magpiebrain

Sam Newman's site, a Consultant at ThoughtWorks

Archive for ‘March, 2004’

**Project proposal**: An IM client that synchronises seamlessly with a contact list stored in an enterprise social network system (think: MS Exchange (webdav?), Confluence).

**Initial thoughts**: Use Jabber

**Project Abstraction**: Generic notification mechanism which could be used to send email, SMS, IM. Useable by CruiseControl/DamageControl/Confluence/IM client etc.

**Rational**: Certainly a need for this at work. Is there desire enough to do it?

_Update_: Also think friendster/orkut integration. I’m thinking a server with modular contact discovery mechanism, with client abstraction. Suport for multiple IM protocols or just use Jabber? YAGNI – use Jabber. I should really stop engaging in design by blog.

_Update_: Look at Jain – “JSR 187(JSR 187: JAINTM Instant Messaging)”:http://www.jcp.org/en/jsr/detail?id=187.

A bustle of activity. Sweat. Testosterone. A small amount of oestrogen. Comically small hockey sticks. Ego. A distinct lack of pizzas. Such is “GeekNight”:http://geeknight.thoughtworks.com/index.php/GeekNightLondon in London. Who knows if anything’s actually going to get done?

So, in a room of bright people, do you yourself feel inspired? Intimidated? Is it wrong to feel just plain bored? There is a strange background buzz generated when one is genuinely uninterested in what’s going on. It filters out anything else which might distract you from the task at hand – even if said task is being bored. Let’s imagine you actually had something you wanted to do other than stare into space. Where better to be than in the midst of busy discussion which leaves you cold – and environment in which you can be confident that you yourself will be left to your own devices, where you can go unnoticed.

Dave Winer makes some “interesting points(The baby squirrels grow up)”:http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/crimson1/babySquirrelsGrowUp concerning the “recent furore(Jay Allen – The TypeKey FAQ)”:http://www.jayallen.org/journey/2004/03/the_typekey_faq surrounding some of the recent announcements made by “SixApart”:http://www.sixapart.com/ concerning features forthcoming in new versions of MovableType. He identifies SixApart as a company at a major milestone in its development – its shift from becoming a company that is know primarily for producing free software to a company producing commercial software.

This shift in focus brings about an inevitable change in priorities:

Basically Six Apart has been at a fork for some time, on one fork are the paying customers, and the other fork is the “community” that has carried them along. I recognize some of them as early UserLand people, and I recognize the attitude as that of software believers. These are good people, they report bugs diligently, cheer you when you add a new feature or fix a problem. They are the salt of the earth. You need to have people like this around to make good software.

But you also need the people who pay the bills, and eventually their needs conflict, and you have to a make choice, and if you’re running a business, as Six Apart is, you have to go with paying the bills. That leaves a bunch of people behind, and they are angry (justifiably) as they decide whether to stay or go.

It would be better if the users could factor this into their thinking and not hate so much and also not love so much. Software is not a miracle, it’s a lot of hard work, and it’s expensive hard work. And the funny thing is that as the anger escalates, the work gets harder, and you end up in a spiral.

I’ve seen this in action in a few situations. Some handled the transition to a full-on commcerial body very badly (see the whole Smoothwall debacle and the resulting IpCop fork), others a little better (JBoss) and select few very well (MySql). On the one hand without the original early adopters, these companies wouldn’t be in a position to be developing commercial software (or providing commercial services) in the first place – on the other hand very few of these users will be paying for development. Keeping both camps happy is something of a balancing act, and I wish SixApart all the luck in the world as they attempt to walk this particular tightrope.

My new role has started in earnest today, with me being packed off to a client site. Most of the day was spent tinkering with my nice shinny new laptop (ohh – wifi and bluetooth!), learning how to use Lotus Notes (ohh – really slow mail client!), and trying to remember about 50 peoples names. I’ve also been issued with an “RSA SecurID”:http://www.rsasecurity.com/products/securid/ token, which has had me enthralled since I recieved it. The device generates random numbers for use with accessing my companies intranet when off site – I’ll post more on the device later.

I’m aware that I’ve not published much information on my spring-rcp work, and that’s because I haven’t done much at all. Hopefully this weekend will give me a chance to take stock and see what needs to be done.

Made quite a few changes to the site over the last few days – some more noticeable than others. Internally I’ve reorganised a lot of stuff to make more use of Movable Type “Template modules”:http://www.movabletype.org/docs/mtmanual_templates.html#template%20modules to cut down on the reproduced code. I’ve also added a new category for “static” files, and used the “CatEntries”:http://markpasc.org/code/mt/CatEntries/ plugin to filter out this category from feeds, indexes etc. There does seem to be a small glitch with it though – if I try using the tag in the monthly date archive it gets confused and shows me everything I’ve ever published, so I’ve gone back to using a normal @MTEntries@ tag for these pages. I have added two static pages, I’ve finally got around to adding a proper About page, and have also added a Colophon so you can work out exactly what MovableType plugins I’m using.

Most of this was done in an attempt to clean the interface up a bit – you should notice the controls for each post are simplified and a bit more contextually sensible. I’ve also removed the ‘Recent Entries’ sidebar entry as it was adding too much clutter, and I’ve also got rid of comment popups as they were annoying me. Also gone were the huge amount of lines that I was using everywhere – I may of gone too far the other way, but it seems much more pleasing to me. In comes a list of Related Entries thanks to the “MT plugin”:http://mt-plugins.org/archives/entry/relatedentries.php of the same name, but I’m only displaying this on the individual entry pages, and I’ve also merged Trackbacks and comments together using “SimpleComments”:http://mt-plugins.org/archives/entry/simplecomments.php (both plugins courtesy of “Adam Kalsey(Adam Kalsey – Measure Twice)”:http://kalsey.com/blog/).

Next up is to fix the comment display and better differentiate trackbacks from comments, sort the sidebar out as its pig ugly, rationalise the categories, and add a Contact page. I’m also considering adding a stylesheet switcher to test out some different fonts/colour schemes. Your guess is as good as mine as to whether or not I’ll get any of this done before I start my new job on Monday.

Anyway, enough blogging – I’m off to see “Zatoichi”:http://www.apple.com/trailers/miramax/zatoichi.html.