Thursday, 29 October 2009

New day ... new operating system

Today is the day when the Karmic Koala debuts, hot on the heels of Windows 7 and slightly cooler on the heels of Snow Leopard. The aforementioned koala is the name for the latest incarnation of Ubuntu ... 9.10 if you're counting ... and completes a triumvirate of interesting changes in the wonderful world of the operating system.

Let's get the big cat out of the bag first. Apple's Snow Leopard was basically a sprucing-up of its predecessor (Leopard ... thanks for asking) and was mainly intended to make your snazzy Mac run a bit better and give you a few gigs of disc space back for all those Lady Ga-Ga downloads you've been hoarding.

Windows 7 is Microsoft's replacement for the somewhat unloved Vista. It too aims to be a nippier and more considerate manager for your hardware/software interface but apparently it will be very different to Vista. All those people who haven't shed their XP yet (or worse) are being encouraged to do so.

There is something mystic about the number seven of course: seventh sons of seventh sons, seven sisters (tube station and stars in Orion's belt), seven judges weighing the good and bad deeds of a dead Egyptian pharaoh ... seven the largest number that can be stored in a byte. When Apple released System Seven back in the middle ages they touted that as a big change to their OS. It had coloured icons for goodness sake!

The Karmic Koala (sorry ... I keep wanting to sing Karma Chameleon) ... is the latest Ubuntu 'distro' of Linux and is one of the most popular. According to the Ubuntu web site ...

"Ubuntu is an African word meaning 'Humanity to others', or 'I am what I am because of who we all are'".

It aims to be easy to use and is going head to head against Windows 7 (and presumably Apple) with better user interface, faster start-up and features to make life easier for netbook users and the Linux novice. Ubuntu and their friendly koala image are saying that Linux is for everyone.

More info ... and free downloads ... at

Funny, you wait for ages for a new OS and three come along at once.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Time, cost, quality and Agile?

If you remember, we've been concerned about how to get a fit between Agile methods and the Time, Cost and Quality mantra of project management for some time now. Gradually this aspect is being addressed because companies have to find a way to work with their clients to ensure that they get paid fairly for their time and expertise. Agile tends to be labour intensive because at least two programmers work on developing small pieces of functionality in limited amounts of time. They test as they go and demonstrate their product to the client frequently.

Recently a Danish friend explained how his company balanced the dilemma by working back from the time allowed for a project – say 3 months – and the number of 4 week 'sprints' that his team would allow the clients in that time, namely 3. (For those not working with Agile yet, a 'sprint' is a short period of development time allocated to program defined functionality and show this to the client.) We can see this way working if you define the sprint time and know the project end time. But not everyone works to a 4 week 'sprint', some have 2 week sprints, or, variable sprints according to the functionality that is being designed and tested in a sprint.

Finally we've found a great article that defines '10 types of contract for your next Agile project'. Peter Stevens writes about Agile and the relationship with different ways of working (contracts) at:

His analysis about the risks involved with a particular type of contract and the affect on the relationship with the client is particularly valuable. Do take a look.

Daljeet Sidhu gives 10 tips to identifying a quality service firm from web designers. Do you measure up? His tenth point is:

10. A Good Web Design Company Gets Honest about Rates and Turnaround Time

Even the most efficient Web designers can combine only two of the three features (High quality, speed and low cost) when designing your web-site. Professional web design teams will provide you accurate estimates about their rates, speed and turnaround time. Firms that are more expensive often have smaller waiting lists. If sufficient time is available, you can get a high quality website at a lower cost.

Slightly different perspectives on whether time, cost and quality can be achieved and what you have to do to keep your clients on-side. Perhaps there's truth in both.