Category Archives: Technology

Moab Improved by Agile Development

Software development companies have long been abuzz with talk of agile development. Its virtues have been extolled and significant gains in productivity promised, but not very often do we talk about how hard it is to make the transition to agile development. There are compromises that can come so easily when we face processes and pressures that are difficult to transition away from. Old habits are so welcoming and progress can seem so far away. At Adaptive we experienced the same growing pains. Over the past year and a half we have seen a lot of success from our efforts and it hasn’t been easy. But it’s been worth it. We’ve been able to set more accurate timelines, and the accuracy of those timelines has been available sooner. Each release we have been able to move ahead with confidence that we can scope out the relevant functionality completely with user stories. We’ve been able to target our hiring to bring on the specialists we know that we need to have success. And we’ve been able to plan future features more fairly, having a better understanding of the customer needs we’re addressing and how long it will take to deliver value in each feature.

How does this translate to our product? We’re seeing higher quality, faster performance, longer uptimes, more scalability and more fully rounded-out features. Higher quality comes as feature is subjected to longer durations of targeting testing because we spend less of our release cycle in a no-man’s land between completed features. Performance, uptime and scalability are the result of deeper dives into specific user stories and their impact on the system and its components. Each of our new features is more fully thought out and executed as we have taken more time to examine mainstream and edge customer use cases.

In the end, we’re confident that the investment we’ve made in improving our agile development process has produced the most valuable version of Moab we’ve released, and we expect even better versions in the future!

FrankenAmp

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This can happen to you too, but only if you are:

  1. Stubborn
  2. Stingy
  3. Emotionally attached to old equipment
  4. Only moderately adequate with power tools
  5. Understand just enough about electronics to be dangerous
  6. Passionate about music

The result in my case? The FrankenAmp ghetto box – a 350 watt horizontal plane of sound awesomeness.

The Outdoor Office

My outdoor office, now in 5D! Look at how it all just pops out of the screen! I love those little alphanumeric crackers.

I once wishfully discussed working outdoors with some cubical mates and today has been so beautiful I couldn’t resist trying. There are a couple of obstacles to consider here, the first is internet, which wireless should take care of, the second is the need for enough shade to be able to see your laptop’s screen amongst the brightness of the sun (I didn’t realize how dark indoors, or worse, my usual basement home office is!) The next factor is style and/or comfort. I’m kicking it in a reclined camp chair and it’s working great!

My first option was yard shed on the side of the house. I tried to just poke my feet out to stay in the shade but still get the sun and the outdoors. This was perfect except that the metal shed basically formed a Faraday cage that made getting on the internet impossible. +5 view, +0 internet, +8 screen contrast, +3 hidden from kids


The next option was under my cherry tree in the corner of the yard. It’s already given 2 hours of great shade and I’m loving it! I’ll go back to the shed if it rains, but I’ll have to run some cat5. +8 view, +10 internet, +7 screen contrast, +6 hidden from kids

Man, I need to mow the lawn now.

Can’t Wait for CSS3 and HTML5

I usually meet new standards with a bit of trepidation, fearing that the new standards will mess with things that are already working fine – the old “if it ain’t broke” mantra. Well, HTML4 isn’t broke, but I am really getting pumped about what HTML5 and CSS3 are going to do for the web!

I ran across these sites today, give them a look and tell me that your mind wasn’t opened to a whole new breed of websites that get interactivity without being locked into a bulky Flash interface.

CSS3 Playground
25 HTML5 Features, Tips and Techniques You Must Know

Also see HTML5 Reset to get a blank-slate stylesheet to start new web designs with.

These new standards are really bringing it, the question is, how long until Internet Explorer supports it?

My Setup

Technical difficulties have forced me to reinstall Windows, which I thought wasn’t a big deal, but it was and no one is surprised. Perhaps more for my sake than yours, I wanted to list all of the things that I wanted to install.

  • Firefox
    • MeasureIt! add-on
    • FireBug add-on
    • Color Picker? add-on
    • AdBlock Plus – advertising blocker
    • Screen Grab add-on
    • Developer tools
  • Internet Explorer Developer Toolbar
  • 7-zip archiving tool
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Adobe Premiere
  • Thunderbird email client
  • Adobe Reader
  • Google’s Chrome web browser
  • Apple’s Safari web brower
  • Skype
  • Microsoft Office 2003, including the file format converter for the latest version
  • Google Picasa
  • CodeLobster – a pretty nice (and free) PHP IDE

Here are some things that I normally install but won’t this time if I can avoid it:

More coming as I get setup.

Audio-Technica LP to CD Converter

The real name of this product is “Audio-Technica AT-LP2DA LP-to-Digital Recording System” and I find it intimidating and overly-complicated — not far from how I feel about trying to convert LPs to CD. Isn’t technology great?

At the request of my mother and after looking at several products on the Internet, I’ve settled on the Audio-Technica as the one I’d like my mother to try using. I considered the technical specifications, software and user reviews and I think we’ve got something that will work. The final price comes in around $100, including shipping and handling.

The package includes the software, turntable and wires needed to connect it. The turntable has USB and phono RCA outputs, so you can connect it to your home stereo too. The software has features that will allow you to record the LP, clean it up by removing the pops and static, split it into the individual tracks, then record it onto a CD. It seems like the complete package.

I’ll post an update after we’ve had a change to use it a little bit. Check back after Christmas!

Pandora Internet Music

Like a lot of people, I love music. Also like a lot of people, I’m picky. When it comes to music, I just want it to be good – without loud commercials, too much talking or crappy or offensive music.

Enter www.Pandora.com… this is one box you do want to open!

Pandora learns from you – the more you listen and rate the music, the better it gets! It does a good job of playing your favorites while mixing it up with new artists and songs.

Now here’s the kicker: it’s free and commercial free. No really. Check it out. This is a perfect example of why the Internet is great!

www.Pandora.com