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Ferdy Christant
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I think complaint-driven development in itself is a good strategy, but there's an even better one: doing serious usability testing. With that I mean actually watching and recording different people using your system. It will bring a goldmine of information, and you'll be stunned at how users can struggle with even the most basic tasks. Usability testing is better as it gets you closer to the source of problems. For example, many people who struggle may not file a complaint at all, thus you miss it. Also, if they do file a complaint, they may word it differently than what they really want. That said, you're totally right in being humble about the brilliant things you thought you had designed pre-launch. I too have been wrong many times in designing systems.
Toggle Commented Feb 24, 2014 on Complaint-Driven Development at Coding Horror
I think many of us are in companies that are still very much led in the classic command-and-control style. Top heavy management layers, program management, project management, task management, a multitude of roles and processes. All of this is created on the assumption that employees are dumb, lazy slackers that need to be told precisely what to do when, in a standardized way. Some say such organizations attract people with limited innovative capabilities, you could also argue that such organizations create people that way. Some organizations even dare to constrain "innovation" in such rigid processes. Sure, feel free to come up with awesome ideas from the bottom. All you have to do is swim upstream, find sponsors, submit a business case analysis, etc. It's discouraging, more a process for anti-innovation. The 20% time, when done properly, lets go of that rigid structure, and all the successes it has delivered are great proof that people want to make great contributions when given the freedom and trust. Sure, a minority will misuse the time just like a minority misuses working from home, but the general improvement for society is more important. I have implemented my own 20% time, unfortunately self-funded as my company does not have it. Still, it sky rocketed my personal development, balanced my work and private life, and allowed me to build a cool website that is the marriage of two of my hobbies. I won't abuse this blog by plugging it. I will even take things further to opt for all of society to aim for a 4 day work week.
Toggle Commented Aug 6, 2012 on Today is Goof Off at Work Day at Coding Horror
@Daniel: I don't agree with your debugging criticism. If you're using "echo" to debug a complex project, you're doing it wrong. Use a server-side debugging setup, and you'll see its equally powerful to, say, Visual studio debugging. On topic: I can't argue about PHP's poor language design, but I do want to put it in perspective. In two parts, a technology part and a business part. Technology-wise, many (semi) professional PHP applications nowadays are built upon pretty good PHP frameworks, most based on the MVC pattern. It's a valuable pattern to learn, as it is used across languages and platforms. These frameworks do quite a nice job in somewhat enforcing seperation of concerns and within each layer, helpers and utilities are offered to help out at a detailed level. When applied correctly, you'll usually end up with a PHP application that is maintainable, which is a major improvement from the typical HTML/PHP spaghetti PHP was known for. Looking at the kind of applications one builds with PHP, they're usually data-driven websites. Typically you will not find a lot of business logic or processing in these applications. As such, only some core aspects of PHP the language are "touched", such as string manipulation. While that exposure may be a nasty one, it is a manageable one. It only takes a few projects to know the ins and outs and to work productively with it, despite its shortcomings. You may argue that getting used to a poor language is a wrong attitude to begin with, and that we should long for a better one. I agree. But this is where the business part comes in. Before I get to that, one more thing...you know what else sucks? HTML. And Javascript. And CSS somewhat. Browsers suck as well. Love it or hate it, but the web is a big hack, none of these technologies were ever designed to produce real applications. Still we do, and we will continue to do so. Business-wise, nobody cares that PHP is a poor language. Nobody cares that something is "not enough OO" or doesnt have namespacing. What makes PHP a business success? Here's my view: - It's a gettings things done platform - It's widely available - Staff is widely available on the market - It's cheap - It has a low learning curve (well, not really if you "proper" PHP) It delivers. This doesn't mean other platforms don't, it just means PHP delivers and that makes the world go round. I think you will have a hard time building a relation between any of the supposed technical shortcomings of PHP, and actual negative business outcomes. And therefore, those shortcomings are not important enough for an alternative. None of this changes the fact that PHP as a language sucks. I welcome its successor. You could opt for Ruby, Python, anything as a better language but I just want to say it needs to become as widely available as PHP. With that I don't mean hosting. There's more aspects to it. A very important one is the job market. You could become a kick-ass Ruby specialist but depending on your geographic location, the job market for that may be tiny or non-existant. We need something way better than PHP but it also needs to be as widely available in every aspect that matters.
Toggle Commented Jul 2, 2012 on The PHP Singularity at Coding Horror
Good overview of where we are and where we are going. However, you are hopelessly naive on this one: "with eBooks, book publishers now have an unprecedented level of control over when, where, and how you can read their books." Um, no they don't. They have less power than ever before, which explains why so many are hesitating with eBooks. With a physical book, the maximum damage from "privacy" is one fictional lost sale if you lend it out to someone. On the web, it can be replicated for free in unlimited ways. From virtually any country in the world, right now, you could go ahead and download 10,000 computer science eBooks for free and you will have them tonight and get away with it. Just because thats illegal and how it should be done doesnt mean it doesnt happen. Publishers have ZERO control, not more control than ever. On a side note, here in the Netherlands, book resellers are not free to compete on book prizes. They are prized the same (minimum) in every store. Nobody knows why, its ancient legislation.
Toggle Commented Apr 11, 2012 on Books: Bits vs. Atoms at Coding Horror
Fully agree on the friction argument. I'd like to throw in another element of friction that is loosely related to pagination: the "more" link. And with that I mean a paragraph of text that is trunked to show x characters, and where "more" needs to be clicked to see the full comment, paragraph, or whatever it is. It can be useful on really large sections of content, but when applied to shorter paragraphs it drives me insane. By the way, I do not agree that you should continue to feed traditional paginated views as well for the sake of SEO. Pagination is friction for both users and search engines. Instead, as you already suggest, a sitemap without pagination is much preferred imho.
Toggle Commented Mar 29, 2012 on The End of Pagination at Coding Horror
Item #3 is the biggest takeaway for any community manager. Actually, having a community managed at all is already a blessing. An example: I'm a user of Amazon cloud services and with some other community members have been begging Amazon for one specific feature for several years in a row. It is structurally being ignored, whilst other requests do get attention. It is humiliating and frustrating. They could say no. They could say maybe later. But instead they say nothing. Step 1 of communication is acknowledging the other party exists.
I fully agree with the main conclusion of this post, but the comparison with Windows is not entirely accurate. Yes, if Microsoft were to include program X in their OS where before X was a market on its own, there'd be trouble. Legal trouble even. Yes, Apple is doing the same thing. The difference you are overlooking here is that Microsoft is a monopolist, Apple is not, although it is trying hard. If you're not considered a monopolist, there is no (legal) issue directly competing with app providers on your own platform.
Toggle Commented Oct 15, 2011 on Serving at the Pleasure of the King at Coding Horror
I agree with @Matias, if you keep the awesomeness of SE yet have a non-Q&A version for discussions only, you could take the forum world by storm. Especially if you offer a barrier-free way for existing forums to switch (make it free and possibly automate a data migration). Having said that, it does seem that website forums for the sake of discussion are under attack with so much conversation happening in social networks nowadays. By the way, I'm not sure if you're aware but many readers of Scott Adam's blog (creator of Dilbert) suggested SE when he opted for the idea of an online government. You should be proud of that even if that idea is far fetched. You're doing extremely well, and I know that you know you're doing well with SE, it's just that SE probably has a lot more potential then you perhaps realize or imagine.
Toggle Commented Oct 12, 2011 on The Gamification at Coding Horror
I think in most IT departments at companies they do not let developers access production, instead they have to make a productions request of some sort to get anything deployed. This in principle is good. However, the biggest issue is that QA on the code itself often is non-existant. People do functional testing but not code testing. In that case it matters not whether you directly change something in production or deploy it using a strict process, either way the code goes through.
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