Is eBay broken?

I, well, my wife, has bid for a couple of things recently. This is my first experience with eBay, so I’m not sure that it’s working the way I expected.

The first bid was for a Robbie Williams doll (did I mention that it was for my wife?)…we were outbid by 50p on the last day.

The second bid was also for a Robbie Williams doll …we were outbid by 50p on the last day.

Amazing, 50p each time, different sellers. How did that happen?

Either eBay is outbidding by 50p for their benefit or the seller has another account for increasing the bid.

Heck, I don’t care, it’s a con either way in my opinion. Unless somebody from eBay e-mails me to confirm that this is not the case, that’s my bidding on eBay over…after two failed attempts.

Technorati Tags: , ,

How to ensure that you never meet your future employer…

At my wife’s recommendation, I was watching Channel Four’s Big Brother television programme.

Now, there’s a programme you wouldn’t want your future employer to see you on. And if you’re Kitten, you should be worried. Very worried. Why? Well, it’s not hard, but before she even entered the house, her escapades guaranteed the fact that when my time comes to employ staff, she won’t be short-listed.

And tonight, she totally ignored the fact that the Big Brother staff called her to the diary room asking for a nomination. Not once, not twice, but three times. This was a nomination for the house-mate who could do without their suitcase for some of the 10-week duration. Rather unsurprisingly, Kitten received the most votes and ironically nominated herself. Joy of joys.

So, through stupidity and bloody-mindedness, she’ll have to make do for at least another week without her suitcase. May be, another nine weeks, if she’s lucky…little chance there I think.

Please don’t get me started about those house-mates who didn’t understand Big Brother’s question: “BB will deliver 11 (out of 12) suitcases tonight, please nominate the house-mate who you think shouldn’t receive their suitcase: state their name and why. ” It doesn’t get simpler than that, but these folks were confused by such a simple question. Even that goon with four A-levels. He’s 20 for crying out loud.

What are his four A-levels going to be worth in 10 years time? Nada, amigo, nada. (And on the off-chance you are reading this, and one of your A-levels isn’t Spanish, nada means nothing.)

Technorati Tags: ,

Google broke, but Clarke fixed it

I was glad to read Clarke’s mention of me here

But Clarke raised the important subject of Google being “broke”: Fame can be fleeting – especially for famous MBA graduates.

Of course, when Google indexes this page, Clarke will be even more famous, and Google won’t be broken any more. After all, searching for famous MBA graduates should take you to No doubt.

Craig Murphy XML SOAP Delphi C# XSLT Scrum XP TDD Test Driven Development available author writer speaker developer ScrumMaster .NET Hire.

There you go, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I’ll check back later.

Technorati Tags: , ,

Hidden Slippage

After reading this, I followed through to here, which meant I ended up here.

To summarise, Michael’s theory is this:

The amount of undetected slippage that can occur on a task that was scheduled to take X, where X is in the range of one hour to one week, is X.

Generally, I’ve found this to be true. However I have to augment it with my experience:

The amount of undetected slippage that can occur on a task that was scheduled to take X, where X is in the range of one hour to one week, is X. However, as X gets closer to one week, the amount of undetected slippage that can occur on a task that was scheduled to take X, is actually X + X.

Those folks who don’t understand this are the same folks who will ask you if you have a “quick minute”. A minute’s 60 seconds, no argument. There’s no such thing as a quick minute that doesn’t last 60 seconds.

Technorati Tags: ,

Prince 2 Foundation – Day 2

Day 2 of my 3 days of Prince 2 Foundation training…

Notable quote: “At some point you’ll need a detailed requirements document”. This was made in reference to selecting an “end date”.

I was a little surprised to learn that apparently, after requirements have been gathered, we’re supposed to work out an end date using estimating and scheduling. Of course, we all know that this is a luxury; end dates are frequently dictated and imposed upon us!

Page 239 of the Prince manual discusses Management of Risk. It was interesting to learn that risks can have a negative effect and a positive effect. In other words, a risk can be an opportunity. Amusingly the lecturer believed that the manual has “messed” with a good English word.

Equally amusingly, page 241 states that risks should be owned by the person best situated to keep an eye on it.

Fortunately, there is some overlap between Scrum and Prince 2. Both approaches advocate openness and honesty, never tell the Executive or Product Owner “what they want to hear”.

However, Prince 2 does take a moderately long time to “start producing the goods”, there’s a lot of up front documentation/design before production begins.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Prince 2 Foundation – Day 1

I attended a three-day QA Prince 2 Foundation course.

Including myself, there were nine delegates. Of course, being a project management course, there was an interesting skills mix: generally, though, everybody had some sort of IT background.

The lecturer was excellent and made good use of humour throughout. I don’t know how he managed it, but he used to “B” word (questioning parentage) frequently, but never just for the sake of it: each time resulted in nine heads nodding followed by laughter.

Interestingly, whilst I’ve not found this in the Prince 2 manual, Prince 2 believes that the best way to mess up a project is to allow the users to change requirements. Now, those of you who know me will know that I have been attending Agile Scotland meetings since February 2003… the agile modus operandi revolves around allowing users the opportunity to change requirements. I could see a quandary coming on…

During his introduction to Prince 2, the lecturer mentioned that an earlier version of Prince was seen as being bureaucratic and overcooked. “You must do this…” was a common phrase. Luckily, Prince 2 moves away from this approach, allowing the tailoring of Prince 2 to specific organisations and projects. After all, there’s little point spending £50K managing a £10K project…

Prince 2 is mainly commonsense, however how often do we get time to apply commonsense? Interestingly, the Prince 2 manual takes 400 pages to describe its flavour commonsense.

On the plus side, Prince 2 does expect us to get the customer involved and to get the user involved. This was seen as a good thing as it reduced any “moment of truth” surprises that might crop up during project/product delivery. I picked up another useful acronym, OSIHNTOT: “Oh s**t I had not thought of that.” (Aw-shin-tot)

Here’s a screenshot of the Prince 2 process model:

Prince 2 process model

I think that goes some way to proving why Scrum works…

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Developer day in Marlow

I have just returned from Marlow, a quaint little village on the river Thames to the west of London. Like Edinburgh, I can’t afford to buy a property there.

Marlow isn’t a developer Mecca, so why was I there?

Well, Delphi’s chief architect and one of Borland’s Chief Scientists, Danny Thorpe came over to talk about Delphi 7 and 8. Danny gave us a great overview of the people processes behind Delphi 8’s language implementation and how he/they are trying to work out what’s best to do for Win32 Delphi: we were entertained when Danny related a story about typeless var parameters and discussions with Anders Hejlsberg. Anders asked Danny: “what are you doing going there?” to which Danny replied “we didn’t start this thing”! For non-Delphi readers, Anders designed/built Delphi; he then moved to Microsoft where he became the Lead Architect for C#. Obviously Danny and Anders still talk to each other!

Brian Long also gave us an introduction to ASP.NET using Delphi 8. Brian’s session concentrated on building a simple authenticated web-site with two pages. This was sufficient to demonstrate how ASP.NET’s “roundtripping” to the server works and how HTML pages can maintain their state (e.g. the contents of listboxes) using ASP.NET’s notion of “viewstate”: a simple hidden <input > element that stores information about the page. This raised an interesting question about security: viewstate is obscured but not secured. Brian now works for falafelsoft – these guys don’t have blogs, they have flogs. It was this idea that made me think about calling my blog a slog. I still might.

Bryan Crotaz arrived traditionally late, unflustered despite an installation problem at the BBC (how difficult are TVs getting to install? I dunno). Bryan talked about ModelMaker and Bold in a Win32 (Delphi 7) environment. Model Driven Architecture (MDA), that was the focus of the session. As usual Bryan made it look very easy, however I suspect my mileage will vary when I sit down to go through it.

Borland’s Jason Vokes (blogless at the time of writing), gave us a whistle-stop tour of “what’s in the box” for the various Delphi 8 editions. This wasn’t really what I was expecting – having been privy to some of the “ideas” bouncing around the Developers Group, I took this to mean “provide more than just an explanation of what was on the CDs” (sorry Jason, honesty gets the better of me!) I was expecting/hoping for an overview of each product and the chance to see the product in action. As an aside, the June issue of The Delphi Magazine will be publishing my review of ProDelphi, which you’ll find on the Companion CD!

Overall it was a good day, good food and good people…if I had a digital camera I’d show you the free mug we all got. But, I don’t, so I can’t!

It was particularly good to catch up with the Team DCon, folks I expect to see once a year. However because there is no DCon 2004, :-(, I’ll have to make do with this trip, so far.

Sadly, Team DCon is one member short: Jon Jenkinson, 1963-2004.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A bang at 10000 feet

I flew from Luton to Edinburgh on Wednesday 5th May 2004.

I was lucky to get there early enough to be issued with easyJet boarding pass no. 22 (easyJet’s free seating policy means we are boarded in four groups: 1-30, 30-60, 60-90, and 90+, I know that doesn’t really work on the perhiphery conditions, but it’s not a science). Whilst waiting to board, we who were in the 1-30 group had a clear view of our aircraft.

An easyTech van appeared, two blokes climbed out…then they climbed in the port side engine. Two pairs of feet and two backsides inside a jet engine: it looked funny. They waved their arms, pointed their fingers, heads rolled, there was much umming and awwing. Then they climbed out of the engine and drove off.

port side engineSeconds later, another easyTech van appeared. The driver de-camped carrying nothing more than a cloth and some spray. He went over to the port side engine, sprayed what looked like polish on the outer perimeter of the engine and proceeded to polish the engine. And he did a nice job of it too. He returned to his van and drove off, a job well done.

Still not sure what he was doing, perhaps it was a bird strike? Perhaps airlines don’t like their passengers seeing bird blood on engines?

We boarded and a few minutes later, took off.

Five minutes into the take-off there was an almighty bang…from the port side of the aircraft. Accompanying the bang, the loudest I’ve ever heard, especially at 10000 feet, was a dazzling flash and what appeared to be a puff of smoke.

Now, if I was the pilot, I would have immediately pulled my stick left, perhaps pushing it forward at the same time. And I’d be screaming “we’re going down” through the tannoy system. Our pilot, perhaps luckily for the other passengers, wasn’t me and didn’t do this: probably because he’s a professional pilot and I’m not. Instead, he chose to say nothing. The stewardess remained calm, the passengers considerably less so.

Many moments of silence passed, nobody really knowing what on earth (or rather in the sky) had just happened. I was sitting on the starboard side ailse seat – for some odd reason we all felt much safer than our fellow passengers sitting on the starboard side. As if that’ll make a difference if the portside engine goes off on a tangent of its own. Heck we’ve got the starboard engine, we’ll be alright…yeah right.

Then the seat belt sign went off. Enter easyKiosk: a trolley service offering “over-priced drinks” (for real, the stewardess had a comical streak) appeared. And they did rather well, selling an awful lot of alcohol…something that I’ve not seen happen in the past. An Act of God helping easyJet marketing and profits? It seems so.

It would seem that we were hit by lightening…did I forget to mention that the weather at Luton airport was stormy?

The last time I was in an aircraft during a lightening storm, sparks bounced along the wings…and I was aged about 8, with no fear. Now that age is getting the better of me, there was an element of fear: once we landed and I got home, I was straight on Microsoft Flight Simulator 2002 with “damage” settings taking the port side engine out.

It’s amazing how much these 737s can take: one engine is enough…

Technorati Tags: , , ,