Archive for the 'Blogging' Category

Blogging, Time Management

Waking up

A coworker stopped me the other day: “You have been busy,” he said, “you haven’t been blogging.”

A quick look through the history of my blogging will show a lot of varation in frequency of posts and a general slow-down in recent years (only some of which I can attribute to Twitter), but it’s still true: I have been busy, and I haven’t been blogging because of it.

Not long after I started the new job, we started in on a professional services engagement with an identity management architect, to help validate (and correct if necessary) the direction we were going and to help lay the foundation for future work. What we’re doing is huge, and we want to make sure we’re doing it right. The next couple months were unrelenting weeks of nothing but day-long meetings and preparation for those meetings. I take issue with the methodology — it’s fair to say that a death march is just plain wrong — but it’s over now. More or less.

And I am exhausted.

I spent the latter part of 2006 writing a book. It didn’t work out for various reasons, but at the beginning of 2007 I looked up and realized that I had been nose-down for months, doing very little else with my free time except writing, and I had no idea what had been going on. It was disconcerting. Disorienting.

That’s how I felt at the end of this project, like I was just waking up from a long, fitful sleep. I had spent so long with such a rigidly controlled schedule that I wasn’t sure how to organize my time. It’s taken a while to sort that out, but of course it’s not like I’m lacking in any way for work to do, so I feel like I’m getting in a decent rhythm again.

Just in time for the Republican National Convention to come to town and disrupt everything.


The usual set of excuses

I have been shying away from writing about meatier topics here because I think they will take longer than I have to do them justice. And when I start to write something, it seems like I’m just repeating the obvious. Only when I broach a given topic with those who I think are representative of mainstream developers does it sink in that the stuff I spend a lot of time thinking about is all very unknown to a whole lot of people. I suppose that’s nothing new.

I still don’t have enough time to write everything I want to, but here are a few things that have spent a lot of time rolling around in my head, ideas that I think are important and that most normal people think I’m nuts to even spend time on (everyone, that is, except a certain fellow who has recently become enamored with Common Lisp — which exempts him from being called normal).

  1. Concurrency.
  2. Architecture for scaling. Flexible approach to databases.
  3. People’s expectations for software have increased, especially for the type of web apps that I write. The old way of doing things doesn’t cut it.
  4. User interface matters. And it’s usually done very, very badly. See #3.
  5. RIAs and where HTML & Ajax fall down. See #4.
  6. Games, education, Darkstar, and virtual worlds.

Every year I do a presentation or two at the MnSCU IT conference. I’ve been thinking that next year I’ll propose a talk entitled “Your Web Apps Suck (and so do mine)” that brings all those things into a 45-minute rant. But as entertaining as that might sound, I don’t think it fair to submit my colleagues to it. Never mind that “Sam’s Latest Rant” does not a good conference presentation make. So I’m unlikely to. Sorry. Buy me a beer or two and I’ll spill my guts.

In the meantime, I’m going to try to get off my duff and write more. No. Really.


I’m on Twitter

Yes, I’m trying Twitter. I’m late to the game, and Kathy Sierra’s probably right, but what the hell. I figure it will help track my time at a different level of granularity than I do on my work blog.

Update: Yes, I’m irritated that Twitter doesn’t support OpenID. Yes, I’m irritated at yet another silo. But still, what the hell.

Blogging, Personal

More or less just to move the cats below the fold

I got a sales call last week, and since the email address that the salesperson had for me was an one, they checked the site before calling me. “I liked the story about the cat,” she said. “Cute.”

Oh god. One of the few times I fall into the cliché cat entries, and that’s what gets noticed.

It gets worse. At the Minnesota Government IT Symposium this past week, the wiki that I set up for the MnSCU Webmasters was highlighted in a presentation on “Learning 2.0,” along with my blog. Traffic from state IPs picked up noticeably. What have these new seen? My cat.
Truth be told, I’m neither embarrassed nor apologetic. I just think it’s funny.

Blogging, IDM

Burton Group Enterprise Licensing

Scott Mark points to Burton Group’s new Identity Blog, and he’s right: it’s quite good (in the American, not the English sense of the phrase). Subscribed.

He goes on to praise their enterprise licensing. I agree. When my employer first took advantage of this licensing and gave us all accounts, I had two reactions. First, I was put off because the email from Burton announcing my account came out of the blue and I assumed it was spam. Bad form. Second, I wondered why the hell I would even want access in the first place. I had no idea who Burton Group were, and my impression of large analyst firms had been very negatively colored by experience with Forrester and Gartner (“writing” reports in PowerPoint? WTF?), neither of which I had direct access to but that seemed to have led to some sadly uninformed decisions.

I ignored the service completely until earlier this year, when I felt suddenly compelled to learn everything I could about digital identity and read everything I could get from Burton Group. (If you ever explore identity management, you need to read a lot, because none of it makes sense until you’ve read it all.)

Now I read almost everything they publish. Why? Eric Sink makes a distinction between developer and programmer that I find useful. A programmer specializes in writing code, but a developer gets involved in many ways in developing software. I am not just a code monkey. As much as I live writing code, not only would focusing on that to the exclusion of all else be bad for my career, it would be boring. Instead I find myself contributing in a number of ways to any project I touch. I need and want to understand the business behind what we’re doing, the big picture behind the technology I work with, the industry trends that are informing decisions being made at the top. Burton Group’s papers generally drill down into a reasonable level of detail, so I don’t feel like I’m just getting the highlights.

The benefit to my employer should be obvious.

So to whoever set up this access: thank you.

It’s also good to see Burton Group doing more blogging. The CEO has a blog on the site, which is interesting enough, but until the Identity Blog, that was it. You have to dig on your own to find their analysts’ blogs (e.g. Mike Gotta’s), which are hosted elsewhere. Too bad. Despite the strength of the white papers and the research behind them, I’m still probably influenced more on a day to day basis by analysts’ blogs.

This is where, without adequate transition, I point to RedMonk, whose work I follow a bit too closely for my own good.