Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Swanson's Unwritten Rules of Management

William Swanson, CEO of Raytheon, has written a great little book of management rules.  You can get it from Raytheon for free and it’s worth filling out the web form to request it

The pocket-sized, spiral bound book has plenty of gems not just for improving your leadership, but for improving professional relationships.

A couple of my favorites:

Rule 5: Presentation rule: when something appears on a slide presentation, assume the world knows about it and deal with it accordingly.  I’d say this extends to any form of communication, especially e-mail.  Don’t expect your e-mails to remain private.  Save your ranting and disparaging, negative comments for private, face to face communications.  Sending out unprofessional mails, or mails containing sensitive content, is flat out foolish and you’re risking showing your ass big time.  Trust me, I learned this lesson the hard way years ago.  (Luckily the stupid comments I sent out were about a co-worker I actually had a good relationship with.  A face-to-face apology wasn’t easy, but smoothed things over.)

Rule 32: A person who is nice to you but rude to the waiter  – or to others – is not a nice person.  Be very, very wary of folks who speak sugar to you but snub others they perceive as lower than them.  These folks are usually carrying a large knife to stick in your back.

And my personal favorite, one I’ve believed strongly in for years:

Rule 1: Learn to say, “I don’t know.”  I have never felt uneasy saying “I don’t know,” because that’s immediately followed by “but I’ll find the answer.”  I detest people who blab on in meetings trying to contribute to make themselves look better when they’re really making themselves out like fools.  I’ve had the misfortune to work for a couple managers (not leaders) like this.  I was happy to leave those jobs.  “I don’t know” is a powerful phrase because it shows confidence in yourself.  That’s right, confidence.  I’m not bothered by admitting I don’t know something.  So there.

Grab this book and give it a read.  It’s powerful stuff.

(I stumbled across a reference to this book on a blog some months back.  I don’t remember whose blog it was, so I can’t give credit.  Sorry.)

Sunday, August 28, 2005

GDBN Saved My Bacon

One of the tough things about having just started my company is that I've had to make hard choices about what to spend capital on. One of the things I was waiting on a paying job before buying was an external hard disk for backups. Unfortunately, I ran into a lousy situation where one would have been helpful: my new 300GB disk lost its partition mind while trying to install a fresh copy of Win2K on the first partition of a two-partitioned disk. The data and VS projects I had weren't irreplacable, and it's not like I was under any deadline pressure (I'm still not officially on a contract, so I'm not doing any "real" work yet), but the idea of having to lose some work I'd done was still irritating. Winternal's ERD Commander 2005 is a cool tool, but it didn't recognize the second partition I had my data and projects on. Had I paid more attention to their download page I would have read that their disk commander tool isn't included in their ERD Emergency Download. What a bunch of crap. Why wouldn't they include that, or at least make it available as an option? Yeesh. A quick Google pointed me to Runtime Software's GetDataBack for NTFS. Wow, what a great tool! It did a lengthy scan of my crashed partition and built a complete tree listing all my files on both partitions. I got back all my lost files, and could have recovered a bunch of deleted things as well. The interface isn't perfect, but the bottom line is that it saved me a lot of work reconstructing projects, data, etc. This tool's a steal for $80, and would have been a real lifesaver had I been on paying work. (But then I would have had a backup device had that been the case!)

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Great Parenting Book

I’d meant to write about this when I read the book last year, but never got around to it.  (Uhh… Besides, I wasn’t blogging then.)  Confessions of a Slacker Mom by Muffy Mead-Ferro really is a terrific read for just about any parent.  What makes it such a great read is that, despite its title, it’s not a snarky, sarcastic commentary on the sad state of parenting these days.  Rather it’s a calmly written short book full of stories on what used to be common sense parenting.

It’s something Dr. John Rosemond might have before he went mental and turned into a mean, scathing columnist.  (Chill, Dude!)

A review on sums the book up pretty well.  Paraphrasing now: Don’t waste so much time and money on useless crap, don’t spoil your kids, have a life of your own, and listen to your instincts.

There’s another point not listed by that reviewer: Don’t overprotect your kids.  It’s good for them to figure out the world has sharp edges.  Cuts, bruises, and the occasional broken bone, while heart-breaking, aren’t fatal.  My buddy Josh and I were talking last night on some childhood incidents.  One tale involved a bike jump off a levee of the Sacramento river and ended up with that kid getting a nasty concussion.  That kid went on to accomplish a thing or or two.  Another story included a broken tree branch, a long concrete screw, and a trip to the emergency room for stiches 1/2” away from the eyeball.  The recipient of those stiches has since moved on to pretty good things as well, so I’d say a few knocks don’t have horrible, awful long-term effects.

In any case, the book’s really a good read for current and future parents.  Chill folks, you don’t need that baby wipe warmer.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

More Flickr Photos

I've uploaded a bunch of photos to my Flickr pages. Some are restricted to friends and family, a bunch are public. Feel free to poke around and have a gander. Also, drop me a note if you're a friend, colleague, or online pal who'd like access to the friends and family section (anything with pix of my kids, basically, per She Who Must Be Obeyed). We don't necessarily have to have corresponded, even -- just let me know who you are so I can have some faith it's not Al Franken, Howard Dean, or Sean Hannity looking at my offsping with evil intent.

Monday, August 22, 2005

An Odd Take on C#'s "Struggle"

Calvin Austin has a very odd article C#: Is The Party Over? at the Java Developers Journal. The article's full of weird statements and flat-out innacuracies. Among the groaners: "The C#, C++, and C compilers are now free, although not obviously as optimized as the professional edition." Dude, they were always free, and there's not a gnat's heinie's difference in the professional edition of the compiler. Maybe Austin confused the IDE, but there was never a free version of it, so who knows where he was going. I think he's also nuts with his assertion that "The .NET platform has been under constant development, often too fast for many corporate users to adopt." What's tough about adopting the 1.x platform? The changes to 1.1 weren't that large of an impact, and the release of 2.0 three years later certainly isn't so troublesome. How many releases of Java have come out in the same timeframe? Some of the JVM releases managed to completely bust previously working browser apps I had -- and I"m talking about upgrading from releases like 1.4.02 to 1.4.05. Gimme a break. Dino Chelsea, the PM of the .NET group, rebuts in a great fashion. Michele Leroux Bustamante, vetran of plenty of work in both .NET and J2EE worlds, also has a few good thoughts.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Good Debugging Tale

Scott Hanselman gives a good walkthrough of how he and his colleagues tracked down a difficult bug.

Great Developer/Architect/Testing Blog Article List

Rob Caron has a terrific list of blog posts to check out on everything from data in service oriented architectures to a single bug costing Trend $8 million bucks. (Via James)

Microsoft Doesn't Listen, Part II

You say Microsoft doesn't listen to developers and customers using their products? Look at the rippling change made to C#'s Nullable<T> support, requiring changes to the Common Language Runtime. Scott Wiltamuth talks about it here, Somasegar here, and Cyrus here. There are many things I don't care for about Microsoft (XP Home Edition's piece of shit Network Sharing Wizard which zorched my Father's network while I was on vacation thousands of miles away at his home and had to get to the airport before I could completely fix things is one rant I'll save you from, at least for a day or two until I get it figured out), but one really, really must give credit when such a massive undertaking is, well, undertaken. The ripples from changing the CLR's implementation are huge. It's gratifying that MS was willing to jump onto this solely because of feedback from C# developers. Specifically, go read Cyrus's post and his mention of Stuart Ballard's detailed blog post on the issue.

I'm All About World Domination

I check Technorati a couple times a month to see who's linking to me. The last check brought a funny reference from Kevin Dangoor who says I'm "seeking World Domination" with the .NET Developers Group I've started. World Domination? Hell, I'd settle for my five-year old going to bed without a fight. Still, his "opening volley" of items desired in a Users Group looks like a good list. I'd add to it, but I've got my daughter to get ready for bed and the rest of my world takeover to plan. Busy day, you know.

Great Snippet Tool

Check out CodeKeep from Dave Donaldson. Dave's one sharp dude, and has spent plenty of time the last few months getting this set up right.

Know When To Bail

Kate Gregory has sage words on being smart enough (and confident enough!) to know when to quit an approach. You shouldn't ever be afraid to admit you were wrong. What you should be afraid of is not bailing out of a dead-end approach. Even better, you shouldn't be afraid to bail early rather than later.

Neat Geek Event Aggregator

Catherine Devlin's created a neat Python aggregator to find geek events in your region. Pretty slick!

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Going Dark

From blogging, that is, not because I'm going to the Dark Side. (Yet) We're off for a nice vacation to California. My family is having our first reunion in five years. Better yet, we're having it at our cabin at Echo Lake, right on the edge of the amazing Desolation Wilderness. Part of the Pacitic Crest Trail goes nearby, and you can practically spit and hit Lake Tahoe. (OK, it would have to be a helluva spit...) This cabin's shared between the three branches of my Dad's family. It's been in the family since the mid- 1930s and it's a very special place. I haven't been back there since 2002 when my daughter was two. Now we're taking my year-old son off for his first visit to the Lake and I can't wait. I'll Flickrize some photos when I get back.

Great nUnitASP Overview

James Shore has produced a killer video on how nUnitASP does its tricks. It's a great intro to nUnitASP and points out both pros and cons of using that test framework. (Via Roy Osherove's ISerializable)

Real World Site Migration

SourceForge has just finished what must have been a very well-planned migration of their entire CVS server onto new hardware. They finished it in a little over 13 hours, which I find pretty amazing. I've done server migrations in my life as a network geek. They're never easy and you'd best have come up with a great plan and tested it several times. You can read a few blurbs about it on the SourceForge status page. Said blurbs will scroll off before long. I'm going to try and see if there's any blogs talking about this, or news elsewhere on SF. Congrats, SF geeks. Job well done!

Monday, August 08, 2005

Neat Article on Firefly and Freedom

Sara Hinson's got a great article talking about how the wonderful series Firefly is all about freedom. The article's a great analysis of the show's themes, just the kind of stuff I loved doing in Lit classes. It's also an interesting read even if you aren't a Firefly nut like I am. (via Michael Totten subbing at Instapundit.)

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

VS2005B2 Woes -- an Ugly Fix

I've been having ongoing problems with my VS2005B2 losing its mind. The keyboard will stop working, it won't launch, etc. etc. What seems to fix the problem, temporarily, is to delete the entire profile folder under Application Data\Microsoft\VisualStudio\8.0 in your home directory. That sucks because you lose your window settings and some other layout stuff and it's a PITA to reload that every time. It's not quite so much a PITA if you save a copy of that folder off somewhere immediately after entering a new VS2005B2 session. You can then use a batch file to delete the corrupted profile folder and copy a fresh one back over, like so: rmdir /s /q "C:\Documents and Settings\Jim Admin\Application Data\Microsoft\VisualStudio\8.0\" xcopy /s /e "C:\Documents and Settings\Jim Admin\My Documents\VS 8.0 Backup Settings" "C:\Documents and Settings\Jim Admin\Application Data\Microsoft\VisualStudio\8.0\" Note the trailing slash on the target folder -- saves a prompt asking if the target's a folder or file. This all goes pretty quickly, especially if you're using SlickRun for quickly launching such utils.

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