Italian Traffic–A Metaphor

italian_traffic

Having recently returned from a wonderful time in the Bay of Naples for our anniversary, I was reminded once again of the madness that is Italian driving.

With Italian driving there is always a lot of noise, activity, and speed involved but not always a lot of movement towards the desired destination. This reminded me of how often we end up treating projects the same way, we can see a lot of noise, activity, and speed but not a lot of progress towards where we actually want to end up.

When all said and done none of those actually help if we are not actually making them in the right direction, or making them all together such that we end up with deadlock. Making sure we actually plan and direct the traffic or project activity ensures that we will actually make more progress than just doing lots of it. And here the Germans with their structured autobahns end up travelling a lot faster to where they want to go, although I am sure the Italians will say with much less fun (and dented cars and egos!).

So as I return to work after my break, I am reminded that my primary role as a Development Manager is to direct the traffic and make sure that all that activity is actually getting us where we need to go. The aids we have in place like our Kanban board and Teamcity build server just ensure that we are continuously checking we are moving in the right direction and not towards one almighty road block as is the wont with traffic at many of the intersections we encountered with everyone trying to enter at the same time.

25th Anniversary

It will quiet around here for a few days as my wife and I have the pleasure of celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary, with a trip to Italy, and more specifically the Bay of Naples to see the sites around Vesuvius.

I feel very privileged to have to reached this mark in our lives together when so many fail to achieve this milestone. But crucial to this success has been the fact that not only is Karen my wife, but first and foremost she is also my best friend, and chief encouragement in all I do. I am proud of all we have been through and achieved together, and am glad she has shared this journey with me.

Here’s to the next 25.

Dennis Ritchie–RIP

Just read Herb Sutter’s post that Dennis passed away. This is another huge loss for the technology scene over recent weeks. For me, arguably even more pertinent and more relevant than Steve Jobs. Even though I respect what Steve did with Apple, and have used his products at various times over the years (including trying to figure out how to eject a floppy from a Mac), I have never owned an Apple product myself. But my life, and the course of my life, has been profoundly impacted by the work of Dennis Ritchie.

 

Having graduated as an Electronic Engineer I quickly ended up writing software as an integral part of that career, and ultimately becoming what defines me. Although initially this involved various assembler variants, and other (electronic) engineering based languages, like Fortran, Ada and PLM/86, I eventually came to know and love (at times) C, and it’s derivatives like C++, C#.

I am sure most professional developer’s have the definitive tome on C by Kernighan and Ritchie somewhere in their book collection. If you don’t, I wonder whether you can call yourself a professional coder.

From Herb’s post I think this closing summary encapsulates everything Dennis Ritchie stood for, and what looking back those first unsteady steps into C started: “C is a poster child for why it’s essential to keep those people who know a thing can’t be done from bothering the people who are doing it. (And keep them out of the way while the same inventors, being anything but lazy and always in search of new problems to conquer, go on to use the world’s first portable and efficient programming language to build the world’s first portable operating system, not knowing that was impossible too.)

My condolences and thoughts are with his family and friends at this time, thank you for giving me the tools to do what I do and love.

And this is why Steve Jobs mattered

Steve Jobs–The Crazy Ones

Of all the tributes flowing across the web this morning this is probably the one that means most to me, simply put Steve made a difference to this world. And my question to me, and all of you, is are we willing to make a difference or are we just willing to be present in this world. Let’s stop being the audience and become the actors.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

— Steve Jobs