working with you. It is a bit like Merlin and King Arthur. They do have to work synergistically to achieve. And one is nothing without the other in the legend. We are the little Merlins performing our magic. Let's find some Kings and help them dominate their market. It will form a virtous, positive reinforcing look and everybody wins.

Widgets, iNove and WordPress: widget reorganization

I wanted to change a widget from a widget bar to another since I mistakenly put a lot of widgets into the wrong bar (east, instead of south). There was no obvious option to do so from the UI, so I launched phpMyAdmin, looked around for widget configuration and found that:
  1. all config lives in the wp_options table
  2. you have to search around to find that the wp_options table has a row where the option_name is "sidebars_widgets"
  3. the value is coded as a serialized array
So, the trick is to perform an update like:
UPDATE `web_wrdp`.`wp_options` 
SET `option_value` = 'a:5:{s:9:"sidebar-1";a:0:{}s:9:"
WHERE CONVERT(`wp_options`.`option_name` USING utf8) = 'sidebars_widgets' LIMIT 1
and change the sidebar-4 into sidebar-2, and sidebar-2 into sidebar-4 to switch the content of the sidebars. And it works!