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February 2009 Entries
Spider
A small benefit of being between gigs: I’m sitting here, coding and networking and working and planning, while watching From the Earth to the Moon Episode 5: Spider. If you’re any sort of an engineer, you need to watch this every year (or more) for inspiration. It’s the best, truest picture of engineering I’ve ever seen on screen. And for me, it’s a reminder: my job is not hard. That was hard, and they did it. I can do this. I also recommend Thomas J. Kelly’s Moon Lander for the story behind Spider. ......

Posted On Wednesday, February 25, 2009 12:21 PM

Overlooking the Obvious
I just wanted to rename a Word document while I was working in Word. You know what comes next. In practically every application out there, I have two choices: Close the app. Navigate to the file in Windows Explorer and rename it. Double-click it to reopen the file. Within the app, do a Save as…. Optionally delete the old file name. In both cases, both file names now appear in the Most Recently Used list, even though the old file may no longer exist. Yawn. We know how this works. But can you learned ......

Posted On Wednesday, February 25, 2009 12:10 PM

You're Selling Software
Update: Fixed a typo and a calculation error. Josh Holmes has a great post on Return on Investment (ROI). And by “great”, I mean great even by Josh’s usual standards. He worked hard on this one. I was privileged to review three drafts before he published it; and by draft two, I was saying, “Josh, this one’s a winner. I’m going to reference this one a lot.” So stop reading me, and go read what Josh has to say. I’ll be waiting here when you get back. OK, you’ve read it. Pretty scary, huh? But the scariest ......

Posted On Tuesday, February 24, 2009 3:33 PM

The Analyst's Chorus

I am the mirror, reflecting what you say to me.

I am the mirror, I’ll show you where you want to be.

Talk to the mirror, I’ll tell you what you really said.

Look in the mirror, I’ll draw the picture in your head.

There in the mirror: it’s what you didn’t know you knew.

I am the mirror, and I’m listening… to you.

Posted On Friday, February 20, 2009 4:00 PM

Requirements Patterns and Antipatterns: Checklists
There’s an old joke about an engineer called out of retirement by a company in trouble: their most vital machine has stopped working, and nothing they have tried will get it started again. The old engineer looks at the machine, studies it for a few minutes from different angles, and flips a switch. Presto! The machine starts to work, humming along like it never had a problem. The engineer hands the owner a bill for $10,000; and the owner says, “For flipping a switch? That’s outrageous! I’m not paying ......

Posted On Sunday, February 1, 2009 1:43 PM

Pattern 19. Requirements Archaeology
Diagnostic Checklist: Requirements Archaeology □ 70 Your project is to supplement, upgrade, or replace an existing system. □ 30 The existing system is poorly documented, or the documentation is out of date. ____ Total You can learn how to score the checklists here. Problem: The project is to supplement, upgrade, or replace an existing system, which is the de facto primary source of your requirements. Context: In many organizations, new work has to be done in a context of legacy systems, which embody ......

Posted On Sunday, February 1, 2009 1:13 PM

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