ESMITHY.NET

The Feedback Meeting Game

We hold lots of meetings with the intent to gather feedback from members of a team. These can be architecture reviews, requirements walkthroughs, sprint or release retrospectives, and others. How do you conduct meetings like these in an efficient and productive way?

Some challenges that arise in meetings like these …

Solipsistic Backups

I noticed this banner ad the other day from Mozy:

Slow Down!

Um... I actually do prefer to have background processes (such as backup) defer to the real work I'm trying to do on my computer.

Your right margin is telling you something

The recommendation to keep lines widths less than 80 characters is a surprising part of the Python style guide (PEP 8). Really, 79 characters? Is it still the 1980's in Python-land? Maybe it's time to upgrade that monochrome CRT and get some screen real-estate.

Acting a bit on faith, and …

The First Rule of Test Code

Software is kind of cool in that you can write programs that verify that your other programs work correctly. These testing "meta programs" tend to get short-shrift though, because it's not like the code is actually part of the shipping product. So who cares about cleanliness or good style or …

Deceiving Your Readers

APIs are user interfaces for programmers. I came across a function recently that had a couple of user interface issues that serves as a great example of this principle.

The function is internal to an HTTP client class, taking care of the common logic independent of the HTTP method, and …

UI Gem: Android Calendar Time Picker

It's been available for a while now, but every time I use the new Android calendar app's time controls, I'm so impressed by their elegance.

Previously, setting the time for a calendar event involved some simple numeric up/down spinners. Setting the hour worked reasonably well, but if your event …

UI Horror: Windows 8 BSOD

My PC is sad. I know this because of the frowny face. Unfortunately, I know not much more, because my PC won't boot, and Microsoft decided to provide as little information about the error as possible on their new BSOD screen.

Hmm... scary (but potentially useful) hexidecimal-laden error messages or …

Coding Standards and Orthography

Sometimes when I bring up the subject of coding standards, I get an eye-rolling, aren't-we-all-adults-here kind of reaction from my fellow programmers -- or a fearful look anticipating endless debates about where the braces should go. Of course, "coding standards" can cover a gamut of subjects -- from techniques to avoid shooting …

Time to Think

With time drawing short before a major deployment at work, we ran into a problem. Some people testing our application reported it timing-out on an important function. It quickly became a high priority that I was assigned to solve.

Since most of the people on our team work remotely, a …

UI Horror: Untrimmed Validation

Hmm... this zip code looks pretty good to me.

Validation Error

This was on the Discount Tire mobile site. It's awesome that you can schedule a service appointment on the web using your mobile phone. It's not so awesome that the form validation doesn't compensate for the trailing space that my phone's …