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Posts Tagged ‘software’

Phil Simms Would Make an Excellent Software Consultant

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NFL Football

On a flight from Chicago to New York my seat just happened to be next to former NFL Quarterback Phil Simms. My first reaction was, “How I am going to hold a conversation with this guy?” He played in the NFL, won a Super Bowl and he is now an NFL broadcaster. I will clearly sound like an amateur if I try to have any football related conversation with Phil at all. What a dilemma!

As we were boarding the plane, I noticed that as Phil approached his seat, he was very friendly with everyone sitting around us. He was very helpful and offered to assist any lady within a couple of rows to put their luggage in the overhead bin. Not that I am a bad traveler – I certainly will assist any lady with their luggage that needs help if they ask. But now my approach is completely different. Instead of always trying to be the efficient business traveler, I take the pace a little slower and I am now a better gentlemen and offer help upfront.

Now towards the end of the flight I did strike up a conversation with Phil. It turns out he was watching the Bear’s game, which he just finished broadcasting. He said he likes to watch the games he broadcasts afterwards so he can see things he might do a little differently. That was great to hear from a consultant’s perspective. Clearly Phil was practicing “lessons learned.” Using that as a further conversation starter, I asked Phil how he plans out his week.

Basically Sunday is the end of his week and Monday is his day off. He told me that his initial preparation for next week’s game starts by watching 3 – 4 football games so that he can keep current. We talked about John Madden and his influence on how NFL broadcasting is handled. Phil’s week also includes visiting with the teams in his upcoming broadcasts to gather further detailed information about each team. That clearly is very good preparation.

All-in-all, I was very impressed with his approach to his work. From a consultant’s perspective, Phil’s week is strategically planned and executed. I know my Project Manager would be impressed! And this goes back to my original thought that with Phil’s dedicated approach to work and travel, Phil Simms would make an excellent consultant, when can we sign him up?

Steven J Brenner
Senior Principal Consultant
MIPRO Consulting

 

The QA Mindset

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quality button

Michael Lopp, writing over at his fantastic blog Rands in Repose:

My first job in technology was a QA internship. The summer between my freshman and sophomore years, I tested the first release of Paradox for Windows at Borland.

As an intern, I started by following someone else’s QA test plan – dutifully checking each test off the list. After a few weeks, I knew my particular area inside and out. A new build would show up, which I’d install via 3.5-inch floppies, and in ten minutes of usage, I’d have a sense – is this a good or bad build?

In QA, there is a distinct moment. It comes once you’re deeply familiar with your product or product area; it comes when you’re lost in your testing, and it comes in an instant. You find a problem, and because of your strong context about your product, you definitely know: Something is seriously wrong here.

Anyone in the IT/software industry will relate to this. Before MIPRO, I worked in product management and strong QA employees were absolutely invaluable to releasing on time and with full functionality. Sadly, QA is often cut when crunch time rolls around, and in my experience, that’s a gigantic mistake.

My concern is that the absence of QA is the absence of a champion for aspects of software development that everyone agrees are important, but often no one is willing to own. Unit tests, automation, test plans, bug tracking, and quality metrics. The results of which give QA a unique perspective. Traditionally, they are known as the folks who break things, who find bugs, but QA’s role is far more important. It’s not that QA can discover what is wrong, they intimately understand what is right and they unfailingly strive to push the product in that direction.

I believe these are humans you want in the building.

Exactly. A good QA engineer is worth every penny.

Did Pythagoras Code Software?

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Years ago, a man named Pythagoras discovered some amazing things about proving the congruency of triangles.  Obviously there were no good ball games on, so he set out to prove that two triangles were of equal size and shape.  Interesting theory, especially since laying them on top of each other might not work.  The end result is a formula that even I can use: a2 + b2 = c2 where if the triangle had a right angle (90°) and you made a square on each of the three sides, then the biggest square had the exact same area as the other two squares put together!  That is the Pythagorean theory.  My question is, once he was done with triangles, did he become a developer?

Thanks to Mrs. Boxwell’s Geometry class, I learned more than I needed to know about congruent triangles.  To this day, I always remember her little saying that you could prove congruent triangles using SAS (side-angle-side), or SSS (side-side-side), or AAS (angle-angle-side), but you could never use angle-side-side because there was no *SS in geometry.  How prophetic, especially since I have not used that ….well,  EVER!

My point is, I loved math, but basic math.  At some point, it just plain got too complex for me.  Somewhere I think these guys all turned into developers because the same thing happens with every application I seem to touch.  When simple is a fairly common denominator for the majority of the population, complex is where we tend to drive it.  Sooner or later, “too complex” means “bye bye”.  ERP has fought this label for years.  Now those of us in the ERP world can postulate for hours about the trade-off of collecting data and “single source of the truth”, and then spend equal time describing how easy it is to use.

Even Facebook is now joining the ranks of the Pythagorean development team.  The latest developments have pushed beyond my desire to comprehend.  When I first started with Facebook, it was fairly simple.  I like you and you like me.  The wow factor came from finding people I had not heard from in years.  From there, we share stuff.  I pontificate on the wisdom of life and share that with my friends – people who like me.  As I got savvy, I added pictures.  Well, it did not take long for permissions, and lists and groups, and more to add an infinite level of complexity.  Now we have “algorithms” being applied.  Why can’t I just tell my friends I voted?  Now I have to make sure they are on the right list, or being properly promoted?

We need a new theory that measures the point where something gets too complex and we just walk away.  It happens all the time, yet we don’t know what to call it.  Seriously, DVR?  Oh sure, I can record and play.  The remote control?  On and off, volume, and channel – they all work but please help me with the rest.  Home security from my smartphone?  Are you serious?  I can barely unlock the code from the kitchen.

For me, Facebook is teetering on the verge.  I just mastered sharing pictures of the kids with my mother.  Please don’t push me any further.  Don’t make me reset my permissions, and don’t add things without telling me.  Or worse yet, tell me knowing I have no idea what you are talking about, therefore I leave it alone which is exactly what you wanted.  And who translated me into a timeline?  Did I do that?

Turns out that I am not the only one who feels this way.  In a world where technology is supposed to make our lives easier, why do we continue to add features complexity to the point of no return?  In business class in college, I learned about the Peter Principle, which essentially states that over a course of time, everyone in an organization will be promoted beyond their capability.

That’s exactly how I feel about most software these days: eventually, it ‘evolves’ well past the state of being friendly and truly useful to the end user.  All I need now is a name and I’ve got the next software management book. You heard it here first.

How to Get a Free Trial Version of Oracle BI Publisher

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I believe a big part of the value of our blogs is sharing information in a community that sometimes doesn’t always have a great venue for the sharing.  Sometimes we demo or share our opinions, but we try to always share real information.

In fact, there is so much information out there about PeopleSoft and business intelligence, that unless you live it and breathe it and use it to solve daily problems, it is impossible to know all of the content that’s available.  To that end, I want to share where you can get a free demo version of Oracle BI Publisher for trial purposes. You can download the content and it comes pre-delivered with data models, reports, dashboard and a fully functional version of BI publisher.  You can even upload your own data content to practice creating reports and dashboard with your own data which has value and means something specifically to you.

The download is quite simple — go here (you’ll need your Oracle user name and password).  Read and accept the license agreement (read and accept with your company’s permission of course),  and select the appropriate version to download.  From there, once downloaded, simply follow the instructions.  Everything is pre-configured and ready for use.  You do not have to figure out web servers, etc. in order to make this fully functional.  There are of course install guides and quick start guides and tutorials for your reference.

(click to enlarge)

Once installed you will have icons on your desktop, like this:

Simply double-click Start BI Publisher, let the window open and the processes start up and once they are started, double-click the Sign Into BI Publisher icon and it will launch your web browser for sign-on.  Simply launch Stop BI Publisher when you are finished.  Once within the application, you will be able to run existing reports/dashboards, modify existing reports/dashboards and create new.  Soon you will understand the capabilities of Oracle BI Publisher. This is a great way to get a feel for the application without jumping in with both feet. I recommend it highly.

Enjoy!

(click to enlarge)

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More links:
MIPRO Consulting main website.
MIPRO on Twitter and LinkedIn.
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Casual Friday: A Web Geek’s Hardware/Software Setup Revisited

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About a year ago, I wrote a post detailing what hardware and software I use on a daily basis, a la The Setup’s format. I know I never tire of knowing what fellow geeks are using to be productive. Perhaps you’re the same. If so, you’re in luck. Here’s my updated setup.

My big takeaway, which hit me as I wrote this: it’s amazing how much changes in a year.

What hardware are you using?

In the office, I use a 27“ iMac running a quad-core Intel i7 clocked at 3.4 GHz. It’s a monster, sporting 16 GB of RAM, a 256 GB SSD boot drive, and a 1 TB SATA data/scratch drive. I have a giant, loud, hulking Das Keyboard Professional Model S for text entry, seeing how I do an absolute ton of it. I also have a second Apple 27” display attached to this iMac, and I’m pretty certain that if NASA called me today and said hey, run our space program, I could without having to change much. This setup is pretty much my dream rig.

At home, I donated my old 2008 MacBook Pro and moved to an iMac 27″ for heavy lifting (quad-core i5, 12 GB RAM, 1 TB SATA for storage). Heavy lifting here means photo and video editing, mainly. It too has a monolithic Das Keyboard chained to it, and while I hate the looks, the writing purist in me appreciates its tactile feel and obnoxiously loud noise.

Mobile computing gets a bit messy for me. I have an 11″ MacBook Air, which I consider an iPad Pro, and I love it to death. This makes my new iPad (or iPad 3, as many mistakenly call it) a bit of an outlier, because I split time between the MBA and the iPad. If I had to choose only one, today it would narrowly be the MBA. Over time, however, I think we’ll see the most innovation with iOS.

Because three Macs and an iPad aren’t enough, I have an iPhone 4S, which almost never leaves my side. My main gripe about it is the AT&T service, which I swear will change when the new iPhone 5 (or whatever it’ll be called) comes out, at which point I will jump to Verizon’s LTE and never look back.

So what software do you use?

I still run Google Chrome almost exclusively, and have very few problems with it – it’s a great piece of software. When I do need a second browser, I use Safari. As I write this, I have 32 tabs open.

For longform writing, I do most everything these days in Byword, using Markdown formatting for plain text. (All my writing these days is plain text, because I will never need to worry about being beholden to a certain app or rich-text formatting data structure in the future). When I’m done writing for the web, I export the HTML out of Byword and slap it into whatever CMS I’m using.

For mail, I am still a giant, swooning Gmail nerd. To me, using older clients like Outlook our Entourage just grinds me, and I’m not productive in them. Gmail has ruined email for me – in a good way.

For photo work, I use either Lightroom 4 or Aperture 3. I would like to settle on one, but I am trying them both out to see which best fits my needs. So far, I think I like Lightroom 4 best. Aperture, while having Photostream support and being much more ‘Apple’, is slower and uses a ton of RAM. Plus, Lightroom’s noise reduction is phenomenal, even when working with OOC JPEGs.

For video, I use Apple’s Final Cut Pro X. It’s a heavyweight, but if you can get past the learning curve, it can do almost everything you ask of it.

I said before I would die without Dropbox, and I stand by that. I use it daily.

For capturing the random thoughts that pass through my head, I use Captio to send an email to myself, or, if I have more time, Simplenote. From there, many to-dos go directly to my Fantastical calendar, or my iPhone’s Reminders app.

For taking pictures, I mainly use an Olympus OM-D EM–5 micro 4/3 camera with a prime lens (either the Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 or the Olympus 45mm f/1.8), and it’s fantastic. If anything heralds the demise of giant, slapping, mirror-box DSLRs, it’s pro small form factor cameras like the OM-D.

For social media monitoring, I use Hootsuite. Yes, I pay for it, and yes, it’s worth it. For general web bookmarking for things I find interesting or want to save for later, I cannot recommend Pinboard enough.

What would be your dream setup?

A year ago, I said I would like a quad-core iMac with oceans of RAM and storage. I pretty much have that now, so all I’m missing is a search engine for my brain. Because I’m 43 and sometimes forget to wear pants. You know.

Have a good weekend, everyone.

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More links:

MIPRO Consulting main website.

MIPRO on Twitter and LinkedIn.

About this blog.

Linkology: The Best of the Internet for 7/8/11

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When I tell people I do web/social media marketing work, that basically I’m a full-on web nerd, they look at me funny.  Like, “Oh, how long have you been unemployed?” funny.  After we get past that initial awkwardness, they invariably ask two things: (1) Can social media help my business? And (2) What is your computer hardware/software setup like?

For this Friday post, I will tackle both questions.

For (1): yes.

For (2), I will answer in the format of The Setup’s interviews, because I can read that stuff all day and have found some excellent software from them.  Here goes.

What hardware are you using?

In the office, I use a super-gonzo Dell Precision laptop running Windows 7 Professional connected to three 24″ monitors.  Multiple monitors are the single best thing you can add to your setup next to a jetpack to improve productivity, and I would be far, far slower without them.  If you don’t have multiple monitors but can afford them/are allowed to by your IT team, you’re cheating yourself.

At home, I use a pretty banged-up early 2008 MacBook Pro with 4 GB of RAM that’s connected to a 2002 HP 2335 LCD monitor.  I use Apple’s wired keyboard because I have to have a number pad for data crunching, and I have a filthy — disgusting, really — Logitech wireless mouse whose model number I can’t remember because it was made before the dawn of language.

I have a first-gen iPad that I use for everything except longform content creation.  It’s awesome, if a bit heavy and sharp-edged.  Still, it has replaced a laptop for 90% of my tasks when my son isn’t stealing it to play Dungeon Raid.

Right next to my iPad you’ll almost always find my iPhone 4, which I take with me everywhere.  Literally, everywhere.  Well, except the shower and the gym, but aside from those caveats, everywhere.  I’m not sure if I own it or it owns me.  I suspect the latter.

And what software?

Being a web dork means having a romantic relationship with your browser, and I am an unrepentant Chrome devotee.  It runs on both my work and home laptops.

For longform writing, I get all weird: I will use Ommwriter, WriteRoom, BBEdit, Sublime Text or even the WordPress editor.  It depends on my current propensity to get distracted.  For a pure, clean blogging on the Mac, I couldn’t live without MarsEdit.  On Windows, Windows Live Writer 2011 is pretty solid, if a bit slow (thanks .NET!).

For mail, I am a gigantic Gmail nerd.  Gmail might be the best implementation of email in the world.  And by might I mean is.  At work, I have to tolerate Outlook, which is really starting to feel like something wet, angry and smelly that crawled onto my computer from the late 1990s.  Because it is.

For keeping the soul-crushing silence at bay and the voices in my head arguing amongst themselves instead of with me, I fire up iTunes or Rdio.  Lately, a lot has been Rdio.

For keeping track of stuff, I use Notational Velocity on my Mac and SimpleNote on the web and iPhone/iPad.  I would probably keel over dead within a half hour without Dropbox.  Whenever I have a thought that doesn’t fall apart like a soggy box after a few seconds of critique, it goes into one of these apps for later curation.

For photography, I use a Nikon D90, Canon S90, or my iPhone 4 (don’t laugh — it’s the most popular camera on Flickr).  For post work, I use iPhoto, Photoshop CS5 and occasionally Acorn, which is a terrific OSX application that does, for me, 90% of what I use Photoshop for.  On my iPhone, I am a huge Instagram evangelist, along with Camera+ and Photogene.

For social media stuff, I use Tweetdeck on Windows (still wish it was a web app though) and the official Twitter client on my Mac.  I have an entire monitor devoted to Facebook, blogs and Google+ sessions running in Chrome.

What would be your dream setup?

My MacBook Pro is getting long in the tooth, and the screen does a weird flicker thing against certain gray backgrounds, so I’ve been thinking about a replacement.  I’m torn between two masters: portability and power.  The idea of a new 27″ quad-core iMac is very appealing because of the screen real estate and power, but it’s a desktop and who buys those anymore?  On the other hand, I’m waiting for Apple to stop being so jerky and release the new MacBook Airs with the Sandy Bridge architecture so maybe that will be enough power and I can nerd out in lightweight, sealed, portable style.  (That option might actually steal time from the iPad.)

Oh, and I’d like software that does what I think, no questions asked.  That’d be cool.  Also, Google search box for my brain because, yeah, it’s come to that.

Shut up about your dumb nerd stuff.  Do you have any links?

Yes, yes I do.

This man won $3.4 million — and then went back to work as a janitor.  The world needs more people like this.

Here’s a site that provides the best introductory books for myriad topics.  Tons of browsing pleasure here, folks.

Have a good weekend, everyone.

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More links:

MIPRO Consulting main website.

MIPRO on Twitter and Facebook.

About this blog.

QUOTE: On Letting Your Ideas Breathe

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Usage is like oxygen for ideas. You can never fully anticipate how an audience is going to react to something you’ve created until it’s out there. That means every moment you’re working on something without it being in the public it’s actually dying, deprived of the oxygen of the real world.

Matt Mullenweg, founding developer of WordPress, in 1.0 Is The Loneliest Number

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MIPRO Consulting is a nationally-recognized consulting firm specializing in PeopleSoft Enterprise (particularly Enterprise Asset Management) and Business Intelligence. You’re reading MIPRO Unfiltered, its blog. If you’d like to contact MIPRO, email is a great place to start, or you can easily jump over to its main website. If you’d like to see what MIPRO offers via Twitter or Facebook, we’d love to have you.

More quotes here.

Chasing Pirates

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Great NYT feature column by Ashlee Vance about the battles Microsoft has to fight in the name of counter-piracy.

Donal Keating, a physicist who leads Microsoft’s forensics work, has turned the lab into an anti-piracy playpen full of microscopes and other equipment used to analyze software disks. Flat-screen monitors show data about counterfeit sales, and evidence bags almost overflow with nearly flawless Windows and Office fakes. Mr. Keating serves as the CD manufacturing whiz on what amounts to Microsoft’s version of the A-Team, clad in business-casual attire.

As John Gruber notes, so much of these efforts revolve around physical media: CDs, holographic stickers, DVDs.  I wonder how much of this is attributable to Microsoft’s enterprise footprint?  In my experience, enterprises want physical media, whereas most consumers are happy with an online install.

Ask yourself: when’s the last time you really used physical media to install software?

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MIPRO Consulting is a nationally-recognized consulting firm specializing in PeopleSoft Enterprise (particularly Enterprise Asset Management) and Business Intelligence. You’re reading MIPRO Unfiltered, its blog. If you’d like to contact MIPRO, email is a great place to start, or you can easily jump over to its main website. If you’d like to see what MIPRO offers via Twitter or Facebook, we’d love to have you.

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Linkology: The Best of the Internet for 11/5/10

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First, I’d like to thank all our readers for their steady readership.  Last month we had the biggest traffic month (in terms of unique visitors and pageviews) we’ve had since starting this blog back in 2008, and we’re flattered you keep coming back for more.  Hopefully, we can keep this pattern going.  We appreciate you coming along for the ride.

Here’s the past week summed up in tidy links, all of which were deemed interesting by yours truly and not at all objectively measured or ranked within any credible system whatsoever.

For the first time, the TSA meets resistance.

Microsoft changes strategy with Silverlight, acknowledging “…HTML is the only true cross platform solution for everything, including (Apple’s) iOS platform.”  The days of  proprietary Rich Internet Application (RIA) frameworks are quickly coming to an end.  See also: Adobe’s own Flash to HTML5 conversion tool.

The #1 most crazy idea Steve Ballmer has ever heard.

MapCrunch: teleport instantly to a Google Street View location somewhere in the world.  More fascinating than I just made it sound.  Seriously.

Blekko: live slashtag search.  (Say what? you ask.  It’s all about a new way to tag information on the web.  Read about slashtags here.)

The NYTimes’s Christoph Niemann nails another one, this time very entertainingly showing us that daily human life is subject to the universal laws of physics.

The hand pause.  In the words of Jim Coudal: “What hands do whilst waiting for devices to catch up with their intent.”  Simple and accurate observation.

Finally, Microsoft’s Ray Ozzie pens a long (3,500 word) missive on the state of the company and the industry – as he departs for greener pastures.  Maybe it’s just me, but this writing is about as opaque as it gets and serves almost no one.  Perhaps this is/was part of Microsoft’s messaging problems to the consumer markets.

Have a great weekend, everyone.

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MIPRO Consulting is a nationally-recognized consulting firm specializing in PeopleSoft Enterprise (particularly Enterprise Asset Management) and Business Intelligence. You’re reading MIPRO Unfiltered, its blog. If you’d like to contact MIPRO, email is a great place to start, or you can easily jump over to its main website. If you’d like to see what MIPRO offers via Twitter or Facebook, we’d love to have you.

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Oracle Appoints Mark Hurd as Co-President

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One thing’s for sure: Oracle’s Larry Ellison is putting his money where his mouth is.  A few weeks ago, Ellison came out and publicly lambasted HP and its board for firing CEO Mark Hurd, calling the move a ‘grave mistake’.

Yesterday, Oracle announced its appointment of Mark Hurd as co-President, serving alongside President Safra Catz.

At HP, Hurd more than tripled profit by cutting costs and expanding beyond the company’s core business of computers and printers. He oversaw an acquisition spree of more than $20 billion, letting the company branch out into services, networking equipment and smartphones. Oracle, which also has bulked up through takeovers, would draw on Hurd’s background blending software and hardware as it expands into server sales.

Here comes Oracle’s for-real hardware push.

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MIPRO Consulting is a nationally-recognized consulting firm specializing in PeopleSoft Enterprise (particularly Enterprise Asset Management), Workday and Business Intelligence. You’re reading MIPRO Unfiltered, its blog. If you’d like to contact MIPRO, email is a great place to start, or you can easily jump over to its main website. If you’d like to see what MIPRO offers via Twitter or Facebook, we’d love to have you.

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