Thursday, May 22, 2008

Public Domain Classical MP3s and Sheetmusic at

I stumbled into a wonderful site,, that is gathering recordings of classical music and associated sheet music to put in the public domain. What a great idea.
We can now have classy background music for those wacky YouTube videos we make.
An interesting twist on the site is that you can "bid" to have your favorite pieces performed by a professional musician. When enough bids have been collected, MusOpen hires the musicians and adds the music.
To speed up the process I would like to see is the ability for any assemble to upload their version of a classical piece. Any local high school or civic orchestra could upload their version. This would lead to a lot of mediocre music, but if we added voting, the cream would rise to the top. Check them out at

Monday, May 19, 2008

Austin Code Camp 2008

Austin Code Camp was very informative.
I went to the afternoon sessions (Swim meet in the morning).

Chad Myers led an interesting "Fishbowl" session on adapting TDD in your team.

Jimmy Bogard gave a good presentation on mocks and stubbing. I really liked the new testing syntax made possible by extension methods:

bool result = foo(a,b,c)

This seems more natural than using the "Assert.IsTrue(result);"

Ben Scheirman showed all the cool features of ReSharper that he uses. I liked one of his side comments about keyboard shortcuts: "If I'm using the mouse, I've failed."

Other miscellaneous items:

  • Recommended Books: Lean Thinking / The Machine That Changed the World / Toyota Way
  • Rhino Commons is a helper class for NHibernate
  • Demo tools: Jedi show keyboard strokes, Zoomit magnifies areas on screen
  • C# has new ReadOnlyCollection

Austin Code Camp was well attended. Join us next year.
(Going to the camp reminded me as software developers we have to be constantly learning - reminds me of the urban myth about sharks having to swim or they die.)

Friday, May 02, 2008

Scrap H-1B Visa Lottery - Use Ebay

163,000 applications were filed for 85,000 H-1B Visas. With our current lottery system for allocating the coveted visas, employers have a 50-50 chance of getting an employee into the country.
Many workers in the US don't like the system because many think the guest workers depress wages. Employers don't like it because they cannot be guaranteed the desperately needed talent for hot projects.
Here's an idea - let's put the visas up on Ebay. Employers can almost be guaranteed a visa is they really, really need someone. Downward pressure on wages would be slowed since the cost of the visas would be higher. The extra income to the US treasury could be put to some good use. It's a win-win-win situation.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Alistair Cockburn at Austin IEEE

Last night 120 people came out to hear Alistair Cockburn at the ieee meeting.
Some items that struck me:
1. Shu, Ha, Ri meaning, "Learn a technique", "Learn many techniques", "Blend Techniques". These are the levels people go through as they learn. We need to understand how people in each level of craftsmanship will act.
2. The bottlenecks in your organization will determine your strategy of software development. If the bottleneck is a database designer, then everything must be arranged to maximize her time. It doesn't much matter what everyone else does - unless they become the bottleneck.
3. There's always a bottleneck.
4. Do the riskiest stories first to make sure no surprises lurk in the corners of your project. This is contrary to the "do the highest business value first" philosophy.
5. Whether you use Agile or Lean processes don't matter much; you'll end up in the same place.
6. As you increase communication in a group you increase productivity.
7. Alistair told a story about a group interviewing Indian programmers. The interviewer made a mistake (on purpose) during the interview. If the interviewee didn't not mention the mistake, they were not considered for the job. Message: you need people who will communicate.