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Help! I've Inherited Legacy Code
Testing Untestable Code
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Mon, 15 Aug 2005

Tomcat's not ready for primetime yet you say?

I am always hearing someone talking about Tomcat not being able to handle production work loads, etc. I've pointed out (over and over) examples of Tomcat working fine in a production environment. The last company I worked at (a small biotech) had a six figure software package that ran on Tomcat.

This evening I saw a very interesting blog entry. It seems that EBay is looking very hard at Tomcat... perhaps even decided to switch to Tomcat.

Here's the link.

You tell me? How's Tomcat looking these days? ;)

Jared

posted at: 23:25 | path: | permanent link to this entry

The Art of Work

Fast Company has a good article this month called The Art of Work. The article is about Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's study into what he calls "flow."

What is flow? Mihaly describes flow this way: "It is what the sailor holding a tight course feels when the wind whips through her hair....It is what a painter feels when the colors on the canvas begin to set up a magnetic tension with each other, and a new thing, a living form, takes shape...."

It's what we are enjoying when we are writing code, creating a new thing, forgetting time, skipping meals, and losing ourselves competely in our work. It's a great feeling, but it's also a very productive place to be. Apparently companies are taking great interest in Mihaly's work. They want to make their workplaces conducive to flow. Flowing employees are productive employees and that makes the company more money... it also helps the employess enjoy their jobs more. :)

To quote the Fast Company article:
In the past few years, however, many major companies, including Microsoft, Ericsson, Patagonia, and Toyota have realized that being able to control and harness this feeling is the holy grail for any manager -- or even any individual -- seeking a more productive and satisfying work experience.

Although Will and I don't call it "flow" in Ship It! we do talk about the team's need for a tech lead that insulates them from interruptions. Will and I talk about it like this:

Insulate the Team from External Distractions
You're in the middle of an intricate project. You've been "in the groove" all morning, making wonderful progress when one of the sales critters scampers in to ask a question about the next release and completely blows your train of thought. Annoys you just to read the situation, doesn't it? It's not just you; everyone works better without interruptions. In fact, researchers say that up to 40 percent of your workday can be lost to interruptions. That's like going home after working less than five hours! Scientists have even named the phenomenon: cognitive overload. Knowing this, the tech lead must make every effort to keep the team working without interruptions. A great way to do this is to use the tech lead as the point of contact for the developers. Always let the tech lead buffer the interruptions, whether they are from the IT staff or the stakeholders.

Constant interruptions are bad but so is isolation. Make sure you are getting the information and interactions you need to stay on track. Keep trying to move back and forth until you find the balance for yourself. You'll know it when you get there.

Jared

posted at: 23:08 | path: | permanent link to this entry