Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Make me want to lick your gear

Once again Apple releases a new set of hardware that makes me salivate. Why is it that only Apple seems to get this so right most of the time?

I mean look at what Lenovo offers as their latest desktop solution.

Compare this with the latest offering from Apple,

It is not that the Lenovo solution is terrible, it looks pretty nice until you see what you can buy from Apple. Then check out the hardware specs, the screen sizes and resolutions. Then turn your focus to the attention to details, the new Apple mouse, the way the screen is made to go right to the very edge of the box, the slight taper in the stand so it appears to be thinner sitting on your desktop. Jon Ives and his team are totally rocking the world of computer design.
I would love to see some other competition in the desktop market place that pushes the boundaries of PC design and pushes the Apple team to newer heights!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Welcome back the Neil and Hugo show

Hugo Ortega from Tegatech has agreed to join me in a new series of videos in the nsquared studio on touch and mobile computing. I really enjoyed making this first video and look forward to plenty more to come.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

SyXPAC, Agile and time to change

Last night at SyXPAC I gave a short talk (lightening talk) on the last 10 years of Agile. The point of the talk was to say that Agile has helped raise the issues to the forefront of peoples minds but it hasn't really solved anything,
In software development we have seen cycles of approximately 10 years. In 1968 was the first NATO Software Engineering Conference, one of the aims was to drive the adoption of the practically unknown term "software engineering". The title of software engineering was decided upon to be deliberately provocative and spark discussion. At the time it did this and from this methods were invented to attempt to create predictability in software development cycles.
In 1980 the first version of SSADM (Structured Systems Analysis and Design Method) was released and the 1980's saw a far more rigorous approach taken to software development. In 1982 Roger S. Pressman released the first edition of Software Engineering, A Practitioners Approach. This book become the bible for software development methods and teaching.
In 1991 James Martin first proposed RAD (Rapid Application Development) as an approach to delivering software using a more light weight and iterative process. Other great authors such as Steve McConnell and Jim McCarthy adopted these ideas in different degrees and help publicize this new approach. In 1999 eXtreme Programming was first publicized, along with Kent Beck's book on the topic. Following this the Agile Alliance was formed and a collection of other agile approaches have been proposed and introduced.
From 2001 forwards the term Agile was used as a buzzword to ensure that what ever changes were made could be signed off by the big boss. A number of Agile methodologies were pushed in to the market, SCRUM, Lean, MSF agile etc... some good, some bad. Mostly they all missed the point that XP was a set of dev tools not a methodology, philosophy or religion. In many ways the Agile alliance, although good in theory, didn't help with this.
Recently I have noticed a new issue with Agile practices and specifically some of the XP practices. There has evolved a breed of Agile coach that has a 'do what I say not what I do' approach. This is with a valid reason. Many of the practices that XP preaches are really like scales when learning music or mental exercises when training the brain. As a developer becomes more adept at them they become embedded into the psyche of the activity and the props become less necessary. To the point that some really experienced developer can move away from the practices and deliver even more amazing software without noticeably paying attention to the core practices.

As it approached the chasm, like all things, XP got watered down to become acceptable to the stakeholders that need to buy in. I don't think that this watering down of XP actually hurt that much initially, it enabled XP to get a foot in the door. It was then up to the developer to implement the solution. Here-in lies the issue. Fundamentally most developers do not have motivation to improve the state of the industry. They need to get their paycheck so they can eat, be clothed and have a roof for themselves and their families. The real passion for most developers is not business focussed. The real passion is technology for the sake of technology.
Yet through all of these changes, the software industry has not improved its reputation for delivery of poor quality, over budget, bug ridden software. Each shift has brought some new thinking and new tools to the tool box of the software development team, yet the basic principles remain the same.

Back to the Point; Agile helps but it hasnt really solved anything, it is time for a change and we embrace change, right ?

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Are you looking for a challenge?


You want:
1. to work on some amazing new technologies,
2. the rare opportunity to really improve the world with the software you build
3. to engage with some of the smartest brains on the planet (our customers)
4. the challenge (every day) to do something better than anyone else


You are prepared to commit to:
1. bringing your best to every project every day
2. demanding that your team mates bring their best to every project every day
3. producing outstanding software experiences that deliver more than our demanding customers expect
4. learning and improving every day


You will have the opportunity to :
1. engage with Microsoft Research, Microsoft Surface Product Group and the Microsoft Education Product Group
2. work with our leading global partners including Tricky Business and After-Mouse
3. develop with us
4. deliver greatness

You will be working with me. I am passionate about building great software. No ifs or buts: I am demanding. I want to be associated with excellence and will always ask for more. I believe in zero defect software that betters the lives of it users. I believe in crafting extraordinary software experiences. I believe in growing and learning. I bring my best to the team every day and expect you to do the same. If you’re still reading, chances are that you’re inspired and you should contact us to discuss the possibility of joining our team.

Send an email to jobs_at_

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Another video in the learning and technology series

Today another video in the nsquared series on Education and technology went live. I talked to Maridee about how cross-disciplinary education benefits students. We discussed how technologies such as Surface, Semblio, and MultiPoint can help create great learning experiences.