Month: August 2015

A developers job is really complex, he has to juggle multiple frameworks, keep in mind a collection of classes and functions and then find out why the darn value is being saved in reverse order with every third letter capitalised. Also this bug is a showstopper and has to be fixed by the end of the day or there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Add to this constant interruptions of open plan offices that are currently in vogue, your dog who is currently sick and that thing you’ve been meaning to do but just haven’t had time and I can understand why developers often don’t want to put in the effort to understand another complex system (the business domain).

I used to be like that, I didn’t care if we were selling widgets or providing cute clothes for puppies to wear on cold nights. I focused purely on the code and the problems I was trying to fix. However one day it changed. I always thought of the business domain as something complex and something to only be approached only when absolutely necessary. Until I was sitting having coffee and I heard two people discussing a part of the business that I was writing code for. I was struggling with implementation because it didn’t quiet make sense to me. What I was being asked to do seemed almost counter intuitive. By a complete fluke I was at the right place at the right time and listened intently. After the two analyst finished speaking it was like a globe went of in my head. I knew immediately what I had to do and was done in less than half a day.

Business domains are not that complex. Well they are but only if we want to study the whole thing in fine detail. This is where I think the major breakdown happens. We don’t need to understand every complex scenario inside the business, only the high level and who to ask when we required greater details. Business people often like talking about the business so finding someone willing shouldn’t be to difficult.

If we are working with messages for example you would want to know as much as you can about MDBs, Queues and Topics. However going a step further actually knowing about what the messages represent in real life, what the users of your system will be expecting and where it fits in to the whole scheme of things will make things so much easier when the difficult implementation details come to pass.

Understand how users will interact with your system even if you don’t work on front end code. This will help you see a bigger picture and help you understand what you are solving.

Don’t hobble yourself, business domains are pretty easy to understand on a high level and not a lot of effort when you compare to the large payoff.

-R

 

A long time ago I remember reading about how future versions of Windows will become free. I don’t remember where the article was but the main arguments were that most of Microsoft’s money don’t come from the sales of the operating system to home users but instead from the sale of the entire Microsoft ecosystem (Office, Exchange Server etc) to businesses. So it would be in Microsoft’s best interest to get their OS in front of as many people as possible. I thought about it and agreed with the author (I’m really sad I can’t find the article).

Then a couple of months ago Microsoft announced Windows 10, lo and behold it was FREE! I immediately signed up and was one of the 14 million people who downloaded it on day one. Since then it has grown with estimates placing it between 50 million and 60 million installations. That is truly impressive, since it hasn’t been a full month yet (Windows 10 was released to the public on the 29th of July 2015).

Aside from the Something happened bug my installation went pretty well. Before I knew it I had a clean installation of Windows 10. It was pretty sweet. The OS was snappy, brought multiple desktops to the table even Edge wasn’t so bad. Best of all the start menu was back, and it looked better.

However it wasn’t long until the controversies started. From advertising inside of solitaire to removing patch notes, torrenting updates from your PC to other users to uninstalling “pirated” software on users computers. All these things happened without Microsoft letting users know before they installed. It’s been a large trend in recent days limiting information to the users until it’s too late.

I’m not someone who believes that things should be free. If you don’t pay for the product you are the product. I don’t mind targeted ads I use Google a lot 🙂 What I don’t like is how all this information was hidden. Indeed the trend from Microsoft with regards to Windows 10 seems to be one of hiding as much information from the user as possible.

I only use my Windows box for gaming, if it wasn’t such an effort to get all these things running on Linux I would have probably switched to Linux a long time ago. However most games still only run on Windows even though this trend is changing I think Linux has a long way to go before it’s in a position to replace Windows as a gaming OS.

Windows 10 is a good OS, I can appreciate all the development effort that went into it. However all the controversies have left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth.

Knowing what I know now I don’t think I would have upgraded. I am almost tempted to format my PC and reinstall Windows 8.1.

 

I started reading a book on Saturday, The Working Memory Advantage by Tracy and Ross Alloway. It’s pretty interesting and right up my alley since I like reading about the brain and how it works. It’s written in a weird style since sometimes the author(s) refer to both of themselves in the same sentence but instead of writing “When Tracy and I started ….” they will write “When Tracy and Ross started …” Which makes it seem like someone else is writing about them, but it’s actually them writing about themselves. Rafal found that style pretty weird, he thought it might grow on him, however it didn’t.

They also promote one of their project a lot which I don’t begrudge them this. I would do it too if I had a successful A and wanted to sell more of B however Rafal can only read about how “Ross’ program raised students grades on average by ten points, that’s like going from a C to a B or from a B to an A.” three times before he thinks that’s a bit too much.

Those two criticism aside it’s a really interesting book on the concept of working memory, how a good working memory is critical to a successful life and how it can be improved.

They often refer to working memory as a conductor since that is mainly what it does. It lives in the prefrontal cortex and conducts thoughts, helps you focus on the important things and ignore the background noises.

There have been studies done that show how a strong conductor improves most facets of people’s lives. Your self-control, your ability to work through complex scenarios, even to a certain degree your happiness.

What I found very interesting was that there is evidence that we can all improve and strengthen or conductor. It seems like a game called dual-N-back and Ross’ programme which “raised students grades on average by ten points, that’s like going from a C to a B or from a B to an A.” Have both had “Near Transfer” and “Far Transfer” effects. There are other ways that help too like exercise (and especially running, bare-foot seems to be even better) and eating the right foods (berries, red meat and others).

• Near transfer: This means that when you improve certain skills in a game, you also improve in closely related areas. Think of it this way—if you do leg lifts for two months and increase the strength in your legs, you will be able to squat a heavier weight. In the same way, if you keep playing a game that trains working memory, you will do better on a working memory test.

• Far transfer: This means that when you train specific skills, you also improve in other areas that are far beyond the skill you trained. For example, if you do leg lifts, you can also sprint much faster. When a working-memory-training program, like Jungle Memory, improves your grades, it is called far transfer

Excerpt From: Tracy Alloway. “The Working Memory Advantage.”

I highly recommend the book if you enjoy reading about the human brain and how it works.

This is an interesting time in the study of the human brain, not so long ago it was believe that once you became an adult you were stuck with the brain you have this was wrong. Neuroplasticity is a concept that interests me a lot. Being able to retrain our monkey brains to greater heights through practice and discipline. It feels almost super human.

Rafal approves.