Archive for August, 2005

German Dream

Wednesday, August 24th, 2005

German public television ZDF is coming out with a series of 30 interviews about the “German Dream” (translation mine):

Germany is undergoing change and is in search of a new dream. What is Germany about? What will be its future role in the world? In the series “German Dream - Dreaming for Germany” we will ask 30 leading thinkers, artists, and scientists from all over the world about their very personal dreams about the future of Germany - from Paulo Coelho (Brazil) to Wangari Maathai (Kenya), from Henning Mankell (Sweden) to Jeremy Rifkin (USA).

The dream conversations are presented in the original as well as in a translated version. You can listen to them as audio streams or even download them to your computer in mp3 file format.

We look forward to hearing about your dreams, too.

Interesting. I’ll be listening. Please listen, too, if you are from somewhere else and care about Germany. We may need your help.

By the way, I mentioned the series’ author, Wolfgang Harrer, earlier in my July 17 post about German public radio experimenting with podcasts. Don’t know if German Dream will remain web-only or whether it will be further integrated with TV. At first glance, though, it looks like a very good application of podcasting in the public broadcasting arena.

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Google Talk

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2005

Google Talk is here. I’m using Apple iChat at

Use Case Driven Agile Development

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2005

I had been to Netobjective’s seminar “Transition to Agile” about two years ago, so I knew this month’s talk on “Use Case Driven Agile Development” (August 15, at De Anza College) was likely to be good. It was very good. Dan Rawsthorne is a good coach.

During his two hour talk, Dan gave what he calls a “low precision, sunny day-version of the truth”. Here are some brief notes on the first part, the Essence of Agile.

First, for whom do we (or should we) develop:

  • Ultimate end users
  • Maintainers
  • Whoever pays for it

Agility is about paying attention and reacting. You can’t not make mistakes. What you can do is figure out you made a mistake quickly and react accordingly.

According to studies by The Standish Group, an average of 45 percent of any given product will never be used. It’s complete waste. With agile development you are trying to avoid that kind of waste. The magic of project management then, according to Dan, is to redirect the resources used to build the stuff that’s not needed towards the useful things that we don’t know about (yet).

Here’s what you should aim for in an interative product development cycle:

  • 1. iteration: build the 7 percent that’s always used.
  • 2. iteration: build the 13 percent that are often used.
  • 3. iteration: build the 16 percent that are sometimes used.
  • 4. iteration: build the 19 percent that are rarely used.
  • 5. iteration: no development here, just avoid the 45 percent that are never used!

Of course, one can never fully achieve this, but keep it in mind while you’re trying.

A brief summary view of project management:

  • Goal: provide a suitable solution for users that consists of quailty code and doesn’t cost too much.
  • Ideal: convert effort you would spend unwisely into developing things you don’t know about yet.
  • Common strategy: get your money, then spend it wisely.
  • Implementation: we claim this requires an agile process.

The essence of agility:

  • iteration
  • validation
  • feedback

The important thing about agility is doing everything in small, easily validated chunks. Validate that the chunks are the right ones and that we have accomplished them. So, a process is amenable to agility if it can be decomposed into small chunks, each of which can be validated.

Interesting note about the half life of requirements. We all know requirements go stale after a while. At a rate of 3 percent per month, that means a 100 percent change over a 3 year project period (or maybe one third of the requirements change three times over the course of the project). Why? The universe changes around your product. Even if you knew your requirments perfectly they’d be wrong after a while.

One of the “good” team philosphies leading to agile is validation centricity (validation is any activity that lets you know you’re doing the right thing and you’re doing it right). Activities of validation, verification and test are more important than those of analysis, design, and construction (some agile teams validate as often as twice a day!).

And finally, let the product lead: decisions must be based on the product, not documented plans, anlyses, requirements, or designs.

Download the seminar notes (PDF).

Electofix receives PoliticsOnline HotSite award

Saturday, August 20th, 2005

Electofix (a little personal project of mine) was just named HotSite of the week by PoliticsOnline last week. Whee!

Bar Camp

Friday, August 19th, 2005

I’m in Los Angeles over the weekend. Will try to follow Bar Camp from here. and Flock

Friday, August 19th, 2005

Siliconbeat on Flock and, nifty stuff.

SPD Podcast

Wednesday, August 17th, 2005

German Social Democratic Party (SPD) launched their podcast site today.

Google Wi-Fi?

Tuesday, August 16th, 2005

I read about Google’s Future? GBrowser, GooglePC, Google NetPC and Google ISP (SquirrelNet) a couple months ago. Well, it might just happen: Free Wi-Fi? Get Ready for GoogleNet (Business 2.0).

Listen to the customers!

Tuesday, August 16th, 2005

Mark Hurst on Lessons in listening to customers.

As Dan pointed out in his talk on Use Case Driven Agile Development last night, according to The Standish Group (”What are your requirements?”, 2003), a high percentage of the delivered features of a project are never used:

We find that on average only 54%, down from 67% in 2001, of the originally defined features of a project are delivered. Even more troubling is the realization that of those features that are delivered — a full 45% are NEVER used.

Now that’s scary.

Grizzly Man

Sunday, August 14th, 2005

Go see Grizzly Man, a documentary by German director Werner Herzog.

GRIZZLY MAN explores the life and gruesome death of amateur grizzly bear expert and wildlife preservationist Timothy Treadwell. The film is a powerful cautionary tale about modern man’s relationship to wild nature as it follows Treadwell’s journeys to Alaska, where he lived among the grizzlies and grew to love them. Treadwell’s crusade to defend the grizzlies tragically ended when he–and his girlfriend–were attacked and killed by a rogue grizzly in October 2003. GRIZZLY MAN is a gripping and epic adventure story in the tradition of Jon Krakauer’s classic Into Thin Air and Into the Wild.

Very positive reviews, too.