Monday, 5 January 2009

Love this T-Shirt!

I got one of my own t-shirts for christmas, and I love it!

Also got this hooded top which I now wear all the time.

You can find them at

Ubuntuing Dell work PCs and 3G

Now I have had two Dell laptop PCs from work recently, D610 and D820. Both worked flawlessly with Ubuntu and both work with my 3G USB key from Telenor, an Option iCon 255.

On my Dell D610, I installed Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy Heron. To get 3G working I installed all HSO script from PHARscape.

On my more recent Dell D820, I installed Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid Ibex, which now comes with great 3G support. It does include the HSO driver in the kernel. And by installing the new zerocd and udev script from PHARscape, basically following his howto you can get it up and running.

However the HSO driver with Ubuntu 8.10 is an older version, and caused my PC to crash after awhile, so I installed the newer version from PHARscape, which works flawlessly.

The new Network Manager works great with the 3G USB dongle, however it needs to be plugged in on boot to pick it up. If you sometimes plug it in afterwards, it is wise to also install PHARscape's HSO Connect GUI as a backup.

Don't like Scrum. But will not use anything else! Part 2

Following on from my general rant about Scrum, Part 1, here is Part 2.

The main beef I have about Scrum, are
* the constant status updates at stand up meetings
* the use of non electronic tools
* inflexibility on tasks

These are elements that are easily changed and is probably mostly interpretation. My dislike for these can also reflect perhaps badly on me, if taken from a superficial view.

I don't like the morning stand ups. For several selfish reasons.
* I don't like mornings.
* I am not in early. (Especially now living in Norway where developers start work 4 hours earlier than in the UK even with only 1 hour time zone difference. My last job in Manchester, developers where not in till 11am. Here they start at 7am... )
* I don't like standing up.
* My memory is terrible.
* My plan for the day have not yet been thought of.
* I don't like standing up.
* I prefer to work from home in the morning, thus actually getting something done, instead of being a zombie at a meeting.
* I don't like mornings.
* I don't like the micro-management of it.
* It is a forced meeting.
* I don't like standing up.

It is not that I don't agree with status meetings and I can see standing up keeps meeting briefer.

Many of my work places, many of the companies' main issues have been solved in frequent 5min fag breaks (the English sigarette meaning of the word) even when no-ones smokes at the place. As a non-smoker I would always attend them, and discuss a bit rubberducking about things Im working on and stuck on. So informal meetings are very usefull.

Regarding standing versus sitting, I just hate standing. And not able to fully listen to anyone else's issues.

That it is just a quick run around of what you did yesterday, what you are going to do today and if any impediements, I just don't see the value for the developer. This should be clear in JIRA or any similar tool. Sure, it is a face-to-face status update for the management, so they can micro-manage everyone's day, but really mature developers should be trusted to deliver. That you can not discuss issues, devalues any development benefit from the meeting.

There are also some cultural issues to consider. Standing is meant to make it quicker, but Norwegians once a meeting is finished its timeslot will stand up and leave the room even if nothing has been resolved, or even when senior management or customers are present.

As a technologist and computer geek, the use in Scrum of non-technology such as post-it notes, sticking notes on boards, face-to-face meetings, is a sore point. Again I see the value, but it just goes against the grain of a technologiest.

Also the focussing on only the tasks on the board, post-its on your desks, and status updates on these every dawn is quite blinkered. True, it will keep people in check and some is usefull to make people consentrate on the tasks delegated.
But also have negative effects. Such as me, whom may help too many people, which is discouraged in Scrum as you should only focus on your own task.

And don't get me started on pair programming! That I should share my days with some other smelly developers odour is quite repugant. But again I see the value of writing code, solving problems together, sharing application knowledge. I just prefer frequent fag breaks and my private space! :)

BUT let me reiterate, I would only use Scrum!

Don't like Scrum. But will not use anything else! Part 1

As the title says, I don't like the Scrum (the project methadology). But I don't think I would use anything else!

It is like Churchill or Rooseveldt said something along the lines of: "Democracy is flawed, but nothing else works!". Which is also true. Democracy is the rule of the mob and pop culture, but all other governing styles leads to chaos, elitism or despotism.

I do like a lot of the ideas behind Scrum, the agile thinking is great, the XP ways do work. Everyone seems to jump on the Scrum bandwagon taking every element as gospel, and defending it religiously. But Scrum, has introduced many elements I don't like. I can see why, and what they can achive, but some I really detest.

Unfortunetly, all other project managent styles have more flaws, so I think "Scrum matured", or some better Agile methodalogies in the future is a better solution.

For Scrum and agile there are 3 sides to view from the pros and cons to its benefits.

* Management
* Developers
* Customers

It is mainly been developers who having been pushing Scrum as it will be better for customers, hence in the end for management as they are more profitable. However the bits I don't like is mostly where the benefits are purely for the management.

For management the pros are:
* Constants status updates
* Up to date status
* Future cost projectability
* Focused costs
* Low risk of wasted development

For customers the pros are:
* Ability to direct and change requirements
* Cost transparency
* Feature and status transparency
* Final release is as required

For developers the pros are:
* Low up front documentation
* Task sharing
* Modern and new, therefor interesting
* Management and customers are open to ideas
* Iterative development, of which one benefit is you dont have to solve everything immidietly

There are other pros, but they are not specific to Scrum, more that Scrum project are Agile and open to new technologies, and other methoods etc. Such as Continuous Integration, Wiki, JIRAesque.

But the cons are for developers
* Stress, due to constant pressure to perform every day
* Loosing individuality
* Turning into factory lines
* Constant status updates
* Perfect planning every day
* Orvelian supervising
* Loss of trust
* Low priority of refactoring
* Stand ups
* Back to low technology

Cons for management
* Stress and morale of staff
* Projects fix specific problems, but leave all else untouched, increasing rot and risk of general purpose tasks
* Distributed development is tricky

Cons for customers
* Probably not that much!
* Must trust supplier
* Difficulty in estimating accurate final cost

So you can see the pros does outway the cons. For Customers there really are no cons. It is just pros. For the management, once informed and convinced, they are also mostly pros.

It is just for the developers there are real cons, and they are the most noisy Scrum advocates! I am afraid as the idea behind Scrum gets older, developers will wain of it when they realise some of the consequences. But perhaps by then "agile" people will have forseen this and adapted a more mature and compatible "Agile 2.0" methodology and processes.

Saturday, 3 January 2009

Civilization IV Beyond the Sword in Ubuntu with CrossOver Games

I recently tried to install and run Civilization IV Beyond the Sword in Ubuntu. And it worked flawlessly!

* Civilization IV by Firaxis and its range of games has always in been a favorite of mine.
* Beyond the Sword is a recent extention to this game.
* Ubuntu is a linux distrobution that I use.
* For this to work I used CodeWeaver's CrossOver Games. CrossOver is based on Wine, with some not-yet-in-Wine code and some proprietary code.
* And I installed this on Dell D820 laptop PC.

There was nothing complicated in installing it either. And from CDs.

* I simple installed Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid Ibex.
* then installed CrossOver Games 7.1.0
* then inside CrossOver installed Civilization IV.
* then installed Beyond the sword. It automatically updated my Civ4 and installed DirectX which I presume CrossOver intercepted.
* then I downloaded the most recent patch of BTS. 3.17. Installed it inside CrossOver.
* Then ran the game.
* Sound did not work 1st time, but specifying ALSA as sound in CrossOver fixed it.

Video introduction, etc everything seems to work. In fullscreen and as a windowed version.

The only think I noticied was that city production bar did not change colour, but changing that to a number in the options solved that. There may be other missing graphics, but I have not seen any. May need to run in side by side of a windows version to notice these things. Certainly nothing game playwise is missing. However I did notice one MOD did not work.

Civilization IV is only marked with a Bronse on CodeWeavers site, however I would say Gold, as 99.5% work.

If you do have problems, many of the forums recommend in Civ's ini files to disable intro videos etc. I have not needed to touch those files.

* Ubuntu thread on Civ4 BTS
* Ubuntu howto on Civ4 BTS
* CodeWeavers page on Civ IV compatability
* WineHQ page on Civ IV