Steampunk testing

Sex sells, that is a stock sales phrase, and it works – regardless of male/female, heterosexual/gay, we can all succumb to something that appeals to our passion side.  In testing?  Well, the technology world has transformed away from the realm of socially defective loners, to must-have accessory to your life. Most of what is sold, of course, we don’t need.  When fashion entered tech, it trivialised it as well as using it very effectively, for sales and marketing. Continue reading

Semantic coffee

Seems to me, that the major use of semantic web will be for sales and marketing.  As illustrated by the constant bleating the of the importance of “Big Data” is largely by self-publicists waxing lyrical over the joy of “understanding” our needs. i.e. to sell us stuff.  Creating complex algorithms to process this data into something meaningful, deserves something better than sales. We need more voices in this area, who are not  self-serving, patronising salesmen, in evangelist clothing.
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Are we there yet?

You Are My Bot

Since when did programming language become a fashionable label? I mean, its all code and approach; no magic wands.

With all the meetups and new course the development world is buzzing with activity. But something strangely familiar and stagnant about it already. Meetups preaching largely to the converted, numerous testing and development courses that attempt to each sell themselves as THE course, older school who don’t want to move forward themselves but latch onto modern thinking as a sales and money-generating tool. The early-birds, which save you little except committing to something you may not even be able to make. Oh yes, mix with the higher echelons of technology and define your future. Though you are not defining yours, you are defining theirs. And you think the web 2.0 mentality has gone – “how can I make you make me money?”. Whether Google+ or a well-meaning group set up for enthusiasts of a particular area of technology – ultimately the individual will pay the price for a small section of people’s success, because the entire model of professional networking is wrong.

You Are My BotFinally, I am moving jaffamonkey away from simply a contractor company, and starting a “hub” of my own focused on my two areas of Quality Assurance and WordPress. Though I have to be cautious about labels such as “fashion-free” and “no Nathan Barleys”, as it is easy to slip into an ironic kudos area. But this is very much what I want from it. Take a look at Shoreditch, home to the beautiful people of technology, where Google has set up a base. There is nothing special here – people with ideas are everywhere, but because of the vacuous recent movements in technology (putting it in the realms for those who wish to affiliate rather than integrate), there are many very weak ventures of little use to anyone except those who benefit from short-term gains. Sounding familiar? Are newer generations simply getting trapped in same patterns as those they purport to rebel against? Of course they are.

When things move into a fashion zone, they automatically become part of something that is ultimately disposable. The fashion-ability determines its duration. Little consideration is made of the technology or approaches, and rarely shared. What underpins software is code, and code has evolved slowly in comparison with everything else and with good reason. It ultimately has to work, and lessons learnt over the decades have evolved to the point we are now. But now, people carry their programming language(s) like some kind of fashion badge. When it’s irrelevant. Instead of nodding towards vacuous networking, pro-actively mix with other people. You can always find an audience who will agree with anything you say. But finding a vibrant audience with questions, opinions and disagreements is far more valuable. The new “hub” will be open soon, and focus on enabling and connecting people. Not all ideas may succeed. but they can all help with our education in an atmosphere of mutual support and communication. Watch the blog …

Facebook

facebook

Facebook – the last bastion of web 2.0, with its heavy dependence on user-generated content, and widescale abuse of users’ data.  I signed up in 2006, and vaguely prodded it from time to time. When my daughter was born I found a new use for it, sharing photos/videos with friends and family. Which I believe was the original inspiration for the Facebook creators. But after 6 years, I still don’t get it. And now I know why – it took user-generated content to a new level.  And why should I be putting so much effort into a social networking site? What is the point?  There is no point. We all have mobiles, and people make more calls than ever at all times.  But overhear most mobile conversations (and not by choice, believe me), and they are utterly inane.  We have created a need, by using the technology available regardless of thought for how useful it actually is.

Listen to any Apple fiend, and aside from being bored to tears, and slightly concern over the strange looks they give their devices, sometimes with accompanying stroke – you realise how shallow we can look, and actually how dumb.  Apple or Samsung bring out the latest upgraded tablet – souped-up processor, a sprinkling of RAM, leaner meaner case, and it becomes a thing of desire. It’s hardware in a pretty package.  And Facebook. It’s web 2.0 – with a pretty package.

My online social networking activity kicked off in different direction.  The professional networking focus of LinkedIn, and the easy to use and flexible twitter.  I can see that online, my professional life is far more prolific – that’s my unconscious choice.  I see no benefit “revealing” myself online, because as a communication medium, it is very susceptible to misunderstanding and misinterpretation.  And a very ready bigotry and hysteria.  The web is still young and so are we.  Asides from ecommerce, and email – the web has remained largely uneventful of true innovation, only marketing/sales pitches.

True innovation has come from ideas to utilise the basic web principles, and provide some kind of service. Fantastically simple ideas like taskrabbit.com took an already tried and tested idea of selling home and office type services.  Yo Butler simply took exactly the same concept (and site template!) and focused on household services.  Simple effective uses of the web. The web increases your reach, it doesn’t provide magic solutions. As much as Facebook want you to think they are important, it’s only important if relevant for you.

WARNING: Does contain some offensive material … and I know you are now more likely to watch

“Individuals and interactions over processes and tools”

Can Phones

I can sometimes go weeks, even months, having causal chats with people in workplace, without ever asking their name.  Of course there is problem of when you leave it too long to ask, then it feels rude (is that just the English :)). In a way, I think it is very english – and a common problem I see in vitually every english company I have been in.  If someone has a problem and doesnt speak up soon enough, the problem can just remain as long as it takes to be discovered. Which can end up months.  If there is fundamental flaws in project planning, then nothing is going to go right.  In a smaller/medium sized company, things may not get so bad so quick, but in a corporation … wow.  

Although corporations have modernised, it is mostly a “look and feel”, none more so demonstrated by the widely loose adoption of Agile. Many corporations felt, or were sold, that Agile meant project teams could self-manage. Sure they can – if they are really being an Agile team. I would have thought assumptions at that levels were highly risky. It just goes to demonstrate there is no substitute for fully engaging the project team with continual verbal communication. And observing same principle with clients and stakeholders. Over-reliance on processes and tools goes against the core ethos of Agile, but for some explicable reason, this is what happened. Perhaps to do with perception of non-IT people – that software is akin to a machine, when you pump in requirements and out pops the software.

We have networked tools for issue reporting, planning and general communication. The social web, though a beautiful thing, created a communication anomaly, and raised people’s expectations of communication through technology.  The web is in too early stages to be truly considered a communication tool, on same level as verbal communication.  People are not entirely honest online, and more likely to be that way, as the web provides some degree of anonymity.  We were not born with a facebook-implant, we are still primitive beings that rely on visual as well as audible communication to get our points across. You can’t avoid the necessity of face-to-face contact with clients – and on a regular basis.

A good example is on the most basic of technology – the telephone. When you are describing a situation to a client, say a problem that a new feature many cause to another feature, you cannot see the other person’s response. They may be agreeing with your every word, but may also have a puzzled look on their face, but do not want to appear ignorant. They might agree to what you say, without entirely understanding it, which is a situation that may backfire on you, later on. If you were there face-to-face, you can register people’s real reactions. In this case, you would inquire what part they didn’t understand – maybe demonstrate it if necessary. Yes, we have video-conferencing, but as you may have noticed yourself, people become self-conscious and try and mask their visual expressions.

Transparency was always going to be a big challenge for traditional business, and it’s reliance on some degrees of subterfuge. In a way, technology gave business even more tools to continue in this vein. Mistakes are a given on IT projects, but they are generally mistakes made, as part of a learning curve that exists on any IT project. Business’s inability to “go Agile”, hampered attempts of Agile implementations, because of the fundamental disparity between business and IT drivers. This problem is still widespread, and will be a while before business modernizes to the extent which IT development has. Communication and transparency – within Agile, you can’t have one without the other.

Everyone’s a critic …

Corporate Monster

Waterfall … much maligned, and earned it’s label and reputation post-Agile. In QA, we know how easy it can be to slate anything in technology. In fact, being a critic is an easy position to be in, as the onus is not on the critic to provide a solution. The evolution of Agile did not happen on the back on Waterfall criticism – it was simply a move to provide alternative to the methodologies available at the time, that did not suit the demands of modern development.

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The rotten apple

The cult of Apple. This is not a slur on Mr Jobs, though he very much inspired the vision on which the marketing was based. Apple is portrayed as a club to belong to. Yes, they know they cost more, because they are made of better materials and designed with a fashion in mind. Before I go on, yes – better quality electronic goods cost more money. Add design the add a little bit more. This technology is for people who care a little too much about it. The machine itself is of little interest to me – it is everything about experience of technology beyond the hardware. I get something that looks half good and fast (no gamer fast). So its a simple equations. Apple products have better battery life – again it all adds to costs.

Is the OS better than a PC? Well, it uses Linux kernel (which can be run on either hardware), so no a huge overriding plus. When push comes to shove, the beauty of the devices comes high. The way everything interconnects, as it damn well should do all coming from same company. They are not doing any revolutionary, other than in marketing. A multi-billions, worker explotation suspect, corporation, who have managed to illicit some kind of fake love in their hardware. It was funny for a while, but now a little disturbing. Microsoft played a more openly ruthless game in dominance, whereas Apple have done it through multi-million dollar marketing that ruthlessly targeted the vulnerable in society. The ones who believed hardware can changed their lives.

The tributes to one of the big innovators were touching at first, but now getting nauseating. He was no messiah, no anger – he was a very smart imaginative businessman, with a lot of drive and vision. They are rare, but have existed, do exist, and will continue to exist. I have no conspiracy theories on where Apple was going with it’s dominant grip on the fashionable hardware. But it does have a slight bad smell to it …