Every stage in your career progress requires new skills. Sometimes, the knowledge you need to acquire is technical minutiae that can best be learned with a more experienced practitioner at your elbow. At other times, you need advice about developing business skills, or help deciding which new position to accept. Such advice can be acquired haphazardly, or it can come from a mentoring relationship.
Stories by Esther Schindler
Mark Shuttleworth is not your average IT manager. A few weeks ago, he posted a question on an Ubuntu list. Not an order. Not a policy decision. A question: "Should we think about...?" he asked. Collaboration, community and teamwork are part of his personal style.
Yet Shuttleworth, who founded the Ubuntu project in 2004 and is still an active member of its technical board and community council, has plenty of experience in technology leadership. In 1999, he sold Thawte, his company specializing in digital certificates and Internet privacy to VeriSign, and founded HBD Venture Capital and The Shuttleworth Foundation. He was the second self-funded space tourist; in April 2002 Shuttleworth was a cosmonaut member of the crew of Soyuz mission TM34 to the International Space Station.
Code reviews are expensive. Time spent reviewing code by managers and peers is time spent not programming. So if you're going to do code reviews, it makes sense to do them well. That's true of the process itself (see <a href="http://www.cio.com/article/470103">Running an Effective Code Review</a>) and the <a href="http://www.cio.com/article/472379">actual line items to which you pay attention</a> during the review.
Everyone admits that doing a code review is expensive. It takes time, particularly when everyone is in a mad rush to get the software project finished and thrown over to the software testing department. It requires that people who aren't involved in a particular chunk of code drop what they're doing to pay attention to someone else's needs -- Oh no, <a href="http://advice.cio.com/esther_schindler/the_meetings_will_continue_until_morale_improves">not another meeting</a>?! And for some developers, it just seems like an opportunity for more <a href="http://advice.cio.com/meridith_levinson/office_scapegoating_how_to_avoid_being_thrown_under_the_bus">office politics and backbiting</a>.
Despite all our efforts to make every software development project a success, some are cursed from the very start. Here are 26 early warning signs-all, alas, real-world experiences - that an enterprise software development project is headed for a death march.
IBM on Tuesday announced a new suite of software quality tools, the <a href="http://www.ibm.com/software/rational/offerings/quality">Rational Quality Management Portfolio</a>. The company promises the new tools will improve the software development process and, in particular, ease collaboration between business leaders and IT professionals. IBM is highlighting to managers the software testing suite's ability to reduce risk, save money and, as <a href="http://www.cio.com/article/466419/subject/Scott+Hebner">Scott Hebner</a>, IBM vice president of Offering Management at IBM Rational Software explains, ensure that software is aligned with the business needs. "Rational Quality Manager is a hub to unify IT professionals with stakeholders in the organization," Hebner says.
Microsoft is offering a first look at the next version of its Visual Studio integrated development environment (IDE) and platform, which will be named Visual Studio 2010 and the <a href="http://www.cio.com/article/451622/subject/Microsoft+.NET+Framework">.Net Framework</a> 4.0. There's a lot promised in the new release (expected to ship, duh, in 2010), from improved software testing tools to software engineering modeling capabilities to integrated development and database functions for the application lifecycle management (ALM).
The software development department might envision a marvelous solution to the company's IT or business need, but the technology goal can't be achieved unless the Big Boss commits to the new strategy. How do you get there-and ensure that the user need really is filled? The key, say three former CIOs, is accurate business process requirements, a common language for the business and IT to communicate, and executive steering.
The people who make a manager's life difficult aren't the ones who are incompetent. You can spot them and eliminate them without angst. It's semicompetent people who keep their managers awake at night.
We can't live without email. Even though the internet standards warn us not to depend on any given emailmessage ever arriving at its destination, every business executive knows how important it is for the mail to get there. But if your mail server's IP address is stuck in a blacklist-a list of addresses or domains identifying known spammers-your emailnewsletters and individual emailmessages will be blocked long before they get to their recipients.
Blacklists are distributed in a format which can be easily queried by Internet applications, particularly emailservers. Many (if not most) emailadministrators use blacklists (sometimes called RBLs, for Real-time Blackhole Lists) as one step in their process of removing spam before it ever reaches an end user. If you discover that your site or emailserver is included-even if it was all a terrible, terrible mistake-you will discover just how painful and time-consuming it is to get yourself off the list. And in the meantime, your emailtraffic is cut off.
"We have come into real contention [for mindshare] in the enterprise," said Tim O'Reilly, CEO at O'Reilly Media, in his keynote address at OSCON, this week's Open Source convention in Portland, Oregon. "So we should be patting ourselves on the back, right? I'm not so sure."
In many ways, managing a developer is just like managing any other employee. Developers want managers who'll help them solve business and technical problems, who'll protect them from unnecessary office politics and who will help them meet their personal career goals. But programmers are...different. Like musicians, these creative folks can alternate between big-picture thinking and persnickety detail in a heartbeat. They can be sidetracked by silly toys, and convinced to work overtime by the promise of pizza and a T-shirt. Trying to understand and motivate these people can drive managers-particularly nontechnical managers-to distraction.
Probably the only technical qualification to put Joel Cohen, a writer and associate producer of The Simpsons, in front of the keynote crowd at the Red Hat Summit in June was that Red Hat Enterprise 5 was used to render some of the animation in The Simpsons movie. But Cohen had surprisingly deep - and quite entertaining - advice about innovation and the creative process to offer the conference attendees.
Open-source solutions used to be adopted quietly by company boffins who snuck in an Apache Web server or an open-source development tool suite under the philosophy "It's easier to get forgiveness than permission" (not to mention "It's easier to do it with open-source tools than to get an IT budget").
In a recent session at the Gartner Emerging Trends, analysts Neil MacDonald and Michael Silver identified many reasons that Windows (and thus Microsoft]) are in trouble.