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  • Gracefully handling the unexpected (deer edition)

    If you plan on enjoying your evening, I recommend that you do not ram a deer with your car. Really. Truly.

    I did not follow that advice. Last weekend as we drove home from a family gathering, a deer jumped into the road directly in front of the car.

    There was nothing I could do. There was not enough time to stop. Swerving would have put me in the lane of oncoming traffic, or the ditch. So I hit the deer.

    As you can imagine, the evening went downhill from there. I won’t bore you with all the details: the ...

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  • Is your software project run by underpants gnomes?

    Every time I see the underpants gnomes on South Park I shudder. These are the guys who came up with the brilliant 3 phase business strategy:

    File:Gnomes plan.png

    Actually I think the underpants gnomes are pretty funny. But they hit a little close to home, you know? Because I’ve seen a lot of software projects that follow a similar logic.

    Take for example a recent Craigslist post:

    “I'd like to find a web designer that would help me build a web community like MYSPACE or FACEBOOK. I’m looking for local web designers/students that can be affordable.”

    Uh, okay. You want to build ...

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  • Good programming: making things better

    One of the reasons why I love programming is that when you are doing it right, the software you build actually makes things better for someone. Today I’ve seen two examples of this:

    • I rewrote an internal application for a customer that basically moves data between two systems. The old app had to be started manually and was slow and painful. The new app runs on a schedule and doesn’t require the same kind of end-user monitoring.
    • I’m working on updating a report for a different customer. The old report wasted a lot of white space because it had one ...

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  • The Secret to Caring Enough to be Fired

    “We’ve decided to let Steve go,” my customer informed me. “He just isn’t listening. And we don’t have any more time to waste on him raising the same concerns.”

    Steve was a programming contractor who took his job seriously. Some programmers just did whatever they were told. Not Steve. Steve would raise concerns when he didn’t agree with the technical decisions that were made. If the customer didn’t agree, they would explain their position, and Steve would nod and seem to assent. Then, the next day, he would bring up the same issue again.

    Steve probably thought he was doing ...

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  • How to protect yourself from the creeps (part 2)

    In part 1, I described some of the causes of software development scope creep.

    So now the $64,000 question is: what can we do to prevent scope creep?

    Unfortunately, there is no bulletproof, 100% guaranteed method of eliminating scope creep for your software project. That doesn’t mean that the requirements will definitely change, but it does mean that no one can promise you it won’t happen. (If they are promising that, they are selling you a bill of goods.) However, there are some things you can do to decrease the likelihood that creep will derail your project.

    Document requirements (and periodically ...

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From my experience with Avonelle, she can be relied on to deliver whatever she promises--always on time and for the quoted cost. She'll ask the right questions to make sure that what she delivers truly meets the business need. Her expertise has been invaluable. All that at a very reasonable rate!

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