Attitude, passion

Attitude is a shop somewhere in an airport terminal in USA. I forget where exactly. Possibly Chicago. Passion is a restaurant in Ghent in Belgium.

The Princess Bride

is an excellent book by William Goldman (isbn 0-7475-4518-9). As usual I'm going to quote from a few pages:
It's still my favourite book in all the world. And more than ever, I wish I had written it.
This is my favourite book in all the world, though I have never read it.
Miracles. Giants. True love.
Eyes like the sea before a storm.
We are but poor circus performers.
Absolutely, totally, and, in all other ways, inconceivable
Then one morning, Inigo was gone. In his place were three words: "I must learn" on a note pinned to his pillow.
I am not left-handed.
What you do not smell is called iocane powder.
Don't you rush me, sonny, you rush a miracle man, you get rotten miracles.

Authentic happiness

is an excellent book by Martin Seligman (isbn 1-85788-329-2). As usual I'm going to quote from a few pages:
Daddy, do you remember before my fifth birthday? From when I was three until when I was five, I was a whiner. I whined every day. On my fifth birthday, I decided I wasn't going to whine any more. That was the hardest thing I've ever done. And if I can stop whining, you can stop being such a grouch.
All emotions about the past are completely driven by thinking and interpretation.
There are, however, no known ways to enhance forgetting and suppressing of memory directly. Indeed explicit attempts to suppress thoughts will backfire and increase the likelihood of imagining the forbidden object.
If you think about bad things in terms of "always" and "never" and abiding traits, you have a permanent, pessimistic style.
Learned optimism… is about accuracy.
Almost nothing that happens to you has just one cause.
Mindful attention to the present occurs much more readily in a slow state of mind.
Total immersion, in fact, blocks consciousness, and emotions are completely absent.
The mood state Americans are in, on average, when watching television is mildly depressed.
The overarching principle of good listening is validation.
By encouraging cheap success, it produced a generation of very expensive failures.
Every drug that breaks up depression also blocks dreaming.

Agile A-Z Keynote

I attended the excellent Agile .NET 2011 conference in Ghent, Belgium this week. Jason Gorman pulled out at the last minute and Erik asked me if I'd step in and do the keynote. I said yes of course and prepared this on the train+plane there.

Waiting work wall

One of the things I do a lot when visiting software groups is simply sit with individuals as they work. Sometimes the person I'm sitting next to is a really superb developer. They finish their work fast and to a high standard and hand the work on to the next person downstream. This next person may also be really skilled but their work might just inherently take longer. If the amount of work passed on exceeds the capacity of the next person then a growing batch of work-waiting-to-be-started-by-the-next-person will naturally form and grow.

This batch of work-waiting-to-be-started-by-the-next-person is waste. That's well known and well written about. What's not so obvious and not so well written about is how it encourages silos to form. It literally forms a barrier between the increasingly separated silos that form on either side of it.

Think of each waiting-work-item as a brick in a wall. But not a long, low, queue-shaped wall that's easy to see over. Rather, a short, high wall. One that you can't see over. One that hinders communication.

The amount of waiting-work between two silos is inversely proportional to the lack of communication between the two silos. The more waiting-work, the less the communication. The less communication the more waiting-work. Round and round it goes.

So, if you have some really superb developers then beware. They might be creating a downstream wall of waiting-work around which silos are forming.

Zen in the martial arts

is an excellent book by Joe Hyams (isbn 0-87477-101-3). As usual I'm going to quote from a few pages:
At least empty your cup and try.
Those who are patient in the trivial things in life and control themselves will one day have the same mastery in great and important things.
The martial artist develops through practice until it becomes mechanical and then spontaneous.
When you lose your temper, you lose yourself - on the mat as well as in life.
The proper system is to think twice more. Patience is part of it. To avoid being intimidated - think more and react less.
Try softer. When one eye is fixed upon your destination, there is only one eye left with which to find the way.
To know and to act are one and the same.
Relaxation and concentration go hand in hand. But too much concentration defeats itself.
Most of the time we generate our own fears, and this is especially true when we confront an unfamiliar situation that shatters confidence.
Years ago I thought too much about what I had to do, laboured over it, put off difficult chores, waited for the mood to be right or the creative juices to flow. Now I just do it without conscious effort. It flows because the work and I are one, and not in conflict with each other.
The only reason men fight is because they are insecure; one man needs to prove that he is better or stronger than another. The man who is secure within himself has no need to prove anything with force, so he can walk away from a fight with dignity and pride.

C will live forever

My good friend Olve Maudal said something the other day that caught my ear. He said C will never be replaced. I think he's right. Languages like Java and Ruby are great languages when you don't need to get near to the metal. But if you do need to get near to the metal, then C has already filled that niche so well that it's hard to see it ever being replaced. You might say that a language like C, but without C's penchant for undefined behaviour, could somehow replace C. I don't think so. The point is that the sweet spot for a language designed to be used close to the metal is a language that deliberately does not get rid of its undefined behaviour. Because that is part of it being in the sweet spot. And besides, C has been around long enough that if a language was going to replace C wouldn't it already have happened?