Archive for July, 2008

Whrrl is Whonderrful

UPDATE: As she promised, Danielle Morrill from Whrrl has posted a blog entry outlining the release of their fix for the problem I had mentioned. I tested “Portage Bay Cafe” on my iPhone, and, well, it just works!

Good job to everyone on the Whrrl team!

Continue reading ‘Whrrl is Whonderrful’

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Good Article On Good Bug Reports

Soon Hui has written a brief and clear article that should go into every QA person’s set of social-bookmarking links for an occasional refresher read. It’s called “Tips To Write A Good Bug Report”. It’s amazing to me that these “tips” are not yet embedded in the lizard brains of every person in our industry.

I happen to have the privilege of working with some really good QA people right now and it’s so much easier as a developer to have this information available in the bug report, rather than having to play “football” as Soon Hui describes it.

(h/t Rhonda Tipton)

Random Saturday Thoughts

No big topics today, just a few thoughts running through my head…

  • I’ve been thinking a lot about unit-test granularity and wondering about the costs involved with creating “pure” unit tests (tests only one method, everything else is mocked) vs. a looser integration testing model…I’ve always had great success with the integration model.
  • Met several Pelago people last night at Seattle Startup Drinks.  Nice guys, and their flagship product Whrrl really is generating a lot of buzz.  I heard last night that they have around 50 employees!!!!  The question is, can they get enough revenue soon enough to support that kind of burn rate.  GPS and location-based services (LBS) are hot right now, so we’ll see.  I’m rooting for them.  I like Whrrl a lot.
  • If you don’t bother to read your e-mail, I probably shouldn’t bother to re-explain it to you when you ask something that was already covered..<grumble>
  • Microsoft bashing (yes, bashing) is alive and well.  A mini-thread this morning on the Seattle Tech Startups mailing list led to a post right out of 1998 – Microsoft doesn’t innovate.  The other tech stacks are superior.  All the good developers don’t use Microsoft.  Microsoft is expensive.  It’s almost like some people’s view of the world was cemented 10 years ago and they reflexively spout the same nonsense whenever the subject of Microsoft comes up.  Here’s a news flash: YOU’RE BORING EVERYONE.  STOP IT.
  • Heading to Priest Lake next week.  I can’t wait.  The lake, the sun, relaxation….I’ll need to bring my laptop, <ugh> but not do too much with it, I hope.
  • Great discussion with Anders Conbere about Erlang last night.  It sounds like a neat language to learn.
  • There’s an open house / launch party tonight at Giraffe Labs.  I may try to make it, schedule depending.  Good people there.
  • I’m wondering if there would be any interest for a Twitter-themed product at the next Six Hour Startup.

Presentation Tennis

I love this.  Presentation Tennis is a social experiment by SlideShare/Ethos 3 in “collaborative creativity”.  Users upload slides and create a single combined presentation on a given topic.

This kind of thing could never realistically be done pre-Internet.  It’s fun to see the creativity in the models, because for a lot of the internet-using population, the Internet is an extension of traditional ways of doing things (“Clicks and mortar”, anyone?).

Fellow tweep Connie Crosby contributed slide 11 to the presentation.  I encourage you to check it out!

Book Review: Halting State

I finished Charles Stross’ most recent novel, Halting State, last night.  This is the third Stross book I’ve read in a row, and this novel reinforces my admiration for his writing.

Halting State takes place in the very near future – about the year 2025 in a newly-independent Scotland.  It’s a policing/detective novel of sorts, with an introductory whodunit that the main characters try to solve as the novel progresses.  The scene of the crime?  A massive MMORPG run by a shadowy gaming firm based in Edinburgh.  Someone has hacked into the game and stolen a truckload of virtual-reality goods that can be sold for real cash on eBay.

Of course with Stross, this is just the beginning of a massive web of intersections and extrapolations.  I won’t give too much away here.

After having read this novel, I continue to see two general weaknesses in Stross:

  1. His characterization is often fairly flat.
  2. His endings are rushed and/or tangential.

Stross tries hard to flesh out his protagonists – Jack Reed and Elaine Barnaby – but he’s no Pynchon.  There’s one particular backstory with Reed that in particular is supposed to get us to see deeper into Reed’s motivations, but I felt it was almost tacked on as an afterthought.  And the denouement is really a birds’ nest of intertwining threads that he tries – and almost succeeds – in wrapping up neatly.  Almost.

So – enough with the criticisms.  I actually loved Halting State.  I would recommend it to any sci-fi fan.  It’s not quite the book that Accelerando is, but that’s saying a lot.  Accelerando is up there in my “book of the year” lists.

One final nitpick: I started reading this novel with the hopes that Stross would explore the term “halting state” as used near the end of Accelerando – that is, a mental or cognitive block that affects wetware.  This novel didn’t really get into AI much at all, so I was left wanting.

Google Test Automation Conference

I just applied to participate in the GTAC 2008 conference, which is the “Google Test Automation Conference.”  It’s held in Seattle on October 23rd and 24th, 2008.

For a dyed-in-the-wool TDDer like me, this conference should have a lot of relevance.  I’m very interested in general in the intersection between traditional development and traditional QA – I see the lines blurring more and more every year as Agile concepts take hold in traditional waterfall shops, and as the Web.Next crowd pushes agile further and further into the future.

I’m not sure what the approval process is for this conference, but I’ll let you know when I do!  Anyone else planning on going?  Would love to get in touch before or during the conference to share notes.

Anonymity On The Internet

I ran into an interesting post here on the Tiger Blog that commented on the nPost startup event last week that I also attended.  I naturally tried to check out who wrote the post, but I got the internet version of the runaround – lots of about pages, but no info.

The author is apparently:

  • A former Zillow employee
  • Who is working on a stealth startup named Eggsprout
  • and whose initials might be BMA

I don’t know about you, but it bugs me when I can’t figure out the person behind the post.  10 or 15 years ago, anonymity – in the form of handles, nicks, anonymizers, etc. — were all the rage, but the internet has matured enough that anonymous posts / comments are now the exception, rather than the norm, among polite company.

Over on FriendFeed, Robert Scoble’s #1 change request for the internet is No Anonymity.  I like to poke fun at Robert, but I admire him a lot and I think he’s right on with this one – with one important caveat.  And that is – if you’re in a dissident / whistleblower situation where you are in jeapordy in real life, then by all means I think that anonymity is crucial.

However, the run-of-the-mill “I went to this networking event and met up  with a lot of cool people” posts deserve a name and a face.

I think it’s ironic that BMA has authored a post titled 10 great startup tips.  Tip #9? Be transparent.

What do you think about anonymity?