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Can anybody do agile?

I'm a fan of lean/agile practices but, like most people who call themselves fans, I've never actually played the game. Given that my knowledge of agile comes from the bleachers I'm a little wary of offering opinions, but I'm going to wade carefully into the waters anyway.

I've been pondering the question for a while "Can anybody do agile?" I have a suspicion that for agile-type practices to work well you need individuals specifically geared toward that type of development (or who have been mentored in it).

This may be the reason that there are disparities in the reports of how well these techniques deliver in real life ("oh we tried --insert agile flavor here-- but it didn't work"); it's possible that good developers under waterfall may not always turn out to be good developers under more agile practices.

Fundamentally these practices address people problems and I suspect that they can depend a lot more on the chemistry of the group and the quality of the members than the process itself (however well crafted it may be). Just as one tainted ingredient in a chemistry experiment can skew or ruin the results, likewise, so can one poorly chosen member in a team.

I know this applies to all teams, but I think the speed and connectedness of agile teams makes it much more critical to them.

Anyway, to those who are actually doing agile: please forgive the sideline ponderings of a fan who just wants to be in the game. Hit a home run for me!

Being a Professional on the Internet

Imagine this: You work for a big, uptight corporate company. You google the name of a coworker or someone in a local users group or maybe just some designer or programmer you've heard of. You find that they have a website, a blog, or a twitter account that's professionally related.

Question: Do you dare click through to their content?

If you do, will you find profanity, inappropriate content, or questionable photos?

Maybe your search was more directly work related. Did you find a great Photoshop tutorial or image rotator that just happened to feature scantily clad women? (Common guys, are we in eighth grade? Grow up already.)

It seems to me that if you're producing content within a professional context then you need to self-filtered that content stream so that it remains professional and is not offensive to others. And yes, this includes twitter if you make your profession prominent on your bio.

And if you want to do shock-jock content? Fine. Just don't do it in a place where people are expecting professional content. Don't delude yourself, there's no such thing as being somewhat professional; you're either professional or you aren't.

To me this is just common sense, but there've been a lot of people not following these guidelines lately, so maybe it's not.

Blog Update

I've turned on comments. Until now I've kept them disable because of the nightmare stories about stalkers, spammers, and the loss of blogging time to moderation. It always seemed to me that it wasn't worth the trouble. But I've been in an adventurous mood lately so I'm going to give it a try.

In other news, I've decided to try adding other bloggers to the site, similar to what Los Techies has done. We'll see how it goes.

That's all for now.

Linked In Dot-Net Users Group (LIDNUG)

I attended my first Linked .Net Users Group meeting online last night and really enjoyed it. I logged in early to make sure I wouldn't have problems and spent a half hour or so talking (VOIP) with Brian H. Madsen a Microsoft MVP & LIDNUG organizer in Perth, Australia. He was starting his work day Monday morning just as I was putting kids to bed half a world away Sunday night. I don't know why but I think that's just too cool... world-wide interconnectedness and stuff.

I will note that due to the worldwide nature of the group the scheduling can be somewhat inconvenient -- last nights meeting was from midnight to 1:30am in my time zone. I really enjoyed the talk but I was running on fumes by the end of it. On the plus side:

  • The meetings are free.
  • You don't have to be a member of LinkedIn to attend (though I am)
  • They have top notch speakers from around the world.
  • You get to make connections with programmers from around the world.

As I noted you don't have to become a member of LinkedIn to attend, though if you aren't you can't register as a member of the LIDNUG, so you won't qualify for prizes/drawings. I understand from Brian that some people who came up in the drawing for complete MSDN subscriptions were very upset to be disqualified because they weren't members (not LINDUGs decision per se... sponsors want goodies to go to members, and understandably so).

Anyway, Sara Ford, who is a Microsoft Program Manager out of Redmond, Washington, gave the talk last night. Sara heads up the CodePlex project, which is Microsoft's open source project hosting initiative (think SourceForge only by Microsoft) and her presentation was a detailed overview of CodePlex. It was an excellent talk overall; if I started an open source project I'd consider it and I wouldn't have before the talk, so kudos to Sara; she made a dent.

Bear in mind that while I program using Microsoft tools, I'm not a Microsoft fanboy, and remain strongly suspicious of Microsoft when it comes to open source. What makes me take a step back from this position is more my impression of Sara from the talk than from any credence that I give to Microsoft. She seemed really passionate about open source and even a bit of a rebel (which is always a redeeming quality when it comes to Microsoft employees).

The talk will be online in a few days along with other past talks. I look forward to listening to the it again in a more conscious state of mind; particularly the last 30 minutes, which, though I remember that part of the talk being very interesting, I can't recall the details of it... I'm pretty much worthless after 1am unless you pump me full of coffee, which wasn't really an option for a Sunday night at 1am (or I would've never gotten to sleep).

You should be able to attend future LIDNUG meetings through LiveMeeting here. You can also check for all future LIDNUG events on LinkedIn here.

Linked In .Net Users Group Logo Submissions

I recently became a member of the Linked In .Net Users Group, though I've yet to catch a online meeting. A few days ago they put out a call requesting members to help with a logo for the group. I just got around to working on it tonight and created the following:

Not too shabby, IMHO... Unfortunately I realize just after submitting this that the official group name is not LinDUG, but LIDNUG. LIDNUG... Try saying that 10 times fast. Ok so, my bad; I did some editing and submitted this:

A quick google search will show a few others making the same mistake I did, so I don't feel too bad. I do think it's a better name for the group so I'm suggesting a name change to LinDUG on the following grounds:

  • it's easier to say
  • it associates more with linked in
  • it plays better as a logo

But, hey what do I know? In any case, the revised logo is growing on me. I kept the arch from the dot over the 'I' which I meant to look like the curve of the world, suggesting the world-wide nature of the group. I still like the blue/orange combo of original better. As usual I asked my wife's opinion: she likes the all blue of the new logo (though she prefers LinDUG as a name).

Update: Decided I liked the new logo better. Even if the name changed I'd swap the letters and keep the design over the old one.

Master Page, Header, Code Block Problem

I added a script tag with a script block --src='<%=Page.ResolveUrl(" ") %>-- to the head of a master page and got the following error:

"The Controls collection cannot be modified because the control contains code blocks"

The error didn't get thrown on all pages and I was stumped as to what to do, but on a hunch I moved the script tag from the head to the top of the body and voila, no more error.

A quick google didn't turn up anything useful (though other, non-pertinent stuff on the error is out there) so maybe this will help to someone.