Develop A Theme For Your Project – Spock Can Help April 28, 2013Posted by ActiveEngine Sensei in ActiveEngine, Mythology, New Techniques, Personal Development, Problem Solving, software economics.
Tags: ActiveEngine, balance, concentration, focus, Philosophy, Problem Solving, productivity, survival
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Many times Sensei has said you have to have a theme song for your projects. You may have certainly noticed that Sensei is old school, prog-rock and somewhat metal oriented. Spock’s Beard is a recent discovery and the group has direct roots with Transatlantic.
This latest album is a great source of inspiration, so if you have a ten minute walk ahead of, fire it up and it will get your head straight for serious productivity, creativity, or pure coding marathons.
Training the Young and Fluency July 28, 2010Posted by ActiveEngine Sensei in ActiveEngine, Business Processes, Coaching, Fluent, Mythology, Personal Development.
Tags: ActiveEngine, Coaching, communication, focus, Wolf Creedo
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Repeat with Sensei, if you will, the Wolf Creedo:
The Wolf Credo:
Respect the elders
Teach the young
Cooperate with the pack
Play when you can
Hunt when you must
Rest in between
Share you affections
Voice your feelings
Leave your mark.*
What have you done to nurture your team? Are you the resident Elvis, and if the newbies make the cut they’ll graduate from a Mort to be the next King, hand plucked by you from millions and millions of people? Can I get a little ka-ra-te with that?
What makes you an Elvis, and are you a bloated drunk Elvis at the end, or the bad-ass version 1970 version who can jump start anything? Elvis in 1970 practiced the Wolf Creedo. Watch the documentory Elvis the Way It Is 2001, just the first half hour. This short half hour will show you Elvis, after years of being away from touring, ready to return to touring again in attempts to re-start his career. The first half hour of the movie focuses on the few weeks of rehearsals before the debut concert. Elvis had a fluent, incredible means of communicating with his band members and back up singers. With a glance, a gesture, a wink, a new song would spring up. Maybe Elvis would say a quick word, hum a note, and suddenly a bass line would kick in, and not more than three beats later, the entire band and Elvis are playing a tune complete with improves. While playing Little Sister, Elvis nods, and issues “Get Back” and off the group goes playing Get back from the Beatles. Congruent would be best word to describe the synchronization that each member had.
Elvis nurtured that vibe. They all keyed off of him, for to the band he was Elvis, not the King. He lead by being a focal point, but not necessarily an ostentatious leader. When you watch the practice sessions where Elvis worked on the orchestrations of each song it is clear that he could communicate what he wanted, and worked with his band members to produce the product he envisioned.
But in order to function like this unit, each member has to practice. You, as pack leader, have to pick the scales, the arpeggios, the rudiments that you want to be second nature so that your team, the young ones and old warriors can produce what you want, fluently.
*Credit: Del Getz and Associates
Getting to 11 February 13, 2010Posted by ActiveEngine Sensei in ActiveEngine, Fluent, New Techniques, Problem Solving, software economics.
Tags: ActiveEngine, Bushido, concentration, focus, humility, new thinking, Problem Solving, survival
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In the past Sensei has written insane tomes regarding time travel and how your best intentions really get you no where. The story today is about getting to 11, which as Nigel says is one more than ten, putting you over the top. Consider for a moment the times that you really think you’re like this guy to the right. Yep, you think you have a Martin Fowler sized audience when you are coding. The scientists of the future will study my code and say “Here, this is the start of the great insight. How interesting.” In reality you are like Spinal Tap, unaware of how absurd you can be. Code too complex, but it goes to 11! Most blokes keep it at 10, but then you need to put it over the top take it up a notch. That extra notch. That’s 11.
Here’s a thought – what about 6? Is it viable? Can you be flexible by doing a 6, just good enough to not paint yourself into a corner? “Perfection is a process, viable is an end state.” As a developer you may not be able to judge what 6 is. If you’re in tune with your fan base you’ll know but that can only come from wisdom born out of great mistakes. For those of you who study Budo you may recall the concept of short and long and how relative scale can shift your advantage. Your opponent may have a sword and you only a dagger. Short and long makes a big difference, but you can alter that equation with small maneuver. Once you’re inside and beyond the sword’s curring range you have the advantage, as your dagger is now long enough to finish the skirmish. Change the scale.
Years back Sensei was given the task of reducing shelf space utilized by paper by 25%. The CFO arrived at this goal via scientific method. It was scientific since at Sensei’s company if you don’t do what the CFO said it is axiomatic that you were in deep doo-doo. Laws of hierarchy and all. Now imagine rooms filled with documents related to contractors, account-receiveables, human resources, legal contracts, project management etc. Yah, DISPARATE is the word. Not meta data, just a meta-mess.
Now in the best of all worlds where you need to get to 11, you would have time to survey all document types and refine each attribute set before you design your system for document categorization. This foundation becomes your data model in a database and many would claim that you should a create data table per document type to house the varying number of attributes. But you have 2 million sheets of paper to scan and in 12 months re-construction at your offices begin so you need to be able to walk into a room and quickly categorize all documents, throw them into boxes, scan them, and automatically assign the meta data to the document and store the thing. Oh, and if you miss a document type or need more attributes you don’t want to go back to your database, add or modify a table, re-gen your data access layer, add the attribute to your screen all before your adjust your categorization. And remember, you need to ship out 80 to 100 boxes every 2 weeks so you need to keep the data entry flowing. Finally, you are told that some projects can have up to 50 different types of documents, but no one is sure to what degree the project documentation is complete so the number of document types per project is not known and NOBODY HAS THE TIME TO GO THROUGH THE SHELVES AND CREATE DOCUMENT TYPES BEFORE ANY DATA ENTRY IS POSSIBLE!
Play the song, ’cause it adds to the excitement!!
Several key decisions solved this mess, and the solution was simple enough that temps could walk into a room categorize and pack documents into boxes for scanning. The error rate ranged between 1 – 5% per department. These were not solutions cranked up to 11, they were 6’s:
- No change to database schema or screens will be made, ever. A document was modeled with four tables with a base Document table, Document- Type table, Document-Attribute table that contained all attributes per Document-Type and finally a Document-Attribute-Value table where the meta data was stored. This way each Document-Type could be be created with simple data entry. One data entry screen that could create data controls on the fly per attribute type developed.
- Each document shall have a bar-coded coversheet. Nothing gets scanned without meta data. EVV-ARR.
- Import data from existing systems. The meta data for your documents resides in many of your accounting, job cost, and budget systems. Once document types are known, dumping data from accounts receivable and / or accounts payable allows your to assemble thousands of cover-sheets for all invoices. Quite literally you create a stack of paper for all possible types of invoices for all accounts, walk into a room, pull documents of the shelf, attach coversheets, and keep the sheets you didn’t use. Now, since the unused sheets have a bar-code, run these through you bar-code reader and create delete records for what you didn’t use. Now you have a complete accurate manifest of what was on the shelf and what was packed away. When the scanned images come back you can inspect them against the manifest.
- People can work better with paper. As stated in the last bullet point, creating all possible types of document coversheets per account or project and printing them allows you to quickly categorize all documents. With minimal or no data entry and a stack of coversheets, anyone now can go through shelves and associate the coversheets with the appropriate documents. In other words, the subject matter experts have a tangible, traceable system that they can hand off and supervise someone who can do the grunt work. Not sure where you finished with your categorization? Just look at your stack of coversheets. Want to inspect accuracy, grab a document and compare it to the categories printed on the coversheet.
What? Process management with paper ? That sucks! No it really doesn’t. You see, a 6 to you really is an eleventy-one for your user community who is really busy. Yep, you have to be smart with your database design by focusing on one key area and that’s it. The rest of the effort is imports with SSIS packages, CSV files, and printed coversheets. But it’s easy for the users to use paper, and that keeps a flow going. 2 million sheets of paper scanned in a year. Maybe a 6 isn’t all that bad after all.
Revenge of the Fallen July 21, 2009Posted by ActiveEngine Sensei in ActiveEngine, Agile, Agile vs Waterfall, Business Processes, Problem Solving.
Tags: ActiveEngine, bad software, communication, focus, Problem Solving
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Did you think you were constructing this: but you were actually delivering this instead: (more…)
Faith – The Time is Now Again July 18, 2009Posted by ActiveEngine Sensei in ActiveEngine, Coaching, Mythology, Personal Development.
Tags: ActiveEngine Sensei, bad software, Bushido, Coaching, Ego, focus, humility, new thinking, paradigm, self improvement, survival
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World so wide
Turn and turn again
Changes never end
Winding like an ancient river
The time is now again
Hope is like an ancient river
The time is now again
Indulge, play the song, drink in the message and go hug your kids, embrace your family, be thankful for your friends, team members, co-workers.
There is so many new things on the horizon. For those of us who are lucky enough to practice this technical craft called programming, we can be stymied by all the possiblities, the arguments and skirmishes. These de-rail you. Build a fortress against the distractions and ignore your fear of change by embracing the challenge of good arguments. It’s all a chance for you to improve.
When you arrive at work think of what ways you can engage with others. Can you practice your techniques in a better way? Recite the Wolf Creedo and end an argument. Better yet, start a new one in jest and revel in the ideas. Bang out some code and fight for the day. What new things can you add to your team’s arsenal if you inspire someone else? Are you leading or are you a suit sitting in a chair? Would someone ask you for help or think that you’re too involved in your own head to deign to talk to them? Have you built an empire above you or below you? Is your legacy more important than what you have truly done?
Okay, so you’re code was awful – but did someone else still benefit? Was your code perfect but never used? Was your ego hurt yet your company still profitable, keeping families fed? Did your mistakes help others learn?
What matters is that you engage. Most times it will be painful. Developers need serenity to produce but I’m telling you man you’re lucky if you have it. Life is full of the distractions and once you conquer them, you’ll find greater strength and battle hardened capability. Work at it. Revel in it, share it. Be grateful and humble. Win and go home to the ones you love. Technology is great, but you as a friend, mother, father, co-worker, neighbor, dude in line at Starbucks or grandma at church are even greater.
Sensei’s Playlist – Pay the Rent with Rock! July 10, 2009Posted by ActiveEngine Sensei in ActiveEngine, Coaching, Mythology, Personal Development.
Tags: ActiveEngine, balance, Coaching, communication, concentration, Ego, focus, new thinking, paradigm, Problem Solving, survival
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You’ve asked for it – well you didn’t actually, BUT HERE IT IS ANYWAY!! Yeahhh! Music to pump you up. Rev your ActiveEngine to these tunes, babes, and get stuff done. Decisively. As in total victory.
There’s a new page to the site, Pay the Rent with Rock. Here is the music that get’s me through. It’s powered by Grooveshark. Post a comment with a suggestion if you like. If it cranks and you’re lucky, I’ll include it. Describe what scenario your song helps you pull things off, helps you get things done, cranks, whatever.
Here’s a sample:
This bloke to the left loves it!!
Key Elements to an ActiveEngine November 16, 2007Posted by ActiveEngine Sensei in ActiveEngine, Personal Development, Uncategorized.
Tags: ActiveEngine, concentration, focus, humility
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Jean Paul is a developer with extraordinary talent born from hard work, focus, and humility. Here are his ingredients for an ActiveEngine.