Friday, October 21, 2005

on product feature priorities

I've enjoyed reading postings by Joel Spolsky in the past, but one of his recent articles had me laughing out loud. In Set Your Priorities, Joel talks about the challenge his product team faces in setting priorities for the next release of their flagship software product. He could have simply described the prioritization process they used and why he feels it was effective, but instead grabs and keeps your attention by first describing how not to prioritize. Here is one favourite snippet from his posting:

Custom development is that murky world where a customer tells you what to build, and you say, "are you sure?" and they say yes, and you make an absolutely beautiful spec, and say, "is this what you want?" and they say yes, and you make them sign the spec in indelible ink, nay, blood, and they do, and then you build that thing they signed off on, promptly, precisely and exactly, and they see it and they are horrified and shocked, and you spend the rest of the week reading up on whether your E&O insurance is going to cover the legal fees for the lawsuit you've gotten yourself into or merely the settlement cost. Or, if you're really lucky, the customer will smile wanly and put your code in a drawer and never use it again and never call you back.

I've had the opportunity to be involved in product development for a number of years now, and Joel's posting does a great job of highlighting why product development can be so gosh darned hard. I find his posting funny because it is all true. It's good to see that I'm not alone [grin].

Set Your Priorities [Joel on Software]

Monday, October 17, 2005

what would mom say?

I forget how I found this older article at The Onion, but it had me in giggles this evening. What would you do if your mom found your blog? I honestly can't say. Of course, since my mom is online, and since there is a chance that one of my siblings will refer her to my blog, I'm now in the same boat as "Kevin" in the Onion article.

Some favourite quotes from "Kevin" (edited to protect more sensitive readers):

"With the raw materials in my blog, she could actually construct an accurate picture of who I am. This is f***ing serious."

"Mom loves hearing every boring detail of her kids' lives," he said. "She'd want to know what I'm eating for dinner every night, if she could. This blog is like p*rn for her."

I set up my blog to be public, and this impacts the tone of my writing here. But now that my mom might find out about my blog? I may not have the courage to ever write another entry [grin]...

Mom Finds Out About Blog [The Onion]

Sunday, October 09, 2005

google reader

Each time Google comes out with a new toy I find I'm adopting it in place of the software or approach I used before. Gmail displaced my Yahoo! Mail account and Google Talk convinced me to switch away from the Jabber IM system I had been playing with. And ever since I've been using Google Desktop for search and Sidebar interface I haven't looked back.

Now Google Reader is coaxing me to use it for news feeds instead of current new aggregator (the lovely Sage extension in Firefox). Ever since experiencing the AJAX-goodness of Gmail I've been curious to see how Google might apply that same approach in other applications. I've only been experimenting with Reader for a few days now, but so far I'm liking the UI approach taken. I do like the tag-based approach to organizing your feeds, but so far find the sort mechanism a bit clunky (just give me the most used tags along the top!). Still, it passed my critical test of correctly rendering my online comic feeds, so how can I complain?

I hope Google isn't secretly planning to become an evil empire anytime soon, 'cause I'm slowly getting hooked on nearly every application they offer...