A great way to make quality important in your organization

There’s really only one key practice for quality:  continuous improvement, and its dual, continuous learning. For continuous learning, many practices that help; one of my personal favorites is ‘Lunch and Learn.’  It’s easy to get started, allows the team to ‘opt in’ to shared practices, and is an amazing opportunity for growth.

One example that quickly springs to mind is “Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship” by Robert Martin. This was one of the featured books in our lunch and learns at EVault. We’ve also done this at Pharmatrust, and I think we’re about at critical mass to do this at MedAvail.

On a side note: I consider myself fortunate to have had the opportunity to learn from the teams I have worked with over the years; it’s one of the greatest pleasures of my professional life.


A brilliant management two-for-one

There are two excellent ideas in this posting on ZDnet, aside from the observation that you can scale Ruby on Rails if you avoid hitting the disk farm for static content:

1) Have a team devoted to rapid scalable prototyping.  (LinkedIn Light Engineering Development)

2) Use free apps for both proof of concept testing and marketing.

Read and enjoy.

Ruby on Rails: scaling to 1 billion page views per month by ZDNet‘s Dennis Howlett — While a lot of attention has been focused on Twitter with questions about whether Ruby on Rails scales, LinkedIn has been quietly running a RoR application on Facebook that is beating down around 1 billion page view per month. Bumpersticker, a relatively trivial Facebook application that allows you to create a cartoon that you can […]



‘Free’ is always good for business

Now that I’ve got your attention, the next best thing to FREE is painless and predictable. Flat rate, as we know from telephony and other similar business models, reduces ambivalence about using a service, and increases the rate at which people BUY.

I received this in email today, and frankly, WOW.

Canada has, relative to the US, a low adoption of mail-order and therefore internet-order business models.

This is a pretty innovative way to get people over that hump. Good work, Ebay and Canada Post


Canada Revenue Agency extends e-filing deadline to 06 May 2008 due to website submission problems

That’s today’s news, and I ran into it myself. All of the Canada Revenue Agency sites are Sllllllooooooooooow today. Moving the filing deadline off is the Right Thing To Do from a tactical standpoint. However, you still have to pay any owing amount today. (PUBLIC SERVICE REMINDER: do that through your BANK, the government’s website is too slow to look this information up there!)

This problem does raise some interesting questions.

Did they do volume testing, optimization, or load balancing? (Do you?)

Are their pages set to gracefully degrade in the face of large loads (clearly not; for the most part, the actual HTML (XHTML, a tip of the hat for a nicely structured page) loads, but the linked images do NOT), and the pages are set not to cache, even for purely presentational, ‘nothing to see that has changed here’ pages. (Do yours?)

Moreover, when you actually try to submit the ‘netfile’ .tax file, the page doesn’t load. The announcement that the deadline has changed is on a separate news page, that’s behind a submit button, and it too takes forever to load.


This is a solvable problem. Anyone care to weigh in on opinions as to how to solve it? I’ll do a follow-up summary and share some of my own thoughts later in the week.

Have you tested this sort of load with YOUR application? Does it matter?

(In my strong opinion: yes, it does matter, and you’d best be able to prove that your projected load is something you ARE handling, every day. You better also understand how your system will degrade under unexpectedly heavy load…like a million people clicking on the submit button multiple times because it didn’t respond fast enough 😉


The Free Economy and Your Business

I recently had a conversation with Nathon Gunn (CEO of Bitcasters) and this article came up. Free! Why $0.00 is the Future of Business.

Why you should read it: Not everything is going to be free, and at least 80% of the readers of this blog haven’t thought of all the business models that Chris Anderson (Editor of Wired, author of The Long Tail) lists in this article…and frankly, it’s the best and fastest overview you are going to see on the topic. If you think that every free business model is the same as Google, Yahoo! or broadcast TV, you are missing something.

Definitely worth a read. Why you should listen to me: for you old-timers on the web, remember HoTMetaL PRO and HoTMetaL Free? That was SoftQuad, and I was there. And, frankly, your competitors ARE thinking about this, if you aren’t, and they’ll eat your free lunch.


High-speed digital camera

David Pogue just reviewed the new Exlim EX-F1.  This is another interesting data point for the ‘cheap and fast’ versus ‘high-end cutting edge.’

In my opinion, it’s both:  the cheapest digital high-speed camera, but high-end for a ‘digital camera’.

But what’s really interesting about this camera is that it changes what’s possible for analysis (product development, amateur and professional athletics, fault diagnosis).

Have a look, and weigh in!