Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Idiomatic Pop up Dictionary

Update 2008-05-14. This web site no longer has this functionality that I can tell. The principle still continues. I updated the idiomatic URL. For my future reference the name of the article is "The Myth of Metaphor" by Alan Cooper June 1995 Originally Published in Visual Basic Programmer's Journal. The PDF is in my Gmail account.

Look at now highlight a medical term you don’t know. It will pop up a window and look the word up for you. You may need to turn off your pop up blocker. It must use JavaScript to do this. It reminds me of the Wikipedia feature of trillion. It will put a dotted line underneath a word. When you mouse over it, it open a tool tip like window and go an look it up in Wikipedia.

This is a great example of idiomatic design. My wife just happened to come across it. She was highlighting a word (I guess to look it up) and the pop up did it for her. She will never forget this feature and no one had to teach it to her. It was so useful that she shared it with me and now I will never forget it.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Stay Extreme

I have been feeling burnt out. I just went on a long weekend vacation to Disneyland with my four oldest kids. I am staying up late and started looking at blogs of those that share my interests. I found innovation fatigue and posted a comment. I found that Jon Conradt is also interested in agile development. He mentioned Scrum. I am not sure what it has in addition to XP.

I am going to initiate a 15 minute meeting every day this week. I am determined to use my wings.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Walk away from your desk

In Nov 2002 I was laid off. After a couple of weeks I was hired to finish the last six weeks of a contract. This was my first introduction to extreme programming. My supervisor was very into it, especially the small iterations. I was amazed how much I accomplished.

I worked by myself. I occasionally (every 2 or 3 days) be able to check in with my supervisor. Sometimes I got frustrated. It was then I realized that I needed to walk away from my desk.

Not that this is a great new revelation, but to me it was a breakthrough. I had read The Origin of Personas some time before. I realized that when I was walking, I was working! I was not loafing. Of course there is a line you can cross, walking a 10K for instance. This is where personal character comes in. Steve McConnell said personal character is related to superior software.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Do the simplest...

I did the planning game writing several user stories on note cards. This took some hours. After a while I was itching to start designing and getting the most important ones done. I took two of them and added them to an implementation of Gemini I set up a couple weeks ago. I created a version for Oct 2005 and added the two user stories to it. I emailed a link of Gemini to my work mates and asked our director if I could sent it to the members of the vision team. I want to encourage participation from them.

I also created a stored procedure that reports on the usage of a couple key features of the web application. I want to find out who is using these features. I will invite them to participate in the development process.

Backup plans. I have worked out a system of backing up the source code I work on. We do not currently have a source code version control system. I created a backup folder on another set of disk drives to hold backups of the source code. These disks are backed up monthly. I created batch files to back up the source code. I set up monthly ones that will copy the source code several days before the scheduled disk backup. Do the simplest thing that could possibly work was my inspiration for this system.

I may be assisting another programmer this week. I will take this opportunity to practice pair programming.