Achieving efficiency in the software development process is one of the key motivators every team should strive for. Efficiency can be measured in a variety of ways. The most obvious measurements are cost, project timeline, and the feature set that can be implemented given the first two. In a sense, it boils down to the old project triangle (remember: pick any two of the criteria).
In essence, there is a trade-off between quality, timeline, and cost. For example, reducing the timeline at equal costs reduces quality just as implementing at a faster pace reduces quality. Yet I argue that the triangle approach is not necessarily valid anymore. Traditional development processes have clearly shown that just enhancing the timeline on a project to put special care into the design does not actually lead to higher quality software – quite the contrary.
Yet more dimensions are at play. The number of defects (“bugs”) found in a particular software directly translate into cost and time, especially when found late in development cycle, creating a dependency between testing quality, time, and cost. Inefficient software design increases the cost of introducing new functionality as requirements change and a lack of refactoring capabilities sooner or later lead to the need for a full re-development. The problems are amplified when the software spans multiple independent subsystems, which is often the case in modern web architectures which span across content management systems, web services, search engines, commerce engines, custom web applications, etc.
Agile development methodologies have tackled many of these problems in great detail through test-driven development (TDD) and time-boxed iterative release cycles. This article discusses a number of tactics you can deploy in addition to what you find in your agile toolkit: To speed up development and tackle complex problems with smaller teams in less time leveraging the key ideas of Model-Driven-Development (MDD).
In the light of the plethora of gloomy headlines in the past few weeks I have started taking screenshots of some of the major web sites online, maybe just to have an archive of how the world ended one day :-)
I started thinking there’s got to be a way to automate this. Indeed, there are a number of downloadable utilities out there to create JPEG images of web sites, but I really wanted to build this myself. After some initial online research I decided to give it a spin in C#. I came across the
System.Windows.Forms.WebBrowser class which, as it turns out, can do all these magic things for me directly on the server-side without requiring a desktop application.
The caveat is that the
WebBrowser does need to execute in a standalone STA thread. As a side-note, the code is a total memory-hog the way it is written now, mostly due to IE.
We’ve been trying to buy an appartment or a house in the area for a few months now, and after a few failed attempts (rejected offers, failed inspections, etc), it looks like we finally found something — an entire house up in White Plains, NY. Aside from having to adapt to suburban life, my commute will actually be the same as it is now from Jersey City. Anyhow, that’s all not that interesting to you, I’m sure, so let me get to the point.
We’ve decided on a beautiful 1923 colonial-style house, and as any old house it needs a little bit of work. The most interesting part is the heating system. The house has nice old steam radiators which are powered by one of the scariest pieces of equipment I have seen in a basement to day. An old ca. 1930s furnace which seems to be and old coal furnace which was then converted to oil. The icing on the cake (yeah, really, the white stuff on the furnace) is lovely asbestos. At first, I was a wee bit freaked out about it, but I quickly learned that this is pretty normal in these old homes. Obviously the removal of the monster and the asbestos will be the first thing before we move in, but I wanted to share some pictures of this antique.
According to Ars Technica, youtube has introduced full-length video content also. All this video is supported by advertisement.
Youtube hasn’t been successfully turning the site into money yet, maybe this is a sad attempt at that. Frankly, I think it completely waters down their brand (if they really have one, that is). Who really associates premium content with the site that has an endless supply of kitten videos?
Then again, McGyver is hardly “premium” content. I wish they’d also add Airwolf and Knight Rider. You can already watch The Fall Guy on Hulu.
Now that we’re all rescued (*cough*), let’s focus back on things more fun than the recession. I posted earlier about the “video bubble”, notably Hulu being a trendsetter which sparked a lot of interest and other companies pursuing similar ventures. And, might I add that my company did the user experience and initial technology design work for Hulu ;)
The road to… digital
I think in the long run we’ll see a lot of changes in the industry. Sites such as Hulu, TheWB.com, and others to follow will sooner or later revolutionize the way we watch TV. Cable operators are still trying to ignore this by doing things such as instantiating download limits. Yet it’s just a matter of time before we all have the Internet built directly into our TV and/or set top boxes and can watch our favorite House episode any time we’d like directly from the Internet and on the TV. This will most likely cannibalize traditional TV offerings, yet this trend offers huge potential even for the cable operators if they were to embrace it — and they’re slowly realizing it, otherwise Comcast would have never launched Fancast. Maybe that’s the real reason for the download limits — to skew competition and boot the cable provider’s own video sites?
There are still a lot of hurdles to be overcome. For example, Hulu is struggling with the cost of bandwidth resulting from the massive video streaming which seems in no proportion to the incoming advertising revenue. Also expect ad revenues to decline in the near term — we’re in a recession after all.
Today a co-worker forwarded an interesting article on AdvertisingAge about Viacom and HBO jumping on the bandwagon also. Then again, I already knew that, but I’d have to kill you if I told you why :-)
The Law&Order Effect
While I love the ability to watch a lot of things directly online, there’s one big thing about my TV that I miss online. TV is passive entertainment, you turn it on and that’s all you have to do. No effort involved, unless you feel like channel surfing. In the online world the myriad of options make discovering something to watch work — the editorial responsibilities are shifted from the channel to the end user. Sometimes, I really just want to watch Law&Order or be surprised by the evil-gargoyle-eats-soldiers movie of the day (SciFi channel, of course).
Maybe that’s an idea for another online video startup? Venture Capital, someone, please?
I guess I kind of shifted the focus of the recent posts from anything technology related to the financial mess we’re in right now. But it’s pretty fascinating to me how this house of cards could have been built and how it’s now collapsing rather quickly.
CDOs, or collateralized-debt-obligations, are one of the big the financial weapons of mass destruction causing the mess:
Where will it all go?
I wonder if in the long run the US will realize that the American model has simply failed and revert to a more moderate European capitalism. One that includes government oversight and social responsibility as a core pillar of the economy – rather than putting the focus on profit alone. Europe might not have quite the perfect mix either, but are years ahead in that regard. Unfortunately even the Europeans bought into Wall Street’s craziness and have the price to pay for it now. Globalization is one of the big reasons why many countries will have to work together to solve this underlying problem — the wrongdoings of one can just affect others too much. Think about it, the country of Iceland is basically bankrupt because of this. Unfortunately the Bush administration doesn’t exactly have a good track record of working with other nations (remember “either you’re with us or against us”?). Yet in many ways our system of countries and government seems too outdated to effectively combat the world of international finance.
On a side note, the national debt clock right around the corner from my office on 6th Ave in Manhattan ran out of digits today. There are many reasons for this, especially over the past 8 years. The focus of any adjustments that are made in the future to the financial system and economy as a whole have to focus on sustainability.
An interesting topic in the current election is the focus on universal health care. The US health care system is run by profit-oriented companies and their special interest organizations and really just hitting the fan. Many people aren’t cared for and many that are can’t afford to pay their bills. Having lived in Europe for most of my life I must say I prefer the European approach to things. The quality of live is just simply better and no-one has to worry about medical bills putting you out in the street. And I never got the impression I was cared for less over there — quite the contrary, American doctors annoy the crap out of me, all they ever want to do is make more money on tests and drugs without any real reason for it. I miss paying my 10 € a quarter even when going to a specialist. And not getting hit with about 10 bills after my $25 copay every time I go to the doctor (secretly my message here should be: eat more vegetables).
Let’s hope people learn out of this one. I’m really an optimist at heart :)
My predictions just became gloomier. I fully expect the Dow to go down as far as 6000-8000 points before it recovers. Interest rates will go down in the short term, I think the Fed might very well lower them at the end of this month. However, this will come back to haunt us by driving up inflation, which will in the longer term increase interest rates. I think we’ll see over 10% or more within the next few years, just like in the 80s.
I don’t think we’ll all be out of jobs or going into another major depression. Just a deep recession. Non-essential budgets will get reduced (think advertising, like the industry I’m in right now – oy).
Oh, and can they just keep Bernanke from speaking out publicly? Everytime that guy makes an announcement the Dow drops 300.